Whitehorse, Yukon

Thursday, April 15, 2004 ó 1:00 p.m.

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

Prayers

DAILY ROUTINE

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

Tributes.

TRIBUTES

In recognition of Law Day

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   It is indeed my honour and privilege to rise on our governmentís behalf today to pay tribute to Law Day. Law Day is an annual event recognizing the anniversary of the proclamation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms 22 years ago on April 17, 1982.

Law Day is marked by a number of projects and activities taking place across the country. Activities include lectures on law, mock trials, courthouse tours, fun runs, open citizenship courts, shopping mall displays and dinners aimed at elementary and high school students.

Law Day is organized by the Canadian Bar Association, and Law Dayís theme is "Access to justice". The Canadian Bar Association, through its Law Day activities, offers the public an opportunity to learn about the law and the legal system.

This year for Law Day in the Yukon, the 14th annual Law Day charitable fun run and walk is taking place on Friday, April 16. Proceeds for this yearís charity fun run will be donated to the Whitehorse Youth Centre Society. So far this year, the fun run has raised over $5,000 ó a job well done. Participants in the Law Day charity fun run will receive a t-shirt, I should add, designed by Shelby Blackjack of Carmacks.

There will also be mock circle sentencing here tonight at the Pit at Yukon College at 7:00 p.m., which I encourage all Yukoners, and particularly those in Whitehorse, to join in. The annual Law Day supplement is in the Yukon News for Yukoners to see the Law Day activities and public legal information.

Iíd like to congratulate all volunteers who make Law Day charity fun run, the mock circle sentencing and other activities possible this year. Iíd also again like to encourage all members in this House, and all Yukoners, to take part in all the events taking place, and I will also be taking part in the Law Day fun run, so again I extend an invitation to all members across the way and on this side of the House.

Thank you.

Mrs. Peter:   On behalf of the official opposition, I am pleased to pay tribute to National Law Day. On this day, we celebrate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms proclaimed 22 years ago. Unfortunately, our Charter of Rights and Freedoms is sometimes taken for granted in Canada. We should be very proud of our Charter and, where we can, we should attempt to make others aware of what is in it. Our rights and freedoms are not the case in many countries around the world, particularly today with the problems of terrorism and security taking over national agendas.

We need to sensitize ourselves and other Canadians to how these important rights and freedoms can be eroded with the threat of terror and the need for security measures.

The Charter should supersede any acts in the name of security. In the past few years we have witnessed times when that is not the case. We must remain diligent in support of our Charter.

The Canadian Bar Association, which sponsors National Law Day, takes a theme of "Access to justice". The public education about law is a very important part of our access to justice. To that end, the Canadian and the Yukon bar associations sponsor organizations and projects for public legal education.

Our own YPLEA and the Law Line make law and justice accessible to ordinary citizens through workshops and information. Many hours of volunteer time by our local lawyers go into keeping this vital organization alive. This week, Law Day will be celebrated once again with an annual run and walk at noon on Friday, April 16. Funds from that event will go to the Whitehorse Youth Centre. Tonight, April 15, at 7:00 p.m., the local bar association will put on a circle sentencing demonstration. It will be held at the Yukon College in the Pit, and I urge everyone to attend that as well.

Mahsií cho.

Ms. Duncan:   I rise on behalf of the Liberal caucus to join with other members of this Legislature in a tribute to Law Day.

As has been mentioned, Law Day is a time for the public to learn about the law, the legal profession and some of the legal institutions that form the cornerstones of our Canadian democracy.

I would like to congratulate members of the bar in the Yukon and those volunteers and individual organizations, members of the Law Society, Yukon Public Legal Education Association and the Law Line, who organize and celebrate Law Day in the Yukon.

My colleagues have mentioned a number of events and, in particular, I would like to commend those and encourage Yukoners to attend those events. Those who are unable to, I would particularly like to recommend to them the supplement thatís in the Yukon News. I had the opportunity to review it yesterday and itís very well done. Iíd like to thank the public and private sector sponsors who support the Law Day activities.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker:   Introduction of visitors.

Are there any returns or documents for tabling?

TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS

Mr. Fairclough:   I have for tabling a resolution from the Yukon River Intertribal Watershed Council, dated August 21, 2003.

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

Are there any reports of committees?

Are there any petitions?

Are there any bills to be introduced?

Are there any notices of motion?

