Thursday, May 2, 2002 Ė 1:00 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Introduction of visitors.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Ms. Tucker: Mr. Speaker and members, Iíd like you to join me in welcoming the students of the Wood Street school in our gallery today, and Iíd also like to thank them for personally delivering their written concerns to me in my office earlier this afternoon.
Hon. Mr. Kent: Mr. Speaker, I have a number of visitors I would like to introduce today, starting, of course, with Mrs. Oostindieís grade 5 from Selkirk Elementary School.
Also joining us here today, Mr. Speaker, is a special guest from Ottawa, Mr. Mike McCracken, chair and chief executive officer for Informetrica Ltd. as well as two officials from the pipeline unit, Mr. Greg Komaromi and Mr. Don Dempster.
Mrs. Peter: I too would like to welcome the students from the Wood Street Annex OPES program. I would like to ask the House also to give a special welcome to my niece Samantha Kendi. Thank you.
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Speaker: Under tabling of returns and documents, I have for tabling a report of the Chief Electoral Officer of the Yukon on election financing and political contributions for the years 2000 and 2001. Are there any further returns or documents for tabling?
Hon. Mr. Kent: I have for tabling today The Alaska Highway Pipeline Project: Economic Effects on the Yukon and Canada. As well, as the Minister of Infrastructure, I have for tabling the 2002-03 business plans for the Queenís Printer agency, the fleet vehicle agency and the property management agency.
Mrs. Peter: I have for tabling a number of letters from the Wood Street Annex OPES program.
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?
Is there a ministerial statement?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Whitehorse schools reorganization
Mrs. Peter: My question today is for the Minister of Education. Last night the minister attended a school council meeting at Whitehorse Elementary School to discuss her plans to shuffle kids around town. The minister said the shuffle was necessary because she had an agreement to move the youth centre to the Wood Street Annex. Why does the minister believe that finding a home for the youth centre justifies closing down the only English-language elementary school in downtown Whitehorse?
Hon. Ms. Tucker: The Youth Shaping the Future Council has met with us over the last 18 months to look at finding a youth centre in Whitehorse. Education has two facilities: the Whitehorse Elementary School and Wood Street. Their preference, after having had several discussions, was for the Wood Street option.
I met last evening with parents, teachers and school council members at Whitehorse Elementary. It was an excellent meeting. I learned a tremendous amount about the issues from their perspective, and we had an open exchange of views. I have committed to them to discuss various options to address their concerns, and the proposed plan was to allow the English students, which is between 70 and 75 students, to go to other schools either in Riverdale or other areas of the city. The French immersion program, which is the bulk of the students ó 245 students approximately ó would have been staying there.
Mrs. Peter: Parents are very disturbed by this one-sided decision. Putting some high school experiential programs into the basement of Whitehorse Elementary means moving young elementary school students away from their community. These concerns came from parents of the experiential programs ó the English stream and the French immersion stream. Nobody seems happy with this decision except the minister.
Does this minister plan to heed those concerns she heard last night, or is she determined to do things her way?
Hon. Ms. Tucker: The biggest concern I heard last night from the parents was the concern about moving high school students into the same school with elementary students, even if they were separated. That was a very huge concern for them. You know, we are going back and looking at a variety of other options to address those concerns. This is a proposal at this stage. So I am going to be working with them to look at how we can address and mitigate these concerns to reach satisfactory conclusions.
Mrs. Peter: If the goal is moving the youth centre, there are better ways to rearrange things. The high school program could move to the high school. That makes sense. Consolidating elementary school programs in Riverdale and housing the experiential programs on that side of the river also makes sense. One person even wrote to suggest putting the experiential programs across the river and moving the department to the basement of Whitehorse Elementary.
Will the minister agree to find a better way of accommodating the youth centre and the experiential programs without displacing the downtown kids?
Hon. Ms. Tucker: Yes, weíre committed to finding some constructive resolution to some of the situations.
This has been a very valuable week. There have been a number of issues that have come to the forefront that have been cycling for the last year-and-a-half since the school capacity study was undertaken. At that time, we heard very strongly from parents that they wanted the schools to remain open and we were asked to find alternatives to shutting down schools. I think this last week has brought to the attention of all of the residents in Whitehorse that we need to have some immediate discussions as to how we want to handle the declining enrolment of the school populations here and how we can still provide all the programming. The option at F.H. Collins was mentioned and weíre certainly looking at that, as we are for finding other tenants for Whitehorse Elementary who would be consistent with the elementary school, so we are looking at various options and moving forward.
Question re: Whitehorse schools reorganization
Mrs. Peter: My question is to the same minister. The decisions that were made have caused a lot of confusion and a lot of uncertainty. The minister has repeatedly said she had to unveil this plan prematurely because of misinformation being spread by the opposition. The record shows that the opposition asked about plans to move programs from Wood Street to Whitehorse Elementary. We asked about plans to move the English-stream students from Whitehorse Elementary to Selkirk.
Since that is exactly what the minister announced, can she enlighten this House about what she meant by "misinformation"?
Hon. Ms. Tucker: I would refer the member opposite to the Blues on the rest of the comments in those questions.
Mrs. Peter: Thatís what I get for an answer ó thatís something.
The minister went ahead with this shuffle without showing the people most affected the common courtesy of asking for their opinions.
The minister has outlined a lot of reasons justifying this shuffle. The parents and others have explained why this is not a good choice.
Whitehorse Elementary is part of the downtown community. This move will be a hardship to many families without vehicles who live in the downtown area to be close to the services they need.
Why is the minister insisting that she is right and the parents are wrong?
Hon. Ms. Tucker: I support the parents. I was very pleased last night to see so many people turn out and share their opinions with me. Thatís how I learn to do a better job, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart for taking the time and effort to share their concerns with me.
There are a number of benefits to this move, if it proceeds. One is that we have classes at Whitehorse Elementary that have three students in one grade. We have a number of children who would benefit from moving to other schools where they can be in a class that is big enough to provide them the social interaction. On top of that, it would give better programming to some of the other schools, as those resources move with them. For example, Selkirk would have a music program and a language program it doesnít currently enjoy.
The other side of the proposal was that the French immersion program would stay within Whitehorse Elementary. There was room for expansion, and all the resources would stay with it.
So it has some potential. The thing that did surprise me, and that I was very glad to hear from the parents, was this concern about the relationship between older students and elementary students.
Speaker: Order please. I must ask the minister to conclude her answer.
Hon. Ms. Tucker: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mrs. Peter: Children have been hurt by this decision. Parents have been ignored by this decision. Teachers have not been included in this decision. Weíve just had a review of the Education Act that failed to meet the needs of many of the partners in education. Obviously itís time to take a good, hard look at the education system and not just the legislation. The minister should start by putting the brakes on this plan and stop shuffling the kids back and forth.
Will the minister agree to use the money saved by putting the Grey Mountain project on ice to commission an independent study of how to improve the way her department makes and communicates decisions?
Hon. Ms. Tucker: What has been highlighted for me in the last week has been the important and pressing need to involve councils in the future of Whitehorse schools. I am directing the department to arrange the round-table meetings with the councils in Whitehorse to discuss a course for the future. I will be participating in these myself so that I can hear first-hand how the parents of this community want to see the schools issued addressed in the future.
Question re: Electricity, general rate application
Mr. Jenkins: I have a question to the minister responsible for the Yukon Energy Corporation. Yesterday I raised the issue of the minister not wanting a general rate application for electrical rates because it would expose the fact that Yukoners are currently being overcharged on their electrical bills, in my opinion, by over 25 percent. Yukon electricity consumers are currently paying a revenue shortfall rider of 18.74 percent, which could be called "the Anvil bad debt surcharge". Consumers have also been paying a fuel adjustment rider that has ranged from a high of over one-half of a cent per kilowatt hour to the current rate of just less than one-quarter of a cent per kilowatt hour. This is despite the fact that no diesel fuel is being used on the Whitehorse/Aishihik/Faro grid. That has been the situation for quite some time. Pursuant to section 17 of the Public Utilities Act, the Cabinet can give direction to the Yukon Utilities Board to hold the GRA with the object of lowering electrical rates. Will the minister give that undertaking?
Speaker: Order please. Question please.
Hon. Mr. Kent: Mr. Speaker, as I stated in debate yesterday with the Member for Klondike on the Yukon Development Corporation, it is up to the utilities to apply for a GRA ó or the Yukon Utilities Board, which is a quasi-judicial board ó and I will not interfere with the operations of that board.
Mr. Jenkins: Iíd encourage the minister to look at the act and see that he himself ó the Cabinet can call for it.
Now, the normal test period for a GRA was two years. It was extended to five years. We are now well past that period. Further, a GRA is normally triggered when a utility undertakes a major capital construction project, such as we are now seeing with the Mayo-Dawson transmission line, yet still no GRA. Will the minister explain why he is opposed to a GRA at this time that would likely recommend that electrical rates be lowered by as much as 25 percent?
Hon. Mr. Kent: As I mentioned in my previous answer, GRAs are the responsibility ó the utilities can apply for a rate increase, and they havenít done so in a number of years. Itís the responsibility of the Yukon Utilities Board, which I mentioned is a quasi-judicial board, and I will not interfere with the operations of that board.
Mr. Jenkins: Iím going to send over a copy of the act and the highlighted section for the ministerís benefit that shows that he can certainly do that, Mr. Speaker.
Does the real reason for the ministerís reluctance to have a GRA now have anything to do with the fact that he knows that the utilities only call for a GRA when they have a need for increased rates and that, if he calls for one now, he will probably save consumers a lot of money in that the rates will be reduced?
Hon. Mr. Kent: As I stated in my previous answers, the reason that I have not called for a GRA is because thatís the responsibility of the Yukon Utilities Board. It is a quasi-judicial board, and I will not interfere with the proceedings of that board.
Question re: Tough report on forestry
Mr. Fentie: Iíd like to direct a question to the Premier today in regard to the Tough report, the report the Premier stated in this House earlier this week that her government was waiting to see.
Now, the report clearly indicates the mismanagement of our forest resources by DIAND, the federal government, and also shows that the Yukon government has been negligent in their duties and responsibility to represent and protect Yukonersí interests.
One of the key areas that Mr. Tough points to is the memorandum of understanding for forest management with the Kaska First Nation.
Can the Premier tell this House where that memorandum of understanding is?
Hon. Mr. Kent: The Tough report, of course, was just released yesterday to the Minister of DIAND, and he is taking some time to review it, and I and officials in the department will take time to review it as well.
Regarding the Kaska MOU, there are ongoing discussions with DIAND and the Kaska to resolve that issue that the Member for Watson Lake mentioned.
Mr. Fentie: Again, Iíll direct my question to the Premier, because the minister responsible doesnít understand that the MOU process is tripartite. The Premier has a duty here to tell the Yukon public whatís going on in that area. This memorandum of understanding was in draft form, ready for Cabinet review, back in April of 2000. Here we are two years later, and Mr. Tough points out in his report that this MOU would establish, Mr. Speaker, a new relationship and would remove the uncertainty in forest management processes in this territory.
Will the Premier now explain where the memorandum of understanding is?
Hon. Mr. Kent: Mr. Speaker, of course I do realize that the Yukon government, DIAND and the Liard First Nation are negotiating the memorandum of understanding,. And weíre undertaking those negotiations now and looking to address the forest management planning in the southeast Yukon.
Mr. Fentie: Iím going to give the minister responsible the benefit of the doubt and again direct my question to the Premier. Itís well known that two weeks ago the memorandum of understanding was at its final stages. The federal government and the Kaska First Nation were ready to sign. The Yukon government vetoed that memorandum of understanding. Will the Premier explain to this House why the Yukon government vetoed the memorandum of understanding?
Hon. Mr. Kent: Mr. Speaker, as I said, itís my understanding that negotiations are going on right now with the Kaska memorandum of understanding, and I have not heard of any veto, as the Member for Watson Lake suggests, but I can take that up with my officials. Itís my understanding, as I stated, that negotiations are continuing for the Kaska memorandum of understanding.
Question re: Whitehorse schools reorganization
Mr. McLarnon: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education.
Mr. Speaker, last night the Minister of Education stood in front of the Whitehorse Elementary School Council and told them that not only would older students in elementary school-age areas be beneficial, but there would be enhancement to programs. Iíll explore the second part first. Can the minister confirm or tell us where in the budget there is the money identified for the extra language students, the extra music students, and all the extra resources that will be promised and were promised last night in this budget? We know the budget this year is a deficit budget. We know next year thatís unsustainable, so we know there are cuts coming next year. We want to know right now where the money is today so ó
Speaker: Order please. Question please.
Hon. Ms. Tucker: If the English students move to other schools in Whitehorse, the resources that would be freed up there would be moved to, for example, Selkirk, to provide an extra music program and a language program. The existing French immersion program would maintain its programs, and there would be an opportunity, with expanded space, for the French immersion program to actually be expanded.
Mr. McLarnon: Just to confirm, thereís no extra money for this promise then.
Now, the other concern last night was from parents in the French immersion program, stating clearly that they would pull their children out of that program for fear of older students being in the school. This was pooh-poohed, saying there were studies showing there were positive benefits. Letís talk about a couple of studies.
Did the minister know, for example, that nearly 15 percent of all sexual offences involving teen perpetrators happen at school or on school property? Did the minister know that, generally speaking, deviant behaviour in adults or in teenagers starts when there is a three-year age difference or power difference between children ó the exact ages being talked about here?
Iíll send over these ó
Speaker: Order please. Question please.
Mr. McLarnon: Can the minister confirm or help the school council determine if the French immersion program will suffer as a result of parentsí legitimate fears about their children being mixed in with older children?
Hon. Ms. Tucker: The plan for the Whitehorse Elementary School was to provide experiential science and experiential learning program on the ground floor, which would be physically separated from the rest of the school, with its own entrance and separate grounds.
The people who attend the experiential learning classes are some of the best models of youth we have in this territory. In downtown Whitehorse, weíve had problems with the liquor store. Thereís the potential of a halfway house opening up through the Salvation Army next door to Whitehorse Elementary. Weíve had problems with people walking in off the street, doing sexual assaults.
We are going to try our very best to ensure a healthy and safe environment. The concern of the parents about having their younger children exposed to older children is interesting to me, because we have models right now ó École Émilie Tremblay, where they have kindergarten to grade 12. We have Faro, where we have all these grades together. What weíve actually found is, in a lot of cases with proper involvement, thereís great mentoring occurring and modeling of behaviours.
Mr. McLarnon: An apples and oranges comparison ó again, weíre talking about community schools in those areas, not large numbers of students who are anonymous here.
