Whitehorse, Yukon

Thursday, May 1, 2003 ó 1:00 p.m.

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

Prayers

DAILY ROUTINE

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

Tributes.

TRIBUTES

In recognition of Sexual Assault Prevention Month

Hon. Mr. Fentie:  Mr. Speaker, May is Sexual Assault Prevention Month. As the minister responsible for the Womenís Directorate, I rise today on behalf of all elected members to pay tribute to the women and men whose work is changing attitudes toward sexual assault. It is disturbing that in a society that prides itself on being civilized, women are being raped and assaulted, often in their own homes.

In the Yukon, 115 cases of sexual assault were reported to the RCMP in 2002. According to the Yukon Bureau of Statistics, 19 percent of those sexual assault victims were between 12 and 17 years old. In 2001, according to Statistics Canada, the rate of sexual assault in the Yukon was three times higher than the national average. As shameful as that is, it was only the third highest rate in the country.

As citizens, we must refuse to be silent accomplices to acts that harm so many of us. As a government, we must continue our efforts to eradicate all forms of violence against women, including sexual assaults.

This year, the Womenís Directorate is focusing its public awareness campaign on the strength of men, in particular those men who are silent allies in the cause of eliminating sexual assault.

As the month progresses, you will hear radio spots and see print ads and posters that concentrate on the role that men play in fostering healthy relationships. The theme of these posters is "My strength is not for hurting." This is a powerful statement. It speaks to the vast majority of honourable men who respect women and girls and who would never choose to hurt them. These men understand that no means no, that silence means no, that confusion means no.

We must continue the work of identifying and addressing the root causes of violence against women. Each one of us can take action to reduce sexual violence in our communities. Our strength is not for hurting.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In recognition of International Youth Week

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   I rise today in recognition of International Youth Week.

International Youth Week is an annual event celebrating all aspects of youth culture, diversity and achievement. Since 1995, other nations, regions and municipalities have adopted the concept of Youth Week.

This yearís celebrations will be taking place from May 4 to 10. Locally, Bringing Youth Toward Equality ó or, as it is commonly known, BYTE ó has coordinated a week of events ranging from guest speakers to workshops, to fundraising concerts.

This week is about collaboration, not competition; activity, not passivity; and solutions, not problems. It is a project of ideas, creativity and visions for a bright future. By motivating and inspiring young people, Youth Week generates and regenerates community talents and resources.

Young people are not just a symbol of the future; they are the future and the present. They must be involved in shaping the world they will live in as adults. During International Youth Week we celebrate the contributions that young people make to our world and promote awareness of the challenges young people face.

As the saying tells us, we have not inherited the earth from our parents, we simply borrow it from our children. During this International Youth Week, I call on all of us to make the best possible use of young peopleís imaginations, energy and indomitable spirit in the cause of sustaining the future for succeeding generations.

Thank you.

Mr. Hardy:   On behalf of the official opposition, Iím very pleased to rise today to pay tribute to the International Youth Week.

Youth Week this year, of course, is from May 4 to 10 and it is meant to be a celebration of the achievements of youth, but it is also an opportunity for youth to take part in action to make a better world, not only for themselves but for all of us. In this regard, I would draw attention to the Youth Action Network, which has on its Web site surveys, petitions and forms that cover a wide range of issues that involve youth in Canada and internationally.

With the economy under stress, youth today face many challenges finding work, paying for an education and sorting out the ethical problems that seem greater every day. We are fortunate in having a generation of competent, responsible youth leaders who will be taking us through this new century.

The importance of having our youth thoroughly involved in far-reaching, important political, environmental and social concerns cannot be overestimated.

Youth are a strong impetus for innovative, positive change. The world is becoming faster and making demands on all of us to be conversant with a wide range of information and to act upon that information with new ideas. The flexibility and energy of youth bring creative, innovative solutions to our biggest problems. An opportunity to involve youth in all our decision making should never be missed. Youth Week is a strong reminder of this.

Locally, the Bringing Youth Toward Equality organization, known as BYTE, for the fifth year of Youth Week has a full calendar of events taking place. These include concerts, leadership workshops, an original screen play and performance, and BYTEís annual general meeting. The week ends with the 9th annual Yukon skills competition. I urge everyone to take part in all of these worthwhile events.

Ms. Duncan:   I rise on behalf of the Liberal caucus to pay tribute to International Youth Week and Yukonís youth. We speak often in the Legislature of honouring and respecting our elders, Mr. Speaker. We must afford our youth the same courtesy and dignity. Recognition of youth voices, our children, and Iíd like also at this time to pay tribute in this Legislature to our young pages, who have served us tirelessly throughout the session. I note that one of them has also joined us in the gallery for the last day. Youth have a unique perspective, and I would encourage all members of the Legislature to celebrate the opinions and advice of our youth.

In recognition of Sexual Assault Prevention Month

Mr. Hardy:   On behalf of the official opposition, I am also pleased to rise in tribute to the Sexual Assault Prevention Month. There has been some progress toward public awareness about sexual assault, and there are more and more counselling centres that serve the survivors of sexual assault. Despite this, sexual assault remains a very serious problem in the Yukon, as elsewhere. The number of reported sexual assaults is rising each year, but the vast majority of sexual assaults go unreported. It is shocking to know that once someone has assaulted, he will on average repeat the crime 100 times in his lifetime. Even with those who have been found guilty of the offence, the recidivism is completely unacceptable.

In Canada, a woman is sexually assaulted every six minutes. That doesnít count the number of children and men who are also sexually assaulted. One in two women and one in three men will be sexually assaulted sometime in their lives. Eighty percent of these assaults happen before age 18. In 85 percent of the cases, the victim knows his or her perpetrator. We are only beginning to come to understand the enormity of this horrendous violation of human rights. One of the ways to prevent sexual assault is by public education both of possible victims and possible assailants. Over the coming month, the Yukon Womenís Directorate is mounting a public education program that will focus on menís roles in fostering healthy relationships.

The theme is "Our strength is not for hurting". It is a very positive approach, and I applaud their choice. It is hoped that many men in the Yukon will become more aware of their role in promoting healthy relationships in their own and othersí lives.

In recognition of Emergency Preparedness Week

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I rise today to highlight the importance of emergency preparedness planning in the Yukon. May 4 to 10 is Emergency Preparedness Week in Canada, and this yearís theme is, "Prepare now and learn how."

It draws attention to the role we all play in emergency planning. Everyone is responsible for some level of emergency planning. I respectfully acknowledge and thank the many volunteers and professionals involved in emergency response and preparation in the Yukon: ambulance attendants, fire fighters, police, hospital staff, search and rescue teams and medevac crews who deal with emergency response and preparation on a daily basis in the Yukon.

Behind the scenes are the people who develop emergency response plans, coordinate emergency response plans and organize training exercises.

Every community has a number of volunteers who help to plan for and respond to emergency situations. Individuals, households and volunteers also play a very important role in emergency preparedness planning in the Yukon.

Emergency Preparedness Week highlights the importance of individual and family emergency planning and encourages all Canadians to be better prepared for emergency situations. Emergency preparedness begins at home and at the workplace. Talk to your family members, your community and emergency measures coordinator and to the emergency organization about evacuation plans and what to do if the unexpected happens.

Assembling an emergency kit for your home, your car and your workplace is another important step toward becoming prepared for emergency situations.

The Yukonís emergency measures organization is in place to help coordinate the territoryís preparedness, response and recovery from emergency situations. As I speak today, the Emergency Measures Organization, in collaboration with other agencies, departments and volunteers are involved in emergency preparedness response activities relating to the flooding near Dawson City.

This illustrates the important of emergency preparedness and the benefits of community involvement in planning and responding to emergency situations.

The emergency measures organization helps Yukoners to prepare and respond to emergency situations. Emergency Preparedness Week is only seven days of the year. Emergency situations happen any time and anywhere, without warning. Emergency planning is essential in mitigating the impact of emergency events, whatever the potential threat may be.

If you plan to be at this yearís trade show, look for the protective services booth and ask the staff and volunteers for information about the Emergency Measure Organization and about emergency preparedness planning.

Ms. Duncan:   I rise on behalf of the Liberal caucus to pay tribute to Emergency Preparedness Week.

Thousands of EMO volunteers throughout the territory are there for Yukoners, standing by when they are needed to bravely offer their services and their expertise.

I would also like to tribute these volunteers by offering a constructive suggestion to my fellow members of the Legislature. This is a suggestion that is not unfamiliar. A former colleague repeatedly suggested that there be an annual report to the Yukon Legislative Assembly of the state of Yukonís emergency preparedness.

Rather than just reporting after the fact on emergencies such as September 11, there should be an annual review and a report as to the state of Yukonís preparedness. Such a report should be made public and be publicly debated. I would encourage the government, the emergency measures organization and my colleagues to consider this constructive suggestion in celebration of Emergency Preparedness Week.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

Mr. McRobb:   I would like to introduce a Yukon senior who, Iím sure all members have noticed, has frequently visited the gallery for many days of this sitting and previous sittings. When I asked Bob Munroe why he comes down here to watch the proceedings, he explained that itís better than watching afternoon TV.

Well, Mr. Speaker, Iím not sure what that says about afternoon TV, but would members please join me in welcoming Bob Munroe to the gallery.

Applause

Mr. McRobb:   Mr. Speaker, I would also like to introduce a member of the Yukon Party executive who is busy preparing for this weekendís annual general meeting. He has also attended many sittings of this Legislature, learning how to ask questions, and I certainly wish him better luck than weíve had. Please join me in welcoming Wayne Hrynuik to the gallery.

Applause

Speaker:   Are there any other introductions of visitors?

Hon. Mr. Lang:   Iíd like to introduce Ben Ryan, who worked with us for this sitting, and say thank you to all the pages who worked very hard in this learning experience for all of us. I wish you all the luck in the future, and thank you very much.

Applause

Speaker:   Are there any returns or documents for tabling?

TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS

Mr. Hardy:   I have two letters to table today, addressed to the Yukon First Nation business partners and labour by the Premier, Mr. Fentie.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   I have for tabling the annual report of the Yukon Judicial Council for the years 2000, 2001 and 2002.

Speaker:   Are there any reports of committees?

Are there any petitions?

Are there any bills to be introduced?

Are there any notices of motion?

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

THAT it is the opinion of this House that

(1) alcohol and drug use among Yukon youth is a persistent problem, both in Whitehorse and in rural communities;

(2) the Yukon Party election platform included a commitment to "refocus the priorities of Health and Social Services to deal with the Yukonís serious alcohol and drug problem as a matter of priority"; and

(3) the Minister of Health has failed to clarify his departmentís priorities for dealing with alcohol and drug problems since he abruptly and unilaterally dismantled the alcohol and drug secretariat and fired its director last December; and

THAT this House urges the Yukon Party government to honour its campaign commitment by working directly with all Yukon communities and First Nation governments as well as Yukon youth and those who provide service to them, to develop a comprehensive and effective strategy to reduce alcohol and drug use by young Yukon people.

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

THAT it is the opinion of this House that

(1) the development of land for residential, recreational, commercial or industrial purposes should be done in a planned and coordinated manner that has the support of those whose existing interests may be affected by the proposed development;

(2) the best way to ensure that all interests are properly represented is through a comprehensive land use planning process that is based on open and meaningful consultation with those affected; and

(3) in the absence of an approved land use plan in any given area, development should not proceed until those interests that may be affected have had an opportunity to take part in fair, unbiased, open and informed consultation; and

THAT this House calls upon the Yukon government to make comprehensive land use planning a priority and, in the interim, adopt as policy a requirement to conduct meaningful public consultations prior to initiating any new survey design or planning work for land development on publicly held lands.

Speaker:   Is there a ministerial statement?

This then brings us to Question Period.

QUESTION PERIOD

Question re: Oil and gas development, Whitehorse Trough

Mr. Fairclough:   My question is for the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources.

Yesterday I listened with interest as my colleague from Old Crow asked questions about land sales for oil and gas in north Yukon. I, for one, was not satisfied with the ministerís answers. The minister said that the disposition is going ahead and that the call for nominations will be issued by mid-May.

Another area of potentially high oil and gas reserves is in the Whitehorse Trough, which is largely within the Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation traditional territory.

Is the minister satisfied with the government-to-government consultation with Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation regarding his departmentís plans to issue a call for nominations in the Whitehorse Trough this month?

Hon. Mr. Lang:   I would like to thank the member opposite.

No, I donít feel that the consultation was up to our high standard. On that basis, the Whitehorse Trough disposition will be put aside. We will be working with the First Nation on a capacity level and hopefully the consultation will lead to an eventual disposition in the Whitehorse Trough. But it has been put off for this time.

Mr. Fairclough:   The minister said their "high standard". As a matter of fact, the minister said that it was going ahead and it was the First Nation that voiced itself and wanted more consultation.

In fact, the minister picked up the phone and called the First Nation yesterday afternoon ó two days before the deadline for First Nation input ó and only after this matter was raised in Question Period. Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation wrote to the minister on April 11 saying that they do not support the current oil and gas disposition process and they are not prepared to proceed with any discussions until a joint memorandum of understanding on oil and gas development is reached.

Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation also strongly recommends that land use planning take place before any new lands are developed.

Is the minister going to follow through with those recommendations from Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation? If so, what efforts are being made to develop a memorandum of understanding?

Hon. Mr. Lang:   The member opposite is dead wrong ó dead wrong about the consultation that we had with the Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation. I have been discussing this government to government, as the process has gone along. This is a common regime. This is YOGA. There is a process in place; we are following that process. As far as a consultation is concerned, we have been consulting with the First Nation, which is Little Salmon-Carmacks. We understand the capacity problems they had in that community, in that government. We have put it off for a 12-month period. We are working with them on a weekly, monthly regime at the moment, and hopefully within 12 months they will have the capacity to work with us to put out a disposition in the Whitehorse Trough. We have not ignored the First Nation, and when the member opposite insinuates that, heís dead wrong.

Mr. Fairclough:   Iím referring to a letter that was written to the minister from the First Nation, so telling me that Iím wrong is telling the First Nation that theyíre wrong. The minister ought to be ashamed of this type of language he uses when, in fact, he knows this from a letter that was written to him.

