Wednesday, March 19, 2003 ó 1:00 p.m.
Speaker:I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.
INTRODUCTION OF DEPUTY SERGEANT-AT-ARMS
Speaker:Before proceeding with the Order Paper, I have the great pleasure of informing the House that Mr. Gordon McIntyre has been appointed as the Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms of the Yukon Legislative Assembly.
Mr. McIntyre has joined us today, and I would like to ask members to welcome him.
Speaker: I would also like to provide members with a brief bit of Gordonís history in the Yukon.
He first arrived in the Yukon in 1946 after having served two years in the Canadian Navy. He worked in the Klondike gold fields for two years before moving to Whitehorse, where he took employment with General Enterprises, at that time a new construction company.
Gordon worked for 30 years as an equipment operator on the construction and maintenance of Yukon highways, including the Klondike Highway, the Cassiar Road, the Campbell Highway and the Atlin Road.
Following completion of that career in 1979, he went to Atlin, B.C., to take up placer mining and has been involved in mining since then.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Introduction of visitors.
Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Mrs. Peter:I have for tabling a letter addressed to all members of the United States Senate regarding the drilling in ANWR. This letter was supported by all three party leaders in this House, and Iím very pleased that the voting that took place today was in our favour.
Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Cathers:I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Salvation Army performs a valuable service to the Yukon by operating
(1) a 19-bed ARC halfway house for individuals completing their sentences;
(2) a 10-bed emergency shelter;
(3) a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week drop in centre;
(4) a youth outreach program for 25 children weekly; and
(5) a summer camp for underprivileged children;
THAT this House recognizes that
(1) the Government of Yukon currently provides $320,000 annually to support the programs of the Salvation Army: $280,000 from the Department of Justice for the Adult Residential Centre and $40,000 from the Department of Health and Social Services for the emergency shelter;
(2) despite the funding from the Government of Yukon the continued operation of these Salvation Army programs in the territory is dependent upon federal funding; and
(3) that this House urges the Government of Yukon to work with the Salvation Army to ensure the Government of Canada contributes its fair share to cover the program operational costs of the Salvation Army in the Yukon.
Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?
Ms. Duncan: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that
(1) appointments for both the chair and the employer representative of the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board Appeal Tribunal have expired under the new minister;
(2) the new minister was informed about these impending vacancies upon taking office and has done nothing to fill them;
(3) hearings for injured workers are being delayed because the appeal tribunal cannot function properly without a chair;
(4) the appeal tribunal is going to court this week without its chair to defend a decision it has made against the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board; and
THAT this House urges the minister responsible to ensure that appointments to the appeal tribunal are made in a timely fashion so that injured workers receive the representation that they require.
Speaker: Is there a ministerial statement?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza:For those who may be wondering why I hold this feather, itís a traditional practice of mine that I wish to continue in this House.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to discuss the issue of teacher staffing levels for the upcoming school year. It has come to my attention that there may be some misunderstanding on this matter, and I am on my feet today in this House to put that misunderstanding to rest.
There are no teachers being laid off. Teacher staffing is something that is adjusted from year to year, according to changes in enrolment and population. This is part of our normal planning process, and it occurs every year at this time.
At this point, our staffing projections are for 12 fewer teachers next year. I repeat: there are no teachers being laid off.
Teacher turnover occurs each year through transfers, retirements and resignations. The department will not have to lay off any teachers.
This is not a budgetary decision. Our staffing projections are based on projected student enrolment and, at the secondary school level, demand for courses. Enrolment in the Yukon is down by 101 students since September of this year. Since 1997, public school enrolment in the Yukon has declined by 12 percent.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw your attention to figures related last year from the 2001 Canadian census. According to this information, the age of the average Yukoner has increased by a record five years during the previous 10-year period, mirroring a trend that is occurring nationally. In that same period, the number of preschool children aged 4 and under declined 30 percent. The population of school children aged 5 to 12 fell eight percent, and this group is expected to decline a further 28 percent in the next 10 years.
These trends are not specific to the Yukon. They are occurring all across Canada as our population ages. These are facts, Mr. Speaker.
We deal with these facts and we plan accordingly for the coming year. This is nothing more than sound administration, which is part of good governance on behalf of the Department of Education.
We informed school principals at a meeting on March 7 that we would be reducing teacher staffing levels. Again, this is a part of our normal planning process. Rather than adjusting staffing levels unilaterally, we asked them to look at their schools and identify where they could best manage reductions.
Once again, there will be no teachers laid off by this process. This will occur through normal turnover and is a part of our normal planning process.
I would like to point out, Mr. Speaker, that the Yukon currently has the lowest pupil-to-teacher ratio of any educational jurisdiction in Canada.
I would also like to point out that we will not be reducing staffing levels for educational assistants and remedial tutors. We will continue to ensure that the needs of our students on individualized education plans are being met.
I stand here in this House today and I can say that this will not affect the quality of education in this territory.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Fairclough: Iím pleased to respond to this ministerial statement. I believe that the Minister of Education is just trying to defuse an issue that has been bothering this government for awhile now, and that is the fact that this government is laying off people throughout the territory. I believe this isnít a ministerial statement; itís a pre-emptive strike on behalf of damage control.
Mr. Speaker, letís look at what the ministerial statement says. First of all, we had a briefing yesterday in the Department of Education, and thatís where we learned that some teachers would be laid off. There was no misunderstanding on our part. In the bullet here, the minister is getting up to draw attention to the fact that there is a misunderstanding on this matter. Well, if there is a misunderstanding, itís on that side of the House ó on the government side. Letís have a look at it.
The next bullet down says that there will be no teachers being laid off. This is the message the government wants to give ó laid off, Mr. Speaker ó and this is repeated about four times throughout the statement, over and over again. The fact of the matter is that one of their bullets says that there are going to be 12 fewer teachers. Well, what does that mean? Those are job cuts. It doesnít matter how the minister says it, they are job cuts.
The way this minister would like to see a reduction of 12 teachers ó and Iím pretty sure the minister is praying for this ó is through the resignation of teachers, through retirement. And once those take place, if those take place, then those positions wonít be filled. Thatís what the minister is saying. There will be fewer teachers in the Yukon ó 12 fewer teachers.
Mr. Speaker, what happens if there are no retirements? What happens if there are no resignations of teachers? Well, the minister said in his statement that there would be 12 fewer teachers, which means there will be job cuts, and thatís the bottom line.
In the briefing yesterday, we were told that there will be eight fewer teachers next year ó eight. In a matter of one day, it jumped from eight to 12. What happens next week? Do we see 20 teachers disappearing? Does the minister have to come back and do damage control?
We see it over and over again on that side of the House, where there are cover-ups about jobs that are disappearing from the territory.
Speaker:The term "cover-up" is not parliamentary.
Withdrawal of remark
Mr. Fairclough:Thank you. Iíll withdraw that, Mr. Speaker.
Weíve seen interpretersí jobs cut from this government; weíve seen family support workers disappear; yet this government maintains there are no job cuts. These are real cuts. Theyíre real jobs, theyíre real paid positions, and now theyíre disappearing.
Mr. Speaker, what is the normal process the member opposite is talking about? They already gave notice to the principals on March 7 to find a way to accommodate these reductions in the number of teachers. I believe this statement is just another piece of evidence and another step in government downsizing.
I would like to make this final statement, if my time is running out, Mr. Speaker: this ministerial statement is not good news. It does nothing to improve the quality of education in the Yukon.
Speaker: Order please. The memberís time is up.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education has risen to provide an update on the number of teachers in our schools. Only the Yukon Party could say with a straight face that 12 fewer teachers will be working next year, but there are no job losses in the territory. Yukoners are hearing these words in amazement and disbelief. All week weíve heard from the Minister of Health that there have been no job cuts in his department, yet we have letters from his own staff confirming that there are no more hours of work for people. There have been layoffs; it just hasnít been admitted by the Minister of Health. Today we heard the Minister of Education admit it. We will wait and see how many teachers will be in our schools next year. Until that time, the trust that Yukoners placed in the party and the members opposite is being washed away with their comments about staffing levels. And trust is required when parties meet at the negotiating table. I think Yukon teachers are quite looking forward to the next round of contract negotiations because, based on the salary increase that the Premier recently gave to his chief of staff and principal secretary, I guess teachers can expect a 20-percent pay raise for next year, unless of course the policy is going to continue of one line for Yukon Party friends and one line for other Yukoners.
Mr. Speaker, in his ministerial statement, the minister made much of the pupil-teacher ratio in the Yukon. That doesnít address the very real issues that teachers are facing in our classrooms, that more and more has been asked of them, expected of them, that they are facing and dealing with Yukon families that are in crisis on a daily basis.
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education, in his statement, is proud of the fact that the government is not reducing staffing levels for educational assistants. Well, thatís nothing to be proud of. In the election campaign, in the news release dated October 22, the Yukon Party committed ó committed in black and white ó to Yukoners to hire additional educational assistants.
Just another broken promise from this government of broken promises.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I would like to thank the members for their comments. And as I mentioned, this reduction in teachers is to bring the student/teacher ratio more in line with the national average. The reduction will be managed without layoffs. Each year up to 30 teaching positions come vacant due to retirements and resignations. This is not a budgetary decision. Our staffing projections are based on projected student enrolment and at the secondary school level demand for courses. Since 1997, public school enrolment in the Yukon has declined by 12 percent. These trends are not specific to the Yukon. The rest of Canada is also dealing with an ageing population. The quality of education in this territory will be maintained.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Dawson womenís shelter
Mrs. Peter:My question today is for the minister responsible for womenís issues. The Dawson womenís shelter is in crisis as we speak. With no prior consultation with the Dawson shelter or the Dawson public, this government cut $50,000 from the shelterís budget. Can this minister tell us why this was done and what impact he expects this cut to have on women and children who use the shelter?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: As the minister responsible for this funding, I deem it appropriate that I field the question.
The Dawson shelter is being funded to the tune of $142,500 by our government. Across the board we have recognized that in some areas the shelter usage has reduced. In other areas the shelter usage has increased. With respect to the shelter in Dawson, last year in January, February, March, April and May, there was no occupancy. In June there were four bed nights, in July there were four bed nights, in August there were 20 bed nights. There has been no usage in September, October, November or December. The reduction of $50,000 represents the cost of double staffing.
The need is in Whitehorse, where a lot of the rural ladies are choosing to come when they are in difficulty. Our government has recognized the need by addressing it. Kausheeís Place is doing an excellent job. In fact, the problem is that Kausheeís Place, more often than not, is running full or close to capacity, which is a need that our government will be addressing in due course.
Mrs. Peter: According to the shelter staff, evening coverage is being cut back. Women and children in crisis will now be expected to phone Health and Social Services after-hours and get a voucher for a hotel room or else wait for transportation to Whitehorse. Neither of these options is realistic. A hotel room does not answer the need for protection, support and confidentiality in a crisis situation.
Why would the minister put women and children who are already facing and experiencing family crisis into a situation that could even be worse?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Our government is certainly not doing that. We are not jeopardizing the life and safety of anyone. That is incorrect.
Mr. Speaker, our government is addressing the costs and the need for funding for Kausheeís Place as and when required.
The procedure that the member opposite outlined is exactly what is taking place in Dawson City. Women in difficult times are calling the Law Line, theyíre calling the social workers, and theyíre choosing, more often than not, to come to Whitehorse. So, what is occurring is just being recognized by a movement of money by our government to address the need where the need exists. And if the need grows in Dawson, our government will address that need there.
Mrs. Peter: The Yukon Party platform made a direct commitment to continue to secure funding for Yukon transition homes and safe houses and to ensure individuals who are in domestic violence situations have access to a safe place and support services. So now that the Yukon Party is in government, and with no consultation, they made another rash decision and a cut to the budget that seriously affect the women and children in this ministerís own community.
Will the minister now agree to honour his election promise to support women and children in crisis and reinstate the $50,000 for the Dawson womenís shelter?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Our government commitment is being honoured, has been honoured and will continue to be honoured. Our programming funding has had to be shifted because of the need that exists here in Whitehorse at Kausheeís Place. Thatís the bottom line, and our government has made a commitment to Kausheeís Place that funding requirements there will be met. We know that facility is running at and close to capacity. Thatís where the needs are.
I have the utmost respect and admiration for the women involved in the shelter in Dawson City, and they have enhanced the programs to a degree where now they have kidsí time, Canadian prenatal program, an outreach worker, shelter time-out, at-work centre, safe teen program, girls night out, a coffee house and grease-monkey girls program. These are all admirable undertakings, and we applaud them, but the bottom line is our governmentís commitment to the shelter itself is being maintained, but you have to look at it across the Yukon. Our government has to address the need where it exists, and that need is at Kausheeís Place, here in Whitehorse.
If thereís a need in the future ó
Speaker: Order please. Would the member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: If thereís a need in the future in Dawson City to enhance and improve the funding because of demand, our government will meet that undertaking.
Question re: European school trip, cancellation
Mr. Fairclough:My question is for the Minister of Education. Approximately 35 grade 11 and 12 students from three schools ó Porter Creek, F.H. Collins and Vanier ó planned a battlefield tour trip to Europe. The students were excited about this trip, and it was scheduled to depart the Yukon two days from now, but they were only to learn yesterday that the Department of Education cancelled these trips.
Mr. Speaker, the students and parents are very upset with this decision. Weíve had numerous phone calls and emails from parents on this issue, and they want answers. This is a very easy question for the minister. It has been all over the news, and weíd like it for the record. Was the minister consulted before the decision was made, or was he advised about it afterward?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: To the member opposite, I say that I learned of it after the fact and I find no fault in the department for the decisions that were made, and it is sort of a situation that could be very explosive and quite understandable.
Mr. Fairclough: I was hoping that the minister could have looked at this a little bit more carefully.
According to the media, Mr. Speaker, it appears that the department is now backpedalling. The trip organizers followed the department rules. They bought insurance. They checked the Canadian consular Web site for travel advisories, and if External Affairs were to issue a travel advisory, then the students would get their money back on plane tickets. Thatís the insurance they had. I would like to ask the minister, then: on what basis was this unilateral decision made to change the rules at the last minute?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: To the member opposite, I would like to state at this time that there has been no firm decision made at this point in time.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, Mr. Speaker, where is the minister getting his information from? Itís quite obvious that a decision was made. It has been on the news. Students were interviewed, and they were told by the deputy minister that the trips were cancelled. They were told that, Mr. Speaker, and now the department is backpedalling. They will look at it a little more carefully. The students and the families could be seriously out of pocket through no fault of their own. We were informed that the cost of these trips could be as high as $3,500. Thatís 35 students; thatís a lot of money. Thatís over $100,000.
I would like to ask the minister this, and hopefully weíll get a yes answer from the minister. If the money already paid out canít be recovered, will the minister direct his department to pick up the tab so that these students and their families donít have to bear the burden of the departmentís unilateral decision? Will he do that? Iím hoping for a yes answer.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I thank the member for that question; however, as I stated earlier, there has been no decision with regard to this trip yet. I believe that the members opposite are probably aware that travelling overseas could be a very dangerous situation and the department will handle this situation appropriately. We intend to work to the best interest of everyone.
Question re: Social worker ratios
Ms. Duncan:Yesterday the government responded to questions surrounding job losses throughout the territory as a result of budget cuts by the government. As a Yukoner I am deeply concerned about these auxiliary and on-call workers and how they are going to be able to continue to feed their families. I am also deeply concerned about the families and children that these workers serve.
Earlier today in Question Period, we heard from the Minister of Health and Social Services about his lack of understanding of women and families in crisis. My question is for the Minister of Health and Social Services. I am sure the minister is taking the time to meet with his department and his frontline staff who are working in this field and he has likely asked about their working conditions. Now, Mr. Speaker, the standards in other jurisdictions of number of files per worker is about 12 to 15 families per social worker. Can the Minister of Health and Social Services confirm that my understanding that Kausheeís Place is full and the social workers in family and children support are dealing with as many as 50 families per social worker as opposed to the industry norm of 12 to 15?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: With respect to the number of files that each social worker has, I am not aware of those details. I know that in some areas we have an additional load. I know that, overall, the load is not as significant as the member opposite makes it out to be.
Ms. Duncan: The existing caseworkers have more families in crisis than they can reasonably be expected to assist. Now the auxiliary and on-call workers will not be available because they still have a job but theyíve got no hours to work. We know the government canít answer the question of when is a job not a job? Maybe the government can answer, when is burnout not burnout?
