Thursday, March 20, 2003 ó 1:00 p.m.
Speaker:I will now call the House to order, and we will proceed at this time with prayers.
Speaker:We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
In recognition of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Hon. Mr. Edzerza:Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to pay tribute to the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and I would like to have the House help me to acknowledge members in the gallery from the Yukon Human Rights Commission. We have Mary Kane, who is the chair, and with Mary are some of her students from the First Nation access program. We have Lillian Nakamura Maguire, public educator from the Yukon Human Rights Commission, Lynn Pigage, office administrator, Bruce Whittington, investigator, and Anne-Marie Phillips, executive director. Welcome.
Friday, March 21, is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was set to mark the massacre by police of 70 peaceful demonstrators in Sharpeville, South Africa, in 1960. In 1966, the United Nations marked this tragedy by declaring March 21 the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
What is racism? Racism is the belief that one ethnic group, race or religion is superior to others and that they are not worthy of due respect or recognition. As a result, individuals become targets of racially aggressive acts based solely on the colour of their skin or their cultural background. Racial discrimination can enter into all aspects of our lives and can be both subtle and obvious.
We see racism every day, ranging from unfair reporting in the media, jokes and name-calling, to discrimination in the workforce and hate crimes.
Sadly, racism exists in Canada and even here in the Yukon. Instead of celebrating our cultural and ethnic diversity, some still choose to degrade and discriminate against their fellow citizens. Yukon society must celebrate and enhance its diversity. We must embrace our differences and accept the viewpoints of others. Acceptance and tolerance will make our society stronger and our homes more peaceful and productive. Each of us must be inspired to take action against racial discrimination and intolerance every day.
I encourage all members of this House and indeed all Yukoners to take part in the various activities planned for the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination here in the Yukon. Together we can eliminate racial discrimination.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mrs. Peter: I am pleased to also tribute the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on behalf of the official opposition.
In 1966, the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed March 21 as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. That day was chosen to remember the deaths of nearly 70 people killed by police during a peaceful demonstration against apartheid in Sharpeville, South Africa, in 1960.
Since 1989, in Canada, the federal Department of Canadian Heritage has conducted a campaign they call "Racism ó Stop It!". It is geared to engage youth in the fight against racism, and today I want to pay tribute to the youth across Canada who have worked in their schools, colleges and communities to help eliminate racism.
Youth are exposed to racism in their daily lives more than any other sector of society. We only have to think about the cases of bullying in schools, but young people are also a great resource in the struggle against racial discrimination. If youth learn to respect our diverse multicultural population early, we have gone a long way to a better future for all of us.
The youth of our First Nations in the Yukon hold a great potential for positive change. Most First Nation administrations recognize this and have youth representation on their councils. The preservation of the environment, the traditional knowledge and cultural heritage of aboriginal languages are all aspects of our lives we trust our youth to protect but, more importantly, we must assist our youth of today to take action in the fight against racism. Indigenous peoples around the world remain subject to high numbers of incidents of racism and intolerance.
This is unfortunately true in Canada and in our north, as much as anywhere else. With First Nationsí unique spirituality, the vision that we have and sense of community, our youth can prove to be in the forefront of the fight to eliminate racial discrimination.
Racism is a global issue. It affects all people. I look forward to a time when we will have no racism in our world.
Ms. Duncan: I rise to pay tribute to March 21, the internationally recognized day for the elimination of racial discrimination.
George Bernard Shaw said that liberty means responsibility. I take that to mean our freedoms mean responsibility. In Canada, where we are free to say, "I will not accept that racist joke, the sexist remark, the bullying behaviour," we need to be responsible.
As individuals we need to accept that our freedoms also give us the responsibility to take a stand and say, "No, I will not accept; I will not condone." In Yukon, I urge all Yukoners to participate in the events to observe this international day. Let us, on March 21 and every day, take responsibility for our freedoms and take a stand against racism, sexism and bullying. Be the one to recognize that remarks are inappropriate, that jokes are not funny and, in your way, each day, bring an end to racism in our society.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Introduction of visitors.
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Speaker:Under tabling returns and documents, I have for tabling the Annual Report of the Yukon Human Rights Commission for the year ending March 31, 2002.
Are there any further returns or documents for tabling?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I have for tabling the Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board 2001 annual report and audited financial statements.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I have for tabling the Yukon College Annual Report, 2001-02.
I also have for tabling a legislative return for the leader of the official opposition.
Hon. Mr. Hart: I have for tabling the Yukon Housing Corporation Annual Report dated March 31, 2002.
Mr. Cardiff: I have for tabling a non-conforming petition containing 490 signatures of Yukoners opposed to the Whitehorse Copper land development and a brief statement of their concerns.
Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Rouble:I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that
(1) the economy of the Yukon is highly dependent upon natural resources and tourism;
(2) getting resources to market has in the past been most efficiently achieved through the use of the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway with port and tidewater access at Skagway, Alaska; and
(3) tourism travel into Yukon along this route has increased significantly for many years; and
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to work cooperatively with the Carcross-Tagish First Nation, the State of Alaska, the Province of British Columbia, the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway and communities along the route to preserve the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway right-of-way as an access corridor for Yukon.
Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?
Mr. McRobb: Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that
(1) as a quasi-judicial tribunal, the Yukon Territory Water Board must be independent from political or governmental influence and control;
(2) a similar type of independent tribunal, the Yukon Utilities Board, is housed within the Yukon governmentís Department of Justice and operates successfully; and
THAT this House urges the Yukon government to house the Yukon Territory Water Board within the Department of Justice after April 1, 2003, to avoid any appearance of political influence by housing it under the Executive Council Office or any line department, such as Environment or Energy, Mines and Resources.
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) the Yukon Party promised in its election platform to extend legal aid coverage for persons seeking permanent child custody orders;
(2) the Yukon Party government has instead cut funding to legal aid by $100,000, making it impossible for legal aid to carry out these additional responsibilities; and
(3) these funding cuts will mean fewer services will be available to women and children; and
THAT this House urges the Minister of Justice to restore funding to legal aid and to provide additional funding to meet the Yukon Party campaign commitment of extending legal aid coverage for persons seeking permanent child custody orders.
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) the Yukon Party made a public commitment in their campaign platform to reinstate the Womenís Directorate;
(2) the Yukon Party made a public commitment in their response to the Public Service Alliance of Canadaís election questionnaire to reinstate the Womenís Directorate to its previous stand-alone position;
(3) the now Premier, when he was in opposition, told this Legislature that if the Womenís Directorate reported to the governmentís Executive Council Office, it would lose its autonomy and that such a reporting relationship would negatively affect its ability to represent womenís issues; and
(4) on March 18, 2003, the Yukon Party government passed an order-in-council that creates a reporting relationship where the Womenís Directorate reports to the Deputy Minister of the Executive Council Office;
THEREFORE this House urges the Yukon Party government to admit to Yukoners that it has not kept its campaign commitment to set up a separate, stand-alone Womenís Directorate complete with a deputy minister.
Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?
Mr. Fairclough: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Yukon should provide increased financial assistance, over and above the $30 a day that is currently provided, to cover the room and board and other costs for expectant mothers from rural Yukon who must come to Whitehorse for the birth of their children.
Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Yukon should work with communities to develop and implement a standardized water testing program to ensure that potable water supply is safe in the Yukon.
Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?
Are there any statements by ministers?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Dawson City womenís shelter funding
Mr. Hardy:This morning, I attended a news conference held by the Yukon womenís transition home, better known as Kausheeís Place. The board and staff of this non-profit organization were speaking in solidarity with their colleagues at the Dawson City womenís shelter about the impacts of a unilateral raid by the Health and Social Services minister on the Dawson shelterís budget.
Yesterday the minister tried to justify his actions, which he took without any consultation with the people involved other than one board member of the Dawson shelter, but he failed, Mr. Speaker.
Will the minister undo the damage he has done to women and children in his own community and immediately reverse his $50,000 raid on the Dawson City womenís shelter budget?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to meeting the needs of womenís shelters across the Yukon. To that end, Kausheeís Place, where the demand currently exists, has had an increase from $582,000 of funding last year to $632,000 this year. Thatís a $50,000 increase for Kausheeís Place.
On the other hand, the shelter in Dawson is receiving $142,000. The demand is not on the shelter in Dawson. Thatís the bottom line, and our government must address the need where the need exists. We have done that and we will continue to do that and address the requirements of womenís shelters across the Yukon.
Mr. Hardy: The minister and the Premier were both invited to this news conference but they didnít attend at all, so maybe that is indicative of their interest in what the people of these shelters have to say.
This minister is starting to remind me of one of his predecessors, Mr. Phelps, whose unilateral actions put the future of Kausheeís Place in jeopardy many years ago, back when the Yukon Party was in power before. Some people at that time said that that attitude is father-knows-best and is exactly why women need organizations like Kausheeís Place, the Victoria Faulkner Womenís Centre and the Womenís Directorate.
Can the minister explain how he can ensure the safety of women in Dawson who are fleeing abusive situations by putting them in hotel rooms instead of a secure facility where their confidentiality is protected and where there are trained and supportive women who understand their needs?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Our government is in no position to move women in abusive relationships into hotel rooms, nor will we.
Our commitments are to the shelters themselves. Our funding for Kausheeís Place this year has been increased by $50,000. The demand for shelter requests in Dawson City are at an all-time low, and the reduction there was for double staffing in the evenings and the afternoons. There is still a $142,000 budget envelope in which to operate the facility and it is a significant amount of money, as is the $632,000 for Kausheeís Place. And it is not our governmentís position to tell the womenís shelters how to run. They are best and most able to run those facilities themselves.
Mr. Hardy: When the minister across the way makes a cut to a shelter, he is telling them exactly how they will be able to run because, without funding, they will not be able to do the programs that they want and need for the people.
For the sake of saving a few bucks, the minister sees nothing wrong with expecting a woman who is going through a crisis, often with children, to just pack up her kids, hop on a bus to Whitehorse and show up at the doors of Kausheeís Place. What about her job? What about her kidsí schooling? What about her family and friends and other supportive people in her community? What about the fact that Kausheeís Place may not be able to take them in because itís already operating at capacity? $50,000 is not addressing that.
Once again, will the minister honour the commitment his party made at election time and give back the money to the Dawson womenís shelter that it needs to fulfill its mandate?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Our government is committed to spending the same amount of money for womenís shelters across the Yukon as has been spent previously. We have had to move the money around to meet the demands where the demands exist.
In the $142,000 that is going to the Dawson shelter, there are ample funds to address the demands on the situation. Itís not the government that dictates where women in abusive relationships move to. They select and make that decision on their own. In many cases, they are choosing to leave the smaller communities and seek program assistance and help in a larger centre. Thatís whatís happening and thatís what is driving the demand in Whitehorse vis-à-vis the shelters in my community.
Question re: Dawson City womenís shelter funding
Mr. Fairclough:My question is for the Minister of Health and Social Services. The Yukon Party platform made a commitment to continue secure funding for Yukon transition homes and safe houses so that individuals have access to a safe place to go. But now the minister has cut $50,000 from the Dawson City womenís shelter without any consultation at all. Thatís a quarter of their budget gone with a stroke of the ministerís pen.
I know that the minister is going to say that there is a $50,000 increase at Kausheeís Place. That was there last year, too. He broke a contract that was supposed to run for another year.
Why did the minister rip up this contract and try to force a unilateral change in the shelterís mandate without any prior discussion with the shelterís board?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Speaker, the member opposite, having been in government, knows full well that any contract that the government enters into over a multi-year is subject to the approval of the Legislature. The member opposite knows that full well. So there has been no contract torn up whatsoever. Our commitment to the Dawson City womenís shelter remains solid at $142,000, and our government is addressing the needs for womenís shelters across the entire Yukon.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, the minister did break a contract. Itís a financial commitment by this government, and they failed to fulfill it. The minister said that thereís more need in Kausheeís Place here in Whitehorse, and instead of finding new funding to make his election commitments, heís willing to take money out of one pot and put it into another.
Mr. Speaker, the government has a contract with the Dawson City womenís shelter, and this minister just ripped it up. Is this how we expect the Yukon Party to operate? How many other contracts with non-profit organizations has this minister already broken and how many is he planning to break?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, the member oppositeís understanding of the issue is not what it should be, given his time in government. Now, Mr. Speaker, womenís issues across the territory are treated. Weíre not moving money from one pot to the other; itís the same area: womenís shelters. And yes, money has been moved where a demand did not exist to a place where a demand existed. And we are addressing the needs identified ó population is reducing, demands go up in some ways and go down in others. Where the demand increases, our government will address those demand increases.
Mr. Fairclough: Thereís nothing wrong with putting additional dollars into Kausheeís Place. Thatís what governments should do, but they should not rip up agreements with other places and thatís what this minister has done.
It seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that the minister knows it all. Heís following his partyís direction in eliminating positions and services where he thinks thereís duplication or where he doesnít see a need for it ó where specifically he doesnít see a need for it. In the meantime, people are losing their jobs because of this minister; people are losing services because of this minister. So much for his partyís platform ó itís gone; itís dead; this minister has ripped it up, just like he ripped up the contract with the Dawson City womenís shelter.
So Iím offering the minister another chance to do the right thing. Will he now agree to meet with the Dawson City Womenís Shelter Society and give his guarantee that their funding agreement will be honoured in full?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Our commitment to womenís shelters is across the Yukon, and we will meet the demands where the demands exist. If thereís an increased demand from the shelter in Dawson City, Mr. Speaker, thereís a commitment by our government to meet that increased demand, but the demand increases are here in Whitehorse at Kausheeís, and our government has and will meet the demand here, and it has done so. There has been a $50,000 increase in funding to Kausheeís from last year to this year, so that is our commitment. It is being met and honoured, and our commitments are well respected.
Question re: Health and Social Services minister, resignation call
Ms. Duncan:My question today is for the Premier. The Minister of Health has broken the Yukon Party commitment to ensure government spending on education, justice, and health and social services is maintained by arbitrarily changing funding agreements with non-government organizations without consultation or advance notice.
The minister has shown a complete inability to work with seniors, as demonstrated by his decisions around Macaulay Lodge. The minister has cut jobs in the Department of Health and Social Services and then suggested there have been no job cuts. The minister, to his credit, has lived up to the Yukon Party tradition of reducing funding to transition homes.
Mr. Speaker, that flies in the face of the Premierís suggestion that this is a new Yukon Party.
All these decisions add up to one thing: the Minister of Health and Social Services just isnít up to the job. Will the Premier do the right thing and ask him to resign?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Letís see, three months into a mandate and the third party is already asking for resignations. I guess it is evident that the third party would like to get back to this position on this side of the House by simply having us resign. That is simply not the case and I would urge the member of the third party to not go over the top on issues in their zeal to paint the perception of having this government discredited when all that has been put on the floor of this Legislature by that member just now is incorrect. None of these things are happening. We have maintained our commitment to womenís shelters across this territory. The funding for the Dawson City shelter is ample funding for the demand and need there. Women in Dawson City will be taken care of. Our government, if there is a demonstrated need beyond where the Dawson City shelter is at today, will act decisively and positively on behalf of women in this territory ó make no mistake about it.
