Thursday, April 10, 2003 ó 1:00 p.m.
Speaker:I will now call this House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Speaker:We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
In recognition of Education For All Week
Hon. Mr. Edzerza:On behalf of the Yukon Legislative Assembly, I rise today in this House to pay tribute to gender equity in public education. UNESCO, which stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, has declared the week of April 6 to 13 Education For All Week. The theme this year is "All for Girlsí Education". According to the recent A Cappella North II study, 67 percent of young women in Yukon high schools expect to obtain a university degree.
In Canada, more women than men are enrolled in post-secondary institutions, and more women than men complete post-secondary education. Womenís participation in formerly male-dominated areas such as math, science, engineering and technology is growing rapidly. So is their participation in traditionally male-dominated trades. These are interesting and encouraging facts. What these statistics donít reveal, however, are the more subtle barriers still facing women in our society. Educated women often donít have the same advancement opportunities as their male colleagues. For example, a woman whose career-building years coincide with her child-rearing years is at a disadvantage when competing with male colleagues.
Nevertheless, Canadians have much to be proud of. In the Yukon, as in the rest of Canada, we are extremely fortunate. Regardless of gender, economic or social status, we all have the right to public education. In fact, the Yukon even has gender equality in the public schools policy.
Sadly, not all nations can say the same. In many countries, women are barred from getting even a basic education. Out of 862 million illiterate people worldwide, two-thirds are women.
The United Nations is calling on world governments to put equal numbers of girls and boys into school by 2005. Education is a basic human right. It is the best way for people to improve their own lives and it is a cornerstone of democracy and responsible governance.
We have an excellent public education system in Canada. It is my hope that women in other countries in the world will soon enjoy the same rights that every Canadian citizen enjoys.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Are there any further tributes?
Introduction of visitors.
Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Hart:I rise to table the following reports: the property management agency annual report, dated 2001-02; the property management agency business plan, dated 2003-04; the fleet vehicle agency annual report for 2001-02; the fleet vehicle agency business plan for 2003-04; the Queenís Printer annual report for 2001-02; and the Queenís Printer business plan for 2003-04.
Speaker: Are there any other returns or documents for tabling?
Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Ms. Duncan:I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Yukon Party government to acknowledge the extensive public consultation and bring forward a new Liquor Act that allows neighbourhood pubs and recognizes the views of the majority of the Yukon public.
Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?
Is there a statement by a minister?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Family and childrenís services, budget cuts
Mr. Fairclough:My question is for the Minister of Health and Social Services.
Yesterday we debated a motion to urge the Yukon government to follow up on recommendations from the Child Welfare League of Canada. The Yukon Party made amendments to the motion but they are still committed to working with the recommendations. The first recommendation is to address the staffing shortfalls. The second recommendation is to address additional staff ó that additional staff be hired.
The fact is that social workers are overworked and they are stressed, and immediate action is needed. So my simple question to the minister is this: is the minister going to be hiring additional social workers for the children? Yes or no?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Fairclough: Finally. We have asked the members opposite to do this so many times in Question Period, yet this is a new initiative, a new beginning, I guess, for the members opposite. Here are the recommendations, they agreed to it. And I have to say thank you to the members opposite because it is needed. The Yukon Party didnít have a problem finding all kinds of money for big contracts ó $200,000. They could find money, Mr. Speaker, for huge pay increases to their political staff. Theyíve done that. And the minister cannot cry poverty on this. Weíve talked about the amount of money in the department. Thereís $32 million extra.
Now that we know that, I would like to ask the minister when this will take place. When will the additional hiring of social workers take place?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, I donít know where the information that we have an extra $32 million comes from. Itís pretty interesting ó when you spew forth with a great big amount of money and you donít extrapolate over what period of time those funds are coming forward in or during and what conditions are tied to those funds that are being transferred from Canada to us. By and large, these funds that are flowing to Yukon, subject to ratification of agreements, subject to Treasury Board approval and subject to surpluses in the federal governmentís budget ó there are all sorts of conditions tied to this money. And as for the hiring of social workers, it has been ongoing since we came to office.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, Mr. Speaker, the minister is backing away from the commitment he made just now, and the minister asks where we are getting the money. Well, look on page 729 of the Blues. It came out of the ministerís mouth ó $32 million ó so he canít walk away from that. Government cannot cry poverty on this. The minister needs to stop micromanaging this department. The recommendation says that additional social worker staff are badly needed. The minister said he will do it. How many is he going to hire? The minister must know that. How many and when?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, there are a couple of areas where the member opposite is quite incorrect in his assumptions and what heís premising his questions on. For one, the flow of money ó $32 million ó we have to examine over what period of time and how thatís going to flow into the governmentís coffers, whether itís going to keep pace, indeed, with our spending trajectory that has traditionally been $7 million to $10 million. Thatís one side of the equation.
Mr. Speaker, as for micromanaging the department, thatís something we cannot do and we will not do. The department has its mandate, has its budget. As for the hiring of staff, that has been ongoing since we came into office. This problem in this whole department with children in care is not something that has just started or begun when we took office a short time ago. It happened under the previous Liberal watch. The Liberals did nothing but commission a study. It was ongoing and continued under the NDP watch, and they also did nothing but commission a study. Our government is committing to work with the First Nations, which have a concurrent or mirror jurisdiction with the Government of Yukon in the area of child welfare, and we will be addressing our responsibilities, Mr. Speaker.
Question re: Tombstone Interpretive Centre
Mrs. Peter:The Minister of Environment told this House that he received recommendations from the elders of Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in on decisions on the Tombstone Interpretive Centre. What date and where did this meeting take place with the elders of Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Iíd have to go back and check for the exact date but, by my recollection, it was early in December, and it took place in the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in hall in Dawson City.
Mrs. Peter: The minister also told us that he cut the budget in response to the recommendations from the elders, that the space for staff at the park was now tripled. So now we have the conservation staff, the interpretive centre staff and the construction crew all in one trailer at the park just so the minister can save some money.
Did the minister consult with the elders, the interpretive centre staff and the construction crew before this decision was made?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: First of all, the increase in space was not for the park; it was, as the member got into a moment afterward, for the housing. It has not been cut, Mr. Speaker, it has been delayed at the request of the elders, for whom we have great respect, and we want to investigate this a bit more.
In terms of having put the project on hold, we donít know who the construction crew is, so Iím at a bit of a loss. The members opposite are continually asking us to consult, and we are very happy to consult with the appropriate people, but when the people wonít be identified for a year and a half, I suggest thatís a bit difficult.
Mrs. Peter: I am using the ministerís own words from the Blues on March 27, 2003. This minister, on that same day, told this House that one of the recommendations from the elders was to reconsider where the interpretive centre might be located. This minister referred to a Taj Mahal type building in the middle of Tombstone Park. I consider that an insult to the people who worked so hard to develop the park management plan.
Can the minister provide any letters or documents outlining the recommendations he has referred to?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: The Tombstone management plan is under consideration as we speak, and both government and the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'iní have requested confidentiality during that consultation, which I assume will be coming within ó it was to have been within three months, but there has been a bit of a delay at the request of both sides.
The term "Taj Mahal" was referring to the original plans and was, in fact, used by members of the steering committee, who, I agree, should be very, very proud of what theyíve put together. I wonít denigrate their good work by openly taking the criticism for it. They did good work; they continue to do good work, and we look forward to that management plan.
Meanwhile, there are improved accommodations up there. Interpretive centre staff will not be living out of an old camper from the back of an undersized pickup truck. We have given them a place to work. We have given a place for the staff to work and we have increased the facilities that are up there in the interim, and we are very proud of that. We have done it within the existing budget, not within the capital budget.
Question re: Education campaign promises
Ms. Duncan:Mr. Speaker, I have some questions for the Minister of Education about some broken promises by the Yukon Party government. In a Yukon Party press release dated October 22, the Yukon Party promised it would take $3.2 million from the Grey Mountain School and spend it on hiring educational assistants or to develop new programs for students needing individualized education plans. Another piece of campaign literature from the Member for Whitehorse West promised to "increase educational resources in our existing classrooms." If the Yukon Party didnít want to build Grey Mountain School, thatís their choice. However, they promised Yukoners they would take the money instead and spend it on more resources in the classroom. A look at the budget proves this didnít happen. There is no new money for EAs or IEPs. Why has the minister broken this campaign commitment to spend more money on educational assistants?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I thank the member opposite for the question, but I would have to say that there were no broken promises.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Speaker, Yukoners consider a commitment made to them in black and white to be a promise ó particularly one made during an election campaign. Mr. Speaker, the government promised to put more money into educational assistants. They didnít do it. They broke their promise. They took money that was budgeted for Grey Mountain School and spent it on important things like contracts and raises. They spent it on themselves and not on our children. The Yukon Party platform made several other promises for educational spending. They promised, for example, to index student grants that go to high school graduates. Students are going to university this fall, and weíll soon see some of our students returning from their first year of university. A look at the budget proves they didnít keep this promise either. Why has the minister broken the Yukon Party campaign commitment made in good faith to students to index the student grant? Why did they break that commitment?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: We have not broken any promises to anyone. We have increased budgets within education. For example, $1 million into the training trust fund is not what I would brand as nothing. We have also increased the teacher merits by $400,000; again, that I would see as a benefit to the classrooms because thatís where the teachers work. As far as the indexing goes, this is still being looked at.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, letís review. The Yukon Party made a promise. They would take the money for the Grey Mountain School and would put it into classrooms, either educational assistants or individualized education plans. They didnít do that. The Yukon Party promised Yukoners ó Yukon students they were speaking to on the doorsteps who were going out this fall and those who are outside at university ó that, yes, they would index the student grant. They made that commitment. Thereís no money for either of those promises in the budget they have put before Yukoners. The Yukon Party went door to door on those commitments and now theyíre unwilling to live up to them.
Letís try another one. The Yukon Party promised to reinstate the Yukon excellence awards to include grades 8 through 12 and enhance the funding to its original level. Will the minister now confirm ó and I believe the expression is "three strikes and youíre out", Mr. Speaker ó thereís no new funding in the budget to meet that commitment either?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I would have to say that a lot of what is being said right now really doesnít make any sense to me. I would have to say that, again, we are meeting, and intend to meet, the commitments that we made. For example, no student will be denied a grant. There may have been a cut there; there may not have been. What we are saying today is that no student will be turned down.
Question re: Whitehorse Correctional Centre rebuild
Mrs. Peter:I have a question for the Premier.
Last week there was an announcement of a new development corporation involving four First Nations and a variety of private sector partners. I am sure that this is very good news in terms of real opportunities for First Nations to get actively involved in the Yukonís economy.
My question for the Premier concerns one of the potential projects mentioned during the announcement of this new corporation. Did the Premier take part in any discussions with any of the principals of this new corporation before the surprise announcement in December that his government was putting the Whitehorse Correctional Centre project on hold?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Well, I agree with the member opposite. The announcement of the new company, a corporate relationship with, I believe it is five First Nations here in the territory and corporate entities like SNC-Lavalin, will bring a lot of expertise and obviously a pool of capital. Local businesses here in the Yukon entering into this joint venture is good news. It is the way for the Yukon to certainly engage the private sector and involve the First Nations in developing our economy.
As far as where the member is going with this question, I have discussions with all kinds of people, but to even imply that somehow those discussions may lead to a decision in regard to the jail is simply not the case. I would urge the member to raise the level of debate. Letís be more constructive.
Mrs. Peter: Mr. Speaker, we encourage partnerships, on this side of the House. Itís about government openness and making sure that projects to build public facilities using taxpayersí dollars are done in a way that serves the best interests of the Yukon people. The Premier has not been very forthcoming about what he has in mind for the new correctional facility. All weíve seen is a very sketchy memorandum of understanding with Kwanlin Dun First Nation regarding construction and operation of a new jail.
Before that memorandum of understanding was signed, did the minister make any formal or informal commitments to any of the private sector partners in Epcom Resources Inc. about building or operating a new jail facility?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: The memorandum of understanding with the First Nation in question commits the government and the First Nation to work with all First Nations, to work with Yukon contractors on the construction of a correctional facility, but it also commits us to programming and other areas that are of vital importance. When the member says that we must use and expend taxpayersí money wisely, that would include dealing with the terrible recidivism rate that we have in this territory due to the warehousing of prisoners versus focusing on rehabilitation and the programs that will deliver rehabilitation.
To suggest that we have somehow coerced this arrangement of this new corporation is getting a little ridiculous, Mr. Speaker, and I would again urge the member to raise the level of debate, let us be constructive. There is no agreement to build any jail with anyone; thereís an agreement to work with other First Nations, along with Kwanlin Dun and the Yukon government, and to work with Yukon contractors. Thatís what the memorandum of understanding commits us to, and thatís what weíre going to follow through on.
Mrs. Peter: Mr. Speaker, our concern is not about partnerships, itís about government openness. Iíll just repeat that. One of the partners in Epcom Resources is SNC-Lavalin of Quebec. Itís a huge engineering company with offices in more than 30 countries. According to Lavalinís own Web site, one of its key subsidiaries specializes in ownership and management of infrastructure, including medical treatment facilities, laboratory research facilities, psychiatric hospitals, educational facilities, justice facilities and correctional facilities. Is private sector ownership and management of a new correctional facility one of the options this government is considering through the memorandum of understanding with Kwanlin Dun?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, the memorandum of understanding is clear and explicit on what it commits the government to do and the First Nation to do. But given the list that the member opposite has just read on the floor of this House of the areas of expertise and involvement of SNC-Lavalin, I commend the First Nation and the other Yukon companies for joining forces and entering into this partnership with this particular corporate entity. I think that will provide great benefit to Yukon, not only to the First Nations involved, the companies involved, but all Yukoners. I think this is a great step forward by the First Nations here and the local companies who got involved, and I cheer them on.
Letís get SNC-Lavalin involved here and see if we can engage the private sector to help contribute to rebuilding our economy. Itís a great day for Yukoners when First Nations can enter into these types of partnerships.
Question re: Workersí compensation insurance program
Mr. Cardiff:Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Workersí Compensation Health and Safety Board.
Yesterday, the minister acknowledged that his government commissioned a study last November on the effects of pulling YTG workers out of the Workersí Compensation Health and Safety Board. That study was a $25,000 sole-source contract. Did the Public Service Commissioner do this on her own or was she directed to do it while the government was in transition?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The member oppositeís preamble to his question is wrong ó very, very incorrect. The request for this study was commenced under the previous watch, under the Liberalsí watch, and it came to fruition during the transition period. It was started by the Liberals when they were the government of the day and it was driven by the Public Service Commission at the direction of the Liberal government, Mr. Chair. We make that abundantly clear.
Mr. Cardiff: On the contract registry, the sole-source contract was given on November 25 and the Liberal government wasnít there, Mr. Speaker.
The previous government didnít need to do a study to find out what the disastrous results for Yukon workers and Yukon employers would be should YTG abandon the insurance provided by the WCB. Higher cost for government, higher costs for employers and job losses were what the previous government found out without doing a study, but the new WCB chair and this minister needed to discover it for themselves, so they spent $25,000 of taxpayersí money to find that out.