The minister can say that the population is down but the need very clearly is there. The minister himself noted that, with the increased numbers at Kausheeís Place.
The minister said yesterday in this House, and I quote, "We will meet the demands." The demand is very, very clear for Yukon families. The minister in the past has stated his support for reviews and recommendations that have been made to the government. The Child Welfare League of Canadaís number one recommendation is to address social worker ó
Speaker: Order please. Would the member ask the question?
Ms. Duncan: I will.
The Child Welfare League of Canadaís number one recommendation is to address social worker and supervisor staffing shortfalls. When does the minister intend to do this?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: If there is a vacancy rate, which I am sure there is across the department, Mr. Speaker, weíre making every effort to fill it.
But let me share with the House what an auxiliary on-call employee is. It is those employees who can have one or more work assignments, whether full-time, part-time or seasonal, that normally reoccurs depending on the call of the employer. In the case of seasonal auxiliaries, they can work no less than three and no more than 10 consecutive months. Those auxiliaries on-call who are not seasonal can work part-time or full-time on an hourly, daily or periodic basis by the call of the employer.
So what I stated previously in this Legislature still stands. There have been no job cuts. When a demand exists and on-call workers are there, they will be utilized.
Ms. Duncan: The demand is very clear. There are Yukon families in crisis. Our existing social workers and staff are dealing with far more cases than what is recognized throughout Canada as reasonable and professional. Yet the minister opposite has cut the auxiliary and on-call workers. Maybe the minister wants to entertain a discussion with the union about the phrase "contracting out".
The fact is, the minister needs to commit on the floor of this House that additional Health money will be used to assist Yukon families in crisis by dealing with the staffing shortfalls. There are staffing shortfalls in the Department of Health and Social Services, in family and social workers dealing with families in crisis.
Will the minister assist and put his money where one should and assist in providing and dealing with these staffing levels, as opposed to cutting the auxiliary and on-call hours?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to no job losses in the public sector and no program reductions. All these areas are being undertaken by this government. Through the efforts of the Premier of the Yukon, an initiative was made in Ottawa at the federal level to achieve a core funding for north of 60. That money has yet to be determined, and Iím sure thereíll be no lack of suggestions as to how we can spend this additional money, but the bottom line is that our government has made no cuts in the number of employees and no cuts in the programs. We are making a best effort to serve the cause and needs of Yukoners. We have, and we will continue to do so.
Question re: European school trip, cancellation
Mr. Hardy:I have a question for the Minister of Education to follow up on news releases and the stress the families out there are facing about the travel abroad that has been planned for many, many months. I would like to know very clearly from this minister if a contingency plan was put in place leading up to this, because it has been no secret that the U.S. has been planning to attack Iraq. Even to say that they have given notice of a few days ó the people of the Yukon had notice about this, and the people who were going to be travelling had notice, the department had notice and the minister had notice about this.
So, was a contingency put in place to deal with something like this? Or, as the minister has already said that he learned about this after the fact, is this a spur-of-the-minute decision that has put many peopleís money and travel arrangements in jeopardy?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I thank the member opposite for the question. Again, I will confirm what I said earlier. These are circumstances around an event that could create any kind of explosion. To the best of my knowledge, no contingency plan was put in place.
Mr. Hardy: Well, thatís a shame because weíve known about this situation for a long, long time. The families, teachers, department and minister have known about these travel arrangements for a long, long time, and a contingency plan should have been put in place. Because of that, we are now facing the situation where families are wondering whatís happening to their deposit, if the children are going on the trip, and if the situation is even safe over there. Because we still havenít received an answer from the Canadian consular services about whether travelling to France is safe or not; supposedly it is.
Iím quite distressed that the minister doesnít seem to have a clue about whatís going on over there and seems to indicate that a decision on this matter was made without his knowledge.
So, I have a more direct question: who made a decision to cancel leave for the teachers in this regard? That was a decision that was made.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I thank the member opposite for the question. At this point in time, I would like to state that with regard to this issue, the Education department will be attending a meeting tonight at the F.H. Collins School, and the parents will be involved in making this decision with regard to the trip.
Mr. Hardy: Mr. Speaker, itís very, very difficult, it seems, on this side, to get any answers from the other side, and if they would just listen to the question that we asked and give us the answer, we could move on, but unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, we seem to be having to constantly ask the same question, constantly try to come at it from a different angle, and we keep struggling to try to get an answer and they keep evading that responsibility in the Legislature.
What I would like to see, Mr. Speaker, if the minister is willing to do this, is give a chronological order of events of what has happened since ó I guess it would be since Monday when possibly the department, without the ministerís knowledge, started to make a move in a direction that would be cancelling this travel in regard to safety and how they conveyed it to the teachers, how the parents received it. If itís possible, would the minister share with us the chronological order of how this has led up to this point here, so we can understand what actually happened and why it wasnít handled better for the students, the families, the teachers, the people who have been putting this trip together for at least the last six months? Is the minister willing to give us assurances that heíll give us a chronological order of how this has happened?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: With regard to this question, I would have some difficulty doing that, as it appears that the other side is in error. As the minister I knew everything about this trip and where it was going all along. Mr. Speaker, this issue only came to my attention very recently, and I can assure the members opposite that itís going to be handled in a very professional manner and one thatís going to satisfy the people in question.
Question re: Teacher staffing
Mr. Cardiff:I have a question for the Minister of Education as well.
A few minutes ago we listened to the minister try out the newest version of this jobís mantra about no job cuts. In spite of the ministerís protests, the bottom line is that there are 12 fewer teachers on the payroll next year. Will the minister tell us what he plans to do if no teachers resign, retire or move at the end of this school year? Will those positions continue or will there actually be layoffs then?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: The government is committed to supporting education and training in the Yukon. In spite of a tight economy, we manage to hold the reduction to our education budget to only one percent in the year 2003-04. We also increased the College training trust funds by $1 million. So, to me, this is a very clear indication that education is important to this government.
Mr. Cardiff: Again, the minister didnít answer the question. We have a lot of trouble accepting this ministerís and the governmentís assurances, especially since they donít seem to know when a job cut is a job cut. They donít know whether itís a job or isnít a job. So far, we have established that auxiliary positions arenít jobs, seasonal positions arenít jobs and casual positions arenít jobs. So we wonder if teachersí positions are jobs.
Now, the ministerís budget for education support services shows a $300,000 cut in personnel spending. How is the minister going to cut personnel spending in this area without any job cuts? How can he do that?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I thank the member opposite for that question but the Yukon student/teacher ratio is the lowest in Canada in the Yukon. We have the lowest. In recent years an average of 30 teachers a year ó 30 teachers a year ó have retired or resigned in the territory. We will be using the opportunity provided by these departures to re-examine our student/teacher ratio and bring it into line with other jurisdictions.
Mr. Cardiff: Again we didnít get an answer. So sometimes there are 30 retirements. What happens if there isnít? A few pages down the budget in education support services budget we see a 17-percent cut in the line for personnel and advanced education. That is another one-quarter of a million attack on the big bad trajectory. Can the minister explain how he can cut this amount from the advanced education budget for personnel without any job cuts? Or maybe he would just prefer to modify the statement that he has made previously in this House that there wonít be any diminishing of any kind of the government workforce?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: We are dealing with a number of years of declining student enrolments and in the Yukon we have lost over 11-percent base since 1995-96 school year. In the past years the department has issued layoff notices to some teachers. So far we have managed to find work for those people using temporary positions, and the department will continue to be responsible for good governance of their departments, and that is common practice that government will continue to do.
Question re: Destruction Bay breakwater
Mr. McRobb:The other day, I asked the minister of Community Services about the breakwater in Destruction Bay. Today Iím hoping he can provide some useful information. To recap, Mr. Speaker, the Yukon government promised a breakwater to my constituents in Destruction Bay. The Yukon government paid for this project, oversaw this project, and took the lead on this project, but now the Yukon government appears to be running and hiding from this project.
Can the minister advise this House exactly what heís doing to ensure the completion of this community project?
Hon. Mr. Hart: To the member opposite, there was funding provided to his constituency at Destruction Bay for this breakwater project. A survey was done; a consultant was hired; and the format in which they should build the breakwater was provided. Unfortunately, the association did not build a breakwater in compliance with the orders given through the consultant.
Mr. McRobb: I didnít ask for another recap of the project. I asked the minister what he would do to ensure the completion of this community project so, once again, the minister has two questions to answer.
The latest word is that the Yukon government wants to remove all the material from the lake that was put there to build this breakwater. That includes all the huge buggy tires that were the very building blocks of this breakwater. Well, isnít that fantastic, Mr. Speaker? Now weíre back to square one. The hopes and dreams of the community have been washed away, along with a sizable investment from Yukon taxpayers. All told, the cost is estimated at some $100,000 if all the time and costs are factored.
Can the minister tell us how much it will cost to remove all the material from the lake?
Hon. Mr. Hart: There is an issue with regard to the breakwater, with regard to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, because the applicant didnít build the facility, breakwater, in accordance with the consultantís report and in conjunction with Department of Fisheries and Oceans. It has to be removed.
Mr. McRobb: The minister is digging himself a hole, Mr. Speaker. Now he has three questions to answer.
Itís really unfortunate when the government puts politics ahead of the people. The government has bailed out on this project and has pointed the finger at the previous Liberal government.
I want to ask the minister what he plans to do about the huge mountain of buggy tires that will soon end up at the local dump. Letís see if the minister can connect the dots. Dot one, four years ago, there was a disastrous fire started from this same dump that almost wiped out all buildings in the whole vicinity; dot two, two weeks ago, there was a fire at the other dump near the community; and dot three, the Yukon government has the responsibility and is liable for this dump. What is the minister going to do about these tires?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: The member oppositeís question has gone over into the tire issue, and we on this side share that concern very, very much. Tires are actually covered under the Ministry of the Environment, and it has been our intention for some time now to deal with this in a solid waste regulation.
In the spirit of good government, Mr. Speaker, we have been trying for over a week and a half to contact the members opposite to meet with them, to go over these regulations, to discuss them, and to deal with those sorts of problems ó a week and a half. We have not had a response to phone calls; we have not had a response to recent e-mails. We would be very pleased to sit down and discuss that tire issue or be instructed by the members opposite to act unilaterally.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed, and we will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
GOVERNMENT PRIVATE MEMBERSí BUSINESS
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS
Motion No. 36
Clerk:Motion No. 36, standing in the name of Mr. Hassard.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Member for Pelly-Nisutlin
THAT it is the opinion of this House that there would be significant economic benefits for Yukon should a railroad be built connecting Alaska through Yukon to the southern United States;
THAT this House recognizes that
(1) The Alaska House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill setting aside land for a railroad right-of-way up to the Yukon border; and
(2) Senator John Cowdery, of the Alaska State Legislature, has tabled a bill entitled An Act relating to a railroad utility corridor for extension of the Alaska Railroad to Canada and for the extension of the Alaska Railroad to connect with the North American Railroad system; and
THAT this House urges the Government of Canada, the Government of Yukon and the Yukon First Nations whose land the railroad would cross to express their willingness to consider the Alaskan railroad proposal, including the setting aside of lands for a railroad right-of-way through Yukon; and
THAT this House urges the Government of Canada, with the full participation of the Government of Yukon and Yukon First Nation governments affected, to commence discussions with the Government of the United States and the State of Alaska about establishing a mechanism such as an international joint commission to expedite the development of the Alaska railroad proposal.
Mr. Hassard: It is a pleasure to rise today to speak to this motion. I feel it is timely, given the fact that we will have a delegation from the Alaska State Legislature visiting us at the end of this month.
It is my hope that this House will unanimously support this motion. I feel it is important that we encourage the federal government to commence discussions with the Government of the United States about establishing an international joint commission to expedite the development of the Alaska railroad proposal.
Mr. Speaker, the recent election of Governor Murkowski in Alaska, and his well-known support of this commission, provides us with an excellent opportunity. Governor Murkowski has already sent a letter to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien on this matter. Our Premier has drafted a letter to the Prime Minister as well. I believe it goes out today. The unanimous support of this House would go a long way to support this letter. Understanding the federal governmentís decision regarding the bilateral commission is coming soon, we need to act quickly.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to indicate to all members that we are looking to the federal government and the U.S. government to pay for this commission. The United States Senate has recently approved the Rails to Resources Act, 2000. This bill seeks an appropriation of $6 million U.S. over a three-year period to conduct a study into the feasibility of connecting the railroad system in Alaska with British Columbia. Canada needs to match that contribution.
We would also want the offices for this commission on the Canadian side to be in Whitehorse and the U.S. side to be in Juneau. This provides us with a more hands-on approach. Going through the devolution process recently, we all know what itís like to have those decisions made here. One of those decisions, I feel, would be deciding a route for this railroad. I believe there are many opportunities for us to look at.
Mr. Speaker, I would also add that it is imperative to keep First Nations involved every step of the way. We are dealing with First Nation land issues every day.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to give some examples of how I feel a railroad would benefit Yukon and Canada. First and foremost are the economic opportunities to Yukon from the building of the railroad. We hear all the criticism of our budget, of the lack of large projects for our contractors. This would be a fantastic opportunity and a fantastic amount of work for Yukon contractors ó the jobs that are needed by Yukoners, construction workers, the high pay that goes with those jobs, the spinoffs in housing markets, building of houses for workers, and the growth in the number of people living in the Yukon.
We know what will happen to our federal transfer payment if we do not have people living in the Yukon. I believe there is huge potential for growth in the private sector when it comes to building this railroad. We can also look at the opportunities for resource development. We can start with mining. We know what freight costs do to our resources. We have to get them out. If we look at the projects that are on the shelf right now, the projects that are not viable because of transportation costs, a railroad would go a long way to making those projects viable. Along one proposed route alone, the Yukon hosts 17 major base metal deposits containing approximately $50 billion in metals. Right now these are unlikely to be viable, but with transportation infrastructure that a railroad can bring, these become possible.
The logging industry in the Yukon is suffering greatly. Again, transportation costs of getting our logs to market are very high. Trucking costs are very high. The waste from these sawmills right now is either burned or piled and left to rot. If we can get those wastes, as they are now, on a railcar and get them to a market, they become a saleable product. I believe the Yukon mills have no markets in Alaska as they just canít afford to haul their product there.
In the oil and gas sector, we have talked about the massive amounts of material that need to be transported north to build a pipeline. I recently read that a University of Alaska report figures it would take one million trips for trucks to haul the lengths of pipe in order to construct a 4,000-mile pipeline between the North Slope and Chicago. Imagine what that would do to our highways.
I believe the amount of money we spend on road maintenance today is very high. Could you imagine what would happen if we put that many trucks on the road? Thereís also the safety issue of having that many trucks on the road. With our tourism industry, do we really want that many trucks on the road in conjunction with all the tourism traffic?
Mr. Speaker, I believe a railroad could also be discussed in terms of the environmental aspects, as well ó reduced emissions when comparing truck traffic to rail service. Obviously, if we have fewer engines running, we will have fewer emissions released into the atmosphere.
Something else that was brought to my attention recently: what are the possibilities of the United States showing up on our doorstep, much as they did in regard to the Alaska Highway, and saying that itís an issue of national security that they want to build a railway? If they do it in the same manner as the Alaska Highway, how many Yukoners will get work from that? I believe we want to avoid that at all costs. If we can build it on our time, by our schedule, we can benefit from it, always remembering that we want the federal government to pay for it.
Mr. Speaker, I look forward to hearing from all other members. I want to hear their thoughts on this matter. Iím sure there are many questions. Iím sure there are many questions on potential environmental impacts from building a railroad, and I believe these questions can best be answered by the bilateral commission. Therein lies one of the very reasons for establishing this commission.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. McRobb: Itís a pleasure to rise today to speak to this motion. Iím glad the mover of the motion didnít take too long to speak to it because I think itís something that is fairly simple for us in this Legislature to address. Iím not aware of anybody who is against this proposed railroad project. I havenít talked to anybody ever since being first elected who was opposed to the project. So itís something that I think we can all generally agree with in here.
I think the bigger question is what is this Yukon government doing to advance this project? And there are some serious questions in that area. Some of us are familiar with the recent history regarding the proposed railroad. I know Iíve personally discussed it with former Senator Jeannette James from North Pole, Alaska, while visiting the Alaskan legislators as part of the annual exchange, and Iíve discussed it with senators and legislators when theyíve visited us here in the Yukon, as well.