Ms. Duncan: I am so glad that the Premier made reference to the three months. In the public and the private sector, there is often a three-month, or a six-month, probationary period into a job. Well, quite clearly the minister has failed in his probationary period. The Minister of Health has betrayed the elderly, abandoned a Yukon Party commitment to children and the day care providers that care for them and now is carelessly risking the safety plans of women and children in Dawson by cutting funding to the womenís shelter. This is on top of his first decision as Health minister to try and force a group of seniors out of their homes in the middle of a Yukon winter. It is clear to all Yukoners that the Health minister is simply not up to the job. Will the Premier demonstrate some leadership and remove the minister from the Health portfolio before he causes more hardship for seniors, women and children in this territory?
Speaker:Order please. Before the Premier answers this question, the Chair is not entirely comfortable with the terminology that weíre moving into. Iíve heard "over the top", indicating that maybe there is an exaggeration. I have heard "betrayal". I would just ask the members to tighten their language up a little.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: There is a responsibility on all of us in this House to provide the correct information, and I would urge the third party to focus in on that responsibility. I will do no such thing, in my capacity as Premier, as fire the Minister of Health and Social Services. Not at all, Mr. Speaker. This portfolio is the most difficult portfolio in government and the Member for Klondike has taken on a tremendous challenge.
The things that the Member for Klondike is being accused of and the suggestions coming from that side of the House are simply unfair and incorrect, and this Member for Klondike, in his capacity as Minister of Health and Social Services, is doing an admirable job. He is taking on a difficult task. He is only three months into that job. To date, I can tell you that Iím proud ó proud ó of the way this minister has handled his position and I support him fully.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, just because itís shouted doesnít make it any more correct. The fact is, the Premier just stood on his feet and said he would do no such thing as demonstrate the leadership thatís required. The fact is, in three short months on the job, the Minister of Health has arbitrarily changed a funding agreement with the Dawson womenís shelter. He has fired the most qualified director of alcohol and drug services in western Canada, breaking a commitment to combat alcohol and drug addictions. The fact is the Minister of Health has failed to address the staffing crisis facing social workers who deal with Yukon families and children who are in crisis. The minister has, as a fact, cut funding to the Whitehorse Hospital, and has, as a fact, cut funding to the health investment fund.
While governments across Canada are increasing funding to health, the minister is single-handedly destroying a system Yukoners hold most dear.
Will the Premier demonstrate leadership on this particular issue and demand the resignation of the Minister of Health who simply is not up to the job?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Unfortunately, the member opposite is incorrect. The minister is up to the job. The member opposite made reference to the drug and alcohol secretariat. Well, Iíll put on the record the facts.
This secretariat created by the former Liberal government had already spent over $1 million and was looking for more, to the tune of close to $3 million of expenditure ó not one program delivered in the context of helping people who suffer from drug and alcohol abuse. We are not building more bureaucracy; we are ensuring that what we do in program delivery reaches those who need it.
When it comes to the Dawson City womenís shelter, there is ample funding to address the demand of women in Dawson City. There was a demand increase in Kausheeís Place in Whitehorse. We acted and met that demand with an increase of funding.
The seniors have not moved from Macaulay Lodge and are not going to at this point in time; thereís no reason to. This minister, in a very difficult portfolio, is doing an admirable job, and he will continue to do that admirable job in the Department of Health and Social Services.
Question re: Destruction Bay breakwater
Mr. McRobb:I have another question for the Minister of Infrastructure about how this Yukon Party government is failing to live up to its responsibility to the people of Destruction Bay so their community breakwater project can be completed.
As the record indicates, the Yukon government has responsibility for this project but is now running and hiding. So far, the minister has been swimming around his responsibility on this issue and the breakwater. None of the six questions I have asked to date on this issue have been answered, so I will try again, Mr. Speaker, by giving him full opportunity to explain.
Will this minister, who is responsible for the rural roads upgrading program that funded and oversaw this project, now tell us his intentions with respect to the breakwater?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Well, Iíd like to offer the member opposite more information but we are ó I donít know what he is trying to get at, but is he trying to get us to break the Department of Fisheries and Oceans requirements? Is he trying to get us to not abide by the rules of the environment for that particular area?
I can tell you that the department has provided the association with some program for mitigation for the program to meet the Department of Fisheries and Oceans requirements, and it has provided some money to commence the work on the job.
Now, that is the requirement of the environment ó a Department of Fisheries and Oceans requirement. We are doing what was required of us. Is he not asking us that? We are doing that. We are meeting the requirements of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and we will be carrying forward with that particular issue.
Mr. McRobb: Unfortunately, the minister has failed to provide this House with any idea of what he intends to do with respect to this project. Him asking me questions does not provide us with the information we seek.
Now, instead of making best efforts to complete the project, this government seems intent on literally trashing all the work that has been done. It doesnít bother the Yukon Party to spend more money to trash it, but where is it compunction to do the right thing for Yukon taxpayers and the community by making best efforts to complete it?
Yesterday the minister attacked people in the community who applied for the project. How magnanimous. But the minister failed to mention the critical point that his officials, at a public meeting I happened to attend last July 5, took the lead on the project and committed to make best efforts to overcome any challenges and complete it.
Speaker: Order please. Would the member ask the question please.
Mr. McRobb: Can the minister explain for us today why he instructed his officials otherwise?
Hon. Mr. Hart: I reiterate that the department has provided some assistance to the association. We are working with it, and we helped in preparing for the mitigation plan for the breakwater plant and we are continuing to do so.
Mr. McRobb: Well again, no answer. Even though I have now spent eight questions in this House on this matter, we still donít know where the minister stands.
I want to return to the point of government responsibility for this project. The people who applied to his department for the project funds that were granted are continuing to live in fear of being charged under the Fisheries Act and in violation of the water licence from the Yukon Territory Water Board because the government has left them high and dry.
Something else the minister hasnít fessed up to is the important point that his officials not only oversee these types of projects but inspect them as progress is being made. So instead of blaming the community, when will this minister live up to his responsibility to see this project through to completion?
Hon. Mr. Hart: We are not blaming the community, as the member opposite has mentioned. We have indicated that there was some work that was done incorrectly. You know, that is the issue at hand.
My point is that we are working with them. We have provided a mitigation program for the reneging of the breakwater. I mean, they have the seepage of the material going into the fish habitat and that is a big issue. We are going to try and fix that particular aspect. We are working with them and we will get to it.
Question re: Old Crow airport terminal
Mrs. Peter:My question today is for the Minister of Highways and Public Works. Mr. Speaker, for years now, the people of Old Crow have been waiting patiently to hear when a new airport terminal may be a reality. In the year 2000, the New Democratic Party government had the project ready to go forward. The Liberal government placed the project in its long-term plans, but I do not see the Old Crow airport terminal building in this budget thatís before us.
Will the minister please tell the people of Old Crow what his plans are for an airport terminal building in our community?
Hon. Mr. Hart: We have a protocol with the Vuntut Gwitchin working on the riverbank for them, and we are putting $500,000 in our budget line to assist them in this endeavour.
Mrs. Peter: I believe the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation government has a good government-to-government relationship with this government. We have signed an accord and several meetings took place with our leadership in Old Crow, and also in Whitehorse. The Old Crow airport terminal is one of many priorities that we have.
Will the minister start consulting with the people of Old Crow to plan for this terminal so it can be part of an airport fix-up project?
Hon. Mr. Hart: For the member opposite, yes, we will look into it for her, and weíll look into getting into the planning stage. Weíll work on it.
Mrs. Peter: I appreciate that answer from the minister. Next year, the community is putting in a winter road to help move a number of construction projects forward. As the minister knows of this plan, will the minister at least agree to do everything he can to get the funding for an airport terminal into this governmentís next capital budget?
Hon. Mr. Hart: For the member opposite, I will do what I can to achieve that particular issue.
Question re: Security in public buildings
Mr. Cardiff:My question is for the Minister of Highways and Public Works as well.
Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday the minister said the reduction by 56 hours in the security provided in government buildings would not affect permanent staff. The minister failed, however, to say how it might affect the security of these buildings and the staff who are often working into the late hours of the night.
Will the minister provide assurance that employees working in government buildings will be working in a safe and secure workplace?
Hon. Mr. Hart: To the member opposite, to the best of our ability, we will achieve that.
Mr. Cardiff: Well, Mr. Speaker, after April 1, when federal employees come over, there will probably be several more buildings that will require security. How does the minister expect to provide a secure and safe workplace for these employees when the overall security budget is being reduced?
Hon. Mr. Hart: After April 1, as part of the devolution process, we will be obtaining security responsibilities for several more buildings, as the member opposite has indicated.
We will be providing security for these buildings with our own security people instead of using the contract personnel that DIAND presently uses.
Mr. Cardiff: Mr. Speaker, often there are people working in government offices late at night. Often they are alone and often they are women. Does the minister not realize that by reducing the hours for security, he is risking the security not only of the buildings but of the employees who work in them?
Hon. Mr. Hart: We will be providing security to the best of our ability in all the buildings that we administer in the Yukon, both now and after devolution.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Mr. Hart:Mr. Speaker, Iíd like to introduce to the House Glen Everitt and Jim Slater from the Association of Yukon Communities.
Speaker: We are now prepared to receive the Commissioner, in his capacity as Lieutenant Governor, to give assent to the bills which have passed this House.
Commissioner enters the Chamber, announced by the Sergeant-at-Arms
ASSENT TO BILLS
Commissioner:Please be seated.
Speaker: Mr. Commissioner, this Assembly has, at its present session, passed certain bills to which, in the name and on behalf of the Assembly, I respectfully request your assent.
Clerk: Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 2003-04; Placer Mining Act; Quartz Mining Act; Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act; Waters Act; Environmental Assessment Act.
Commissioner: I hereby assent to the bills as enumerated by the Clerk.
Just before I rise here, let me say that I am very happy to be here today, taking our first step toward our next constitutional development. What is it, 11 days and counting, Mr. Speaker, until April 1?
Commissioner leaves the Chamber
Speaker: I will now call this House to order.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Speaker:We will proceed to Government Bills.
Bill No. 33: Second Reading
Clerk:Second reading, Bill No. 33, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Lang.
Hon. Mr. Lang: I move that Bill No. 33, entitled Act to Amend the Forest Protection Act, be now read a second time.
Deputy Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources that Bill No. 33, entitled Act to Amend the Forest Protection Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Lang: It is my pleasure to present this bill, Act to Amend the Forest Protection Act, for the second reading. I bring this bill forward today as Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources because our department, upon devolution, will have the responsibilities for the mirrored Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act and its regulations, including the forest protection regulation.
As a result of devolution, the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources will be responsible for the management of Yukonís forest resources while the Department of Community Services will be responsible for fire suppression, as of April 1 of this year.
The federal minister has managed the suppression of fire and insect and disease control on Crown lands in the Yukon under the forest protection regulation, pursuant to the Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act. However, Yukon also has a forest protection act and regulations that deal with the suppression of fire and insect and disease control on all territorial lands in the Yukon.
As a result, after devolution we will be in a position in which we have two different regimes being applied to fire suppression and insect and disease control on the public lands transferred to the Yukon.
In addition, there a number of inconsistencies between Yukonís Forest Protection Act and the federal forest protection regulations. We have to resolve these inconsistencies in order to ensure that fire, insect and disease control legislation can be applied to all public lands after devolution in a manner consistent with how it has been applied to public lands prior to devolution.
The amendment to the Forest Protection Act that is proposed today will enable the Commissioner in Executive Council to mirror the federal regulations in a manner that ensures a single regime is applied across the Yukon for fire suppression and insect and disease control. It ensures that fire suppression and insect and disease control can be carried out throughout Yukon in exactly the same manner as existed prior to devolution.
I recognize that this amendment is a short-term solution designed to meet our devolution commitments while ensuring the smooth operation of fire suppression for the coming season. By next fall, Mr. Speaker, we intend to begin the work that is required to amalgamate the federal forest protection regulation and the Yukon Forest Protection Act in a single act and associate regulations.
In the long-term, Mr. Speaker, we are committed to developing a new forest act for Yukon and have already begun the policy discussions with First Nations to move this forward. The forest act will ensure that Yukonís forest resources are managed in a way that balances a use of the forest for economic, social and cultural purposes with the need to protect the long-term health of our forest ecosystems. Ultimately the process that leads to a new forest act will also resolve the fate of the Forest Protection Act.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. McRobb: Iím very pleased to speak in favour of this act today. Itís something that we in the official opposition will be totally in support of.
Itís about time the Yukon government gained some responsibility for the administration of our forest resources. We all know the difficulties that have taken place over the years, and Yukoners look forward to future opportunities where those difficulties can be overcome and we can work for the benefit of all our people and our forest resources.
Itís also about time that we have streamlined the authorities surrounding public lands to overcome some of the red tape involved there in dealing with Ottawaís rules versus our own set of rules here in the territory, Mr. Speaker.
Similarly, itís very important to have a single regime for fire suppression and insect control, so we look forward to next fall when weíll have the opportunity to explore the entire act and deal with these issues in greater detail at that time.
Once again, we are in support of this act. Thank you.
Ms. Duncan: I rise on behalf of the Yukon Liberal Party and on behalf of the constituents of Porter Creek South to express my support for what is, in fact, an additional piece of mirror legislation.
What is coming to light is that the more governments work with the mirror legislation, the more of these sorts of housekeeping amendments and minor legislative changes will have to come before this House, so I want to ensure that my support for this legislation and the assurance that we have good legislation in the Yukon are on the record.
I recognize also that weíre going to be seeing more and more of it and encourage the government to work collaboratively, as they committed to doing, with both opposition parties and express support to the minister responsible for this particular legislation and the forthcoming First Nation Indemnification (Fire Management) Act, which is similar in nature. I pledge to the members opposite my support for this legislation.
Deputy Speaker: If the member now speaks, he will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Lang: Mr. Speaker, I thank the opposition and the third party for their support. I look forward to the third reading, and we can get on with this bill.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 33 agreed to
Bill No. 34: Second Reading
Clerk:Second reading, Bill No. 34, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Hart.
Hon. Mr. Hart: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 34, entitled Act to Amend the Municipal Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Community Services that Bill No. 34, entitled Act to Amend the Municipal Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Hart: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the second reading of the Act to Amend the Municipal Act. This bill has the purpose of improving and further refining the Municipal Act, which is of fundamental importance to all Yukon municipalities. As the members of this House may know, the Municipal Act is a constitution for the Yukon municipalities. Almost everything that municipalities do has its basis in this legislation. The Municipal Act is complex, comprehensive and is one of the most substantial pieces of legislation ever passed by this Assembly. Yukoners can take pride in this legislation that governs our local order of government. It was developed in full partnership between Yukon municipalities and the Government of the Yukon.
It has been recognized by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and other jurisdictions for its progressive and innovative provisions. The Municipal Act, passed in 1998, recognizes the requirement to keep this legislation current through a provision for a 10-year review. The Association of Yukon Communities and the Government of Yukon have also recognized the need for regular amendments to the act to ensure it is kept relevant to the ongoing needs of our communities as they change from time to time.
Amendments were first made to the act in 1999. Mr. Speaker, the Act to Amend the Municipal Act that we have before us today again honours that commitment to keep our municipal legislation current and relevant. Yukon municipalities requested many of these amendments; others were brought forward by the Department of Community Services. All the amendments included in this bill have the support of Yukon municipalities and this department.
