Wednesday, May 29, 2002 ó 1:00 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Introduction of visitors.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Speaker, Iím very pleased to welcome to our Legislature today some very special guests: the federal Secretary of State for Amateur Sport, the hon. Paul DeVillers; Sue Hylland, the president and CEO of the Canada Games Council; the Member of Parliament for Yukon, Larry Bagnell; the Yukon Senator Ione Christensen, and His Worship Ernie Bourassa, the Mayor of Whitehorse. I also see Ken Sylvestre from the Canada Games Bid Committee.
As Iím sure everyone is aware, the federal government has made a generous contribution of $20 million in capital funding to help the Yukon host the first ever Canada Winter Games north of 60. The Games and the associated facility construction will be a positive economic boost for the territory and will provide a fantastic opportunity to showcase the Yukon across Canada, as well as leave a legacy that all Yukoners will enjoy for years to come.
I ask all members of this House to join me in welcoming our guests and thanking them for their commitment to the Yukon.
Hon. Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, Iíd like members of this House to welcome Jamie Furniss, a former page in our House, as well as a former page of the House of Commons of Canada.
Speaker: Is there any further introduction of visitors?
Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Speaker, I have for tabling the 2002 infrastructure status report.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I have for filing a letter that I sent today to the leader of the official opposition.
Speaker: Are there any further returns or documents for tabling?
Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Roberts: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Yukon government to
(1) change its policy on air travel to start collecting air miles, as every consumer and corporation does; and
(2) create a new policy to direct the government to hold these points in trust to assist community groups to defray the cost of outside travel to represent the Yukon in their individual capacities.
Mr. McLarnon: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House recognizes the design work for Grey Mountain Primary School is potentially a waste of taxpayersí money, given the fact that this House is unlikely to pass a capital appropriation for that project; and
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to ensure that this design work is done in such a way that it can be used at another site in the Golden Horn area, which is the enrolment area that faces the most pressure on its resources.
Mr. Jenkins: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the strike by Northwestel employees in Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and northern British Columbia will have a severe impact on the economy of northern Canada and that the Yukon, with its current poor economy, will feel this impact even more; and
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to speak out and urge both the company and the union to return to the negotiating table and reach a fair and equitable settlement as quickly as possible.
Mr. Jim: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House congratulates the City of Whitehorse, the Canada Games Bid Committee, the previous NDP government, the present Liberal government and the federal government for their diligent work to secure the 2007 Canada Games.
Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?
Is there a ministerial statement?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Alaska Highway pipeline permitting
Mr. Fairclough: I have a question for the Premier.
The Foothills pipeline group has asked the State of Alaska to stop processing the Alaska Highway pipeline application. This is another huge setback for the Premierís one economic vision, and Yukon people need to know where the Premier stands.
Has the Premier personally spoken to Governor Knowles or the Foothills Pipe Lines officials since this story broke today in the Anchorage Daily News?
Hon. Mr. Kent: Iíll answer this question, as pipelines are my responsibility under Energy, Mines and Resources.
I am aware of Foothills temporarily withdrawing from their Alaska office for the pipeline. They are awaiting a commercial arrangement. I met here in Whitehorse on Monday evening with representatives from Phillips and British Petroleum, and they assured me that they are going to continue their work toward reducing the risk for an Alaska Highway pipeline. I should also note for the member opposite that, prior to western premiers and western governors coming to Dawson City next week, Premier Klein of Alberta will be in Anchorage to sign an MOU with the Alaskan government to promote, among other things, pipeline development.
So weíre still very encouraged by the news that weíre getting, and I should also mention that Foothills will continue with their operation here in Whitehorse.
Mr. Fairclough: I asked the question of the Premier because this is a very serious matter.
If Alaska does stop the permitting process, the stateís gas pipeline office could be shutting down very shortly. That raises serious questions about what will happen here. Will this governmentís pipeline unit be suspended? Will the Foothills office shut down here in Whitehorse? Those are the questions people are asking now, Mr. Speaker.
So is the Premier ó or the minister, if he wants to answer the question ó confident that this is just a temporary setback, or should we expect a government renewal announcement that the pipeline unit is being put on the shelf?
Hon. Mr. Kent: Again, as I mentioned in my previous answer, I did meet with officials from both Phillips and BP here in Whitehorse on Monday evening after session. They assure me that if such things as the Senate energy bill, which provides incentives to reduce the risk, goes forward, the project will continue to advance. Other things theyíre looking for, of course, are fiscal certainty in Alaska and regulatory certainty with the Government of Canada. Iím pleased that our Member of Parliament and a minister from Canada are here today so that they can take that regulatory certainty message back to Ottawa with them.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, weíre talking about the breaking news that weíve heard today, and if we are to believe this Premierís economic priorities over the past two years, the Yukonís economic future depends on the pipeline. But that issue is seriously in doubt. The Premier canít even convince her Liberal friends in Ottawa to come onside. Theyíre backing Premier Kakfwiís pipeline route, and if the Premier wants the Yukon to be a player, she has to demonstrate some real leadership herself, Mr. Speaker. She canít leave things to the B team.
So will the Premier personally phone Governor Knowles today and set up a special meeting in Dawson City next week and hammer out a Yukon-Alaska political strategy to deal with this latest setback?
Hon. Mr. Kent: Part of the memberís question was about the economy, and Iíd like to address that first. Certainly the pipeline is going to be a very important piece of the economic puzzle up here, but we can also add mining, tourism, our own oil and gas development, forestry ó there are a number of other initiatives, of course, including the $30 million that the federal government dropped off here this morning for capital and O&M for the Canada Games, coupled with our $19-million commitment, as well as a further $8-million or $9-million commitment from the City of Whitehorse.
So, to be specific to the memberís question about the meeting in Dawson City, Governor Knowles will be there, as well as other western premiers. Certainly weíll have an opportunity to discuss pipeline issues. I, too, will be up there, as well as a number of intergovernmental ministers from western Canada, so pipeline issues will be on my agenda for discussion, as well.
Question re: Pipeline benefit agreements, signing of
Mr. Fairclough: Iíd like to follow up with another question to the Premier, again on the pipeline issue.
Something else that was brought up today, that we learned today, is that Governor Knowles and Premier Klein are ready to sign a pipeline benefits agreement on the Alaska Highway route, in case the producers go ahead. Mr. Speaker, thereís no mention of the Yukon here, so will the Premier be bringing her own ballpoint pen to the signing ceremony, or is she leaving the leadership on this front to Ralph Klein and Tony Knowles?
Hon. Mr. Kent: As members of this Legislature know, an international committee has been struck. Itís chaired by Senator Torgerson, and it deals specifically with the Alaska Highway pipeline and the benefits and opportunities to not only the Yukon Territory, but also Alaska and Alberta.
I am a member of that committee. Iíve been a member since December and will continue to sit, and we will be showcasing the Alaska Highway pipeline at the Global Petroleum Show in Calgary in mid June.
Mr. Fairclough: This obviously takes some serious effort on behalf of Yukon, and thatís why Iím asking the Premier the question. The Premier has logged a lot of airtime around the country. Specifically, she had chats in Houston and Anchorage, and maybe even in Ottawa, Mr. Speaker, but she hasnít demonstrated that the Yukon is seriously in the game.
So, weíve heard what the minister had to say about whatís happening now and what the department is doing. Iíd like to ask the Premier what specific progress the Yukon government has made in negotiating benefit agreements with the pipeline companies.
Hon. Mr. Kent: Our efforts, of course, have been focused on lobbying to get the project ó thatís the most important thing. Without the project there arenít an awful lot of benefits that will flow to the Yukon.
In an article in the National Post, a representative of the Alaska government, in speaking about the Alaska-Alberta memorandum of understanding, said that hopefully by having a memorandum in place with Alberta "and the good relationship that we already enjoy with the Yukon Territory," it will bear fruit in the future.
Weíre very proud of the relationship that we have with the Alaskan government, as well as our provincial colleagues in the west, and we certainly look forward to continuing the hard work in promoting the Alaska Highway pipeline. The leader of the official opposition mentioned previously that perhaps we should dismantle the pipeline unit. Not only do they flip-flop on a week-to-week basis or a day-to-day basis, but on a question-to-question basis, on what their level of support is for the Alaska Highway pipeline. We certainly support it and weíre going to continue to lobby for it.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, Mr. Speaker, maybe the minister needs to hear the question a little more carefully before he makes those types of comments.
We want the government to be serious about this. Obviously they arenít. In the Yukon Territory, they are far behind the First Nations in dealing with the oil companies. The minister knows it and the Premier knows it.
Many Yukon communities will be affected if the Alaska Highway route is chosen. If a pipeline is built before or after the Mackenzie Valley line, it will cross through several traditional territories of First Nations in the Yukon Territory. So what commitment has the Premier made to First Nation governments that her government is doing everything that needs to be done to address the social, cultural and environmental impacts of the pipeline?
Hon. Mr. Kent: Part of the pipeline unit budget is dedicated to the First Nation liaison person. Part of the pipeline unit complement of employees is someone who is dedicated to socio-economic issues. Certainly we are doing a lot of things through the pipeline unit, and rather than what the official opposition has done by making statements about the pipeline being a far-off pipe dream or a big, black hole, we are continuing to lobby with the producers ó regular meetings with the producers. And, as I mentioned at the Global Petroleum Show in Calgary in the middle of June, I will be down there, as will the Minister of Education, speaking on the labour market front, to participate in a special day dedicated to the Alaska Highway pipeline project.
I should note for the leader of the official opposition that during that particular event, there will also be representatives from Alaska, British Columbia and Alberta participating, including remarks from the ministers of energy, mines and resources from British Columbia and Alaska, and the chair of the Alaska Highway Pipeline Committee, Senator John Torgerson.
Question re: Dempster lateral
Mr. Jenkins: I am going to have a question today for the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources. What I am going to try to do is attempt to cut through the fog that is currently engulfing the minister and the Premier over the position that two pipelines are better than one. If the Yukon Liberal government supports both the construction of the Alaska Highway pipeline route and the Mackenzie Valley route, is the minister prepared to admit that this position means that the Dempster lateral pipeline doesnít make any economic sense and will not be needed? Will the minister make that leap of logic?
Hon. Mr. Kent: To answer the leader of the third partyís question, no, I wonít. We have protected a corridor for the Dempster lateral, down the Dempster Highway through not only the Eagle Plains area of interest, but also the Tombstone Territorial Park. Weíre very much appreciative of the fact that the Dempster lateral may be a choice of Beaufort Delta producers. If indeed they choose to build that line instead of a Mackenzie Valley line, or as well as a Mackenzie Valley line, we will be prepared to support that route as well.
Mr. Jenkins: Flip-flop again, Mr. Speaker. Letís see if the minister can take the next logical step. Is the minister prepared to admit that the reason for the Dempster lateral being proposed in the first place was to provide an alternate pipeline route to the Mackenzie Valley route for transporting Canadian natural gas located in the N.W.T. and Yukon to markets in the south? Will the minister make that admission?
Hon. Mr. Kent: The short answer to that question is yes. Certainly, under the Berger inquiry of approximately 25 years ago, that was the reason for the Dempster lateral option coming into place. They submitted that a moratorium be put on pipeline development in the Mackenzie Valley. At the time, I believe Premier Kakfwi was very outspoken against the pipeline development in the Mackenzie Valley. So thatís why the Dempster lateral option was considered ó to address the stranded gas potential of Beaufort Delta gas.
Mr. Jenkins: Now, what we have is a situation where the Yukon has bought in hook, line and sinker to the Alaska Highway natural gas pipeline. We see Governor Knowles and Premier Klein signing an agreement. Where the Yukon is in this equation, we do not know. We see the Government of Yukon buying into the Mackenzie Valley pipeline after the fact.
Would the minister now admit that the Dempster Highway lateral is redundant and not going to be used?
Hon. Mr. Kent: Mr. Speaker, no, I wonít admit that the Dempster Highway lateral is redundant and wonít be used. As Iíve mentioned in previous answers, we have a very good relationship with the Alaska government, as well as the Alberta government. The Premier has a very good personal relationship with Governor Knowles as well as Premier Klein and other premiers. So to say that the Dempster Highway lateral is redundant certainly isnít the case. Weíve protected a corridor for pipeline development along the Dempster Highway, as I mentioned, through the Eagle Plains area of interest as well as the Tombstone Territorial Park. Should the producers in the Beaufort Delta decide to proceed with a Dempster lateral, then we will be ready to support that.
Of course, itís important to note for the leader of the third party that not having an Alaska Highway pipeline project, which we have been lobbying for over the last two years, would make the Dempster Highway lateral redundant. So that is why we have focused our efforts on lobbying for the main transmission line for natural gas, which is an Alaska Highway pipeline.
Question re: Recreation facilities in communities
Mr. McRobb: Mr. Speaker, Iíd like to go to another story in the news today, and itís good to see that the federal government has finally come out with its share of the money for the Canada Winter Games in 2007. Fortunately, Mr. Speaker, two successive Yukon governments have committed millions of dollars to ensure the success of these Games over the years.
My question to the minister is about the current governmentís commitment to recreation facilities outside of Whitehorse. Can the minister tell us exactly how much her government is prepared to commit to communities surrounding Whitehorse so they, too, can play a real role in this important national event?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I really wonder that the Member for Kluane could doubt this governmentís commitment toward sport and recreation in the territory. It sounds like mere political posturing to me.
We are now in the beginning stages of preparing the capital budget for the fall and will be visiting all communities to discuss their sport and recreation priorities with them over the coming months.
Mr. McRobb: Well, Mr. Speaker, the ministerís own answer has validated our concern. Obviously, the government has a questionable level of commitment to recreation facilities outside of Whitehorse. She failed to provide a commitment.
Now, yesterday, the minister talked about community halls in places like Marsh Lake. She didnít talk about any commitment to recreation facilities. Recreation is critical to community health and well-being. I would like to know what level of commitment we can expect from this minister in the fall budget for new ó and I say "new", Mr. Speaker ó recreation facilities in communities other than Whitehorse?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The Member for Kluane knows perfectly well that I canít give him a firm figure at this point ó (a) that would be violating budget secrecy, and (b) we have not completed consultation with the communities.
Mr. McRobb: Violating budget secrecy, Mr. Speaker. What was the press release yesterday about how this government is proceeding with the Grey Mountain School, then? Is that violating budget secrecy?
Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government is failing to give a commitment to rural Yukon about recreation facilities. Ross River needs help with its recreation facilities. Carcross wants new recreation facilities. People in Haines Junction want new recreation facilities, and Mayo wants recreation facilities. Next year, it celebrates its 100th anniversary. For two years, the joint councils in Mayo have been pleading with this government for a new recreation centre to celebrate its centennial.
When the Premier goes to these communities this summer, will the minister commit to accompanying her and giving the communities some good news about their long-standing requests for recreation facilities?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: We are committed to support recreation in the communities. Our record is quite clear. As the Member for Kluane should recall, weíve also established the community recreation leadership endowment fund to support recreation in the communities. As I recall, the opposition was opposed to the creation of these endowment funds, so whose commitment is where, Mr. Speaker?
Speaker: Are there any other questions?
Question re: Economic action plan
Mr. Jim: My question today is for the Premier in her role as the Minister of Finance. Iím wondering if this government has taken leave of its senses. Or is the Premierís door getting thicker and thicker? Because the line of communication between this government and the people of the Yukonís voice has been severed. There is a very clear and serious communication problem here. This government is simply not listening.
Over and over again, Yukoners have been telling this Legislature to wake up. Itís the economy, folks. Itís the economy ó please, please fix it.
How will this budget, if itís passed, help Yukoners and Yukon business? Yukon simply cannot afford to wait while this government does nothing substantive to help the resource sector and at the same time ignoring industry groups.
Speaker: Question please.
Mr. Jim: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question to the Premier is, what is the government doing now, this week, today, about the economy to ensure Yukoners can expect to go to work this summer?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: What is the government doing today, this hour? Working with the federal government, working with the City of Whitehorse, working with all Yukoners to invest $30 million of federal money in infrastructure.
Mr. Jim: Where are the jobs this summer?
I am aware, as are all Yukoners, of this governmentís ambitious job creation programs for this summer. From the news release dated May 24, dozen of Yukoners put to work ó dozens, Mr. Speaker, cutting willows, seeding and fertilizing, and the duration of these jobs is a couple of weeks in June ó some job creation; some security for the hundreds unemployed.
It seems for every dollar thrown to the rural communities of the Yukon, $2 is thrown to the urban ridings, and I am probably being generous on that thought. Nothing is happening in our rural communities ó no economic incentives to assist small business. However, this Liberal government has managed ó
Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Jim: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This Liberal government has managed to increase user fees for small businesses ó talk about creating confidence in this government. My question to the Premier is this: what does this government plan for this summer that will stimulate job creation within the small business sector in our territory?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Where to begin. The fact is this government passed the capital budget through the House last fall and one has only to take a trip, for example up the north highway. Every single person who wants to be working is working in two out of the three communities I visited, and in the third community they are working as well.
And it is not two weeks in June, as the member opposite is suggesting. There is another shift being announced at the Cantung operation ó 24 people. There are 12 people working at AMT in Elsa, 20 to 24 people at the emerald deposit in the Yukon as well. That is just in mining. In the construction industry, in the infrastructure and rebuilding Yukonís infrastructure, there are hundreds of Yukoners working throughout the summer. One has only to get out of oneís office, as I suggest the member opposite do, and take a look through the Yukon.