These fears are legitimate. Not only are they legitimate for the parents worrying about their children, theyíre worrying about the school program. If enough students are pulled from that program, it will suffer. It will lose resources. Will this minister confirm or help right now and confirm she will help the school council properly evaluate whether parents will pull their children out of that program and make the program suffer as a result, again, of political and school children gerrymandering and moving around, when there doesnít need to be any ó a simple solution is to move the high school students back to the high school.
Hon. Ms. Tucker: If I can refer you to an earlier answer, I said that we would be meeting and talking with all the councils involved in trying to find constructive solutions to some of the issues. You know, the member opposite has raised some very real concerns and I share those concerns, and I share them not only for Whitehorse Elementary but for all the schools in this territory. It is a large issue.
One of the things that concerns me is why do we have such a fear and such a concern about our youth being together? I think we need to look at some of those things.
The proposal was to physically separate them; they would have their own schools. The experiential people would have the opportunity to create their own new environment. There are concerns raised; Iíve heard them and weíre going to try to address them.
Question re: Tough report on forestry
Mr. Fentie: Iíd like to try again with the Premier. The minister responsible is obviously confused on the issue of the forest memorandum of understanding with the Kaska.
Now, the Yukon governmentís position at the table in vetoing the memorandum of understanding was based on the rationale that they didnít want anything concluded until the devolution transfer was completed. Thatís quite contrary to what Mr. Tough and Yukoners are saying, people who want the federal government to proceed with a planning process to provide the Yukon government the tools necessary for forest management upon devolution.
Can the Premier explain the rationale for doing nothing in this area as far as the memorandum of understanding until devolution and the transfer is completed?
Hon. Mr. Kent: I can assure the Member for Watson Lake that YTG is participating with DIAND and Liard First Nation on developing the MOU. We have a number of initiatives, as outlined in our accountability plan for policy development, as we work toward the devolution date of April 1, 2003, and those of course include the completion of a new timber supply analysis for the southeast, and working with our stakeholders and DIAND to ensure the new timber tenures are negotiated and awarded.
So, we are very proactive in the forest industry and, as far as the veto goes that the Member for Watson Lake mentioned, I am unaware of that at this time.
Mr. Fentie: The government across the floor doesnít get it. Mr. Tough correctly alludes to the fact that the umbrella final agreement is clear on the relationship First Nations have when it comes to forest management. The government on the other side also said that the Yukon forest strategy, although the report says that it has widespread support among the people of this territory, did not have the First Nationsí buy-in. The memorandum of understanding, Mr. Speaker, is all about involving the First Nations in forest management, as the UFA sets out.
Why is this government not coming clean to the Yukon public when it comes to the memorandum of understanding?
Now, the minister just said theyíre doing all kinds of work. Well, itís redundant work if they donít solve this problem. We want to get to the bottom of this. Why did the Yukon government not conclude the memorandum of understanding two weeks ago with the First Nation?
Hon. Mr. Kent: As I mentioned, we are continuing negotiations with DIAND and the Liard First Nation on the MOU for the southeast Yukon. Forestry, of course, is still the responsibility of the federal government until April 1, 2003. The Member for Watson Lake, in his capacity as forestry commissioner in the previous government, failed to get an MOU signed with the Liard First Nation and that planning in my understanding for that MOU began in 1999 when the Member for Watson Lake was the forestry commissioner. As Iíve said, we are working toward the devolution date of April 1, 2003, with forestry policy framework, as well as developing forestry legislation for the Yukon.
Mr. Fentie: Frankly, the government opposite should have already had a draft forest legislation developed. They have done nothing in this area but impede the process. Now the minister is starting to lay blame on the former government. I want to point out to the member opposite that they are the government and have been for two years, and theyíve accomplished one thing in forestry. They have named a Yukon tree. Doesnít this government care? People are suffering because they have lost their livelihood. This issue has been a long-standing issue. The mismanagement by the federal government is clear. The negligence of this government is clear. Will the minister come clean and explain to this House why they will not sign the memorandum of understanding now?
Hon. Mr. Kent: Mr. Speaker, the memorandum of understanding with the Liard First Nation on forestry, as Iíve said a number of times on my feet here today in the House, is something that weíre actively negotiating. Itís certainly a different memorandum of understanding than those that were negotiated in the Teslin area or the Champagne-Aishihik area, mainly for the reason that those particular First Nations do have settled land claims.
Again, I just have to remind the Member for Watson Lake that when he was the forestry commissioner, he did develop a forest policy that didnít have the buy-in of the First Nations of the Yukon at the time. The memorandum of understanding in the southeast Yukon has been up for negotiations since 1999, when he was the forest commissioner. But of course the overall considerations in this matter, Mr. Speaker, are that forestry remains the responsibility of the federal government until the devolution transfer agreement date of April 1, 2003. We are undertaking a number of policy and tenure initiatives so that we can inherit a successful forest industry and make sure it is a vibrant contributor to the Yukon economy for many years to come.
Speaker: Time for Question Period has now elapsed. Weíll proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: Mr. Speaker, I move that the Speaker do leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: Good afternoon. I now call the Committee of the Whole to order.
The Committee of the Whole will recess until 1:55.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will continue with general debate on the Department of Justice as part of Second Appropriation Act, 2002-03.
Bill No. 9 ó Second Appropriation Act, 2002-03 ó continued
Department of Justice ó continued
Chair: Is there any further general debate?
Mrs. Peter: Yesterday when I left general debate I had addressed a number of key issues and concerns. I reminded the minister that we do have a history in the Yukon of addressing restorative justice measures throughout our territory. That is through our community justice committees ó volunteers in our community, who believe in working within partnerships with the various governments, whether they be First Nation governments, the territorial government or the federal government. The people who believe in working in partnership take responsibility for our community issues.
While working in partnership with the justice committee, they address some of these concerns that we have. They take the time to address these and spend the time that is needed, whether it be the court circuits coming into our communities ó they spend time with people who are involved at the grassroots level.
The minister informed me through a legislative return that there is another review in progress of the justice programs that are offered in our territory.
A community tour was done a few years back and, when this tour happened, there were key partners and key players involved. When they came to my community of Old Crow and held a meeting at the community centre, the community centre was filled to capacity.
They offered valid suggestions to the people who were there to listen. There was a comprehensive report developed from that community tour and, now again, we have another review in progress. That review will be completed in two years. This review will offer us a framework, which I believe we already have in place. If we go back and look at the intense report that took place and take some of the key information that was offered by the communities in the territory, then I know we can move forward in the Justice department.
Now we have to go through another review; we have to take time, and there are resources that are being used that could be put to better use in our communities and throughout the City of Whitehorse.
I suggest to the minister that he take a step back, put all issues aside, take a look at that community restorative justice review that was done, take some of the key information from there, and letís move forward and make some progress. Because as weíre waiting for the final report, which weíre going to see in two years, people out there are suffering. People are having a hard time. People do not have access to the key resources and programs that they need and require, especially in our smaller communities.
Sometimes we have to have access to these resources by telephone and talk to resources long distance so that we can address some of these issues with people who are involved within the justice system.
We have a few names that we put to these programs. I still call it restorative justice measures and, today, another name is put to it, that of community justice initiatives. Whatever names we put to these programs, the problem is still there. The issues out there are still reality.
There is no need to waste any time in constantly reviewing these programs. We need to take the necessary steps to make sure these resources are made available to the people who so desperately need them today.
I understand that the person who is doing the review is seconded from the federal department. Thatís fine. I believe in working in partnership with other people who can help us to provide better services and better programs so that, in the end, the people who need them will be the ones who benefit from those initiatives.
A few weeks back, there was an elders justice forum that was held in Whitehorse. Out of that forum, they brought forward many, many great ideas on how to address the different issues around Justice programs and services. I have always believed that, when we have our elders speak at such a forum, the traditional knowledge that they offer us is the key to any programs that we offer out there. They are the wisdom. They offer us much knowledge, and we have to pay attention to that.
In our communities, our elders offer us guidance and they offer us key initiatives and key ways that we can move forward in decision making affecting all people, and we do not take that for granted. I know that in my community of Old Crow, any time there is a public meeting held, the leadership holds a meeting with the elders in the morning so that everyone can be aware of what is going on; they receive their guidance from the elders and they offer us the courage to move forward in good decision making.
Deputy Chair: Ms. Peter, could you wrap up your comments? You have about 15 seconds left.
Mrs. Peter: Thank you.
The decisions that we make within the Justice department need to be made using common sense. We need to be accountable to the people out there whom we serve. That is the goal that we have, and we need to work in partnership so that we can address the issues and concerns out there on behalf of the people we serve.
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: Iíd like to take the opportunity to respond to a few of the things that the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin has said. She made reference to growing up in a small community. I wanted to inform her that I also grew up in a small community in the north, although the First Nation that was closest to me was the Cree Nation, and I remember very much our Anglican minister at the time being able to speak Cree dialect ó the only one I had ever found among the white people of the community to speak Cree.
I would also like to correct, for the record, something that the member referred to yesterday when she said that her people, when they are released from the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, end up here in the City of Whitehorse, often becoming homeless. The Department of Justice tries, to the very best extent it can, to return the people of Old Crow to their community by purchasing a one-way ticket on a commercial airline or, if the RCMP plane is going at the time, we also use the plane to help in that respect. However, the problem that we run into is sometimes the members say they donít want to return and they have declined the airline tickets. So I just wanted to correct that for the record. We do help wherever possible in getting them back by purchasing a ticket on the airline ó one way back.
The Member for Vuntut Gwitchin has referred to the conference held at a local hotel in Whitehorse on April 18, I believe, which I attended. The member was able to stay there longer that morning than I was. I had to return for an important Cabinet meeting, but Iím still waiting for feedback from the organizers of the conference as to the results of that. Iíd like very much to be able to hear and see the opinions that were expressed by the elders.
I indicated earlier that I think that is very important to us in Justice. And we have used, to the extent that we can, some of those opinions in doing the early planning for the relocation or the rebuilding of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Deputy Chair: Mr. McRobb, on a point of order.
Mr. McRobb: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Chair, itís extremely difficult to hear members on the other side and I was wondering if there is a way that we can turn up the amplification system in here so members can hear each other a little bit better.
Deputy Chair: Will the member speak louder? I think the member is capable of that.
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: I thank you, Mr. Deputy Chair. I thought I was and I was going to suggest that the Member for Kluane ó no, I wonít go there.
But Iím still waiting for feedback from the ó
The Member for Kluane wonít sit in his chair; thatís why he canít hear anything. Heís on the floor praying again for electoral success by his party and itís not going to happen with prayers.
I believe, as I indicated earlier, that the kind of report that came out of the conference at the local hotel was quite worthwhile and I am looking forward to the report.
There are two other things that I would like to illustrate further for the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin. Restorative justice is a philosophy. Itís an approach to crime that focuses on healing relationships and repairing the damage that crime causes to individuals and communities, and itís an approach to people in relationships that is grounded in values, such as the values that the member has espoused here earlier today and also yesterday ó values such as respect, inclusion, healing and compassion.
The term "community justice" is a framework of how we do business in the department. It allows for the delivery of our justice services and programs that are developed in response to locally identified needs. They are managed by community agencies wherever possible, and this framework can, when applicable, apply restorative justice philosophy in the approach.
The member has talked about attending a meeting three years ago that was packed by members of the community. I have no doubt it was, but that was a community tour to solicit opinions on ideas, perhaps more so than the community justice program that we have now embarked upon and are attempting to do a number of things that I have referred to.
Often the principles of restorative justice have been derived from indigenous cultures, and are being used throughout Canada and in many jurisdictions, including England, Australia, New Zealand and some parts of the U.S. The basic difference is that restorative justice is a philosophy and the community justice is more of a community-based type of program that is attempting to assist the people with their issues and questions on justice issues in their communities.
In regard to the comments that the member has made about the review, I know that I have often and frequently heard that there are often government reports that sit on the shelf and gather dust. They get done for the sake of getting done and nothing ever happens. I would certainly like to reiterate that that is not going to be the fate of this report as long as I am Minister of Justice. We do need, for the benefit of the member opposite, some sort of indicator that we are on the right track. We need to know that the directions we are planning for community justice, the areas that we are putting the money into, and the way we are going down the road, are the right ways.
I know it often seems difficult, but sometimes the only way to get those answers is through a review of the programs that weíre putting forward. That is what has sparked this review. The previous Minister of Justice said that she was very reluctant to put more money into the community justice programs ó which we do partner, to a very large extent, with the federal Department of Justice. If we were ever to ask for additional money to continue the programs, we know they would likely ask us how we know weíre doing it correctly; how do we know itís going down the right path? That is one of the very big reasons for having to do this review. We need to know some basic principles behind it and that itís going in the right direction.
As frustrating as it may be at times, itís a necessary part, it seems, of government to be able to do the reviews and know that itís being done in the proper manner. As the Premier has said, this year the accountabilities and the output indicators and the input and output are being measured in a different way than they have ever been before. Itís done so that we can more effectively determine that the programs are being done properly and are going in a proper direction. That is what has driven the reviews, and that is probably what will continue to drive the reviews.
Mrs. Peter: I would just like to respond to some of the comments made by the Minister of Justice. When I addressed the issues yesterday regarding inmates from our communities who leave the facility and have to get back home, some of them do not make the travel arrangement that was already made for them and, ultimately, have nowhere to go in Whitehorse. Thatís not only the concern for my community, where itís only a fly-in community, but also other communities along the Alaska Highway and north.
That is a concern that was brought to my attention a number of times. They have one chance only. When they leave the Whitehorse correctional facility, the very next day is the only chance they have to travel back to their community, and if they miss that chance, then they have no other alternatives. Most of them have no relatives in Whitehorse to whom they can go to for help. They have nowhere to go, and they end up in Whitehorse with very few resources, and that was my point that I made yesterday.
I have to correct the minister. I did not suggest that the information you just gave was correct.
Would there possibly be other options for inmates once they leave the institution ó given a one- or two-day option to make the necessary travel arrangements so that they can go back to their communities in sufficient time?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: Certainly the corrections people can make every attempt possible to try to match the release date with the departure date of the plane. Sometimes itís not always possible. We have a problem if the plane isnít going on a particular day, and we canít hold them past the release date to catch the plane the next day. As Minister of Justice, I canít force anyone to get on the plane if they donít want to return.
But Iíll leave the member with a commitment that we will again try our very best to match the departure schedule from WCC to the departure schedule of the aircraft. As I have earlier indicated, if the RCMP plane is going to the community, we also will endeavour to make that; however, that is certainly not as frequent as the scheduled airline carrier.
I will examine the situation for the member, and I will try very hard to see if we can perhaps go that extra few steps to make it easier.
If Iím reading what the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin is saying, she seems to be saying itís far better to have them back in the community than here in the City of Whitehorse. We will go that extra mile to try to help.
