Monday, March 10, 2003 ó 1:00 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call this 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
Mr. Cathers: At this time, Iíd like to welcome the class from Hidden Valley School, the grade 5 and 6 class, who are present with us today.
Speaker: Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Mr. Speaker, I rise to table an update of environmental indicators entitled, "The Yukonís State of the Environment Interim Report 2001".
Speaker: Are there any other 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. Fairclough: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that
(1) during the recent election campaign, the Yukon Party made specific commitments to increase funding for child care in the territory;
(2) the budget tabled in this House on March 6, 2003, not only failed to honour this commitment, it actually cut financial support for services to children and youth across the territory;
(3) the budget also failed to account for the increased funding the territory will receive from the federal government as a result of the recent first ministers meetings; and
(4) in spite of a 10-year old promise to introduce a national child care program, the federal Liberal governmentís most recent financial commitment to child care is expected to fall drastically short of the Yukonís needs; and
THAT this House calls upon the Yukon Party government to introduce a supplementary budget at the earliest opportunity to meet its election commitments to Yukon families and to child care professionals.
Mr. Rouble: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House recognizes that
(1) the Yukon and its northern neighbours face common issues related to sparse populations, great distances between communities and vast areas of land to administer;
(2) these issues are not always well understood by the Government of Canada, provincial governments and others when making decisions affecting the north; and
(3) it is beneficial to establish a strong relationship with neighbouring jurisdictions in order to work together on matters of mutual concern to present sound and forceful positions to resolve these issues; and
THAT this House urges the Yukon government to work together with the governments of Northwest Territories, Nunavut, British Columbia, Alberta and Alaska to develop bilateral and other agreements to advance their common interests.
Ms. Duncan: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that
THAT this House urges the Yukon Party government to live up to its commitment to children and the child care community by providing the necessary funding to make immediate improvements to the child care system, as promised during the election.
Mr. Arntzen: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to
Speaker: Any further notices of motion?
Is there a ministerial statement?
That brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Child care funding
Mr. Fairclough: My question is for the Minister of Health and Social Services. On October 29 at the leaders forum, the Premier was asked a simple yes-or-no question. The question was: "I would like to know if he will increase wages for early childhood professionals ó yes or no?"
Here is the answer from the Yukon Party leader, who is now the Premier: "A yes-or-no question deserves a yes-or-no answer. Yes."
Mr. Speaker, the Premier said yes. I would like to ask the minister: why has the minister reneged on his partyís promise to increase funding to child care?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Our party is committed to addressing the shortcomings in the daycare situation here in the Yukon. It was part of our election platform. It was one of the major commitments.
Now what the member sees in the budget is a reflection of the economic times that currently exist. Thanks in part to the previous administrations, we have had a downturn in the number of individuals in child care and in the subsidy. The number of day homes is down; the number of day care centres is down. The amount of subsidy that is being given out is pretty well consistent with last year.
We have committed to a whole process of reviewing the daycare situation. In fact, the first exercise our government went through after being elected to power was task an individual with commencing this review.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister is already making excuses on why that party is breaking its promises. If there is a willingness to find monies, if there is an interest there, the Yukon Party does that. It found monies ó $200,000 ó to pay for help. They had a contract written up for help, but they couldnít do it there for child care. So the interest isnít there in this Yukon Party government. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, child care workers are very upset at this governmentís budget.
The same person who asked the question at the leaders forum was in the paper on Friday. I apologize for the unparliamentary language, but this is a quote: "We are extremely disappointed in the Yukon territorial government for lying to the child care community and letting the children and families of the Yukon down."
There is even a real threat that the child care workers across the territory could walk off the job. So will the minister call a meeting immediately with the Yukon child care workers and their association to resolve this matter?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, that is our intention and that is what we are doing. Currently, our government is paying out $1.4 million in subsidies for children in care and the subsidies ó direct operating grants. Eighty-four percent of the workers who were polled want a complete review. A complete review, Mr. Speaker, takes longer than 90 days. We are compiling the information. As soon as we have reviewed that information, weíll be back out with the options to all of the daycare operators, day home operators and daycare workers. But the wages are very, very important issues, as is training, and those will be addressed in the program that we are developing and that we will bring forward for the consideration of the daycare home operators and their workers.
Speaker: I would remind the member that even quoting issues that are unparliamentary are not acceptable, so I would ask you to please limit yourself.
Mr. Fairclough: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, the minister has made excuses. There is no excuse. The Yukon Party government put forward a budget, and now we have a wait-and-see attitude, wait until we talk to the child care workers ó which should have taken place already before the budget was developed. Now we see cuts in health care. And there are certainly huge gaps in the budget in Health and Social Services, especially in regional services.
Now, the federal government has committed to resource some of this health care money that they clawed back in the 1990s. Will the minister ensure that additional federal monies will go toward honouring the Yukon Partyís commitment to increase wages for child care professionals? Will he do that?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, thatís exactly what this money is earmarked for, and thatís exactly what weíre going to do. I thank the member for the question, but it must be pointed out that the federal Government of Canada, in providing this money for day care across Canada, what this translates to for Yukon is $25,000 of additional funding. Thatís why the Premier of the Yukon, in concert with the premiers of the other two northern territories, has developed this Northern Accord. Theyíre going forward to the federal Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister of Canada seeking to correct these imbalances, because on a per capita basis we have no way at all of meeting these obligations.
So, we are working on many, many fronts but the question that the member opposite posed is exactly what weíre doing.
Question re: Economic situation
Mr. Hardy: Later today, this House will begin debate on one of the bleakest budgets the Yukon has ever seen. Actually, we could probably go back to when the Yukon Party was in government last time to see a bleak budget delivered in this manner. What a lot of people find shocking is the complete lack of economic vision or leadership. The Premier is so fixated on the spinning trajectory that he is basically saying to the world that the government isnít prepared to invest in the Yukon ó why should you?
Will the Premier tell the House how he expects to inspire confidence in the Yukon economy when his own cuts in capital spending show he doesnít have any confidence in it himself?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I think the question is a clear example of the official opposition, the New Democratsí understanding of finances and what the expenditures of monies should accomplish.
We had the biggest budget in the history of this territory for this fiscal year that is just ending ó the biggest budget ever. What did it produce? It produced a further exodus of people from the territory. Obviously, thereís something wrong here.
Now, we could have done like Alaska and British Columbia, with massive, deep cuts, with mega job loss, with tax increases, but we didnít. We simply set targets and lowered the trajectory. Now the time has come for government to redirect its expenditures to where they will do the most good in terms of rebuilding the Yukon economy.
Mr. Hardy: Well, itís interesting that a few short months ago, Liberals were saying that there was a lot of money in the budget, there was a lot of money to be brought forward, and in four months the Yukon Party has managed to take it down to $1 million. I donít know if thatís fiscal management or not.
The Premier canít just look at the so-called spending trajectories and say that this has to stop. Thatís not what itís all about. I donít believe thereís a crisis here. Thereís just a failure in the will and on the part of this government, a failure of the leadership. Itís called "Chicken Little economics" ó the sky is falling, Mr. Speaker, the sky is falling. As a former businessperson, the Premier must realize that you need to invest in order to attract investment. Why has the Premier chosen to ignore the trade and investment opportunities, downgrade the geoscience program and cut funding to marketing initiatives? How will that inspire investor confidence?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I would remind the member opposite that we are in the midst ó at least finalizing an existing fiscal year. The problems that we face today are the residual of the budgeting of the former governments. We are changing the course that this territory is going to take. That is by ensuring that government expenditure attracts investment to this territory and gets the private sector engaged where the real growth for our economy will take place.
If the member opposite thinks for a moment that this isnít a critical situation ó well, if we had followed the projections that were brought forward upon taking office, this year the Yukon government in all likelihood would be in an accumulated deficit position. That has nothing to do with this government. Weíve just taken office. It has to do with the expenditure of former governments.
And this memberís own leader, during the period of 1996 to 2000, stood on the floor of this Legislature many times and said that this type of spending by the Yukon government cannot be sustained. Well, the time has come to take the bull by the horns, Mr. Speaker. Thatís what this government has done. We are going to get a firm grip on the fiscal situation of the territory, engage the private sector and create real economic growth.
Mr. Hardy: Old words, old way of bringing in a budget at the beginning. Ensure there is a crisis; ensure that the people of the Yukon believe that weíre in a crisis situation. We have to bail out and within a year or two years. All of a sudden we have amazing surpluses that have materialized.
I donít know how thatís going to happen, but we have seen it happen time and time again and itís called "moving the figures". Business people have said over and over that their number one problem is getting access to capital. The Premier had a golden opportunity to address that problem by providing seed money to the labour-sponsored venture capital fund, as is known in the public as the fireweed fund. The Liberals wouldnít do it and didnít do it, but the Yukon Party said they would do it. Why did the Premier break his platform commitment to provide seed money for the fireweed fund, which could have attracted large pools of venture capital if there is a shortage out there, as he is constantly saying, to help get this economy going again?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I would point out to the member opposite that we havenít broken any commitment. In fact, today, as we speak, we are working with a group representative of labour and citizens, with officials from Finance, on this very issue ó the fireweed fund. Letís not forget that the biggest contributor to this fund has to be the federal government. So we are working on it today.
But I want to go back to how the member views budgeting. We, the government, receive projections from the Department of Finance ó thatís what we have to deal with. The final accounting will be done when we reach this fiscal year-end. Then there will also be the Auditor Generalís report, which will provide the exact accounting of what has taken place. But we, as a government, deal with projections. Those projections showed a very serious situation. We could have acted in a different way and maybe guessed that we might have vast surpluses in the coming years ó we didnít. We chose the frugal route to ensure that we were not in an accumulated deficit position to start with, and weíll go from there.
Question re: Whitehorse Copper residential development
Ms. Duncan: I have a question today for the Minister of Community Services. Mr. Speaker, the minister has indicated he excused himself during debate on the fuel tax, and itís clear the minister was absent from Cabinet when money for highway contractors and the construction industry was doled out. Was the minister also absent when the Yukon Party promised to stop the development of a new subdivision in Whitehorse Copper?
During a recent election campaign, the Member for Copperbelt and the Yukon Party candidate for Mount Lorne wrote an open letter stating that this proposal "should not proceed", and I quote, Mr. Speaker. Was the minister absent or unaware of this commitment?
Hon. Mr. Hart: I was aware that this issue was out there at Whitehorse Copper. We were looking at taking on further consultation.
Ms. Duncan: What I heard the minister indicate was the minister was aware that a letter had been sent and signed by his Yukon Party colleagues that states, "The Whitehorse Copper subdivision should not proceed."
Thatís pretty clear opposition to any such development. Recently, a spokesman for the minister has confirmed that ó guess what? ó the development is proceeding anyway. Thatís another broken promise in anybodyís eyes, Mr. Speaker.
Why has the minister broken his promise and broken the promise made by his colleague from Copperbelt?
Hon. Mr. Hart: At a public meeting in the Whitehorse Copper facility, we were asked further questions with regard to the development, and we are reviewing those questions.
Ms. Duncan: The minister has indicated that he is aware of the commitment made by his party and his colleagues that the development should not proceed. The minister has also indicated that the project is going ahead. The Yukon Party is breaking another promise to voters.
The budget tabled on Thursday contains over $5.6 million in residential land development costs. The majority of that money is for the Whitehorse Copper subdivision in spite of the fact that two of his colleagues have signed a letter to Copperbelt residents indicating that the Whitehorse Copper subdivision should not proceed. Will the minister stand on his feet and explain to residents of this area why the Yukon Party government is breaking its promise to Yukon voters?
Hon. Mr. Hart: We are looking at the specific subdivision. In its previous format that it was being presented, it was being rejected by the community. We listened to the community, we got some of their comments and we are readjusting the process to address some of their concerns.
Question re: Community development fund
Mr. McRobb: Itís obvious to everybody that the Yukon Partyís record of broken promises is growing longer by the day. In fact, there is a growing list on issues such as the community development fund. Last week we learned that the Yukon Partyís promise to deliver a $3.5-million community development fund as part of its so-called winter works initiative came up short both on time and money.
Then we heard about the Yukon Partyís backroom IOUs from the election that guaranteed community development fund money. Now, Yukoners are concerned by the Yukon Partyís broken promise to restore the community development fund to its original level.
Can the Premier tell us, for the record, exactly what his version of the community development fundís original level is?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: It certainly wonít be the oppositionís version, because theyíre not making the case at all. We did restore the $3.5 million. The winter works projects did take place. Some 22 applications came in that conformed for eligibility under winter works and, between FireSmart and CDF, weíve expended over $3 million this winter. In fact, if we look outside, weíd find itís still winter, and we will proceed accordingly. We are ending this fiscal year; we expect there will be monies lapsing because there just simply arenít any more applications that are eligible under the winter works criteria. We are developing a new CDF program that will broaden and expand access, and we intend to keep our commitment of $3.5 million in CDF and $1.5 million in FireSmart. That should be clear.
Mr. McRobb: Those words ring hollow, and theyíre too little, too late, for the 200 workers who have left the territory over the past year, and who might have been enticed to stay a little longer, had this government rolled up its sleeves and done the work on the CDF and winter works initiative. What a difference an election does make, Mr. Speaker. It wasnít long ago when the now Premier frequently harangued the previous government for sitting on a huge surplus. He rejected outright the same arguments from the former Premier, and now leader of the third party, that he now makes.
Yukoners are tired of that type of doublespeak. I want to ask the Premier about another of his CDF promises, and I quote, "to give preference to projects that generate revenue." Can the Premier tell us approximately what percentage of the CDF applications approved to date would fall under that category?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Well, I would also include labour intensive, community well-being ó all those things. That is what we were looking for. Of all the applications that came in for winter works, some 22 applications conformed and the monies have been allocated. But as far as the memberís comments about surpluses and so on and so forth of the previous government, it is clear by the accounting ó and this is final accounting ó that the former government had some $78 million in surplus. Today, thanks to the spending spree that the former Liberal government went on, we are now, with the projected figures, looking at a mere $1-million surplus. Those are the numbers we have to deal with until the Auditor General brings forward the final accounting for the fiscal year 2002-03.
Question re: One-stop shop building
Mr. Cardiff: My question is for the Minister of Highways and Public Works. The previous government committed Yukon taxpayers to two costly misadventures. One was to move the Whitehorse Liquor Store to the Yukon liquor warehouse and the other costly misadventure was the relocation of several government offices to what became known as the "one-stop" shop across from Wal-Mart. I would like to know if the minister has abandoned all plans for the Liberals so-called "Service Yukon building" on Quartz Road?
Hon. Mr. Hart: On the issue of Yukon Liquor Corporation, the building will be staying where it is.
With regard to the one-stop shop, we are still investigating our options on that particular building. We have and are entertaining a few solutions for it.
Mr. Cardiff: So I am to understand that the liquor store will be built at the liquor warehouse. I believe thatís what I heard.
Last Friday there was a building permit issued for the one-stop shop, and Iíd like the minister to confirm that ó if there is a building permit issued, they must know what their plans for the building are. So Iíd like to know what those plans are for the one-stop shop.
Hon. Mr. Hart: Iím a little confused; there seemed to be two questions in there, or one, or one and a half. Permit? It is probably being purchased by the owner in that particular venue.
Mr. Cardiff: Well, maybe we can get an answer to this question. Iíd like to know if there has been and what type of consultation the minister and his department have had with property owners in the area with regard to the uses at the one-stop shop on Quartz Road?
Hon. Mr. Hart: As I mentioned earlier, weíre still exploring our options for this particular facility. Once our options are explored, we will carry on with the consultation.
Question re: Protected areas strategy
Mrs. Peter: Mr. Speaker, my question today is again for the Minister of Environment. In a news release dated January 28, Premier Fentie stated that further work on the Yukon protected areas strategy is being put on hold. This decision was fully supported by the Minister of Environment. In the budget speech on Thursday, March 7, on page 8, to be exact, we learned that this government decided to discontinue with the Yukon protected areas strategy. When I looked the word up in the dictionary, the definition of "discontinue" is to cease or to give up. Will the minister please tell us which it will be? Is it still on hold, or will it be discontinued?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: There seems to be some confusion over, basically, this issue. So, to clarify, the matter of the Yukon protected areas strategy ó it is a flawed process. It is a process that is in desperate need of review. It is a process that is in desperate need of harmonization with other strategies such as special management areas, national parks, et cetera, et cetera, and this is an area that should be thoroughly investigated before we waste any more time on it, so that we can come up with a strategy that works.
Again, Mr. Speaker, weíre trying to do it right the first time and not take shots at it over several years.
Mrs. Peter: Mr. Speaker, in the budget speech, Premier Fentie highlighted the beauty of the Yukon and how people travel from far away to see our pristine and beautiful landscape. We completely agree that wilderness tourism forms much of our economic base. How is the confusion over the Yukon protected areas strategy contributing to the economic certainty for the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: The economic certainty for the Yukon is based on investors and others to make reasonable decisions on what resources are available. No one can go to a bank and get a loan to do any kind of work unless there is some surety, unless there is some certainty that they are able to complete that work.
Under the flawed process, it is impossible to determine who can work where, and until we can come up with that process, Mr. Speaker, it is essential that we allow investors to think about this with a clear mind, as everyone else has a chance to think with a clear mind and come up with something that works the first time.
Mrs. Peter: "Weíre put on hold" and "we will discontinue." What these words really are saying is that this Yukon Party government does not believe that environment is part of our economy. The Yukon protected areas strategy was built on principles that recognize standards of protection, integrating ecological concerns and providing for economic benefits.
Will the minister tell us what process he will use to replace the Yukon protected areas strategy?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: I agree with the member opposite, that it is necessary to look at this whole thing and to meet the commitments that the Yukon Party started in 1992.
The protected areas strategy is a flawed process. It is a process that needs to be revisited. Itís not the initiative that needs to be revisited. The member opposite is quite correct ó we should be looking at this. But I suggest to the member opposite that we are at least in a good position at this point in time to go back and revisit that. I believe 12.517 percent of the Yukon is protected ó that is the best in Canada. Under existing areas that we have already identified that we will be continuing to look at ó not discontinued; we will be looking at those identified areas ó the number rises to almost 20 percent. That puts us the best in Canada. I think thatís a reasonable point, to sit back and take a look at the big picture.