Mr. Jim: Mr. Speaker, another question to the Premier, in her role as Minister of Finance. I suggest that piecemealing this budget, which the Premier is so good at, is not the way to go.
The industry groups in this territory have been ignored and marginalized in this government. We, and they, are wondering if and when this government ever intends to begin working together with industry, business and the environment. We have models in other provinces for cooperation and balance.
My question to the Premier: why does this government continue to be averse to doing anything about compromise, cooperation and the real balance of competing interests, to the betterment of all Yukoners?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Speaker, there are many initiatives this government has undertaken in ensuring that there were jobs and that people are working throughout the Yukon in the summer. We have done this working with industry, working with the Infrastructure Alliance, who are all working this summer. Last Friday was a great day for Yukon contractors, when the largest Shakwak project was awarded to a Yukon company, as well as the private sector chipping contract, and those are just two of many projects.
The Champagne-Aishihik bypass has been a very good thing, a long overdue project, and thatís just the highway projects. Iíve mentioned the mining projects. The tourism industry, in spite of the setback of September 11, is looking forward to the flight of Condor, and one has only to note that one of the RV rental places was quoted in last weekís newspaper as having doubled their stock and sold all their reservations. So, people are working, Mr. Speaker, and weíre working hard, and I must say the unemployment rate reflects that work. There are 700 more jobs this year over last.
Question re: Dempster lateral
Mr. Fentie: Iíd like to commend the members opposite for being so ecstatic about, once again, proving to Yukoners that they are totally dependent on the federal government to make anything happen in this territory.
Mr. Speaker, there is a fundamental error in strategic judgement by the members opposite. The Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources has, in promoting the two pipeline routes, in effect, completely dismissed the Dempster lateral, which is going to have some very negative consequences on the Yukonís one major link to the Delta gas fields, to Inuvik, and that is the Dempster Highway. Does the minister not understand that, by not doing a full-court press on behalf of the Alaska Highway route and the Dempster lateral to bring Beaufort and Delta gas to market, the minister is compromising the Dempster Highway?
Hon. Mr. Kent: As I mentioned to the leader of the third party previously in Question Period, we havenít dismissed the Dempster lateral as an option. The Dempster lateral would be redundant without an Alaska Highway pipeline, and thatís where we have focused our efforts. We have to secure that project before a Dempster lateral can go ahead. As Iíve said, weíve protected a corridor for a pipeline in the Tombstone Territorial Park, as well as the Eagle Plains area of interest. Certainly, should the producers in the Beaufort Delta decide that they would like to proceed with the Dempster lateral as the option or as the pipeline of choice for Beaufort Delta gas, we will be ready to promote and to permit and to work with the federal government and producers to ensure that that option becomes a reality.
Mr. Fentie: Well, the minister and his government canít have it both ways. If the minister is promoting the two routes, the minister is dismissing the Dempster lateral.
Now, if the Mackenzie Valley route is the chosen route, and the Mackenzie Valley pipeline is to be built by the producers, as the minister pointed out, does the minister not realize there will have to be a tote road to haul the supplies, pipe and everything that is necessary to build a Mackenzie Valley pipeline along the Mackenzie Valley?
Hon. Mr. Kent: The Member for Watson Lake is certainly entering the realm of the hypothetical, but I will answer his question.
Certainly, as I have said, we are willing to promote the Dempster lateral, should the producers choose that option. Weíre going to continue to work hard on the Alaska Highway pipeline. I hear the Member for McIntyre-Takhini calling it a pipe dream now, too. So, certainly, he has joined the official opposition in referring to the Alaska Highway pipeline as a pipe dream and not supporting that option.
So, certainly, weíre going to leave our options open. The main line we need is the Alaska Highway pipeline, and weíre going to continue to work to promote that.
Mr. Fentie: Well, talk about hypothetical. The minister is promoting two hypothetical routes ó in his own words. What weíre trying to point out is the fact that the Dempster Highway is in jeopardy. This government must commit to go to the federal government and get the federal governmentís support for the Alaska Highway pipeline and the Dempster lateral so that we do not compromise the Dempster Highway ó not this mistaken approach of promoting two pipelines.
We in the Yukon must support what benefits Yukon. Will the minister come to his senses and immediately go to the federal government to get them to stand down on their support for the Mackenzie line and have them understand what this means to the Yukon, should they compromise the Dempster Highway and have the Mackenzie line turn into a major link from Alberta and the south to Inuvik and the Delta?
Hon. Mr. Kent: As I have mentioned before, we have not compromised the Dempster Highway or the Dempster lateral. The Dempster Highway was initially built as a road to resources, not only the resources in the Beaufort Delta but recently Copper Ridge Explorations has optioned an Olympic dam-type gold occurrence off the Dempster Highway from a small prospector in Dawson City. There are the substantial resources in the Eagle Plains Basin. Weíre going to continue to use the Dempster Highway for resource development in the north. And I will continue to tell the members opposite that, as far as the Dempster lateral goes, we have protected a corridor for it, should the producers in the Beaufort Delta decide to use the Dempster Highway as a route for their pipeline to join up with the Alaska Highway pipeline. We will be supportive of that. And should Yukon producers in the Eagle Plains Basin decide to use a Dempster lite or an alternative Dempster Highway lateral to get their gas to markets via an Alaska Highway pipeline, we will support that.
We have not given up on a Dempster lateral and realize that, should the Mackenzie Valley not proceed, a Dempster lateral is a viable option for the producers in the Beaufort Delta.
Question re: Education Act review
Mrs. Peter: My question today is again for the Minister of Education. Yesterday the minister said that the Education Act review was a success. Thatís not the view of many of the governmentís partners in education. In spite of that, the minister has withdrawn the amendments. We asked how the minister will proceed from here and got no answer, so we will try again.
What process has the minister put in place for a proper review of the Education Act, not just a review of these proposed amendments?
Hon. Ms. Tucker: Yesterday when I answered the member oppositeís question I said that the discussions surrounding education in the territory, and the Education Act specifically, have been a success because they have generated a tremendous amount of dialogue and a broader understanding of the issues. Over the summer, by September, Iím anticipating receiving comments from all of the parties involved. Once the government has received those comments, there will be a decision on how to proceed, based on what those comments contain.
The Education Act is for the benefit of all Yukoners. We propose to take our time to do it properly and to ensure that we have the support of Yukoners.
Mrs. Peter: A process that alienated so many people cannot be called a success. The amendments include much tinkering and some very serious flaws. They demonstrated once again that this government wants to remove decision making from communities and centralize it in government and in the corner suite of this building.
When the minister brings the Education Act amendments back to this House, will they be based on the current amendments or on the real consultation?
Hon. Ms. Tucker: The amendments that were tabled before this House were based on the real comments of real Yukoners who have spent two years having these discussions. I would thank the member opposite to remember to respect all of the Yukoners who did spend two years involved in that process. Every group spoke. If they could not reach agreement at the end and withdrew from the process, there were other issues that concerned them.
The process itself has been ongoing. There is a tremendous amount of information out there that needs to be digested by the public. The whole concept is to empower communities with their education processes. Thatís to get the power out there and ó if I can take a catch phrase from the past ó to give the power back to the people in the communities.
Mrs. Peter: This whole process in the beginning was for the people, but it was flawed right from the beginning. We are not debating these flawed recommendations in this House. The amendments are out there so the public can have more time. The secretariat is being folded up, and the political appointee who headed it is going back to the teachers pool. There is no public process for further discussions on the act itself. When does the minister expect a new package of amendments to come back to this House?
Hon. Ms. Tucker: I note with some interest the condemnation of both the committee that was set up by the former NDP and the former minister ó okay ó and I also note that the Member for Old Crow actually participated in the ongoing consultation, so in fact you are denigrating the memberís participation. I find it sort of ó on one hand, the process is flawed; on the other hand, you participated.
What is going to happen is that the people have been asked to provide responses to the minister by September. Based on the responses that I get, I will make a decision on how to proceed. The information that I have as of today is that the majority of people seem to feel quite positively about the amendments to the act, and we are looking at transferring more authorities to the community so that people in communities can be more active in their education system. This is all about education for children with community participation. That is what we would like to see.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed, and weíll proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
OPPOSITION PRIVATE MEMBERSí BUSINESS
BILLS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT BILLS
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 103, standing in the name of Mr. Jenkins.
Bill No. 103: Second Reading
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 103, entitled Electoral District Boundaries Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the leader of the third party that Bill No. 103, entitled Electoral District Boundaries Act, be now read a second time.
Mr. Jenkins: What we have up for debate here this afternoon is the Electoral District Boundaries Act. Mr. Speaker, this stems from an all-party commission that was put together to review the electoral boundaries. The report of the commission was tabled previously in the Legislature, and this bill is based on that commissionís report.
What we have now, Mr. Speaker, is this Liberal government paying games with the fundamental rights of Yukoners by not passing that legislation at the beginning of this session. That would be to allow time for the administration to put in place the necessary machinery to hold an election under the new rules and the new boundaries.
Right now, the administration has to consider both systems ó the old system and the new ó with the view of not knowing which system an election, should it occur in the next little while, would support.
This is strictly gamesmanship ó political gamesmanship. With both systems having to be considered, Yukoners deserve more than crass political decisions made by this Liberal government.
This bill is very straightforward. I was initially going to ask for unanimous consent that this bill pass the House, but I see no appetite in the Liberal government for such a suggestion. I know the opposition is in full support and full concurrence with this bill, but not so for the Liberal government of the day.
Now, I canít understand where theyíre coming from or where theyíre taking the Yukon. I can see some of the decisions that have been forthcoming from this government, and Iím very, very much alarmed.
Today there was an announcement, from the group that came from Ottawa, of additional funding for the Canada Winter Games. We support this tremendous amount of money ó $20 million, plus more from the City of Whitehorse, plus more from the Government of Yukon. But what it shows is how much our dependence is growing on Ottawa. Currently, we have a $1-billion economy, a GDP, here in the Yukon, with over 80 percent of it flowing from Ottawa. Now that percentage is going to be cranked up once again.
Less and less is the economy being created here, on our own initiatives, resources and ability to generate income.
What we have is an economy that is virtually dependent upon the flow of money from Ottawa. Yes, employment is increasing but then, when you look at the increases and the fact that over 1,300 Yukoners who are employed are working outside the Yukon, that should say something. In the Yukon, all this government has managed to do is destroy investor confidence and create more parks.
The Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources stands up and says, yes, but there are these claims here and this new mining company there. Their concern, Mr. Speaker, is that there is going to be a park put over them.
There is no demonstrated leadership in this Liberal government, Mr. Speaker. What we have is a Premier who canít even hold her own caucus together, let alone look after the Yukon and provide guidance for the Yukon. We only have to look at the events of yesterday, where the House leaders couldnít arrive at a decision to expedite the business of the House. Neither could the Premier come to the realization that there was an impasse that had to be met and we had to move forward. We are going nowhere fast.
So, Mr. Speaker, thereís not very much by way of debate that this Electoral District Boundaries Act, is going to have a force and effect here in the Yukon, and in order to expedite the business of the House I move that debate be now adjourned.
Speaker: Order please. The Chair has been advised that the mover of the motion is not entitled to move adjournment of debate in this proceeding; therefore, the Chair will rule that the leader of the third party can take the floor and continue. If he chooses not to, the Chair will ask for any other members who wish to be heard. Normal procedure would be that we go from one side to the other. If the leader of the third party chooses not to retain the floor, then I will give the government the opportunity to rebut.
Mr. Fairclough: As for the reasons laid out by the leader of the third party, I move that the debate do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the leader of the official opposition that debate do now adjourn.
Motion to adjourn debate on second reading of Bill No. 103 agreed to
Speaker: We will proceed to motions other than government motions.
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS
Clerk: Motion No. 273, standing in the name of Mr. Fentie.
Motion No. 273
Speaker: It has been moved by the Member for Watson Lake.
THAT it is the opinion of this House that
(1) the Premier of Yukon, in advancing the argument that two pipelines, the Alaska Highway natural gas pipeline and the Mackenzie Valley pipeline route, are better than one, has dismissed the Dempster lateral as being a viable alternative for transporting Canadian natural gas to market;
(2) because of this fundamental error, the Alaska Highway natural gas pipeline is being perceived by some in the Government of Canada as a pipeline that would transport only Alaskan natural gas and leave Canadian natural gas stranded in the Mackenzie Delta; and
(3) the construction of the Mackenzie Valley pipeline route and its gathering lines, one of which could be built to siphon off Yukon natural gas located in the Eagle Plains Basin, will result in promoting economic benefits in the Northwest Territories rather than Yukon; and
THAT this House urges the Yukon Premier to break her silence and speak out in favour of building the Dempster lateral to allow Canadian natural gas located in the Northwest Territories and the Yukon to be transported to market by the Alaska Highway natural gas pipeline.
Mr. Fentie: I defer debate until the next sitting day.
Unanimous consent re deferring debate on Motion No. 273
Speaker: The Chair will take the Member for Watson Lakeís request as a request for unanimous consent that we not proceed with Motion No. 273 today.
Is there unanimous consent not to proceed with Motion No. 273 today?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I believe there is unanimous consent.
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I now call Committee of the Whole to order. Committee of the Whole will recess until 2:10.
Chair: I now call Committee of the Whole to order. Committee of the Whole will continue with debate on the Executive Council Office as part of Bill No. 9, Second Appropriation Act, 2002-03.
Bill No. 9 ó Second Appropriation Act, 2002-03 ó continued
Executive Council Office ó continued
Chair: Mr. Fairclough had the floor, and we will now continue in general debate.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, in Executive Council Office I basically had just started asking questions and I do have a number of questions that I wanted to ask the Premier about land claims and devolution and also about the First Nations secretariat and the development assessment process.
I was asking questions in regard to travel and the travel budget and, Mr. Chair, we have seen an increase in government travel over the past couple of years. We have questioned the amount of money there is in travel and we have seen an increase. Yukoners are still questioning this too, and thatís why we have been asking the questions.
The Premier said that there were a number of trips that ministers have taken within the Yukon and a number of trips they have taken outside the Yukon, and we have seen the results of those trips.
I asked a question about what type of travel the Premier has been approving for the ministers, and I was particularly interested in the Minister of Renewable Resources renting an RV to travel to the Yukon campgrounds. This is a $5,000 item, and itís a big issue to Yukoners, as most Yukoners who have been working here for many years see that as a dream they would like to do one of these times. What weíve seen are taxpayersí dollars going toward that, and I question whether or not the minister even went to all the campgrounds in the communities.
I spoke to one person, and he assured me that the minister did not stop at his campground, yet the Premier said we were getting results from travelling to the communities. One of the results from the travel by the minister is the increase in campground fees.
Weíve seen a 50-percent increase. Thatís a large percentage for Yukoners. Itís up around $12 per visit now. And for our visiting industry and for our local people, that is a huge increase. I think that if thatís the case, Mr. Chair, maybe other people in the industry should be consulted about these fee increases. Weíve always said to the minister and the Finance minister that those who are affected by the decisions of this government should be consulted.
Weíve also seen fee increases in a number of different areas. Weíve also seen tax increases. Is that the result of the tours around the Yukon in the Yukon communities, to see tax increases, Mr. Chair? I donít think that Yukon people gave that direction to the Premier. Weíve seen training trust funds cut, and I know that if this government did go to the communities and did consult with the municipalities and industry and community campuses and so on, they would have seen the benefits from the training trust funds throughout the Yukon Territory.
It is incredible what did and can happen with the training trust funds. Recently we have had a display up at the Yukon College. It was an arts and crafts display from every community in the territory, showing off their products, showing what they could do, what they have been learning and what they have been learning with the elders of First Nation communities ó things like making snowshoes or drums, and this type of thing. Those small things were the result of the training trust funds.
In Dawson City, for example, a huge success with their building was a result of CDF funding from the NDP government. Their arts program is incredible. Everybody basically went through their facility in Dawson and saw that ó it was government money working. With all the arts that community has attracted ó the arts people internationally ó it is incredible. I have to give a lot of credit to the people in Dawson for working really hard in putting together a very nice program in regard to that.
Those are the types of things that had resulted from training trust funds. Now, we have cutbacks in training trust funds ó a million dollars would result in $3 million not being able to be leveraged by Yukon College here in Whitehorse. That means that programs in the communities will be affected.
Weíve seen the CDF cut and the name changed to Project Yukon. Iím sure when the Premier tours the communities again, the CDF will come up, because people liked it; it took care of their priorities. Weíve also seen the fire smart program cut. Thereís money in it right now, but the amount of dollars that was in fire smart was cut. That program did put people to work, along with the CDF, the community development fund.
Weíve also seen a lot of libraries being threatened with being closed down earlier, their hours cut back, and so on. Thank goodness for public pressure on this government to change its mind.
That wouldnít have happened if we had proper consultations. Weíve also seen this government break a lot of promises from the day of their election. Seniors facilities, for example, that weíre promising communities ó we havenít seen any of those. We see, for example, the Beringia centres promised in Old Crow and in Dawson City; we havenít seen either of those. And programs that were working have been cut back, like the trade and investment fund, and I know this government knows that itís a good program. Hopefully, we would see, through public consultation again, that itís reflected in the budget come this fall.