The minister told the Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation that the deadline is delayed for a year. If the minister had done proper consultation in the first place, he might have avoided this last-minute delay. Itís obvious that First Nations have all kinds of concerns about this governmentís action, and the First Nations, Mr. Speaker, deserve respect. This minister said that there is a process in place and that they are following it, but that is not the case. Now that the minister has delayed the call for nominations in the Whitehorse Trough for a year, will he do the same for north Yukon until proper government-to-government consultation and land use planning have taken place? Will he do those two things, consultation and land use planning?

Hon. Mr. Lang:   Itís too bad we have to play politics with the situation we find ourselves in with these dispositions. We are working solidly with First Nations, government to government with this common regime, which is YOGA and that has been agreed to by all stakeholders. All governments have agreed to the process. We have worked with the First Nation as far as a letter. I receive letters every day from First Nations. I answer the letters; itís government to government. We are working with all First Nations on these dispositions when it concerns their traditional land, and we have a process. Itís a common regime ó itís called YOGA. We have a process, so we are proceeding with that process, and that letter, Mr. Speaker, is just that: a letter of communication between me and the First Nation.

We addressed their concerns and weíve answered those concerns. We are working with the First Nation of Little Salmon-Carmacks to make sure they are comfortable with the disposition when it goes ahead on the Whitehorse Trough. It is a process, Mr. Speaker, thatís all.

Question re:  Economic Development department, deputy minister appointment

Mr. Hardy:   I want to come back to the Premier on the question of the governmentís A and B list of stakeholders. The Premier made it clear he wasnít personally involved in the process of deciding which groups would make the guest list to have input on hiring a deputy minister for Economic Development. Yet the Premier has written to a wide assortment of stakeholder groups and invited them to take part in consultations once the new deputy minister is in place.

Why does the Premier want input from First Nations, business and labour on structuring the department but not on selecting the person who will head that department?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   First off, there are no A and B lists, contrary to what the member opposite is trying to portray. Furthermore, we feel that the structure of the new Economic Development department is vital to its ability to carry out its duties and responsibilities as Yukoners want to see the department do.

This is the highest priority for the Yukon public. It was last year, it was during the election, it is now, and it is the issue that we committed to the Yukon public to address, to fix our very shattered economy in this territory.

The invitations to these groups and to people and to Yukoners and, of course, to First Nation governments are appropriate in this matter because structuring the department is the vital issue that must be addressed by all of us. Hiring the deputy minister ó there is a process here, a process that will culminate in recommendations to me, the Premier, on making the choice of who that person will be. And then we get on with the very hard work of structuring the department and beginning the process of fixing our economy.

Mr. Hardy:   Well, it sounds very interesting how heís shifting the sands of truth.

A few minutes ago, I tabled letters ó

Some Hon. Member:   Point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Unparliamentary language

Speaker:   No point of order. Iíd ask the member to withdraw "shifting the sands of truth". The implication, of course, is that heís not telling the truth, so please withdraw that.

Withdrawal of remark

Mr. Hardy:   Iím sorry, Mr. Speaker. I withdraw it.

A few minutes ago, I tabled letters making it quite clear that some groups are welcome to participate in consultations, but only after the new DM is in place. In effect, what the Premier is saying is, "Youíre on the B team. Once the A team has helped us make the first big decision, weíll be back to you." That is playing favourites, Mr. Speaker.

When he instructed his senior political staffers to get stakeholder input on the DM selection, why didnít the Premier stipulate that First Nations and legitimate stakeholders, such as labour, had to be involved on the same footing as the construction industry?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   The member opposite is confusing two things. The invitation and correspondence to Yukoners, to groups, to the construction community, to the chambers of commerce, to First Nation governments ó that is about structuring the Department of Economic Development.

My only direction was to make sure that I, as Premier, who must make the final decision, am not involved in the process for hiring a deputy minister in terms of screening applicants and providing the recommendations to me to make that decision.

I want to point something out, Mr. Speaker. This government has entered into a process to hire a deputy minister, unlike former governments that didnít even talk to anybody. They simply fired and replaced those firings at the deputy minister level with political appointments.

Mr. Hardy:   Well, I would like to read back a few words of this Premier from Hansard of April 29. He says: "We have committed to a process that involves input from the public and stakeholders, and when hiring the deputy minister there has been a process embarked on that will have input from representative people out there in the communityÖ"

He goes on to say that "we are making best efforts to ensure that the hiring process is representative of the constituency thatís most impacted."

In the April 28 Hansard he said: "The stakeholders for Economic Development are those who are impacted by Economic Development and the decision to create the new Department of Economic Development and, indeed, recruit a deputy minister. The process was set up to ensure that stakeholder participation was there."

My question is, once again: at this moment, what is the status of the DM selection? Has the person been hired and, if not, will the Premier now give new instructions to his new senior political advisors to make sure that stakeholder input truly represents those who have a stake in the economy, not just a few Yukon Party favourites?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   I agree with the member opposite: thatís exactly what I said. Yes, we have a process ó one weíre proud of, a process that other governments would not enter into when hiring deputy ministers, for the simple reason that they made political appointments at that level. We are doing the research to find the best available person, and when we start structuring this department it will include a massive consultation process in this territory to ensure that those who are affected and impacted by our economy are involved. The deputy minister will lead that charge. We are proud of our efforts as a government when it comes to the economy. We are very confident in our ability and capacity to deal with that issue. We have a plan; we have a vision; it begins with creating the Department of Economic Development and hiring a deputy minister. We look forward, with anticipation, to improving our economy on behalf of all Yukon citizens.

Question re:  Kaska First Nation land agreement

Ms. Duncan:   Well, Mr. Speaker, the session is ending just the way it started, with the Yukon Party rewarding friends and insiders. Some First Nations are treated poorly, as we heard earlier in Question Period, and others, such as the Kaska, appear to have the inside track. It helps to be in the Premierís riding, apparently.

The Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources said in the House, on April 14, that the government is getting ready to sell the rights to oil and gas in southeast Yukon ó a land sale. Mr. Speaker, the oil and gas weíre talking about belongs to all Yukoners. It does not belong to the Kaska First Nation in British Columbia.

If itís going to be sold, the money should come to Yukoners. That has always been the position of the Government of Yukon and of the Yukon Party. Will the Premier commit today that he will not sign an agreement that hands resource royalties to the Kaska First Nation from British Columbia? Can he give Yukoners that commitment?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Well, Mr. Speaker, I have to tell you, this is an interesting question coming from the third party, a party that was in government such a short time ago, and in charge of the Yukon Oil and Gas Act, which clearly lays out, in law, what happens to royalties when it comes to oil and gas in this territory. So, Mr. Speaker, I find it a shameful display by a member of this House trying to discredit a First Nation, who are representing and protecting their peopleís interest when it comes to resources in their traditional territory inside Yukon. We are doing nothing more than working with that First Nation based on the recognition of the issues, something the member opposite failed to recognize and failed miserably in getting a concluded land claim in the southeast Yukon.

Nothing we do in a bilateral agreement allocates any resource or any royalties. What we are doing is creating a mechanism to avert litigation, get the federal government back to the table, to conclude unfinished business in the southeast Yukon. The absence of the land claim is a veto to certainty. We are trying to remove that impediment and that veto. Thatís what we are doing with the Kaska Nation.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Speaker, the only thing shameful in the House was that answer from a Premier who promised Yukoners openness and accountability, and he did not directly answer the question. In December of last year, the lead negotiator for the Kaska said one of the main objectives of the current discussions was to obtain a piece of the royalty pie for the Kaska, and that includes the Kaska in British Columbia. We know this item is on the table. It has been said publicly. We know the Premier owes the Kaska for their support. We know he likes to pay his bills ó he does. Thatís how the government operates. Defeated candidates get contracts; campaign manager gets a high-profile board appointment, chief of staff gets a $20,000 raise. Itís all about who has the inside track.

Iíll ask again, and I would like a clear, direct answer from the Premier: will he commit today that he will not sign an agreement that hands resource royalties to the Kaska First Nation from British Columbia? Will he give Yukoners that clear, direct commitment?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Well, I did answer the question. Itís in law. Itís called the Yukon Oil and Gas Act. The member knows that and the member is simply trying to close out the session by getting on the radar screen in the territory politically.

Now, the member has made comments time and time again in this House about this side of the House, this government, paying off massive payments to friends, which is not the case, Mr. Speaker, but I will give you the case of how that member, when in government, treated Liberal operatives and friends.

When it comes to three candidates for the Liberals in the last election, $439,000 was given out to three Liberal candidates during the last election on contracts by that Liberal government. We are not doing that, Mr. Speaker. We are conducting ourselves at an appropriate level as a government to ensure that we can get the best possible people involved. We have created a very talented team, a team with the capacity and credentials to carry out their difficult responsibilities and duties. This is not about raises for friends; this is about dealing with the issues that Yukoners face today ó something the members opposite, when they had the opportunity, failed to do. It is now our chance and our turn. We have constructed a great team that weíre proud of and confident in.

Ms. Duncan:   A team that doesnít answer the questions.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier said that the agreement with the Kaska is being negotiated outside of the land claims box. He has repeatedly talked about being outside legal agreements. Itís a new type of agreement.

Now, we know the Premier has an outstanding bill for their support, and heís planning to pay that bill and meet his election promises. He has also said, outside of the House, that the deal will be announced in a few days ó outside of the Legislature, when itís not sitting.

When the Tetlit Gwich'in transboundary agreement was signed in the early 1990s, the Yukon Party demanded a special sitting of this House to discuss the deal. The charge against the sellout was led by Dan Lang, leader of the official opposition. Will the Premier commit that he will recall this Legislature when the deal is signed so that Yukoners can hear what the details are and decide for themselves whether or not they support it?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has referred to a debt that I have with the Kaska Nation. Nonsense. This side of the House has a commitment to the Yukon public. That is not a debt. Itís a commitment to what we intended to do, if elected government. Now we are elected government and we are delivering on that. We committed to sit down with the Kaska Nation and negotiate a bilateral agreement to avert litigation. That is what this is about. This is not a land claim deal. This is not a land claim negotiation. This is something that the member opposite couldnít grasp when in power ó that there are other ways to try to address the impasses that we face today in this territory.

We have the political will, the plan, the vision to address those impasses and those issues. Thatís what the bilateral negotiation is all about.

Question re: Youth centre funding

Mr. McRobb:   Mr. Speaker, it is often said that youth are our future and we, as members of this Assembly, are responsible for ensuring our youth have access to the proper facilities that can help them develop their skills and allow them to learn how to avoid lifeís pitfalls.

However, less than one-tenth of one percent of all government spending is currently invested directly in our youth, and only a small portion of that amount ever reaches our rural communities. The youth in our rural communities need more. Youth centres in rural Yukon are closing because this governmentís budget does not provide for them.

We know this government will be bringing in a supplementary budget in the fall sitting. Will the Premier loosen his grip on the purse strings enough to help the struggling youth centres in rural Yukon?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Iím always willing to entertain questions from the Member for Kluane. The member should well know that, when sitting down and looking at the issues that youth centres and those types of agencies face today in the territory, we used to use the directorate as the lead agency. What did it accomplish? A sharing of the resources available for the youth in this territory that is more fair. I think thatís a good, positive first step forward, and we will continue to work on the issues that youth face today. They are very important to this government. Thatís why our government and our caucus and Cabinet staff ó and, indeed, many individuals who are working closely with this government are the youth of the Yukon. We find that a good thing.

Mr. McRobb:   This is the same government that handed out a multi-million dollar tax break to miners, yet it has nothing to offer youth centres in rural Yukon. Shame on them, Mr. Speaker. Unfortunately, this neglect will force the closure of youth facilities in our rural communities.

For instance, the youth centre in Haines Junction will shut down at the end of this month because this government refuses to help. This is the only such facility in the whole area. It is administered by the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations. Its chief raised the youth centre issue in formal discussions with this Premier. He asked for funding assistance, yet none was provided. How is this working hand in hand with Yukon First Nations? Where is the full partnership that this Premier speaks of in terms of meeting the priorities of First Nation youth?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   The full partnership is alive and well, and the full partnership is all about the need to develop a strong relationship based on trust and mutual understanding of the issues. I can say, Mr. Speaker, that itís an impossibility for any government to address each and every issue that this territory faces today. What we are doing is taking positive steps forward.

We recognize there are issues in the memberís community and riding, but there are issues in other communities and other ridings. There are issues here in Whitehorse. There are issues that have been long-standing. We are starting to work on those issues. That is how we addressed, with our first budget, the issues of youth today. Hundreds of thousands of dollars, Mr. Speaker, are being put toward the youth of the Yukon. We just finished, through the youth investment fund, spending thousands more on positive activities for our youth. We are doing our work. We intend to do even more.

Question re: Liquor Act review

Mr. Cardiff:   The Yukon Party promised to conduct genuine public consultations on matters of importance to Yukoners, with an emphasis on proposed legislation.

Yesterday we were told the government was postponing changes to the Liquor Act. Is the government planning to embark on a whole new consultation process? If so, who is on the A list to be involved in such consultations?

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   I believe the message yesterday during general debate was, in fact, that we are taking some time over the course of the next year to address some of the recommendations that were made during the review that was held over the last year or two years and, from there, weíll have a better understanding of where we would like to go.

Mr. Cardiff:   One of the recommendations in the review was to allow for a diversity of licensed establishments, including neighbourhood pubs. The review stated that times have changed and the public has clearly articulated what they want.

Why is the government resisting that recommendation? Is it because of pressure from existing licensees to maintain the status quo?

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   I donít believe weíre resisting anything right now. Weíre open, weíre accountable, and weíre taking some additional time over the next year and the course of the following year to look at what the recommendations were. Thatís not to say weíre not going to adopt all of them or some of them. We want to take some time to look at all the recommendations, and we will be reporting back to this Legislature within a year. Thatís what we committed to and thatís what we will do.

Mr. Cardiff:   Another recommendation suggested a more flexible, commonsense approach to licensing for clubs. It even mentioned golf courses as an example. Can the minister explain why she is answering questions about the review instead of the minister responsible for the Yukon Liquor Corporation? Does it have anything to do with that specific recommendation?