Mr. Speaker, a number of the amendments will make improvements to the municipal election process. The members opposite will appreciate that this bill is being considered at a time in order to amend the election provisions prior to the fall 2003 general municipal elections.
Several of the election amendments will provide a greater level of privacy for members of our society who feel vulnerable by providing opportunities to have their names removed from the list of electors. These provisions are modeled after similar provisions in legislation governing Yukon territorial elections.
Other municipal election amendments will provide greater certainty in the wording for municipal election officials to interpret. The amendments will also change the timing for the election activities to make it easier for the municipalities to administer. Two of the amendments are intended to lower the number of electors required to petition for a public vote or a public inquiry. These amendments recognize the difficulty there is to garner the support of 25 percent of the electorate in the City of Whitehorse and will lower that threshold.
One amendment will recognize the obligation that exists where property owners who own their land are subject to revisionary rights. As the legislation now stands, when these property owners apply to subdivide their land, they are subject to both a 10-percent deduction of land to public use and a further public use deduction because of revisionary rights that exist on these lands. This amendment will provide for a single deduction for public use.
Several of the amendments will tighten up the wording of the act and correct several omissions that have become apparent as municipal governments work within the Municipal Act.
I would like to comment on the partnership that has been fostered between Yukon municipalities and the Department of Community Services through the work of the Municipal Act Review Committee. The committee that was brought together to make the recommendations for the amendments to the Municipal Act that we have before us reflects the composition of the original Municipal Act Review Committee. It consists of the elected municipal councillors and the senior managers of the Yukon municipalities. It has rural and urban representatives from our villages, towns and the City of Whitehorse. It includes representatives form the Department of Community Services.
Through the composition of the committee, the members of this Assembly can take comfort that the needs of the municipalities, big and small, rural and urban, have been considered in these amendments.
I would like to extend our appreciation and gratitude for the work of the committee in their efforts to make the Municipal Act as good as it can possibly be.
I look forward to the constructive comments of the members opposite on this bill. I know they share our respect for the important role the municipal governments play in the lives of Yukoners.
While these amendments do not represent major policy initiatives for the municipalities or governments, they are fundamentally important to meeting the ongoing legislative needs of the local governments.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Cardiff: It gives me pleasure to rise today on behalf of the official opposition to say that we will be happy to support these changes to the Municipal Act. I think that we would have to agree with everything that the minister has said. We recognize the importance of municipal governments and local governments and understand that the rules and constitution that they work under have to work and they have to be understandable to the people who work with them.
I appreciate the recognition by the minister that the legislation, when initially brought in 1998-99, was at the forefront of this type of legislation in Canada and that we would like to recognize that it was brought in after much work by the Association of Yukon Communities and the government of the day, an NDP government, and I look forward to discussing this further with the member and pledge our support.
Ms. Duncan: The Member for Mount Lorne is correct that the Municipal Act was originally brought in under an NDP government, and it was stated at the time and recognized by all parties to be the best Municipal Act in the country. And it was the best Municipal Act in the country because councillors, mayors, government officials, Community Services, individuals who work with the act on a daily basis worked together, built consensus and worked on this legislation.
The changes that have been brought forward since that, and the changes that are before us ó these changes to the Municipal Act ó like the mirror legislation where I indicated the more one works with the legislation the more one can see that housekeeping amendments have to come before the House ó this is the same situation. And these Municipal Act changes are the result of working with the act. They are the result of the former Liberal government working with the officials in Community Services as well as the communities throughout the Yukon to bring forward these amendments.
Itís unfortunate that the minister, in bringing these forward, did not point out that the Association of Yukon Communities was in fact not given advance notice of these changes and that the changes were coming forward this spring.
The work was done by the Liberal government. The decision to actually bring them forward and to bring them forward in this legislative session was the result of the Yukon Party government, and unfortunately, although the minister has indicated he worked with stakeholders, AYC was not given advance notice that these would be on the legislative agenda.
So thatís unfortunate. I would encourage the minister to be cautious of that, ensure that one continues the good work that has gone on in the past with stakeholders, and continue to consult and work with the individuals who, in turn, work with the legislation.
I will be supporting these amendments as drafted and worked upon by the former Liberal government.
Speaker: If the member now speaks, he will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Thanks for your support.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 34 agreed to
Bill No. 3: Second Reading
Clerk:Second reading, Bill No. 3, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Fentie.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 3, entitled Fourth Appropriation Act, 2001-02, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Premier that Bill No. 3, entitled Fourth Appropriation Act, 2001-02, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to provide the Legislative Assembly with some introductory notes in regard to Supplementary Estimate No. 3 for 2001-02. The supplementary calls for an increase of $803,000 in the operations and maintenance budget for the year ended 2001-02. The supplementary funds are required in two departments. Justice is seeking an increase of $754,000 and the Department of Tourism requires an increase of $49,000. The Department of Justice requirements were due to accepting recommendations of the Judicial Compensation Commission for retroactive increases in pay and pension benefits for judges. Iím sure weíll all remember the debate on the floor of this Legislature on that particular bill. However, the former Liberal government went ahead and passed it.
The Department of Tourism funding requirements were due to expenditures related to the joint Yukon-Alaska marketing program, which is 100 percent recoverable.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Hardy: Mr. Speaker, I will ask a couple of questions about a couple of line items later on, but at this present time I am just acknowledging the comments made by the Premier and the fact that this is 2001-02, and we were just catching up.
Ms. Duncan: This particular supplementary for the 2001-02 fiscal year, as the Finance minister has noted, is to pay the additional expenses associated with the Judicial Compensation Commission ó of course, a commission that is a result of legal precedents elsewhere in the country and which governments were in a position to accept.
The additional expenditures required under the Department of Tourism, of course, are for the expenditures related to the joint Yukon-Alaska marketing program and are, as noted by the Finance minister, 100-percent recoverable. I note that these programs, such as the joint Yukon-Alaska marketing program, the gateway cities program and the welcome Alaska program were significant and well-received programs introduced by our government, that unfortunately will, in subsequent legislation, be shown by this government to have been cut and substantially reduced ó an unfortunate occurrence that we will look forward to debating later on in this Legislature.
I support the Supplementary No. 3 as tabled. This is spending that relates to a fiscal year when we were in office and is recorded as required. I appreciate the Finance minister bringing it forward.
Speaker: If the member now speaks he will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Well, itís basically cleaning up the fiscal year 2001-02, and it has to be done. This matter must be concluded here in this legislative sitting. Unfortunately, it never got concluded in a timely manner by the former government. It is an example of the fiscal mismanagement that the Yukon experienced over the two years of the Liberal reign ó dramatic increases in spending and continued decrease of population and our economy spiralling ever downward under the rudderless ship known as SS Yukon.
It is really too bad because there were some golden opportunities in the years 2001-02 that were missed, and Yukoners suffered for that ó they really did ó and it is unfortunate. We as a government are now going to try and rectify that situation and we are hopeful that the future will be much brighter for Yukoners than it was over the past two years under a Liberal reign.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 3 agreed to
Bill No. 2: Second Reading
Clerk:Second reading, Bill No. 2, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Fentie.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I move that Bill No. 2, entitled Third Appropriation Act, 2002-03, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Premier that Bill No. 2, entitled Third Appropriation Act, 2002-03, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Bill No. 2, the supplementary estimate for 2002-03, requests a gross budgetary expenditure increase of $25,660,000. The operation and maintenance expenditure amount is $13,520,000, offset by recoveries of $3,081,000. The capital requested is $12,140,000, which is offset by recoveries of $4,676,000, for a net capital expenditure increase of $7,464,000. The total net budgetary expenditure is $17,903,000.
The details of the monies being requested are spelled out in the estimates accompanying Bill No. 2. The largest expenditure requests are in the Department of Health and Social Services, with a request of $6,143,000, and the Yukon Legislative Assembly, with an amount of $2,797,000.
On the capital side, the most significant vote increase is for community services, $13,970,000, and infrastructure, now the Department of Highways and Public Works, of $6,219,000. These increases are offset by decreases in other departmental votes. I look forward to the line-by-line debate of Bill No. 2, Supplementary Estimate No. 1, 2002-03.
Mr. Hardy: Again, this is just catching up, and we do have some concerns and we will discuss some of the concerns we have about this but, just to put it out front right now, my biggest concern, as we said earlier ó after the government was elected and during the previous government ó was the use of special warrants in what we consider an excessive amount and just very sloppy behaviour that would create special warrants and the use of them. Those are my comments at this moment.
Ms. Duncan: The supplementary thatís before the House today represents the spending decisions of the new Yukon Party government and the new government alone. Before leaving office, the Liberal government approved main estimates and a special warrant. Main estimates were approved by this House and this Legislature. The special warrant ó I do hate to disagree with the Member for Whitehorse Centre ó was $12 million, as compared with the $200-million warrant passed by the previous government. The warrant was $12 million to cover extraneous expenses during the election time period, such as the repair to the Thomson Centre roof.
The new government was unhappy with the decisions made in the warrant ó
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: As I was saying, Mr. Speaker, the new government was unhappy with the decisions in the warrant and reversed a number of them. Only one item, the cost of the election, could not have been reversed.
This supplementary budget is entirely the responsibility of the new government.
There are several items in the budget that the Liberal Party supports, as we have supported previously on the floor of this Legislature. The largest item of these is a revote of $8 million for the Canada Winter Games. We support that; we put it originally in the budget, and itís a revote.
This budget takes away funding for the Grey Mountain Primary School. This is wrong. There was a commitment to put money that was saved from the axing of Grey Mountain School. There was a public campaign commitment made by the Yukon Party to put that money into our schools. One has to look at the Department of Education. That didnít happen ó another broken promise.
The budget also contains the elimination of the construction of a new correctional facility ó $1.4 million. I canít in all good conscience support that decision, Mr. Speaker.
The budget does away with the permanent fund ó another decision I do not support.
The supplementary shows an increase in revenues from Ottawa of $1.2 million, which openly and clearly shows to Yukoners that the Yukon Party governmentís statement of declining revenues from Ottawa is incorrect.
For all the cuts I have outlined and for the fact of misplaced financial priorities of the government opposite that sees reductions in transition home funding, no additional money for child care workers and, most importantly as well, no additional staffing resources for family and childrenís services and social workers ó communities that are in crisis and that need our support, recommendations that, when they were on this side, the members opposite supported. None of them are in this supplementary ó none of the campaign commitments, none of the promises to Yukoners. Instead, this supplementary is a record of broken promises and misplaced financial priorities. For that reason, I will not support this bill.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: If the member now speaks, he will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I find it odd, Mr. Speaker, that the leader of the third party, the former Premier, is not supporting a supplementary budget that is outside a $5-million expenditure ó totally the expenditure of the former Liberal government. These expenditures are the residual of the mismanagement of that former Liberal government.
This member continually stands on the floor of this House and implies that this government, three months into a mandate, has broken all kinds of promises. Countless promises have been broken and, Mr. Speaker, that is a reflection of the two years of reign by that memberís government. Thatís where the promises were broken. Thatís where the trust of the Yukon people was broken. Thatís where the mismanagement of this territoryís affairs began. They ended on November 4 with the election of a new government ó the new Yukon Party government.
We are proceeding according to our commitments, delivering on our commitments. We will do everything possible in the next four years to make the lives of Yukoners better, or the shattered lives that that member and her government created.
Mr. Speaker, this supplemental expenditure is the residual of the Liberal governmentís mismanagement of the Yukon Territoryís affairs. We are here by order of responsibility to table this budget and pass it because that Liberal government had spent the money. They spent the surplus. They had absolutely no idea how they were going to honour their commitments of expenditure, be it Grey Mountain, be it the jail, be it a rec-plex in Mayo, be it any other expenditure, the alcohol and drug secretariat ó anyone who has a limited knowledge of arithmetic would see quickly when they look at the budget that the surplus was gone and any level of expenditure like the former Premier had committed to would have put this territory into an accumulated deficit.
What a sad statement. There are improvements coming in this territory. We intend to deliver on those improvements. We intend to keep our commitments. We have started that with our budget. This is the residual of the former governmentís budget, the former Liberalsí.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?
Some Hon. Members:Division.
Speaker: Division has been called.
Did I hear two on division or one?
There are two.
Order please. The member must be in his own chair. The ruling is that there is no division; you were not in your chair.
Are you prepared for the question?
Some Hon. Members: Division.
Speaker: Division has been called.
Speaker: Mr. Clerk, please poll the House.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Lang: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Hart: Agree.
Mr. Arntzen: Agree.
Mr. Rouble: Agree.
Mr. Hassard: Agree.
Mr. Cathers: Agree.
Mr. Hardy: Disagree.
Mr. McRobb: Disagree.
Mr. Fairclough: Disagree.
Mr. Cardiff: Disagree.
Mrs. Peter: Disagree.
Ms. Duncan: Disagree.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 10 yea, six nay.
Speaker: The ayes have it. I declare the motion carried.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 2 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair:Order please. I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order. The business before the Committee is Bill No. 3, Fourth Appropriation Act, 2001-02. Do members wish to take a 15-minute recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agree.
Chair: We stand in recess for 15 minutes.
Chair: Order please. I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will now continue on with Bill No. 3.
Bill No. 3 ó Fourth Appropriation Act, 2001-02
Chair:Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Chair, I am pleased to be able to provide the Committee with some introductory comments before we move into general debate on Bill No. 3, Fourth Appropriation Act, 2001-02, or what is commonly known as Supplementary Estimates No. 3. This appropriation is an important bill to allow this Legislature to approve and bring to a close the operation and maintenance expenditures for the Government of Yukon for the fiscal year ended 2001-02.
The 2001-02 year-end, as the Committee knows, was completed under the previous government, and all the expenditures are reflected in the public accounts of the government for that year.
This appropriation regularizes the operation and maintenance expenditures of the two departments that spent in excess of their voted appropriation. There are also departmental underexpenditures reflected in the 2001-02 budget document, but these do not require the authority of the Legislature.
The details of the overexpenditures for the Department of Justice and the Department of Tourism are presented in the estimates accompanying Bill No. 3. I will quickly recap them here for the benefit of the Committee.
The total supplementary sought is in the amount of $803,000. The expenditure for the Department of Justice is $754,000 and comes about because of the previous governmentís acceptance of the Judicial Compensation Commission recommendations for retroactive increases in pay and pension benefits for judges.
The Department of Tourism is requesting $49,000, which was for supplementary marketing activities related to the joint Yukon-Alaska marketing program. This amount is 100-percent recoverable.
I look forward to discussing this appropriation further in general debate and the line-by-line debate.
Ms. Duncan: I would like the Finance minister to put a couple of points on the record just for purposes of ensuring that the record reflects the actions of and responsibilities taken by different governments.
Would the minister confirm that this is wrapping up the 2001-02 fiscal year and is not a part of either the warrant issued by our government or the special warrant that the Finance minister is responsible for ó that these monies are wrapping up a financial year and are not contained in the warrants?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: That is exactly what I indicated to the House in my opening remarks moments ago.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, we have confirmed, then, that these are in fact monies that wrap up the 2001-02 fiscal year, that it was approved by the previous Finance minister and the previous Management Board, and that this money was not subject to special warrant.