Weíve also seen this government do a lot of back-pedalling on a number of different things. One of them is broken promises, of course. Weíve seen right from the beginning where they accepted the NDP budget and proceeded to cut it back to the point where programs now are in jeopardy.
I would say that on some issues, this is a good thing. For example, the Education Act, taking it back out to public review is what should be done.
Now, the department is also responsible for a number of different things, including the Womenís Directorate, and I know the Premier did say that somebody else in Cabinet will be answering questions if questions come up with regard to the Womenís Directorate. A lot of things have changed in the Womenís Directorate, Mr. Chair. Right now, I would like some questions to be answered in regard to First Nations and the First Nations secretariat.
We have seen this secretariat established and a commitment from this Liberal government to put money toward the secretariat, along with First Nations. The Premier did say they had a meeting that took place, Iím not sure when; it would have been about a year ago. I would like to know what the status is of the First Nations secretariat. How many meetings have the First Nations had with this organization and what are we to expect in the near future regarding meetings with the formation of the First Nations secretariat?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Iíd just like to address a couple of the points the member opposite made with respect to travel. The benefits of travel are very clear and specifically on one issue the member seems quite fixed on discussion of the Minister of Environmentís ó then Renewable Resources ó review of Yukon campgrounds. I would say, for the record, to ensure that it is fully correct, that the minister visited all but two campgrounds. The only ones not visited by the minister were Rock Creek and the Nahanni Range Road. The Nahanni Range Road was closed at the time.
Arising from the ministerís work is an improvement plan that has been developed for all Yukon campgrounds. Itís a significant undertaking, and itís long overdue. As a member of a family that has enjoyed the use of these campgrounds throughout our 38 years in the Yukon and discussed them with many Yukoners, weíre very supportive of Yukon campgrounds, and I would argue with anyone that they are the best in Canada ó the absolute best. And they are also the best bargain.
Having seen the fees that are paid in British Columbia, for example ó upwards of $40 a night for a campground and additional prices for wood ó ours are a bargain, in spite of the slight ó and I argue with the member opposite that itís a very slight increase in fees. Of course, that increase in fees was also a recommendation from the Auditor General dating back to 1996.
With respect to the First Nations secretariat, I can advise the member opposite that the First Nations secretariat met ó Cabinet and caucus met with all chiefs and agreed on an accord and a working relationship. We have worked hard with individual First Nations on that relationship. The Grand Chief and others and I, in a discussion ó Minister Nault was very interested in this and has discussed an intergovernmental forum as the next step, if you will, for the accord and a natural evolution of the accord and our intergovernmental working relationships. There is a working group of officials from Canada, Yukon, Council of Yukon First Nations and other First Nations who are working toward an intergovernmental forum, and we anticipate that forum to be in the Member for Vuntut Gwitchinís riding to be held as part of CYFNís General Assembly. We are very much looking forward to it.
My understanding is that the community is very, very excited by the Gwitchin gathering, the CYFNís general assembly and then as first hosts of the intergovernmental forum. Weíre all very much looking forward to going.
Mr. Fairclough: I will be in Old Crow, too, Mr. Chair, attending the General Assembly. Can the Premier tell me when their meeting was with the First Nations secretariat? How many meetings have we had over the last couple of years? I know the formation of the secretariat, or the last page and a half that was made public by the liaison person, and I know what it is in there for the mandate of the secretariat. I would like to know when the last meeting was and how many meetings took place. I guess what I am most interested in right now is that the Premier said that an accord has been struck. I am hoping that is something that could be made public in the future and that the whole reason behind the secretariat was to resolve issues on both sides and to do it jointly. So far we havenít seen that take place and we know there is a meeting set up in Old Crow. I would like to know how many meetings we have had to set up this meeting and what issues are going to be dealt with in Old Crow?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: There are two points that I will make. A great deal of initial work was done in setting up the secretariat and in reaching the accord between the government caucus members and the First Nations chiefs. There was a great deal of work done to that point where there were all of us in one meeting room. Since that time the work has been carried on at the First Nation-to-government level and also at the CYFN general leadership table. A number of ministers have attended. I have been working with CYFN at the leadership table on a number of issues as well.
What has happened since then is that Minister Nault and Canada have also expressed an interest in bringing this up ó if the member wishes ó to the level of an intergovernmental forum. It is my understanding that the first meetings between officials to develop the agenda and the format for the meetings are to take place this week.
I can do two things. I can indicate to the member opposite the number of occasions when the different members have attended the leadership table, if he wishes. The other information, as Iíve provided it to the member opposite, is that the intergovernmental forum is to meet in Old Crow and officials are working on the agenda.
Mr. Fairclough: The Yukon government has put money into the secretariat. Is it now up and running and fully functioning with all the people who should be hired, hired?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: There are a number of areas where the line items for First Nations relations, in terms of budget and staffing, are located within the Department of Executive Council Office. To the best of my knowledge at this point, our staff is hired and working on various aspects. We are doing some work in some areas with self-governing First Nations, with, of course, the land claims implementation secretariat as well as negotiations. So there are a number of different areas.
It is my understanding that, yes, there is a full complement of staff.
Mr. Fairclough: Is this both on the government and First Nations side? Are we all housed in one area and building and working together as a secretariat? Can the Premier explain to me very briefly ó I donít need to go into any details?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, perhaps the member will correct me if Iím wrong, but is the member asking me if there is an office that has a Council of Yukon First Nations contribution and a Yukon government contribution and Canada, and are all working out of one office? Is that what the member is asking?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Thatís part of the question?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Ms. Duncan: No. We each individually have assigned individuals to work on it.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Ms. Duncan: And have the First Nations side hired? I donít have an answer. Thatís Council of Yukon First Nationsí hire. My understanding is they have designated a group of chiefs to work in this particular area. Chairperson John Burdek and Chief Joe Linklater are working on this, most especially Chief Joe Linklater from Old Crow, as a result of the riding of Vuntut Gwitchin hosting the intergovernmental forum.
Mr. Fairclough: I would have thought that maybe the secretariat would have been up and running a little stronger than perhaps has been painted to me on this side, but Iím glad to see that this meeting is taking place in Old Crow.
Iíd like to just leave that and ask briefly about the development assessment process. Where is it at, when can we see a conclusion of this put together, and when does the Premier feel that this could come into effect?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the development assessment process, or the Yukon environmental and socio-economic assessment act, as it is now called, is federal legislation, and as to when they are tabling it in the federal House, I donít have a date.
From Yukon governmentís ó and I would say this is a three-party process. Itís Canada, the First Nations and Yukon. From Yukonís perspective, the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources and I met with the Chamber of Mines prior to a presentation that they were making to Minister Nault in Yellowknife at the mines ministers meeting. They specifically asked for a particular element of the bill ó a particular clause, if you will ó in the drafting.
We were supporting them in making sure itís there, and we are working to that end. Iím expecting and working toward it being tabled sometime soon in the federal Parliament, but I have no control or knowledge of a date from the federal government on that.
Weighing into this are things like we donít know whether the federal House is going to prorogue or where it is on their legislative calendar, and itís their legislation.
Mr. Fairclough: I understand that, and the Yukon government has taken a very important and lead role in trying to get things happening with putting together the development assessment process.
What Iím worried about right now is that the investment community in the Yukon Territory has seen the development assessment process as a hindrance to people investing in the Yukon Territory. When that dropped off, they saw YPAS as an area of uncertainty and, if weíre moving toward that, Iíd really like to see the development assessment process go ahead because on Yukonís part, a lot of work has been done in regard to the development assessment process.
I would like to ask a couple of questions in regard to land claims. We do have a couple of First Nations that are actively negotiating right now, past the deadline of April 1 that we have all seen, and we have four that have settled or have MOUs.
Iím interested to know if there are additional negotiations taking place with the four right now, other than the MOU.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, a couple of points. With regard to DAP, I appreciate the member oppositeís support. He is quite correct. There has been a great deal of work done by Yukoners and this is very important to the investment community. Thatís why I referenced that specific clause that the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources and I were meeting with the Chamber of Mines and the drafters on, trying to make sure that that concern of the investment community was addressed, and we are working to that end.
Secondly, with respect to the First Nation negotiations and discussions, leading up to March 31 was a very difficult and very stressful time for everyone. For all three parties at the table and especially the negotiating teams from all three sides and the communities, it was a very difficult time, and we are pleased that we were able to come together and to reach an agreement to that point.
What happens now, and I know the member is very familiar with this process, is that there is a timetable laid out where the legislative drafting and the technical and legal work is done on the agreements themselves, and then there is a date set for ratification, and a ratification committee and so on, and the deadline for that, if the member opposite is interested, is March 31, 2003.
So, itís not negotiations as much as it is the technical and legal work that is being done at this point.
The exception to that is the overlap issue that is being resolved between White River and Kluane, and the date for that is July 19.
Mr. Fairclough: I guess the obvious question is with respect to the first four that had signed off MOUs. The minister said, "It was just legal work, tying up wording and that type of thing." Is the Premier saying that there are absolutely no negotiations taking place and that it is all finished?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: First of all what has to be recognized is that on March 31, four Yukon First Nations completed final and self-government agreement negotiations with the deadline of the federal mandate expiring. Kwanlin Dun, Kluane, White River and Carcross-Tagish First Nation each signed a negotiatorsí memorandum of understanding. That memorandum of understanding indicated that agreements had been reached with Yukon and Canada on all issues and that negotiators were prepared to recommend ratification to the principals. The efforts were really tremendous and it is not insignificant. It is very significant that this has happened. It is a really important and positive step for each party. What the member is asking about and focusing on is what needs to be done, what remains to be done and there is a lot of work still to be done. The work that is being done is completing all necessary legal and technical drafting. It is not just wording changes; it is very specific. As the member will know, the land selection would be done but there has to be the technical wording and so on. That takes a great deal of time. There is a lot of work and there is a very ambitious timetable to next March. There is a lot of work to be done and that has been recognized by all three parties. They are working very hard. They are meeting and dealing with these issues now. It is not negotiations; it is technical and legal drafting.
Mr. Fairclough: So, negotiators on both sides are not involved any more ó just the legal people. Is that correct?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Fairclough: The member said thatís correct. The minister also said that the MOU basically prepares the parties for recommending that this go to ratification. So, has that been done on both sides, then? Have the First Nations, for example, taken that MOU and recommended to the First Nations that they start the ratification process?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: No, I must clarify this for the member opposite. What happens is that the negotiations ó final agreement, self-government agreement and land negotiations ó were complete as of March 31, 2002. Then there is implementation, planning, drafting, legal and technical work. So, there is also the implementation planning that has to go on. There is a time period for that to happen. Then there are also federal internal review processes and initialling of agreements by negotiators. So, to that extent, although the member has said that negotiators arenít involved, negotiators do initial off the agreements. Then there is the ratification process, and then there is the signing, and then the effective date.
So, thatís the time frame of what happens now. Of course, there is the ratification process. I mean, the signing and effective date is dependent upon acceptance by the community. Now, communities have handled this differently in different First Nations reaching the negotiations. Iím reluctant to get into discussing that with the member, as thatís not our process; itís the First Nationsí process.
I should say that I have been speaking in reference to the four First Nations who concluded negotiations. As the member opposite is aware, I have not been speaking about the Kaska transboundary or Liard and Ross River negotiations in my previous comments.
Mr. Fairclough: Maybe the minister could give us a quick time frame of when the legal work has to be done, the French translation ó I know that has to be done too ó and when she feels that the First Nations can take it forward and out to the ó
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Fairclough: Yes, and Yukon. Yukon has to ratify it too, but thatís not such a big deal as the First Nations seeking all membership to vote on this.
But when it could happen and when we could see a possible voting date with some of these First Nations, or even one ó it sounds like there is time for First Nations to do some of the cleanup.
The reason why Iím asking about the MOUs is because they werenít like the other First Nation agreements where they had negotiatorsí agreements, where they take them back to the respective parties. These are called MOUs.
I know that some First Nations ó in regard to the four ó do have outstanding issues that were part of negotiations but, as I understand it, they have been taken out and are being dealt with outside of the negotiation process for land claim agreements.
Right now we should be able to talk about issues with the first four because weíre not negotiating any more and the Premier canít say, "We canít negotiate on the floor of this Legislature" any more. We should be able to talk about issues. So thatís why Iím bringing this one up about the MOU ó whether or not there are those other issues that are being dealt with, which are all part of the package but are dealt with outside of the negotiation process of a land claim agreement.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: In answer to the first question about ratification, my understanding from informal discussions is that the ratification process will probably be early next year in the timetables. Thatís a guess, but itís not our date to set. It is just a guesstimate based upon workplans at this point in time ó so, early next year.
Again, it varies with the First Nation and how the workplan proceeds ó itís up to them ó and how things move along. One thing that hasnít been mentioned, and which is directly related to the O&M budget, is that the member can be assured the Yukon is fully resourced and we are absolutely able to deal with the workplans that have been set out. Our staff is working very hard in that regard ó all government has been ó and I must publicly thank my colleagues at this point, because the departments have pitched in whenever they needed to. They have loaned staff, legal work, and especially the lawyers, who have worked very hard and will continue to do that. Yukon is fully resourced and staff has been very good about that.
The member is asking about a specific issue outside, and I donít know what specific issue the member is referring to. I need to know that before I start to address his question.
Mr. Fairclough: Are there land issues ó quantum, or additional land some of the First Nations would like over and above their land quantum in the UFA ó that are being actively talked about right now outside the land claims agreement? Thatís what I would like to know.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: No. Negotiations are complete.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, I wasnít talking about negotiations. Iím talking about additional land outside the land claim agreement. Thatís why I said it in those words.
Are any of those land issues, land quantum, part of the MOU?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the MOU is a federal request and a federal addition to these four. The MOUs were signed when the minister was here. There are three parties at the table. I am advising the member opposite this was a federal initiative, and they have been signed.
The only land issue I can think of that the member might be trying to discuss is where the Kluane and White River First Nation are working on some transboundary issues, and that is outlined in the memorandum of understanding as well. While negotiations are complete, the specifics about each land claim is work that is being done internally at this point as well ó internally to the First Nations and to Yukon ó and I donít want to get into a great deal of detail about any one of the claims. It is not the time or the place to do that, and we are not in a position at this point with the work that has been done.
Mr. Fairclough: I donít want to get into any details, as these are comprehensive agreements, but Iím interested in land and the land quantum. I know this has been an issue at the negotiating table ó the land quantum over and above what has been offered to some of the First Nations in the UFA. The Premier is saying that there is no discussion taking place between First Nations and this government or the federal government, as the three governments involved.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, Iím saying negotiations are complete, and that includes the land ó land and self-government, as I outlined. Final agreements, self-government, and land negotiations are complete. They were complete as of March 31, 2002, as deemed by the federal government to be March 31.
Mr. Fairclough: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I appreciate that, and I understand that. Those are land claims agreements that have been negotiated within the umbrella final agreement and land quantum. I donít want to go on and on about the land issues, but I wanted to be very clear on whether or not that is an issue outside the land claim agreement that has been signed off in the memorandum of understanding. So the Premierís saying there arenít any issues and nothing is taking place at this point.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, Iím saying that land claim agreement land negotiations were signed off.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, I wonít prolong that debate. Obviously it can go on for quite a long time, and Iím not going to go into any of the issues in the land claims agreement right now. Obviously I donít think the Premier is fully up to speed on some of them. Iím hoping that maybe the Premier can sit down with some of these First Nations who do have concerns in regard to land quantum, and sit down and have a serious discussion about it.
Mr. Chair, I would like to ask a couple questions in regard to devolution. Yukon needs to be prepared for devolution in less than a year ó 10 months from now. Some of the policy work hasnít been done. Weíre taking over some of the federal policy, basically, and following them for a number of years, but there are some changes. Weíve seen the restructuring of government, renewal, restructuring of departments, breaking them up, and so on.
When the territorial government does take over, say, forestry and fire suppression, why is it that, once we do have control over it ó April 1 of next year ó we have a separation of the department? For example, in regard to fire suppression, thereís fire suppression in one department and field operations in the other.
Why is that designed that way and what benefits will the Yukon see as a result of that movement?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: There are a couple of points that I would like to make with respect to this for the member opposite. First of all, I appreciate the member's comment about land quantum. I spent hours and hours and hours working on these issues, as did everyone. The Yukon was a very committed partner to the other two parties at the table, and we worked very hard, not only on the land quantum issues but on others as well, and I am very familiar with how difficult those issues are.
With respect to the Yukon governmentís preparedness for devolution and why specific programs were put into specific departments post-renewal, first of all, one of the reasons for doing renewal was the very fact that we were getting a number of programs and what the Yukon government would look like post-devolution. The Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Affairs program employees need to know long before they get offered their position within the Yukon government what department they would be working in. That was critical to us and very important in terms of service delivery to Yukoners. In reviewing this, there were countless papers produced and hours of work and hours and hours and hours of listening to suggestions of employees. The Member for Whitehorse Centre was a very committed member of the process. The former Deputy Minister of Community and Transportation Services was very committed to this as well and brought a wealth of knowledge to it, as are the individuals who have succeeded them in this work.
