Whitehorse, Yukon

Monday, April 7, 2003 ó 1:00 p.m.

Speaker:   I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.

Prayers

DAILY ROUTINE

Speaker:   We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.

Are there any tributes?

TRIBUTES

In recognition of National Wildlife Week, Biodiversity Awareness Month, and Celebration of Swans

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:  I rise today to acknowledge the National Wildlife Week in Canada, Biodiversity Awareness Month here in the Yukon, and the Celebration of Swans in many Yukon communities.

National Wildlife Week was created in honour of one of Canadaís most influential naturalists, the late Jack Miner. Established by an act of Parliament in 1947, the week provides Canadians with an opportunity to celebrate wildlife and take action to protect wild animals and plants. National Wildlife Week is held in the second week of April as a tribute to Jack Minerís birth date. An avid and effective promoter of wildlife protection, Miner was responsible for groundbreaking conservation work, including the establishment of a bird sanctuary in southern Ontario that is still used today as a safe haven for thousands of birds.

This yearís Wildlife Week theme is "Native species, natureís choice". Kits and posters prepared by the Canadian Wildlife Federation have been distributed to schools in communities throughout the Yukon.

The Yukon Fish and Game Association is an important contributor when it comes to promoting public awareness of National Wildlife Week. This past weekend saw their annual family fishing day at Fox Lake, and a similar event is planned for this coming Sunday at Pine Lake, near Haines Junction.

Environment Yukon biologists and conservation officers are hosting events in many Yukon communities this week as part of the National Wildlife Week initiative. This yearís National Wildlife Week theme, "Native species, natureís choice", is timely for Yukoners. We have undertaken a special task with the federal government, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, First Nations and renewable resource councils to embark on the NatureServe Yukon project to identify the native and rare species of animals, plants, insects and birds that are found in the Yukon.

One of the NatureServe Yukonís most important jobs will be to identify and rank rare species. This information will be critical for the time when we develop a Yukon species at risk act and need to identify species officially ranked as at risk.

Our wildlife managers deal with the concerns of threatened and endangered species every day in this territory. We have successfully worked on recovery programs for peregrine falcons, caribou and fish stocks, and one of the most innovative and exciting initiatives is unfolding this spring near Beaver Creek. We will have more details later this week, but I cannot tell you enough of how proud I am of the men and women who are working on a local and international level to try to bring back the Chisana caribou herd that roams the Yukon-Alaska border near Beaver Creek.

One of the more reassuring events that lets us know that itís springtime is the return of the swans and the events that we have organized as the annual Celebration of Swans. I encourage everyone to check their mailboxes this week and to look for the blue flyer that lists all the events that have been scheduled for the annual celebration. Swan Haven is a wonderful example of the cooperative efforts by the Girl Guides of Canada, Ducks Unlimited, the Yukon Energy Corporation and Environment Yukon to offer an international showcase on the importance of biodiversity, habitat protection and awareness, and the wonders of our natural world.

Hundreds of Yukon students will be taken there to marvel and learn about the migration of these bird species as they make their way to their summer habitats. Many of us will want to take our families to Swan Haven at MíClintock Bay this weekend, then the Easter weekend to view the growing bird population.

Here in the Yukon we have taken the National Wildlife Week and the Swan Haven events awareness a step further by organizing the events under the umbrella of April being Biodiversity Awareness Month.

We encourage everyone to recognize, celebrate and appreciate life in all of its myriad forms. Itís a time for us to remember that every animal, plant and insect species has a vital role to play in our ecosystems and that they enrich our lives in many different ways.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the House to join me in encouraging all Yukoners to get out and enjoy our precious environment, to take in some of the planned special events and, most of all, to conscientiously appreciate the biodiversity and natural systems that support us all.

Thank you.

Mrs. Peter:   On behalf of the official opposition, I rise to join members in paying tribute to the National Wildlife Week. We in the Yukon have a deep appreciation for the Yukonís environment and for the wildlife.

Yukon First Nations, the first people of this land, have and hold respect for our land and animals. Our elders have taught us that if we do not care for our land and animals, we would, in the end, have nothing. We would be a poor people.

We believe that all that is living on this earth is connected; therefore, it is our responsibility to take care of it. The beauty, cleanliness and freedom of our environment is one of the many reasons people choose to make Yukon their home. Visitors to our land notice how very blessed we are when they see the many plants and species of animals that roam free.

National Wildlife Week is held in celebration of Canadaís wild heritage. The week provides an opportunity for Canadians to take action for conservation. This year, the theme is "Native species, natureís choice", which reflects concerns about the harmful effects of alien species on wildlife in Canada.

Many organizations play an important role in promoting public awareness about our wildlife resources. This week, let each of us not forget the value of our wildlife population. Let us honour those people who work for us in our own way so that we will always be blessed.

In the north, the wildlife population faces many challenges: some are man-made, such as industry; some are dramatic, such as climate changes. We need only remember the struggle of the Gwitchin people in trying to preserve the Porcupine caribou herd, which feeds many people. The pressure is always on development for oil and gas in the birthing grounds of this herd. One of our elders told this story a long time ago and said that this is exactly like going into a nursery in a hospital, disturbing and disrupting the babies and their families.

The challenge for Yukoners is to preserve and to protect our wildlife habitat, not only for ourselves and our grandchildren, but for those who are not yet born.

Mahsi'cho.

World Health Day

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I rise today to ask my colleagues in this House to join me in recognizing April 7 as World Health Day. This yearís theme is shaping the future of life, creating "Healthy environments for children".

I believe that we can all agree that a healthy future for our children is of utmost importance to us all, despite our political differences.

Every child deserves the right to health and no child should have that health threatened by unsafe environments at home, in the school or in their community.

A childís world centres on the home, the school and the local community. These should be healthy places where children can thrive, protected from disease. In these very places, sometimes we put children at risk. There is unsafe drinking water, indoor air pollution, poor food hygiene, unsafe housing, inadequate waste disposal, and there are modern risks concerning the unsafe use of dangerous chemicals and long-term environmental threats ó persistent organic pollutants and chemicals are an example. There are also emerging diseases.

Many environmental threats to childrenís health are aggravated by poverty, conflicts, natural and man-made disasters and social inequality. The children most affected live in the developing world, but many children in developed countries are also very much at risk. Children who are chronically sick or disabled cannot regularly attend school and their social and intellectual development suffers. In turn, this huge burden of ill health among children constrains social and economic development.

Children with chronic disease and long-term disability cannot grow up to be healthy and fully productive members of our society.

Weíre very fortunate here in Yukon that our children do not face all these risks that are faced by many of the children in Third World countries. More than five million children under the age of 14 die virtually every year from diseases linked to the environment in which they live, learn and play. It is important to know that we can improve the quality of our childrenís future by making informed decisions at all levels, by promoting healthy environments, ensuring safe water and food, creating spaces free from pollutions, so all our children can grow into strong, healthy adults.

Mr. Speaker, let us all heed the message today and every day, and make decisions that will impact on the future well-being of the upcoming generations of not just Yukoners, but children all over this world.

Thank you.

Mr. Fairclough:   On behalf of the official opposition, I rise in tribute to World Health Day, founded by the World Health Organization in 1948. Today, April 7, is celebrated around the world to remind us of the importance of health to ourselves and our family. I pay tribute and say thanks to our local nurses, doctors and other health officials who work under stressful conditions every day. They maintain a level of health care that is the envy of the rest of Canada and the world.

This year, the theme of World Health Day is "Healthy environments for children", and children are our future. An investment in the health of our children is vital to everyone. Five million children, from the ages of zero to 14, die each year from diseases related to the environment. That same number ó five million children ó are left homeless because of AIDS every year. That number is equivalent to the number of children in the United States under the age of five.

The physical environment that children grow up in is of prime importance.

Providing food, clothing, shelter and safety for our children should be our first concern. Modelling healthy attitudes toward physical activity and nutrition is essential for parents. We know the dangers of second-hand smoke, and every effort should be made to have smoke-free environments at home or wherever our children are, but healthy environments do not only consist of the physical environment. Our childrenís emotional health is equally important. With current high rates of separation and divorce, the family unit is an ever-changing environment for many of our children. We must remain cognizant of the emotional well-being of the youngest members of our family and of our society.

Publicly funded health care is still in crisis despite recent agreements with the federal government, Mr. Speaker, and for those of the public who would like to hear a bit more and are interested in coming out and hearing Michael McBain, the national coordinator of the Canadian Health Coalition, he will be speaking at 7:00 tonight at Hellaby Hall.

Girl Guides of Yukon

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Speaker, although Volunteer Week is some days away, I rise to pay tribute to the Yukon Girl Guide organization.

Guiding is still the largest single organization for girls led by women in the Yukon and in Canada, and it fits in well with the other tributes today, Mr. Speaker. I note the involvement of Girl Guides in Swan Haven and in Water for Tomorrow projects as well as guiding as an organization that promotes active healthy lifestyles for girls as young as five.

The great game of guiding began in the Yukon in Dawson City in 1914. We are now active throughout the Yukon with over 380 girl and adult members in Old Crow, Dawson City, Haines Junction, Teslin, Watson Lake, and throughout Whitehorse. Atlin, British Columbia, is also included in the Yukon membership.

At this time of year, the major fundraising activity to support guiding begins with the sale of Girl Guide cookies. This year, guiding is introducing a new cookie. Not to panic, itís still the great vanilla and chocolate taste in each box. The look is new. The recipe for growing girls is still the same.

Mr. Speaker, I do have a box for my colleagues in the Legislature and in the media gallery and in Hansard. However, that is out of order so I will deliver them at a later date. As you know, we canít eat cookies in the Legislature.

All funds raised from the sale of Girl Guide cookies supports girls throughout the Yukon. All the money stays here and supports their unit activities. As Yukoners greet the Sparks and Brownies and Guides at their doors this month, selling fun fuel for girl power, I encourage all Yukoners to imagine the power of a cookie.

The Girl Guide organization is a tremendous organization supporting girls and young women. Mr. Speaker, I encourage, as I said, all Yukoners to greet the Sparks and Brownies and Guides and the adult volunteers with a smile and encourage the sale of Girl Guide cookies throughout the territory because itís all about the girls.

Thanks, Mr. Speaker.

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

Hon. Mr. Lang:   I would like to introduce today, Tara Christie. As Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, I would like to give a big thanks to Tara, who is President of the Klondike Placer Mining Association for the help that she has given us and Yukoners and all the support for the industry that we all know has been on the top of our minds since December 16. So Iíd like to introduce Tara Christie.

Applause

Speaker:   Are there any further introduction of visitors?

Are there any returns or documents for tabling?

TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Speaker, I have for tabling the Yukon Health and Social Services Council annual report for 1999Ė2000 and the Yukon Health and Social Services Council annual report for 2000Ė01.

Speaker:   Are there any further documents for tabling?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I am pleased to table the annual report for the Yukon Liquor Corporation for the period ending March 31, 2002. There is a legal requirement under the Liquor Act to table the annual report to the Yukon Legislative Assembly.

Speaker:   Are there any further documents for tabling?

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   I also have for tabling the annual report of the Yukon Law Foundation for the fiscal year ending October 31, 2002.

Speaker:   Are there any further returns or documents for tabling?

Are there any reports of committees?

Are there any petitions?

Are there any bills to be introduced?

Are there any notices of motion?

NOTICES OF MOTION

Mr. Arntzen:   Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:

THAT this House recognize that, with devolution, the Yukon now has administrative power over its forest resources; and

THAT it is the opinion of this House that the development of responsible regulations on long-term timber access, efficient logging operations, stumpage fees, manufactured wood products, and comprehensive reforestation programs will result in improving the utilization of Yukon forest resources; and

THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to work with First Nations, the forest industry, and stakeholders to develop responsible regulation of Yukon forestry.

Speaker:   Are there any further notices of motion?

Mr. Hardy:   I give notice of the following motion:

THAT it is the opinion of this House that

(1) during the last election campaign and since, the Yukon Party government promised to adopt an approach to governing based on consensus, cooperation and compromise;

(2) a more cooperative approach to governing should include cooperating with elected representatives of the Yukon people who sit on the opposition side of this House in their attempts to get the information they need to examine government policies and spending priorities; and

THAT this House urges the Yukon Party government to respect both its election commitments and the proper role of this House by providing information related to government policies and spending priorities in a cooperative, thorough and timely manner, as requested both orally and in written form by opposition MLAs.

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 under a Yukon Party government

(1) the number of people working in the Yukon is at its lowest level in 18 months;

(2) retail sales have dropped;

(3) funding for tourism marketing has been cut;

(4) funding for highway construction has been cut;

(5) the overall capital budget has been cut by 30 percent; and

(6) capital projects that would have created jobs immediately, such as the replacement of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre and the construction of a new recreational centre in Mayo, have been cancelled; and

THAT this House urges the Yukon Party government to immediately introduce a supplementary capital budget that includes funding for the construction of new jail and a new recreation centre in Mayo.

Speaker:   Are there any further notices of motion?

Mr. Cardiff:   I give notice of the following motion:

THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to revoke the appointments made to the Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board and the Workersí Compensation Appeals Tribunal on March 31, 2003, until such time as the minister responsible has conducted a full, transparent and impartial consultation process that satisfies the intent of the Workersí Compensation Act.

Speaker:   Are there any further notices of motion?

Are there ministerial statements?

This then brings us to Question Period.

QUESTION PERIOD

Question re: Workersí Compensation Health and Safety Board appointments

Mr. Cardiff:   My question today is for the minister responsible for the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board. Mr. Speaker, we know the minister is providing information on appointments to the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board to the media but has failed to provide the same information to the official opposition. I have miraculously obtained some of the details of the ministerís consultation process, which Iíll provide to the House. This includes the list of organizations that the minister consulted. The list is comprised of 38 employer groups, including the employer consultant, and eight workers groups, not including the worker advocate.

Will the minister explain how that configuration represents balanced consultation?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Full consultation was adhered to, and Iíd like to take the member opposite to the actual legislation governing this area, and this is with respect to the Workersí Compensation Health and Safety Board. It says that the Commissioner in Executive Council shall appoint a chair and an alternate chair to the board to act as chair during the absence of the chair. It goes on to say that employers and workers shall be consulted about the appointment of the chair and the alternate chair.

Full procedure, Mr. Speaker, was followed, adhered to, and the selection was made from the names put forward. The best individual was selected, with the best background in this area, the most expertise, and hopefully Yukon can be very, very happy that we have attracted this calibre to the position to serve as chair of WCB.

Mr. Cardiff:   Well, the minister is right. Section 92 of the Workersí Compensation Act obligates the minister to consult in a defined way. Maybe it doesnít say that it has to be a balanced way but one would assume that the minister would want it to be balanced.

Now, the groups with whom the minister consulted about recent board appointments do not include a lot of groups representing employees. The minister didnít consult with the Teamsters, he didnít consult with plumbers and sheet metal workers, and he didnít consult with the Building Trades Council. The minister also excluded the Yukon Injured Workers Alliance; theyíre not on the list and this is a group that represents injured workers, people who are clients of Workersí Compensation.

