Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 1:00 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Introduction of visitors.
Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I have for tabling the public findings report of the September 11, 2001 Whitehorse International Airport emergency.
Speaker: Are there any further returns or documents for tabling?
Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. McRobb: I have for tabling the following motion :
THAT it is the opinion of this House that:
(1) Yukon people have a strong commitment to maintaining the high quality of the land, the water and the air that are the core of our unique environment;
(2) as other nations deplete their supplies of fresh water, there will be increasing pressure on Canadian provinces and territories to enter into trade agreements for the bulk export of water beyond Canada's borders;
(3) under the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which currently exempts bulk water from free-trade provisions, bulk export of water from any Canadian jurisdiction could result in Canadian bulk water becoming a tradable good for all time;
(4) the federal Bill C-6, known as An Act to Amend the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act, may not provide the necessary prohibition of bulk water exports that its proponents have claimed;
(5) it is not in Canada's national interest for our water to become a commodity for bulk export through the North American Free Trade Agreement or any other international agreement; and
THAT this House strongly opposes the bulk export of Yukon water outside of Canada and urges the federal government to amend any part of Bill C-6 that could, either directly or indirectly, lead to Canadian water being treated as an export good or product under the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?
Is there a ministerial statement?
September 11 emergency at Whitehorse Airport
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I am pleased to have tabled the public findings report of the September 11 Whitehorse International Airport emergency. This report has been written to provide Yukoners with a factual recounting of what took place that historic Tuesday morning. It covers many dimensions related to the emergency situation and what has taken place since then to improve emergency preparedness and response in the Yukon.
Specifically, Mr. Speaker, the report provides a recounting of the events as they unfolded, the agencies involved in the response, the time frames within which they reacted, deficiencies in response activities and actions underway to address these deficiencies.
This report was written so that Yukoners could better understand what happened from a comprehensive point of view. The report walks the readers through the events as they occurred, noting where challenges were encountered and the nature of those challenges.
I believe it is important for this information to be in the hands of Yukoners for a couple of reasons. First, we want to hear back from Yukoners on how they believe emergency preparedness and response can be improved. Second, one of the most important discoveries made while analyzing the response is that we need to help Yukon families and businesses to create their own emergency plans.
The airport emergency was a first for the territory, and we are taking this opportunity to improve our ability to deal with emergencies. But governments can only do so much. Yukoners also need to consider how they and their families can prepare themselves to deal with crisis situations when they happen.
In December, we will be launching a broad-based information campaign to help individuals, families and businesses to be better prepared for emergency situations. EMO will also assist First Nations and local governments in updating their emergency plans with what we have learned from September 11.
Mr. Speaker, I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the many dedicated Yukoners who serve their communities by bravely responding to emergencies when the alarm bells ring. The RCMP, our many firefighters, ambulance attendants, emergency social service workers, search and rescue members, EMO agencies and a great many volunteers in every community all deserve our thanks. In times of crisis, they leave their families and loved ones and take on the dangers that threaten our communities and ourselves. We owe them a debt of gratitude.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Fairclough: I'd like to respond to this ministerial statement.
We in the opposition also would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge the many dedicated Yukoners who have been bravely responding to emergencies, whether they are in the heat of summer or the cold of winter.
Mr. Speaker, I asked the Liberal government to do a public review in the first week after this tragic incident took place on September 11 - a public review. I'm glad that the minister did say that there would be an information campaign to help individuals, families and businesses to better prepare for emergencies, because that was exactly what we were asking this government to do.
We wanted to see this public review address what the public's needs and wants were. One of them was, of course, to improve our preparedness for emergencies throughout the territory. I'm certainly hoping that this does come forward.
The minister did say that we will now go back to the public, which is a bit backwards from what I thought would take place. But I'm certainly hoping that people can have the information still fresh in their memory about what took place in Whitehorse, because it wasn't an airport emergency; it was a public threat to Yukoners' health and safety in Whitehorse.
It was a pretty tragic, I guess, and dramatic event that took place here in Whitehorse. Schools were evacuated, public buildings were evacuated, and when that took place and the announcement went over the radios, people were out of their buildings and offices and into their cars, which really jammed up downtown Whitehorse. There were students running down the streets. People were speeding, running through red lights, driving on sidewalks - that in itself was a safety concern to many of the people who were out there during that day. And there was not only that, but parents were concerned about where their children were, what safety issues the schools were dealing with in regard to having the children safe in the school.
Mr. Speaker, I'm hoping that this minister will take this seriously. I know this is not a public findings report, but more of an internal report, and the public will have their say. The public wants a reassurance that there is a good action plan in place and, to us and to the public, this should have taken place sooner.
Mr. Jenkins: I rise to welcome the public findings report of the September 11 Whitehorse International Airport emergency. Who could have predicted the events of that day, when the tragedy of what was happening in New York and Washington, D.C., was brought home immediately to the people of the Yukon with the report of hijacked 747s heading for Whitehorse? There is no question that there was some confusion and some incidents of panic created in the general public and that, in hindsight, some things could have been handled much differently.
Mr. Speaker, that is the value of this report. It should help us plan for future emergencies and we should take this lesson to heart. God forbid we will be placed in similar circumstances in the future.
I wish to commend the members of the RCMP, the EMO officials, the principals and teachers, and all those who had to deal with the crisis situation on September 11 here in the Yukon. They did the best they could with the information that was available. There were some serious shortcomings, but let us learn from those shortcomings rather than dwell on them. I have been told that, while Cabinet ministers were evacuating the Yukon government administration building, many government workers were not even aware that the building was being evacuated. These are some of the serious things we must address and we must learn from, Mr. Speaker.
In retrospect, the decision to evacuate the schools and the Government of Yukon administration building may not have been the right one. However, it has shown the deficiencies in our present planning, which we can now make up for.
For the information of the minister, I would like to draw her attention to the work of Emergency Preparedness Canada, which is located in Arnprior, Ontario, just outside Ottawa. In the past, they have put on excellent courses for elected officials and, if this organization still puts on such courses, I would urge the minister to attend them.
It is at times of crisis that we learn the true value of our emergency workers, our firefighters, the RCMP, and all those who risk their own lives to safeguard the public. The tragic events of September 11 have helped bring their distinguished service into sharp focus, and I join with the minister in extending to them our debt of gratitude.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: In order to best help the public, we first needed to document what happened, and we have done that. The emergency response that was delivered September 11 was not without its challenges. Was there confusion? Yes, there was. Were there people who did not know what to do? Yes, there were. Was the response effective? Without question. And can we do better? Absolutely, Mr. Speaker.
There's no one to blame. There's nothing to defend. The suicidal attacks in New York and Washington were beyond the imagination of emergency planners everywhere. On that day, an emergency threat that was inconceivable took place in our own front yard, and our emergency agencies dealt with it professionally and effectively.
Yes, our lives were disrupted for a few hours, and genuine fear touched many Whitehorse residents that day, but we survived without losing any lives, and we must not forget that very important fact.
The world is changing, and we must now prepare to face threats that we all hope we will never witness. Did elected officials leave this building during the emergency? Yes, because when the professionals, who are entrusted with protecting our safety, tell us to evacuate this building, we go. I know I do not have the training that our emergency professionals have, and I also know that they are acting in our best interests.
This government has learned some valuable lessons from the September 11 emergency, and we will apply what we have learned to update emergency plans and procedures, and that work has already started, Mr. Speaker.
The members opposite will note that, with the report they're being provided today, there's also a copy of the EMO booklet Be Prepared, Not Scared. Many in this House are away from their families and communities. When emergencies happen, first thoughts are if family members and loved ones are safe. I encourage all of us, on both sides of the House, to develop a family emergency plan, so that families can be more safe and secure when disaster strikes.
We welcome comments from the public, and I'm hoping for forward-looking, constructive criticism on how we can do better in the future.
Again, Mr. Speaker, we will be launching a broad-based information campaign in December to help individuals, families and businesses, along with all levels of government, to be better prepared for emergency situations whenever and wherever they occur.
There is no such thing as our next scheduled emergency. We will do our best to make sure every Yukoner has the information they need to care for themselves, their families, business and property.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Protected areas strategy
Mr. McRobb: Time and time again, the Minister of Renewable Resources has promised Yukoners that they would be consulted on the legislation for the Yukon protected areas strategy. But now we know differently, Mr. Speaker. The Parks and Land Certainty Act legislation scheduled for debate this afternoon was drafted in the Liberal backroom. The minister has provided no opportunity for input on this landmark legislation to the public or key stakeholder groups.
Can the minister clarify this for us? Can he tell us which groups were consulted in the drafting of this legislation, and if there were any, can he name them for us, please?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I do welcome the question from the Member for Kluane. The fact of the matter is that the change to the Parks and Land Certainty Act was to accommodate the Yukon protected areas strategy principles in the preamble and to also update the Parks and Land Certainty Act to a modern version, which hadn't been done for a very substantial amount of time.
Because it was to accommodate Yukon protected areas strategy, Mr. Speaker, the consultation on Yukon protected areas strategy has gone on for many years, and we didn't feel it was necessary to go on further in reviewing the Yukon protected areas strategy.
Mr. McRobb: Well, it sounds like a different story now. Now, earlier this year, the minister raised suspicions about backroom dealings by creating a two-track process - one for the disgruntled group of eight, and the other for everybody else. On Friday, we learned that a special deal had been cut on the steps of the Downtown Hotel in Dawson City during the previous weekend's annual general meeting of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce.
Can the minister explain, for the benefit of all Yukoners, what concessions were made for this special deal?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: The member opposite knows full well that there were no concessions made and that this government has worked very hard at recognizing all Yukoners and their qualified input into the YPAS process. And earlier this year, during the Public Advisory Committee meetings on YPAS, a group of individuals decided not to partake in that exercise. In order to create balance with both our environment and also our economic development in the territory, it was imperative that representatives who did leave the table at that time were asked back for their qualified input into the process. And that is what we have been doing since they walked away - encouraging them to come back and talk to us. The member is suggesting that there is a little bit more to that. All it is is that they have agreed to come back and talk to us and for us to consider publicly and openly, like this government always operates, their input on YPAS.
Mr. McRobb: Why should we believe this minister now, especially after what he has said in here in the last two weeks, which we all know is quite different from what actually happened.
Now, ironically, the Liberals -
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Speaker: Member for Whitehorse Centre, on a point of order.
Mr. McLarnon: Mr. Speaker, referring to Standing Order No. 19, "why should we believe" imputes that there would be falsehood in the past.
What I ask is to please have the members understand that parliamentary language requires that everything said in this House is to be believed. What we're asking is that members use parliamentary language in the future.
Speaker: Order please. As the point of order was called, the Chair was just calling the House to order as well for the same thing.
I refer to Addendum 1, Guidelines for Oral Question Period, No. 8: "A question must adhere to the proprieties of the House in that it must not contain inferences, impute motives or cast aspersions upon persons within the House or out of it." In addition to that, a member may be called to order during debate for using language in the context likely to create disorder.
Clearly, the Chair is cautioned not to make a ruling in haste; however, it seems very clear to the Chair that the language used by the Member for Kluane seemed to question the factual accuracy or the truth of the minister, and I will rule that that language is unparliamentary.
I will ask the Member for Kluane to restate his question.
Mr. McRobb: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Well, this government just can't be trusted. They say one thing and do another.
The Liberals always agreed with the Yukon protected areas strategy document. At least that is what they said.
Everybody knows that extensive public consultation was intrinsic to the YPAS document. That was spelled out clearly. But now we discover that the legislation does not identify how the minister will decide the boundaries and purpose of any park.
Will the minister confirm that for us?
Will the proposed Parks and Land Certainty Act allow Cabinet to ignore the YPAS process and designate goal 1 areas unilaterally?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: It's very interesting, Mr. Speaker, that the members opposite are now asking these questions when they remained mute on the point for 10 months, after acknowledging in the press at that time, earlier this year, that they did drop the ball with respect to YPAS. There was an incredible distrust within a sector of our public community in the extraction sector. It has taken a considerable amount of time to build that trust, and it's very unfortunate that the members opposite cannot recognize the accomplishment of this side of the House.
No doubt, the member will stand up again and say that we're patting ourselves on the back. No, we're not, Mr. Speaker; we're just doing our job. We're communicating, listening to Yukoners - all Yukoners - and I wholeheartedly welcome the members who left earlier this year to come back and talk to me and the Minister of Economic Development in creating balance in environment and economic factors in this territory.
Question re: Forest strategy
Mr. Fentie: I have a question for the same minister, Mr. Speaker. Not only do we have this Liberal government not following through with its commitment to enshrine YPAS in legislation, but we now have another situation where this Liberal government is not even following its own policy, and that's to do with forestry and forest management development in this territory.
This policy, the Yukon forest strategy that the government of the day has as part of its approach to forest management, is now allowing the federal government to opt out of its commitment to supply the necessary resources, expertise and scientific data for comprehensive forest management planning.
Why is this minister not following his government's, the Yukon government's, own forest policy?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: It's very interesting, Mr. Speaker, that the member opposite continually espouses that we're following the policies established by the previous government. Au contraire, Mr. Speaker. That is not what we're doing.
We recognized there wasn't a complete buy-in by all Yukoners into the process that was established by the commission of the previous government. What this government is doing, Mr. Speaker, is continually talking and listening to Yukoners as a whole in how we establish policy that represents all Yukoners. Regardless of what the member opposite is trying to imply here, we are doing it right, at the get-go.
Mr. Fentie: I find that to be a very interesting comment, given what's going on out there in the Yukon when it comes to forest management planning. Everybody is against this government's approach to it.
Mr. Speaker, the Yukon forest strategy, as the Yukon government policy - because this government has not changed that policy at all. They have not replaced it with anything. What they've done is that they have replaced it with chaos out there in the public when it comes to forest management planning. It consists of three fundamental principles: environment sustainability, economic viability and social acceptability. Which one of those three principles does this minister not agree with, or does he agree with any one of those three as forest policy?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Yes, Mr. Speaker, but then again the member fails to mention that the strategy, evolved out of the previous government, was not bought into by Yukon First Nations, unfortunately, or we would have gladly accepted that strategy along with the so-called policies established by the previous government.
Well, Mr. Speaker, I believe we've grown up enough, despite what the Member for Klondike says - that we are a novice Liberal government - to develop our own policies that reflect the concerns and issues of all Yukoners, Mr. Speaker. So as a result of the four summits that did occur - three separate summits this past summer - we are evolving our own policy that represents interests toward forestry in all of Yukon, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Fentie: It's obvious that all indicators point to this Liberal government when it comes to the chaos that's in forestry here in this territory today.
Secondly, this government, instead of standing up and representing and protecting Yukoners' interests, are allowing the federal government to abrogate their own responsibilities in ensuring that they provide the necessary expertise, resources and scientific data so that we can truly approach forest management in this territory as it's intended and as the Yukon public is crying out for.
Mr. Speaker, why is this minister allowing the federal government off the hook, when in a year plus a few months we will be responsible for forestry and the federal government will slip out of this territory without paying what they should be paying now?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Well, he has inferred a lot in the multitude of questions that were in his last statement. First of all, Mr. Speaker, we inherited chaos, and we are straightening out the chaos; that's the first thing.
Also, it is DIAND that currently manages and owns that resource. And in a systematic and responsible way, and listening to Yukoners on how a policy should be developed and how we apply that policy in the stead of all Yukoners is how we're doing it, because we listen. And we're not abrogating any responsibility. As a matter of fact, we are chatting with the Minister of DIAND while he is up here so that there is a transfer of the forestry resource in a responsible way.