Can the Finance minister confirm his support for the Judicial Compensation Commission and his recognition of the legal responsibilities of the Government of Yukon in establishing the commission and ensuring that it took place?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Of course, but I think the important question is that the commission was struck to make recommendations to government. Itís then up to the government to accept or not to accept those recommendations.
Ms. Duncan: Is the Finance minister suggesting that the previous government should not have accepted the recommendations of this special Judicial Compensation Commission?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Thatís a moot point. The former government did accept the recommendations and thatís why we are dealing with these expenditures at such a late date for a fiscal year two years ago. The former Liberal government did accept the recommendations, the expenditure has been spent and we are merely doing the housekeeping to close out that fiscal year.
Ms. Duncan: The Finance minister has said that the previous government accepted the recommendations from this public body ó a group of Yukoners ó on the Judicial Compensation Commission. The Premier has suggested that the previous government accepted those recommendations; that is correct.
The Finance minister is saying that, were he on that side of the House, he would not have accepted those recommendations. Is the Finance minister aware that would have required court action on the part of the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I certainly want to review Hansard, but Iím positive that, in the last five minutes, I have said nothing of the sort. I have merely indicated to the House that the former government accepted the recommendations and thatís why weíre dealing with this expenditure for the fiscal year, as noted. I have said nothing else, Mr. Chair.
Ms. Duncan: As Finance minister, the Finance minister has to bring in and, whether he likes it or not, defend these actions. Iím asking him whether or not he supports the recommendations of the Judicial Compensation Commission. Regardless of whether itís a moot point, as the member opposite says, does he support them?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Well, it is a moot point. The money has been spent. This is a housekeeping matter that weíre dealing with in the Legislature and, in regard to the memberís question, Iím not sure if this is in order, but itís hypothetical because weíre not dealing with a set of recommendations from a judicial commission. Weíre dealing with an expenditure that goes back two fiscal years. The moneyís long gone ó moot point.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the point Iím making with the Finance minister opposite is that the money had to be spent. On the recommendations from the Judicial Compensation Commission, the choice before the Cabinet of the day was to accept the recommendations or go to court. That was the choice.
Now, although the acceptance of the recommendations was done some time ago and there was additional money, yes, I am well aware of that. The Member for Klondike is providing the Finance minister with advice, and I would respectfully submit to the Member for Klondike that the Finance minister and the Premier should be well aware of the requirements and legal requirements for government to accept the Judicial Compensation Commission, how it arose, why we had it, and why we followed it. That being said, there was an outstanding issue of the costs of the Judicial Compensation Commission. That outstanding issue is a financial issue that has to be resolved.
Will the Premier and Finance minister share with the House how the resolution of the costs of the judicial compensation is reflected in the supplementary?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Again, I indicated those very items to the House in my opening remarks a few short moments ago, explaining that $754,000 is because of the Judicial Compensation Commission and its retroactive increases to pay pension and benefits for judges. Also, the Department of Tourism was requesting $49,000 because the former government entered into a joint Yukon-Alaska marketing program. The amount is 100-percent recoverable. Those are the elements that I indicated to the House that are within this supplementary budget for the fiscal year 2001-02, and I have just repeated them again for the third party.
Ms. Duncan: The Finance minister has outlined that $754,000 in the supplementary is for the Judicial Compensation Commission. The Premier did not answer the question then. Is the cost of having that Judicial Compensation Commission reflected in the $754,000 or not? It is a simple yes or no, and I know how fond the Finance minister is of those questions.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: The $754,000 is the compensation in total for the judges. This, to the best of my knowledge, does not include any other incidental or connected, related or relevant costs to this one particular initiative or process. The $754,000 is the amount for the compensation to the judges.
Ms. Duncan: I appreciate the member elaborating that the $754,000 is strictly the amount that the compensation commission has instructed be paid to judges ó it is solely that amount. What Iím asking the Premier, the Finance minister: there is also a cost associated with having that commission. There was a cost for the Yukoners who sat on the compensation commission and made these recommendations and the advice they received. Where are those costs reflected? Mr. Chair, I ask this in order that my questions can be directed at the appropriate time.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Originally there was supposed to be a government portion paid and then the judges were going to pay a portion, but the former government committed to paying it all, even the judgesí portion.
Ms. Duncan: With all due respect, the member opposite is suggesting a Cabinet decision of which he is not aware.
The fact is that there is an additional cost to the Judicial Compensation Commission. Iím asking where the funding is outlined. This is the money that was paid to the judges. Where is the amount that paid for the costs of the commission? Where is the amount that was paid in per diem rates to these Yukon citizens who participated in this, and where is the money that paid for their advice? Where is that amount?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: As the member was in Cabinet and the member was the Finance minister and the member was the Premier when this was all happening, the member probably well knows that some of the money was absorbed within the existing budget envelope at this time with the department.
Ms. Duncan: So then what the Premier is saying is that this $754,000 is the sum total of all expenditures associated with the Judicial Compensation Commission and there is no additional amount that has been paid that hasnít already been reflected in the budget documents. So there wonít ó for example, in Supplementary Estimates No. 1 or in the budget documents before us ó be any of the costs associated with the Judicial Compensation Commission ó any further costs. Theyíre all located in here.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: No, this was such a handsome package; there are further costs. But as I stated earlier, some were absorbed within the existing budget envelope. We can get the exact detail for the member on what the breakdowns are, by way of return, and I believe there will be some reflected in the subsequent year.
The $754,000 is not the overall total of this very noble initiative taken on by the former Liberal government.
Ms. Duncan: The Finance minister has said that there are additional costs over and above this $754,000. Iím asking: where are the additional costs specifically for the commission that was established to do this? Where are those additional costs? Could the Finance minister outline that for me?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I did state earlier, moments ago, that some were absorbed by the department, some could have been in subsequent years or not a line item. There were more costs associated with this initiative, and the $754,000 reflected in this supplementary is merely to do the final accounting to wrap up this fiscal year.
What else can I say to the member? The member opposite probably knows the answer anyway because the member opposite was the Minister of Finance during this period. But we can give her every minute detail on this particular initiative by way of return if itís that important to the member.
Ms. Duncan: I do apologize that the Finance minister finds these questions troubling; however, they are very important to establish for the record who has approved what expenditures. Now, $754,000 paid in the supplementary is a back-payment for pension and salary issues owed to judges. The amount was determined by the special Judicial Compensation Commission. Subsequent amounts are the purview of the Finance minister opposite. What Iím trying to determine is whether or not the Finance minister approved the costs of the Judicial Compensation Commission, how much they approved and whether or not the Government of the Yukon paid it all. Contrary to what the member opposite stated, that was not a direction.
So I would like the Finance minister to take responsibility for his portfolio and tell us exactly how much was paid for the Judicial Compensation Commission and when it was paid.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Just to calm the leader of the third party ó the former Premier ó and inject a cooperative approach here, I do take this very seriously. Itís my job, and itís a very serious job but, no matter what, what dictated these expenditures were the recommendations by a commission that the former Liberal government accepted. Now, whether the monies flowed in 2001 or 1999 or 2003 is another case. Some of the monies are absorbed within the existing budget envelope. This particular item we are dealing with is a direct line item related to the recommendations of the judicial commission. The $754,000 in this supplementary is to close out the fiscal year 2001-02.
This is not a really difficult matter to understand, and Iíve stated to the member that if the member wants exact detail in the most critical terms ó cent by cent or dollar by dollar ó then that is substantially more technical than we get into in this House when it comes to debate. So we can provide that minutia to the member opposite by way of return.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, as I said, I do apologize if the Minister of Finance finds these questions troubling. I think itís important that the public record be an accurate reflection of what took place.
The minister has spoken disparagingly of the previous government for accepting the recommendations of the Judicial Compensation Commission. The minister has said, well, the previous government accepted them. Yes, the previous government did accept them. The current Finance minister has been implying that we should not have accepted them. He wonít state that on the record; he dances all around it, but heís implying we should not have accepted them.
The minister also said on the public record that the previous government paid all the costs of the commission. All Iím doing is asking the Finance minister to substantiate that allegation. If the previous government paid all the costs, I want him to show it, and if the previous government paid all the costs, they would be reflected in the $754,000. If, in fact, the costs of the Judicial Compensation Commission were not paid by the previous government, they wouldnít show in here. Itís a very simple concept. I want the minister to accept the fact that government had little choice in accepting the Judicial Compensation Commission report, both legislative and otherwise. And in all good conscience, judges have a point with respect to their pension issue.
I would like the minister to clearly accept and state for the record that, yes, governments should have accepted that report. And I would like the minister to also state on the record who ó which government ó approved the cost of the Judicial Compensation Commission, and I want that shown on the record.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Whatever expenditure is related to this issue in regard to the judiciary is dictated by the recommendations accepted by the former government. The recommendations were brought forward by the commission. Now whether, in accounting practices, the money was booked in this year or the money was booked in next year, the bottom line is that the money had to be expended based on the acceptance of the recommendations by the former government. That is the end of it in our estimation. There is nothing else here other than the memberís sensitivity to things being put on the record and that is unfortunate because the member shouldnít be sensitive to those things. I mean the member stands in this House continually making accusations and implying that this side of the House is doing something that it is not. Unfortunately, that I guess is how the member wishes to conduct business in this House, but we are not going to do that. We are merely stating for the record that the facts are very simple in this matter. This supplementary is to close out the fiscal year of 2001-02.
There are two items in this supplementary that we are addressing. It is $754,000 expenditure for the Department of Justice to cover monies based on the recommendations of the Judicial Compensation Commission, and there is also a $49,000 expenditure for Tourism because of the marketing initiative with Alaska. The marketing initiative with Alaska is obviously not dictated by the commission; it was a request by the department and approved by the former government, which is fine. That is what this supplementary is all about.
However, the $754,000 expenditure is dictated by the recommendations of the commission. There is nothing else here to even really discuss.
Ms. Duncan: I find it interesting that the member opposite is ó I wonít use the word "accusing" because that would imply motive, but the member opposite has said that Iím sensitive and making points on the record. Itís not I who stood and made disparaging remarks about the previous government or the previous governmentís financial motivations. The Finance minister did that.
The Finance minister has made many, many, many comments about responsibility for spending. My line of argument today is to focus the ministerís attention on the fact that responsibility for this spending, yes, belongs to the previous government. I fully accept that responsibility ó I said that in my second reading debate. But the member also said that the responsibility for accepting the Judicial Compensation Commission, that the full responsibility belongs to us, belongs to the previous government. In fact, I would challenge the minister to prove that. I challenge the minister to substantiate that, because I believe that the costs of the Judicial Compensation Commission were actually approved by the members opposite. The costs of the commission came to that Management Board, came to that Finance minister and came to a discussion by that Management Board. Therefore, the responsibility for that decision belongs to the member opposite, not to this Finance minister. Thatís the point on the record.
The member opposite became the Finance minister and took over authority for the spending decisions of the government on November 4. Spending decisions were either made by the transition team or by the member opposite. The member opposite has to take responsibility for them, not just on this floor, but out there ó thatís where the real responsibility lies.
My point this afternoon is that the Judicial Compensation Commission, which the member spoke disparagingly of the previous government for accepting the recommendation ó he wonít state where he stands for it, on the record. I will have to go back in Hansard and look where he voted.
The fact is that the member then made decisions, further accepted, and he has to take responsibility for them.
Iím sorry the member finds that amusing and finds it somehow awkward for me to point this out to the public, but it has to be pointed out.
Iíll look forward to debating the line item in the budget with the Minister of Justice because itís either in here, Supplementary Estimates No. 1, or itís in the budget.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: No, itís not.
Supplementary Estimates No. 1 is going to be a very interesting debate.
I would ask the minister to again provide a legislative return outlining precisely how much was the cost of the Judicial Compensation Commission and who paid what, and when was the decision taken?
The expenditures of $754,000 and the total gross budgetary expenditures of $803,000 are the subject for debate because we vote on them in the Legislature, but my understanding, Mr. Chair, is that in general debate we must ask about the reductions in the departments for Supplementary Estimates No. 1.
These are lapsed spending by the department ó am I correct in that?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: The member opposite mentioned responsibility and I would point out that we are, as a government, being very responsible. We are tabling this supplementary. It is our government that had to bring this supplementary forward. No matter what, though, the expenditures go back to the year 2001-02.
Getting to the memberís question, all weíre debating here for expenditure, for spending authority by this House, is the $803,000 in total. There is no requirement for authority from this Legislature for underexpenditures, and I would submit that this merely reflects the actuals on what took place in the former Liberal governmentís fiscal year of 2001-02.
Ms. Duncan: With all due respect to the Minister of Finance, I asked for confirmation that the underexpenditures of $33,903,000 for 2001-02 were in fact lapsed spending. Is that correct?
Mr. Chair, the $33,903,000 was in capital and the underexpenditure in O&M was $6,517,000. I am asking the Minister of Finance, in general debate as this is the place to do it, if that is lapsed funding from the 2001-02 year?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: What we are really here to debate is an expenditure. That is what the House must provide authority for ó the expenditure. In all likelihood, the numbers that the member opposite is referring to are funds lapsed by the department, but the member opposite should know better than I. It is two years ago when this happened and the member opposite was the Minister of Finance. But again I repeat: we are here to deal with a total of $803,000 to provide spending authority to something that was spent and booked into the fiscal year 2001-02.
Ms. Duncan: I am well aware that the Legislature gives vote authority and that we are here to achieve additional vote authority for two departments ó the Department of Justice and the Department of Tourism. I also am fully aware that it is not tradition of this House to vote on an underexpenditure. However, it is tradition and the only point at which an underexpenditure may be discussed is in general debate. All I have asked the minister to confirm ó as Minister of Finance because the accounting is done sometime after a fiscal year is completed ó is the sum total of some $40,421,000 was lapsed funding for the 2001-02 year. That is all I am asking the member to confirm.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Thatís correct, Mr. Chair. And then it was spent in the next fiscal year, because we know that upon taking office on December 2, a surplus was spent down to almost nothing.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, with all due respect to the Minister of Finance, we were not discussing the surplus. We were discussing the underexpenditures in Supplementary No. 1, and the minister has confirmed that in 2001-02, the lapsed funding, as it is commonly referred to, of the government was $40,421,000. That was the lapsed funding for the 2001-02 fiscal year. That lapsed funding, of course, would be added to the 2002-03 surplus.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: As recorded, Mr. Chair, the number is ó and Iím sure the member opposite is waiting ó $40,421,000.
Ms. Duncan: In lapsed funding for 2001-02?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: The member can have it her way.
Chair: Is there any further general debate?
On Schedule A
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
Justice in the amount of $754,000 agreed to
Ms. Duncan: This supplementary funding is entirely recoverable, 100-percent recoverable. Where does the recovery show?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Turning to page S-5, operation and maintenance recovery, summary by department, going down to item 13, Tourism, it shows a change of $114,000. So the revised vote is also reflected there. I would assume, then, that the $49,000, which was 100-percent recoverable, is reflected in the amount of $114,000 on page S-5.
Ms. Duncan: So what the Finance minister has verified, then, is that there is no recoverable money associated with this shown anywhere else in any of the other budget documents? The Finance minister has nodded.