Can the minister tell me why he excluded these groups from the consultation process?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Speaker, the act is very specific, in that the minister must consult with the various stakeholder groups. Thatís what I have done, Mr. Speaker. What the member opposite is trying to make the case for is that this position of chair has to be determined primarily by an election from all the names put forward, and whoever puts the most votes in front of one member or the other, thatís the winner. This is not the case; this is a consultative process. Itís not an election, as the member is trying to make the case, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Cardiff:   Well, the ministerís right, and there were suggestions made to the minister about how to make that process more open and transparent and what would be a better way of doing it. While the minister has excluded groups representing employees, he obviously considered advice from individual employers, which makes one wonder whether or not he would consider advice from thousands of individual employees, as well. Today I tabled a motion calling on the minister and the government to revoke the recent appointments to the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board and the Workersí Compensation Appeal Tribunal until such time as he has conducted a full, transparent and impartial consultation process ó "impartial" is the important one, I think, and it has to satisfy the Workersí Compensation Act. Will he do that today?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I was very pleased to hear in the member oppositeís preamble, he said, "The member opposite is right," that Iím correct, and Iíd like to extrapolate on that correctness that Iím demonstrating in this Assembly, Mr. Speaker, in that the full terms and conditions of the act have been followed and adhered to. We have selected, after due process, the most qualified individual of the three names that were put forward. Thatís a given. The biggest amount of political interference in the board took place under a previous regime, when they basically got rid of a chair. Thatís not the process we follow. We follow due process in our government, Mr. Speaker. Weíve selected the best individual, the most qualified, and Yukon should be very pleased that this individual has seen fit to stand a term as chair of Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board.

Question re:  Family and childrenís services, budget cuts

Mr. Fairclough:   My question is to the Minister of Health and Social Services.

One of the promises that the Yukon Party made was to implement programs that will attract and retain health care professionals in our communities. This minister has focused on government spending trajectory and cutbacks. In the meantime, our social workers are overloaded. Why is the minister allowing Yukon social workers to carry caseloads that average 85 percent over the standards recommended by the Child Welfare League of Canada?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I agree with the member opposite that we have some very serious problems in our childrenís services area in the Government of Yukon, and our government recognizes the seriousness of the problem. There is an immediate concern for the staffing levels for children in care. We are examining our options, and we are starting to look at how we can move people around to address the needs where the needs exist. We have a number of social workers who are being underutilized, and we have quite a few who are being well over utilized, Mr. Speaker, and itís our responsibility as a government to address the need where the need exists. That is what we will be doing.

Mr. Fairclough:   It is critical for the minister to deal with this matter. The situation, as the minister said, is serious, yet this government has been crying poverty since forming government.

There are cutbacks in the departments in many areas. If the minister is really taking this matter seriously, why has the minister made the situation worse by downgrading the family support worker program in Yukon communities?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   What the member opposite is alluding to is the situation in Pelly where we had an on-call auxiliary, and now that on-call auxiliary is being replaced with a full-time assistant. We are recognizing the need where the need exists and we are staffing it to the level commensurate with what is required. We are doing our level best to address the needs with staffing and with operation and maintenance funds to address these serious issues in the outlying communities and right here in the capital city of Whitehorse.

Mr. Fairclough:   Well, itís not just Pelly Crossing ó the minister should know that. He has a plan for Pelly Crossing. I asked him what other plans he had for other communities, like the community of Mayo.

Mr. Speaker, our social workers are stressed ó that is a fact. The demand for their services has increased and their workload is getting bigger. How does the minister respond to this? By cutting back in the Department of Health and Social Services, even though he knows that there are millions of dollars more coming into the department.

I would like to ask the minister this: will he lay out his new plan, if he has one, to bring social worker caseloads down to a reasonable level, or are we going to continue to face cutbacks?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Well, Mr. Speaker, what weíre looking at are long-term solutions and short-term solutions, but letís concentrate on the area where we are not going to see the results immediately but they are going to be occurring.

Long-term solutions donít only lie in the creation of new government positions. We must recognize the importance of FASD. We have started to do that. We have initiatives with the Yukon Medical Association, the Child Development Centre, with FASSY ó those are just some of the initiatives we have underway.

This is the third largest budget ever in the history of Yukon, and one of the largest budgets is in the Health and Social Services area. We are concentrating our time, efforts and initiatives on these areas and doing it in a very, very good manner, recognizing the needs where they are and addressing those needs, Mr. Speaker.

Question re:  Family and childrenís services, budget cuts

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Speaker, the Member for Mayo-Tatchun has raised the issue of extraordinary caseloads of family and childrenís services workers. In Question Period on March 19, I also pointed out to the Minister of Health that the demand is very clear. There are a tremendous number of Yukon families in crisis. The caseloads for social workers are double and triple what is considered acceptable, and there are major staffing shortfalls. The governmentís response so far: nothing.

Itís now very clear to the Yukon public that the Yukon will receive millions of dollars in additional health money. The services to children and families in crisis are paid for from the Health budget. Weíll be receiving $4.5 million in the primary health care transition fund, $20 million over three years from an agreement reached last week, and $12 million agreed upon at the first ministers meeting. Thatís $36 million in new money.

My question for the minister: will any of the additional money be used to meet the needs of Yukon families in crisis and address the staffing shortfalls in family and childrenís services?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The short answer, Mr. Speaker, is yes.

Ms. Duncan:   Well, Mr. Speaker, that was a commitment from the minister, the first direct answer weíve seen in Question Period, and I appreciate it. Itís $36 million in new money, and itís a significant amount for health care.

Now, the families are in crisis. One of the key issues is staffing shortfalls. That was the number one recommendation of the Child Welfare League of Canada. Will the minister go even further and say that, yes, a portion of this new money that he said will be used to address families and children in crisis will be used to address the staffing shortfall? Itís a critical question.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Well, letís begin by starting to call a spade a shovel. The health care situation in Canada wouldnít be in the crisis situation itís in today had it not been for the federal Liberals and their tremendous cuts to health care. Thatís where the problems began; thatís what is being addressed and, through the auspices of the Premier of the Yukon, in conjunction with the Premier of Northwest Territories and the Premier of Nunavut, we were able to achieve an agreement ó an accord ó with Canada for the provision of $20 million over three years in base funding.

Given the spending trajectory in health care, which is $7 million to $10 million, the member opposite makes the case that we have this tremendous increase of money flowing through to the Yukon. Mr. Speaker, the case cannot be made, given the spending trajectory that the Yukon has to deliver health care programs and services.

We will do our level best, and we are doing our level best, and staffing is one of the issues that will be addressed, Mr. Speaker.

Ms. Duncan:   The minister very carefully did not commit that he would ensure that additional money coming to the Yukon would be spent on the staffing shortfalls in Family and Childrenís Services. So letís go through this again. The facts of the matter are, number one, the Child Welfare League of Canada recommended to the Yukon government that it should address social worker and supervisor staffing shortfalls. My colleague has established how high the caseloads for these workers are. The Yukon Party, since taking office, is receiving millions more in funding for this department. The government can afford to hire more social workers. There are families in crisis, directly ó yes or no, will the minister, today, commit that additional funding will be used to address the staffing shortfalls? Thatís a very specific commitment. Itís a yes-or-no answer, but I would like a very specific commitment from the minister on the floor of the House today.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   We will be addressing the issues of staffing across all of the Department of Health and Social Services. The issue that weíre faced with here today is the staffing levels in childrenís programs. We have a real serious problem there, and when we focus in on where the demands are, the department is spending an inordinate amount of time appearing before the courts and appealing decisions of the courts, which is taking up a lot of social worker time and a lot of costs. Now, by redeploying our focus on meeting the needs of these children and maybe taking a different approach we can effect some very positive changes that will probably be well-received across the Yukon. So the solution isnít at all times to put in more dollars or more staff. Letís examine what weíre doing, how we can do it effectively, and weíre doing a two-prong approach. Weíre examining what weíre doing, how weíre doing it, and weíre going to be putting more money into the issue and addressing the staffing shortfalls, Mr. Speaker.

Question re:  Family and childrenís services, budget cuts

Ms. Duncan:   The Minister of Health has not directly answered the question. He has talked about funding priorities for his Department of Health. So far, the minister has clearly indicated his views on transition homes in his riding; their funding has been cut. Health investment fund ó cut in half. That fund helps people dealing with FASD, youth, people battling addictions. The hospital equipment fund ó cut by $100,000. The homeless shelter in Whitehorse is on life support.

Today, weíre reminding the minister that Yukon families are in crisis and the professional people who help them are desperately short-staffed, as the Child Welfare League of Canada has reported.

There is additional money coming to the Yukon ó $36 million of additional money. The minister will not commit that that money will be used to address the staffing shortfalls. He talks in some vague terms about redeploying and other initiatives. Well, we know what the ministerís priorities arenít. We know they arenít women fleeing abuse situations in Dawson.

Speaker:   Order please. Would the member ask the question please.

Ms. Duncan:   Certainly, Mr. Speaker.

What are the ministerís priorities for this new health care funding?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Speaker, simply stated, to deliver cost-effective, efficient health care needs to all Yukoners.

Ms. Duncan:   Well, Mr. Speaker, meeting the health care needs of Yukoners includes families and children who are in crisis. The minister had no hesitation, when it came to the primary health care fund, to say exactly where that money would be spent. We have two reports that say Yukon families are in crisis and the professionals who help them need more support.

Perhaps the minister needs to take a closer look at the situation. Perhaps then he would truly recognize the need. Will he do this? Will the minister spend a day with a family service intake worker and see for himself how badly this issue needs to be addressed? Will he do that?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The Anglin report, the Child Welfare League of Canada reports ó they did identify very serious problems. But there must be more recognition of the importance of dealing with FASD. We have to have a family-based approach to this whole situation and we have to have solutions.

Now, we can always spend money on all these initiatives that the member opposite has identified, but what we have to really seriously focus on is how we are going to deal with the children and what we are going to do for the children. That is the focus.

The size of what we set up as a department to deal with that is secondary to the focus, which should be to meet the needs of the children who are having difficulties and have to be taken into care.

Ms. Duncan:   What the minister has just said on the floor of this House is that in spite of two reports by professionals in the field, which specifically recommended additional staff ó specifically recommended that ó the minister has just said, "No, we know best; we are going to do it differently."

I challenge him to really find out first-hand. I challenge the minister and ask him: will he find out just what itís like for a family service intake worker in this territory? Will the minister spend a day ó and I could say a 9 to 5 day, Mr. Speaker, but their days arenít 9 to 5. These are professionals who help people, who help families in crisis, and they need our support.

Will the minister spend a day and find out what itís really like and spend a day with a family intake worker? Yes or no? Will he spend a day on the front lines?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The member opposite only suggested that there were two reports on this issue. There are more than two; there are four that are current. When you cross-reference all of these reports, you get a very different picture of the situation. Our government is very cognizant of its responsibilities to address the needs of children in care. We will be focusing on delivering the services that the children need. That is underway, and yes, we will be directing some of the additional health care dollars that are flowing from Ottawa to Yukon to these initiatives.

Question re:  Family and childrenís services, budget cuts

Mr. Fairclough:   My question is for the Minister of Health and Social Services. I would like to have the minister table those additional reports, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the recommended caseloads standards developed by the Child Welfare League of Canada represent what is accepted as the best current thinking and practice in child welfare. Yukon social workers, in every type of service to children, far exceed those caseload benchmarks. For instance, a half-time family service worker has 41 cases, and the recommended number is 7.5 for that half-time work. That is 447 percent higher than recommended. One result of this stressful work is that thereís a very high turnover rate for social workers in the Yukon. Does the minister think an annual turnover rate of up to 40 percent is an effective way to provide continuity of services to Yukon children and their families?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Well, the member opposite is absolutely correct. Any time you have a high staff turnover, you have difficulties. We have a high burnout rate, high staff turnover, and itís very hard to contend with. It is a very serious problem.

Mr. Fairclough:   The minister didnít answer the question at all. Not only are caseloads of Yukon social workers so high that they are stretched to the point of illness to keep up with them, the caseloads are becoming more complex. Social workers are required to work more in the courts, do more in-depth counselling and give other support to clients. Mandatory referrals such as mental health assessments are not being done in a timely manner. Social workers are required to meet certain standards of practice. Why is the minister preventing them from meeting those standards by not providing the adequate resources?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The member opposite is incorrect in his overview of the matter, Mr. Speaker, and weíre doing our utmost to address this issue.

Mr. Fairclough:   Well, Mr. Speaker, if the minister was, I wouldnít be asking these questions.

The first recommendation in the Child Welfare League of Canada 2000 review states that, given serious consequences of understaffing at the front line, it is recommended that the department review the current level of supervisor and social worker positions compared to the Child Welfare League of Canadaís benchmarks, and address the staffing shortfalls.

What specific steps has the minister taken to date to implement this and other recommendations of the Child Welfare Leagueís report?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   What we have here is a report that is based on knowns and givens primarily in other areas and other jurisdictions in Canada. What is not being recognized to the degree that it should be is the focus we should have on First Nations here in the Yukon.

Itís a sad part of society here that a majority, or a great number, of the individuals in care are First Nations, and our approach to the apprehension of these children and how we treat them has to be looked at and has to be addressed. We have to take a new approach, as a government and as Yukoners, as to how we deal with the issue of children in care when they are of First Nation background.

What itís going to take, Mr. Speaker, is a new childrenís act. That is going forward under our government, and weíre going to have provisions in that new act that must be there that identify the issues, similar to what British Columbia has in their new legislation. So, this is where weíre focusing and this is what weíre going to be doing. But in the short term we have to address the needs of these children in care and we will be doing so, Mr. Speaker.

Question re:  Family and childrenís services, budget cuts

Mr. Fairclough:   Same minister, Mr. Speaker. I encourage the minister to read the reports that were handed out here. It was done across the territory. The Employees Union has made a very strong representation to the minister about concerns regarding the workloads and staffing resources in family and childrenís services. In a detailed letter dated March 28, 2003, they requested a response by the minister by April 1, 2003.

What is the minister doing to respond to the unionís letter, or has he even met with them yet?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The issue of the bargaining unit directly approaching the minister has been referred to the appropriate agency in our government to deal with it.

Mr. Fairclough:   The minister didnít answer the question specifically about the letter. This government doesnít provide proper resources for social workers to maintain professional standards of care. Because of the ministerís failure to address caseload issues that have been repeatedly pointed out to this department, social workers are very concerned they may lose their professional credentials.

What is the minister doing to protect Yukon social workers from losing their professional credentials?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Our government is very cognizant of the role the social workers play in the department, and there has been no initiative to remove any credentials from any officials that Iím aware of. Perhaps the member opposite can share the concerns that weíre removing credentials. The workplace, the whole environment under which these individuals are employed and work, are well-defined and spelled out. Theyíre represented by a bargaining unit. Iím not aware of anyone on the management side taking away credentials from these individuals, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Fairclough:   Again, that was a non-answer by the minister.

One of the biggest concerns, Mr. Speaker, is the high burnout rate and stress related to illness among social workers. Some are working some 30 hours overtime in one month, and many use their vacation leave to recover from the heavy workload. This is a very serious health issue in the workplace. So I would like to ask the minister: can the minister, in following up with the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission, tell us the annual cost of the employees assistance program that is directly related to the stress-related illness among social workers and the support staff in family and childrenís services branch? Can the minister responsible tell us that?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Thatís a question for detail, information that we do not have readily available, but we will provide that information to the member opposite, Mr. Speaker.