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

THAT this House urges the Yukon government to maintain and increase its commitment to the excellent work being done by the Energy Solutions Centre and to work with the federal government to identify new sources of funding to expand the centreís programming.

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

THAT this House urges the Minister of Community Services to make it part of the mandate of the new trustee of Dawson City to hold public meetings on a regular basis, at least once a month, and to make available to all Dawson residents the same information they would normally receive if their democratically elected mayor and council were still in office.

I also give notice of the following motion:

THAT this House recognizes the responsibility of all members of the Legislature to be accountable and available to their constituents, and to meet with them publicly as required, and urges the Premier to require all members of his Cabinet and caucus to respect that principle.

Mrs. Peter:   I give notice of the following motion:

THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to ensure that construction of a bridge across the Yukon River at Dawson City includes a thorough cleanup of the riverbed and restoration of the riverside forest and vegetation zone adjacent to the bridge location; and that the design and implementation of this cleanup be done in consultation with the Yukon Salmon Committee, the Yukon River Intertribal Watershed Council, the Yukon Conservation Society, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard.

Ms. Duncan:   I give notice of the following motion:

THAT this House urges the Yukon Legislative Assembly to conduct consultations to examine the options of not implementing daylight savings time in the Yukon.

Speaker:   Any there further notices of motion?

Is there a ministerial statement?

This then brings us to Question Period.

QUESTION PERIOD

Question re: Carcross-Tagish First Nation final agreement

Mr. Hardy:   I have a question for the Premier. Does the Premier believe that the territorial government has a right to determine what process a Yukon First Nation should use to ratify land claims and self-government agreements?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   The question is somewhat irrelevant to the circumstances that weíre dealing with, especially with Carcross-Tagish. The Yukon government did not determine a process. The Yukon government will not be determining a process for ratification. If we are asked by any particular First Nation to assist in the ratification process, we will do so, but only if we are asked. In the meantime, Iím sure where the second and third supplementary will be going with this question, and I look forward to them.

Mr. Hardy:   The Premier has suggested in the House that members of the Carcross-Tagish First Nation didnít really vote against ratifying their agreements. I wonít speculate about why the Premier would take that position, but I have been asking the Premier about the role his out-of-the-box deals with other First Nations might have played in the Carcross-Tagish vote. Will the Premier now set the record straight and retract his public statement that the majority have approved or agreed with the land claim?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Well, letís set the record straight on exactly what was said, Mr. Speaker. The Yukon government has stated publicly that, given the number of voters ó eligible voters who voted ó in the Carcross-Tagish ratification process, a majority voted in favour of the land claim. However, the bar, or the threshold for ratification was set at 60 plus one. We all know that they did not reach that threshold. So where the member is coming from is beyond the government side, because we have been very clear in our position when it comes to the Carcross-Tagish ratification.

Mr. Hardy:   Mr. Speaker, weíre trying to find out where the Premierís coming from, with the kinds of statements he makes after what happened down at Carcross-Tagish. Now, the big-picture issue here that the Premier is still not addressing is the impact of bilateral deals with First Nations that donít have final agreements on the First Nations that do. The Premier seems to be having trouble acknowledging that there is a trust issue developing between this government and many First Nations, and weíre hearing it. People see this government not living up to the protocols it has signed. People see this government ignoring its obligations to consult, and people see this government playing favourites, Mr. Speaker. What action is the Premier planning to take over the next six months to rebuild that trust that should exist between this government ó his government ó and the First Nation governments?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Again, the member opposite is incorrect. In fact, the trust relationship between this government ó the Yukon government ó and First Nations has improved in this territory and it has been improving over the last 16 months that this government has been in office.

As far as a bilateral agreement such as the one with the Kaska First Nation, it is an incentive to settle land claims, because the bilateral agreement with the Kaska commits the Kaska First Nation to set aside their litigation, put it into abeyance, get back to the land claim table and conclude a land claim. Thatís not a disincentive, itís an incentive.

Question re:  Transboundary resource agreements

Mr. Hardy:   I will move on to a new question.

Last month in Calgary, the Premier told petroleum industry representatives that he had instructed his officials to get ready to negotiate an interim measures agreement and a transboundary land claim settlement with Acho Dene Koe First Nation in the Northwest Territories. The Premier said he has met personally with the Acho Dene Koe and is committed to working with Premier Handley and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

Now that he has shared this information with the really important people in Calgary, would the Premier be kind enough to provide a status report to us little people in the Yukon?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Well, first, Mr. Speaker, the Yukon government ó this government ó does not consider Yukoners to be little people. Letís make that clear.