Since the Cabinet hadnít been selected by November 25 when the contract was signed, what involvement did the head of the Yukon Party transition team have in getting this study commissioned?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I thank the member opposite for his question.
Mr. Speaker, it is highly unlikely that the member opposite will ever be on a transition team into government. With that said, I would encourage him to go back and look at what transpires in a transition period. Basically, government maintains the status quo. What is underway continues and what has been started goes ahead.
When the government takes over in transition, very little is underway other than the changeover of government, the new staffing coming into place ó political staffing ó and the old political staff stepping aside. That said, I would encourage the member opposite to identify with the transition period what goes on. The facts are that the previous Liberal government commissioned this study under their watch.
Mr. Cardiff: So we can thank the Liberal government for firing the director of the alcohol and drug secretariat, too, I suppose. Because that happened during transition.
By curious coincidence, the minister has now decided that the same individual, the most experienced, the most qualified and the most able person to run the whole Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board show ó this is the guy who commissioned the study, basically, in my mind. So it makes me wonder if the government is prepared to pay for studies and keep appointing key supporters until they get exactly the kind of Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board the minister wants. All this is happening at the same time as the act is being reviewed.
Will the minister tell us exactly: what is his vision for the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board? Does he see it as a private insurance board? Will he privatize parts? Will YTG still be a stakeholder? What is his agenda?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, the ministerís agenda is to uphold the act ó the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board legislation, the two pieces of legislation that are currently in place ó accept them, acknowledge them and work within the guidelines outlined for the minister.
Now the member opposite went on at great length in other areas, and all we have is the member oppositeís opinion. I would encourage him to base his questions on the legislation and on fact.
Question re: Dawson City recreation centre
Mr. Cardiff:Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister responsible for Community Services. On October 29, 2001, the Member for Klondike asked about the Yukon governmentís involvement in the Dawson City recreation centre. He pointed out that the previous Liberal government had appointed both a supervisor and a project manager for the recreation centre. He also said, and I quote, "With these appointments, the Yukon Liberal government has legally taken over the management of Dawson Cityís finances and, in particular, the management of the recreation centre construction project."
Does the minister agree with the position his colleague took when he was in opposition?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Could I ask the member just to repeat the question, please?
Mr. Cardiff: Iím not going to repeat the question. Itís about the governmentís involvement in the Dawson City recreation centre. On March 31, the current minister told us that the supervisor was still on the job in Dawson. Iíd like to ask the minister the same question that the Member for Klondike asked in November of 2001. Will the minister now admit that the supervisor is, in fact and in law, responsible for approving all the expenditures planned for the City of Dawson, including the recreation centre project?
Hon. Mr. Hart: To answer the question for the member opposite, we have appointed the supervisor. We have upgraded his powers and heís working with the City of Dawson.
Mr. Cardiff: Well, the member didnít really answer the question. The Member for Klondike wanted the former minister to make a commitment, "Ö mediate with the current contractor who is not responsible for this current mess rather than waste even more taxpayersí money going to court on a case that she cannot win, given that she is totally responsible for where the project is today." I have a constituent who is experiencing some serious financial hardship because this situation continues to drag on. The government clearly has some responsibility and some potential exposure in this matter if it winds up in the courts. What plans does the minister have to bring this issue to a satisfactory resolution for all concerned?
Hon. Mr. Hart: To answer the member opposite, this situation is before the courts right now, and thatís where it is.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed, and we will now proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Withdrawal of motion
Speaker:Before calling government motions, the Chair wishes to inform the House of a change to be made to the Order Paper. On March 3, 2003, the hon. Premier gave notice of Motion No. 3 regarding the appointment of certain members of this Legislature to the Advisory Committee on Finance. This was a standard motion as the establishment of an Advisory Committee on Finance was a requirement of section 14 of the Yukon Act then in force. However, with the coming into force of a new Yukon Act on April 1, 2003, the Advisory Committee on Finance ceased to exist. As a result, Motion No. 3 is now outdated and will be removed from the Order Paper.
Motion No. 49
Clerk:Motion No. 49, standing in the name of the hon. Ms. Taylor.
Speaker: It is moved by the Minister of Justice
THAT the Yukon Legislative Assembly, pursuant to section 16(1) of the Yukon Human Rights Act, appoint Edith Fraser and John McCormick and reappoint Eleanor OíDonovan to be members of the Yukon Human Rights Commission.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I am very pleased, indeed, to bring forward the names of individuals to be appointed, as well as reappointed, to the Human Rights Commission, all of whom have received the consent of members of this House.
The individuals I refer to are Ms. Edith Fraser and Mr. John A. McCormick, who will be filling two of the outstanding vacancies of those individuals whose appointments have expired.
Ms. Edith Fraser is a long-time Yukoner, a distinguished member of the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'iní First Nation and an active member of her community of Dawson. She has served not only as a two-term councillor for her First Nation, but has sat on the Chief Isaac Development Corporation, as well as the First Nation Education Commission. We are proud to have Ms. Fraser on the Human Rights Commission, as not only does she bring a unique perspective to the table, but a responsible and compassionate voice.
Another long-time Yukoner, Mr. John A. McCormick, has not only been a stalwart citizen of the community of Teslin, but he has participated in all levels of community organization and has proven himself an outstanding citizen of Canada as an honoured retiree from the Canadian Armed Services. Mr. McCormick has represented his region with distinction on many boards in the past, from Yukon College to his current role as a local justice of the peace, and we look forward to having him represent the entire territory on the Yukon Human Rights Commission.
We are also proud to reappoint Mrs. Eleanor OíDonovan to the Human Rights Commission. Her community involvement here in Whitehorse and in the territory as a whole has proven her commitment and dedication to this territory. Teaching in Whitehorse schools since 1974, Mrs. OíDonovan has been an active member of the Yukon Teachers Association as well as a leading presence at Vanier School. A respected member of our community, we are proud to have her back on the Human Rights Commission.
Mr. Speaker, I have brought these names forward today for the concurrence of the House. Thank you.
Motion No. 49 agreed to
Bill No. 28: Second Reading
Clerk:Second reading, Bill No. 28, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Fentie.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: This bill adds activities to the list of activities entitled, "the off-road ó
Deputy Speaker: Order please.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Iím sorry, Mr. Speaker. I got ahead of myself. Let me begin again.
Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 28, entitled Act to Amend the Fuel Oil Tax Act, be now read a second time.
Deputy Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Premier that Bill No. 28, entitled Act to Amend the Fuel Oil Tax Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: My apologies for missing out on that formality, Mr. Speaker. This bill adds two activities to the list of activities entitled "the off-road fuel oil tax exemption." First, this bill will add the activity of operating and maintaining a sawmill to the list of commercial operations entitled to a fuel oil tax exemption. Second, this bill entitled golf courses to a fuel oil tax exemption when fuel is consumed in equipment off-road.
Mr. Speaker, we are pleased to be able to present this legislation to the House. There have been numerous enquiries from the public identifying these two industry sectors as candidates for the tax exemption, and we expect the lost tax revenue as a result of adding these two new exemptions to be approximately $20,000 per year, depending on the uptake. These savings, while relatively small, will be of significant benefit to the operators in these two particular sectors.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. McRobb: We find it interesting that the government decided to bring the fuel oil tax legislation forward for amendment in this sitting, because it excludes one of the main positions taken by the Yukon Party on many previous occasions, and that was to reduce and eliminate the Yukon portion of the fuel oil tax. Mr. Speaker, it would have been reasonable to expect the government to follow through on that position now that it is in government and has the opportunity to do something about it. When we saw the fuel oil tax being brought into this sitting, we expected that indeed was the amendment weíd be dealing with.
But lo and behold, Mr. Speaker, it wasnít surprising, I guess, when we did review the tax to see that previous position completely abandoned. Nowhere in this act is there a price break for Yukoners for general fuels, such as gasoline and home heating fuel. Instead, the amendment brought forward deals with tax breaks for owners of golf courses and some sawmills.
Well, there has been a lot of debate around that and, obviously, this is a government thatís governing for a few, not the majority, and thatís spelled out in its own actions and, in this case, the amendments weíre dealing with in the fuel oil tax and, of course, the amendments weíre not dealing with in this act, as well.
So we do have some concerns about it, Mr. Speaker. I know there are a couple of small mill operators in other areas of the Yukon besides Watson Lake who will be very interested to see what type of financial benefit this amendment will provide, and weíll look forward to some discussion when this bill gets into Committee.
Ms. Duncan: I rise in support of these amendments to the Fuel Oil Tax Act. For a fairly minimal cost to taxpayers, a benefit is being extended and encouragement given to industry. Just as I brought forward and supported amending the Fuel Oil Tax Act to provide this benefit to tourism operators, Iím pleased that, for a fairly minimal loss of revenue to taxpayers and a benefit to business, weíre able to further extend this.
I do have a number of questions for the Premier and Finance minister who has brought this forward. My understanding is that the act is worded in such a way that golf courses that are run by volunteers, as well as those run by businesses, are able to see the benefits of this, and that is the reason why it is worded in that particular fashion.
The Premier has, in the Finance debate, explained that the change in wording provides a greater benefit to sawmills than what was previously extended under the act, so I understand that. I would like the Premier to address, either in second reading or in Committee of the Whole, the assurance that all issues ó I have some written questions on the Order Paper that have not yet been answered ó that all issues surrounding conflict of interest have been dealt with.
I would also like the Premier to answer this: with respect to highway contractors, there has been a benefit in the past that has been sought, wherein a contractor who bids on a highway and infrastructure contract submits a price and then a cost such as fuel oil rises significantly. In the past we have been able to add a rider to contracts that dealt with that and enabled the contractor to carry on the work with the price of fuel at the price it was when he or she bid, as opposed to having to have this huge, unexpected increase in fuel oil cut into his ability to make a profit and employ more people on the job. So itís a benefit that was worked out and worked between highway contractors, in particular, and construction contractors on our highways. It has been worked out at the policy level and at the government level without necessarily coming into legislation, so I am interested if the Premier is looking to enshrine that in legislation in the future.
In this particular tax act, we have now extended the benefits to trappers, fishers, agriculture, and now sawmill operators and golf courses. Can the Premier outline for the public who else might be seeking such an amendment so that they might also gain this benefit?
Deputy Speaker: If the member now speaks, he will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Let me deal first with the leader of the third party. What this amendment does is really to create more of a level playing field. There are a number of entities out there that are tax exempt for the off-road use of fuels here in the Yukon, and obviously sawmills utilize a great deal of fuel that is off-road so they have been made exempt; the same case holds true for golf courses. So the amendments are to level the playing field, if you will.
As to the other issue about price increases and road contractors, that is obviously not in these amendments. I can look into the policy for the member and we can discuss it at a later date.
Iíd like to thank the member for her support for this. I think itís something that should be done because it creates more fairness for businesses and people here in the Yukon in the consumption of fuel.
Now, as to the New Democrats and the Member for Kluane, I listen with great interest to how the official opposition loves to chastise the government about spending more money ó spend it here, spend it there ó and then in the same breath stand up and say, "Cut more money. Cut more money out of revenues. Reduce revenues, but yet spend more."
Then they use the example of the cost of fuel here in the Yukon. Of course itís a grave concern. We pay a very high price for our fuel; however, the member opposite is showing a lack of understanding of the issue. Even with the removal of the taxes here in the Yukon, there is no proof that this would ó in terms of the full benefit ó be enjoyed by Yukoners because there are no controls on the pricing of fuel at the refinery gate. That is why the federal government is looking into striking a commission to review fuel prices. One of the areas they are going to look into in detail ó at least weíre urging them to ó is refinery gate rack pricing. I think when the member considers all the facts, the member will come to a clear understanding of what this fuel issue is and the costs that we experience here in the north.
When looking at the fiscal position of the Yukon, of course weíd like to reduce taxes and put more money into peopleís pockets, but after the massive spending spree of two years under the former Liberal government, itís just simply not a fiscal reality at this point in time.
You know, itís safe to say that these issues will not go away in terms of the cost of fuel. The trajectory and projections for fuel pricing is always on the upward slant, and one of the things we should do ó and Iíd really encourage the members opposite in this House ó is try to establish more of a benefit out of this increased pricing in fuels in this country because of what it generates in terms of demand ó the need for more exploration and development.
The Yukon has an abundance of these resources, and I think the Yukon could benefit greatly if we were to further develop those resources, and thatís where Yukoners could really derive a return ó in those areas of development in the oil and gas sector.
So if the member opposite is comfortable with levelling the playing field for off-road fuel use ó which this amendment to the bill does ó and if the member opposite is really keen on addressing the issue of fuel costs here in the territory, I would welcome the member to come out publicly and loudly proclaim that itís high time the Yukon opened up and started to develop its natural resources in the oil and gas sector.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 28 agreed to
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:Order please. Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
The matter before the Committee is Bill No. 4, First Appropriation Act, 2003-04, Department of Health and Social Services.
Do members wish a recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will recess until 2:10 p.m.
Bill No. 4 ó First Appropriation Act, 2003-04 ó continued
Chair:Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We will continue on with Bill No. 4, First Appropriation Act, 2003-04. We are at Health and Social Services.
Department of Health and Social Services ó continued
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, I have a number of questions in this department.
It appeared yesterday that the Yukon Party was a bit disorganized in the House here in bringing up the department so suddenly. This is the biggest department in government and hereís what the minister had to say for his introduction. "Iím very pleased to introduce the Department of Health and Social Services O&M and capital budget for 2003-04." That was it. But Iím sure today the minister has more detailed notes to explain a bit more about what is taking place in the department, and weíre interested to hear that. If not, weíll just continue to ask questions in this department.
Now, weíve asked the minister to look into some issues very seriously in this department, and the minister acted quickly when he first became responsible for this department. Weíve seen the firing of the director and the dismantling of the alcohol and drug secretariat by the minister without any new plans in place, without really looking at the total costs of putting the secretariat together, what it means to the community, how much time and energy has been spent by the communities in developing this secretariat and how it could better improve communities. Thatís gone.
I think the minister backtracked on that a bit, in that we now have seen the secretariat lose its name, but we still see the alcohol and drug services in the Department of Health and Social Services ó same budget, same structure, but some initiatives that are key to making the strategy work have disappeared and are no longer in the interests of the minister.
There were a couple of things. One was the course up at the College to teach counselling to Yukoners right here in the territory, because we donít have such a course here in the territory and it is much needed. The other was to follow up in after-care. I want to ask the minister questions with regard to that, too. After-care is where communities wanted to go and saw that this was an area where they can make improvements.
The other thing the minister did ó until there was public pressure ó was to direct the residents of Macaulay Lodge up to the Copper Ridge extended care facility. If it werenít for public pressure on this, this minister would not have changed his mind.
Now, it appeared that the minister had a plan in place. The Thomson Centre was to turn into a detox centre, and now I think this may have changed. The minister was also going to bulldoze down the Macaulay Lodge to turn it into seniors housing. Now that has changed; maybe it hasnít, but so far with this minister, that has changed.