Question re: Government air miles points

Mr. McRobb:   My question is for the Minister of Highways and Public Works, who is responsible for airports. Last fall, the former Liberal government changed the governmentís policy to allow air miles points collected from government work travel to be used for personal use. An uproar ensued about the impropriety of such a policy. The issue was referred to the Conflicts Commissioner. He decided that the policy should be rewritten because no government employee should be allowed to personally benefit from the use of travel points collected while travelling on government business. Can the minister inform the House where this matter is at? What exactly is this governmentís policy?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   With regard to that question, itís under review at the present time. I understand that we are not carrying forward with any until such time as we deal with the other airline.

Thank you.

Mr. McRobb:   Well, under review ó isnít that interesting?

Now, the September 11, 2002 edition of the Whitehorse Star reported the former Premier as saying that she would be asking all government officials, elected and not, to review their points accounts, if they have them, and to give back any points awarded as a result of government travel. That was nearly seven months ago and we still, today, donít know where this government stands on that issue.

Can the minister tell us if he has at least followed through on that particular commitment?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   For the member opposite, an honest answer is that I havenít followed through on that.

Mr. McRobb:   Well, I thank the minister for an honest answer, Mr. Speaker.

The most concerning aspect of this whole policy deals with how points are handled by elected officials and their staff. The reputation of us all is at stake here.

Last fall I led the way and tabled my air miles point statement with the Conflicts Commissioner. That is the only way the Conflicts Commissioner can possibly monitor this situation. This matter needs to be cleaned up. All MLAs and staff who engage in government air travel need to table their statements with the Conflicts Commissioner.

Now, the deadline for the annual filing of our disclosure statements is at the end of April. Will this minister ensure that all such statements are filed by the upcoming deadline, including the points account statements?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Iíll take the member oppositeís request under advisement.

Speaker:   The time for Question Period has now elapsed, and we will proceed to Orders of the Day.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BILLS

Bill No. 27: Third Reading

Clerk:   Third reading, Bill No. 27, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Fentie.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I move that Bill No. 27, entitled Act to Repeal the Government Accountability Act, be now read a third time and do pass.

Speaker:   It has been moved by the Acting Premier that Bill No. 27, entitled Act to Repeal the Government Accountability Act, be now read a third time and do pass.

Motion for third reading of Bill No. 27 agreed to

Speaker:   I declare that Bill No. 27 has passed this House.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.

Speaker:   It has been moved by the 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:   Committee of the Whole will now come to order. The matter before the Committee is Bill No. 2, Third Appropriation Act, 2002-03. Do members wish a 15-minute recess?

Some Hon. Members:   Agreed.

Chair:   We will stand in recess for 15 minutes.

Recess

Chair:   Committee of the Whole will come to order. We will continue on with the Third Appropriation Act, 2002Ė03 with Vote 10, Public Service Commission.

Bill No. 2 ó Third Appropriation Act, 2002Ė03 ó continued

Public Service Commission

Chair:   Is there any general debate?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   It is my pleasure to introduce a supplementary budget for the Public Service Commission. There is an increase of $1,406,000 in funding for the Public Service Commission for operation and maintenance expenditures and an increase of $54,000 to funding for capital expenditures.

The increase in operation and maintenance is due largely to an increase in the employee leave and terminations benefits adjustment. This is a result of a change in accounting policy that allows the department to recover the costs for employees on pre-retirement leave. It also includes funding for additional support for the workplace harassment prevention officer and additional support in the provision of human resource information management.

The increase in capital is to provide for additional and replacement computers and equipment as well as an office renovation.

This concludes my comments for the supplementary for the Public Service Commission.

Mr. Hardy:   Iíll probably just ask for some detail in the line-by-line. I have very little in general debate, unless something comes up as we go through some of the discussion with other people who may have some comments. I find this is a substantial increase in money, compared to the overall budget. You mentioned a change in accounting policy. Could you explain that a little bit better? Iím not sure what youíre talking about.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Apparently the employees who are going to retire are being paid from that account on the vacation leave.

Mr. Hardy:   Just for clarification ó so, for the people who are retiring, this is their vacation pay that has accumulated and is now being paid out?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Thatís correct, Mr. Chair. Some people have up to a year.

Mr. Hardy:   Is this an ongoing practice, this amount? Iím not familiar with the size of this in a supplement that would come forward. Is this something that we can expect to see year after year or is this a one-time only and then it goes into the main estimates for the following years after that?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   This was a change in accounting practice, and the leave liability is capped now so it shouldnít be a reoccurrence of as high an amount.

Mr. Hardy:   What brought about this change in accounting practices?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   There were a lot of people coming due at the same time and the departments were having a bit of difficulty in being able to meet those demands. So what they did was cap the leave liability funds.

Mr. Hardy:   So, to get this in my head right, thereís a cap on the amount of leave that can be accumulated ó sick leave, because thatís what you referred to originally. Thereís now a cap on the accumulated sick leave they can book, I guess, and then they have to take it out, or what?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   There was a cap on the leave liability, but the change was that it now allowed the people to draw the money out of that account ó the people who are retiring and on leave.

Mr. Hardy:   Would they not be allowed to draw it out if they were retiring anyway? Iím trying to understand why there is a change, because if you were retiring, Mr. Chair, my assumption is you would be allowed to draw out your accumulated leave.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Yes, you can, but it used to come out of the departments, and they were having trouble when they had to come up with that money. Now itís obtainable through this pot of money, and itís capped.

Mr. Hardy:   Actually, I think Iím going to stop here, because this is getting into a financial question about forecasting, and I will probably be looking at more financial questions on this. Iím going to stop at this moment on this one.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, if I could just enter briefly into this debate ó as I understand it, there are two issues with respect to the leave liability account. Number one, the departments used to fund a leave for a public servant out of their department or someone who was retiring and you could accumulate up to a year or more ó rather than have each department put that in their line items and then itís highlighted and everybody knows then because itís a very small jurisdiction ó so, rather than do that, weíve put the money into the Public Service Commission with this supplementary vote. Thatís one issue. Is that correct?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Yes, that is correct.

Ms. Duncan:   The second issue is that there is a fund called "leave liability" and "termination benefits account". At various points in time, that has been capped by government and uncapped. What the fund is for is, if everybody decided to retire in one single day ó heaven forbid that should happen ó to make sure thereís enough money in there. There are disagreements between governments and auditors as to how much should be in there at any one point in time, so different governments have capped and uncapped that fund. Does the minister agree with that statement?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Yes, that is correct. The last three successive governments have done that.

Ms. Duncan:   So itís not unheard of then for a government to cap the fund in the first year and uncap it in the second or third. It has happened. The minister has just confirmed that the previous three governments have, at various points in time, capped and uncapped that fund.

The minister has said the Yukon Party has capped that fund. What is the total in the employee leave and termination benefits account now with the supplementary vote? He can get back to me by legislative return, if he wishes.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   To the best of my knowledge, it has never been uncapped; it has only been capped. The amount is approximately $32 million, but if you need an exact figure, we can get back to you with it.

Ms. Duncan:   No, $32 million is fine. Letís go to this "capped" and "uncapped" discussion.

What I mean by that is that, at various points in time, some governments have said, "Yes, thereís enough in the fund right now; weíre not going to add to it," and have capped it. They have said, "$32 million is enough. Weíre not going to contribute more to this because the realistic idea that we would use $32 million in one year is pretty unrealistic, quite frankly."

What the minister is saying is that there have been different approaches to this. At times, government has contributed and, at other times, they havenít.

We continue to contribute to the fund, but at times we contribute more than at other times.

The minister responsible is saying that the Yukon Party government, as a matter of their decision making, have said that putting $32 million into the employee leave and termination benefit account is enough. The fund should stay at $32 million for now.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Thatís correct. We havenít done anything with that. Weíve left it as was.

Ms. Duncan:   Actually, what the minister opposite has done is put this much more money in and now weíre saying thatís enough.

So, what the minister is saying is that, with this money thatís up for vote today that weíre discussing right now, the fund will be at $32 million; itís going to stay at that level.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Thatís correct.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, weíve had lengthy discussions about the actuarial evaluation of the pension plan. Does this fund receive an actuarial evaluation, and when is that done?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   This is done every three years and weíll probably be doing one next year.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, could the minister just advise me: is this under the Public Service Act, or where is it listed when the actuarial evaluation must be done? For the members, itís under the members, employees and pension legislative allowance act. Whatís the act requiring this?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   There isnít one actually, but it is just good accounting practice to do this.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, I donít disagree that itís good accounting practice.

Will the minister then make a commitment that the actuarial evaluation can be made public and that he will provide it to the members of the Legislature? Itís a requirement under the MLA one; thatís why I was asking about the legislative background. Itís a requirement that it be made public, so Iím asking for the same thing with this one.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   There isnít a requirement to make it public, but we will examine it and, if possible, we will provide it to you.

Ms. Duncan:   I thank the minister for that. Could I just clarify with the minister that what I heard the minister say is that thereís no legal requirement to make the report public. However, he commits to do so barring any privacy concerns.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Thatís correct.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, itís a general question always asked in the Public Service Commission debate. Iíd just like to ask the minister in the supplementary in general debate ó I understood that, as of last September or October, the number of classifications waiting to be heard by the Public Service Commission was down to very, very few. Could the minister provide the current number of classification appeals currently awaiting the Public Service Commissionerís decision?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   At the present time, the Public Service Commission has received job descriptions for 126 requests and is waiting for 213.

Ms. Duncan:   So there are 126 requests for job descriptions and there are 213 appeals waiting to be heard on classifications.

Would the minister also advise the time period this covers, please?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   That number is for current, but out of 339, we still have 213 descriptions from departments that need to be completed.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, what Iím trying to get a handle on from the minister is how many classification appeals are waiting now. I understood there was substantial work and resources put in by the Public Service Commission to reduce the number of classifications waiting to be heard, to reduce it to next to none, or very few. So there was a low point in recent months.

Maybe we should start with verifying that. Was the number of classifications waiting to be heard substantially reduced?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   It has been, but the increase sort of got overloaded a little bit with renewal and, on top of that, with devolution coming across, again the workload has been increased, so the demand has been pretty strenuous on the staff.

Ms. Duncan:   I understand that. Perhaps the minister could just clarify for me. My understanding was that the reclassification appeals, at the conclusion of renewal, were pretty much close to significantly down in numbers. For post-renewal and the job assignments, we werenít looking at 300 reclassification appeals. Itís really the post-devolution work that is causing the reclassifications. Is that not correct?

Perhaps the minister could give me the time period?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   We donít really have the time-related things with us here, but of the 339 outstanding classifications, 47 percent were directly linked to renewal.

Ms. Duncan:   Could the minister elaborate on that statement, please?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Again, I state that, of the 339 outstanding classification requests, 47 percent of those 339 were renewal related.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, I heard the statement. I heard the statement twice. What Iím asking is for the minister to explain that.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   The link here is that, because of the reclassification, there were changes to some of the jobs because of renewal and thatís where this number comes in, the 47 percent.

Ms. Duncan:   Whatís the average time length for reclassification?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   If all the information is there for a request from an employee, it can be done fairly promptly; however, if all the information isnít there and it has to be done basically complete, then it is going to take a lot longer than if there was a lot of information available for the reclassification of a job, from the job descriptions from the department.

Ms. Duncan:   Could I ask the minister to be a little more specific with the "fairly promptly" and "it takes a little longer". So, fairly promptly, an employee makes a request and has all the information, and the job description from the department has all the information. So, three months, six months, two months, two weeks ó what are we looking at?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Weíre going to have to get back to the member opposite on that time frame so that we get an accurate time frame.

Ms. Duncan:   Iím sure the minister will be prompt with his answer.

Iím not looking for a precise answer ó that it is six months. Iím just looking for a ballpark. Are we looking at months, weeks? What are we talking about? Just a best guess.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Because of the large numbers weíre talking about here, classification could take up to six months.

Ms. Duncan:   There was substantial work done with respect to finance and administration systems between the Public Service Commission and the Department of Finance. Is all that work complete now? There were discussions about HRIS, I think it is, and some of the difficulties ó the human resource information system. Is that work then complete, and is the system functioning so far?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Part of this budget is actually to address exactly what youíre talking about. Itís going to fund two additional resource people to work in that area.

Ms. Duncan:   I understand that thatís what the additional money is for ó to fund the resource people to get the system working. This budget has been in place for awhile now; itís a supplementary. So my question is, to put it frankly, howís it going? Have we got it done? We put the additional resources in. This is an ongoing issue. These two individuals were necessary additional resources. Is the system working? People used to have to work hours and hours and hours of overtime on dealing with payroll issues and so on. The system has not worked that well for us, quite frankly, but the advice I was given is that it was going to get better. So my question is, did it? Has it gotten better? Does HRIS work now?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Yes, apparently it has improved in this area. They were able to catch up on some of the backlog, and things are progressing fairly well now in that area.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, it seems to me we also had to pay a significant sum for an upgrade to the program, and it didnít come with warranty and so on, and some decisions were going to have to be made around HRIS. Have these been discussed, or are we just clunking along amd things are working pretty well now?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   The upgrades are in and done. Weíre now working on making some further improvements to the system.

Ms. Duncan:   So, when we modify these systems, though, to meet Yukon needs, we donít get a warranty or it voids the warranty that normally comes with a computer program. So my fear is that weíve spent another tremendous amount of money on this system and we are kind of out there without any guarantee because weíve modified it for Yukon needs. Is there a backup plan, or are we just going to continue to clunk along, thinking the system works pretty well until thereís a problem?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   When the modifications were done, they were working, but now whatís happening with this area is that weíre trying to do away with some of those modifications and do some improvements in the other area.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, Iíll look forward to regular reports from the minister on that particular system. Perhaps he can keep the House advised.

I have one other question. The employee recognition that usually takes place in November ó the long-service awards, where we recognize individuals ó has increased significantly in the last number of years in terms of the employees with long service. For example, there used to be one or two employees with 25 and 30 years, but now thereís a rather large number of people who are serving the government for longer periods of time. Itís a very important program and one I believe very strongly the minister should continue. Although the numbers are increasing, thatís to the credit of different governments that this is a good place to work.

The numbers will also increase substantially with devolution, so my question is twofold. Is it the ministerís intention to continue with that program? Secondly, logically there will be increased funding as a result. Will the devolution employees be included in that? So, if you had five years of service with the Government of Canada, would you then be eligible after five years with us for a 10-year service pin or just a five?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   The answer is yes, we are going to continue with the program, and we are also going to recognize all the federal employees coming in.

Ms. Duncan:   The minister has said the program will continue ó Iím assuming at the same levels? There wonít be a reduction in the program?

Secondly, the employeesí service with the Government of Canada will just carry over. It will be cumulative with the Yukon.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   The answer is yes to the federal employees being able to continue on. There is no intention of making any changes.

Chair:   Is there any further general debate?

Mr. Hardy:   Has there been an increase in the employees with Public Service Commission?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Yes, there has been. Weíve increased by two employees in finance and administration, and two in the employee harassment area.

Mr. Hardy:   Could you give me the reasons why there has been an increase of four employees?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   With regard to the finance area, the two employees were brought in to try to get the system up and running, as the member of the third party alluded to earlier. In the other area, the two employees were hired on term due to the backlog of some of the concerns that employees had around workplace harassment issues.