It would be tough to single it out, so Iím just verifying that it doesnít appear in the other supplementary before us.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: No, it should all be reflected in this supplementary closing out 2001-02, unless the Department of Finance missed something in doing this. In all likelihood, based on standard accounting practices, it is here reflected on page S-5, within the amount of $114,000, booked to the Department of Tourism.
Ms. Duncan: The officials in the Department of Finance have double-checked these figures a hundred times. Iím sure that that is indeed where it is reflected. I wanted to verify that for the record.
The other question that I would just like to ask of the Finance minister ó the supplementary funding is a joint Yukon-Alaska marketing program and itís 100-percent recoverable. Does the Finance minister support such programs?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: This particular program was started by the former government. When in opposition, we voted against the former governmentís budget, so that in itself, given the voting record, explains the position that we would have been in in opposition. We also take direction from industry on these matters, being an open, accountable and inclusive government working hand-in-hand with Yukoners. We have a budget coming up that we can debate, which is our own budget and reflects the fiscal year 2003-04. Weíll do that this sitting.
So if the member could exercise some patience, Iím sure weíll find out then when the Minister of Tourism stands up and debates her department.
Ms. Duncan: Iíd just like to note for the record that, with reference to this program and others, the Tourism Industry Association has been quoted as saying that the pie just got bigger for tourism operators, which is wonderful news in these tough times. These sorts of programs are how the tourism industry has referenced both the joint Yukon-Alaska marketing program and others.
I appreciate that it is difficult to bring forward another Finance ministerís supplementary. I was in the same situation myself. I appreciate the current Finance ministerís support for this particular supplementary, and I commend it to the House.
Tourism in the amount of $49,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $803,000 agreed to
On Schedule B
Chair: Are there any questions on Schedule B?
Schedule B agreed to
On Clause 1
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 2
Clause 2 agreed to
On Clause 3
Clause 3 agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I move that Bill No. 3, entitled Fourth Appropriation Act, 2001-02, be reported out of Committee without amendment.
Chair: It has been moved by Mr. Fentie that Bill No. 3, entitled Fourth Appropriation Act, 2001-02, be reported out of Committee without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 2 ó Third Appropriation Act, 2002-03
Chair:Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Just one moment, please, until the official gets the pertinent documents.
Chair: It has been requested that we recess for five minutes. Are we agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will recess for five minutes.
Chair: Order please. I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order. Weíll continue on with Bill No. 2, Third Appropriation Act, 2002-03. Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Chair, I am pleased to be able to provide the Committee with some introductory comments before we move into general debate on Bill No. 2, Third Appropriation Act, 2002-03, or what is generally referred to as Supplementary Estimates No. 1, for the current fiscal year of 2002-03.
This appropriation request reflects a total expenditure increase of $25,660,000. The operation and maintenance request amount is $13,520,000 and the capital is for $12,140,000. Recoveries for O&M amount to $3.5 million and capital recoveries are $4.67 million.
This supplementary funding request raises the unadjusted deficit for the fiscal year 2002-03 to $55,643,000 and, with contingencies, the forecast deficit is $56,700,000.
This is my governmentís appropriation and we are prepared to defend it, but itís common knowledge that a good portion of the expenditures requested in this supplementary come about because of expenses or commitments incurred under the previous government. Iím sure we will have a lively debate about this issue, but the reality is that, as we draw to the close of this fiscal year, these expenditures need to be approved.
This supplementary budget also reflects initiatives that were brought forward by this government early in its mandate. This document includes $5 million in increases in the funding for winter works projects such as FireSmart and Project Yukon, now known as the community development fund.
The largest expenditure increase in O&M is the Department of Health and Social Services with an increase of $6.1 million. Of that amount, $4.3 million is in the health area. As I have spoken about before, maintaining the integrity of our health and social safety net is important to this government. The Minister of Health will be able to provide details of these expenditures in line-by-line.
The others are with a significant increase in O&M expenditure is the Yukon Legislative Assembly Office, which shows a $2.8-million increase. A component of this is to finance the MLA pension plan and the election costs.
On the capital front, the largest areas of expenditure increase are in the departments of Community Services, Infrastructure and Health. There are several significant expenditure increases in Community Services. The largest is $8 million for the Canada Winter Games. In addition, there is the $3.5 million for Project Yukon, now known as community development fund, and $1.5 million for FireSmart, that I mentioned earlier.
The Department of Infrastructure includes increases for Shakwak at $1,532,000, which are fully recoverable. The need for increase was caused because the contractor has advanced the road construction quicker than project management originally anticipated.
The other amount in this supplementary is for airport work of $3.7 million, of which $3.5 million is recoverable.
The Health and Social Services budget has gone up by $2.67 million. The largest increase is for the Thomson Centre roof retrofit at a $999,000 revote for capital expenditures and a $977,000 revote for capital expenditure in continuing care.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I look forward to discussing this appropriation further in general debate and in line-by-line debate.
Mr. Hardy: I have some concerns, of course, and I think the members opposite know what one of the concerns is that the official opposition definitely has, and that is the use of special warrants and the amounts of money that have been spent under the special warrants. Weíve raised that concern previously, and we had brought forward a suggestion on how to avoid more special warrants before Christmas. Unfortunately, it wasnít received very well by the other side. However, I do have some questions regarding that. Iím going to go right into some questions here and not lay out a big position. I might come back to some philosophical viewpoints on special warrants.
Are there any changes between the supplementary budget and the special warrants issued? Are there any specific changes? I believe I heard there was some amount.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: This supplementary reflects both special warrants that were required for this fiscal year and also reflects variances up to this point in time for this fiscal year. So it is more than just the warrants. I am going to put it on the record in response to the leader of the official opposition, because I know that their request was to have a sitting before Christmas in December 2002. I would like to point out that this took almost two months to put together. So we have to get serious about the election timing, where we were at upon swearing in on December 2, 2002, what it meant with Christmas coming, what it meant to construct a budget ó all of those things ó and our desire to get some money out as quickly as possible this winter. A sitting would have delayed that process, and we hope never to have to use a special warrant again in this mandate, but there will possibly be times of emergency or unforeseen demands of government that may require that mechanism, but it is not the preferred route for this government. That is very important to note that that is not our preferred route. We would much rather do it in this manner and get spending authority from this House.
Mr. Hardy: Well, Iíll come back to the rationale that the member opposite has used regarding the special warrants ó the justification for his own actions ó however, he mentions the variances between the special warrants and whatís also reflected in the supplementary budget. Could he tell me what the variances are?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Could the member repeat that please?
Mr. Hardy: Yes, I will.
I just want to know what ó you mentioned the variances between the special warrants and the budget, and Iíve recognized those too. Could you give me some detail on what those variances are, please?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Chair, we can give an approximation here. Itís probably better to deal with this department by department. The variances will be reflected in every change in expenditure that this supplementary reflects. You have what was voted to date and then what is contained in this supplementary is a variance. Itís the change of the expenditure voted to date, but there can be more detail here to provide the member, but it would probably be done much better department by department, because we can then focus in on the detail and the difference between new expenditure and/or whatever variances were incorporated up to this period.
So, if thatís sufficient for the member, we can leave it to department by department.
Mr. Hardy: I have no problem with that. I guess what I was maybe looking for was not necessarily absolute detail, but just some indication on the member oppositeís view of some of the changes that were made and the variances between the special warrants and the supplementary budget thatís before us right now.
Are all the items in the two special warrants reflected in this supplementary budget?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Everything that was in the special warrants is reflected in this supplementary.
Mr. Hardy: This might be an interesting question for the member opposite and maybe for the member of the third party. The member opposite already has mentioned that the special warrants were not necessarily part of their actions or their decisions and that they had to approve them in order to ensure the spending goes forward and people get paid and all that stuff.
Could the member opposite tell me which ones are what he considers the previous governmentís, under the special warrants, and which ones are the making of his own government since theyíve been elected? Just as a correction ó itís not three months by the way. The election was on November 4.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Thereís an important technicality with that statement. November 4 was the election. We didnít officially take office until we were sworn in on December 2, and it is a technicality.
Anyway, the total of the expenditures that can be directly attributed ó direct spending is what Iím saying ó to our government is $5 million ó $3.5 million for the community development fund/Project Yukon, and $1.5 million for FireSmart.
Mr. Hardy: I am led to understand that everything else in here is basically what was inherited from the previous Liberal government?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: In terms of expenditures, yes. These expenditures were already ó not on the books. But these expenditures were being requested by departments at the time the former Liberal government was still in office. These expenditures are a fact of life in government. Supplementaries are a standard practice, but they are quite significant in terms of the fact that the budget itself for this fiscal year, 2002-03, is the highest budget in the history of the Yukon Territory ó $590 million in total. This supplementary is reflected in that total number. But the original budget was $560 some million. So this is a substantial increase in spending for the fiscal year, and out of that spending, the new government committed $5 million to Yukoners to help stimulate spending power in this territory where it was so desperately needed.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Chair:Member for Porter Creek South, on a point of order.
Ms. Duncan: On a point of order, Iíd just draw to the Finance ministerís attention that he indicated that his government had approved the $2.1 million. So that would be for the MLA pension fund. Thatís an amount that he said earlier had been approved by his government. He is saying that only $5 million is attributable to the government. Iím sure it is not the Finance ministerís intention to mislead. I think he has made an error in his comments and I would just invite him to examine that.
Chair:There is no point of order here.
Mr. Hardy: Well, the love affair between the Yukon Party and Liberals does continue. Mr. Chair, once again we have to be the ó
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Hardy: Very nice, Mr. Chair, the comment from across the way was very nice ó the broker of common sense and we will try to fulfill that role in our discussions in this Legislature over the next how many years the Yukon Party can hang on. There are a lot of questions about that as well.
As you know, we have had a big concern about the special warrants, and I once again want to reinforce that concern. We felt that after the election we had put out what we considered a reasonable offer in which we would come into the House for a couple days to deal with the special warrants and, as we had agreed with the members opposite, the spending of the monies as quickly as possible, which was for the CDF and FireSmart. However that wasnít received and unfortunately where that leads to is the use of special warrants, which we felt werenít necessary. I guess in looking at these amounts ó and the member opposite says $5 million and the leader of the third party says there is another $2.1 million that was also approved and should be credited to the Yukon Party and that would add up to over $7 million. We felt that there was a solution to this and not to use a special warrant. I guess in looking at the special warrants, can we get some assurances across the way that this government wonít be using special warrants as they did right after the election?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I have stated earlier, Mr. Chair, that special warrants are not the preferred route for this government. The issues are, though, for government in some cases ó and the member opposite knows that there was a time when, in government, the government of the day used special warrants. There are times when there is no choice. Our preferred route is not to use them. The situation we were in dictated that that was the mechanism that would be required so that we could get on conducting the publicís business, and thatís what we did. We hope not to have to use special warrants again throughout this mandate.
Mr. Hardy: I believe that the member opposite, when he referred back to the previous NDP government, was meaning in the year 2000. We had to use a special warrant because of the election period. We needed to bring in a special warrant to ensure the bills were paid.
However, the previous government, the Liberal government, had a choice to bring a budget into the Legislature, before the people. The Premier also had that choice after the election ó to once again reconvene the Legislature and bring forward the special warrants and a mini-budget or a supplementary or whatever to deal with that, and thatís quite a bit different from when youíre actually in the middle of an election and you have to do a special warrant. I think, under those conditions, Mr. Chair, there is justification for the special warrant. Thatís what theyíre designed for ó extraordinary conditions or situations, emergency situations.
However, I donít believe that either case was what I would call an emergency. I believe it was just a choice made. I donít want to go on forever. We definitely differ in our opinions on this.
I want to ensure that everybody on this side has a chance to ask questions, because there are a lot of them. Iíll be standing up and asking a few more. Iím hoping we will get some answers from the other side. So at this moment Iím going to sit down and allow some of my colleagues to ask questions, then Iíll come back to it.
Ms. Duncan: Iíd like to acknowledge the Finance ministerís recognition in his opening comments in general debate that there would be a lively debate on this supplementary. I anticipate thereís going to be.
I have noticed, when I ask pointed questions to the Finance minister, it does tend to get a little lively.
I also appreciate the Finance ministerís point on the record that he said "my government" ó being the Finance ministerís ó had two months to assemble the supplementary. I appreciate the Finance minister accepting responsibility for the supplementary thatís before us.
In spite of his comments to the leader of the official opposition that only $5 million of this supplementary belongs to the current governmentís approval record, I beg to differ. Weíve already pointed out $2.1 million over and above the $5 million the Finance minister wants to take credit for.
Just to be clear and walk through these issues for the public, if my colleague to the far right is the broker of common sense, then I guess that leaves it to us to be the broker of the facts of the matter. Could the Finance minister state for the record that the Management Board is the body that approves these supplementaries prior to them being tabled in the House? It is the Management Board that approves them prior to them being printed, and that he, as Finance minister, is chair of the Management Board?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Chair, maybe thatís what happened in the last two years in government here. The leader of the third party didnít recognize the fact that the Finance minister is the chair of Management Board, because the spending spree was quite significant in two years of Liberal government.
Mr. Chair, the member pointed out that I said something to do with two months, and the comment was "two months to put the supplementary together". We didnít put it together; officials put things like this together.
As far as the comment about $2.1 million for the Legislative Assembly Office, itís actually $2.6 million or a little more, and it was due to a shortfall in the MLA pension fund, and the shortfall occurred under the memberís watch, something thatís important because fiscal responsibility includes all kinds of things. Is the member saying that we should not have covered that shortfall? The money request for this funding had come forward under the former governmentís watch. It was there. Should we not have approved that expenditure request that came forward under the former governmentís watch? I think not. Itís something that had to be done, but we can argue this forever. The results, though, are clear.
We, our government, had directly spent or directed to have spent $5 million in this supplementary. All other expenditures we inherited. And thatís the way this business works. So the member can do whatever it takes to try and shed responsibility, but thatís not a sign of being an open and accountable government, party, or anything else. So the facts are that the $2.1 million she was talking about is actually $2.6 million, and it reflects the shortfall in retirement allowances for MLA pensions.
Ms. Duncan: The member has indicated that the chair of Management Board is the Minister of Finance and that itís Management Board that approves the supplementary expenditures prior to them being sent to the printer. Can the Finance minister provide the date of the approval of this supplementary?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: What is the date today? Well, weíre debating it on March 20, 2003.
Ms. Duncan: I appreciate the date that we are debating it. The date is on the calendar on the wall, for the member oppositeís information. He seems to have missed that.
The fact is that this was approved and tabled shortly after the throne speech, within the five days. It was tabled, what? March 5? It was printed well before that.
What was the date this supplementary budget was approved?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Well, Iím not sure what point the member is trying to make, if the member had a point. However, we can look back in the records in the archives of government and find out exactly what date Management Board sat and approved this supplementary. Iím sure there is a Cabinet or Management Board minute and all those things, but it doesnít change the fact that there was an overexpenditure by government in this territory under the former Liberal governmentís watch. Our government added to that overexpenditure ó $5 million to be distributed. $3.5 million went to the community development fund ó Project Yukon ó and a $1.5-million allocation went to FireSmart. Everything else was inherited.