Mrs. Peter: I appreciate the answer from the minister; however, I would also like to reiterate that when the inmates leave the institution, they have a release date. Sometimes the release date falls on a Friday and the plane ó whether it be a plane or a bus or whatever, whatever means of travel they have ó leaves ó for instance, Air North leaves Whitehorse for Old Crow at 7:00 in the morning. If the release time is at 8:00 or 9:00 in the morning, then the next flight out after that is Sunday morning. So you have two full days where a person has to make do in Whitehorse before he or she returns to the community. What we donít like to see is this person getting stuck back there in the environment where theyíre more liable to get involved in that same cycle theyíre trying to get away from. They have a greater chance of re-offending or heading back to the same place where they just came from. That is the cycle that we want to break.
We do have concerns for the inmates who come from communities outside of Whitehorse, and the minister suggested that there may be options that we can look at. I suggest that we look at those options sooner than later.
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: It is an offence for the corrections people to hold a person past the release date simply to coincide with the departure date of the airplane. We are forbidden to do that. If the release date is a Friday, the best we can do on a Friday is try to match the release hour of the morning with the airplane schedule. I would like to be able to say, but I would have to check it further, that there was a place that the individuals could sleep for the two nights, Friday and Saturday, but I am reluctant at this time to commit to this without getting further information that we in fact can do this.
But I want to leave the member with this, to say that we will do everything humanly possible we can to accommodate the individuals to return to their community on the flight that we purchase for them over and above the cost of anything else, because I realize what problems may entail if they stay here. But the bottom line must rest with the individual to get on the plane, if itís there and available. If we purchase the ticket and they donít show up for the flight, then it has gone beyond our power to do anything ó no crime has been committed, and they are not at odds for simply failing to show up for the plane. Theyíve served the time; theyíve been released; theyíre on their own.
But, as I indicated earlier, I will check for the member and try to go that extra step and see if there is anything further that we can do.
Mrs. Peter: I appreciate the answer again from the minister. I am wondering, for my own information, what is the departmentís policy right now on that very issue? We are not talking about little kids here. We expect people to be responsible and we are not going to re-jig the policy every time somebody wants to catch a plane in the morning. That is not what I am asking.
You know, the release date is a release date, and we are talking about adults. However, sometimes it is a great concern to the people in the community, especially the families and especially when children are involved. We would like to see the parent back in the community, back with their families so that we can offer other alternatives, whether it be after-care, drug and alcohol treatment or counselling, and other resources that may be required or that they may need to address. Itís sometimes that short time frame that leads them astray while they are here. If there is a policy around that very issue, I would like to have access to that information.
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: The policy is the next available flight. If the member wishes a further detailed policy, I will have to get that from the manual and table it on a subsequent day.
Again, once the member has done this time, we have no further control over them. We do our very best to see they get on the next available flight. If they stay in town somewhere else with friends, we have no power to force them on to the plane. We have no power to pick them up, but we will provide the ticket. However, thereís a certain responsibility to get to the airport. The policy is the next available flight to the community.
Mrs. Peter: I just want to say, again, that we are talking about adults, and that is the concern. The policy is that they have access to the next available flight out, or the next available bus. Thatís the policy, and we have to follow the policy.
While weíre on the topic of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, Iíd like for the minister to let me know at what stage the plans for the new building are presently.
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: Iíve met as recently as Sunday evening with the architectural firm from Vancouver, which is the lead on the project. The individual was staying in town this week for an extra three or four days in order to meet with officials at the Correctional Centre.
We are in the process now of developing detailed plans ó plans that are detailed enough to go out to bid.
Although the issue is a capital one, I donít mind giving the member and all members an update on where we are with Whitehorse Correctional Centre redevelopment. But the plans this year are to relocate the services that will be required for the new facility. Two water lines must be dug in ó big ones ó and a new service line ó one waterline to serve the existing facility while the new one is built, and then a secondary backup line will be put in this year for the new facility when itís built. A new sewer line is to go in. The storm sewers will go in. The relocation of the power line for the electrical services ó and a new fence must be constructed around the existing facility, because we need the area where the existing fence is to begin some ground preparation for the facility.
We are uncertain as of today, May 2, whether we will be doing the foundation work because the decision on the type of foundation has not yet been made. There are three options. But the work that will take place this year is related to all the ground preparation work for the eventual building of the facility. The largest part of the construction of the new facility will take place in the years 2003, 2004 and 2005. The planning work that is going into the facility is immense, and I have always felt, coming from another background, that there are two types of facilities that are being built in this country that require a lot of extensive work and planning. One of them is hospitals, and the other is correctional centres. That is the one weíre on this time, and it is taking a tremendous amount of work and planning and resources. We want this facility to be done properly. As members are no doubt aware, the area that is there has a lot of sand, which is ideal for playing baseball on but not quite so ideal for building.
I want to make absolutely sure that the foundation is properly designed, properly constructed and properly set up. The last facility was built in 1967. It has lasted until now with a great deal of problems, and I want all members of this Legislature to know that we want to get to the middle of this century with the facility we are building. We want to get to the year 2050 and I want very much to make sure that it is built properly, built to existing construction standards, built to the best possible knowledge that we know of correctional facility design that exists to this day. A large part of the year 2002, with the exception of what I said about ground preparation work, is going into the planning and design so that we will be able to go to bid early for the major part of the construction next year.
Mrs. Peter: I can appreciate the amount of planning and all the preliminary work thatís going into this building. Itís almost to the time when the building itself will take place. However, having said that, Iím wondering if ó the minister mentioned some concerns about the foundation and the area where the present building is, and most of it is sand. I wondered at this point if any other options were taken into consideration for another building site?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: We did look at some other sites. Some of them were in the communities and, in the end, when the analysis was done, the decision came back that this was still the best possible site. In part, itís our land and, as the member knows, the young offenders facility is in an area nearby. Existing services are already on the street that has to be dug in. It was still the best available location because there are a number of people in this kind of design and planning stage who ó you know, as a symbol itís called "NIMBY" ó not in my back yard ó and there are people who said to leave it where it is.
Our study by the department concluded that that was the best location for the site. As the member can appreciate, the footprint or the area over which the site will sit is very large. If it came to the purchase of land somewhere else for this, this would add considerably to the cost of the project. As the member opposite has heard on so many occasions, we have a number of financial pressures on this side and it becomes a balancing act between building the very best possible facility that you can for the available capital dollars that you have. We believe weíve made the best decision in locating the facility where itís going.
Mrs. Peter: We always need money. We always need more money in one way or the other. I do appreciate the cost of looking at another site, of what that might mean. I wasnít exactly thinking about dollars, and that is where I differ in this House from most people. I was thinking mostly of the programs that are in the planning stages at this point. We think of alternative justice measures. I am thinking about the ratio of the inmates who are there right now, most of whom are of First Nation descent.
In previous debates, I brought the issue forward around how these individuals practice their own spiritual needs. I was thinking about where the site is right now and how difficult it could be to practice these ways right in the middle of a service-oriented area. I was thinking more along the lines of a remote area, where they would have access to wilderness, and how programs using traditional knowledge would be more effective for most individuals there.
I can see from the ministerís response that this just canít be so right now, especially with the cost of land and the availability of services in remote areas.
I want to move on and touch on other areas. Can the minister tell me what the cost of renewal in the Department of Justice is?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: In answer to questions in this Legislature, the Premier has specified that the cost of renewal was budgeted at $895,000 across government.
This particular department, Justice, is one of the few that has small costs of renewal. Three particular divisions went to another division, but the Premier has stated that $895,000 is the cost of renewal, and this department hasnít jotted down every half-hour of every person who has worked on the project.
Mrs. Peter: Can I ask the minister if he can forward to me a breakdown of the cost of renewal in this department?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: Again, I reiterate for the member opposite that the Premier has earlier answered this question, and we have no further costs for interdepartmental breakdowns to the half-hour or the quarter-hour or the half day.
Mrs. Peter: Iím not satisfied with that answer; however, thatís the only one weíll probably get. What is the cost of the ministerial travel for the Justice department?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: The cost of ministerial travel in the department is zero.
Mrs. Peter: I have looked with interest at the goals and objectives of this department, which is part of the accountability initiative that would take place in the Department of Justice. I would like to hear from the minister how the department plans to fulfill its vision of: "The department works in active partnerships to foster healthy and safe communities that are part of a just and peaceful society."
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: The way in which the department will foster healthy and safe communities is by the five goals that are explained shortly afterwards.
Goal 1 is to promote accessible resolution of civil and family disputes. Goal 2, to provide for the operation of the corrections system and the safe, effective, custody, control, probation, supervision and reintegration of offenders. Goal 3, to provide services to victims and ensure that their issues are understood throughout the justice system. Goal 4, to provide a range of justice services to communities. Goal 5, to provide high quality and cost-effective legal services to government.
Mrs. Peter: Thatís very interesting because thatís exactly what was being said in the review that was going on, and itís information that we already have. I believe some of that work is already being done in our communities by volunteers, by the people who are working with the limited justice resources we have in our communities.
How does the department recognize the "fundamental importance of personal integrity in building relationships with citizens, organizations, communities, governments and First Nations" and what does that mean?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: The answer for the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin is that we encourage our staff to recognize the values and the integrity that are in the people who work in the system, be they at Whitehorse Correctional Centre, be they staff in the main justice building, or be they in the three offices that we have in the communities.
Mrs. Peter: Again, I take the ministerís answer with interest. I look at that kind of statement as an accountability statement made by the Department of Justice, and my hope would have been that these types of statements or values were already there.
Yesterday the minister made a statement in an answer to one of my questions about the accountability initiatives put forward by this government and referred to it when speaking about the community initiatives that I was questioning him about.
I donít think the people in the communities pay too much attention to this type of information. All they need to know in the communities out there, when they offer Justice programs or any other programs, is that the government of the day that is in place takes their concerns and issues very seriously.
We can have all the statements and accountability measures we want but the bottom line is: are we delivering on the programs and services that are needed?
We do review after review of these programs and there is still a shortage out there, whether it be in Whitehorse, Dawson, Old Crow or Burwash.
These statements are good statements; there are lots of good words in there. My hope is that these types of values and these types of goals and objectives written on this nice green paper were already in place.
Carrying on with my question, one of the objectives or goals is stated as an output indicator, that mentions the schematic design for the new Whitehorse Correctional Centre. How will having the design reduce concerns about WCC operations by the fire marshal and others as is suggested in the outcome indicators?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: The schematic design the member referred to has ensured the fire marshal that the facility that we are building will meet all current construction and safety standards, and when that is done it will have met all of the concerns the fire marshal has expressed to date about the 35-year-old institution that we now find ourselves saddled with. It is in the design features that are taking place, literally this month, as we speak.
Mrs. Peter: I would like to hear from the minister exactly where in the goals by primary responsibilities is the public education and violence prevention around womenís issues a priority. We know full well what has happened in the last month or so, and all the issues around womenís issues. We definitely need more education in this area, especially today where it is right now out in the public. I have heard many, many concerns in the last little while, especially with some of the situations that we have found ourselves in that have brought more public scrutiny to womenís issues out there.
Itís very important today that we provide the necessary education material out there for everyone in every walk of life, because itís something that needs to be done. Itís something that we need to hear more about, and people who are affected out in the Yukon public need to know that they are going to be safe, for one thing, that we do care about the issues that are out there, and that we are addressing them.
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: There are a number of issues that the member has brought up, many related to womenís issues. We realize that Justice does have a role to play with the Status of Women and the Minister of Health and Social Services on a number of issues. Let me give you some examples of the education component of a lot of the services Justice has been instrumental in helping to provide: a youth education series provided last summer in order to help reduce the incidence of sexual assault among young women; specific training for women and men, through facilitated sessions, for groups of offenders, and facilitated sessions for groups of victims; case-by-case education on an as-required basis for specific groups that are dealing with an issue. If a particular group has an issue they want brought forward, all they have to do is contact us at the FVPU ó family violence prevention unit.
We have facilitated a womenís group here in the city at Kwanlin Dun and work with a number of shelters. We have done group debriefing sessions in response to particular incidents, and we have partnered with agencies such as Health and Social Services and the RCMP for the purpose of providing debriefing when violent incidents emerge.
We have also participated in the development and support of a play that Iím sure the member has heard, called A Little Respect, and we partnered with the Womenís Directorate in this area again to have staff in attendance at each play in case the audience wanted to explore issues that have come up for them, and where staff canít attend, such as out in the community sessions, we find appropriate resources to support the play.
We also participated in the development and production and call-in support of a radio drama about violence and the intimate relationships between men and women. The target audience for that was adolescents. The drama was very well-received and has been rebroadcast twice since it was first developed.
I hope this answers some of the memberís questions.
Mrs. Peter: Mr. Chair, there has been an evaluation report on the domestic violence court treatment option that was done. Could the minister tell me when this report will be available?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: The member is referring to the domestic violence treatment option, which is another court option. That evaluation is underway now. Itís my understanding that it is not to be completed until later this fall. I can get back with a specific date, but that evaluation is taking place right now.
Mrs. Peter: Iíd appreciate that, and can the minister tell me who is doing this evaluation report?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: Itís the staff of the family violence prevention unit who are doing the evaluation. Itís being done internally. I want to make sure that the member understands that the DVTO is a court that has been established on a pilot-project basis, intended to encourage domestic violence offenders to take treatment for their domestic abuse issues. Thatís the DVTO.
The family violence prevention unit is doing the evaluation, and itís our internal staff that is doing the review.
Mrs. Peter: Mr. Chair, can the minister let me know if there has been a risk-needs assessment project report being done?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: Iím familiar with the terms the member has used, but Iím not 100 percent certain that it was within Justice. It had some input from two other branches. But I can get back to the member with the specifics of the risk-needs assessment project that is being done, as she has alleged.
Mrs. Peter: Mr. Chair, I appreciate that. I would appreciate that information. Also, when would that report be available?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: Because Iím not sure of the existence of that report within my department, I do need to verify that. But I have to get back to the member as to the completion date of that report. Certainly I have to check with other sources to see if itís from outside Justice, like in the other two branches that Iíve referred to. But I havenít got a completion date for the report if, in fact, it exists in the form sheís asking.
Mrs. Peter: If I could just make a suggestion, also, to the minister. I can barely hear him when heís giving his answers. I look again with interest at the goals and objectives, and one of the output indicators that is listed here is, "develop a working relationship with community-based organizations and First Nations. And on the other side of that, thereís the outcome indicator that states, "More effective program delineation regarding roles and responsibilities for program delivery..." Can the minister tell me what exactly that means?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: Earlier on, I referred to the integrated case management model and I told the member that one of the things that we are currently doing is, when an individual is released from the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, we monitor the individualís release into the community to see that progress is being made, that itís being reviewed through the parole officers ó weíre trying desperately to reduce the chance of recidivism among Whitehorse Correctional Centre inmates when theyíre released. That is what is meant by more effective program delineation.