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   The reason I am answering these questions is because I am the alternate for the minister responsible for the Yukon Liquor Corporation. Under specific directions from the Conflicts Commissioner, it was recommended that I field questions to do with the review.

Question re: Government consultations

Mr. Hardy:   My question is for the Premier. Mr. Speaker, what weíve seen in the past few weeks is a new government unravelling before our eyes because its actions donít match its words.

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Mr. Hardy:   Yes, I laugh too. This is a government that promised respectful government-to-government relations. This is a government that promised to make First Nations full partners in the economic life of the Yukon, yet we have seen no fewer than three ministers of this government putting that agenda in jeopardy because they simply do not understand what meaningful consultation with First Nations is all about.

What are the Premierís plans to repair the damage to his governmentís relations with First Nation governments caused by the ministers of Energy, Mines and Resources and Environment and Community Services?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Well, Mr. Speaker, thatís a hard act to follow. What a humbling experience sitting here, listening to the leader of the official opposition make the inference that this government is unravelling. How unfortunate that the member uses up time in Question Period ó a time to be constructive, proactive and positive about this territoryís future ó in this manner.

The damaged relationship that the member speaks of is an opinion of the member. We said that we would make First Nations full partners. That is what we are doing. This is not something that is going to happen overnight, in a week, in a month. Itís going to take a lot of hard work considering the long, long history in this territory of how government and the First Nationsí relationship has been. We are changing that. We are changing it because it means that that change and that partnership will result in positive benefits and return to the Yukon public now and in the future.

So, we are doing it, and we will continue to do it.

Mr. Hardy:   Well, the Premier sure sounds defensive.

I am sure that the Premier himself has been very busy behind the scenes putting out fires his ministers have started. Here is just a short list: Carcross-Tagish First Nation, the Minister of Community Services; Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation, the Minister of the Environment; Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation, among others, the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, which we heard about today. What steps will the Premier be taking this summer to bring his ministers up to speed on First Nations relations? Or will we see a Cabinet shuffle before the next sitting?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Mr. Speaker, there is absolutely no point in rebutting the opinion coming from that side of the House, and, no, there will not be a shuffle.

Mr. Hardy:   Well, we know the Premier on that side does not really like answering our questions, though he did answer that one. Itís difficult for him to tolerate the opposition on this side. But the Premierís hands are far from clean on this. The buck stops at his desk, but what have we seen under his leadership? Inside the House, a government that cannot or will not answer the most direct questions, a government that treats members on this side of the House as if their concerns and their constituentsí concerns donít count. Outside the House, we have seen a government of broken promises and program cuts followed by flip-flops when the heat is on, a government of backroom deals, side deals, A-list stakeholders and B-list stakeholders, lots of attention lavished on one or two First Nations and not even the required level of government-to-government consultation with other First Nations with legal agreements in place. Will the Premier make it a priority during the break between sittings to get his government back on track and start living up to both the letter and the spirit of his partyís promises to Yukon people in the last election campaign?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Well, first, Mr. Speaker, let me point out that the answers that this side of the House has been providing are answers that the members opposite do not like. So the constant comments coming from the side opposite is an attempt to rectify their inability to be an effective opposition. This government, upon taking office, offered the members opposite the opportunity to participate in creating the budget in an all-party forum, sat down with them and made the offer. I received a letter from the leader of the official opposition ó no uptake on that offer. The results are what we have seen in this sitting.

I will say that, with the highest level of credibility, this government keeps the offer open. If the members opposite want to work with the government, the offer is there.

Mr. Speaker, we are on track; we are building that relationship. That relationship is something that is based on trust, respect and understanding. These things donít happen overnight, and there will be trouble, there will be problems, but our government has the political will, the intestinal fortitude, the vision and the plan to deal with them.

Thatís what weíre doing today and weíll continue to do it throughout our mandate.

Speaker:   The time for Question Period has now elapsed and weíll proceed to Orders of the Day. However, before proceeding to Orders of the Day, the Chair would ask all members to join in thanking the following pages for their excellent service and help and their good humour during this session.

From Porter Creek Seconday School: Amy Ball, Lisa Beauchemin, Brooke Martel and Kate Smolne. From Vanier Catholic Secondary School: Jennifer Bergsma, Crystal Pratt, Ben Ryan and Helen Wale.

Thank you all.

Applause

Special adjournment motion

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Speaker, I move

THAT the House, at its rising, do stand adjourned until Thursday, June 12, 2003, when it shall hold a special sitting in Mayo, Yukon, to honour that community on its 100th anniversary;

THAT the Speaker set the time at which the House shall meet on June 12 and give notice of that time to all members;

That the Speaker cause an Order Paper for the special sitting on June 12 to be produced and distributed to all members;

THAT the House shall meet prior to June 12 if it appears to the satisfaction of the Speaker, after consultation with the Premier, that the public interest requires that the House meet;

THAT the Speaker give notice that he is so satisfied, and thereupon the House shall meet at the time stated in such notice and shall transact its business as if it had been duly adjourned to that time; and

THAT, if the Speaker is unable to act owing to illness or other causes, the Deputy Speaker shall act in his stead for the purpose of this order.

Speaker:   It has been moved by the government House leader

THAT the House, at its rising, do stand adjourned until Thursday, June 12, 2003, when it shall hold a special sitting in Mayo, Yukon, to honour that community on its 100th anniversary;

THAT the Speaker set the time at which the House shall meet on June 12 and give notice of that time to all members;

That the Speaker cause an Order Paper for the special sitting on June 12 to be produced and distributed to all members;

THAT the House shall meet prior to June 12 if it appears to the satisfaction of the Speaker, after consultation with the Premier, that the public interest requires that the House meet;

THAT the Speaker give notice that he is so satisfied, and thereupon the House shall meet at the time stated in such notice and shall transact its business as if it had been duly adjourned to that time; and

THAT, if the Speaker is unable to act owing to illness or other causes, the Deputy Speaker shall act in his stead for the purpose of this order.

Motion 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.

Do members wish a brief recess?

Some Hon. Members:   Agreed.

Chair:   We will now stand in recess for 15 minutes.

Recess

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

Public Service Commission ó continued

Chair:   Committee of the Whole will come to order. We will continue on with the First Appropriation Act, 2003-04 with Vote 10, Public Service Commission.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Mr. Chair, I would like to take this opportunity to provide some additional information arising from the general debate yesterday on the Public Service Commission operational budget.

There were a number of questions during general debate on classification issues. I reported yesterday that there were 341 positions currently awaiting classification. The backlog was less than 100 positions on February 28, 2002, as a result of a push to clear up as much of the backlog as possible in order to be prepared for renewal changes to take effect on April 1, 2002. I also stated that there is an average six-month timeline to complete a classification review; however, this timeline does not apply to positions requiring classification for recruitment.

These positions are given priority over regular classification review requests. The 2003-04 estimates show a 26-percent decrease in expected classifications. This is because the forecast for 2002-03 of 1,631 classifications included 329 devolution-related classification reviews and 315 renewal-related classification reviews. These are expectations to the regular classification activity in the organization and, therefore, are not reflected in the 2003-04 estimates. The Public Service Commission has gained one additional classification analysis through the Northern Affairs program transfer; however, it will take some time for the individuals to learn the Yukon government system and be able to work at full capacity. Classification appeals are estimated to increase for 2003-04 in response to the devolution of the Northern Affairs program employees.

The current practice is to combine classification appeals for generic positions to make effective use of classification hearings. The cost of a classification hearing is approximately $3,000 and includes the expenses of an arbitrator brought in from Vancouver.

Public Service Commission staff spend about three days for each hearing ó two days of preparation time plus one day at the hearing. The Public Service Commission estimates an additional 12 appeal hearings for the coming year.

I would also like to provide some additional information in response to a question about what the Public Service Commission is doing regarding training and development of our employees.

A committee of deputy ministers on human resources was formed in 1999 to examine the leadership management and human resource issues facing the Government of Yukon. The committee developed and oversaw a series of leadership initiatives to address our organizationís ageing workforce and the increasing retirements affecting leadership in the Yukon government.

They based these initiatives on research about contemporary management and leadership issues facing organizations and other established leadership programs. These initiatives include: creating a Yukon government leadership forum to develop leadership abilities within our organization; creating a management and leadership speaker series involving guest speakers from the academic, private and public sectors who can share current research findings and solutions; establishing a coaching and mentoring program to support the application of learning in the Yukon government leadership program and to create positive and supportive relationships among employees across the organization, as research has shown that positive working relationships are a key determinant in providing high-quality service to the public; re-establishing the career assignment program by sponsoring Government of Yukon employees to participate in the Government of Canadaís executive development program; and continuing to participate in the Governor Generalís tour.

The first Yukon Government Leadership Forum was launched in the fall of 1999. It began with the Deputy Ministers Committee on Human Resources creating a desired leadership profile for the organization. Fifty applications to the program underwent a leadership effectiveness analysis as one component of the selection process. The Deputy Ministers Committee on Human Resources made the final selection of 25 participants in the program.

The first Yukon Government Leadership Forum had three components: 1) enhancing personal leadership skills by developing the required leadership behaviour; 2) management theory and exploration of issues that public sector leaders face; and 3) coaching to support the application of these leadership skills and knowledge in the workplace. Twenty-four employees graduated from this program in June 2001. Graduates provided deputy ministers with an overview of their learning suggestions on how to improve the program and identified recommendations for changing the culture of the Yukon government.

Suggestions for the program had been implemented prior to the second intake this past fall of 2002. A diversity in leadership components and a formal coach training program were added to the program, and changes were made to improve the selection process.

Twenty-five participants are currently participating in the second intake of the program. They have completed the first three learning modules. This group is expected to graduate in June 2004. The Yukon Government Leadership Forum has been developed to meet the specific needs of the Yukon government. It is highly regarded by participants, senior leaders with the organization and those focused on the study and development of leadership nationally and internationally.

Other organizations are asking us to share our approach and experience in developing and delivering a leadership program with similar components.

I would like to take this opportunity to provide an update on the represented public service plan. Consultation with the Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation and YTG staff has been completed, and a final draft of the traditional territory plan has been forwarded to the chief and council. Planning is in the final stages for the written territory plan as well. Many initiatives in both the Yukon-wide and the four traditional territory plans completed so far are being implemented with considerable success.

First Nations and Yukon government departments have cooperated to put on several career fairs to encourage young First Nation students to consider public service careers. Opportunities for secondments to either First Nation or Yukon government positions are actively promoted. These employee exchanges are very beneficial to both governments that participate.

Several First Nation staff members are also participating in the selection process for positions in their traditional territories, and there have been many information sessions offered in communities to inform potential candidates of the selection process and encourage First Nation applicants to apply for positions.

Currently, 11.3 percent of the Yukon government workforce is First Nation. First Nation people make up about 22 percent of the total Yukon population and almost 15 percent of the working-age population ó 15 to 64 years.

To date, almost 1,200 government employees have participated in land claims training. This has had considerable impact on Yukon government public serviceís understanding of these important agreements and on the history and valuable cultural contributions of Yukon First Nations people in this territory.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Hardy:   I just have one question, and then we can go into the lines. I asked a question on April 22, 2003. The question was how many people worked for this government as of December 31, 2002, and how many vacant positions existed. Iíd like to repeat that question with a change of date. My question is how many people work for this government as of April 1, 2003, and how many vacant positions existed and if they could just supply the written information instead of verbal, it would be fine.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   We can supply that in writing.

Mr. Hardy:   Thank you to the minister. Weíre ready to go to line-by-line.

Chair:   Is there any further general debate? We will then proceed with line-by-line.

On Public Service Commission

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

On Finance and Administration

On Administration

Administration in the amount of $490,000 agreed to

Total Finance and Administration in the amount of $490,000 agreed to

On Corporate Human Resource Services

On Staffing Administration

Staffing Administration in the amount of $960,000 agreed to

On Employment Equity

Mr. Hardy:   Could the minister just give me some detail on this, please?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   The 2003-04 budget has decreased by $140,000 for the corporate human resource service branch. This is due to staffing changes, all recruitment costs being charged to departments, and a decrease in funding for the First Nation training corps.

Employment Equity in the amount of $301,000 agreed to

On Classification/Competition Appeals

Ms. Duncan:   Sorry, Mr. Chair. Did I hear the minister correctly that, although there is currently a backlog in excess of 300 classifications and individuals awaiting competition appeals, there are no additional resources planned to help deal with this backlog?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   At the present time, we have gained one additional staff from devolution, and there are going to be funds available for some more hired during the summer.

Classification/Competition Appeals in the amount of $38,000 agreed to

Chair:   Is there any discussion regarding prior yearsí activities?

Total Corporate Human Resource Services in the amount of $1,299,000 agreed to

On Employee Compensation

On Administration

Administration in the amount of $1,141,000 agreed to

Total Employee Compensation in the amount of $1,141,000 agreed to

On Staff Relations

On Administration

Administration in the amount of $565,000 agreed to

On Yukon Government Employees Union/Public Service Alliance of Canada

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   This activity shows a decrease of $55,000. The Commission no longer budgets for 75 percent of the presidentís salary, and this was a part of the contract negotiations.

Yukon Government Employees Union/Public Service Alliance of Canada in the amount of $145,000 agreed to

On Yukon Teachersí Association

Mr. Hardy:   Is it the same reason for this one as well?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   This activity shows a decrease of $9,000, or 13 percent. This is a reduction of arbitration costs paid to the Yukon Teachersí Staff Relations Board, based on a projected use.

Yukon Teachersí Association in the amount of $59,000 agreed to

On Long Service Awards

Ms. Duncan:   I am surprised that this line shows a decrease. Is this strictly volume, in that there are fewer long service awards? I didnít think that was the case, because they have been going up every year. Also, when we discussed this last, I had asked if there was a commitment to continue the awards at the same level, given that we also had an influx of new employees with devolution. So why has that line item been reduced? I hope we are not changing the award format.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   We are not changing the format. There is a decrease of $50,000, or 32 percent to the long service awards budget. This is a result of fewer recipients scheduled for awards. In 2001-02, there were 449. In 2002-03, there were 324. The estimate for 2003-04 is 285.