Question re: Dawson Community Library
Mr. Jenkins: I have a question today for the Minister of Education. Now, this minister is developing a very poor track record. The Education Act review has blown up in his face, and now we have the return of an issue that Yukoners thought was previously resolved, that being the issue of library closures.
When the minister announced that the Whitehorse Public Library hours would be cut back, there was an immediate public outcry, and the minister was forced to beat a hasty retreat. His argument then that the Liberal government had no money and had to cut the library's hours simply didn't wash with the general public.
This argument is even more absurd now in view of the Liberal government's $99-million surplus as at March 31, 2001, and a projected $50-million-plus surplus as at March 31, 2002. Either way, there's a tremendous amount of money there.
Can the minister advise the House why he is attempting to cut 15 hours per week from the Dawson Community Library? What the minister couldn't do in Whitehorse, he is now attempting to do in rural Yukon, and I would like to know why.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I'll provide an answer why, Mr. Speaker, to the Member for Klondike. Of course, he only gets the facts half-correct, at best, and that isn't very often.
The Yukon libraries and archives branch itself has reached consensus with the territory's community library boards. It had nothing to do with me, Mr. Speaker. This is a group of individuals we entrust with how to best manage our community libraries, or the libraries here in Whitehorse, on changes in the formula for allocating funding to community library boards.
The new formula is based on library usage in addition to the population. The intent is to encourage library use and to protect community library hours during the times of population loss. So, this is something that was entrusted to those folks and I think they have addressed the situation quite responsibly. That is what is happening in the communities, and it is also happening here in Whitehorse.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, let's examine that new formula the minister probably dictated to his officials. Will the minister agree to meet with the Dawson City community library and work out an equitable funding agreement that takes into consideration the needs of rural areas, such as the counting of temporary members, the visitors who use that library and services, the planning for special programming and the counting of actual library users. Will the minister do that? Will the minister set aside his Liberal anti-rural bias and agree to meet with the Dawson City community library officials and provide them with an adequate level of funding?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: We all know how the leader of the third party in this House feels toward public servants. They emphasized that, I believe, when they cut back two percent without consultation. I believe that is what they did to the public service at the time.
The changes to the funding formula do not reduce overall government funding to community libraries. Rather, it is intended to focus on funding support where it is most needed. So we are addressing the issues specifically to the communities, and we are respecting the decisions that they make on their own. I believe they are quite capable of doing that, despite what the Member for Klondike says with respect to his community.
Mr. Jenkins: Bear in mind that the rollback that the minister is referring to was at a time when this government was in a $60-odd-million deficit, not a $99-million surplus, Mr. Speaker.
Now, the minister was in possession of a petition bearing 250 names, with more to come, calling upon the minister to restore the full complement of opening hours for the Dawson Community Library. Can the minister advise the House why, after the drubbing he received over the closure of the Whitehorse Public Library, it should be necessary for the people of Dawson to sign a petition to keep their library open? Does this minister ever learn?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I am continually learning, Mr. Speaker, unlike the Member for Klondike, who is lacking the capabilities of doing so.
Quite frankly, I would direct that the petition go to the libraries and community - the board itself - as it is the board, along with the libraries and archives branch of the department, that do set up the hours, that do set up the funding and work quite competently.
I encourage all Yukoners to use their libraries, to validate their libraries, to get out there and register with the libraries, just like the Mayor of Dawson himself had indicated in a letter to the community, Mr. Speaker. Encourage library use, because that way this government, without hesitation, or the branch in charge of the board, would recognize the full use and capability of our libraries, despite what the member opposite says, who probably doesn't even know what the inside of the library in Dawson looks like.
Question re: Land claims deadline, March 31, 2002
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, the Challenger has landed and the federal Minister of DIAND has been busy visiting First Nations that haven't settled their land claims yet. The federal minister has been very forceful in telling First Nations that they should get on with the process or the March 31 deadline could be their last chance.
Did the federal minister give the Premier the same message about the Yukon government's need to get on with the process?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and I had a very productive meeting. I would just advise the member that this government is fully aware that Yukon has to be involved on many remaining issues on the table. We know that all parties have to allow for some give and take. We are fully prepared for that. The member opposite also knows that we don't negotiate land claims on the floor of the House.
Mr. Speaker, we are very mindful of the March 31 deadline, and we have been working diligently and we will continue to do so.
Mr. Fairclough: I hope the Premier doesn't think this is negotiating. Otherwise, this government is in trouble.
More than one First Nation has made it clear that they aren't happy with YTG's role. One senior negotiator called the mandate the Premier gave to YTG negotiators a "band-aid mandate".
About a year and a half ago, we were told that settling outstanding land claims was the number one priority of this Liberal government. Has the Premier given the Yukon negotiators a new mandate, or has she decided to leave the deal making in the federal minister's hands?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Speaker, as I recall, it was the chairperson of the Ta'an Kwach'an Council and I who shook hands at the conclusion of the negotiators reaching an agreement on that and advised the federal minister.
The fact is, Mr. Speaker, that there are some tough issues to be dealt with. There's no question about that, and it's going to require hard work on the part of all three parties at the land claims table. The fact is also, Mr. Speaker, that all of us are very mindful of the March 31, 2002, deadline for the completion of land claims negotiations. The fact that the minister himself is here visiting with those First Nations who have not yet concluded their negotiations is an important step, Mr. Speaker, in that process. I'm glad he's here and speaking with them. I'm looking forward, as are negotiators on all sides, to concluding these agreements within the deadline.
Question re: Government renewal process, layoffs
Mr. Fentie: I have a question for the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission. This is the same minister, Mr. Speaker, who has the Education Act review off the rails, the Yukon protected areas strategy off the rails, forestry and forest management planning tossed into the scrap heap of yesterday's policies. Now we have in jeopardy, programs and services being delivered to Yukoners because of uncertainty in the public service.
They said, across the floor, that we were wrong when we quoted a government official saying "layoffs up to 175". Now, the public service union says we were correct; it's the members opposite who have a hidden agenda. That agenda is not renewal - it's downsize, privatize and lay off government workers.
Will this minister now confirm that there is a target number of how many YTG positions will disappear through layoffs and attrition by the time devolution takes place?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, as this is a question regarding renewal, I will respond to it. The fact is that the member is completely wrong. There is no target, and to suggest that there is a target number is completely irresponsible. What's even worse, Mr. Speaker, and does a disservice to Yukoners, is to link those two subjects with devolution. That suggests to the listening public that, somehow, with devolution, we will displace Government of Yukon jobs. That is completely in error. It's wrong, and it's irresponsible to suggest that.
There is no target number. So if the member stands on his feet one day, and says "175", I have to stand up and say the member's wrong. There's no number that's right, because there's no target number.
Mr. Fentie: Well, thank you, Mr. Speaker.
It's very interesting in here. We're never quite sure what minister will answer what question.
But now we have the Premier on her feet.
First off, let me point out that it was the Premier who linked renewal to devolution by saying that we must proceed with government renewal because of devolution. Secondly, she is accusing this side of the House of being irresponsible and, actually, she is pointing a finger at the government union, which has come forward with a great concern about the 175 layoffs.
Mr. Speaker, my question is to the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission, because the public union, the government union, is now taking a very dim view of their approach in this so-called "renewal" policy, which is nothing more than government downsizing.
Can the minister tell us, what is the support policy supposed to do, and will he table that policy immediately so this House knows what it is supposed to do?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: The renewal committee, including the Public Service Commissioner and the chair of the renewal committee, have worked and continue to work with the public service union and have discussed, as recently as last week, and reached an agreement on language, including the workforce support policy that the member opposite recognized and so eloquently noted, that this government recognizes the hard work of public servants and the initiatives and what they bring in terms of comments on the subject of renewal.
The fact is that renewal is an exciting development. It's a challenging time, and it's an opportunity for Yukoners. Yes, devolution is one reason for renewal. The second is providing better service to Yukoners.
When the member opposite linked devolution to renewal, he linked job losses, and that is absolutely wrong. It does a disservice to Yukoners and a disservice to the very agreement that we have reached in terms of devolution, which most Yukoners, including the opposition two weeks ago, were looking forward to.
Mr. Fentie: We didn't get any indication about the workforce support policy, but let me point out that the reason that this policy is being worked on right now by this Liberal government is because there are going to be layoffs in the government sector. We know that. We know that government officials have stated publicly there will be up to 175 job losses in this territory in the Yukon government.
How can this Premier stand on her feet and point the finger at others when it is the Premier herself, with this misguided process, who is creating these issues? Now, can the Premier please explain to this House two things: what is the target number for layoffs because of renewal, and will she table the workforce support policy in this House so we, on this side, can understand more clearly what this is all about as far as layoffs and people bumping into other jobs within the union?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Well, there is no target number. The member opposite stands on his feet and says, "We know the number of layoffs". From the very first media conference when I announced the project of renewal, I said, "We don't know". There is no target number. Maybe if I got flash cards that said "No" to the member opposite he would recognize the point.
I have said "No", and suggest that is irresponsible on the part of the member. The fact is that, with regard to the workforce support policy, I will determine, in consultation with the Public Service Commissioner, if that can be supplied to the members opposite and, if it can, I will certainly do so. Within the bounds of the collective agreement and our work with the union, I will seek that information for the member opposite.
The fact is we are working closely with Yukon government employees and Yukoners on renewal, and renewal will prepare this government, not only for devolution and the successful and seamless transfer on April 1, 2003, it will also prepare this government to provide better services to Yukoners, which I note the Association of Yukon Communities has recognized and welcomed as recently as November 9.
Question re: Government renewal process
Mr. Fairclough: It appears that the Premier and her officials have different views on how many people are going to be laid off during project downsize.
Our economy is in a mess; there may or may not be a pipeline to come save us here in the Yukon; the Education Act review has come off its rails; there are several outstanding land claims still to be settled; the deadline for devolution has been pushed back a year.
With all the priority issues this government should be working on, why is the Premier rushing ahead with the downsizing and privatization initiatives at this time?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: It's difficult for me to answer that question because I'm not rushing ahead, as the member opposite is suggesting with his view of the world.
What this government has done is achieve a devolution transfer agreement. No other government has done that. We have concluded negotiations on the Ta'an Kwach'an final land claim. We are continuing our work on negotiating the others. And the fact is that, much as the members opposite can suggest otherwise, building permits are up, wholesale sales are up and retail sales are up, and the fact is that unemployment in October was the lowest it has been since 1996, when they were in power.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure why this Liberal government would go to the point of avoiding every question that we ask on this side of the House.
Devolution is not completed. All kinds of things could come into view and delay that whole process yet.
It seems clear that the Premier had no idea what she was embarking upon when she started this so-called renewal process. A few days ago, the head of the government employees union said that they won't know the names of the new departments until next month. Even then, there will be many details to work out.
Will the Premier now admit that her renewed government will be virtually identical to the model she outlined in June, at the very beginning of this hasty process?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: No, Mr. Speaker. The fact is that, in June, we embarked upon discussions with Yukoners about a renewed Yukon government. We provided ideas for Yukoners to start talking about. The fact is we anticipate, in mid-December, announcing the structure, and the structure is one component of renewal. Renewal is also about accountability, which I have spoken about at length in this House. It's also about the corporate culture of government. There is a lot of work to do on the part of renewal. I am advised that the members opposite have a briefing either later this week or had it today, I'm not certain of their schedule. I hope they pay close attention during that briefing, as many of these misconceptions that the members opposite wish to perpetuate will be answered fully, as I have tried to answer them.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister's office scheduled a briefing for tomorrow. We haven't had it yet, Mr. Speaker. The Premier introduced a capital budget this fall to help provide certainty to contractors and to suppliers, at least in theory, and the budget doesn't give any certainty to communities or community organizations that count on government help to support their work. Now it looks as if this whole capital budget process will have to be done all over again some time in the spring.
Will the Premier tell us how much delay her project-downsize folly will cause at the beginning of the spring sitting and debate on the revised capital budget and the O&M budget for the spring of 2002-03? How much delay?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, renewal will not delay this government's operation and the work of this government. Renewal will enhance our service delivery to Yukoners; it will enhance the Yukon government as a place to work, and it will recognize the hard work of public servants who want to have their suggestions heard on how to deliver services. The members seem to have some difficulty with the fact that we have taken the time to listen to what over 800 Government of Yukon and Government of Canada employees have had to tell us about how to deliver better government.
That's what we're doing. We've listened to what they've had to say. We are analyzing those, and that analysis will contribute to renewal and a renewed structure of the Government of Yukon come mid-December. The work will not end in mid-December, Mr. Speaker. We are going to continue to ensure we improve the Government of Yukon's services and that we are ready and can accommodate devolution.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed.
Notice of government private members' business
Mr. McLachlan: Pursuant to Standing Order 4(7), I would like to inform the House that the government private members do not wish to identify any items to be called on Wednesday, November 14, 2001, under the heading Government Private Members' Business.
Speaker: We will now proceed to Orders of the Day. Government Bills.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 46, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Eftoda.
Bill No. 46: Second Reading
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I move that Bill No. 46, entitled Parks and Land Certainty Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Renewable Resources that Bill No. 46, entitled Parks and Land Certainty Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me to speak to the new Parks and Land Certainty Act that is intended to replace the Yukon Parks Act. That legislation was developed back in the late 1970s and early 1980s primarily to manage our campgrounds in Yukon, Mr. Speaker. Just as many changes have occurred in Yukon over the past 25 years, there has been the need to bring in a modern parks act that recognizes the number of legal and political changes that have also occurred.
We have seen the settlement of Yukon First Nation land claims and implementation of many of those agreements. We have seen the adoption of the Yukon protected areas strategy as Yukon's commitment to national and international agreements that speak to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. And we have seen the language and administrative procedures of the old act become outdated as changes occur in a way the Yukon government makes decisions and conducts its daily businesses.
The existing Parks Act has not been amended since 1991. That was 10 years ago, Mr. Speaker.
The department has experienced first-hand the difficulties in using this outdated piece of legislation. I am proud that this government has the courage and conviction to now tackle this piece of legislation.
Successive governments have supported and endorsed parks creation with statements in the Legislature. Mr. Mickey Fisher, the Yukon Party's former Minister of Renewable Resources and Economic Development, stated, "We want to identify a potential park in each one of those ecoregions."
And Mr. Ostashek, the former Yukon Party leader, stated, "...we believed that it was possible to have protected spaces and a system of parks without prejudicing economic development opportunities in the mining industry in the Yukon."
This was made after adding Yukon to the protected spaces 2000 campaign.
From the Member for Kluane - and this is quite a lengthy quote, Mr. Speaker: "There is a great deal of evidence from other places showing that protected areas bring economic benefits and jobs to local communities, provide long-term stability, diversify the economy and ensure subsistence food harvests.
"A completed protected areas network will bring more certainty for industries such as mining and forestry regarding where they can and cannot operate."
And he goes on to say, Mr. Speaker, "The Yukon needs to diversify its economy. There is no better time than now to add other sectors to our economy that's overly dependent on resource extraction. Protected areas don't subtract from the economy; they add to it. Protected areas will have a serious impact on the economy; however, it will be a positive impact, Mr. Speaker."
This act is not about creating more parks, which has been recently indicated by some members opposite. That decision is one that will ultimately be left up to Cabinet.
Instead, the proposed changes that are now before this House will give the government the legal authority and the necessary tools to establish and manage parks that are created through YPAS or under land claims agreements. We presently do not have adequate legislative authority to do that. This is one major reason why we have introduced this legislation.
As members know, this government has truly, truly listened to Yukoners. We have drafted provisions in the act to reflect the recommendations that were presented to us from the YPAS Public Advisory Committee review conducted last February and April. Changes resulting directly from the public process will result in significant improvements to how the protected areas strategy will be implemented. The new preamble reflects how this government intends to establish YPAS parks in Yukon.
