Whitehorse, Yukon

Monday, November 3, 2003 ó 1:00 p.m.

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

Prayers

TRIBUTES

In remembrance of Gordon McIntyre

Speaker:   It is my sad duty to inform the House that our Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms, Mr. Gordon McIntyre, passed away on July 2 of this year.

Mr. McIntyre was appointed Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms on March 19 of this year. Though he was our deputy for just a short period of time, he was a long-time Yukoner. As I said in introducing him to the House, Gordon first moved to the Yukon 57 years ago after leaving the Canadian Navy. Over the years, he has worked in mining, construction and highway maintenance.

In the short time he was with the Assembly, he became well-liked by members and staff alike. I would, at this time, on behalf of all members of this Assembly, express our condolences to Gordonís family and friends. He will be sadly missed by all who knew him. Mrs. McIntyre, you have our condolences.

In remembrance of Max Ayers

Speaker:  I also must inform the House that Max Ayers, who was the Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms of the Legislative Assembly from 1988 to 1991, passed away on September 27 of this year. Mr. Ayers is survived by his wife, Adeline, nine children and many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

I would also like to express our condolences to Mrs. Ayers, Mr. Ayersí daughter, Sharon, and family and friends, on behalf of all members of this Assembly.

INTRODUCTION OF DEPUTY SERGEANT-AT-ARMS

Speaker:   Now it is my distinct pleasure to introduce the House our new Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms, Doris McLean. Ms. McLean is an auxiliary residential youth care worker in Whitehorse and has worked with youth in a professional and voluntary capacity for many years.

Over the years, she has worked or volunteered with Aspen Residences, the Ancient Voices Wilderness Camp, the Skookum Jim Friendship Centre and Yukonís Department of Justice. Ms. McLean is of Tagish Tlingit First Nation ancestry. She was Chief of the Carcross-Tagish First Nation from 1988 to 1992.

Ms. McLean is both the first woman and the first woman of First Nation ancestry to serve as Sergeant-at-Arms in the Yukon Legislative Assembly. I would ask members to welcome Ms. McLean to the Assembly and have Ms. McLean stand up please.

Applause

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

TRIBUTES

In recognition of Joyce Hayden receiving Governor Generalís award

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. On October 18, Persons Day, Joyce Hayden was given a Governor Generalís award in commemoration of the Persons case. These awards honour women who have made outstanding contributions to the quality of life for women in Canada. Ms. Haydenís award is an acknowledgement of her individual contribution and an indication of the ongoing excellence of Yukon womenís contributions locally and throughout the country.

It is with pleasure that I stand in the House today to honour this woman who has worked as a politician, as a volunteer and as a writer and has contributed to the well-being of all Yukoners, and particularly to that of women.

As a writer and a publisher, Joyce Hayden produced books of historical value to the territory. For example, Yukonís Women of Power: Political Pioneers in a Northern Canadian Colony and Victoria Faulkner: Lady of the North, for whom the Victoria Faulkner Womenís Centre was named.

While Ms. Hayden has been known for her commitment, creativity and dedication to social justice and womenís equality, Ms. Hayden may be best known for her work in starting the Yukon Womenís Minibus Society, which gave women staying at home access to transportation.

Persons Day celebrates the accomplishment of the famous five women who, in 1929, brought their fight for equality all the way to the Privy Council in London, England. Through their unwavering determination, the famous five achieved the rights for Canadian women to serve in the Senate and paved the way for women to participate in the public life of this country of ours.

I congratulate Ms. Hayden on her commitment and contribution to the Yukon.

Mr. Speaker, itís my privilege to introduce to this House and the gallery Ms. Hayden, who is with us today.

Thank you very much.

Applause

Mrs. Peter:   Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I arise today on behalf of the official opposition in tribute to Joyce Hayden of Whitehorse, Yukon, who received the Governor Generalís award in commemoration of the Persons case.

As one of the few aboriginal women elected to a Canadian legislature, I am very much aware of the courage it takes to go against the norm as Joyce has. I can think of no one who would better represent the daring display by the five women in whose memory the award was given.

Joyce Haydenís volunteer work in the Yukon in establishing the Status of Womenís Council and her involvement in its projects such as the mini-bus society, came at a time in the Yukon when feminist views were not popularly supported in our frontier society.

It took courage to promote and support womenís rights through groups and conferences at the YWCA in the 1970s, and Joyce did not hesitate to do that. Joyce continued to display great courage as a minister in the territorial government where she was known for standing up for the soft issues and not backing down.

Yukon women were fighting for childcare, youth, justice, health and social services, and Joyce was their champion.

But the greatest courage Joyce has displayed has been in the past few years. Although legally blind, Joyce has resolutely researched and written Yukon womenís histories. She has founded her own publishing company. She has amazed and been a fine role model for many women in the Yukon.

The Governor Generalís award for the Persons case is uniquely suited for recognizing Joyceís wide contribution to Yukon women. Her energy and bold approach to life is a fine example for us all.

Mahsi' cho.

Ms. Duncan: On behalf of the Liberal caucus, I rise to join with my colleagues in this Legislature in tribute to Joyce Hayden, recipient of the Governor Generalís award, in recognition of the Persons case. The Persons case celebrates the achievement of the famous five: Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney and Irene Parlby. These women, with the support of Prime Minister Mackenzie King, appealed to the Privy Council of England. Lord Stanley overruled the Supreme Court of Canada, stating, "The exclusion of women from all public offices is a relic of days more barbarous than ours."

When the famous five met, they would repeat together, "I feel equal to high and splendid braveries." The Governor Generalís award for the Persons case honours women in Canadian life who in their lives have felt equal to the challenge of high and splendid braveries.

Joyce Hayden has met the challenges of incredible contributions to Yukon life bravely and with honour. She has served on the executive of the Yukon Council, Girl Guides of Canada, and is an honorary lifetime member of the sisterhood of guiding. Joyce documented the history of guiding in the Yukon, along with Mary-Lou Smith, in a book called Seventy-Five Summers. Joyce Haydenís knowledge of camping and love of guiding warm the book throughout.

Joyce Hayden served as a member of the Legislature from 1989 to 1992. During her term she was the Minister of Health and Social Services, the minister responsible for juvenile justice and the Yukon Housing Corporation.

Perhaps even more challenging than a seat in this Legislature has been her writing. Joyce Hayden has chronicled women of power in the Yukon, documenting the lives of political women in the territory, and the story, too little told, of the contribution of Victoria Faulkner.

Mrs. Joyce Hayden, recipient of the Governor Generalís award, on behalf of the Liberal caucus, myself and the constituents I represent, warmest congratulations, and thank you for your splendid and brave contribution on behalf of women in the Yukon.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In recognition of Crime Prevention Week and MADD

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   It is indeed my honour and privilege to rise today to pay tribute to Crime Prevention Week, which is from October 24 to November 3. This year, nearly 300 people from across the territory, Alaska and northern British Columbia attended the northern community conference on sexual abuse prevention, education and awareness, which was held to coincide with Crime Prevention Week.

The conference, of which I was part last week, was a very tremendous success, and Iíd like to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate the collective efforts of both the organizers and the participants of this very important event.

These types of conferences not only remind us that there is much left to do, but there is also much that has already been done and continues to be worked on today.

Mr. Speaker, Iím also pleased to be attending the annual crime prevention awards banquet, where deserving individuals will be recognized for their work in furthering crime prevention activities in all their communities. Our communities belong to the people who live in them. Iím pleased to recognize the very action for which our award winners are being recognized, and that has helped make our communities better places to live.

As well, I would like to congratulate all the many volunteers who give their time for activities that lead to a reduction in crime. These unsung heroes of our community give countless hours to recreation activities, youth organizations and healthy activities in our communities. Whether they may be members of the Neighbourhood Watch, the Block Parent program, Citizens on Patrol, auxiliary police and others, I salute their efforts and thank them all for their continued commitment to crime prevention. After all, meaningful community involvement is the key to developing safer communities.

Mr. Speaker, Iím also very pleased that, starting today, Yukon will have its very own MADD chapter in place. With that said, I would like to extend a very warm welcome to Louise Knox, the president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada, to the Yukon. Also, sitting beside her is Tim Twardochleb, the executive director for Crime Prevention Yukon.

Applause

Hon. Ms. Taylor:  Mr. Speaker, drinking and driving is an issue that our government takes very seriously. We look forward to working with Mothers Against Drunk Driving toward making our streets and highways safer for all to enjoy.

In closing, I would like to thank Crime Prevention Yukon, the RCMP and our Department of Justice for all of their hard work and efforts in making this yearís Crime Prevention Week yet another success.

Thank you.

Mrs. Peter:   I rise on behalf of the official opposition to pay tribute to the Crime Prevention Week.

Crime Prevention Yukon has as its theme this year, "Working on community partnerships". To address crime prevention issues, this community organization has already this month coordinated several events. One was the Halloween project, where volunteers toured the city throughout Halloween so that our streets can be safe. They have also presented a free, self-defence Lady Beware workshop. And tonight they will host the Crime Prevention Yukon awards banquet, recognizing individuals, groups and businesses that have carried out crime prevention programs in our city.

We on this side of the House believe in restorative and community justice. Working in partnership with community members can only make our streets safer so that all people can feel safe in our communities.

Thank you.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Speaker, Crime Prevention Yukon is a vital partner in the Yukon community, addressing crime prevention issues, and I would like to thank all of the volunteers involved in the organization for their efforts in organizing the activities over the past week.

I would also like to recognize the Yukon establishment of MADD.

Crime Prevention Week is an important opportunity for Yukoners to come together as a community, to recognize crime, its root causes and how we might prevent such crime.

I encourage all Yukoners to participate as partners in the prevention of crime, not only in the week just past but throughout the year.

Speaker:   Are there any further tributes?

Introduction of visitors.

TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS

Speaker:   Under tabling of returns and documents, I have for tabling the Conflict of Interest Commissionís annual report for the period ending March 31, 2003.

The report was distributed to the members of the Assembly and to the media this past June. The Chair has also for tabling a report of the Chief Electoral Officer pursuant to section 398 of the Elections Act, on the expenses and revenues for registered political parties and candidates of the 2002 general election, and a report from the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly on the absence of members from sittings of the Legislative Assembly and its committees.

Are there any further returns or documents for tabling?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   I have for tabling a legislative return on a question from the leader of the third party on the issuance of water licences regarding government Crown corporations or agencies.

Speaker:   Are there any further documents for tabling?

Are there any reports of committees?

Are there any petitions?

Are there any bills for introduction?

Are there any notices of motion?

NOTICES OF MOTION

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I give notice of the following motion:

THAT this House urges the Government of Canada to recognize the contribution of Yukon aboriginal veterans and provide them with the same benefits that it provides to aboriginal veterans resident on reserves.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

THAT this House directs the Government of Yukon to prepare and table amendments to the Conflict of Interest (Members and Ministers) Act that would prohibit any person from serving as a Cabinet minister of the Government of Yukon if that person individually, or as a principal of a business or corporation, is more than one year in arrears in payment of any debt owing to the Government of Yukon.

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

THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon, all parties within the House, First Nation governments, municipal government, industry, and individual Yukoners to work cooperatively with the recently announced Red Tape Review Committee to streamline government regulation, reduce "red tape" and provide government services more efficiently.

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

THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to

1) make available stable long-term funding arrangements for humane societies in the territory; and

2) improve the legislation governing animals in the territory by consolidating the existing pieces of legislation into one comprehensive, all-encompassing piece of legislation.

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

THAT this House urges the Yukon government to employ Yukon contractors this winter to provide increased maintenance of secondary roads for the purpose of improving safety and providing short-term work for contractors suffering from the sluggish economy.

Speaker:   Are there any other notices of motion?

Are there any statements by ministers?

Speakerís statement

Speaker:   Before the House proceeds to Question Period the Chair would like to make a statement about an exchange that occurred during Question Period last Thursday. At that time the leader of the third party accused the Minister of Environment of furthering his private interest by way of a letter the minister wrote to the City of Whitehorse. Such an accusation is not in order. If a member wishes to level an accusation against another member, he or she has two options. If the issue relates to a potential conflict of interest, the member may raise the issue with the Conflicts Commissioner. Members can also raise such concerns by way of a substantive motion for which proper notice is given.

The Chair has no interest in limiting the subject matter that members wish to raise during Question Period; however, such issues must not be raised by accusation.

It must also be noted that after the accusation was made, the Minister of Environment was called to order by the Chair for questioning the motives of the leader of the third party. Such accusations, therefore, lead to disorder. This is another reason members should avoid making accusations.

This now brings us to Question Period.

QUESTION PERIOD

Question re: Budget embargo

Mr. Hardy:   I have a question for the Acting Minister of Finance. Last Thursday morning, the two opposition parties received a confidential briefing on the governmentís first supplementary budget of 2003-04. We were told we had to keep it secret from the Yukon people for at least five days. If the government House leader had been doing his job, that budget would have been tabled on Thursday afternoon. Why did the Minister of Tourism reveal confidential budget information before it was tabled in the House, Mr. Speaker?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Our party is endeavouring to expedite the peopleís business in this House by providing full and complete briefings at the most advanced opportunity available to us. To that end, Mr. Speaker, we took the unprecedented step regarding a supplementary budget of offering and extending a full and complete briefing to the official opposition on both supplementary budgets. Apparently, it hasnít been well-received, so weíll revert to the previous practices of this Legislature.

Mr. Hardy:   That wasnít the question I asked. I would have liked to have had an answer to that. The member on the other side obviously had a different interpretation of what a gag order is. We have been gagged for five days.

Less than two hours after the House reconvened, the Minister of Tourism issued this news release that says the Carcross-Tagish First Nation will receive $300,000 toward the development and planning of a cultural heritage centre, which was stated by Tourism and Culture Minister Elaine Taylor.

I have this for tabling, Mr. Speaker.

Now, why was the Minister of Tourism allowed to break the embargo on this budget, or was it just another government bungle that the news release went out before the budget was tabled? Was it planned that there would be no budget released? Somebody forgot to tell the Minister of Tourism? Whatís the reason?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   As I outlined in the answer to the first question, our government is taking every step possible to expedite the business of this House and, to that end, we are endeavouring to provide full and complete briefings at the earliest opportunity to the opposition, and we have done so. Now, if theyíre saying that they donít want these types of briefings, fine ó we can revert to the previous practices of this Assembly and not provide briefings on the supplementary budgets.

Given the acceptance of our wonderful way of providing advance knowledge and information and allowing the opposition to do their homework, I guess weíll just go back to what we previously did in this Legislature.

Mr. Hardy:   Now, the government has a huge credibility problem here. This is the budget that was supposed to be tabled on Thursday. Right here on the title page, Mr. Speaker, it confirms that. It says Estimates Supplementary No. 1, 2003-04, First Session of the 31st Legislature, Yukon Legislative Assembly, October 2003 ó October 2003 ó Whitehorse, Yukon ó right here, Mr. Speaker.

Some Hon. Member:   Point of order.

Point of order

Speaker:   Leader of the third party, on a point of order.

Ms. Duncan:   On a point of order, if a member is reading from a document, I understand it has to be tabled in the House.

Speaker:   To the leader of the third party, on your point of order, the Chairís not sure that the member was actually reading from it, so Iíll take that under advisement and give you a ruling tomorrow. Please carry on.

Mr. Hardy:   Well, October has come and gone, Mr. Speaker. The budget is a month late already. Will the Acting Minister of Finance table the supplementary budget right now and seek unanimous consent to begin debating it so Yukon people can see what this government is going to do with their money?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   This supplementary will be tabled tomorrow. It is a good-news budget. It outlines a number of areas where we are going to put money back into the Yukon economy, stimulate the economy, restore investor confidence in the economy. Itís spelled out completely in that document. We were in a position to provide an advance copy to the official opposition and the third party, and they havenít accepted it in the manner that it was presented. Iím just so disappointed, Mr. Speaker.