Mr. Hardy:   Sounds like we have a problem in our workplace if weíre hiring more and more employees to deal with harassment. Is there an anticipation of hiring more employees due to devolution? As part of the devolution, were some employees who were with the federal government being transferred over into the Public Service Commission?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Yes, there were five positions transferred to Public Service Commission through devolution.

Mr. Hardy:   Do you anticipate any changes in the employment numbers after, say, a year of working through the devolution issues?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I donít quite understand what the member opposite is asking there.

Mr. Hardy:   What Iím asking the minister is does he anticipate changes in the numbers? If there were five transferred over to the Public Service Commission as part of the devolution, and there have been four more hired in the last year, thatís nine more people in the Public Service Commission. Does he anticipate that number having to be increased or is it going to be decreased through retirement? Or are there term positions? A little description of this would help me.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   We expect this number to be stable, and the only two that we may do an evaluation on are the two term positions to try to cover the backlog of concerns filed by employees.

Mr. Hardy:   Obviously thereís a need for the two term positions; if thereís still a need after the term expires or comes close to expiry, are they going to be made full-time?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   We will be looking at those two term positions. That is going to be part of the evaluation process, as to whether or not we could keep them full time or not.

Chair:   If there is no further general debate, we will proceed line by line. The page reference is 14-3.

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

On Financial and Administration

Finance and Administration in the amount of $104,000 agreed to

On Planning and Research

Planning and Research in the amount of $101,000 agreed to

On Employee Leave and Termination Benefits Adjustment

Employee Leave and Termination Benefits Adjustment in the amount of $1,150,000 agreed to

On Staff Development

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, could I have an explanation of that expenditure in that line, please?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   There is an overall increase for staff development of $51,000. This is a result of increases in requirements for the employee assistance program of $80,000. The commission has also identified a reduction in contracts of $29,000 to offset required capital expenditures. The net result is the change of $51,000.

Staff Development in the amount of $51,000 agreed to

On Total of Other O&M Programs

Total of Other O&M Programs in the amount of nil cleared

On Total O&M Expenditures

Total O&M Expenditures for the Public Service Commission in the amount of $1,406,000 agreed to

On Capital Expenditures

On Finance and Administration

On Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space

Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space in the amount of $54,000 agreed to

On Total Capital Expenditures

Total Capital Expenditures for the Public Service Commission in the amount of $54,000 agreed to

Public Service Commission agreed to

 

Department of Education

Chair:   We will now proceed with Vote 03, Education. The page reference is 7-2.

Is there any general discussion?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I am pleased to rise today to speak to this request by the Department of Education for supplementary funding. I would like to give a brief summary of the changes. Within the education support services program, forecast needs have decreased by $106,000 due to identified miscellaneous savings of $75,000 in such areas as program materials, communications and travel. These savings were realized as a result of the reorganization that took place over the previous summer months, a $28,000 transfer of a position from the human resources unit in education support services to the Department of Finance, and a transfer of a small amount of money ó $3,000 ó to the Wood Street centre to support their grounds maintenance project.

Within the public schools program, we have reallocated funds. The net effect is a $92,000 increase. A summary of this reallocation includes a total increase of $172,000 covering the following: revote of funds, $117,000 from the 2001-02 fiscal year for accreditation, $101,000, and grassroots, $16,000. Both of these funds are for school-based programs. Thereís $30,000 in new funding from Industry Canada in support of our network of innovative schools. This funding is for three schools that were selected as recipients of awards under this program. This money is 100-percent recoverable from the federal government.

Thereís a $25,000 increase for the teacher mentor fund. This is the start-up cost of this program in this fiscal year. Funding for this program continues in the 2003-04 budget. The above increases were offset by an $83,000 transfer of the adult French language unit to French language services. This transfer was a position and the associated support costs.

Within the advanced education program, the requested increase in spending authority is for skills development funding of $125,000. This money is 100-percent recoverable from the federal government, Human Resource Development Canada. It is to be used for training of employment insurance clients at Yukon College and costs incurred for courses taken by Yukon apprentices.

The above concludes the request for operation and maintenance funding. I would now like to speak to the capital requests included in this supplementary.

The single largest change included in this budget is the lapse of funding for the Eliza Van Bibber School project. This lapse is due to delays in the project that resulted in a request from the contractor to begin work in March. As members will see, the project continues in the 2003-04 capital budget. This budget includes the return of the unspent funding from the Grey Mountain School planning. Members are aware of the cancellation of the project, and I wish to assure you that we are continuing to support the school with funding in the 2003-04 budget that we will be debating shortly.

Another major project that will be of interest to the members opposite is the funding for completion of the Mayo school; $357,000 of this request was a revote from the previous year. The other $240,000 is to address a need for increased funding to cover costs such as the demolition of the old school, funding for the commercial building incentive program and repair of some settling problems at the new school.

Members will note that there is a large sum, $1.41 million, included for the Catholic elementary school expansion. This money is being revoted from the previous year to complete construction work at Christ the King Elementary School over the summer of 2002.

Members will note that there are a number of projects that show lapsing funds, such as F.H. Collins replacement, Watson Lake high school technology wing upgrade, Golden Horn Elementary roof upgrade and the school painting program. These funds have been reallocated to fund projects already approved for 2002. For example, the F.H. Collins money was reallocated to air quality projects. It was used to cover additional costs associated with projects at Vanier, Whitehorse Elementary and Christ the King Elementary schools.

The Golden Horn funding was transferred to the Mayo school, Watson Lake technology wing and Takhini heating system. The Watson Lake technology wing could not be completed as originally planned, and members will notice that there is money in the upcoming capital budget for phase 2 of this project.

There is a request of an additional $139,000 for school-based equipment purchases. The majority of this money is a revote from the previous year and is part of the site-based allowances used by the schools to do projects that are of special interest to their school.

I would like to address the requests included in advanced education. The first is a revote request for the community training trust fund. This $272,000 is money that was committed to various organizations during the 2001-02 fiscal year but not yet paid out by March 31, 2002.

The final amount that I would like to talk about today is the $148,000 in the student financial assistance system. Again, this is a request to revote money from the 2001-02 fiscal year and will be used to complete the computer system to be used by the student financial assistance staff to manage the various grant and loan programs available to our students. This system was paid for by the federal government as part of a Canada-wide system. Funding will be required in future years for ongoing support costs for this system.

I would be glad to answer any further questions, or I am prepared to proceed to the line-by-line.

Thank you.

Mr. Fairclough:   I only have a couple of questions in this supplementary. Since weíre in general debate, I would like to ask a question of the minister. Mr. Chair, we all know Yukonís economy is in poor shape and weíre in a recession. People are looking for work, and we have a number of projects that have been cancelled. Iím sure the minister and his party colleagues heard a lot on the doorsteps during the election. I would like to ask the minister what projects they have considered after listening to what people had to say on the doorstep ó capital projects, school replacements and so on? What projects has his party put a priority on?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I believe that the projects that were already on the table have not been totally removed. There were some concerns brought up with regard to how the projects would proceed. Therefore, they have been deferred and will be addressed in the future.

Mr. Fairclough:   The minister didnít answer the question. I would like to know which capital projects the Yukon Party has put a priority on.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   At this point in time we are going to be doing renovations in Teslin, Watson Lake ó a lot of different projects like improvements to school grounds, painting contracts. Of course, on the table, there is still the school being discussed for Carmacks.

Mr. Fairclough:   As a priority for school painting ó this minister cut back in that area at a time when Yukoners could have used a $40,000 contract with regard to school painting. So I am surprised that the minister says that and at the same time cuts it out of the department.

What rationale did the Yukon Party use in putting this priority list together? The minister listed Teslin and Watson Lake. I did not hear, to my surprise ó I heard some mention of the school in Carmacks ó F.H. Collins mentioned. Maybe the minister could give me some rationale to their priority list.

Hon. Edzerza:   In prioritizing the capital projects that we took on, that was sort of looked through and dealt with in conjunction with the amount of monies that we had available.

Having come into a situation where there wasnít an awful lot of money available, we went ahead with some of the projects that were already sort of designated to be done this year.

With regard to F.H. Collins, that whole project was really put on the table because there was going to be a possible demand that it would be used for the upcoming games. However, that plan has changed now so the department is going to have to look very closely at the capacity of the schools as they sit. Eventually thereís going to have to be a determination as to whether or not our government would go into building new schools when the student population has declined.

Mr. Fairclough:   Mr. Chair, Iím really surprised at the answer from the minister ó looking at just the population increase or decrease for building new schools. Public safety should be the biggest one. We have schools that are falling apart ó literally falling apart. If you have a look at what happened in Old Crow, it came so close to the community losing some of their children in a fire. It was a matter of minutes, and if they had been much slower in getting students out, they might have lost some. That school needed to be replaced, and so did Ross River and Mayo, regardless of the populations there. They need to have replacements and, because of a little wrinkle in what communities might want, Iím surprised that it gets bumped off the priority list ó for example, the Tantalus School.

The people in the community voiced how they wanted it designed. Because they did that, it got bumped off the list. The dollars there could have continued for planning money, and thatís when governments could have worked with the community to build a new school there. But now itís gone and, really, nowhere in this mandate of the Yukon Party will we come close to seeing a school built in that community.

I would like to ask the minister: there are planning monies in the upcoming budget for the Teslin school. How did it get there before other schoolsí serious needs were addressed? What is the Carmacks school so far down on the priority list of the Yukon Party?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I feel that some of these questions may be going out of the context of this supplementary that weíre discussing and should maybe be discussed in the mains.

Mr. Fairclough:   Whether the minister wants to answer then or now, if he needs more time to put his thoughts together, then he should just say that, Mr. Chair. I will ask that question again, and maybe the minister will be more prepared then.

Weíre talking about general debate; this is general debate. Iím not going into lines. Iím looking at the vision of the Yukon Party. Right now, the minister said painting was important, that it was a priority, but they cut it back in this supplementary budget, and thatís what Iím getting at. I want to see people working. If things like this are cut out, itís one fewer job for a person, which could be feeding their family. Thatís what Iím getting at. Itís part of that. When you look at planning in schools, it takes a whole year to do a planning session. Carmacks is looking at three years down the road, if possible, if F.H. Collins jumps ahead and gets built, if there are dollars available through the government. There are all kinds of concerns. They waited very patiently for this. All of a sudden, the First Nation raised concerns, and it gets bumped down.

Theyíre disappointed in that. Iíll ask that question again, and hopefully the minister will have some clear answers.

In regard to the Mayo school, the member said there were additional dollars spent on addressing the settling problems. Does the minister anticipate continued problems in this area with permafrost and the lifting and sinking of this school?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   There were repairs. Repairs to the foundation may be required to repair settling that has taken place near the east entrance. The potential costs are not yet known but are expected to be in the range of $75,000. This figure is included in the cost overrun identified above, but the funding for the settling repairs was included in the $160,000 given in the supplementary.

As far as trying to predict whether or not there will be more problems, I canít say for certain.

I also would like to say to the member opposite that when we talk about funding, I donít think anybody really, really in their heart would want to deprive any community of any kind of capital project. The thing I will say is that when the money is scarce, one canít expect to have multi-million dollar projects put on the table.

I would like to say that with regard to the Tantalus School, the property right next door to that school was purchased under an NDP government, and I believe maybe, if the facts are right, the member opposite was even the minister in that government, and there was no school built then.

Under the last regime, this was still on the table. Under the last government there was no school built. I say this without any kind of disrespect to the members opposite because I respect any decisions that were made by previous governments with regard to any capital project. At that particular time, when they were in the position of making the decisions, they obviously had their reasons why they made the decisions they did.

Just like today, as the Minister of Education, I have reasons why I had to make a decision with regard to the Tantalus School. I respected the request of the community. Again, I stated earlier and on more than one occasion, that there was some very ó you might say extraordinary discussions that have to take place with regard to that school. For example, I donít know if the Yukon government has ever decided to build a school on settlement lands. Well, this is one of the requests in that letter ó to build a school on First Nation settlement land. We donít know the implications of doing that. That is one of the reasons why we said that some more consultation and more discussion has to take place in this area.

Mr. Fairclough:   I could see this debate going on and on forever with some of the answers from the member opposite. What does he do with a place like Old Crow? What do you say when you build a building there? The community is mostly First Nation. Thereís nothing wrong with building a public building on First Nation land. Itís part of the community. Roads are built through it; they didnít have a problem with highways. They have gone through reservations, and those are still not settled.

Iím surprised that, just because it is possibly going on a more suitable piece of land that happened to be First Nation land that this minister would bump it down on the priority list ó just because a First Nation raised this ó bumped it up another notch ó it then gets bumped off the list. Thatís what planning money is all about ó $500,000 being spent to work with communities, governments, local governments, the village and the First Nation and the public to design a school suited for the community.

This minister did bump it off the list. He supposedly has a rationale for putting the Teslin school ahead of this one, and I donít dispute the fact that Teslin needs a school ó they do, and we want to see that happen too, but it appears that this project will never see the light of day if it continues down this road.

The member opposite talks about purchasing the property. Well, the Old Crow school, the school in Ross River and the Mayo school were all built under the New Democrats with the others on the list to be built a year after. So far that hasnít happened. If it didnít happen under the Liberal Party, and now it wonít happen under the Yukon Party, how do you think the community feels? Theyíre frustrated.

They want some clear answers. I wonít belabour this. Iím going to bring it up again in the main budget, but Iíd like this minister to commit to a meeting as soon as possible ó which could be this week ó with the First Nation, the village and the public in that community to get the ball rolling for a commitment to build a new school. This could be reflected as early as the fall supplementary budget. I would really like the minister to do this. Get the design money; it goes throughout the rest of the winter, and when we come back to a budget in the spring, those dollars could be reflected to build a new school there. Will he commit to those meetings with the community?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I have no problem whatsoever making a commitment to meet with the people in Carmacks. It is the intention of this minister to do that and at the earliest convenient time.

Mr. Fairclough:   Time is going by quickly. There wasnít enough time to meet with them before the budget was being put together, so Iím asking the minister to meet with them before the supplementary budget is put together, to give them certainty. The minister has committed to that, and I will relay the message back to the community.

On the doorstep during the election, especially in the ministerís riding, he must have heard all kinds of concerns about government needing to support First Nation education. The minister said he is working on a First Nation strategy in education. Why wasnít there any funding for a First Nation education commission as was established at the Council of Yukon First Nations?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I would have to say that I wasnít aware of any First Nation commission that was established at CYFN.

Again, I will stress to the member opposite that it takes time to do things. We have been pressured very, very heavily to get to where we are today and I have full intentions of having consultation with the First Nations to have their input on what they see as their involvement in education. Iím not about to predict or give direction to anybody without any kind of consultation. Itís important to me that they have total involvement.

Mr. Fairclough:   Iím surprised at that answer too, Mr. Chair. I know the minister knows some of the issues that have been brought to his attention by First Nations and, if the minister doesnít know, the education commission and CYFN did fall apart close to the end of the review of the Education Act. If the minister is serious about having First Nation involvement, that is an organization perhaps the minister should pay some attention to.

How, then, is the minister going to involve First Nations in a complete review of the Education Act?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   With regard to the Education Act, at this point in time that act was already basically ready to be presented to this Legislature and put through. At the eleventh hour, apparently there were some concerns from not only First Nations, but other stakeholders. This government has made the commitment that we will identify those stakeholders who had concerns and learn what those concerns were and deal with it accordingly.