The specifics around why forestry is housed in Energy, Mines and Resources, why fire suppression is with Community Services, and how the field officers will be working and where they will be working out of was a specific question that required a great deal of work and thought. I can provide the member opposite with some more detailed background if he wishes.
I am confident that itís the right choice as to where different programs are housed. It makes sense, and it will result in strong service delivery to Yukoners. I understand the issues, in that there is the difficulty that there are occasions in some communities where individuals perform both, and there are issues about how that is dealt with. The fact is that we are working with employees to ensure that we are able to maintain a strong level of service to Yukoners.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Fairclough: In regard to having the fire suppression and field operations split up, this is a question that most RMOs in the communities are talking about right now and see as a problem. So, the recommendation to the minister, as she does her community travel, is to stop by those offices and see why they are so concerned about that. I think itís really important that the Premier and government side get first-hand knowledge about the whole question of fire suppression from those in that field.
Regarding devolution, fire suppression and forestry, the federal government announced $1 million and five people to help work out some of the bugs before devolution and try to get things straightened out in the Yukon by putting some money toward this. I know thatís a commitment of a couple of years, but I think Yukon has seen it as a serious problem, and the federal government now sees it as a serious problem. Is the Premier prepared to try to enter this small window to include this as part of the devolution package so that we can have those five resource people and the $5 million included in it? There is always the question about whether or not we have sufficient dollars for fire suppression and forestry.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: A couple of points ó I understand the RMOís concern. I have heard that as well and understand that officials and personnel have been working on that. Iím looking forward to working with the RMOs and others first-hand on this particular issue.
I donít have the details in front of me, although I recall seeing them. I am aware of the points that have been raised and I will have that with me when Iím meeting with individuals.
With respect to the additional funding that was announced by the minister ó first of all, weíre very pleased that the minister has stood up and recognized, as Yukoners have been saying for some time, "Look, this is in a mess; weíve got to deal with it" ó the minister has recognized that and said, "Letís move forward" and we agree with that. The minister also committed to both the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources and me, not only for additional funding for this year, but committed to it for next year as well, and we will negotiate that as ongoing funding in our ongoing discussion.
Mr. Fairclough: We on this side of the House appreciate the federal government coming forward with additional funding, too, to take care of some of the issues in the Yukon Territory that have not had the attention of the federal government for a long time. What weíre going to see is some of the results of that work maybe even being adopted by the Yukon Territory, and it could be an additional cost. Weíre talking about forestry management. The other concern I have here ó and I donít have all the details about the $1 million and the five people who are working, but First Nations do have all kinds of lands. The First Nations have control over their lands ó fire suppression, forest management, and so on. How much of these resources that the federal government is handing over ó how much work is the Yukon government putting into it to ensure that all the issues are addressed across the territory, not just those that are on federal land?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, perhaps it would be best if I outlined the sequence of events to the member opposite. The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development heard really clearly that there are problems in forestry, and commissioned the Tough report. On Friday last week, the minister accepted the results and recommendations of the Tough report and directed that the recommendations be dealt with and that the issues be fixed, for lack of a better word.
Whatís more, he committed the resources to make sure it was done and said to officials, "We have to answer for this as politicians. We want this dealt with" ó "we" being the federal minister ó prior to turning it over to us. We have involvement at the senior officialsí level, at the regional director general level and Deputy Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources level. We have involvement in the forestry working area and in dealing with the recommendations from Mr. Tough. We also, in terms of the Executive Council Office, have a role to play in ensuring that additional funding to fix these issues ó "fix" is the wrong word ó to rectify and implement some of the recommendations will be treated as ongoing funding. Thatís our role in it, but the specifics around the Yukonís involvement in forestry management as well as First Nationsí involvement ó the minister also committed to a stewardship council in his discussions, but these overall forestry questions are better answered by the minister responsible for forestry as a whole, the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources.
Mr. Fairclough: I asked these questions because it could affect the Yukon and the Yukonís budget when it comes to devolution. Iím hoping that, with what takes place in the planning of our forests and with forest management planning, the First Nation lands and First Nation issues are taken care of and that voice will be clearly heard from Yukon government to the federal government and First Nations, too.
I thank the Premier for her answers, and Iíd like to turn it over to my colleague from Old Crow to ask questions.
Mrs. Peter: I have a few comments and a couple of questions regarding the Womenís Directorate, and I believe they will be answered by ó I donít want to mention names.
Anyhow, the comments that I would like to make regarding the Womenís Directorate ó weíve seen what the process of renewal can do to a department. We have seen the confusion that it caused out in the Yukon Territory, and also the issues and concerns that it brought to the attention of this government when that happens. And thatís with very little consultation with the key players involved, and those are the women of the territory.
This department used to be a stand-alone department. Now itís in the Executive Council Office. One of the main concerns that I heard from the women of the territory was that the fear was that this department was going to get lost in this big department. The issues that needed to be addressed, whether they be the initiatives on equity or effective programming or the public education and awareness campaign that this department addresses, were not going to be as effective and right out there in the public as they were in the stand-alone department.
Since then, I have asked many questions in this regard and had somewhat of an answer. Some of the issues have been addressed, and I would like to hear from the person responsible for the Womenís Directorate if she can bring this department to light for people who are listening out there, especially the women, so that we can make it clear for them exactly what, if any, changes are happening in this department?
Hon. Ms. Tucker: I am glad to have the opportunity to comment on this aspect of renewal and the impact on the Womenís Directorate.
This is the first gender-balanced Cabinet in the history of the country. There are more women sitting in government today on this side of the House than there ever has been in the past. When we sat down in caucus and Cabinet and made these decisions, we were aware on a much more personal level than previous governments of the successes and joys and difficulties and all aspects of being women in this territory and in this world. One of the feelings that we had is that the Womenís Directorate can be far more effective in government as a whole if it is co-located within the primary executive office where we can influence policy throughout the entire government.
The programming itself will continue. The role of the Womenís Directorate will be maintained, and it will continue to do the great work that it has been doing. We felt that co-locating it within the Premierís department ó within the Executive Council Office ó will, in fact, increase its status, and that the Womenís Directorate would benefit from that co-location by a sharing of resources and having the leader of the government at its head, as well as the senior deputy minister being sort of involved in their issues on a day-to-day basis, as well as the minister responsible for the status of women going out and carrying that message and getting activities happening for women.
Mrs. Peter: I appreciate the information from the minister. There are more women in this Legislature, and I didnít want to go down that road about some of the decisions that were made by this government in the last little while that upset many women out there in the territory regarding this move.
I want to move on. We need to make progress here. I heard the minister say that this department represents all women of the territory, and I have one more question regarding the representation for First Nations women in the territory in this department, if any, and I would like to hear the ministerís comments on that, please.
Hon. Ms. Tucker: At the moment, there are no First Nations women working within the Womenís Directorate. However, the Womenís Directorate is working with various First Nations and with individual First Nations women to try to deal with some of the issues, and to try to assist them with both education-related issues and awareness issues.
Thereís also YACWI, the womenís council, which has two First Nations women sitting on it right now. Weíre hoping to expand dialogue with the First Nations and are looking at the possibility of having some kind of a conference where we can be more proactive in getting First Nations women involved.
Mrs. Peter: I thank the minister for her answers to my questions. I would like to also hear from the minister responsible for the Youth Directorate, to let this side of the House know what the exact mandate is for the Youth Directorate.
Hon. Mr. Kent: As members of the Legislature know, we established the Youth Directorate on an interim basis, based on what we had heard from a number of questionnaires we had circulated in the communities and within Whitehorse, about government service and how government provides service to youth.
Since that time, the Youth Directorate has been given an indeterminate status and moved into the Executive Council Office, and Iím very pleased to be the minister responsible for youth.
As far as the mandate of the Youth Directorate goes, I guess a general statement I can make for the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin is that it has a very broad mandate designed to support youth. Weíre working on a number of initiatives. There are a number of contribution agreements that promote these initiatives. The Youth Directorate continues to work very actively with a number of stakeholders to identify and address the needs of Yukon youth. These include the interdepartmental committee on youth initiatives, the Youth Shaping the Future Council, a number of youth service providers, First Nation offices, youth centres and municipal governments, among others.
So what we are committed to do is enhance support for youth by promoting their participation in the territoryís social, economic, cultural and political activities. Certainly we encourage youth ó I encourage all youth to get involved. Weíve been witness to that through the Youth Shaping the Future Council and the youth conference that I had the pleasure of attending. Encouraging a dialogue and involvement by youth is very important.
Mrs. Peter: My final question for the minister responsible for the Youth Directorate is that one of the goals that is listed here is for training to deliver youth activity courses ó and in that activity course, would the minister be able to make a commitment to bring the training to the communities? The reason why Iím mentioning that is that when these activities are happening, they are always central to Whitehorse, and my community of Old Crow is always missing out on activities happening down here.
Thatís mostly due to the cost of travel to and from Whitehorse and the expenses that go with that. If there are any initiatives that are being planned, I would like to see some of those initiatives being geared toward going directly into the communities.
Would the minister make a commitment to that effect?
Hon. Mr. Kent: Mr. Chair, the youth strategy initiativeís budget is approximately $476,000 and, in part of the contributions, there are three specific contributions that focus on what the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin just asked me. There is $30,000 allocated to community youth activities. Funding for activities was offered in those communities that do not participate in the Crime Prevention Yukon youth leadership program. There is a youth leadership training week, in which a number of participants ó over 50 ó are expected to travel from Yukon communities to Whitehorse. I know that is something that the member just asked me. This is scheduled for July 2002. There are a number of different topics that will be discussed during that week, including program planning, arts and crafts, FAS/FAE information.
Finally, Mr. Chair, we have the winter activities program, with an allocation of approximately $195,000. This program allows rural Yukon communities and Kwanlin Dun up to $9,200 each to offer youth activities during the winter months.
These proposals must include youth recreation, training and employment components. Communities must also involve youth in deciding which activities should be offered. So there are a number of activities that we do undertake to support communities and, of course, ensuring that the future council includes community representation from, I believe, all communities in the Yukon, so thatís a very important council that meets quite often. I had the privilege of meeting with them when they first formed back in September or October ó for this year, of course. It is an ongoing council. But any suggestions they could make or that we can hear to enhance the programming are certainly welcome.
Mr. McLarnon: My questions are pretty simple. Weíre going to eventually try to locate an area where weíre going to be looking for a budget cut today, and that will be travel. But we do have some questions that weíd like to make sure right now, while we have the minister responsible for youth here, that we can get out and show that no one has been hurt by a lack of consultation in previous decisions.
I do applaud the government for trying to find a permanent home for the youth centre. I hope that the initiative is not lost. But unfortunately the last time I was talking to the director of the youth centre, they had a much more immediate problem, which is the fact that the Youth Centre Society is quickly running out of money to pay their rent for the rest of the year, come the end of June.
Can we ask the government this: in light of the fact that there is now no permanent centre for the youth centre, is the government going to at least help the Youth Society out over the next few months with their rent so that we can ensure the success of this program, even at the facility they are in now, and that it is continued and hasnít been lost in the shuffle because they donít have a permanent centre?
Hon. Mr. Kent: We are, as the Member for Whitehorse Centre mentioned, still actively pursuing a permanent home for the youth centre. I have instructed officials in the Department of Infrastructure to work with the stakeholders involved in identifying a home. In speaking with the manager of the Youth Directorate, I was informed that the Whitehorse Youth Centre Society would be coming forward with an option for us to consider. We are hopeful that we can find a viable option for them prior to them not being able to continue activities in their current centre. I should mention that we do supply them with $30,000 per year. This is supplemented by city contributions, as well as some service club contributions. We are committed to find them a home. Unfortunately the last one didnít work out, but we still remain committed to finding a permanent location for the Whitehorse Youth Centre and a suitable location in which they can carry out their mandate.
Mr. McLarnon: I understand that and the government, I truly believe, is committed to following through on that. The problem is that sometime during the summer the society is going to run out of money for the location they are currently in. That is the question I am asking. Is there going to be some assistance to bridge them through until they can get a permanent place?
Hon. Mr. Kent: After the previous announcement didnít proceed, there was a commitment by the Minister of Education that, if and when a situation did arise where they werenít able to carry on with rent payments or those types of things, we would look to identify resources to assist them in that manner. That was a commitment made by the Minister of Education to the president of the Whitehorse Youth Centre Society and I am hopeful that we can make the necessary arrangements so that doesn't occur.
Mr. McLarnon: Just as a suggestion ó in future, because Iím the MLA for the downtown area, if weíre going to be putting it in the downtown area, it would help in the lobbying and consultation efforts by including the MLA for downtown Whitehorse. There might be an opportunity to reach more people and get more people onside. So, Iím offering my services to help this government in any effort to bring forward a youth centre.
Iíll leave it at that and thank the minister for his answers. I certainly respect that this minister believes that this initiative needs to carry through.
The next question I have is for the Premier. This question essentially is that the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous has approached the government for assistance to help operate festivities on Canada Day. From what I understand, assistance was not forthcoming, even though it was directly requested. At the same time, we have seen the Executive Council Office hold celebrations for the Queenís birthday. So I have to ask the minister how we can possibly justify the expense of one ó celebrating the birthday of our sovereign ó but not celebrating the birthday of our country?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: The member makes a good point. My understanding is that the request was from a coalesced group ó a really strong group ó of Yukoners who had gotten together and said to the Government of Yukon that Canada contributes some, the city contributes some, and what is the Government of Yukon doing? The argument being made is that this is the capital city.
I had the opportunity at the Canada Winter Games ó the difficulty for government is that there is no home for that type of request. I have seen the correspondence and met with one of the individuals very briefly this morning, and said that Iím aware of the request, that we have a couple more days of session to get through, thereís a pile of things on my desk, and that I would be looking at it and discussing it with officials.
So the member makes a point, and itís one I have recognized.
Mr. McLarnon: Weíll leave it at that and encourage the Premier to meet with the people. The point is very good ó the festivity has actually at times been considered an attraction in town and people come from Alaska to the activities here and then we reciprocate down to Skagway. But it is another event in Whitehorse to keep the people here on a holiday and it gives visitors a genuine taste of Canada and, at the same time, makes us all feel better about where we are and what we have in common.
Iím going to be very brief. There is a lot to discuss here on the renewal aspects. I could go into them but I have felt that at this point and at this stage, the renewal needs a chance to actually be implemented before any guns should be aimed at it because it does have a lot of positive aspects.
In general debate, weíve already talked about the next phase, which is the reward and recognition phase, which is really important to make sure that all government employees and civil servants understand the value of the cultural change and the background before we need this. I just have to ask the Premier, have we started that phase yet?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: First I just want to follow up on the other point about the Queenís Tea and the celebration ó this was a very unusual celebration. It was done with the participation of a strong number of groups, so it was not a huge expense. Also, traditionally, the Citizenship Court is done on Canada Day and it was done this time at the Queenís Tea. Thatís an important point that may not be known by the general public that should be made as well.
With respect to renewal, the most important phase of renewal is this phase right now, which is the cultural change ó it is really important that this be done right. We are working on it. Weíre working very closely with Graham Lowe and Linda Duxsbury. Weíre working very closely with them on it. Theyíve been working with managers and with the deputies, led by the Deputy Minister of Executive Council Office, who now chairs the renewal committee. Theyíre working on that cultural change. Part of that cultural change is also the performance and rewards. The work has been undertaken; itís at its preliminary stages.
Mr. McLarnon: Just as a request to the Premier, one of the things that would save time in this House is if I were able to get the regular updates that the civil servants receive on their e-mails. I know that theyíre still continuing that through the communications office at Executive Council Office.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McLarnon: It has been stopped now completely?
If there are any more renewal updates that are sent out to the civil service, it would save me some time in the House asking these questions that may be already available in communications. If there isnít, Iíd sort of ask the Premier why there arenít any further communications, since this is the most important part of renewal.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, what happened was that there were regular updates provided to employees as we progressed in naming departments, deputies and the organization charts. That was the last sort of key point. Now there is work being undertaken ó it is in smaller groups on the cultural change. There isnít a report that is required at this point to be sent out to employees.
I appreciate that the member is still very interested in this topic, and what I can do is provide the member opposite with a letter and just update and indicate the status of updates being provided to employees and, as well, the other information that should be public knowledge.
Mr. McLarnon: To expedite debate, the last question I have is just to ensure that when we make our amendment on travel, weíre getting it in the right line. From my understanding, if weíre talking about Executive Council travel, weíd be looking under Cabinet Offices and under Activities, Ministers? Is that right? Is that the correct sum ó $213,000 budgeted this year?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: No, Mr. Chair, that is not the right line. Itís part of the overall ongoing costs of the department, and there is travel by personnel in the line item, as well. Itís in the overall personnel line item.
Mr. McLarnon: Just to make sure, itís under Cabinet Office Personnel. Itís not? Where is it, then? Rather than guessing, Iíll need to have that directly pointed to so that I understand what that line is and what it entails. Also, it would probably be useful, since Iíll stand up and ask the question next, how much ministerial travel is budgeted for this year?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the difficulty for the member opposite is that itís not identified in one specific line. It is spread throughout. What I can say to the member opposite is, for example, under "Other" in Cabinet and management support, which would be travel by the Management Board secretariat in support of Cabinet as well as Executive Council Office in support of Cabinet ó there is some in there. Accountability and planning is travel by staff. Land claims implementation has some travel. Itís all throughout "other".