The trip for this coming year, Mr. Speaker, is now less than two weeks away. There will be another opportunity to discuss this matter with the Alaskans; personally, Iím hoping to do that at the earliest opportunity, but we have to be somewhat realistic. It is a little far-fetched for us to stand here or for the government to take the position that the railroad is coming soon. It would be nice. In our dreams it would come soon, but in reality itís wrong to raise the hopes and expectations of Yukoners and anybody else that soon weíll have an international railway, because this project is huge when it comes to cost. Itís expected this project would dwarf the cost of the proposed Alaska Highway natural gas pipeline. There are many phases to the proposed railroad. At one point, I have heard it referred to as a rail link between England and the south tip of South America, where eventually, someday, passengers would be able to make the whole journey.
Mr. Speaker, that would be great. It would be great for Yukoners to have the option of taking a railroad Outside. That would add to the limited options currently at our disposal. From a tourism perspective, it would also offer an alternative route for our visitors in that they could take the marine highway or drive the Alaska Highway one way and return or arrive here using the railroad.
This is all good stuff. We know that it would generate hundreds if not thousands of jobs in its construction and probably dozens of jobs in the ongoing operations of the railroad, if it ever happened.
But, Mr. Speaker, there is no guarantee that this railroad will ever happen, and the reason is the enormous cost and the legwork involved in putting this project together. One question is: who would ever take the lead on this project?
Now I know that some prospective proponents have indicated that they might be interested, but it has been awhile since we have heard from them. This issue isnít really a hot one on the radar screen for us to deal with. Going back a few years, it was an issue that the Yukon was unable to pony up the dollars, along with Alaska and others, to do a study for the proposed railroad. I questioned the previous Minister of Infrastructure on the Liberal governmentís attempts at trying to get the federal government to pitch in some money to help with the proposed study. At that time he informed the House that there had never been an official request from Washington.
Well, since I last talked to the minister, I understand that finally there was an official request from Washington for Ottawaís participation in this project. So the question is: where is the federal money?
Now, if the federal government isnít coming up with the few dollars necessary to do the study for this project, then how real is it to expect this project to show up anytime soon? Where is the Yukon governmentís commitment to this project? You know, it is possible for this Yukon government ó if it is a high enough priority ó to pony up the study money necessary in order to do the studies necessary.
Aside from that, Mr. Speaker, I referred earlier to the legwork necessary before this project proceeds. What Iím talking about is community consultation, consultation with First Nations ó in particular, regarding the right-of-way through their traditional territories ó and other governments and people in the territory who might be affected by this railroad. It wasnít long ago when I heard the Minister of Education talk about the three comings of the white man and one of them was the building of the Alaska Highway. Well, this is of the magnitude where it would be the fourth. So, we all must understand that this is a huge project with long-term impacts on the Yukon ó mostly good, I would imagine. Nevertheless, both sides of the issue must be explored.
Now, the Yukon government has the responsibility to do that here in the territory. Whatís it doing? Not much from what I can see, except the odd headline or the odd motion tabled by a government backbencher to make the unsuspecting believe that something is happening on the railroad. But reality paints a different picture.
There is nothing much happening on this proposed railroad. If the government considers it to be a high enough priority, it will do something.
When I see a motion brought forward like this, I also expect it to be accompanied by some action plan supported by the government, indicating what it will be doing toward this project. But nothing was there.
The governmentís commitments are completely hollow in that regard, just like the other budget items ó completely hollow when it comes to planting seeds for economic growth and for raising the hopes of Yukoners that there will be a better Yukon tomorrow ó completely void of anything substantial.
Now, I have a lot of material on the railroad, and if I decided to address it all, weíd be here all afternoon, and I donít intend to do that. I would like to hear what other members have to say.
One of the items that deserves attention regarding this railroad is the proposed routing. This should be a high priority when it comes to consulting Yukoners. The previous government seemed to favour the backcountry route, which stemmed up from Watson Lake through Faro and out the Ladue Valley just south of Dawson.
Senator Jeannette James, on the other hand, pointed out ó at one point, at least ó that it made sense to follow the Alaska Highway pipeline route and establish more of a utility corridor following the Alaska Highway. It would also aid in the construction of a pipeline, should that project follow the railroad. That seems to make sense.
So already we have two varying options that carry a magnitude of impacts, good and bad, for the Yukon as a whole. Have Yukoners heard this discussion? Have they been asked which route they would prefer? Have there been any studies to indicate which route would be more favourable for a railroad?
No, there havenít been. I recall one study about a year ago that indicated all these billions of dollars worth of minerals to be harvested from the Tintina Trench route, and that seemed to imply that it would be a favoured route for such a railroad. But, Mr. Speaker, it didnít carry the whole gamut of issues that should be addressed when dealing with a matter this substantial.
I remember from a few weeks back when the Premier was in Ottawa, he indicated that this matter was on his list of discussion points with the federal government. I may have missed it, but I didnít see anything following from that. Unfortunately, the mover of this motion didnít ó not that I am aware ó give any information that might shed light on what transpired from that discussion. And that is unfortunate, because the government should be free with the information if it truly believes this is an issue that is good and important to all Yukoners. It shouldnít be claiming ownership of any developments and information around this issue. It should be free with that information, and I beg it to consider that.
So I think I have covered the main points of this matter. It is one of these projects that would be great to have, but just where is it on the calendar? Where is it in reality and how pertinent is it to our discussion today? I know the members opposite raised a question of relevance regarding our motion last week on the Iraq war, and we heard from Yukoners how they disagreed with this Yukon Party government on that matter.
I would throw this back at those members and really ask them to examine the relevance of the motion they chose to bring forward today, especially in the context of the lack of information, a lack of any development by this government in pushing this issue ahead. Iím looking forward to their comments, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Arntzen: Well, there is no doubt in my mind that a railroad being built through the Yukon would be a great benefit. I think we agree on that. For example, we would be able to access our resources, which we have plenty of, and ship them to the marketplace at competitive rates for competing mines or forest industries throughout the world, as one or two examples.
Mr. Speaker, I know that the last big mine that operated in the Yukon, Anvil Range mine, was very dependent on the cost of transportation of its product to the marketplace. Mr. Speaker, I also know that the high cost of transportation of concentrate to the tidewater became a very important part in the decision to discontinue operating that mine. This mine employed many, many Yukoners. It was of great importance to us and would provide great economic benefits to us.
Mr. Speaker, the President of the United States signed a roads-to-resources bill in the year 2000, which provided the United States and Canada to jointly form a commission to conduct a study to build a rail link between Alaska, Yukon and British Columbia. It also meant a road to resources for us in the Yukon. For example, the mineral-rich Tintina Trench would be accessible, along with the oil and gas fields in southeast Yukon, as well as the forest-rich corner of southeast Yukon.
Mr. Speaker, all these areas are in line with where that resource road would be built. The member opposite referred to two possible routes. That is entirely possible, and there might even be a third.
Furthermore, the tourism potential this railroad would create is unlimited. Just think of the small communities along the way that are not accessible, at this point, due to the fact that only major airports, such as Whitehorse, can handle large aircraft from Europe.
Speaking of Europe, Mr. Speaker, this railroad could potentially link us to Europe, via Russia, into the rail system throughout the rest of Europe and also potentially to Asia, but I guess we will speak on that another day. Asia is big.
As I pointed out earlier, the benefit of this railroad is unlimited in many ways and could be the cornerstone for all Yukoners to build from for a prosperous future for our children of tomorrow.
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: There are some interesting things to consider on this proposal. I think that one thing that has been a bit missed in the debate so far is that the proposal isnít necessarily to build a railroad, but the proposal is to get things going to look at building a railroad. There are a number of different aspects of this.
Early in the year 2000, the United States President signed what was called the Rails to Resources Act into law. This bill provided for the United States involvement in a joint United States/Canada commission to conduct a feasibility study for the building of a rail link between Alaska, Yukon and British Columbia. There are a number of aspects to this. This is a project that has been under review for a long, long time. I suppose it has sort of the mystique of the Orient Express and everything else. Itís for travel of all sorts. Itís for moving around minerals and resources of all sorts.
Some proposals have shown this railway to go out by the Aleutian Islands, across, by one means or another, a bridge ó however that would be done ó and to flow into eastern Russia, across Russia, into Europe. This is a very far-reaching goal, a very far-reaching vision. Itís something that a lot of people have worked on for a long, long time.
While I have to admit that Iím not into railroads, I suppose, and I have a hard time imagining getting a train across the Aleutian Islands and across what should be left of the land bridge and into Siberia ó I have a hard time with that ó there are a lot of people who have worked on this for a long, long time and who believe this is so.
You also look at what it can do and what the steps can do within Alaska, Yukon, down into British Columbia, Alberta, into the United States, and what those things can do, and there are great benefits. The Rails to Resources Act, basically, in the United States began to look at that. And the committee that was set up to examine this was structured within that bill. It was structured to be a binational committee or commission ó I think the terms are used interchangeably in there. It was estimated, at that point in time, that the costs would be roughly $20 million Canadian.
The funding portion for the United States is virtually in place. It was their bill; it would be pretty embarrassing not to fund it. Also, with the election recently in the State of Alaska with Governor Murkowski coming into power and the Republicans coming into power, that has a great number of benefits; it has a great number of problems. When we look at projects like ANWR and oil drilling and such, as we mentioned earlier in the House today, Mr. Speaker, we do have a problem with that.
But in terms of the railroad, I think we can count on support there. Thatís something that we would like to actively talk about with the Alaskan legislators coming on the weekend. The member opposite suggested what we would do to get this going ó two weeks, youíre right. Time goes fast when youíre having fun.
But thatís certainly a start, to get that dialogue going. But the funding for the Canadian portion has to come from the Government of Canada, and that commitment hasnít been forthcoming yet at all, and thatís what the motion really is about, to try to encourage the Canadian federal government to get moving on this to establish this commission.
Our vision is that this committee ó or council or commission or whatever you want to call it ó be established with the United States by their recommendationís side of that commission centred in Juneau. Our vision is to centre it in Whitehorse. I think through DIAND, Indian Affairs, DFO ó God forbid we mention that word ó with all of these things controlling the Yukon from 3,000 miles away, I think we have good and ample evidence that it doesnít work. There are major, major problems with that.
We see the Canadian side of the commission being centred in Whitehorse. That is roughly $10 million that would come into Whitehorse to begin this process that the member opposite has asked that he would like to start. He is right; we have to get that process started, and it is through the establishment of this commission that we would start that.
Senator John Cowdery, who is the Chair of the Alaskan Senate Transportation Committee, introduced Bill SB-31 on January 21 of this year, and noted in a motion entitled, An Act relating to a railroad utility corridor for extension of the Alaska Railroad to Canada and to extension of the Alaska Railroad to connect with the North American railroad system ó and we think our bills are long, Mr. Speaker. That entire thing is the name of the act, for the benefit of our friends in Hansard. They have already started to indicate that they would like this project to go. They would have liked at least to have this commission started, funded, put into place and beginning to look at this issue. It is very, very important.
Senator Fred Dyson from Alaska is also a very strong supporter of the railroad. A number of the people from the Alaskan State Legislature are very, very strong supporters.
As this railroad forms and as it comes together, there are a number of issues to look at. The members opposite are quite correct ó we have to look at the route; we have to look at what goes where, why, how big. One can make the big assumption that itís not going to be a narrow gauge railroad like Skagway but, at the same time, there is a part of a spur, and in the very near future we certainly hope that there is a complete spur to the tidewater in Skagway and, currently, that is narrow gauge. Thatís another problem. There arenít that many narrow gauge railroads left in the world, and there may be some problems in terms of trying to get the two to communicate, but those are problems that can be worked out. There are ways around them.
When you look at the benefits of the railroad and what we can accomplish with a railroad ó a previous speaker alluded to the number of trucks necessary to carry the pipe for a pipeline, if and when that goes. I think it probably will go; we donít know when; itís not something thatís government driven. The user will have to determine when it goes in, but at some point, Mr. Speaker, it will go. When that happens, we have a whack of pipe to move up here. We have a pile of equipment, supplies, et cetera. Thereís a huge benefit to this territory and to everyone along the pipeline.
By putting the railroad in ahead of time, we accomplish two things. We not only get an easier and perhaps cheaper pipeline cost ó and these are things that that commission has to look at. They canít simply say, "Well, itís this or that." Itís not this or that. Both go together. Itís a cheaper way to bring the equipment in for a pipeline.
The railroad could also go in concurrently with a pipeline. Move both; build the bed as you go, build the pipe as you go, and build them together. Thatís an option.
Is that a reasonable option? We donít know. We need this commission to make that determination. The fuel costs were alluded to. The fuel cost of running some of these trucks and equipment up and down the highway is staggering and will be staggering over time ó not only the cost of the fuel, but the cost of the maintenance equipment, the cost of running the maintenance equipment, buying the maintenance equipment. I mean, all of the infrastructure in there is staggering, way beyond what we look at that highway, in terms of simply tourist travel.
Itís interesting to note, too, that in terms of greenhouse gas emissions from the viewpoint of the environment, trains are much more efficient. They will have much less impact on the environment, in terms of ozone layer and just general pollution, the things we have to concern ourselves with. There are huge environmental impacts from that.
And thatís one thing we do have to look at. I agree with the members opposite, whom I have spoken with about this. One of the things about railroads ó a line that came up the other day in a discussion is, "Railroads opening vast access." Look at the western part of North America and what it was before the railroad, and look at what it was after the railroad, and you can see the impact a railroad can have. Thatís got to be part of it.
Does that mean running it up the Alaska Highway is the benefit because you donít go into pristine areas? Possible. Does it mean that you want it to run up the highway because thatís where the jobs and support will be? Also possible. These are things the commission has to look at, and we have to get this commission going ó not only to encourage our federal government to put the money in, but we have this huge pot of U.S. government money that we would certainly like to be sharing in to get these questions answered.
As you look at those options, there are other sides to the coin. People have mentioned the possibility of bringing the railroad up the Tintina Trench ó also a good possibility for a number of reasons. Thatís where the minerals are. Thatís where the wealth is. Geologically, thatís hard to argue with. There are also some very pristine areas through the Tintina Trench. Do you really want to go into there? But if youíre going to bring a railroad up to do mineral development, obviously if thatís where the minerals are, itís going to be impacted anyway. We need people to be looking at this. We need environmental assessments done.
The other aspect to that, too, is knowing that thereís something in the Tintina Trench, you put the railroad outside of it, Mr. Speaker. Now, how are you going to get it out? So, now you have to have your access corridors, you need roads, you possibly need rail spurs. I have mentioned all of these things to illustrate the huge number of problems that this commission is going to have to be looking at, and it is imperative that we get this commission going.
There are some interesting things that we have stumbled into, Mr. Speaker, in looking at this. The federal railroad administration, which is part of the United States Department of Transportation ó I donít refer to the Canadian ó has said that, "Railroads are inherently efficient in moving passengers and shipping many classes of freight. On average, U.S. railroads shipped freight at an increasing rate of 386 revenue ton miles per gallon in 1990." Thatís from the Association of American Railroads.
Transport 2000, which is a document, has stated, "Emission reductions must not only be achieved through such measures as cleaner fuels. These must also be achieved with optimum vehicle distances and with the most efficient mode of transportation." Among some recommendations, the document Transport 2000 is encouraging a "model shift from trucking toward rail transportation over significant distances to achieve goods transport with fewer emissions."
So I think this is a good example of some of the environmental impacts that we can be looking at. Another interesting document comes out of the Railway Association of Canada, so weíll bring it home a little bit more. And I quote, "With respect to greenhouse gas, railís performance is different, positive and sustainable. Canadaís railways are Kyoto compliant, according to the latest Environment Canada data. From 1990 to 1999, greenhouse gas emissions from Canadian railways decreased by 8.5 percent. Itís easy, as an aside, to initially look at that and say the railways have sort of been falling down lately, but this is while managing growth in 30 percent in business levels since 1990. There are few energy consuming industries that can claim such results, and certainly no other in the transportation sector." And that comes from the Railway Association of Canada.
In doing a comparison of heavy-duty trucks and railways, the Railway Association of Canada found that, "In all cases, rail outperformed trucks in grams-per-tonne kilometre of emissionsÖ." the best measure of emissions per unit of work, Mr. Speaker. In the case of emissions that are linked to smog production, particularly nitrogen oxides, the story was very much the same.