Secondly, the Umbrella Final Agreement obligates the Yukon government to negotiate transboundary claims. Chapter 25 is clear on that obligation. That is exactly what the Yukon government is doing.

As far as development in the Yukon Territory, we will continue to forge effective, meaningful partnerships with First Nations and industry to solicit investment into the Yukon and to build the Yukon economy and build a Yukon future in partnership with First Nations. The objective: mutual benefit.

Mr. Hardy:   I should finish that sentence for him: "Ö at any cost."

Yesterday we witnessed a remarkable performance by the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources on the question of transboundary resource deals. It really does deserve an Academy Award. The only problem is weíre no further ahead. We even had a crack team of cryptologists working all night trying to translate the ministerís words into at least one of our official languages. We were not successful.

We donít know what box the minister was speaking from. Since the Premier likes to operate outside the box, maybe he can help in this case.

How much of the Yukonís resources is the Premier planning to give away to the Acho Dene Koe and what mandate does he have to do so?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   This is quite astounding, given the fact that the New Democrats were in government when the Umbrella Final Agreement was brought forward and a subsequent government ratified the Umbrella Final Agreement. Chapter 25 is very clear on what the obligations are for the Yukon government when it comes to negotiating a transboundary claim. Weíre not varying that obligation nor are we deviating from chapter 25. Past governments have; the recent Liberal government put 190 square miles on the table in the land claim negotiation for a transboundary claimant.

I would say that past governments have done some things in this area that may have set precedent. We as a government will stick to chapter 25 and the obligations thereunder.

Mr. Hardy:   Well, the Premier told the oil industry heís already having transboundary talks. He said he wants Premier Handley and the petroleum people to help and convince the federal minister to get on board. At the same time, there isnít a single scrap of evidence that the existing bilateral agreements will move the Kaska any closer toward transboundary final agreement.

Now my question is: has the Premier had any indication at all that the new federal minister is willing to participate in transboundary negotiations of any kind with either the Kaska or the Acho Dene Koe, or is the Premier flying solo on this, once again?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   In the first place, letís look at the facts and not the rhetoric coming from the leader of the official opposition. As far as the federal government, they too have an obligation and a responsibility for transboundary land claim negotiations. They too must be at the table. What we are urging the federal government to do is revisit their mandate on transboundary negotiations. Thatís the simple fact. We are prepared and obligated under the Umbrella Final Agreement to negotiate transboundary claims. Furthermore, letís look at what we have accomplished because of a bilateral agreement. We have no legal challenge against devolution set aside. Today we have, contrary to the memberís assertions, the Kaska Nation actively engaged with the federal government to negotiate an abeyance agreement to get back to the land claim table. I call that product; I call that accomplishment; I call that moving the territory ahead.

Question re:  First Nation forest resources

Ms. Duncan:   I have some questions for the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources. Itís a very simple question. Does the minister believe the Carcross-Tagish First Nation owns 100 percent of the forest resources in its traditional territories? Itís a very straightforward yes-or-no question. Does the minister believe that the Carcross-Tagish First Nation owns 100 percent of the forest resources in its traditional territories?

Hon. Mr. Lang:   In answering the member opposite, in the agreement with the Kaska First Nation, I think what I have to do is bring the member opposite up to mark on the difference between "royalties" and "upset bid price". I think she insinuated that in the forest industry we talk about royalty. Itís "royalty" in oil and gas, and in forestry itís an "upset bid price". In the negotiations with the Kaska, the upset bid price involves five issues. Itís the silviculture we have to do; itís reforestation that it has to do, engineering costs, administration and stumpage. Those five issues are on the table.

We as negotiators with the Kaska First Nation decided, in our business transaction, to release the stumpage fee, which is one of the five issues, to the hands of the Kaska First Nation so they could have some resources to build up their capacity. We on this side of the table believe that strengthening the First Nationís capacity to do business with us as a Yukon government is beneficial to all Yukoners. The forest industry is opening up in southeast Yukon. The Kaskas are participating on a 50:50 basis. We gave them the stumpage so they could build up capacity. Itís a good deal for all Yukoners.