Question re: Department of Economic Development budget
Mr. Hardy: The Premier has known for over four months that he was going to separate Tourism and Economic Development into two departments. However, in reading the budget, there is allocation toward Tourism but there doesnít seem to be any information about Economic Development or a budget in place for it. So, why is there a budget for the new Department of Business, Tourism and Culture but none for Economic Development?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: To construct a budget, we need a department structure in place. One of the areas that has to be completed before we can proceed with that structure is a date thatís just ahead of us ó April 1 ó and the transfer of employees. Job descriptions have been given out, and we didnít want to unsettle the public service any more than it has been already under renewal. We felt it important that members of the public service become very involved in the design of the new Department of Economic Development. Therefore, we have ensured that the department has validity by putting it into the budget with a $1 line item. I think itís reasonable to state here that much of the resources will come out of other departments within government that exist today, and we will structure the department forthwith, subsequent to April 1, when all the employees from the federal side have transferred and all job descriptions and classifications are in place.
Mr. Hardy: Thatís interesting, because it means the budget that we have before us is going to be reconfigured again. Thatís my understanding.
Iím sure the government across the way must have some idea of what direction theyíre going in and how much money they see going into the new Department of Economic Development. So could this minister please give us some idea of what direction they plan to go in, what kind of costs and money are being planned to go there, and how theyíre going to resolve some of the changes within the other departments ó if theyíre going to extract some money from them?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I think itís fair to say that, at this stage of the game, we donít want to speculate. Itís a standard practice for governments to bring forward supplementary budgets. Weíll do that. What we want to do, first and foremost, is to structure a department that is going to deliver the desired product, and weíre going to do that with our public servants; weíre going to do that with First Nation governments; weíre going to do that with industry; weíre going to do that with stakeholders like the chambers of commerce; weíre going to do that with Yukoners; and the reason weíre going to do that is because they have a lot to offer in structuring the new, focused Economic Development department. Thatís why weíre taking the time.
When weíve completed the process, we will institute the department with all of its resources and budgetary items that are necessary, and we can do that with the standard vehicle that governments use every year ó a supplementary budget.
Mr. Hardy: There might be a few supplementary budgets by the time weíre finished here.
Well, it just seems so open-ended, this whole idea of an Economic Development department, which is fine. If thatís the direction this government wants to go, thatís fine. They are government. But itís nothing new. This is not a brand new idea that has come out of nowhere. Iím sure there is a lot of knowledge based over there that theyíve used to discuss the future and shape of this and the role of it. Will the Premier tell us what role the Economic Development department will play in implementing an effective trade and investment strategy, because Iím sure thatís going to be in there, and some idea of what new money this may bring to the territory?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: First let me answer the question about role. It will take and play a lead role. The highest priority for Yukoners today, as it was during the election, is the economy. I donít think we can argue that point at all. It is the economy. We need a Department of Economic Development that will serve the purpose. Weíre not going to speculate on how much money it can bring, but I can tell the member opposite just in the resource-based industries alone, if we are to establish processes where access for the investment community and industry can take place, it could equate into the hundreds of millions. Look at our neighbour to the east: $600 million, approximately, over the next couple of years, will be spent in the delta because of oil and gas. The Yukon today does not participate in that windfall of investment. What weíre trying to achieve here, under this governmentís watch, is participation or, in other words, getting a piece of the action. Thatís what the Department of Economic Development will be doing once it is given its full structure.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed, and we will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Bill No. 4: Second Reading ó adjourned debate
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 4, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Fentie; adjourned debate, Mr. Hardy.
Mr. Hardy: It is an honour to be able to finally stand up and address a budget that has been brought forward after many, many months ó well, actually, itís almost a year since the Yukon public has seen a budget brought forward in this territory, which raises a lot of concerns, of course.
The people in this territory need certainty. They need a sense of direction. They need a sense of vision that comes from their government, and it was almost a year ago when they had a vision brought forward through the budget that the Liberals had brought down, that they could work toward for their future, plan for their future, know if they were going to have jobs, know what work was coming forward. The communities also could see what money was being transferred to them, in order to plan for their future as well.
But since that time, Mr. Speaker, the Yukon Territory has gone through some very interesting times. There was a period we went through with the previous Liberal government where special warrants were used to conduct a fair amount of business, and that raised a lot of concern for people. That, of course, led into the election and the uncertainty that an election brings.
Now, during the election, many, many promises were made by the three parties and the independents who also ran. But today what we have to discuss is a budget brought forward by the Yukon Party that, ideally, should be based on some of the promises, or the majority of the election promises, made by the Yukon Party.
If you go through the party platform, Mr. Speaker, you see promises, whether itís the film industry, child care, of course ó which is a huge issue ó you see promises on the economic front, oil and gas development, roads to resources. You see promises in government-to-government relationships with First Nations, municipalities, federal government ó all the levels of government. You see promises made about the conduct, the decorum thatís going to be held within this House. Those are just a few examples.
We have the budget before us today and, in going through the budget, we have realized that many of those promises made do not apply to this budget. So, what has happened ó Iíve said this before but I have to reiterate it. What has happened from the time of an election, where there were many, many promises made, to the time, four months later, when a budget is brought down?
Now, weíve heard many, many arguments ó not arguments, but positions taken about the trajectory of spending, about the fact that the piggy bank has been emptied or broken by the previous Liberal government, and that there is just absolutely no room to more. But frankly, what it really comes down to is choices. There is always room to move. There is money there. Weíre talking about over $550 million.
What we have to do, as the opposition, is look at the choices that have been made by the governing party, the government. Now, we can see going through this that the election platform ó the promises made during that ó and this budget, have changed dramatically. So, using their lines of trajectory, what theyíve come up with is one of the bleakest budgets that this territory has ever seen.
If anything, it reminds me of back in the early 1990s when a previous Yukon Party was elected, led then by Mr. John Ostashek, and they brought in one of the bleakest budgets ever seen. They also said that they had no money. They also said that the trajectory was way out of whack. Itís dťjŗ vu all over again. It is really like listening to it being all resurrected, all repeated back to us again 10 years later. The sky is still falling.
But 10 years have gone by and has the territory gone in debt? Has the territory gone bankrupt? Ten years have gone by, and yet in 1992-93 the picture that was painted was extremely bleak ó very similar to what is being painted today. Ten years go by and here we are again and itís bleak. Actually it reminds me of reading a Charles Dickens novel, Bleak House. The budget that starts bad is going to end bad, and it is going to be one of these depressing journeys that we have to get through because we want to finish this book of 700 or 800 pages.
So this might be 900 days of Yukon Party, Mr. Speaker, but we are in a novel that paints a picture that this territory is in extremely dire shape and that in many cases and in many of the areas where people work, they donít hold out any hope because there is not going to be any help from this government.
Therefore, maybe you should go down and work somewhere else. Maybe you should think about moving your family, because one of the concerns I have heard from the opposite side was that they wanted to try to address the problem of people leaving the territory. Well, how do you address that problem? You create hope. You instill a sense of belief that this territory has turned a corner and that things are going to be better and that this government is part of making it better.
If you bring in a budget that only points to a trajectory that is a downward spiral and a refusal to invest in this territory, then youíve done the opposite. Why would people want to stay here if their own government says that thereís no hope in the territory?
Iíll tell you a little story. I worked in construction for many years ó 20 some years ó and Iíve watched the booms and the busts; the very good times of work and then the hard times when youíre just getting by but youíre making it. This is our home, my home. I live through it. I see it go up and down, but thereís a contractor whom many of us in the construction industry know, and he has been in business as long as Iíve been working. He started his business around the time I started. No matter what, in 20 some years, I have never heard him say that heís made a dollar.
Now, heíll come up and say, "Iíve never made a dollar in my life. The industry is terrible. I canít make any money. The bidding is tough, and there are no margins." Yet, this man has been in the territory for 20 some years; he has one of the biggest companies in the territory. He works all over Yukon, Northwest Territories, northern British Columbia. He has a fleet of vehicles; he has a tremendous amount of equipment. He has a very good staff of workers who work for him. He pays them very well and treats them well. They have a good pension plan.
He has boats and cars and houses and cabins, and he takes three or four holidays a year. He has never made a single penny.
So, this is what he tells us. This is what he tells his workers. He paints a very bleak picture for himself.
This is what this government is doing. People are working. For 10 years, since the last bleak budget that was brought in, people worked. People prospered; people lived. This is our territory. We hunted; we fished. Weíve seen mines come and go. Weíve seen many policies and items and acts brought forward. Weíve seen many, many changes in many ways, but people continue to make it. What Iím trying to say is this man paints a very bleak picture, but thereís probably not a soul out there ó not a single worker out there ó who believes him because workers look around and they see that it canít be true, though his words are very bleak.
We are hearing the same story here today. The territory is being painted as a place where there is very little hope, and yet you look around and itís not that bad. I do not want to believe that we have to give up on this place. This is our home. This is home to all of us, and there is work and there is hope and people can stay here and people should come back if they have left, and we should invite new people here, as well. Frankly, when I look at the budget, I donít see that indication, I donít get that feeling, that the people across the way in the Yukon government have that same picture in their minds. They canít, because what we have is a tremendous amount of cuts and a budget speech that painted quite a distressing scenario for the territory if we donít immediately cut everywhere, if we donít create greater hardship as fast as possible.
Now, there are a lot of things missing in the budget that Iím trying to sort through, and my colleagues, as well, on this side are also trying to sort through. One of them is the lapses that happen every year, and those lapses can be anywhere from $15 million to $20 million, which would go toward the bottom line.
There are also money transfers that will be happening on some programs that are not mentioned in the budget speech. Those also go to add to that bottom line.
Now, theyíve put aside $15 million for a contingency fund to anticipate a drop in the transfers, based on the population up here. Thatís kind of a speculative type of number, of course. Yet weíve just heard the Premier say that he doesnít deal in speculation, but there is a lot of speculation in this. But there are also a lot of things missing, and I believe that there is a lot of money that is missing in this budget. I think, personally, it is not identified so that in one year or two years we can have the Yukon government stand up on the other side and say, "Well, thanks to our fiscally prudent management, we have managed to turn the corner. We have managed to create a surplus of $50 million or $60 million or $70 million, which is going back to what we were a year or two years ago."
So is that fair to use figures like that or to not put all of the figures in or, not even in your budget speech, to identify areas where money may come to give hope for people, to show itís not as bleak a picture as has been indicated already? Is that fair? I donít think it is. Put it all up front; show that itís not as bleak as it is. If there are cuts that you want to make in an area, Mr. Speaker, then be honest about it. They may be cut due to ideology. They may be something that you truly believe does not deserve or need the money; and therefore you would just as soon take it out and move it to another cause that you yourself believe in ó or another department or another area that you feel would have more benefit from your own particular perspective.
When people vote for different parties, theyíre voting for certain philosophies; theyíre voting for certain presentations and directions that they think the government will go, directions in which, if they get elected and put in place, they will take the Yukon Territory.
So, the newly elected members opposite should be quite proud of some of the areas in which they have made their cuts, because itís just a reflection of what they truly believe in, and not blame everything on this trajectory. Because a trajectory ó if you keep talking about this trajectory, this spiralling out of control and you canít maintain it, the territory is going to fall down, the economy is going to totally collapse, weíll stay here and weíll be the last people to turn out the lights, everybody just move on because thereís just no hope here ó if you keep saying that, if you keep talking about the sky thatís falling, itís going to be self-fulfilling and you may find out that you have been part of the problem that starts to pull you down by using that kind of language.
Now, you have to also be able to back it up, and if, in a year or two years, thereís $50 million or $100 million in the kitty, you have really, really misled the general public, because that money just doesnít materialize. That money is sitting there. And it could be lapses, Mr. Speaker.
Initially, what I would really like to hear from the side opposite is that the Premier believes in the Yukon. I would like to hear the ministers and the backbenchers stand up and say they truly believe in the Yukon and they believe in the Yukon because of this. They believe there is a future because of this, because of the hard work, the work ethic of the territory, because of the experience that exists here, especially the experience to be able to go through the ups and downs of the economy that we all have experienced if weíve lived here any length of time. This is the north. We are subject to many of the winds of change that happen around our country, nationally and internationally as well as locally.
So I would really like to hear that, instead of always this doom and gloom, and I think that would be a start. That would be a start for a lot of people out there, Mr. Speaker, if this government would start to adopt that position and not create such a negative attitude toward the territory.
Now, what are some of the substantial cuts that have been made that jump out? Iím going to go through the main estimates and look at a lot of them, because theyíre quite interesting when you go through them because they do point to a certain trajectory, if you want to use that word, of where maybe this government is taking us and some of the targeted areas where they have targeted associations and groups or people within our society.
Of course, I would like to talk first about one that is really, really one that is felt by many people, and that is the cuts and the broken promises in the child care area and youth services. Now, there has been a fair amount of talk in the last few days, ever since the budget has come down, about the child care workers and the need to get some assistance to them. My daughter worked at one time in the child care profession, and I have some knowledge of the expectations upon a child care worker, the trust that is put in them. One of the greatest trusts you can give to a person is to hand over your child and, at the end of the day, come back and pick up your child and expect that that child had been treated with the proper care and attention that is necessary ó that there is love, this is what we really, really want to see; ensure that child has been fed and cleaned; if itís a young infant, that the diapers have been changed; they havenít been neglected; they have proper facilities; they are warm.
If theyíre a little bit older, theyíve been out on walks; theyíve been stimulated. You can go and pick up your child and know that your child has had a good experience staying at their daycare or at their facility and that the people who are in there truly do love working with children.
Now, my belief is that the people who work in that profession must really love working with children because the wages are sure not what draws them there.
What many people consider is our most precious ó itís hard to even describe. What we value most in our society is our children ó our future. It seems that the people who care for our children, the ones to whom we entrust such a tremendous amount of responsibility, we transfer so little of that value to them. Now, a lot of them are paid $7 or $8 an hour. You can go down to a fast-food restaurant and work in line and get paid the same amount. You can work in a theatre and get paid the same amount. The responsibilities you have are completely different. The knowledge and skill that you need to care for a child is completely different. So, why is it that they are not paid in accordance to the value that we place on that kind of work? But theyíre not.
Now, during the election, of course, they were very vocal, because I think they finally did hit the end of the line and they feel up against the wall in their ability to be able to care for these children but also to be able to care for themselves. There is an old saying that in order to be able to care for somebody else, you first must ensure that you, yourself, are looked after.
In this case, what I was hearing and seeing was the fact that the child care workers were almost at the point where they were unable to care for themselves. So they had come out during the election in order to try to make their case, and there were a lot of promises made and they were good promises. There was recognition of the needs. So I believe that, because of the promises that were made, that the child care workers expected to see something in this budget. Now the budget has been brought down and what we have seen is cuts and when I go through the main estimates, I will get to that and talk about those figures. But most importantly I think is the sense of lost faith in what a politician may say at election time and what happens once they are in government. That reflects upon us all. I am not pointing a finger at any one in particular. We all carry that burden that before we say what we say during an election, we must really seriously think about whether we are going to live up to that. Are we going to fulfill it? If we canít fulfill it, if we canít do it, then what we should do is not make the promise.
But, promises were made and because of the promises that were made, expectations were raised. I am not sure if this is a classic example of creating the picture that the economics of the government are so poor in order to get away from fulfillment of promises made. This is not uncommon. This is part of our whole problem with how people perceive politicians.
Thatís a very serious concern, because if we do not re-establish a sense of belief in us, or anyone who is running ó if we donít re-establish that ó we threaten democracy. If people stop voting because they just donít believe thereís any difference, or they canít believe what a politician says ó they have no faith in it and, if anything, they get angry, and they decide, "Well, why should I even vote because it makes no difference. They tell you one thing and do another, or else all the parties are the same." If that happens, then we will lose something that, right at this very moment in the world, people are fighting for throughout the world. There has been a tremendous growth of democracy in the last 10 years in this world. Weíve gone from one-third of the world being democratic countries to two-thirds of the world being democratic countries in probably over the last 15 years.
This has been a tremendous struggle, often at the cost of life and with tremendous hardship in many countries and for many people around the world. We live in a democracy, and what is very distressing is that, by our very actions, possibly, and by our very neglect of what itís like to live in a democracy, being a politician and being elected, we have neglected it. We have treated it in a cavalier manner only because weíre so used to it. Weíre too familiar with it; we donít guard it.
These are actions we continue to have, such as what happened recently now with the election promises and the first budget not even recognizing many of them. This has continued to erode our democratic structure.
Now, when you craft a budget, itís about choices, and often weíve seen that, when there is a decision to make some cuts, it is those who least have the opportunity to vocalize and to protest against those cuts who are the ones targeted. In this case, weíve seen cuts toward family and childrenís services ó substantial cuts. Weíve seen cuts toward youth services. In most cases, theyíre the ones who have the least opportunity to lobby the government. Theyíre children; theyíre youth. They are often considered the ones who ó in some way, if youíre doing the cuts, you can almost look at it as if this is money that is not being well-spent in this area. This is almost an expendable, so weíll take that and move it to someone we believe in.
But everybody knows ó and this has been proven time and time again ó if you donít invest at the early ages in children and if you donít intervene or invest at ages of youth, that $1.00 invested there saves $6 down the road. Those are the figures that have been come up with. So if you donít do that investment, you will be paying six times as much.
So when we talk about trajectories, because this seems to be the new language of this government, when we talk about trajectories, whatís the trajectory for that, when you make that cut? Because if youíre going to do the trajectory for the economics, spending habits or spending trajectories, you also have to do the trajectory of the cuts. So what is the trajectory of cutting in the family services? What is the trajectory of cutting money back from communities? What is the trajectory of cutting jobs? What is the trajectory of cutting the community development fund or FireSmart ó back from their original promise, back down to $1 million?
Whatís the trajectory of that? How many jobs did you raise peopleís hope up on, on one side, only within one year to yank out from them here? So, whatís the trajectory of that? What impact does that have on the community where you would have invested the other $2.5 million, or the $500,000?
Now, I donít mind talking about trajectories, and I donít mind if it can be proven that the previous Liberal government had taken the finances on a horse ride out of control and you were reining it in. I donít mind debating that, but itís not one sided. Letís have the debate on all aspects. Letís have the trajectories, letís have that thought process that you applied for that one area applied to another area, Mr. Speaker.
So, if you cut childrenís services now, if you cut $100,000 now, you may, in five or six or seven years, be paying $600,000 or $700,000 in remedial areas or other types of areas to try to make up for what happened at that stage, Mr. Speaker, and thatís what you have to look at. Itís very important to take the whole picture and not just take chunks of it.