An Environment Canada fact sheet, Fact Sheet 3, if anyone really wants to look it up, from January 2002, between 1990 and 1999, this sector, referring to the transportation sector, contributed 33 percent of Canadaís emissions growth of 91.4 metric tonne from 1990 to 1999. In 1990, transportation is estimated to have emitted 146 metric tonne in 1999. This has risen 21 percent to 176.6. Almost all of the growth in emissions since 1999 can be contributed to three subsections, specifically, light-duty gasoline trucks ó the category including sport utility vehicles, or SUVs and minivans ó contributed 42 percent or 13 metric tonnes, of the sector growth; heavy-duty diesel vehicles contributed 40 percent, or 12.3 metric tonnes; and off-road diesel vehicles were responsible for 15 percent, or 4.4 metric tonnes, of the overall sectoral growth.
Those are very significant figures, Mr. Speaker.
The railroads have proven themselves to be more energy efficient, to be less polluting, to carry more material and really do give us a number of opportunities to begin to move our goods and materials and to do it in such a way that it is the easiest on the environment. Thatís what we have to look for ó a balance. We always have to find that balance between what we can produce, the economy we can have and the environment that we all love and wish to protect so much.
I go back to earlier discussions in this House ó without an economy, without resources moving, without having the jobs, money and wherewithal to protect this environment, we canít do it. If we donít have the money to fly the helicopters, to employ the conservation officers, to employ the environmental assessment people ó if these people arenít out there and they donít have the resources to work, they simply canít. Thatís just the easiest way to put it.
With those words I will happily yield the floor to others here who wish to speak to this good motion. I certainly urge all members of the House to give it support, to encourage our federal government to strike this commission to evaluate how this railroad can be built, where it can be built, and to give their valued input at that time.
Ms. Duncan: I rise to make a couple of comments on the record and to ensure that members opposite are aware of my particular views on the subject and the work that has been done.
First of all, as a party, the Yukon Liberal Party has been, and continues to be, supportive of the railway concept. We have demonstrated that in the past, and I think we would be remiss if, at some point in our remarks, we didnít acknowledge the work of Jeannette James, who, I understand, is no longer in the Alaska State Legislature. However, she was, and am sure continues to be, a tireless supporter of the railway.
And there are a number of rail buffs throughout the Yukon as well who have supported this idea and made sure it stayed on the radar screen of the government, politicians and the public. Most notably of these, of course, is Don Taylor, the former Speaker of this Legislature. Our government hired Mr. Taylor and asked him to act as a consultant for the government on this particular project because he ó and to quote words I have used before ó worked tirelessly from his camp at Stewart Lake to promote this particular initiative. He was hired by the Liberal government to follow and monitor the progress of the railway very closely, which he has done an admirable job of, and I thank him publicly for his efforts.
The U.S./Canada commission that is funded by the U.S. Senate bill was for $6 million, over three to five years, and was sponsored by Senator Murkowski. It was signed into law by President Clinton on December 27, 2000. So, how the good Member for Porter Creek North got from $6 million to $10 million is, I guess, another example of Yukon Party math.
The money will not be spent until a commission is struck. The difficulty is that, as of January 2000, once the bill had been signed by the President ó it was signed in 2000, and as of March 2001, the Canadian government still had not been formally contacted to participate. What happened is that the U.S. Legislature signs a bill and says, "Weíre going to spend $6 million. Itís going to be a joint commission. But, by the way, maybe somebody should have talked to Canada about it."
I met in late January 2001 with then Minister of Transport Collenette who, as I said, had not received any kind of an invitation or formal delegation or any kind of formal representation from the U.S. on this particular bill. In fact, it wasnít until March 2001 that Senator Murkowski was able to meet with Minister Collenette.
Minister Collenetteís response at the time was caution, given that we are looking at a Canadian government that was no longer in the business at that point in time of building railways, and I note there was additional money in the last federal budget for railways. The view at that time was the private sector, which I am sure that members opposite can recognize that the private sector is important in these projects and that was Minister Collenetteís view, especially with a $1.23-billion to $3-billion price tag attached to this particular proposal. So following the representation with Minister Collenette, I also met with the Prime Minister on this, who, as people are aware, has a strong record and a vision of the north and an understanding of northern development as, of course, he was the former minister. He at that point indicated to me that if the Americans were coming with a proposal we would certainly look at it and we would be interested in it, but we havenít had an invitation. So that was where, other than continuing to put it on the radar screen with Ottawa and anticipate with eagerness the American proposal, our government, working with others, worked toward establishment of this commission and looked forward to the expenditure of American dollars into the feasibility of this potential.
We support the notion, applaud what the American legislators have done, look forward to it, would welcome and would participate and, of course, would support such an initiative. This could truly be a tremendous jolt to our Yukon economy.
I support the motion, but the question before us is: what has the side opposite done? Itís nice and a good idea to put these motions on the floor and to support the motion, but what have they actually done in support of this proposal? I find it fascinating to go back through the old media releases from the Yukon Party caucus. Of course, that was then and this is now, Mr. Speaker. Itís amazing that the former member, sole representative of that particular party, was suggesting that I wasnít doing enough, that it wasnít good enough to just do motions. One had to walk the talk. Well, the shoe is on the other foot. What is the government going to do to walk the talk?
I support the motion. Iíll vote in favour of it. I agree that the railway is a good idea. I support the establishment of the commission, urge Canada to accept, come to the table, have a 20/24 ó itís interesting that the money didnít grow, but the size of the commission has grown in the various media reports over time.
Mr. Speaker, Iím urging the Yukon Party to adopt their former recommendations and walk the talk and actually do something to promote this proposal, other than the motion, which I support. I look forward to the other comments from the members opposite on this particular initiative.
Hon. Mr. Lang: I would like to thank the Member for Pelly-Nisutlin for bringing this motion forward. I would also like to thank the opposition for their support of this motion. I would also like to remind the leader of the third party that U.S. $6 million is $10 million in Canadian. Thatís the exchange rate on American money as of today.
What are we doing? Well, we are going to pass this motion and then weíre going to meet with the Alaska delegation and weíre hopefully going to have some input on this vision.
Now, itís funny this vision that weíre picturing now with the railroad ó I was discussing this 20 years ago with a group of Mannix construction executives from America, from Nebraska. They were sent up by the American government to look at the engineering behind crossing the Bering Sea with a railroad. So this railroad has not just started in concept in the United States. This idea has been going through many, many periods of ups and downs.
So as far as new ideas, this certainly isnít a new idea. But I think itís a positive move for our government ó the opposition and the government side ó to encourage the federal government to participate financially and physically in a commission to look at all aspects of rail link between B.C., Yukon and Alaska.
I and the government recommend that the Canadian commission should be headquartered in Whitehorse for many reasons: input from northerners, First Nations. All sorts of northern people could have an input on the commission because thatís where the decision should be made.
We are encouraged by the Alaska governmentís position and their forward-looking vision of the benefits of an extension of the B.C. Rail and Alaska railroad to incorporate Yukon and what this would do to improve North Americaís transportation grid.
Letís say the difference between the difference between Russia and America was transportation. The Russians had 11 times zones ó that is how big Russia is ó couldnít get the product to the truck. America always had a transportation grid, always had vision and that vision came from when they were expanding into Nebraska, Oklahoma, those areas, followed with transportation grids. In the beginning, their transportation grids were railroads. They always crisscrossed North America with railroads. We followed that with our concept of a railroad coast-to-coast, and that was important. That meant a guy in B.C. could communicate and do trade with a guy in New Brunswick. That is the difference between North America and Asia.
Now I think we as Canadians have sort of lost that vision. The Americans always have had that vision. They are not looking at tying Alaska into North America; they are looking at expanding it into Russia, into Asia and into Europe, so one day one of the members opposite can put their Suburban on a train and can go to Paris. Now that concept is out there. Now this isnít going to happen tomorrow, but the vision is there that one day, as the world shrinks, we will be able to be tied in with railroad so we can tie in, as the member opposite said, from London to Washington, D.C.
Now, Mr. Speaker, as Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, a railroad would benefit the resource industry and encourage the economic development in Yukon. I mean, if we are just going to be self-serving and talk about the Yukon, the railroad would definitely be a big plus. The Minister of Environment talks about where the railroads are going to go, we are going to need roads to it, we are going to need spur lines, we are going to need all these other issues that will come up with building the railroad, but those are issues that we will decide on a local basis.
Now, the mineral exploration in the Yukon would ó again, weíre dealing with a product and weíre dealing with price and weíre dealing with transportation. Again, with the figures that the Environment minister gave us, the economics of a railroad for us make total sense in opening up the north.
Forestry, another one of my departments, again is about price, transportation, location, all those things. We have forestry, we have ó what do we have in forestry? We can cut down logs. We can make lumber. We could make pulp. We could make a regrind, which is before pulp. That all needs transportation and it all costs money to get it to market. Whether itís in the Yukon or outside the Yukon, we have to take our resources from where we get them to the market. So, there you go. Thereís your price. So the railroad would definitely be a benefit.
Now, if you talk about the Alaska Highway pipeline, which is another ó as the member opposite talks about lack of vision and what do we do on this side besides move motions and all this stuff. Well, everything starts somewhere. We are on this side of the House looking at a vision of the Yukon. We have been given a mandate for the next three and a half or four years to bring that forward. This motion is the start of what weíre going to do to facilitate the railroad when it comes through the Yukon, if in fact it does come through the Yukon. Of course, the member opposite says it might not. Well, we might be hit with a bolt of lightning.
But what Iím telling you is that the Government of Yukon is not going to pay to build a railroad, Mr. Speaker. I can say that to the member across there. We will participate where we can. We do not have the resources to build a railroad, and he knows that as well as I know that.
We are going to work with the Alaska government, the B.C. government, the federal Canadian government and the federal American government. Those are four big issues we have to work with to get this railroad done. We are very pleased to see the delegation coming from Alaska. Now, that delegation is coming from Alaska to introduce themselves to us as a government. Hopefully, everybody takes advantage of that meeting and meets these people. Theyíre probably going to bring up this railroad idea ó this vision. Weíll definitely address that vision.
Are we, on this side of the House ó all of us ó are we for a railroad? Well, weíre for talking about the railroad and eventually getting the railroad done. Will we get it done in three and a half or four years? I doubt it. But Iíll tell you one thing about this side of the House ó we are more than vision. We will go to work and see if this thing is viable, and we will work with the parties that are concerned about the railroad and make the railroad a positive thing in the Yukon.
Now, as far as the pipeline is concerned, when it comes down the Alaska Highway, or when it comes down through the Yukon ó not down the Alaska Highway ó there is a concept out there, as the Minister of Environment said; there are questions about the environment; there are issues about First Nations; there are issues with northerners. There is a list of issues out there ó a checklist of challenges.
See, that is the difference between this side of the House and that side of the House, Mr. Speaker. We look at challenges; they talk about problems. We are here to solve the challenges that are put before the Yukon with respect to the railroad. Now, if we had a perfect world ó we donít live in a perfect world, but in a perfect world ó if we were to build a pipeline and a railroad, now that would be mind-boggling. Talk about the vision there, Mr. Speaker.
But what Iím saying to you is that weíre working with the Alaskans, the American government. Weíre recommending that the commissionerís office is here and the money that that would generate alone in this economic time that we find ourselves in now would be definitely a boost to our economy. It would be $10 million Canadian, and for the third party, it would be somewhere between $6 million and $10 million in American, depending on the exchange.
So we want to see the commission stationed here. We want to work with Alaska. We want the Canadian government to participate financially because this is a huge federal issue. It is not some issue the Yukon government could financially take on. We want them to participate, and we want to participate with them.
So, Mr. Speaker, the vision on this side of the House is that the railroad would certainly be a positive economic growth tool for the Yukon. In fact, if you were to look at figures, it would be much larger and much more beneficial than a pipeline. So what Iím saying to the House today, as Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, is that we are looking forward to working with the Alaskans, the Canadians, British Columbians and our fellow citizens to make this railroad a realistic thing in the near future. So stay tuned. Hopefully the railroad will come through.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, I will be brief in my comments to this motion put forward by the government side. This is not a new issue that has been brought to the Yukon, to the floor of this Legislature. It has been dealt with in the past, and it is not a new concept. Itís something that is brought forward again that possibly could boost the economy in the Yukon Territory, and thatís why it has been brought forward ó and also with the interests in Alaska.
We met with the politicians in Alaska ó the Member for Kluane, at the time it was the MLA for Whitehorse Centre and the MLA for Faro. We went over there to talk about the pipeline, pipeline issues and so on, and we wanted to get information flowing back and forth on this issue. To our surprise, the biggest issue over the pipeline that the Alaskans talked about was the railway connecting through the Yukon to the south, to Alaska. This was talked about more than the pipeline itself.
Certainly we see the benefits. We know approximately, I guess, where this railway may go ó down the Tintina Trench. It does affect a lot of communities, lots of First Nations along this way, and it certainly brings all kinds of issues forward.
No doubt, the members opposite know, I guess, concerns that people have in regard to the environmental impacts of the pipeline running through the Yukon Territory. Well, this is no different and members opposite know that.
We know that should a decision of this type happen, that it does take time for it to go through. But weíve seen things happen in the Yukon with tremendous speed. I know the members opposite complain about five months in government and itís hard to even read a briefing book, but the Alaska Highway was built in nine months. This type of thing could be moved very quickly depending on whoís behind it, how hard itís pushed by the Alaskans and Americans in wanting to ensure that there is a transportation linkage from the south to the north.
Mr. Speaker, there is much more than the railroad itself that needs to be talked about with the commission. First of all, we need to recognize that we are in First Nation traditional territories, with the possibility of crossing settlement lands and so on. But the Alaskans are talking quite a bit more than just the railway. The discussions with the pipeline, for example, talked about possibly having a railway right-of-way down the pipeline corridor in some sections. But theyíre not only talking about that ó and hereís the bigger impasse. The positive part would be if theyíre really talking about a fibre optic line down this corridor.
The other thing thatís talked about quite a bit by the Americans is piping water ó a water pipeline, which for Yukon, and Canada as a whole, is quite a big issue. Now, throw all this into a discussion about a railway right-of-way through the territory and youíre going to generate a huge amount of discussion with the people here in the territory. I know the member opposite, the previous speaker, just talked about how this is a huge federal issue. Well, this is a huge Yukon issue, and it will have a lasting impact on the territory, like the highway did. It opens up land, access to land, and that is something that we, on this side of the House, have concerns with, ensuring that, of course, those issues are dealt with in the proper manner.
We have talked a lot about how this government promised consultation throughout their term in government. Well, this is one that needs extensive consultation ó extensive consultation.
Like the pipeline, like the environmental impacts that still need to be done with the pipeline, this is another that would have a huge, huge impact and we all know that the benefits of having a railway and having a train going through the Yukon Territory, linking us with the south, is something that I think a lot of people thought about. It just doesnít seem real or realistic, and we really have a push from Alaska to get this done, pressuring, I guess, Canada and the Yukon to buy into this concept. And this is not something new that the Government of Yukon has faced. Previous governments have faced the same thing.
What we are asking in this motion is to put together basically a very, very high level commission, an international joint commission, to deal with this, and I think that is where it should go. But we shouldnít leave out Yukoners born and raised here and who will spend the rest of their lives here and will feel the impact of this development, should it ever take place.
So, Mr. Speaker, with those comments I would like to introduce a friendly amendment to this motion and ask the government to seriously consider this, and I would like to speak on it afterwards too.
Mr. Fairclough: I move
THAT Motion No. 36 be amended by replacing the first clause that begins with the phrase "THAT this House urges" with the following: "THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to work closely with the Government of Canada and with Yukon First Nation governments whose land the railroad would cross to identify and explore all areas of mutual interest related to the Alaska railway proposal andÖ"
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Mayo-Tatchun that Motion No. 36 be amended by replacing the first clause that begins with the phrase, "THAT this House urges" with the following: THAT this House urges the Government of the Yukon to work closely with the Government of Canada and with Yukon First Nation governments whose land the railroad would cross to identify and explore all areas of mutual interest related to the Alaskan railroad proposal and..."