Ms. Duncan:   Well, Mr. Speaker, what I got from the minister opposite was a complete grocery bag answer ó full of everything except the one item I was looking for, a yes-or-no answer. Why is the minister so reluctant to answer such a simple, straightforward question? Yukoners want to know what the position of the government is. Who owns the trees in the traditional territory of the Carcross-Tagish First Nation? Does the minister believe that 100 percent of the forest resources in the traditional territory of the Carcross-Tagish First Nation belong to that First Nation? Yes or no? Itís a very simple question.

Hon. Mr. Lang:   Mr. Speaker, in the member for the third partyís question, in southeast Yukon weíre dealing with an Indian band situation. With the Carcross-Tagish First Nation weíre dealing with a land settlement, with R blocks, and obviously with the election last week, the opportunity to pass that was turned down by the citizenry, which is the First Nationís right.

As far as ownership of any of that resource, those are all part and parcel of the land claim that the First Nation has put forward. Understand that now, without the land claim in place, the Carcross-Tagish First Nation is an Indian band First Nation. How far that will go, I donít know. But I think itís poor politics for us to use the First Nation situation in Carcross-Tagish at the moment. Itís a very delicate situation, and for us to stand up and score political points on the back of that negotiating team and that First Nation, I think, is a little out of the box, Mr. Speaker. So I will leave it at that.

Ms. Duncan:   We have a responsibility to our constituents to ask the questions in the Legislature. The minister opposite, who has responsibility in this area, has a duty to answer them, not to stand and criticize the questions. He seems to be having a great deal of difficulty answering a very simple, straightforward question. Why is the minister so reluctant to put the Yukon Party position on the public record?

Will the minister answer the question: does he believe that the Carcross-Tagish First Nation owns 100 percent of the forest resources in its traditional territory? Itís a very straightforward, yes-or-no question. He is on the public record with respect to others. Will he answer that question? Yes or no?

Hon. Mr. Lang:   I appreciate the comments from the third party and the politics in them.

I appreciate the fact that the Carcross-Tagish First Nation has just gone through a ratification vote. That vote was not successful. I say to you in this House that this is a very delicate time for the Carcross-Tagish First Nation. There are some questions that have to be answered within that government.

As far as the member opposite playing politics with that kind of thing in this House at this time, that is not appropriate.

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Point of order

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

Ms. Duncan:   To suggest that someone is inappropriate for asking questions is casting motives. I would suggest that the ministerís response is out of order.

Speaker:   The terminology "playing politics", I presume, is what the member is objecting to.

Ms. Duncan:   Yes, "playing politics" is casting motives. It is suggesting that the question was motivated by something other than a desire to have the minister state for the public record what the governmentís position was.

Speakerís ruling

Speaker:   I believe there is a point of order, and I would ask the minister to not use that term.

Hon. Mr. Lang:   In finishing my statement to the leader of the third party ó I certainly will not bring up politics in this House ó for us to stand here at this time and discuss issues of self-governing First Nations, driving wedges between communities, I donít think is appropriate.

Question re:  Dawson City supervisor position

Mr. McRobb:   I would like to welcome back the Minister of Community Services from his brief spring retreat. I understand it was quite warm in Dawson City last night. Now that the minister has had the opportunity to sleep on the events from last nightís meeting, perhaps he can answer a few questions.

The order-in-council appointing the new trustee for Dawson City also revoked the appointment of the official supervisor, effective April 13, but the former supervisor was part of the panel at last nightís meeting and the new trustee referenced working with that individual.

Can the minister tell us: is the former supervisor from British Columbia still being paid by the Yukon government and, if so, in what capacity?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   The new trustee has asked that Mr. Carrel be maintained to help in the transition from the supervisorís role to the trusteeís role, and he has been maintained on an as-needed basis.

Mr. McRobb:   So I take it from that response that he is being paid by the Yukon government. Perhaps now with some guidance from the Member for Klondike, he can respond to that question. I hope the minister can soon provide some documentation about the arrangements between YTG and the former supervisor, including a full accounting of what this has cost Yukon taxpayers and exactly what they got for their money.

Last night, the minister indicated to the people of Dawson that he is looking at some kind of an inquiry into Dawsonís financial picture and how things came to the point theyíre at now. He promised this inquiry would be independent and that heís considering people with no axes to grind.