The amount that is budgeted specifically for ministers to travel, which seems to be the area the member is asking for, is included in all those line items, as, for example, when I travel with negotiators. So the amount would be $35,000 inside Yukon, and outside of Yukon itís $150,000.
Mr. McLarnon: Just to clarify, this is a total of $185,000 thatís being budgeted currently. Is that right? Thatís all? Thereís nothing more that we havenít found in any other lines?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: It is the only amount that is budgeted for Cabinet ministers to travel. There is not any money anywhere else. The amount budgeted is $185,000 ó that is in Yukon and outside of Yukon, and itís for the 2002-03 year.
Mr. McLarnon: Unfortunately, for the rules of the House you need to know the exact lines where they are. I wouldnít feel badly about this and I donít feel badly about this because I gave the government plenty of warning through three motions to two speeches that I was going to be bringing up travel costs, so I am going to need to know where those lines are so that I can cut them.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: The member opposite should refer to page 4B-16, Other.
Mr. McLarnon: But the Premier just told me that they were in a number of lines. So can I now say that all the travel is in one line in Other?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McLarnon: All Cabinet minister travel is one line under Other. Okay, thank you, Mr. Chair. I will be asking to make an amendment in line-by-line.
Chair: Is there any further debate?
See no further debate we will proceed directly with line-by-line.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Cabinet and Management Support
Administration/Secretariat in the amount of $783,000 agreed to
Cabinet and Management Support in the amount of $783,000 agreed to
On Accountability and Planning
Accountability and Planning in the amount of $124,000 agreed to
On Land Claims and Implementation Secretariat
On Land Claims and Implementation Secretariat
Land Claims and Implementation Secretariat in the amount of $5,947,000 agreed to
On Development Assessment Process
Development Assessment Process in the amount of $262,000 agreed to
Land Claims and Implementation Secretariat in the amount of $6,209,000 agreed to
Devolution in the amount of $1,157,000 agreed to
Policy in the amount of $701,000 agreed to
Communications in the amount of $259,000 agreed to
On Intergovernmental Relations
On Intergovernmental Relations
Intergovernmental Relations in the amount of $935,000 agreed to
On Francophone Liaison
Francophone Liaison in the amount of one dollar agreed to
Intergovernmental Relations in the amount of $935,000 agreed to
On First Nations Relations
On First Nations Relations
First Nations Relations in the amount of $178,000 agreed to
On Aboriginal Language Services
Aboriginal Language Services in the amount of $1,126,000 agreed to
First Nations Relations in the amount of $1,304,000 agreed to
On Womenís Directorate
On Program Delivery
Program Delivery in the amount of $507,000 agreed to
On Public Education
Public Education in the amount of $22,000 agreed to
On Violence Prevention
Violence Prevention in the amount of $24,000 agreed to
Womenís Directorate in the amount of $553,000 agreed to
On Government Audit Services
On Internal Audit
Internal Audit in the amount of $368,000 agreed to
Government Audit Services in the amount of $368,000 agreed to
On Bureau of Statistics
On Management and Information Services
Management and Information Services in the amount of $429,000 agreed to
On Operations and Research Services
Operations and Research Services in the amount of $334,000 agreed to
Bureau of Statistics in the amount of $763,000 agreed to
On Office of the Commissioner
Office of the Commissioner in the amount of $148,000 agreed to
On Cabinet Offices
Mr. McLarnon: I believe, if Iím still reading this right, this is where weíll have to bring the amendment forward. Unfortunately, since we have it listed in "Other," thatís still not the legal line in which this would be carried, since that is an explanation of the allotment and not a line item itself. So I need to get direction again here whether I am doing one of two lines ó either in the ministerial budget or the Cabinet office personnel budget ó where I will be asking to cut ministerial travel. I need a further definition.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: The $213,000 that is outlined under ministers activity is the same amount that is outlined under allotments. That $213,000 will be spent in the following way ó Iíll just outline that for the member opposite: $185,000 is travel, as I have outlined earlier. The balance of the money, which is showing a slight increase, is due to additional staff required to support a seventh minister as well as negotiated wage increases. There is $150,000 travel outside Yukon, $35,000 travel inside Yukon, and the balance of the figures are communications and support.
Mr. McLarnon: Okay, thatís what I thought. That was the question I originally asked and Iím glad weíre back to where I originally thought I was, which is under ministers and Cabinet, as Hansard will reflect when I asked the questions 15 minutes ago.
Iím going to stand up right now and say that this ministerial travel is not the panacea that the government would have us believe. There are hidden costs in the Yukon Territory and those costs are not calculated. These are the costs of ensuring that meetings are delayed and decisions arenít being made, that Cabinet ministers meetings donít happen, that we essentially go into neutral, and itís happening more and more.
It certainly was the experience that I had while on the other side, waiting for answers from ministers who were across the world, watching ministers go to RV shows where industry would have been better representatives ó people who have done this for a living and do an excellent job. People with a direct stake in it didnít have places. We find politicians feeling that they become the best salesmen, even though people in the industry have a stake in it and can ensure that they deliver and that their business is being served, especially at a consumer RV show, and bring in some friends.
You know, the reality here is that this has gone a little far. So what weíre going to try to do is draw a historical pattern here. What we saw going into the third year of an NDP government was approximately $109,000 in spending on travel. Thatís the standard that weíre going to hold this government to. Itís a very simple standard. It was certainly achieved by a government also accused of travelling too much.
The reason Iím bringing this forward is because Yukoners are sick of reading about their Premier being in every other place that they can never afford to go to. If they were delivering anything, weíd understand. The only thing we saw being delivered out of Russia were excuses ó never even got a chance to talk to the Premier about the Canada Games. Fortunately, other people did. The reality of what we have here is an excess, and itís my intention to stop it.
Mr. McLarnon: So, Deputy Chair, I move the following amendment:
THAT the estimates pertaining to Bill No. 9, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 2002-03, be amended in Vote 2, Executive Council Office, by reducing the line item "Ministers" on page 4B-16 in the O&M estimates by $76,000; and
THAT the clauses and schedules of this bill be amended accordingly.
Deputy Chair: It has been moved by Mr. McLarnon, the Member for Whitehorse Centre
THAT the estimates pertaining to Bill No. 9, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 2002-03, be amended in Vote 2, Executive Council Office, by reducing the line item "Ministers" on page 4B-16 in the O&M estimates by $76,000;
AND THAT the clauses and schedules of this bill be amended accordingly.
Is there any debate?
Mr. McLarnon: The reason why we brought this forward is as a result of a discussion I had at a constituency meeting, but also from constituents who had talked to me at the door. What they see and what many Yukoners do ó especially even the newspaper editorials; almost everybody on this side of the House, and I am sure people on the other side ó is excess. We were delivering sometimes and not delivering at others. We find out, though, that many of the deliveries of the projects could have been done easily with fax machine technology, or even with direct telephone and television link-ups, which we have the technology in town for.
In fact, what we have seen over the last little while is that as technology has improved and cut our travel down, we have seen the government travel more. So what is the use of the technology, what is the use of the investment, and what is the use of the high-speed links Outside, if we are not going to use them and still use the traditional mode of business, which is travel and direct face-to-face meetings?
The problem with that is that the rest of the world, corporations included, is going the other way. Standards are being set across the world to reduce airline traffic and travel as part of a business cost ó everywhere but the Yukon government. Everywhere in the Yukon government we still see the job of Cabinet minister as a possibility of perks, a possibility of going on trips that we would normally not go on.
What we have seen in the Yukon is a disgruntlement and a growing rage from Yukoners toward all these unnecessary trips and the justifications for them. As far as any trips to Germany on the last trade mission, that certainly could have been handled by the Tourism staff, as far as any meetings over there. Letís face it ó the signing could have been done here in our backyard. We were giving money away. People usually travel to you when they want to receive money, not vice versa, but we travelled halfway around the world.
Did we do it because the traditional excuse was that we were going to hobnob with other ministers to make sure that weíre on the same page as the Premier of Northwest Territories on pipeline or whatever other issue? No, we didnít. There was no result ó none, no tangible results of either of those trips. At the same time, though, in the Yukon Territory what we were facing is a time when people were wondering about their jobs because of renewal. There was a three- or four-week period where there was no ability for Cabinet to meet at a time when people were wondering if they were going to make their next mortgage payment, all for the frivolity of getting out of the Yukon in the middle of winter. And the fact of the matter is that since this was a political trade trip, why, in fact, did we not bring with us more officials from the trade office? In fact, we found a way to bring ó and, Mr. Chair, this has deep implications ó a political advisor, not one who has any other role except to keep the Liberals in office. What that person is doing in Russia baffles me. My sister was over there. Last time I checked, she said there were about nine Yukoners there ó not a place youíd hold a political meeting or bring a political person, not a place where we were supposed to be doing consultations to improve the territory. No, that political person was there ó letís face it, straight across ó as reward for the job. There was no other reason to be there. There is no other reason to be there. There has been no justification for this cost to the Yukon taxpayer, but we paid it. Thatís one example. Thatís one that sticks in Yukonersí minds.
The other one that sticks in Yukonersí minds is the Arizona RV show. But we can add to that the Edmonton travel show ó anything retail. Ministers are not supposed to go there. Those are opportunities for private sector to go, bring their products to market, try to generate some sales, and at the same time, their ground-floor people, talking grassroots to grassroots with people about their businesses and needs. Theyíre the ones who know. An RV site show is more interested in what type of hook-up there is at an RV park than the highway conditions at certain times or what travel packages can be put together.
The other thing that we see here too is, again, the Edmonton consumer show ó itís neat; a little bit neat to meet a minister at a consumer show. Iíve done it; Iíve worked this industry for a number of years. I remember at Expo when the minister of the day showed up, walked around the pavilion and even worked the front. It was a novelty for the first half hour as the minister worked the desk with us. It was a pain in the butt the last seven and a half hours as the minister worked the desk with us, because the frontline people know what theyíre doing, but the ministers donít have the depth of knowledge or the understanding of whatís needed here. Again, though, the minister took the place of somebody functional, somebody that would benefit directly from it.
Did the Tourism Industry Association say anything? Probably not ó I donít know. But I certainly know my constituents did. I certainly know the people I used to work with in the travel industry did. So it may not have been an official complaint but itís certainly out there on the street.
Now, we have a number of other examples that we donít want to waste the time of the House with, but we certainly know that Yukoners are asking for a lowering of this budget amount, so I will leave it to anybody to debate why this shouldnít be lowered, but again, at the end of the day, itís a vote thatís going to happen.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Iím just going to rise to respond briefly to the member oppositeís comments and ensure that the record accurately reflects what took place.
I have had the distinct privilege of participating in three Team Canada missions at the Prime Ministerís invitation and the Government of Canadaís expense. That would be the Government of Canadaís expense; itís not in this line item.
The benefit of travelling with the Prime Minister, for the member oppositeís information, is that it pays for the travel of the Premier, his or her spouse or partner, and two officials. That is paid for by the Government of Canada. It is not paid for by the Government of Yukon.
Secondly, the member opposite should be aware that, thanks to the participation and travel of the Public Service Commissioner, Yukon is going to host Canadian public service commissioners. Thanks to the work of the Justice minister, we are hosting Justice ministers. The member is suggesting itís our turn. The fact is, itís not a question of rotation. There is still the matter of working out with the host province or territory, and itís still a Cabinet decision.
The member opposite is suggesting that all national ministers simply meet by correspondence, which shows how little the member opposite understands how business is done at the national level. As well, thanks to the work of the Justice minister, Yukon has worked with Alberta and others in pushing forward the issue of the national sex offender registry, which is a matter that comes to the table and on which all ministers are given a vote. It is only a minister who is allowed to vote. For example, thereís an energy chapter in Canadaís internal trade agreement, which will be discussed later this summer, where only ministers are able to vote. Officials may or may not attend. It is only a minister who is entitled to a vote at those meetings. And when there is a resolution on the table, such as establishment of a national sex offender registry, it cannot be done by mail; it must be done by ministers present at the table.
Yukoners are also hosting the ministers responsible for the status of women this fall. We have hosted the agriculture ministers and, as the member opposite is well aware, we are also hosting the western premiers conference this year and the Western Governors Association, as well as two ambassadors meetings.
Also included in this line item is such travel as would be undertaken by either myself or the Energy minister or the Environment minister in travel last summer with a number of ministers to placer mining operations ó that would be covered under this line item, because we do not generally make use of the travel allotment that is allowed to the leader of the government. That is covered under Executive Council Office for in-territory travel.
The fetal alcohol syndrome conference was also hosted as a result of travel by a minister making the pitch of having the Yukon host it. Itís not a matter of normal rotation; itís a matter of making the pitch; itís a matter of working with the Canadian intergovernmental secretariat staff, and Iím certain that the members of this House ó especially those former ministers ó are fully aware of the benefits of ministers attending ministerial meetings. The other point I would make and that I almost neglected to mention is the Pacific Northwest Economic Region conference, which we are certainly looking forward to hosting, and we would not have that opportunity without the travel by the Minister of Education.
How could I forget? How do members opposite believe that we as a government, working with our partners, achieved a $30-million investment in the Yukon if it wasnít travel and working with our colleagues? Thatís where it comes from and that is where the issue goes. I would suggest that I am looking forward to the vote on this.
Mr. McLarnon: Let me point a few things out. I hadnít even been elected when we were talking about the 2007 Games. The previous government worked on the 2007 Games. It was announced with us as a prospective bidder before our election. So, no, we knew we had it; it was just a matter of securing the money. It was a matter of securing the money and it certainly was there.
Now, I need to ask this because this is accountability time. Will the Premier right now stand up in this House and say that absolutely no Yukon territorial government money was spent in Russia and Germany on the last Canada trade mission ó not one cent?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: We spent money in assisting the Yukon business people to travel.
Mr. McLarnon: Point made. The money was spent and there were a number of Yukon business people on that trip we wondered about having Yukon business connections, like previous staff members of the Liberal Party. What were the businesses? We donít really want to know; we just know the money was spent and we know there were no results from that trip. We know there was chaos in the Yukon Territory, but there was no money or results from the trip. We knew the mess that was left, and we can understand why they had to go to Russia not to hear about it, but there was no work done here while they were gone.
Now the other side of it is that I did notice that the minister did not defend the travel of her Tourism minister, and the reason why is because it is hard to defend. There were a number of people in the industry who were concerned that the minister was taking a space usually held by an industry person.
We will leave it. For every dollar they believe ó I now have another question. Is this not the rotational turn of the western premiers here? I believe it is. It is a rotation, and it goes through the areas, does it not? Then explain that to me, because I would certainly like to know how the lobbying process works, why so much money was spent and how much money this is costing.
This is the type of tourism that we may not need at times. How much money is being spent on it? How much money are we bringing in? What is the Yukon government doing? You have to understand, Mr. Chair, when we are doing this, that the travel costs are not the only costs associated. The idea here is that not all trips need to return with something because, if they do that, then guess what? The photo opportunity is set up, and the agreement is signed. This is what corporations found out a long time ago to trim their travel budgets. What they did was find out what really needed to be done face-to-face and not what needed to be done to get a trip.
Corporations slash their travel budgets to ensure their profitability and best return to their shareholders. What that does in return is increase profits and the productivity of companies because the fat is cut. Today is the day we cut the fat. And the other side of it is the Premier certainly didnít understand. Weíre not eliminating this. In fact, two-thirds of the budget will still be there. Weíre just asking them to choose their trips so we donít see any more junkets off to China or any more junkets off to Russia ó or any more hogging of industry spots at travel shows that ministers donít need to be attending.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: I would just like to advise the member opposite that I and this side of the House are fully supportive of the work that this side of the House has done on all travel trips. The member opposite is completely wrong. The fact is that the travel for Team Canada West, Team Canada to China, Team Canada to Russia, the travel by the Premier ó whichever Premier it is ó and the Premierís spouse or partner and the political staff and another staff person from the government is paid for by the Government of Canada. It is the Prime Ministerís request that we attend with our spouses and that we travel with support.
And for the record, the fact is, part of the Legislative Assembly budget is also the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association travel budget, and Iím wondering if the member is going to put forward an amendment to cut that as well. After all, there is no need to send four; letís send two.
We consider not only the travel by this government but also the work of this government to not only have produced results such as what we have witnessed today, Mr. Speaker, an additional $30 million in the Yukon infrastructure, but also the additional work that has been done. This has been good work done on the part of the Government of Yukon and also, for the record, Mr. Speaker, the western premiers conference has never been hosted by Nunavut, nor did they volunteer for it, nor did they ask to host it. They are also part of the western premiers conference. So it is not a normal rotation. British Columbia asked and were told no, the Yukon is hosting it.
Deputy Chair: Any further debate?
The question has been called. Does anyone else want to comment?
Deputy Chair: Division has been called.
Deputy Chair: It is moved by Mr. McLarnon, Member for Whitehorse Centre, that the estimates pertaining to Bill No. 9, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 2002-03, be amended in Vote 2, Executive Council Office, by reducing the line item "Ministers" on page 4B-16 in the O&M estimates by $76,000; and
THAT the clauses and schedules of the bill be amended accordingly.