The ministerís plans have been derailed. I hope he is focusing on consultation with communities and will not be so heavy-handed when it comes to our most respected citizens of the territory ó our seniors and elders.
We have also seen the minister cut back in his department the family support worker program. Thatís gone from the department, although thereís still a commitment by this minister to have the positions there. Even though a letter has gone out saying the family support workers will not be called to work, the minister says thereís no layoff but, in everybody elseís mind, especially the workers, there is a layoff there.
Itís unfortunate that we have gone to that extent without fully understanding the whole situation in social services.
Today I asked a question of the minister about social workers and hiring additional social workers. That was a very simple question, and to my surprise the minister said, "Yes," but then qualified that by saying departments to hire when there are replacements or need of replacements or when thereís a retirement and so on. But he did not commit to what his party committed to yesterday in passing the motion on the floor of the Legislature ó the recommendations from the Child Welfare League of Canada, which say that we need to address the shortfalls in staffing, and we need to hire additional staff social workers. He did not commit to that, and thatís unfortunate because, again, what we have here are mixed messages.
On one hand, this government says they are very concerned about government spending. Itís all about this big, bad trajectory that has been brought up so many times by the Yukon Party. Thereís a cry that the Yukon government is broke; they have no money; yet, the minister in this House ó and I pointed out what page he said it on, itís page 729 of Hansard ó said that there was $32 million above what we have in the Department of Health and Social Services. Thatís not small change, Mr. Chair. Thatís a huge amount of money and government can do something with this. Right now there is a need, and there is a crisis in family and childrenís services.
A recommendation was put forward through a report in June of 2002, and we still cannot get a commitment out of this government. There seemed to be a bit of a blame game going on. Other governments have recognized this and have put energy into trying to address it. We have seen recommendations finally coming out ó some clear recommendations from the Child Welfare League of Canada ó and I expect that this minister would follow through, as they approved the motion as it was amended yesterday.
The minister also put a lot of emphasis on FASD as a five-point plan. We look forward to hearing details on this five-point plan, and the minister also said that with the additional dollars coming over from Ottawa, the department will engage in a health care review, which, according to the minister, will be commencing shortly and completed before the end of the fiscal year. We look forward to that, too, Mr. Chair.
I was quite interested in the comments that the member opposite made in debate yesterday. I asked about the $20 million, and the minister said there is $6.6 million available to his department over the next three years. Iím trying to get an accurate number from the minister and so far, from the numbers that Iíve gotten from him, they donít add up to the $32 million. They add up to more than that.
When asked about the primary health, the minister said that there was $4.5 million over three years. First of all, it was for three years ó $4.5 million per year and then it ended up to be over three years. According to the media reports and so on, this is not the case, or doesnít appear to be the case.
I did say to the member opposite that I would be following up with numbers and the amount of money that is coming over from the federal government. I would like some clear answers, and I am hoping that the minister went back to the department and did a little more research and can clearly spell out what the dollars are for.
In debate there was $32 million. The way that the numbers add up for the rest of the money coming in, in addition to the $20 million, it is more than $12 million. If anything, the numbers would add up to at least another $1 million and it could be another $8 million if the per capita increase was $3 million per year, according to the minister. So we could have an additional $8 million in the Department of Health and Social Services.
So, when there is a need like there is a need in family and children's services that calls for additional social workers, this department can act. It is not broke, it has a lot of money and can act on issues such as this.
In short, to begin this debate in Health, I would like to ask the minister if the numbers that were given to me yesterday are the same, or are we seeing a bit more detail that could be brought over to our side? That was $32 million, and the rest was $12 million. The way I had added it up, it was over $13 million.
Maybe the minister can explain to us the difference and how weíre able to use those dollars and how soon, because the minister is already spending the $20 million. The minister is already spending the $4.5 million, even though itís not in the budget to be spent. We donít have the money yet, but those dollars are being used.
If we can get some clarification on that, I would appreciate it.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Itís the same numbers, just a different day.
Mr. Fairclough: Okay, then how did the minister get $4.5 million? There is $1 million in each of the Canadian Health and Social Services, which is $1 million, and the $1 million per capita, which could be $1 million or $3 million. How did that add up to $12 million?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: To help the member opposite out, Mr. Chair, Iíll send him over a summary of the new funding for the Yukon as a result of various recent events.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, the minister was also not giving much detail on exactly what the money was to be directed to, and I would like some details on it. For example, the minister said that the department will be doing a health care review. Can the minister give us some details on that?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Under the primary health care transition fund, there is money set aside in that budget envelope for planning, and thatís where the review will take place and thatís where itís budgeted to come from, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, Iím sure the minister has known about this for awhile. Maybe the minister can lay out a schedule for when this will begin, and when will we see some results of this review?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, weíve started in the initial phases of this to develop where weíre heading, and the initial consultation started in late March. It commenced with a visitation to all Yukon communities, meetings with as many municipal councils that wanted to meet with this group, and all First Nations, Mr. Chair. Other parties consulted were those in the health care fields in all of the communities. This was kind of a ó letís use a medical term, Mr. Chair ó scan of the whole Yukon. Maybe the member can relate to that kind of an understanding. So weíve taken a scan of the whole Yukon, and that information is going to be brought back, and a workshop will be held at a time yet to be determined, and weíll go forward from there with an actual planning exercise as to where weíre headed and what weíre going to be involved in and to what degree.
Mr. Fairclough: I thank the minister for that. The minister said that, basically, at the beginning stages of this ó I have read somewhere that this will be completed by the end of this fiscal year. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: No, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Fairclough: Okay. Then that information must have been inaccurate, Mr. Chair.
I would like to have the minister lay out ó he said he already started in late March. There is a schedule to do a scan of the Yukon and go out to communities and First Nations to get an initial response to this. I would think there would be follow-up meetings with communities. Which communities? Does he have a schedule of which communities the department is going to over, say, the next little while, to complete their scan anyway?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, I can confirm that the department will be going through all communities. That is currently underway. Itís not yet completed. If we havenít visited a community, itís because itís one of the communities that is scheduled to be visited.
That said, the second step is a planning forum that will take place, or a workshop, and this is envisioned to be a meeting of approximately 100 ó or it could possibly be up to 100 ó community program and professional representatives. What is going to be determined at this workshop is to establish a vision, set priorities to achieve the vision and identify what initiatives will have to be done to meet those priorities. Of course the guidelines will be the primary health care transition fund. The guidelines are set out in that fund by Canada, Mr. Chair.
What weíre hoping to do is to identify those projects that can make better use of existing resources among many, many other areas, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, I donít have many questions left on this, but I am interested to know exactly what is expected to be the end result of this health care review and where we are going to go with it. Right now we are going to do a Yukon scan and then we are going to have a planning forum. We are going to have a planning forum and workshop and come up with a vision and then set priorities.
One of the things that communities like and want is that, when we do go out and talk with communities and consult with them, any discussions that take place in one community are shared with the others. Is that going to happen?
I ask this because it didnít happen with the Education Act review; that didnít come back. That whole process should have happened and it didnít happen.
In order to do a complete review of health care, I would think that any recommendations or direction coming out from another community might be of interest to another community and give the minister a more solid direction. Is that going to happen?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: That area is a concern of mine also, that we kind of go around the Yukon and we cherry-pick various initiatives in the various communities and bring them all back and kind of just take what we want. That is not going to be the case in this. After the scan is done across all Yukon communities, the next stage is a planning workshop where all parties will be coming and all the information gathered from all the communities will be shared at this planning workshop. In that manner, everything is on the table.
Mr. Fairclough: What is the minister hoping to get as an end result? Weíre going to have a review of health care. Is the minister giving more direction than the guidelines laid out in the primary health care transition fund? Is he giving more direction than that?
I ask that because this government is focused on efficiency, duplication of services and that type of thing. Is this review going to be in addition to what is laid out in the primary health care fund?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The member opposite should be very much aware that, under the primary health care transfer fund and the agreement with Canada, we must examine ways of providing more effective and efficient health care delivery and methods of delivery than what weíre currently doing. So weíre looking at all matters where we can provide a better level of health care as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Mr. Chair, all we have to do is take the numbers for the Department of Health and Social Services, which are currently $142 million on the O&M side of the ledger alone. Now, this doesnít address the capital side; this doesnít address the existing capital infrastructure. Itís a simple mathematic equation to divide into that $142 million the 30,000 individuals, and youíll see that, on a per capita basis, weíre currently spending $47,000-odd for every man, woman and child here in the Yukon, as a government. Thatís a significant cost in itself. There are areas where we can improve service delivery. Canada has recognized this, Mr. Chair. That is why, under the health transfer dollars, Canada has recognized an examination of how we deliver health care as being most important, and itís part of the strings attached to the money flowing from Canada to Yukon ó we must examine how we deliver health care and look at ways to improve our service delivery.
Mr. Fairclough: Does the minister expect recommendations to come forward for the next fiscal year, then, from this review?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: If everything in the plan goes according to Hoyle, which it may or may not do, we will have some feedback and have some areas laid out by the next fiscal cycle. I donít want to commit to that kind of a timeline. Things could go sideways on the project. Itís a public review. It has to be out to all stakeholder groups, and this is going to take time. It is going to take a concerted effort on the part of officials in our government to conduct this examination. Just gathering all the various stakeholders for this planning review exercise is going to be quite an undertaking, but we are committed to doing it, and we will be doing it.
Mr. Fairclough: Can the minister tell us whether there is an end date to this review?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: In that budget envelope that is coming from Canada, the prerequisite is to conduct the planning exercise. From there, we will draw down the funds necessary to meet the areas that we have identified and targeted before service delivery improvement or capital improvements or whatever.
There is a sunset on it. It is a three-year agreement. So we will have to have everything in place and go forward within that timeline, so the faster we can proceed, the quicker we can identify the areas and deal with them and draw down the funds from Canada.
Again, this is subject to Treasury Board approval. It is subject to negotiation with Canada. It is very unlikely that they are going to front-end the money, other than, perhaps, in a best case scenario, one-third each fiscal period. It could be that they might only want to allow 25 percent or 20 percent in the first fiscal period, until they have examined the planning process and what we are doing and where we are heading. Then they might examine where we go from there on a step-by-step basis. I would suggest to the member opposite that itís more likely that they will want to keep a firm handle on the amount of money that is going to potentially flow to Yukon and keep track of it to ensure that itís on course and meeting the terms and objectives of this accord that has been agreed to between Canada and the Yukon, but not yet signed off.
Mr. Fairclough: Hasnít been signed off, but the money is being spent. Money started to be spent in March when the department was doing its scan in all the communities.
I asked the minister earlier how long the review would take. Was it a year? The minister said no. I would think that this review would be in the best interests of the government to have it completed as early as possible to get the monies flowing. So Iíd like to ask the minister if he has a ballpark idea of when the review will be complete. Iím sure that the minister does not want it to carry on into the late winter. Otherwise, we certainly wouldnít be getting the dollars flowing to the Yukon to address those directions that are coming out of this review.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, the member opposite is confusing two pots of funding. The primary health care transition fund has been signed with Canada, and that money is being drawn down, and that money is being used for the scan and the workshops and these initiatives. But that planning process triggers other funding. So Iíd ask the member not to confuse the various pots of funding. Itís easy to do, given that theyíre so intertwined and one is predicated on the other process being completed and then those funds will flow from this other source, subject to this initial exercise being done. So Canada is pretty knowledgeable on how to structure an arrangement with the various political jurisdictions in our great country, and it has hard and fast rules surrounding these monies. Itís not just a blank cheque coming from Ottawa.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister said it would trigger other funds. Does that mean other monies that we havenít been talking about on the floor here? Are they funds through the primary health care fund? What are we looking at? What other funds are we talking about that it would trigger?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I sent the member over a sheet with all of it clearly outlined. If he has any questions on that, Iíd be happy to answer them, but everything is identified on that sheet, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, I do have that sheet here, Mr. Chair. The primary health care fund for this year is $1.4 million to do the review, so they can trigger other funds. What other funds is it triggering? Are all the other ones, the CHST fund or the additional $1 million ó is that part of what comes out of this review?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, in that $1.4 million, thereís only $440,000 identified for the planning and coordination activities.
Mr. Fairclough: Okay, so these other funds are the remaining $960,000?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Let me help the member opposite, Mr. Chair. In that $1.4 million, the information technology improvements amount to $1,370,000, FAS positions are $140,000, planning and coordination activities are $440,000. Once we get through the planning process, which will determine the subsequent priorities in this area, then we move forward to other funding that has been identified as potentially flowing from Canada to Yukon.
Mr. Fairclough: Maybe the minister can send that piece of paper over, because what he sent to me doesnít identify that. It talks about other monies from CHST, for example, which are not tied to the primary health care fund. If the minister can pass that information over to the official opposition and the third party, it would help debate.
So far, we have a lot of money being spent on a review, and the remaining for this fiscal year is to carry on after the review is done, I guess, which is not for a whole year. For next year, we see $1,795,000, which is quite a bit more than what we would have for the remainder of the year.
Could we get that information from the minister?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Weíll provide the member opposite with a breakdown of those fundings, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Fairclough: Can the minister give us the million dollars thatís in addition ó the per capita increase, which could be as high as $3 million, the member said. The million dollars there is for both health care and social services. That money is flexible throughout the department. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: At the first ministers conference, in order to obtain the additional accord with Canada, the northern premiers agreed with Canada that any new money ó this new $1 million ó would be directed specifically toward health care and the CHST, so there is $1 million additional. It will be directed only to health care. It wonít be under the standard across the board, a range of undertakings that normally CHST money goes to, in education, social services, and the like, as well as health care.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, $1 million is a lot of money. A lot could be accomplished with that money. Could the minister lay out his plans for this $1 million?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Well, I agree with the member opposite that $1 million is a lot of money, but the hospital alone requires $1.8 million above and beyond what its current funding agreement provides for.
Mr. Fairclough: Is the plan to have this money going to the hospital? What is the plan for the $1 million?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: All of this funding will go to health care ó the $1 million ó subject, of course, to Management Board approval, and it will meet the test of the arrangements that were negotiated at the first ministers meeting between the various first ministers and the Prime Minister of Canada.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, thatís fine, Mr. Chair. Then, what the minister is saying is that he is fairly flexible as to what he can do. He can spend it in health care in his department. If there is a need that arises, that money could address that. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Yes, Mr. Chair, thatís correct, as long as thereís a health care need. It can be directed only and solely to health care. That was the agreement that Yukon and all the other premiers made with Canada. The northern premiers negotiated an arrangement with Canada separate and distinct from the balance. We have to sign on to the accord, and we have to agree to certain conditions, and this additional $1 million and the CHST goes to health care and only health care. Normally the CHST is used for various other purposes, but this additional money cannot be used for anything other than health care.
Mr. Fairclough: "Health care" is pretty broad. It involves a lot of things in this department, and thereís definitely a need that has been identified throughout the department. The minister can look at the budget again and, where there are cuts ó and there are many of them in this department ó perhaps the minister, if the interest is there and the willingness is there, could top up those dollars to their original levels.