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, one of the things that this change does is focus the attention on good consultation between the Yukon and the Canadian government. I guess the bottom line is that we donít want to see this derailed, and I say this because of past experience on how the governments have tried to get into areas of high mineral deposits ó and Iím referring to the Casino Trail, for example ó which runs down the Tintina Trench. It was surveyed. A lot of slashing took place. There was a major highway corridor, and very little took place in consultation with First Nations. This was before, of course, their final agreements, and the whole project was shut down and we lost the opportunity to access a huge area of land that could have been used for extraction of minerals and so on. Just to give people an idea, for example, Casino mines, which is a bit north of Prospector Mountain, which would have been hauling ore out on the Casino Trail, which is the Freegold Trail right now, would have been taking out four to five times the ore that the Faro mine took out in a day, and thatís a huge quantity ore, and a good transportation route would have been necessary for that to happen.
The other thing is that we have final agreements and First Nation settlement lands, and weíre not exactly sure where this railway is even going. Also, we left the final clause out to form this international joint commission. That part is okay and itís good, but the need to do our homework is very much essential, and I donít believe that it changes the intent of the motion at all ó it just commits the Yukon government to work with First Nation governments and the Government of Canada to focus our energies and ensure that we have mutual interests being worked on right now.
We, on this side of the House, obviously support this and weíre certainly willing to pass this motion should the government side support this amendment ó this is a friendly amendment, itís not one that changes it a whole lot. Even myself ó the railway is close to me. My father did some surveying of a portion of the railway up near Faro many, many years ago, so this is not something new that is coming across our desks on this side of the House. It has been talked about by my family members for years. There is very much an interest to do this. We just want governments to work closer together, and the amendment just focuses on that.
Mr. Hassard: Yes, I would like to say that we do agree with this amendment, and we can support the motion, as amended, and we would like to close the debate.
Amendment to Motion No. 36 agreed to
Speaker: Is there any more debate on the main motion, as amended? If the member now speaks, he will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?
Mr. Hassard: I would like to thank all members for their comments.
Motion No. 36 agreed to as amended
Motion No. 32
Clerk:Motion No. 32, standing in the name of Mr. Rouble.
Speaker: It is moved by the Member for Southern Lakes
THAT this House recognize that:
(1) every Canadian citizen deserves to receive adequate health care, regardless of where they live;
(2) the cost of maintaining the current level of health care in Yukon has been increasing at an annual rate of $7 million to $10 million dollars, while transfer payments from the Government of Canada have been decreasing;
(3) the Canada health and social transfer, which is based on per capita funding, does not address the specialized needs of the three northern territories that have small populations separated by vast distances and high transportation costs; and
(4) the recently negotiated health care fund, while a step in the right direction, will only cover the annual increases in health care costs; and
THAT this House urges the Government of Canada to work together with the three northern territories to develop a permanent pan-northern solution to address the health care needs in the north.
Mr. Rouble: Mr. Speaker, I stand today to address a motion that recognizes an urgent need of many, if not all, Yukoners, and a motion that also proposes a resolution to the situation. I would ask all members to support this motion that looks at addressing this issue. We propose a way of solving this situation by way of developing a permanent pan-northern solution to address health care needs across the north.
Mr. Speaker, Iím fairly confident that we can all agree that every Canadian citizen deserves to receive adequate health care, regardless of where they live. That was put forward in the Canadian Medical Health Act of 1968, which guarantees every Canadian citizen the same level of health care regardless of economic or geographic position. We all deserve health care, whether we live in Whitehorse, Old Crow, Toronto or St. Johnís.
And, Mr. Speaker, Iím sure we all recognize the rising health care costs. As I researched this, I was looking at some of the figures and was astounded and shocked by the drastic increases that we have seen ó 30 percent over the last five years. Itís obviously difficult for the Yukon to continue to carry those costs.
Mr. Speaker, the Canadian health and social transfer, which is based on per capita funding, isnít solving our problems either. Weíre in a situation where we have a declining population and increasing costs. So itís costing us more dollars per person and weíre getting fewer dollars in return because we have fewer people. We need a different solution.
Also, the north faces some very specialized needs. We are a vast distance with a very small population, and we share these characteristics with our neighbours to the east. We are in a situation with ageing demographics. In recent years, our average age has changed from 31 years to a little over 36 years. Our population is getting older and, with it, there are increasing health care demands.
In addition, recent technological changes have come forward that increase costs further. Years ago, we wouldnít have worried about bringing in a CAT scan machine, but we have that now and it is expected now. Years ago, we wouldnít have expected to have an automatic heart defibrillator, but now they are expected and now communities are running bake sales and dinners in order to raise the funds for those types of machines.
Some of the other specialized needs of northern citizens include the high instance of diabetes, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and alcoholism. Again, these are issues that we share with our neighbours to the east and also, because of our distance from major centers and some of the other challenges that our communities face, we have a problem attracting qualified medical staff ó again, another challenge faced by our neighbours to the east.
We share so many common problems with our neighbours to the east that I think it just makes sense to partner and work with others we share common problems with and work with them toward a solution.
Mr. Speaker, this motion does that. It encourages the Government of Canada to work together with the three northern territories to develop a permanent pan-northern solution to address the health care needs of the north. The recently negotiated health care fund, while itís a step in the right direction, doesnít give us a long-term, permanent solution to this. The health care fund, though, Mr. Speaker, Iím happy to announce, has increased the funds available for health care in the north, and I understand that it will help to fund some of the specialized equipment that is needed in our communities, things like the automatic heart defibrillators. Iím very encouraged to hear that those are coming to our communities.
Mr. Speaker, Iíd ask that all members support a motion such as this. Again, it puts forward the issue of creating a partnership to work collectively to come to a solution. Itís another instance where, if we work together, we can be stronger. And I would expect that we can all agree on most of the premises that this motion is based on. This is a pressing issue that all Yukoners face, and Iím sure that all of us heard that health care was an incredibly important issue when we travelled door to door in the recent campaigns. I know that, in the Marsh Lake, Tagish and Carcross areas, this issue was brought up quite a bit. Health care is important to people. We as Canadians have an expectation of health care. With that expectation we have a responsibility to satisfy that. Thatís one of the key responsibilities of government in Canadian government. The universal health care is a badge of honour that all of us as Canadians proudly wear.
I would ask that all members, then, support this motion so that we can then work toward a permanent solution, not a stop-gap solution. While itís a good one, it doesnít go far enough in addressing our long-term needs.
Weíre on a bit of a roll now working with our neighbours. The folks in Ottawa are becoming accustomed to the three of us making a presentation at their door. I think we should continue that, continue to work with our northern partners to satisfy some of our common problems. We certainly face a lot of these similar issues all the way across the north. If we can work together on this issue, I believe it will help to foster further relationships. It already has. When Premier Kakfwi was recently here, he commented on how well we could work together on this health care accord, and he commented that he hoped it would lead to further accords and working together on future solutions.
In closing, I would again urge the House to stand and support this motion and to stand and support a motion where we could work with our common northern partners on resolving an issue that is of key importance to all Yukoners.
Mr. Fairclough: Iíll be short in my comments to this motion also.
What weíre asking, I guess ó weíre urging the Government of Canada to work with the north, and we do this by putting together a team between the three territories. It only makes common sense. We certainly support this motion. Itís not something new to say that the three territories havenít worked together in the past. We just had the formation of Nunavut, and before that it was just basically the Northwest Territories and the Yukon. On many fronts, ministers of the north, in meeting with other ministers across Canada ó provincial ministers and the federal ministers ó always teamed up and tried to move northern issues forward.
At times, we came close to moving things great distances. Many times, though, we were just kind of shut out because the Yukon and the Northwest Territories were territories; they didnít have provincial-type powers. More and more, as we voice ourselves, we are being heard as an equivalent, I suppose, to a province. Devolution certainly pushes us a bit further toward that. I remember myself, as an Environment minister, working with Stephen Kakfwi at the time, who was also an Environment minister, and teaming up on many fronts when it came to national issues.
Iím not exactly sure what the percentage is, but certainly the north makes up a huge land mass of Canada itself, and we canít ignore that. When it comes to climate change, for example, we need to be speaking with one voice as having the impact of climate change in the north ó having the biggest impact. That reflects right down to our health and the health of people. If our animals and our birds are not healthy, it reflects back on our health. Some people depend more on wildlife than others. In the north, the Gwitchin, for example, depend on the caribou and, if theyíre not around, that health diminishes, particularly with our elders. Certainly we believe that the animals we eat eat the plants that have the medicines that keep us healthy, and thatís why so many people are eating wild meat.
Mr. Speaker, weíd like to see that continue, and the way it can continue is if the north works together.
Now, weíre faced, I think, with some tough times in front of us ó some challenges, I should say ó for example, ensuring that we do have adequate numbers of nurses and doctors here in the Yukon. Some of the numbers that have been put forward by the nursing association are just staggering, and weíre going to be competing with the provinces, with the other territories, with the south, the States and so on for the nurses we produce through our universities here in Canada.
For example, we produce about 5,000 nurses out of our education institutes every year and, over the next three years, we are looking at 30,000 nurses disappearing from our system ó either retiring or moving south ó so our numbers canít even sustain us over the next three years. And over the next five or 10 years, I think that number just jumps way up to 80,000, and we are not going to be filling those positions, so Yukon has a challenge to ensure that we have the nurses and doctors that we need here and can be attracted to the north. How some provinces are doing it is through better housing, better wages and better benefits, and we need to address that as well. I think the north together can address those issues so we can find a way to attract nurses and doctors here.
I agree with the member opposite that we have an ageing population here in the territory and the cost of health care is certainly going up. It is going up because of the kinds of equipment we are bringing in like the CAT scan, for example. It costs $400,000 to run that a year and we donít even have the professional people here to read it so we have to have it read and analyzed down south and brought up here so we can have a proper reading of it. That is a huge cost to the territory. Now we have other equipment that is state of the art, and itís the same thing. We have to have educated people here to deal with this equipment. There are other things we could do too. We havenít put a lot of emphasis on things like First Nation medicines, traditional medicines and so on; that hasnít really found its way into a solid treatment system. I would have to say that the Yukon Territory is far above, say, Alberta or B.C. or any other province in Canada in how we deal with First Nation medicines.
For example, here in Whitehorse Hospital, we can bring in traditional foods. The doctors do allow patients to take traditional medicines. It could be as simple as a drink, a daily drink, a sip or so of medicines that can combat, say, cancer and so on, that First Nations feel is helping. If that same patient goes down to Alberta, they would not be allowed to take any of those traditional medicines. Itís all based in science. So I think we can make some real improvement here in the Yukon. We already, I think, are leaders in that area, but I think we can define it a little bit more. Sometimes it just takes a matter of money and resources to do it, and if the territories can work together on this, all the better. We on this side of the House support this motion.
Mr. Arntzen: Mr. Speaker, I agree. Health care is very important to the north. Pan-northern agreements are very important, and I am rising today to speak to this motion, more to tell a story. The Member for Mayo-Tatchun is correct. This is not the first time that agreements between the territories have happened, but this one is a rather successful story.
Iíll take you back to a related course of action that I personally experienced back in the late 1960s, early 1970s, when we in the Yukon were starting up whatís known today as the Yukon ski division.
That relates to how we worked together back then to accomplish bigger and better things.
Mr. Speaker, it was then, as it is now, a numbers game played by Ottawa. In the Yukon and Northwest Territories; we could not qualify for funding and we could also not participate on our own on national issues. The Yukon had to belong to the British Columbia ski division, and the Northwest Territories had to join the Alberta ski division in order to get to the nationals or participate in any way, shape or form. We first had to compete in B.C. in order to qualify to go on to Canadian championships, et cetera, et cetera.
Both territories realized that this was not bringing us forward at all. We had to do something about it. We then formed an alliance between the Yukon and Northwest Territories ski divisions, which they were not called at the time, went to Ottawa and requested from the national organization that we would like to form a northern ski division. Together with the Northwest Territories, we now had the magic number that Ottawa required in order to form our own division.
That allowed us to grow as an organization, and it also allowed us to put programs forward to benefit both the Yukon and the Northwest Territories until we, as individual territories, had the magic number of growth in our ski clubs and divisions that was required by the national body in Ottawa for us to become two individual ski divisions ó Yukon on its own and the Northwest Territories on its own.
So it was a numbers game that we couldnít play alone.
The fruit of that decision, made way back in the early 1970s, can be seen today and have been seen for the last 30 some years. Mr. Speaker, I have to mention that we have received a lot of benefits, economically and socially, and I venture to say that it has improved our health in the north, as well.
For example, in the Yukon, in Whitehorse, we have some of the best ski trail systems in North America. Theyíre the envy of the world, actually, because we did host a World Cup in Whitehorse some years ago, and it was the envy of skiers from all over the world ó what we had as a trails system.
Weíve also hosted multiple Canadian and western Canadian championships over the last few years. We have developed tremendous athletes and I could mention a few because it will tie into what this has done for us. Letís go to Old Crow and the Frosts, the Benjamins, the Linklaters, the Tizyas, the Peters and the Charlies, just to mention a few. In Haines Junction, we have the Taits, the Tomlins, the Washingtons, the Bakkes, and in Whitehorse we could mention our Olympian Lucy Steele, the Waterreus family, the Schiffkorns, Middlebrooks, Watts, the Frasers, Hendricksons, the Bakers, the Baileys and the Sumaniks. Iíve mentioned them because they are today our up and coming leaders in the community. I could go on with lots of other names as I am sure I forgot some, but I will leave that.
The same thing has happened in the Northwest Territories from the programs that were developed together back then, just to mention some of the people today that are leaders in the Northwest Territories. Premier Kakfwi was part of that joint program. The Minister of Justice, Roger Allen, was also part of that program. He is also an Olympian, by the way, and his executive assistant, Harold Cook, was part of that joint program. The MLA from Fort McPherson, David Krutko, was , was also part of that program. The North Pole explorer, Angus Cockney, was , was also part of that program and a very famous explorer.
We also canít forget the Firth twins, Shirley and Sharon Firth ó Olympians many, many times over.
I guess, Mr. Speaker, I could go on and talk about older people as well who benefited from that program. I guess what Iím trying to say is that we are stuck in Ottawaís numbers game and we canít play it alone. So a pan-northern or pan-Arctic alliance is very important to us. I think itís the right way to go and I support this motion.
I guess establishing a strong relationship with neighbouring jurisdictions and working together on matters of mutual benefit can only benefit us all in the end.
I do support this motion.
Mr. Hassard: I also rise in support of this motion.
As the motion indicates, every Canadian citizen deserves to receive adequate health care. I think health care is something that we too often take for granted. I know I have in the past.
In the past few years Iíve seen friends move to the United States for whatever reason. When I talk to them now, they remind me again and again of how fortunate Canadians are when it comes to health care. I donít understand the U.S. system particularly but I understand that it costs, out of an individualís pocket, whereas perhaps we donít have that.
More recently, I had the pleasure of becoming a father. I go back to this story too often maybe, but my son was born six weeks premature. He was born in Whitehorse, at the hospital, and fortunately he was able to stay there and didnít have to be flown to Vancouver.
I have nothing but the highest praise for the people who dealt with him and my family at that time. It was unbelievable. I never would have believed that someone would be given a place to stay at the hospital while their child was there. Everything was provided. It was quite unbelievable. It became very evident that we are indeed fortunate to have the health care system that we have. It also became evident that there must be a substantial cost to that as well.
This motion speaks to dealing with the federal government. And I agree that we have to work with the other territories to lobby the Government of Canada, as our Premier recently has, to ensure that we receive the necessary funding. As our population ages, demands on our health care system will continue to grow.
The question that comes to mind is: can we ever do enough with respect to health care to keep everyone happy? Well, I donít know if we can keep everyone happy, but can we keep everyone healthy? I donít think we have a choice. Itís our job.
Mr. Speaker, Iíve been fortunate in my time to not have needed the health care system yet ó touch wood. However, I do recognize the need to continue to increase the support of it.
Mr. Hardy: I listened very closely to the comments by the last two speakers particularly, and itís interesting to note that I doubt if thereís any disagreement at all in this House regarding the care that Canada has for its people in regard to health.
You have to go a long way to find somebody who would actually say that we really should shift to an American system, or a system similar to the United Statesí, and get rid of ours, but you can find people like that. They have been working and making a case that we go more into a private type of delivery, a pay-as-you-go type of system.