Is the minister agreeable to having the Legislature provide input into the mandate and the timelines for this inquiry, or does he intend to make those decisions on his own?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   For the member opposite, as I indicated, weíll be talking with the trustee. Weíre commencing a forensic audit for the town of Dawson City. Once we complete that process, if indeed I get a request from the trustee to carry forward with an inquiry, weíll take it under consideration.

Mr. McRobb:   I get the impression the minister is not telling us the whole story. Now it must be obvious to everyone in the Yukon by now that this government has a lot of fence-mending to do in Dawson City. The minister certainly deserves congratulations for his valiant attempt to explain the absence of his colleague from Klondike at last nightís meeting, but there are a lot of unanswered questions about how the whole sorry affair happened in the first place.

Under the circumstances, I think my final supplementary should go to the Premier. Will the Premier instruct, or at least advise, the Member for Klondike to hold a public meeting in his constituency and explain what role he played in the events leading to the dismissal of the elected mayor and council of the town of Dawson City? Will he do that?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Seeing as Dawson City is under my particular jurisdiction, it is my responsibility. Itís under my watch that we have appointed the trustee. Itís under my watch that weíve gone and done this. It has not been an easy decision on my behalf, nor on this governmentís behalf. This situation has been going on for many years now, and it has been a very difficult situation. But itís a decision that I believe we had to make in order to get started on a fresh foot with Dawson City and to determine what the real problems are there.

Question re:  Dawson City financial position

Mr. Cardiff:   I, too, have a question for the Minister of Community Services. The order-in-council appointing a trustee for Dawson City was signed on Monday. The trustee attended last nightís meeting in Dawson, but there are still many unanswered questions about how he will be operating. Will the minister provide the House a copy of the trusteeís contract, the terms of reference, and the workplan at the earliest opportunity?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Once we have finalized that information, I will provide that.

Mr. Cardiff:   We look forward to it, and Iím sure that the public looks forward to it as well.

The minister has had in place a supervisor for several months. He has had plenty of opportunity to look at the townís books at various times. He is also part of a government with a massive budgetary surplus. During last nightís meeting, questions were raised about ongoing programs and services in Dawson City. The answers were quite vague and seemed to fit into the wait-and-see category. Will the minister give his assurance to community groups in Dawson City that there will not be any cuts to funding of their ongoing programs as a result of his decision to take over direct management of Dawson Cityís affairs?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   For the member opposite, the decision of what has happened in Dawson City will be that of the trustee, and that will be his decision on what gets processed through the cityís books and what doesnít.

Mr. Cardiff:   Mr. Speaker, Iíd like to remind the minister that the trustee reports to him, and the minister provides direction to the trustee.

The mayor and council held regular public meetings, which were also carried on local cable television. Now that the minister has become Dawsonís super-mayor and his trustee is fulfilling the role of mayor and council, it was obvious at last nightís meeting that one of the big concerns is that residents have access to their municipal decisionmakers and to the information that they need about the townís affairs. Will the minister make it part of the trusteeís job description to hold public meetings at least once a month and to make available all the information that Dawson City residents would normally receive from their elected mayor and council?

Speakerís statement

Speaker:   Order please. Before the member answers the question, we have discussed this in this House previously: putting appendages or attachments on to a ministerial title ó he is the Minister of Community Services and I would appreciate it if you would address him as such.

Please carry on.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Itís okay, Mr. Speaker, I donít take offence to that process.

The issue is that, at last nightís meeting, the trustee had committed that, once he gets settled into the community, he will be holding meetings regularly with that community.

Question re: Yukon River salmon agreement

Mr. Fairclough:   My question is for the same minister.

Now that the minister controls Dawson Cityís affairs, how long does this government plan to breach the Yukon River salmon agreement?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   We will carry out the business as required and stay within the act where we can.

Mr. Fairclough:   Well, that was definitely a non-answer, Mr. Speaker. Obviously the minister does not have a firm grip on this issue.

The Yukon River salmon agreement is an international treaty signed by Canada and the United States that commits the enforcement of water quality standards.

This government continues to pollute and degrade the Yukon River. They do not seem to know which direction to take. Their priority is a bridge and the environment is dead last.

Yesterday the minister admitted that he is looking for ways to water down the federal water quality standards. That is shocking. Is the minister aware that this government is also in breach of another international treaty, the boundary waters treaty? Why does this government refuse to honour that treaty?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Well, I would like to advise the member opposite that we honour all our treaties. This government is committed to Dawson and the Dawson sewage issue. No other capital projects in the Yukon are affecting our commitment to this particular aspect.