There is another million dollars that the minister talked about. Okay, thereís a million dollars in CHST, but thereís a possibility of having $3 million ó is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, this again is another one of those fantastic Liberal initiatives where they make an announcement that, yes, thereís potential for another $3 million but itís subject, of course, to there being a surplus in Canada. The federal Finance minister agrees to it and itís approved by Treasury Board, so it may or may not happen but, on paper and in the press, it looks great. Now, whether we receive the money or we do not receive the money is contingent on the surplus deficit position of Canada. If they have surpluses that they anticipate or are above the level they anticipate, the Minister of Finance, subject to Treasury Board approval, may provide us with this additional money. But there isnít anything hard and fast for it. Even the rules have a great deal of flexibility, and they all favour the federal government.
Mr. Fairclough: So, we could have $3 million coming in this department. We have $1 million. The $4.5 million that this government is already spending ó is this minister also already spending the $1 million in the CHST, the one thatís confirmed anyway? It hasnít been signed off yet but itís confirmed. Thereís another $2 million thatís not confirmed yet from the federal government. Are we spending any of that money?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, no, we are not.
Mr. Fairclough: I thank the member for that answer, Mr. Chair. We certainly will be keeping an eye on this. The $1 million is confirmed; thatís what weíre going to get. But we could possibly get another $2 million, and it all depends on whether or not there is a bigger surplus with the federal government. How soon would we know that?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Iím advised that the earliest it would be would be sometime in the late winter or perhaps even early spring of next year.
Mr. Fairclough: Okay. We have the Auditor General report that comes out in the fall. I would think that it would be close to the same time with the federal government also.
It was not pointed out, or maybe this is the additional $1 million ó itís another $1 million that has come in from the federal government. Itís for a health reform fund. Does the minister know exactly what these dollars are targeted for?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Yes, Mr. Chair. We can only spend that money on primary health care, home care and catastrophic drug coverage.
Mr. Fairclough: According to the notes I have here, they were not clear on exactly what the monies would be used for. So I thank the member opposite for that information.
Also, there is another $500,000 for diagnostic and medical equipment fund. Are all of these dollars to come to the Yukon at the same time? Do we have this money, and what are we spending it on ó what specific equipment?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The Government of Yukon does not have the $500,000. We have to make the case to the feds, and it has to be designated and spent specifically on medical equipment.
Mr. Fairclough: I thank the minister for that, and I look forward to seeing what type of new equipment this government will be able to purchase this year, next year and the year after, because there is $500,000 ó and $1.5 million in total.
Now, this is what Iím not clear on: we have the CHST that is $1 million. I thought that it was on a per capita basis. Is this not the case? Are we actually seeing additional dollars that could come forward? I am looking at the last block in the paper that the minister gave to us. It does talk about northern premiersí and the Prime Ministerís discussions on adjustments in the per capita funding. What kind of money are we looking at there?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The member opposite raises a very good question, and this ensues from the discussion that has been taking place and will continue to take place between the northern premiers and the Prime Minister. It deals with trying to get away from the per capita formula for health north of 60 and go toward more of a base amount or a specific amount of dollars and allow us some flexibility in how this money is spent, because every amount of dollars, by and large, that flows to Yukon for health care is earmarked for specific areas. We canít go outside of those parameters, otherwise we get into trouble with Canada, and we subsequently have our funding reduced. We donít want to go there, Mr, Chair.
We are trying to come to a new arrangement between Canada and the northern territories, and that is being negotiated on the level of the premiers of Yukon, N.W.T. and Nunavut and the Prime Minister of Canadaís level.
Mr. Fairclough: I understand what the minister is saying. Negotiations are taking place now. Does the minister have any idea of what kind of money weíre looking at with this increase?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, these are all hypothetical questions I canít answer.
Mr. Fairclough: Okay, I thank the minister for that. That we could be seeing an increase, I guess, is the bottom line. We could be seeing that, once the negotiation takes place.
So the numbers I had yesterday added up to $12 million ó and Iím looking at the total here. Itís past that now. We have, well, $12 million plus $4.5, thatís $16 million over three years, not including the $20 million. Thatís quite a bit different from the numbers we had yesterday ó $16.5 million and possibly more. Thatís over and above what weíve got already, per year. Thatís not a bad increase in the department. We should be able to meet the demands and the needs of communities, and we may even see some increase in spending, contrary to what the minister would like to see in the department. But there is more money here and we can spend more money in the Department of Health. Thereís $16.5 million in addition to the $20 million over three years. So itís $16.5 million plus $6.6 million; thatís quite a bit higher than the numbers we had yesterday. Plus we could have additional dollars for per capita over the next three years.
Thereís a lot of flexibility here. The numbers are different from yesterday. Theyíre up over $16 million, so thereís a lot the minister can do in this department. Iím hoping that, when there are suggestions made through recommendations, they can be followed through.
I would like to ask the minister this. First Nations obviously get a big chunk of money for social services from the federal government. Thank goodness, because it would really bring down the bottom line dollar in the Department of Health and Social Services of the Yukon government. So far, weíre doing some planning monies. The member opposite talked about maybe working closer with First Nations in regard to children in care, and so on. Is any of this money going to be flowing to First Nations?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: It potentially could, yes.
Mr. Fairclough: I thank the member opposite for that. Iíll just step away from the dollars, now that we have it a little clearer than we had it yesterday. Thereís more money there ó $16.5 million. Itís amazing what a day can do. Thatís a $4.5 million increase, perhaps even more once we have the numbers a little clearer, and maybe even more details will come out in the negotiations, and weíll see those dollars grow.
Iíd like to ask a couple of other questions here. One is the potential threat we had here in Canada, and itís related to SARS ó severe acute respiratory syndrome. There has obviously been a lot of interest, more so in the rest of Canada than there has been in the Yukon, but are we fully prepared to handle something like this here in the territory? Do we have the plans laid out in place for quarantine and these types of things, should something like this break out?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, I can confirm that Yukon does have a plan ó a very definitive plan. But given that we have only one acute care facility here in the Yukon, much of the importance of our plan revolves around that facility, which is the Whitehorse General Hospital. Precautions have been taken. Iím sure the member opposite is fully conversant with the steps that have been taken by the chief medical officer in putting a program in place, whereby if you are, or believe you are afflicted, that you call in before coming to the hospital and that all of the necessary precautions and steps are adhered to, so as to contain the one individual in a more or less isolated environment until a determination can be made as to whether or not they have SARS.
One case was suspected, but subsequently discounted. Given our small population base, we have less likelihood of anything occurring here. But given the mobility of Yukoners and the tremendous travel plans Yukoners have, there is a potential. The Department of Health, the Whitehorse Hospital and the chief medical officer have all examined the options. We have a plan in place. Unless a catastrophe strikes us, it would appear that we have in place the necessary steps and organization to address an outbreak that I hope, and probably everybody else hopes, will never occur here.
Mr. Fairclough: I donít want the details, but can the minister outline in brief, I guess, what those plans are ó the steps that need to be taken and so on? This has been asked of me in the past, and I wasnít quite sure exactly how government was to handle this whole thing, and itís still of interest to the public ó some information I can take back to them.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, we can provide the member opposite with the entire package, but there are posters up virtually everywhere ó SARS, what number to call. It has been well reported by the news media as what to do if you suspect you have been in contact with someone who is contagious or if you have travelled to an area that has an outbreak of this disease. Itís well publicized out there. But if the member opposite wishes the whole package on the departmentís initiative in this area, weíd be happy to provide it to the member opposite, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Fairclough: I would like that. People are still interested. Even though the information is there, itís all about whatís happening in the rest of the world and what Yukon is capable of doing. So I would think that this same process would be used for any other outbreaks that could happen here in the territory. I would appreciate the member opposite sending that over for us to look at.
I would like to ask the minister about Macaulay Lodge. The minister did have a plan for the lodge ó to bulldoze it down, build another building and make it into a seniors home. Now, the whole issue has been dampened a bit since the ministerís fast action with the seniors. I would like to know what plans he has now for Macaulay Lodge.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: We are examining options.
But before we get into that area, Mr. Chair, Iíd like to share with the member opposite the fact that the Government of Yukon, through our chief medical officer and through the Whitehorse Hospital Corporation, has in place a set of procedures as to how to deal with this emergency, any emergency. It was just recently tested for a smallpox outbreak.
It used to be that Emergency Preparedness Canada offered courses on a regular basis in Arnprior for elected officials. I donít know if the member ever had the opportunity to attend any of these courses when he was involved in First Nation governments but they have been ongoing for quite a number of years ó through the 1970s, 1980s and I believe into the early 1990s when the responsibility devolved to the various jurisdictions. But these were well worthwhile courses. They spelled out what could be done and what to do with respect to any type of disaster or any type of outbreaks right down to nuclear war.
So it examined all these options and possibilities. The organization still exists and the member might want to look on the Web site and ascertain the information that they have in this area and perhaps share it with his colleagues who are interested. It is a very informative area and it is an extremely beneficial area to be knowledgeable in. I would encourage the member opposite to have a look on their Web site and get an understanding of what programs they do offer and what information is available from the feds. Some is available from the territorial government, but it has been, by and large, up until the past little while to the best of my knowledge, a federal government initiative.
Mr. Fairclough: I would think that this process could also handle things like the West Nile virus and so on. Itís interesting that the member brought up the ability to handle things like a nuclear fallout, because the Yukon has experienced that before. It was maybe 15 or 20 years ago, I canít remember. There was an accident in the seas off Japan, and radioactive material did come forward and fall on both B.C. and the Yukon. It wasnít large enough to harm us, but thatís how far it carried. The Yukon felt it, but no one even really knew about it at the time.
In regard to Macaulay Lodge, the minister said he was examining options. What options does the minister have for Macaulay Lodge?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Given that the building envelope has an effective life, itís prudent for government to be examining all the options, and thatís exactly what weíre going, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Fairclough: I just would like to know what the options are. The minister had a plan for Macaulay Lodge. Is the seniors housing no longer in the interests for the immediate years, the next five years? The building has a 10-year lifespan left in it, and the minister did want to turn it into seniors housing. Is that not an option any more?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, thereís very much a need for seniors housing. The seniors who have approached our government have identified the need for an apartment of a respectable size. What was being proposed under the previous administration was to convert Macaulay Lodge to bed-sits, which would be very small rooms, and this was not acceptable to the seniors who would be residing there. The rooms would be too small. They wouldnít have anywhere near the space that any of the seniors envisioned.
The cost of converting Macaulay Lodge from its existing format to these bed-sits was a projected cost and couldnít be hard and fast, given that this would be a major renovation of an existing building. We are aware and knowledgeable of the costs of new construction. It would be much more beneficial to meet the objective of providing apartments of a decent size for our seniors aby basically going ahead and constructing a new building.
Mr. Chair, there are a number of initiatives that came forward, and they are still being worked on, as to the construction of a new apartment complex to meet the needs of seniors in this area. Our government will be dealing with it.
Mr. Fairclough: Iím interested in knowing exactly what the minister is going to do with Macaulay Lodge. If the minister had his way, those seniors who are living in Macaulay Lodge now would be up in Copper Ridge in the extended care facility ó "contained" was his word ó and we would have had a bulldozer come down and that building would be levelled by now. Weíre past the end of the fiscal year, and for the member opposite to start construction as early as possible so a new building could be complete, that wasnít even debated among the seniors or anyone, except with the minister. The minister had a plan of his own, and that has changed, but not really, Mr. Chair, because the minister did mention that constructing a new building would be more feasible in the long run.
The fact is that this building does have 10 years left on it, and a building for seniors could be build perhaps in another location rather than getting rid of a building that is certainly worth a lot of money at this point.
So I would like the member opposite to tell us when he feels heíll have a complete review of this and when we on this side of the House can see what options the minister has for Macaulay Lodge.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Weíll advise the member opposite in due course.
Mr. Fairclough: Is that six months or a year or four years? Will we be able to see the plans, say, perhaps in the middle of the summer? Iíd like to nail it down a little bit. We would like to know what is happening with our seniors in that facility. We know whatís happening with the Thomson Centre as far as work being done on that right now. Iíd like to know. Can the minister nail it down a little closer to a timeline? Is it six months? It shouldnít take all that long to put together options and look at what government can do with the building.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: What I can nail down for the member opposite is that the seniors and virtually all other organizations involved in this area have identified that there is a need for decently sized apartments for seniors. Our governmentís intentions are to meet that need.
Mr. Fairclough: I suppose we have to keep our ears open to find out when the final options are the minister has. I donít see why the minister just canít share that openly, in a timely manner, rather than having to go through another process to get the information.
We understand that the roof of the Thomson Centre has been a controversial issue. It will be replaced ó it is replaced. Now, weíre looking at the walls and putting new siding on. The cost of the Thomson Centre seems to go up and up and up. The minister had a plan to turn the Thomson Centre into a detox centre. What are the plans for the Thomson Centre? Is a detox centre now out? Is that no longer an option?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Medical detox is one of the options being explored, but before we get there, the whole building envelope and the rebuilding of this structure is still underway, and to what extent and what costs will be incurred, we still do not know.
A review was just recently undertaken of the building envelope ó all the mechanical systems, electrical and fire alarm. I havenít seen that report as yet. I suspect it will be one of those Easter presents that the Easter bunny will bring our way. But from there, we will have to sit down and determine what needs to be done, stemming from this report. We really do not know the extent or the costs associated with bringing this building up to code standards and making sure the building envelope is satisfactory.
Itís a sad state of affairs. Again, this is another capital project that was undertaken under the NDP watch. The buildingís construction was supervised by the Yukon Housing Corporation and something went dramatically wrong. Responsibility is hard to pinpoint and itís hard to lay blame. So far, we have incurred over $1 million in repair costs and the clock is still ticking.
We have got a very serious problem. We endeavoured to fast track the repairs to that building, Mr. Chair, but we couldnít because every time we turned another corner, something else was uncovered. The roof was supposed to have been completed a long time ago ó itís on a time and material basis. We know that as of just recently, there are probably another two or more weeks to go before the roof will even be completed.
There are the problems we are faced with as a government. We have inherited this situation. We have gone through the problem. We are practising due diligence with respect to the Thomson Centre in examining the building envelope, the mechanical and electrical systems, and making a determination of what is required. When we get closer and have cost takeoffs on some of these initiatives, I will share that with the member opposite. But again, in a lot of these areas, they will probably be order-of-magnitude costs, because what we are looking at is a repair versus new construction. It is very difficult to have a contractor bid on a repair in the same manner that they bid on new construction, and to nail down an hourly cost and an approximation of how many hours it would take.
But when we get into these projects and these initiatives and open them up, we donít know what weíre getting into, by and large, Mr. Chair. Itís a sad state of affairs for Yukon. Here we have a 10-year-old building, just over 10 years old, that requires a million bucks just to fix the roof, let alone the rest of the areas.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister sure has and knows a lot of detail about the Thomson Centre. Itís too bad he couldnít apply the same energies when it comes to recognizing there is a crisis with the social workers in the Yukon.