When you draft up a budget, the budget is supposed to be reflective of all society and if we look at the Yukon Territory as a society, we have to include from the Beaufort Sea, Old Crow, all the way down into southeast Yukon ó yes, we wonít forget southeast Yukon; donít neglect that, Mr. Speaker ó all the way over into southwest and central Yukon. We have to include it all.
The budget has to be reflective of that.
But unfortunately, I canít say that this one has been.
Now, generally, there has been a lot of talk about stimulating the private sector, that we canít continue to rely upon transfer payments and the public sector to keep the economy up, and the public sector has to stimulate the private sector.
I guess my question, when you use those kinds of words, is: how do you back it up? Because in going through this budget, I donít see that stimulation. I didnít see any stimulation for the private sector here. So where is it? How is the private sector going to get kick-started? How are some of the private sector ó many of them, long-term businesses in the Yukon ó going to sustain themselves during the period of low economic activity in this territory until things start to pick up again if the government itself doesnít use some of its leverage, some of its spending power to assist? What I see here in going through this budget is that there is no attention to that area. I donít see any discussion in the budget speech. I didnít hear it mentioned, unless I missed it, and I definitely donít see here in the capital or the O&M ó anything about access to capital, which is so essential for many of the businesses. If anything, I actually see cuts in some of those areas such as microloans.
So here was an opportunity to not only stimulate the private sector, give them opportunities for access to capital, but to back it up by something like the labour-sponsored capital fund, the fireweed fund ó that would have been very good ó or a reinstatement of the trade investment fund, which has a very good record here.
Unfortunately, it was cancelled by the Liberal government, but we would have really welcomed the new government if they had reinstated it. We looked forward to that. We thought it was going to happen, or at least something along those lines. It doesnít have to be the same name, Mr. Speaker.
Iím going to go through some of this and just highlight some of the areas of cuts to justify their position. I think Iíll just go through the book, as it is. For the Executive Council Office, thereís a five-percent cut; Education, thereís a one-percent cut across the board; Energy, Mines and Resources, an eight-percent cut; Environment, a two-percent cut; Finance, a six-percent cut; Health and Social Services, a one-percent cut; Highways and Public Works, a one-percent cut.
Interestingly enough, when you hear six percent, then down to one percent, one percent doesnít sound so bad but, if you look at the size of the money spent in those departments, one percent is substantial compared to some of the others.
In Justice, thereís a two-percent cut; Public Service Commission, five percent; Tourism and Culture, four percent; Womenís Directorate, three percent; for a total expenditure of two percent less.
In the capital, the Executive Council Office has a 41-percent cut; Community Services, 39 percent; Energy, Mines and Resources, 34 percent; Health and Social Services, a 76-percent cut; Highways and Public Works, 18 percent; Justice, 86 percent; Public Service Commission, five percent; Tourism and Culture, 23 percent; Yukon Development Corporation, 100 percent; for a total expenditure of a reduction of 24 percent in that area.
Now, capital expenditures, thatís what lots of businesses in this territory rely on to get them through some of the harder times, especially when the private sector isnít working as well as it should be, or what we would hope for.
Over on another page that I am looking at ó revenue summary by source ó and the tax revenue, interestingly enough, shows a three-percent increase. So the total tax revenue shows a three-percent increase and, added with the other revenue, shows a seven-percent increase. So the total revenues have a four-percent increase over the course for the 2003-04 estimate. So on the revenue side, it seems to indicate ó unless I am reading it wrong ó an increase and, on the other side, the expenditure side, it is definitely a decrease, and the government is fulfilling its statement that they were going to stop the trajectory, and they have done the decreases. We recognize that.
Now in Executive Council Office operation and maintenance expenditures, there is a 33-percent cut in policy, and that is pretty substantial. I went through this book. I was just wondering if there was something about policy, that maybe there has been enough policy written and we can ease back on it.
But in this day and age, definitely with the ongoing negotiations that are still outstanding with the First Nations and the government-to-government relations that have to continue to be developed ó I know there is some being done with Northwest Territories; I know the Premier has mentioned Alaska, Nunavut and, of course, thereís our always-ongoing relationship with the federal government, as well as the municipalities ó policy is always needed and is always changing. But underneath the cuts ó that 33-percent cut to policy ó what is really interesting is the 34-percent increase to communications.
So my take on that is that theyíll do less policy work but theyíre going to spin what they have a lot better. Well, if thatís how they feel, itís going to be more beneficial ó when they were looking for how to make cuts, I found that quite interesting that they would do that as well as the cuts to the Youth Directorate of one percent. Of course, thatís a concern.
Now, in the Department of Education, we have educational support services being cut by five percent and advanced education being cut by three percent, but in the public schools, they have ensured that they did not make any cuts there that I can see, and I applaud them for that in that area. But it does raise a big concern for me, and that is the advanced education. Iím going to take a look at that, Mr. Speaker.
In advanced education, the administration was cut by one percent. Labour market development was substantially cut by six percent. But most distressing, I guess, in the activities is with regard to the training programs, Mr. Speaker. Not everybody is going to be going to university. Theyíre not all taking that route. What many people are planning to do is take a trade or an occupation of that sort. Especially with the talk that weíve heard a lot of, definitely in the last week anyway, about the oil and gas opportunities ó the pipelines, the hope of mining activities ó the needs in that area are huge. Because when you talk about oil and gas, Mr. Speaker, youíre not just talking about the people who work on the rigs or the people who are doing the welding or the labouring; youíre talking about the people who look after the camps, the people who cook, the bull cooks, youíre talking about entertainment for people, youíre talking about the infrastructure to have a camp set up, youíre talking about the roads to be maintained. The trades just grow tremendously, and we need people trained to be able to fill those jobs. Otherwise, if there is a big increase in these activities, weíre not going to have the workers here.
Theyíre not going to be trained. These companies, if theyíre of a size that you often hear that they are, come in and if they canít find the workers here and our local companies canít find the workers to fill their contracts, they will have to hire outside, and many of our people, many of the younger people who may be interested in getting into trades, may want to be trained right now to be prepared to get these jobs, to make them more employable, will have missed the mark. And, Mr. Speaker, thatís not something we want, but here, for the training programs, I see a 16-percent cut. Thatís very substantial and sends a very distressing message to me that this government hasnít been looking down the road at what is needed before they make that decision. I would really hope that, as has been said earlier by the Premier, if they plan to bring in a supplementary budget, they would address something like that, they would put more money into training programs, and we would support that.
Now, Mr. Speaker, Iíll go up to the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources. In Energy, Mines and Resources, I see, under corporate services, a six-percent cut. Policy and planning ó thereís "policy" again. In certain departments, there seems to be a target toward policy and planning that worries me a little. Thereís a five-percent cut there. In sustainable resources, thereís a four-percent cut, and in oil and gas and mineral resources, thereís a 12-percent cut. Now, just adding all those up, we end up with an overall eight-percent cut in the amount of monies going into this department ó from $7,111,000 to $6,555,000.
And it seems to be kind of contradictory, Mr. Speaker, that this government would put so much emphasis on oil and gas development as one of those holy grails that will save the territory but withdraw some of the support in that area and withdraw some of the funding in that area. So it seems, again ó I look at this, I listen to the well-spoken words of the direction they see the future of the territory going in, and yet, when I look at the budget, it doesnít seem to reflect that. There seem to be some contradictions.
Under policy and planning, the biggest cut in that area happens to be under energy policy and coordination ó thatís a 29-percent cut, which is pretty substantial in that area, especially when youíre talking about energy policy. Thatís something that we all are very attuned to, because you live in the north, you pay a high energy price and there has been so much discussion about the opportunities for new projects to come on stream, but one of the areas that hold them back is the access to energy, for instance. Over the years there has been talk of new dams ó if this project would come on stream, they would need this amount of energy; therefore, should a new dam be built or should a new energy source be found to be able to supply energy in order to make this mine viable? Yet, we see a pulling back of the policy and coordination in that area that is so desperately needed if we are planning for the future in these areas.
Over in sustainable resources, lands get cut by one-percent. Forestry, interestingly enough, is cut by 65 percent. Now the Premier was the former forestry commissioner and he did some very, very good work when he was a member of the New Democratic Party government a few years ago and was a very strong advocate and lobbyist for the forestry industry. I had seen some of the work and I was impressed with what had been done. However, there is a 65-percent cut, which indicates that either the work is all done or there is nothing left to do because there is sure not any money left in there to do anything. It has gone from a $270,000 budget item to $95,000, or else the emphasis is not going to be on forestry. Just like what seems to not be in the budget on oil and gas. Overall, just in the sustainable resources, there is a drop of four percent. In oil and gas development and pipeline, there is a 38-percent cut in that area. In oil and gas management, there is a two-percent cut in that area. In minerals development, there is a 24-percent cut in that area.
I would just like to read in this area some of the objectives in oil and gas management, "to manage Yukonís oil and gas resources, to regulate oil and gas activities in the Yukon, to develop and implement Yukonís oil and gas regulatory regime and to develop a shared offshore oil and gas regulatory regime with Canada."
That sounds good; however, there is a 38-percent cut. In mineral development ó to maximize the benefits to Yukoners and minimize the environmental impacts from the sustainable exploration, development and mining of Yukonís mineral resources; to stimulate investment in mineral exploration and development by providing incentives to prospectors and exploration companies; to generate and compile scientific and technical information about the geology and mineral deposits of the Yukon and distribute this information; to ensure mineral potential assessments are completed and used in planning and regulatory processes prior to the land being withdrawn from disposition from mineral development. And yet we have cuts in that area. The total in the oil and gas and mineral resources ó a 12-percent cut. Thatís pretty substantial. If this is what the new government is hanging its hat on, again it leaves me slightly confused on what hope is there ó if youíre cutting in the very areas where youíre hoping something will materialize to turn things around for many people who live up here.
The environment ó it seems it is almost a dirty word in some peopleís mouths over on the other side. Cuts in Environment ó in general management, a 15-percent cut; in corporate services, a one-percent cut; and in monitoring and compliance, a five-percent cut. There is a total of two percent removed from it.
In the management of natural resources section, the program objectives to manage and protect the Yukonís natural environment is the number one; to provide sustainable fish and wildlife harvesting and viewing opportunities for cultural, recreational and economic purposes; to promote and enhance participation and land-based activities such as hunting, fishing and trapping and to sustain a unique Yukon lifestyle; to provide opportunities for economic benefits for the sustainable use of fish and wildlife resources ó and it goes on and on and on.
In the activities area, there is a two-percent cut in fish and wildlife. It doesnít make you feel that there is much of an emphasis being put in that area.
Over at monitoring and compliance, which is so essential, environmental protection and assessment, there is a three-percent cut. In conservation, protection and public education, there is a seven-percent cut. The total in monitoring and compliance ó thereís a five-percent cut in that area.
Like I said earlier about how the investment in a child at an early age pays dividends later on ó a $1.00 investment gives you a return of $6 by some of the figures. Well, itís the same with the environment as well. If you use the trajectory model, if you donít do the monitoring and the compliance, if you donít ensure that standards are kept, that the environment is a priority and that itís recognized by the industries so that the people who are using the environment, that the government is serious about the environment ó if that doesnít happen, abuses could happen. If the government is not serious about protecting the environment through their actions, why would the citizens? Many people will often change their behaviour based up what detriments there may be.
So, if they know that dumping oil into a stream would have a very negative effect upon their bottom line, they would calculate that and figure, "Well, itís a lot more sensible for me to contain that oil, transport it out and ensure that the environment stays pristine." Not all people are like that but a lot of people do it by bottom line. We have a long history of abandoned sites, environmental damage that probably could have been avoided if there had been more stringent regulations in place preventing it. It probably would have been prevented if a government of that day would have been more diligent. People would have been more conscious of that.
My fear is that if we start to pull away from that, Mr. Speaker, then it gets slack again and there are always those out there who find itís a lot easier just to dump it, or do the damage with a catch-me-if-you-can kind of attitude. Unfortunately, those are the ones who cause a lot of negative publicity and create a lot of the regulations that maybe we should not have or maybe we should never have needed. Those are the ones who have caused it and those are the ones for whom we need the regulations. Those regulations donít at all bother the ones who comply. Itís part of operating and, once itís part of the operations, you move along a lot easier.
However, my feeling is that there are going to be some serious consequences, Mr. Speaker, if we neglect our environmental duties. Unfortunately, it may be that we pull back from it now but, in 10 or 15 years down the road, we will be paying for it. We have examples in the north. We have many, many examples, whether itís the DEW lines, whether itís the military that abandoned many of their oil drums and vehicles and PCBs and containers, DDTs, out in the woods and just left them there.
I, as a kid growing up, like many people here, did a lot of hiking and travelling, going hunting and fishing, going down old back roads or cut-lines. You would come around a corner and there would be an abandoned military site from way, way back. There would be 10 or 12 or eight abandoned old vehicles and there would often also be barrels, and the barrels would be full of whatever was in them. When I was young, we would look at these old vehicles and walk around them and never think about what was in the barrels ó yeah, theyíre full ó we wouldnít open them. We wouldnít bother with them; there was nothing there for us. We would continue on with what we were doing. I am sure that many people who grew up here had the experience of finding these old sites all over the place as well. Now we find out that often these barrels contained very poisonous substances that had been released into the water or young kids playing and getting it on themselves, ingesting it or spilling it on the land would have caused tremendous health problems. It could have killed them as well but there also could have been environmental damage that would have been devastating for salmon spawning grounds if it went into waters or fish habitat areas. If it had been spilled into a lake, it could have affected the wildlife that feed out of the lake. These could have been prevented if we would have been that much more advanced in our environmental protection in those days. We have come a long way in that. Since that time, there have been new regulations and way more awareness about abandoned sites ó even the present ones that we experience with Faro mine and a few others, like the one up in Carmacks, that have been closed down where they have containment ponds that take millions of dollars a year to maintain. We are a lot more aware of them.
Weíre aware of them partly because there has been a lot of testing done, there has been a lot of public awareness that has been shared with people to inform them of what youíre actually facing if you go out into the woods and you find these things. In other words, donít touch, report.
My concern is that, if we donít continue to have strong regulations and strong rules governing how our environment is treated, we may be sliding back a little bit, and what happens to you down the road is, at some point, you will have to pay. You will pay, whether itís in health, the health of your population ó and it doesnít take much to imagine what can happen there; just think of Walkerton. Thatís the most immediate one that I can think of that jumps out at you is when thereís a neglect in the water system and thereís a neglect by the monitoring and testing, you can have a catastrophe like Walkerton. It doesnít take much when thereís a neglect by the government pulling back some of its services by cutting some of its staff who do the testing and monitoring and standards testing, such as what happened in Ontario ó because much of what happened around Walkerton, much of it can be pointed to a governmentís policy to withdraw from a lot of the environmental monitoring, environmental standards, and allowing it to fall into the hands of municipal ó when they do a certain level, but also to do your best ever. This idea that no oneís going to knowingly poison the water that is going to affect people, our fish habitats, the wildlife or destroy the environment ó well, thatís probably true; no one is knowingly going to do it, but it can so easily happen, and if you donít have a standard of testing and you donít have a standard of regulations to enforce, then "Walkertons" can happen, and "Walkertons" can happen in the north.
I donít think there is any government that ever wants to be accused of that kind of action. So, for all those reasons, Iím very concerned about some of the directions and some of the wording Iíve heard around the environment and environmental concerns.
Moving to the Department of Health and Social Services, in the O&M expenditures, there is a 12-percent cut in the policy, planning and administration area, a two-percent cut in family and childrenís services as I spoke about earlier, health services has a one-percent cut, and regional services has an eight-percent cut.
Now, looking at the policy, planning and administration, that is $4,341,000 being brought down to $3,814,000. Over in the family and childrenís services, where were the cuts? Well, the biggest ones ó it starts right from the top here in the activities. In program management there is a one-percent cut; in family and childrenís services specifically, there is a very substantial 11-percent cut; in child placement services there is a three-percent cut; and in youth services there is a five-percent cut. The total in the family and childrenís services area is a two-percent drop. These are targeted areas that raise a lot of concern for me and my colleagues on this side.
In the health services, Mr. Speaker, we have in program management a 27-percent cut, and in insured health and hearing services there is a two-percent cut, for a total in health services of a one-percent drop. In regional services, in program management, again, there is a three-percent cut. In family and childrenís services in this area, there is a 22-percent drop, which is pretty substantial when you read what the program objective is: "To provide and coordinate services that strengthen the social well-being of individuals, families and communities in rural Yukon."
So, this was targeted. This was a targeted area, Mr. Speaker.
In social services, for the rural regional area, thereís a three-percent cut, for a total of eight percent.
Going through on the transfer payments, Mr. Speaker, child care operating grants ó cut by four percent. Now remember, there was a promise made back during the election, four or five months ago, that thereíd be money put in this area. Well, I read it differently. I see a four-percent drop. In child care subsidies, thereís a three-percent drop; under social services and social assistance, two percent. Now, that might be forecasting the fact that a lot more people have left the territory, therefore thereíd be less people collecting, and that might be all it is ó this projection, this imagined trajectory, where everybodyís leaving the Yukon, therefore we can keep lowering the cost and, eventually, weíre going to balance the budget because, if we get enough people out, we wonít have to pay social assistance.
Yukon seniorsí income supplement ó a 15-percent cut; social assistance in the region ó again, going back to the regions which, when we say regional, weíre talking rural in many cases ó itís a four-percent cut; over in health services, in physician recruitment and retention initiatives, a 44-percent cut ó and weíll have a lot of questions about that because thatís a very large figure around recruitment and retention, which is something I know the Minister of Health has spoken quite eloquently about over the course of a few years to the other governments, when he was in opposition, on what we are going to do about ensuring that there is retention and recruitment of our physicians, as well as the need within rural communities of having physicians there. I know he has spoken very passionately about Dawson City and ensuring that thereís a physician there and that theyíre able to stay there but, in reading this, I donít see that kind of passion being reflected.
In the health investment fund, there is a 51-percent cut and, again, that is fairly substantial. It is over half of that amount being cut out, and you have to wonder what kind of impact that will have on the health investment fund.
In the Department of Highways and Public Works, there is a two-percent cut in the information communications technology, two percent in the transportation division, eight percent in supply services, for a total of a one-percent drop in the operation and maintenance.
Overall, when you look at where the cuts were, we have once again in the information and communications technology planning and development a drop of four percent. Planning and policy seems to be an area that doesnít have a great deal of value at the present time in this budget. There is a six-percent cut in production and network services, a two-percent drop for the technology area.