All those in favour of this amendment are to stand up.
Deputy Chair: All those opposed are to stand up.
Deputy Chairís casting vote
Deputy Chair: There are eight in favour and eight opposed.
I didnít realize that being Deputy Chair was going to be a difficult task, but I gather it is a very difficult task at times. I guess, when youíre placed in a position of leadership, obviously sometimes you have to make the right decision, or sometimes you make the wrong decision. And then there are the rules, and the rules are obviously what maintains our Parliament, what maintains our dignity, what maintains what goes on in this House. Even though personally I may have other views about what should happen, Iím bound by the office of the Deputy Chair.
Iíve always liked to be a rebel, but I donít think at this time I can be one, unfortunately. Beauchesne states that in the case of an equality of votes, the Chair shall give a casting vote. In general, the principle to be applied to amendments to bills is that the bill should be left in its existing form. It is therefore my duty to vote against the amendment, and I declare the amendment defeated.
Deputy Chair: Is there any further debate on the line item?
Ministers in the amount of $213,000 agreed to
On Cabinet Office Personnel
Cabinet Office Personnel in the amount of $1,430,000 agreed to
Cabinet Offices in the amount of $1,643,000 agreed to
On Youth Directorate
Youth Directorate in the amount of $476,000 agreed to
On Public Inquiries and Plebiscites
On Public Inquiries
Public Inquiries in the amount of one dollar agreed to
Plebiscites in the amount of one dollar agreed to
Public Inquiries and Plebiscites in the amount of one dollar agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Executive Council Office in the amount of $15,423,000 agreed to
Executive Council Office agreed to
Chair: Now we will proceed to the next department, which is ó
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: We would like, for expediency here, to go to Ombudsman, Elections Office and Yukon Legislative Assembly at this time.
Mr. McRobb: Thatís fine with us in the official opposition.
Office of the Ombudsman
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, that was my whole point, that these three departments are very quickly cleared by the leaders, as they are largely through Membersí Services Board. Iíll just quickly, for the record, advise members opposite of the expenditures.
In the Office of the Ombudsman, as approved by Membersí Services Board, the operation and maintenance funding provided for the Office of the Ombudsman under Vote 23 is $343,000, which is an increase of two percent over the forecast figure for 2001-02. As I mentioned, this amount was approved by the Membersí Services Board pursuant to the provisions of section 9 of the Ombudsman Act.
There are two activities within this vote. The first is that the title, "Ombudsman", shows a decrease of $7,000 from forecast to estimates, with a total of $172,000 being requested for 2002-03.
The second activity is titled "Information and Privacy Commissioner". The amount being requested is $171,000, which is a $15,000 increase over a 2001-02 forecast.
The estimates in this budget, which have been approved by the Membersí Services Board, are recommended for approval by the House.
Mr. Fairclough: I just have one question with respect to the Ombudsman. That position is there for Yukoners, where their issues are not being dealt with by other means. Right now we are facing a possible increase in the cost fees of this office by direction that is given out from other sources ó and Iím referring more to the City of Whitehorse, for example, where direction has been given to use the Ombudsman.
So, Iím just wondering if that has been clarified by the Premier and if she can give us an answer about whether this is right or possible, and so on.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Iíll be glad to answer the member oppositeís question. Under the Ombudsman Act, if the city or another level of government, such as a First Nation government, wishes to make use of the Ombudsman's Office, they are welcome to do so. They must pay for the service, as another government ó yes, they must.
Mr. Fairclough: Thatís one of the things we thought took place. Iím wondering now ó weíve seen it triggered by the City of Whitehorse here. Are we seeing an increase in activity now in the Ombudsmanís Office?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: The member is asking whether or not the city will go ahead with their request of the Ombudsman when they recognize ó Iím sure theyíre fully aware they must pay for it because itís in the Ombudsman Act. So, how it would be shown in our books is that it would be in the Ombudsmanís annual report to the Legislature. But it wouldnít be shown as a line item in our budget as a recovery or anything like that.
In terms of how much activity the Ombudsman's Office has, the Ombudsman's Office reports to the Legislature and it is contained in that report on an annual basis.
Chair: Okay, we will proceed to line-by-line then.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Office of the Ombudsman
Ombudsman in the amount of $172,000 agreed to
On Information and Privacy Commissioner
Information and Privacy Commissioner in the amount of $171,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Office of the Ombudsman in the amount of $343,000 agreed to
Office of the Ombudsman agreed to
Chair: We will now proceed to the Elections Office. Is there any general debate?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: This is the third budget in which the funding for the elections has appeared as a separate vote. Previously elections funding had been covered under program within the Legislative Assembly vote and subsection 16(2) of the Elections Act, which was passed during the 1999 fall sitting requires that there be a separate vote, "to defray the expenses of the office of the Chief Electoral Officer." This provision was included on the recommendations of the Chief Electoral Officer so instead of voting it under Legislative Assembly, this is the third time we have voted under its own separate vote. The purpose is to ensure that the election administration is considered entirely separate. The member opposite and I were both members in the Legislature when that Elections Act was passed.
Approval of this budget comes through Membersí Services Board again, so all leaders have been present.
The operation and maintenance budget proposed for the Elections Office for 2002-03 is $200,000, and thatís a decrease of $123,000 from the 2001-02 forecast.
The most significant change is a result of the Electoral District Boundaries Commission activity being reduced to $3,000, and that $3,000 covers any additional printing requirements.
The final cost of the commission in the 2001-02 fiscal year is expected to be $206,000.
There is an increase of $38,000 in Chief Electoral Office activity. This is required to cover the costs of preparing for the next general election, including planning and training. The elections administration activity remains as a $1item in this budget. If funding is required for a by-election or general election, it will be authorized either through special warrant or a supplementary.
The Elections: Education Act activity is increased by $42,000. The reason for this is that school council elections are held in October of this year. Thatís the reason for the line item amount. Again, Mr. Chair, this has been approved by Membersí Services Board.
Chair: Is there any further general debate? Seeing none, weíll go right to line-by-line.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Chief Electoral Office
Chief Electoral Office in the amount of $140,000 agreed to
On Elections: Education Act
Elections: Education Act in the amount of $57,000 agreed to
On Elections Administration
Elections Administration in the amount of one dollar agreed to
On Electoral District Boundaries Commissions
Electoral District Boundaries Commissions in the amount of $3,000 agreed to
Elections in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for Elections Office in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
Elections Office agreed to
Yukon Legislative Assembly
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Ms. Duncan: The operation and maintenance budget proposed for the Yukon Legislative Assembly for 2002-03 has been considered and approved by the Membersí Services Board. It totals $3,346,000, which is an increase of two percent, or $57,000, from last yearís forecast. There are five programs in this vote.
Legislative services ó in the legislative program, there is an overall increase of $29,000. On an activity level, this is broken down as follows. The Legislative Assembly activity shows increases totalling $36,000, and the largest portion of this increase, $25,000, is due to a 2.7-percent increase in MLAsí indemnities and expense allowances, as required by the provisions of the Legislative Assembly Act.
Caucus support services ó this activity totals $515,000. This is equal to the forecast for 2001-02. It must be noted that the forecast includes a supplementary estimate of $16,000. The supplementary estimate was provided during the course of the past fiscal year, when caucus budgets were adjusted to reflect the normal practice of tracking percentage increases in the pay of public servants.
The legislative committees activity is being reduced by $7,000, to a total of $17,000. This decrease is due to the fact that it is unlikely that the Standing Committee on Appointments will become active during the term of the 30th Legislative Assembly.
The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association remains the same at $34,000. This reflects the continued reduction of $8,000 in CPA travel funds to assist in covering the costs incurred in televising a portion of the Legislative Assembly proceedings.
The estimates for the Legislative Assembly Office program are being increased by $13,000 over the 2001-02 forecast, to a total of $527,000.
This increase in funding is due to an increase of $9,000, resulting from the collective agreement. This has been offset by a $6,000 reduction in communications and printing. The estimates for the retirement allowances and death benefits program are being increased by $13,000 over the 2001-02 forecast, to a total of $498,000. This reflects an increase in employer contributions to the MLA pension fund, resulting from the 2.7-percent increase in MLA pay.
The estimates for the Hansard program ó our hard-working Hansard staff ó are $394,000, which is no change from the 2001-02 forecast.
The cost incurred in this program for each sitting day, based on current contracts, are as follows: transcription, $4,865; photocopying and printing, $700; video recording proceedings, $575; televising proceedings, $300.
The conflicts commission program, upon the recommendation of the former Conflicts Commissioner, has been increased by $12,000 to a total of $25,000. Members will have noted that the 2001-02 forecast figure does not include the full cost of the Conflicts Commissioner investigation in the fall of 2001. That investigation cost $80,000.
Funds to cover that amount were covered by unexpended funds in other programs in the Legislative Assembly budget. I commend the Office of the Legislative Assembly budget to the Legislature.
Chair: Is there any further debate?
Seeing no debate, weíll proceed with line-by-line.
On Legislative Services
On Legislative Assembly
Legislative Assembly in the amount of $1,336,000 agreed to
On Caucus Support Services
Caucus Support Services in the amount of $515,000 agreed to
On Legislative Committees
Legislative Committees in the amount of $17,000 agreed to
On Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in the amount of $34,000 agreed to
Legislative Services in the amount of $1,902,000 agreed to
On Legislative Assembly Office
On Clerkís Office
Clerkís Office in the amount of $527,000 agreed to
Legislative Assembly Office in the amount of $527,000 agreed to
On Retirement Allowances and Death Benefits
On Retirement Allowances
Retirement Allowances in the amount of $498,000 agreed to
On Death Benefits
Death Benefits in the amount of one dollar agreed to
Retirement Allowances and Death Benefits in the amount of $498,000 agreed to
On Transcription Services
Transcription Services in the amount of $344,000 agreed to
Broadcasting in the amount of $48,000 agreed to
On Electronic Services
Electronic Services in the amount of $2,000 agreed to
Hansard in the amount of $394,000 agreed to
On Conflicts Commission
Conflicts Commission in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for Yukon Legislative Assembly in the amount of $3,346,000 agreed to
Yukon Legislative Assembly agreed to
Chair: At the request of the government House leader, the House will now recess until 4:35.
Chair: I call Committee of the Whole to order.
We will now proceed with debate on Public Service Commission as part of Bill No. 9, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 2002-03.
Public Service Commission
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Today, I am pleased to introduce the 2002-03 budget for the Public Service Commission. The commission has budgeted $11,598,000 for operation and maintenance expenditures over the next year.
The Public Service Commissionís goals are to provide strategic direction for departments in response to immediate and emerging needs, to provide policies that help departments to manage their human resource needs and to deliver government-wide services to help departments manage employment matters.
The Public Service Commission will directly support the government priorities of fulfilling land claims commitments, successfully concluding devolution and renewal, and restoring confidence in government through building and supporting a competent public service.
The Public Service Commission will provide corporate leadership in human resource management in a number of key areas: continuing to develop and implement representative public service plans in consultation with First Nations; human resource management of the devolution of the Northern Affairs program; negotiating the pension patriation; supporting the development and implementation of a government-wide human resource planning model to ensure the effective retention, development and transfer of critical skills and knowledge within the public service, and conducting collective agreement negotiations with the Public Service Alliance of Canada and with the Yukon Teachers Association on collective agreement amendments.
These initiatives are funded through the budgets of the commission. I look forward to comments and questions from the members opposite on the operation and maintenance budget of the Public Service Commission for fiscal year 2002-03.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. McRobb: I do have a few questions, and I hope the minister does bear with me. This is a new assignment for me as critic for this portfolio.
Can the minister indicate how many of the management positions within the Yukon government have been reclassified from the bargaining unit to management positions? How many of the regular positions, I suppose, Mr. Chair, have been reclassified to become management positions?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: What time period is the member talking about? During renewal? Okay, one moment.
There were no positions that went from the bargaining unit to management, and there were a number that went the other way but we donít yet have that number so I will have to get that for the member in writing.
Mr. McRobb: I have been advised that there have been some positions from within the bargaining unit that have been reclassified as management positions. I suppose that would be contrary to what the minister just said so I would like to ask the minister if she could double-check her information and confirm that for us.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Yes, I certainly will.
Mr. McRobb: Does she mean she will get back to the House or is she confirming it now?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I said I didnít have the information in front of me now and Iíd be happy to get it for the member. I would probably have to get it in writing as Iím not sure if the department has been waiting for this information and I doubt that weíll have it by close of day tomorrow.
Mr. McRobb: All right, Mr. Chair. Iím somewhat dismayed, given the resources of the commission close at hand for the minister. I would have expected a rather immediate reply, certainly by tomorrow, when weíre expected to end this sitting of the Legislature, and I would think the government would have a stake in providing that information prior to commencement of tomorrowís sitting day in the interests of being an open and accountable government.
So, I would ask the minister if she would oblige to provide that information as soon as possible, and certainly tomorrow morning would be best.
Can the minister give us an idea of what this governmentís relationship is with the unions?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Thatís an interesting question. Itís my understanding we have a good relationship with the unions.
Mr. McRobb: Does the government believe in consulting unions when it considers changing rules on how it deals with matters, especially when unions are affected?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Yes, we do believe in consulting with the union. Did the member have a specific issue to raise? I can say that we did consult with the union on a regular basis regarding renewal since last June.
Mr. McRobb: Can the minister indicate whether the government consulted with the unions with respect to reclassification of positions, such as the one referred to in my previous question ó Iíll just spell that out ó any positions within the bargaining unit being reclassified as management positions? Can the minister confirm whether the government has consulted the union about this? On a time scale, Mr. Chair, I would say recently, during the renewal exercise.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: On the memberís previous question, the number of management/confidential exclusions was reduced by 24 positions from March 20, 2002.
Mr. McRobb: Since the minister does have her fingertips on some data for us, can she indicate how many positions from within the bargaining unit were reclassified as management positions? I realize what she is saying is that there may be an overall decrease, but my question could still fit within her answer.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: As of April 17, there were 281 management/confidential exclusions as opposed to 2,323 YEU members. Those exclusions also involve manager and confidential categories from the Department of Education. The number of management/confidential exclusions is reduced by 24 positions from March 20, 2002.
Mr. McRobb: I think the minister is talking about an overall reduction. But there might have been instances where there were classifications the other way. Maybe I should just ask the minister to confirm that. Were there any reclassifications from the bargaining unit to become management positions?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: As I have already indicated, no.
Mr. McRobb: All right. That is a definite answer and I am willing to accept that at this time.
The minister indicated that the government does consult with the unions prior to any reclassifications. Is that correct? Can the minister indicate whether that is still the policy of the government to consult with the unions prior to doing any reclassifications?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: For clarification, can the member indicate whether he is still talking about exclusions/inclusions or is he talking about reclassification in general?
Mr. McRobb: I think we are talking about any types of job reclassifications. Does this government consult with the unions before doing this?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: There is consultation in general but not on individual reclassifications because that is dealing with a specific employee and a specific job.
Mr. McRobb: Can the minister indicate if that is consistent with past government practice, or does it represent a change in this practice?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Thatís consistent with past government practice.
Mr. McRobb: And, of course, would that be consistent with the Canada Labour Code requirements with respect to this type of consultation?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I believe it is, but before I would say yes unconditionally, I would have to check on that.
Chair: Is there any further debate?
Seeing no further general debate, we will proceed directly to line-by-line.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Finance and Administration
Administration in the amount of $561,000 agreed to
Finance and Administration in the amount of $561,000
On Corporate Human Resource Services
On Staffing Administration
Staffing Administration in the amount of $987,000 agreed to
On Staffing Operations
Staffing Operations in the amount of $63,000 agreed to
On Employment Equity
Employment Equity in the amount of $351,000 agreed to
On Classification/Competition Appeals
Classification/Competition Appeals in the amount of $38,000 agreed to
Corporate Human Resource Services in the amount of $1,439,000 agreed to
On Pay and Benefits Management
Administration in the amount of $1,123,000 agreed to
Pay and Benefits Management in the amount of $1,123,000 agreed to
On Staff Relations
Administration in the amount of $572,000 agreed to
On Yukon Government Employees Union/Public Service Alliance of Canada
Yukon Government Employees Union/Public Service Alliance of Canada in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Yukon Teachersí Association
Mr. McRobb: Mr. Chair, I notice this is a reduction of some 27 percent. Can the minister provide some detail on this?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Thereís a reduction there because weíre just starting bargaining with the teachers. There was a longer period in between.
Mr. McRobb: Can the minister indicate when the current contract is up with the teachers? I understood that it was probably early next year. Now, if that is the case, why wouldnít these funds be kept at a relatively high level in order to gear up for these negotiations?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The current contract expires June 30, 2003, and the Public Service Commission would expect to begin negotiations next February, so thatís fairly close to the end of the fiscal year.
Yukon Teachersí Association in the amount of $68,000 agreed to
On Long Service Awards
Long Service Awards in the amount of $155,000 agreed to
Staff Relations in the amount of $995,000 agreed to
On Workersí Compensation Fund
On Workersí Compensation Payments
Workersí Compensation Payments in the amount of $2,660,000 agreed to
Workersí Compensation Fund in the amount of $2,660,000 agreed to
On Planning and Research
Administration in the amount of $313,000 agreed to
Planning and Research in the amount of $313,000 agreed to
On Employee Leave and Termination Benefits Adjustment
On Employee Leave and Termination Benefits Adjustment
Mr. McRobb: Mr. Chair, I notice there is a 23-percent reduction on this line. Can the minister explain that?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Thatís largely due to the capping of the liability for employee leave and termination benefits.