There are a number of people who return to the communities ó some donít; some stay in Whitehorse ó but there are a number of people who return to the communities, and it is this connection, this link, that we are trying to monitor and keep track of in order to reduce this 70-percent recidivism rate that I referred to earlier. Thatís what is meant by this key indicator.
Mrs. Peter: When will the department have a plan that would equip the Department of Justice to deal with reports of historical sexual abuse?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: There is a national involvement in this one as well. Our partners from the other 12 jurisdictions, as it stands, are also working to develop a number of answers in response to this, because this problem is not related specifically to the Yukon Territory.
At least one in four women have experienced some form of abuse as children, and the effects of untreated and unreported abuse, whether they originated in a residential school or not, are often a hidden undercurrent running through a lot of the problems in society. It is in its initial stages, but we have been working to try to develop a plan that will address some of these issues because of the tremendous relevance that we are seeing ó there is new information revealed every year. We do not have a completion date for this because there are others involved in the plan, outside of our own territorial Department of Justice.
Mrs. Peter: I would like to add to the ministerís statement that we are not only specifically speaking about women and children in this matter. How soon will there be an inter-agency plan for a coordinated response to the needs of victims?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: There are five or six other agencies involved with us in this plan. Womenís Directorate, Health and Social Services, RCMP, federal Crownís victim-witness workers, womenís shelters in town and other NGOs and individuals. Because of those six or seven other organizations having input into it, we canít determine a specific ending date for the coordinated response. It is a broad area that involves a number of other agencies. Although we are a lead agency on it, we have not got the dates that the other agencies are reporting back to us on this issue.
Mrs. Peter: One of the goals, one of the output indicators, states that thereís a revised Yukon public notification protocol. Can the minister enlighten me as to what exactly that means? Is there a revised Yukon public protocol already in place, or are you planning to do one?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: There is a protocol in place, but we are planning to do additional work on the revision of this. It is done for managing high-risk offenders who may return to the Yukon from other jurisdictions, or who may be resident in the Yukon.
This is an extremely touchy issue, because the federal privacy commissioner is involved. Once these individuals have finished their sentence, they have the same right to freedom and freedom of liberty and values that the rest of us enjoy. However, issues have been raised by people in the community of Yukon about tracking these individuals within the communities, so the public notification protocol review committee consists of representatives from Health and Social Services, Justice, the RCMP and, frequently, the privacy commissioner.
It is the privacy commissioner who has a lot to say about what is released and what isnít released. We are reviewing the protocol because of a few problems that developed last year, and it is done in concert with those organizations I previously stated.
Mrs. Peter: Yes, I agree with the minister that this is a very sensitive issue and, in light of what we experienced in Whitehorse within the last year, it is of grave concern. I can appreciate that there are privacy issues and all the other issues that go along with an individualís rights; however, the concern I hear about is from the parents who have small children, and the elders or senior citizens out there who live alone but need to feel safe. I see here, as an outcome indicator, that this department would like to improve the public understanding of the protocols for managing high-risk offenders, and I am in support of that.
Again, we need much more education out in the general Yukon public around this area, and how we go about that, again, is to ask the Yukon public how best to go about it. Iíd like to hear the ministerís comments around that particular issue.
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: The Member for Vuntut Gwitchin brings up some very good points. It is a very sensitive issue and there are those who feel they should know, within the bounds of the federal Privacy Act.
The protocol was designed to address the issue of the federal offenders who return to our jurisdiction, and if their rights arenít respected, the federal privacy commissioner has the right to remove the ability to have such a protocol at all in the territory.
There have been some high-profile cases here in the territory that were considered by the committee under the existing terms of the protocol. They are in place across the country and, in addition to the work that is being done on the Yukon issue, we are going to be meeting with other jurisdictions later this year to review the effectiveness of the protocols across the country. But I wanted to assure the member that we, too, on this side, share the sensitive issues and the sensitive feelings that exist around this issue. As the Department of Justice, one of our mandates is to protect the public and to have safe streets. Thatís why the public notification protocol, or PNP, as its abbreviation is known, is very critical to the managing of this particular issue.
Mrs. Peter: I agree with the minister. This is a very sensitive issue. However, we need to take into consideration the safety of the Yukon public, and that is one of the key goals of this department, as well as to bring the Yukon Territory up to speed with the rest of Canada and to address these key areas within our justice system. So I would appreciate any follow-up information the minister might have around that issue.
Iíd like to move on to another indicator suggested, and thatís having regular meetings between affected government departments. Can the minister touch on that issue for me, please?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: Could the member specify ó is she referring to the protocol or is she referring to something else about having meetings with the respective departments?
Mrs. Peter: If I could refer the minister to the O&M estimates in the budget, the indicator is listed at the top of page 13A-10. I would be most interested in knowing which department that is referring to.
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: It is a key strategy and there is a need for improved communications between the departments. The particular departments are frequently the ones that I have earlier stated ó the RCMP and Health and Social Services.
It is key because we must prevent and reduce the crimes so that we can keep individuals, communities and properties safe and reduce the cost of crime to society.
I also want to inform the member that we are able to release a copy of the protocol as it now stands. If she likes, I can send a copy to her so that she may review it.
I also want to inform the member ó and the Premier made a public statement on this after a conference in late 2001 in Victoria ó that this government was in support of a national sex-offender registry system. When I attended a ministers of justice conference in Moncton in February, the very issue came up of having this registration process nationally based through CPIC, the Canadian Police Information Centre.
It is hoped that by the end of this year we will be in receipt of this type of information, which helps to track on a national basis those very high-risk offenders who are referred to in the protocol agreement.
Mrs. Peter: I am not quite sure what the minister was referring to there. I am asking specifically about a plan for this department to hold regular meetings between affected government departments. I was of the understanding that this had meant between different departments that might affect one individual who is involved within the justice system, whether it be the Justice with Health and Social Services department, like the minister just mentioned, and the education system provide different resources from different departments. Is that along the lines of what the sentence means?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: I can see where the communication is coming from. The answer I provided when I referred to communications between affected government departments related more to the protocol. The member is referring to a number of initiatives that we have under crime prevention. There are all kinds of groups with the programs that we have here in the territory that reflect crime prevention measures. As I recollect, the Crime Prevention Week kicks off in November. There are a number of initiatives and a number of different program areas where we try to discourage high-risk offenders. The youth centre, for example, in downtown Whitehorse is a place to go for youth who may be threatened and who like to associate with other youth who find themselves similarly threatened.
Crime Prevention Yukon, which is often referred to in the same line, is a non-profit society that supports and promotes initiatives that focus on crime. And we have such projects as a youth leadership project, the Crime Prevention Week, the Youth Services Canada project, the Block Parent program, Neighbourhood Watch programs, and the large amount of work that the RCMP conduct with youth who are threatened ó taking them out on snowboards or taking them out fishing. The Block Parent program is also part of that.
Mrs. Peter: In conclusion of my general debate in this department, I would just like to leave on a lighter note and say mahsiícho to the former Minister of Justice with whom I had addressed some immigration issues last sitting, after September 11.
With the coming of our biannual Gwitchin gathering, we have our relatives and friends coming to Old Crow from Alaska and we needed to address the Customs issue for Old Crow. With the help of the former minister and the local RCMP members in Old Crow in partnership with the Vuntut Gwitchin leadership, they were all able to solve that problem, and I would just like to say thank you to the people involved for that.
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: Iíll send the public notification protocol over to the member, and I will be sure to convey her wishes to the former Minister of Justice, and weíre very glad, again, to be of assistance in solving a problem that the member had identified after September 11.
Thank you very much.
Mr. McRobb: I just have a question. Mr. Chair, Iíve been fortunate to attend some of the community justice committee meetings in Haines Junction, and certainly do appreciate the hard work of the many participants on those committees who are doing what they can to improve the social circumstances in their communities. As a result of attending those meetings, I am well aware that a very high concern of the members is the issue of funding. The Haines Junction Community Justice Committee has specifically requested a greater amount of funding in order to better conduct its activities and serve its objectives better.
Can the minister give me an update on what the budget for this committee is and if there has been an increase in what the future outlook is?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: For the benefit of the Member for Kluane, in the previous year, the total amount of government funding for the Haines Junction justice committee and Champagne-Aishihik First Nation was $66,000. That is split two ways ó $33,700 from Yukon, $32,200 from Canada. It has not increased for the current year for the budget weíre talking about, 2002-03. There are some committees that are smaller. There are some committees that are larger, depending upon the size of the community.
One, for example, the Kwanlin Dun in Whitehorse, has a total government funding of $247,000, but Health and Social Services puts money into that one, as well as the federal Department of Justice and the territorial Department of Justice.
Now, weíre also quite pleased with the work thatís going on in the Junction. It was one of the first organizations, and it has taken a lead role in the Yukon in establishing a project that bridges differences often all too prevalent between native and non-native communities. The Champagne-Aishihik First Nation in the village appoint three members each to the committee, and a paid justice coordinator, who works with the six committee members, manages the functions of the committee. The initiative is expected to contribute to the development of the Champagne-Aishihik First Nation self-government structures with respect to the administration of justice agreements. The justice coordinator for that committee is the one who drafts and publishes the quarterly community justice links newsletter.
Mr. McRobb: I thank the minister for reading that briefing note, Mr. Chair, but what Iím looking for from the minister is some idea about what the committee members can look forward to in the future in terms of budgeting. Weíve heard a lot from the Liberal government about how it feels it strongly supports justice and these committees, but we see very little in the way of results. As a matter of fact, if one had to grade the performance of the Liberal government in this area, it would have to be a failing grade, because a status quo budget doesnít cut it.
As we know, costs are continuing to rise. The price of gasoline and heating fuel is up again; many members of these committees have to travel; office rental costs are up. Generally, the basic cost of doing business has increased and, at the same time, itís sort of a double whammy because, as you say, Mr. Chair, this is one of the first committees that was struck, so as a consequence this committee is more advanced than a lot of the other ones.
It has developed its workplan and its objectives and goals, and itís ready to go with some of them.
Whatís lacking is the funding necessary to proceed to improve the social justice in this community. So it would be reasonable to expect that a supportive government would be increasing the budgets to such committees at this point in time and would continue to do so on an annual basis ó perhaps indexing the amount or having some sort of gradual scale ó so the committee members realize they are being taken seriously by government and are able to fulfill their mandate as a responsible committee.
So I would like to ask the minister, since heís not prepared to go beyond a status quo budget at this time, whether he would consider in the next supplementary budget tabled by this Liberal government increasing the amount of funding for this committee and, alternatively in the next O&M budget, if he would increase it as well.
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: I wouldnít exactly call $66,000 a negligible, small or infinitesimal amount. Weíre not the only partner to this agreement. Dollars are matched one for one between us and the federal Department of Justice.
The member may not have caught the dialogue between the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin and myself earlier, but I referred to a review of the whole community justice program. When that is completed, we hope very much that the results of that study will give us a basis to go forward to the federal people in search of additional dollars that we would then hopefully match with our sources to increase the funding ó perhaps not just for the Haines Junction committee but for all committees.
We have nine of them working throughout the territory. The closest one that I am familiar with in my area is a committee which is fairly new at Ross River. But from every indication I have ó and the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin confirmed it ó these committees are doing a very good job in their community, theyíre working very hard on the projects and itís making a difference ó albeit small in some areas, larger in others, itís making a difference. Weíre very glad to see them continue and we will give our support to the extent that we can in making the community justice committees work.
Mr. McRobb: I wish I could respond by thanking the minister for agreeing to review my request that he consider an increase in the budgeting for this committee but, unfortunately, he wasnít able to do that for whatever the reason he may have. Perhaps the priorities of the Liberal government are not consistent with those required in order to provide the necessary financial support.
I would like to know whether, once the land claims are completed, there would be other community justice committees up the north highway in the other communities. Can he indicate whether that would happen, or is this committee responsible for the whole Kluane region?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: In reply to the question from the Member for Kluane, we can make representation to the federal government for additional funding for additional committees, but I have to tell the member that it is not necessarily tied to the completion of land claims. I earlier mentioned that we have an agreement with the band in Ross River, and that land claim agreement has not been completed, and the MOU has not been signed.
Some of these committees have come forward with some initiative from local people, so it is perhaps not as cut and dried as to when it kicks in and when it doesnít kick in. But, take my commitment as a minister, I will make representation to the federal government for continued funding in these areas because, as I have earlier stated, the community justice committees are doing a very good job on their work and we believe in them and will do what we can to support them.
Mr. McRobb: I agree fully with the minister in his statement that these committees are doing a good job, and I would also like to recognize the volunteers on the committees for the good job theyíre doing. Theyíre really doing what they can to improve the quality of life in their communities, as well as help individuals who need that type of support. Itís all for a better territory, and we must recognize the good work these people are doing.
So, given the ministerís undertaking to approach the federal resources and ask for more, I would also like to volunteer any support from us in the official opposition in that regard and wish them all the best. Those are all the questions I have.
Mr. McLarnon: Iíd like at this time to take the opportunity to congratulate the minister, as well, on his new job, and I am actually sure that he will be able to do a very fair job, as he has been a fair man as long as I have known him.
I do have a few questions, and this is my first chance on this side to sound off. Concerning the contract agreement out with the RCMP and the relationship with the minister and the Department of Justice and the RCMP, I need to know from the minister an answer to a very basic question. As part of this contract for the administration of policing, does the minister have an opportunity to set broad policy or broad directions where he would like the RCMP to put special emphasis in policing? So thatís the first question Iíll definitely ask and try to find out about that kind of relationship and about how much direction a minister can give the RCMP and how much he canít.
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: The contract between the Department of Justice and the RCMP is one of the longest contracts that is ever signed by this government. Itís a 20-year agreement and itís reviewed after every five-year term.
Weíre quite proud of the working relationship that we have with the RCMP. We think we have an excellent force in the territory. Perhaps the words "give direction" is a little bit too strong. We cooperate on a general, shared, directional statement between the two parties to the agreement, with the objective, of course, of making safe streets, community policing, protocol, all those things that go together in the agreement to make it work.
I believe weíre nearing the end of the second five years, and we are about to sit down shortly and begin discussions again on the subsequent one and a shared, directional statement that we hope will broadly reflect the objectives of this government and the mandate that the RCMP have with us to conduct safe streets, safe societies, safe individuals in this territory.