Chair:   Is there any further debate regarding long service awards?

Long Service Awards in the amount of $105,000 agreed to

Total Staff Relations in the amount of $874,000 agreed to

On Workersí Compensation Fund

On Workersí Compensation Payments

Workersí Compensation Payments in the amount of $2,660,000 agreed to

Total Workersí Compensation Fund in the amount of $2,660,000 agreed to

On Human Resource Management Systems

On Administration

Mr. Hardy:   Mr. Chair, could I have some detail on the increase?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   This budget shows an increase of $278,000, or 164 percent. This is as a result of the addition of two new positions to this program, as well as full-year funding for two of the other positions.

Ms. Duncan:   Does HRIS work yet?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Yes. There are currently six full-time positions dedicated to the human resource management systems office. The key objective for the office is to develop a clear picture of what kinds of human resource information is currently available across government as well as understanding of the kind of analysis that would be useful to assist departments in strategically planning for their human resource needs. The goal is to develop a strategic approach to human resources ó the governmentís single largest expenditure ó and provide information that can be used by management to support decisions that can contribute to improving the workforce in areas such as leave management or recruitment.

The office is working closely with human resource staff throughout government and providing support to them by offering useful, practical information through accessible reports and by providing ongoing support of operational needs.

Administration in the amount of $448,000 agreed to

Total Human Resource Management Systems in the amount of $448,000 agreed to

On Policy and Planning

On Administration

Administration in the amount of $415,000 agreed to

Total Policy and Planning in the amount of $415,000 agreed to

On Employee Leave and Termination Benefits Adjustment

On Employee Leave and Termination Benefits Adjustment

Employee Leave and Termination Benefits Adjustment in the amount of $2,891,000 agreed to

Total Employee Leave and Termination Benefits Adjustment in the amount of $2,891,000 agreed to

On Staff Development

On Administration

Administration in the amount of $992,000 agreed to

On Operations

Operations in the amount of $1,151,000 agreed to

Total Staff Development in the amount of $2,143,000 agreed to

On Recoveries

Recoveries cleared

Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Public Service Commission in the amount of $12,361,000 agreed to

On Capital Expenditures

On Finance and Administration

On Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space

Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space in the amount of $40,000 agreed to

Total Finance and Administration in the amount of $40,000 agreed to

On Staff Development

On Computer Training Lab Upgrade

Computer Training Lab Upgrade in the amount of $16,000 agreed to

Total Staff Development in the amount of $16,000 agreed to

Total Capital Expenditures for the Public Service Commission in the amount of $56,000 agreed to

Public Service Commission agreed to

Yukon Development Corporation

Hon. Mr. Lang:   I am pleased to introduce the main estimates for the Yukon Development Corporation.

As members will note, the budget represents a $1 appropriation. This is because the corporation is a self-financing entity.

Earlier this week, members of the Assembly received a presentation from the chair of the corporation reporting on its activities, performance, and the challenges and opportunities ahead. Many questions were addressed in this discussion. The $1 vote does not represent any reduction in the priority placed on energy infrastructure, on safe, reliable and cost-effective electrical services, or on consumer energy solutions.

In the last fiscal year, $3 million was contributed to the extension of the rate stabilization fund. As an agent of government, the corporation takes account of our governmentís goals in its plans and activities. The priority areas we are addressing initially are promoting energy efficiency and developing electrically-related infrastructure. The Yukon Development Corporation is also contributing to the implementation of other platform commitments, such as ensuring the effective management and operations of Yukon Energy, reducing Yukonís dependency on diesel for electrical energy generation and promoting the development of Yukonís own energy resources to achieve energy self-sufficiency.

I would like to briefly highlight some of the initiatives underway. With respect to promoting energy efficiency, new activities include 2003 Energy Star fridge exchange and energy efficiency appliance initiative; an oil furnace inspection pilot project; public education on wood burning practices and installation technique training; green building design services for new buildings; assessment of earth energy potential for Haines Junction, Whitehorse and other communities; applied research and development for off-grid renewable energy technologies jointly with Natural Resource Canada; expanded efforts of facility energy; cost-savings in households, businesses and governments through technical services and new technologies such as heat pumps, lead lighting and so on. The bottom line is that these and other energy efficiencies and alternative renewable programs and initiatives are helping to reduce the cost of living, doing business and the provision of public services throughout the territory.

With respect to developing electrical-related infrastructure, activities underway include: work to commission the new Mayo-to-Dawson transmission line, energy corridor planning and assessment for Stewart Crossing to Carmacks power transmission that would join WAF and Mayo-Dawson networks together.

With respect to effective management of Yukon Energy, activities underway include various measures being taken by the board of directors to enhance corporate governance in a proactive manner. Special audit training with the Auditor General has occurred and a revised committee charter is being prepared.

With respect to development of Yukonís own energy resources, activities underway include: small-scale hydro resource assessment program on a phase basis starting with the Mayo-Dawson energy supply region; wind resource assessment program for small and large scale sites around the territory; geothermal resource assessment program focusing on earth energy potential within Yukon community boundaries; off-grid solar, PV resource and technical assessment program with Natural Resource Canada.

The third consecutive national energy efficiency award received by the Yukon this very week is testimony to our home-grown talent and expertise and an extraordinary record of initiatives and effective partnerships between the private and public sectors, spearheaded by this corporation.

 

Mr. McRobb:   I donít think we are going to be very long in this department. It was only Monday afternoon when we questioned officials for about two hours. I am still waiting for the tractor-trailer load of information that I requested to arrive, but I donít expect it right away.

I would like to ask the minister, though ó there were plenty of questions asked to officials in the area of governance: the contact made with the minister, direction that was given or not given, et cetera. Does the minister concur with the responses put on the record by the officials?

Hon. Mr. Lang:   Yes, I agree with the member opposite. We certainly havenít had any order-in-council. As the minister, Iíve just been overseeing Yukon Development in a proactive way.

Mr. McRobb:   I would like a straight answer to the question, Mr. Chair. Does the minister concur with responses from the officials in regard to the governance questions I asked on Monday afternoon? Iím referring to the areas of the contact made between officials and the minister, and any directions provided or affirmations of existing directions?

Iím asking the minister if he concurs with the responses the officials gave.

Hon. Mr. Lang:   Well, fundamentally, we work through the chair of the Yukon Development Corporation, and so thatís how any direction would go. The only direction Iíve given was what was in the Speech from the Throne. So, certainly, I deal with the chair.

Mr. McRobb:   It looks like the tutoring all the ministers have received from the party faithful is paying off, Mr. Chair. Even when I make a second request for a straightforward, unqualified answer, none is still to be had. So, congratulations to the minister on his lessons, for doing so well on the lessons he was given on how not to answer questions in this Legislature. My hat goes off to him.

But itís contrary to what Yukoners expected of this government, and itís contrary to what this government campaigned on.

In the news recently were some areas of energy efficiency in the good work the corporation and its affiliates are doing. We know the International Wind Conference is coming up later this month, and there are a number of good-news stories, right from the Yukon in that area. We know there are a number of initiatives that are underway with regard to the green power initiative and the greening of power production, and so on, in the territory.

Itís my recollection that all of these efforts date back to the huge cash infusion provided by the previous NDP government in the fall of 1998 as part of the $16-million energy program that was announced. That program provided about $10 million for the rate stabilization initiative and it provided another $6 million for green power for wind energy ó thatís the commercial-size turbine atop Haeckel Hill ó and $1 million for energy efficiency.

Mr. Chair, in my view, that investment has been very productive and has produced a lot of results. The hard-working employees of the corporation really deserve a lot of credit for what they have done with that investment from the government. They have earned awards for the work done, for the achievements made, and the Yukon has really made a name for itself in the whole area of energy efficiency and wind energy and so on.

So, I would like to ask this minister what his government plans to do to further headway in these areas, other than ride on the coattails of a previous government as he did the other day in his press release that didnít even mention the previous government that really kick-started these whole areas by providing $6 million. What is his government going to do?

Hon. Mr. Lang:   In answering the member opposite, whatís our government going to do? Our government is going to continue with the rate relief program that was set in place until 2005. Weíre going to work with the efficiency of energy. Weíre going to work with the oil furnace inspection pilot project. The public education on wood burning will continue. Green building design services will be expanded. Assessment of earth energy potential for Haines Junction ó which should interest our member opposite, part of his riding ó and applied research and development for off-grid renewable energy ó so we are expanding. Weíre working with the corporation. Weíre not directing the corporation; weíre working with it.

As far as the member saying that we are devoid of ideas or devoid of direction or our questions are vague or theyíre not there or theyíre whatever, I say to the member opposite that he has got to get his ears cleaned out. Weíve been answering questions here for 36 days, and now theyíre saying we donít participate in parliamentary debate. This is what weíre doing today.

And as far as the member opposite talking about energy, he understands ó or maybe he doesnít understand ó how the Yukon Development Corporation works. Yukon Development Corporation is owned by the taxpayers of the Yukon. Everybody in the Yukon owns a little chunk of Yukon Development Corporation. It in turn owns Yukon Energy Corporation. That creates the energy that makes the investment in Yukon Development Corporation move ahead. That indirectly funds the rate relief that we do, the projects that weíre working with. Now, part of that is the Yukon Utilities Board.

That is an independent organization to make sure that we have people out there to have checks and balances on that corporation. We are working with the corporation.

The member opposite might find that humorous but this is not humour; this is business. This could be foreign to him but it is the backbone of the Yukon ó the energy of the Yukon is very important. It is very important to the member opposite that it is successful and profitable and that it works for all Yukoners. That is why we as politicians, and we as the government, are committed to work with Yukon Development Corporation to make sure that it stays profitable, strong and successful.

As far as promising grandiose projects six years down the road, I wonít have those commitments. I will say to you that we are working with the corporation to expand the programs theyíve had in the past and that the taxpayers in the Yukon get a good return on their investment and the ratepayers get a break on their light bills.

In answering that question, I recommend that he reads up on the Yukon Development Corporation and get some background so that in the future when he asks questions, he will be more knowledgeable.

Mr. McRobb:   Whoa ó itís a good thing this is the last day, Mr. Chair, otherwise I donít know if there would be an end in sight.

I have a few suggestions for this minister. First, I think he should investigate exactly what some of the bodies and corporations and the Utilities Board and so on ó what roles they play in this whole sector. Maybe in the fall we can have a constructive dialogue. Second, the minister did not answer the question. I clearly asked him what financial commitment he is making in the area of green energy, wind energy and energy efficiency.

His answer was basically that theyíre riding the coattails of what previous governments put into place. So once again, Mr. Chair, I want to congratulate the experienced party faithful who have tutored the troops. Once again, we see a demonstration of how not to answer a question. I donít expect weíll be getting anywhere today with answers like that, Mr. Chair, so Iím prepared to stand down in general debate on this corporation.

Ms. Duncan:   Thanks, Mr. Chair. I just have one question for the minister, and itís following up on his comments about the business and it being a business ó Yukon Development Corporation and Yukon Energy ó and owned, of course, by the taxpayers of the Yukon. Now, the member opposite is very familiar with the balance sheet and has often referred to it in these 36 lengthy days of debate. In terms of the balance sheet of Yukon Development Corporation, I would dare to suggest itís fiscally healthy, as we would expect it to be. Is it the ministerís intention to have Yukon Development Corporation declare a dividend to the government, given that theyíve been pleading poverty for these 36 days, or would the money be put into the rate stabilization fund?

Hon. Mr. Lang:   Those are commitments and decisions that would be made on a yearly basis and, at this juncture, we certainly are not planning on taking a dividend, but weíre not committing it to rate relief, either. We have a rate relief program in place, and so I would have to say to the member opposite that that is financial planning and, at this moment, weíre not planning on taking the dividend and weíre not planning on expanding the rate relief, which is already in place until 2005.

Ms. Duncan:   At this point, can the minister tell me when he might be taking a look at that balance sheet and expecting a call or a visit from down the hall from the Finance minister to say, "Excuse me, Iíd like some of that money for schools, or the Government of Yukon?" Could I have a clearer idea of a time frame, please?

Hon. Mr. Lang:   Those are budget things that go on all the time. The Minister of Finance, of course, has some input in that. As far as the guy down the hall coming to see us, thatís not on the screen at the moment. Right at the moment, weíre not planning on a dividend and weíre not planning on expanding the rate relief that we have in place until 2005.

Ms. Duncan:   Weíll watch for the Minister of Finance, thanks, Mr. Chair.

Chair:   Is there any further general debate?

We will then proceed line by line.

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

On Gross Advances

Gross Advances in the amount of one dollar agreed to

On Less Internal Recovery

Less Internal Recovery in the amount of one dollar agreed to

Total Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $1 agreed to

Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for Yukon Development Corporation in the amount of one dollar agreed to

Chair:   There is no capital budget for Yukon Development Corporation.

Yukon Development Corporation agreed to

Chair:   We will continue on to Highways and Public Works.

It has been suggested that we reconvene at 3:00.

Recess

Department of Highways and Public Works

Chair:   We will continue on with Bill No. 4, First Appropriation Act, 2003-04, in Vote 55, Department of Highways and Public Works, with general debate.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I am pleased to introduce today the operation and maintenance and capital budgets for the Department of Highways and Public Works.

The department consists of the following branches: corporate services, information and communications technology, transportation, supply services, property management and French language services.

The total operation and maintenance budget for 2003-04 fiscal year is $65,672,000. This amount is partially offset by $3,752,000 in recoveries. Expected revenues total $876,000. Overall, the 2003-04 estimates decrease by one percent, or $918,000.

The operation and maintenance budget for corporate services is $3,391,000. This includes the deputy ministerís office, human resources, finance and administration and policy and communication branches.

Personnel costs for the branch totalled $2,282,000. Other costs total $1,191,000. The O&M budget for the information and communications technology branch is $6,240,000. This is partially offset by the $449,000 in recoveries. This includes $3,171,000 in personnel costs and $3,069,000 in other costs. Other costs in the information and communications technology branch include network and communication costs, application hardware support costs and software licensing fees. The O&M budget for the transportation division is $39,140,000. This is partially offset by $1,855,000 in recoveries. This amount includes $16,024,000 in personnel costs, $23,116,000 in other costs include employee travel, equipment use, communications, project contracts, utilities and supplies.