The problem is with the present design and the burden that would be placed on Dawson to operate that current facility.

There are issues around standards and designs that are being addressed by our department, and we plan to continue working on that process.

Mr. Fairclough:   We on this side of the House disagree with the minister. We believe this government is in breach of two international treaties.

Mr. Speaker, the Yukon River Intertribal Watershed Council made a strong recommendation that all available resources must be directed to the construction of a sewage treatment plant and that it be a priority over all other city construction projects.

This council is very strong. Theyíre a very strong lobby group, and if they do not get some satisfaction from Dawson City and this government, they could be in a position to take this issue to the United Nations.

Dawson Cityís sewage issue could easily have a major impact on Canadaís relationship with the United States.

Given the serious nature of this issue, does the minister agree with the Watershed Council that the construction of a sewage plant must be a priority over all other construction projects in Dawson City? Does he agree with them?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   As I mentioned, this government is committed to the sewage issue. The department is working on solutions, and once a plan is in place funds will be applied to address that situation.

Question re:  Dawson City bridge

Mrs. Peter:   The Yukon government is determined to build a bridge across the Yukon River at Dawson City. My question isnít about the $50-million price tag or any other things that should be done with that first. Questions like that weíd have for the Minister of Community Services.

My question today is for the Minister of Environment. The Yukon River is a major international body of water. The riverbed around Dawson City contains all sorts of debris that has been there for many, many years. What provisions has the minister made to clean up the riverbed in conjunction with the building of a bridge?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   First of all, Iím confused as to what bridge the member opposite means at $50 million. The bridge seems to go up each day that someone on the opposite side rises to speak to it, but itís certainly an indication that perhaps the Education department should be looking at the mathematics it teaches.

We certainly look at the environment in all of this, and the bridge certainly addresses that. To compare the bridge and its environmental impacts to a ferry that moves 24 hours a day, seven days a week, back and forth, with constant restructuring of the approaches for the ferry ó to compare that to a bridge that, once built, will get them off the river, effectively, is not a fair comparison. It is a great environmental impact and studies have been done to show that.

Mrs. Peter:   The plans for the bridge are well spelled out in the budget. This cleanup is urgently needed. It could also go a long way toward resolving the concerns of the Yukon salmon committee and the Yukon River Intertribal Watershed Council. A few minutes ago I tabled a motion calling on this government to conduct a cleanup and to do it in consultation with a variety of organizations and government bodies. Will the minister make a commitment to do just that?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Environmental cleanup is certainly the mandate of the department and something weíre always considering in conjunction with all sorts of partners. The member opposite is quite correct, the bridge is spelled out into the proposals, which clearly indicate that, again, the members opposite are continually inflating this figure and are quite wrong. Again, this shows that they fail to understand the bridge and what itís capable of.

Mrs. Peter:   Mr. Speaker, the minister is not answering my question. It isnít just the riverbed that is contaminated. There is also discarded material along the shorelines adjacent to where the bridge will go. Building the bridge could well disturb some of this material and create problems downstream.

I understand, as well, that the move of Dawson Cityís hall a few years ago unearthed the fact that there are pools of waste oil beneath the surface in parts of the townsite itself. Will the minister agree to address these serious environmental concerns in Dawson City on a priority basis?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Certainly, one point that I agree with the member opposite on is that the need, while the ferry is there, to be constantly shoving in on a daily basis tonnes of material into prime salmon-breeding grounds ó itís not acceptable, Mr. Speaker, and itís one of many, many arguments for the benefits of this bridge.

In terms of environmental cleanup in general, if the member opposite is aware of any of these problems, please make them available to us. We will deal with the problems that we have, but we have enough problems to deal with. We donít need fictitious ones.

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

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

Mr. Cathers:   Mr. Speaker, Iíd like to ask all members of this House to join me in welcoming to the gallery a constituent of mine, Hugh Monaghan.

Applause

ORDERS OF THE DAY

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

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

Motion agreed to

Speaker leaves the Chair

COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE

Chair:   Committee of the Whole will now come to order. The matter before the Committee is Bill No. 8, Third Appropriation Act, 2003-04. I understand weíre returning to the Department of Tourism and Culture. Before we begin debate, do members wish a recess?

Some Hon. Members:   Agreed.

Chair:   Weíll take a brief recess.

Recess

Chair:   Committee of the Whole will now come to order. The matter before the Committee is Bill No. 8, Third Appropriation Act, 2003-04.