Mr. McLarnon: Why Iím asking the question, Mr. Chair, is to try to find out, and Iíll give an example ó maybe the minister can work better with an example. Definitely, if you believe all the media reports, we have as many as 10,000 hypodermic needles being distributed through free clinics in this town. On an average use of about eight hypodermic needles per day ó weíre facing up to the fact that we could have up to 300 to 400 hard-drug users in Whitehorse. An average junkieís cost ó and we will use "junkie" in this case ó an average junkieís cost to maintain a habit over a year is approximately $70,000. I donít know many junkies making $70,000 these days, by legitimate means, so that leaves us with illegitimate means. The drug problem is growing in Whitehorse. Itís growing almost exponentially. It has moved to the point right now where I was wondering, when they did a needle exchange in the first place, if it was going to be used at all and now itís growing at a rate thatís really surprising.
We know we have a drug problem downtown. Families are finding hypodermic needles in their alleys. Every year when they do the cleanup on the waterfront the volunteers find hypodermic needles, and children find hypodermic needles at the very wrong time.
So we see that we have a drug problem. Iím now asking the minister what direction can he give the RCMP, and has he given direction to the RCMP, to make sure that we deal with hard drugs, at least the abuses that surround them, until we come up with a better policy overall?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: Just for further clarification on the previous question, the agreement that we have with the RCMP does set out terms regarding the internal management of the police service, which includes its administration and the determination and application of professional police procedures.
Priorities that are set out in it ó the first one may go very much to the problem the member has just referred to, that of promoting and sustaining healthy communities, youth, First Nation policing, alternative justice and service excellence. Our approach will focus on healthy communities through prevention, partnerships and accountability.
I have some knowledge of the problem the member refers to. I donít have enough. But in the discussion yesterday with the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin ó and where it impacts directly on us ó I earlier said that there are no direct reasons why people often get involved with fracases with the law and lawmakers, but the one that seems to come home all the time is the abuse of alcohol and the abuse of drugs, and it leads to the situations that the member has described because of the cost involved in the drug habits.
If the member is going somewhere down the road of needle clinics, I have to tell him that I have received no such representation from anyone that that is something on the horizon. In my discussions with the RCMP, as brief as they are, itís important to note that, as Minister of Justice, I donít tell them how to do their job. We liaise wherever we can, and issues that are as serious as those the member is referring to ó I know it is certainly on their radar screen, and I know they have a number of members who work on the problem, although it may seem differently to many members of the public.
I know the end result ó what they are after ó and I know that some of the cases take a very long time and a great amount of work.
I know that the objective they have ó having safe streets ó is the same objective we in this government have. But I know that what is certainly central to the RCMPís wish for policing the territory is that a lot of the larger scale problems are the ones that are causing the problems ó distribution and trafficking at the higher levels, which is causing the grief at the lower street levels that the member referred to. That is the target that the force is after. That is the target that we believe will make a difference.
But I want to reiterate that, as minister, I donít get involved in the day-to-day, ongoing policing matters, nor should I want to, nor do I wish to. The people who work for the force are highly trained officers who are experienced in their duties, and they do the very best job they can with the tools that we give them.
Mr. McLarnon: I guess the question Iím asking ó and what I received from that ó is that, if I want a drug problem fixed in my back yard, I should write Ottawa. Is that right?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: No, weíre not as far apart as that. If the member has information or knowledge that leads to this situation, the contact must be made through the local detachment of the RCMP. The Ottawa thing is more involved on a larger basis.
But we do want to maintain the control; we do want the incidents reported. We do want the stuff at this local level. The reports must be done here at the local detachment level in Whitehorse or the affected community in which the offence has occurred.
Mr. McLarnon: The question leads me to the next one. Since there is no political mandate, is there a way for residents and Yukoners to consult with RCMP on a larger scale so that we can reflect our policing needs more directly? Policing needs in the Yukon Territory are different needs from other places in the country. For example, we donít need Mustangs here to run down speeders like they do on the Prairies. They have a different style and different priorities when we look at what we do with our traffic police, compared to what the Prairies do. We obviously have different priorities. How do we reflect a need in society that may differ from RCMPís mandate coming here if we canít do it through the Department of Justice? For example, are there police consultations that I have not heard about, asking us as Yukoners what our priorities are? Because I can tell you that we are going to go into two areas that I see resources lacking in. One is a comprehensive drug strategy in this town, and I am talking about intravenous drugs at this moment because they are far more the larger plague on our society than the softer drugs. We have a growing problem. There are a number of facets to the problem, not just enforcement of the distribution but of course obviously the social sides to it as well. What causes a growth in addiction like this? There are a number of factors, and unfortunately poverty is one of them. I know that is far out of the purview of the Minister of Justice.
We had a conference but is there any forum in which Yukoners can bring forward collectively what they would like to see in policing? If there is, can the member explain it to me?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: For the lack of a better word, Iíll call it "a public policing officer", but there is one individual who is involved with the public and the situations that the member is referring to. There is also one constable, for example, who works with the lady beware program, although thatís not quite the drug issue that the member is referring to.
The Member for Whitehorse Centre refers to making contact with these individuals in the police force. I can assist in that manner, as well, but I believe that we have to make contact through that community policing officer to help in those areas. I know that at this three-month juncture between April and June, the force is going through a number of transfers, and some of their valuable people who have been here a number of years are being transferred to another location, and itís making it difficult as the new ones come in. But there are community policing officers who do have those very concerns the member is referring to, and I would suggest he get in contact with him, and if he needs further help, I am willing to offer my help in making those contacts with the community policing officers. I can tell the member that I would be prepared, as well, to attend some of those meetings if they are set up in the memberís riding, if they take place in the memberís riding.
Mr. McLarnon: This brings us to the next issue, because it is the community policing officers that Iím talking about. What I find when I deal with them is that feedback is one way; we receive information on what the police will do. We do not see in any way changes coming as a result of our communications to the policing officers. First of all, I donít know the role, but I certainly know for sure that this part of the RCMP is understaffed and this part of the RCMP does not have the connections nor the depth to follow through on commitments they make. Iíll use an example in my own riding.
We had enough people as volunteers to run three neighbourhood watches. We were certainly encouraged to start a Neighbourhood Watch program. We had block captains selected. People were ready to go. All the enthusiasm of the first meeting, where we gathered our volunteers, waned and eventually disappeared because there was no one able to follow up from the RCMP.
This isnít a new story. One of the reasons we donít have an effective Neighbourhood Watch program across this town is because one person is trying to do the whole job. He is, to compliment him, one of the best officers Iíve seen in creating the need for this, making people buy into the program. The problem is that thereís no ability to follow up.
So these are the kinds of questions, again. Iím thankful for the member bringing up the community policing officer, because it was the next question. The very problem we have is that this part of the program is not well-funded. I would ask the minister again: when weíre looking at direction, if weíre looking as taxpayers for paying for something that the RCMP is offering, shouldnít we be paying for something we can use or that we want?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: The commander of M Division is the one who assigns the police officers to the particular tasks. The issue the member brings up is not totally unknown to me. And I believe, with the policing efforts that heís talking about ó for example, in the downtown area ó there are a lot of streets and a lot of situations.
We havenít received any representations from the superintendent of M Division that he is short bodies and has made a request for more to do the work the member has asked about. I have to stress again that they are the ones who assign the people to the problem areas.
Iíve offered myself to be able to help in this area and see what we can do, but in the end ó again, I want to stress that itís critical that the Minister of Justice doesnít micromanage every RCMP watch division and tell members where to go, what to do and with what resources. Our agreement comes at a much higher level with the RCMP.
Mr. McLarnon: So what Iím understanding then is that even though outside sources ó independent sources of the RCMP ó who not only tell you how theyíre going to deliver the program, but evaluate the program for you, telling the minister whether the program works ó so they are the staffer and also the sole evaluator of their own programs.
Of course, it wouldnít surprise me that the superintendent of the RCMP wouldnít report that he has shortages. All of his allocations are of course going to be perfect because he gets to allocate and then report that they work. It makes perfect sense. Plus the fact that the chief superintendent here receives a bonus on coming in on or underbudget from the federal government ó thatís as part of the contract. Of course the minister wonít hear very much wrong in a self-evaluation report. I wouldnít expect to hear anything either.
The problem is that I have constituents ó a lot of constituents ó who have completely lost faith in any community policing initiative because there was no follow-up and because they were ready to go and could not proceed to make their streets safer.
I would note for the minister across the way ó and Iím not relating this ó but weíve had three mysterious fires in areas associated with drugs over the last three months in the downtown area. This is the other peopleís response. This is a possible response if there is no community policing. So understand that frustrations go somewhere. Frustrations just do not end with a letter to the minister or the MLA.
Again, getting back to the point: is there any way, other than going through the RCMP, that we can reflect the needs of policing in our communities? If there is not, Iíll leave it at that, but I would ask the minister to please find a way. We pay for these services. We all pay for these services. They do a fine job in the areas they do. Weíd like them to focus on a few other areas or put more attention on it.
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: Just to reply to the Member for Whitehorse Centre, there are four programs that the RCMP have where personnel volunteer to help. Now, I realize the area the member is talking about is a difficult one for volunteers, for various reasons. Community constables, the aboriginal policing officer, COPS, which stands for citizens on patrol services, and we have victim services that also volunteer at the division headquarters when fire, violent crimes and motor vehicle accidents happen. These people are of valuable assistance to the police force when you only have perhaps five on a Saturday night shift.
There are some specifics to which the member is referring, but itís very difficult ó Iím wondering, for example, if the member has reported the incidents where he said he has found a number of needles in the back alley or back driveway if those particular incidents are occurring at one location or several locations, and if he has made any attempt to document that sort of information and get it to the police. The member obviously has some concerns because I know he has informed me of some, but where there is a specific detail as to what he believes is a crime occurring, those are the kinds of things that must be detailed and laid out ó time, dates and that sort of thing ó and turned over to them.
The one issue that I just wanted to close the conversation with is to say that there are volunteer organizations that do help the police force. Community policing and policing are issues that the RCMP simply are unable to do totally by themselves. They work with the community rather than against them, and itís going to take effort by volunteer groups such as this, to which I as minister am very grateful, that help in this regard.
It cannot be done individually by the officers on patrol.
Mr. McLarnon: I need to follow up, because the minister needs to understand this. The one incident in one area that I was talking about, neighbours have phoned on a daily basis for months. They gave up phoning when they thought crimes were occurring there. So as far as my personal ability to document, there are logs at the RCMP registering complaints about a house in my neighbourhood for years. The minister does not need any further documentation from the MLA. The evidence is there, and everybody on the force knows where Iím talking about. So any further evidence from an MLA is sort of redundant; wouldnít the minister agree? Iíll leave it at that.
Deputy Chair: Any further debate?
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, Iíd like to follow up with where the Member for Whitehorse Centre left off. Iíd encourage the Minister of Justice to obtain from the RCMP a list of the total number of members posted here in the Yukon, those who are posted and responsible for Yukonís initiatives, and separate out those that are responsible for federal initiatives, because there are two distinct categories. Then have a look at the postings of the members across the Yukon, and then ask the commanding officer for a breakdown as to the number of members who are actually located where they indicate they have two members or three members or five members or six members posted. And what the minister is going to find is that, in most cases ó if you want to look at Watson Lake or Dawson ó it calls for X number of members per detachment. At any given time, there are usually two members absent for one reason or another.
What is happening is the member is actually doing the basic community policing and is visible. They are just not there to the extent that is needed. It seems that we have a tremendous amount of administration in place over the operation of the RCMP here in the Yukon, and whether it is justified or not, they went through a real belt tightening just a few short years ago, but that belt tightening was very effective for a short period of time, and somebody has either thrown away the pant size that they should fit into or allowed the pants to grow. That is probably the biggest problem we are faced with. You can get down to communities like Old Crow where, at certain times of the year, they are down to one member, or like my community, where they are down to two members, with the balance of them being away for certain initiatives or undertakings, too.
I would like to echo the sentiments of the Member for Whitehorse Centre with respect to drugs. It is growing ó IV drug use is growing at an alarming rate. We donít hear anything about any programs to address the actual sellers or distributors of the drugs. It is against the law. All we hear about are convictions, and they appear to be very few and very far between. If you start looking at the other side of the equation and start looking at what the Department of Health has to do in the Yukon Territory with respect to IV drug use ó they virtually go around to all of the service establishments, hotels, they talk to all the housekeepers, they issue containers that, if they find any IV paraphernalia, they are told to be careful, to pick it up and put it in this container. That problem doesnít stem from people who must use IV drugs for, say, diabetic reasons.
Those individuals are usually very, very cognizant of needle disposal and what they have to do. Itís the indiscriminate use of intravenous paraphernalia by drug users ó illegal drug users ó that is causing the problem and downloading on other departments because it is not being addressed to the extent that it should.
Now, with the liquor and liquor distribution, the government says there is a problem. The RCMP have voiced the problem that off-sales are causing them concerns. The Yukon Liquor Corporation is instructed to shut off off-sales at midnight.
What instructions are being issued by this Minister of Justice to the RCMP to get them to identify and do something with the drug problem that is growing here in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: In regard to the question that the Member for Klondike asked first on numbers and staffing, at the end of September there were 133 regular members of the force based here in the Yukon; 32 of them were civilians ó support staff. Of the 133 regular members, 85 are in Whitehorse, involved, of course, in a very broad range of duties, some of which donít impact the communities. That is, the basis for some of the investigations is here ó the SWAT team is based here in Whitehorse, nowhere else. That would represent about 165 people when you combine those two numbers, but 133 are with the forces.
In regard to the more direct question about what orders the Minister of Justice issues to the RCMP, the Minister of Justice doesnít issue orders to the RCMP. We cooperate, as I indicated earlier, on a shared directional statement for the policing of the territory.
The superintendent of M Division assigns members in whatever particular division they are to the best of his ability and numbers to do the job for which he is mandated to do. Some of those may be plainclothes; some of those may be specialty investigations ó like commercial crime. Some of them are members of the SWAT team, but the Minister of Justice does not get involved in the day-to-day minutiae of instructing members out in the street on what to do, when to do it and how to do it.
The member has asked me what instructions the minister gives. The people who work for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the Yukon have years of experience and training from other parts of the country. They are the ones who are responsible for their work. The minister doesnít issue directives to the police force.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I guess weíre going to go around in circles until the minister gets it right, Mr. Chair. For the ministerís information, the SWAT team is made up of the members posted here in Whitehorse. Itís not in addition to. Furthermore, the issue surrounding the number of members who are down on the ground providing the day-to-day policing is probably not what it should be a lot of the time. Thatís the crux of the problem.
We have the highest per capita rate of police officers to our population. What Iím encouraging the Minister of Justice to do, the next time he sits down with the commanding officer and goes over this shared directional statement, is ensure that some concentration of effort is put on the drug problem here in the Yukon.