The transportation division is made up of the following activities. The aviation and marine branch is involved with planning, development and operation of the territoryís seven airports. The mechanical operations section is responsible for ensuring that the equipment necessary to maintain the highway system is properly maintained. Transportation services regulates truck companies in the territory, operates two weigh stations, implements the National Safety Code and fosters safe vehicle operations. The highways maintenance section undertakes winter and summer road maintenance activities.

The O&M budget for the supply services branch is $2,423,000. This includes $1,768,000 in personnel costs and $655,000 in other costs. The main areas of activity in supply services are material management, publishing services, employee transportation services and the delivery of intergovernmental mail.

The O&M budget for property management is $12,941,000. The property management agency is funded through fee-for-service agreements with those program departments that own buildings. The budget funds management and leasing of commercial space for buildings, which are jointly occupied by more than one department.

The operation and maintenance budget for the French language services is $1,537,000. This is offset by $1,374,000 in recoveries from Heritage Canada. Personnel costs are $1,132,000. Other costs covering translation services, supplies and materials are $220,000. A $185,000 transfer payment is allocated to l'Association franco-yukonnais. Further information on departmental activity and expenditure forecasts are contained in the 2003-04 business plans for the property management agency, fleet vehicle agency and the Queenís Printer agency.

The total capital budget for the Department of Highways and Public Works for the 2003-04 fiscal year is $44,717,000. Nearly half this amount, or $22,231,000, is recoverable.

Highlights of the Department of Highways and Public Works capital budget include $1,746,000 for corporate computer equipment and systems, $1,700,000 for Connect Yukon, and $141,000 for multi-departmental mobile radio system capital maintenance and planning for its replacement.

Property management division has a capital budget of $4,511,000 covering capital construction and maintenance projects, building development overhead and project management services. Government has committed $2,523,000 for transportation facilities and equipment.

Shakwak funding for the fiscal year is $20 million. This funding is totally recoverable from the federal government.

The strategic highway improvement project funding, commonly known as SHIP, is in the amount of $2,200,000. This funding is 50-percent recoverable from the federal government and will be utilized for the rehabilitation of the Teslin River bridge.

Reconstruction and maintenance projects will take place on the Alaska Highway, the Klondike Highway, the Campbell Highway, the Dempster Highway, the Tagish Road and the Top of the World Highway. Funding has also been allocated for some of the territoryís bridges and airports. The total transportation division capital budget is $35,553,000.

This concludes the overall view of the 2003-04 budget for the Department of Highways and Public Works. At this time, I would be pleased to address any questions the members may have.

Mr. McRobb:   I wish to thank the minister for his opening comments.

Itís unfortunate, Mr. Chair, that we have less than two hours to review this department ó it includes the O&M and capital budgets for the Department of Highways and Public Works ó especially since this is the first time weíve had the opportunity to review both of those budgets together since the former Department of Community and Transportation Services was realigned through the previous governmentís renewal program.

Of course, the name has changed from the Department of Infrastructure to Department of Highways and Public Works now.

I hope to get through most of the questions I have this afternoon, and there are plenty of them. Itís unfortunate that I am not able to stand up and congratulate the minister for the great budget he has put together with his colleagues for this department and express favourable comments that generally everybody is satisfied with the condition of the highways and the airports and the rest of the public works and so on, but itís my hope at least that the minister will be listening and will hear the concerns that we have on this side of the House, and he will be a voice for the members on this side at the Cabinet table. Hopefully we will see improvements reflected in the next budget from this government. If that happens, I will be the first to stand up and express my congratulations to the minister.

I see that the Premier is nodding in agreement. I know that he understands how it is, Mr. Chair.

I would like to, first of all, ask the minister if there have been any changes to the structure of this department as a result of direction from the minister or this government.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   There has been no change in our structure from what has been outlined through the renewal process.

Mr. McRobb:   I noticed there was a decrease in the FTEs, the full-time equivalents, in the employee positions for the department. Could the minister explain what those reductions are?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   The decrease in the FTEs of 2.04 are to do with indeterminate FTEs and 2.05 in auxiliary, term or casual FTEs. The total reduction is 4.9 FTEs in the following program areas: 1.7 FTE reduction in corporate services, a vacant position; an administrative assistant was transferred to the department through renewal but was never filled. The position will not be required in the future. Co-locating administrative support for the transportation and deputy ministerís office resulted in a reduced need for this casual backup. A 0.8 FTE reduction in the information and communication technology, a term network operator, will not be renewed after the incumbent went on secondment to the Department of Education. The 1.9 FTE reduction in transportation reductions were, in casual administrative assistants, .5, and fewer casual road crew positions of 1.4. A 0.9 FTE reduction in supply services branch, a vacant position resulting after renewal, and the asset controlling was eliminated. A 0.04 was an FTE of just miscellaneous changes.

Mr. McRobb:   We noted the decrease in FTEs from the information provided by the department and, from the figures Iím looking at, it appears thereís a decrease of about five FTEs for the department.

I would like the minister just to confirm that, if he could. And Iíll also ask ó since thatís a total figure, it doesnít indicate whether there have been more cuts and then some additions bringing the total up to that figure. So Iíd like to ask him how many FTEs were done away with, because thereís a potential for some to be added. For example, when we see a 55-percent cut in the budget for the Drury Creek maintenance camp, itís conceivable, Mr. Chair, that there were some casualties with respect to FTEs at that particular camp.

Thereís a slight increase to the Whitehorse station. Perhaps thereís the potential for some employees to be added there. Thatís what Iím getting at, Mr. Chair. How many FTEs were cut, and how many added, and what exactly is the total?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   For the member opposite, there have been no FTE cuts in either of those camps. We are making up the differential through contract services in those particular areas.

Mr. McRobb:   The minister didnít answer the question I had about the total number of cuts, as well as the balance. Can he maybe revisit that question?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Iíll read it again: the decrease of indeterminate positions, as provided, was 2.4 indeterminate and 2.5 auxiliary and term or casual.

Mr. McRobb:   I believe those figures represent the overall balance for this department. I thought I was clear in my question. Iím asking for the total cuts and total additions that lead up to that answer. Can the minister give those other two important parts of the equation Iím looking for?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   We had made no specific cuts; nobody has lost their jobs, per se. I will advise ó to address the member opposite in his question, I can provide him with a written submission of what that total of pluses and minuses is.

Mr. McRobb:   All right, Mr. Chair, I will look forward to that written reply.

This department, even though it has been scaled back from the old Community and Transportation Services, still contains a number of branches and areas ó even within the transportation branch there are plenty of issues.

One of the issues that has been discussed lately is the potential for an international railroad passing through the Yukon, connecting Alaska with railroads in the south.

What is this government doing to promote the establishment of an international Canada/U.S. joint commission to conduct a feasibility study of constructing a railroad such as the one I described?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   To answer the member oppositeís question, we are actively working with our neighbours to the west in Alaska, trying to explore the option of getting our federal government to get onside with this commission. We are making every effort we can to get the federal government to join with the U.S. federal government on developing this commission.

We are also working with the Alaskan state government on ways and means of doing a preliminary study. We are actively involved. We have provided letters of support for this particular aspect and we think it has a valuable economic benefit for the Yukon.

Mr. McRobb:   Members will recall a motion introduced by the government a couple weeks ago that never even got to a vote because the government House leader called for adjournment about three hours early. It called upon all members to support a motion for greater cooperation on international efforts on projects such as this. Mr. Chair, itís a shame that it never did get to a vote that particular day. I know that, as speaker representing the official opposition, I put my comments on the record and was very clear about supporting such efforts. Itís unclear as to the real reason why debate was shut down, but we had said our piece, and Hansard reflects that clearly. So itís a bit of a question mark as to this governmentís real commitment toward developing international relations toward projects such as this.

I understand the government is making efforts toward developing a memorandum of understanding with Kwanlin Dun First Nation on the rights-of-way for the White Pass & Yukon Route railroad. What similar efforts is it making with the other First Nations? Members will recall we had to amend the motion because the government motion was worded such that other First Nations along the corridor were excluded from being part of the discussions. So Iíd like to follow up on that with the minister. What other First Nations is this government working with to develop a memorandum of understanding with respect to the transportation corridor for the railroad to Skagway?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I believe weíre looking at all the First Nations who have traditional areas that cross that line between ourselves and the border, including those in British Columbia.

Mr. McRobb:   For the record, could the minister identify the names of those other First Nations for us?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   For the member opposite, I will attempt to provide it on the condition ó and I clarify ó that I may miss one, okay? I understand weíll be dealing with the Carcross-Tagish, the Champagne and Aishihik, I would imagine the Tahltan and possibly the Taku.

Mr. McRobb:   All right, Mr. Chair. I would expect we will be receiving written information coming out of the discussion this afternoon. If there are any others the minister is aware of later on, we invite him to make mention of it in that written response.

On the White Pass & Yukon Route railroad right-of-way, what progress has the government made with respect to preserving this corridor? People are wondering what parts of the former railroad this government envisions it would include in the City of Whitehorse. We can recall several spur lines in town, Mr. Chair, and we know they were pulled out of the ground years ago, and that land has since been developed. For instance, we mentioned that the Tim Hortons donut shop is built on top of where one of those lines used to run.

What is included in this corridor that is envisioned by the minister?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Negotiations are underway with White Pass. I am unaware of the specifics of what is included and what is not included.

Mr. McRobb:   All right. Perhaps this is an area to which the minister can return with some written information. Would he agree to do that?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Yes.

Mr. McRobb:   All right. Sticking with railroads, what is the government doing to explore the feasibility of B.C. Rail providing rail service to the Yukon?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   We are obviously looking at the results of the commission before we start looking at connecting with B.C. Rail.

Mr. McRobb:   I assume that the minister is talking about the joint international commission. As I understand it, where this has left off with the federal government there is still an outstanding request for financial contributions so Canada can participate. Can the minister speak to that? Can he bring us up to date on what is happening? Is the Yukon participating in this commission? Is Canada participating in it? Can he explain where things are at?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I believe that I touched on it earlier, but we are trying to convince the federal government to get involved in the process. As the member opposite is aware, the Yukon government doesnít have the wherewithal and the front resources to engage in this commission. As it is an international aspect, it has to come from the federal government to the federal government. We are doing what we can to induce the federal government to get involved.

Mr. McRobb:   What request has been made to the federal government? Can the minister give us a financial amount, and can he also table any correspondence between him and the federal government on this matter?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   There has been no amount of funding provided by the territorial government toward this project. This is federal project funding.

I believe the amount being requested for the commission is $6 million U.S.

Mr. McRobb:   Mr. Chair, itís my recollection that Alaska had voted in support of a financial commitment in that denomination and that the federal government had yet to respond to the Yukonís request for its contribution. But I believe the Yukonís request is substantially lower than the $6 million U.S. figure, Mr. Chair.

So Iíd like to ask the minister ó if he doesnít know now, he can simply provide it along with the other written information he will get back to us with. How much is the federal government being asked to contribute toward this study and the work of the commission? And can he commit to providing us with copies of the correspondence between the federal government and this government?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   The actual amount of money that the federal government has been requested to join in the commission is equal to the U.S. side, on their particular aspect, but I will endeavour to provide the member opposite with the information requested.

Mr. McRobb:   Okay. That would be appreciated, Mr. Chair. On our own little railway here in the City of Whitehorse, the trolley, what steps has this government taken to preserve the roundhouse?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   We are working with the City of Whitehorse and the Kwanlin Dun First Nation on this particular subject as we speak.

Mr. McRobb:   Has anything concrete been done? What are the plans for the next year, and what is the expected cost of this endeavour?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   As I indicated earlier, we are in discussion with the three parties to discuss the issue of the roundhouse, and I canít provide any numbers yet, because we havenít decided on an option.

Mr. McRobb:   Well, there you go, Mr. Chair. Another qualified answer. My hatís off to the tutors once again.

What can the minister provide in the way of an explanation on how the government plans to expand the trolley and the trail service from Wal-Mart to Schwatka Lake? Can he bring us up to speed on that?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   The expansion of the trolley is probably a four-to-five-year plan. We are looking at expanding a portion of the trolley this year to just outside of the park area, where the city will be enhancing it this year. We will be working with the City of Whitehorse and the Kwanlin Dun First Nation on all aspects of both laying the railway and where the trolley will finally go.

Mr. McRobb:   I would appreciate any information the minister can provide. I wonít ask for anything specific, but Iíll definitely look through what he does provide and would appreciate anything on this matter.

I want to turn to the area of infrastructure of ports. What is this government doing to ensure the Yukon has tidewater access to Skagway and to Haines?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   At the moment we are investigating our options with the Skagway port.

Mr. McRobb:   How is that being done? Are there personnel from his department or is there a consultant? How is that being done?

The minister didnít explain anything about the port in Haines. Can he respond to those questions?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   We are not doing anything that I know of with regard to Haines.

Mr. McRobb:   Well, thatís disappointing because the port at Haines does provide a strategic export opportunity for regions such as the Kluane region ó even the Klondike region, through the Top of the World Highway, at least ó for exporting product to other markets. It was part of the campaign promise from this government, so itís rather disappointing to witness the minister standing up and saying they are not doing anything.

What about the first part of my question? I asked how the department was making efforts to make headway with the Skagway port. Can he explain that?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   We are reviewing previous studies on this particular issue. Most of the work is being done in-house.

Mr. McRobb:   All right. The same question with respect to the potential port in the Beaufort Sea: what is the government doing?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Again, we have nothing situated up at the Beaufort Sea at the moment.

Mr. McRobb:   Back to Skagway for just a moment ó the government spoke about a common user port facility. Can the minister just elaborate what his view is of such a facility?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I believe the reference being made is to more than one person utilizing the same facility.

Mr. McRobb:   And what would the purpose be of such a facility? Obviously, there is potential for commercial purpose and industrial purpose. What about personal use and so on? Can the minister just provide a little more detail about the purpose of the facility?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I believe itís strictly for commercial and industrial use.