When I listened to the Member for Pelly-Nisutlin, it was interesting. He talked about his young child who was born recently and the care he got and the fact that the child was premature. If you ever sat down to figure out the cost ó because he did mention the cost as well ó but if you ever sat down and figured out the cost he would have had to pay out of his own pocket, there would probably be no way in the world that he would have been able to have done it. Or, if he had done it, he would have mortgaged his house; he would probably have gone into debt for many, many years, and realistically not have been able to even pay off the amount that it would have cost to have that kind of care in time to deal with other health care issues that might arise. When you have a child, thereís no question about it that the child comes with a cost and often, in our day and age right now, there is a health cost. Children do get sick and parents worry and will often go to the doctor or to emergency. I know. I have four children and I have been in emergency with my children for a multitude of illnesses and injuries. I also have a granddaughter who was born on October 4 and, yes, it has been quite an interesting period.
What I went through that day was an amazing experience because it was substantially different from when my wife and I had our four children many years ago. Twenty years ago, there was a maternity room, and you would come in when the mother was experiencing labour. You would come in and be rolled into a maternity room, and then after so many hours the baby would be born. You would then be rolled out of the maternity room and the baby was separated, often, taken into another room and isolated from the parents; then they did some testing and other issues, and then they brought the child back.
Well, it was very, very different this time, when my daughter had my grandchild. When I got to the hospital, she was in a room, one of the normal rooms where a person will stay the whole time. There are no maternity rooms any more. The bed is set up to allow birthing in a multitude of ways, depending on the situation that the mother may be experiencing or the comfort that she may need. The family is invited in the room. I was there at the birth. I helped coach my daughter through it, along with my wife. There was a doctor there. There were family friends there. It all happened in a very, very comfortable room, as Iím sure the Member for Pelly-Nisutlin is familiar. It was a very comfortable room, very nice. The child was born, and the child did not leave our sight. Everything happened in that room. It was almost like a natural childbirth in the sense that there was no separation.
The reason Iím talking about that is Iím just illustrating how much change there has been in 20 years in the approach of one type of delivery of health care. Itís an approach into more of a holistic manner. Before it was very institutional and now it has moved into a much more holistic, welcoming environment, and thatís part of the system that we have that we are allowed to develop along that line, and itís not constrained by financial pressure on the individualís ability to pay.
So, going back to my point earlier, the health care system that we have in Canada is a treasure. Itís considered by many in the world as one of the best systems in the world, if not the best. On a per capita basis, it is not a huge amount. But there have been pressures put on it over the years, most noticeably by the withdrawal of the federal government and its payments from the health care system and its transfer payments to the provinces and, of course, the territories.
That withdrawal of the funding, of course, was funnelled into paying down a debt that was created by probably poor management by a government. The pressure that it has created has, in many ways, now come home to roost here in the Yukon.
In the Yukon we share many of the common problems that the provinces share as well. This motion talks about a pan-northern solution. And there is no question about it. There are very, very distinct issues that the people of the north and governments of the north face. But there are also very, very common issues that are faced all across Canada. Maybe thatís the second part of a motion that we may need as well, or maybe thatís just a different topic.
But we have to work together ó all the provinces, territories and the federal government ó to find a way to ensure that the public health care system that we have today continues, and continues in a manner thatís affordable, continues in a manner that allows it to continue to develop ó just as in the example I used with the maternity area ó in a way that delivers a better care, a more holistic care, one that recognizes not just the physical needs in health but also the mental and spiritual needs in health.
Thereís also the other side thatís so extremely important, and that is the preventive side of health care, and thatís very important.
The Member for Copperbelt talked about the ski program, the TEST program ó Iím familiar with the TEST program, as my children were in it, and I was in it as a very young person at Takhini Elementary, under Don Sumanik when he was starting it there. In some ways, I think he was referring to the type of activities we do that we support, that we encourage in our youth and include for our seniors, that do have an effect upon the health care system. Study after study have shown that an active person will have less illness and fewer injuries in their life. If thatís the case, if thatís what happens, then of course the strain upon the system is lessened.
So not only do we have to talk about health care, but we have to talk about preventive care, and preventive care is activity. We look at schools, and there was a huge holding back in the schools in the physical education. Since that time, they have realized that physical education plays a very big role in peopleís lives, not only in learning, because people do need a break from classroom to classroom to be able to express themselves through physical movement. The mind is stimulated differently in that area, and it allows it to be refreshed ó that has been proven. Not only that, though, but it instills lifelong habits that will benefit the person physically, mentally and spiritually.
It allows the young child to recognize the need to exercise. It allows the benefits and joy of exercise. When you connect that to health care, you see the investment that encouragement of physical activities at that age pays dividends down the road, because there is less pressure on and usage of the health care system. So it just keeps spreading out. As we start to look at our society, and how the activities we do and decisions we make impact, we realize how interconnected they are.
And itís the same thing, going back to the pan-northern solution. Itís connection. So we identify commonalities. We identify areas that may be needed to lobby the government. But not only are we lobbying the Government of Canada, we are lobbying all the provinces to support the pan-northern issues. Itís fairly clear, when you look at the map of Canada, that we may be in the northern region, specifically by a line thatís drawn right across, but all of the provinces have northern regions. I shouldnít say all ó almost all of them have northern regions. Actually, even though New Brunswick doesnít stick way up there, when I was in Dalhousie, I felt I was in the deep north when that blizzard hit, so you donít have to be that far up.
But they all have northern regions, and they all suffer in some area. They all share some common problems that we face, which include isolated communities. Most of the provinces have communities where there are no roads into them, and they face some of these problems. If we can make sure that when we bring these northern issues to the table we also remind the provinces that these northern issues weíre fighting for do affect a portion of their own area ó and itís not just down along the U.S.-Canada border that should be focused on, but the issues we are bringing should be of concern to them ó and they should support us, because ultimately it will help them when they look at their northern issues.
Atlin is an example, for instance. People from Atlin come to Whitehorse to the hospital here, and we can have a relationship with B.C. and cost-sharing around that, as well. So there are a lot of connections here.
I rise in support of this motion. I think itís a very clean motion, itís very direct and one that I think, like I say, a lot of people would have a hard time disagreeing with.
Iíll give one other example of where the health care system benefits Canadians and goes beyond health care. Excuse me if I drift to this ó I used to work on the railroads, Mr. Speaker, and I worked on the Canadian side of the White Pass railroad. I was a railman, and at Bennett there was an exchange, even though we worked all the way up into the White Pass area and the Americans were on the other side. We were often given more of the jobs, often given longer sections of the routes, partially because the cost to the company for us was less than the American crews. What a lot of it came down to was the health care system. They did not have to have the kind of insurance and coverage in the agreements that the Americans had to have, and that cost existed, and there was a difference between the two crews. We actually got paid a higher wage in many ways because our health care costs were not included, so what they could give us when we negotiated on our side was slightly different.
That made us more competitive and that has been recognized throughout Canada. One of the competitive edges that Canadian workforces in plants have is their health care, because it does not have to be factored in when theyíre bidding or delivering a product such as car manufacturing. But it has to be factored in on the other side.
So, often weíre able to pay the same amount or higher of an employee rate, but where theyíre still delivering a product thatís cheaper, and it comes down that one of the elements, one of the edges they have, is our health care system. So when we talk about the expenses, we really should include all the expenses and the benefits as well. And when you sit down and you start to put it all together, you realize that, in some ways, the health care system generates jobs. I donít mean just in the health care field, but I mean it generates jobs because it allows companies to be able to bid and manufacture at a cheaper rate than their competing countries ó in most cases, our greatest competitor, of course, is the United States. So we have to factor that in and not just always say what the cost of health care is, but also include the benefits of it. And the benefits go far beyond just the care of a person, which we so fundamentally believe in in Canada, but also the fact that it does ensure thereís an edge for employment.
Finally, across Canada, itís recognized this is one of the pillars that identifies us, Mr. Speaker. Itís one of the things that we can hold up that separates us from many of the other countries in the world, and itís one of the things that we stand so proudly behind. And the people of Canada also are very, very passionate about this. When we live in an isolated area, like in the Yukon or Northwest Territories or Nunavut, it is also so necessary for us, because it ensures that people will live here. If our health care system became threatened or became less than what it is down south, thereís a good chance that people would look at that and view that as a disincentive to live in the north.
It is an incentive to live in the Yukon because we do have a good system and I hope that it stays. I hope this motion helps to ensure that there will be a continuing improvement in the health care system.
Ms. Duncan: I believe there are a couple of other members who wish to be heard as well.
The debate this afternoon in the time that we have left is one that could go on for some time. Health care, as every other speaker has noted before me, is near and dear to all of us. It is part of what makes us all Canadian and itís something that we all support. Our health care system is incredibly important to us.
I appreciate the Member for Pelly-Nisutlin and the Member for Whitehorse Centre sharing their personal sense of the health care system, and I would like to do the same.
As a lifelong Yukoner, I too have a deep attachment to our health care system. As many of the people in the House are aware, my father was a public servant in the health care system for many years. I believe he was the longest serving Deputy Minister of Health in the government. My children were born here and, because of a limit in our medical facilities, I have had the experience of having to travel outside of territory with one of my children for medical services. As every parent can understand, that is a difficult situation to be in, particularly when it comes to health.
As we are all ageing in this House as we speak, I also have ageing relatives, and chronic care and the care system is something that I deal with every day.
In my career as a politician, first in opposition, I would give a great deal of credit and pay tribute to my former colleague, Sue Edelman. Health was one of her critic areas, and Iíve listened with keen interest for several years as my colleague pursued such issues as children in care, fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol effects, now known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder; I listened to the days and days of debate on these issues, questions over the hospital. There are a number of facts I learned during interesting debate. One of the key defining moments is also that, as an opposition politician, you can make change. Through your questions of the government of the day, you can make change, you can effect change, and you can make a difference, which is the reason why all of us ran.
Former Minister of Health Sue Edelman did an excellent job in that portfolio, and I give her full credit. Iím also fortunate enough to have been a politician when the health care system went through very challenging times ó a "crisis" is what it has been referred to by many newspapers for many years. I was also fortunate enough to be in the stands, so to speak, when the vigorous discussion on Bill No. 11 in Alberta took place between Premier Klein, Premier Doer and former Premier Romanow of Saskatchewan. As Premier Doer pointed out, he went to chair a premiers conference and a hockey fight broke out, because thatís pretty much what it was.
Bill No. 11 was a fascinating debate, to hear all the different perspectives from all the different provinces and to listen to Premier Klein defend the legislation and challenge his colleagues, before they criticize, to read the bill.
Not only that, but they should take a good long look in their own backyard, and this is interesting because we talk about public-private health care and, when individuals take a really good hard look at the provinces and some of the private clinics that are operating and providing publicly funded services, what many premiers and former premiers were criticizing Premier Klein for were the same activities that were going on in those provinces.
So it presents real challenges to the Canada Health Act and, when we take a look at issues and look at what is really going on and how services are being delivered, it raises a number of questions. I think it is important in any debate on health care and our health care system to know what the Canada Health Act means and what it requires provinces to do. This has been the subject of a great deal of wrangling. What it means to us as individuals is that we are eligible for free health care, and it means that extra billing or extra service charges for hospitals are not allowed. It means that medically necessary services must be covered. It means that provincial health care plans have to be publicly administered and operated, and that is a key point, and that coverage has to be portable. They have to be able to go from New Brunswick or Nova Scotia to the Yukon and receive services.
There has been talk in the past, particularly during the most recent election campaign, of what multilevel health care and two-tier health care is. It is really important to Yukoners ó because health care is so important ó and so anyone or a political party making those statements has to be able to define what that is and what that means to Yukoners.
Does it mean that, for procedures in some provinces considered medically necessary and therefore covered, you would get those services, or in another province those services might not be considered medically necessary and the services arenít available unless you are prepared to pay? What does it mean? Itís important to have that discussion.
Some of the other points that I wish to raise with respect to the Canada Health Act and to the differences in discussion include that there are big differences among the provinces and there are key issues that have to be discussed. There are situations where Yukoners can find themselves at a clinic outside the territory, not paying for services because the Yukon considers them publicly funded and medically necessary, but their fellow Canadian is paying for their services. So there are some real issues that the Canada health care system has to ó it is, well, not necessarily in crisis but we need to talk about it clearly.
Politicians have done what politicians always seem to do ó particularly Canadians. We have studied this issue during my time as a politician. There are some common themes of recent health care reviews that have gone on ó the Fyke report, the Mazankowski report, just to name a couple of them, and the Romanow, Kirby studies. There are a number that have gone on, and there are some common themes that have come out of this general sense that, yes, we have to talk about this. During 2000, 1999, 1998 and going even further back, there was this growing realization that we had to talk about the differences in our health care systems and the crisis our health care system was in, so we did what politicians should do, and do traditionally. We took a good hard look at it and some of the common themes of these health care reviews are really important.
There are things like primary care reform. What is that? Well, itís efficient and effective use of health care services ó things like accountability. Almost all of the reports and all of the premiers ó almost all of them ó at recent health care conferences have said ó and Canada has also said ó that there has to be accountability. There is only one taxpayer in this country. And we have to account for how those dollars are spent, and whether or not they received the quality services they asked for, that they should receive, that are portable, that are publicly funded.
There is a whole myriad of discussion around preventive health, like diabetes, and preventive programs that have been instituted. There have been many discussions and references and studies to aboriginal health. Working with my colleagues at the 2001 premiers conference in Victoria, we had the issue of FASD funding put in the premiersí communiqué on health. The federal government responded with funding for FASD. Now, unfortunately, it was not available off-reserve and that was an unresolved issue, and itís one that I would encourage the current Finance minister to take up with his colleague in Ottawa.
Another key issue is health and human resources management ó the people whom the Member for Pelly-Nistulin tributed in his remarks on health care. The people are fundamental to our system and to our health care system. We need to, as Canadians, recognize the services provided by our nurses, our nurse practitioners, our doctors ó particularly our community health nurses, our nurse practitioners ó and we need to reach some agreement across the country. I mean, sharing experiences with my colleagues about some of the discussions Iíve had as a politician, I can recall, as I said, the hockey match on Bill No. 11. There have also been similar discussions around the poaching of nurses between jurisdictions.
We have to continue to work with our physicians, nurses and medical community. And we have to reach some common ground too. One of the discussions that has taken place in the past has to do with what the common ground is in the nursing field. What is the commonality? Do we need to have a bachelor of science nursing degree to do what was perhaps at one time a nurse orderly position? Can we increase the level of staffing by looking at whoís doing what in the medical field?
Some of the other common themes that have come out in the reviews and studies that have been done is the financing and sustainability. That has been the biggest issue at every single premiers conference since former Government Leader McDonald. Itís the key issue. And the very fact is that the federal government was paying 14 cents or 18 cents, and the provinces and territories were paying the rest. And with that withdrawal, if you will, or with that lack of funding, what was clear was that the current rates of spending were unsustainable.
I agree with the motion that the point is that health care costs in the Yukon have been increasing by $7 million to $10 million. Another commonality between the current Finance minister and me, I believe, is that itís difficult ó and itís the same between every Finance minister across the country ó to see the Health minister coming down the hallway because you know that, if itís $7 million to $10 million in the Yukon, itís $30 million, $40 million or $50 million in the provinces.
Education suffers, and the environment, and all the other things ó the public services that government provides ó theyíre not able to do because we are trying to keep up with these increasing costs of health care. Itís a health care system that we hold near and dear and we believe to be important. We want all Canadians ó we, at least on this side of the House and, I believe, although Iím not certain, the members opposite subscribe to the principles of the Canada Health Act.
I do note that the motion rejects notions that the Canadian Alliance has put forward about the Canada Health Act. It seems to reject private health care and I think thatís probably why other members feel that they are able to support it.
My points this afternoon are that I believe very strongly in Canadaís health care system and in the Yukonís health care system. I believe that the Yukon should subscribe and follow the five principles of the Canada Health Act. I recognize that there are differences across the country. I think we, as Canadians, have to talk about that. I think we need to take a look at some of the key points of the previous studies that have been done and look at our health care system, recognizing the challenges that face us today, like the increases in tele-health and tele-medicine and all of these other sorts of innovations that have occurred, along with the rising cost of drugs.
I can tell I am really scintillating the Member for Whitehorse Centre. He is following every word with bated breath.
My point in wrapping this up, Mr. Speaker, is that I agree with the motion and I support the motion. I do, however, have a factual difficulty with it in that the motion states that the Canada health and social transfer has been decreasing. However, if one examines all of the budget documents that have been tabled, the Canada health and social transfer amount listed in the line item in even the Yukon Partyís budget documents shows an increase. So it is there in black and white and has been tabled by the members opposite ó that that line item is increasing. So I would suggest a very friendly, cooperative amendment to ensure the accuracy of the motion. It is the only friendly amendment that I propose, and I would encourage members, because it has been stated publicly and in black and white differently in this House, that they consider this friendly amendment in the spirit in which it is offered.