Question re:  Motor vehicle impoundment

Mrs. Peter:   Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Justice. Section 243(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act says "If satisfied that a motor vehicle has been wrongfully impounded under this Part, the Minister of Justice may (a) authorize the release of the motor vehicle from impoundment;..."

My question to the minister: on what basis did the minister conclude that a commercial vehicle driven by someone with a blood alcohol reading almost three times the allowable limit had been wrongfully impounded?

Hon. Ms. Taylor:  I thank the member opposite for the question. I think that over the course of the summer there has been a certain degree of confusion among all parties involved regarding what, in fact, did transpire with respect to Capital Towing. Again, for the record, with respect to the Capital Towing matter, I acted in strict accordance with what the law states, which permits the Minister of Justice to authorize the release of an impounded vehicle if the impoundment was deemed to be found wrongful.

On the legal case that certainly was presented to our departmentís senior legal counsel, I based my decision.

Mrs. Peter:   This is the Minister of Justice. She overruled not one, but two justices of the peace. Of all the commercial vehicles that have been impounded under this act, she decided that this one, alone, had been wrongfully impounded. She must have had some compelling reasons, Mr. Speaker. The ministerís credibility is in tatters on this issue.

Will the minister now table all of the correspondence, including any legal advice she received from her department, which led her to believe this vehicle should be released?

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   I would just like to correct the record. It is truly unfortunate that the member opposite doesnít have a better understanding of what the Motor Vehicles Act actually states. If she did, she would clearly understand that my role is completely separate from the review officer. Whereas a review officer can certainly make rulings based on the early release of impounded vehicles under that particular provision in the act, I have the sole discretion over wrongful impoundment ó something that was actually removed by the previous Liberal government from the review officerís discretion.

To say that I could actually appeal a decision of the review officer is not correct. Similarly, the review officer cannot make an appeal of my decision.

Again, the application was made to our office. The legal case was made, and that is on what I based my decision.

Mrs. Peter:   The law doesnít say the minister must authorize the release of a vehicle. It says she may authorize it. She has some discretion in that matter.

The driver of the commercial vehicle has a terrible record of drinking and driving. Right now, this person is in jail for four months for driving this tow truck that day. His actions put public safety at risk. People could have died or been seriously injured because of his actions, but the minister thought she knew better than the courts as to what should happen to this vehicle.

Will the minister now apologize to the people of the Yukon for her bad judgement in this case and make a commitment to not interfere politically in the administration of justice in the future?

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   I would like nothing better than to remove myself but, unfortunately, there is a provision in the Motor Vehicles Act that explicitly states that the Minister of Justice shall make a decision if, in fact, the vehicle was found to be wrongfully impounded in the first place. That is what the act actually states.

Now, as to whether or not the Minister of Justice should be actually involved in making this determination, I personally donít believe that the minister, or any other minister, should have any jurisdiction over this but, as the law actually states right now, the Motor Vehicles Act makes the provision for this to occur. So thatís just the way the law reads right now.

Question re:  Business loans, outstanding

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Acting Premier. Over the summer months I have spoken with hundreds of Yukoners, and when talk turned to this government, one topic has come up every time: the lack of integrity the government has demonstrated in their first year in office.

The Justice minister has interfered in the court system to free a tow truck. The Member for Klondike and his colleague from Porter Creek owe hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid loans.

Mr. Speaker, the MLA for Klondike owes Yukon taxpayers $204,000 on a loan for his hotel in Dawson City. Last year he received over $23,000 when Government of Yukon employees stayed at the same hotel. Thatís 10 percent of what is owed.

Will the Acting Premier ensure that this $23,000 is put toward the ministerís outstanding debt consistent with other Yukon policy?

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   As I believe the Premier has stated on a number of occasions, the Premier will soon be tabling our particular solution to the issue of the loans during this sitting.

Ms. Duncan:   It is government policy that any organization that owes money to the government is not eligible for community development fund money. If you owe us money, weíre not going to give you any more. There is of course a different standard when it comes to doing business with members of the Yukon Party. The MLA for Klondike owes over $200,000 yet he received almost $25,000 from the government last year ó one set of rules for the public, another set of rules for the Yukon Party. Itís no wonder that the public is asking questions.

Will the Acting Premier insist that the $23,000 the minister received from government employees staying at the hotel be put toward the memberís outstanding debt?

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   Again, the Premier, as he has promised on a number of occasions, will soon be tabling a solution to address the situation of the outstanding loans ó all the loans.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Speaker, the MLA for Klondike owes taxpayers $200,000. Last year, he received almost $25,000 from the government and appears unwilling to put it toward his outstanding debt. This government tells community groups that, if they owe money, it wonít do business with them. If one of their own owes money, itís a different story. Itís a Yukon Party double standard.

An MLAís salary, $36,600; a Cabinet ministerís salary, an extra $21,000; travel expenses to Dawson, another $11,000; people staying at the hotel, $23,000; not having to pay back your loan because you set the rules ó priceless.

When does the Premier intend to see that this loan is paid back to the taxpayers of the Yukon and that the policy is tabled?

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   I think that, as I just stated unequivocally over the last few minutes here, the Premier will soon be tabling a solution ó a solution to a very difficult issue ó one, I should also add, that our government is actually taking the initiative to address, unlike previous governments. We made that commitment, and we will soon be tabling a solution this sitting as was promised.

Question re:  Carmacks school

Mr. Fairclough:   My question is for the Minister of Education.

Last Friday, the minister went to Carmacks and signed a memorandum of understanding with the Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation regarding the planning of a new school. Who authorized the minister to discuss a capital spending item from a supplementary budget that hasnít been released yet?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I must point out to the member opposite that it was stated that this school has been in the making for probably 25 years, and I might say to the House at this time that the member opposite had an opportunity to build that school. I think itís only common courtesy that, when requested to come to a community, the minister tries to oblige.

Mr. Fairclough:   The minister didnít answer the question. I asked him who authorized him to discuss this item from a supplementary budget that hasnít been released yet. We seem to have ministers running all over the territory spending the publicís money announcing things that may be in the budget that the Yukon people have not been allowed to see. Itís either part of a deliberate plan or weíre watching a government thatís operating in a climate of chaos.

This summer, the minister and the Premier promised that there would be full community input into the construction of the school in Carmacks. Why did the minister and the Premier abandon this promise and cut the Village of Carmacks out of the loop?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   To the member opposite it may appear like chaos. However, maybe itís just the well-structured approach that this government has that theyíre not used to. I believe that this government had the opportunity to discuss this school with the people of Carmacks far before we even discussed the supplementary budget. If the members opposite remember, last summer it was announced by the Premier and this minister that we will be addressing the need for a school in Carmacks.

Mr. Fairclough:   Again, Mr. Speaker, the minister didnít answer the question. The Mayor of Carmacks says that he is appalled by the ministerís actions. The minister signed a memorandum of understanding with Little Salmon-Carmacks, but he hasnít had any discussions with the new mayor and council about this important and long-overdue community project. If thatís what this government means by consultation, no wonder there are such serious divisions on that side of the House.

Will the minister at least apologize to the mayor and council and tell us what his plans are for some real consultation with the Village of Carmacks?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the dedicated concerns, and I donít really have a problem with saying to the Mayor of Carmacks, "Iím sorry if you feel that you werenít included." However, I will ensure that I do talk to the mayor and council in Carmacks.

Mr. Speaker, the meeting I had with the First Nation of Little Salmon-Carmacks was very fruitful. The chief and council assured this minister that they definitely speak on behalf of all of the people in Carmacks and they are prepared to work with the mayor and council, as I am, Mr. Speaker. And I look forward to having a very, very positive working relationship with the people of Carmacks. I also want to state, Mr. Speaker, that at that meeting I did state very clearly that I represent every citizen in the Yukon Territory, and I will continue to do so.

Question re:  Budget embargo

Mr. McRobb:   Weíre into day five of the Yukon Partyís embargo boondoggle. Never before in British parliamentary history has an embargo lasted so long. This morning, I checked with the Office of the Legislative Assembly and was informed that usual practice for a budget embargo is to last only a few hours. There are many implications arising from such unorthodox practices, none of them good for the public.

One of the more serious issues is the security of the budget itself and its financial information. We are left to wonder whom this government would blame should this budget be leaked to the media. We need to establish, for the record, just whom this government has provided this budget to. Can the Acting Minister of Finance tell us how many copies of this budget have been distributed?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   As I responded to the leader of the official opposition in his first question, in order to expedite the business of this House, our caucus determined that we wanted to facilitate the whole review process. We wanted to get involved in complete briefings of every issue at the earliest opportunity and, to that end, Mr. Speaker, we offered embargoed copies of the budgets.

Now, at that juncture, if the members opposite didnít want them, they could have said no, donít give it to them, they donít want them. They didnít. They chose to accept them, the terms and conditions around their acceptance were clearly spelled out, they were agreed to, and now there appears to be an unsatisfactory taste in the oppositionís mouth ó for what reason, I donít know. You canít have it both ways.

These were provided in good faith under terms and conditions that were agreed to. Now it appears that the opposition wants to back out of those terms and conditions.

Mr. McRobb:   What a bunch of hogwash, Mr. Speaker. He didnít answer the question.

First, the Yukon Party withholds the budget information from the public. Now, it doesnít want the public to know who has received it in advance. What a difference a year makes, Mr. Speaker, what a difference.

This government stands to learn a lot about public trust. The main reason why a budget is tabled sooner rather than later is to avoid giving some citizens an unfair advantage with respect to the governmentís spending plans. This five-day embargo has created a double standard and an opportunity for favouritism. In the past year, we have discovered that the Yukon Party card carrier is treated above the rest. Thatís true when it comes to consultation, unpaid loans and impoundment releases, to name a few.

Will the Acting Minister of Finance undertake to provide a list of names of those who have received budget information by this time tomorrow? Will he do that?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   By this time tomorrow it will be a public document and everybody will have a copy of it. So, thatís not an issue.

In order to advance and move forward in the debate of the peopleís business in this Legislature, our party is looking for every avenue to give advance notice and full and complete briefings to the opposition. Now, if they didnít want this briefing and if they didnít want this document, they could have said no.

I guess the question to the opposition is, why did they not say no to accepting these briefings and the embargoed copies of these bills?

Mr. McRobb:   The answer is we didnít know until after the briefing that this budget would be withheld for more than five days. We need to end this farce without further delay.

The general public needs to know how this government is spending the publicís money. This shouldnít be a luxury available to only political insiders who may or may not abide by the same rules we are obligated to follow on this side of the House.

We on this side are prepared to give unanimous consent to proceed to debate on this budget this afternoon, just as we were on Thursday afternoon. So, will the minister now table this budget so we can proceed to debate it this afternoon? Will he do that?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Speaker, the whole purpose of providing an advance bill to the opposition with a full and complete briefing is to make them aware at the earliest opportunity so theyíll have some concrete questions when it comes to being debated in this Assembly.

We as a government have attempted to provide the opposition with advanced briefings at the earliest opportunity, with advance copies of these bills embargoed with an understanding that they remain embargoed until they are tabled in this Assembly.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that said, this will become a public document tomorrow when it is tabled by the Premier and that Minister of Finance. At that time, we will be asking for unanimous consent to proceed with second reading, which I am very hopeful the opposition will grant.

But that might not be the case. We are here to conduct the peopleís business, and the previous ways in which this Assembly worked werenít the best. Weíve looked for ways to improve upon that, but obviously the uptake by the opposition is not adequate.

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Speakerís statement

Speaker:   Order. I would ask the Member for Kluane not to make extraneous comments when another member is speaking please. It leads to disorder.

Next question.

Question re: Dawson City supervisor position

Mr. Cardiff:   I have a local hire question for the Minister of Community Services. On October 3, the government suddenly revoked the order-in-council appointment of a Whitehorse man as supervisor of Dawson Cityís financial affairs and replaced him with a resident of British Columbia.

My question is a simple one. Why?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I believe that members opposite have been in this House long enough to know which minister is responsible for the different portfolios. As the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission, I want to state in the House now that this is a personnel issue, and personnel issues will not be discussed on the floor of the Legislature.

Mr. Cardiff:   I just took that as an admission that this is a personnel issue and itís not about an order-in-council. Just four days before this appointment was made, the existing supervisor was let go from his government position with Community Services. The minister just linked the two right here in the Legislature ó a position that supposedly had nothing to do with the order-in-council appointment to develop and monitor Dawsonís financial plan.

Why was a British Columbia resident approached about this potential position more than a month before the existing supervisor was informed that his order-in-council appointment had been revoked?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I would like to state at this point in time that there were some very interesting comments made by the member opposite just last month in a newspaper, and it stated to the effect that political people have no business interfering in administrative issues. I believe that to be accurate.

Mr. Cardiff:   Well, Mr. Speaker, this is about an order-in-council about a person who reports to the Minister of Community Services. The Minister of Community Services is the person who searched out, maybe or maybe not, the person who is now looking after the City of Dawsonís finances. There is a lot more to this than meets the eye.

I can promise the Minister of Community Services that weíre going to be pursuing this very issue thoroughly throughout this sitting.

For today, though, I just have one follow-up question for the Minister of Community Services, by the way. Will the minister table the letter of instruction for the new supervisor that the Minister of Community Services signed on October 23, 2003, and will he tell the House who drafted those instructions?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Again, I will reiterate what I said just previously, that personnel issues will stay with personnel, and they will not be dealt with in the political forum.

Question re:  Whitehorse Youth Centre

Mr. Hardy:   I have a question for whoever is going to stand up on the other side and speak on behalf of the Youth Directorate. On Friday, the Whitehorse Youth Centre concluded its month long toonie campaign to raise money for a permanent site for their much needed programs. They are presently paying $6,000 per month for rent and want to spend this money more wisely, and that makes perfect sense.

Now, theyíve worked very hard and theyíve been very successful in collecting $11,312.36 from the piggy banks that they had distributed around the city.

I am embarrassed to say that no one from the government bench has even attended the ceremonial counting of the donations.

Why did this government not show some support for our youth by sending a delegate to this event?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Speaker, we were at the opening, at the launching of this campaign. There was quite a number of our party in attendance. I spoke at that, as did the leader of the official opposition. We are very supportive of this initiative. In fact, I believe my piggy bank was a little bit fuller than the opposite memberís, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Hardy:   Actually, Mr. Speaker, it probably should be a lot fuller when this is a member who refuses to pay his loans.

In addition to the individual donations, the community showed its commitment to our youth through a $20,000 donation from the Toronto DominionĖCanada Trust bank, as well as donations of $2,500 each from the Kwanlin Dun First Nation and the Yukon Teachers Association. That brings the total to just over $36,000, which is still quite a bit less than what is really needed for them to find a permanent home. What commitment is this minister prepared to make toward the centreís goal of establishing a permanent home?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Speaker, this is an excellent opportunity for this youth group to demonstrate their skills, and they have done so. Theyíve done an exemplary job of going out and partnering with various agencies and groups and First Nations and raising the funds to achieve their goals. The pride of ownership in such an undertaking in such a manner is beyond the comprehension of the member opposite, Iím sure, Mr. Speaker, given that the only way he appears to want to approach the issue is give another government grant to an organization and to a group.

Mr. Speaker, our government is fully supportive of any of these undertakings. To that end, weíve participated in the launching of this campaign and participated fully with it ó not quite until its conclusion but almost to its conclusion ó and itís a very worthwhile clause. We laud and applaud the youth organization in achieving ó their goal was $40,000. Theyíre just shy of that, Mr. Speaker, and that should be duly recognized. Thatís great.