The minister said that medical detox is still an option for this building. What is going to happen, then, with the direction that the minister has already given for our seniors in Macaulay Lodge who are in level 1 and 2 care and looking at the Thomson Centre? Whatís going to happen with them? When are we going to have a final date about exactly what this minister wants to do with the Thomson Centre? Weíre getting mixed messages here, Mr. Chair, because the seniors believe that theyíre moving into the Thomson Centre ó level 1 and 2 care. Now the minister appears to have a plan that he had earlier, and really hasnít shared it with the public yet, about turning Thomson Centre into a medical detox.
What is the real plan for this building? We know itís going to be repaired. We know itís going to take time. We donít need the details to that. We want to know whatís going to happen with the building.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, all the avenues are being examined and explored. I canít give the member opposite any more information than Iíve given him to date.
Mr. Fairclough: Then maybe the minister can let us know whatís going to happen with the seniors who need level 1 and 2 care. Whatís going to happen with seniors who need level 1 and 2 care in the long run? Where are they going?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, at the present time, no one is going anywhere.
Mr. Fairclough: But the minister has plans. The minister ó and Iím sure he was fighting hard for the department in Management Board ó cut out funding for family support workers. That has gone out of the budget. According to the briefing that we got, anyway, I believe it was $35,000 that was earmarked for that. Thatís gone. That was a small amount of money. Now the family support workers are told that they will not be called into work, but the positions are still there so technically there is no layoff. Some people rely on the few hours that they get every week ó eight hours a week ó to pay their mortgage ó one person, anyway.
Now the minister is asking the department to come up with this money should family support workers be called into work. Are we looking at cutting back hours? Are we looking at a new plan in place for communities with family support workers, including Whitehorse here? What does the minister have in mind in regard to family support workers throughout the territory?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: They are in place throughout the Yukon and will continue to be in place throughout the Yukon.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, the positions are there; the people arenít working. They were hands-on, front-line workers helping out social workers. They are pretty important. Maybe the minister doesnít know that, but if he took a visit to the communities and asked around, he would realize the importance of this.
Now that there is no money left in the department for family support workers, what is the minister going to do to try and improve the situation with the social workers and not having any monies in place for family support workers?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: What the member is referring to are two auxiliary on-call positions for family support workers. Once again I state for the record that we have family support workers all throughout the Yukon. In the regions, we have 9.3 full-time equivalent family support workers.
Mr. Fairclough: The fact of the matter is that they did receive a letter that they were not going to be called in to work. That happened. It came from that ministerís senior official. It wasnít a mistake. It clearly spelled that out, because there was a budget cut.
Weíve seen the minister react to public pressure on this. Now the positions are still in place, and we have a number of family support workers here in Whitehorse. The 9.3 workers, is that in total all across the Yukon? How many of them are in Whitehorse?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Thatís just the family support workers in one program.
Letís just back up a little bit, because the information the member is providing to the House with respect to these auxiliary on-call workers in the two communities is not accurate. Yes, these individuals did receive a letter from a director in the department, and that was subsequently followed up with a letter from the deputy minister level outlining that there were no layoffs and what an auxiliary on-call position entailed.
If there is a need for these individuals ó I make it abundantly clear ó the department will call upon them. There is funding in the budget, in the salary surplus area. Itís a term applied when you budget for X number of FTEs, and occasionally there is a surplus, and thatís where it comes from.
The member opposite can converse with the member of the third party, who should have been very familiar with how this worked, seeing that she was the Minister of Finance. That might be an avenue for an explanation as to how these dollars flow and where theyíre contained.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, one thing people are finding out is that this is the direction this Yukon Party is going. Weíve seen it in other places ó for example, the school councils. There are cutbacks there, but the members opposite said, "Use the surplus," without really knowing exactly where those monies are going. Salary surplus ó thatís the new Yukon Party government policy. Weíll be examining that over and over again in every department.
I ask the minister this: how many of these family support workers are here in Whitehorse?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, it would probably be best if I provide the member opposite with a list of all the family support workers and where theyíre located. There are various types of family support workers. In rural Yukon there are quite a number of them, but the greatest number exists in Whitehorse. In family and childrenís services, there are family support workers also. Across the department, I understand it is somewhat complicated because the family support workers are associated and aligned with various programs. We will provide the member opposite with a breakdown of where family support workers are and how many FTEs there are in each area, by category, by program and by location, whether it be Whitehorse or rural.
Mr. Fairclough: I donít think the number is that large. The minister said 9.3 FTEs, family support workers, not too long ago. I believe there are six of them in Whitehorse ó thatís according, anyway, to the briefing we received from the department.
The family support worker in Pelly Crossing has gone. Now the minister wants to hire a social worker in Pelly Crossing, who has the academic qualifications to do the job. And thatís a bit of a problem in that community. They had a person there who was familiar with the program and the people and how they interact, and we are now getting somebody else, again from outside the community, probably outside the territory, plunked into a small community and expected to make the changes.
Does the minister feel that this is the proper approach?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: At the expense of repeating myself time and time again, this was the same area that the member opposite explored in the supplementary. If we want to go back on it, we can go back on it.
Originally there was one social worker located at Mayo, who looked after Mayo and Pelly Crossing. The demands in Pelly Crossing grew. A social worker came into place in Pelly Crossing, so we ended up with two social workers. Then an auxiliary on-call family support worker was placed in Mayo.
Now the demand is looked after in both Mayo and Pelly to a degree ó probably not in the family support worker position but it goes back to the social worker. So now in Pelly we are upgrading the position and will have two full-time ó we will have a social worker and a family support worker there full-time.
Our government is committed to meet the demand where the demand exists. The demand exists quite well in Pelly Crossing. We have identified that and we are meeting the test.
We also recognize that First Nations have basically mirror jurisdiction in this regard ó or concurrent jurisdiction, if you want to term it that way. Itís another area where the First Nations could draw down under their final agreement.
It may happen; it may not happen. But weíre cognizant of this and weíre involved with the First Nation groups and meeting the demands for social workers and family support workers in the respective communities. Now, thatís done directly and indirectly, so we have an ongoing obligation and commitment. But Iím sure when the member opposite recognizes what, under the NDP, was basically one social worker in Mayo and what it has grown to today ó we can see a considerable change in improvement in the level of service that is being provided to the two communities in the member oppositeís riding, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, I can tell when Iím getting to the member opposite. Heís always attacking previous governments a little bit. Notice that he just doesnít bring up the Yukon Party government and what they did. They wanted to put pregnant moms in jail.
The fact of the matter is that, with the decision that this minister made in a small community like Pelly Crossing, in bringing in what he calls a more qualified person, a social worker, that put one person out of work, one person who lives in that community and will not be leaving that community soon and is a permanent resident of that community. One job in a small community like that is big, and this minister put that person out of a job. But the minister said that heís responding to the demand. Is this why the position was created, because the minister is responding to the demand in Pelly Crossing?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Yes, Mr. Chair, itís workload driven.
Mr. Fairclough: If the minister is reacting to that, then I would like to see his reaction to the rest of the territory when it comes to social workers. A report was done ó and I pointed it out over and over again ó by the Child Welfare League of Canada, which has recommendations. In there, itís clear under the first two recommendations that we address the staffing shortfall. It is recommended that additional staff be hired. We have to look at this seriously. There is a problem, as the minister has admitted, in his department, in family and childrenís services. He has also admitted that there arenít proper resources to address this.
How is the minister now going to explain to the people that, despite the fact his department will be receiving millions of dollars extra ó thereís all kinds of cash there; itís falling out of the ministerís pockets; he doesnít know what to do with it right now. Thereís some clear direction here where monies could be applied which would help people, families and children. How does the minister explain that to the people who are in desperate need, particularly communities that need to have this issue addressed?
The minister knows this is happening in Mayo. The family support worker he did not want to call in again was aiding the social worker because of the demands. Thereís a huge demand there. As a matter of fact, the minister said this person ó who has been cut back to only eight hours a week ó was doing more than their job. My goodness, we would all like to see that of any worker, that they do more.
If they can do their job and do more than that, then itís great. Itís not a huge cost to government. How does the minister respond to the demand for the social workers ó with them carrying heavy caseloads; some of them are huge. I explained to the member opposite that a half-time person, in one particular case, has 41 in their caseload. A recommended number is 7.5. That is 440 percent over what they should be handling. How is the minister going to correct this problem?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: First, I donít agree with the member opposite that there is a problem. Our department is addressing the increased demands where they exist across the Yukon. We are exploring the various options that we have to meet the demands. That is the prudent way that government operates.
I am given to understand that the caseload for the social worker in the area that the member opposite refers to ó specifically Mayo ó is quite low.
Letís go into the other area that the member opposite has been going on and on about. It is family and children's services, the staff component. Currently, under child protection, there are 12.5 FTEs; under family support, there are 2.25 FTEs; under children in care, there are 8.25 FTEs; under foster care, there are 4.25 FTEs; under healthy families, there are 13.3 FTEs; under child care, there are 6.5 FTEs; under child abuse and treatment, there are eight FTEs.
We have quite a number operating the group homes ó 54.6 FTEs. Under youth achievement, there are 8.3 FTEs; under the young offenders facility, there are 24 FTEs; under youth probation, there are eight FTEs; under youth sex offender treatment program there is one FTE; and in program support, there are 11.5 FTEs. That is a total of 162.4 FTEs. Thatís across one program ó one program that the department delivers.
As I said earlier, Mr. Chair, given the $142 million a year the department spends on Yukoners, if you use the population figure of 30,000, that is $47,000 per person on health care alone. We have one of the highest per capita spending of any jurisdiction in Canada.
The same holds true if the member wants to explore the education field. The per capital spending on education is the highest in Canada.
We can go on and on and on, but our government has made no cuts. In fact, weíre looking at ways to augment staff, and weíre looking at ways we can deliver the current programs more effectively and efficiently to meet their needs. Thatís what we are doing. Stay tuned. The outcome will be evident in due course.
Mr. Fairclough: It appears that the minister has become an expert in this field, Mr. Chair, but heís not listening to the people.
What the member just said is that he does not believe any of the recommendations put out in the extensive review of all the Yukon people, including aboriginal children and the people of the territory. He does not believe the Child Welfare League of Canada. On one hand, he doesnít; on the other, they adopted it in a motion yesterday. The minister adopted that. He says he will do it. Thatís what the minister and the government side did. They all voted in favour of the motion even though they amended it. I donít know if they thought that, because the amendment changed a lot of the motion, it didnít say that government should follow through with the recommendations. The minister did. So, now he doesnít believe thereís a problem. He doesnít believe thereís a high caseload in communities. Maybe the minister should have a little tour of communities and take up the suggestion by the leader of the third party and spend a day with social workers. It would do him good, I believe, Mr. Chair.
Letís have a look at one statistic that is in the ministerís budget. Child protection and children in care ó the percentage of First Nation children in care is 66 percent. Thatís the number and percentage that the minister has given. Yet the percentage of First Nation children in the departmentís child protection case is 37 percent. Theyíre obviously not getting the help. There are not the resource people in place to help these children and these families. Theyíre short. Social workers are overworked and theyíre not giving the proper attention to the casework that they should. It is a failure on the ministerís part to recognize this.
There is so much attention put on the government spending and trajectory that he has failed to look at the health and safety of children. Itís a shame, Mr. Chair, because this department has lots of money coming in. We just went over it. There are millions of dollars, and this money can be addressing these types of issues. We will of course follow up on this. We wonít let the minister off the hook because this is a serious matter, more so than the minister thinks, and I have lots of questions. The minister should be prepared to stay for days and talk about the colour of Jell-O in the hospital and so on.
Alcohol and drug services in the communities ó the member opposite has put a lot of emphasis on what they are going to do with alcohol and drugs. The first one was to kill the secretariat. That is gone. He said he has dismantled the secretariat, but thatís not really the case. That whole structure moved into alcohol and drug services. The same amount of money that was targeted for that is in that department. But the member opposite failed to follow up on some key initiatives like after-care. There is no commitment from this minister to communities around the territory. What plans does this minister have, for example, with the Northern Tutchone Tribal Council and the Tatlmain Lake treatment centre that they have had in place for many years? Is this minister at all supportive of that treatment centre?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Right in the memberís own riding, Tatlmain Lake is a very good example of where our government has offered the First Nation government assistance in putting together the program for drug and alcohol abuse and after-care. The situation is that their facility is much larger and encompasses much more of an area than drug and alcohol abuse, but the offer is still there to the First Nation. We are prepared and quite cognizant of the role they can play and, in fact, will achieve more through First Nation initiatives than we could ever achieve setting up a Yukon government-operated facility to deliver these kinds of programs to First Nations.
Again, I repeat, we also recognize that First Nations have concurrent or mirror jurisdiction with the Government of Yukon in these areas. Thatís the premise for all our governmentís discussions with First Nations.
Mr. Fairclough: If the member didnít know, Yukon gets money on behalf of all Yukoners, whether itís in alcohol and drugs or education ó they get the money. But this minister hasnít supported the Tatlmain Lake treatment centre. What he just said, Mr. Chair, is they offered assistance for alcohol and drug programming ó they offered assistance.
Well, the organization at Tatlmain Lake is far beyond that. Theyíve done their own work. Theyíve found money elsewhere; they have trained counsellors and they can do the job. They need operating money.
When can we expect operating dollars from this minister to Tatlmain Lake?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: What is being operated at Tatlmain Lake is an overall wellness program. It is funded primarily by Canada ó over $200,000. There was a request of the department to become involved to the same level as the federal government is involved ó over $200,000. Currently the department has two individuals in there ó one from CATS and one from alcohol and drug services ó providing support and assistance. We are prepared to do more, but as to funding the direct operating costs, we donít have the budget envelope to address this request from the Northern Tutchone for the Tatlmain Lake situation.
We have 14 First Nations that are looking for the same level of funding. We are providing support workers; we are providing assistance in many, many ways.
This money that they are operating on comes from the federal Aboriginal Healing Foundation. I am sure that as soon as they sunset that money, there will be quite a hue and cry from the First Nations to either restore the funding or for the Government of Yukon to pick up on this initiative.
But there are a lot of healing camps being operated by First Nations that are extremely beneficial and very worthwhile. There are some that are shut down that could be opened and could be utilized. But, unfortunately, I am not in a position to fund all of them to the extent that the First Nations would like. We will provide whatever assistance we possibly can. But as to the level of funding that is being requested, it is outside of our budget envelope, unless, of course, the member opposite would like to join with our government and we can go after Ottawa to see what additional funding we can obtain for First Nations for these various initiatives. It would probably be a worthwhile undertaking on the part of the Government of Yukon to assist the First Nations to obtain funding from the federal government for the healing camps.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, Northern Tutchones are Yukoners too, and this government gets money on their behalf. If there is interest and a will, monies will flow there. And itís not 14 other First Nations that want this. The Northern Tutchone are made up of three First Nations, and they are offering this counselling centre to the rest of the Yukon. So, itís not just directed at aboriginal people; it has been used by non-First Nation people in the past.