Mr. Fairclough:   Can the minister tell me what his plans are for the Education Act ó the review, the one that was partially done?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   One of the goals for me as minister is to put a closure to the Education Act. In order to do that, we have made the commitment to identify those stakeholders who have concerns with it. We would like to get a completion to this process as soon as we possibly can.

Mr. Fairclough:   Let me help speed up the ministerís job to identify the stakeholders. They are basically the people in the Yukon who use the education system. Those are the people who came forward with concerns.

One of the things that went wrong with the Education Act is that suggestions made to the department about possible changes didnít come back to the people ó to Yukoners. They were compiled and the department decided what was best to do with this and it didnít go back, even though that was supposed to be part of the process.

Is the minister committed to that part of the process, to take those written concerns back to the people and say, "This is what was said out there." People wanted to hear it.

For example, people in Teslin may have made suggestions that are very much of interest to people in Mayo, Pelly or Dawson City.

So, will he make that commitment to take it back to the people?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   To the best of my knowledge, the public consultation and services process directed by section 326 was completed in November of 2001 with the submission of recommendations from the Minister of Education. With regard to whatís going to happen in the future with this, there still hasnít been a real concrete decision yet, but the next steps are under consultation.

Thank you.

Mr. Fairclough:   Maybe the minister can lay out what the next steps are.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I think I mentioned more than once that the next steps are obviously to consult with the stakeholders. I have to stress that there is a difference of opinion between me and the member opposite with regard to where the Education Act review is really at, because it has not been brought to my attention that every stakeholder who was involved with it is not satisfied with it. I have had some organizations come and meet with me and say that, "Look, this Education Act is ready to go. Why donít you guys put it through the House?" And again, I explained to the individuals I met with that, "While you are satisfied with what has transpired, there are, however, some who have difficulties. We need to also talk with those individuals."

So, weíre getting it from both sides here. Some say itís ready to go; others say they want more consultation. This party has committed to looking at identifying the particular stakeholders who say they still have a concern with it, and we need to have some discussions with those stakeholders to identify exactly what it is they donít agree with, or what it is that was omitted.

Mr. Fairclough:   Iím really surprised at that answer too, Mr. Chair. I donít believe the minister has a plan in place ó just kind of putting it together as the minister goes along.

The minister said this just now ó that not all the stakeholders could be contacted. So should this go back out to the communities, or will there be a select few who will be consulted? The minister just said that there was a group of people he feels he has in mind for this. I would like to know which of the stakeholders the minister is committed to.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I want to state for the record that there was $830,616 spent on this, so thatís roughly $850,000. When I listen to the member opposite, itís almost like a suggestion that all that money was wasted, when in fact I believe a lot of the information that came in from the stakeholders is very valuable. I respect all the hard work that was done by the committee that was put in place, and I certainly canít believe that every bit of that information is worthless.

To go back to the same people and have the same discussions, whoís to say we might not come out with exactly what was already said. I stated earlier and Iíll say again that we are going to identify those stakeholders, which at this point in time I donít believe to be a huge number, but I can definitely tell you today that we are not going to start from scratch. The $800,000 worth of work is not going to go to waste.

Mr. Fairclough:   I urge the minister to pay attention to the conversation, the debate. I asked the minister to take all the comments and follow due process, proper process the government has had and not start from scratch. Take it back to the people so they know what other people across the Yukon are saying and make the decisions on what the amendments should look like in the Education Act.

Why is the minister deviating from a campaign commitment to ensure that all stakeholders are consulted with?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Again, I believe there is a difference of opinion here between the member opposite and me. I donít believe I said Iím deviating from anything. I believe I said that we are going to follow through with our campaign commitment. We are going to have discussions with the stakeholders who come forward and ask to have some consultation with respect to this Education Act, and we will give them the opportunity to voice their concerns that they feel were not represented in the act as it stands.

Mr. Fairclough:   The members, the Yukon Party is famous for this, Mr. Chair. They say one thing at the doorstep during the campaign and another thing when they are elected into office.

Now the minister is only going out to a selected few stakeholders and he is only going to consult with those who come forward to him, but in the election platform it says that they will be seeking consensus ó not just input or consultation, but consensus ó from all stakeholders ó not just one or two. I hope the minister is listening to this about the Education Act review. That was the promise to the people. Again, this minister is breaking that promise. I want to know why.

Some Hon. Member:   Point of order.

Point of order

Chair:  Mr. Jenkins, on a point of order.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   On a point of order, Mr. Chair, pursuant to section 19 of the Standing Orders, the member opposite is coming very, very close to imputing false or unavowed motives on the part of the minister in our government.

Chair:   Mr. Fairclough, on the point of order.

Mr. Fairclough:   I havenít violated anything under section 19. The person who called the point of order referred to the whole section in the Standing Orders, nothing specific. That should have been part of his point of order.

I am getting information from the minister.

Chair:   The Chair shall take that under advisement.

Chairís ruling

Chair:   Order please.

There is no point of order here; it is a dispute among members. But I would caution the member that deliberately stating that a member made a statement with the deliberate intention of breaking it is a very serious accusation and one that canít be made lightly in debate here. It must be made by a substantive motion. If the member wishes to make that accusation, he should do so in the appropriate place.

There is no point of order. It is a dispute among members.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   The department at this present time is preparing materials for Cabinet consideration relating to the recommendations and the companion amendments proposed. But at this point in time I believe I could commit to providing the member opposite with details of a plan when confirmed.

Mr. Fairclough:   When confirmed, Mr. Chair? I just asked a question about the commitment they made, and itís in the Yukon Party platform, right here. It says "seeking consensus from all stakeholders". Thatís what it says in the Yukon Party platform about the Education Act.

The minister, in my view, is breaking that promise by saying that only a selected few stakeholders will be consulted, and thatís when weíre going to end up with the final product in the Education Act. Why is that promise broken? Thatís all I want to know.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   With regard to the whole process of this Education Act review, approximately 70 percent ó and thatís a really high percentage ó of the comments were not even related to the act. This is a real contributing factor as to why a lot of the information has to be reviewed. We need to sit down with some of the stakeholders involved and get the comments more relevant to the act itself.

Mr. Fairclough:   I still didnít get an answer from the minister. Iím going to repeat the question. But I wanted to make a couple of comments in this regard.

Education is more than the Education Act. Itís an opportunity for government to make improvements elsewhere and to take those comments seriously and not put them aside because they doesnít relate to that section of the Education Act.

Iím surprised the minister would even take that tactic ó to not listen to the other concerns. And I know the minister is going to say that he will listen to them, or he will have a report or summary for us on the other comments that were made in the consultation that took place across the Yukon.

I want to know why this minister is not going to seek consensus with all stakeholders on the Education Act, as they promised on the doorstep. This was part of their platform commitment. Why is the minister not doing this?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I would have to state to the member opposite that ó I believe I said it before, and Iíll say it again ó Iím not an individual who does things sporadically. They need to be thought out, and we want to put closure to this Education Act. We want to do it so that we arenít going to be having it brought back and brought back.

And if itís going to take another year, or a year and a half, then thatís how long itís going to take. And if it takes that long to get a consensus, then weíre going to work at it. Itís something that was a commitment, and we intend to follow through with it.

With respect to the comments made by the member opposite about not listening to all of the concerns, I believe there was a comment made about me having no brains before when I said that we were looking at and putting an education strategy in place. I mentioned then that all of these comments are important.

They will be of value. I donít take it lightly that anybody would voluntarily come out and sit down and get involved in a public issue like a revision of the Education Act. I appreciate all the hard work that they do, and I donít take any of their comments lightly.

Mr. Fairclough:   Again, the minister didnít answer the question about why he wasnít seeking consensus. Weíre getting mixed messages on the floor here. Iím not going to go to the memberís comments about his brains. I just wonít go there. Mr. Chair, the minister said that heíll be consulting stakeholders, and there are a few selected ones, but heís going to be consulting stakeholders who come forward to him, to the government when, in their platform, they did say they would be seeking consensus from all stakeholders. Thatís what Iím getting at. I know Iím starting to get the message through to the member opposite, because in his last comments, Mr. Chair, he did talk about consensus with all stakeholders. They all have to agree to this. That is what the Yukon Party platform said.

How then, if weíre back on track with the Yukon Party platform ó and it took a long time to get the minister there ó how does he propose to do this?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I believe the mixed comments are coming more from the other side of the House than they are from here. I donít know how many times I would have to repeat ó I could stay here all day and repeat exactly what Iím going to say again. Itís a process that obviously, from the length of time it has taken to date to review the Education Act, is not a process that is really something that can be done within a matter of weeks and days.

Again, I will state for the member opposite that we will move ahead with our commitments, and we will be proceeding to identify the stakeholders who had concerns. If an organization had such strong opposition to this Education Act review and what was put into the Legislature here, I have enough faith in that organization to come forward now and say, "Look, all of the input we had was not acknowledged." I think it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack to go out to everybody in the Yukon and start asking them individually if all their concerns were met. Iím quite certain these individuals will come forward and say, "Look, we want to sit down and talk with this government because, when we were involved with the process previously, we werenít heard." I certainly hope thatís the case and this will transpire.

Mr. Fairclough:   I urge the minister to read the Blues tomorrow. Read Hansard if he doesnít get a chance to read the Blues tomorrow. Read Hansard and follow along with this conversation. Iím talking about the Yukon Party platform and their promise to the people on the doorstep. Thatís what they were supposedly elected to do.

All Iím doing is asking how itís going to be done. I donít want the minister ó the minister thinks about something so much that I believe he believes thatís what is being said on the floor of this Legislature. I didnít talk about weeks or going back to the beginning at all. Comments have already been made on the Education Act. All I want the minister to do is to follow the process that many Yukoners were used to. Comments were made; comments in Teslin were made; the communities would like to hear what suggestions were made ó good suggestions. They may make the same ones and speed the process up.

I donít think that this was well-thought-out when it was put into the Yukon Party platform, because the Yukon Party committed over and over again ó it was on the air, in the media, in the newspapers and on the radio ó that they would be seeking consensus from all stakeholders. Now the minister is saying he will be identifying the stakeholders. I donít think it will take weeks to do that. If they would just look at the book, Mr. Chair, members opposite would see that there are a number of people who made comments and would like to see government act even more than what is there in the Education Act.

If the minister cannot lay out clearly to me here how they are going to seek consensus from all stakeholders, perhaps then he could bring that forward to me in a legislative return.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I believe that Iíve already made a commitment to the member opposite that when something is agreed to we will be presenting it to him.

Ms. Duncan:   I would like to also follow up on some of the commitments made by the Yukon Party with respect to education. There was a commitment in the campaign literature ó itís specifically in the brochure from the current Minister of Justice. It says, "Increased educational resources in our existing classrooms instead of constructing a new Grey Mountain School." The Grey Mountain School is certainly a reduction in this budget by $470,000. Does the minister believe this commitment has been met?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   That money from the Grey Mountain School was redirected back into other projects, and I donít have that information at this point in time. The monies that were cancelled from that school were just returned to the Department of Finance.

Ms. Duncan:   So, Mr. Chair, we have a problem. Yukoners have a commitment in writing from the Minister of Justice that the educational resources in classrooms would be increased once Grey Mountain School was cancelled. Grey Mountain School was cancelled. The commitment has not been met.

What the minister has just said is that money from the cancellation of Grey Mountain School ó $470,000 ó was taken out of the Education budget. It was returned to general revenues. In other words, it was not put back in our classrooms. How does the Minister of Education intend to reconcile this? How does the Minister of Education intend to deal with this commitment that has been made in writing by the now Minister of Justice.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   The dollars that weíre talking about for the Grey Mountain School were in the capital budget, and the dollars for resource staff in the schools are in the O&M budget, so weíre talking about two different budgets here.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, Iím very well aware of that, but I didnít go door to door in Whitehorse West and campaign and put it in writing for constituents that Grey Mountain would be cancelled and the money would go into classrooms. The ministerís colleague did ó door to door, in writing, for all Yukoners to see: Grey Mountain School cancelled, the money into classrooms. This commitment is very clearly not met.

The minister said it was because one is capital and one is O&M. Exactly, but unfortunately, constituents arenít going to accept that as an excuse for breaking a promise that was made in writing ó a commitment in writing.

How does the minister explain, not only to the Whitehorse West constituents but to everybody else, how there can be a commitment made in writing and then not met by the Yukon Party government? How does the minister explain that?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   At this point in time, I would say that itís still very early in the year, and I canít say for certain that this commitment will not be met because the Yukon Party has stated all along that, if the need arises, the money will be found.

Ms. Duncan:   Well, let me take the minister back through this. There was a commitment made, in writing, by one of his colleagues ó specifically increase educational resources in our existing classrooms instead of constructing the new Grey Mountain School. So we have before us a supplementary that takes $470,000 out of Grey Mountain School. Instead of constructing this school, the Yukon Party promised that that money would be put into classrooms.

Now, the minister has said itís a difference between a capital and O&M budget. Is that the reason theyíre giving Yukoners for not keeping this commitment, or will the minister stand on his feet and say that that commitment was not met because, in fact, it wasnít? Will the minister admit to that ó that the commitment was not met as was promised in writing?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I canít really, honestly make that commitment, because when we do start looking at the education strategy, I believe that would be part and parcel of being able to identify the needs in the classroom. I believe we need to get a handle on what the big picture is before you can really start putting money into anything. To just pour money into a classroom doesnít make any sense to me. You need to know why youíre doing it.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, letís start with this. First of all, the ministerís first response was that Grey Mountain is in capital, and educational resources in the classroom are in O&M. Letís start with that. Does the minister believe itís possible to transfer money between those two? Is it possible to take money out of capital and put it into O&M?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   To the best of my knowledge, I believe you can do that.

Ms. Duncan:   Yes, Mr. Chair, you can. Why did the minister not do it? The minister had a choice. The minister sits on Management Board. He had a choice. He had a commitment from a colleague who said very clearly in black and white for every voter to see, not just in Whitehorse West but throughout the Yukon, that the Yukon Party government would take the resources for Grey Mountain and put them into the classroom. Thatís $470,000. Where is the $470,000 going into the classrooms? Will the minister tell me that?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   To the best of my knowledge, I donít believe we even had time to put that into this supplementary. I think maybe this line of questioning may be better answered in the mains.

Ms. Duncan:   No. Iím sorry. I donít find the ministerís answer acceptable. This was a direct commitment, written in black and white, by his colleague. The commitment was not met. The money was taken out. They had time to take the money out of Grey Mountain School. The member is a member of Management Board. There was time to put this money into educational resources in the classrooms, as they had committed to do.

The fact is, they ó the Yukon Party ó did not do it. They did not do it. It is a broken commitment. It is written in black and white by the now Member for Whitehorse West saying this would happen. It did not happen. Half of it did; the money came out of Grey Mountain School, but the money did not go into the classrooms, as was promised and committed to.

The minister has admitted that, yes, the money came out of Grey Mountain School. The minister has admitted that it can be transferred from O&M to capital. We know for a fact that the minister is a member of Management Board, which makes these decisions. We know for a fact the commitment was made, and we have established this afternoon that the commitment was broken.

In his opening comments, the minister did say that the funding for various school capital projects has not been totally removed.

What are the plans for Grey Mountain? Are they going to build it or not?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   At this point in time, the Grey Mountain School is not going to be built. The Grey Mountain School will carry on the usual process that it has been.