Mr. Hardy:   So Iím supposed to assume that this minister across the way is opposed to any type and form of grant or assistance or help to the people of this territory? Is that what Iím supposed to assume by his comments? What about the CDF? Does he have a problem with that? What does he call that? Is that a grant? What is it?

I really have to wonder where the minister across the way is coming from.

This is a cause that deserves the support of everyone, Mr. Speaker, because it helps to address the real needs of Yukon youth, and they are struggling to raise the money on their own. This Yukon Party government is awash in loonies. It had nearly 35 million of them at the beginning of this fiscal year, and more keep coming in, so there is no excuse for this government not to act. Private business, First Nations, employee associations and hundreds of Yukon individuals have supported this cause enthusiastically.

Will the acting minister at least agree to match the funds so far by giving a capital grant to the youth centre campaign? He doesnít need to condemn youth trying to raise money.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   No one is condemning anyone who raises money, especially a youth group. In fact, we laud and applaud and duly recognize their efforts.

Now, Mr. Speaker, our government is the government that re-introduced the CDF, and thatís money thatís being put to work. That is out there now, going to work, and Iím sure an application from this youth group may be well-received by the CDF. Thereís the youth investment fund. Thereís a whole series of organizations.

Mr. Speaker, all avenues are available to this youth group for access to government funding, and we as a government will do nothing but support and encourage this youth group to go forward, as we will other youth groups that are engaged in delivering similar types of services to the youth here in the Yukon.

They are welcome, they are encouraged, and they are duly recognized for their achievements, and the raising of $36,000 is a milestone achievement by this youth group. That is fantastic.

Speaker:   The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed to the Orders of the Day, government bills.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BILLS

Bill No. 35: Second Reading

Clerk:   Second reading, Bill No. 35, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Hart.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I move that Bill No. 35, entitled Act to Amend the Public Printing Act, now be read a second time.

Speaker:   It has been moved by the Minister of Highways and Public Works that Bill No. 35, entitled Act to Amend the Public Printing Act, be now read a second time.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I rise today to speak to Bill No. 35, Act to Amend the Public Printing Act. The proposed amendment is a simple administrative change for determining who has the authority to set prices for government printed material.

Currently, prices must be set by Cabinet through an order-in-council. The proposed amendment delegates to the minister the authority to set the scales for price for government-printed material. Further, it gives the minister the authority to delegate the authority to set prices to the Queenís Printer if this is needed.

The need for an administratively simple process to set prices for publication is being driven by a large number of publications that the Queenís Printer has become responsible for since devolution of the Northern Affairs program on April 1, 2003. Prior to devolution, the Queenís Printer was responsible for recommending prices for about five publications to Cabinet each year. Since April 1 of this year, there have been prices needed for about 400 to 500 publications, including various maps and reports, and the price of those publications will need to be changed from time to time.

I am sure you will agree that this change will allow for an administratively sensible means of setting prices for publications.

I look forward to hearing the thoughts of the members opposite.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Cardiff:   We on this side of the House donít agree that this is more a matter of housekeeping and freeing up the red tape, so to speak, and I appreciated getting a briefing on this this morning at 11:00.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the nature of this particular piece of legislation, that it is what we commonly term as "housekeeping", and itís very straightforward. It would have been greatly appreciated, Iím sure, by all members of the opposition had the briefing been provided in a timely manner. I do appreciate finally receiving it.

I would appreciate it if the minister responsible would indicate whether or not there is an overall plan by the Government of Yukon with respect to the Queenís Printer. The Queenís Printer is operated as a special operating agency and submits a business plan each year to Cabinet. Clearly the volume of work by the Queenís Printer has increased. Is there a discussion underway, or are there plans by the private sector oriented Yukon Party, to make changes to the functioning of the Queenís Printer?

Speaker:   If the minister now speaks, he will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   For the member opposite, there are no plans underway to revamp or renew the current operation of the Queenís Printer.

Motion for second reading of Bill No. 35 agreed to

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

Speaker:   It has been moved by the government House leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.

Motion agreed to

Speaker leaves the Chair

COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE

Chair:   Committee of the Whole will now come to order. The matter before the Committee is Bill No. 35, Act to Amend the Public Printing Act.

Do members wish a brief recess?

Some Hon. Members:   Agreed.

Chair:   We will stand in recess for 15 minutes.

Recess

Chair:   Order please. Committee of the Whole will now come to order. The matter before the Committee is Bill No. 35, Act to Amend the Public Printing Act.

Bill No. 35 ó Act to Amend the Public Printing Act

Chair:   Weíll begin general debate.

Mr. Hart, no additional comments?

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Chair:   Is there any additional general debate?

Mr. Cardiff:   I just have a couple of questions.

Recognizing that the Queenís Printer is a cost-recovery operation and that it bills various departments for the publications that it produces for the government, I had a question this morning that I didnít get an answer to. The government also has publications done by private publishing companies, private printing companies, and I was just wondering whether or not the minister at some point in time could get back to me on this: what percentage ó letís do it at a dollar value ó of government printing is done by the Queenís Printer and what percentage is done by the private sector?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   As you can appreciate, there are certain publications every year. I would expect that it varies, depending on what is being published for that particular year; however, I will do my best to provide the member opposite with the information he requests.

Mr. Cardiff:   Yes, that would be appreciated. I donít know how far back the information would go. I guess I would like to see the history of the Queenís Printer service and what percentage of the governmentís business they do in printing and what percentage the private printers would get, and whether or not there has been any change.

With that, thatís all I have.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   As indicated in my initial address, there is a substantial amount of publications that is now going to be our responsibility with devolution. In the past, the Queenís Printer has done the black and white, quick printing responses, and we have gone out to the private sector for colour aspects, just so he is aware.

Ms. Duncan:   The Queenís Printer, as a special operating agency, has been the subject of numerous discussions in this Legislature by predecessors to both the member opposite and me. As a special operating agency they provide to Cabinet, for subsequent tabling, a business plan every year.

Can the minister advise when the Queenís Printer business plan might be tabled?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   It will be available for the next budget ó not the supplementary, but the main budget.

Ms. Duncan:   So what Iíve heard the minister say then is that we wonít see the business plan for the Queenís Printer special operating agency until sometime next April ó March or April. Is that correct? Is that what he just said?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Thatís correct.

Ms. Duncan:   Will that business plan reflect the changes? This is what weíre discussing today. Presumably, if the Queenís Printer is printing a greater number of documents and on a cost-recovery basis, such as was discussed by the Member for Mount Lorne, then thereís going to be a substantial difference in the revenues and the costs. Will this be reflected in the new business plan?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   If there are significant differences, as the member opposite indicates, yes, they will be addressed.

Ms. Duncan:   If I understood the minister responsible during the second reading speeches, he indicated that there are no changes planned for the Queenís Printer agency at this time. Is that correct?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   That is correct.

Ms. Duncan:   So what we have concluded is that the government has brought forward a piece of housekeeping legislation; however, this housekeeping legislation will represent a significant change to the revenues and costs of operating the special operation agency known as the Queenís Printer. Although weíre making these changes, we wonít see the business plan that reflects these changes until next March or April for the Queenís Printer agency, and there are no changes planned for the way that particular agency operates.

Thatís what Iíve understood the minister to say. In other words, the minister is saying there has been no discussion, and there are no plans at this point to privatize this particular operation of government, or to disband the special operating agency.

Chair:   Is there additional further debate, or shall we enter into line-by-line?

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, could I suggest that, perhaps for consideration of the members, we move that Bill No. 35 be deemed read and carried rather than line-by-line debate?

Unanimous consent

Chair:   Ms. Duncan has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines and the title of Bill No. 35, Act to Amend to the Public Printing Act, read and carried. Are you agreed?

All Hon. Members:  Agreed.

Chair:   There is unanimous consent.

Clauses 1 to 3 deemed read and agreed to

On Title

Title agreed to

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Mr. Chair, I move that Bill No. 35, Act to Amend the Public Printing Act, be reported without amendment.

Chair:  It has been moved by hon. Mr. Hart that Bill No. 35, Act to Amend the Public Printing Act, be reported without amendment.

Motion agreed to

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

Motion agreed to

Speaker resumes the Chair

Speaker:   I will now call the House to order.

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

Chairís report

Mr. Rouble:   Mr. Speaker, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 35, Act to Amend the Public Printing Act, and directed me to report it 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. 40: Second Reading

Clerk:   Second reading, Bill No. 40, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Hart.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I move that Bill No. 40, Act to Amend the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, be now read a second time.

Speaker:   It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Community Services that Bill No. 40, entitled Act to Amend the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, be now read a second time.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I am pleased to be able to speak today to the amendment we have introduced to the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. This government values a healthy workplace for employees and one that is free from harassment. We are committed to ensuring that the harassment complaint process available to employees of the government is fair and objective and that it is focused on restoring a positive and productive workplace.

This amendment follows through on the governmentís commitment to maintain a safe, healthy and harassment-free workplace and to ensure that all parties involved in harassment complaints and investigations will be assured that the process is confidential.

Workplace harassment complaints deal with highly sensitive and personal information about employees and their relationships with each other.

Mr. Speaker, these sensitive and difficult issues must be resolved in an environment that respects the privacy and dignity of individuals.

It is important that the workplace harassment prevention office that receives these complaints and conducts the investigations can assure all parties that this is a confidential process the employees can trust. We are committed to providing that protection, Mr. Speaker.

The amendment that we are proposing to this Legislature will extend protection from disclosure of records and information related to workplace harassment complaints under our harassment policy and under the harassment articles of both collective agreements.

Mr. Speaker, a recent Supreme Court decision and a decision of the Information and Privacy Commission on this issue have confirmed the need for this amendment and to ensure the confidentiality of the information that is so necessary to an effective complaint and investigation process.

Both decisions acknowledge that these records are sensitive and that confidentiality is critical to a fair process. Both decisions also stated that the current act cannot provide protection to records of some form of workplace harassment, interpersonal harassment and abuse of authority, and that, if such protection is to be extended to complaints of these kinds, then the act must be amended to provide that protection.

Public access to workplace harassment records through the Access to Information and Privacy Act permits these records to be used without any constraint on the parties involved. Public access to these records is in direct conflict with the stated purpose of the policy in collective agreements: to stop harassment and restore the workplace.

Mr. Speaker, both the workplace harassment policy and the letters of understanding with the Yukon Government Employees Union and the Yukon Teachers Association commit to confidentiality of the harassment complaint process. Participants in the process have access to records within the complaint and investigation process, but the confidentiality constraints are placed on their disclosure.

The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act is designed to strike a balance between the publicís right to information and the individualís right to privacy. It is our governmentís role to ensure this balance. The balancing of these two interests means we must release public information when it is appropriate and to do so, and we must protect peopleís privacy when it is necessary.

If harassment information is released under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, individuals may share this information and this may harm the complaint process and the individuals involved in complaints and investigations.

The proposed amendment clearly lays out the potential harm that could occur from the disclosure of complaint and investigation records.

Mr. Speaker, consider the harm that could be done if people hesitate to file complaints. Consider the harm that could be done if witnesses hesitate to fully disclose all the pertinent information to an investigator. Consider the harm that could be done if disclosing personal information unfairly put individual reputations at risk. Consider, Mr. Speaker, the effect that the release of these records could have on an already fractured workplace.

If our goal is to restore a productive workplace, then releasing these records will undermine our efforts. This government is committed to the actions that will help to achieve a respectful workplace where employees can have positive interactions with their colleagues, working together to deliver public service to the Yukoners they serve.

It is important that we have a way to address and resolve those instances where, regrettably, an employee feels he or she is not being treated with dignity and is being subjected to unacceptable behaviour. The process for resolution must be effective, and to be effective it must be confidential.

I am pleased to be able to accomplish this with this amendment.

Mr. Cardiff:   Well, I would like to thank the minister for bringing this forward. Access to information and protection of privacy is a very important thing, as is workplace harassment. We look forward to asking some questions when we get into Committee on this.

It was interesting that the minister made note of fractured workplaces, though, and I guess maybe this is coming forward at a good time, seeing as how the workplace is fractured at this time. Iíll look forward to asking the minister some questions along these lines when we get into Committee.

Ms. Duncan:   I appreciate and accept the ministerís explanation for this legislation that has come before us as a result of a Supreme Court ruling and take very seriously the issue that the title of the legislation weíre amending is not only the access to information, but itís also the protection of privacy act. This is what weíre attempting to do by amending this legislation, to ensure that we are in compliance with the Supreme Court ruling and also that we have protected the privacy of individuals. That being said, I would also like to put the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission on notice that during general debate on the budget, there is ó and it is entirely in order to ask a question as to how much is budgeted by the government for workplace harassment in terms of dealing with issues. Have we got a coordinator? Is there someone in place and how big is their budget in order to make employees aware of exactly what constitutes harassment in the workplace? Also, it is entirely in order and not a violation of privacy to ask what the number of complaints is.

Those are general questions that certainly are in order and would be asked of the Public Service Commissioner during general debate on the budget, and I anticipate asking them.

Now, the minister could, in the spirit of Yukon Party collaboration and cooperation, perhaps provide a legislative return earlier than the budget debate on that particular issue ó in the interests of cooperation in the House.

That being said, in terms of second reading, I have no difficulty in supporting this particular piece of housekeeping legislation brought forward by the Minister of Community Services, and I look forward to its general debate and passage through the House.

Speaker:   If the member now speaks, he will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?

Motion for second reading of Bill No. 40 agreed to

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of 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. 40, Act to Amend the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. We will begin general debate.

Bill No. 40 ó Act to Amend the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I just want to get my assistant in here for this. Just give me a second.

Chair:   Do members wish to continue, or do you request a recess?

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Chair:   Mr. Hart, would you like to make an opening statement for general debate?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I gave a fairly long speech for the second reading. I am prepared to basically respond to questions from the members opposite.

Mr. Cardiff:   With regard to the legislation as it relates to harassment complaints, Iím just wondering why this is coming forward now. The explanation that was given in the briefing was about a court decision. Are there any other reasons why this is being brought forward at this time?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   The main reason for the amendment changes are due to the recent Supreme Court decisions and the recommendation provided by the justices in that particular case.

Mr. Cardiff:   Iím just wondering if this could, in any way, be related to an increase in harassment complaints arising from renewal or from the computer use investigation.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   This is in no way reflective of that particular situation. Those situations are protected under the human rights previously handled under the act.

Mr. Cardiff:   One other thing I think Iíd like to find out, I guess, is ó I agree about the privacy issues and maintaining the confidentiality of people who participate in these complaints, whether they are the witnesses or the complainants, or the people who are being complained about for that matter. Peopleís privacy is important. But Iím just hoping that, by amending this legislation, the public will still be able to find out about the numbers of complaints ó how many complaints the government is having in the workplace, as an indicator of whether itís a healthy workplace or not.

Will there be access to the numbers of complaints ó that we should be able to find out how many harassment complaints there are in a year without breaching anybodyís confidentiality?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   For the members opposite, I believe that the actual number of harassments to be provided under the act should be able to be provided in that process, but I will have to put a clarifier on that until such time as I can verify that to you. Iíll have to discuss that particular issue with my officials.

Mr. Cardiff:   When could we expect to get an answer to that?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Excuse me, Mr. Chair. Could you just ask the member opposite to repeat the question, please?

Mr. Cardiff:   What the minister said was that he would have to speak with his officials, and the officials arenít here to do this. The government is not ready to answer the questions that we have. So what Iím asking is, when will we be able to get an answer to that question?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   You should have an answer to that question before weíre finished with this discussion. Apparently, Iím told theyíre on their way.