In the transportation division there is a drop of three percent in the highways maintenance and three percent in the transport services. Again, when you hear that, you think of rural Yukon because that is where a lot of the needs are, and again it seems like it is the rural areas, which can so ill-afford some of these cuts ó because it does employ people out in those small areas ó that will feel a lot of this budget.
Mr. Speaker, in the Department of Justice, we have substantial cuts there, as well. Management services, five percent; legal services, eight percent. That often used to vary quite a bit. An eight-percent drop will have quite an effect on that area. Regulatory services, 14 percent; and in community and corrections services, there is a three-percent drop.
Weíll go through some of these. In legal services, letís see where some of the cuts come from. Program director, a four-percent cut; litigation costs and judgements, 40-percent cut; outside counsel, 50 percent; community legal support, a 12-percent drop; for a total in the legal services of an eight-percent drop. In regulatory services, public administrator, four percent; land titles, nine percent; Yukon Utilities Board, five percent ó again, thatís quite substantial.
Thereís something I havenít mentioned here yet, and itís not consistent across the board, but it does raise concerns for me. Under the allotments, thereís a line item here called "personnel". In some cases, some of the numbers are very distressing. For instance, in regulatory services, you see a 15-percent drop in that area. When you look at it and go through this, thereís a fair amount of that. There are a lot of cuts in personnel. When you look at it, a lot of it seems to correspond with salary ó the amount you would pay a person in the department.
Then again, I stand corrected if itís something else, and I look forward to having that explained to me when we get into debate, but the concern I have is the promises that have been articulated by the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission that there would be no layoffs, no loss of jobs, loss of hours in any of the departments in this budget, and yet, as I go through here, I find often that what is being reflected seems to be a layoff of some sort or another name, but basically a layoff. That raises a big concern, and itís definitely something that Iíll be exploring later.
Under the Public Service Commission, since weíre speaking of that one, corporate human resource services, a 10-percent cut; staff relations, 12 percent; employee leave and termination benefits adjustments, 18 percent; for a total operation and maintenance drop of a five percent. And then, again, you see under the allotments in personnel, a five-percent drop. This is an interesting one, because this is a negotiation year, if you want to call it that. The government has, to my knowledge, three contracts that need negotiation. They have the YEU contract; they have the teachers contract, which I believe they just started or are starting, and they have the nurses ó thatís my understanding. And you would feel that there would be some revenue put in that area to anticipate the extra workload, Mr. Speaker, but I donít seem to see it reflected here.
So Iím not sure what kind of message is being sent out or whoís going to be doing the negotiations, or if there is going to be enough. In the corporate human resource services, staff administration is being cut by three percent and employment equity is being cut by 14 percent. I hope that doesnít have an effect upon all the good work that has been done to ensure that there is employment equity within the territorial governmentís hiring policies.
Under staff relations, we have the Yukon Employees Union, Public Service Alliance of Canada, at a 28-percent drop; Yukon Teachers Association is at a 13-percent drop. Underneath that one is the long-service awards, which have been going on for a long time ó they have also been cut 32 percent. Now, I donít know if thatís because there are not as many employees, so there wonít be as many people to award long-service awards to, or if there has been a very drastic change over the last few years in which we donít have as many people who have been employed by the Yukon government for a long period of time who would be receiving these awards and, instead, we have people who are just starting and thatís maybe reflected by the projections. But the other two are quite big concerns to make these cuts in these activities just as they are in negotiation. It doesnít send a good message to these associations ó one association and another, a union ó what kind of negotiations that they can anticipate from this minister.
Again, under personnel, there is a five-percent cut.
Thereís a four-percent overall drop in this department. It indicates a one-percent increase for cultural services, a five-percent drop for industrial development research, and an eight-percent drop in the marketing. But under cultural services ó and I have to say that itís nice to see that theyíve held their own in this area, and actually gained a tiny bit as one percent. But there were two areas targeted under this program that I feel shouldnít have been. One is heritage resources ó thereís an 11-percent cut there ó and the other one is archives, our history and the needs that we have there, and you see a substantial drop there of five percent. And I wonder what kind of effect thatís going to have. Again, under personnel, you see a four-percent drop, as well.
Now, I havenít mentioned all the personnel. In some areas, it has actually gone up a little bit, but in many, many areas, it has dropped, and it just jumps out at you that itís something that we need to have some answers for.
Under industry development and research, the directorate under activities is a 29-percent drop, and in cultural industries there is a two-percent drop, for a total overall of five percent. Business stayed the same, and tourism actually got an increase of five percent, interestingly enough. Over in marketing, the director got cut 13 percent. The business trade promotion got cut 32 percent, and I wonder, if youíre trying to promote the Yukon and promote business in the Yukon, why you would cut that area, why you would drop it so much.
Mass communication and partnerships ó again, a promotion to develop a bigger tourism market, a wider range of, as they say, the shoulder seasons, conventions and that, we are seeing a 21-percent drop in that department, and we also see a seven-percent drop in personnel in that one as well.
With the Womenís Directorate, it is nice to see that it is being reinstated, or it is reinstated. I am not sure. I am looking at it and I see the deputy minister position is vacant. It seems that there was a budget for the Womenís Directorate, supposedly that the Liberals had changed and moved into a line item in a department or something. Now it is stand-alone again, that is my understanding, but there is definitely a drop of three-percent in this one and we will have to see if there was enough funding for it in the first place, and if there is a cut, is it able to meet its requirements. And, again, personnel has a drop, as well.
Now I go to another area here, the capital section, the capital budget, and many people in the Yukon, many small businesses and many workers, whether it is in Old Crow, Dawson City, Destruction Bay or down in Teslin or Watson Lake, all of the communities, including Whitehorse, rely very much upon the capital works to stimulate or give them opportunity to work and make a decent living.
When you see a cut in the capital works, you have to be very concerned, because it does have a spiralling effect. It has a trajectory. It runs through a community and dollars are spent in a community. As the Member for Mayo-Tatchun indicated, one job in a community is very important. Itís not that weíre talking about losing one job as something that can be absorbed by the community, but when you are in a town or a small community of a couple of hundred people and there are one or two jobs that donít materialize or donít happen through governmentís lack of investment, it has a big effect upon the store owners, the small shops in the town, the activities offered ó somebodyís not able to work. That does cause problems at all levels of a society. People always feel better about themselves when they have a job, or especially when they have something to look forward to.
Unfortunately, there was a dramatic shift in this budget from previous budgets, and it was a shift away from investment in this area, the capital budget, and a shift away from investing in people, when the government could have done so.
Going down the list, looking at all the cuts: in some areas, 86 percent, 76 percent, 100 percent ó pretty massive. But the bottom line, the total expenditures that are being invested in the capital works budget, is from $130 million as was forecast down to $98,693,000, and thereís no way around it. Thatís going to have a huge impact upon the territory. You just canít get away from that.
As a person who has spent most of his life in this area and most of his life working on either government tendered jobs or even with the private sector, when one is not doing well ó such as the private sector, and the construction industry as an example ó and then the government also decides to pull back, it doesnít leave you much wiggle room to be able to survive, to be able to pay your bills, to be able to make a living. Thatís when you really start to look around and think, "Can I make it through another one of these downturns? Can I stick this one out?"
Everybody has had friends in the construction industry. Iím going to talk about the construction industry for a minute because itís what Iím most familiar with, growing up here. I, like many people, have watched families and friends leave the territory. Some of them said, "Weíre going until it gets better; weíll be back." No problem. Some of them go away for a year or two years and come back and say that itís a lot better here than it is out there, and it hasnít worked for them. But a lot of them have now shifted in their thinking. It was about five years ago that I noticed it. People werenít saying that they were only going to work for a year or two years and then they would be returning. What has happened is they are saying, "I donít want to go through this again. Iím tired of it. Iím tired of not knowing if I have work. Iím tired of not seeing any projection of work in the near future. I donít want to put my family through this unemployed state any more or the stress that it creates in my family. I donít see a future." They are making the move from the Yukon permanently instead of temporarily like it used to be. When I start hearing that, thatís when I realize that there are some serious problems with us in the Yukon, and how are we going to maintain a skilled workforce, first off? Because those are often the ones who leave first ó the skilled workforce ó because they can get a job elsewhere.
I know, for instance, Mr. Speaker, offhand, 12 or 14 people who are working at one job site Outside. They started leaving about two years ago, and one or two left, and of course they told their friends, and the next thing you know, it kind of snowballed and there are 12 or 14 people working on the job site now in various aspects of the trade. I talked to them and, right now the way theyíre talking, if they donít hear some good news out of the Yukon, they have no intention of coming back, and these are people who have been here 20 or 30 years, some of them all their lives. And these are very skilled people who we need in the north, especially if there is the belief that there is going to be a change in the climate ó I wouldnít say just the construction area but the whole resource-sector climate, which a lot of them work in or benefit from, such as if there is activity in the Watson Lake area in oil and gas, of course homes will be built. More activity in town creates more employment. It all spins off.
They donít see that, and they donít necessarily see wanting to uproot their families again and bring them back, even though they truly love this place and this is their home. When you talk to them, Mr. Speaker, this is what they talk about ó our home back here. They never talk about where they are as being their home. Unfortunately, I am concerned that this is what it has become, and that is that the move is far more permanent than what it used to be in the past.
Thatís why I have strong feelings about bringing forward a budget and then being very negative about the trajectory and the future of the territory, because I was hoping that they would hear something good and we would have these people back and they would contribute to the territory with the skills that they have and with many of the skills that were developed here through the training that the Yukon has offered over the years and we would get that investment back, but unfortunately itís not.
In the Executive Council Office, in the land claims and implementation secretariat, there is a 55-percent drop in that area and there is, just in that department, in the capital vote, a drop of 41 percent.
Going through this was interesting because I used to do a fair amount of the work that is in this budget and often you see "office furniture, equipment, systems and space". Years ago, the NDP went on a very positive and strong initiative to help establish some furniture makers in the territory and there were a lot of incentives that people took the government up on. There were assurances that, wherever possible, there would be purchases made locally and it wasnít just with the furniture but with equipment and systems and space. There was going to be that commitment, so people invested in their future but they also invested in their communities because of that indication that was given by a large source of funding that they could see, which was the government. Now the government purchases a substantial amount of furniture, and I will use furniture as an example because everyone is pretty familiar with this one. Many of these shops started up. They got training and bought equipment. I know a few shops in town and some of the equipment they have in their shops ó for instance a table saw is a $25,000 machine and it was bought to be able to produce or to measure and cut to fine tolerances the type of furniture that was being requested by the government.
So, there was that investment, and I believe it paid off for quite a few years. We in the territory got very, very good furniture. Weíre sitting in a room that has much of the work that has been done. I believe the Speaker is sitting in a chair with the desk in front and the railings around him that were fabricated or made by a firm in town, Treeline. I would assume, looking at the type of the wood and the very good quality construction, that these tables were fabricated by ó possibly Iím wrong on that one, Mr. Speaker, but I can go anywhere in any government building anywhere in this town and sit in a chair that has been made locally, or I can sit at a desk that has been made locally by many of the firms that started up during that initiative. And that created employment; it created training. We trained a multitude of cabinet makers. It created employment, like I say, very good employment that was reinvested back in the community, because of a belief that, if you spend your money here, it makes that nice circle and goes through the community, into the stores, and helps other shop owners. I donít have the figure in front of me but I would suspect, just offhand, that money will run through the community four to six times before it ends up back in its original spot, through taxes or whatever. Thatís wise. That, to me, is a very good way to approach how one would strengthen a community or strengthen an industry. And it did.
So, we did that many years ago. And then there was, I guess, a kind of slight pulling away from them and we started seeing some furniture showing up that was being manufactured elsewhere, whether it was in Quebec or Manitoba, which I believe has a fairly large operation. A lot of the furniture, you will find, came out of Quebec. Some from Ontario, but it seems that the local manufacturers started finding themselves competing with Quebec furniture.
Quebec did the same thing in many ways. They said that the money they were spending in their own province was going to go to the people who lived there and worked there. They wanted to help sustain an economy or an area of work so they did the same thing. But they have these massive shops and they can put out the stuff probably a little bit cheaper ó definitely cheaper enough that if they even calculate the shipping sometimes itís cheaper; sometimes itís not. But one thing you can find, if you make a comparison, is the quality that we have in the Yukon is almost always better ó not always, it depends how much you want to pay ó but almost always a better quality. I bet you if there was a study done ó there might have been, Iím not sure ó but if there was a study done, the lifespan of the furniture that weíve received from the local manufacturers compared to the lifespan that we get from the stuff thatís shipped in from Outside ó which is often, if you take a close look at it, of an inferior grade type of wood. Itís made out of plywood, for instance, or itís made out of particle board, where you may get real plies locally. If there is hardwood, you will often find that the joinery here will be of a much higher level ó the fit would be much finer, where the others may be screwed together with holding screws, this would be mortise and tenon, and double-laps, and it will be glued and very solid. You often find that the upholstery, interestingly enough, on some of the chairs is of a very good level and it holds up very well, whereas from outside you may find that it looks good ó when you get it, it looks really good ó but in a couple years it starts to show its quality, where the local stuff doesnít. The local stuff still looks fabulous.
I would suggest that this is an area that this government could reinvest in. I believe there are a lot of young people who are really interested in furniture making. I was talking to some women yesterday over at the house and I was asking them what they were up to. They were telling me that they all ó everyone but one ó had enrolled and taken the women in trades. These are all professional, mid 20s to 30s, who often have a degree or are doing work somewhere else. Theyíre all fascinated by the trades and theyíve enrolled in the Skills Canada programs in the new shop that they have down here.
Theyíre taking these, and theyíre starting to build this, and theyíre learning about furniture and theyíre fascinated by it. Iím not saying that theyíre going to all become furniture makers, but the government itself can indicate to the people that they will purchase the products here if theyíre of good quality with a decent price, but they will look at it. And I think this government can do that again ó re-establish that belief in the people here.
I do know that a few years ago they brought in a very highly regarded cabinetmaker out of Victoria to do an assessment on the furniture and the quality of the furniture that the government is purchasingó to do an assessment on the quality and to see if the government is getting value for its dollar. They brought this man up from Victoria, and he went around, he looked at the furniture ó heís an original cabinetmaker himself, does a lot of other work, consulting work and that. He did tests on it, and his assumption was that the Yukon was probably getting the best deal in Canada. For the price that theyíre paying and the quality theyíre getting, there is nowhere comparable anywhere else in Canada for the price. And he has a huge shop in Victoria, and he says he canít do it for that price. So he doesnít know what the problem is when some people say that it costs more, because in his opinion the government was getting a tremendous deal from the local manufacturers.
And when I say local, itís not just being Whitehorse-based. I do know there are shops set up in Teslin. There was a shop down there, anyway. There are other shops in other areas that are set up, and people are producing more and more furniture in that area, as well as a lot of the artwork that is starting to really develop and grow, and people are making a living at it and making a good living at it.
But the government does have a role to play in some of these areas, and I would encourage the government to support that and put some more money back into it. But in going through this, unfortunately, you often find that one of the first places to be cut is in the office furniture and equipment.
Itís the easiest one to cut. What you do is hold back for a year and then next year you have to buy double, but for that one year it looks great on your budget. It looks like youíve saved money. Unfortunately there are replacements and things do wear out and, as government continues to evolve and grow, especially with the devolution, there are needs that have to met to ensure that your workers can work. I am finding in reading this that there seem to be cuts in that area again. My concern is that it is a hardship again on people who have built up an industry based upon the belief that the government does believe in them.
Cuts in protective services and community development are 44 percent and 40 percent. FireSmart already has indicated a 50-percent drop, which is contrary to what was indicated by the government and the money that they were going to put into it. Emergency measures is cut by 34 percent. Again, that is a big concern. Community development ó there are a lot of cuts in this area and some of it has some environmental concerns. Other areas are all about community planning, community centres ó whether it is recreation or art centres. There are cuts in those areas. I guess the question I have to ask is, if you are not going to pay now, when are you going to pay? Never? Are these cuts permanent? Can we expect, next year, the next budget to cut another one or two or five percent and we continue down this trajectory of withdrawing funding and investment from our communities?
The community development fund has a 77-percent drop.
The community and development fund has only been in existence a couple of weeks, really, by the budget and we already have a cut of 77 percent from $4,259,000, which was forecast and obviously is not going to get spent because the government has already informed us that theyíre not going to spend that amount of money, so already the forecast is way out of whack right here, being dropped back down to $1 million.
Community planning has a 54-percent drop, planning and pre-engineering has a 78-percent drop, land development, industrial is 77 percent, recreation is 11 percent, and a 19-percent drop for recreation community centres, a variety of them.
The messaging is really rough here. You go through what they target, and I guess that "by your budget you can be defined". Thereís no question about it. The new government has decided to target certain areas.
The problem Iím having is that I donít know what they have targeted to boost. The words were interesting and good but the investment is questionable in some areas.
Department of Education ó education support services, a 19-percent drop; public schools, three-percent drop. And advanced education ó I just want to look at this because it talks a little bit about that. The student financial assistance system has an 83-percent cut, and I would have hoped that, in times described by the new government as being bleak, the government would invest in education.
But it just doesnít seem to be there, and student financial assistance does assist a lot of people to be able to get retrained or be able to go to school. School support, faculties and information technology ó two-percent drop. And then a variety of needs throughout communities again ó various school facility renovations, 20-percent drop; school-initiated renovations, 40-percent drop; air quality, energy management project, 60-percent drop; faculty management agreements drop; Watson Lake high school technology wing upgrade, a 15-percent drop; and some equipment purchases, 25 percent and 55 percent being cut, which doesnít point to a big investment into the education area.
Department of Energy, Mines and Resources ó sustainable resources, 12 percent; oil and gas resources, 36-percent cuts, for a total of 34 percent of the capital. It looks bleak. The pages are blue, and I tell you that as I read through this, Iím starting to feel a little bit blue myself.
Monitoring and compliance in the Department of Environment ó Iíve already gone on and on about my concerns about cutting in this area, but it jumps out at you when you see not a one-percent or two-percent or five-percent drop; you see a 50-percent drop in monitoring and compliance. I wonít go on any more on that one.
Fish and wildlife management planning has a 22-percent cut; fish hatchery, a 33-percent cut; stocked lakes, 33-percent cut; capital works for campgrounds, 26-percent cut, and often that can be very beneficial for communities to be able to get a little bit of work out there.