Ms. Duncan:   So, Mr. Chair, is the minister guaranteeing the jobs at Grey Mountain Primary for another year?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   The answer to that is yes.

Ms. Duncan:   How is the minister addressing the health and safety concerns at Grey Mountain School?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I am not aware of any health and safety issues at the school at this point in time.

Ms. Duncan:   Well, let me encourage the minister to ask, to go back and read the rural and Whitehorse school facilities study, to recognize that those portables that passed for a school are more than 35 years old and that there are mould issues that are major problems at that school. Let me encourage the minister to go back and ask about the health and safety of the children who attend there.

Is the minister ó and is it the departmentís intention ó to accept kindergarten registrations there as well for next year? Kindergarten registration starts in May/June ó we get expressions of interest. Grey Mountain is continuing for another year ó logically children will be starting kindergarten ó if there is only a yearís life in that school, they may see a decrease ó the decrease the department loves to see in registrations at Grey Mountain ó in spite of the success of that school.

The minister has granted them a stay of execution; he is not closing the school this year. Is he still accepting kindergarten registrations at Grey Mountain?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   To the best of my knowledge, the mould issue had been repaired at that school.

To the member opposite, I say that I did attend a meeting with the school council at the Grey Mountain School, and there was no mention of any deficiencies in the school. In fact, I specifically remember the only request I had from the school council was that they have their school painted. I believe that has been granted.

As far as kindergarten enrolment, I donít believe there has been any decision made on that yet.

Ms. Duncan:   Parents spend a great deal of time making a decision as to where theyíre going to enrol their children, particularly in kindergarten ó make a choice between, for example, Catholic schools, French first language, French immersion, or their neighbourhood community school. That is not a decision that is arrived at lightly by a parent, and it is not made in a week or two. So is the minister saying that he doesnít know yet, that there has been no decision on whether or not Grey Mountain will accept kindergarten registrations for the 2003-04 school year? There has been no decision on that.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   At this point in time, to the best of my knowledge, there have been no plans really made for Grey Mountain School. According to a report that I reviewed, it has a lifespan of approximately five to 10 years. At this point in time, this government has no plans of changing the daily activities at the school.

Ms. Duncan:   So, Mr. Chair, when the notices appear to register your child for kindergarten, Grey Mountain will still be an option?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I believe it will still be an option for this year.

Ms. Duncan:   The answers from the minister are not very definitive. For a parent making a choice, I believe itís going to be an option for this year. When you start your child on his or her school career, you donít want to be thinking theyíll be changing school in grade 1 ó theyíll just start somewhere and then have to change schools. If youíre enrolling your child in a K to 3 school, youíd like to know that school is going to be there from kindergarten to grade 3. Otherwise, you may make another choice, and there are some options.

Grey Mountain was a very successful school, as most, if not all of our Yukon schools are very successful schools. A good part of Grey Mountainís success is because itís a very small environment, that kindergarten to grade 3 environment. Its catchment area is not just Riverdale. Thatís a misnomer and a misunderstanding in the general public. There are students from all over Whitehorse who attend Grey Mountain. It also successfully builds upon the work of the Child Development Centre.

The minister wonít give any long-term commitments other than one year to that school. Thatís what he said on the floor of the House today, and the only repairs that are being done is that the school is being painted.

Iíd like to ask about the other schools. Has the minister toured the school in Carmacks?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   No, I havenít.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, closer to home, in this supplementary budget the technology wing upgrade in the Watson Lake high school didnít go ahead. Iíd be interested to find out if it is going to go ahead. The Golden Horn Elementary School roof upgrade didnít proceed. Also, one of the key capital maintenance projects that is larger than first anticipated is the Porter Creek high school. That school is at capacity and there is difficulty in two areas: one is with a hallway that is too small to accommodate people and the other is that the shop is too small. These are badly needed capital issue changes to that school and theyíre just as important as the roof in other schools and as the technology wing in others. I see a reduction in capital money. I donít have a sense from the minister of a commitment to the capital expenditures in schools.

Can the minister tell me what the plans are for the Watson Lake, Golden Horn and Porter Creek schools?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   With regard to the Golden Horn Elementary School roof upgrade of $200,000, these funds became available for transfer when it was thought the problem could be resolved by replacing the membrane at the connection beam. The funding was transferred to the following projects: $80,000 to the Mayo community school, $80,000 to the Watson Lake high school technology wing and $40,000 to Takhini school heating system replacement. The Watson Lake high school technology wing upgrade of $115,000 ó the net lapse of $115,000 is comprised of a revote of $5,000 to complete the final design work on this project. With the completion of phase 2 of this project not occurring until the 2003-04 fiscal year, $120,000 was returned to the Department of Finance and has been requested in the 2003-04 capital budget.

Ms. Duncan:   Well, weíll debate whether or not the request has actually been met. The minister didnít cover the Porter Creek Secondary School. Itís not mentioned here specifically. Itís a problem that has been brought to the departmentís attention ó problems that the department committed to resolve, but had not yet done so when we left office. Where do they sit now?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   To the best of my knowledge, that project has not been completely done away with. I believe the decision was simply to defer it for a year, but I could get back to the member opposite with the information on that.

Ms. Duncan:   Does the minister mean by "deferring it" that it is deferred out of the 2003-04 consideration as well, and that I should be asking about it in the 2004-05 capital budget? Until when is it deferred to? Does he have a date on that?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I donít have information in front of me with respect to this question, but I believe that it could quite possibly be deferred to the 2004-05 budget.

Ms. Duncan:   Well, Iím sure the other Porter Creek members are going to join me at the doorstep in explaining why this project has been deferred several years. Itís a choice the government has made, on which it will come as no surprise that I disagree with the minister. Thatís a particular school where there have been a number of issues. Itís at capacity now. The repairs and changes to that structure at Porter Creek Secondary School need to be made. Theyíre health, safety and quality issues, and I donít believe health, safety and educational quality issues should be deferred, nor can they be deferred.

I would like from the minister a complete list of the school-initiated renovations and the various school facility renovations and the various school facility renovations that have been undertaken for these expenditures. There is a substantial amount ó double ó put into air quality and energy management projects. Can the minister perhaps explain if that is all around the air quality issues at Vanier School, or are there other schools involved?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   With respect to the air quality projects, the increase of $105,000 was for air quality issues at Vanier Catholic Secondary School, Whitehorse Elementary School and Christ the King Elementary School. These funds were transferred from the $50,000 in the F.H. Collins replacement project and $55,000 from the capital maintenance.

Chair:   As members are starting to ask questions about specific lines and specific amounts, do members wish to proceed into line-by-line?

Ms. Duncan:   No, Mr. Chair, I will focus on speaking in general.

That was generally with respect to capital repairs. A number of schools were covered there. I was trying to get a sense of the general view by the minister of his take on capital repairs. It seems that theyíve been deferred.

The minister had a lengthy discussion with the Member for Mayo-Tatchun about the Education Act. The Education Act review was undertaken because it was legislated and it was required to be done.

When the act was written, it said that there shall be a review. It didnít require that it had to then come back to the House by a certain point in time. It was just that there shall be a review and the review was done. It was very, very well-documented. In fact, all the public input is cross-referenced dozens of different ways.

I didnít hear from the minister about a time frame when he intends to come back to the House on the Education Act review. Can he just provide that, please?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I believe I stated earlier that I have total respect for any government and the endeavours that they took over in the past and the work they had done on it. Again, I believe that there was extensive work done on the Education Act review, and all of that work will be honoured. As far as a time frame is concerned, I would feel rather confident in saying that I could be given a report on the progress in the future, but I would estimate it will be at least a year before it comes into the Legislature and sooner, I hope. But at this point in time, because I donít know all the factors involved with why it was even brought back for review, I canít really predict a time frame for it.

Mr. Cardiff:   My responsibilities are largely around the advanced education, post-secondary level. Thatís where my interest largely lies in this supplementary budget. I notice that there are some increases. One of the things that happened during the election was a forum at Yukon College, where the various parties got to go and talk to students and people at the College about what they would do for post-secondary education.

One of the big things of concern to me around post-secondary education is student financial assistance ó student grants, the eligibility of students for those grants, whether or not the criteria is too tough or not tough enough. I think itís very important that we not put up any barriers to students who want to obtain further education after they leave high school.

One of the commitments in the Yukon Party platform is to index the Yukon student grant. Iím wondering if the minister has any information as to when that might happen. I donít see it reflected. Thereís money in there to improve the computer system around this area but, as far as funds for students trying to further their education so they can seek work here in the territory, I donít see anything there or, for that matter, in the main budget either.

If the minister could maybe tell me his thoughts on what his plans are for the student grant indexing ó when and how much, please?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I would say to the member opposite that the students will get their full grants. There is no reduction, really, to their financial assistance. Itís going to be maintained. This budget was based on the number of student applications and, if that increases, itíll be met.

Mr. Cardiff:   Well, that wasnít really the question I asked. We know that students will continue to get their weekly/monthly assistance. We know that thatís going to happen. The commitment in the platform was to index the student grant, and itís a question of whether or not the amount they get is sufficient. Everything from eggs to gas to rent to books to pencils and pens is increasing in price, and students are having a hard time feeding themselves and attending to their studies. The problem is that they donít have the resources.

There was a commitment made to index the Yukon student grant which, in my mind, means that itís going to be indexed to something ó the cost of living, the consumer price index or the price of Kraft dinner. It has to be indexed to something.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   At the present time, to the best of my knowledge, no decision has been made on this yet. It will be looked into.

Mr. Cardiff:   Mr. Chair, students are currently applying to go to post-secondary education in the fall and I think they would like to know now the amount of their grant. Is it going to be increased in the next fiscal year, or how many years are they going to have to wait before thereís some action on this item? Maybe the minister can tell me his plans for time frames for when this will be addressed?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I believe I just stated that there hasnít been a decision made on it yet, and I donít really feel comfortable putting a time frame on it just yet, as it may not be what I say, and I would like to be certain of what I say.

Mr. Cardiff:   So we can be guaranteed that he is going to look at it, though. I remember listening to what the minister said at Yukon College during those debates, and he said that post-secondary education and the training thatís provided at Yukon College is a big priority for the Yukon Party. It says in their platform, as well: give priority to the expansion of apprenticeship training programs to assist Yukoners in acquiring new skills and improve employment opportunities, expand education and training programs in areas of particular relevance to the north. The minister also, when he was a candidate, made a commitment to the students and the staff at Yukon College to create an all-party standing committee to address the funding needs of Yukon College. I was wondering whether or not he had any plans to do that. This was a commitment that the minister made at Yukon College during a forum.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I believe the member opposite and I have a real difference of opinion here. I donít believe I made any such promise to anybody to develop an all-party standing committee with respect to education. I believe what was stated was more along the lines that the Yukon Party would be seeking involvement from all parties when committees were struck.

Mr. Cardiff:   Well, I would encourage the minister to get a copy of the video and watch it because thatís what I heard him say.

Now, I think that the funding for Yukon College does need to be increased, and I think that the minister probably agrees with me. His colleague, sitting behind him, is of the opinion that funding to Yukon College has been increased through the use of community training trust funds and, last week, led me to believe from his answer that the community training funds are administered by the College. I was wondering whether or not there had been some change in policy around community training funds and whether or not the College actually administers those funds for the department, or does the department still administer them?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I believe that, to the best of my knowledge, I would say that the increase of $1 million to the training trust fund ó the College does indirectly benefit from that. That money, through leverage, is approximately three-fold. It did an awful lot of positive things for the College. Maybe it didnít put it directly into their base funding, but they do benefit from this.

Advanced education funds training in three distinct ways: community based, economic sector based and project related. Training trust funds are discreet funds established either with the board for the community or as a sector with a sponsoring institution. Training is generally guided by the Yukon training strategy, which outlines the Yukon governmentís policies on skills training for Yukon people.

Mr. Cardiff:   One thing the minister doesnít seem to realize is that in order to access funds like this, somebody in a community ó whether itís a community campus committee or whether itís a Yukon College staff person or whether itís one of those groups, an industry group ó volunteers their time to write a proposal to access these funds, and basically the government has the right to say yes or no to whether or not the particular funding application will be accepted or rejected. And that takes up a lot of resources in the not-for-profit area, or College funds that come out of their base budget and that would be probably better used for actually delivering education on the ground, in the classroom, face to face or by distance to students instead of having to write these proposals. If the minister wants the College to write proposals to obtain funding, then there should be money in the base budget to provide that.

Another thing the minister talked about around training funds is the idea that they grow, that you can take money from this fund and access money from two or three other funds or other partners, and I believe thatís a good thing. It builds partnerships in post-secondary education and thatís a good thing.

It gets people to buy into it. I know there was a document that actually laid that out. I believe it was produced by the department, and it showed all the projects from the past few years and showed where those partnerships were made. I was wondering whether or not I could get a copy of that as well as a list of the approved training projects and those that were rejected and the value of those projects, and if that information was available before we got into the debate on the main budget.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I would have to check with the officials to see if that information can be obtained and distributed.

Mr. Cardiff:   That would be fine. And if the minister can commit that that information is available, could we get it before we get into the mains?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Well, I certainly hope weíll get them to you before we get into the mains, but we will do that.

Chair:   Is there any further general debate?

Before we proceed with line-by-line, do members wish a 15-minute recess?

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Chair:   A ten-minute break has been proposed.

It appears that we will be able to proceed with line-by-line rather quickly. We will continue on. The page reference is 7-3, operation and maintenance expenditures

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

On Education Support Services

Education Support Services in the amount of an underexpenditure of $106,000 cleared

On Public Schools

Public Schools in the amount of $92,000 agreed to

On Advanced Education

Advanced Education in the amount of $125,000 agreed to

On Total O&M Expenditures

Total O&M Expenditures for the Department of Education in the amount of $111,000 agreed to

On Operation and Maintenance Recoveries

Operation and Maintenance Recoveries in the amount of $165,000 agreed to

On Revenue

Revenue in the amount of an underexpenditure of $29,000 cleared

On Capital Expenditures

On Education Support Services

On Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space

Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space in the amount of $3,000 agreed to

On Education Act Review

Education Act Review in the amount of an underexpenditure of $30,000 cleared

On Public Schools

On Facility Construction and Maintenance

On Eliza Van Bibber School Addition/Heating System

Eliza Van Bibber School Addition/Heating System in the amount of an underexpenditure of $2,036,000 cleared

On F.H. Collins High School Replacement

Ms. Duncan:   This is the question I had in line-by-line: has the department given up on any potential of an F.H. Collins redevelopment in conjunction with the Canada Winter Games facility development? The idea that was on the table was looking at the flexi-hall or some requirement for the Canada Winter Games in 2007 also being part of the school replacement. Has the department given up on that notion?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   To the best of my knowledge, the Canada Winter Games does not require the school facility at this time.

Ms. Duncan:   Could I ask the minister to review that question again and perhaps give me a written response? We need to redevelop F.H. Collins. It is also nearing the end of its useful life as a building. We are going to require a lot of facilities for the Canada Winter Games. They are going to be using the school facilities, to some degree, for the Canada Winter Games. There was talk of redeveloping F.H. Collins High School in such a way that it could be used in conjunction with the Canada Winter Games ó it would meet some needs.

So, has that idea been taken off the table? The minister seems to be indicating that it has.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I will comply with the request from the member opposite and will provide the decision in writing.

Chair:   Is there any further discussion regarding F.H. Collins High School replacement?