Mr. Cardiff:   Iíll move on to a couple of other questions. With regard to the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, some people find that information is not always the easiest to get through this avenue, and there is also a cost associated with accessing information. This isnít directly related to the amendment that weíre discussing, but it is part of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Just as an example, our caucus tried to get some documents related to the Justice ministerís release of the Capital Towing truck, and we were told it was going to cost us $101. Are there any plans to reduce that cost? Or how do you justify the cost to the public of information that should be available to them?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   The actual amendment weíre talking about doesnít discuss the actual rates that are currently being charged, but the rates that are currently being charged have been discussed in previous discussions in this House with regard to pricing and are basically relative to other jurisdictions for that type of information.

Mr. Cardiff:   My understanding is that, when you propose an amendment to a piece of legislation, you can talk about anything in that piece of legislation. It just seems to me that the cost of getting information that should be part of public record seems unduly high, and I donít understand why the minister doesnít want to address that.

If he doesnít want to answer that, thatís fine. Right now, those are all the questions I have, and I look forward to an answer about the numbers when heís ready.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   To the member opposite, it is duly noted.

Ms. Duncan:   I would just ask that the minister provide, or have his departmental officials provide, for our background files a copy of the relevant section of the Supreme Court justicesí ruling. Iím not asking for a legal opinion, so Iím in order. Iím asking for the ruling. If I could just have it provided by way of background to add to the file, Iíd appreciate that information.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I will endeavour to do that.

Chair:   Is there any further general debate?

Hearing none, we will go into line-by-line discussion.

On Clause 1

Clause 1 agreed to

On Clause 2

Clause 2 agreed to

On Clause 3

Clause 3 agreed to

On Title

Title agreed to

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I move that Bill No. 40 be reported without amendment.

Chair:   It has been moved by hon. Mr. Hart that Bill No. 40, entitled Act to Amend the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, be reported without amendment.

Motion agreed to

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

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

Motion agreed to

Speaker resumes the Chair

Speaker:   Iíll now call the House to order.

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

Chairís report

Mr. Rouble:   Mr. Speaker, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 40, Act to Amend the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and directed me to report it without amendment.

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

Some Hon. Members:   Agreed.

Speaker:   I declare the report carried.

GOVERNMENT BILLS

Bill No. 38: Second Reading

Clerk:   Second reading, Bill No. 38, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Hart.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I move that Bill No. 38, entitled Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act, be now read a second time.

Speaker:   It has been moved by the Minister of Community Services that Bill No. 38, entitled Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act, be now read a second time.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   The Yukon government is proposing amendments to the Employment Standards Act to ensure the Yukonís legislation remains in line with recent developments at the federal level. The amendments mean that employees protected by the territorial labour legislation will have the same rights to compassionate care leave as their counterparts governed by the Canada Labour Code.

The proposed legislation entitles employees to job protection for up to eight weeks of leave to provide care and support for a terminally ill family member. Upon returning to work, the employee will be reinstated in his or her former position or be given a comparable position in the same location with the same wages and benefits.

These amendments support families and seniors, and also Yukon First Nations, who, traditionally, have a very family-oriented focus.

The legislation can alleviate some of the stress associated with an already difficult situation. Without approval of these amendments, a worker who chooses to take time off work to support a dying family member risks not having a job to return to.

What a difficult and emotional decision to have to make; however, as our population ages we can expect this to be more of a common issue.

The proposed amendment supports family-based care and may help to ease the difficult and stressful time by enabling families to be together. The proposed amendments may also lessen some of the costs to the health care system.

Mr. Speaker, it is essential that this legislation be passed in time to coordinate with the implementation of the nation-wide amendments to the Canada Labour Code.

I fully support this piece of legislation, and I am asking for unanimous support of all members of the House. It is an important bill that recognizes evolving social values and the merit of caring for oneís family.

Mr. Cardiff:   It gives me pleasure to rise today and speak about this amendment to the Employment Standards Act. I think this is something that is long overdue. Iím glad that the federal government finally recognized the need for this. This is something that employees across this country, and Iím sure here in the territory as well, have been trying to get for many, many years.

The minister will not have any problems. We intend to give our full support to this piece of legislation. I appreciate everything that the minister said about family, about caring for your family and the tough circumstances that are sometimes involved in that.

Iíd like to take this opportunity to relate my own personal experience and why I believe that this is a very good change to the Employment Standards Act, and something that hopefully people will become aware of and be able to use when itís needed.

My own situation was that my father-in-law was on deathís doorstep. I had seen him a week before and he seemed reasonably healthy. I got home and the next thing I knew he was in really ill health. On a Saturday morning at 7:00, I decided to jump into the van that my wife was leaving town in to go and see her father, and when I phoned on Monday morning my employer said, "No problem." I mean, it was no problem for my employer, but some employers wouldnít grant people that leeway.

Enshrining this in legislation and protecting peopleís rights to care for their families is a very important thing. It meant a lot to me to be able to go with my wife and be with her family in their time of need. I am sure that there are many instances here in the territory where this will be important. It protects the workersí rights; it guarantees that they have a right to return to work and some substantial position equivalent to their position, if not their own position.

I look forward to supporting this.

Ms. Duncan:   I, too, am pleased to rise to offer my support for this particular piece of legislation. It is very important to Yukoners and to Canadians that this amendment take place. Many Yukoners share the personal situation that has been shared by the Member for Mount Lorne today and appreciate the patience and support of our employers in the Yukon as we grapple with the care of family members.

I believe that itís important that the territory take this step with regard to our Employment Standards Act, and I believe many Yukoners will benefit from this, and I am pleased that it has come forward as quickly as it has from the government, and, again, I offer my support for this legislation.

Speaker:   If the member now speaks, he will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I would like to thank the members opposite for their support for the amendment, and as mentioned, I think I, too, have experienced this particular situation, and, I, too, fortunately, had a very compassionate employer who allowed me to take time off for a personal family matter. I think this is an important issue, and I look forward to discussing it in the Committee of the Whole.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Motion for second reading of Bill No. 38 agreed to

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

Speaker:   It has been moved by the government House leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.

Motion agreed to

Speaker leaves the Chair

COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE

Chair:   Committee of the Whole will now come to order. The matter before the Committee is Bill No. 38, Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act. Weíll begin with general debate.

Bill No. 38 ó Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I think the amendment has received unanimous support from the members opposite as well as our own membership. I think that itís a fairly self-explanatory amendment. I donít anticipate too much debate, but I look forward to any questions the members opposite would have.

Mr. Cardiff: In the spirit of cooperation, Iíd like to move that we deem all clauses and the title read and carried, and that we donít need to debate it.

Unanimous consent

Chair:   Mr. Cardiff has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all clauses and the title of Bill No. 38, Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act, read and carried. Are you agreed?

All Hon. Members:  Agreed.

Chair:   The ayes have it. The motion is carried.

Clauses 1 and 2 are deemed to have been read and agreed to

On Title

Title agreed to

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I move that Bill No. 38, entitled Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act, be reported without amendment.

Chair:  It has been moved by hon. Mr. Hart that Bill No. 38, entitled Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act, be reported without amendment.

Motion agreed to

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

Chair:   Mr. Kenyon has requested that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.

Motion agreed to

Speaker resumes the Chair

Speaker:   I will now call the House to order.

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

Chairís report

Mr. Rouble:   Mr. Speaker, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 38, Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act, and directed me to report it without amendment.

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

Some Hon. Members:   Agreed.

Speaker:   I declare the report carried.

GOVERNMENT BILLS

Bill No. 37: Second Reading

Clerk:   Second reading, Bill No. 37, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Fentie.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 37, entitled Statistics Act, be now read a second time.

Speaker:   It has been moved by the hon. government House leader that Bill No. 37, entitled Statistics Act, be now read a second time.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I rise today to introduce Bill No. 37, the Yukonís Statistics Act. The primary impetus for this legislation is to legally establish the Yukon Bureau of Statistics so we can have access to federal databases that contain economic, social and demographic information relevant to the Yukon.

Stats Canada collects a tremendous amount of detailed information to which we donít have access now because we donít have a formally established statistical agency and the necessary provisions for collecting information and protecting confidentiality that are covered by the Statistics Act.

For example, Revenue Canada collects information about salaries. Currently, if we want to compare the salaries of men and women in the Yukon, that data exists. It could be of great benefit to us in developing and enhancing our economic and social policies if we could get permission to use it. This legislation, Mr. Speaker, will open these doors for us.

This act also establishes a legal basis for us to work more closely with Yukon First Nations and other governments to help them meet their own needs for collecting and maintaining control over their own statistical data. As land claims and self-government agreements have been signed and implemented, there has been a greater recognition of the need to collect and maintain statistical information that can be used to improve economic and social conditions for First Nations. This act enables partnerships to be formed for the collection and preservation of this much-needed information.

One very important aspect of the legislation is that it further guarantees the privacy of Yukoners. Reports of the information gathered by the bureau will be publicly available, but they will never identify individuals. As well, the act includes provisions to penalize employees who mishandle that data.

We held broad consultation in 2002 and again in 2003 with the current draft of this legislation. The feedback was favourable, Mr. Speaker. The principles of the act were presented to First Nation leaders, and Grand Chief Ed Schultz has indicated approval.

Currently all provinces, with the exception of Prince Edward Island, have their own statistics act. By passing this legislation, we will be a leader in the north, as the Yukon will be the first territory to have such an act. Mr. Speaker, I urge all members to support this very important bill.

Mr. McRobb:   First of all, Mr. Speaker, I want to be put on the record that we had no notice from the House leader meeting this morning that the government would be calling this item of business this afternoon. Correct me if Iím wrong, but the purpose of House leader meetings in the morning is for the opposition parties to become apprised of business of the day in order that they can prepare to address such issues.

What happened today, Mr. Speaker, was that the government House leader identified Bill Nos. 35, 38, and 40 to be called this afternoon, and weíve dealt with those matters already, as you know.

This bill, No. 37, was not identified this morning by the government side. In addition, we havenít had a chance for briefings on these bills.

Now, why, you ask, is this so? Because we dealt with similar occurrences in the spring sitting, the only other time this government has brought forward any bills in this Legislature. Obviously they didnít learn too much over the summer because we are right back into it again ó a state of confusion.

I would like to ask the government House leader why this was not identified as business for the day?

Ms. Duncan:   As members of this Legislature, we are called upon each day to debate issues of concern to Yukoners and to debate the laws of the territory. I believe, Mr. Speaker, that you also ask us to conduct ourselves with honour and dignity. The difficulty that we have been placed in as members of the opposition is that we have been given no background information, no briefing, no advance notice that this has been called for debate in order that we might prepare ourselves. That presents a real difficulty.

To act on behalf of constituents we are asked to be prepared and to thoroughly review matters. As the leader of the third party in the House, I have prepared myself for the debate on the pieces of legislation identified by the House leader for debate. This particular piece was not identified.

That puts me in a difficult position and it should be noted for the benefit of all members of this House that members would no more be prepared had they not received a briefing than we would be expected to be. That is not, I would suggest, conducting ourselves in the manner our constituents expect of us. They expect us to be well-prepared. That involves working with all members of the House to be adequately prepared to debate legislation. We were adequately prepared, as witnessed by the passage of the three important pieces of legislation we have already dealt with.

This item was not identified for debate by the House leader today. That being said, there have been two other attempts made to establish the Yukon Statistics Act, and there are reasons why the act was never brought forward, never managed to come to the floor for debate, and they were very good reasons.

Some of those reasons have to deal with punitive measures in the act, and I still see, in reviewing this legislation ó which we have only had for a very short period of time, and there has not been a briefing made available by legal counsel on this issue, or from Justice officials or Statistics officials or Executive Council officials. That has not been made available to members on this side of the House.

There are some measures that I see in the act with respect to the oath. However, I donít see how that particular section of the act is to be enforced, and thatís just a short, brief reading of this particular piece of legislation. I would suggest to the government House leader that we should not be proceeding with this piece of legislation at second reading. The government has not provided the opposition with advance notice ó any notice, never mind advance ó that the legislation was coming forward for debate today.

The House leader has not provided, as has been the past practice of this Legislature, an official briefing on this particular piece of legislation, and has not provided, in fact, all members of the House ó certainly not this side of the House ó with adequate time for full and due and thorough consideration of this legislation.

Itís unfortunate, because we are trying to constructively prepare for and conduct debate. As I said, in the interests of House business and thorough debate on behalf of Yukoners and conducting ourselves with honour and with dignity, I would suggest that the House leader withdraw or stay the second reading debate and provide notice. Letís do what Yukoners have asked us to do, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker:   If the member now speaks, he will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Chair, Iíve listened very attentively to what the third party and the official opposition had to say on this piece of legislation. This piece of legislation is not a new piece of legislation that has been put together in the last couple of days. The leader of the third party has been aware of it. The official opposition, Iím sure, has been aware of it. But thatís not the issue here. The issue is how the government is conducting the business of this House. Weíre kind of in a catch-22. When we provide briefings ahead of time, embargoed copies of bills, weíre criticized. And when we put together briefings ó actually, we were prepared to proceed with briefings last Friday, but there wasnít an appetite in the opposition ranks to deal with the matter last Friday.

So weíre left at an impasse here. One kind of gets a feel as to how fast legislation will move through this Assembly, given the past record of the parties. I havenít seen any real efforts by the opposition parties to critique these bills at any great depth. If you want to use the basketball analogy, itís a slam-dunk. Itís there. Itís finished.

Yet we come to another bill of a very similar nature, which is quite simple, very enabling, very forward thinking, and both official opposition parties stand up and say they havenít had a briefing. Now, there are options we can explore, Mr. Speaker.

We can adjourn the Legislature today at this time and provide a briefing to the opposition. I donít know if thatís in the best interests of the business of this House to proceed in that direction. Given the depth of the legislation ó and Iím sure that all the opposition members have had an opportunity to critique it ó there is very little in there that is contentious or of a serious nature. Itís very enabling for the Yukon, and it does provide protection for identifying any one individual or one corporate entity, or a business undertaking, within the framework of this Bill No. 37.

Even the issue of those who assemble this information and deal with it, and breach any confidentiality ó there are provisions in this bill for penalties in that area, and severe penalties, Mr. Speaker.

Iím at a loss to try and understand where the official opposition is going on some of this legislation, given that itís a constant issue of "We are always wrong and they are always right", given that it doesnít matter if we provide briefings ahead of time or we do not provide briefings, or if we provide briefings and thereís no uptake, or offer briefings and thereís no uptake, weíre criticized. Iím uncomfortable with that approach.

As a government we are committed to being open, accountable. We are committed to moving forward on a legislative agenda and weíre committed to making this legislature function in a better manner.

Weíre here to serve the people and, to that end, Mr. Chair, it would be encouraging to see the opposition take up the challenge, and we can resolve into Committee of the Whole and proceed with this. But weíre at second reading, weíre closing debate, weíll be voting on it. I think we can probably move forward in line-by-line, or we can adjourn debate, or we can go into the 2002-03 supplementary.

Now thereís another option, but the official opposition is going to get up and criticize that that wasnít identified at the House leadersí meeting this morning for debate on the floor.

The speed at which the opposition has raced through three very important and critical pieces of legislation is alarming.

That, in itself, is alarming.

Given past practices to scrutinize new legislation and amendments to legislation in this House, I guess those are out the window.

I guess the question that has to be answered is, is the public good being served?

I commend Bill No. 37 to this House, and ask all members to support it at second reading

Motion for second reading of Bill No. 37 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 the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.

Motion agreed to

Speaker leaves the Chair

COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE

Chair:   Committee of the Whole will now come to order.

The bill before the Committee is Bill No. 37, Statistics Act.