Bill No. 8 ó Third Appropriation Act, 2003-04 ó continued

Chair:  We will continue with Vote 54, Department of Tourism and Culture.

Department of Tourism and Culture ó continued

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   I am indeed very pleased to carry on the discussion that took place a couple of days ago. The member opposite, as I recall, had left off our discussion with a question with respect to anticipated growth in the tourism industry for the upcoming summer season, fall, this year. As I had briefly touched upon that particular debate a couple of days ago, I for one, as Minister of Tourism and Culture, am very encouraged by the numbers this season. While Iím always a bit apprehensive to actually quote specific numbers, there are a number of clear indications that we will be embarking or heading into a very good summer season tourism-wise.

Of course, when we talk about tourism initiatives, we talk about product development, as I spoke last time around, with respect to building product here in the territory ó whether that means expanding upon our marketing initiatives such as our tourism cooperative marketing fund that we had announced to the tune of $500,000 or whether we talk about investments in Yukon heritage. Simply put, our budget has superseded itself over the previous year. Actually 2002-03 to 2004-05, the budget has actually doubled to almost $1.3 million in terms of support and assistance to our Yukon museums as well as First Nation cultural centres.

We are very much proud of our efforts. Of course, I would be remiss if I didnít recognize the very studious work, the very diligent efforts of our department officials. They have certainly put a lot of time, energy and effort into seeing these projects come to fruition.

As a result, we see numbers coming back to the territory. We see the Yukon being regarded as a destination to visit but also to do business and to invest, and, of course, to live, Mr. Chair.

Iíd also, of course, be remiss if I didnít thank members of our own Yukon Tourism Marketing Partnership and all of their volunteer committee members for all of their input and hard work over the last year. And, of course, thanks goes out to our Yukon First Nations Tourism Association, our own Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon, the Wilderness Tourism Association of the Yukon, the Convention Bureau, and the many associations that put in a lot of hard work on behalf of the tourism industry and, as a result, we see tremendous growth in this particular industry, an industry that has been able to thrive throughout very difficult times. Without having to go into great detail last year, ever since 9/11, we have seen a number of challenges confronting the industry, including SARS, including the fallout from the war in Iraq, including mad cow disease, including forest fires, and despite what I would call the perfect storm, we have seen incredible resilience of all Yukoners and Yukon tourism operators to provide services and to provide great products and to be able to succeed and do well at what they do best.

Iím also very proud to be part of a government that recognizes marketing initiatives. Again I refer to the marketing fund of $500,000 and investments in product development of almost $200,000. This links right back to our party platform and what we were elected on during the 2002 territorial election, and that was the initiative to improve marketing and product development that would provide long-term benefit to the Yukon economy.

When we talk about product development in the territory, we refer to improvements to our highway structure, improvements to our wildlife viewing sites, such as the Minister of Environment will be doing later on this year, improvements to rest stops and improvements to our campgrounds. There are a whole host of activities. Itís about building upon what we do best, and that is to showcase the Yukon as a great destination to visit, whether that be for the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous, which just celebrated its 40th anniversary or the Yukon Quest International, the toughest sled dog race in the world. We are very pleased to extend that contribution agreement of an additional $150,000.

Our contribution to the Fulda Extreme Arctic Challenge was an additional $150,000. That particular event has reaped much success for Yukon, bringing in well over $1 million in annual local spending during the time they spent here in the Yukon, and it also attracted worldwide media attention to the tune of over a billion people viewing this particular event in the month of February.

So, Mr. Chair, when we talk about product, it is investment in the heritage sector, it is investment in our Yukon First Nation tourism products, First Nation cultural centres, to the tune of $220,000 in funding support to our existing operations. Itís talking about visitor exit surveys that we will also be holding this summer ó of well over $400,000 ó to provide our department timely, comprehensive and reliable tourism data to our department. It will also be of great value to all the partners in the tourism sector.

We will also be, of course, working with Minister Hart on the development of the waterfront here in Whitehorse as well as other communities, extending the trolley ó to the tune of $425,000 ó to the Chilkoot Centre here in Whitehorse. We will also be further developing the roundhouse. So, further developing, adding that product, building and growing tourism in Whitehorse and in all communities. Our government is very proud to be able to provide investments to the ice patch research, to Old Crow, to the visitor reception centre. We are also building upon our craft program, to move the craft industry toward a viable economic sector.