It is not being addressed at the level it should be addressed, and it is impacting across all of our society. Iím not asking the minister to go in and issue instructions to the rank-and-file police officers out on the street. Nothing could be further from reality than suggesting thatís what the minister should do. Now, the minister probably got an insight into the problems when he went for his little ride-about with a member of the RCMP, and he knows how many members are actually on shift at any given time, and he knows the problems they are facing. What I would encourage the minister to do is to find out the breakout of those 85 members posted to Whitehorse, as to how many are actually in the detachment versus headquarters, and perhaps sit down with the commanding officer and suggest to the commanding officer that Yukon went through a belt tightening a few years ago as to the number in head office, and a lot of positions were eliminated. Well, either what has happened in the headquarters is they have gone out and bought a new pair of pants or a bigger belt.
Now, I donít know what has transpired but, at the end of the day, there appears to be a need for more police officers on the beat on a regular basis here in this community of Whitehorse, and the officers who are the most effective, Mr. Chair, in rural Yukon, are the ones who have been there for awhile, know the population, and are in day-to-day contact with the population.
It is referred to as community policing, but give them the tools to work with, which is an adequate staffing level.
The minister went on at great length to say he had a 20-year contract with the RCMP and weíre about halfway through it. Thatís great. In most other jurisdictions when you have a municipality with a population the same size as Whitehorse, that municipality has to make a separate contract with the RCMP for policing. He can ask the numbers as to what triggers that separate contract but, across the north, thereís only one contract with the RCMP for all of the territory, and I donít have any problem with that, as long as thereís some day-to-day input and some dialogue back and forth between the Minister of Justice and the commanding officer, of "Hey, look, it has been brought to my attention that there are problems in this area, rightly or wrongly. We donít want to get involved in the day-to-day operation as to how you run the detachment here or the whole division, but this is whatís causing problems in our community. Can you please address them?"
Now, the minister can be his usual polite, courteous self, or he can go about it any way he sees fit, but Iím encouraging the Minister of Justice to address his responsibilities, Mr. Chair, not sit idly by and say our only involvement with the RCMP is shared directional statements. Well, Mr. Chair, if you swallow that, youíd believe the Liberals currently hold a majority here in the Legislature and understand what theyíre doing.
Can I ask the minister if he will sit down with the commanding officer, bring to his attention some of the issues surrounding drug use, its increase and advise the commanding officer what impact it is having on the Department of Health? The community health nurses are going around to virtually every licensed establishment, bringing them plastic containers, instructing them how to handle IV needles, instructing the staff what to do should they find them; and the increase in IV drug use has brought about this need. So this is not just impacting on the Department of Justice, it is across the whole board and I can cite areas where there is a direct cost ó never mind the cost to society as a whole. We havenít even started dealing with the soft drugs, which because of the increased cost of the price of a bottle of beer, it is cheaper to go out and buy a joint, I am told, and get high than it is to buy a couple of beers. Especially here where you will have to walk further with the location of the new liquor store than you would to get a joint ó and itís cheaper. These are the areas that the Minister of Justice should be bringing to the attention of the commanding officer, because on one hand he is sitting there all smug in his new suit and saying, "Weíre doing a wonderful job and we have these great, shared directional statements." The question we should be asking: is the Minister of Justice doing his job, ignoring the obvious? I would like to ask the minister that question.
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: Well, thatís what itís all about. I want to remind the Member for Klondike that this government didnít increase the price of beer. Thatís the indication ó thatís what this discussion is about. "Itís cheaper than buying beer," he says. No.
Let me clarify for the member opposite. The problems that the Member for Whitehorse Centre and the Member for Klondike point out are not unknown to me. Remember the community from which I come, and the boom and the young people and the high earnings. The problems are not unknown; Iím aware of them.
But I will take the Member for Klondikeís suggestions and good ideas under advisement ó certainly. The member makes a very good point. At the next meeting with the divisional commander of the M Division, weíll certainly continue including the issue of the abuse of drugs in the directional statement that we work on with the RCMP and make a specific point that we believe that perhaps more effort should be put into it. I donít have a problem with that issue; I donít have a problem at all.
Itís unclear whether the member is referring to a lack of resources in his own community or generally over the territory. Because when it comes to his hometown of Dawson City, I think itís incumbent on the member to go to the local detachment commander and tell him that he has got too many people in the office and not enough on the street. I havenít got any indication that the member has had the courage to do that.
When the member referred to all locations in the territory, he took a hit at all of them. I do agree with him that the community policing that is in the communities is the best level that weíve seen. I have great success stories out of my hometown.
We donít have a lot of members. I agree with him on that issue, but I also agree that we can make particular emphasis on the working relationship we have with the RCMP and include the issue, the abuse of, as I am led to believe, illicit drugs, in the next directional statement. The member can take that commitment from me to do exactly that.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, for the record, I would encourage the Minister of Justice to go back and read Hansard tomorrow when he is sitting in his office and go over what I did say. The number of members in the office is right here ó in divisional headquarters. In rural Yukon, there is not a problem with the members in the office. In fact, in most cases, the staffing level and the level that the staff is at are two different things, and itís usually considerably under what the staffing level should be. Thatís the point. Therein lies the problem.
The minister indicated there are 85 members here in Whitehorse. What the minister wants to find out is the breakdown of how many are in the detachment and how many are in headquarters because, in rural Yukon, there are only 48 members. That is where Iím coming from. If you look at the number that are in detachment here in Whitehorse and look at how many are on shift at any given time, there is not a great deal of manpower around should events arise.
For the ministerís information, there was an increase in the price of beer effective April 1 of this year. The minister might want to check with whoever is in charge of the Liquor Corporation currently, but there was an increase in the price of beer on April 1 of this year, which is under the Liberal governmentís watch, Mr. Chair.
I still submit that, with the location of the new liquor store down to the Marwell area, itís going to be a lot cheaper to walk downtown and buy a joint than it would be to walk downtown and buy a case of beer at the new liquor outlet. And thatís very simply and easily explained. Iím sure he could go to anyone here who could explain it to the minister, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Chair, I thank the Minister of Justice for indicating that he is going to follow up with the commanding officer of M Division and Iíll look forward to him reporting back to the House as to how successful his discussions were with the commanding officer. Could I have that assurance from the Minister of Justice?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: For further clarification about the number of people in the RCMP here in Whitehorse ó of the 85, six are in the office, two are First Nations, and 77 are regular members, but there are division administration people who also work here and supervise all of the rural detachments. There are 14 civilians and nine regular members attached. Itís not as one-sided as the member would present.
I will check on the extent to which the discussions between the Minister of Justice and the division commander can be released. Thereís a contractual obligation with the department. We donít necessarily go out and tell the Member for Klondike, or any member, the confidential discussions that take place involving the policing agreement. Iíll have to check before I can release what those discussions involved.
Mr. Jenkins: If the minister wants, I can send him over a copy of the contractual arrangements between the Government of Yukon and the RCMP and he might care to read it. I have had it for quite some time. I thank the minister for his overview. I sent the minister over the name of an individual who has had some difficulties with the Department of Justice, and received some bad advice from government agencies. That bad advice has caused him all sorts of concern. I brought this situation to the attention of the previous Minister of Justice, as did a number of my colleagues. The previous minister indicated that she had a conflict. Now we have a new Minister of Justice. We have a new deputy minister, and I was just curious whether the minister would provide us his assurances that he will look into this individualís situation and resolve it, or does he wish to discuss it on the floor of the House?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: I think the Member for Klondike should check his facts about bad information from a government official. As for the previous ministerís involvement, I canít comment on whether there was a conflict at all. I have no knowledge of that. However, the Member for Klondike is treading on very thin ground. When a matter has not been disposed of fully before court, a minister of justice cannot get up and pronounce factual statements on the case. The member is well aware of that.
That is about as bad as it could possibly get, short of me telling a particular judge how to treat a case before him or her, and I will not do that. I think the member should check his facts before he says that an individual received bad information and, therefore, the situation was more trouble.
Chair: Order please. I will remind members at this point that there is something called a sub judice convention which does not allow any matters before the court to be discussed before the House, mainly for the protection of the people before the courts.
Mr. Jenkins: I thank the minister for recognizing that I was at least on ground. I would suggest to the minister that heís not on ground. The minister is quoted as saying I was on thin ground. Iím on thin ground, perhaps, but the minister is out on thin ice, Mr. Chair, and that thin ice ó you know whatís going to happen to it very, very quickly.
Maybe weíll have summer this year. I can assure the minister he wonít be in hot water; it will be awful cold.
There is an issue surrounding this individual and his treatment by the government and there has been no resolution of it. Itís ongoing and this individual is virtually being bankrupted based on the advice provided to him. Now, I encourage the minister to have a look at it and ask his officials to provide him with the information, because itís just not fair. Itís not fair the way this individual is being treated.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Chair: Mr. McLachlan, on a point of order.
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: Unless I heard incorrectly, I believe the Chair made a ruling. The Member for Klondike is continuing down the same road on which a ruling has been made.
Chair: On the point of order, to clarify, the sub judice convention protects the minister from not making any statements using the sub judice convention. It does not prevent a member from asking about it. So Iíd recommend on this that, when the point does come up where, Mr. McLachlan, you feel that you can use sub judice convention to ensure that you donít answer the question, at that point you say itís before the court. But it does not preclude the member from asking the question.
Mr. Jenkins: Now, before I was so rudely interrupted by the Member for Faro, as he usually stands up and interjects with a point of order of which he knows nothing about, I was on the issue of how this issue was treated by the government of the day.
The way in which this individual has been treated is a travesty of justice, the advice that has been offered and the cost this individual has been incurring as a result of the advice offered. It is not fair; it is not reasonable and the Minister of Justice is not doing his job if he allows this type of situation to happen. That is where I am coming from and that is what I have for the Minister of Justice. I sent a note over to the minister indicating the name of this individual. I would encourage him to have a very serious look at it and do his job. Will the minister be doing his job or is he just going to sit back on his laurels, wherever they may be, and probably issue a shared, directional statement.
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: Mr. Chair, this minister is always doing his job.
Mr. Jenkins: Thereís an oxymoron statement, Mr. Chair.
The other day we got into the Crown and Crown in right and the Crown attorneyís office and the transfer, and I went back and reviewed what the minister had to say on the issue. The bafflegab was amazing, Mr. Chair, in that, on one hand, the Yukon says we have a Crown and, on the other hand, the federal government says we do not have a Crown, and a lot of the acts and bills passed by this House indicate that we do have a Crown.
Is the Minister of Justice going to take up the challenge to provide some certainty as to whether Yukon does have a Crown in right or not?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: Just for further clarification, I want to ask the member: I have never discussed the Crown in right with this member. Perhaps heís thinking of someone else. He may want to rephrase the question.
Mr. Jenkins: What we were discussing was the Crown attorneyís office. Now letís extrapolate that. I said a lot of the acts and bills indicate a Crown, which brings up the point of a Crown in right. Now, is the minister going to take up the challenge to provide some certainty as to whether the Yukon does, indeed, occupy or have a position? The Premier has stated quite a number of times that she has a legal opinion that indicates we have a Crown in right, but thereís no certainty. The federal government says otherwise.
So thereís the federal government, which is our senior government, of which we are just an infant, and which we serve at the pleasure of the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, if the Yukon Act is correct. Thatís the way it is.
Is the minister going to take up the challenge and establish some certainty around the issue of the Crown in right? Yes or no? Or are we going to leave it up in limbo?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: This member has been told by the Premier the issue surrounding the Crown in right. What this member is simply trying to do is try another whipping boy, because he didnít like the answer he got ó that is where we are on this one. What I would like to do is provide maybe a little briefer description from there. It is who controls the administration and control of the land that will come to the territory after the devolution, not the owner ó it is who has the vested right of administration and control that will provide the authority of the government disposition of resources after devolution. The member has continued to try to whip this issue into frenzy ó maybe it will be the minister responsible for Health and Social Services next week he will try. I think the member perhaps has a problem understanding the Crown in right. It is the administration of the control of the lands with respect to the public lands that are vested in our Majesty and the right of Canada that is going to control the issue, not who has the ownership, as he keeps saying time, and time, and time, and time again.
Heís repeating himself so many times on this issue that we on this side have to believe heís dreaming this issue at night continually. Itís the administration and control that this administration and government will assume after devolution on April 1, 2003, that is going to provide the authority for a government disposition of resources. The member is simply wrong when he thinks he has the upper hand on this issue and that somehow heís going to be able to solve this by simply going down the line of ministers on the front row, ministers on the second row, and get them to maybe someday fall off the ladder, fall off the diving board. It doesnít matter whether itís a territorial Crown or a federal Crown who is responsible. Itís the ownership and control of the lands after devolution that will make the difference.
Chair: Order please. Just to ensure to raise the demeanour of the House, can we try to make sure that we follow the Standing Orders, especially regarding sexist and violent language. If we catch it every time we do it ó "whipping boy" is an example, again, of something that we should try to avoid in the House. So we will leave that alone from there.
The time being 4:30, we will now take a 15-minute break.
Chair: I now call Committee of the Whole to order.
We will continue with general debate on the Department of Justice. Is there any further general debate?
Mr. Jenkins: Crown in right ó letís deal with that with the minister. Does the minister believe that itís appropriate that, under the new Yukon Act, the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs can issue instructions to the Government of Yukon for the next 10 years on virtually any area? Does he believe that thatís appropriate, if we are so autonomous and we have this wonderful Crown in right that the Premierís legal opinion suggests we do have?
All this government is is a branch of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Chair: Mr. McLachlan, on a point of order.
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: I heard the Member for Klondike ask for my opinion as to whether I thought that. Clearly the rules of debate show that the member doesnít have to seek an opinion. The minister doesnít have to answer questions that seek opinions, and the member knows that.
Chair: Mr. McLachlan, what I would suggest is that when it is your turn to talk, you donít answer the question, and Iíll leave it at that.
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you. Once again, rudely interrupted by the Minister of Justice on a point of order that is not a point of order. If anyone should learn the rules of debate, I would encourage the Minister of Justice to do so.
What is the ministerís position and what is his governmentís position on the Yukon Act that stipulates that the federal Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs can issue instructions at any time during the next 10 years to this government?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: The Member for Klondike is trying to get me to move forward to touch broad issues such as constitutional amendments to the Yukon Act in order to establish the Crown in right. I am not going to fall off the diving board into that pool.
I have earlier said that the issue is who controls the land ó administration and control and that is the basic issue here, not the ownership of the issue of Crown in right that the Member for Klondike keeps coming back toward.