Ms. Duncan: It is not a light matter we are discussing. It is not about political points that the member opposite is trying desperately to score with the public and his party. It is not about that, Mr. Chair. I am being very cautious of my words because the member opposite is failing in his responsibilities. The facts of the matter are that far more than the $5 million suggested by the member opposite was approved by the Minister of Finance and is before this House for debate. And the fact reflects that matter because the fact is the member opposite has stood and said that the $2,600,000 expenditure for the MLA pension plan came before this House and came before the previous government. In fact the actuarial evaluation wasnít tabled until this Legislature was called, and the member opposite knows it and knows it very well. The member opposite has stood on his feet and said that this supplementary contains the special warrant issued by that government and the variances. I have asked the Department of Finance for the figures and variance reports. I have asked the Finance department what amounts belong to the special warrant and what amounts belong to variance reports. Variance reports are those reports that come before Management Board on a regular basis that indicate where departments have overspent or where they might require additional funds. I have not yet received that information but I am sure it is forthcoming. Without that information I would like to examine the special warrants.
The special warrant requested by the Liberal government was for ó itís a matter of public record ó $12,465,000, of which a certain amount was recoverable. That warrant was sought from the Commissioner and signed by the Commissioner prior to October 4.
Would the Finance minister please confirm on the floor of this House that the special warrant sought by him as Finance minister, and signed by the Commissioner, covers (1) the period October 1, 2002, to March 31, 2003, and (2) that that warrant seeks $12,729,000 from the consolidated revenue fund? Will the Finance minister confirm that he, as Finance minister and chair of Management Board, sought a special warrant for those dates for that amount?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Chair, itís not this side of the floor, this governmentís intention to score political points at all. I think the member should reflect back to November 4. The public made a very clear statement on what was happening in this territory and I donít think much more needs to be said in that regard.
Yes, I did certainly authorize the warrant that she speaks of, to reflect the overexpenditures that are attributed to the former Liberal government and, of course, the very good and constructive expenditure by our government of $3.5 million to Project Yukon/CDF and $1.5 million to FireSmart. Of course, the member well knows that the Commissioner must then sign that off.
Ms. Duncan: Will the Finance minister confirm that $2,797,000 of that special warrant is for the Yukon Legislative Assembly? Therefore, the Finance minister sought and received spending authority under his watch for $2,797,000 for spending by his government.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Yes, that expenditure includes the shortfall in the pension fund that took place under the watch of that memberís government, and it includes an overexpenditure under the watch of that memberís government. What else can I say? We inherited those things upon taking office. Those expenditures were on paper. Who approved them is irrelevant. When the spending took place is the important issue.
Our only commitment in this is the $5 million that I have relayed to this House a number of times already.
Ms. Duncan: How can the member opposite, in good conscience, stand there and say that, on the one hand, he sought the expenditure from the Commissioner for that money and, on the other hand, it wasnít him seeking the expenditure? Heís flip-flopping through his entire answer.
The fact is that the actuarial evaluation of the MLA pension fund took place. Itís an independent report, and I love the way, whenever the member opposite gets thoroughly questioned and asked to substantiate his comments in this House, he has to defend it to the backbenchers.
The facts are, Mr. Chair, that the member opposite sought an additional $2,797,000 of spending by that government, by that Finance minister, under their watch. They sought it from the Commissioner and they will take responsibility, and they will defend it in this House.
Mr. Chair, they will also defend how "this spending government" the member opposite refers to ó how that member had a choice and took $7,885,000 out of the permanent fund ó made a choice, funds supposedly spent by the previous government. What the member opposite was suggesting was spent was taken back by that government in the special warrants, as was the $1,994,000 scheduled to be spent on the correctional facility ó a new facility desperately required, requested, ordered by the fire marshal, generating jobs for Yukoners and cancelled by the decision of that Finance minister and that Management Board. So to suggest this is spending by the previous government is absolutely wrong, and the facts bear that out. And the member opposite has to take responsibility for this warrant and every single decision in it ó every single one of them. The facts are clear.
Mr. Chair, I would also ask that the member opposite confirm that in the special warrant ó $1.7 million was taken out of the Yukon Housing Corporation in capital. Itís not line by line; itís the special warrant. The member opposite has said that the supplementary contains the special warrant. The member opposite has also said it contains the variance report. If the member opposite doesnít want to take the responsibility for the special warrant ó he already has. If he now wants to try and duck and run, then I would ask the member opposite to substantiate and tell us what period, what variance report. There are nine of them at least. What variance reports are included in the supplementary?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: How interesting this debate is becoming when it comes to the important role of government and responsibility and, in fact, the important role of every member in this House and the responsibility that we hold on behalf of Yukoners. This member just voted against, in second reading, a supplementary, which consisted of, for the most part, expenditures under the former Liberal governmentís watch. And the member goes on to say that we dissolved the permanent fund. That was to try and address the rapid slide into an accumulated deficit, and letís look at why.
The former Liberal government, in two years, spent $1.4 billion. They spent down the surplus to where we are at today, which reflects a mere one-point-some million dollars. That is really something when it comes to responsibility on behalf of the Yukon public and sound fiscal management.
The member continues in this House to relay all kinds of spending requests that this government should be forking over the money for. The member, when it comes to responsibility, does not address the fact that the government in this territory, because of the Yukon Taxpayer Protection Act, cannot go into accumulated deficit. So when it comes to responsibility, the member opposite should have relayed to the Yukon public how the former government intended to do that, considering the numbers before us. These numbers are not put together by people who donít understand financing or accounting. No, they are put together by people who have an expertise in the field.
Now, Mr. Chair, again I go back to the point that the member can stand in this House all day long, but no matter what, when it comes to the shortfall in MLA pensions, the shortfall happened under the former Liberal governmentís watch.
When it comes to all these spending requests, I believe it is up to period 8 that is reflected in this supplementary. Other than $5 million of very good spending ó spending that Yukoners needed, and spending that Yukoners are cheering about. Over $3 million poured into this territory for short-term stimulus and that is not petty cash. It is revolving throughout the territory. It is helping families. It is helping businesses, especially in communities where it is so desperately needed. It is helping First Nations who desperately need jobs and benefits. The $5 million is a good expenditure. The rest of the supplementary is the residual of the former Liberal governmentís fiscal mismanagement, other than areas that were required, and a shortfall in MLA pensions is something that must be covered. There is no choice in that, but the shortfall took place in under two years of Liberal mismanagement of the Yukon Territoryís affairs, and that is what responsibility is all about. That member should stand up in this House and be responsible to the Yukon public and admit that the Liberal government mismanaged the affairs of this territory and set us backward for two years. That has really, really damaged the future of this territory. Our government has now taken the steps to turn that around. That is our first budget that we will be debating in this Legislature. That is the first step and, Mr. Chair, letís talk about responsibility. I want the member to talk about responsibility. I look forward to the debate.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, for the benefit of the member opposite, an actuarial evaluation of the MLA pension plan is required by law. Itís also required that it be tabled and provided to members. That was done. It was completed during the election time, notification was sent to the member, to me, and it was tabled for all members to see. The decision of whether to top it up, how to deal with the shortfall, is a matter of choice, and the member made a choice, as the Minister of Finance ó prior to any other members of this House having seen it and it being tabled to us, as is required ó and must take responsibility for making that choice. The choice was to top up the fund. The member made a decision and has responsibility for that decision.
The member also made a decision to seek a special warrant ó to seek a special warrant from the Commissioner. The warrant was signed on December 23. It covers the period October 1 to March 31 of this year, 11 days hence. The spending responsibilities in that time period are the memberís ó the Minister of Finance and the chair of Management Board. Those spending decisions are the ministerís responsibility and those spending decisions enhance, as per one of the recommendations, the MLA pension fund.
They also add additional funding ó $1 million in Executive Council Office; $461,000 in Business, Tourism and Culture; $97,000 in Community Services; $136,000 in Education; $569,000 in Energy, Mines and Resources; $24,000 in Environment; $444,000 in Finance; $5,963,000 in Health and Social Services; $928,000 in Justice; $1.4 million in Public Service Commission; and they reduced the Housing Corporation by $1 million. Thatís all in operation and maintenance.
The special warrant sought, asked for by the Finance minister ó the decisions he also has responsibility for ó reduced the capital funding, completely dissolved the Yukon permanent fund, as voted by the House. They add capital money to Community Services, take away the capital money voted by this House for the Grey Mountain School. They also add money in some other departments ó add capital money, capital spending decisions ó reduce and end the possibility of construction of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre ó badly needed, ordered by the fire marshal, jobs for Yukoners, ended by a choice of the Finance minister in seeking this special warrant ó ended those jobs and potential jobs.
Now thatís the special warrant. Thatís the decision made by that Finance minister and by that Management Board. Also in the supplementary are the variance reports, and the Finance minister wonít answer ó or is unable to at this point ó what variance reports are in here. Iíve asked for the question because variance reports are also approved by Management Board. And just as we saw the previous government reverse the decisions of this Legislature in a special warrant and now finally accept responsibility for the special warrant, what the government has also done and the Finance minister has also done is give approval to variance reports, and they are in this supplementary, and they are the decisions of the members opposite ó the Finance minister and the Management Board.
To suggest for one iota of a second that this is a decision of the previous government, and after pleasantly admitting that the 2001-02 supplementary ó the spending decisions of the previous government ó show $40 million in lapsed funding ó $40 million going back into the surplus, decisions made by the previous government ó for the member to then suggest that, somehow, the Liberal government didnít manage the finances of the territory is completely incorrect.
The Auditor Generalís report of October 31 shows that the books are exactly as we said theyíd be ó exactly. Thatís management; thatís good financial management.
I want the member opposite, the Minister of Finance, to respond with the facts of which variance reports are in this budget and to accept responsibility for him and his Management Board approving them and approving the spending in the special warrant.
The special warrant, I might add, reversed a number of decisions of the previous government and of the previous members of this House.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Yes, there were some decisions reversed. Thatís what Yukoners stated loud and clear on November 4. They did not support those decisions. Thatís a fact of life. Our side canít change that. I know that the member opposite does not feel good about that, but thatís the publicís choice. That was their decision. They spoke loudly about the fiscal management of the former Liberal government on November 4. They spoke loud and clear.
Now I want to point something out: the member is saying that we have made changes to what the former government had intended to do. The former government created what was called the permanent fund. The former government said to the Yukon public, "Yukoners, we are going to solve our economic woes. We are going to fix our economic problems. We have established the tool to do that, and that is the permanent fund." Well, that would be similar to having a million dollar airport with a 10 cent control tower. We are not going to fix our economy with a permanent fund of $10 million. Secondly, the permanent fund had to be dissolved to ensure that the government did not go into an accumulated deficit position.
Now the member has also voted against her own expenditures. The supplementary that we are debating right now, her fiscal year, 2002-03 ó it was the Liberal governmentís budget that is in effect here in the fiscal year 2002-03.
And the member just voted against her own expenditures, except for the $5 million of good spending that this side put into the budget. The member has voted against $5.9 million for health care to Yukoners. The member has voted against ensuring that we covered the shortfall in the MLA pensions, and we have to do that because we are bound by accounting practices to do that. The member has voted against wages of $1,400,000 for Yukon government employees. The member continues to vote against all of these expenditures to date because the member wants to shed the responsibility of what took place.
Mr. Chair, this is not an act of being responsible. We have taken the responsibility and tabled this supplementary. We are here to debate this supplementary and we will vote for these expenditures because that is what we are bound to do. But we say that $5 million of these expenditures belongs to the decisions of this government because that is what we committed to Yukoners. The other expenditures reflected in this supplementary are the residual of the former Liberal government. That is the case.
I donít know how long we want to go around this one, but this side of the House accepts the responsibility for tabling this supplementary. We accept the responsibility to debate this supplementary. We accept the responsibility to ensure that this spending authority is given in this House. We accept all of that, but we do not accept the mistakes of the former Liberal government and never will.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, does the member accept the responsibility for the spending decisions in the supplementary? Does the member opposite accept that responsibility? Yes or no?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Our government accepts the responsibility for bringing this supplementary forward as we must do. That is our responsibility. Weíve brought it forward. Weíre here debating it. Thatís exactly what weíre doing, so that is accepting our responsibility, Mr. Chair.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, then what I have heard the member say is that he has taken full responsibility for an additional $25,660,000 in expenditures of taxpayersí money, full responsibility for furthering the deficit in the territory ó an additional $15 million. Thatís what the member opposite has taken responsibility for, and I accept that the member opposite sees that, yes indeed, it is his responsibility. And for the benefit of the members opposite who donít sit on Management Board but who sign off the variance reports, Management Board approves them. The spending decisions in this supplementary are the spending decisions of that government, not the previous government. They are the spending decisions by the Finance minister and Management Board. It was the Finance minister and Management Board that made a choice to axe the jail, that made a choice to deny children a healthy, safe, clean learning environment by ending any possibility of the construction of Grey Mountain School and planning money for Tantalus, that ended advice ó didnít even bother to ask, didnít even bother to listen to the advice from Yukoners on the permanent fund.
They had very good advice that said to not put it into a general fund like Alberta does, to upgrade infrastructure, to spend the money on capital projects like the new jail and waterfront development, to spend interest on infrastructure. The government made a choice. The government added to the surplus of the territory by cancelling the permanent fund, added to the surplus of the territory by cancelling the school, added to the surplus of the territory by ending $2.7 million in funding to Yukon Housing Corporation, added to the surplus, as Iíve said, by cancelling the jail, by cancelling the school, by cancelling the permanent fund, and then turned around in the next breath, Mr. Chair, and spent that money, approved the variance reports that asked that departments ask for additional money ó departments asked for additional money in a variance report. That variance report goes to Management Board. Management Board has a choice ó yes or no.
We spent what was in the budget. As a government, I will take full responsibility, and I am very proud of the budgets we tabled in this House. Iím very proud of the budgets that we tabled, just as every time I drive over the new road to Champagne-Aishihik and I look at all of the people and talk to the people who were employed last year on the north highway and I talk to the contractors who say that they appreciated when we were in government, that they got work, but who are now bemoaning the spending decisions of this government.
Mr. Chair, the budget that we tabled was responsible spending. I was proud of that budget. We lived within it.
The spending decisions in the supplementary before us are spending decisions of that Finance minister ó the Finance minister opposite. They are spending decisions taken by the government of the day. All Iím asking is for the Finance minister to accept responsibility for the decisions of Management Board that he chairs.
The Finance minister has admitted that he sought the special warrant. He has admitted the time period covered by the special warrant is October 1 to March 31. Would the Finance minister confirm that the special warrant was $12,729,000, that thatís the time period it covered, October 1? Will the Finance minister confirm when I might receive the information detailing how much of the supplementary before us is special warrant and how much of it belongs in the variance reports?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Well, I see that weíre going to be at this for awhile because the member just will not recognize the fiscal situation that the former Liberal government put this territory in.
Let me point something out. For the fiscal year 2002-03, we debated a budget here ó the largest budget in the history of the Yukon Territory, the largest budget ever ó some $565 million. Before we even got to October of the fiscal year 2002-03, that memberís government had already approved, through special warrant, some $12,465,000 of overexpenditure. That was before we even got to October.
I see the trajectory; the pattern of spending is quite clear. Everybody on this side of the House sees that pattern of spending and so did Yukoners, and they spoke loud and clear on November 4.