Before we begin general debate, do members wish a brief recess?

Some Hon. Members:   Agreed.

Chair:   We will call a recess for 10 minutes.

Recess

Chair:   Committee of the Whole will now come to order. The matter before the Committee is Bill No. 37, the Statistics Act.

Bill No. 37 ó Statistics Act

Mr. McRobb:   I would just like to put on record my comments in response to the acting ministerís closing comments in second reading.

I would like to reflect back on this morningís House leadersí meeting and provide a little more history for the record. At this morningís meeting, the government House leader, who is the same person who is the acting Finance minister today, identified four pieces of legislation for debate this afternoon. Three of them we have completed. The fourth one he identified was the Health Professions Act. Mr. Chair, that act hasnít even been tabled. It hasnít even been tabled, yet thatís what he wanted to debate this afternoon. Well, Mr. Chair, the government House leader has to start doing his job. The first order of business in the job is find out whatís going on and get tuned in to the facts.

Secondly, the same person identified the three bills we have dealt with already as housekeeping bills. That was his own language, Mr. Chair ó he said those other three bills are housekeeping bills.

For anyone not tuned into that language, Mr. Chair, "housekeeping bills" refer to legislation that is easily passed without any substantive issues. Yet we just heard him stand up and criticize the opposition members for racing through those important pieces of legislation. Do you see the difference, Mr. Chair? Yes, anyone can see the difference.

The government House leader is trying to make it appear as though those three housekeeping bills were substantial in order to cover for obviously a terrible mistake that is leading to lost time in this Legislature.

Mr. Chair, nothing could be further than the truth. There was unanimous consent to proceed on Thursday, just as we indicated today there is unanimous consent to proceed to the supplementary. Twice today we asked the government House leader to table the supplementary estimates for this year, but he refused. Again we offered full consent to proceed to debating that bill.

That is a matter of urgency to the Yukon public. This budget has been embargoed for ó it will be the fifth day tomorrow, and by the time we are allowed to deal with it in Question Period, it will have been a full week. That is absolutely outrageous. This government has to get its act together.

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

Ms. Duncan:   I mean no disrespect to my colleague, but on a point of order I would like to recognize the presence in the gallery of a former member of the Legislature, Scott Kent, former Minister of Economic Development, and Mike Eizenga, who is visiting the territory, who is a candidate for the presidency of the Canadian Liberal Party.

Mr. McRobb:   Obviously, the bungling that we see, in terms of communicating House business, has reached an all-time low.

One option that was open to the government House leader was to call a House leadersí meeting earlier than this point in time, to discuss this problem ó to discuss what business could be debated. But instead, this person chose a highly confrontational approach and an approach that gave us absolutely zero warning. Yet, the government House leader will stand up and elaborate at length about how open and accountable and fair his government is in dealing with the opposition. Mr. Chair, we know that that is simply not the case.

It is incumbent upon the government to identify business of the day to the opposition parties in order to allow the opposition to be fully prepared to discuss any legislation that comes on the floor of this House. If the government decides itís not going to let the opposition know what business it will be dealing with until the last minute, then that reflects rather poorly on the performance of the government in terms of being open and accountable.

Mr. Chair, I can recall the government House leader, when he was in opposition, railing on previous governments for anything that might suggest this type of an approach. Personally, I donít recall anything quite this bad happening in those previous governments, but he would rail on about it. One would have thought a lesson would have been learned over the years, especially with some of the campaign promises made a year ago.

Secondly, the Premier did the same thing. He would rail on the previous government for anything that suggested this type of an approach by the government. Weíve heard a number of words used, Mr. Speaker, that would probably be ruled unparliamentary in todayís Legislature. I wonít mention them. I will leave it up to your own recollection as to what those words are. But they are very hard-hitting words and words that cut through the smoke and mirrors, words that really hit home.

This government has to ask itself: is this the type of autocracy it promised Yukoners it would deliver? Is this the type of closed-door approach it promised Yukoners it would deliver? Of course not, Mr. Chair. I say shame on this government. Shame on this government for showing such a poor level of cooperation toward the opposition parties.

Thatís another major point, Mr. Chair. A year ago all parties recognized the need for all legislators to cooperate together for the benefit of the territory. Whatever happened to that? You call this cooperation, when the government fails to identify business to the opposition parties? Instead we are surprised at the last second with anything that it calls for business. Again, for the record, the purpose of House leader meetings is for the government to work out with the opposition House leaders the business of the day so everybody knows the test to be met.

Everybody knows the business of the day. Everybody has a fair opportunity to be prepared. Instead, Mr. Chair, we see something quite different. Given the approach of the government House leader to not deal with this matter head on and face up to it as he did only this morning at 9:45 when he said that those three bills were housekeeping bills and, instead, he chose to stand up and criticize the opposition for racing through important legislation. Can you see the difference? Can you see the difference? Well, we are not very impressed, Mr. Chair, with the approach taken by this government. This is the second day. The first day was a great loss of productivity, and the second day appears to be one, as well, Mr. Chair. With that, my comments are on the record.

Chair:   Weíll proceed at this time with Bill No. 37, Statistics Act, and general debate.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, I would like to add my comments with respect to the way that House business has proceeded today. Weíve seen in this Legislature, through a number of different legislative sessions, the Legislature pass laws that, quite frankly, werenít written very well and werenít done very well. A very good example of this was in the late 1990s when a bill came before this Legislature that basically threw the family law into question ó spousal payments and how that law was administered ó because there was a difficult clause in the act.

Now, weíve also seen hours and hours of debate on an act about what the rules of natural justice are ó what does that constitute, what was the ministerís understanding of that at the time, what is fair process?

All that legislation, good and bad, has been given thorough thought and debate. The way we arrive at that debate is by organizing our time through House leadersí meetings and by being prepared. As prepared as a person can be, sometimes legislation passes and legislators go back and say, "Gee, we should have dealt with that in a different way."

Weíve also seen 12 days of debate on larvicide in the Yukon, the price of larvicide, and how many lug nuts there are in a grader in Old Crow. Debate has sometimes been less than productive in this Legislature, and thatís unfortunate. It happens. I would say to members opposite that debate right now is less than productive because the government House leader has failed to organize the time, failed to provide notice to the opposition, failed to provide detailed information and briefings, and failed to even provide more than ó as the words were coming out of the Speakerís mouth ó notice that this is what we were debating. That is not a recipe for a productive legislature, by anybodyís standards.

What this has revealed is the woeful lack of an agenda by the members opposite. There isnít one. The Statistics Act has been discussed by two other governments. That doesnít mean that we should then be prepared, as the member opposite suggests.

That doesnít say there shouldnít be a full briefing on it. The government House leader has not organized the House business today. He must, in good conscience, recognize that fact and seek some consensus from the other House leaders as to what should be done.

In the interest of the public, in the interest of the Yukon, and in the interest of doing our jobs productively, he should be seeking the agreement of the other House leaders as to what should be done with this business. Heís not, and that is unfortunate.

The biggest loss in this is that the general public looks at everybody in this Legislature and asks, "Why canít they organize themselves?" Well, folks, weíre trying, but it takes cooperation ó cooperation that the Yukon Party promised Yukoners. It takes collaboration. The Yukon Party promised that. It takes building consensus. The Yukon Party promised that. Unfortunately, there hasnít been any, and the fact that the Statistics Act is before Committee of the Whole today is a good example of the Yukon Partyís inability to deliver on that consensus and collaboration, and itís a good example of the Yukon Partyís lack of agenda.

The Statistics Act should have a thorough briefing provided to members of the opposition. There hasnít been one.

Is the member, who is the minister, the government House leader, fully prepared to debate this legislation? Perhaps we can begin general debate by asking this: has a thorough briefing of this piece of legislation been provided to all members of the Legislature?

Mr. Chair, I asked the minister, who is speaking with responsibility for this act, if a briefing has been provided to all members of the Legislature on the details of this act. Can he answer that question in general debate? It would appear that the minister who is taking responsibility for this act today is refusing to answer that question.

I understand the leader of the official opposition has a question.

Mr. Hardy:   Well, I also have some strong concerns about what is happening in the Legislature and what has been happening since the Yukon Party was elected.

Whether the members who form the government presently see it or not, there has been a fundamental shift in the behaviour of the people with the power toward the people who are in the position of questioning, the opposition members. There was a big to-do made about working together, sharing information, and ensuring that we come into the Legislature prepared to debate bills and budgets, yet there has been an erosion of that intent. And I believe the intent was sincere; however, it only takes one or two people in positions that dominate all the other elected members to influence them enough to alter that kind of sincere belief, a belief that this would be a much more accountable and open government. I donít believe that what we are witnessing here today is a movement toward that. I feel that in many ways.

If they were on this side, they would be shocked and aghast with their behaviour today.

By their very position ó by the acting ministerís very position and by the House leaderís very position ó he is the leader and he should be leading by example. However, he is leading by his own ego. That is not serving this House well.

Because of that, we have a difficult time debating this bill. We have a difficult time recognizing the merits of it. There might be some very good merits to the changes that are being made. They probably are just housekeeping, but we donít have a comfort zone or a comfort level on this side to go forward on it if we donít have the opportunity to have a briefing. A briefing is a simple thing. It could be five minutes long, in which the important questions that we feel need to be asked are asked. We come in here, we have a small debate to clarify some positions and then move forward; however, here we are debating the behaviour and actions of this government toward us around something that may not be of great significance. However, we donít know that.

We would be remiss if we agreed to move forward without a briefing on this bill only to find a year or two years down the road that ó because of the lack of knowledge we had, the opportunities that we had to analyze this bill ó itís faulty; it has caused problems, and it has caused hardship and difficulty.

So my position is in support of the two previous speakers. My concern is about debating this. Iím concerned about the lack of the briefing in this matter. I would like to see, from this point on, proper notice and due diligence to ensure that we have the opportunity to have the briefings, so that we donít have to debate this any more, and we can move forward together and work closer together in the Legislature.

If this behaviour, this manner, of bringing forward bills continues, I canít see us having a great relationship in here.

Chairís statement

Chair:   Clearly the House leaders are having a dispute about the order of business. Itís not the place of the Chair to mediate House leadersí disputes. Rather, all the Chair can do is follow the rules. Those rules state that the government has the right to call its business in the order it prefers on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. All the Chair can do, then, is rule that the government has the right to call Bill No. 37 for consideration in Committee of the Whole. That has been done. Let us now continue on with general debate on Bill No. 37, Statistics Act.

Does any member wish to speak regarding general debate?

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, I would like to ask the minister who is taking responsibility for this bill to provide us with the salient points of the bill, and again, the reasons for bringing it forward at this particular time. He mentioned in his second reading speech that the government had received support from the Council of Yukon First Nations and the Grand Chief. Is he prepared to provide the evidence of that support in the Legislature?

To begin with, Iím most interested in his responses to why this particular piece of legislation is coming forward at this time.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The key features of this act are that it formerly establishes a Statistic Bureau for the Yukon, and it is consistent with other Canadian jurisdictions, save and except P.E.I., N.W.T. and Nunavut, which do not have one. It allows data sharing with all levels of government. It allows for partnerships for undertaking statistical activities with all levels of government.

I could use, for example, surveys and the analysis and publishing of the resulting information. It allows for those collecting the data, specifically employees within the Government of Yukon who violate the confidentiality of that data collection that compromises the privacy of individuals and businesses ó it allows for fines to be imposed on these individuals.

It also, at the same time, guarantees that all individualsí and businessí information is not accessible to anyone other than the information provider.

I guess you can ask, "Why do we need a Statistics Act at all?" Mr. Chair, having a Statistics Act will allow Yukoners to get access to existing Statistics Canada information about the Yukon, which will save time. It will also save money, and it will reduce the number of times that a person has to provide information through surveys.

It will establish a formal basis for negotiation of statistical methods with Statistics Canada regarding census counts and adjustments. And all of us here in this House should be very cognizant of the issue surrounding the Statistics Canada population count and the impact it has on the transfer payments from Ottawa.

This will remove that doubt, Mr. Chair, and provide certainty for it. Itíll allow access to federal economic, income and social data, and itíll enable the bureau to provide departments with an enhanced ability to identify and monitor trends in the Yukon economy. That is critically important, as our government renews investor confidence and rebuilds the Yukon economy.

Itíll allow us to understand the impact of those trends on families and individuals, and itíll provide much better information to help departments make changes that will improve their programs for Yukoners.

I guess the other side of that is, currently, do we not have access to federal stats and data? Well, yes, but only the very high-level data. This act will allow the Yukon Bureau of Statistics to receive the confidential individual records of data, which would permit a much more refined analysis of existing data to focus on specific Yukon concerns. That, in itself, is very positive.

Other provinces with agreements currently have access to approximately 37 survey data sources from Stats Canada at the detailed level. It will allow us the same access. The other benefits are that the Bureau of Stats would be in a position to review Stats Canada publications about Yukon data for abnormalities before that data goes to press, and that has been a problem in the past that we have statistics that we have assembled here in the Yukon that say XYZ, and Stats Canada comes back and says itís ABC, so weíre at an impasse.

So what it will allow us to do here in the Yukon is to take the information assembled by Stats Canada, review it, and say, "Hey look, this is out of whack, or thatís in line, but this appears to be abnormal. Why are you reporting it this way when our data suggests that?" It will allow us to go forward with less friction between our respective governments.

The microlevel data can reduce the need for the Government of Yukon to collect similar information through surveys. Also, and most importantly, Mr. Chair, it will reduce the amount of surveys and imposition on Yukoners, because we do it once, and we do it properly. Those are the benefits, Mr. Chair, that stem from this Statistics Act. It is a very important act. It has been carefully reviewed, and it is recommended to this House. I would encourage the members opposite to kind of have a look at it. This was tabled last Thursday. There have been three days in which everyone could have had a look at this piece of legislation. I donít want to suggest there is not the capacity in the opposition to look at this kind of legislation. Iím sure there is a very capable group in-house that analyzes all of this type of data and reviews these pieces of legislation from a standpoint of critiquing it to looking at how it may be improved or how it might be enhanced.

Now, Mr. Chair, I see this as a very positive step forward.

With respect to the consultation, consultation has taken place with the Council of Yukon First Nations and the First Nation groups. Theyíre supportive of this piece of legislation and have indicated their support in writing to Premier Fentie. That is in a letter, and Iíd be happy to table that letter.

Ms. Duncan:   I await the delivery of the letter. Itís going to take some time for copies to be made for all members to have a look at it. In light of the comments made by the House leader for the official opposition caucus and the leader of the official opposition that there has not been adequate opportunity to review or receive briefings on this legislation, the government House leader, when he was in opposition, was frequently fond of the suggestion that the then government stand aside a piece of legislation and allow an opportunity to fully review it.

I would put forward ó with a sense of collaboration and in an attempt to work with the House leader ó the suggestion that we stand aside this piece of legislation and move on to the other government business and return to it when we have had an opportunity to have a full and thorough consideration of the legislation.

Chair:   Is there any further general debate?

Hearing no further general debate, we will proceed with line-by-line examination.

On Clause 1

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, I would repeat my request, made with all due respect to the House leader of the government side, that we stand aside the clauses of this bill until such time as there can be a thorough briefing for the opposition. Apparently we have other government business to move on to. Is there any reason why we couldnít stand aside the Statistics Act and the clause-by-clause debate?

Mr. Hardy:   I also would like to request that the acting minister consider the request from the leader of the third party to stand aside this act in order for us to have a more thorough look at it with a proper briefing.

Chair:   Is there any further debate on clause 1?

Clause 1 agreed to

On Clause 2

Ms. Duncan:   I would repeat my request that clause 2 stand aside and that we be afforded an opportunity to provide thorough examination of this piece of legislation rather than see it moved in this manner through the Legislature.