Some of these changes have been made to provide a new direction for YPAS that will achieve balance between the economy and the environment. For example, existing legal interests in land are recognized and will be provided for when parks are established in Yukon. Hunting, trapping, outfitting and wilderness tourism will continue in parks and be managed through the Wildlife Act and through the Wilderness Tourism Licensing Act. We will establish only one representative goal 1 protected area in each of the 13 remaining, unrepresented ecoregions located in Yukon by April 30, 2003.
Where a settlement agreement park adequately represents an ecoregion, Mr. Speaker, we will not duplicate that with another goal 1 area.
We recognize that not all land claims have been settled and that not all SMAs have been finalized. If an area that we were interested in for a goal 1 area protected area overlaps with the special management areas agreed upon or are being negotiated with any specific First Nation, we will consult and work cooperatively with that particular First Nation before any public announcements are made.
Mr. Speaker, this act creates certainty: certainty that we can protect and manage parks in Yukon and continue to provide recreational opportunities for Yukoners and visitors, and certainty that other land resources in the Yukon will be available for exploration and development.
When the remaining 13 areas of interest are established by April 2003, the Yukon protected areas strategy will be completed and no more goal 1 land areas will be identified or protected.
That is what industry asked for - land certainty to attract investment for economic development. Through our commitment to complete protected areas by April 2003, investors will have that certainty.
I would like to reiterate the four key reasons for bringing the new Parks and Land Certainty Act before this House. The Yukon protected areas strategy is a concept that did not exist 25 years ago. The new act reflects the government's new direction on YPAS, as well as the concepts and language of the Yukon protected areas strategy. The Parks and Land Certainty Act will provide the government with the necessary tools to manage those parks that are established under YPAS.
The concept of parks established as a result of land claims agreements also did not exist 25 years ago. This legislation now allows us to create and manage those settlement parks, as well, and we will do so cooperatively with First Nation governments pursuant to their final agreements. We also felt it was important to reorganize the old act, to make it more readable and easier to understand. Finally, Mr. Speaker, we have had to update administrative procedures and enforcement in light of recent court decisions and for greater clarity.
This government is committed to rebuilding the Yukon economy while continuing to respect our unique environment. The Parks and Land Certainty Act will help us achieve that balance and leave a legacy for future generations of Yukoners. Mr. Speaker, it does warm my heart to know that the opposition parties are in favour of parks and protected areas, and I ask that they reaffirm their support with the expeditious passing of this bill.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. McRobb: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure for me to address this bill on second reading. In principle, we do support this legislation; however, we do have some issues with the bill as it's written that we will be pursuing in clause-by-clause in Committee. I'll identify what some of them are for the minister to help him prepare for that debate.
Overall, we believe this legislation falls short of what the Liberals promised. It's not a bottom-up process; it's a top-down process. The legislation was drafted with no consultation with Yukon stakeholder groups.
So it was a backroom process, Mr. Speaker, and that we find very concerning.
The minister mentioned that there is only one goal 1 area per ecoregion. We wonder why. This seems to contradict his rationale for not imposing a cap on the total land mass in the territory. Why predetermine which areas are very important and will receive the highest level of protection within each ecoregion? It doesn't make sense.
We're also concerned that there's no requirement for public consultation in selecting park boundaries or for the purpose of any park. In fact, the minister can unilaterally select goal 1 areas on his own, without any consultation, and that we also find very concerning.
So, for these issues and others, Mr. Speaker, we'll be looking forward to discussing this legislation in Committee.
I'd also like to thank the many people within the government departments who worked very hard in drafting this legislation over the years. There were several of them, and they deserve recognition. It has been quite a challenge, to say the least, to put it all together, and we in the official opposition thank them for the job they did. We also realize that the shortcomings we see in this legislation are not the doings of the departmental personnel, Mr. Speaker. They were just acting on the political direction from this Liberal government. We understand how that process works.
So that's about it. We look forward to addressing this in detail in Committee.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, this Parks and Land Certainty Act, given that it will probably only provide certainty that there will be more parks, is not an act that our party can support in its present form.
We were told that the old act was simply there to manage campgrounds. That is simply not the case. The old act was brought in to create the new park on Herschel Island, which established Yukon's sovereignty over that area. So the purpose of the original act was there for an intended purpose - to create parks - and it was used for that purpose for which it was intended.
Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, when the Yukon Party signed on to the protected areas strategy, it was based on multiple use within these parks, and that was in the old act. It is certainly not contained in the new act. In fact, the new act specifically excludes a lot of these initiatives.
We're also very concerned that there was really no public process on this act. It was a process that started at the minister's desk. It was directed from that venue and was basically outlined as a top-down process. And that's exactly what it is. Public input, public consultation, any of the resource groups that attempted to have any input into it - no one really knew that this act existed until it was brought forward, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, I could go on and on and on, but this is not an act that I can support in its present format. There are a number of areas that do not accurately reflect what should be there. We're headed down a very dangerous course with the government's current agenda, and that is to create nothing but parks in the Yukon.
Under this government, investor confidence has virtually been annihilated here in the Yukon; it doesn't exist any more in any of the resource sectors. That's because no one knows whether they'll be able to access the land for the purpose they originally either purchased it or staked it.
Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, that is really the foundation of our economic well-being here in the Yukon. Under this government, they have managed the full transition of the economic base of the Yukon going from mining, mineral exploration, forestry, some oil and gas and our visitor industry to one that's virtually dependent on handouts from the political Liberal puppet masters in Ottawa.
Mr. Speaker, that's where we're at today, and this act goes further along those lines in establishing the game plan as to how this Liberal government here in the Yukon is going to accomplish it.
Mr. Speaker, I will not be supporting this act. I'm just terribly disappointed in the whole process. For a government that says they're open and accountable, they have been none of those. They certainly haven't been open on this issue, and they certainly haven't been accountable to Yukoners on this issue.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. Kent: It is my pleasure to speak to the new Parks and Land Certainty Act. I would first like to applaud the Minister of Renewable Resources as well as his department officials and my department officials for the hard work that they have put into assembling this piece of legislation.
From an economic development perspective, the key words are "certainty" and "balance". While my colleague, the Minister of Renewable Resources, has highlighted the ecological benefits that the act will bring, I would like to take a few minutes to talk about the economics of this piece of legislation.
I am well aware of the need for a workable balance between the economy and the environment. This act will help bring about a balance for all Yukoners, and it will provide certainty for those looking to do business in the Yukon. The act defines the types of industrial and commercial development allowed within some types of parks. Industry will now know exactly what their operating rules are and will be able to tailor their operations to meet the regulations set out in this act. The act ensures that industries such as mining, forestry and oil and gas can flourish while still respecting the land, which is important to all of us.
A large measure of support for the act comes from the fact that this act will avoid existing industrial third-party interests, as well as areas with high resource potential for industry wherever possible. Where they cannot be avoided, all third-party legal rights will be respected, including the rights associated with surface access. In addition, existing non-industrial and recreational uses will continue within an identified area. Non-industrial businesses include outfitting, trapping, wilderness tourism and commercial fishing.
Mr. Speaker, it is important to note that other land and resources in the Yukon will be available for development. As the Minister of Renewable Resources mentioned, when the 13 remaining areas of interest are established by April 2003, the Yukon protected areas strategy will be completed and no more goal 1 land will be identified or protected.
The bottom line, Mr. Speaker, is that land certainty will attract investment for economic development, and this act will provide that certainty. This government is committed to rebuilding and diversifying the Yukon economy while respecting the environment. This act will help us achieve that balance, and I look forward to supporting it.
Thank you very much.
Mr. Fentie: On the Parks and Land Certainty Act, it's clear that this government, the Liberal government across the floor, have simply made a very illogical attempt to honour their commitment to enshrine the Yukon protected areas strategy in process and legislation. This is not what was envisioned by the people who accepted that commitment by this Liberal government, and as the Premier puts it far too often, "the contract with the Yukon people". Well, that contract has been broken.
This very feeble attempt to live up to that commitment and honour that commitment does not bring the certainty that the Minister of Economic Development speaks of, nor does it bring the certainty that the Minister of Renewable Resources speaks of. What it does is set up the spectre for backroom deals, which we all know that this Liberal government across the floor has a propensity to conduct. Simply put, this is a far cry from what this Liberal government committed to Yukoners when it comes to enshrining the protected areas in legislation.
Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, when a grassroots process, a bottom-up process, is completely scuttled and, in its place, we now have a minister of this Liberal government with the full power to make the decisions on protected areas in this territory, we are now adding to uncertainty. We are creating a situation where trust in the public is now gone. There is absolutely no reason for this Liberal government to attempt such a thing unless it is the facts - that they are actively pursuing little deals on the side to solve some of their problems with many groups in this territory. And this will not bode well for this territory and its people now and into the future.
What we're saying on this side of the House clearly is that this Liberal government get back to its commitment to the public and truly enshrine the protected areas strategy in legislation, not this ill-advised attempt to honour that commitment. We will not be supporting this particular act.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, it's my pleasure to speak to the new Parks and Land Certainty Act. An important part of the act is the adoption of the Yukon protected areas strategy as Yukon's commitment to national and international agreements.
I'm amazed to listen to the Member for Watson Lake indicate that the NDP is abandoning the parks and the Yukon protected areas strategy about which the Member for Mayo-Tatchun said, in 1997, that it will take a lot of hard work and that's why we're proceeding, that we're going to make sure that it's right and we will deal with the Yukon protected areas strategy. But now the Member for Watson Lake - perhaps he's the new leader and didn't tell us - is speaking for the party and saying that they have abandoned it.
Our party campaigned on a commitment to enshrine the protected areas strategy in legislation, and we have done that. It is another campaign promise made and kept, another part of our contract fulfilled. We're doing what we said we would do.
And, Mr. Speaker, it's fascinating to listen to the Member for Klondike say that the Parks Act is completely inappropriate for this piece of legislation and for YPAS when, in fact, I sat in a debate with his former leader, who said that this is exactly what needed to be done. It's amazing that those who do not know their history are destined to repeat it. We'll see what happens to the Member for Klondike.
The completed protected areas network will bring more certainty for industry, such as mining and forestry, regarding where they can and cannot operate. And how often have I heard that that is what industry and those interested in economic development in this territory, as well as those interested in a balance of stewardship and the environment, have spoken of - certainly, about the need to ensure that certainty and the steps are listed in legislation, that it's an open process.
I would encourage the members opposite, again, to read the legislation, and they will see that it's an important process that reports to the Legislature, to this body of Yukoners duly elected to speak and to listen on behalf of Yukoners. This government, as members know, has truly listened to Yukoners. There are divergent views but, overwhelmingly, Yukoners want balance in this territory and a recognition of the stewardship role that government must play, and in the need to provide certainty.
We have drafted provisions in the act to reflect the recommendations that were presented to us from the Yukon Protected Areas Strategy Public Advisory Committee review that was conducted last February and April. We said that we would listen to what went wrong last time under the previous administration, that we would fix and we would put it in legislation. We have done that. That is exactly what this legislation does.
Changes resulting directly from that public process result in significant improvements to how the protected areas strategy will be implemented. The protected areas strategy of today is a vast improvement over the protected areas strategy brought forward by the previous government. That truly was a selection in the Cabinet offices by very few and without working with all Yukoners.
We made significant improvements to the process, including the public accountability. For example, hunting, trapping, outfitting and wilderness tourism will continue in parks and be managed through the Wildlife Act and the Wilderness Tourism Licensing Act. This certainty did not exist under the previous government.
We will establish only one representative goal 1 protected area in each of the 13 remaining unrepresented ecoregions located in the Yukon by April 30, 2003. Where a settlement agreement park adequately represents an ecoregion, we will not duplicate that with another goal 1 area. We recognize that not all land claims have been settled and that not all special management areas have been finalized. If an area that we are interested in for goal 1 protected area overlaps special management areas agreed upon or that are being negotiated with First Nations, we will consult and work cooperatively with that particular First Nation before any public announcement is made.
Again, that's not part of the old plan, Mr. Speaker. Our government is very proud of the act we are passing today. The public knows that we support this bill. We're introducing it and we have done it. We have fulfilled our part of the contract. What the public does not know, except for the comments from the Member for Watson Lake, is that, all of a sudden, it seems that the New Democratic Party has shifted its position on this bill.
Mr. Speaker, I look forward to the vote and the Committee debate on this bill.
Going back to 1997, I note that we supported the development of the Yukon protected areas strategy. We looked forward to the hard work and, when it went wrong under the previous government, we pledged to Yukoners that not only would we look at why it went wrong but we would fix it and make sure that it didn't go wrong again, by putting it in legislation. This Legislature is accountable to the people of the Yukon, and we as members are accountable for our actions in it, and our actions are to bring forward the Yukon Parks and Land Certainty Act, which is what we said we would do.
Mr. Speaker, it is a very well-done piece of legislation and I look forward to all members' support of it and debate upon it.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to make a few comments on this proposed act that the minister is bringing forward for us to all agree upon and pass in this House.
First of all, Mr. Speaker, it was this minister who said that YPAS did not work. It didn't work. It was wrong and needed to be fixed. Under the protected areas strategy under the NDP, there was the creation of Fishing Branch, and that minister said it didn't work - 6,400 square kilometres of protected area and that minister said it didn't work. Well, that was pretty embarrassing for those hard-working individuals up north putting together this protected area, but to the minister, it didn't work at the time, and they were going to fix the process, the strategy.
And what went wrong? What they wanted to do in fixing the process and the strategy was to water it down and maybe make a commitment to the public that they fulfilled a promise. Is that how they do it, by watering the process down like this? Mr. Speaker, I find that this is quite embarrassing for those individuals who had worked so hard on putting together the strategy. If the Liberal government thinks that we're the ones who made a mistake by bringing forward this strategy, they're wrong, Mr. Speaker, because it was Yukoners who put this strategy together.
And, Mr. Speaker, I didn't hear any of the Yukoners say, "Well, there are 23 ecoregions; let's just take three of them off and not even bother with them." But the Premier just said that she will, and the minister responsible for this act said they will. The Minister of Economic Development said that's what the plans are - let somebody else do the work. I think that's wrong, and it is only when there is an overlap in a special management area, it is only then that the Premier said that they will consult. Well, doesn't that go in the face of all the individuals who put together this strategy, the protected areas strategy?
Mr. Speaker, consultation first. I thought it was a member from the opposite side who said consultation is the backbone of the Liberal Party, but we have seen next to no consultation take place on many, many things in this House. So what does that mean? Is there no backbone over there, Mr. Speaker? Why can't this Liberal government put together a strong position and protect the strategy that Yukoners developed in legislation and not have it watered down?
It was those people who put together the strategy that said that they would work with those First Nations who already had a ratified land claim agreement, and it is this government that said they would have it completed by April 2003. I find that their priorities are now switching from negotiating the land claims agreement, which we haven't seen on the floor of this Legislature yet, except for one that was done 10 years ago and is now signed off. The members well know that. It's only through small changes that the membership went ahead and ratified their agreement.
Mr. Speaker, I was quite shocked at how watered down this Liberal government has taken the strategy. They have taken it from the people making the decisions to, "Government will tell you." It is a "Liberals know best" attitude with this strategy. It's shameful and embarrassing and should not even have come on to the floor of this Legislature until they had adequate consultation with the public about what they should expect to come out of legislation protecting the strategy.
It's because of those types of things that we could not support this, unless the minister is going to make some amendments to the act when we go into third reading. Then we'll have a good look at it. The way it stands now, we can't support something that's watered down and brought forward by this minister. It's not even creating certainty like the Minister of Economic Development said. It's more uncertain.