Mr. McRobb:   I can see the minister down there now with his stop sign blocking any Yukoners who want to launch their boats at the facility. It will be interesting to see how that one works out.

Switching now to airports, the government said it would be conducting its comprehensive review of the operation, management and development of Yukon airports to meet future needs such as paving the Dawson City airport. Can the minister explain how he intends to fulfill that promise?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Our review is still in process and, depending on the results of that, we will indicate where we are going to go.

Mr. McRobb:   Okay, so the minister is saying it is under review. That sounds familiar ó one of the favourite lines of the previous government, as I recall.

Can the minister explain which department is taking the lead on the efforts to promote affordable international and domestic air access to the Yukon?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Can I just ask the member opposite to repeat the specific question, please?

Mr. McRobb:   The government promised that it would be promoting affordable international and domestic air access to the Yukon. My question is: which department is taking the lead on that effort?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   It is a combination between Tourism and us.

Mr. McRobb:   I did have a few questions in this area. I see the minister liaising with the Minister of Tourism and Culture. Perhaps it would be more expedient to request a written explanation of progress made in this area and how the government intends to fulfill this promise. Would the minister agree to that?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   I have been listening to this debate and I think it is important that we clear up the record here and make sure that the public is fully aware of the positions that the government side has and presents and the positions that the opposition has ó especially the official opposition.

I want to go back to the debate around the Alaskan-U.S. railroad issue, because there are some somewhat disturbing responses or comments coming from the official opposition and the Member for Kluane.

Iíll go back to the budget debate.

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Point of order

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

Mr. McRobb:   On a point of order, Mr. Chair, I would appeal to the Premier to allow us to use our time to get through this department instead of winding the hands of the clock to allow him to provide his version of events. This department has a number of areas in it. There are several questions we have to get on the record. This is our time today. If he wants to provide his overview, there is lots of time this summer for him to do so.

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   On a point of order, Mr. Chair, there is no point of order, merely a dispute between members and an opportunity for a lecture on poor time management.

Chairís ruling

Chair:   Order please. I would encourage members not to make extraneous comments while making a point of order. And there is no point of order. The position is, however, noted.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Mr. Chair, Iím merely putting on the record information that is important to the public, and it is about an extremely important initiative to the Alaskans and to the Yukon. First, I want to relate it back to the motion and the debate of that day, where the official opposition and the third party chose not to participate in the debate. Now, earlier this afternoon ó

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Point of order

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

Mr. McRobb:   On a point of order, Mr. Chair, the Premier said the official opposition chose not to partake in a discussion of that motion. I have said that I represented the official opposition and clearly spoke at length on this motion. As a matter of fact, I spoke for 18 minutes while the mover of the motion spoke for three minutes. The Premier shouldnít be allowed to give his version of history, especially when itís not correct. The record speaks for itself.

Chairís ruling

Chair:   Order please. Thereís no point of order here. Thereís a dispute among members.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Thank you, Mr. Chair. That is exactly what Iím doing in speaking to the record and correcting the record.

The member opposite ó and I know the Member for Kluane has good intentions. However, there was a situation that is something that develops in this House from time to time and it has a great deal to do with positioning, and thatís fine, but I want to correct the record.

The member said that the official opposition was in full support of the motion we brought forward. Unfortunately, that day, the opposition benches chose to do something that was not constructive.

Now, the member states, here in the pages of Hansard, that the motion as it was structured is only half-baked. Itís a half-baked motion, and this is in regard to someone alluding to the fact that they support something, which would mean that they would stand up in this House and vote for a motion. He accuses the government of shirking its responsibility ó how the government is finger pointing toward others ó when the realities of this motion were all about the American request to the Government of Canada to participate in a bilateral commission with Washington and Ottawa in regard to the feasibility work necessary for this project ó the railway linking Alaska to the Lower 48.

Again, finger pointing was mentioned, saying that our government is taking a step backward from its responsibility when, in fact, our government has not only discussed this issue with the Consul General of Canada, Mr. Roger Simmons, who is very supportive of this ó a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Graham, who is onside with this, our MP and our senator working diligently on this issue, trying to urge the federal government, along with the Yukon government, to live up to that request by Washington and participate in the bilateral commission.

Furthermore, we have written to Ottawa requesting that very fact in support of the request from the Americans for Ottawa to participate. This motion is also about relationship building and the member, in taking that, and letís think about that in context, states that the member feels somewhat embarrassed by this invasion of responsibility, implying that this government is again shirking its duties. And this comes from someone who says they support something. The motion not only needs more research but we need to take more responsibility as a government in what we have control over and what we should participate in. Thereís another comment of questionable support. And it leaves off, Mr. Chair, with this ó this motion can be improved readily after some research by whoever wrote it or by somebody else, I presume, to make it better and it could come back to this Legislature.

Mr. Chair, I submit there was no support for the motion. The official opposition and the third party did not participate in debate. Theyíre the ones shirking their responsibility and their duty to Canadians, to Yukoners, to our American friends in Alaska.

There was a motion on the floor, there was no participation, and the members did not live up to their responsibility as they have been elected to do and as they are paid to do.

Furthermore, there has been a great deal of work done in this area and the problem is not so much that the Yukon government is not doing its part. The problem is that the opposition is not doing its part and our federal Liberal Ottawa government is simply not living up to the standard of a federal government as it should.

I just wanted to put these things on the record so everybody understands where the official opposition really was coming from when it comes to this project of a rail link, Alaska to the Lower 48.

Mr. McRobb:   What a bunch of useless rhetoric, Mr. Chair. It does nothing to add to the constructive debate this afternoon. It was merely the Premierís version of events ó cherry-picking from Hansard. He is holding up excerpts that one of his high-priced staff sent down to him so he could get on the record.

That is a wise use of those taxpayersí funds that provided the big raise in salary to those staff who have nothing better to do than research Hansard and get the Premier down some quips like that, by completely highlighting only sections that the Premier put on the record.

Mr. Chair, I invite Yukoners to visit the Web site of the Yukon Legislative Assembly and refer to the Hansard for the motion on that particular matter, and they themselves can read what was said. I clearly put on the record that we are in support of the intent of the motion.

But the motion itself was half-baked because the Yukon Party didnít do its homework. It finger pointed at everybody and it refused to take responsibility for any action itself.

Those weaknesses were completely reflected in what we just heard from this Premier. Again, he was trying to escape his responsibility. He was finger pointing. It is the old blame game.

Now, you know, from governments past, perhaps this governmentís type of behaviour would be acceptable, but not for a government that campaigned on improving the decorum in the Legislature, that campaigned on improving relationships and building cooperation and compromising with all members in the House. I ask you: is what you just heard from this Premier representative of the leader of a government that you would expect would be fulfilling those types of promises to the Yukon public?

Obviously the Premier is trying to cover for his minister and the failings of all the other ministers over the past 35.5 days in this spring sitting, Mr. Chair. Heís trying to patch it all together now. Heís trying to cement together all the loose ends. Heís too embarrassed to let the record stand as is. There would be too many sleepless nights all summer long unless he didnít intervene and try to glue it all together. Thatís unfortunate, because it really leads to less opportunity for constructive debate here this afternoon. It just shows how thin-skinned the Premier really is, and heís trying to cover for the dismal performance of his government over the course of this sitting.

As a matter of fact, perhaps outside in the hall, after the proceedings are over, the Premier and I would agree there was one area where his subordinates did excel and that was in the area of how theyíve learned not to answer questions, Mr. Chair.

That brings us back to the old party faithful, how this government hauled them in here, along with all the fresh troops, and they read the riot act and said, "Hereís how not to answer questions." Thereís such a thing as a qualifier. Make sure you qualify everything. The Education minister every day stands up and says, "I canít predict the future." Well, heís got no crystal ball, heís got no vision, and that goes for practically every one of them, Mr. Chair. They have learned very well how not to answer questions.

In addition to that, I would give a gold star for how they have learned to block the flow of information to the opposition because never before has a government put a stop order on briefing notes for budget briefing sessions, until this Yukon Party government came into power.

That is not being accountable. That is escaping accountability. Ask yourself: why does this government not want the opposition to have the information it needs to hold this government accountable? Why would they ever block that information, Mr. Chair? Why?

Well, thereís only one reasonable conclusion. Iím sure everybody can connect the dots, and that is ó

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Mr. McRobb:   The Member for Lake Laberge is laughing. Perhaps he might be the only exception, Mr. Chair, but itís rather simple, and that is that theyíre trying to withhold information. Theyíre trying to escape accountability.

Unparliamentary language

Chair:   Order please. The statement "trying to escape accountability" is not in order. The member is imputing motive. Carry on, Mr. McRobb.

Mr. McRobb:   Well, for any government to practice such measures, Mr. Chair, it would be to escape accountability. All governments need to look at what this Yukon Party government is doing, and say no, thatís not what we want to do, thatís not where we want to go, weíre going to rise above that, weíre going to be open and accountable, weíre going to give the opposition members the information they request, and weíre going to be big enough and responsible enough to stand up to the questions they ask, and weíll move on from there.

But whereís that attitude, Mr. Chair? Itís nowhere to be seen. Instead, we get what could be termed "deathbed repentance" by this Premier to stand up and try to glue together all the loose ends and cover the dismal performance weíve seen over the last 35 and a half days. Well, itís simply too little, too late.

Mr. Chair, too little, too late. I call upon the Premier ó heís laughing over there. He thinks this is funny. If he thinks this is what Yukoners want, call an election now. Will he do that?

Chair:   Order please.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   In the context of answers, as weíve been providing all through this sitting, not only verbally but on paper, right from day one, let me answer the Member for Kluaneís question about calling an election now. No.

Mr. McRobb:   Well, there you go, Mr. Chair. The Premier is running and hiding from accountability at the hands of the electorate. First, he runs and hides from accountability by the opposition; now theyíre running from the electorate. Itís going to be interesting to see how they handle themselves over the summer, Mr. Chair. Weíll have to check very closely those travel plans and schedules of these ministers, because it wouldnít be surprising to see them booked out of the Yukon all summer long, trying to avoid the voters who put them here in the first place, because they canít handle the tough questions.

All right, Mr. Chair. I see a sober look upon the members opposite. Theyíve realized the gross errors theyíve made, and they realize that repentance is a little bit out of their reach, and maybe we can move back to business now, after that session in revisionist history.

I want to carry on with the Dawson bridge. This government campaigned on building a bridge crossing the river in Dawson City.

It said it would do so when it becomes economical. I would like to ask the minister: what plans does he have to provide the information he needs in order to determine whether itís economical?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I donít even know how to follow that.

The anticipated cost to build a bridge at Dawson is approximately $25 million to $30 million. There is a substantial amount of environmental work that has to be done. There has been some work previously done on the project and, once that is complete and once we have the seismic information, we will be able to look at the possibilities for the future.

Mr. McRobb:   I would concur with the minister that it is a bit of a letdown to actually be discussing subject matter within the department. My apologies for getting the opposite side all worked up on this. But, to continue on, there is $150,000 in the budget for the Yukon River bridge environmental assessment and pre-engineering. Can the minister explain what this is about?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Itís for a environmental and seismic testing.

Mr. McRobb:   Why did I know that the minister would respond saying that?

I am looking for more of an explanation. Can the minister explain how this work will fit in with the governmentís overall objective of proceeding with this bridge? How many other studies and assessments are necessary for this bridge?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   For the member opposite, we are following the processes for the development of this type of project. I canít tell him the exact number, but we are getting through the process.

Mr. McRobb:   I know the member worked in the bureaucracy, Mr. Chair, but heís at the political level now and is minister for this department. He should be providing a greater explanation than what weíre receiving.

Is the minister considering building this bridge using a private/public partnership agreement?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Weíre not in a position to even discuss that possibility. We havenít made it through the environmental assessment. We havenít made it through to find out whether, in fact, we can build a bridge across the river.

Mr. McRobb:   The minister shouldnít let technical details get in the way. Itís a government campaign promise to build a bridge, so Yukoners are expecting them to carry through, whether one is technically possible or not, Mr. Chair.

Let me ask: does the government have a policy for private/public partnerships, or P3s? Does it have a P3 policy?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   As far as I know, we donít have any specific policy on P3s.

Mr. McRobb:   The previous government referred to a P3 policy. Is this government following that old P3 policy?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Iím not specifically aware of the P3 policy that the member opposite is discussing.

Mr. McRobb:   Is the minister aware of any plans by his government to develop a P3 policy?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Weíre obviously looking at all venues and avenues whereby the Yukon can benefit from infrastructure buildings and things like that. Obviously we have to look at all these things.

Mr. McRobb:   Obviously we will have to wait until the 24-day sitting in the fall to follow up on these matters, but Iíll flag it for the minister, because itís a matter we will be returning to. I would expect greater detail in the fall.

Turning now to telecommunications, which is also part of this departmentís responsibilities, whatís the government doing to ensure the Yukon has access to up-to-date information in telecommunications systems?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Our department is looking very closely at all venues and avenues of telecommunication for the Yukon. We are currently investigating the replacement of our MDMRS system and looking at the options of both cellular, satellite and radio controls. We are also working with other departments with regard to broadband and providing Internet service to our rural communities.

Mr. McRobb:   Those are all known items, Mr. Chair. What new information can the minister give us about any progress on developing a partnership in which to develop specific cell sites in the Yukon? Can he give us a little more detail on that?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   We are in the process of dealing with a consultant on examining just those options.

Mr. McRobb:   It has been mentioned here before, Mr. Chair, about the potential for a partnership involving this government and other governments, as well as industry, First Nations, et cetera, to strike a partnership to develop the territoryís communications infrastructure, at least in some specific locations throughout the territory ó for instance, perhaps a cell site in Watson Lake, Teslin, Haines Junction, Destruction Bay, Burwash, Beaver Creek, and possibly Carmacks and Dawson as well. Those communities ó for example, if they had cell service, would provide basic infrastructure to a lot of Yukoners and most road traffic through the territory.