In education and learning resources, thereís a 50-percent cut.
In Health and Social Services, thereís a 72-percent cut in the policy and planning and administration; family services, renovations for the young offenders facility, 81 percent was cut from that one. I donít know what theyíre going to be able to do with $50,000, when it was obviously identified as $268,000. Theyíre basically saying theyíre not going to do anything, hang on.
Residential services, renovations and equipment, a 53-percent cut; child care service development, 60 percent. Again, there are more cuts in continuing care facilities ó 92 percent. That could be that the work has been done. Weíll have to find out.
Ambulance services ó they needed new equipment, obviously. That has been cut by 33 percent. And hearing services ó it seems to have been targeted a little bit in here. Itís not a large amount, but itís kind of a shame to cut that. The forecast was for $10,000 for hearing services equipment, and they got $5,000.
For dental health services equipment, itís the same thing ó $11,000 taken down to $5,000. Itís kind of hard.
Highways and public works, French language services ó a 96-percent cut in that one. And thereís a multitude more of them.
Tourism seems to have been targeted a little bit ó corporate services, an 18-percent cut; cultural services, a 14-percent cut; industrial development and research, a 45-percent cut.
Thatís fairly substantial, and again, what has been targeted in Tourism, I find, is the heritage studies, where thereís a 42-percent drop; historic sites inventory, a 40-percent drop; some signage and stuff like that, a nine-percent drop; and heritage trails again, a 14-percent drop. Again, heritage seems to be targeted.
The arts development ó 15 percent is cut out of the arts fund, and in the crafts strategy it is 71 percent. Heritage seems to be tied in with archives when it comes to the bigger cuts. Public program projects, a 49-percent cut, and for public access projects, a 54-percent cut.
We talked about access to capital in Question Period. Government had a chance to try to generate some access to capital, which would have been very beneficial for many businesses, for people who want to start a business, people who want to expand, people who believe in this territory. The government has made a decision, Mr. Speaker, not to go in that direction, but even so, they didnít have to target the microloan program, which has helped many, many very small businesses get up and running ó young people and older people, to either look at this as an option. Instead of working for somebody else, they can do the entrepreneur game themselves. Ten percent has been cut out of it. This may be a very small amount but it just sends the wrong message out. If youíre trying to support business, if youíre trying to give a little push or a little kick-start to the private sector, to not even offer the few thousand dollars that may make a difference for one or two people, to me sends a very poor message of this governmentís priorities.
Thereís a lot more in there. Iíll just skip over those.
Again, in Tourism and Culture, museum assistance did increase, and thatís something I did want to be noticed. Itís good to see. However, it seems to be an increase at the expense of some others. Historic sites maintenance has been cut by nine percent, which, like I say, could affect some small amount of work in a community. Conservation security ó 58 percent has been cut out of that one.
In exhibits assistance, it is 29 percent, and thatís technological partnerships and that. There are a lot of areas that have been cut and some of those donít make sense, especially with the message that has been presented. Some of the questions I have are, how were targets set, and what were the rationales behind some of them? Some of the cuts are so minor that they might as well not have been done, if they were of any small benefit to the people. Others were obviously areas that ideologically maybe didnít fit with the Yukon Partyís philosophy or beliefs ó so be it. But how were they set? How do you set these targets?
I know what underlines everything is this trajectory idea but, as I said, there are other trajectories that you have to include when you are doing that. I guess what we will find out very quickly is what this government believes in because, in going through this budget, Iím not sure. I donít see the support for the business sector. I donít see it for the private sector, and I donít see the support for the social side, as well.
I have to admit that I expected definitely more on the private sector investment by this government. That is what I had assumed, and some of it I would have been very supportive of, especially access to capital like the trade and investment fund being reestablished, for example, and the fireweed fund finally going ahead and creating capital, for people of this territory.
Even supporting a microloan would be a little bit better than cutting it. I didnít expect the child and family services area to be targeted. The question, I guess, I have is, when will these programs be restored? When will the funding go in here? Some of the bigger questions I have, I guess, that are not explained in here that I would like to know, regard NGO funding: is there going to be long-term funding, or is it going to be going back to a year-by-year, case-by-case basis? Or will there be a guarantee of three, four, five years of funding any more? There are no indications in this budget; nor were there any indications in the budget speech in that regard. Money from the feds ó it would be nice to know what was being worked on, what we can look forward to on monies from the feds.
I do know the three Premiers did a very good job in representing the Yukon around the health issue, and it would be nice to know if we can expect to see that money or what kind of payment schedule there is. Is it so much per year? Is it one lump sum? Where are the negotiations? That would have been nice to see in the budget speech. There is lots of talk about the economic relationship with the First Nations, government to government. That was really, really good to hear and we look forward to seeing some really good results from that. Definitely the bar has been raised in that area once again. Itís not the first time some of this talk has been spoken in this House. Unfortunately, it has been a struggle at times; in other areas it has been successful. We hope it doesnít create problems with other First Nations, if they feel that they have been neglected in discussions such as what happened with the talks around the jail. And devolution. It would have been nice to hear something in the budget speech about devolution that gave us some assurances of what was happening instead of just words that you hear over and over, something a little bit more concrete.
But Iím sure weíre going to get a lot more answers to that, and I look forward to hearing the replies and other peopleís comments and getting into the line-by-line and departmental debates.
Hon. Mr. Lang: In replying to the budget, I found it interesting, because Iím a new person on the block, how budgets and governments work. In essence, Iíve done lots of budgets in my past and I found that doing the budget was fairly simple in any one of my businesses. It was living within the budget that was hard. So we have a task ahead of us, not only to budget our money properly but to manage the money properly. There is no point in looking back because looking back isnít an improvement on the future. So what weíve done ó and I am one of the members who worked to prepare a budget that will lower the Government of Yukonís trajectory of spending.
I would at this time like to thank the many people who worked to put this budget together. There were many hours spent on this budget in a very, very short period of time. So we did get the product out. There were a lot of people in the trenches behind us who worked diligently to make sure that it happened.
As noted in the budget speech, we as a government must be wiser in how we spend our money and strive toward improving the effectiveness of our programs as well as development of a healthy private sector economy, which is key. These are challenges that our government faces, and I look forward to being part of the team that faces these challenges.
As a lifelong Yukoner, I am excited about devolution and the role it will play in turning around the Yukonís economy. As the minister responsible for the Energy, Mines and Resources portfolio, I also realize that EMR will be responsible for many of the aspects of devolution. Devolution, which will bestow upon the Yukon power to manage its own resources, will take place April 1 of this year ó less than three weeks away. Devolution will allow our government to manage and develop the territoryís resources and resource wealth for the benefit of all Yukon people both now and in the future. Devolution will allow our government to implement policies and regulatory regimes that will contribute to a prosperous and competitive economy. Devolution can also serve as a useful tool to help restore investor confidence in the Yukon.
EMR is responsible for the management and development of Yukonís natural resources, and our budget for 2003 and 2004 is focused on fulfilling this mandate. Over the coming year, the priorities for EMR will be: to implement devolution of lands, minerals and forestry programs and personnel; to help create resource certainty; to develop and manage Yukonersí resource sectors, including forestry, agriculture, oil and gas, minerals and energy; to ensure that benefits from resource development, including pipeline projects, are available to Yukoners; to promote energy self-sufficiency.
EMR is taking on the bulk of Northern Affairs programs from the federal government. This includes a regulatory and management responsibility for forestry, lands and minerals.
We are working very hard to make the transition as smooth as possible for all Yukon people.
The transfer of responsibility for water, land and forest and mineral management means that the Yukon will not now have the tools needed to achieve the certainty for the resource industries. I am looking forward to the devolution of these responsibilities as it will lead to positive, economic opportunities for Yukon people.
It was interesting to note that during the numerous meetings held with the resource companies while attending the Cordilleran Roundup in Vancouver in late January, each company expressed interest and hope in devolution. These companies recognize that one of the major advantages in implementing devolution is that the decisions will be made here in Yukon rather than in Ottawa, and consequently will be more timely and reflect what Yukoners want in their territory.
Through mirror legislation, the laws now in place and administered by the federal government will simply continue in their present form but as territorial laws. EMR will administer three of the acts related to devolution ó the Yukon Placer Mining Act, the Yukon Quartz Mining Act and portions of the territorial Lands Act. As noted in the budget speech, our government is asking members to give swift passage to the mirror legislation.
Some of the highlights of the 2003-04 budget are the continued support of the Yukon mining incentive program and also funding received from the federal government for the agricultural policy framework agreement. The Yukon mining incentive program is designed to promote and enhance mineral prospecting, exploration and development activities in the Yukon, providing a portion of the risk capital required to locate and explore mineral deposits.
The five-year agricultural policy framework focuses on sector profitability and competitiveness. We are committed to working with Yukoners to develop agriculture in the Yukon as well as recognize the uniqueness of the Yukon and all areas, including agriculture.
Energy, Mines and Resources will carry out the following activities under the 2003-04 budget: will implement devolution commitments, including making sure legislative and policy framework, such as forestry and mineral systems and people are in place, and ensuring land is available for Yukoners and development projects; continuing to improve client services by working to streamline access to programs and regulatory information on Yukonís land and natural resources; developing a forest policy framework to guide management of forestry and undertake policy work to prepare for the development of new forestry legislation. It is our intent to make timber available as soon as possible to restart Yukonís forest industry.
Working to ensure that Yukon natural gas will have access to pipelines by all routes, including the Mackenzie Valley pipeline; working in consultation with partners, other jurisdictions and regulatory bodies to develop a clear and effective regulatory process for the Alaska Highway pipeline in the Yukon; treating regional land use planning as a priority and a way to eventually coordinate and balance both economic development and conservation on Yukon lands; supporting and promoting Yukonís agricultural industry; implementing the five-year bilateral agricultural policy framework and transitional agreement with the federal government, focusing on sector profitability and competitiveness; improving agricultural extension services through seminars, conferences and farm visits; supporting Yukonís mineral industry; implementing commitments in the mine plan, including working on the comprehensive Yukon mineral policy, implementation and mineral compensation policy, and streamlining the permitting process; and creating a Yukon geological survey to improve delivery of natural resource information.
The government is also continuing the very popular Yukon mineral exploration tax credit. The Yukon geological survey services will be enhanced to include baseline geoscience information in support of oil and gas exploration and development.
We will be developing a Yukon climate change action plan with partners to promote a high standard of energy efficiency and identify measures to address climate change.
In closing, the 2003-04 budget indicates the plan for rebuilding the Yukonís economy, and I am looking forward to working toward this goal with all members of this House to make the Yukon a better place for everyone.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Ms. Duncan: The budget documents tabled in the Legislature last week are the best possible for the Liberal Party and for the other opposition parties. Itís the best because there is absolutely nothing to support in the handiwork of the government. I have to ask, is it caucus or a select few ó one or two ministers acting on their own ó or is it the Premier in the corner office with a sharp pencil, and his conscience and his party somewhere else? There is nothing for members of the government to be proud of in this piece of work.
Letís start with the budget speech, with the notion of a trajectory. The Premier has adopted this notion of a trajectory of spending ó a trajectory. Itís a line, a track, a flight path, a curve that passes through a given set of points. Trajectory also refers to a projectile being fired. It reminds me very much of former days in this Legislature when the now Premier used to sit on this side of the House, over there and over here. If the new members might permit me to share an experience that I recall very well, the now Premier who is very fond of this trajectory did exactly as the member was just doing ó very fond of off camera and, of course, only to those who were actually in the Legislature were able to see it ó very fond of a trajectory going straight down and ending in a rather large explosion ó very fond of making the motions.
Now, of course, the Premierís view has changed and there should be a new order in the House, a new sense of decorum, and somehow from a different view, this behaviour is no longer acceptable. That was then and this is now. However, the notion of a trajectory, Mr. Speaker, has continued. The Premier has, indeed, demonstrated his fondness in the past for projecting trajectories in his actions and mocking previous government members. Now, in his words in the budget speech, he again uses the trajectory with the clear actions of his government.
Thereís a crystal clear trajectory. A clear, downward spiral for ethics and leadership, and thereís a clear projectile moving at a great rate of speed up, and a pile of broken promises, especially in this budget, Mr. Speaker.
Letís begin at the very beginning, which in this case is the end. Our government left office with the election call. At that time, spending had been approved for the fiscal year we are now in. We also approved a $12-million warrant. That covered expenditures not previously voted upon in this Legislature ó things like repairs to the Thomson Centre roof. And, I might add, warrants, which the leader of the official opposition made reference to earlier. Warrants have been used by every single government. In fact, the previous NDP government had used them extensively prior to calling the election. The fact is that there is a clear purpose for government warrants and thereís a clear understanding of them and thereís a very clear Yukon history of warrants. No one government has used them over-excessively, with the exception perhaps of the NDP government passing an entire budget in one. But aside from that, theyíre used for spending, to cover off the spending that has not been discussed in the House.
Well, the new government immediately reversed that warrant and cancelled existing voted-upon expenditures, voted in this House of the previous government ó the correctional centre, Grey Mountain School, Tantalus School in Carmacks. They also, as a government, voted to include in a supplementary such advice as the $2.6 million required for the actuarial evaluation of the MLA pension. We only just got the report. They worked very, very hard to construct a supplementary to lead people to believe the previous government had spent all the money. In actual fact, Mr. Speaker, this government, the members opposite, will have been in office for most of those expenditures and have approved the majority of those expenditures ó in fact, a sizable majority of those expenditures. The spending is theirs, not the previous governmentís. Theyíve worked very, very hard at constructing that.
The trajectory of ethics in leadership started its downward spiral at the very first opportunity ó blame the previous government, donít take responsibility for your own decisions. The fact is that it is the Finance ministerís leadership at Management Board that makes those decisions. Itís a slippery slope, a downward trajectory, and the government began its downhill slide at that point ó busy work, trying to find somebody else to blame.
The trajectory of spending ó the Finance minister is trying to build it as a result of the previous expenditures. They are decisions of this government, the members opposite. They are an attempt to reduce expectations of the public sector, heading into negotiations, and the expectations of Yukoners, well-meaning people who believed that when people went door to door, they would live up to the promises that they made, that they signed, that they wrote, that they made in public ó those immediate promises.
For some reason Yukoners believed that the Yukon Party would live up to commitments and it gets even worse when you examine the words of the budget speech, "Our government achieved expenditure reductions without resorting to layoffs or the elimination of programs". Tell that to employees who have term positions that have not been renewed. Tell that to the addictions counsellors who were looking forward to going to work under an alcohol and drug secretariat. Tell that to Yukoners, the First Nations community, the contracting community who had worked incredibly hard to make a badly needed, new correction facility a reality. How do the Finance minister and members of caucus face the fire marshall, the Workerís Compensation Board, the staff, the families of the inmates in the correctional facility and tell them itís okay for yet another government to flush $2-million worth of work down the drain and delay that facility. How does the Finance minister tell the children in Carmacks that their ageing facility will not be replaced under his government? I challenge the Finance minister to tell Yukoners when he last went through Tantalus School. Speaking of schools, I must, in all good conscience, ensure that the written record that I believe in ó Hansard ó is crystal clear on the Grey Mountain School. The Liberal government commitment to that school was the result of party policy moved in our party records by a previous member of this Legislature. The Yukon Party and the NDP both promised the school in a variety of election campaigns and then abandoned those promises upon being elected.
There are more than 100 children attending a school that is less than stellar as a safe, clean and healthy living environment ó let alone learning environment. Yet, the population of that school has maintained ó in spite of the rise and fall of the Yukon population ó it has consistently scored the highest in Canadian Tests of Basic Skills. There are grade 10, 11 and 12 students in F.H. Collins and in Porter Creek who tell me repeatedly when I visit those schools of their excellent experiences and that they are still in school today because of Grey Mountain Primary. I have parents whose children are long graduated from post-secondary schools who are telling me that they were able to keep their children in the education system because of that school.
Without closing schools, without relocating students, there was $500,000 to plan and design a new $3.2 million total cost K-3 replacement facility, which is not an elite facility to Whitehorse but rather, in many ways, an extension of the Child Development Centre.
The very poison that was spread about the school and about candidates in the last election campaign never ceases to amaze me. People who lost an election because they made a decision that a small capital construction project, doable within fiscal means, replacing mouldy old portables, providing the right environment for education ó well, they would have rather lost because of their ethics and integrity in making that decision than win an election and break promises afterward.
What this government, the Yukon Party, promised in education, they committed in writing that money for Grey Mountain would immediately go into educational assistance. Well, first of all, the money for Grey Mountain is in capital but educational assistance is in O&M ó so thatís the first point with respect to a Finance briefing. Secondly, the $500,000 capital expenditure was immediately revoked, and the $470,000 balance? Gee, it doesnít appear in the budget as educational assistance; itís not there. Yet another broken promise in the trajectory of broken promises that piles up and up and up.
The money for marks, that tired old refrain from the Yukon Party ó still not there. Indexation of student financial assistance ó a proud program that this territory has managed to fund and been able to support since it was first granted in 1967 ó our party committed in the 2000 election campaign to a 20-percent increase, which was the first time in some 20-odd years, and it was done. Promise made, promise kept. Contract with the promise for the indexation, the promise for money for marks ó not there.
Members of this Legislature from Porter Creek know very, very well the situation at Porter Creek High and the capital construction costs that are needed to deal with the shop, the cafeteria and the hallways. Money the government refused to spend in supporting the 100 children at Grey Mountain Primary could have been spent in dealing with those problems at Porter Creek. Nope.
Members and constituents in Porter Creek South know that I am passionate about Yukon children and their education. I also believe, passionately, Mr. Speaker, in accountability to taxpayers for money spent, and integrity in speaking with taxpayers, accounting to them. And there is only one taxpayer. Whether that dollar comes through our formula or directly from hard-earned money from Yukoners, Yukoners deserve to know how that money has been spent and what value was achieved for the money that was spent. Itís called accountability. We heard much of it in discussions with first ministers and their discussion about accountability in health care.
The trajectory of leadership in ethics increased its velocity downhill. In other words, the credibility of this government spiralled downward faster than a speeding bullet when the government tabled the Act to Repeal the Government Accountability Act and then trumpeted it in their budget speech.
The Education minister has to be wondering how much his words hold sway in Cabinet when the very accountability that First Nation leaders, among others, have expressly asked for in the education system ó the education system has been taken out by his leader and his colleagues in Cabinet.