F.H. Collins High School Replacement in the amount of an underexpenditure of $50,000 cleared

On Grey Mountain School Replacement

Grey Mountain School Replacement in the amount of an underexpenditure of $470,000 cleared

On Watson Lake High School Technology Wing Upgrade

Watson Lake High School Technology Wing Upgrade in the amount of an underexpenditure of $115,000 cleared

On Vanier Catholic Secondary School

Vanier Catholic Secondary School in the amount of $4,000 agreed to

On Site Improvement and Recreation Development

Site Improvement and Recreation Development in the amount of $152,000 agreed to

On Takhini School Heating System Replacement

Takhini School Heating System Replacement in the amount of $46,000 agreed to

On Golden Horn Elementary School Roof Upgrade

Mr. Cardiff:   I donít know whether the minister recalls this or not, but the Golden Horn School roof upgrade is an important project, I think. Iíve worked in that school and I know there were problems with the roof leaking. In my mind, there are also some concerns around health and safety. One of the reasons why the roof leaks is partially because of the way the building is structured. Itís a modular building, but my understanding is that there is also some extracurricular use of the roof for sports activities and that, in my experience working in construction, would contribute to deterioration and the roof leaking.

So, the department may want to ensure that young people arenít able to get on to the roof and use it for other activities. Otherwise, weíll be fixing the roof for the next 10 years.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   For a minute I was wondering if I were hearing right. I thought maybe there was a soccer game being held up there.

I can confirm that will be looked into.

Golden Horn Elementary School Roof Upgrade in the amount of an underexpenditure of $200,000 cleared

On Mayo Community School

Mayo Community School in the amount of $597,000 agreed to

On Catholic Elementary School Expansions

Catholic Elementary School Expansions in the amount of $1,041,000 agreed to

On Ross River School Replacement

Ross River School Replacement in the amount of $55,000 agreed to

On School Initiated Renovations

Ms. Duncan:   With the school initiated renovations, site improvements and the various school facility renovations, the minister indicated he would provide a line-by-line breakdown of how that money was spent. I just wanted to restate that for the record.

What I meant was that the minister would provide that information in writing to us, so I just wanted that recorded in Hansard.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Yes, we will do that.

School Initiated Renovations in the amount of $116,000 agreed to

On Various School Facilities Renovations

Various School Facilities Renovations in the amount of $26,000 agreed to

On Air Quality/Energy Management Projects

Air Quality/Energy Management Projects in the amount of $105,000 agreed to

On Capital Maintenance Repairs

Capital Maintenance Repairs in the amount of an underexpenditure of $1,000 cleared

On EDUNet

EDUNet in the amount of $33,000 agreed tooity/

On School Painting Program

School Painting Program in the amount of an underexpenditure of $40,000 cleared

On Instructional Programs

On School-Based Equipment Purchase

School-Based Equipment Purchase in the amount of $139,000 agreed to

On Advanced Education

On Community Training Fund

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, would the minister, in providing the breakdown of the other expenditures, give a breakdown of that one when he writes to us or provides a legislative return, please?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Yes, we can provide that.

Community Training Fund in the amount of $272,000 agreed to

On Student Financial Assistance System

Student Financial Assistance System in the amount of $148,000 agreed to

On Total of Other Capital Expenditures

Total of Other Capital Expenditures in the amount of nil cleared

On Total Capital Expenditures

Total Capital Expenditures for the Department of Education in the amount of an underexpenditure of $205,000 agreed to

On Total Capital Recoveries

Total Capital Recoveries for the Department of Education in the amount of an underexpenditure of $3,000 agreed to

Department of Education agreed to

Chair:   That concludes the department, and I believe that concludes Schedule A.

On Schedule B ó Grants

Schedule B ó Grants agreed to

On Schedule C ó Special Warrants

Schedule C ó Special Warrants agreed to

On Clause 1

Clause 1 agreed to

On Clause 2

Clause 2 agreed to

On Clause 3

Clause 3 agreed to

On Title

Title agreed to

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I move that Bill No. 2, Third Appropriation Act, 2002-03, be reported out of Committee without amendment.

Motion agreed to

Chair:   We will now stand in recess for 10 minutes.

Recess

Chair:   Committee of the Whole will come to order.

Bill No. 4 ó First Appropriation Act, 2003-04 ó continued

We will continue on with Bill No. 4, First Appropriation Act, 2003-04, with general debate.

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Mr. Hardy:   Good. I expect very short answers then.

Mr. Chair, picking up where we left off last week, the Premier mentioned a couple of things. I thought they were worth exploring because, in trying to put out the position that the Yukon Party has put out and why they have crafted the budget the way they have, and their talk around trajectories and how itís not sustainable, makes me take a closer look to see if they have achieved what they were aiming for. But there is also some recognition in the past as well.

The Premier had said ó Iím just going to read out of the Blues here: "The Yukon Territory, at this point in time, is in a better fiscal situation than virtually every other jurisdiction in this country ó they all have large accumulated deficits and debt. Thatís something the Yukon does not have, and thatís something that we do not want to enter into. That is why the trajectory of spending had to be dealt with Ö"

Thatís a good acknowledgement of previous governments, and thatís going as far back as you want to go. I find that the Premier talks about the bad spending habits of the previous governments, and yet, in a statement here, heís basically acknowledging the fact that the previous NDP governments ó the 13 years that I think they were actually in government ó did not and had not run up a deficit and that the Yukon Party are beneficiaries of that.

Iím going to ask the member opposite, do they recognize that and which statement holds true, and is this trajectory only based upon a whole pile of suppositions that may happen, or not?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Well, the picture that the member opposite is painting is correct in some respects. With respect to the Yukonís financial position, comparing it to all of the other 12 political jurisdictions in Canada, we are the best off.

But then if you just go back a short time in history and want to lay the total claim for this occurring, and if you want to put it at the feet of previous governments, you canít make that connection. If you look at when the NDP came to power ó the previous Penikett government ó the deficit at the end of their term of office was very significant and that took awhile to turn around by the next government.

That said, currently our financial position ó our surplus position ó is the worst it has ever been since the deficit position under the Penikett government.

We are not allowed to operate in a deficit position under current Yukon legislation, Mr. Chair, so we have to maintain due diligence and practise very efficient management of our financial resources while addressing the needs of Yukoners.

Now, we can get into all the areas the member opposite may want to explore, dealing with capital projects that have gone sideways under previous administrations and ended up costing significantly more than what they should have. We have a number of schools, the Thomson Centre; we have projects that were budgeted for capital purposes at one figure but which didnít come through to completion. We have some areas that, as a government, have to be concentrated on to ensure we act in a fiscally prudent way and address the education, health care and needs all across the gamut of services that a government provides to its residents.

It must be pointed out clearly that the financial position that the Yukon currently finds itself in was due to the formula financing that was put in place and the monies that flowed from the Member of Parliament of Yukon years ago under a previous federal government. That funding and its intended purpose have probably not paralleled each other. That said, the member is absolutely correct, as was the Premier the other day, in stating that the financial position that the Yukon currently finds itself in is one of the best in Canada ó in fact, the best in Canada, of all 13 political jurisdictions ó but our surplus is at the lowest it has ever been since the coming into effect of that legislation that would trigger an election if we were to go into an accumulated deficit position.

Mr. Hardy:   Itís interesting that the member opposite talks about the Tony Penikett government running a deficit. I was in the territory, as well as the member opposite and many of the people in here, and I remember the debate very clearly. I remember how immediately after one year went by, all of a sudden, the picture was rosy again. All of a sudden, it was turned around ó you know, $50 million. It doesnít wash.

The sad thing, Mr. Chair, is that they keep using those same old lines. It just discredits what theyíre trying to do right now. It really questions their criticism of the previous Liberal government, because it has been proven wrong. It has been proven wrong by our history. We can go back and look at the books. It has been proven wrong. Itís just rhetoric. Itís just absolute election rhetoric this member is spilling out again, and the people of this territory have to listen to it.

Frankly, what it does is erode the public trust, because itís the same old line. Two years down the road, everything is rosy again, and the new government wants to pat itself on the back. I donít care which government it is ó Yukon Party, NDP, or Liberal government. This is not the way politics should be conducted, because it erodes the public trust.

The other point we canít forget is that the member mentioned projects that go sideways. Well, letís not forget Taga Ku. Letís not forget the handling of Taga Ku. You want to talk about a project that went sideways. That in itself is a lesson we can all learn from. We all make mistakes, but letís hope we can move forward from those mistakes and not repeat them. One of the best ways of not repeating them is not to pretend they donít exist, but acknowledge them and move forward.

Looking at this budget ó sure, itís a Yukon Party budget. This is what weíre here to debate. Thatís why weíre here in general debate ó to definitely talk about it and get the philosophy behind it.

I have a bunch of questions for general debate, and I have some things I want to look at and do some comparison to try to get an idea, Mr. Chair, of where this budget is going to take us and to try to get a feel of where the Yukon Party is taking us over the next few years when theyíre going to be the government ó probably just a few years, as well.

My first question, and I almost always come back to this question, Mr. Chair: how much consultation was done to form this budget?

Iím looking again at some comments made by the Premier, and he is perfectly correct in saying thanks to his caucus and his Cabinet colleagues and the Department of Finance officials and department officials who put a great deal of effort into the content and production of this document, as well as the supplementary.

Looking at this, I get the impression that the only people who had input into this budget are the caucus, the Cabinet, the Department of Financial officials and departmental officials. Is that correct?

Is that correct? You werenít listening, were you?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Chair, the member opposite knows full well that the consultation took place to a great degree through the election process. He knows full well that that is very much the case, and why wouldnít it have been? Iím sure if, by some miracle and leap of faith, the NDP had been elected to form the government here, it would have been the same answer that they would have provided had they constructed the budget, but they would probably have taken the previous Liberal government budget that was already there. There seems to be a very cosy relationship between the previous NDP government and the Liberal government, back and forward, and they might have perhaps shared budged documents as the Liberals did with the NDP. I donít know. Iím speculating, and Iím not here to speculate. Iím here to provide hard and fast answers, but I can tell you that our caucus and our Cabinet worked very, very long and very, very hard constructing this budget.

The consultation process was, to a large degree, done during the election, after the election, and from advice that Yukoners provided to our government. It never ends, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Hardy:   Well, this is very interesting. Once again I hear the same line that the consultation for the next four years was all done in the election ó the whole 30 days of the election. The consultation for this budget was done during the election. Well, thatís a surprise to me when I go through this budget that has been tabled, because I would be very interested to know if, when the members opposite went door to door, they told the people at the door that they were going to cut family and childrenís services by 11 percent. Was that the election promise that they made and that theyíre living up to? Theyíre going to cut youth services five percent ó was that the election promise that they made, Mr. Chair? I ask any Yukon Party member over there, are these the promises that you guaranteed to the people of the Yukon that you would do ó five percent cut in youth services? I could open this anywhere. Regulatory services under the Department of Justice ó youíre planning to cut it by 14 percent. Did you talk about that with people who were concerned about justice? Tourism and Culture, about the film industry cuts, about marketing ó eight percent cut. Did the members opposite go to the door with this in hand or with some ideas of what they were going to cut when they knocked on the doors and talked to the people?

Because this is very interesting. If this is whatís being said in this House, Mr. Chair ó and Iíve heard now from both the Premier and this minister opposite, the Minister of Health and Social Services that all the consultation that was done to form this budget was done over 30 days during the election ó well, I would like to know if all these cuts that was discussed, the $30-some million in capital works that were cut, what was promised by this party on the doorsteps. Because if they werenít, then the consultation did not happen, Mr. Chair.

It is misleading, so I canít use that document.

Some Hon. Member:   Point of order.

Unparliamentary language

Chair:   Mr. Jenkins, on a point of order.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The term "misleading" is not permitted under our rules, Mr. Chair.

Chairís ruling

Chair:   The term "misleading" has been ruled out of order on numerous occasions.

Mr. Hardy:   There is such a thing as introducing in the House documents that do not tell the right story. They tell a different story. Sometimes we have to feel it out, Mr. Chair.

Now, I have another document here, and this is a document I was looking at. I was looking at the budget and the budget highlights. This is the document that actually did participate during the election. In this document ó which has been tabled, Mr. Chair, so I can talk about it. Just in case you were wondering if it had been tabled, I did table it quite awhile back. This is the Yukon Party platform. In it they talk about inclusive style of governing based on consensus building, consultation, collaboration, compromise, non-confrontation or unilateral action. Great words ó I said that already.

However, under creating resource certainty ó Iím sure they talked about this on the doorstep and I am sure the Yukon Party was keeping it in mind when it was doing the budget ó is the promise that was made. Iíve looked through this budget and I havenít been able to find it yet. Maybe the member opposite can explain to me why itís not in this Yukon Party budget. That is that ó weíll just start to go through this ó it seeks the participation of the resource sector industries on ways to encourage new investment and stabilize current investors.

Could the member opposite tell me what is in this budget that addresses that promise that was made during the extensive consultative period of 30 days, from October 4 to November 4?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The answer is very straightforward. All the member opposite has to do is look at the Yukon Party initiatives.

One of the recent ones that was questioned at length by the members opposite was the hiatus from assessment under the Quartz Mining Act. Itís a relief; itís probably going to attract more dollars into the Yukon than we feel is going to occur initially, because the feedback is just starting to come in and it looks like this initiative ó not alone, but in conjunction with other Yukon Party initiatives and the continuation of some other programs ó will virtually double mining exploration in the Yukon this year over last year.

For example, our Yukon Party position with respect to the Yukon protected areas strategy has sent a clear signal and message that we are examining this area.

So, in isolation on a piece of paper, to point a finger to a certain amount of dollars, Mr. Chair, itís difficult to point out what the member wants to have pointed out. When you combine the initiatives that the Yukon Party has put in place and you dovetail them together, the results will be very positive indeed for the Yukon, under our watch.

Mr. Hardy:   Well, thatís interesting. I know that the Premier was a supporter of the fireweed fund. Weíre talking about trade and investment and getting new funding capital in here. It was our hope ó on this side, anyway ó that we would have seen some direction toward making available some access to capital in the budget.

Now, there is talk of access to resources. One of the resources that all businesses need is capital. Unfortunately, I donít see it in the budget. The only thing I see in going through the budget highlights ó since it has been referred to a fair amount ó was the creation of a stand-alone Department of Economic Development to be established in consultation with stakeholders, First Nation governments and government employees.

Now, I donít know how much stimulation that has already had on the economy, since only $1 was put into this department, but I would like to know from the member opposite what their feeling is about re-establishing the trade and investment fund and also looking toward the fireweed fund as a form of capital for small- and medium-sized businesses.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   As the member opposite correctly pointed out, the Department of Economic Development is being recreated under our watch and, because we havenít fully planned out and determined what this department is going to be tasked with, a $1 figure was put in for this department. All the areas mentioned by the member opposite are potential areas that the new Department of Economic Development will be engaged to examine and review for us as a government.

Itís a blank piece of paper with respect to the areas that can be explored and can be looked at, but those areas the member opposite mentioned are certainly on the agenda, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Hardy:   The member opposite talked about the forecast for mining to be double or for it to be a very positive year this year, and he said itís because of the tax break they have given to the miners just recently. I didnít see that in the budget. I didnít see that anywhere in the calculations on what, I guess, would be loss of revenue now. Thatís what it would be considered.