The uncertainty is that this Liberal government is making all the decisions. As a matter of fact, I think those decisions have been already made. Where are the goal 1 areas? That's the other thing - there's only one. That contradicts what is said in the strategy. If there is a new strategy, where is it? What strategy is being enshrined in legislation here?
Mr. Speaker, this Liberal government should be ashamed of bringing something watered down like that to the floor of this Legislature, without going out and consulting with the general public.
Speaker: If the member now speaks, he will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I am not at all surprised at the verbal venom coming from the members opposite because, unfortunately, unless they want to get out of the office, Mr. Speaker, they feel that, if we don't directly consult with them, then we are not consulting at all.
Well, quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, we don't want to consult with the members opposite, because it wouldn't matter if we did or not - we would get the same rhetoric here in the House.
We have consulted extensively. The members opposite know full well. The leader of the official opposition has indicated that he recognized that they missed steps in the process with respect to Fishing Branch. So, quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, Fishing Branch occurred despite the efforts of the members opposite - not because of the process, but despite the members.
As a matter of fact, the Member for Kluane also recognized that they dropped the ball when they attempted to practice the first go-round with YPAS. And during the election, it was the leader of the government of that day who recognized that they had to fix some things up.
Well, Mr. Speaker, they were advised directly. If they would have followed the process, we wouldn't be here now. We would already have a well-functioning YPAS. But, Mr. Speaker, when they dropped the ball, they dropped the trust factor with a significant part of Yukoners, namely the business community - not recognizing or respecting the business community.
As a matter of fact, now the Member for Klondike says he's going to oppose this bill. And in the Yukon News on Friday, November 2, "Yukon protected areas strategy, when done properly, is a very, very good strategy. We have no quarrel with it and our own party has no quarrel with it."
And yet he sits here and says that they aren't going to support this bill. Well, Mr. Speaker, quite frankly, the process has never been tested properly, because the members opposite, speaking of backroom deals, Mr. Speaker - they are professionals at it, professionals. And they know full well there were backroom deals that went on at the first application of a protected areas strategy on Fishing Branch. And it was to the good will afforded to the tenacity of the people from Old Crow that established a protected area up there on Fishing Branch, not what the members opposite did, Mr. Speaker.
So the leader of the official opposition states that he is embarrassed that we're doing what we're doing. Well, he should be embarrassed, Mr. Speaker, because it was as a result of his direct interference that caused us to still be going a year and a half later on repairing the protected areas strategy.
Well, Mr. Speaker, we will be moving forward with the protected areas strategy, and we have had positive, positive comments from a lot more Yukoners than the members opposite, who just sit by their phone and wait for them to call. We actually get out and talk to the communities, Mr. Speaker. The members opposite get upset about that. They don't like the fact we get out to their communities, en masse, that we talk to elected officials in the community, like councils, like the elected officials in the First Nations. They don't like it because we get the facts when we're there, and we know how the members opposite feel about facts.
So, Mr. Speaker, we have done our homework. We have listened to Yukoners for 18 months now on how we should be handling YPAS, and we're going to do better than they could ever have imagined.
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.
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. 46 agreed to
Bill No. 48: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 48, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Eftoda.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I move that Bill No. 48, entitled Wildlife Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Renewable Resources that Bill No. 48, entitled Wildlife Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: It is a pleasure for me to formally introduce the Yukon Wildlife Act. Members may recall that when we set out last February to bring about these changes, we were going to carry out this review and amending process in a three-stage manner. The first phase will bring about changes to enforcement provisions in response to the Canadian Charter and recent court decisions. Our second phase, which we will be consulting with Yukoners on shortly, deals with provisions for the protection of species at risk. The third phase, which we have scheduled for next year, will be to provide consistency with land claims agreements.
The proposed legislation that I have tabled for your review is the first step in this three-phased approach to changing the Wildlife Act. Members will recall that we issued a discussion paper that outlined the issues and asked the public to provide comments on over a 60-day period in February and March of this year. We received over 50 responses from individuals and groups. In preparing this legislation, we considered those responses along with some new ideas proposed by the respondents themselves that were not included in the discussion paper. We then incorporated those comments in the drafting instructions for the proposed act.
Throughout this process, we have worked closely with the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board to develop this legislation to make sure it represents the broad public interest of all Yukoners. I would also like to bring the members' attention to the new change in how this document is being presented. Throughout our public consultations, we described this initiative as an amendment to the Wildlife Act; however, once the comments were gathered and considered, it became evident that simple wording amendments would not be adequate; therefore, this is a new, formatted Wildlife Act and not an amendment to the old act. The act contains all the elements of the old act; however, in looking at the changes, legislative drafters realized that, to give effect to the changes, the most efficient process would be to repeal and replace the old act with this new legislation. Although all changes are within the scope of the phase 1 process, modernizing the legislation, improving the structure and the format of the act meant we had to move or change virtually every section in some way.
Even changes dealing with gender neutrality and modern plain language resulted in changes to almost every section of the act.
Amending the act would have required noting the amendment to each section. It would have made the legislation probably twice as long as it is now, and would have made the document much less readable than it is.
The goals for phase 1 could not have been accomplished without reorganizing the act.
This new format will put us in a very good position to meet the much-needed changes for phase 2 and phase 3.
Here are some of the key changes you are going to be asked to consider. We have improved the structure, format and language of the act to streamline and simplify it, to make it easier to understand and to flow logically from one section to the next. Changes are being proposed that will not only ensure that our enforcement provisions reflect modern practices found in resource management legislation in other jurisdictions in Canada but, most importantly, that we will be consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Criminal Code of Canada.
The changes provided the framework for placing conditions on licences, permits, certificates and concessions so that the government will not have to draft separate regulations for every individual case where a term or condition needs to be placed on an authorization.
We've moved to clarify the residency provisions for Yukon hunters, trappers, and outfitters, so that they are consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
New hunters will be required to take a hunter education and ethics development course before they are issued a hunting licence. This will also apply to non-resident hunters who have not taken a similar course in other jurisdictions.
We have improved the wording to clearly explain which hunting practices are considered dangerous and which are not.
We have also clarified the roles and authorities of staff, the minister and Cabinet in the administration of this legislation. New wording will clarify how we will manage trade in wildlife and how we will deal with captive, live wildlife. These changes are to provide clarity for the trapping and outfitting industry on how the respective areas are conducted.
There will be a public review process if people disagree with the conditions placed on authorizations that affect their livelihood. One of the major considerations that has been on the minds of the public and the courts is to increase the penalties and the time for prosecutions. The current range calls for maximum financial penalties ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. Our new proposal would put the maximum penalties in the $50,000 to $100,000 range, which is consistent with similar penalties in other jurisdictions in Canada.
Finally, we are making provisions for the creation of a conservation fund. During our public consultations, several organizations wanted to have some say in how the money from the fund would be spent. We will undertake further consultations with the public to discuss how these monies should be collected and disbursed before the fund is actually implemented.
I want to thank the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board for its advice and assistance during this drafting of this phase of the act. And I would also like to thank, from the bottom of my heart, the department staff and the drafters for their monumental work on this phase. I look forward to further co-operative efforts as the legislation is developed over the next two phases - species at risk and the change required because of Yukon First Nations land claims agreements. And I would also like to thank all those Yukoners who have participated in the consultation process.
And I thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. McRobb: This Wildlife Act is, indeed, something we in the official opposition can support. We certainly have some issues that we'll be going over in more detail in Committee, and we may even have an amendment or two to propose as well, Mr. Speaker.
This is an act that covers several different areas. I believe the minister has spelled them out rather well, and it's something we believe Yukoners can support as well. I would also like to thank the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board and all participants in the public consultation process for refining the act and dealing with the public in the way they did.
The department personnel, again, deserve recognition, as do the drafters of the legislation. It is a sizable document and required a lot of work to prepare.
So, there's not much more to say at this time, Mr. Speaker, until we have the opportunity to review the act in more detail.
Mr. Jenkins: We're in general support of the Wildlife Act as proposed by the minister. We do have some serious reservations with a number of sections in the act itself and would urge the minister to re-examine these sections.
One of the areas that is a great cause for concern is that usually there is a lot more in the regulations that are developed than in the acts themselves, and a lot more restriction in the regulations and a lot more work for the legal profession flowing from the regulations that from the actual terms and conditions of the act.
Let's just examine one specific area that the minister mentions that he has enhanced in this new Wildlife Act. Let's look at the residency requirement for the granting of a hunting licence, and let's just examine, Mr. Speaker, the number of pieces of legislation that this Yukon government has in place with respect to what qualifies you as a Yukoner. Let's first look at the Yukon Elections Act and see the definition of a Yukoner contained therein. Then let's go and look at the Yukon Municipal Act and the residency contained therein. And then let's go to the Yukon health care and see what the residency requirement for Yukon health care coverage is. And then let's go into the recently announced definition of a Yukoner for purposes of being hired or considered for employment, or a priority position of employment by the Yukon government.
Mr. Speaker, is it fair and reasonable that there would be so much of a variance of the definition of "residency" among all of these various pieces of legislation? And the Wildlife Act contains one of the longest provisions for residency before being granted a hunting licence. Whether I agree with that or do not agree with that is not the issue. When we examine all of the various Yukon pieces of legislation and the residency requirement as to what qualifies you as a Yukoner, it's all over the wall. This government has failed to introduce any consistency in this matter.
And when you look at the issues that go before the courts stemming from the Wildlife Act, quite a number of the issues brought to the courts by officials in this minister's department stem from hunting licences being granted, and the question arises as to whether they are Yukon residents or not.
I'm sure this government has to sit back and ask itself the question: is this fair and reasonable? Now, I appreciate that the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board has been consulted and various jurisdictions have various timelines for residency before being able to obtain a license for the purpose of hunting, but one seriously has to question why so many definitions of Yukon residency are required in the various pieces of legislation.
I guess this is another example of the Yukon government of the day putting Yukoners to work because, stemming from these changes that are being proposed, I am sure what it is going to do is keep a lot of lawyers here in the Yukon at work over the next period of time after this act has been assented to. That has been the case in the past with the Wildlife Act, and I am sure it will not go unchanged. I am sure that there is a lot that this minister can do to bring some certainty, and I would ask him to re-examine some of these areas.
Speaker: If the member now speaks, he will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: It is always a delight in this House when we do come to a collective agreement on anything. So I very much appreciate the supportive comments that I received from the Member for Klondike in support of the act, and I will be eagerly anticipating what suggestions and recommendations he will have with respect to amendments. But I am quite tickled that he is overall happy with the redraft.
I'm not at all surprised, Mr. Speaker, although disappointed at the comments from the Member for Klondike, even though he did start off with a general support statement on the Wildlife Act. I do always appreciate construction criticism from the members opposite, but I know that the Member for Klondike isn't always willing to work in a cooperative way.
But I hear what the member is saying with respect to residency issues, and I know that Yukon has a goodly number of legislation, and they do all have a unique characteristic with respect to residency.
So that specific comment is something that I'll certainly take into consideration.
I am looking forward to debating this bill. I think, again, that, as the Member for Kluane recognized, it has been a bit of an albatross around the neck of Renewable Resources in indicating a respect for our wildlife populations, which have to have the protection from other Yukoners, and respect for the wildlife resource as it is.
So I very much appreciated the comments from the Member for Kluane and I look forward to a speedy passage of this bill in the House.
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: Agree.
Mr. Fentie: Agree.
Mr. Keenan: Agree.
Mr. McRobb: Agree.
Mrs. Peter: Agree.
Mr. Jenkins: Agree.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 16 yea, nil nay.
Speaker: The ayes have it. I declare the motion carried.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 48 agreed to
Mr. McLachlan: Mr. Speaker, I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve itself into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: Good afternoon everyone. I now call Committee of the Whole to order. The Committee of the Whole will recess until 3:15 p.m.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Before beginning Committee of the Whole today, the Chair would like to comment on the events that transpired in Committee last Thursday.
During Committee of the Whole last Thursday, members raised several points of order. One statement that caused Ms. Buckway to raise a point of order was not heard by the Chair, as he was conferring with table officers on another point at the time.
The Chair said he would review the record as to what was said and get back to the Committee with a ruling. The Chair has now had the opportunity to review the Blues and will rule on the point of order in question.
Ms. Buckway raised the point of order in response to Mr. Jenkins' assertion that issues surrounding the Deep Creek community plan "had all to do with the support that this minister is providing to a constituent for land".
Ms. Buckway argued that Mr. Jenkins' statement was out of order because it expressed as fact something that was clearly Mr. Jenkins' opinion. Confusion over whether there was a point of order may have resulted from the comments by me earlier on Thursday. At one point Ms. Buckway, in reference to Mr. Jenkins, said, "This member is well known for inventing situations out of nothing."
In ruling on that statement, the Chair made the point that the Legislature is a forum for opinion. The Chair advised members that if they made it clear their comments were meant as expressions of opinion, rather than statements of fact, they would be in order. After reviewing the Blues of last Thursday, it is clear that this rephrasing is not getting us where we need to be in terms of the tone and content of debate, as well as demeanour.
I refer members to Standing Order 19(g), which directs the Chair to call to order any member who "imputes false or unavowed motives to another member."
On more than one occasion, Ms. Buckway explained the delay related to the Deep Creek community plan in terms of the need to update some of the material in it. Also, on more than one occasion, Mr. Jenkins suggested that the delay was in fact due to the relationship between Ms. Buckway and a constituent and that the community plan would be held up until this constituent got the land he desired.
In doing so, Mr. Jenkins attributed to Ms. Buckway a motive that Ms. Buckway did not avow. The Chair rules therefore that Mr. Jenkins' assertion that issues surrounding the Deep Creek community plan "had all to do with the support that this minister is providing to a constituent for land" was unparliamentary, and would be so whether it was expressed as an opinion or a fact.
At the same time the Chair would also make the point that Ms. Buckway's claim about Mr. Jenkins - that he is well known for inventing situations out of nothing - was also unparliamentary whether it is expressed as opinion or fact.
In debating issues, members are free to offer their own version of events. This version may clash with those presented by others. As Beauchesne's tells us, "this may result in the House having to accept two contradictory accounts of the same incident." That is the essence of a dispute as to facts between members. It is not the Chair's responsibility to sort out those facts. What members can not do during debate is question the motives of another member in doing what they have done. Further, members cannot question the character of other members during debate.
When a member has concluded, as did Mr. Jenkins on November 8, that the facts in his possession lead to a charge against another member being justified, that member has two options. First, the member may take action, pursuant to the Conflict of Interest (Members and Ministers) Act, to lay a complaint with the conflicts commissioner.
Second, the member may bring the matter before the House in a substantive motion specifying the charge and the remedy to be made.
This ruling is consistent with rulings made by Speaker Bruce, Speaker Johnston and Speaker Devries. It does stem from a ruling by Speaker Michener in 1959. Speaker Michener said that simple justice requires that no member should have to submit to investigation of his or her conduct by the House or a committee until he or she has been charged with an offence. The proper procedure for charging a member with an offence is to move a substantive motion containing the charge and a proposal for dealing with it.
As a result, I will now place before the House how I will be ruling on this. Members are free to offer their version of events. This version may clash with others. That's a dispute between facts. Members cannot question the motives of another member in doing what they have done. That is not allowed under our Standing Orders and it will now be consistent with rulings. Changing of phrases, if it still contains an accusation, is not allowed under the rules of this House.
We will now continue with Committee of the Whole.
Bill No. 7 - Second Appropriation Act, 2001-02 - continued
Department of Community and Transportation Services - continued
Chair: We were in line-by-line debate. Is there any further debate?