Chair:   Is there any further debate on clause 2?

Mr. Hardy:   I have a question. Where would the Bureau of Statistics reside ó in which department?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   At the present time, it is housed within Executive Council Office. The member opposite is correct, it could be housed within any department of the government, but the Executive Council Office appears to be the best fit.

Clause 2 agreed to

On Clause 3

Mr. Hardy:   Could I ask for a chance to look at clause 3, since we didnít get a proper briefing?

Ms. Duncan:   I have a question with respect to clause 3. This confers upon the ability for the minister and the Commissioner in Executive Council to authorize the bureau to collect the statistics, and also prescribe such rules and instructions and forms. Is there anything preventing the minister from turning this into a political tool and gathering political polling information? Is there anything in this act that prevents it?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   If the member could be referred to clause 5, "A certificate purporting to be signed by the director certifying information, or calculations using information, obtained under this Act is evidence of the information and calculations stated in the certificate." What it means is that the director has the responsibility to certify as correct information gathered under this act, and it designates the director as the only individual able to certify as accurate territorial statistics pursuant to this legislation.

Ms. Duncan:   All the minister said was that clause 5 ó itís clause 3 weíre debating ó says that the chief statistician, for lack of a better term, is going to certify data as accurate. My question was, is there anything in this act that prevents the government of the day from doing political polling at taxpayersí expense? Thereís nothing in this act that says you cannot use it for opinion gathering.

Iím asking the minister to point that out, since he is so completely familiar with the act. Where does it prevent the misuse by a political party of taxpayersí money to gather polling information and have the Bureau of Statistics do it for them? Where is that prevented?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   There are specific categories of data that are only allowed to be collected under this piece of legislation, and polling data for political purposes is not among them.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, that may be. The minister has not quoted a section of the act. Under Section 3(2), the minister has quite substantial authority: "The Minister may prescribe such rules, instructions, and forms as may be necessary for conducting the work of the Bureau." It does give the minister substantial authority under this act. What, in addition to this section he has not named ó and I appreciate the minister is a novice at being in charge of the Executive Council Office, but perhaps he could suggest what the authorities are that prevent the misuse. And I would remind the member that there is a very well-known legal draftsman who has done excellent work on behalf of the Government of Yukon who often says that you donít need legislation to tell you what you can do but legislation as to what you canít do. Perhaps the minister, in all his familiarity with this act, could tell us what the relevant sections are.

Chairís statement

Chair:   Before the minister responds, Iíd like to remind the House that the term "novice" was ruled unparliamentary in the past, as it could be deemed as a derogatory comment.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I refer the member opposite to clause 11 and clause 12, agreements with Statistics Canada for sharing with Statistics Canada: "11(1)(a) replies to any specific statistical inquiries; (b) replies to any specific classes of information collected under this Act; (c) any tabulations or analyses based on replies to referred to in clauses (a) or (b) for the collection of information jointly with Statistics Canada or on their behalf and for the sharing of that information with them and for subsequent tabulation or publication based on that information; or (e) information obtained by the Bureau under this Act."

The federal Statistics Canada Act spells out the legal framework and spells out the areas that can be utilized, and we dovetail into that federal legislation, Mr. Chair. Thereís no room for abuse.

Where it was recognized that there might be a problem is in releasing confidential information or identifying a body or business entity that is of such small numbers that the revealing of that information could specifically target one firm or one individual.

That said, there are exclusions and there are guidelines around the collection that would preclude that from occurring, Mr. Chair. There is a great deal of protection. And then the confidentiality of this information, should it ever be breached, could result in serious consequence for the individual who released that confidential information.

So itís by and large covered. And if you look at the mandate of the bureau, as outlined in clause 3, which is where we are at, "The Bureau may plan, promote, and develop integrated social and economic statistics relating to the territory or the government or both, and in particular, may (a) collect, compile, analyse, abstract, and publish statistical information relating to the commercial, industrial, financial, social economic, educational, recreational, and other activities and conditions of the territory and persons in the territory..." ó well-defined, I would say, Mr. Chair.

Ms. Duncan:   Thatís an incredibly broad definition. The minister has not indicated, either in outlining the mandate of the bureau or earlier, why it was felt necessary to proceed with this particular legislation when jurisdictions like Prince Edward Island have not.

Why is it that, again, when you donít need legislation to tell you what you can do, why was it necessary for the Yukon to proceed when Prince Edward Island hasnít found it necessary to proceed ó again, a small jurisdiction but a substantially larger population?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Well, the member opposite only has to look back at some of the larger disputes that Yukon has had with Canada under our financing arrangements with them. Thatís the population, the census count and the undercount and how that is determined. There is a large issue there and our government wants to provide more certainty to that process other than, gee, we have to go and fight with Stats Canada as to what our population is.

We donít want to be there. We want to have the determination of the population as hard and fast as we possibly can so that there is no wiggle room. Our financial arrangements with Canada are considerably different than what Prince Edward Island has with Canada. We are in a very fortunate position with our formula financing in many respects but, in order to bring certainty, we need to have a stats act that will allow us to dovetail our information with Stats Canada and utilize it for the purpose for which it is intended.

Having a statistics act will allow Yukon to get access to existing Statistics Canada information about the Yukon. That will save time. That will save money. And it will also reduce the burden on Yukoners as to the frequency of which they will get a phone call or a form, because we will only have to do it once, not twice. It also establishes a formal basis for negotiation of statistical methods with Statistics Canada regarding census counts and adjustments. That is extremely important and very, very critical.

If we just look back a few years, I seem to recall it was the member oppositeís government that was saying, "Make sure everyone in the Yukon gets counted. Make sure everyone is in the census adjustment." Well, thatís part of the equation, but the other part of the equation is to make sure that the Yukon census and the federal census are one and the same. We stand a much better chance of accessing federal funding and determining the level of funding under formula financing when there is no dispute about the population levels. Thatís what this Statistics Act will do, Mr. Chair.

It will also provide access to federal economic, income, and social data, and it will enable the bureau to provide departments with an enhanced ability to identify and monitor trends in our economy, here in the Yukon. And that economy is going to be turning around under the Yukon Party government. Investor confidence will be restored, and there will be a need for more and more of this information.

Now, if the members opposite want to make the case that we donít need this information because we donít have an economy, I would submit that that is not a bonafide argument.

Let us get our ducks lined up. Let us get our stats act in place here in the Yukon. Let us dovetail it into the federal Stats Canada act, and we all benefit. In many respects, this is very enabling legislation and, at the same time, it is legislation that will enhance the economic well-being of all Yukoners.

Ms. Duncan:  Again, I would say that the member opposite hasnít answered the question. You donít need legislation to tell you what you can do. There was nothing preventing the government from entering into a collaborative agreement with the Government of Canada on this. The member shakes his head. Well, explain to the House why not. Why not enter into a collaborative agreement for the sharing of data, as opposed to a law on the books, a law that Prince Edward Island didnít need?

Yes, I fully understand that the financial arrangements between Ottawa and Prince Edward Island are different. Everyone in this Legislature is well aware of that. Have the Northwest Territories and Nunavut introduced a statistics act? I suspect not.

Before the member pats himself on the back any further with respect to the census counts, thereís a whole lot more involved in the formula and adjustments than just the census and just the statistics. Itís how much money municipalities pay on pavement, to quote a former colleague ó PTL expenditures are just as important, in fact even more so, because they resulted in a $42 million settlement in 2001 in moving averages.

So the memberís high on, "Oh, we have to have this legislation because of the formula" and "We have to have this legislation for this access to federal data", but he hasnít made his argument. Iím not arguing against the Statistics Act; Iím arguing the inability of the House leader to make the argument for it.

Heís not supporting this legislation. He hasnít said, "This is why we have to have this." Itís not just about the census. Why do we have to have this piece of legislation? Other jurisdictions donít. Itís not just about statistics. There are other methods. There is also a general requirement from the Government of Canada when entering into agreements for agencies that there be an indemnification clause. Is that coming as an amendment to this act? We had to do it with forest fire suppression, we had to do an indemnification clause subsequent to it. Government of Canada generally sends a note, saying, "Itís usually with financial arrangements." Now, that may be the reason that itís not in the Statistics Act. Certainly, the Statistics Act, according to the member opposite, could have a huge bearing on our finances. The member opposite hasnít made the case for the need for this legislation. Iíd ask him to try again.

Chair:   Is there any further debate on clause 3?

Clause 3 agreed to

On Clause 4

Clause 4 agreed to

On Clause 5

Clause 5 agreed to

On Clause 6

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, the reason for the Statistics Act not coming forward before, as I understand it, is the issue around punitive measures: punitive measures for those who fail to comply by providing information. This particular act references the oath with regard to an employee, but later on it references the punitive measures if an employee breaks the oath. Would the minister who has taken responsibility for this act today indicate the punitive measures discussion with respect to this legislation? There are punitive measures for the employee, as I understand it, in the absence of a briefing in the legislation. Are there punitive measures for those who fail to comply, and who is enforcing these punitive measures upon the employee?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Punitive measures against an employee are required by Stats Canada and they are undertaken by summary conviction. They are done through the courts.

Ms. Duncan:   In other words, should there be a suspicion by someone that an employee has failed to comply with their oath of confidentiality, someone would call the RCMP. For a summary conviction, how is this going to be enforced? Who is going to do the investigation? How is it going to be enforced? Again, I ask the question, is there also a punitive measure contained for businesses or individuals who fail to comply?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Under the summary conviction provisions, the member opposite is well aware that you have to have reasonable and probable grounds to believe and do believe that there is an offence that has been committed. There is an oath that has to be sworn. The oath forms part of this bill, section 6 ó if you just look at section 6: 0"I [so-and-so] do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully and honestly fulfill my duties on behalf of the Yukon Bureau of Statistics in conformity with the Statistics Act and all the rules and instructions under it and that I will not without due authority disclose or make known any matter or things that come to my knowledge in the performance of my work under the Statistics Act."

Now, if there is a breach of that ó itís virtually similar to other oaths that are taken here in the Legislature, and the recourse is virtually the same as for other oaths administered here in government and the various areas of government. So the process is by summary conviction, and itís dealt with through the courts.

Ms. Duncan:   Itís incumbent upon us as legislators, if weíre going to put a section in an act and discuss a section of an act, to talk about how itís going to be enforced and by whom. So what happens? So John or Jane Doe breaks their oath ó so what? Thereís a punitive measure here, but who is the investigating authority. How is it dealt with? There are no steps outlined in the act for that. If youíre going to go to the trouble of putting in a punitive measure ó and Iím well aware of what the oath says and Iím very well aware of the oaths I take as a member of the Legislature and the oaths I took as a Cabinet minister ó what is the enforcement provision? I see the penalty. How is it to be decided? Who is to do the investigation? None of that is outlined in the legislation or, if it is, would the minister please point it out?

If youíre going to put something in an act, and youíre going to put the penalty, how is it going to be enforced?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   For your information, to the best of my knowledge, that isnít contained in any other piece of information as to who will be doing the investigating, and itís specifically the police force that has the jurisdiction. In our case, here in the Yukon, it would be the RCMP.

Ms. Duncan:   For the benefit of the member opposite, when weíre dealing with, for example, wildlife offences, conservation officers are given certain authorities. Who has the authority? If itís the RCMP, then fine. Does an individual register a complaint with the RCMP? Is that how itís dealt with? What are the steps?

If a government suspects that an individual has broken the oath, this is not clear under the Public Service Act ó when an oath has been broken and how it is to be enforced.

Thatís all Iím asking. If weíre going to write good legislation, then we should make it clear. How is it dealt with?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Chair, this issue is dealt with under the Summary Convictions Act. Thatís not part and parcel of this legislation but thatís how itís proceeding. The investigating arm would be the RCMP, here in the Yukon. If the member opposite wants a full briefing on how the Summary Convictions Act works, I would be happy to go to my colleague, the Minister of Justice, and ask her to arrange for that for the member opposite with her officials.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, the minister hasnít answered, if an individual has taken the oath before, if itís incumbent upon the director to also be involved.

One would assume, one shouldnít assume. If an oath is taken before the director, is it the directorís responsibility to lay a complaint if that oath is broken? Well then, why not say that in legislation? If weíre going to write good legislation, letís do it properly. Why is that so difficult? Perhaps the member would stand aside this particular section and indicate the directorís responsibility in a redraft.

The other question I have is with respect to the letter that has only just been provided in support of the legislation from the First Nations. The letter indicates that the statistical information collected in partnership or on behalf of First Nations will be owned by First Nations. It doesnít say it will be shared ownership; it says it will be owned by the First Nations. Is it solely or in partnership? Thatís not clear in the letter, and Iím not certain that the ownership of the legislation was made clear in the discussions with the First Nations. Perhaps the minister could elaborate on that or he can wait until we get to further sections in the act to deal with the issue of ownership.

First, perhaps, he would address the issue of whether he will stand aside clause 6 and make clear the directorís responsibility for the enforcement of the oath, if thatís who it is.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Chair, the question concerning the letter from the Council of Yukon First Nations deals with clause 12. Weíre on clause 6. The information has been provided to the member opposite.

Chair:   Is there any further debate on clause 6?

Clause 6 agreed to

On Clause 7

Clause 7 agreed to

On Clause 8

Mr. Hardy:   If I could get a little more detail on this ó is all information available, in any department on any person or any subject, to the bureau?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The departments, Mr. Chair, must release any information or records that the director requests. The Statistics Act takes precedent over ATIPP, and departments are obliged to release information to the bureau when requested. The information will be treated under the rules laid out in this act. This, basically, formalizes current practice and has the primary objective of eliminating duplication of data collection. Thatís the purpose and the ultimate.

Mr. Hardy:   Could the acting minister explain to me the relationship, or how the information is protected, especially if ATIPP is used to try to access some of that information through the bureau, once the bureau gets it and if there is an ATIPP request to get information that possibly may or may not be shared or should not be shared?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   That information is barred under section 9.

Mr. Hardy:   So is that inclusive of all information that is gathered ó even benign stuff?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Yes, Mr. Chair, exactly that ó all information collected.

Chair:   Is there any further debate on clause 8?

Clause 8 agreed to

On Clause 9

Clause 9 agreed to

On Clause 10

Clause 10 agreed to

On Clause 11

Clause 11 agreed to

On Clause 12

Mr. Hardy:   I have a few questions on this clause regarding the agreements that can be made with municipalities, Yukon First Nations, corporations, organizations, Government of Canada and regarding a copy of a letter from the Council of Yukon First Nations. Could the minister explain to me how this clause fits in with this letter? What Iím referring to, which I believe the acting minister has in front of him ó heís indicating he does.

The letter was addressed to Premier Fentie. In the third paragraph it says, "It is our understanding that any and all information gathered under this new Act that is collected by the Bureau, in partnership, or on behalf of First Nations will be owned by First Nations." Could the acting minister give me an indication if that is correct and what has been agreed to?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The essence of this letter and ownership is that both the statistics branch of the Yukon and First Nations can collect information. When itís assembled, they both have ownership of it. The ownership, I guess, can be termed ó itís a collection of information on behalf of First Nations, and that authority is being agreed to by the First Nations and then provided to them to use primarily to focus on initiatives from the federal government, usually of a financial matter.