Ms. Duncan: I move
THAT Motion No. 32 be amended by: deleting the words "while transfer payments from the Government of Canada have been decreasing" from clause 2.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Porter Creek South
THAT Motion No. 32 be amended by: deleting the words "while transfer payments from the Government of Canada have been decreasing" from clause 2.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, if I might speak to the amendment, my purpose in bringing forward the amendment ó and I support the motion ó is simply because, in the financial summaries of the documents that have been presented, Canada health and social transfer payments donít show a decrease from what has previously been received. Now, I understand projections far in the future are ó who knows? Yes, I agree, costs have been increasing. However, I donít agree that the CHST has been decreasing.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, on the amendment, there is a point that the third party is making here; however, I think if weíre going to do this in a manner that we actually get this entirely correct, we have to consider what has happened from 1995 to this point. Itís true, if you look at the budget projection right now, you will see CHST increases, and the member is correct about that. But none of these increases even come close to what our deficit spending is in health care. Thatís number one.
We on this side will work with the third party to get the amendment exact. I apologize to the House that the wording in our motion tabled should have been clearer. But what has really happened here is that, since the cuts of 1995 ó which, by the way, is what precipitated the crisis in health care ó billions of dollars were taken out of the system. Now, when the federal government dealt with the provinces, they dealt on a per capita level, and it works for the provinces because not only does per capita funding work for the provinces, but when the federal government wants to cut or claw back, on the reverse side, it works for the federal government. When it comes to the territories, it doesnít work. Not only does per capita funding not work for the territories, but when the government tries to claw back, it doesnít work for them because thereís no real net return.
So what the federal government did was to cut five percent from the base from the territories. That five-percent cut was our contribution for dealing with the deficit nationally, which we all know now ó is it three balanced budgets the federal government has had? The federal government has had surpluses, and there is a certain case to be made that every jurisdiction in this country ó provinces and territories ó contributed to that surplus that the federal government holds so dear today and, under the new health accord, is actually distributing more money back into the system.
But for the Yukon, what this means is that we donít have an increase, even though we show a nominal increase in projections. If we took all the monies and worked it back to the original cut, the Yukon today is approximately $150 million lower than it would have been if the five-percent cut had not taken place. So, there has actually been a decrease of monies to the Yukon, and that has led to the difficult situation we are in with health care with the deficit spending. Thatís the impetus ó along with some other reasons, like the formula, which simply does not work on a per capita basis for Yukon ó we took for the pan-northern approach in trying to address this issue: the shortfall plus the problems with per capita.
So, I would like to ó if weíre going to amend this thing, letís amend it and weíll agree ó if the member opposite wants to amend it to reflect that there are increases because of the formula, but that the overall situation for the Yukon is lower than we would have been if the cuts had not taken place.
So the motion itself is to move us beyond where weíve established ourselves in a short-term arrangement on the separate fund. What itís doing is committing, in conjunction with the Prime Ministerís commitment, to sit down and work out a process to address the inadequacies in per capita. Thatís whatís going to be beyond this short-term arrangement on the fund itself.
So I think itís important that we clearly state the situation that the Yukon is in. We are lower, but there are elements that reflect a nominal increase in CHST. It does not reflect the fact that the trajectory from 1995 to today has lowered the funding in the Yukon and resulted in what is $150 million ó and these are federal figures drawn right off the federal system by Finance. Itís $150 million that we would have had in the system. That equates to approximately $20 million to $22 million a year that has been lowered in transfer to the Yukon.
So I have no problem with the amendment whatsoever ó the member is correct ó but I think we should establish the fact that the reason we are going to work beyond with this motion in urging this House to deal with the federal government on this process is because we are dramatically short of money when it comes to the funding, which has accumulated since 1995, and we need to address the inadequacies in per capita.
With that, maybe the House leaders and the leader of the third party could sit down and talk about this. It would be a simple wording addition to the memberís amendment. We have no problem supporting the amendment, but we feel that itís necessary to include the fact that the Yukon is dramatically lower in funding than it should have had but it did not get, and that money is what contributed, along with other jurisdictions, to the surplus that Canada has today and the per capita inadequacies do not allow the Yukon to recoup, as the provinces have, a better share of what we contributed to the surplus, and we do not have the ability for equalization.
It should be noted that the Atlantic provinces, which also have problems with per capita ó under the new accord, the federal government has lifted the ceiling on equalization. So they are picking up considerably where we have to now go beyond the short-term fund and address the inadequacies, because we are ó if you do all the calculations and accounting ó $150 million below what we would have had, had the five-percent cut to the base not taken place in 1995.
Mr. Hardy: I have listened to the amendment and the points made by the leader of the third party and I have listened to the Premier and the points he made. In reading this, I donít see that, by removing the section after "increasing the annual rate of $7 million to $10 million", dropping everything from there, is not recognizing what the Premier is saying, because if you read the third and fourth, it does talk about the per capita funding. It does not address the specialized needs ó basically, the cost increase up here.
Number 4 addresses the recently negotiated health care.
Most importantly, in recognizing what the Premier is saying, and also recognizing what the leader of the opposition is saying about what is actually in the budget ó itís the ending.
As far as I can see, all the bases are covered. Itís a motion that doesnít have to get too specific because, of course, the danger in getting too specific is that, as you get more and more specific, you have to add more and more because itís almost like you canít stop. So, when you start to name this section or this area, then you have to add this section and this area, otherwise itís not complete any more.
Itís a general statement that does recognize the special needs of the north. The way I read it, it recognizes already the fact that the transfer payments havenít been keeping up with the costs up here, and there were, of course, the cutbacks in 1995 that, as we all know, the federal Liberals made that caused such a stress on the system.
So I have to agree with the leader of the third party that just dropping that probably keeps the integrity of the motion, still recognizes the concerns that the Premier has expressed, and from that I think we would be able to have a unanimous vote on this and go forward with it.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, in order to provide clarity to this issue, I believe we could just amend the amendment, and the amendment would be as follows.
THAT the amendment to Motion No. 32 be amended by adding after the words "clause 2" the following: "and substituting for them the following: Ďand CHST transfer payments from the Government of Canada were cut in 1995 and have since not been restored in totalí".
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Health and Social Services
THAT the amendment to Motion No. 32 be amended by adding after the words "clause 2" the following: "and substituting for them the following: Ďand CHST transfer payments from the Government of Canada were cut in 1995 and have since not been restored in totalí".
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, at issue here is a very important fact that the federal government reduced significantly the CHS transfer payments to Yukon back in 1995. They have not been restored in total and that is becoming quite a cost to our government, as it indeed was to previous governments. And what we are looking at is to provide clarity to this motion and to firmly lay the responsibility where it should rest on the shoulders of the federal government for not living up to their responsibilities under the CHST.
Mr. Speaker, there are penalties for non-compliance with the federal governmentís health transfer under the Canada Health Act. In order for the territory to receive money from Canada, we have to firmly abide by the five principles of the Canada Health Act.
Those five principles are clearly defined: comprehensiveness, universality, accessibility, portability and public administration. Our government is firmly committed to those five principles, but Canada has to live up to its obligation and transfer to the respective jurisdiction the necessary funding under the Canada Health Act, under the Canada health and social transfer.
So, Mr. Speaker, with that, I would ask the opposition to have a look at this subamendment. Iím sure they can agree that it brings clarity to this area and that we can bring it to a vote and send a very, very direct message to our federal government in Ottawa.
Ms. Duncan: The subamendment and the discussion by the Premier and Finance minister ó I certainly appreciate the point the Finance minister has made over and over again with respect to the five-percent cut to the base that occurred in 1995-96. Unfortunately, the Finance minister has not also shared with the members of this House the work that went gone on when he was not Finance minister and the resolutions to some of those discussions. And in discussing also what went on in Ottawa around the most recent health care discussions and the per capita funding ó everyone agrees that per capita funding does not work for the north. It doesnít work for the north of any of the provinces, like Saskatchewan and Manitoba. They understand this ó and premiers unanimously supported, prior to going into the discussion on the health care transfer, this issue of per capita.
What the Finance minister didnít talk about was the whole issue around the equalization. Every time health care funding has come up, the issue has been: put money back into health care and deal with the ceiling on equalization. And every time it came up, every time the Prime Minister agreed to deal with the ceiling on equalization, he said, when weíre fair to the provinces and deal with the equalization issue, we will deal with the territories, as well.
Now, because weíre different, our money is on a formula. We were always a bit out of those discussions. Our formula is a contract. Itís negotiated. We have started the negotiations for the next year, and our formula yields more money for the Yukon than what Prince Edward Island, for example, gets under equalization. If other provinces knew about our formula financing arrangements, and the full extent of them, there would be far more cries to Ottawa to deal with them. Now, there have been changes in Finance ministers and changes all over, but the fact is, in 1995-96, the Canada health and social transfer reductions that the other provinces faced was a 4.5 percent reduction in their CHST. Yukon had our base cut by five percent. That happened in 1995-96. I agree with the Finance minister on that point.
What happened since then is that the three territories ó generally led by the Yukon, because the Yukon had the most expertise in our Finance department ó would be arguing with Ottawa about this five-percent cut. Although Mr. Ostashek and Mr. McDonald registered that concern with Ottawa, they didnít actually meet with Finance Minister Paul Martin.
I met with Finance Minister Paul Martin and raised four issues. One was the cut to our base. Of the other three issues, one was undercounts and one was closed-year financing. These are financing in our formula where the feds were saying that the year was closed when it wasnít; we should have got more money. Undercounts ó Iím sure the members opposite are familiar with them because we are watching them very closely with this $15 million set aside.
I met with the Finance minister several times. He came here in March 2001. We resolved those outstanding issues. There was a $42-million payment to the Yukon, an ongoing increase to our formula of $6 million. The territories, thanks to our work, got $60 million extra. Nunavut ó I canít recall off the top of my head what the additional figure they got was. The Finance minister said at the time said, "Right, weíve resolved this. We have closed this issue." The issue that was not closed and has not been resolved is the national issue of raising the ceiling on equalization and hence what benefits we get in our formula, because if youíre going to give more money under equalization we should get a like benefit under our formula. Thatís the difference.
I canít support this subamendment, Mr. Speaker, because it doesnít tell the whole story. Yukon did receive additional money, as part of the resolution of this cut to our base among other issues ó but it was a resolution of the issue. You donít buy the car and agree on the price and then turn around in five or six years and say, "Well, the owners have changed and the car has changed and there is a newer model so weíre not paying that price any more." This issue was resolved.
The issue was resolved between Finance ministers collectively across the three territories and federally. That old problem was dealt with and it was reflected in an ongoing increase to our formula.
I do not disagree that Ottawa needs to spend more money and that that surplus should be coming back to provinces and territories for health care. I have argued that long and hard, in every forum I have been in, and I support the notion thatís put forward in this motion that there should be more money sent under whatever vehicle to the Yukon to support the health care system that we hold near and dear.
The only thing I did in my amendment was correct an inaccuracy in the motion that said that the transfers under CHST had decreased. That was inaccurate. The Finance minister even agreed. So why not, if the opposite side is truly interested in cooperation and collaboration and consensus building, accept the fact that thatís the only thing the amendment did.
I have difficulty with the subamendment, which, in my view, is also not accurate.
The spirit and intent of the motion was not changed by the amendment I brought forward.
If the members opposite are truly interested in cooperation and collaboration, I would ask that the Member for Klondike respect that there are differences of opinion on this particular issue, and withdraw his subamendment, accept the amendment I have put forward as it enhances the motion, and allow the motion to come for a vote. If the members truly believe in consensus and collaboration, I believe they would accept that argument.
Mr. Hardy: It seems like a very long day, Mr. Speaker. As I said earlier when I got up, I felt that the amendment to the motion was acceptable in dropping clause 2 ó the last section ó after the comma as, from what I can understand, it didnít change the intent, it didnít jeopardize the intent at all and it united everybody ó if there were some slight problems.
Unfortunately we have another one, now a subamendment. I guess this is a debate between the third party and the government because, the way I look at it, we are trying to get a collective voice on this motion, so I donít think we have to keep adding stuff to it, and even taking things out didnít matter too much to me as well.
Now I do remember the Premier stating that he agreed that it might not have been worded correctly or accurately enough in order to reflect what they were trying to say, and I believe thatís along the lines of what the Premier was saying. I acknowledge that and I agree with that; however, the subamendment may be going ó for me ó a bit too far in only one area and that is that we are starting to talk about statistics and we are starting to talk about numbers. I donít have those numbers before me or the facts in front of me or the knowledge enough to ask if we are not putting something else in that might be slightly inaccurate or not.
Now, from my perspective, Iíll say it here very clearly. I believe that the federal Liberal government attacked the health care system. I believe they undermined it. I believe they created the crisis that exists today, and I will never excuse what they did ó ever ó because of the hardship they put the Canadian people through and the hardship they put the other governments through in this country. There is no excuse for that, especially when itís couched in words that distort the facts in order for them to justify their actions. They did it to pay down a deficit and a debt they themselves created, and they also used EI. They did the exact same thing with EI ó and the people who were hurt were the people who can least afford to make the payments, the ones who can least afford to absorb this kind of direct attack.
If thatís the debate we want to have on the floor, Iím quite open to enter that debate. Iím happy to enter into that debate about what the federal Liberals have done to our health care system.
What we have here is a motion I feel is a good motion, one that was brought forward with honourable intentions, one that points out some of the existing problems ó maybe not all of them, and maybe not with all of them clarified, but Iím not sure if all motions should have absolutely everything listed because, if they do, one motion on health care could fill 20 pages, Iím sure. If we started doing it, it would never end, especially with what the federal Liberals have done.
But I want to focus upon what is trying to be achieved with this motion, and I see two things here. I see a pan-northern solution, which I wholeheartedly agree with, and I see a recognition that the per capita funding doesnít work and there has to be a better formula, a better system in place to address the northern concerns, not just presently but down the road.
As long as those two items are not being changed, I would favour just dropping what is after the comma to get unanimity in the House and leave the rest. If somebody wants to bring a motion forward specifically to talk about the subamendment that the government has brought forward, I would welcome that debate. I would love to see that debate on the floor. So thatís my position, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, to all members of the House, we donít want this to affect our ability to unanimously pass a motion. That is, exactly as the member of the third party has stated, a very important motion. It came to the floor of the Legislature seeking unanimous support. We are going to continue this work on a pan-northern approach in working on the inadequacies in per capita, and for the sake of keeping unanimity in the House, we can agree because thereís no point debating this issue over this technicality.
The facts are that, as the motion originally stated, it had nothing to do with CHST. It says the transfer payments have been decreasing, and they have been decreasing. The member for the third party is incorrect that the problem has been solved. In fact, a couple of short weeks ago, when I was in Ottawa, we, along with officials from our government and the federal government, were dealing with that very issue.
The federal governmentís own figures ó not ours, not anybody elseís, but federal Financeís own figures ó show clearly that, based on their calculations, we are $150 million lower now because of the cut in 1995 at five percent than we would have been. Those are their figures. That is the argument that we, along with Northwest Territories and Nunavut, used. And it was successful because the federal government could not disagree. The facts spoke for themselves. We can save that debate for another day.
We, on this side of the House, accept the amendment based on a technicality, even though the amendment does not really reflect what was being said in the motion. So, my point, on the record, is that it isnít the CHST weíre saying has been decreasing; the motion says itís the transfer payment. CHST are the monies that get transferred for health care specifically, education, social issues, all the rest of it.
A point of interest ó under the new accord, there will now be, in subsequent fiscal years ó and I know the member is bored because the member opposite from the third party knows everything about this ó but the CHST will be changed, and there will be a Canada health transfer that will be a line item in the federal budget. Those are all important issues.
The leader of the official opposition is entirely correct. In 1995, the cuts Iím speaking of were the federal governmentís attack on the health care system.
They used to pay 50 percent of health care costs in this country. Today they pay 14 percent. When we factor in the new accord of next year, they will not even have reached an 18-percent share of the health care costs that this country experiences province by province, territory by territory. That is the factual situation.