On Land Development - continued
On Residential - continued
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The Member for Klondike had asked about a part of that line item - the $193,000 revote for provision of Dawson City Dredge Pond subdivision servicing. He asked what steps are being taken to ensure that lot purchasers are given clear title to a lot that contains a dredge pond and that they will not be stopped by Department of Fisheries from filling them in.
The department has checked with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and they have not shut down any lot owners from filling ponds within the Dredge Pond subdivision.
In 1997-98, the department conducted a detailed fisheries habitat assessment in the Klondike Valley tailings ponds, within the area of the Dredge Pond and Callison subdivisions. The study was reviewed with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in order to establish which ponds could be filled, the setbacks from ponds that may have fish habitat potential, and to finalize lot layouts and property line setbacks.
None of the ponds within lots in the Dredge Pond subdivision contain potential fish habitat and they can be filled in.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the First Nation are working together on a fish habitat assessment for the First Nation land. Previously, the department advised the First Nation that they may want to carry out a detailed fish habitat assessment for their land and work with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans prior to proceeding with any detailed land development project planning. My department's transportation engineering branch has conducted studies of the tailings ponds along the Klondike Highway and, in the future, they will be seeking DFO approval to fill them in.
Mr. Jenkins: So, based on what the minister read into the record, could I ask the minister to confirm that any purchaser of any of these Dredge Pond lots, that there is no trouble, whatsoever, when filling in a dredge pond contained on their titled piece of land?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: That would be our understanding. They have not shut down any in the past.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans has spent a lot of time watching anyone who's filling in any of the tailings ponds on any of these areas, Mr. Chair, and I don't think it's as black and white as what we're being advised.
There are still a number of contentious issues, and the federal Department of Fisheries has shut down the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in from their land development and from going ahead and filling in tailings ponds. That's a given; that I'm very much aware of.
There are a number of individuals who currently have purchased these lots that the Government of the Yukon has offered for sale, and they've been cautioned by the federal Department of Fisheries and they're very reluctant to move ahead. But if the minister's assurance is there that, for any of these dredge ponds contained within the boundaries of these titled lots, that there is no problem whatsoever in filling them in, can the minister confirm that, if there is a problem, that her department will back up and support any potential court challenges that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans may levy in this regard?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has told us that none of the ponds within lots in the Dredge Pond subdivision contain potential fish habitat; therefore, they can be filled in. If people have questions concerning our lots, I would be happy to look into the matter on a case-by-case basis.
Mr. Jenkins: What I'm seeking is the minister's assurance that any issue arising from filling in the tailings ponds contained in any of these titled Dredge Pond lots that YTG has sold to individuals, the Government of Yukon will go to bat for these individuals, backstop them and defend them before the courts. Will she do so?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I can't speak for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. At the time of development, there was no problem with any of the ponds within lots in the Dredge Pond subdivision. If any problems do arise, I'll be happy to look into them.
Mr. Jenkins: I appreciate what the minister has responded, but I want assurances from the minister, given that the department that she represents is a department that has developed these lots, consulted with the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, that if there is any issue arising from the owners filling in the tailing ponds contained in their lots, that the Government of Yukon will backstop these individuals and deal with the matter and, should the Department of Fisheries and Oceans become adamant that there is a problem and they can't proceed and puts out a stop-work order, will the Government of Yukon go to bat and defend these individuals in any Department of Fisheries and Oceans actions?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: My understanding is that there is no problem with the lots in the Dredge Pond subdivision at this point. I can't speculate on what may arise in the future and I will not speculate on what may arise in the future. If people have questions concerning our lots I would be happy to look into it on a case-by-case basis.
Mr. Jenkins: So, could the minister just confirm for the record that she will not support and defend the owners of these lots should they be charged by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for filling in a dredge pond on their titled lot, sold to them by the Department of Community and Transportation Services? Could the minister just confirm that because that is what I am hearing?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: As none of the ponds within lots in the Dredge Pond subdivision contain potential fish habitat, I would have no problem giving such assurance for current lot owners in that subdivision.
Mr. McRobb: I have one question for the minister. It's in regard to the land owned by the American near the historic site of Silver City. Is the government doing anything to acquire that property?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Not at this time, Mr. Chair.
Mr. McRobb: Can the minister give us a bit more information? Is the department working toward doing something in the future that we can be made aware of?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I am not going to speculate on what may happen in the future.
The department has taken no action to seek to purchase that land up to this point.
Mr. Jenkins: With respect to the land development and what is voted to date and what is being added, what is the current land inventory of residential lots, industrial lots and commercial lots across the Yukon Territory? Is it out of line to what the current demand is, and is it an area that has been noted by the Auditor General?
In the past, it has been an area that has been out of line. Land inventory and land development and the carrying costs were way out of line to the reality of the day.
Given the downturn in the economy, just where are we at?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: We disagree with the Auditor General's approach. We believe land is valued at development costs, and when the economy picks up, that will be a reasonable price for the land. We support the land development committee's recommendation to maintain a two-year supply of single-family residential lots for sale. As of this date, November 13, 2001, we have 486 developed residential, mobile home, country, rural residential, commercial and industrial lots available for sale in 12 communities, and we continue to receive inquiries about the availability of lots throughout the territory.
From January 1 to today, the Department of Community and Transportation Services sold 62 lots in Whitehorse and 28 lots in other communities. Last year, we sold 47 lots in Whitehorse and 23 in other communities.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, given that it takes a very valid argument to disagree with the Auditor General, can the minister provide the House with an overview of the justification for her department disagreeing with the Auditor General's position on this matter - land development and what's contained?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I'd be pleased to provide the House with a copy of the response we gave the Auditor General.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, briefly, could the minister just explain the rationale behind disagreeing with the Auditor General, because that's a pretty extensive dispute, Mr. Chair. I don't want the minister to just brush it off under the carpet by saying, "You know, we'll send you over a copy of our reasons for disagreeing with the Auditor General." Could the minister be specific and provide us with kind of an overview as to why her department disagrees with the Auditor General of Canada?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: As I don't have in front of me the response that we gave to the Auditor General, I would repeat my offer to provide that document for the House. I have offered to do so and I will do so.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, what we're seeing is the crux of a whole bunch of Liberal decisions here, or lack of decisions, and what we are seeing is the Liberal government of the day going ahead with more land development and more inventory of lots than is justifiable or necessary. For the Auditor General to comment on this initiative and the direction that this government is taking, in itself, makes it a very, very important issue. It's a political decision to continue with the development of lots in light of the downturn in our economy, and all the minister is saying is that she will provide me with a response that her department has given to the Auditor General.
Well, I'm sorry, Mr. Chair. Can we stand this aside and move to another area until we have dealt with this matter, because it is a very, very serious matter?
Chair: Mr. Jenkins, are you putting that in the form of a formal motion?
Mr. Jenkins: I'm asking the minister if we can stand this aside until the minister can provide this information on the reasons her department is disagreeing with the Auditor General.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: No, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, let's examine this in detail to the break and then, perhaps at that time, the minister can get the information. All I'm asking for is valid information, because this is a very, very serious issue.
What it says to Yukoners is that the Auditor General has conducted an examination of the books of the Yukon government and, at the end of the day, has concluded that the inventory and development and the carrying costs of that are too excessive. The department says it disagrees; they throw their arms up and provide an explanation.
Well, given this government's ability to constantly cry poverty in all sectors - we can't even get the Minister of Education to fund the library boards to keep them open; we can't even get the other ministers to deal with their respective issues, and the Minister of Health and Social Services is constantly crying poverty, yet we're seeing an expenditure of money here that may or may not be justified. Certainly, in the eyes of the Auditor General, that is very much the case.
Now, I'm sure the minister has, at her fingertips, some sort of a reason for the political decision that was made by herself and her caucus as to why they're proceeding in this area, and why they're at odds with the Auditor General. Could the minister provide that overview?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: This isn't new policy. It has been going on for some time prior to this government, I believe. I have said I would provide the House with a copy of the document that my department provided to the Auditor General, and I will do that.
Mr. Jenkins: Here we have a Liberal government that says it's going to be accountable, and I haven't discovered any area where it has proven that accountability as of yet, Mr. Chair.
I'm sure her officials in their various offices are listening in, and that document could be here very quickly. Perhaps it would be prudent if we just took a short recess so the minister can become fully apprised of this matter and provide the information to the Legislature. Can I encourage the minister to not prolong debate and not delay debate, but provide the information that's requested?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I would point out that it is not this side of the House that is prolonging debate. I have said that we would provide the House with this document, and we will.
What more can I say, Mr. Chair?
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, you can see the dilemma that the opposition has. We have before us a very serious issue dealing with the Auditor General's office, and we have the department up for debate - we are in line-by-line.
We could be clearing this whole department very, very quickly if the minister were in a position to provide the information that is requested of her.
Now, why she has chosen to withhold the information until after the department is cleared, so we can't get back into it, is not really working cooperatively to expedite the business of this Legislature.
Now, I've suggested a number of options: one, we could have a brief recess until this information is provided; number two, we can stand aside this line until the information is provided, and come back to it after we get into another department, or after we clear the next department; or three, we can wait until the break, and hopefully the minister can provide that information. Because the minister is failing to recognize how important this issue is and failing to provide information, we can end up in general debate on this line for the rest of the day.
I'm sure the minister doesn't want to waste the time of this Legislature like she is indicating she will be doing.
Which option is the option that the minister would like? Would she like to stand aside a line and bring it back later after we have examined the Auditor General's report and the reasons that the department has provided to the Auditor General in this area for not being in complete compliance with the AG or, number two, can we take a brief recess? Which area would the minister like to proceed to? Or does she want to just prolong debate for the rest of the day on this subject matter?
There are three options, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Actually, there is one option that is extremely logical. This is debate on the supplementary budget. We have yet to enjoy in coming days a full debate of all the good things in the Department of Community and Transportation Services in the capital budget, and I am sure we could deal with this matter at that time, knowing that capital budget debate is coming very shortly and that we will have several days to deal with it.
Mr. Jenkins: So what the minister is saying is, "Wait, don't worry, be happy, we will get to it later." That is not acceptable.
Now, the request of the minister is a very straightforward request, and seeing that it was a political decision to continue, I am sure that the minister is very much aware of the issues surrounding this important initiative.
What does the minister have to hide on this? Why is she refusing to provide the information that is requested? Because I am sure that, at the end of the day, the decision that was made was very much a political decision.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Jenkins: And the Member for Kluane says, "We have attended a briefing", and he is still waiting for information from the briefing.
Now, why isn't the minister forthcoming with the provision of information, or does she just cherry-pick what she wants to tell the Legislature and the opposition and just hold off providing any of the pertinent or relevant information that may or may not be contentious? I guess it all boils down to that this minister isn't accountable. One cannot conclude anything otherwise, because this is a very serious issue.
Now, how would the minister like to provide the information - after a brief recess, or can we stand down this line and get back to it? It's very, very simple.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I have indicated that this is debate on the supplementary budget and that we have some time ahead of us in the not-too-distant future when we can enjoy a leisurely exploration of all the good things in the capital budget in my department. The opposition, of course, doesn't wish to discuss the capital budget because of all the good things in it but, by clearing this department in the supplementary budget, we are certainly not closing the door on future debate.
I have said I will provide the information. The member opposite, however, prefers instant gratification. He wants it right now. I have said I would provide it, and I will.
I believe the Department of Finance maintains formal communication with the Auditor General's office, and I can't speak on behalf of Finance, Mr. Chair, but I'm not aware if the Auditor General even has a concern, given the response we have provided him, and I will provide the member with a response as soon as I can.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, given, Mr. Chair, that we are in the Department of Community and Transportation Services and we're under the capital expenditures for the current period of time, that's where we're at, and the Auditor General's report pertains to what has transpired. The Auditor General does not report on next year's capital budget, not at this time. So, the suggestion coming from the minister that we deal in debate on next year's capital budget on this matter doesn't hold any water. The minister could stand on her feet and rightly say that the AG's report is on prior periods, not on forecasts, and the minister would be right, and we would have no avenue for debate on this matter.
And given the confining contexts of recent rulings on debate in this Legislature from the Speaker and the Chair, there's probably just another avenue of access to debate on this important issue closed to the opposition, Mr. Chair. So that's the whole crux of the situation, Mr. Chair.
So I'd urge the minister to reconsider her position on this matter. Because we have a report from the Auditor General that spells out that this is not a justifiable expenditure, and he calls into question the expenditure in this area. And the Minister of Community and Transportation Services casually says, "We've responded to the Auditor General's office, given them a response, and since we haven't heard from them, you know, everything is great."
Well, Mr. Chair, the management letter from the Auditor General's office usually is done after careful deliberation by a very, very capable group of accounting professionals. And for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services to just wash away what they're saying with "we have responded", I'm afraid anyone who is familiar with the accounting world would certainly not support just a cursory overview of the matter.
So once again, Mr. Chair, I go to the minister and ask how she'd like to proceed: (1) can we have a brief recess while this documentation is provided, or (2) can we just look at standing aside this line until the documentation is provided? In which way would the minister like to proceed?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The members opposite, especially the Member for Klondike, have ventured far beyond the scope of this supplementary budget. They've gone into great detail on all sorts of things that have nothing to do with this supplementary before us, preferring to do it here, rather than in the capital budget.
And the Member for Klondike is once again insulting the very capable group of officials who work for this government.
I have said that I will provide -
Chair: Order, please.
We are going to be strictly enforcing the rules on questioning motives. What I would ask the member to do is to be very careful and judicious in the statements. An accusation of insulting staff members is a - I don't know if that was the motive of Mr. Jenkins. I would ask people to really understand implications of the rulings, when they say "questioning the motives of members and what they have done."
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Chair: Mr. McRobb, on a point of order.
Mr. McRobb: On the point of order, Mr. Chair, I would also like to remind all of us in here of your ruling the other day that elaborated on how broad the scope of discussion in association with the supplementary budget can be.
Now, I believe I have heard the minister try to rewrite your ruling on that matter, and I believe that it should be put on the record that any discussion related to policy or whatever is allowed during this debate.
Chair: I will not hear any more guidance on this, thanks.
On the point of order, there is no point of order. I haven't made any rulings on whether the general debate can be limited here.
Thank you for the guidance. I appreciate the guidance, but as a result - general debate is exactly that, a forum for all statements, and I will reconfirm that to the Member for Kluane that, in fact, general debate is as broad ranging as you can get on policy issues.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: And I believe that debate on the capital budget will be equally free ranging in its scope so the information the Member for Klondike is seeking could certainly be provided at that time. I have said that I will provide that information and I will do so.
Mr. Jenkins: When can we expect to receive this information? Can the minister be specific? Will it be tabled tomorrow? Will it be sent over tomorrow? Later this afternoon? I am sure we are not looking for a great big, thick document, because there are a number of issues that the AG's office reported on with respect to Community and Transportation Services, and the responses have to be there.
I would like to ask the minister to table a list of the responses from the Department of Community and Transportation Services on all the items commented on in the Auditor General's report on this department. Will the minister do so? I know the document is readily available; I would like to see the responses and could that be done for this last period tomorrow?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I don't know whether it can be done tomorrow or not. I will have to consult with the department. It can certainly be done well before we have concluded Community and Transportation Services debate in the capital budget.
Mr. Jenkins: What I see coming down the pipe is this document being tabled in probably the last five minutes of debate on the capital budget in Community and Transportation Services. I want to have the assurances -
Some Hon. Member: Point of order, Mr. Chair.
Point of order
Chair: Ms. Buckway, on a point of order.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I believe Mr. Jenkins is imputing a false motive to me in suggesting that I would delay until the last five minutes to table such a document.