Mr. Hardy:   In subsection (3), though, it says, "If a respondent objects to the sharing of information between the Bureau and any other party to the agreement under subsection (1), the Bureau shall not share the information in a form that would identify the respondent." Is that made clear to this agreement here?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Itís pretty well self-explanatory, Mr. Chair. If we had, say, one person in a classification, in one First Nation group, that information would have to be aggregated with other First Nations. Given the size of the population, given the size of the issues that the data is being collected on, Mr. Chair, the sampling is, in some cases, very, very small, and it would allow anyone, if the data was published right up front in the manner it was collected to identify which First Nations and what the issue is and what the data itself is ó you could actually target and pinpoint, and that is not the intent of this legislation. When weíre dealing with First Nations, itís not the intent when weíre dealing with smaller population bases, small business or businesses of one type here in the Yukon. So that information would be assembled into other databases, and it would protect that First Nation from divulging and targeting that First Nation and the statistics analysis and review that is provided, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Hardy:   Well, that is one of the biggest concerns I think everybody has, and that is that, because of the small population and the possibility of gathering information, very sensitive information, a lot of that information, if it became public, could identify the people surveyed.

Thatís a huge concern here, and again, thatís a confidentiality issue, as well, about a personís lifestyle, life or situation I feel we should not be sharing. My concern, of course, is if there any agreement in place right now with the Council of Yukon First Nations in regard to the reply here in the sharing of information that would take into consideration those concerns?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Chair, the bureau is bound by confidentiality requirements to not publish any data that would allow the identification of any individual respondent. What that means is that the bureau must confirm, before publishing any data, that information from two different sources cannot be combined together in a way that would result in a direct disclosure of individual data.

Further to that, Mr. Chair, in all collection activities, if it is the intention to share the data with another party, the person is told. They are also given the opportunity to request that their individual information not be shared in a way that could specifically identify them.

So there are safeguards around the sharing of this data, and those safeguards weíre quite cognizant of. I know in the briefing that I received it was an issue I identified with: how do we protect the small population base here and the confidentiality issue surrounding an individual, firm or a body that is very, very small in size.

Mr. Hardy:   That is a real huge concern, one of the biggest issues about this act.

A municipality, Yukon First Nation, a corporation or any other organization, whether incorporated or not ó what safeguards are put in place? I think youíve touched on them but I didnít get a briefing. I am trying to learn this as we go along.

What safeguards are put in place to ensure that an organization will not be able to use this information or accidentally leak it in any way, shape or form that would cause harm and break a confidentiality?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Let me run over this once more for the member opposite. The bureau is bound by confidentiality requirements to not publish any data that would allow for the identification of any individual respondent. Furthermore, what that means is that the bureau must confirm before publishing any data that information from two different sources cannot be combined together in a way that would result in a direct disclosure of the individualís data. In all collection activities where it is the intention to share the data with another party, that person is told. They are also given the opportunity to request that their individual information not be shared in a way that could specifically identify them. So the safeguards are in place.

Now, with respect to if there is a leak, we have already gone over that. The individuals collecting this data swear an oath. If there is a breach of that oath, prosecution can be proceeded with through an investigation conducted by the RCMP under the Summary Convictions Act. So there are severe penalties with respect to disclosing any of this information.

Mr. Hardy:   I understand that. Maybe itís the words heís using. Is the minister indicating that the word "publish" is the same as sharing information with a corporation, organization, municipality, First Nation or other? I understand the part about the publishing, but my concern rests with the transfer of the joint gathering of information ó the transfer of information. That, to me, is not considered publishing when you have an agreement in place with another organization or association and the assurances that that information will be treated confidentially.

The punitive action is after the fact ó after the damage is done. And Iím not one who likes to think that thatís the way we always have to operate. Iíd rather have the safeguards in place first in order to avoid any kind of damage to people down the road, so if the minister can explain to me if this applies ó if heís meaning by publishing that itís exactly the same as sharing information.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Theyíre two different words, with two different meanings. "Publish" is one thing. "Sharing of information" can mean the sharing with Statistics Canada or with a First Nation government, municipality or corporation. Itís more apt to be a First Nation thatís looking for those statistics to further its cause with Indian Affairs for a financial program, or a social program, or something of that nature.

We need to get a better handle on statistics here in the Yukon to further the cause of Yukoners. Thatís the issue, and confidentiality is protected.

Mr. Hardy:   Iím not comforted by that assurance, because he hasnít answered the question about how that information is protected when itís shared, whether itís with an organization or whatever. How is it protected? Because weíre not talking about publishing, and he has admitted that, Mr. Chair. So if the acting minister in this department could try to give me some reassurances that there is a protection in place, then I could move off of this question.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The member opposite has a very valid concern, and I agree with it. And the concern is addressed by the fact that when the department engages a third party, say, for data entry or collection, they are bound by the same oath, and they take the same oath. So theyíre under that oath that they will not disclose anything. And, yes, itís a very valid concern, but the protection is afforded by way of the undertaking that the department or the statistics branch would have with the First Nation government that would collect this information. Those individuals collecting it have to swear the same oath, as would, say, some firm engaged for data entry or something of that nature. That individual who was engaged to input that information would also be sworn to confidentiality. And if there is a breach of that information, they are subject to an investigation by the RCMP here in the Yukon and prosecution under the Summary Convictions Act, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Hardy:   Well, if the acting minister ó somebody whispered in my ear and maybe I missed the point. Is he indicating that the agreement between the two parties in collecting this information would contain the oath and that they would be subject to the same punitive actions as indicated in this act to individuals? Because there is quite a difference here between individuals and corporations and organizations, et cetera.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Although we have passed clause 4(4), it flows from that section. I would take the member opposite back to clause 4(4). What it means is that the person may contract any person to perform act-related services for the minister or the bureau. Contractors and their employees or agents are considered to be employees under the Statistics Act to impose the standards regarding this disclosure of information.

What this could also include are persons contracted by an outside group ó an example would be First Nations ó to work on a project under the direction of the bureau. The workers would be employed by the First Nation, but would, for the purposes of this act, also be employees of the bureau, in order that penalties for violating confidentiality would apply.

But I think in all cases it is in everyoneís best interest to keep this information as confidential as possible and use it for the purpose for which it is intended. It is a tool to go forward, to a large degree, to the federal government to further the cause financially and socially for Yukoners.

Mr. Hardy:   Well, I am going to move off this, but I have to confess I am not comfortable with the way it is written. I feel it is written to employees or individuals or contractors, and I think there is a hole here. I believe that itís not clear that the two parties collecting the information have that responsibility to each other nor is there language put in place to ensure that inappropriate release of the information collected would be dealt with or stopped.

I keep coming back to contractors ó itís totally different from an agreement between a municipality and a government in collecting information and how theyíre going to use that information. Itís totally different between an organization and a government. We are talking about hiring to collect information with all the safeguards in place. Thatís understood. But I donít see where that transfers over to the responsibility of the agencies that get that information. In this case, we understand the governmentís responsibility but, with the agreements that they have with other organizations and associations, I donít see where thatís connected. I donít see that responsibility or those safeguards in place to ensure that information is treated with the confidentiality that is necessary to protect people.

Chair:   Is there any further debate on clause 12?

Clause 12 agreed to

On Clause 13

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, earlier in this Legislature this afternoon we had a member put forward a motion that we should support the reduction of red tape for the business community. The business community, small businesses that Iíve dealt with ó and there have been a number over the course of my years in the Yukon ó find the statistics, and collection of statistics, to be onerous, to be offensive, to be a sharing of information that theyíd rather not do, and time-consuming and, in short, offensive.

So what we have here is, on the one hand, a suggestion by the government side that there be a reduction of red tape and, on the other side, the front row, in an acting capacity, determining that the director can make the filling out and fulfillment of statistical information, and information required under this act, to be mandatory.

So in other words, there are small businesses ó mom-and-pop operations throughout the territory ó where the filling out of the statistical information is time consuming, itís offensive, and itís burdensome. And many have suggested that this be a way to reduce the red tape ó donít ask us to fill out your forms and require this information ó and here we have a government saying, not only is it mandatory, but in the next breath, clause 14, suggesting that if you donít do it, youíll be committing an offence.

While all of the other offences are spelled out in the act, this offence is not. The penalty for this offence is not ó or who shall enforce it.

If the Member for Klondike had another government bringing forward this act, he would have spent days and days and days raking them over the coals for this clause 13, and now he must defend it. Iím asking why, when this legislation has not come forward before because it was considered punitive, the government would bring forward such punitive measures as clauses 13 and 14 ó punitive on business. Itís punitive because (a) it says, "You have to fill out our forms. We donít care how time-consuming they are. We donít care that this information is really none of your business. If the director says itís mandatory, you shall fill it out." In the next breath, it says, "You have committed an offence if you donít fill it out."

Why would the free-enterprise party be bringing forward such a mandatory, punitive section? And how does the acting minister defend it, in light of his partyís policy?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   This actually does reduce red tape. This is actually moving forward. This is actually meeting our governmentís commitment of reducing the burden on employers, employees, business and all Yukoners with respect to providing information.

Anything collected by Statistics Canada ó and I believe thatís where the confusion enters. Statistics Canada requires that certain information be provided. There is no wiggle room there. The Yukon Statistics Act is all "may". If we look at what we have, before entering into full data-sharing agreements between the political jurisdictions in Canada and Statistics Canada, three things are required.

(1) A legal entity under an appropriate act ó thatís what we have before us today, Mr. Chair, the Yukon Bureau ó itís under the Statistics Act. So we have a legal entity.

(2) All respondents provide information when requested by the head of the particular statistical agency; and

(3) Non-compliance is a publishable offence.

The Yukon Statistics Act is unique, as no other Canadian act so clearly makes all data collection voluntary unless explicitly identified as mandatory. And there are specific categories of mandatory reporting and mandatory requirements. In order to protect Yukonersí rights as much as possible and to be as open and accountable as possible, this clause was created to meet the requirement of Statistics Canada by giving the director the explicit discretion to declare a response ó mandatory or non-mandatory. This way, respondents are not automatically required to provide information. Now, thatís under us, but under Statistics Canada, everything is mandatory. You have to respond, Mr. Chair.

Now, if what I hear the member opposite say is the deciding person ó she wants that to be someone else, we canít come to an arrangement with Statistics Canada unless that is the case. But the onus is then placed on the director to justify why a particular survey would be mandatory. The director has to weigh the importance of the data being collected against Yukonersí right to privacy. Itís the director rather than the minister who is granted authority to make this decision based on statistical importance of the data and to protect from the appearance of political interference, which is also most important, Mr. Chair. Federal legislation lodges this authority with the minister, but in a small jurisdiction like the Yukon, this could be viewed as a potential for political intervention and primarily a very technical statistical matter. Thus, we have probably one of the most enabling pieces of legislation and yet, at the same time, itís very, very comprehensive, very succinct, and extremely well-thought-out, I might add, Mr. Chair.

Ms. Duncan:   Letís set aside the political rhetoric and walk the member through a real life example. Small businesses are asked all the time to fulfill statistical information. Willing or not, they do that.

Mr. Chair, the government House leader seems intent on having a discussion with the opposition House leader. Do they wish to have that discussion and then Iíll ask my question?

Chair:   Order please. Please continue, Ms. Duncan.

Ms. Duncan:   Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Small businesses, as I said, are repeatedly asked for information. An example I can think of is the number of employees. Filling out those forms is an onerous requirement on business. They are a pain. They are time-consuming and some find it offensive. One I can think of in particular is the number of employees.

Now, the minister has said that the Stats Canada act makes filling those forms mandatory. Well, thatís an issue in terms of red-tape review to take up with Statistics Canada. Now we are dealing with the Statistics Act for the Yukon. An example of information the Yukon government tries to collect is hotel nights. It helps the Department of Tourism in their planning. Hoteliers are reluctant to give up that information.

With this act in place, all that has to happen is the director of the Bureau of Statistics to say, "This information is mandatory", and then the small business, who may or may not want to provide that information, is committing an offence. There are two things wrong with this clause. Number one, itís punitive. It says that if you donít fill this out, if itís deemed to be mandatory, then itís an offence. But then it doesnít tell later on in the act what that offence is ó not for this clause. The other thing wrong with it is there is no route of appeal.

What happens if the B.C. and Yukon Hotels Association stands up and says, "Wait a minute. We donít care that the director has made the submission of our hotel nights mandatory. We donít want to comply." Whatís their route of appeal? Thatís not spelled out in this legislation.

In the interest of fairness to the business community, there should be that information. Now, will the minister consider those points and consider amending the act to deal with them, to recognize that there should be a route of appeal if the director declares that all respondents must comply? Whatís the route of appeal?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   With respect to the hospitality industry and their reporting, Stats Canada does have a requirement on that industry for reporting of the visitor survey. It entails a whole number of areas for them to look at. It also includes capital and a breakdown of where the various groups come from that stayed with the firm. Thatís a requirement of Stats Canada.

On the same issue, thereís not a requirement to report to the Yukon Bureau of Statistics, because itís voluntary, but the information is currently supplied to the federal government. Itís not available to the stats bureau here in the Yukon to go forward and make the case on various issues, and thatís what this legislation does. Itís enabling the stats branch here in the Yukon to access the legislation collected by the federal government and to enhance and augment it and use it to further the cause of Yukoners.

Thatís what it is. With respect to the appeal route, given that itís a summary conviction, itís through the courts.

Ms. Duncan:   The acting minister hasnít answered or addressed the issue. The issue is that the director may declare that all respondents must comply with a request for information. The director can do that. There is no route of appeal outlined if someone doesnít want to comply with that request. If someone doesnít feel that the government has any business collecting that information, they have no route of appeal.

This is our legislation. This is the Yukonís legislation. Maybe Statistics Canada doesnít have that route of appeal. Thatís their business. This is our legislation. Iím suggesting that the minister should consider that. There should be a route of appeal. If the director declares that we all have to comply with a request for information, there should be some route of appeal ó the minister responsible or the Legislative Assembly. I donít care what it is, but there should be a route of appeal for that.

This is a very small jurisdiction. There are many who, in spite of the brave words about confidentiality from the acting minister, donít believe that itís always upheld. There are people who have grave concerns ó especially the business community ó about providing any level of government with information. And the minister, in all fairness, should recognize that.

There is no route of appeal for what the director shall declare. Itís a fair question. The minister wonít consider amending the legislation. Will he consider at least tabling a legislative return or providing me with information as to what the options for small business are?

What are the options for small business? If the director of statistics declares that all small businesses in the Yukon must report whatever, choose any statistics ó socioeconomic statistic ó they choose, and itís pretty broadly worded, if the director requires that all respondents must comply, those businesses have no route of appeal.

Has the minister or the acting minister or any member of this government discussed this part of the Statistics Act with the business community? Are the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce, the Yukon Chamber of Commerce, the Silver Trail Tourism Association and the Dawson City Chamber of Commerce aware of this clause of the act, and have they provided the minister with a comfort letter on that?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The member opposite raises some very interesting questions that donít appear to relate back to the issue we have on the table here for discussion today.

I guess we could probably make the case to create a statistics act implementation review board with a chair and maybe four or six members. But we neednít go there, Mr. Chair, given that the bureau has to look and make the determination ó thatís a technical determination ó of the reliability of the statistics that will ultimately be produced from the information.

The cost incurred by the survey participants to provide the information requested is one of the most important factors, and in some cases they may be significant, especially when you look at a business survey. Thereís a lot of data there that is currently assembled and requested by Statistics Canada. And yes, this gives us the ability to collect more, but itís primarily focused on accessing Statistics Canada information and looking at what we are doing here in the Yukon, to further the cause of Yukon and Yukoners.