Our accountability legislation and work in this area was built with the advice of other Canadians, particularly Albertans. Other premiers ó Canadaís longest-serving premier, Premier Klein, believes in the responsibility of ministers and deputy ministers and their accountability to taxpayers through the Legislature. Thatís why we included the signature in our accountability legislation. The accountability plan is signed by not just the minister but by the deputy minister as well. Thereís an accountability there for the entire public to see. If the minister does not live up to an accountability plan that includes miles of completed roadwork, of numbers of students who have successfully completed the reading recovery program ó if you publicly commit to that with your signature, your signature is your word, your signature is your bond, your signature is your promise. And weíve seen what the government does with promises. Somehow, repealing that signature, repealing that accountability is okay with the Finance minister, and he somehow believes thatís okay with Yukoners. Itís not okay. Yukoners are not going to put up with this spiralling trajectory of broken promises.
The trajectory of broken promises is going up, and I do agree with the budget statement, Mr. Speaker, that health care costs are going up. I do agree with that. We also have a health care system that is the envy of all of Canada. Our hospital, as toured by former Premier Mike Harris and Roy Romanow is second to none in this country in working with First Nations.
Yukoners donít pay the ambulance fees that the Northwest Territories and Nunavut pay. Yukoners donít pay the first $150 transfer Outside that people in Nunavut and Northwest Territories pay for outside medical treatment. Yukoners, whether they find themselves in hospitals in British Columbia or Alberta, are treated extremely well and any of us who have had any kind of experience with an outside hospital in British Columbia or Alberta, or a doctor ó and many of us have ó will know that Yukoners receive excellent treatment, absolutely the best, because we have excellent working relationships with both those provinces and we pay our bills. We work with our southern colleagues.
Our community nurses and our medical community made great strides under our government on the issues of recruitment and retention. Nurses meet or exceed pay and benefits offered in Alberta. Unlike Nunavut ó and Iíve seen this first-hand ó Nunavut pays signing bonuses to poach nurses from other provinces, particularly the Maritime provinces. We havenít had to resort to that. We have a good working relationship with the YRNA, and we worked hard on recruitment and retention to deal with the issues that nurses face.
Anyone who has had any interaction with home care knows how important and what a valuable service this is, and knows itís offered to Yukoners, where one canít receive and does not receive home care services in southern Canadian jurisdictions like British Columbia and Alberta.
The Finance minister has made much of the additional money for health care. I think itís important to also point out for the record exactly what the territory has said no to ó $12 million.
Each territory would have taken home $10.8 million in Nunavut, $15.6 million in N.W.T. and $12 million in the Yukon over three years. Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, the budget speech gives us no indication of where this government intends to proceed with health care. We do hope that ó piled upon their pile of broken promises is this promise of multi-level health care for Yukoners, because thatís not what Yukoners want.
Our health care system is the envy of the country. Itís an excellent health care system, and I will defend it and work to protect it until my last question of this government.
One of the recent speeches delivered by the Finance minister indicates that there is a five-step plan for health care for, in this case, alcohol and drug services. Step 1 of that was the firing of the best alcohol and drug addictions workers in western Canada, and step 2 was cancelling the hiring of counsellors eager to help Yukoners combat these issues. What are steps 3 through 5 ó more steps backward? Thatís certainly what it sounds like. Unfortunately, we wonít even have the accountability plan against which to assess this, although we all agree that health care expenditures should be made wisely and that there should be accountability for them.
There is mention in the budget speech of the continuing care facilities for elders and seniors as a priority ó another subject that is entirely too close to home for too many Yukoners. The care we provide seniors is absolutely an issue throughout this territory ó what is available and what is not available. The fact that there is little available in Watson Lake, that the Dawson City facility is in dire need of repair and that the entire north highway requires senior care facilities is absolutely an issue.
It is particularly an issue for residents of Tagish with respect to home care. And with Tagish and Marsh Lake being retirement communities, Mr. Deputy Speaker, access to care for seniors is of critical importance. We donít have assisted living arrangements. We donít have options that they have in southern Canada. We absolutely have to deal with this issue. It is a priority. Somehow, in the budget speech, it only manages to remain a priority for Watson Lake and Dawson City. Tagish, the riding proudly represented by the Member for Southern Lakes, is left off. There is also the riding of Kluane. For seniors this is a major issue, and I have watched and listened as respected First Nation elders have ó perhaps this is unparliamentary Ė shaken their finger vigorously at individuals whom I was with, including two chiefs, and said, "This is your responsibility to care for our elders," and how we treat our elders is how we will be judged, and that means all of the Yukon, not two select communities.
It amazed me to read and listen in the budget speech to the discussion about Copper Ridge being in the wrong place. I must remind the Finance minister, with all due respect, that he was part of the government that put it there, that chose that location. So to put it in the budget speech as some kind of a revelation strikes me as ó well, it speaks volumes about the trajectory of leadership going straight downhill. Itís about leadership for the whole Yukon, not just selected locations that happen to also have seats at the Cabinet table.
As passionate as I am about health care, education, accountability, integrity, I also have spoken in the past, many times, about Yukonís infrastructure as second to none in the north. We truly do have the best road system, the best system of airports and air service stations, aerodromes, of anywhere in the north. We have the contractors who have built these facilities.
Again, contrast us with Nunavut. Thereís much talk about Nunavut and its health care budget. Nunavut has, what, maybe a kilometre of BST road to repair. We have thousands of kilometres of BST road. Rebuilding that infrastructure is also work in rebuilding our economy. It puts those infrastructure builders, the infrastructure alliance, which are the best in the north, to work.
There is no work for those contractors in this budget, and they are not fooled. They have the lists of the spending done by governments, exclusive of Shakwak. Any one of the road contractors, go ask them. I challenge the members opposite, and then contrast that with this budget. Thereís no hope; thereís no rebuilding the economy; thereís no work for those road builders in here.
There is cost in this budget. Thereís the much-touted changing of the name from "Infrastructure" to "Highways and Public Works". Not a single person was moved, no job descriptions were rewritten, but a substantial cost for reprinting business cards and reprinting letterhead, Mr. Speaker. For what? So we could lose the IT sector, because theyíre not even mentioned?
Theyíre not part of infrastructure. Who is here? There is no recognition of the IT sector in this budget. There is no money. There is no recognition of them and there is a 61-percent drop in funding for our airports.
There is a little bit of money for the Klondike Highway and the Campbell Highway, because after all of the questions from the Member for Klondike about brushing there had better be the money. The Teslin work has continued. That is work and contracts that the previous government had entered into, and I am pleased that they are going to be completed, and that bridge needs work. The Shakwak money ó there is no real discussion of it. This is the last year of this particular funding. What are we going to do? Are we lobbying for an extension of Bill T-21? Are the members even aware? Are the members aware how that funding will be spent and what will happen? Where are we going to find the money to rebuild the Campbell Highway? There is mention of the new partnership with the N.W.T. and new partnerships with the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation. Did the Finance minister also share with both of those governments the fact that there is a 90-percent decrease in funding of the Dempster Highway? If we are going to share in the crumbs off the N.W.T.ís table, there is a lot of transportation that goes up and down the Dempster Highway.
Thatís the road builders and the infrastructure alliance. They see no hope, no jobs in this budget ó none whatsoever. What about the other contractors? What about those who swing the hammers and pound the nails? What is there for them? Absolutely nothing ó there is nothing.
I have clearly outlined, as the former Finance minister, the Whitehorse Correctional Institute work ó that $17-million construction project. We were working with local contractors to ensure the work was local, and also very clearly on a time frame so that that work could be completed by local individuals, local contractors ó and then the work could begin on the Canada Winter Games facilities, so that we didnít have this boom and bust of whereís the next big project, which is what we experienced when the Elijah Smith Building was constructed and then the hospital. The major contractors came in from Outside ó they all left. Our local contractors ó what were they left with? What was to happen under our government was the Whitehorse Correctional Institute was to be built locally as much as possible and then, working with the City of Whitehorse and the Yukon community, to ensure the facilities required for the Canada Winter Games were then built, and in time, so there was not this sudden rush of construction and then nothing.
However, under this government ó under the Yukon Party government ó there are no major construction projects. The Eliza Van Bibber School is one that was undertaken by our government. That will be finished ó that contract has already been let. Itís signed and work is to be completed. What else is there? What is there? There is nothing. There is not a school. There is not a major government institution. There is nothing for those contractors to look forward to ó not from this government.
The economy is more than cutting brush and Project Yukon or the community development fund. The Finance minister made much of the oil and gas opportunities. The fact is Yukon has eight sedimentary basins. Weíve only ever had 71 wells drilled. It has been widely believed that Natural Resources Canada has underestimated our resources, and thatís true. We have revised Eagle Plains basin estimates in here. The largest private-sector construction opportunity in North America was the Alaska Highway natural gas pipeline.
This budget speech bought into the notion that weíre in some kind of competition with the Northwest Territories. Challenge the members opposite to go back, read the speeches delivered day after day, time after time ó Yukon has always supported two pipelines. We have clearly not supported the over-the-top route, which has significant, if not potentially, life-threatening difficulties in construction alone. Thereís a huge argument, Mr. Speaker, is what Iím trying to say, as to whether or not the over-the-top could even be constructed.
For one, itís just like the lawyer joke: if you can find one lawyer to tell you one thing, you can find another to tell you another. Itís the same with the engineers. There are engineers who will tell you the over-the-top route cannot be constructed, and yet the Yukon Party government supports it. That absolutely amazes me. There is no support for the Dempster lateral corridor south to join with an Alaska Highway line. The government bought into the stranded gas argument, which Premier Kakfwi tried to put forward previously. The government, in their lack of respect for the environment, does not recognize the fragile Beaufort Sea. Never were the opportunities brighter and never have the opportunities been brighter for the Alaska Highway natural gas pipeline ó never.
And letís remember, Mr. Speaker, that in the late 1970s when the Lysyk report was done, there wasnít one Yukoner ó not one ó in 700 hours of testimony, who stood up and said, "We donít want this pipeline constructed."
However, now we have the Premier and Finance minister who is content to accept the crumbs from the Northwest Territoriesí table. Proud Yukon Party members have to be asking who is speaking for the Yukon now. It certainly does not appear to be the Premier. He has written off the Alaska Highway pipeline, and it was always about far more than a construction project. It was about access to natural gas ó not just access to American gas. It was access to Canadian gas, because we have those sedimentary basins. We have the TCF of gas. We have that, and the Premier has written off the opportunities. The Finance minister has written off the opportunity to build the Yukon economy.
Now, apparently, we take direction from the Northwest Territories. You can bet that the Premier of the Northwest Territories has not got Yukoners at the top of his list. How could he? He has a responsibility to his own constituents. It really appears that the veteran politician from the Northwest Territories got the best of the new rookie Premier for the Yukon. The Yukon threw in the towel on the pipeline under the current Premier ó threw in the towel; absolutely threw in the towel, Mr. Speaker, and abandoned the Yukon and representing Yukoners. The Alaskans have got to be shaking their heads. We have a treaty signed between Canada and the United States that says that gas will go down the Alaska Highway. We have Alberta working with Alaska but there is no mention of the Yukon working with Alberta. There is no mention, really, of support for the Alaska Highway pipeline. There is no mention; there is no support because the Premier threw in the towel and walked away ó walked away from an incredible opportunity. He walked away from speaking for Yukoners. Where is that proud tradition that the Yukon Party used to hold?
The Yukon Party has a proud tradition of standing up for Yukoners. It was under the Yukon Party government that the Yukon was the first of the three territories to get the formula finance funding arrangement. It was under the Liberal government ó our government ó that the Yukon resolved outstanding issues with the formula and received a $42-million payment. $42 million for the Yukon ó we resolved that on behalf of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut as well. That was the Yukon standing up for the three northern territories. The Yukon Party proudly stood up when Ottawa used Yukon land to settle the Northwest Territories land claim ó all members of this House ó of all political stripes ó stood up. The Yukon Party stood up, and the Member for Klondike as the then leader of the Yukon Party, stood up repeatedly and asked me in this House about using Yukon land as part of the mandate in resolution of the Kaska issue. Yukon Party had a proud tradition of standing up for Yukoners. That has been abandoned by the Premier. The Finance minister is settling for economic crumbs from the Northwest Territoriesí table. He is abandoning Yukon Party principles and tradition.
I would like to speak for a moment about the settlement of land claims that is also mentioned in the budget speech. Again, Yukon Party principles and former Yukon Party questions have got to be asked in this House again, and asked of the Finance minister and the Premier. I was asked, repeatedly, "What is the mandate in negotiations with the Kaska? Whatís on the table?"
Speaker: Order please. The member has two minutes.
Ms. Duncan: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
The Premier and Finance minister has to be asked the same question ó especially by the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources. Whatís on the table? What does the abeyance agreement mean? Mr. Speaker, the Finance minister is spending $200,000 of taxpayersí money ó $800 a day, plus expenses ó and the Finance minister wonít tell us what possible result we are going to get for that. He wonít tell us how long a supposed abeyance agreement will last. And the Finance minister has got to account for that $200,000 and every other dime in this budget speech. He will be held accountable through questions in this Legislature. This budget has nothing in it for me to commend to Yukoners. What I can pledge to Yukoners is that that tough question ó accounting for that $200,000 ó and every other tough question will be asked in the coming days of debate on this budget, and I look forward to it. I would only hope that the trajectory of ethics and leadership will stop its downward spiral and begin an upwards spiral with some answers to these hard questions. I look forward to them.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Arntzen: Mr. Speaker, Iím rising in this House today in response to this budget, and it is indeed an honour. For the most part, Iím not going to speak to specific line items but rather to the general content and what the budget will deliver in terms of tangible benefits for the territory. We need a stable and strong government in place before we can expect private sector investment in the territory. On November 4, 2002, Yukoners elected 12 women and men to govern the territory based on a very strong, progressive platform. These individuals have had three short months to put together a budget that clearly reflects the state of the Yukon economy and will provide the guidelines and structure necessary to move forward.
Mr. Speaker, as clearly stated in the budget speech, this government will not just throw money at problems or spend money to demonstrate activity for the sake of appearances. It is critical to consult and collaborate with the business community to determine where government spending can best help stimulate the economy, not only for the short term but also for the long term. For example, Mr. Speaker, the community development fund has already put Yukoners to work this winter. It will also be redesigned this spring in consultation with First Nations and community governments to fund projects that will create employment for the future. I think itís important to acknowledge concerns of Yukon businesses, particularly with respect to a decrease in projected capital spending as projects such as the Shakwak come to a close. At the recent address of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce luncheon, a comment was made that we canít spend our way out of this economic decline ó or depression, I think we should call it that.
Itís a fact that, if this government continues historic levels of spending, it would violate the Taxpayer Protection Act thereby triggering another territorial election. This will only create more uncertainty and postpone the inevitable ó well-managed, responsible spending.
I must say that Iím proud to support this budget. Even though it is strict, it demonstrates prudent management of the governmentís resources in support of our vision.
The facts are, Mr. Speaker, that revenues are growing at a slower rate and transfer payments from the federal government will be limited, particularly if the population continues to decline.
In a well-managed budget, this means that the focus has to be on controlling all expenditures, including operations, maintenance and capital. All expenditures must be carefully scrutinized and, for investments, there must be a viable business case.
I am particularly pleased that a balanced budget has been achieved without having to lay off government employees or raise taxes. This not only demonstrates the social conscience of this government but recognizes that the loss of employees, private sector or government alike, means that the territory loses the benefits of their spending power and contributions to the economy.
Mr. Speaker, one of the greatest concerns in my riding of Copperbelt is the state of the economy. This budget will support the creation of a stand-alone Department of Economic Development to be established in consultation with the business community, First Nation governments and government employees, and many of my constituents are very pleased to hear this.
Another key to stimulating the economy is to ensure that we have skilled, trained people in emerging and growing sectors.
I am pleased to see that monies have been targeted for school information technology, distance education and radio conferencing. If we invest in technology, Yukoners can stay in the territory to work, even though their client base may be outside. Mr. Speaker, it is also important to diversify our business interests to stimulate growth in the territory.
One of the highlights of this budget is the commitment to invest in programs to develop industries that have been largely ignored in the past. I am encouraged to see support to develop a five-year agricultural policy that would help stimulate agriculture. We also recognize that aquaculture, game farming, outfitting and trapping industries have significant growth potential.
In addition, forestry has tremendous development potential, which has yet to be realized. We know that our merchantable timber is of very high quality and has international market appeal. This budget is supportive of developing a framework and policy that will stimulate growth in this sector.
Mr. Speaker, further to the subject of diversification, I would also note that the budget supports a marketing and product development strategy that focuses on developing new niche markets. Given the budget restraints, it is critical that we spend our tourism marketing dollars where we receive the maximum benefits.
One of the key tactics in the strategy is to partner with the other northern governments and private sector companies in order to leverage limited government funds.
The ultimate goal, of course, is to increase the awareness of Yukon as a travel destination.
In closing, Mr. Speaker, Iíd like to thank my colleagues and our leaders for their participation in a very successful budget review process. Even though there are differing opinions on what areas of the budget should be changed, I believe they approached the review with professionalism. Again, it goes back to consultation and collaboration being the tools by which we will turn the economy around and move the territory forward.
I recommend and support this budget.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Cathers: Iím not going to go into great detail in commenting on the budget here. First of all, before I get into my remarks, Iíd like to address a point that was made a few moments earlier by the leader of the third party. Iím a little puzzled to hear the comments that seem to be suggesting that, in walking away from the health care agreement that was presented to the provinces and the three territories, and proceeding to negotiate the pan-northern accord with the federal government on additional funding for the three territories for health care, that the Yukon had lost the per capita funding which, of course, is not the case. Iíd like to make the offer to the leader of the third party that, if she is unable to buy a newspaper, Iíd be pleased to do that for her.
Iím pleased to see that this budget has returned to presenting the numbers and statistics along with the budget, instead of empty words that we saw in last yearís budget. The policy of putting in empty words was implemented under the previous administration, under their so-called "accountability plan". Itís all very well to tell people that youíre accountable, but there is no substitute for the real thing.
This budget shows a return to being accountable to the Legislature and, in doing so, has restored a key element of democracy. Mr. Speaker, 1997 was the first year the Yukonís budget went over $400 million. The 2002 budget, once the special warrants were factored in, was almost $600 million ó nearly a 50-percent increase over five years. During that period, the economy declined ó I should say, the economy and the population. Every Yukoner understands that thatís not sustainable. You canít increase your spending while your revenue is decreasing. An individual canít spend beyond their means; a private company canít spend beyond its means and, frankly, Mr. Speaker, Iím a little bit baffled to hear some of the comments from across the floor that seem to suggest that government can spend beyond its means.