What they need ó they have the facility, and have done some upgrades even this year ó is money, operating dollars. The minister said there was no money. Well, we just talked about a good $32 million, maybe even $40 million extra, coming in to the department. Will the minister sit down with the Northern Tutchone chiefs and work out an agreement with them?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I can confirm that officials have been in ongoing discussions about this.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, I believe that the Northern Tutchone Tribal Council doesnít want to deal only with officials. Itís not going anywhere, and it hasnít for a long time. They want to deal at the political level and government to government. Is the minister willing to sit down and hammer out a deal with the Northern Tutchone chiefs to keep this centre going?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Iím more than willing to sit down with anyone who has a very good idea that will improve the health and health care needs of Yukoners.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister just recognized this as being a good organization, a good place, a good start for communities. We donít need to go through those whole steps. The fact of the matter is that First Nations themselves went out and got dollars from the federal government to do things like the training of counsellors; they sent them out and theyíre qualified like we have in government here. The problem is that it doesnít work if you donít have operating dollars to run Tatlmain Lake. If we were to send people outside the territory, thereís a cost of approximately $10,000 per person when we could be doing it right here at home.
Is this department funding any other First Nation treatment centres, whether itís to do with wellness or improvements to family services? Most of them, I would think, are tackling alcohol and drugs. Is any government money going to any other First Nation treatment centres around the territory?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, I have some concerns. What we have here is a First Nation government that very capably went out and found capital dollars for an initiative to put in a camp. Then, when it comes to the O&M dollars, theyíre not there.
The responsibility for First Nations and the delivery of health care is primarily a responsibility of Canada, and I donít have any quarrel if Iím being asked to go to bat for any First Nation group to obtain additional funding from Canada on its behalf.
Iím happy to cooperate. Weíll endeavour to do our best to ensure that Canada lives up to its fiduciary obligation to First Nation members of our Yukon. That said, what weíre seeing again here is a repeat performance of what the federal government does so well. They make a big announcement of capital dollars flowing into an initiative and have a sunset clause on the initiative and no O&M money. Some of the initiatives that the federal government has underway now with First Nations ó Iím very much appalled at how the federal Liberal government is treating our First Nations. Theyíre looking at withdrawing from a lot of the uninsured benefit programs. Theyíre looking at backing out of quite a number of areas, and there are ongoing discussions as to the areas that theyíre looking at getting out of.
Itís going to place a very much-added demand on Yukon to pick up the slack, and we just do not have that budget envelope to do so. Thereís quite an apparent downloading from the feds to lower levels of government for our First Nation health care and the provision of that health care to First Nations, and itís happening in the uninsured benefit program area.
There are a lot of good initiatives that the feds have undertaken, and I can assure you I agree with most, if not all, but the issue of sustainable funding is one issue that comes up on a recurring basis, and itís a major problem for most Yukon First Nations and, indeed, a lot of NGOs, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister does not fully understand the whole thing. In regard to Tatlmain Lake, monies are coming from the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and going toward youth programming right now. It is very successful. That is taking place right now.
It isnít that the federal government is bailing out, Mr. Chair; it is that the Northern Tutchone Tribal Council, in conjunction with the Government of Yukon, worked out ways to combat alcoholism to try to deal with the issue at home rather than send them out. That hasnít really worked out for awhile yet, and thereís no YTG money there. Thatís why Iím bringing it up ó if itís in the interest of the member opposite.
Itís not about going to Ottawa and getting more money. We have all kinds of money flowing from Ottawa, in addition to what we already have. Itís about a commitment of this government on whether or not they would like to see this take place. Maybe the minister can bring some numbers back to us as to what kind of money would be saved by the Yukon government if dollars were to flow to an organization like this for O&M versus sending people outside the territory for alcohol treatment. Is he able to do that?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: For the member oppositeís information, itís not the Government of Yukon that sends First Nation members of the Yukon out for treatment; itís the respective First Nations that undertake that initiative and send these individuals out for treatment.
For the benefit of the member opposite, the support we have offered to Tatlmain is the same type of support that is being offered to Na Cho Nyäk Dun to assist in developing their treatment program at Ethel Lake this summer and the Sal Kajana Society in Burwash ó we will assist with their program this summer. Vuntut Gwitchin ó there is a treatment program on the land in the summer that our government assists with. The KDFN ó there is a treatment program at Jackson Lake in Mayo that the government assists with.
So, we are involved. Itís a cooperative involvement with the First Nations at their request. But what the member opposite is asking me is to write a cheque and send it over. Our involvement is at a much deeper and higher level commitment than writing a cheque and sending a cheque over.
Mr. Fairclough: I would have to argue with the member opposite. The memberís involvement is nothing when it comes to Tatlmain Lake. There is no involvement. There is an offer of assistance from his department ó the expertise ó when it is already there. It is already there.
Can the minister give us a breakdown of what kind of dollar commitments to those organizations that he just listed off ó Old Crow, Champagne and Aishihik, and Mayo and so on. Can he give me a list of what kind of dollar commitment is from that department to those organizations?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Letís just back up a little bit to a statement the member opposite made with respect to Tatlmain Lake and that the Government of Yukonís involvement there is nothing. Thatís very incorrect and Iíd encourage the member to correct the record, because we have two individuals who have been putting on courses there. Those two individuals have been involved with the First Nation in putting on the courses at Tatlmain Lake, and the department has had discussions with the First Nation with respect to other areas of involvement.
So, for the member to say that our governmentís and departmentís involvement with Tatlmain Lake is nothing is incorrect. In fact, itís completely false.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, the people organizing at Tatlmain Lake are the ones who requested this. Somehow they have to get the Government of Yukon involved, and this is one of the ways. Maybe it will open the eyes of the members opposite to see what theyíre offering.
I asked about the savings in sending people outside to treatment. Iím not talking about First Nation people. Tatlmain Lake is beyond that. Itís bigger than that and can offer more.
I also asked about the dollar commitment to the rest of the organizations. That was my last question. Iíd like the minister to answer that.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: For the record, the department does not send anyone outside for alcohol treatment.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, thatís certainly news to me. They have done it in the past.
The minister didnít answer my question about what kind of dollars are going to other organizations around the Yukon. This is the third time I asked the question. Old Crow, Ethel Lake ó all these organizations. What kind of money is flowing out of this department to those organizations?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Itís primarily staff time, but weíll extrapolate the costs of the staff and provide the member opposite with that information.
Mr. Fairclough: I would appreciate that, because they are continually looking for dollars anywhere. They found some in the Aboriginal Healing Foundation. As a matter of fact, and maybe the member doesnít know, but he does have some government money flowing to Tatlmain Lake this year. Itís in the form of CDF money. Itís there for building improvements, the trail improvements and so on. That was all about putting people to work, so Iíll just leave it at that.
The member opposite said he would flow that information over and I would like to see it.
In regard to alcohol and drugs, other than FASD ó and I want to talk about that in a minute ó what plans, other than what we have just talked about, does the minister have for dealing with First Nations on this?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: There are ongoing discussions with all the First Nations, and Yukon has an involvement with the First Nation programs in many of the areas. There are all the programs we deliver that the First Nations are involved in, and itís across the board for the whole department, Mr. Chair.
Chair: Order please. Do members wish a recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Weíll stand in recess for 15 minutes.
Chair: Committee of the Whole will come to order.
We will continue on with Health and Social Services general debate.
Mr. Fairclough: I would like to continue on where I left off, Mr. Chair. We were talking about the alcohol and drug services. I would like to ask the minister whether or not he agrees with what the intent of the alcohol and drug secretariat had. Does he agree with the intent of that secretariat?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The intent is one thing. Obviously we didnít agree with the structure or the cost of that structure, Mr. Chair, but the programs are being delivered and thatís really what this issue is all about ó program and program delivery.
Mr. Fairclough: Is the minister following through with all the programs that have been identified under the secretariat? Is the minister following through with those programs?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Well, the comparison between the drug secretariat and the drug and alcohol services is somewhat similar. Some of the programs have been altered and changed to address the needs that have been identified. What we have reduced is the overhead and administration costs, and weíre addressing the programming area. Some of the programs have been adjusted. To what degree ó Iím not familiar with the details of the degree that the programs have been adjusted or the comparison to what they were previously, but I can assure the member opposite that our government and this department have identified the need and are addressing that need, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister said heís not familiar with the detail of the changes. Can he tell us what programming has been altered and which ones have been changed?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, if we start with the prevention and education and the previous drug and alcohol secretariat plan, there was a supervisor, four prevention consultants, one FAS worker, and one consultant who worked with Yukon College. This is what was proposed. We currently have the prevention consultants reporting to a supervisor; FASSY is involved. The College didnít go to a degree-granting program, so there was no need for the consultants to work with Yukon College.
If we look at the school-based services, the programs there are somewhat similar. Training services are very similar. The resource centre is very similar. Where we have enhanced and improved in the program is FASD.
We encompassed partners in this undertaking, and one of the areas that is no longer in place is the proposed College program and the development of a diploma program in addictions at Yukon College. If we look at the treatment side, there are outpatient counsellors and supervisors. Weíve added a youth counsellor, so we have two youth counsellors, one main one and an auxiliary, and thereís a counsellor assigned to Justice and one mental health addictions counsellor. Weíve engaged the private sector for some of the other FASD initiatives, Mr. Chair.
We deliver six in-patient programs a year, using existing resources, and deliver two community-based treatment programs each summer. In detox, we have a supervisor RN, 4.5 LPNs, 4.5 recovery room attendants, versus virtually the same amount being proposed under the previous regime, other than they were looking at pre-treatment workers.
The programs, detox and awareness program ó very similar, other than the pre-treatment readiness area.
In the community, we have an FASD diagnostic team coordinator ó this is a contribution agreement with CDC ó and a community prevention worker ó thatís a contribution agreement with FASSY.
Under the previous program, they were suggesting placing individuals in the communities. What weíve done is engage the First Nations and other individuals and have the capacity to address the needs through a coordinator here in Whitehorse.
With respect to programs and capacity building ó assisting communities in developing the capacity to provide addictions programs and service, mentoring and training of allied professionals, and alcohol and drug programs planning, implementation and evaluation. There were other programs they were looking for ó a halfway house and community-based client assessments and pre-treatment programs. These were not in the budget envelope that was approved by the previous government. They werenít even implemented, Mr. Chair.
So at the end of the period of time, we are delivering very similar, if not improved and enhanced, programming in this area in a more streamlined manner, and addressing the needs rather than creating another stovepipe of administration, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Fairclough: When the minister first dismantled ó thatís how they put it ó the secretariat and fired the person in charge ó the director ó it was because this Yukon Party saw things differently, that alcohol and drugs should be handled differently. But what weíve seen is these programs brought in under the alcohol and drug services ó same amount of money and very few changes. Some of these programs were pretty important to follow through. One of them that the minister identified was the College program, and the minister said it was cancelled by the College but, in fact, it was not. The College is basically ready to go with this program, the certificate and diploma program. Itís a recognized program where it could be transferable to any other college in Canada and the students can enter a degree program. Why did the minister cancel this?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Itís very simple. The program was being developed in conjunction with a degree-granting facility in Alberta, and they specified the level of qualifications required of the providers of these courses. We couldnít meet that level of qualifications within the existing envelope of individuals who were identified to put on these courses.
Mr. Fairclough: That is interesting, because that is not the feeling of the College. The College is ready to go with this. They have worked out the programming with Alberta. They adopted it in, like they have with the social work program, for example. Itís there, and itís ready to go at very little cost to government. There must be another explanation for this. How could it have been corrected? The minister said that we ó the department, I believe ó couldnít meet the qualifications. How could this have been corrected to have this programming in place at Yukon College?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: By hiring someone with the degrees that were required to put on these courses, at a considerable cost above and beyond what was anticipated using departmental staff to provide these courses.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, the minister disagrees with the College. The College believes it can handle this and has everything in place at very little cost. Why is there such a communication gap between the minister and the College on this very important part of the program that was developed under the secretariat, now devolved into alcohol and drug services? Why has this section gone? Itís key to addressing this overall issue. How is the minister going to replace this?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Community services.
Mr. Fairclough: Can the minister explain that? It doesnít make sense to me. How are we going to be training our counsellors who would have gotten a diploma or a certificate through Yukon College? Through community services? How does that do it? Is there another program in place set up to take on this new challenge?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The department agreed with the College that the first priority was to start a community services program and that is the priority.
Now, the discussions with Yukon College ó the department would have had to provide an employee with a minimum of a masterís in this field to deliver the degree-granting program. We didnít have an individual we could assign who met the criteria that the outside institution associated with the College requested.
The priority was in the community services program and, in all likelihood, that has the potential to move ahead.
Thereís not a mixed message coming from the College and the department. Itís the same message.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, it isnít, in my view, Mr. Chair, because the College says itís ready to go. Theyíve done the negotiations with Medicine Hat and Lethbridge. Theyíve got the programming over, and theyíre ready to go. They have the people in place. So that doesnít make sense that, for a very small cost to government, this program could be up and running at Yukon College. Itís not a huge cost. Maybe we donít have our numbers right. Can the minister lay out what it would have cost now that everythingís all set up with Medicine Hat and Lethbridge? What would it cost to run that certificate and diploma program?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Well, the costs associated with setting up this program that could come into place were borne by the department, Mr. Chair. What it requires is an instructor at a certain level of qualifications. That wasnít determined at the onset. That was determined after, Mr. Chair, when the arrangements were made between the College and the facility in Medicine Hat, Alberta. So after the evolution of this program, the department was advised that the individual that they need to put on the instruction had to have this certain level of qualifications. That wasnít available within the department. The understanding that the department went into this initiative with was that departmental staff would be used as instructors in these courses. That still holds true for the community services program, but unfortunately the department doesnít have an individual with the time and the requirement levels that meet the criteria for the degree-granting institution in Medicine Hat to put on this degree-granting course here in the Yukon. Thatís the problem.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, itís not a degree program; itís a certificate and diploma program, and the students can go Outside to another learning institute and get a degree but they get their start here in the territory.
Itís my understanding that everything was ready to go. We donít have a learning institute in the Yukon to train our counsellors at all. So this is an attempt to bring it home to the territory.
Community services ó how would that train our counsellors? How would it get them trained to handle the job thatís necessary under the alcohol and drugs? How are we going to do that? Are we totally changing the whole program around and not having qualified people any more?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The member is bouncing all over the place, but the community services program that could be offered at Yukon College would train front-line workers. The other program that was being discussed would be a two-year diploma leading to the prerequisites to go on to a degree.
The member, on one hand, is splitting hairs, not identifying with the community services program training that would train front-line workers.
Mr. Fairclough: Yes, Mr. Chair, this is quite a bit more detailed. I donít know the details of it. Obviously, in discussion with Yukoners in many communities, this was the best route at the time and it was just with a snap of the finger that the minister changed this.