The member has to take responsibility for what was happening during the fiscal year 2002-03. In all likelihood, some of this expenditure went toward contracts and contract extensions for Liberal candidates. This is the type of expenditure that is going on within the government. The member has to be responsible for this and should stand on the floor and clear the record for the Yukon public. It is important that she does so before pointing the finger at this side of the House and saying that we are not being responsible for what we as a government have undertaken. Well, we are being responsible. We committed $5 million for Yukoners to help with short-term stimulus, and that is happening today. Since January over $3 million is flowing in the Yukon. We are responsible for bringing forward this supplementary because of the residual of the former Liberal government in the expenditures. We must do so because of accounting practices and our responsibility to that. The money was spent. The member is trying to make the case that on December 2, 2002, when this government took office, $12,729,000 was immediately spent. That is not the case, Mr. Chair. On December 23, 2002, this special warrant was signed off by the Commissioner. Is the member saying then that, from December 2 to 23, 2002, the new government spent $12,729,000? It is ridiculous to even consider that. $7 million and some dollars were the direct result of the former governmentís expenditures, its policies, its decisions, its operation of the Yukon government.
No matter how we go about this, we had to accept the residual of those policies, those decisions and those expenditures. Our responsibility is to bring them forward to this Legislature because the money had been spent, and we must get spending authority for those expenditures, department by department.
So, Mr. Chair, I think itís fair to say that our government is being very responsible. We are acting in accordance with all the responsibilities that come with government, with Management Board and with Cabinet. Each minister has been acting responsibly in dealing with his or her department.
So, to make a long story short, we will never accept the fact that all this money that was spent is because of decisions our government made. That is not the case. Our government made a decision to spend $5 million on FireSmart and Project Yukon; the former Liberal government ó and all that happened during the fiscal year 2002-03, up to this period ó should take responsibility for those issues because they happened under their watch.
Ms. Duncan: Weíre going to be at this for awhile.
Mr. Chair, the Financial Administration Act Special Warrant No. 2, 2002-03, as passed by our government, contained $12,465,000, of which a certain amount was recoverable. They were contracts entered into with Canada, where Canada will pay a certain amount back, so the actual amount expended by our government was $7 million.
Now, the new government ó the Yukon Party ó took office with, I might add, 40 percent of the popular vote, before the member opposite starts to rest on his laurels too far. The fact is that the warrant ó and the member has agreed in the House already ó covers the period October 1, 2002, to March 31, 2003.
So it covers that period. It immediately, without so much as a by your leave or a recall of the Legislature, reverses decisions that are made by the Legislature ó decisions, votes, that have been taken by the Legislature were reversed by that minister.
All Iím asking is that the Minister of Finance be clear with Yukoners, be absolutely clear. Outline, dollar for dollar, who was the chair of Management Board when these expenditures were approved ó dollar for dollar ó and, when heís on his feet outlining that information, also explain that as chair of Management Board and Minister of Finance he has the ability and did reverse spending decisions made by the previous government.
Now, Iím sure weíre all excited about yet another lecture on the big, bad trajectory and, holy, we canít take the territory into deficit. Nobody is more familiar with that than people who have served in this House. We know the Taxpayer Protection Act. Anybody who has served in this Legislature or who serves now is well aware of it. All I have asked the Minister of Finance for is a commitment that he wonít, with his majority, change it arbitrarily, as we have seen they are wont to make arbitrary decisions without consultation. With a majority in the House, they could make a change. Thatís more frightening.
The fact is that, while the member goes on and on and on about the largest spending budgets, he neglects to mention ó omits ó Iím sure itís just an error ó that there is also a very clear projection of funding coming to the territory from devolution. But itís not in there. Itís not in the Finance documents.
The money Iím referring to ó the member goes on about these large amounts by the Liberal government. Well, the fact is that the record will show in the days to come that that Finance minister has far larger budgets than what Iíve tabled, and far larger deficits because he is the Finance minister responsible for taking the territory into a $56-million deficit ó not me, and not our government.
Iím glad the members opposite find it humorous; I personally donít find it humorous.
Itís about responsibility. Management Board, over there, has a responsibility for these spending decisions. Iím asking the member opposite, the Finance minister, to recognize that the spending decisions in the supplementary belong to that Management Board. They belong to this government. They spent the money. They spent the additional money. All Iíve asked ó itís very simple, Mr. Chair ó is for the leader of the official opposition to clarify with the Minister of Finance that this supplementary, the supplementary before us, contains the special warrant of the government ó the special warrant of the Yukon Party government ó and that it contains the variance reports approved by the Management Board.
He has said ó off-camera, I believe ó that itís up to period 8 variance report. Well, period 8 is spending decisions by the member opposite and it is spending decisions by the Management Board. Management Board approved this document. Management Board ensured this document was tabled by the House. Management Board has to take responsibility for it.
These are the spending decisions of the Yukon Party government. Iím only asking the Finance minister, and Iíll keep asking until he recognizes, on the floor of this House, that far more than the $5 million ó far more ó are decisions of the members opposite. Itís the membersí opposite decision to axe the jail, he membersí opposite decision to no longer build a school; itís the membersí opposite decision to cut funding to the Correctional Institute, to ensure that it will not be built this year, that those contracts will not be let; and itís the members opposite who cut the funding to the Yukon Housing Corporation, funding that employed the small contractors in this territory in home renovations. Itís the members opposite who cut the jobs Yukoners were looking forward to this winter and this spring.
Can the Minister of Finance confirm that it is the period 8 variance report that is included in the supplementary budget?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I will get to confirming that in a moment, but first I want to reflect back on what the member was saying, and the member mentioned that it is this government that has taken the territory somewhere. Well, I can tell you where this government is taking the territory ó less contingency. This government is taking the territory from an annual deficit under that memberís government of $55 million to an annual deficit of $9 million. Thatís where this government is taking this territory. Weíre heading to balanced budgets; balanced budgets because that is fiscal responsibility, that is sound fiscal management. We cannot spend beyond our means.
The member opposite goes on and on and on about who is responsible for what spending in the warrant. Our responsibility, upon taking office December 2, 2002, was to bring forward the increases in spending or the overexpenditures in departments that happened under that memberís watch. We canít change that fact. The member would like us to, because it is such a ó what can I say that isnít unparliamentary, Mr. Chair ó it is such a bad example of fiscal management. We canít change the fact that these overexpenditures, coupled with the highest budget in the history of Yukon that saw more Yukoners leave this territory, that saw our economy decline further, that saw our government spend more and more money with no returns. I think Yukoners saw that very clearly. We are taking this government somewhere, and we are taking this territory somewhere by virtue of the fact that in one budget, less the contingency of $4.5 million, we have reduced an annual deficit of $55 million down to $9 million and we have done that by no cuts to jobs, by no loss of programs and services to Yukoners, despite what the opposition tries to portray in this House by using incorrect information ó information that is not based on fact ó to create a perception in the public that this is what is happening and in fact it is not. It is not happening whatsoever. The direction is clear to all departments that we will ensure that the Yukon is not in an accumulated debt position. We will do that by being efficient. We will do that by working within the budget envelope. We will do that by ensuring there are no loss of jobs and no loss of programs and services to Yukoners.
If there is a demonstrated need during the fiscal year, we will address that demonstrated need. We are being sound fiscal managers and, yes, it does reflect period 8.
Chair: Before we continue debate, do members wish a recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Weíll recess for 15 minutes.
Chair: Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We will continue on with our general debate on the Third Appropriation Act, 2002-03.
Ms. Duncan: There has been a vigorous discussion going on on the floor of this House ó a vigorous debate or enlightened discussion ó and on several occasions we have mentioned a vote authority in the Commissionerís warrant passed by Mr. Fentieís government ó a Commissionerís warrant ó and the Commissionerís warrant includes $2,797,000.
Chair: Order. The member will refrain from speaking of a member in here by name.
Ms. Duncan: Sorry, Mr. Chair. There has been a vigorous discussion going on about the special warrant passed by the Member for Watson Lake, by the current Finance minister, that authorized $12,729,000 to be paid from the consolidated revenue fund, and this of course increased the deficit that was tabled by the previous government and also covered the period October 1, 2002 to March 31, 2003.
There has been a great deal of discussion back and forth about the $2,797,000 allocated to the Yukon Legislative Assembly, and as we have been advised, this expenditure occurred under the Assemblyís watch and, as such, I will certainly refrain from suggesting that that amount occurred under the current Finance ministerís watch or my watch. I think we should set that aside, out of the discussion, because thatís a Legislative Assembly issue, and it is vote authority. Letís set it aside and leave that out of the discussion. Out of respect for the Legislative Assembly, letís leave that out.
So the expenditure that weíre talking about in the supplementary is $25,660,000.
I am encouraging the Finance minister to take responsibility for those expenditures, setting aside this Legislative Assembly expenditure.
The member opposite went on at great length prior to confirming that it was period 8, about balanced budgets. I donít have the budget tabled by the member opposite immediately in front of me. Could he just confirm when he intends to bring in balanced budgets?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I must again correct the record, when it comes to this responsibility matter. The member opposite ó the leader of the third party, the former Premier ó stated just moments ago that this government should take responsibility for a $25-million supplementary minus the Legislative Assembly. However, there is a slight problem to that rationale. Part of this supplementary includes a special warrant signed off October 4, 2002, while the former Liberal government was in office, and it included $12,465,000.
Thatís half of the supplementary, Mr. Chair. What weíre trying to get to here are the hard facts. Letís go further, then. The next warrant is a total of $12,729,000, but we agree. Weíll remove the Legislative Assembly, which is over $2 million. So for argumentís sake, letís go down to $10 million. All right? So now we have $10 million in the December special warrant, and we have almost $12,500,000 in the October warrant. If we want to look at how the responsibility should be played out in this matter, the October warrant is the Liberalsí expenditure. In the December warrant, out of $10 million, $5 million belongs to this government. We are the government responsible for making the decision and directing that that $5 million be put into the warrant. The balance, the rest of the money, the other $5 million, is the residual of the policies, the decision making and the direction given by the former Liberal government.
Let me add to that rationale. If we were to buy a company, and we buy one that is broke ó itís in the red, itís in debt, but we buy it ó the expenditures of that company or corporation put the company into debt. Is the purchaser responsible for the expenditures that put that company into debt? No. The purchaser buys the company, rights the ship and is focused on getting the company back in the black.
In essence, thatís what weíre doing in government. We took office on December 2 ó duly sworn in. We had to accept the residual of the former Liberal government in this supplementary. Out of the total of the $25 million ó just for argumentís sake, weíll round the numbers off ó minus the Legislature, which brings us to $23 million, only $5 million is the responsibility of this governmentís decision making and direction. The balance of some $18 million is the responsibility of the former Liberal government ó its policies, direction and decisions. Those are the facts. We canít change that, Mr. Chair.
I know the member opposite wants us to change that, wants us to absolve the Liberal government of all responsibility for the shambles that the Yukon government found itself in fiscally, but we cannot do that.
This is not what the Yukon public voted us into office for. They voted us into office to deliver on what we committed to do, and thatís what we are doing. They did not vote us into office to accept responsibility for the former Liberal governmentís mistakes. We cannot do that, so I would urge the member to move off this very unproductive debate and letís get on with what Yukoners want. They want to debate the new budget. They want to debate the budget that reflects fiscal year 2003-04, and weíre prepared to do that, Mr. Chair.
Ms. Duncan: Itís unfortunate that the member opposite didnít answer my question, which Iíll just repeat for him. When does he intend to bring in a balanced budget? He made several comments about a balanced budget and he has indicated on the floor that he intends to bring in a balanced budget.
I know there are forecasts in one of the budget documents that has been tabled, and he has made much of this balanced budget, and he has used a company analogy. When does he intend to bring in a balanced budget? Iím just asking that straightforward question.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: There is a document. Again, I get back to the fiscal year 2003-04 budget. If the member wants to move off this needless debate on the supplementary of money already spent and move into the debate on the new budget, weíre prepared to do that.
So the member could pick up the new budget document and just go to the budget highlights, and the member will find all the needed information that she is requesting on the floor of the Legislature, while we are in debate of fiscal year 2002-03.
Ms. Duncan: I do apologize that the Finance minister seems to find this debate uncomfortable. He had mentioned a balanced budget so I was asking him what year he planned to bring it forward.
Since he finds it discomforting and wishes to discuss that in the next budget discussions, I am prepared to do that.
I would, however, like to point out that the member perhaps needs to revisit the math just a little bit. We nodded at one another across the floor and agreed that the $2,797,000 would be left to the Legislative Assembly. So, rather than take it off the $25 million in expenditures, the member took it off of their special warrant. Letís take it off the $25 million in expenditures in the supplementary.
What we are talking about then is $22,263,000 in additional expenditures.
Now, the dispute between members ó and it is a lively discussion, just as the member thought it would be. The member is suggesting that all of the $22,263,000, except for $5 million, was approved by the previous government. Well, the warrant approved by the government and the Finance minister at the time ó myself ó was for $12,465,000, I believe. Will the current Finance minister recognize that of that $12,465,000, $4 million is in fact recoverable from Canada and that the special warrant was necessary to enter into the contract for the Dawson City Airport airside improvements?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Chair, I was using round numbers. We need not nitpick. Round numbers in this kind of debate are probably in the best interests of the Yukon public because it may help to expedite the debate. The member is still angling around, trying to say that the responsibility for the expenditures here are this governmentís responsibility. Let me again repeat for the record: we take full responsibility for having to bring this budget to the floor of this House ó this supplementary. No question about it. We take full responsibility. But in coming into office, we had to deal with the residual of the former governmentís spending. We had to do that.
So, in saying that, because we were duty bound to bring forward the supplementary reflecting the money spent by departments under the former governmentís watch, we have brought it forward. We added to it a $5-million expenditure on behalf of Yukoners to provide short-term stimulus in this territory where itís so desperately needed. Those are the facts. Thereís no way to change that. It doesnít matter how long we debate this question on the floor of this Legislature: it will never change.
The facts are that the former Liberal government, under their watch, had overexpended ó minus the issue that we have just committed to extract from this debate ó had overexpended $18 million. Thereís no changing that. The numbers are clear. We made the decision and direction to add to that $18 million of overexpenditure ó which can be attributed to the former Liberal government and for which the former Liberal government is responsible. We added $5 million of expenditure for short-term stimulus.
That is what is laid out in this supplementary budget. Iíd like to help the member. I understand the predicament the member is in and how hard it must be to know that this took place in two short years, and it must be very difficult, and Iíd like to help the member, Mr. Chair, but I canít change the facts. I canít change what we must do, what we are duty bound to do as a government. So let me just recap: in the supplementary, minus what we committed to extract from the debate, there is $18 million of the former Liberal governmentís responsibility, and there is $5 million of our governmentís responsibility and direction.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, a short review of the Hansard this afternoon will bear out the fact that, as much as the Minister of Finance is suggesting heís trying to help me out, let me lend him a hand. Let me share with him what he shared with us this afternoon.
He shared with us that his government takes full responsibility for the supplementary before us. He said that very clearly. He has also said that the supplementary before us contains two special warrants ó the one passed when I was Finance minister and the one passed when the member opposite was Finance minister ó and the period 8 variance report. The period 8 variance report is approved by the member and his colleagues in Management Board. Period 8 is approved by that government.