Employee Leave and Termination Benefits Adjustment in the amount of $2,390,000 agreed to
Employee Leave and Termination Benefits Adjustment in the amount of $2,390,000 agreed to
On Staff Development
Administration in the amount of $996,000 agreed to
Operations in the amount of $1,121,000 agreed to
Staff Development in the amount of $2,117,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Public Service Commission in the amount of $11,598,000 agreed to
Public Service Commission agreed to
Department of Business, Tourism and Culture
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: It is with great pleasure that I present the 2002-03 operation and maintenance estimates for the new Department of Business, Tourism and Culture. This budget continues our commitment that a vital and prosperous Yukon society is enriched by an appreciation of our past and a clear sense of the opportunities in our future. We will realize this vision by believing and building strong working relationships between our clients, partners, community interests and ourselves. We are committed to providing quality products and services and we are truly accountable for our work and our actions. The primary responsibilities of this renewed department are to develop economic capacity and quality of life by fostering innovation, creativity and entrepreneurial skills to enhance the strengths and abilities of Yukonís businesses, tourism and cultural communities and to promote the Yukonís business, tourism, culture and quality of life experiences and to preserve, restore, interpret and disseminate the Yukonís history and culture.
In order to achieve these goals, we have restructured the department to provide the most efficient and effective use of our public service.
As an aside, I know that the opposition is interested in just how much renewal has cost. From the time renewal was announced to April 1, the former Department of Tourism incurred no expenses related to renewal. Renewal was put into action with existing resources from the 2001-02 budget.
The new Department of Business, Tourism and Culture consists of five branches: marketing; industry development and research; cultural services; policy, planning and evaluation; and corporate services.
Combining the business and tourism marketing expertise, the marketing branch, in consultation with industry partners, directs the development, implementation and evaluation of Yukonís marketing program to key target markets through the promotion of the Yukon as a great place to live, as a great place to visit, and as a great place to do business.
Industry development and research branch develops, implements and evaluates strategies, programs and client services aimed at creating healthy business, tourism and cultural industries with the technology sectors. Services range from an advocacy and information role to research, planning, promotion and technical assistance.
Emphasis on support for cultural industries is placed on program services to the film sector through the Yukon Film Commission and on general business counselling services to entrepreneurs in the cultural industry sector.
The cultural services branch is responsible for the protection, management, research and interpretation of heritage resources; advises on and supports the operation and management of Yukon museums; delivers front-line interpretation to Yukonís Beringia history; provides the technical and financial support to the development of arts, including community arts, professional arts and cultural industries; acquires, preserves and makes available Yukon documentary resources, and determines final disposition for Yukon government and municipal records.
The policy, planning and evaluation branch leads or participates in the development of management approaches to public issues related to business, tourism and culture; develops and maintains a strategic management framework for executive decision-making; provides analytical support for policy and standard development, and the determination of the economic benefit; leads or participates in organizational policy programs and program reviews; manages ministerial and Cabinet support, and intergovernmental relations.
The corporate services branch provides corporate services to the deputy minister and the department in directing, supporting and coordinating the departmentís programs through financial management and accounting, human resources, information management and administrative support.
Now, Mr. Chair, I would just like to spend a few minutes on the budget figures. With funds provided through this budget, the department will play a critical role in the development, promotion and preservation of our economic and cultural resources. The total proposed O&M budget reflects a decrease of $186,000 from our 2001-02 forecast. This represents a one-percent decrease to the forecast.
The priorities in this budget have been realigned to meet our accountability plan, government renewal, and to identify efficiencies. I will highlight some of the major changes.
The marketing branch shows an increase of $140,000, mainly due to the Welcome Alaska campaign that was initiated in response to the tourism industry request for increased marketing dollars to support the tourism industry recovery from the events of September 11. The Welcome Alaska campaign will aim at encouraging Alaskans to visit the Yukon during the summer and shoulder seasons.
The industry development and research branch has a decrease of $173,000 from last yearís forecast. This decrease is mainly due to staffing reallocations. This efficiency is the result of the amalgamation of positions within the tourism marketing branch and from the former trade and investment branch.
Cultural services will see a decrease of $518,000. This decrease is primarily due to moving the facilities management agreements from the branches to corporate services, and the stay-another-day budget to marketing.
The arts and museum programs will continue to implement their participation in the stay-another-day program, but the entire promotional budget will be housed within the marketing branch.
While Iím talking about the stay-another-day program, I would like to take a moment to highlight this yearís program. We will be continuing with the very successful publication, Places to Go, complete with theme songs. We are continuing to gather and distribute Yukonís events and activities to locals and visitors. The calendar of events will be placed on the Tour Yukon Web site for the first time.
Weíre also continuing the popular arts and heritage programs.
What is new is that we started earlier ó six weeks earlier ó than last year. This allows us to be prepared to convince more visitors to stay another day. We are introducing a program initiative called "On Yukon Time", places to go on Yukon time program, for visitors and Yukon residents, encouraging them to see the attractions and events found throughout the Yukon.
Corporate services is increasing by $365,000, primarily due to moving the facility management agreements for archives, Beringia, the visitor reception centres and the Film Commission from the branches. Collective agreement salary increases and other payroll increases also account for an increase in the corporate services branch.
Mr. Chair, this concludes the highlights of the Business, Tourism and Culture budget. I will be pleased to answer any questions the members opposite may have.
Chair: Order please. The critic for this department is just out having a medical update. He needs a hearing-aid battery. We will wait a couple of minutes for him.
Mr. Keenan: I see that the passport program is back ó what a wonderful thing.
Can the minister please explain to me what process was followed to encourage cultural centres such as the Teslin Tlingit very classy cultural centre? What is the approach that is going to be needed for that cultural centre to participate within the passport program? I understand that Tríondëk Hwëchíin has a cultural centre. I know that Carmacks has a cultural centre, and others. I see that we have the Watson Lake Northern Lights Centre, which is not a museum but certainly an attraction and deserves every right.
So, Iíd like to ask on behalf of the people who are not there, what is the process to get into the passport program?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I would agree with the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes that these buildings, these facilities, should also be included in the passport program, and I will ask the department specifically why they have not approached the First Nation specifically on that. I thank the member for the suggestion.
Mr. Keenan: I would much prefer that the minister ask the department to include, not why not, because certainly I understand thereís a constraint on maybe the budget itself for the passport program, but certainly the need ó if we have an avenue to market cultural centres, then we should be doing that. I would ask the minister if the minister would ask the department if they could find a way to be able to support them, versus why not. Would that be all right?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I didnít mean to imply that itís all right. I think that our responsibility would be to request of the First Nation that the cultural centre be allowed to participate. I agree, but in a respectful way, yes.
Mr. Keenan: Thank you very much. I certainly appreciate that the minister will take it upon himself to instruct the department to work with them to find a way that we might be able to further their endeavours.
Iíd like to ask the minister about air charters that come into the Yukon Territory this summer. What work has been done on that front?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Thank you, Mr. Chair, I believe that, as the member knows, I donít think there is a place in the world where the tourism industry hasnít been addressing the situation that resulted from September 11. I believe the greatest impact has been on North America, per se, and the fact that we in North America had never experienced a situation to the magnitude that occurred in New York.
I do believe, though, that while the Premier was with Team Canada in Russia and Germany, that she personally spoke with industry representatives in Germany. She also had discussions with senior industry representatives there, wholesalers, at the ITB. Fortunately or unfortunately, I was unable to attend that, but there was representation from the department there, so they continued the meetings. I do believe we have managed to secure two flights a week by Condor. And I even believe that there was a situation at airport security ó because Condor was originally, or may still be, flying to Alaska, but there are tremendous security situations that international airlines have to deal with now. Weíre working hard on that, and weíre trying to find solutions.
As the member also knows, weíre starting up an access air service out of Alberta, direct to Whitehorse now. We are having, I think, a lot of success with air access to the territory.
Mr. Keenan: Well, certainly, I appreciate where the minister is coming from. If you want my point of view and that of the official opposition, I think itís very desirous to have the minister at ITB. It is the largest showcase for tourism in the world, and itís unfortunate the minister couldnít make it. Itís fortunate the Premier did make it. I can tell you from personal experience that the minister being there, hands on, generates nothing but support for the entrepreneurs of the Yukon who are there. It also gives the Yukon a very good political profile and shows the world that we do want to have a world-class destination.
In terms of seeking to become a world-class destination, what is up the ministerís sleeve in terms of icon development or anything like as such that would bring an attraction or develop an attraction or anything like as such? Iím not speaking specifically of the game farm or anything like as such. Does the minister have a plan or is the minister going to be working toward iconing something so that we will be able to have our Yukon as a world-class destination?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Within the new branch of marketing ó of course, marketing is looking after three aspects of marketing Yukon: first is the corporate aspects of the government; the second is business marketing ó this is a great place to come and do business; and also tourism marketing. As I had indicated previously in the House, we are still committed to the $7.2 million allocated specifically to tourism marketing.
I have certainly learned a lot in the past couple months about what types of marketing there are. When marketing a Yukon product, you take the product out of the territory, and when youíre marketing Yukon, you send representatives out of the territory to showcase Yukon.
As I indicated, I didnít have an opportunity to go to ITB; I did go to Rendezvous and learned a tremendous amount in the two or three days I was there. Again, I understand itís not nearly the size of ITB but it certainly is intense. I had opportunities to meet with wholesalers from around the world and also to exhibit the enthusiasm that our own industry representatives conducted on the sales floor in the meeting.
So, getting back to answering the memberís question, the marketing aspects ó as you know, we did have a consultant looking at the marketing strategies within the branch. The ideas that are coming out of that exercise are talking specifically about what the member just mentioned ó icon, the different types of marketing strategies that are available. And I just want to let the member know that, as quickly as possible, Iím learning these and also attempting to direct the department in ways to go and really showcase Yukon and its product.
Mr. Keenan: I thank the minister for that. As the minister is very aware, I had the honour and privilege of working with the Tourism department and representing Yukon as a political quarterback, if I could say it in that way. During that tenure, there was opportunity to speak to many different partners. One of the partners we had been working with at that point in time was the State of Alaska. I had personal conversations with Mr. Knowles, the Governor of Alaska, in being desirous of partnering with them for Asian flights.
Can the minister please tell me if anything has been moving forward on that front?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Again, Mr. Chair, I had an opportunity to go over to the Canada gala in Anchorage. During that visit, I had a great opportunity. I believe I was go, go, go from morning until night, meeting various political people in Anchorage, as well as industry people. One of the contacts I met with there was the vice-president of Era. I do believe they will be starting their connect from Whitehorse to Anchorage this year.
The other aspect weíre looking at are additional opportunities for Air North. We are in discussions with Air North on its routes ó Juneau and Fairbanks right now. So we are looking for connectivity, more so, with Alaska.
Mr. Keenan: The minister spoke previously about marketing and icon development, and whatnot. Iíd like to ask the minister, does he have anything up his sleeve or in his thoughts about product development? We know that most people come to the Yukon for the Yukon and its people, and want to see authentic product. What has been very successful is the homecoming program, which came forward during the Yukon Party tenure. We took the homecoming program and put it into a made-in-Yukon product logo design, the snowflake, which says, "This is who we are." What a wonderful thing, because it does say who we are.
Iím wondering now, in terms of product development, has the minister approached Industry Canada? Can the minister just explain to me what the minister is doing for product development?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: There are a number of initiatives that weíre looking after. One is the product development strategy that is underway. Industry services, with a Yukon tourism marketing partnership, is working very diligently on the strategy, as well.
I do remember the icon, or brand figure, that the member just mentioned ó the snowflake, something that weíre looking to continue with along that very same line, and particularly with the Yukon visual arts craft strategy, and we believe that strategy will specifically complement the cultural aspect throughout the territory. In the communities, actually, the strategy is a huge strategy, and there are multi-faceted components to it: how we can best take advantage; how we can best utilize the many types of arts and crafts that we have in the territory; and how we can collect them all in a central location and market, not only within the territory, but market externally, as well. So itís a huge project, and itís going to take some time to implement.
Mr. Keenan: I could let the minister know that there is a partnering program out there now from Ottawa called the cultural initiatives program. I am very sure that the department knows of that program. As a matter of fact, itís the first arts-related capital to come out of Ottawa since the cultural initiatives program. I understand that the territorial government does not want to partner with this program. Itís a three-year program. Itís dollar for dollar.
Could the minister please tell me why we would not be partnering 50 percent with the federal government for new product development in the Yukon, especially of this nature?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Another benefit to my being at Rendezvous Canada was to meet with tourism ministers specifically. Something that was very strong on my agenda, as a matter of fact on all three northern ministersí agendas at that conference, was the fact that we are limited in our funding opportunities from the federal government on different aspects. I know that, especially within tourism in the provinces, they do have partnership and funding opportunities directly with Ottawa.
I know that the previous Minister of Tourism had direct conversations with Sheila Copps and that there is some difficulty in getting the transfer of payment. With respect to the cultural spaces program in Canada, the cultural spaces program was announced, as the member indicated, in May of 2000, as a federal capital program for cultural facilities. The program depends on matching dollars, with the federal portion being up to one-third of the capital cost.
Securing the rest of the funding and the corresponding operational dollars for arts and heritage facilities is certainly a challenge that weíre facing, especially during these times. So, itís not that there isnít a willingness. Itís just that we do have to find the matching dollars.
Mr. Keenan: Well, I would certainly encourage the minister to look at this program. This program has been out since last summer. Not many opportunities such as this come to us. Now, the Liberal government has made much hoopla about culture ó much hoopla about culture, about what the NDP did and how we supported culture and how we did not support culture. I will not rise to argue with the minister on this because I think I would win, but it would take an awfully long time in this House to win because we had other tools that were available and enabled the Dawson City Arts Society to expand, which, again, was toward culture, but it didnít come out of the cultural initiatives we had ongoing. It was over and above.
So, for a dollar-for-dollar match ó and this program is only going to be around for two more years ó I would certainly ask the minister and all Cabinet ministers to find a way to support the Tourism minister so that we might be able to continue with product development here, especially for something as unique as this. The last time we had cultural dollars from Ottawa was when there was a program and it went into the Guild Hall. That was a long time ago, and I really donít think we should be missing the boat ó if I can say it in that manner ó on this issue here.
As a matter of fact, does the minister have any ideas, or new ideas, about finding a program, such as ó well, the trade and investment fund was one, the tourism marketing fund was another, and the community development fund could be, would be and was used for product development for tourism. They had that type of mandate that could be used as a vehicle within the community. What does the minister have in his back pocket ó not up his sleeve ó for this initiative?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I do believe we are tangentially on the edge of capital budget programs. But we did have a look at the trade and investment initiative and we did get an audited report back. We did have some light debate in the House over that and there was recognition that it was a good program. It doesnít mean that we arenít still working on the possibility of bringing that program back.
On other initiatives, I am sure that previous governments have also experienced the problem too, where we can partner with federal funding. I mean, opportunities abound sometimes where there are matched dollars and programs. The federal government makes it very, very clear that it is a two- or a three-year program, and of course opportunities are hard to say no to. Quite often there are successes with that joint funding on a three-year program. Unfortunately, after a three-year period, the program ceases, but usually the program is successful wherever the location is but then the territorial or provincial government has to make up the dollars that the federal government was contributing to it.
So this is something that we are aware of that we donít want to ó we do want to take advantage of opportunities, but we have to be cognizant of the fact that these programs are limited in time as to federal partnership funding. If they are incredibly successful, we want to maintain them. So we do have to be aware of how we are going to be able to do that.
Mr. Keenan: That really wasnít the question, though, Mr. Chair ó that really wasnít. The question was, I think, a Yukon initiative.
I certainly understand and I can certainly support what the minister is saying in part when it comes to federal programs, and when they come out and set you up with a pilot program, itís very successful and it crashes because there is no further continuity. That is not what Iím talking about at this point in time. Iím talking about a Yukon structured program that will enable people to maybe get off the ground ó maybe they would only be able to use it once or something, but there would be terms and conditions applied to it from a Yukon jurisdictional point of view. So, if the minister has nothing in his back pocket, I would just appreciate if the minister would say that, and then I can move on.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: No, I donít have anything in my back pocket to that effect at this time.
Mr. Keenan: I certainly would encourage the minister maybe to sit down with partners ó the Tourism Industry Association, the First Nations Tourism Association, and see if it might be something that could be and should be applicable to our point in time here now.
The minister wears many hats as a Cabinet minister in this Legislature. There are a couple of points that I want to bring up that Iíd like to go across the boundary here, if I could in that manner. The minister knows one of them; he spoke to it as, I believe the Renewable Resources minister, or whatever itís called at this point in time.
Access to land for entrepreneurs who are of the photogenic type, non-consumptive uses ó does the minister have any ideas, wearing his Tourism hat about, say, Dave K Enterprises wanting to take people on the land and I need a base camp somewhere; there is not a process at this point in time. I understand that there is a gentleman working in DIAND toward that end but, again, weíre in a bit of a limbo situation because of the devolution process at this point in time.