With this change, how does it affect after-care in the communities?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: There are a couple of other factors that the member opposite is not identifying with. The first one is that there was no identified group that wanted to take this training, and there was no identified area where these people would be employed after they had taken the training. We can say thereís a need, but until weíve identified where those areas are, itís pretty tough to put on a course.
This was an initiative that the alcohol and drug secretariat ran with. It just appeared to have some pitfalls, and the biggest pitfall was that the department was committed to providing the professors. We didnít have, in-house, those individuals with the qualifications that the degree-granting institution in Medicine Hat required. These individuals were just not available within the department.
I guess, given the member oppositeís ability to throw around millions and millions of dollars, we should just go out and hire them. Well, thereís another side to that equation too. We would, first of all, have to identify who needs the training and who is prepared to step forward and take this training and where the positions are identified after they have received the training. So, there is a whole series of issues here. Itís probably like training people for a lot of areas where we havenít identified where theyíre going to plug into society and what role theyíre going to take on.
Mr. Fairclough: If we took the communities of Mayo, Pelly and Carmacks ó they went out and got their counsellors trained. They had to send them Outside. Thatís one area. Obviously, this was developed with the communities.
I would like to ask the minister about the Yukon College diploma program again. Is it cancelled, or is it on hold? Is it presently being reviewed?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The community services program will be starting this fall, and the workers, the individuals from Mayo and Pelly the member opposite refers to, took a very similar course Outside, and this course will commence and be in place this fall, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Fairclough: Wrong one. I wasnít asking about the community services course. I was talking about the College diploma program. Is it cancelled or is it on hold? Weíve been told itís on hold and is being reviewed.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The member is absolutely correct.
Mr. Fairclough: Okay. It doesnít make sense. If weíre already moving into a community services program, when will a final decision be made with regard to whether or not this program is offered at Yukon College?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: When we can identify within the department someone who has the skills to teach this course, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Fairclough: I believe there are probably people here in the Yukon who can teach that course, Mr. Chair.
The minister said that getting rid of the secretariat and bringing it under alcohol and drug services ó one of the things they focused on was reducing administration costs. Can the minister tell us how much money is saved by bringing it under alcohol and drug services?
What I recall is that there is the same amount of money in this budget as was identified last year for alcohol and drug services.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: There are basically two positions that were taken out of the equation. One is at a DM level ó anywhere from $80,000 to about $130,000, plus payroll loading of about 40 percent ó and that position is being filled at a director level, where it should have been all the time, Mr. Chair. Another individual has been moved and is accomplishing other tasks within the department rather than supporting the deputy minister of the drug and alcohol secretariat, if you want to say that or want to go that far.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister said that the focus was on reducing administration costs. That was the reason for getting rid of the secretariat and bringing it under alcohol and drug services. I want to know how much of a savings there was by doing this.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I donít have the exact dollar amount available, Mr. Chair, but itís in the order of magnitude of probably close to a couple of hundred thousand dollars for the one position and the associated costs for payroll loading. If you look at that one position alone, itís significant. Everybody looks at a contract and, when you hear the salary range of some of these positions, donít forget to include in that the payroll loading costs. Payroll loading costs are significant for Government of Yukon workers, and that has to be factored in.
So weíre saving the salary of an individual at a DM level. I am not privy to the actual salary, Mr. Chair, nor will I agree to share it with the member opposite, but the salary range is well known for a DM position, and the payroll loading on top of that ó it could be as high as $200,000 a year, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Fairclough: Then I would like to ask the minister why there is no reduction in this line item over last year? Itís the same amount ó $3.1 million.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The answer is quite simple. It breaks down differently. We committed to not spending the money on administration. It is going to community support workers. It is going to a multitude of other areas where there is a need that exists for programming. Thatís where the money is going to. We are spending this same amount, but we are redirecting those funds to have effectiveness in the programs.
What you donít want to do is to create a parallel stovepipe of administration, like what was being created ó right down to its own stationery and envelopes. You donít need to go there. Alcohol and drug services are being looked after by a director now and the programs are being delivered. We are spending the same amount of money, but we are spending it more effectively.
If you look at the initiatives under Yukon College, the community support worker certificate is going ahead this fall. Thatís another very good initiative. So that is going ahead, Mr. Chair.
We, as a government, have to direct our money where the needs exist. The exercise of government is to provide the highest consistent level of service at the best possible cost to the taxpayer. Thatís the exercise.
Thatís the exercise of the service industry, too, if you want to look at the utility businesses.
Itís quite simple. We have the care and control for a whole multitude of areas and the department is mandated to look after them and we will be doing so.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, it doesnít make sense because the minister said the two positions were just re-titled and moved but theyíre still within the department, so I canít see where the savings are there. Besides, Mr. Chair, whereís the increase in programming? What we have seen throughout the department are cuts to programming to different places. So there has to be a better explanation for that.
It appeared that the Yukon Party had its own plans on how to deal with alcohol and drugs but, I believe, after seeing what has been developed by the Liberal Party, they basically adopted, moved it in under alcohol and drug services and now say to the public that weíre saving money on administration but, in fact, thatís not the case. Basically, now they donít have the expertise in place to guide this as they did in the past.
I asked the minister earlier about after-care and whether or not there are alterations to after-care. What is happening with the whole direction that was laid out under the secretariat for after-care? There doesnít appear to be anything happening as it was laid out under the secretariat now that itís under alcohol and drug services. Why is that, when both the program and after-care programming that was in place under the secretariat were key to addressing a lot of the alcohol and drug problems we have in the community?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: To set the record straight with respect to the drug and alcohol secretariat, the member opposite and I will probably have to agree to disagree on this initiative. The facts are straightforward. The member opposite is interpreting them incorrectly. I guess thatís his role in opposition ó to put a spin on things that seem to approach from another angle. If "spin" is inappropriate, I withdraw it. The member opposite is putting an interpretation on the facts that is not quite an accurate reflection of those facts. The numbers we have in this budget line are very straightforward, and our department is directing more money to where it should rightfully be, rather than creating another administration.
With respect to the issue of after-care, we have in place the NNADAP workers and a whole series of other individuals who appear to be equal to the task, and we are not conflicting with their respective roles. It looks like weíll monitor the program as itís set up. There is always room for improvement. But the program, as itís being delivered, will be in place for the next fiscal cycle.
Mr. Fairclough: Iím interested in the last words of the minister about the program and that it will be implemented in the next fiscal year. Is he talking about an extended after-care program?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: No, Mr. Chair. What the department is currently doing in this area will continue through this fiscal period or cycle. When we examine it, as we constantly monitor these programs, it might require tweaking or perhaps a change or two, as all programs do from time to time. Weíre quite open to examining these areas and tweaking programs as and when required. They usually correspond to the fiscal cycle and thatís what weíll be doing.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister referred to NNADAP workers. I believe that in developing a strategy to combat alcohol and drugs, after-care was key ó vast improvements in after-care were key ó and so far nothing is happening there.
So I would like to ask the minister why additional after-care for alcohol and drugs is not even being looked at by the department. NNADAP is there. What has been identified here is far beyond what NNADAP has to offer ó far beyond that. Why is this important part of combatting alcohol and drugs in communities and around the territory, including Whitehorse ó why was this cancelled? Why is it not emphasized in the department? Why arenít people working to ensure that after-care is brought to communities and that the proper resources, dollars and resource people are in place to handle that?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The member knows the answer full well, and the member is incorrect in his overview of this.
Mr. Fairclough: Do you mean to say the minister does not believe that the after-care, which was identified under the secretariat, was just NNADAP? Does he just see it as NNADAP? Is that all it was, or maybe the minister can lay out in detail exactly how he believes after-care was designed as under the secretariat, and how it is now devolved down to alcohol and drug services.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Iíd be happy to send over a paper for the member opposite on the various areas that are encompassed in after-care. There are NGOs, Alcoholics Anonymous, the wellness workers and NNADAP workers, for a start, Mr. Chair. There are a whole lot of after-care initiatives, the member knows full well. Where the member is headed is that he sees the champion of a cause to probably create another department in the government, when a lot of these areas are being looked after quite well from other venues.
Letís support what we have and ensure that what we have works. Before we go off starting a new initiative, if an initiative currently underway is not working, letís see what we can do to fix it. There are all these areas. Iím surprised at the direction of the questions from the member opposite, given that he is very familiar with a number of these areas.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, I am surprised that the member opposite thinks that things are working well. On one hand, there is a serious problem with alcohol and drugs in the territory, and it needs to be addressed. The way many people see it being addressed is through good after-care ó far beyond what the member opposite laid out. I am hoping that the minister will get briefed on this matter because we are going nowhere with it. Obviously the minister does not understand what after-care means, what it meant and how it was designed under the secretariat and how it now sits under alcohol and drug services.
So, Iíll leave that alone.
I have one more question in regard to alcohol and drug services. In regard to residential training, has this been cancelled for the remainder of the year?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: No, it has not been cancelled, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Fairclough: I will ask more questions with regard to alcohol and drugs because I feel the issue is quite important. I also want to talk about FASD and the five-point plan that has been laid out.
Before I go there, I would like to ask the minister what is happening with the seniors and elders facilities that have been promised by the Yukon Party in the election. What is the plan for seniors and elders facilities across the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The initiative that is underway, with the broad stroke of a pen, can include a number of areas. What is being looked at and examined is a multi-level health care facility in both Watson Lake and Dawson City, Mr. Chair. What weíre examining is an apartment complex for seniors in Whitehorse. These areas are being looked at. If thatís what the member opposite is referring to, we have a four-year mandate, and weíre not in a position to address everything at once. We have to direct our attention to where the populations are and, I guess, in due course, weíll have to examine the options for Haines Junction, where there are a lot of seniors residing.
So the next question the member opposite is going to ask when he gets to his feet is: when will you be dong this? These are on the radar screen, but itís not the local Doppler radar, Mr. Chair. Itís down the road.
Mr. Fairclough: What other communities is the minister looking at? He has mentioned one, Haines Junction. What other communities?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, theyíll all be looked at in due course.
Mr. Fairclough: What is due course? I mean, this keeps coming up over and over again. So we get an understanding, what does the minister mean by "due course"? Is it two months, a month, six months, a year? Rather than the minister answering "in due course", can the minister give us a timeline?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: If "in due course" doesnít satisfy the member opposite, letís use "over time".
Mr. Fairclough: So, the minister is suggesting "over time". It doesnít make sense. I think the minister is losing it. Perhaps he needs a break.
He wants to concentrate on Watson Lake, Dawson and an apartment complex here in Whitehorse. Those come first, and they should take care of the population of the Yukon ó is that the idea for now? And then, after these are done, the rest of the Yukon will be looked at? Is that the process the minister envisions?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: What the member opposite is asking me is to put timelines on these initiatives, and I canít do that.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister said theyíre looking at Watson Lake, Dawson and an apartment complex here in Whitehorse. Those are the three priority areas. Other communities have identified needs too. Is it going to be after these? It appears that is what taking place, so far, at this point in time ó to use the Minister of Educationís words.
People need some certainty. Iím sure the minister would agree with that. Communities are asking. How would the minister answer the question if it were asked straight out of the community of Haines Junction, for example? How would he answer that question?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The same way Iím answering the member opposite ó itís on the radar screen but I canít put timelines beside it.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, that sure doesnít give anybody comfort, Mr. Chair, and certainly not the communities that have been promised this by the Yukon Party. Thatís unfortunate because weíre going nowhere with this, and itís obvious that other communities are cut out of this process.
Mr. Chair, Iím going to turn it over to the leader of the third party for questions to the minister.
Ms. Duncan: The minister provided the Member for Mayo-Tatchun with some information and it was not likewise provided to me. Could I have that sent over, please?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: We can do that, Mr. Chair.
Ms. Duncan: If itís at all possible, I would like to receive that before we continue with this debate on Monday.
I have some questions I would like to follow up with the minister for the balance of the afternoon, and then Iíll go back and have a look at the information on some more detail-specific questions.
Weíve had several discussions over recent weeks of the sitting with respect to the operation of the family and childrenís services branch.
Two public reports were commissioned by the previous government. They are the Anglin report and the Child Welfare League of Canada report. The minister has continually stated that the previous government commissioned one report. Will he correct the record and accept that, in fact, there were two reports commissioned and that the Child Welfare League of Canada report was made public on July 30 with the recommendations as well as the response to the recommendations?
Iím asking if he would accept that and correct the record. There were two reports done by the previous government ó two public reports ó and those are the two reports. Just so weíre clear what weíre referring to in the balance of the debate.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I can confirm there were two reports generated by previous governments.
Ms. Duncan: The July 30 public release of the Child Welfare League of Canada indicated a series of recommendations. The first recommendation, and the second, of the Child Welfare League of Canada report was specifically, one, address social worker and supervisor staffing shortfalls, and the staffing shortfalls are in italics, and the second was to hire child welfare policy staff. The public outline of this recommendation ó there were numerous media reports as well as the governmentís response were made public. The previous government agreed with those two recommendations and also said there would be an implementation that would have to consider the recruitment and retention strategy for child welfare staff and analysis of appropriate caseload levels.
Now, my understanding is there is significant cost associated with hiring additional child welfare staff, and significant cost requires a Management Board submission.
There was a supplementary budget tabled by the Yukon Party government that increased the deficit to $56 million for the 2002-03 year, but there was no additional money in the supplementary for these workers.
I would like the minister, first of all, to say and confirm ó I believe he has already done so, but just to ensure I have it on the record ó there was no additional money in the supplementary for hiring additional social workers and supervisors, and that there is no additional money in the mains, which we are now discussing, to hire additional social workers and supervisors in the family and childrenís services area ó additional workers, not filling vacancies in the department, not auxiliaries, not moving people around, but hiring additional workers. There is no money in the budget for hiring these workers. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, there was $200,000 in the supplementary for hiring additional workers.
Ms. Duncan: We went around this at the time, and the minister indicated that there was a filling of vacancies and some moving around of bodies.
Has the Department of Health and Social Services fulfilled recommendations 1 and 2 and hired additional social workers and supervisors to address staffing shortfalls? Have they hired child welfare policy staff with the $200,000 in the supplementary ó additional staff, not filling vacancies, not overtime hours, but hiring additional staff? Intake workers ó have we got more intake workers and is there more money in the mains for them?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: If we go back to 2001-02, there were seven FTEs in that area. There are currently 8.25 FTEs.
Ms. Duncan: 8.25 is not addressing the caseload problem that has been identified. 8.25 is not enough to address the caseload problems, which are anywhere from 100 percent to 450 percent over and above what individuals should be dealing with in terms of number of cases. 8.25 isnít enough.
Today in Question Period, the minister said that, yes, he will hire more. When asked in Question Period if the minister would hire more social workers, the minister said yes.