Iíve spoken to industry representatives about this, Mr. Chair, and everybody is waiting for this government to do something. Whatís happening in this area? What does this minister envision?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   As I mentioned, we are investigating the options available to us for telecommunications in the Yukon, and we are also investigating the options of partnering with First Nations and other industry in providing that service. In providing the service, there is a good opportunity that the rural communities will benefit from cell service and/or satellite service.

Mr. McRobb:   Is there a report being prepared? If so, when might it be available?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Yes, we are working on a report from the consultant. We expect it sometime in the fall.

Mr. McRobb:   Can the minister undertake to provide it to us when he gets it?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   When a final copy is ready, I will provide him with the first copy.

Mr. McRobb:   Maybe he can sign it, Mr. Chair, but what comes to mind ó Iím sure the first copy will have big "draft" stamped on it and he will circulate it to his A list and then the B list and, of course, we, in the opposition are on the C list so we wonít get it until a much longer period of time. By then, the "draft" will be erased and it will be the final version. I donít expect too much from the minister in this regard. I would sure appreciate a draft copy of the report so it would advance my knowledge by quite a number ó

Some Hon. Member:   Point of order.

Point of order

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

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The member opposite is imputing false and unavowed motives of the member opposite, and he is totally incorrect.

Furthermore, he should pay attention to his personal appearance here in the Legislature.

Chairís ruling

Chair:   Order please. The Chair cautioned earlier about extraneous comments made during a point of order.

Further to that, making a personal attack is clearly out of order and I would ask that the member withdraw the remark.

Withdrawal of remark

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Which remark, Mr. Chair, was out of order?

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   That the member is not conforming to the standards set in the Legislature. If it does not meet with the Chairís approval ó I withdraw the remark, Mr. Chair.

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Chair:   I heard that as an unqualified withdrawal of the remark.

Mr. McRobb:   I think the record will show that it was a qualified apology by the Member for Klondike, but we, on this side, have learned not to expect much more from that member so weíll just ignore him and move on to much more constructive matters, Mr. Chair, and perhaps over the summer he can review the House rules so that he understands where he went wrong.

I want to return to the area of telecommunications. The government made some promises in the area of e-government initiatives. Can the minister explain what he is doing?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   At the moment, we are looking at ways of getting access to government services and ensuring that the appropriate security is in place so that people can access it, especially in rural areas, and that process is underway. Hopefully we should have something for him by next year.

Mr. McRobb:   The government promised that it would implement practical e-government initiatives to improve and enhance public access to government services while preserving privacy and security of personal information. So, weíll be following up on that matter in the fall. Iíll flag it for the minister at this time.

Whatís he doing to improve the Internet bandwidth trunk to the territory? Can he explain that for us?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Through the process, all of the rural areas have received their Internet process except for Faro and Ross River and, in some cases, I understand there has been some intermittent service with regard to Marsh Lake. On that particular end, it would be a different program. The Department of Economic Development, through Industry Canada, would be handling that broadband service.

We are working with Northwestel, and we understand that, by the end of their fiscal year-end next year, they will complete that service for Faro to Ross River.

Mr. McRobb:   Iím not sure if the minister is on the right page in his briefing notebook, Mr. Chair, but Iím referring to the Internet trunk to the territory, not some specific communities in the territory, and my question was: what is the government doing to improve the Internet bandwidth on that trunk?

To help the minister out, Mr. Chair, there have been previous discussions with former government ministers and myself. Thereís potential off the west coast to tap into some large Internet trunks that are available out there and are only a few hundred kilometres away from the City of Whitehorse, for instance. I know there were some efforts in that area. Can the minister bring us up to speed on that?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Well, weíre working on these options with Northwestel and NMI Mobility ó or I guess itís Bell Mobility now.

Mr. McRobb:   The minister mentioned the MDMRS as part of what they were considering in the overall development of the territoryís communication industry. I noted there was a contract to Northern Avcom in the amount of $137,000. Can the minister provide for us some detail on that?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Weíll have to get back to the member opposite on that specific item.

Mr. McRobb:   Just a couple of energy-related questions. Whatís this ministerís department doing toward the development of a territory-wide electrical grid? Itís an infrastructure question; his department is responsible in that area. What is its involvement in achieving that objective?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   The lead department on this particular issue is obviously Energy, Mines and Resources, through their energy department.

Mr. McRobb:   Well, that doesnít answer my question, when I asked what role his department will have. Perhaps the minister can revisit that and include a more detailed response in the written information we expect. Letís turn now to the area of highways, which is probably where the bulk of responsibility for this department lies.

First of all, on the Top of the World Highway, can the minister explain what he is doing to upgrade that highway?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   We are looking at base course repair and replacing some of the BST that has failed on the Top of the World Highway. We expect that most of this work will be done between kilometre 76 and 85. In addition, I recently returned from Juneau where I spoke with the Department of Transport individuals regarding shared services issues with regard to transportation. They also have work planned for the Top of the World Highway correlating on their side of the road. They will be working on improving their sites over some of the more treacherous areas. Of course, that is dependent on their funding coming through.

Mr. McRobb:   I assume that the minister is referring to what is known as the Taylor Highway, which is the American section. Can he endeavour to return to us with some detail on just what is being done in the way of upgrading from the States side on that highway once that information is known?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   As I indicated before, it is depending on the approval of their funding. Once we are aware of what that is, I will contact the individual in question and provide him with the specific dollar values.

Mr. McRobb:   What plans does this government have to upgrade the Dempster Highway?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   We are looking at trying to reconfigure some of the side slopes and back slopes on the Dempster Highway near the Northwest Territories border. The aspect here is that we hope to eliminate and reduce the severity of the snow drifting in that particular section.

Mr. McRobb:   What plans does it have to upgrade the Klondike Highway?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Weíre looking at slope stabilization on kilometre 349, which is approximately six miles south of Carmacks. This work will be done to either repair the failing slope or relocate the highway.

Weíre also looking at repairs on the Fox Lake slide repair area. We are doing some geotechnical analyses to determine the cause, and the remedy of the slide area and reconstruction will be done.

Mr. McRobb:   What work is it doing on the south Alaska Highway?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Weíre looking at reconstruction of the Alaska Highway between Whitehorse and Haines Junction. In 2003-04 weíll work on the Champagne and Cracker Creek area for about $2 million. Weíre looking at intersection improvements at various locations along the Alaska Highway and weíre looking at work to be done ó street lights in Upper Liard.

Mr. McRobb:   The Campbell Highway ó what are the governmentís plans to upgrade that road?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Mr. Chair, weíre looking at completing some spot repairs on various portions on the Campbell Highway. Weíre looking at completing the Bottle Creek slide repairing near Carmacks airport, an icing culvert at kilometre 195, and spot repair between 15 and 110 kilometres.

Mr. McRobb:   All right. And what are the governmentís plans to upgrade the Nahanni Range Road? I believe that it is Highway No. 10?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   There is no capital upgrading on that particular road.

Mr. McRobb:   There isnít? Wow ó thatís a bit of a shocker, given the previous concerns levied to the former minister by the members from Watson Lake and Klondike. Now, I know the plans of the Tungsten mine are somewhat in doubt, but there is always the possibility that it could become fully functional on very short notice. Can the minister outline for us ó I understand there is an agreement with the N.W.T. government, or perhaps the mine itself, for maintaining that section of road. If there is something in writing, can the minister provide a copy to us? Otherwise, can he give us an overview of what is happening?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   The Government of Yukon maintains the maintenance on the road from the junction to the Northwest Territories border. We have a contribution agreement with the mine itself for the road that takes place between the mine and the border.

Mr. McRobb:   What is being done toward developing a resource road in southeast Yukon?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   The resource road is still very much under review.

Mr. McRobb:   Can the minister give us an update on where heís at with regard to the MOU and certainty with LFN and the Town of Watson Lake?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Thatís still under negotiation.

Mr. McRobb:   Weíre not getting too much information here this afternoon. Letís turn to the Shakwak project. Can the minister give us a progress report with respect to any progress on getting the next appropriation from the United States for Shakwak?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   We recently met with the State of Alaska Legislature and transportation department employees. Weíve asked for their support. Weíve asked for a letter of support from Governor Murkowski to be sent to the commission to continue funding for the Shakwak over the next six years. Weíve asked for an extended process of $18.8 million. Weíve also indicated to them that itís important for them to notify Washington that Shakwak funding actually expired in 2002, so there was no actual funding last year, so the continuation would have to be addressed. We have strong indication from them that they will make that process, and they will provide a letter to us. A copy will be forwarded to us. They deem the completion of the Shakwak project to be as important to them as it is to us.

Mr. McRobb:   All right. Thereís some resurfacing work going on this summer north of Beaver Creek, toward the U.S. Customs station. Can the minister indicate whoís paying for that? Are these Shakwak funds or is it out of the Yukon government budget?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   It would be under our budget.

Mr. McRobb:   Yes, that is what I understand, Mr. Chair.

How big of a project is this? There is talk about extending it to be a three-year project in the amount of perhaps $6 million. Can the minister give us a project overview? How much money does he anticipate it will require?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   We can provide the member opposite with the details at a later date.

Mr. McRobb:   That would be appreciated, Mr. Chair, but just in terms of an overview, I am looking for the minister to indicate: is this a one-year project, a two-year project, a three-year project? Just how big of a project is this?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   At the moment this is just a one-year project.

Mr. McRobb:   So, is the minister saying that the resurfacing of the sections that are already reconstructed of the Shakwak project ó the section involved is only the section north of Beaver Creek? Is that what he is saying?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I will respond to the member opposite with the complete details of this project.

Mr. McRobb:   That raises a number of questions, but weíll leave it at that for now.

I would like to first of all say that I give my unqualified support toward smoothing out those reconstructed sections of the Shakwak Highway. Something that Iíve been mentioning since day one in here, Mr. Chair, is that itís a huge shame to see such an expensive road deteriorate as it has over the years. Anybody driving between, say, Burwash Landing and Beaver Creek will be familiar with what Iím talking about. A series of frost heaves and broken pavement all the way to the U.S. border really is a shame to behold, given the amount of money spent reconstructing that highway. I have seen pictures provided by highway personnel where cracks in the pavement have formed overnight, large enough that the personnel themselves can climb into the crack in the road and be completely consumed by it. Thatís how major some of these problems are.

We have been warned about how the road could fall apart overnight and present a sudden and immediate danger to travellers, without warning. These problems arenít due to problems in the construction or quality of work; they are inherent with geophysical ground conditions and temperature changes in the area. We know itís mostly permafrost and resurfacing the road will certainly be a major effort to smoothing out that section of highway.

The concerns I expressed in Question Period about the priorities of the government were, in fact, why it was bumping the six-kilometre section west of Champagne in order to proceed with what appeared to be a multi-year project north of Beaver Creek.

In terms of benefit to Yukoners and the number of vehicles travelling, there is no doubt which one has the higher numbers. Although I support this reconstruction on the Shakwak, it makes me wonder if perhaps it couldnít have been held off another year while we finished what is a treacherous section that is sandwiched between two modern sections of highway. That was the basis of my concern, so it related to the priorities in the schedule of these projects.

I want to ask the minister about the section that L&R Contracting was working on. That is the one where the contractor defaulted on the contract and the bonding company took over. Can he give us an update on what is happening? Is the bonding company tendering the contract? Is it making arrangements? Just what is happening?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   We are currently just finalizing negotiations with the bonding company. The bonding company and the Government of Yukon have reached a tentative agreement for this particular project. We anticipate that we will retender this project by the end of this month, the work will be completed this year, and weíll add some additional BST work to it to ensure the project fits in with the work that was supposed to be done in the first place.

Mr. McRobb:   Weíll be looking forward to seeing what develops on that particular section. It has been a concern as to what happens in the meantime and who is maintaining it. Can the minister give us an update on that? Is the Haines Junction highways maintenance station involved in the maintenance of that section? What can he tell us?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   We are currently working with our highways maintenance crew to ensure that the process is safe for the public and we anticipate, with the government taking over the bid aspect of this particular job, putting a substantial amount of money into the member oppositeís riding this year.

Mr. McRobb:   Of course, this is American money and we appreciate it.

That jogs my memory. During the supplementary budget debate, we talked about the signage and the political statements on signage. What has the minister come up with? Has he thought it over? Does he really intend to repeat the practice of the former government putting large names of himself and the Premier up on these signs, or will he provide more accurate messaging such as how the U.S. taxpayer is paying for this project? What has he come up with about this matter?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   To answer the member oppositeís question, we plan to put up the normal signage thatís required. However, I will not be putting up a sign with my picture on it, or anything like that.

We will put up the sign that says that this road is under construction and itís being done for these reasons, in that particular venue. I do not think, as I said, it will have a picture of me or the Premier on it, but I think we have to do as other jurisdictions do in providing that signage.

Will you see my name on the bottom of the sign? Iím not sure thatís going to be part of the process.

Mr. McRobb:   All right. I do want to thank this minister for sparing Yukoners the trauma that would otherwise happen had the pictures been part of the signs, and Iím sure I speak on behalf of all Yukoners in making those comments.

Unparliamentary language

Chair:   Order. It could be interpreted, Mr. McRobb, that a statement such as that is drawing attention to oneís personal appearance, and I would ask the member not to make comments such as that and to withdraw the remark.

Withdrawal of remark

Mr. McRobb:   Well, thatís quite a stretch. All right, Iíll withdraw that one, Mr. Chair.

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Mr. McRobb:   The Minister for Energy, Mines and Resources is chirping from the back bench there, Mr. Chair. The other members ó we can tell that we are in the last half hour of debate here and the mood is rather light. But there are other questions yet to ask and we would like to get them in.

I know that the leader of the third party is anxious to ask questions as well. We will see if we can accommodate everybody this afternoon.

I want to ask one more question on the Shakwak project and that is about street lights. It has been an issue in Haines Junction ó on the west end of the intersection in town ó that there should be street lights installed. This section is part of the Shakwak section.

Now, street lights were installed in the community of Burwash Landing last year for quite a stretch. I am not ashamed to say that I was part of the input that the department received on that. I recall, in a briefing with the department, making a case for how the street lights should be extended to the road leading to the subdivision. Thatís fine ó that was done. I donít have a problem with that.