Would the minister be able to explain to me if the minister is going to be able to move that agenda up so that we can have people on the land to deliver a much-needed product here in the Yukon Territory, for winter tourism, for summer tourism? They need access or some sort of tenure to land ó whether itís fee simple or not, I am not sure.
As I explained previously to the minister, it might only be ó the only form right now is a land use permit. Has the minister given any further thought to that? If the minister hasnít given any further thought to that, would the minister please get the applicable department ó and there are probably three applicable departments now ó together for a brain scrum to see if we can move this forward? Because there are people who have been knocking on my door and, of course, this is the second time I have asked this question.
Would the minister be able to consider that?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, Iíd be more than willing to entertain that idea. Within Business, Tourism and Culture, and also with the Department of Environment, land disposition and land aspects are now housed within Energy, Mines and Resources, but I do take the member up on the suggestion, and we are eagerly awaiting devolution so that we can have more control over our own land base.
Mr. Keenan: The other issue I wish to bring to the ministerís attention is ó some of us are even lucky enough to have been born and raised in this Yukon Territory. Some have moved here and been here for 40 years, plus. There is no distinction between any of us. Weíre Yukoners.
I spend quite a bit of time on the road, travelling the road, and one thing that bothers me, bothers me, bothers me, is graffiti ó graffiti as youíre coming through, and itís graffiti anywhere from a graduation to some tourist who insists on risking their neck, local people, climbing up to the highest mountain peak to spray their names or, in some cases, something thatís not even a nice thing to say.
Now, I know we cannot stop people from doing things of that nature, but it certainly takes away from the scenery that people come here to see. I would ask the minister again if the minister would be able to sit down with the different departments, maybe, and find a way that we could have a friendly graffiti-type of approach. I do see where people have little piles of rocks and they put their names along the side of the roads and that type of thing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but I have personally stopped and taken the tin foil off the rocks and the plastic off the rocks so that it would not harm the environment. So we need something that ó Iím not a control freak. Weíre never going to be able to stop people from doing those types of things, but maybe we can encourage them to do it in an environmentally friendly way. Would the minister be able to look into that?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I think itís a great suggestion. I would agree with the member. The most destructive, of course, is paint. The idea of just using natural resources, like stones or rocks, is great. There is an inherent danger in telling people not to do something because theyíre going to go ahead and do it. I was just thinking that maybe in tourism magazines or something, we discourage that kind of activity, but then, like I say, if you tell somebody not to do something, they usually want to go out and do it.
But I take the suggestion seriously and will see if thereís something we can do for that.
Mr. Keenan: I certainly appreciate that. You do not see so many of the graduates doing that type of thing any more because ó I believe it was the Department of Community and Transportation Services at that point in time many years ago that took it upon themselves to work with the graduating groups. I would not want to restrain that energy. I would never want to restrain that energy, but to control that energy ó and I know that they want to do that as they graduate; they do want to do that. But some of the gravel pits there ó and I could see, as I went to my home on Teslin Lake, when I crossed over where I believe the department worked with the young graduates, designating a gravel pit and graffiti on the road saying this is where the big party is and whatnot. So we can work toward that end, and I very much appreciate the minister being able to work toward that.
I would like to ask the minister if the minister could please provide me with the visitation figures for the Beringia Centre. I see that the funding for the Beringia Centre has decreased again this year, and it has decreased by 34 percent. Now, I know the minister was not a member of the House at that point in time, but when the Liberals were in opposition, it was certainly a sore point with them that we never put the resources toward the Beringia Centre. And again I say, at that point in time we had much energy going toward the Beringia Centre.
So, I would like to ask this minister for the visitation figures ó how much they are down by according to the business plan, or what is expected. Could the minister just get on his feet and talk about Beringia a little bit for me?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: The attendance figures from April 1, 2001, until March 31, 2002 ó the attendance was 22,554. Itís certainly going to be a little more difficult to predict what our visitation will be this year. I know that the Tourism Industry Association and all tourism industry in the territory is working all out to encourage visitors to the territory, whether it be tire traffic or air traffic. So, weíre hoping that we can mitigate the impacts of last September. So, I donít have any figures past March 31 of this year.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: The member is asking that I supply him with those, and I would be more than willing to supply the figures to the member opposite.
Mr. Keenan: I accept that.
If I could say, this government has a funny way of expressing its support ó a total decrease of half a million dollars in cultural services. That includes cuts to the heritage resources, museums, the arts, the Beringia Centre and, of course, we said that these sectors were sectors this government continually supported. Thatís a funny way of showing support.
I look into the historic sites line, and we donít even have a line any more. I donít know where itís at in there. I must say that itís rather confusing. I guess maybe thatís to be expected because of renewal this year and the way things are. Hopefully, next year, weíll be a little quicker on our feet and this type of thing.
But could the minister please tell me ó $165,000 was allocated in that line, and where is it now? More importantly, I guess, is not where it is, but are there planned expenditures at all for historic sites?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I believe it is included in the historic resources level, and I would be more than willing to provide more details when we get into line-by-line as well.
Mr. Keenan: I would like to speak about museums and the activities. Certainly our museums deserve support. I understand that the minister has gone out on a new museum strategy. There have been recommendations that have gone back out for a review again. I certainly hope it is not just because some of the issues in there that people may think are off the wall or something. I donít think that they are off the wall. I think that everything can be achieved with an incremental approach.
This Liberal campaign ó this election-mode machine ó said they were going to everything for everybody all at once. I know that cannot happen and I know that is not possible, but there are expectations. I know of expectations in Carcross. Carcross does not have a museum, and the heritage branch was working with the community for a Skookum Jim museum. I would like to see if the minister could please provide me with an update on this new museum initiative ó where it is at and when are we expected to be able to cut the ribbon. Also, what has been going on for the George Johnston Museum? Certainly the George Johnston Museum ó in some cases, if you lean against the wall, you might just fall out on the other side of things. They do not have the capital resources required at this point in time to develop new ones. They are looking for a new structure and a new place. I can see that the minister has a briefing note now and I would appreciate if the minister could give me an update on those initiatives.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Yes, I did get a briefing note specifically on the George Johnston Museum. The services of the museum advisor have been offered to provide assistance for the development of a five-year plan, including looking at a new facility. Cultural services will provide and assist an undertaking for future planning. As the member had indicated, too, we are also looking at a museum strategy. I do wish that we had the completed strategy, but I have met with the YHMA, as well as with the Heritage Resources Board, on having them input and comment on the strategy, because I think that strategy has the potential to be a very positive tool.
We do recognize that our museums are a vital part of the heritage in the territory and that we are definitely committed to following the review of the museum strategy and to explore options and to consult. I know there are concerns up in Dawson with the museums association, the museum society up in Dawson. There are concerns and issues right here in Whitehorse. So, I am certainly aware.
In Carcross, in November of last year, the CTFN received funding from the Canadian heritage museums assistance program in the amount of $82,000 ó actually, $54,000 for the museum development component and $28,000 for the internship training component. In January of this year, the heritage branch made a contribution of $25,000 to the museum development component, and the heritage branch assisted First Nations with a call for proposals in February 2002. A contract was awarded to LORD Cultural Resources Planning and Management, Inc. of Toronto to produce a museum development and business plan specifically for the Carcross-Tagish First Nation museum.
Mr. Keenan: What the minister is saying is that the department has been working with the Carcross folk on the museum development and will continue to do so? Thank you very much, I have a nod from the minister.
The minister did speak about the Dawson City situation. Dawson City ó I think we all know and recognize that Dawson City, for its First Nation culture and for its mining history and mining culture, is probably one of the most cultural hotspots anywhere in the Yukon and can compete with any. We should be trying to showcase it, and continue to showcase it.
Now, training support, salary support, and the maintenance type of support for museum activities has been frozen in its allocation. I must point out to the minister ó and for the smaller museums, and even, I guess, in the larger museums, such as Dawson City, thatís an integral part of running a museum.
I know that, with the George Johnston Museum, in order to get a good person, itís probably best to have a local person so that you do not have to rent houses, travel, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
I would ask the minister to please look at thawing out that frozen line and maybe trying to find a way to enhance it so that the community would be able to start to develop that pool of talent, if I could say it in that way ó a local pool, so that weíd be able to use it, because it certainly is a job generator for students and others within the community.
Would the minister please consider that?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Yes, I would be more than willing to consider that.
Mr. Keenan: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. Certainly the Fulda tire company has brought much exposure to the Yukon Territory. Iíve always enjoyed it when Iíve had the opportunity to meet and work with the Fulda tire company. I certainly understand the benefits of incentive tours and the exposure that those incentive tours bring to the Yukon Territory, the dollars that they bring and the economic impact ó in one weekend they can drop $3 million.
So, I would like to ask the minister ó this is not about Fulda. This is about incentive tours. Does the minister have any companies on-line? We did have an operator. Iím not sure if we still have that operator ó Jill White in London, England. I had the opportunity and pleasure to meet and work with Ms. White at one point in time. I am now wondering if this minister has anything happening in incentive tours from eastern Canada, or anywhere in the States, or anywhere in the world? Who can we expect to be welcoming at the air gates?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Iím glad the member brought up Jill Whiteís name. As a matter of fact, I had an opportunity to meet her at Rendezvous. She is working very hard at establishing incentive tours from England. She explained to me exactly what an incentive tour is. Usually it is a smaller contingent of individuals. She indicated that she would be supplying me with some detailed information on that.
Mr. Keenan: Is that the only hook that we have set now for incentive tours? Can the minister tell me if there are plans to have a person in place who might be able to shop that, or can we expand on the direction we give to ó I canít quite remember. But expanding out of the box and doing it because I must point out that this is an economic generator. Usually, when the economy is really slow, it affects a lot of people in the territory.
So, I would ask the minister, if there is nothing more, would he please consider putting some more thought and energy toward this initiative?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I will get a more comprehensive answer in writing to the member with respect to all incentive initiatives that we have going on within the department. I think itís also important to keep in mind, though, that the Yukon Convention Bureau also philosophically does the same kind of thing and the success of the Convention Bureau to date this year certainly bears repeating. They have initiated eight conventions and have been successful in securing eight conventions for the territory. That was as of two or three weeks ago, so they may even have more now. I know they are very, very aggressive and very successful when they go out and get conventions for the territory.
As I have indicated and will repeat for the member opposite, I will do a little research and get back in writing with respect to exactly where our incentive program initiatives are located and where we are to date with those programs.
Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, I will accept that as positive energy toward contributing to our economy here.
Iíd like to talk about the Yukon Quest. Now, this government again, again, the Liberal machine, the Liberal election machine, had every answer, every answer, and when the New Democrats came up with $50,000 per year for the Yukon Quest, it wasnít enough. It just wasnít enough.
Now, I see that there has been a decrease in a commitment to the Yukon Quest of approximately $35,000. Can the minister please explain to me how that is going to help the Yukon Quest?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I do believe that the Quest was given an additional amount for developing a sponsorship package, and that is not necessary any more.
Mr. Keenan: The minister says it is not necessary any more. I just hope that they have worked with the Yukon Quest to come to that arrangement and that agreement. Certainly I think that every one of our tools ó and certainly that is a tool that the Yukon Quest does deserve to be able to enjoy government support. Can I just get a yes from the minister, that the minister would always be there to provide that type of support in leaner times?
At this point in time, the minister is alluding that they have got sponsorship. I am very concerned that this classic icon of the Yukon will suffer, and I am certainly hoping that this minister will find ways. If the minister cares to answer that, the minister can. I could move on.
I have a final question for the minister, and it is regarding the tourism industry and tourism regional plans. I would appreciate it if the minister would give me an update on the tourism regional plans. And please, if the minister could find a way that when we go to communities and create expectations for communities, we find a way to implement some of the issues that come from those issues.
I will say to the minister that I am thinking and speaking directly of the Campbell region at this point in time ó the town, the village, the unique spot along the Pelly River of Ross River. I have written a letter to the minister for the second time now, and I have been waiting for an outstanding casework, I believe, for over a month on development of campground facilities at Lapie Lakes, which is on the South Canol, which has no signage, no garbage facilities, no outhouse and, by golly, is it ever used.
The other place that we need a little bit of work and help is with the same situation ó no garbage, no washroom facilities, et cetera, at Dragon Lake. Now, it was said to me in the first letter that we would look at it. The community has requested it. The community has not received an answer on it. I would like the minister to be able to stand on the floor of this House and say, yes, by golly, we will be working with those communities to find a way to keep our environment clean and to enhance tourism within that region. Is that possible?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. I think there were a number of questions that the member asked me. One of them was with respect to regional tourism plans and, as I understand, there is a regional tourism planning currently occurring in north Yukon, that the tourism plan for north Yukon is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2002. Tourism planning in the region is progressing at a pace that the community in consultation with is most comfortable with. The community-oriented tourism plan will provide the First Nation with the framework needed to pursue tourism opportunities in their area. The plan is being co-ordinated with other initiatives in the region, such as northern land use planning, Parks Canada, visitors centre planning initiatives, and the Vuntut National Park, as well as tourism opportunities for the Fishing Branch protected area.
The steering committee for that planning includes the Vuntut Development Corporation, and weíre reviewing the planning and summarizing tourism information for north Yukon, so weíre working in a very collaborative fashion within north Yukon, and I do believe that that report, as I had mentioned earlier, is to be completed in the fall of 2002.
The other regional plans that are going on ó Tourism is planning to continue, depending on regional interests and, also, abilities to participate directly. Right now, the north Yukon tourism plan is our first priority. The budget anticipates that we will start planning in the Campbell area or the Teslin region this fall. So, we look forward to doing that.
Mr. Keenan: I was just wondering if the minister could now please just elaborate on the Dragon Lake scenario that I portrayed, and on the Lapie Lakes situation, and then Iíll be disengaging.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Keenan: Thank you, Mr. Chair. On Lapie Lakes on the South Canol, and on Dragon Lake ó would the minister be able to facilitate with the other departments some tourist attraction, just like an outhouse and a garbage bucket?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I certainly hope to be able to provide facilities a little better than a garbage pail. I know that the leader of the official opposition, earlier today in debate on Executive Council Office, challenged my trip last summer throughout the territory, visiting campgrounds. I know that he also challenged the fact, and he does not believe, that I visited just about every campground in the territory.
He challenged me with respect to Tatchun Creek and the campground right in Carmacks. Well, the campground ó I should take advantage of this opportunity, Mr. Chair, where I could detail exactly where I went, how long I was there, the people I talked with, and let the member know that I did travel up the Campbell Highway as well. I visited all campsites from Watson Lake up to Ross River and Faro and right across to the Dawson-Mayo road.
So, I did have an opportunity to spend time in these areas, and I did spend time in the area around Ross River and talked to the local residents. And they indicated that they had talked to the Premier. The Premier has chatted to me about establishing more campgrounds along the Campbell Highway.
I canít remember. There is one specific location that was mentioned to me up in Ross River that I would have to make reference to in my notes. But I know that when I came back, I gave my travel notes to the department, and there is already ó I believe itís about 10 years old ó a campground report, and the thing is that that campground report has not been looked at in a good number of years. So, along with my note, I instructed the department to dust off that plan so we can have a good look at our campgrounds and our campsites and our other recreation sites, pull-offs, day-use areas, and have a serious look. It was recognized that there are missing areas along the Campbell Highway.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: The member is asking me to answer his question, and I am answering his question. I know that they donít always appreciate when we provide the detail that we do, Mr. Chair.
The fact of the matter is that we have been in consultation. There is a draft update to the campsites plan being prepared by the Department of Environment ó campgrounds, complete with recommendations. I have seen a first cut of that report and, of course, when we are looking at relocating campsites or looking at best use of campsites or establishing new campsites, there are expenditures associated with that.
So I hope, within the next little while, that I can complete the report and put it out for public review and comment. Iím sure that the leader of the official opposition is going to be more than eager to read every word and every recommendation and, of course, support that initiative, being the former Minister of Renewable Resources. I know he has a strong appreciation for our wild spots and places that we can really enjoy.
The fact of the matter is that at Tatchun Creek, when I was camping there, there was a great experience where I helped a local initiative, as a matter of fact.
There was a stream with little fry. And the kids in the campground had a great time experiencing that. So, Iím actually getting some helpful suggestions from the members opposite, like winding cameras and time outs. I could go on and on and on about campgrounds. I thought that with the criticisms I got from the members opposite, theyíd want to know every detail, every mosquito counted ó every experience I had.
I should also mention, though, that I had great opportunity to meet some of our campground personnel. They are very dedicated, and ó
Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Even my colleagues, Mr. Chair, are encouraging me to wind things up.
Mr. Chair, I would now move that we report progress.
Chair: It has been moved by Mr. Eftoda that we do now report progress.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McLachlan: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Chair: It has been moved by Mr. McLachlan that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
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: You have heard the report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
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. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 6:00 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled May 29, 2002:
Infrastructure Status Report Ė 2002: Community Services (Buckway)
Electoral District Boundaries Act, 2002 (Bill No. 61): letter from Premier Pat Duncan to Eric Fairclough, Leader of the Official Opposition (dated May 29, 2002) confirming their agreement made on this date (Duncan)