Thatís where this legislation is heading. Now, we have to entrust that responsibility with someone, and the member opposite is trying to make the case that this is an issue where thereís only one person doing this and undertaking this area. That person is a statistician. Usually, the ones I have met are very interesting people. Theyíre very, very focused on their area, and theyíre cognizant at all times of the issue of confidentiality. In fact, itís about the second or third item that comes up in the course of conversation, Mr. Chair, after, "Hello, how are you?" And it was a grave concern to our party to ensure that we didnít put any onerous burden on businesses here in the Yukon, on Yukoners and on anyone here operating in any capacity. And in a large part, what is driving this requirement is so we can better deal with the feds. Now, every time we turn around, that wonderful federal Liberal government is handing out money, but it translates on a per capita basis to whatever we receive. The last great windfall was three-quarters of a billion dollars for daycare. That translates to some $23,000 per capita flowing here to the Yukon in the first year.

We have a constant battle with the federal government on what the population actually is here in the Yukon. This will provide certainty surrounding those areas. The First Nation governments are cognizant of their funding, which in large part is on a per capita basis. They recognize the need after they were briefed by the government stats and others who basically spelled out the advantages as well as the disadvantages. The disadvantage is that itís going to be black and white as to what our population is. We canít say itís 30,000 or 27,000 or 32,000. It will be certain. There will be very little margin of error in the final figures that will be determined under this new arrangement.

I am confident that we will ultimately end up with something that we can all be proud of. These statistics are a tool, a tool with which the officials in the various departments of government make the case to the senior level of government, or the First Nation governments that have self-governing agreements make the case to the federal government, for funding for social programs, programs in virtually all of the areas.

We need a better way of getting a handle on statistics across the Yukon. Thatís what this piece of legislation does. I commend it to the House, and if the member opposite wants to look at setting up another board, I guess that suggestion could be made.

We could probably title it the Statistics Act input review board. And maybe a chair ó I donít know if there is justification for a chair on a full-time basis, but maybe four members. You know, this is positive thinking. But what have we accomplished at the end of the period of time?

The member opposite should just look at what is before this House. This Statistics Act is positive; itís going to benefit all Yukoners from all walks of life, and I see no reason to delay its implementation.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, the comments with respect to statisticians are not relevant to this particular debate, nor am I putting forward questions about individuals. The lengthy discourse by the acting minister with respect to the value of statistics on population is not relevant to this particular clause. The clause at hand that weíre discussing says that the director of the Yukon Bureau of Statistics, believing on reasonable grounds that a response should be mandatory, may make it so.

Iím merely pointing out to the member opposite that the business community today in the Yukon already finds the mandatory reply to Statistics Canada to be offensive. Applying the same to the Yukon, saying that a director can require respondents, isnít necessary. Itís a punitive part of the act. He has not made the case that Statistics Canada said, "You have this section in your act or else we wonít comply and make agreements with you." I donít think they would have said that. If they did, then say so. I donít need the speech about the formula financing arrangement.

I believe the acting minister would have a hard time explaining this section to the business community, and its reason for being there.

Iím merely asking, as a member of this Legislature, for the acting minister to defend this section of the act. Why is it necessary? I believe itís punitive and it doesnít need to be there.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The member opposite is incorrect. In order to enter into data-sharing agreements with Statistics Canada, a requirement is placed on the Yukon for the authority to designate a particular survey as mandatory. There is a requirement by the federal government that we do so. Itís not to suggest that we use it, and then there are specific guidelines based around the factors for determining if a survey is to be mandatory. In arriving at a decision that a survey is to be undertaken on a mandatory basis, the director will use the following criteria: is the survey required to provide Yukon-specific data relating to requirements in other federal, provincial or territorial statutes or regulations? An example would be census follow-up activities, community price indices used for municipal grants, et cetera.

If this wasnít required to be here in the manner that is spelled out here by Statistics Canada, in all probability it wouldnít be here. But itís required to be here by Statistics Canada, so we can access their databases, dovetail it with our databases and move forward ó so we donít have disputes on an ongoing basis with Statistics Canada and the Department of Finance in Ottawa over items like formula financing and the census adjustment. We want to reduce that grey area. We want to bring in more black and white. This will only serve to help Yukoners, Mr. Chair.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, Iíd ask for that evidence to be sent over, then, from the member opposite ó where Statistics Canada told us we had to have this in our act. Is it in their legislation? Where is it? Send it over, please. Had we had the briefing on this legislation, none of this debate would have been necessary.

The member opposite when he is on his feet, then, can also indicate where and how the offence provisions of clause 14 have been spelled out and where they are required by Statistics Canada.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   With respect to the Statistics Canada requirement, weíll provide the member opposite with a copy of their legislation and their agreements.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, in light of the fact that we havenít seen it, that we only have the memberís word that it exists, could we please stand aside clauses 13 and 14, then, until such time as we have reviewed that documentation?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Chair, this legislation is based on those facts. I have neither the federal legislation here with me, nor their regulations. If the member opposite is attempting to suggest ó which I hope she is not ó that I am trying to mislead, thatís not correct. The member cannot do that. It is based on the federal legislation. We will provide the member opposite with that information. But in all respects, this was done with careful forethought, dovetailing into the federal governmentís legislation. And I would encourage the member opposite, Mr. Chair, to only think back a few short years ago, when we had all this dispute and paranoia surrounding the census adjustment and what it was going to cost.

Mr. Chair, it was through the good work of the Government of Yukon and this government that we finally resolved the census adjustment.

And where weíre at today financially, in a large part, or to a degree, flows from the interpretation of the statistics that we, as a government, were able to deal with the federal government.

In the Yukon, if you want to look at reporting, itís currently voluntary, unless itís specifically made mandatory. Weíre required to have that section in there because of the federal government. Now, I donít always like what the federal government and their regulations and legislation say but, in this case, we donít have any choice but to implement provisions that allow this Statistics Act here in the Yukon to dovetail into the federal legislation.

To that end, Mr. Chair, we will not be standing down on these two clauses.

Ms. Duncan:   In all fairness, the member opposite should recognize that there is absolutely every reason to have the background information, including the substantiation as to the reason why a clause is in an act in the first place. Thatís doing due diligence, thatís doing oneís homework.

I was asking for that. He didnít give me that answer to start with and heís not prepared to stand aside any clauses. Thatís some cooperation, some collaboration, Mr. Chair.

I am prepared to accept that the reason that clause is in the act is because of Statistics Canada, but I want to be able to say that and show that to my constituents who are not going to be happy about this clauses of the act. Theyíre not going to be happy.

The minister has indicated that he is refusing to stand aside clause 13. Clause 14 requires that, if the director has declared under clause 13 that all respondents must reply, an individual who doesnít comply commits an offence. Later in the act, the fine and the offence for breaching confidentiality is spelled out, but the fine for failure to respond, I havenít located.

Would the acting minister please provide the relevant section where that offence is spelled out?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The Summary Convictions Act currently sets a maximum fine limit of $500.

Ms. Duncan:   In the interest of good legislation, shouldnít the act say, "commits an offence under the Summary Convictions Act", or spell out where it is going to be prosecuted, how itís going to be done and what the offence is? You shouldnít have to leapfrog through several pieces of legislation that we donít have total control over to find out.

As responsible legislators, this should be better written. It should be clearer and it should outline specifically what the offence is. It says what the offence is ó a failure to respond ó but it doesnít say how it is going to be prosecuted and it doesnít say what the fine is.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The Summary Convictions Act ó virtually any legislation that is spelled out as having the prosecutorial route defaults to the Summary Convictions Act. The limits for fines under the Summary Convictions Act are $500 currently. Yes, they could be changed. Yes, they could be upped. Yes, they could be lowered.

I have already offered the leader of the third party that, if the member so wishes, I will approach the Minister of Justice and ask the Minister of Justice to set up a briefing for the leader of the third party on how the Summary Convictions Act works.

Now, the member opposite can take me up on that or leave it alone, but thatís the way it currently stands. Itís quite workable. If you spell out the Summary Convictions Act in this piece of legislation or anything else, then there is actually a cross-reference. It flows there by default. And itís a simple way to proceed. The Summary Convictions Act is very specific, very efficient.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, I appreciate the lecture from the member opposite, but the point is I believe this section is badly written. Itís not clear. "Commits an offence." "So what? So sue me", is what any respondent can say. Itís not well written. Itís not well laid out.

Funny how, in typical Yukon Party fashion, it clearly spells out the offence of the employee. The employee, who breaches confidentiality after taking an oath, is liable for a fine of $5,000. Itís spelled out in this act, but they couldnít spell this section out, probably because it shouldnít be there.

I would suggest to the acting minister, with all due respect, perhaps clauses 13 and 14 should have been examined with the business community in the Yukon and with the enforcement community. It seems to me that the RCMP have other things to do than pursue individuals who donít want to respond to a survey ó which may be declared a requirement by the director.

The government is intent upon proceeding with this legislation, and theyíre not prepared to accept either criticism or constructive suggestions. I believe Iíve made both; however, the acting minister is intent upon proceeding with this legislation. Thatís truly unfortunate because itís Yukoners and subsequent legislative assemblies that are going to have to deal with legislation thatís not well written.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Well, the member oppositeís premise is incorrect. Itís completely wrong. This Yukon Statistics Act will prove to be very beneficial for Yukoners in many, many ways. It will provide certainty to the numbers surrounding the data. It will provide more certainty ó letís put it that way ó to the numbers collected and the databases assembled. It will allow us a greater deal of certainty in our dealings with the federal government on issues such as formula finance. It will aid First Nation governments in their dealings with the Department of Indian Affairs for funding for social and financial programs and any number of other areas.

We look at this as being very beneficial. You can always find something negative in anything one looks at, but in this case, Iím listening and Iím trying to grasp the issues surrounding what is negative in this piece of legislation, and I find out that the objections raised are dealing primarily with the ability of the director to make additional surveys mandatory.

Well, the reason for that is spelled out by the Government of Canada. It insists that this requirement exist in our legislation.

It must exist in our legislation before theyíll join us on these areas.

Itís not new. When previous statistics acts were brought to this House, we did not have the option for voluntary surveys from Statistics Canada. Our options are broadened, our implementation methods are broadened.

This is very, very positive, and I would encourage the member opposite to take a second look at this. Weíve agreed to send over the federal Statistics Act and weíll do so, Mr. Chair, and Iím sure that after the member opposite has looked up the relevant sections and dovetailed it back to this legislation, the member opposite will come to the recognition of the good work that has been undertaken by officials, the good work thatís going to result in improving the lives and livelihoods of Yukoners as a consequence of providing certainty around many of the areas dealing with Ottawa.

Mr. Chair, I would encourage the member opposite to look at this piece of legislation more positively for the positive aspects of it.

Chair: Is there any further debate on clause 13?

Clause 13 agreed to

On Clause 14

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, I would just have recorded on the record that I object to clause 14 of this bill. I believe it should be better written and suggest redrafting by the member opposite to make it clearer. We have outlined every other offence and its fine in this act, but not this one. I donít believe it should be an offence. I donít believe that the director should be making it a requirement. The acting minister is telling me itís a requirement of the federal act. I look forward to that substantiation. I would strongly recommend a redraft of clause 14. I believe it could be better written. He is not prepared to accept that constructive suggestion. Therefore, I would move on.

Mr. Cardiff:   The acting minister responsible for bringing this forward alluded to the fact that the federal government requires this to be in there, and Iím just wondering ó it says here "Ö a respondent who fails to comply with the request within the time and in the form required by the director ..." Is there any test of reasonableness about time and form? And where would that be found?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   That would be spelled out in regulations, and it would parallel the federal government regulations in this regard, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Cardiff:   So where do we get the assurance at this point in time, before we pass this ó how do we know what a reasonable time and a reasonable form is? Is it going to mirror whatís in the federal legislation? The acting minister is nodding his head. But again, we havenít seen that, and we donít know what it is.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I donít have the exact information but I believe the intent is to mirror as closely as possible the federal regulations in this area. We will provide the members opposite with what the feds do in this regard in this area. Thatís a fair request and we will acknowledge that. The understanding I have is that everything is going to mirror as closely as possible what the feds have and do. Our requirement to have these sections in our legislation is because the federal government insists upon it as one of the conditions for accessing their database.

Ms. Duncan:   Why is the offence spelled out for everybody but the non-respondent, then?

The offence is spelled out of violation of certain sections of the act. It talks about the offence if they break their oath. If they break their oath under these conditions, this is the offence. Those who are doing the surveys have to make certain disclosures to respondents. But in clause 14, all it says is that if you donít comply in reasonable time with the request within the time and in the form required, that you commit an offence.

Why is it spelled out everywhere else in the act ó and itís a requirement of the federal act ó why is it spelled out everywhere else and not in this section? I am seeking clarification. The member opposite has said that the federal government demands that it has to be there.

I will look forward to that act or regulation coming over. Why are the punitive measures for the employees spelled out? And the punitive measures ó which I donít agree should be there; I disagree with the member opposite. Thatís why this act has not come forward before because there isnít support for these punitive measures. But here we are saying that a non-respondent commits an offence. Then the member opposite says, well, you go to the Summary Convictions Act. But why spell it out for employees then? Why say, an employee who "Ö is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of Ö"?

Why do we do this is in clause 15 and not in clause 14? Whatís the reason? If there is no reason, why not be clear and amend clause 14?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Under common law, it automatically defaults to the Summary Convictions Act, and thatís where weíre going. I guess there was a concern raised that we wanted to be more specific and more ó I donít want to say "intimidating" ó but we wanted to duly outline, for those empowered with such a terrific amount of authority, that these are the penalties.

Now, under the Summary Convictions Act, which this section would automatically default to, thereís quite a lot of flexibility, and I donít believe any government wants to put an onerous burden on Yukoners. This is about as flexible as you can get while still conforming to what the feds require of us, Mr. Chair.

Chair:   Is there any further debate on clause 14?

Clause 14 agreed to

On Clause 15

Clause 15 agreed to

On Clause 16

Mr. McRobb:   I had a question about the amount of the fine, the $5,000. Where did that figure come from? Is it standard with other similar type offences? Can the minister explain this?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   It parallels what happens in other jurisdictions under the Statistics Canada rules ó and also Statistics Canada. Under Statistics Canada, this is the same as other jurisdictions, and thatís where the $5,000 comes from.

Clause 16 agreed to

On Clause 17

Clause 17 agreed to

On Clause 18

Clause 18 agreed to

On Clause 19

Clause 19 agreed to

On Title

Title agreed to

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I move that Bill No. 37, Statistics Act, be reported without amendment.

Chair: It has been moved by hon. Mr. Jenkins that Bill No. 37, Statistics Act, be reported without amendment.

Motion agreed to

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

Chair:   Mr. Jenkins has moved that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.

Motion agreed to

Speaker resumes the Chair

Speaker:   I will now call the House to order.

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

Chairís report

Mr. Rouble:   Mr. Speaker, the Committee has considered Bill No. 37, Statistics Act, and directed me to report it without amendment.

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

Some Hon. Members:   Agreed.

Speaker:   I declare the report carried.

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

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

Motion agreed to

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

The House adjourned at 5:52 p.m.

 

 

The following Sessional Papers were tabled November 3, 2003:

03-1-46

Conflict of Interest Commission Annual Report for the period ending March 31, 2003 (dated June 16, 2003) (Speaker Staffen)

03-1-47

Election Financing and Political Contributions 2002: Report of the Chief Electoral Officer of Yukon (dated May 2003) (Speaker Staffen)

03-1-48

Absence of Members from Sittings of the Legislative Assembly and its Committees: Report of the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly (dated October 30, 2003) (Speaker Staffen)

The following Legislative Return was tabled November 3, 2003:

03-1-18

Water licences issuance for government crown corporations or agencies: information pertaining to (Kenyon)

Oral, Hansard, p. 316-317

The following document was filed November 3, 2003:

03-1-16

Statistics Act: letter (dated October 29, 2003) from Ed Schultz, Grand Chief, Council of Yukon First Nations to Premier Dennis Fentie (Jenkins)