Now, I know the minister has suggested we not nitpick; perhaps I could make the friendly suggestion to the member that we not play fast and loose with the figures and that we actually stick to what the facts are.
Now, the facts are that there was a budget tabled for 2002-03 ó we got a supplementary for it ó and had had a $41,470,000 deficit. Thatís what was in it ó $41 million in deficit.
Now, we have a supplementary that adds to that deficit by whatís under discussion ó $22,263,000. Thereís $22 million of additional spending. Who authorized it? It didnít come before the House because itís not in here. Itís not in the old budget. No, it comes before the House now. So, itís coming before the House. Who brought it before the House? The current Finance minister. Who has responsibility for the spending decisions in it? The current Finance minister. Who authorized the warrant? Who asked the Commissioner for an additional $12 million? The current Finance minister. Now the current Finance minister stands on his feet and says that the former government did it, because the former government, the former Finance minister, asked for a warrant for $12 million. I agree. The former government did ask for a warrant for $12 million. Of that $12 million, $4 million was additional revenue, recoverable money, money that was coming back. So, in actual fact, the former government was spending $7 million.
Now, I accept responsibility. I signed the request to Management Board for that money. I signed the letter for the Commissioner. I explained it to the public. What the current Finance minister is not explaining to the public is that his $12-million expenditure, his $12-million warrant, for which he and his government have responsibility, doesnít even include ó oh, it may. Pardon me.
This $12-million expenditure also takes in excess of $11 million out of this budget, out of the budget that had passed the House, out of previously voted-upon authority ó and says, weíre changing that decision. The responsibility for ending those voted upon expenditures, of saying no, that money is not going to be spent the way the House directed, is that Finance minister.
That Finance minister has responsibility. So thereís $11-some-odd million plus that the Finance minister is putting back in.
So, in actual fact, what Iíve just recapped ó there is $22 million in additional spending that the House is being asked for, that weíre debating. Weíre talking about $22 million of it ó the actual amount is $25 million, but weíre talking about $22 million.
Our government approved ó thatís $22 million over and above the $41-million deficit, so $22 million over and above the $565,183,000 that had been voted upon ó so, an additional $25 million. So we asked for authority for $565 million. Prior to calling the election we asked for an additional $12 million, of which we were getting $4 million back. So, in actual fact, we went to the House, we went to the Commissioner, and we asked for the right to spend $565 million plus $7 million of taxpayersí money.
We had that and I take responsibility for it.
What the new Finance minister did ó and what I am asking him to take responsibility for ó is to bring forward a supplementary that takes $11 million of voted-upon money, puts it back in and says, "No, we are not going to spend it." So, in actual fact the spending of the previous government was reduced by $11 million plus, and this Finance minister said to put $11 million back and spend $25 million more. Let me put this another way ó
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: Now, the member says I am not making any sense. Well, let me deal with the dollars for the member opposite. The dollars and cents are that our government approved $7 million in spending. His government has approved $22 million in spending, and he has also taken previously approved $11 million plus and said, "No, we are going to use it another way." He has responsibility, just as he changed the Legislatureís decision and the previous Cabinetís decision on $11 million.
Heís changing the spending of the territory. He has to take responsibility for it.
Can the Finance minister say ó because weíve had lots of discussion about the $12 million in warrants, which in actual fact is $7 million of spending by the Liberal government, $12 million by the Finance minister ó can the Finance minister say how much is period 8 in this supplementary? The Finance minister has said this is up to period 8 so, generally speaking, because he doesnít want to nitpick on the figures, generally speaking, how much is period 8? How much did the Cabinet approve in period 8?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: You know, Mr. Chair, in listening to the member oppositeís arguments in trying to shed the responsibility of this massive spending that took place over two years of Liberal government ó
Chair: The Chair is uncomfortable with the term "shed the responsibility".
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Iíll retract "shed" and replace it with "not recognizing who was responsible for" the massive spending in the two years of Liberal government, thereís something that has struck me in the debate. I believe the member said that, if you take $12 million and subtract $4 million, you get $7 million, and that may be what the problem is here, because that doesnít work. It doesnít compute. Thatís not what it equals. It equals $8 million.
So maybe weíre on to something here in terms of what the problem is.
Now, the member went on and on about the amounts of money, and so on and so forth, and even ó and I thank the member for this ó provided this side of the House a bit of an accolade for saving Yukoners money. I think thatís a good sign. We may start to get somewhere in this debate, because we did save Yukoners money. In our budget, weíre showing clearly that we dropped the annual deficit from $55 million to $9 million, and we are saving Yukoners money.
It is evident by the fact that the member is trying this in debate that we have to, at some point, come to terms and recognize how this works. The member asks what values or what amounts include period 8 but, by standard accounting practices, period 8 and the monies here reflect everything up to and including period 8. Thatís the way it is. And then thereís a period 9 and a period 10, and so on and so forth.
However, no matter what, the monies that were committed when we took office are everything but the $5 million we added to it ó everything.
So, weíre back to the same basic principle here that our government is responsible for the decision and direction to spend $5 million on behalf of Yukoners to create short-term stimulus. Our government has to bring forward the total supplementary, but the former Liberal government is responsible for the rest, or the balance, of the expenditure.
That is the case. Our side, our government, can see no way to convince the member otherwise, so maybe a really detailed technical briefing may help the member. I will offer Finance officials to provide that briefing should the member choose. But no matter what, our debate will not change. We are responsible for the decision of $5 million. We have to bring in the full supplementary that reflects the spending of the former government, and it includes the $5 million that we directed the government to expend toward CDF and FireSmart. That is it. The governmentís side rests its case.
Ms. Duncan: The member has stood on his feet and said everything was committed by the previous government. Can the member stand and explain then who made the decision to "uncommit" $1,994,000 to the Whitehorse Correctional Centre?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Well, that is an easy one. We presented a platform to Yukoners in the election that clearly outlined our commitments. We did not commit in that platform that we would be immediately building a jail upon taking office.
Ms. Duncan: So what the Finance minister has said is that all the decisions in this supplementary were the former governmentís and yet the supplementary contains the special warrant, and the special warrants were decisions made by that Finance minister. And that Finance minister just took responsibility for that decision in the special warrant. There is also $3,492,000 in Education that was a reversal of a commitment ó a change of a commitment. The Yukon Party committed in the election campaign ó the now Minister of Business, Tourism and Culture has it in black and white all over her riding ó that the money from Grey Mountain School would be more educational assistants, more money in the classrooms.
Itís a $3,492,000 decision made by that government ó not money in the supplementary for education, yet itís a decision of the government. Itís a decision of that Finance minister, and it doesnít live up to the commitments.
So the argument that somehow all but $5 million is the Liberal governmentís is completely incorrect. Iíve shown that over and over again. The Finance minister has said the special warrants are in the budget. The Finance minister has said period 8 is in the budget. The Finance minister has said, "I approved the special warrant." The Finance minister said, "Our Management Board approves period 8." The Finance minister said that this is previous commitments. Well, the Finance minister just said that they just undid the previous commitments.
All Iím asking is for the Finance minister to, in round-dollar terms, outline for Yukoners his responsibility as Finance minister for the supplementary. Thatís all I have asked for all afternoon, and Iím certainly prepared to spend as much time as the member opposite would like, because these are decisions of the Management Board, which is chaired by the Finance minister.
Period 8, the variance reports ó and I appreciate the offer of a detailed briefing. Iíve had the good fortune to enjoy many, many detailed briefings on variance reports, as have the ministers responsible for them. Variance reports are tough for Cabinet ministers to bring into Management Board. Itís particularly tough for the Health minister to bring a variance report in because the variance reports in the Department of Health are invariably over, through no fault of the officials or the minister.
Those are expenditures over which we have no control, largely. Money had to be spent, the Finance minister is quite right. No one, no legislator, would suggest that we not pay our bills for outside hospital stays if they arrived at more than the budgeted amount. All Iím pointing out is that it is the Management Board opposite that made the decision to pay the bills that were over the budgeted amount.
The Management Board is the members opposite ó they made the decisions in the supplementary. I will absolutely recognize that entering into the contract for the Dawson City airside improvements, which is recoverable from Canada ó absolutely, Iíll take responsibility for that. Iíll also take responsibility for putting money into Grey Mountain School in the previous budget. All Iím asking is for the member opposite to take responsibility for reversing those decisions and the fact that those reversals are in the supplementary. Itís very clear in the Commissionerís warrant. Itís outlined there in black and white. The members opposite took $11 million plus of spending that was approved, and took it back.
No, I am not going to change the fact that $25 million was spent. $25 million has been spent over and above what was budgeted for 2002-03. The approval for the expenditure of that $25 million rests with the members opposite. It is the Management Board sitting across from me, whomever the members might be ó and I donít know if the Finance minister has continued with past practice of enlarging Management Board to include all of Cabinet or not; he may or may not have, and thatís his business.
The fact is, there are many individuals who have recommended good decisions ó good financial decisions ó to the Yukon government. The financial decisions in the supplementary before us belong with the Finance minister ó yes, they are supplementary to the 2002-03 budget, which I as Finance minister tabled, but the decisions to spend the supplementary money ó even though the member suggests they didnít take office until December 2, the Commissionerís warrant itself says it covers the period from October 1 on. The Finance minister has said himself it includes period 8 variance. The Finance minister himself has said they reversed the decisions of the previous government. So the responsibility for that reversal belongs with the Finance minister, just as responsibility for the expenditures belongs with the Finance minister. Itís more than $5 million. He chaired Management Board. He signed off, with Management Boardís approval, on sending the supplementary to the printer, approving it. Thatís responsibility.
No, the previous government did not spend all the money. The previous government tabled a budget with a $41-million deficit. The previous government also administered and oversaw a budget for 2001-02 that had $41 million in lapsed spending. The Finance minister will preside over budgets that also in the future will show ó he already has to bring in a supplementary for the devolution money thatís not shown.
And he freely says he has responsibility for that. He has responsibility for that supplementary that is coming, and he has the supplementary that is before us. All I am asking and all I have asked all afternoon is for the member to take responsibility for it, to agree that, yes, he chairs Management Board and to agree that, yes, there are period 8 variance reports in here, that, yes, the supplementary contains period 8 variance reports, reports that are approved by the Finance minister and Management Board, that, yes, the supplementary contains the special warrants. One of those special warrants belongs to the member opposite. He signed it. He asked the Commissioner for that spending authority as the Minister of Finance, and it is contained in the supplementary and it is far more ó far, far more ó than just $5 million in the memberís cut-brush version of the economy. It is far more than that.
Mr. Chair, seeing as the time is close to 6:00, I move that we report progress.
Chair: It has been moved by Ms. Duncan that we report progress on Bill No. 2.
Some Hon. Members: Disagreed.
Chair: We will continue on with general debate.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I would like to find some way with the member to move debate along, but itís virtually impossible when the member does not recognize exactly what takes place in government when it comes to government finances. Somehow we have to get the member to recognize what takes place.
We made a decision to inject $5 million into the Yukon economy. That was a direction by our government to do that, and itís reflected in the supplementary. Yes, we also made the decision, based on what the Yukon public desired from the election on November 4, to save some money for Yukoners. Yes, we did that, but that doesnít change the fact that the rest of the expenditures here are the responsibility of the decisions, the policies, and the direction of the former Liberal government during the fiscal year 2002-03. These are expenditures that evolved throughout the course of the fiscal year. These are expenditures that are the responsibility of the former Liberal government.
The rest of the supplementary, which is the $5 million, is our responsibility. But we have to, as a government, bring this supplementary forth.
We are going to conclude a fiscal year this month. This supplementary is all about that fiscal year, and then we will debate what will happen in the new fiscal year. Outside of the $5 million and the monies we save for Yukoners through our decisions, the rest of the responsibility lies with the former government. When we debate the new budget ó the budget that reflects the fiscal year 2003-04 ó that will be our responsibility, each and every dollar of it. Thatís the way government works; thatís the way government finances work; thatís the way the process works.
Surely, Mr. Chair, somehow this is resonating with the member opposite. Thereís no need to dig in and debate in this manner because it accomplishes nothing. The unfortunate part is that weíre beyond already what took place in the two years of the Liberal governmentís attempt at governing the territory. We are now heading into a new era. Thereís a new government, a government that was duly elected ó the largest majority ever in the history of the Yukon Territory, the largest majority ever sitting in this House.
Thatís a pretty clear statement by the Yukon public. Weíd like to get on with debating the budget that reflects the next fiscal year. What has happened has happened. We cannot change the fact, sitting here in this House, of what took place already; itís done. What we must try and do is improve on whatís ahead of us. Thatís our duty; thatís our responsibility; thatís why weíre here. So this debate about who spent what is simply not addressing that responsibility and that duty. Again, the member opposite bears the responsibility for that. We have clearly stated our involvement in what we did and have no problem announcing that to the public anywhere, any time, any place. We directed the government to spend $5 million in this supplementary. We directed the government to save money for Yukoners. There was no need to build a Grey Mountain School that Yukoners voted on November 4 not to build ó we committed not to build it.
Mr. Chair, I think we have to come to some recognition here, or we can only say that we have a situation where we are just simply failing to communicate, and thatís not in the best interests of Yukoners. So I would urge the member opposite to do whatever it takes ó send out press releases, send out newsletters, contact Yukoners ó do whatever it takes to try and make her case. The member has not made her case here in this House and cannot make her case, because the member cannot provide the rationale or the burden of proof for the position that the member is taking. We can. Itís in the pages of this document. We can provide the rationale, the burden of proof.
Seeing the time, I move ó
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Sorry, Mr. Chair, but my clock says 6:00 p.m.
But at the end of the day, thatís the situation. So this needless debate should, at some point, come to an end, and we would hope that the member opposite would find another vehicle to try and convince Yukoners that her position is, in fact, the position that Yukoners buy into. They didnít on November 4. They did not buy into that position.
There is much work to be done by the member opposite if Yukoners are going to again place their trust in a Liberal government. We have to move on. There is no purpose to this debate.
Chair: The time being 6:00 p.m., the Chair shall now rise and report to the House.
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Rouble:Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 3, entitled Fourth Appropriation Act, 2001-02, and has directed me to report it without amendment. It has also considered Bill No. 2, entitled Third Appropriation Act, 2002-03, and directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Member: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Speaker: The time being 6:00 p.m., this House stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. Monday.
The House adjourned at 6:03 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled March 20, 2003:
Yukon Human Rights Commission 2001-02 Annual Report (Speaker Staffen)
Yukon Workersí Compensation Health and Safety Board 2001 Annual Report (Jenkins)
Yukon Workersí Compensation Health and Safety Board 2001 Audited Financial Statements (Jenkins)
Yukon College 2001-02 Annual Report "Developing Skills, Expanding Knowledge" (Edzerza)
Yukon College Financial Statements, June 30, 2002, Office of the Auditor General of Canada (Edzerza)
Yukon Housing Corporation 2001-02 Annual Report (Hart)
The following Legislative Return was tabled March 20, 2003:
Health and Social Services staffing: budgetary expenditures for auxiliary employees for 2002-03 (Edzerza)
Oral, Hansard, p. 294-295
The following Document was filed March 20, 2003:
Whitehorse Copper Subdivision; non-conforming petition (Cardiff)