Under the devolution transfer agreement, we have the administration and control of the lands on April 1, 2003. That will determine what we are able to do with the disposition of resources.
Mr. Jenkins: There are those who would submit, and rightly so, Mr. Chair, that all the Yukon government is, under this new Yukon Act, is the caretaker of the land and resources. The caretaker ó and that appears to be very much the case. Does the minister see it any other way? Really, thatís all this government is ó a caretaker.
Now, whatís the ministerís position with respect to being just a caretaker government looking after this northern territory for the federal Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs? Because thatís where all the appointments come from. The appointment of our Commissioner is made by the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs; he reports to the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs. Thatís clearly defined and spelled out. How could it be otherwise?
Perhaps the minister could advance an argument that makes it some other way?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: My position, which is even deeper than that, is that there doesnít have to be an amendment to the Yukon Act or an amendment to the Constitution of Canada in order for us to have the full ownership of the lands and the eventual position that the Member for Klondike is seeking on this issue. Iíve repeated it again and again. Itís simply administration and control of the lands that will determine our disposition of resources ó nothing further, nothing worse.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, the only fear I have is that of my government and its lack of understanding of the basic issues as to where the Yukon plugs in and who reports to whom and who is responsible for what, because basically we are here under the auspices of the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs. Yukon funding is primarily just a line item in the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairsí budget; it has been since day one. It was called something else back then. Nothing has changed, and with the stroke of a pen, the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, under the new Yukon Act, can revoke anything that is transpiring here in the Yukon and change it, irrespective of what this Minister of Justice and the government of the day feels or thinks or legislates.
So I would submit that we are just a caretaker of the land and resources on behalf of Canada. As I said earlier, the only fear I have is that of my government here in the Yukon not understanding the issues and not protecting the rights of all Yukoners.
Mr. Deputy Chair, First Nations probably have more of an understanding of this important issue than the minister himself does. They certainly know whom they report to and who represents the Queen, and itís certainly not the Government of Yukon.
I have pages and pages for this minister, but it is important that the Minister of Justice get more fully briefed with his department before the next sitting because we will probably be questioning him at length at the next sitting before we go into the fall general election when he will be replaced as Minister of Justice. So Iíd like to thank the minister for his lack of understanding on the majority of issues here in the Yukon and look forward to him enhancing his understanding of these areas in the near future.
Mr. Keenan: I certainly donít plan on taking up too much of the ministerís time. Thatís not why Iím taking off my coat; I just want to get more comfortable.
It was with interest that I listened to the minister speaking about the provisions for inmates being released from the Whitehorse Correctional Centre into the communities. Is that applicable to all the communities in the northern country?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: I want to get back to the member with specific information about, perhaps, the two communities he represents before I committed myself that we would provide transportation back to those. I do know that there is a special case provided in the case of Old Crow, because the only means of transportation there is airline, and itís expensive.
Mr. Keenan: I appreciate where the minister is coming from. The minister realizes that Old Crow is a very special situation, and the debate that the minister had with the member from Old Crow was certainly applicable to that.
Now that Iíve called the minister on this, and the minister says heís going to get back, Iím not simply asking for the communities I represent. I represent a vast variety of interests throughout the territory, from people who know me and ask me to be able to work with them, from Beaver Creek to Ross River. I know inmates have been picked up, processed through the system, released in Whitehorse incredibly early in the morning with nowhere to go, except to hitchhike home. Iíd very much appreciate it if the minister would come back to this House and share a ministerial statement with us as to how this minister has corrected that problem. Iím not asking for, I donít think, anything other than a preventative measure to help alleviate some of the problems the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin brought forward. That would include rural communities in general.
Can I get the minister to give me a fact on that?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: Iíll provide the information by way of a legislative return to illustrate that. I stand corrected; the member has interest in a variety of Yukon communities and I didnít mean to just directly say the two or three or four that are in his riding.
We will provide that information, yes. It may not necessarily be by way of a ministerial statement, but it will be quite likely by a legislative return.
Mr. Keenan: Iíd just like the minister to make a best effort to make a positive change if I may. Thatís certainly what Iím looking for. If the minister wishes to share it through a ministerial statement, well, Iím sure our Justice critic will be standing on his feet and talking very much about the merits of this particular minister for doing the right thing with a can-do type of attitude. So I will accept it that the minister will be able to look at it with a can-do type of attitude and not a why-not attitude. I appreciate that.
I read with interest the accountability statements in here and Iíd just like to, not so much go through and try to beat up the minister or anything like as such; I just want to point out where I think there maybe could be some improvement on it.
The first thing I notice in the overview statement is the land claims commitments. I realize that the Department of Justice is simply the Department of Justice, but certainly within the Constitution of Canada and constitutionally bound documents such as land claims agreements, that the land claims agreements should be and could be recognized in this preamble, in this overview, with something a little bit more than what they are. In one section on 13A-1, it says departments will work with other departments, First Nations, communities. Then you go back further to 13A-4, which speaks about ó this means working in collaboration in cooperation with other departments, communities, governments and First Nations. I just believe that First Nations are protected under the Constitution of Canada as another order of government ó not a third order of government but another order of government. I do believe we should be recognizing them in this overview as another government. Would the minister not concur?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: The short answer is yes, we agree, because they are negotiating self-government agreements, and certainly in the case of those who have the settled land claims. Basically, the member is correct.
Mr. Keenan: With that, would there come a change and a recognition within the overview of departments to recognize that? Can I ask the minister if the minister would be correcting that ó and I realize it is not a slight. I realize it is just something that might have been overlooked or whatnot. Would the minister be looking to correct that the next time the minister publishes the accountability statements, the overview for these binders or the direction? Would the minister consider that?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: Yes, we would consider all positive comments put forward on the accountability plans. The Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes realizes that they are relatively new and that this is the first time and that there are cases where they may not have been exactly perfect in their drafting. But we are welcome to accept improvements to the situation and upgrade the language of the accountability statement.
Mr. Keenan: I certainly appreciate the ministerís thoughtfulness and the minister's ability to work together with me on this particular issue. It certainly means good business for all involved. I would also like to point out that in the overview statement, in the third paragraph down, it states that this is the reason that maintaining the independence of the Minister of Justice is an important constitutional tool. I would argue that maintaining the independence of the Minister of Justice is not correct. I would argue that maintaining the independence of the justice system is certainly correct. But the minister is not independent of the Premier. The minister is not the Attorney General in this situation. And I realize that it is not an egotistical statement or is not anything like as such, but it is not the preservation of the minister or the independence of the minister. It is the independence of the justice itself. Would the minister not concur?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: This is the type of statement that could lead to a much broader discussion, but basically this is in there because, yes, the Minister of Justice is very independent. And in that role is the one who provides the legal services to the Government of Yukon. The Minister of Justice, in this role, is also the Attorney General, although itís not specified. Itís the Solicitor General we do not have in the territory. The Minister of Justice must maintain independence from the rest of the Cabinet colleagues in that having to provide the legal opinions to the Government of Yukon as to where to go or to where not to go is often what causes the problems, as some perceive them.
I want to draw, for practical illustrations, a situation in British Columbia where that was the situation and the minister and the Premier, et cetera, had differences and it caused all kinds of problems. The minister is waving at me and says that heís familiar with it, so I wonít go there.
Mr. Keenan: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and Iíve certainly been promoted by this gentleman. Does that include the $20,000 wage difference if Iím a minister? Because the member keeps referring to us as the ministers on this side, so if weíre going to take the title, weíd like to take the paycheque.
Thank you very much. I see thatís not going to be answered.
Iím not about to argue with the minister on this point, but I would appreciate it if the minister would look further into it and maybe talk to some of his colleagues, et cetera, because certainly the minister, as the guardian of the public interest, maintaining the independence of the Minister of Justice, I donít really concur with that. Iím not a lawyer. The minister has access to lawyers, but I certainly have been around a tad, and I understand what the minister is saying, but the minister is not. The minister reports to the Premier. The minister reports to the Cabinet. So if the minister would look into that, and the next time the minister has to stand on his feet in this House as a backbencher or whatever, the question will come up again, and Iíd appreciate if the minister would look into it in that light. There certainly is a new reality in the Yukon and, again, I appreciate the ministerís concurrence on the First Nations.
The minister spoke about pilot projects, et cetera, et cetera, that have happened here. These are purely political statements. I just want the ministerís gut reaction. The minister doesnít have to frantically search for anything.
But I would like to point out that I have a fear of pilot projects. Pilot projects create an expectation. A pilot project can last six months, one year, three years. People will get used to it, theyíll be working with it in a community, and then the funding is gone because itís a pilot project. Usually itís a senior government such as the feds that would provide that type of funding.
I would like to get the minister to recognize that point and then, if weíre going to do something meaningful for the development of justice within community lives throughout the Yukon Territory, we should also be looking into having a fall-back plan so that we might be able to have continuity.
I understand that the programs the minister has are very meaningful to society. Hopefully, men at large will quit the abuse of women that has happened continuously, I think, throughout the world, but it cannot be corrected just through a pilot project or anything like as such. There has to be continuity, and if the minister would accept that and understand it the next time I talk to the minister, Iíd appreciate that. Would the minister concur?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: Yes, very much so. We do share the concerns that the member has brought to the floor at this time on the pilot projects. Community justice is one such example. We have embarked on an ADS counsellor at WCC, but we are quite aware that having initiated a program without a contractual signed agreement that the money will continue, the department or the minister may go for it, but one day the rug may be gone, pulled out from under your feet.
So, yes, we very much share the concern that the member has put forward.
Mr. Keenan: I would also like to get the minister, when he speaks about this section of the budget, when he says that plans are underway to evaluate these initiatives, such as community healing, et cetera, et cetera, that it would be looking not only to evaluate the existence of the program, but the growth of the program again and to maybe enhance the program. Would that be a point that the minister could consider?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: When we perform the reviews and do the analysis of where the program is going, we look at it in all respects ó whether we can broaden it, and if we can broaden it, in which areas. So thatís the short answer of what we would do when we begin to look at all these issues that the member has just asked me about.
Mr. Keenan: I very much appreciate the minister listening and getting an understanding of, I guess, basically 16 yearsí worth of political experience in the territory at many different levels. So I guess Iím passing on a learning curve to the minister.
The minister goes on in the next paragraph, in 13A-3, to talk about First Nations policing. Can the minister please tell me which First Nations might be interested in placing initiatives within the territory and how they would be funded in partnership with the Solicitor General or whoever?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: We would entertain ideas from any First Nation that wanted the community policing First Nations. At the moment, we have a working arrangement at Watson Lake. The First Nations policing agreement is shared on a 52/48 percent basis. We pick up the larger share there. There are no complete First Nations policing agreements that are fully working. Kwanlin Dun had one some years ago, but doesnít now. But none are currently in effect in the territory in the full-scale mode we would like to see them in.
Mr. Keenan: The minister closed off with, as "we would like to see them." Is the minister suggesting that the minister is going to be approaching First Nations or other governments to develop this?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: No, itís the other way around; they approach us. The split on the policing is arrived at by the formula ó I said 52 percent and 48 percent ó but because the RCMP are involved in helping ó or the Government of Canada at least pays 48 percent ó there are definitely some rules and guidelines under which the policing agreement is done. I havenít got a copy of the First Nations agreement, so I canít answer it specifically.
Mr. Keenan: It might have been just a slip of a word by the minister then, because I certainly listen with attention here and the minister did say, as "we would like to see them."
So, certainly if I know the minister is not out approaching folks and that folks would approach the minister, then I think it would be quite safe to say in the territory that the only ones working with the policing contract with the government is Watson Lake. I see the minister nodding his head.
Are there any others out there that are sort of alluding to starting up a police force or anything like as such?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: Itís not my understanding that there are any tripartite policing agreements currently in effect, but I can supply the information for the member by legislative return to help him on that.
If the member is referring to Teslin Tlingit Council and the administration of justice agreement, itís not that way for policing, no.
Mr. Keenan: No, Iím not trying to create a bunch of work. I understand the work that goes on in the department for a legislative return. Iím not trying to do that; Iím just trying to get what the minister is talking about here on the floor of the Legislature. If the minister says ó and Iím sure that the minister knows; the minister, Iím sure, gets briefed a couple, three times a week on these situations. I will take the ministerís word. Thatís not a problem. If there is a change or anything like as such, I would appreciate if the minister would notify our Justice critic, so that we might be aware of it.
Could the minister please tell me if there has been any change or increase from the Yukon government, or from whoever supplies the RCMP with their funding in the territory? Has there been any increase to the contract in the past year, or are there any projections for the next year? Are they done on a fiscal basis that matches our fiscal year?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: In the fall supplementary budget that we presented to this House, there was an increase of $350,000, and that same amount has been carried forward into the 2002-03 O&M budget.
Mr. Keenan: It was $350,000. Could the minister please elaborate on what that would go for?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: The figure was $350,000, and it is primarily for salary increases that the RCMP experienced. There was an explanatory note that went with it in the fall budget. I know the Solicitor General of Canada, for example, has committed that the RCMP will be among the top three police forces in this country, and that $350,000 was designed to move them up a little bit further toward that goal.
Mr. Keenan: So, what the minister is saying is that, primarily, the $350,000 was for salary increases to give M Division parity? Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: That is it. Itís basically salary increases. The member is correct.
Mr. Keenan: Could the minister please tell me how thatís going to improve safety on the highways, now that we do not have a mobile highway enforcement here? I was led to understand that the RCMP are picking this up now. If this is not an increase in their budget, how is highway safety being ascertained?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: This is a matter that is coming up again for debate in the Infrastructure budget. There are a number of things that may complicate the issue, as the member has slated out. I know that the issue of highway safety and patrol of the highways is the responsibility of the Minister of Infrastructure so, if the member doesnít mind, I think a more complete answer might be received during that debate ó if that is fair enough.
Mr. Keenan: I certainly realize where it lies; that is why I was talking to the Justice minister and looking at the Minister of Infrastructure. I realize where it lies. I understand that the Minister of Infrastructure has an obligation toward safety on highways but, unfortunately, due to renewal, that department was mothballed. Cars are shut down, the whole ball of wax is shut down. I was concerned about that. I have talked to different folks. I have talked to RCMP folks about this to see if they are pumping up, if they are stepping up the volume on the highway, or what is happening here.
I know that the Minister of Infrastructure is not going to be delving into his highway funding projects, capital, O&M or otherwise, to give to the RCMP. That contract is handled through the Minister of Justice. So, can the Minister of Justice tell me, now that we have a briefing note from the Minister of Infrastructure, just how that money flows to the RCMP to ascertain highway safety?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: The member is correct in that the contract with the RCMP is definitely the responsibility of the Minister of Justice. However, RCMP members are responsible for the safe and efficient patrol of the Yukonís highways ó thereís no question about that ó but it is a very specialized area when RCMP have to start patrolling commercial carriers. Most of the RCMP members are not trained in airbrakes, the amount of pads that are left on the brake shoes ó that is a special line of work ó and the RCMP are not going to be conducting the roadside inspection of commercial vehicles under the new compliance program.