Chair: On the point of order, there is no accusation being made. Certainly an expression of opinion was there, but there is definitely a difference between facts. I didn't believe any imputation of motive was there.
Mr. Jenkins: Before I was so rudely interrupted, my question to the minister was as to the timing of when I am going to receive this document. I'd like the minister's assurance that she will table it before we get into the capital budget on C&TS. Can the minister provide that assurance?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I will review the material and provide it to the member as soon as possible. I will attempt to provide this early next week.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, the minister is just choosing to prolong debate deliberately and that is not fair.
Chair: Order please. Again -
Mr. Jenkins: I withdraw the statement "deliberately".
Chair: Thank you.
Mr. Jenkins: I can't even substitute for it "intentionally", Mr. Chair, because that would be ruled out of order.
Chair: That's right.
Mr. Jenkins: So, what the minister is doing is not providing the information in a timely manner, Mr. Chair. All I want is the minister's assurance that we will receive this information before we get into debate on C&TS on the capital budget. That's the assurance I'm seeking from the minister. Can she provide that assurance? Yes or no?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I believe we can accommodate that request.
Residential in the amount of $775,000 agreed to
On Land Central Services
On Rural Electrification and Telephone
Mr. McRobb: I just have a quick question on this, Mr. Chair. It was brought to my attention by people in the Mendenhall subdivision, which was a major applicant under this program, that several power poles had to be dug out and reinstalled because they were initially installed on the road right-of-way.
Can the minister indicate if those costs were passed on to the residents, and who covered the costs of that mistake?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I've made note of the situation, and I will certainly check into it. I thank the member for bringing it to my attention.
Mr. Jenkins: On this matter, we're seeing an extension of the Mayo-Dawson transmission line, Mr. Chair. Are there any foreseeable changes anticipated in this program, given the high capital costs of connecting to the interconnect for some of these substations? If you want to use an example - just a substation to service Partridge Creek Farm or Klondike River Lodge - we're looking at a minimum cost of just over $100,000 for the basic equipment, let alone the balance of the substation. Are there any changes anticipated in the rural electrification program under this government to hook up customers along the Mayo-Dawson transmission line?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I was not contemplating any changes, but based on the member's suggestion, I'd certainly look into it.
The Member for Klondike had also brought up another matter relating to rural electrification a couple of days ago, Mr. Chair - about mining claims and rural electrification. Inside municipalities, the municipalities have the local responsibility and jurisdiction to implement an electrification program if mayor and council deem it appropriate. This is not unlike any other local improvement infrastructure project that they choose to undertake on behalf of the affected property owners within their community boundaries. Municipal governments consistently, Mr. Chair, request greater autonomy regarding local decision-making ability affecting their citizens and their communities.
Therefore, any infringement by a senior government in this regard is a step backward, and is an erosion of their local decision-making powers.
As part of the completed Klondike Valley placer occupant process - and I've verified this with the Mayor of Dawson - the vast majority of mining claim holders in the city of Dawson with building improvements on their claims, opted in and purchased their property in return for relinquishing their mining-claim interests.
This resulted in certainty of ownership and gives the municipality the security it requires for the development of the infrastructure that it chooses to develop.
The Yukon government does not have property taxation jurisdiction within the municipalities and, therefore, is unable to administer local improvement type programs on behalf of the municipality.
However, as I indicated to the Member for Klondike on November 6, I am prepared to review this matter with the Association of Yukon Communities at their convenience.
As for outside municipalities, the rural electrification program was never intended to include mining resource properties. In fact, section 4 of the policy outlining criteria for eligibility specifically reinforces that resource properties of this nature have an alternate program available to them.
The reason for excluding mining properties from the rural electrification program is that, in 1993, the energy infrastructure loans for resource development program was created under the Yukon Party government. This program is administered by Economic Development to encourage the development of resources in the Yukon. It assists Yukon's resource development sector by deferring the high capital cost of building energy infrastructure.
People with mining properties have the ability to apply through this program for their energy infrastructure needs.
Thank you for the opportunity to clear that up, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Jenkins: The issue still remains very much an issue on this rural electrification for mining properties in the areas where the Government of the Yukon is a taxing authority. A lot of the individuals who have approached me are mining. They have grouped their claim that they use - a secondary use is a residential purpose, but it's grouped with another series of claims, and they are denied access to electrification and the ability to amortize it because they are told they are on mining claims.
There are still a number of individuals who have not opted into converting their mining claims into titled property, either inside or outside the municipal boundaries of the community that I reside in.
And they have done so because they're bona fide miners and they want to continue in that fashion. But, irrespective of that, Mr. Chair, whether the Yukon is the taxing authority or the government of the municipality is the taxing authority, taxes are being paid on the improvements and they're not being granted the same right of access to this program as if they were a private property holder. I'm just disappointed. In the big scheme of things, I'm aware of the program to provide energy for mining activities. And I might caution the minister that that program is not working as well as it should, and she might want to review the three-phase power that was extended to a miner at the mouth of Hunker Creek, and the problems that individual had and the problems caused by that minister's department in this regard.
So, there's a whole series of issues here, where there are two sets of rules, Mr. Chair, and I believe the minister should refocus and examine it, in light of the changing conditions we are experiencing. Will the minister do so?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I'd be pleased to look into the situation.
Mr. Jenkins: Could I ask the minister to look into the situation and report back on her overview and what she has determined?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: We can send the member a letter.
Rural Electrification and Telephone in the amount of $155,000 agreed to
On Miscellaneous Projects Non-Recoverable
Mr. Jenkins: Could we get a breakdown on that, please?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The miscellaneous projects non-recoverable consists of a $216,000 revote and an additional $43,000 to complete the purchase of outstanding Whitehorse waterfront resident parcels.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, on the Whitehorse waterfront, could the minister provide the information at a later date as to what we have incurred with respect to relocation costs to date and what we have incurred with respect to relocation costs - the purchase and acquisition of other property for these individuals to relocate to? Just where are we in the whole scheme of the Whitehorse waterfront relocation program? Can the minister agree to do that, please?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Yes, I can do that.
Mr. Jenkins: While we're on that matter, has a purpose been identified by the minister's department or the minister as to what the land so acquired is going to be used for?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: No, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Jenkins: I asked the minister if she could identify what the area they are reclaiming on the Whitehorse waterfront is going to be used for. There must be a purpose. What was the purpose?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I don't believe that's the way the member phrased the question. He had asked it in such a way - did we have any specific plans for it at this point. And I said, "No, Mr. Chair."
Mr. Jenkins: Okay, let's go the other way, Mr. Chair. What is the purpose of acquiring all this land?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The plan is to work it in with the rest of the waterfront planning.
Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister be specific as to what the intended purpose of acquiring, removing and relocating all of these squatters in that area is? What are we going to do with the land?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, there is broader planning taking place for development on the waterfront. It has been a very public process, and the land is being made available for purposes that will be confirmed by that process.
Mr. Jenkins: What the minister is telling the Legislature, Mr. Chair, is that she has bought into a process to expend millions of dollars of the taxpayers' money on acquiring this area, and we really don't have an idea or a determination as to what that land is going to be used for. Is that the case?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I have previously answered this question.
Mr. Jenkins: Would the minister confirm if this land is going to be used to satisfy land claims?
I had a specific question to the minister. Could the minister confirm that this land area that is being acquired by YTG will be used in the settlement of land claims in the Whitehorse area, Mr. Chair?
Well, given the non-answer by the minister, it sounds as if I have touched a very, very sensitive area. Maybe it is for the minister to advise her as to how to respond to the question.
Well, I guess the purpose of the land acquisition and the reclaiming of all that land, at considerable expense to the government, is well known to the government, but let the record reflect that they do not want to put it on the record and share that information with the public.
Could the minister just confirm that that is indeed the case?
Chair: Is there any further debate?
Mr. Jenkins: I guess silence is golden, and the minister's refusal to answer this very important question speaks well for the position that this government has.
Miscellaneous Projects Non-Recoverable in the amount of $259,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on the capital recoveries?
Mr. McRobb: I have a couple of questions. The first one pertains to the Canada-Yukon infrastructure agreement. Can the minister give us the breakdown of where the $300,000 was spent?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The $300,000 is a recovery from the federal government for green infrastructure development, and we are still waiting for confirmation from the feds on how it will be spent.
Mr. McRobb: Can the minister undertake to provide that information in whatever means is reasonable? A simple nod from her would do. Then I could move on to my next question.
I don't see her nodding or shaking, so I guess I'll sit down and let her answer.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: At this point, I have no information to provide. We are waiting for confirmation from the federal government and, at that point, once we have that, a news release will be issued.
Mr. McRobb: All right, Mr. Chair.
On the Road/Streets Upgrade, can the minister give us a breakdown on the $705,000, where that was spent?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: That is the recovery from Argus for the Chilkoot Centre.
Mr. McRobb: All right, Mr. Chair. I know we passed the line on the Roads/Streets Upgrade, but is that where the $1,802,000 was spent as well, on that same project?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The $1,802,000 was primarily $1,790,000 for the roadwork and servicing at the Argus Chilkoot Centre site, and $705,000 is recoverable from Argus this fiscal year, and $750,000 is recoverable from the City of Whitehorse in future years.
Capital Expenditures for the Department of Community and Transportation Services in the amount of $26,130,000 agreed to
Department of Community and Transportation Services agreed to
Chair: We will now proceed with Department of Education.
Department of Education
Chair: Is there any general debate on the Department of Education?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I am pleased to stand and provide very brief opening comments about the supplementary request for the Department of Education.
Mr. Chair, the $3.3-million request for additional funds for ongoing operational programming can be briefly described as follows: $2,197,000, or 67 percent, relates to the personal allotment adjustment associated with the settlement of the Yukon Teachers Association collective agreement; $709,000, or 21 percent, is requested in new funds to cover the anticipated utility costs in the 28 schools across the territory; $200,000 is requested in revoted funds from the 2000-01 fiscal year relating to school-site-based management programs; $76,000 is requested to cover planned expenditures, with 100 percent of funds provided by organizations outside the government; $72,000 is requested to cover expenses associated with retaining the public programming service at previous levels; and $49,000 is requested as a retroactive transfer to Yukon College relating to benefits associated with their collective agreement.
On the capital side, Mr. Chair, the request for a little more than $7 million is allocated as follows: $5.9 million, or 84 percent of the total requested, is for the revote of funds for projects commenced but not completed in the prior year; $1 million, or 14 percent, is set aside in new funds for the establishment of two endowment funds relating to lifelong learning; and $115,000, or two percent, is new funds received from Canada for continuing work on the student financial assistance computer system.
Mr. Chair, these brief comments indicate that this supplementary request is largely driven by collective agreement adjustments for both the Yukon Teachers Association and Yukon College, and the one-time establishment of the two new endowment funds.
Expenditures for the Department of Education are dedicated to supporting lifelong learning for all Yukoners, and I am confident that the funds identified in this supplementary will do just that.
With these brief comments, I am prepared to proceed to line-by-line debate.
Mrs. Peter: The minister is trying to jump one step ahead of us here. We'll eventually get to line-by-line.
I have a few comments to make in general debate in regard to education. Our education system as a whole has faced some really challenging times in the past few months, with the change in the Education Act and with the situation with the teachers.
I'd like to take note of the objective for the Department of Education. It's to ensure that effective lifelong learning opportunities are made available to every man, woman and child in the Yukon Territory, and that is the mandate of this department
I've said it before; education is of the highest priority for us in the First Nation communities. Having said that, some of the challenges that we have faced in the last little while have definitely had an impact on the education system and how we're going to provide those types of services to our communities. There are support programs out there that need to be implemented throughout the communities. They are already in place in Whitehorse. I have been very fortunate, having grown up in my community and having had the support of my family while finishing my own education. Even though I faced many challenges myself, there are very key programs that are needed in today's society, whether it be in Whitehorse, Old Crow or Watson Lake. Along with those challenges, we have to know that there are issues involving alcohol and drugs and how those affected the parents at that time, and today we have to deal with the outcome of that. And I am referring to the FAS/FAE programs that are needed within our schools.
And, for many parents, it is a difficult situation to face and I, as a parent, and having been a single parent, the challenges are much greater when you are trying to take responsibility and provide a good environment for your child and be part of an education system that will be effective for your child. You then have to put that much more effort into it as a parent and, also for the school programs and for the resources out there, we need to make sure that parents have access to the resources that they do need.
I have heard from a few parents from the Whitehorse area that the resources are available from grades 1 to 7 and from grades 9 through 12 to support those types of programs. However, there are a few children in grade 8 who need that specific resource, and it is not available. I am wondering if the minister could comment on that and what commitments he can make, if not now, then in the future, to make sure that these resources or support programs are made available for all schools for all grades.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I appreciate the opportunity to elaborate a little bit more with the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin.
During the whole review of the Education Act, of course, when the committee was out travelling about, meeting with communities, meeting with First Nations and First Nation elders, and meeting with school administrations, they spent a tremendous amount of time gathering information that was not related to the Education Act, and I think that's where this question ultimately fits.
We know, without a doubt, that we have a horrendous problem in that area, and the department folks along with the Department of Health and Social Services are working specifically on recognizing and addressing those needs.
The Member for Vuntut Gwitchin is absolutely right. It's not unique to any specific location within the territory. It is all over the territory.
So, to look at and to address these issues in a more holistic sense - I believe the Minister of Health and Social Services mentioned that the only way you could really cure this problem, although the issue cannot be cured within an individual, is to have that individual not be the result of a mother drinking during pregnancy.
That's how we're trying to approach the question. Therefore, we recognize that we do have situations in schools of FAS/FAE children who are already in the system. The second part of that is that we educate mothers that this is the effect it has on your child if you do it. So there are two parts to that program.
The resource guides for British Columbia and Alberta - and we do a lot of sharing between the territory and provinces - were recently placed in schools to review physical educational and behavioural characteristics of students with FAS/FAE, giving descriptions of specific strategies that may be helpful in meeting the challenges that these children present in the classroom.
Other teacher support resources recently placed in schools also address these issues: dealing with diversity in the classroom setting; awareness of chronic health conditions; teaching students with learning and behavioural differences.
So, we are continually drawing in expertise. We're upgrading the skills and abilities of our teachers. As a matter of fact, on September 21, the joint elementary educators PD day had several sessions specifically focused for students with special needs - of various FAS/FAE and other cognitive disorders.
The resource book compiled by the Vancouver-based school board and Sunnyhill Hospital, entitled Challenges and Opportunities for Teachers of Students with Special Needs; Focus on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome was placed in all schools here in the territory in May 2001.
This handbook is designed to provide instructional strategies and a teacher's perspective on identification of services.
I would agree with the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin that we've got a ways to go, but we are already administering some recognized skills within our educators here in the territory, and we're going to continue to do our best between the Department of Health and Social Services and the Department of Education. We're going to continue to be as active in this area as possible. So I hope I've given you kind of a general overview of what's happening in our schools now and that there are certainly considerations that we can make into the future, as well.
Mrs. Peter: Thank you. I couldn't agree with you more. We have some very well-skilled teachers throughout the territory who can help address those issues within our school systems. In my own community of Old Crow, I know that, slowly but surely, those issues are being addressed, and we certainly need more resources. Hopefully, we can see those forthcoming in the very near future, and it's working in conjunction with this minister, and him working with his colleague, the Minister of Health and Social Services, that we can make some progress in that area, especially with the issue of FAS/FAE.
I know the Premier addressed this issue at the premiers conference a few months ago, and it's something that needs to be up there within the education system to make sure the resources are available for the teachers and also especially for the students.