Could the minister opposite explain to me what the impact on the ó before I go that far, could he tell me how much has been calculated in this tax relief that has been given to the miners? How much are they estimating that thatís going to cost the government?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Chair, I know the member quickly brushed over the fireweed fund and changed gears rather rapidly. Thatís because he probably was ashamed that the NDP government, when they brought this initiative forward, didnít fund it. There was no money allocated for it, but it is a fund that we as a government will look at through economic development.

Weíre in the initial stages of setting up that department. The call has gone out. We are seeking a deputy minister to head that department; the guidelines have been set for this position, and weíre out hiring a new deputy minister to head up this department.

With respect to what weíve allocated for assessment work that may or may not be completed, what the member opposite is asking for is a clear figure. It might not be any amount of money, Mr. Chair. It might be that a lot of the claim owners have their assessment done for the period of time in question, and itís just a matter of filing that assessment and not seeking relief for a year.

So as to the end cost, to us as a government, under this relief that has been granted for assessment work, it might be zero or it might amount to a few dollars. It might also encourage those claim owners, rather than spending their money on assessment work on a specific block of claims, to take those dollars and spend them in another way, in another area, right here in the Yukon. So we believe the benefits that are going to accrue to the Yukon will be very, very positive from this initiative.

Mr. Hardy:   No, I didnít brush over the fireweed fund.

Just to give the member opposite a little history, I did a tremendous amount of work to try to get the fireweed fund in place. Unfortunately, we werenít re-elected, so it didnít happen. The Yukon Territory got the blessing of the Liberals for two and a half years.

Now they get the blessing of a Yukon Party government.

I donít think itís that hard to figure out. If youíre going to give tax relief to a group of working people in the territory, thatís fine ó thatís your philosophy ó and that way it will stimulate the economy, so be it, even though it seems to be kind of backward. It seems like youíre giving people relief not to do any work when you figure you should be trying to give them some incentive to do work. But itís a different approach, Mr. Chair. Itís a different approach from this side to that side.

But there must be a figure. You must have some idea what itís going to cost because there are records out there of claims that have not had any substantial work done to them.

The member opposite just talked about a forecast. He was forecasting a lot more activity in the mining industry this year ó excellent. He was talking about projecting ahead and he was painting a rosy picture. Well, if he can paint a rosy picture about more activity, he can also paint a rough picture ó I donít need an exact figure; I just need a ballpark figure so that we can take a look at this budget and see if they are going to meet their goals. But how much is that actually going to take from the revenues that have been predicted will be brought in from past history with the mining claims?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I was given to understand, Mr. Chair, that the member opposite has had a full briefing on this area and a full understanding of it, but obviously that doesnít appear to be the case.

The Government of Yukon only assumed responsibility for these programs on April 1 of this year. There arenít any of the expenditures or any of the revenues flowing from these areas, from the transfer of the departments, reflected in this budget whatsoever. Theyíll all be dealt with by way of supplementary estimates at the end of the fiscal period.

Mr. Hardy:   Having a briefing and talking about it in the Legislature and having the members debate it are two different things, and thatís what weíre in here for, and I donít have to remind the member opposite of that. I know that when he was in opposition, he would have a briefing and would come in here and ask the exact same questions he got told in the briefing. I know the member did that. Thatís getting the debate on the floor, and thatís getting it out in the public as well, and thatís what weíre here to do. A briefing is no excuse to not ask questions.

So, based on that answer, I guess I can assume that the member opposite is telling me there has been no forecast whatsoever on any revenue based on this transfer that was going to happen with devolution, which weíve known about for a long time, Mr. Chair.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The member is absolutely correct ó not in this budget.

Mr. Hardy:   So if there were going to be any benefits, which there arenít this year anyway, it was all going to be bonus on the revenue side.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Chair, the member opposite is trying to take us down a path that is probably not constructive whatsoever.

The initiative under the Yukon Party to grant hiatus from assessment under the Quartz Mining Act will probably result in a lot more attention being paid to the Yukon by the mining fraternity. It spells out a new order of government coming into place. It spells out new initiatives, and it spells out that we are addressing these issues in a more forthright manner than the previous two administrations ever were going to do, because this devolution transfer has been underway for quite some period of time.

The original mirror legislation was tabled by the NDP government, and it was subsequently tabled by the Liberals, and it was just recently passed under our watch. So, the contents of this legislation are well-known to everyone. And the fact that none of these costs are reflected in this budget, and none of the revenues are reflected in this budget, is the reality of the situation.

As a government, we took over these programs as of April 1 of this year. Any of the costs and revenues that will flow to Yukon as a consequence of the transfer of responsibilities, for quite a number of areas, from the federal government to Yukon, will be reflected in a supplementary that will be brought back at the end of this fiscal cycle.

Mr. Hardy:   Just a very quick question: how much did the feds collect? Iím sure the Department of Finance must know how much the federal government collected on this tax relief ó not tax relief, but tax, in the past.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Chair, I caution the member opposite in referring to this as "tax relief". It is not tax relief whatsoever, and it is not a tax. If a mining company, or an individual, owns claims and does not want to conduct the actual work, they can pay so much in lieu. Now, at the end of the period of time, the total amount of revenues that were forecasted to be received by the federal government, across the board, were approaching $1 million in this area.

Mr. Hardy:   Itís refreshing to get an answer. I will come back to tax and assessments and all that in a minute once I get an authoritative voice on what it actually means. Itís coming, Mr. Chair, itís coming, because we have to have an authoritative voice. If the Oxford Dictionary can give it to us, weíll use it, and then maybe we will agree on something ó that an assessment is a tax or a tax is an assessment.

The economic department ó can the member tell me: itís got a $1 figure in here. Itís not a great deal of investment in this department at this point. Can the member opposite give me a rough time frame this year as to the development of the department, when it will be up and running? I know thereís an advertisement out for the hiring of a deputy minister. Can he give us an idea of when we can see this department kind of established and when it will be actually producing some good results for the people of the territory?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I compliment the member opposite on his Liberal page that brought him in the dictionaries so that he can find out and determine that an assessment, if itís not paid, is actually a penalty. Itís not a tax; itís a penalty. If he wanted to stretch the definition to the end of the equation, it could be determined to be a tax ó a penalty, a tax ó but in the reality of it, Mr. Chair, it is a penalty.

As for the Department of Economic Development, our government is working very, very hard and extremely diligently on structuring this department, providing it basically with an outline of where we want this new department to be focused, and attracting a new deputy minister. We will be moving a number of individuals from within government into this new Department of Economic Development and hopefully youíll see this up and running in the very near future, probably some time this summer.

This summer starts June 21. Thatís a target that we might have trouble meeting, but it will be sometime during this summer.

Mr. Hardy:   Could the member tell me what his plan is for this structure ó a ballpark figure of how many people will be employed, what kind of positions they envision? I know they already have in their minds, of course, a deputy minister, but what kind of structure do they see flowing underneath? Is it going to be a big department or just six or eight or nine people working in this area?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The only position that our government is going Outside for hiring ó and it could well be that someone currently within government ranks will be the successful candidate. We havenít made a determination as yet, other than we are hiring a deputy minister and we are structuring the department. It would be premature for me to pre-empt the department as to how it is going to be structured and the number of individuals employed within its envelope.

Mr. Hardy:   Could the member tell me where the employees are going to come from?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   These individuals would come from across government. There are some who have been identified in Business, Tourism and Culture ó the old Department of Business, Tourism and Culture ó and the Department of Finance. The member opposite knows full well who has been employed in that area in the past, and itís a matter of giving them a desk and a task and structuring the department. That is currently underway.

As to the exact numbers, I am sorry, I am being deliberately vague until that is firmly established. I guess we donít want to provide any inaccurate information or raise the member oppositeís expectations. I know that he is very much gung-ho to see this department come into focus, as we are, and we look forward to providing that information to all Yukoners in due course.

Mr. Hardy:   Weíll just go back a little bit, Mr. Chair. I have two dictionaries in front of me. Just so we can put this to rest, in the Funk & Wagnallís Canadian College Dictionary, "tax" is an assessment, custom, duty, excise, impost, levy, rate, tariff, toll, tribute. So all the words that have been used in this House so far also relate back to a tax. And if I look up "assessment", I find it going back to tax.

Just for the member opposite, Mr. Chair, I donít have to be cautioned about using the word "tax relief". Itís applicable in this case if we use these dictionaries. If the member opposite wants to debate that, I will welcome seeing the dictionaries he brings in and shows me.

Going back to the Economic Development department, I understand why the member is being vague. Thatís not a problem with me at this time. They donít really have a plan; theyíre not sure what theyíre doing with the economics of the territory. They just think by re-establishing an Economic Development department, things will start to happen. I would be far more comfortable around the Economic Development department if the member opposite could share less vagueness and a little bit more detail about possibly the role that this department will play. Iím not asking about how many people now. I understand that it could fluctuate depending on the needs, but we talked earlier about the fireweed fund. We talked about the trade and investment fund. Trade and investment fund, of course, was a good, well-received fund. The fireweed fund was something that the previous NDP government was working on. Those are a couple of ideas that Iím quite willing to share with the Yukon Party, and Iíd applaud them if they went ahead and did this.

So, I guess what I would like to know is this: is this part of the deliberations that may happen under Economic Development and, if so, are there other areas the Yukon Party government has in mind that it would task the Economic Development department with? If the minister could give us some more direction, Iíd really appreciate it.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Chair, if we could just back up a little bit and reflect on the review of the dictionary description by the member opposite, nowhere did I hear "assessment". Itís kind of interesting when you correlate it back.

We can probably agree to disagree on this matter but, if the people who hold claims donít want to conduct the assessment on the claims, they are charged a penalty ó thatís likened to a penalty more than anything else, because you have to file your assessment on an annual basis. Now, itís kind of an extrapolation of a play on words by the members opposite but, at the end of the period of time, we really want to see something occur here in the Yukon.

This is just another example of a government that has committed itself to stimulating activity in the resource-extraction sector. We have undertaken a number of initiatives. One is a kind of relief from assessment for one year, and we probably will receive a lot more benefits than not.

Now, the case the member opposite is trying to make is that, under the federal watch, $1 million was paid into this window, or area, because those holding claims who didnít want to undertake the assessment paid money in lieu of undertaking the assessment work.

The case the member opposite is trying to make, Mr. Chair, is that the Yukon would be losing a million dollarsí worth of revenues. Well, at the end of the period of this mining season, in all likelihood we will find that a great number of those holding claims have already done enough assessment work that they donít have to go back and do more. All they have to do is file their assessment work. There will be some who will look at their dollar savings and will realize that, if they donít have the chance to do their assessment work, theyíll in all likelihood look upon the Yukon very favourably and spend that money in another manner, right here in the Yukon, putting Yukoners to work, creating economic activity.

Now, this will perhaps be one area the new Department of Economic Development could focus on and provide advice on. What we have to do as a government ó and indeed, Mr. Chair, as all Yukoners ó is restore investor confidence here in the Yukon, stimulate the economic activity and get on with the task that government has here in the Yukon, and that is providing the services that government is mandated to provide. We can do that as a government, Mr. Chair, and we can do it very well, and we will be doing so.

So when we get into the umbrella of the new Department of Economic Development, this department will be tasked with a whole series of areas it has to look at. They will be inclusive of the areas that the member opposite just mentioned a short while ago on the floor of this Legislature.

Hopefully we can move on with the task. We can spend an inordinate amount of time going through definitions in the dictionary and dollars, Mr. Chair, but what are we going to accomplish? This is the third largest budget ever in the Yukon Territory ó the third largest budget.

I would caution the opposition that there are fewer than 40 hours ó I think itís about 36 or 37 hours that we have remaining to debate this budget.

Now, if you want to translate those numbers, that translates into about $16 million an hour that we are going to have clear to get this budget through this House. I would encourage the members to engage in very positive debate and allow us to get forward and portray the areas that we so capably portray on an ongoing basis.

Mr. Chair, seeing the time, I move that we report progress.

Some Hon. Member:   Point of order.

Point of order

Chair:   Mr. McRobb, on a point of order.

Mr. McRobb:   On a point of order, itís difficult for us to listen to that diatribe without responding to it. I know the House rules do allow for a response. I would like to say that such elongated speeches are unnecessary and in themselves consume time.

We are still waiting for a lot of information from this government so we can debate the budget constructively. We want to do that and use our time efficiently and constructively. If the minister and his colleagues would respond in kind, we would be further ahead in matters at the end of the day.

Chairís ruling

Chair:   Pursuant to Standing Order 42(3), no member shall speak for more than 20 minutes at a time in Committee of the Whole. Thatís the only procedural regulation regarding this debate. There is no point of order.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Chair, there was no point of order; we were just rudely interrupted, if you want to put it that way, with no point of order. And if that language is unparliamentary, I withdraw the ó

Some Hon. Member:  Point of order.

Point of order

Chair:  Mr. McRobb, on a point of order.

Mr. McRobb:   I think thereís a point of order. The minister just said that he was rudely interrupted. I remind you of a ruling, I believe it was last Thursday, about the usage of such language, and the government House leader should be setting a good example in this House.

Chair:   Thatís correct. Itís not out of order to raise a point of order.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Chair, where weíre going is rather moot, but weíll get into this debate tomorrow. Seeing the time, I move that we report progress.

Chair:   It has been moved by Mr. Jenkins that Committee report progress on Bill No. 4, First Appropriation Act, 2003-04. Are you agreed?

Some Hon. Members:   Agreed.

Motion agreed to

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.

Chair:   It has been moved that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.

Motion agreed to

Speaker resumes the Chair

Speaker:   I will now call this House to order.

May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?

Chairís report

Mr. Rouble:   Mr. Speaker, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 2, Third Appropriation Act, 2002-03, and directed me to report it without amendment.

Also, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 4, First Appropriation Act, 2003-04, and has directed me to report progress on it.

Speaker:   You have heard the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?

Some Hon. Members:   Agreed.

Speaker:   I declare the report carried.

We are now prepared to receive the Commissioner, in his capacity as Lieutenant Governor, to grant assent to the bills that have passed this House.

Commissioner enters the Chamber, announced by the Sergeant-at-Arms

ASSENT TO BILLS

Commissioner: Please be seated.

Speaker:   Sir, 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:   First Nation Indemnification (Fire Management) Act, Act to Amend the Forest Protection Act, and Act to Repeal the Government Accountability Act.

Commissioner: I hereby assent to the bills as enumerated by the Clerk.

Commissioner leaves the Chamber

Speaker:   I will now call this House to order.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I move that the House do now adjourn.

Speaker:   It has been moved by the government House leader that the House do now adjourn.

Motion agreed to

Speaker:   This House now stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. tomorrow.

The House adjourned at 5:55 p.m.

 

 

The following Sessional Papers were tabled April 7, 2003:

03-1-26

Yukon Health and Social Services Council 1999-2000 Annual Report (Jenkins)

03-1-27

Yukon Health and Social Services Council 2000-01 Annual Report (Jenkins)

03-1-28

Yukon Liquor Corporation 2001-02 Annual Report (Hart)

03-1-29

Yukon Law Foundation; audited Financial Statement for the fiscal year ending October 31, 2002 (Taylor)

 

 

 

The following Document was filed April 7, 2003:

03-1-8

Yukon Workersí Compensation Health and Safety Board, various documents regarding appointments (Cardiff)