That has been a misconception thatís out there that, somehow, the RCMP, because they have the armaments or the patrol cars with the flashing lights on them, are going to be checking every commercial carrier that comes through the territory. That is not correct.
Mr. Keenan: I certainly agree with the minister; I absolutely agree with the minister. And Iíd also like to point out that compliance without enforcement will not work. It will not work. I know personally from this year ó and Iím sure that the minister is very well aware ó of trucks running graders off the road ó very dangerous, listening to grader operators and to truck drivers saying, "Oh, my God, I just missed this one." I heard that on the CB this winter, because I live out there. So what Iím talking about is actual safety.
Now, I understand what the ministerís saying in compliance. Iím saying compliance without a big club ainít gonna work. It ainít gonna work, because some of those American truck drivers ó and Iím not picking on another country or anything like as such, but they drive through this, they speed as fast as they want, they see an RCMP officer, he gives him a ticket, and they go, "Ha," and theyíre out of here, because they do not have to live with it ó a different jurisdiction.
So what Iím pointing out to the minister is that there is a void here, and I would appreciate a Cabinet discussion or something like that on it, because I know itís entailing different jurisdictions, and Iíd appreciate to look at the compliance program and how we can make it safer, and maybe go talk to some of those grader operators, because Iíve talked to grader operators from Beaver Creek and along the highway, right down the Alaska Highway, and itís a reality. Itís a reality, Mr. Minister. It very much is.
I know grader operators who have had their mirrors knocked off. I know grader operators who have their blade in just in time so that an 80-mile-an-hour truck passing them would not bump them off the road. So compliance will not work. And for highway safety, RCMP must be trained, so I suggest that, through renewal, if we remove a component, we should be massaging another component or working with another component so we do not have this type of fear on the highway.
And I must say that I do drive the Alaska Highway quite significantly, and it is a frightening experience at times. So compliance wonít work, and Iíd appreciate it if the minister would stand on the floor of the House and say that the minister will have that type of Cabinet discussion to find a way to make it work in conjunction with the RCMP or in conjunction with whomever. Would the minister please concur?
Hon. Mr. Kent: Just to join in debate at this time, begging the Houseís indulgence and, of course, that of the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes, highway safety is very important to me and to the government as to all members in this Legislative Assembly.
I recently met with the Yukon Transportation Association. I went to one of their lunch meetings and I brought up the issue of highway safety. They said that that would require a whole other meeting, so I expect to go back and meet with the Transportation Association and the RCMP to discuss ways that we can ensure that our highways are safe for our visitors and commercial drivers and Yukoners alike.
Mr. Keenan: I very much appreciate the Minister of Infrastructure leading the debate within Cabinet and working with the different transportation bodies, et cetera. Of course, I would probably expect that, when we identify a loophole or something like as such, if it is a loophole, resources would flow through to the RCMP. If the RCMP are going to be doing this work, then I want the trained RCMP, and I do want the RCMP on the road. I want to see them out there on the road, and I havenít seen many policemen on the road since the Speaker was in the RCMP, if I could say it in that manner.
So, I will let the debate on that particular subject go at this point in time. I feel I have an answer.
The minister said something quite ó well, Iíd like to get the minister to clarify. When the minister said that a community would be monitoring a person as they went back into the community, the minister was talking about only if it was allowed by law. Would that be correct?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: The member is correct. It must be allowed under the law in order to check on the ex-inmate when he is released.
Mr. Keenan: Thank you, I have no further questions.
Chair: Is there any further general debate?
Then weíll proceed to line-by-line.
Weíll start off in Management Services.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Management Services
Management Services in the amount of $2,486,000 agreed to
On Court Services
On Court Administration
Court Administration in the amount of $645,000 agreed to
On Court Operations
Court Operations in the amount of $2,667,000 agreed to
Sheriff in the amount of $280,000 agreed to
On Maintenance Enforcement
Maintenance Enforcement in the amount of $277,000 agreed to
On Witness Administration
Witness Administration in the amount of $116,000 agreed to
On Yukon Review Board
Yukon Review Board in the amount of $42,000 agreed to
Court Services in the amount of $4,027,000 agreed to
Chair: We will proceed to legal services.
On Legal Services
On Program Director
Program Director in the amount of $301,000 agreed to
On Solicitors Branch
Solicitors Branch in the amount of $1,452,000 agreed to
On Legislative Counsel
Legislative Counsel in the amount of $378,000 agreed to
On Litigation Costs/Judgements
Litigation Costs/Judgements in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Outside Counsel
Outside Counsel in the amount of $200,00 agreed to
On Community Legal Support
Community Legal Support in the amount of $1,852,000 agreed to
Legal Services in the amount of $4,193,000 agreed to
On Regulatory Services
On Program Director
Program Director in the amount of $59,000 agreed to
On Public Administrator
Public Administrator in the amount of $175,000 agreed to
On Land Titles
Mr. Keenan: Iíd just like to know, in the land titles office, in light of the First Nations talking about their tenure ó I have heard it setting up their land registry offices. Would any of this support be going to the First Nations to set up their land registry and title offices, as the minister responsible for Yukon Housing Corporation said they were helping to do?
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: The question the member is referring to ó if there are any changes, itís not part of the particular $350,000 item we were talking about in this line item. Given the fact that some of the negotiations are carrying on over the next year, itís possible there might be an effect on a subsequent budget, but there is no effect for now on the $350,000 in this line item.
Land Titles in the amount of $350,000 agreed to
On Yukon Utilities Board
Yukon Utilities Board in the amount of $190,000 agreed to
Regulatory Services in the amount of $774,000 agreed to
On Community and Correctional Services
On Program Director
Program Director in the amount of $365,000 agreed to
On Community Corrections
Community Corrections in the amount of $988,000 agreed to
On Institutional Facilities
Institutional Facilities in the amount of $5,989,000 agreed to
On Community Residential Centre
Community Residential Centre in the amount of $316,000 agreed to
On Victim Services and Family Violence Prevention Unit
Victim Services and Family Violence Prevention Unit in the amount of $1,194,000 agreed to
Community and Correctional Services in the amount of
$8,852,000 agreed to
On Community Justice and Public Safety
On Program Director
Program Director in the amount of $1,045,000 agreed to
On Police Services
Police Services in the amount of $11,981,000 agreed to
On Chief Coroner
Chief Coroner in the amount of $232,000 agreed to
Community Justice and Public Safety in the amount of
$13,258,000 agreed to
On Human Rights
On Human Rights Commission Grant
Human Rights Commission Grant in the amount of $371,000 agreed to
On Human Rights Adjudication Board
Human Rights Adjudication Board in the amount of $42,000 agreed to
Human Rights in the amount of $413,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on the recoveries?
Seeing no questions on the recoveries, are there any questions on the revenues?
Are there any questions on the transfer payments?
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for Department of Justice in the amount of $34,003,000 agreed to
Chair: Weíll take a five-minute recess to allow for officials to replace.
Chair: I now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Department of Environment
Chair: Committee of the Whole will now go into general debate on the Department of Environment. Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: This budget continues our commitment to the wise management of our natural environment, to the sustainable use of our resources, to increasing, improving and promoting economic opportunities and to public participation in environmental management decisions.
I would like to introduce this budget by reading into the record the overview of the accountability plan for this department.
The Department of Environment is the Yukon governmentís voice and window on the Yukonís natural environment. The Minister of Environment is ultimately accountable for integrated resource planning and management through the Yukon Environment Act. As well, the department ensures that other responsibilities are met pursuant to the act, such as public review, reporting and a regular audit of YTGís performance.
The department is responsible for legislation, regulations, licensing, management, policies, programs, services, education and information regarding the natural environment in three program areas ó fish and wildlife, environmental protection and assessment, and parks and protected areas.
Working together, the departmentís branches implement a variety of programs, educate resource users and the general public, develop and enforce policies, programs, regulations and legislation and assist other departments in the sustainable use and management of the territoryís natural resources for the benefit of all Yukoners.
The Department of Environment supports land claim negotiations and has a pivotal role in implementing land claim agreements in a balanced and respectful manner. The department is on the front line of land claims implementation and is involved in the many multi-party community-based processes that are fundamental to implementation. This activity will expand with future settlements.
In addition to land claims, the department is preparing for devolution, which will alter its structure and responsibilities and affect its relationship with the public, non-governmental organizations, other governments and industry. There are pressures on the economy and the environment, and the department is determining how best to balance these interests and still deliver its mandate. The department is called to bring Yukon government views and information to national and global environmental forums on issues such as climate change and biodiversity conservation.
The departmentís challenge is to manage the natural environment by balancing the rights of all Yukoners while respecting the unique rights of those with aboriginal or treaty rights, environmental integrity with resource development, and consumptive with non-consumptive use of fish and wildlife. These different interests must be dealt with in a respectful manner.
Mr. Chair, I would like to take a few minutes on the budget figures and on the changes in particular. With the funds provided through this budget, the department will continue to provide critical support for key government initiatives, such as renewal, devolution and the formulation of the development assessment process.
The total proposed expenditure of the Department of Environment reflects an increase of $67,000, or less than 0.5 percent of our 2001-02 forecast.
This is largely due to $293,000 for collective agreement increases and $60,000 for some new and changing initiatives. These increases have been offset by decreases of $232,000, comprised largely of renewal efficiencies together with one-time costs included in the 2001-02 forecast.
I will highlight some of the major changes of the program on a program-by-program basis. The general management program comprises of the operations of the deputy ministers office. The increase of five percent in general management is largely due to the provision of $23,000 for the effect of some probable reclassifications of positions within the department as a result of renewal restructuring.
The corporate services program consists of all the support units of the department. The assistant deputy ministerís office is increasing $62,000, or 45 percent, primarily as a result of providing $50,000 from miscellaneous partnership projects, which are fully funded from outside sources and arise unexpectedly during the year. An example may be a moose survey project, on which we receive a contribution from a First Nation toward the cost, thus enabling the department to expand the survey.
The balance of the increase is due to provisions for approximately $10,000 to assist with preparation for devolution. Renewal has changed the duties of the assistant deputy ministerís position substantially. This position will no longer be responsible for overall supervision of the line branches; rather the position is taking over responsibility for the restructured support branches. In addition, the position will be responsible for renewal and devolution implementation, as well as interdepartmental and intergovernmental strategic management.
Information management and technology is increasing by $56,000, or about nine percent, due to provision of funding for system administration and Web site development and maintenance.
This new unit was formed through the amalgamation of the previous GIS unit in policy and planning, data and systems administration positions from finance administration and a data analysis position in fish and wildlife. These positions all perform related functions, and it is expected we will realize considerable operational efficiencies and synergy through having the positions performing as a team in one unit.
In client services, the budget is increasing by $7,000, or about one percent, due largely to the collective agreement increases. However, one of the things that is not evident from a comparison of the proposed budget for the last yearís forecasted figures is the fact that this is a new unit, formed to provide a better level of service to the public, as well as internal clients. Three clerical positions will now be located in the reception area, and all three will be able to deal with the majority of public inquiries, including the sale of permits, licences and seals.
This unit will also be taking a lead role in dealing with other departments, like Community Services and Business, Tourism and Culture on the sale of these instruments. This new unit is comprised of a manager, three customer services representatives, two positions dealing with management to property and equipment, a librarian, a part-time records clerk and a publications officer.
Funding for the policy and Yukon protected areas planning is decreasing by about $131,000 or 17 percent, primarily due to the elimination of the previous position of manager of policy and resource planning plus one-time advertising costs related to legislation revision in 2001-02.
The director of this branch has been assigned the task of continued coordination of the YPAS planning process, even though we have deferred the identification of any more areas of interest under the Yukon protected areas strategy until the four recently initialled land claim MOUs have been ratified. There is still work to be done with First Nations, renewable resource councils and other stakeholders to identify how we can make the process work better.
The $19,000 increase in claims implementation and aboriginal affairs, which amounts to six percent, is attributed largely to the effect of the collective agreement increases.
In human resources, the increase amounts to $27,000, or 14 percent, and is largely due to the effective collective agreement increases together with the provision for some additional clerical assistance to the unit.
The management of natural resource programs consists of two branches that manage the flora and fauna of the territory. One of these branches is fish and wildlife. While there have been a number of minor internal adjustments to reflect changing priorities, the decrease of $8,000 is minimal. The other branch is parks and protected areas, which is budgeting for a decrease of $86,000, or four percent. This decrease is largely attributed to the elimination of one director position that resulted from the consolidation of the parks and outdoor recreation branch and the YPAS secretariat. Also, two positions were transferred to the conservation, protection and public education branch as a result of the renewal process and the 2001-02 forecast. The 2000-01 actual figures were restated to reflect these transfers. This is the result of the conservation, protection and public education taking over responsibility for enforcement related to duties in territorial parks and protected areas.
The monitoring and compliance program consists of the two branches, which were mainly concerned with enforcement and protection. The environmental protection and assessment branch reflects a small increase of $9,000, mainly due to the effect of the collective agreement increases in personnel costs, offset by some staff turnover.
The conservation, protection and public education branch was previously known as field services. The name was changed to better describe the function of this branch. The increase here is $50,000, or two percent, and is largely attributed to collective agreement increases and personnel costs. As I indicated earlier, Mr. Chair, as a result of the renewal process, the responsibility for enforcement and compliance services in the territorial parks is being centred in this branch, and two positions are being transferred from the parks and protected areas branch. The 2001-02 forecast and the 2000-01 actual figures were restated to reflect these transfers.
Mr. Speaker, the time being nearly 6:00, I move that we report progress.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: Mr. Chair, I move the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole.
Mr. McLarnon: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 9, Second Appropriation Act, 2002-03, and directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: Youíve 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.
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. Monday.
The House adjourned at 5:59 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled May 2, 2002:
Report of the Chief Electoral Officer of the Yukon on Election Financing and Political Contributions 2000-2001 (Speaker Schneider)
Alaska Highway Pipeline Project: Economic Effects on the Yukon and Canada, Final Report by M.C. McCracken, Informetrica Limited (dated April 2002) (Kent)
Queenís Printer Agency 2002-03 Business Plan (Kent)
Fleet Vehicle Agency 2002-03 Business Plan (Kent)
Property Management Agency 2002-03 Business Plan (Kent)
The following document was filed May 2, 2002:
Wood Street Centre: letters respecting transfer of programs to Whitehorse Elementary School (Peter)