Moving on to another area of education for the children we are talking about - special resources for special situations within our education system. Another area I would like to touch on is for bringing programs into the schools. Again, an idea for the minister to have a look at is creating a program where you can start a healthy families program right in the school, and I know many of the communities have liaison workers who are part-time or full-time at the school, working in conjunction with the teachers and the First Nation governments. And that might be something that they could consider for the future. I know that, for small communities, we address many different issues and concerns for the student, and many of the resources will take years to become available to an isolated community like Old Crow. And I would much rather have a productive program come into my community and have it as a successful program rather than just put somebody in there just for the sake of saying, "We did it."
Until we get to that point, we need other resources available to support the families of special needs children within the school system, to be able to help the teachers, the child and the parents, and also to provide resources and funding to the liaison workers in those schools. I'd like to hear the minister comment on that idea.
Chair: Order please. The time being 4:30, we'll take a 15-minute recess.
Chair: I now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will continue with general debate, Department of Education.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, I do agree with the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin when she, in her second question, kind of expanded on it. I'd like to inform the member that I have established, along with the Minister of Health and Social Services, an ADM task force to work on those specific issues that she addressed. And there is also additional programming that's already going on in the area of literacy and upgrading skills for adults already occurring. So there is a lot that's already being done by this government.
Mrs. Peter: I appreciate the minister's answers to my questions. They bring a little bit more light to some of my concerns. I have a question regarding the FNEC program. I know we've been over this over and over and over again. I would like to seek more clarification from the minister as to what our next step can be. Are there any other options, or are there any other resources that I can suggest to people who are calling with that concern around the funding issue for the First Nation Education Commission so that they can help within the communities with the education.
They speak on behalf of most of the communities in the Yukon, and that's of grave concern to me. I would just like to hear what the minister has to say on that issue.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I would again agree with the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin that it is a very complex issue and it is quite difficult to explain, in a few paragraphs or in here, how things evolved to where we are today.
I very much appreciate the member suggesting that, okay, that's what has happened, now let's get on with something new.
I am quite looking forward - on November 22, I will be in front of the First Nation leadership.
Quite frankly, it is that group of individuals that has the authority. The Council of Yukon First Nations will also be there, and I'm hoping that at that time we could come up to a resolve on how we should, as First Nation governments and as the territorial government, how we resolve this issue through constructive discussion and not through what we do in the House here - finger pointing and that kind of thing.
So I'm quite looking forward to it, and I'm hoping that we can come up with some amenable solutions recognizing responsibilities and authorities in that forum to resolve these outstanding issues.
Mrs. Peter: I hope they walk away from the table with a success story, where they can reach an agreement among all parties, so we can walk away from that issue honouring all parties involved. Hopefully, the commitment will be made by all parties to definitely take into consideration the future of our children in our communities and throughout the territory.
And with that, the Education Act review has been also a concern. And again, we have gone over and over that issue here in the House. And the final report will be coming out this week or next week, and again, I have a concern with that. All parties or all partners haven't been involved in that whole process for three to four weeks, and the committee was dissolved before its actual term was up. I am concerned about the type of impact that will have on the final results of that report. I would like the minister to comment on that for me, please.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, I built up a tremendous amount of confidence in the Education Act Review Steering Committee members who had worked cooperatively on the project for two years. The occurrences that forced the members of the committee to write to me to ask for dissolution of the committee were very unfortunate.
But these members had put their heart and soul into this project for two years, and I am not going to, at the sweep of a hand, just totally disregard what these folks did. I have certainly tried to encourage all members of the steering committee to remain at the table and to work in an advisory capacity to complete the work that they have conducted and are assessing.
I hear what the member is saying. I still respect the work this group is doing in assessing and evaluating the comments they received on the draft recommendations but, unfortunately, due to their own terms of reference, they cannot complete the recommendations from draft to final. So, I have agreed to accept the recommendations in draft. I think there's a lot of information contained in those, and the committee has agreed to provide a final report to me, in lieu of making the recommendations final. So they are looking at all the work that has been done - the final comments on the draft recommendations.
So I look forward to receiving that. I had indicated in my letter back to them, because of the occurrences, they did ask for a slight additional amount of time beyond the fifteenth of this month, and I said that they could have until the end of the month to finalize their report. So there is that bit of grace period.
I think it is also important to mention, as well, that all First Nations were independently sent the draft recommendations for comment and, in lieu of what happened to the committee, I think there would be - I don't want to discard any input that is coming in on the recommendations, so there would be very serious consideration provided to First Nations inputting their comments on the draft recommendations any time to the end of the month. I don't want to completely close the door on it. I don't think this government is quite that callous.
Mrs. Peter: I am, by no means, wanting to take away from the work that the people involved in the review have done. I know that was a lot of hard work on their part and they did what they could, and I appreciate that. We talk about putting our heart and soul into that. I know when they came to my own community of Old Crow, the few of us who were at that meeting put our heart and soul into it, too. And people who made comments to that committee as a whole put their heart and soul into that. Because I have many little nieces and nephews attending the school in Old Crow, and I certainly take their education as a high priority. I have done that with my son, and I will do that with my little nieces and nephews, and that is why I shared with you the story before about if we can, in our role here as MLAs for our certain areas, if we can make a difference in any small way for our future generations, then we have done a little bit of good for our people.
It is in that spirit that I continue to keep a close eye on what happens with this type of work that's going to have an impact on many future generations. We don't make decisions on what's actually happening today, because that will impact many, many generations to come. What we can do is look forward to that final report, and if we have until the end of the month, then maybe that message should be placed out there - that there is that grace period and that time when people can still put forward the recommendations and it will be considered. Because it's that piece of legislation that's going to move us forward in this century and hopefully address some of the issues and concerns that are out there.
For long-term school replacements, the schedule that was in place before has been changed, and we have a new Grey Mountain School being built starting next year, and I just want to touch on some of the replacements that are going to follow this new school being built. Does the minister have a plan or can he forward a plan to me of which schools will be built after that and which schools will have renovations done to them?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: The long-term capital plan for our schools is in the capital budget that we'll be debating at another time but, to the best of my recollection at this time, yes, we are following through on a commitment to the students and teachers of Grey Mountain School that we would replace that school with a K to 3. The member is right - we have discussed that most vigorously here in the House.
We are also, in the capital for next year, looking at other schools, both rural and urban. We are looking at a Golden Horn roof replacement. We are looking at the Eliza Van Bibber heating system upgrade, as well as renovations and replacement of a wing. We are looking at Watson Lake, providing an industrial wing there, as well.
A little bit beyond that, there is also finishing up the Mayo school, of course - and I'm sure that there isn't anybody in this House who wouldn't like to see the children in Mayo going to that school.
In the future, beyond next year's capital budget and identified within the capital plan, there is the - as well as last year, there is the Takhini heating system that also has to be upgraded.
In the future, we are looking at the Tantalus new wing that has to be attached. That was why the property was bought adjacent to the school, so that that wing could be constructed. And the oldest wing of the school would then be removed after the new wing is complete.
We're already starting to plan for a new F.H. Collins High School and also taking into consideration aspects that could be built into the schools to accommodate the winter games.
Those are pretty much the highlights, but the capital budget does provide that scheduling.
Mrs. Peter: I would also like to ask the minister about the training trust funds. They are available in the supplementary budget in a certain amount.
Again, while we talk about our young students attending school, we can't forget the older people who would like to have a change in their career or attend our community campuses to take other courses so that they can learn more about the computers or whatever resources they need or about some of the courses that are available to them at the community campuses.
I know that, in my own community, people are very interested in taking the courses offered there. They address some of the community needs and, after they complete some of the courses there, it leads them to employment. That in itself is an issue because there's very little employment happening within our communities.
The training trust fund can also be used for on-the-job training in some of the communities. My concern around that is, sometimes when there is no employment in the community, they're taking these courses and are excited about moving on in their own life, and then once they complete the courses, there is nowhere else for them to move within the small communities. We don't want to set people up for failure. We'd like to see them complete these courses and then move on and have them use whatever training they have received at the community campus, or in Whitehorse at Yukon College, or at other facilities where they might take these courses.
I'm wondering if the minister can make a commitment that this training trust fund will always be available for people who really need it, and especially those in the communities.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Again, respecting the broad spectrum of debate allowed, Mr. Chair, that issue will be more detailed when I present the capital. I have already had vigorous discussions with the college on this issue specifically. I do recognize that, perceptively, the cutback in the training funds is pretty big and, in my meetings with the college, I have already identified for the college existing funding, that is already out there and held in trust for organizations and special interest groups. Those monies have already been allocated to the amount of over $2 million right now.
So I'm encouraging the college to - and I provided the college with a list of who holds these funds so that they can, not only in Whitehorse but in the communities, take advantage of these monies that are already out there. I also advised the college that there are a lot of other funding sources available. And I'd better be careful because I don't want to misspeak myself. But, when I made presentation, I did provide information to the college president and the board about where these funds are, and I think there is a specific fund for First Nations.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: No, it's not available through the Yukon government, I don't believe. It is a special fund that is available for First Nation training in the communities. I could get more detail on that information to the member, but it is probably to the tune of $6 million. So, what we are doing is - yes, we do want to provide training to the communities and we want to empower people to keep active and keep working. So, I will provide that detail to the member, and I can do that post-debate on the capital or at the time of the capital if she wishes.
Mrs. Peter: I would appreciate that information the minister is willing to give.
In conclusion, I want to mention the three endowment funds that are made available through this department. I have brought this concern up before, and there is no way of changing, putting forward these endowment funds, especially with the rate of interest that we are receiving today and the amount of return that we are going to get on the amounts.
The rate of return in one year on the $250,000 that was placed in the youth directorate endowment fund would be very small. I'd like to hear from the minister how long the rate of return on this endowment fund would be accessible to the people of the Yukon public. Would it be within one year? Five years? What time frame are you looking at?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, just a slight correction for the member. I'm only responsible for two - actually only one, but the second endowment is housed within the Department of Education, the Youth Voices endowment fund. The $750,000 that is for the teacher mentoring program is housed for the Yukon Teachers Association.
The member is right when we're looking at the current rates of return, but I think all of us in the territory want to see interest rates increase and for those funds to generate greater returns. The member asked when those funds would be available, whatever the amount might be. It would be after a year.
The interest accrued would be available after a year. In the second year, you would be able to draw down on the interest amount. You have to let it build for one year, and then, after that one year has ended, you can start drawing on it. Then the interest continues to accrue forever. So that's the whole idea behind the trust funds - that they are to remain in perpetuity, generating interest.
Mr. Keenan: I have just a few questions for the minister, mostly concerning ridings.
But I found the last statement very interesting about the training trust funds and the endowments funds. I was just wondering if, as we're waiting for one to kick in and we're fading out the other, it might be possible for the minister to keep in mind that we should try to maintain some type of stabilization through bridge funding or try to find some type of vehicle to do that. Otherwise there is going to be a dip that goes down.
I see that the minister is getting briefs, so I'll just sit down for a moment.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: With respect to the teacher endowment fund, year one of that program, as a matter of fact, has already been funded. So, effective September of this year to June of next year, the expenses on that fund were jointly funded by Department of Education and the teachers, so we do have that one year for the interest to accrue and then they can draw down on the interest only.
So I hear what the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes is saying, and that is one of the reasons that we have brought the capital back into the fall. So that gives opportunities for planning, because this budget only comes into effect on April 1 of next year. There is that prep time when the capital that we're discussing now comes into effect.
I'm very happy to have been able to address your concerns on that, but until we get into capital, I hope it will be adequate.
Mr. Keenan: The minister is the minister, so the minister's going to make the judgement call on "adequate", that's for sure. I do want to let the minister know that, as we listen to the unemployment rates on a generic basis across the territory, you can quadruple those rates for the communities - absolutely. In an absence of resource extraction economy and struggling to find a new economy in regional areas whether they're in specific villages or whatnot, people do need that help. They absolutely need that help. We're not talking just about young folks, like you and me. We're talking about middle-aged people, like me and you, I guess, and others. So, the workforce is kind of leaning. We have to have a deep respect for those people. I do hope that the minister will always maintain that, and I have every faith that the minister will maintain that thought when the minister goes into the night of the long knives or the great duke-out or whatever you want to call it in Management Board. I appreciate that.
I do have a question, though. In the previous administration, of which I was a part, I was working as an MLA to get a school bus for the Ross River area, which was a direct request of, I believe, the Ross River school council and the chief and council, but not the round table at the time. There seemed to be somewhat of a reluctance within the department and I'd like to know if that reluctance is still there.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: The current policy is very similar to the previous government's policy on the 3.2 kilometres, but I do recall now that the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes and I have had discussions about some concerns up there. With the member's permission, I would like to again revisit that and see what the current state is and look at it all again. I know it has been quite some time since we did discuss that.
Mr. Keenan: I certainly appreciate the minister taking the time to do that. Just let me paint some of the backdrop for the community. The minister has been to the community. I know the minister has been to the community - I have seen him there. Maybe the minister hasn't been to the community when it's 65 below, though - it's 30 below in Whitehorse and 65 below in the Tintina Trench. That 3.2 kilometres is a long, long walk. We're talking about children here - you know, children in primary school, not secondary school.
So I really want the minister to look, because I was working with the previous minister, and this minister too, to see if we can have any local or extenuating circumstances looked at. You know, the folks who live in Ross River - it's still in the hinterland. Wild animals still cross the runways, come through the town and things like that, much like other parts of rural Yukon. But I appreciate what the minister is saying.
While I'm on my feet, I'd also like to ask the minister - and I'll ask the minister to table this, but I want the minister to assure himself that, with the Education Act Review Steering Committee, if they have gone to Ross River - have they actually done it? I'll say no. I'll say no right now, because I was apprised of it by the chair, who I believe used to be the past president of the YTA - I'm trying not to use any names, but you know who I mean - and the associate deputy that you created within the Department of Education.
Those two gentlemen came to me and said, "Is there some way you could help us orchestrate a meeting, because the meeting we had in Ross River, of course, did not materialize." I said, "Gentlemen, you have to get back to Ross River. Ross River is a special place." It's very hard at times - what happened in the community. And the minister knows that, in a community of 350 people, when one person passes away, which happened - it was an elder in this situation - the community shuts down.
And the community did shut down, so it's terribly unfortunate. I heard the minister say that it's terribly unfortunate that they never had the opportunity to get back again. I did hear the minister say that recommendations were put out. There are certainly new politicians - a new chief and council - put into place in Ross River now, and all this is just happening. I asked the new chief, "Have you had thought on this?" He said, "Nobody has talked to me about this. I'm very concerned about this also."
So if the minister could check that out for me and for the minister's security, to make sure that consultation has been done to the nines - the nine-point-nines, I guess you would say in this case. Would the minister be able to look at that?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: The member opposite is correct. The steering committee was up in Ross River on November 21 a year ago, and the member is also correct that there have been changes. I will follow up with the associate DM to see if there was any direct feedback from the community, from the First Nation, and I will get back with an answer on that.
Mr. Keenan: I have just one last question from a constituent's perspective in the town of Teslin - the village, city. Teslin Lake put in a request for a new school. The minister sat back and said, "No, we're not looking for a new school to replace the school in Teslin because" - blah, blah, blah.
I listened with keen interest about the department going out and building a wing here and a wing there and whatnot, to introduce the industrial arts or whatever. Would it be possible for the department to sit down - because when I gave the council the letter and answer I received, they weren't all terribly pleased, and they didn't think the department had a real grip on it, after the mushroom scare, et cetera.