But what about in Haines Junction, which is a part of the Shakwak project? There is a need for street lights from the intersection leading to the west from town.

Why wouldnít it be possible for the Shakwak project to find some money to install some street lights along that section?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   The street lights for that section of the Shakwak werenít included in the specifications for that job in that particular area.

Mr. McRobb:   Mr. Chair, I didnít quite catch that. Could the minister maybe provide a little more explanation to back up that response?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   The need for street lights wasnít identified in the specifications for that particular area; however, we will take that under advisement for future jobs if future funding does come available.

Mr. McRobb:   Since weíre on what is essentially a riding issue, there is another one. The Takhini River subdivision lies about 50 kilometres west of Whitehorse on the Alaska Highway. Who maintains the roads in that community? Is it the Yukon government?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Yes, it is the Yukon government.

Mr. McRobb:   Well, there seems to be a lot of confusion about who is responsible for maintenance, because there is a concern about not enough maintenance being done on the roads in that community. Champagne and Aishihik First Nations does pay property tax to the Yukon government and people do expect the roads to be maintained to a proper standard. One of the concerns is the road section between it and the pickup point for the school bus, which is on this side of the Takhini River bridge. The total stretch of highway there is probably about half a kilometre or so. Can the minister undertake to endeavour to improve maintenance efforts in that stretch and in the community itself?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   For the member opposite, weíll take his request under advisement.

Mr. McRobb:   I do have many other questions but, being realistic, I donít expect there will be an opportunity to ask them, so what I would like to do is present them in writing to the minister. Would the minister endeavour to respond in detail to written questions that I might send his way?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Iíll make best efforts for the member opposite.

Mr. McRobb:   I do thank the minister for that, Mr. Chair, and I want to thank him for the undertakings he has agreed to in response to my questions and concerns. I look forward to receiving the material and Iíll provide an opportunity for the leader of the third party to ask some questions now.

Ms. Duncan:   Iíll be very focused, as I understand we have limited time remaining.

The $20-million infrastructure fund from Ottawa ó have we submitted a detailed outline as to what the Yukon would like to see funded under that fund, and will there be consultation before we submit, if we have not already done so?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   At this moment, we are uncertain as to what the exact terms are for the $20 million. And, no, we havenít submitted anything to Ottawa as of yet.

Ms. Duncan:   Will there be a consultation before something is submitted, or whatís the plan for how weíre going to submit eligible funding projects, once we do learn the terms?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I anticipate, once we find out the terms and criteria for the program, weíll be consulting with our AYC members and taking it from there.

Ms. Duncan:   The Shakwak is due to be renewed ó Bill T-21, I believe, is in the U.S. Legislature. Have there been letters or exchanges with respect to the renewal? My understanding is that the final, sort of the next set of funding, would be to focus on bridges. Can the minister elaborate on whether or not it has been renewed and where we are in the process?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   We discussed this earlier, but the issue is that project funding was actually over as of 2002. The bill is before the House right now, and itís probably not going to get done in time for next yearís construction season. There may be an interim gap measure we may be able to benefit from on that particular aspect.

There has been a delay, with the current war structure. There have been delays in getting stuff through the House in Washington, but we have letters of support, as indicated earlier, and we have the State of Alaskaís full support for the continuance of the Shakwak project.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, perhaps the minister could outline for me, in written form, what the interim measures are in the absence of funding for Shakwak next year. Would those be Yukon financed, federal Government of Canada financed or U.S. financed?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Mr. Chair, in lieu of funding not going through, there is a possibility the State of Alaska might be able to get some interim funding and continue on with some form of funding for Shakwak, although it would be very reduced.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, the focus for a renewed Shakwak was to be on the bridge replacement. I think weíve done the Duke, but the Donjek and certainly the Johnsons Crossing bridge ó and especially the JC bridge ó and the M'Clintock River bridge are in need of repair. Does the minister have a report in the department on the current state of Yukonís bridges and what the plan is for a planned replacement program?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   We are looking at replacing four bridges through the Shakwak project and the completion of a small section around Kluane Lake to complete that process. In general, many of our bridges throughout the Yukon require some work, and they will require some work soon. As to which one is the highest priority ó that hasnít been kicked around yet, but we are well aware of the situation with our bridges throughout the Yukon, and something will have to be done soon.

Ms. Duncan:   Very aware ó welcome to the ministry of highways. And theyíre not inexpensive to replace, either. How is the $150,000 thatís being set aside to build the Dawson bridge or examine the construction ó how is that money being spent? Is it in examination of a P3?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Mr. Chair, itís basically study and design for the bridge, a continuation of an environment aspect and also some seismic work.

Ms. Duncan:   I would just remind the minister of his earlier comments about the fact that there are several existing bridges in dire need of repair and replacement, actually.

I have asked previously for the minister to table the five-year capital plan, but that hasnít been forthcoming.

A couple of other questions: the minister has responsibility for, for lack of a better term Iím going to call it the air access committee, the fair competition committee, that was put in place. Have they met since the minister took office? Has there been any discussion of their ruling or any penalty for violation of the Yukonís policy on competition?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I specifically havenít met with the committee. They have met, though, once, and have provided a process, a decision. We are, as a government, looking at supporting competition in local air traffic, and weíre booking our flights steadily on an even basis.

Ms. Duncan:   If there is an update of the committeeís meeting or if the committee has reached a decision and they subsequently announce implications or ramifications of that decision, Iíd appreciate it if the minister would advise me in writing.

The service centre: could the minister outline what the change orders have been and who is moving into that building, and when?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   There have been no change orders to the one-stop-shop building, or commonly known as 910 Quartz Road.

Ms. Duncan:   Who is moving in there?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   We have some tenants for the top floor, and we are still dealing with tenants for the bottom floor.

Ms. Duncan:   Who is moving into the top floor, and when?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Property management will be moving into the top floor.

Ms. Duncan:   I would anticipate that that would be sooner rather than later.

The land acquisition has been dealt with under the Executive Council Office debate. Where is the train shed being moved to and when?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   As I indicated earlier, we are dealing with the First Nation and the city on this particular issue. Once that has been completed, we can provide her with the update.

Ms. Duncan:   Is that announcement coming tomorrow?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I will leave that to her discretion.

Ms. Duncan:   Thanks, Mr. Chair.

The brush and weed contracts have been substantially reduced in this budget, yet this is private sector work, as is the IT capital budget. Has the minister had representations on this, and can we expect to see enhanced funding in the fall in a supplementary?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   All programs were asked to absorb cost-efficiencies along the highway. Highway maintenance incurred our largest decrease, and we are looking at maintaining our highways in a safe manner wherever possible and maintaining them in an adequate process.

Ms. Duncan:   The difficulty is that brush and weed contracts are small contracts that greatly benefit communities. Itís unfortunate that, when asked to meet targets, that is where the minister has chosen to cut.

The IT capital budget has also been cut, and that has a significant impact on Yukonís growing IT sector. Has the minister had representations from the Information Technology Industry Society, and does he intend to deal with this particular issue?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   We are looking at the IT sector. Weíre also looking at it as a possible entity for the new Department of Economic Development, and weíre discussing that with them.

Ms. Duncan:   I just have two more questions I want to get on the record. The Connect Yukon ó we all know, all too well, about the balloon payment thatís due in a couple of years. I think itís in the 2004-05 capital. Have there been any changes made to the Connect Yukon contract or the discussions around it?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I can feel the knife going right through me.

Yes, the balloon payment is due in the next fiscal year, and there has been no change in that contract. That huge payment is due next year.

Ms. Duncan:   I donít know why the minister chose that language. It has been a difficulty recognized for the past four or five budgets. Itís a huge payment, and itís severely limiting to whatever government is in power, whatever their political stripe.

The last question I want to have on the record of the minister is to do with the contractors and their fuel prices. When they bid a contract, they bid it with one fuel price in mind and, sometimes over the course of that contract, they can see a spike in the fuel prices. There was a mechanism and a way for the government to deal with that in the bidding process with the contractors. It has been done before. Has that mechanism been re-enacted by Cabinet, and is the minister aware of it? Will he consider bringing it forward to his colleagues to provide some relief?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Weíve had similar discussions with the members of the contract society recently on this particular issue, and itís under discussion at the moment, and weíll be looking at what we may be able to do with the system in that area.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, it has been done before, and I would offer my encouragement to the member to go forward to his Cabinet colleagues to seek that relief. Itís not precedent setting. It has been done before, and it is very much appreciated.

The time is drawing to a close. I would just like to thank the minister for his answers and indicate that if ó no doubt there will be questions that come up over the summer months about specific highway maintenance issues and even specific potholes. So I will welcome the ministerís commitment to answer those questions in writing and publicly and thank him for his answers today.

Chair:   Is there any further debate? Weíll then proceed to line-by-line.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, in the interest of time, given that we are concluding debate at 5:00, pursuant to Standing Order 14.3, I request the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 55, Department of Highways and Public Works, cleared or carried as required.

Unanimous consent re deeming all lines in Vote 55, Department of Highways and Public Works, read and agreed to

Chair:   Ms. Duncan has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 55, Department of Highways and Public Works, cleared or carried as required. Are you agreed?

All Hon. Members:  Agreed.

Chair:   There is unanimous consent.

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for Department of Highways and Public Works in the amount of $65,672,000 agreed to

On Capital Expenditures

Total Capital Expenditures for the Department of Highways and Public Works in the amount of $44,717,000 agreed to

Department of Highways and Public Works agreed to

On Subtotal Operation and Maintenance

Subtotal Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $456,741,000 agreed to

On Subtotal Capital

Subtotal Capital in the amount of $98,693,000 agreed to

On Total Sums Required in the amount of $555,434,000

Mr. McRobb:   Can the minister give us a breakdown on that?

Chair:   Mr. McRobb, is there a specific minister youíre referring to?

Order.

Total Sums Required in the amount of $555,434,000 agreed to

On Schedule A

Schedule A agreed to

On Schedule B

Schedule B agreed to

On Schedule C

Schedule C agreed to

On Clause 1

Clause 1 agreed to

On Clause 2

Clause 2 agreed to

On Clause 3

Clause 3 agreed to

On Title

Title agreed to

Chair:   That completes consideration of Bill No. 4, First Appropriation Act, 2003-04.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Mr. Chair, I move that Bill No. 4, First Appropriation Act, 2003-04, be reported without amendment.

Chair:   It has been moved by Mr. Fentie that Bill No. 4, entitled First Appropriation Act, 2003-04, be reported without amendment.

Motion agreed to

Chair:   As the only government bill remaining in Committee of the Whole has now been decided upon, it is my duty to rise and report to the House.

Speaker resumes the Chair

Speaker:   I will now call the House to order.

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

Chairís report

Mr. Rouble:   Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 4, entitled First Appropriation Act, 2003-04, and has directed me to report it out of Committee without amendment.

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.

GOVERNMENT BILLS

Bill No 4: Third Reading

Clerk:   Third reading, Bill No. 4, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Fentie.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 4, entitled First Appropriation Act, 2003-04, be now read a third time and do pass.

Speaker:   It has been moved by the hon. Premier that Bill No. 4, entitled First Appropriation Act, 2003-04, be now read a third time and do pass.

Are you agreed?

Some Hon. Members:   Division.

Division

Speaker:   Division has been called.

Bells

Speaker:   Mr. Clerk, please poll the House.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Agree.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Lang:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Agree.

Mr. Arntzen:   Agree.

Mr. Rouble:   Agree.

Mr. Hassard:   Agree.

Mr. Cathers:   Agree.

Mr. Hardy:   Disagree.

Mr. McRobb:   Disagree.

Mr. Fairclough:   Disagree.

Mr. Cardiff:   Disagree.

Mrs. Peter:   Disagree.

Ms. Duncan:   Disagree.

Clerk:   Mr. Speaker, the results are 11 yea, six nay.

Speaker:   The ayes have it.

Motion for third reading of Bill No. 4 agreed to

Speaker:   I declare that Bill No. 4 has passed this House.

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

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

 ASSENT TO BILLS

Commissioner:   Please be seated.

Speaker:   Mr. Commissioner, the Assembly has, at its present session, passed certain bills to which, in the name and on behalf of the Assembly, I respectfully request your assent.

Clerk:   Act to Amend the Fuel Oil Tax Act; Act to Amend the Income Tax Act; Act to Amend the Territorial Court Act; Act to Amend the Supreme Court Act; Act to Amend the Municipal Act; Fourth Appropriation Act, 2001-02; Third Appropriation Act, 2002-03; Act to Amend the Pioneer Utility Grant Act; First Appropriation Act, 2003-04.

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

Just before I rise, if I could take a brief commercial break here, the Klondike Visitors Association puts on an annual event every year to celebrate the Yukonís birthday. This year, itís June 14. Itís focused around the Commissionerís Tea in the afternoon. I think the Member for Klondike and I will be pouring tea. In the afternoon, there is also a recommissioning of the Yukon Rose, which was an old riverboat that has been refurbished by Mark Johnson. In the evening, there will be a street dance and some other events. So you are going to be receiving an invitation from me and the KVA, and I hope to see you all there. You might want to tack it on to the end of your trip up to Mayo.

In the event that I donít see you, have a good summer.

Commissioner leaves the Chamber

ADJOURNMENT OF SITTING

Speaker:   I will now call the House to order.

As the House has reached the maximum number of days permitted for this spring sitting, as established pursuant to Standing Order 75(3), and the House has completed consideration of the designated legislation, it is the duty of the Chair to declare that this House now stands adjourned until June 12, at which time it shall reconvene for a special sitting in Mayo, Yukon.

The House adjourned at 5:09 p.m.

 

 

The following Sessional Paper was tabled May 1, 2003:

03-1-44

Yukon Judicial Council Annual Report for the years 2000, 2001 and 2002 (Taylor)

The following Document was filed May 1, 2003:

03-1-15

Economic Development, Department of: letter from Hon. Dennis Fentie, Premier to Yukon First Nations and Business Partners re: re-establishment of the department (dated March 6, 2003); and letter from Hon. Dennis Fentie, Premier, to Cary Gryba, Business Manager/Financial Secretary, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers re: participation in consultation, (dated April 15, 2003) (Hardy)