What the minister didnít say is when. So I am going to ask him a very direct and specific question. Is it the governmentís intention to hire additional staff in this area to deal with the supervisor and social worker shortfalls so that these caseloads are reduced? If the answer is again yes, when does the minister intend that that will take place?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, itís our intention to hire additional social workers. If we were to accept and implement immediately what is being requested in the Child Welfare League of Canada report, staffing costs would increase by $5 million. The member probably has that number right on the tip of her tongue, Mr. Chair.
Weíre examining other ways of fulfilling the role, rather than going to the full extent of the recommendations in this report. Thatís underway, and I canít commit to timelines as to when this is going to be dealt with, Mr. Chair. Itís something that weíre talking about, that it will take some undertaking for individuals to be attracted here. Across the whole government, health care professionals are in short supply and social workers are a category that is available; but, again, in some areas theyíre not easy roles to find the expertise to fill the categories.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Chair, itís interesting that the member has chosen a figure of $5 million. Iíve heard $3 million, $5 million, $8 million, $14 million ó it depends on whom youíre speaking with ó to implement the recommendations of the Child Welfare League of Canada report. And I appreciate the minister bringing up the issue of recruitment and retention of health care professionals. Weíll get to that. Weíve got lots of time. Iím going to focus, however, and ask the minister to focus his responses on this specific issue.
Now he has said it would cost $5 million ó heís going to use that figure this afternoon ó to hire the additional social workers to address recommendations 1 and 2 of the Child Welfare League of Canada report; and he has also said we are examining other ways. What other ways are they examining? How are they going to deal with a very specific recommendation like this?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Let me share with the member opposite a breakdown of the family and childrenís services staff complement that presently exists.
In child protection, we have 12.5 FTEs. In family support, there are 2.25 FTEs; 8.25 FTEs in children in care; in foster care, there are 4.25 FTEs; and 13.3 FTEs in healthy families; in child care, there are 6.5 FTEs; in childrenís addiction and treatment there are eight FTEs; in group homes, we have a staff complement of 54.6 FTEs; in youth achievement, there are 8.3 FTEs; the young offenders facilities have 24 FTEs; there are eight FTEs in youth probation; one FTE in the youth sex offender treatment program; in program support, there are 11.5 FTEs. That is a total of 162.4 FTEs.
Itís kind of interesting that, when you look back, just a decade ago, when we had 300, 315 and 324 children in care, we had considerably fewer staff. In fact, there were about half as many. Yet today, even when you take out the group homes of 54, we were back at 80 FTEs when we had 315 and 324 children in care. When you subtract 54 from 162, we have about 30 more FTEs.
So when you look at what has transpired, this is not a problem that has grown overnight. And yes, we have a situation here that is of grave concern to all of us. What the members opposite are suggesting we do is to throw money at the problem.
And thatís not going to be the solution, Mr. Chair. Weíre going to have to address the need, and the only way we can address that need is by looking at where the problems are and getting involved to a much larger degree than what we currently are with First Nations. Thatís where weíre going and thatís what our government is committed to doing.
Mr. Chair, if you look at the situation, our government recognizes that First Nations have mirror jurisdiction with the Government of Yukon in the area of child welfare, and that understanding is the premise of all of our governmentís discussions with First Nations.
Itís not an issue on which the member opposite and I are going to come to some resolution on the floor of this House, and I understand that itís the oppositionís role to keep the government accountable, but in four months of office we have accomplished a tremendous amount ó a tremendous amount, Mr. Chair. We will continue to go forward, working cooperatively with First Nations, and we will have a better understanding of the issue of child welfare and child apprehension and the surrounding difficulties. It is a very difficult area, and yes, it has a high stress level for the professionals who have to deal with it, and yes, it has a high burnout rate for the social workers involved.
What we have had in the past obviously wasnít working, and where weíre going in the future is for this cooperative arrangement with our First Nations. I donít think itís any deep, dark secret that weíre exploring a number of avenues, Mr. Chair, and Iím sure theyíll be the subject of Question Period on the floor of this Legislature in due course, as soon as members opposite pick up on some of these great initiatives that our government is exploring.
Iím sure itíll be dealt with from the side of "thatís not going to work". This is an arbitrary decision, but I can assure all members of this House that our government is going to spend a period of time in discussion with First Nations and come up with a plan that will have more success in dealing with child apprehension and child welfare cases. We wonít be successful 100 percent of the time, but I believe, as an initiative, weíll be successful overall a lot more than we currently are.
Ms. Duncan: Well, the minister, when he stands up to address this issue, repeatedly bootlegs in a number of other parts of the discussion. I am in no way diminishing the need for the department to also recognize and deal with relationships with First Nation governments, with FASD, and with everything else, but I would encourage the minister ó and I realize heís only four months into the job and is relatively new to it ó Iíd very much like to encourage the minister to just give both earsí attention to what both parties in the opposition are saying, as well as what the public is saying ó to focus his response on this issue of staffing.
The minister went on and gave me an answer about how there are so many FTEs in each department, and Iím looking forward to reviewing the Blues. Letís focus on child protection services.
The minister talks about child protection services and how there are far too many First Nations children in care. The statistics that the minister provided in the budget, that he is so inordinately proud of, say that, of the child protection services ó page 11-10 ó 39 percent of families served were First Nation and 61 percent are other.
Letís deal with the issue ó and the number of children in care is too high, the minister says, and the number of children in care is too high. Well, we are looking at from 485 families with protection concerns to an estimated 650 families. Thatís what the statistics say. The minister is finding that intensely humorous. I donít find it humorous, and I donít find it, in any way, shape or form, responsible that the minister is saying that the opposition is only saying to throw money at the problem. No, what the opposition has said is to take the Child Welfare League of Canadaís recommendations to heart, deal with them, focus on them and hire these additional staff. There is the additional money available. Have them go forward with the Management Board submission that was written, that asks for the additional staff. Recognize and deal with the need.
If the minister wants to focus his energies on other parts ó page 13 of the Child Welfare League report ó and build the relationships with the First Nations ó absolutely. Build upon the good work that has already been done. But in the meantime, deal with these other issues, because we are losing children and families are in crisis because we donít have enough social workers who can deal with it. Yes, that is a responsible action and yes, that is what is required.
Now, I would like to talk about the ministerís plan for the Childrenís Act. I would like to talk with the minister and ask him details of what his detailed plan is for dealing with the act and whatever mysterious plan he is hinting at that we will be asking about in the next couple of weeks. If he would like to share it with us now, sure, we will prepare our questions.
The minister can make a decision. He said earlier today that, yes, we would hire more social workers. Now heís saying no, the departmentís not going to because the opposition says throwing bucket loads of money at the problem isnít the answer. Letís try it another way. Maybe we can reach some agreement. Will the minister, in this fiscal year under debate, implement the specific recommendations 1 and 2 of the Child Welfare League of Canada report? Will he ensure the caseloads for the front-line social workers will be reduced? Will he do that?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I found the portrayal of the statistics and the interpretation that the member opposite puts on some of these statistics quite humorous. I guess what you want to take ó
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I thought I had the floor, Mr. Chair. Iím hearing some grumbling in the background there.
When you start looking at the situation across the Yukon, 25 to 30 percent of our population is of First Nations origin. Thatís pretty well-established. Sixty-eight percent of the children in care are First Nations. Thatís the sad fact, and thatís what has to be addressed. Yes, the cases across the Yukon ó as to what the department is involved in ó are another matter. Those are statistics that the member opposite is hanging her hat on, Mr. Chair. I guess thatís the role of opposition, to take the statistics and utilize them in the way that best portrays their position or the position they want to put forward.
Chair:The Chair is very uncomfortable with the repeated line the member is taking of implying that members opposite are using statistics for less than honourable motives.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, the statistics the member is plucking from the statistics sheet are not an accurate reflection of what is going on in the department. As I said earlier, 25 to 30 percent of the population of the Yukon are First Nations, but 68 percent of the children in care, of 220 to 230 children, are First Nations. That itself speaks loudly as to the problem we have. That is why we have taken the steps to spend the time necessary to consult with First Nations to get their input.
Once again, for the record, our government recognizes that the First Nations have concurrent or mirror jurisdiction with our government in the area of child welfare. Now, Iím hoping that the member opposite can accept the statistics, recognize them and deal with them.
But letís look at the Child Welfare League of Canada report. There are a couple of areas that are very interesting.
Mr. Chair, I take the member opposite to page 11, to what is called the Yukon overview, and it says, "Notwithstanding the above, the reviewers found a talented and diverse child welfare workforce in the Yukon with considerable concerns and commitment to children at risk and their families. There is also a dedicated management group informed about the cause of caring for children. There are generally workable legislation, well-developed standards, policies and procedures, a recently released comprehensive child welfare manual, which articulates appropriate values and principles, the statement of rights of children and families that are important in grounding practice. There are statements and protocols guiding relationships with First Nations, several well-constructed protocols with collateral service agents, and a complaints process for service recipients. The above are indicators of a sound infrastructure upon which to build good practices."
What the member opposite is asking me to do is provide timelines on and tell her when itís going to be in place, implement, bing bing, and throw $5 million at it.
Now, this report clearly indicates that Yukon has something in existence that is working and is achieving a measure of success and is well accepted.
We have to build on that, Mr. Chair, and weíll be doing that. Iíve made a commitment that weíll stand by that we will be hiring social workers. Thatís a commitment we have made, but the solution isnít to overnight go out and hire $5 million of costs of additional social workers. I believe the total amount, depending if you dovetail both reports together, is between $5 million and $8 million.
When you look at the ratio of staff in the department to the number of children in care, this is one of the highest in Canada. If you look across the entire department as to the FTEs and extrapolate that ratio and divide it by the number in care ó and I would encourage the member opposite to explore jurisdictions like Manitoba, where they have, I believe, 14,000 children in care, and ascertain the number of staff complement there.
The solution isnít what is always on the surface. One report doesnít bring a solution, nor do two reports. But a careful examination of the situation, a careful examination in conjunction with those most affected, is where we are going and what we are doing. We will achieve a measure of success.
We have to engage the First Nations in this initiative to a much greater degree than what they have been consulted and engaged with in the past. Now, it might mean satellite offices for the department in, perhaps, the KDFN area.
Just look back a few years ago at another initiative with the RCMP, which subsequently, as a result of a sad, tragic affair, opened a sub-detachment up in KDFN. The police are now respected in that community and they are working in the community.
Theyíre not someone who, when they drive by, everybody goes and runs and hides. We have that problem with some of the officials within the organization who enter into Kwanlin Dun First Nation ó if you want to be specific. Theyíre not well-received. People run and hide behind the curtains or anywhere else. Weíve got to overcome that stigma. The only way we can do that, Mr. Chair, is to work cooperatively with the First Nation and all the First Nations involved in this initiative. Thatís what our government is committed to. Thatís what weíre going to be doing, and we can debate this report for the remainder of the session if the member wishes, but at the end of that time, have we actually accomplished anything for the children in care? No, we havenít. Letís focus on the problem. Letís address the problem. And the problem isnít a shortage of money. Weíve got to take a different approach, and that we will be doing, Mr. Chair.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Chair, the member has conveniently gone to the Yukon overview. Iím glad he recognized the professional workforce we have. As Iíve done, as others have done in the Legislature, itís very important that we recognize that we have a very professional, dedicated, very caring staff, but what the member opposite is conveniently overlooking is the findings of the report.
The findings of the report ó it says, "Firstly, there is a discussion of workload", in very large, block, bold type. "The volume of work expected of the child welfare staff and managers considerably exceeds generally accepted standards."
Now, the member opposite has lectured me on many occasions about generally accepted accounting principles. This is about the generally accepted standards across the country for child welfare staff and managers. Consistently, he has heard that the caseloads are too high. No one is not suggesting that the relationship between First Nation governments and the Government of Yukon in the area of child welfare needs work. In fact, the report recognizes the very substantial progress that has been made in that particular area.
However, the issue at hand is the caseloads of the existing social workers. We can talk about the other systemic issues, we can talk about building First Nation relations, we can talk about the numbers of FASD children in care, we can talk about the Childrenís Act, although Iíd remind the member that while he sees that as the top priority, this report ó and he just read it into the record, very proud of it ó talks about the sound infrastructure we have to build upon.
The difficulty I have is what is happening in the meantime. A social worker has 41 cases or 50 cases or 75 cases. The 75 people and families coming through the door are not getting help because there is not the social welfare staff, there is not the ability for the existing overloaded social worker to deal with these families in crisis. The minister says that the members opposite would have him come forward with a Management Board submission that says we need more money and additional social worker staff. Absolutely, yes, do that, please, on behalf of the families in crisis. If the minister is also going to continue with these other initiatives, good. Hallelujah. Thatís great. Address those issues as well.
All Iím asking and all others have asked is: deal with this specific issue, in addition to all the others.
The minister has contradicted himself in that he said earlier, in answers in Question Period, that the government is going to focus on the Childrenís Act, but he has noted, as is noted in this report, that such things as legislation and the development of these manuals are sound infrastructure.
So, I sense from the member opposite that he and the government have and are absolutely committed to their own agenda and their own view of the world and are not prepared to accept the report and are not prepared to accept ó although the recommendation has, in a very altered format, somewhat passed the House. He said yes, weíll hire more social workers, but then immediately backed off in several other ways from that commitment to hire additional staff.
There are a number of questions that the member is raising in his comments, and I would look forward to some detailed responses on Monday, when we next resume, namely an outline of how ó perhaps heíll come back and give me a definitive commitment on the Management Board submission for hiring additional social workers, and I would appreciate that ó if he would come back with that answer and a detail of when that might happen. He said theyíll hire more in this particular field ó when?
Would he outline the Childrenís Act and how that review is going to take place?
Now, he has discussed setting up a satellite office in the Kwanlin Dun First Nation. Is the drawing down of child welfare an ongoing part of the PSTA negotiations at the land claims office? Is this an initiative that the Government of Yukon will undertake? How is the governance being established on that? How are the costs going to be shared, or not?
The Childrenís Act is another area I wanted the minister to outline. He has indicated that, rather than follow the accountability format, statistics are the best route to follow. He has, then, not appreciated the way that the opposition has reviewed the statistics. Perhaps he can explain how we have a significant increase according to the report and according to the statistics of families with protection concerns and we also have a significant increase in child placement services and an increase in children in care, but we show an 11-percent reduction in funding allocated for these programs.
Mr. Chair, I would move that we report progress on this bill.
Chair: Ms. Duncan has moved that we report progress on Bill No. 4, First Appropriation Act, 2003-04. Are you agreed?
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Chair: Mr. Jenkins has moved that the Speaker do now resume the Chair. Are you agreed?
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 the Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Rouble:Mr. Speaker, the 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 the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House be now adjourned.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. Monday.
The House adjourned at 5:58 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled April 10, 2003:
Property Management Agency 2001-02 Annual Report (Hart)
Property Management Agency 2003-04 Business Plan (Hart)
Fleet Vehicle Agency 2001-02 Annual Report (Hart)
Fleet Vehicle Agency 2003-04 Business Plan (Hart)
Queenís Printer Agency 2001-02 Annual Report (Hart)
Queenís Printer Agency 2003-04 Business Plan (Hart)