Private investors do not want to invest in jurisdictions whose governments spend beyond their means because, when governments spend beyond their means, the next thing they tend to do is tax private citizens beyond their means. Investors do not want to invest in a region whose government believes that money grows on trees, because they want leaders who live in the real world.
This budget is not all things to all people, but it is a budget that protects the territory instead of mortgaging our future.
We cannot spend beyond our means. This world has seen far too many governments that exist by deficit spending. You cannot spend your way out of a hole. Attempts to do so only bury your people. You have to manage your way out of the problem.
Itís always easy and popular to increase spending, and itís difficult and unpopular to decrease it, but it is governments that have the courage to govern responsibly that keep jurisdictions solvent and keep us on track.
Mr. Speaker, the laws of economics are, for all intents and purposes, laws of nature, and they cannot be set aside by government legislation. This budget is a budget that halts the Yukonís headlong rush toward the edge of the cliff.
In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind this House of something that those of us who have run private businesses know ó it isnít how much you spend that matters; itís how wisely you spend it. And Iím pleased to see this budget show a return to prudent fiscal management.
Mr. Fairclough: It gives me great pleasure to respond to the budget speech and the budget presented to this House.
The Yukon Party said that this is a budget that Yukoners have been asking for. They said they didnít have much time to consult with the public to put this budget together, but it does reflect their promises to the Yukon population. So far, Mr. Speaker, we havenít heard a whole lot from the Yukon Party side about the budget itself. I donít believe the members opposite feel that it is a good budget; otherwise, theyíd have more to say about it.
First of all, I would like to go through some issues that have been raised in my riding.
And I would like to come back to the budget speech and the budget itself, although I would like to first of all point out for the members opposite some things in the budget, because it was just raised by the Member for Lake Laberge.
Government spending is going up, and the Finance minister says that the monies just arenít coming in. So we look at the papers that have been given to us by this Yukon Party government and have a look at it. First of all, if we look at the territorial revenues coming in, Mr. Speaker, we see an increase over the next four years. There are more revenues coming in. As a matter of fact, the Finance minister said that weíll have millions and millions and millions of dollars of more revenue coming in, other than what we see on paper. So is the government going broke? I think not. Weíve also been told in this House that the transfer payments from the Government of Canada ó the federal government ó are decreasing due to population decline and so on. But in the figures that the Yukon Party has given us, we see an increase over the next four years ó every year over the next four years.
Now, we on this side of the House would like some straight answers. We would like to know exactly what the dollar amounts are so that we are all dealing with the same figures, because if the Yukon Party has something different, then I think it only courteous that they share that with us on this side of the House. But, Mr. Speaker, the only figures that we can work with are the figures that are provided to us by the Yukon Party government.
This year, $359,800,000 will be coming from Canada. In 2006-07, $391,500,000 will be coming to the Yukon. That is a big difference, and the increases have also gone up from $72 million to $77 million in revenue generation. And what the Yukon Party has been telling us and the general public is that we will even see more revenues generated because of increased economic development in the territory.
So we would like to know what the real dollar projections are. Are we going to see the revenue side jump up, maybe double? Will we see another $50 million coming into the territory? We would like to know that, and if that is the case, we would have a huge surplus in the following year. The Yukon Party said that they would not deficit finance but here we are in the first year with deficit financing with a very bleak future because we are going straight into a situation where we would only have $1 million in the bank. What other government would even do that?
Also, some of the numbers that we get are a bit different from page to page of the Yukon Partyís figures ó the long-term projections versus the estimates on the O&M and capital side.
For example, the deficit for this fiscal year that weíre in is projected to be at $56,673,000. In the figures shown in the long-term projection, itís quite different. Weíre looking at $39 million. So what happens with all these millions of dollars that are supposedly spent but not shown in the long-term projection? Itís right here. Theyíre Yukon Party numbers, but theyíre different. Theyíre not showing, in my view, the true picture of the finances of the Yukon Territory.
So, thatís how weíre starting off the first year of the term of this Yukon Party government, with numbers that need to be looked at a little clearer.
Also, Mr. Speaker, the Yukon Party said and promised that they would be open and accountable. They promised to consult with the people. Certainly, this budget doesnít reflect that, unless the Yukon Party is saying that, during the election campaign, they consulted and this is what they came up with. I thought that, at the very minimum, a quick Yukon tour of the communities, First Nations and talks with NGOs and different groups would be a first step to try to get a good reflection into the budget of what Yukoners want. We havenít seen that. What we have seen is the Yukon Party coming out, crying poverty, already in their first term. Theyíre starting off with a $78-million surplus from the last budget ó a $78-million surplus, crying poverty but, if the Yukon Party wants, it will find money for its own interests.
We see that with the nice $200,000 contract that was given to someone for hopefully some really good, hard work that is going to be produced by this person ó $800 a day plus expenses. It wasnít hard to find that money. Thereís a surplus there, and the Yukon Party is drawing from that when they want and when they need it.
Now, when it comes to NGOs and communities asking for funding, the immediate words out of the Yukon Party are that the government is broke, it doesnít have the money. The money tree is dried up, I heard one of the members say across the way, Mr. Speaker. The money tree is dried up. In fact, the figures that were given to us are the opposite of what theyíve said. Revenues are going up, block funding from Canada is going up, and still we have a very bleak situation here in the Yukon. Itís going down.
What also saddens me in this budget is the fact that the Yukon Party had made a promise to maintain funding to health care and education. When you look at the numbers, Mr. Speaker, it doesnít show that. It shows decreases in O&M, decreases in both health care and education, which are both my critic areas. To also say that it is done without job losses ó and we see it contrary to the facts, by people being laid off. It wasnít long ago, only a few days ago, that the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission said that there would be no layoffs, that the Yukon Party does not believe in taking the food off peopleís tables. Those were their words. And what do we learn in this short period of time? That there are layoffs. People are being laid off at the end of this fiscal year. They might be term positions.
We donít even know whatís really going to take place until it does happen with devolution ó how many people are going to disappear there? And the streamlining the Yukon Party wants to do in regard to reducing administration costs and duplication of services.
Mr. Speaker, I have some things I would like to list ó issues for the Yukon Party to consider. If ever they will be doing a community tour and consulting with people on the development of the next budget, and I hope thatís the case ó that theyíre not afraid to talk with communities and consult them, to try to have a better reflection of their needs in upcoming budgets. So, I would like to go through some of them.
The community of Carmacks ó the school that was next on the list for capital projects is now off the budget for the Yukon Party, even though they have committed to excellence in education and to look at the needs of communities and building healthier communities. Thatís off the table now. I was surprised, because it was just today that I heard from the Premier again that the dollars will go to where they are most effective, and how they will go toward creating jobs and bettering, I guess, the overall life of communities and so on. And the school has disappeared off the map here, and Iím hoping that it doesnít disappear forever, that the Education minister fights a little tougher fight in Management Board and Cabinet in trying to get this expenditure back on the books and back into the budget. Itís important to the community of Carmacks and the children who attend Tantalus School.
Iím sure that the minister and government have read the letter that was sent to the government from the community of Carmacks, jointly signed by the mayor and the chief, in trying to get discussions going, at least the first step to get discussions going, to look at the possibility of a new school, not just an add-on but a new school, possibly on First Nation land. This of course would be a huge job creation for that small community. If the Yukon Party is true to their word, then this type of project would be high on the list of the Yukon Party. So far, it is gone and not even there. I am hoping and I am going to rely on the Education minister to fight for the First Nation and to fight for the community and Management Board to ensure that expenditure is not missed the next time. If the Yukon Party simply went out to the communities to consult, that would have been on the list.
Another one that I would like the Yukon Party to act quickly on, particularly the Environment minister, is the recent fuel spill in the community of Carmacks. Now, there is some urgency to this, Mr. Speaker. I canít tell you exactly the events that took place, but 3,500 litres of fuel oil were pumped onto the ground and have now contaminated the water system in that community. That portion of the community ó the social services building, the heritage hall and most importantly if it gets into the water system in the watershed ó that is going to be a very big problem to that community, because that is where the people without wells get their water supplied ó from that building.
Iím hoping that the Environment minister hears this and does not ignore it, like Yukoners have been ignored for a long time, and takes some immediate action on this for cleanup ó pushes for immediate action for cleanup.
Many of the communities are looking at improvements to their water system. The Yukon Party says theyíre going to bring in legislation for water standards around the territory. The most precious drink in the world is water, Mr. Speaker, and if the communities are already having problems with this ó and the community of Carmacks went through this several times already. I remember asking these questions this time last year of the Liberal Party government at the time, about the contamination in community wells in the community of Carmacks, possibly from the breakage of sewage lines in that community. They went through months of having to ensure that water was boiled, going through that extra step in their daily lives, and also the extra expense, because they were out buying water.
Now, on the other side of the community where the First Nations are, we have something that could be very major and Iím hoping that the Environment minister listens carefully, sends a note up to the office and ensures that action is taken immediately and that Yukoners are not ignored.
Carmacks is part of the Yukon, Mr. Speaker, and Iím hoping that the minister on the governmentís side doesnít ignore communities that are small.
I know that the community of Carmacks has been looking at both water supply and improvements to their sewage system. Like Dawson, the community of Carmacks is also trying to make improvements so that they are not fined for pumping sewage into the Yukon River. What theyíre looking at, of course, is a new and improved sewage treatment facility.
Those talks have gone on for awhile now, and the community has made a decision on designs. This is also a huge project for that community, and Iím hoping that, because it has gone through such a lengthy time, theyíre not penalized ó because this is such a huge project ó from having other projects take place in that community, like road improvements or bridge improvements for the community of Carmacks. Iím not talking about the one that goes across the Yukon River. Iím talking about other things the Yukon Party says we have second to none in matching to other parts of Canada. Iím referring to our recreation centres.
The community of Carmacks had one built. They have facilities that still need a lot of work. I ask the Yukon Party to consult very carefully and look at the priorities of that community so that more could be done in the area of job creation and building healthier communities.
A seniors facility has also been talked about in that community. As a matter of fact, the First Nation has talked about this for years, and I know they are looking at this a bit more seriously than they have in the past, and they have plans to do things like tying in the heating system, for example, that heats the First Nation administration building to also heat the seniors facility. Where has it gone? How much interest has the Yukon Party even shown in regard to this? I would say very little or next to none, but maybe Iíll be surprised and hear something that comes out of the Yukon Party in this regard. Some of the interesting parts with respect to that facility would be the fact that both buildings would be heated by water, by a boiler system off a wood-chip boiler.
Also, Mr. Speaker, the areas of interest in that community, as with Mayo and Pelly, are to address the alcohol and drug problems that are in those communities. A lot of work has gone into this in the past in regard to troubled youth. Even the Northern Tutchone Council have tried to partner with the Yukon Party and it was refused. Now it is starting from day one again, and I donít think that it is right for any government to try to redefine how things are going and should go in the communities, as it was done when the alcohol and drug secretariat was created. The First Nations are far ahead, I would say, of government, if thatís the case, in what they want and what they have already designed and the areas where they have sent people out for training ó and good training.
I know that the government side has received letters from the community of Mayo in regard to projects that they have looked at and would like the Yukon Party government to address. The big one, of course, in the community of Mayo is the replacement of the Mayo community centre. I hope that government just doesnít let this one slip by. The community has done all kinds of work on their own and spent all kinds of money getting a design going ó and they have one on the table which, by the response that I see written on paper anyway, the Government of Yukon liked. They liked the fact that there is efficiency involved in the building and that there is a final design that has come right out of the community, and that the Yukon Party or Government of Yukon doesnít have to do that work. Itís just a matter of having funds flow into the communities.
And this again, Mr. Speaker, is a job creation. And if I can go back a little ways, for those members who havenít really listened carefully in the House over the last couple years, I would like to inform them how this came about. First of all, the community centre was a focal point of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of that community. But even before that, with the building of the school, the community took upon itself to ó the Village of Mayo, the First Nation ó work with the community campus to do training, and a lot of it was done through the training trust funds ó carpentry training, trades training and so on. And their focus was on exactly maybe what the Yukon Party would like to do ó to get people working for a longer period of time than the short employment that we see coming out of the community development fund. They wanted to get these carpenters and tradespeople working for a longer period of time.
How did they do that? Well, it was simple enough ó just put together a number of projects that can happen over a number of years, and with a vast improvement, of course, to the community. The school was the first one. Although it was delayed, this would keep people working at least for a year. It shouldnít have taken any longer to build that school ó at least for a year. Then theyíd move on to this building, the Mayo community centre. That building shouldnít take all that long to build, either. It would be about a year. So there were two years of employment that should have happened. And then the third one after that ó Iím sure that the members opposite are going to hear about getting financial support from that community ó is the First Nation administration building. Now, Yukon governments have always helped First Nations in providing financial support for those buildings.
That would have kept people working for three years, possibly four years, with all the projects identified by the community in between that time. It all went downhill, of course, when the Liberal government decided to delay the school. But the community is still focused, and they want these projects to take place. If the Yukon Party would like to see a drop in unemployment in small communities like Mayo and Carmacks, then these are the kinds of projects they would like to see take place ó controlled by the community, designed by the community and built by community people.
We have seen a reflection of that pride in some of the projects around the territory ó the community of Old Crow with their school; Ross River, of course, with their school; and even Mayo with their school. Those were built by local people, and they take pride in what they have. This was certainly a huge boost to the community of Mayo.
In a letter to the Premier, they also asked for an outdoor court beside the school, and I would really like to see the school completed ó the grounds and all the final work that goes with a new school.
This next one has been on their wish list ó I guess you could call it ó for a couple of years now, and this is a second fire truck for the community. Most of these communities want to have a back-up emergency fire truck in their community. What took place was ó they do have two. They have an old one. They had work done on this fire truck, and the promise from the Yukon government at the time was that, once the life expectancy of this vehicle ran out, they would get a replacement for it.
The repairs that were done added about three to five yearsí life on to this truck. It has gone. Thatís over and done with, and theyíre looking for a replacement. So Iím hoping that the Yukon Party looks favourably on this expenditure and assures the community of Mayo that they can have a backup. Theyíre not asking for something new. Itís something new or close to new, something that functions well.
For a long time, the community of Mayo has asked for upgrading of the highway and roads to the Silver Trail area. The other one, of course, was the expansion of the Village of Mayo boundaries. That still hasnít taken place.
They asked for many things, too, Mr. Speaker, including installation of boat ramps at Mayo Lake.
Like I said earlier in reply to the throne speech, Mr. Speaker, the number one issue that has been talked about in the three communities is education, and then the economy. There was much talk about curriculum development in schools. This government said itís all about programming, and Iím hoping we see some improvements in that area and not have it continue the way it is. The community wants to see some change, so letís see some change ó also, Mr. Speaker, to ensure that the Yukon Party government is fully aware of the celebrations that the community of Mayo is doing over this summer, and to ensure that there are some financial resources backing some of the things they would like to do.
One small community that I did not mention a whole lot is Stewart Crossing. That community is small ó there are only about 45 people there. There are about a dozen children who are there, and they ask for very little. I wrote a letter to the minister responsible for highways to look into the matter of whether or not the community of Stewart Crossing can get some streetlights put on the highway entering town from the south. Their concerns are all safety concerns. I remember the Yukon Party asking for that from the NDP in the community of Ross River. If there is interest there, there should be interest here on this one.
Certainly the NDP did install those lights. I canít see why the Yukon Party would not go that far. Also, there are a couple of things ó a youth centre. I know that there is not an organization struck in that community, but I know that there are key people in the community who can work on it. There is an old one that has been sitting there for about 12 years. The other thing that the children have asked for in that community is a sliding hill.
Keno, of course, is an even smaller community ó even though itís Keno City. They rely highly on tourism. What they wanted to see was some timely maintenance to the roads in Keno on Signpost Road and the Silver Trail Road. A simple removal of snow in a timely manner would get the tourists up Signpost Road. This summer, with a lot of rain, they had many people ó many tourists ó turn away from going up to Keno because of the quality of the road. There were big potholes, it was muddy. Many people could realize what it was like if you have driven on the Campbell Highway and experienced those mud hills and mud holes there.
I would like to go through the budget and some of the highlights the member opposite has provided us on this side of the House and also the Yukon Party commitment and their campaign platform, because I would think that the budget thatís presented in the House is somewhat of a reflection of the Yukon Party commitment in the election. First of all, Mr. Speaker, the one that we on this side of the House will repeat over and over is the same wording that the Yukon Party repeated over and over on the doorsteps during the election, and it is this: that the Yukon Party will basically have a new style of governing based on consensus building. So far we havenít even seen that among their own team, and that was evident from the Member for Lake Laberge stating at a public meeting, as he should, that they were not consulted when it came to the decision made by the Health minister to kick out the residents of Macaulay Lodge and move them up to Copper Ridge, where his words were "so they could be contained." That floored me, how the minister could even say those words about our respected people of the Yukon.
So, consensus building isnít working so far. That was a new style of government that was going to take place. Many of the decisions we see right now donít involve stakeholders or the general public on major decisions that affect them. Iím hoping that, if the Yukon Party wants to be true to their word and this is what they offer the general public, we will see an improvement ó or will we?
Consultation was the other new, inclusive style of governing. So far, has the public been consulted? We certainly have seen how the Minister of Health consults. I was surprised to read his own press release that states ó in regard to Macaulay Lodge again, Mr. Speaker, "Residents of Macaulay Lodge were informed this morning that they are moving up the hill." Well, donít you think government should think about consultation first and then make some decisions later? It might have avoided this whole mess. And I think it was very messy, the way it was handled, and Iím sure many of the Yukon Party members opposite agree with me. I know the Member for Lake Laberge does, by his comments in the paper, anyway. Itís good to see someone being open to their constituents.
Collaboration and compromise ó not confrontation and unilateral action. Iím hoping that the Yukon Party will make improvements, with every one of those words, in how they do things in the future because so far, in most of what they have done ó Iím talking about new decisions ó there was no consultation and they didnít seek consensus building.
It wasnít collaboration or compromise ó maybe between the one minister and the Premier and no one else. But what we have seen is unilateral action. I believe we are going to see that over and over again. I really wonder why the Premier made that statement. Is it to try to divert attention away from exactly how this Yukon Party government will operate?