They didn't feel that the department had a good grip on it and I think it might be time. I am not thumping here. I would say that the minister should maybe send the department to sit with the school council, or, if the minister wants to go to school council, I would be glad to accompany the minister there in a friendly meeting to see exactly what is there. Maybe the community doesn't need a new school, but certainly I know they are crowded; they are running out of space. The mushrooms have been solved at this point in time. That is really good. They were all happy about that but there is still the problem of over-crowding and there is still the problem, I believe, of not enough resources for the special children - if I could say it in that manner, and the minister knows what I am talking of. So, will the minister be able to look into that?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I hear what the member is saying, and again, we have talked about this subject. I know that the Teslin school hasn't shown up in the past in any capital planning for replacement. But that doesn't mean that we can't be sitting down - department officials or I or whoever - with the council and listening to the concerns that they have in planning for their future. There is no problem with doing that at all. I would certainly be amenable to that. I have been to the school. I have met with the council chair. I have met with the chief and council, and I think that we have to work in a cooperative way there. I will certainly have the department look at it relatively soon and see how it is.
Mr. Fairclough: I have a few questions for the Minister of Education in regard to schools and policies and so on. The first one that has been asked of me is whether or not all the public schools have the same policy or if there is a policy of no peanut butter in the schools.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: From visiting some of the schools, Mr. Chair, I know that there are some policies in some schools with respect to peanut butter, but I would have to get back to the member with a more detailed list of what that specific policy is in all 28 schools.
Mr. Fairclough: I appreciate that information. I would like to ask the minister if he can make it a no-peanut-butter policy for all the schools and have it in force and have all the teachers educated on this, because it is a danger to many of the students, particularly here in Whitehorse. I know of one case when one student has been to the hospital eight times in the last month. That's eight school days missed, and the student has come very close to death every one of those times. If the minister can undertake that task, I'm sure that all those who have this deadly allergy would be very appreciative of that.
So the minister can react to that maybe, and I'll ask the next question.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I've already committed to doing that, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister did say that he will check out to see if it's a policy in all schools. I asked the minister to see if he would undertake to have it a policy for all the schools - I don't know if all of them do have this policy - and, not only that, but to have posted and make sure every teacher knows the effects of kids having allergies to peanut butter. That's what I asked the minister.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I said to the member opposite that I would check out the policies in the existing school and I will also check out the qualifications of teachers to deal with it, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Fairclough: You don't have to get too defensive about it. This is about the safety of children, and it's a very important one that is missed from time to time.
I bring it to your attention because it has been brought to my attention.
I would like to ask the minister about the increase to the Education Act review. What is the increase in dollars in this supplementary to the Education Act review?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: This is a line item, Mr. Chair, but I would be more than willing to answer it for the member now.
It's a revote item to the amount of $93,000.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, the reason I ask about this is because government felt that it is important enough to put in a supplementary budget. We knew for a while that there could be increased costs, for example, in the Education Act review, and we've seen it - as a matter of fact, there is an increase in dollars for the capital budget for 2002-03.
But, also, this government could have made some monetary commitments to the First Nation Education Commission, and it's not in there. It's just revotes.
What are the revotes going toward?
Is it just in general for the Education Act review, or can the minister steer this money?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I had indicated to the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin what my plan is for dealing with funding within CYFN, and I'm sure that the Member for Mayo-Tatchun also heard the answer. I will be dealing with the leadership on this issue on November 22, along with CYFN, to identify clearly and listen to what the leadership has to say with respect to funding - cooperative funding, joint funding, however that might come out.
So I don't want to presuppose what the outcome of that meeting will be.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, I need to know what direction this government is taking with the Education Act review. We have seen monies going to the 2002-03 budget - $200,000 into that - and we also know that this government wants to conclude the Education Act review. Also, First Nations are asking for monies of this government. This is the time when I think the minister could make an amendment to that line item and increase it.
Is the minister in favour of increasing this line item? We're not going to argue about how much it's going to be, and if it's not spent, then we know it goes back to general revenue. Right now, that would give the authority to this government to spend that type of money whether or not it's going to the education commission within CYFN.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: No, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Fairclough: If there were monies to come out of this government to the education commission, in what way would it go from this government to CYFN? Would it be through the Department of Education or some other department?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: With all due respect - and I know that the member opposite is aware now that I'll be meeting with the leadership to discuss this issue in more detail, along with representatives from CYFN. So it would only be fair for us to be allowed to have that discussion, government-to-government discussions, so that we can come up with a fair and equitable arrangement respecting each other's perspectives on things.
So, that's coming up on November 22, and I'd be more than willing to provide details after that.
Mr. Fairclough: I was only trying to give some direction to the minister on how we can address this. I'd rather not come back to another supplementary budget in the spring.
I would like to ask the minister about the Mayo school. Construction is well underway and hopefully the deadline will be met. Are there any problems resulting from construction at this point?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Yes, I believe there is - and I am sure he is aware of the situation there. Since September 11, there have been some problems at the border between the States and Canada in getting materials and supplies across the border. There is a delay in some flooring material. I have been advised, just of late, that it is approximately five to six weeks. Although this material is coming up from the States, it is directly from Holland, so there are further complications again because of shipping and dealing with this. I do believe that the community is also aware that we are experiencing this problem, but that's where we are.
Mr. Fairclough: So, we do have problems with materials coming in, and that is understandable - the type of delays that are going to take place from now and probably forever on shipping materials from other countries into Canada. What other problems are we running into with the construction of this school?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: None that we have been advised of by the contractor to date.
Mr. Fairclough: The flooring situation that we talked about - the buckling of the plywood and the heaves and so on - has been taken care of by additional money going in and putting another subfloor down. Is that going to take care of the problem - say, the noise problem, the squeaks or anything that can result from putting another layer of plywood to cover up the mistake that was made?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Yes, I do believe that it will address the concerns and issues the member has. The decision was, quite frankly, to upgrade the thickness of the floor - the final finish of plywood underlay, which was placed immediately below the resilient flooring. So we have actually increased the thickness. That will address specifically the issue he's talking about.
Mr. Fairclough: So, Mr. Chair, what happens if we don't get rid of the heaves and bumps between the floor joists that were showing because of weathering of the plywood? Are we going to stick on another layer of plywood and call it upgrading?
I also asked the minister about the noises that are created when there is a failure of materials, such as the plywood on the floor, and the squeaking and so on that will take place, and whether or not the additional layers of plywood - the three-quarter-inch plywood put on, and an additional $35,000 worth of plywood, by the way, to put down on the floor - would take care of that squeak that may result in this. It was a mistake not to replace the plywood right from the beginning. As a matter of fact, if it had been done before the walls went up, it would have cost $8,000 less in labour.
So, is this additional plywood for the flooring going to take away the squeaks that could be created from this mistake that was made to continue building and not replacing the original floor?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, it was not a mistake to continue on. The member is wrong. The damage was aesthetic in nature, and we were advised by the contractor that the damage was aesthetic in nature and no structural damage was observed. So, that's exactly where we are.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, maybe the minister can go to Mayo and have a look at what the floor looks like. And maybe he'll get a first-hand view of what it looks like to the people of that community - and even the contractor who mentioned this before they went on building the school, because he did not want to be liable for the problems that were created because of weathering of the floor. The plywood is separating, and there are dips between the floor joists - we know that. And now, another layer of plywood is going on top.
The problem I'm having with this is whether or not we're going to have problems with noises and squeaks down the hallways that shouldn't have been there in the first place. Are there any other problems the minister would like to point out before it's raised again? Perhaps you can talk about the roof, the design of the roof, and whether or not there are any leaks in that roof.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: None that I have been advised of, and I think it's worth mentioning as well that the member opposite is speculating on what's going to happen to the floor when it's finally completed. I think it's irresponsible to suggest that there are going to be squeaks and rolls, and exaggerating the facts beyond what's really there. But then, the member is noted for that kind of conduct.
Chair: Order please. We have had this discussion today, and what I would ask is that we do not comment on members' characters and do not impute any values or judgments on them - or motives. I would ask Mr. Eftoda to kindly keep the level of debate to the issues.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, obviously this government gets a little defensive when it comes to some of the good direction that might be coming out from this side of the House.
I know that plywood does separate and it does create squeaks, because there are layers in there. The member can't say that I'm speculating because I've seen it; the contractor knows about it; it has been brought to the attention of this government, to the point where it was noted that it was not a problem at all and that the contractor could continue with it.
I was hoping that the minister could give us more about the type of problems resulting because of the delays of the regular construction of the school.
Now, with this delay of materials coming, can the minister now tell us how long - we were hoping that the students would move into the school before the next semester, right after Christmas. Is that not going to happen now?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I do apologize to the Chair on that.
I will have the project manager review the issues with respect to the floor and the suggestion that the ceiling might be leaking now. I will have the project manager look into both of those aspects.
The member had asked me previously what could potentially be the delay for the materials arriving late. I had indicated to him that it would be five to six weeks.
We have received a letter from the school council.
So, to answer the member's question, we are looking at around February 5 as the date we are looking at to move in.
Mr. Fairclough: The question would be "what year", I suppose, but is the department going to move some of the students out of the old school into the new school before completion of the new school?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I have had a request direct from the community, from the First Nation, from the school council and from the town council, that that not occur. We are in direct communication with those three partners on this project at all times, so that wouldn't be appropriate.
I want to correct something as well, Mr. Chair. The work will tentatively now, depending on when the materials arrive for the floor, be completed on February 5, so it would be after that when we can move in.
But we are keeping in constant contact with the three groups up there to keep them fully apprised of what's happening, and they are communicating back to us, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister did say that students will be moving in before the new year. Anything could have happened. I don't know why the minister just threw out a deadline like that.
In regard to the roof, just for the minister's own information, I walked through that school, they already had the insulation in the ceiling. There's poly on the inside, and I walked through down the hall, and between every one of the roof trusses there was, I would say, 10 gallons of water in the poly, just hanging in there. So obviously the insulation got wet, so if the minister can look into that and update me by writing as to what needs to be done to correct that or whether or not it has already been corrected.
I would like - the $3,893,000 is for completion of construction of the school. Does that include ground preparation, doing the necessary yard work, the planting of grass, putting in the proper toys, whether they are Big Toys or slides, and a baseball field? I know they could be using some of the existing ones. Also, does that money include the demolition of the old school?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Yes, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Fairclough: So the grounds of the school would be complete, the old school would be torn down with the amount of money that is budgeted for in this supplementary?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Yes, Mr. Chair, with the amount of $2.2 million that was revoted earlier in the year.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, it is $3.8 million for completion. Are you asking us to approve an additional $3.8 million? I just want to know if demolition of the old school is part of that and what is going to happen with the old gym of the school.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Just a point of clarification that we are revoting $3.8 million and that is added to monies - the whole budget for the school is, yes, for grounds work and for demolition. And, what we have also indicated, is that the old school would be torn down totally unless somebody wanted the gym and would move it. So, I do believe - really going back in memory - that the old gym would be a safety factor for children in the playground, so if somebody wanted the gym, they could pack it away.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, I believe the community wanted to see if the Department of Education could add this as a second gym to their school, and I haven't heard anything else from the minister on that.
The minister did say that the grounds were going to be complete. This year's budget ends before the thaw of 2002. There has to be some work that has to take place in improving the grounds around the school. The member walked through the mudholes with Prince Charles, and certainly there have been some improvements to the sidewalk there, but I know there's a lot more that could be done, whether it be planting trees and shrubs and so on.
Also, has this school been contracted out for demolition, or is the government doing it on their own?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, maybe he should listen to his colleague from Klondike, but what we would do is to plan with the BAC for next summer with respect to the grounds, and the removal would be contracted out, which hasn't been done yet.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, I'm interested in the policy of government in regard to demolition of government buildings, and what I don't want to see is what took place in Ross River, where we have very much seen materials that could be used and recycled again, and everything was thrown into the dump and burned. And they had laminated beams, for example. The member knows that this is not a cheap type of material. That type of thing could be taken out and used or given away or salvaged somehow and given to the community. Is the minister going to undertake to have this handled in a proper way, where materials can be recycled?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I will certainly take his recommendation under advisement, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, I could probably go on and on about this, and on many of the line items, but I'd like to move on.
Connect Yukon - are all of the schools in the Yukon upgraded to have proper Internet service?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Not Ross River or Faro, and we're working with Community and Transportation Services on resolving that issue.
Mr. Fairclough: I'm sure that the Ross River school must be wired for it, and that type of work doesn't have to be done - it's just the community. Is that the case?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: The member is correct that Ross River is wired. The school itself - the school property - is wired, and we are looking at satellite service to the communities. So we are looking at options to provide a high-speed Internet service to the schools.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, Mr. Chair, can the minister update me as to whether or not the community campuses are in the same state as the schools? Have they been upgraded, or do they have the proper Internet services? If not, is this government looking at making sure that all of our campuses are up to speed with the types of services out there - the type of technology that's out there with fibre optics?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I am aware that Ross River is connected the same way, and I will have to get back to the member with respect to the other college campuses.
Mr. Fairclough: Can the minister tell me what the time frame is for the Ross River and Faro satellite? When will we see that type of technology brought into the schools?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: We are working on solutions.
Again, I make reference to Community and Transportation Services - we're working in cooperation in finding solutions to this. We are also working with Northwestel on providing service improvements in these two areas as well.
Mr. Fairclough: This is using satellite technology for these two communities - is it not what Mayo, for example, would be using with microwave systems?
I just notice that other community campuses around the Yukon have had this technology for a number of years, using satellite to communicate with other players across Canada, for example.
How would these schools, in both Faro and Ross River, then have the access to good Internet access, as we do in Whitehorse here, using high-speed Internet access with fibre optics?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I don't have any problem at all providing specific details on this whole project to the member opposite, so I will collect the whole dossier on high-speed Internet service to the entire Yukon and how that is being addressed specifically for Ross River and Faro.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, I'm not sure exactly what is taking place with Connect Yukon to these two communities and how long the delay is going to be. If these schools are using a satellite system, is the community going to have access through the schools for high-speed Internet services?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: The fact of the matter, as well, is that Connect Yukon is a project under the ministry of Community and Transportation Services, so we are already working at finding solutions. We are working with Northwestel. Right now, there is access through the libraries in the schools, as well, and of course the schools were supplied with brand new computers by the Gates Foundation last year.
So, we are seeing that we are upgrading and supplying the tools for schools to use, but it is a cooperative effort between Education and C&TS.
Mr. Fairclough: I appreciate the information from the minister on this and, if there is more that the minister would like to add to bring me up to speed, I would appreciate it. There was a - one more question here - commitment and a promise made by the minister, by the MLA for McIntyre-Takhini, to ensure there is a heating system put in place for the Takhini Elementary School, and I see it was taken out of the budget here. Can he tell me what the problem is and why we see a delay in putting the heating system in that school?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: In the capital that we have just tabled as well this session - it is in there.
Mr. Fairclough: No, I just want to know what the delay was. It was a commitment at the beginning of this year, and it has been pulled out.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Well, the money that was originally allocated for the heating system improvement to Takhini did in fact get rerouted for a school roof repair on the Robert Service School in Dawson. Mr. Chair, the hour being - the big hand being close to 6:00, I would move that we report progress.
Chair: It has been moved by Mr. Eftoda that we do now report progress.
Motion agreed to
Mr. McLachlan: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Chair: It has been moved by Mr. McLachlan that the Speaker do now resume the Chair. Are we agreed?
Motion agreed to
The Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. May the House have a report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole?
Mr. McLarnon: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 7, Second Appropriation Act, 2001-02, and directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Mr. McLachlan: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. government House leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:58 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled on November 13, 2001:
Whitehorse International Airport Emergency on September 11, 2001: Public Findings Report (Buckway)