However, in order to move this along and vote on this motion, we accept the leader of the third partyís amendment as it was intended, even though it still is incorrect, because the motion itself showed that transfer payments were decreasing, and thatís the wording.
The mover will withdraw it or whatever we have to do. Weíll leave that to the House leader. We donít want to turn this into a non-productive debate over wording, which is what started it all.
So, Mr. Speaker, we would like to move ahead with this and, hopefully, we have put enough on the record so there is some clarity.
Point of order
Some Hon. Member:Point of order.
Speaker: The Minister of Health and Social Services on the point of order.
Unanimous consent re withdrawal of subamendment
Hon. Mr. Jenkins:Mr. Speaker, I am requesting unanimous consent to withdraw the subamendment motion to amend Motion No. 32.
Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: There is unanimous consent. The subamendment has been withdrawn and we return to debate on the amendment.
Amendment to Motion No. 32 agreed to
Speaker: Is there any debate on the main motion as amended? If the Member for Southern Lakes now speaks he will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?
Mr. Rouble: I would like to thank all the members for their comments and sharing their concerns, their stories, as the discussion was definitely from the heart. As well, I would like to applaud the opposition for their contributions and their recommendations for the amendment. I am encouraged by the actions in the House to work together to hopefully bring unanimous support to this.
Motion No. 32 agreed to as amended
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. government House leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair:I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. The business before the Committee will be Bill No. 26, the Environmental Assessment Act.
Do the members wish to take a 10 minute recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will now stand in recess for 10 minutes.
Chair: Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
Bill No. 26 ó Environmental Assessment Act ó continued
Chair:Continuing on with Bill No. 26, Environmental Assessment Act, and continuing on with clause-by-clause. We are on clause 20. Mr. Fentie, you have the floor.
On Clause 20 ó continued
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Chair, I think when we adjourned debate the other day, we were committing to the Member for Mount Lorne to provide further, detailed information in this particular area. The officials are working on compiling that now for the member. Considering that the question he is asking could have overlap from the federal system, it could have city involvement and all the rest, so weíre going to get the facts for the member and once they have been compiled weíll definitely be proceeding with handing it over or tabling a legislative return in the House for the Member for Mount Lorne.
Ms. Duncan: In further general debate on this clause ó the minister has stood on his feet and indicated that answers are forthcoming for the Member for Mount Lorne, and Iím certain the member is also going to provide me with those legislative returns fairly rapidly that heís asked for too. Itís not my intention to overtax staff; I just wanted that point.
I would just like to add the point for the record while we resume debate ó and Iím quite prepared to do so and willing to give expeditious passage to the clauses and the debate as we go through each clause ó that everyone in the House is aware that the opposition parties were not instructed to prepare for this debate this afternoon. We were advised we were doing debate only. So it is unfortunate that, while House leaders meet to resolve the expeditious business of the House, perhaps I could put in as eloquent a plea as I can manage to the Premier to please give us someone we can work with who perhaps has a little more time and is able to fully accommodate and work with the other House leaders. Itís a small request of the Premier ó please and thank you.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I will take the memberís suggestion under advisement, but I must put on the record, Mr. Chair, that working with the Member for Klondike is quite easy. Heís very capable of working with people, very personable, knows his stuff, has been a House leader not only in opposition but now on the government side, so he has the experience. And I would urge all House leaders to try and work cooperatively, and it is at that particular meeting every morning that we can certainly set the tone and the style of debate that will take place in this House in the afternoon.
So I take the memberís suggestion under advisement, considering the intent with which it was given, and, by the same token, would also suggest that all House leaders, from the government side to the official opposition to the third party, should endeavour to work as cooperatively as possible.
Clause 20 agreed to
On Clause 21
Clause 21 agreed to
On Clause 22
Clause 22 agreed to
On Clause 23
Clause 23 agreed to
On Clause 24
Mr. Cardiff: It appears that I may have jumped the gun a little bit yesterday. Iím not sure. I have a couple of questions around this and how it relates to clause 4. So, a project for which an environmental assessment may be required under clause 4.
Going back to my questions yesterday, asking and being told I would receive some information, Iím a little uncomfortable with clearing all of this before I get an opportunity to see the information, so what I have is a question about when the information will be available. Thatís for starters, I guess.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I am going to try and address the memberís discomfort. This is mirror legislation and we have no basic choice post-April 1, subsequent to full force and effect. There are other things we could do, of course, as the Yukon government.
We will endeavour to get the member the information as quickly as possible, but this is not going to affect, in any way, shape or form, the memberís ability to deal with his case file and work on behalf of his constituents. I think it is more important that we get all the information so there is a full understanding, but we canít ó if the member is intending that we do amendments to this bill, that is not something we can entertain at this time. We must mirror the federal legislation, put it into full force and effect; post-April 1, we take down these powers, and there are maybe things we can do at that date or subsequent to that date; but I want to assure the member that thereís nothing in here that will compromise his ability to deal with his casework and work on behalf of his constituents. We will get the information to the member as quickly as possible so that he is fully informed of the situation, and that should dramatically improve his ability to represent his constituents on this matter.
Mr. Cardiff: I guess the problem, as I see it, is that if we pass this piece of legislation before I see the information, then thereís no opportunity to address my constituentsí concerns. I do understand the need to have this in place prior to April 1, but I think thereís still time to get that information, I would hope, before this is a done deal.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Chair, Iím concerned about the memberís problem, and I want to again extend to the member that thereís nothing here thatís going to compromise his ability to deal with this issue on behalf of his constituents. Without going back to Ottawa, we canít do anything about this if thereís something in this act that is causing the issue that the member is trying to deal with. Itís probably not the act itself; itís more how things were done. Getting the information to the member is important but, still, we canít amend this here. If we want to change it, we have to go back to Ottawa. Everything has to change, because this has to be mirror legislation.
Officials will move quickly to get the information for the member but, by the same token, we must also act quickly to ensure that, April 1, this legislation and all the mirror legislation comes into full force and effect.
Chair: Is there any further debate on clause 24?
Clause 24 agreed to
On Clause 25
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I would just like to note, for the record, on clause 25 and clause 26, this is one of the few pieces of legislation where we, as legislators ó it specifically references the appointment of a mediator and, as such, sanctions alternative dispute resolution, using a mediator as opposed to going to the courts. Itís one of the few pieces of legislation I have ever seen where it specifically references that. I know thatís something that a number of Yukoners support ó alternative dispute resolution as opposed to going to the courts ó and I would just like to applaud it being in this legislation. I know itís mirror. Iíd like to encourage it to be in other legislation that comes before us as legislators.
Clause 25 agreed to
On Clause 26
Clause 26 agreed to
On Clause 27
Clause 27 agreed to
On Clause 28
Mr. Hardy: Could I just get a clarification or an explanation of whatís actually being said, most particularly in 28(2)? As I read it or as Iím trying to figure it out, it says no evidence or statements will be available to the public. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: This is quite wordy and probably is confusing, because it is to me, also, but the laymanís definition here would be that, whereas a government is compelled to provide, under ATIPP, information to the public, this particular body is not. Itís not a government so itís not compelled, through ATIPP, to provide documents to the public.
Mr. Hardy: I donít want to dwell on this too long, because I do have a problem with it, but I understand itís mirror legislation and the whole idea around this. Itís just a concern that no member of the public would be able to find out what was spoken during the proceedings and try to evaluate something that I consider is a public concern. Because it seems to say that, but like you said earlier, itís wordy and itís not clear the way I would like it.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I think itís also a safeguard so that statements made to the mediator cannot be admissible evidence in a court of law and are not public statements.
I donít think thereís anything here that is intended to keep anything secret from the public in regard to the environment or lands or anything else. Letís just say, for instance, that two people have a dispute about a land issue. They can go to mediation; they can work through the process with mediation without having to go public with their personal dispute. This is not something that would be, at least in my estimation, that relevant to the public. Itís between two parties.
Mr. Hardy: But it does deal with public property, and it does deal with public issues when you talk about the environment, and I understand what youíre saying, and I donít necessarily disagree with the right to privacy in that sense. Does that also relate to the summing up of the mediator and the final decision and how the mediator arrived at decisions, what they weighed and what they didnít?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: If we go to section 28(1), it says, "A mediator shall, at the conclusion of the mediation, prepare and submit a report to the minister and to the responsible authority." So, the report would be the mediatorís work complete and, if it goes to the minister, we could obviously table it in the Legislature, but it wouldnít have specific comments from people, to safeguard their privacy. So the mediatorís report would be public, but specific comments from people who provided information or were involved in the mediation would not be. Itís to safeguard, I think, the privacy of individuals who take it upon themselves to get involved and try to solve a problem through mediation.
Mr. Hardy: Yes, and as I said, I donít necessarily disagree with that. I guess thatís not the point Iím trying to make. As you know, ATIPP is onerous ó has become onerous ó and expensive. I donít know, as a concern ó if all the requests for anything like this would have to come through the Legislature to be tabled, that would be a concern for me. The general public may feel there is a vested interest in what happened and may want to look at the summation of the mediator ó not necessarily the comments made by individual parties. Thatís not what Iím asking about. But there is a summation of what happened and how the mediator arrived at their decision, so they could have some sense of comfort that the proceedings were done in a manner that they feel were balanced and justified. Thatís kind of where Iím going ó the opportunity ó that the public has access to that.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I can say, I think, in a very positive manner, that the report tabled would provide rationale, a clear scope of the issue and the mediatorís solutions or recommendations. It just wonít have in it specific evidence given by individuals, to protect their privacy. But the report will cover the necessary information that I think the member is worried about here. So the mediator will have to table a report thatís comprehensive and speaks to the issue and covers all the bases to ensure that the act is being applied fully as it is intended.
Ms. Duncan: If I could just add to this debate ó section 28(1) says, "A mediator shall Ö report to the minister and to the responsible authority." but there is no requirement for tabling in the House, which is the point that my colleague is making. So itís the "shall make it publicly available" clause thatís not in there. We canít amend this here and now, and I understand that.
My suggestion is that we record it, not only in our Hansard but in our collective memory so that, when the housekeeping amendments come forward ó as there undoubtedly will be housekeeping amendments ó that the memberís concern is recognized and that to "submit a report to the minister and to the responsible authority," we add "and it shall be tabled publicly." Itís the requirement to table publicly ó and I agree with the concern. Itís great to get it to the minister but average citizens shouldnít have to ATIPP it. So, we can deal with that if, in our housekeeping amendments, we just ó at some point in the future ó require that it be made publicly available.
Itís just a suggestion that we record, as a session and as legislators for the future, dealing with this legislation.
Clause 28 agreed to
On Clause 29
Clause 29 agreed to
On Clause 30
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, if I could just record for the record that clause 30 ó we should also put in, when we do the housekeeping amendments, the requirement under clause 30(d) to submit the report to the minister and the responsible authority and make it publicly available, however the legal drafts people deem how that should be worded, but that we include that with the review panel report as well.
Clause 30 agreed to
On Clause 31
Clause 31 agreed to
On Clause 32
Clause 32 agreed to
On Clause 33
Clause 33 agreed to
On Clause 34
Clause 34 agreed to
On Clause 35
Clause 35 agreed to
On Clause 36
Clause 36 agreed to
On Clause 37
Clause 37 agreed to
On Clause 38
Clause 38 agreed to
On Clause 39
Clause 39 agreed to
On Clause 40
Clause 40 agreed to
On Clause 41
Mr. Hardy: I just need clarification on this. Clause 41 has the one little section, and then you turn over and it is blank all the way through with writing on the federal Canadian Environmental Assessment Act on the right hand side. Does that mean all that has been omitted?
Weíre on page 30, "Deemed substitution", clause 41 ó when youíre just turning the pages. I just need some clarification that all the writing on the right hand side, and thereís nothing written on the other side ó itís page after page. I just want some clarification on whatís going on there.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: The member could discuss that particular area with the officials, but what it probably is is that there are a number of areas in the federal act that wouldnít apply here. Itís called the concordance, and those blank spaces may reflect areas within the federal act that wouldnít apply.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Yes, they did not have to be mirrored because they had no relevance to the Yukon.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Thatís right.
Mr. Hardy: I understand now. It doesnít apply, therefore itís empty. One of my biggest concerns was just a reference to Indians in the old act; thatís all.
Clause 41 agreed to
On Clause 42
Clause 42 agreed to
On Clause 43
Clause 43 agreed to
On Clause 44
Clause 44 agreed to
On Clause 45
Clause 45 agreed to
On Clause 46
Clause 46 agreed to
On Clause 47
Clause 47 agreed to
On Clause 48
Clause 48 agreed to
On Clause 49
Ms. Duncan: Clause 49 establishes the Yukon environmental assessment branch, and the minister has indicated that that will be established in the Executive Council Office. Does he know where the Water Boardís going yet?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Stay tuned, Mr. Chair.
Clause 49 agreed to
On Clause 50
Clause 50 agreed to
On Clause 51
Clause 51 agreed to
On Clause 52
Clause 52 agreed to
On Clause 53
Clause 53 agreed to
On Clause 54
Clause 54 agreed to
On Clause 55
Clause 55 agreed to
On Clause 56
Clause 56 agreed to
On Clause 57
Clause 57 agreed to
On Clause 58
Clause 58 agreed to
On Clause 59
Clause 59 agreed to
On Clause 60
Clause 60 agreed to
On Clause 61
Clause 61 agreed to
On Clause 62
Clause 62 agreed to
On Clause 63
Clause 63 agreed to
On Clause 64
Clause 64 agreed to
On Clause 65
Clause 65 agreed to
On Clause 66
Clause 66 agreed to
On Clause 67
Clause 67 agreed to
On Clause 68
Clause 68 agreed to
On Clause 69
Clause 69 agreed to
On Clause 70
Clause 70 agreed to
On Clause 71
Clause 71 agreed to
On Clause 72
Clause 72 agreed to
On Clause 73
Clause 73 agreed to
On Clause 74
Clause 74 agreed to
On Clause 75
Clause 75 agreed to
On Clause 76
Clause 76 agreed to
On Clause 77
Clause 77 agreed to
On Clause 78
Clause 78 agreed to
On Clause 79
Clause 79 agreed to
On Clause 80
Clause 80 agreed to
On Clause 81
Clause 81 agreed to
On Clause 82
Clause 82 agreed to
On Clause 83
Clause 83 agreed to
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, before the final debate on this is concluded, I would just like to express my thanks to the officials who have worked on this legislation through three different governments. They have done an admirable job on a very onerous project and I would just like to express my thanks.
Preamble agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I move that Bill No. 26, entitled Environmental Assessment Act, be reported out of Committee without amendment.
Chair: It has been moved by Mr. Fentie that Bill No. 26, entitled Environmental Assessment Act, be reported out of Committee without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Rouble:Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 26, entitled Environmental Assessment Act, and has directed me to report it without amendment.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Bill No. 5: Third Reading
Clerk:Third reading, Bill No. 5, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Fentie.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I move that Bill No. 5, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 2003-04, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Premier that Bill No. 5, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 2003-04, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 5 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 5 has passed this House.
Bill No. 22: Third Reading
Clerk:Third reading, Bill No. 22, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Fentie.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I move that Bill No. 22, entitled Placer Mining Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Premier that Bill No. 22, entitled Placer Mining Act, be now read a third time and pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 22 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 22 has passed this House.
Bill No. 23: Third Reading
Clerk:Third reading, Bill No. 23, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Fentie.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I move that Bill No. 23, entitled Quartz Mining Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Premier that Bill No. 23, entitled Quartz Mining Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 23 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 23 has passed this House.
Bill No. 24: Third Reading
Clerk:Third reading, Bill No. 24, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Fentie.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 24, entitled Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Premier that Bill No. 24, entitled Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 24 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 24 has passed this House.
Bill No. 25: Third Reading
Clerk:Third reading, Bill No. 25, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Fentie.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 25, entitled Waters Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Premier that Bill No. 25, entitled Waters Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 25 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 25 has passed this House.
Bill No. 26: Third Reading
Clerk:Third reading, Bill No. 26, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Fentie.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 26, entitled Environmental Assessment Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Premier that Bill No. 26, entitled Environmental Assessment Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 26 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 26 has passed this House.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. government House leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:51 p.m.
The following Document was filed March 19, 2003:
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, drilling in the Ė FY2004 budget: letter to United States Senators (dated March 18, 2003) signed by the hon. Dennis Fentie, Premier; Todd Hardy, New Democratic Party leader; and Pat Duncan, Liberal Party leader. (Peter)