For example, what happened to the Yukon protected areas strategy? They said it was a flawed process. It doesnít take long to work and make amendments and improvements to that process. As a matter of fact, anything the government develops will require some change and improvements down the road. Was there consultation on this matter? Well, it is dead. But we heard a flip-flop today. I was quite surprised that maybe it is not really finished with at this point. Maybe the Yukon Party is going to work on something. If the Yukon Party wants a mineral strategy, then put together a mineral strategy ó
Speaker: Order please. The member has two minutes.
Mr. Fairclough: ó and not take such drastic actions, particularly when the members opposite know that the Yukon protected areas strategy went around the Yukon and was consulted on extensively. That strategy was probably the most extensive document since the Education Act, and some people feel it is the best in Canada and North America. It involves developers and industry in identifying places that should be protected. Yukon Party called them "parks". They are not all parks and SMAs donít cover off the ecoregions for protection.
I was totally floored over how little the Environment minister knew about the land claims process, SMAs and what they are created for versus ecoregions and protection of some sort for ecoregions.
And Iím hoping that the Yukon Party goes and does their homework and comes up with something a little stronger and isnít so right-winged when it comes to the environment.
Thereís so little time to have to comment to the budget and budget speech. I barely got into it. I would have liked to have had many more hours to go through this budget speech but, obviously, we only have 45 minutes. I only hit the first page of the budget speech, and there is lots to say, which means that we have lots of questions to ask.
I thank the members for their careful attention to the words I spoke.
Speaker: May I have your further pleasure?
Hon. Mr. Hart: I rise to give thanks to the House for hearing my speech for the budget. Iím looking for ways to help out the rural areas in our communities and to maintain their facilities. We are looking at some adjustments in sewer and water in many of our rural constituencies. We are also looking at some planning initiatives during this cycle. We are looking at finishing off some projects in some communities. We are also looking at some other improvements in existing infrastructure in our rural communities. We are also looking at maintaining our water and sewage responsibilities in the unincorporated areas of the Yukon.
Weíre looking at maintaining our grants to the municipalities, commencing in the new year, along with the amount of approximately $350,000 in addition to the minimum requirement, which is broken out individually to the community, similar to that formula of last year. Weíre looking at maintaining our facilities and our fire departments throughout the Yukon. Weíre rotating our equipment as it comes of age, with a recycle system thatís in for our fire trucks, as the member opposite mentioned earlier in his line, and itís in our process to keep the trucks rotating so that they fall within that line or theyíre repaired to give them additional life to carry on.
Weíre looking at some additional equipment items for some volunteer fire departments as well as the development of new facilities this year also. Through our community development office, weíre looking at maintaining community development fund and FireSmart facilities for the upcoming year, and weíre working on the final criteria for both of those entities as we speak, and they will be carried on with for this ensuing year.
As members opposite know, I have had extensive involvement with the CDF and FireSmart in the past, and weíre looking at trying to maintain that particular process in the future.
Through Yukon Housing, weíre looking at trying to improve our facilities in the rural communities, our services for staff housing and additional housing for both seniors and other citizens, and maintaining inventory so that we can provide service where and when required. In that process, we are investigating senior housing options, and we hope to have something for that in the future also.
On the infrastructure side, weíre doing several projects throughout the communities, as well as the Alaska Highway and also finishing off the Shakwak project.
Government is committed to lobbying for the continuation of the Shakwak project. An additional $45 million is required to complete the highway reconstruction from the south end of Kluane Lake to Silver Creek and also to replace the four major bridges at the Slims, Duke, Donjek and Beaver rivers.
Thereís an additional amount of work that is required when it comes to asphalt paving on the highway. Itís estimated to cost about U.S. $170 million. We are involved in dealing with the key political aspects in Congress in the State of Alaska. They are aware of our funding request and, in fact, the state legislature has passed a resolution supporting our $45-million request for additional project funding.
We are also working on completing a portion of the Alaska Highway outside of Haines Junction. Weíre finishing the bridge just outside of Teslin in the work this year. We have maintenance and construction going on throughout the Yukon for the road itself, and weíre looking at some monies in the rural road areas to help out with the smaller projects.
On the infrastructure side, for buildings, weíre looking at some new plans within some of our rural areas with regard to improving buildings and upgrading them so they can be utilized, and making them available for the communities to use on a daily basis.
I apologize, Deputy Speaker. This cold is getting me down so Iím going to have to ask your forgiveness and sit down.
Mrs. Peter: Itís my pleasure to respond to the budget speech. Iím very encouraged by the number of initiatives that are going to be undertaken by this government for the people of Old Crow. I would just like to list some of the initiatives that were mentioned, the first one being construction of a winter road and a rock quarry proposal to help stabilize the riverbank near Old Crow. That has been in the plans for a number of years, and we do need partnership in order to make some progress. What these initiatives are going to do is bring training to the young people in our community, and eventually they will be able to complete those jobs using the people who are trained.
Also, another commitment by this government is ensuring that the government uses the Air North airline for travel. The Vuntut Development Corporation, on behalf of the beneficiaries of Old Crow, has joint ventured in this business on behalf of our community, and weíve been watching very closely the numbers and the usage by the government officials and have been very concerned, up until now, about how many passengers travelling on behalf of the Yukon territorial government have not been using that airline.
The reason I am bringing attention to this is because it is a Yukon airline. It is owned by many investors throughout the territory. It is a Yukon business, and we fully support a local business venture. I am very pleased to see that this government is making that commitment to use our local business in that way.
I am very pleased also that this Yukon Party government made a commitment to support the Porcupine caribou issue. I have not seen a dollar value put to this initiative yet, and I look forward to when that will happen. I hope it is very soon, Mr. Speaker, because we are in a very critical time with that issue. There are politics not only in Canada but internationally that will affect and impact our people, and it has always been the mandate of the Gwitchin people to protect not only our animals and our land but also the very survival of our culture, and for that we also need partnership and we need a dollar value to go with that.
There has been a dollar amount allocated toward Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation for the stabilization project of the riverbank, and that amount is $500,000, and for that we are very, very pleased.
I have a number of concerns that I would like to bring to the attention of this government. I listen very carefully, and I also observe very carefully. Iíve listened to the Speech from the Throne. Iíve listened to the budget speech. A number of issues that stand out for me are around resource development. There have been a number of times that north Yukon has been mentioned, and that is a concern because, in the past, when there were any plans for any development or any initiatives in north Yukon, the government of the day has tried to make some connection with our community. It hasnít been within the last government that was sitting ó they made some effort, but it wasnít enough. I heard that the oil and gas reserves throughout the Eagle Plains area are very substantial.
Thereís this government that would like to make some money. They need to bring in revenues based on the oil and gas industry, and thatís fine. This creates work for people. However, when it is that close to home, we need people to come and consult with us. Going into north Yukon, we would like to have the respect of this government. In order for both parties to be satisfied, we need to have people come and talk to us and say, "These are our plans. What do you think? How can we work together?"
I have heard in the budget speech that there are discoveries near the shore waters of the Beaufort Sea. There are economic initiatives or plans to construct a Dempster Highway pipeline eastward to connect with the Mackenzie Valley pipeline. Interestingly enough, I was listening to a debate the other day on CBC North and heard an individual mention plans for an over-the-top route, which they are in support of. For me, when I heard that, I was very, very concerned. I had some hope that we would not have to address that issue. Within the last two years when I was in this House, I believe I heard support from all three parties that the over-the-top route was not supported by each party that was sitting at the time.
I also had some hope that because the Porcupine caribou issue is mentioned in this document, which is a public document, those concerns surrounding those areas would also be taken into consideration. Because like it says in this document, the Porcupine caribou know no boundaries, and the herd travels across the boundaries of Alaska and Northwest Territories. And their wintering grounds are up near Eagle Plains. And the user groups for the Porcupine caribou travel from all parts of the Gwitchin Nation, and we depend solely on that herd for survival.
And when I hear this government of the day talk about oil and gas reserves close to our traditional area and being interested about whatís happening on the shores of the north Yukon and a possible pipeline, whether it be east or north or toward Inuvik, then I become very, very concerned. The people of Old Crow need to know if there are any plans to connect these pipelines, whether it be over the top or along the Dempster lateral.
And we need to be part of the decision-making process, because weíre not only dealing with an international government for the very survival of our tradition and our culture, weíre dealing with our own government here in the Yukon Territory and also at the federal level. And I will be addressing this issue in more detail when the time is allotted.
I need to talk more with my constituents about these very concerns, and I will be bringing back issues on their behalf to the House. An accord was signed with the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, and that enhances the government-to-government relationship. In that accord, it states some of the priorities of our community and what some of those initiatives are. I have stated before, when I responded to the throne speech, that our community has always had a vision for not only the young people, but also for everybody involved, not only those of First Nation ancestry.
One of the programs that people are really keen on seeing as a success is the ski program. Thatís a development that has been there for the last year. It not only addresses the needs of the youth but everybody involved in the community Ė whether they be a grandmother, a parent, a teacher or the ski instructors. This program is going to help us in not only addressing our health needs in our community, but our social and justice needs. If this program is a success in Old Crow, it can be used in other communities.
Iíve heard far too long in the last couple of years the many health issues throughout the territory in many of the communities and in Whitehorse ó whether it be diabetes or sexually transmitted diseases, or whether it be obesity because of unhealthy living.
And some of those issues in our community ó the community of Old Crow has taken responsibility and is trying to move forward with this program. This government is aware of the plans for that program and we are looking to this government for support. It is not only in the health department or the social department or the recreation. We need to bring all these different programs together and see if we can assist a group of people who want to take responsibility at the community level and say, "Yes, we are going to move forward with this." It is to address the needs of the very people about whom we say we are very concerned, and that is the youth. They are our future leaders, and what kind of a world, I always say, are we going to leave for them if we donít help them address these issues of today.
Some of them have health issues that can be addressed right now. If they are addressed right now, they can be healthy young men and women and come out of the communities into a larger setting like this and address the other issues that they have to address while they are here ó the challenges of attending high school and making those different changes for themselves in their lives. I have had that opportunity myself, not only with the people in my community but other resources that came into Old Crow to help us see that, yes, when we come into a larger setting like this there are going to be challenges.
It doesnít really help the needs of one individual until you experience it yourself, but that is exactly the kind of support we need in the community, for the people who are getting themselves educated and planning their goals to eventually finish their education out here, whether it be high school or attending the College here and then going back to our community, because we are a self-governing First Nation and we need them back there. And we know only too well what the challenges for them are and weíre trying every way we can to help them to meet those challenges along the way.
The Vuntut Development Corporation has had a few initiatives in planning for the past few years, and Iíve mentioned them before. Iím not sure what kind of response, if any, they have gotten from this government on the visitor reception centre, which theyíre waiting for at the territorial level ó some partnership ó and also the road to Old Crow. We need to get that road in the plans for next spring so that we can address some of those issues that are outstanding in our community, to make work so that people can have some success in their lives. It has been a downward spiral for us for a long time. There has been very little in the way of economic ventures in our community to help people to work. We have the few projects that are available that have work for three or four people for a number of months, but we need to work on an ongoing basis.
Iíve talked about the concerns in the community for our land and for our animals, and along with those come the issues around climate change. Weíve seen in the past five years or more the effects and the impacts of climate change in our country. Itís not only in north Yukon, but I believe itís global, but for us in north Yukon, the elders are very sensitive to what happens in our surroundings.
And some years, we havenít had snow. For example, we didnít have much snow in Old Crow right up until last month, and now we have lots of snow. Iím not sure what the measurement might be, but this also creates a very huge concern where the animals are concerned, because their behaviour changes with the climate.
A few elders were telling us in the fall time that they were very concerned about the bears because of their hibernation and that it wasnít as cold as it usually is at that time of the year. So, all of that causes concern, not only for the bear, but a chain reaction to every animal that lives in our country.
And, of course, when you have concern for the animals, then the trappers are concerned about their livelihood. So, it not only affects the animals on the land; it affects the people. Like I have said, itís not only in north Yukon that this happens. It happens throughout the territory, and itís something that we need to start very seriously thinking about. The world doesnít surround the City of Whitehorse. There are communities throughout the Yukon where some very serious issues need to be addressed for the people.
We have a decision that was made by our Premier just recently in the justice system, and that was to stop construction of the new jail facility. I was really surprised when I heard that decision, because there was so much work done on the very planning of that facility. There was lots of money spent in the design and planning of the facility, and I believe there were also plans in the works about programming that was going to be offered at the facility for the inmates. I have been up to the facility a few times on different occasions, and the very state of that place is absolutely deplorable. To have people living there and working there under those conditions is something that I really canít understand. The age of that building is one; the safety of the people who have to live there, the safety concerns, is another. Also, to expect people to work in a place like that and make some kind of change and make a difference for the inmates, is another.They have been looking forward to a new facility for a few years. Just last year, they were bringing the material in that they needed to build the foundation, and this was causing some excitement. They were looking forward to, "Hey, maybe something will happen now." And now, again, itís put on hold for how long, and they have to wait.
I was up there just recently. I was invited as a guest speaker and was part of a discussion group. Some of the issues that were brought forward were concerns to address their own personal issues so that the individuals can move forward in their lives; they were very real and very ó you know, itís there. They want to make that change in their lives and they have very little resources to do so.
There is an individual there who was in that facility for a year and was willing to make some changes. However, there was very little to help him walk through that journey for himself, and thatís of grave concern. When an individual is ready to make changes for himself or herself, I believe the resources out there, by whatever means ó whether you have an elder come in to share your own experiences with, or have an elder walk with you through a difficult time to meet some of the challenges you need to ó should be made available. If itís not there, then you stay stuck in that one place and youíre not able to make a difference for yourself or for your family.
I believe many of these individuals have small children they have to be away from because of their circumstances. If they would like to make changes for themselves, then I believe those resources should be made available. How long are we going to have them wait now because of some decisions that were made? So now theyíre put on hold, their lives are put on hold ó for how long?
There are government-to-government initiatives taking place, the decisions are made without consultation with the people who are mostly going to be affected, and that is causing very grave concerns out there. It involves government-to-government relationships that need to be consulted at all equal levels, and that didnít happen.
So now what is happening is that we are putting little fires out here and there, and weíre addressing those concerns after the fact. I read somewhere in this document here that weíre going to be an open and accountable government that consults with the people directly before any major decisions are made.
And I have heard that many times before. I have heard that in this House when I was in my couple of years of learning. I hear these really nice words, I become hopeful, I become encouraged, and I think, "Well, maybe finally, weíre going to have people listen to us, and maybe finally have a government that is willing to take a risk, go forward, and say, ĎYes, weíll help you make some progress hereí." Thatís a very tough issue. Thatís a very challenging issue. But at the same time, you know, we know it will meet the needs of the Yukon people.
And isnít that what being in government is all about? Itís being open and accountable to the people who elected you. Thatís the understanding I have. And my role is to hold this government accountable for the promises they made and the commitments they made to our communities, and especially to the community of Old Crow. We have heard many commitments during the election campaign, and they sounded really, really good. And now weíre here today. Some of those commitments are brought forward in the budget, some with a dollar value, like I have said, but we will be looking forward to more progress in those areas.
Iím very concerned about the decisions that were made around the YPAS. One good initiative came out of that, and it took a long time to get there. It was very challenging, I agree, but to put that whole process on hold and use another avenue ó the other avenue Iím talking about is using special management areas ó you know, I agree with that. Itís part of the land claims process. The First Nations throughout the territory know their own traditional territories. They know what regions they hold sacred, they know where important grounds for their people are. Yes, thatís very important.
What about the rest of the territory? We are all people, our stakeholders. We have a vast, vast area and pristine beautiful wilderness to share and we need to protect some of those areas. And we need to find the balance we talk about in here so that we can leave something behind for our children and we can find a place in todayís world where people can work and make money and be proud to be citizens in this territory ó not living in poverty but making use of what we have ó but at the same time be very, very cautious about the areas that we need to protect.
Again, it is not only for us today but there are many generations to follow us. My ancestors made the decisions based on generations to come, and that is how we need to think. We need to have a vision. We need to think of not only our children today who are running around and not only our little grandchildren but their family. Like my little granddaughter ó how will her children be affected by the decisions that we make here today regarding our environment? Those are very, very serious concerns that I have and the people in my community have. If there is going to be any kind of development or any kind of resource development in north Yukon, we need to be consulted. I am willing to work with you, and I have made that very clear from the very first time that I became elected in my community. I have to be part of that partnership building. I am not afraid to do that.
It is a part of my job to speak on behalf of the people of Old Crow, and Iím willing to be part of that, and Iíve told them that, and they expect that from me, and thatís part of the communication that I have with my riding. I phone them every day. They know exactly what Iím doing. Iím going back there this weekend. Iím holding a meeting and telling them that in person, so they donít have to hear it from me over the phone. And for me thatís very important.
Theyíll know about some of the concerns that I have, and Iíll be listening to some of the concerns that they have. Weíd like to move forward and make some progress on some of the big projects that we have outstanding. Theyíll let me know what theyíve heard from people who have been in our community within the last couple of months when I havenít been there, and tell me in detail what some of the commitments that they heard or some of the plans that might be in long-term plans for Old Crow.
One of the long-term plans that I havenít heard about yet was the airport terminal. I brought it up time and time again over the last two years to the previous government. It was supposed to be a project that was ready to go, and there was a government change. Many travellers to our community enjoy our community. Itís very unique, but when you get there, you know, you end up in this little facility, and once you get 10 people in there itís overcrowded, especially with your luggage. In this past year, we had an opportunity to host the biannual Gwitchin gathering, and our community tripled in size, and that poor little airport terminal was just a really bustling place.
However, the building itself has been an issue for our community for a number of years.
It was sitting on long-term plans in the past two years with the past Liberal government, and thatís something that I was looking forward to seeing in the new budget. Itís nowhere to be found. Iím sure thatís something that I will hear from my community once I get back home.
Another issue that I would like to address at this time is around the Womenís Directorate. Iím very pleased that itís back as a stand-alone department. We have many issues regarding violence throughout our territory. We have only to look in our court docket in our communities to realize whatís going on and how serious some of those issues are.
The time being 5:55, I move that debate be now adjourned.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin that debate be now adjourned.
Motion to adjourn debate on second reading of Bill No. 4 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I move that the House be now adjourned.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Government House leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:57 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled March 10, 2003:
Yukon State of the Environment Interim Report (2001): An Update of Environmental Indicators (Kenyon)