I could certainly go on at great length, but I also recognize that my time is just about up. I certainly welcome further questions from the members opposite.

Chairís statement

Chair:   Order please. Before debate continues, I would just like to remind members of our Assembly not to refer to each other by name but instead to refer to the portfolio or the riding they represent.

Mr. McRobb:   We on this side believe that tourism is very important to the territory. Itís currently about the most significant sector of our economy that is not directly related to the government. We commend the many workers in the department who help to make our tourism industry as successful as it is. We also commend all those involved in tourism associations and who are stakeholders who participate in annual conventions, such as the TIAY convention occurring this coming weekend in Haines, Alaska, and others such as the tourism roundup that traditionally occurs in November.

Also, Mr. Chair, itís important to recognize the effort put into this industry by all the small business operators in the territory, as well as the few larger corporations that contribute. We all know people in our ridings who are involved in the tourism industry and how hard they work at developing their family businesses and all the effort they put into marketing and developing their product and working with the government officials and the relevant associations to make the Yukon a better place to visit. Our hats go off to all of those people, because we know that itís difficult at times, the many challenges they face in just surviving in this relatively depressed business climate. It can be very difficult just to survive. Itís inspiring to note that some of the business operators have done more than survive; theyíve actually succeeded and are becoming leaders in the industry in their niches.

So thatís rather inspiring. The Yukon has much to offer to visitors in the way of tourism. We have at least one of the worldís top 10 attractions in the Tatshenshini River, and plenty more that should be considered among the worldís top destinations. Perhaps, Mr. Chair, at some point, others in the world will take note of the value and quality of the attractions in the territory, and it would make it even a more attractive option to them.

We have plenty of related operators who deserve a lot of credit. If we look at a local airline like Air North, Mr. Chair, and understand where it has come from and where it is now and where it is likely to go, both the workers at Air North and investors and all Yukoners who have supported that company deserve a lot of credit. It is producing jobs in the territory. It is producing Yukon advertising Outside. It is simply helping to increase the potential for the Yukonís tourism industry as well as other sectors of our economy. Certainly, we commend this company in particular for its efforts.

Mr. Chair, on the other side of the scale, we unfortunately have to deal with situations like Air Canada and the CCAA, and we wonder about what effect that will have on the territoryís transportation routes. Certainly, weíd be interested in getting an update from this minister on the Air Canada situation and especially about any contingency plans she has to provide alternative air transportation to the territory in the event we see a complete cessation of service from Canadaís airline.

One of the most relevant things to the various regions of the territory with respect to tourism is the development of regional tourism plans. I would like an update from the minister on where the regional tourism plans are at.

I know the riding of Kluane developed a regional tourism plan a few years back and it was the second such regional tourism plan. Iím aware other areas in the territory are also working to develop theirs.

So if we could get an update on that progress, that would be appreciated.

Also, I want to ask the minister about the implementation of those plans because itís one thing to develop a plan and itís another to do anything with a plan. All too frequently in the Yukon, we see a report or plan developed and wonder what happens to it. Too frequently, it ends up on a shelf somewhere, gathering dust.

Mr. Chair, this is a very unfortunate waste of public and government time and effort. Thereís a lot of valuable information that goes into the development of regional tourism plans. People come out to meetings; they send in submissions, volunteering their time and their knowledge and opinions, and we should have the decency to treat these plans with the respect they deserve.

In the case of the Kluane regional tourism plan ó and I mention it as an example because itís the one Iím most familiar with ó I canít recall any recommendations from that plan that have been implemented by government. To the contrary, I recall motions tabled by this Yukon Party government that go against the grain of the recommendations in the plan.

I see the Member for Lake Laberge has a confused look. Iíll remind him because he introduced a motion to develop Kluane Park access. Well, that issue is dealt with in the plan.

I hope before the government sends in the bulldozers to plow in a road in the park, it will understand the various jurisdictions that are involved and the need to bring the stakeholders together to deal with this matter in a public forum. It is incumbent upon the government to bring the proper information to the table.

I hope itís not a backroom decision that is made and then suddenly we see the governmentís secret plan being implemented like we just observed with the case of the $50-million Dawson bridge.

So I hope the government side will take notice that proper process is required in these situations. The government should be reading these regional economic tourism plans.

The minister referred to cultural centres, but we feel that the issue has been glossed over by the government. How much money for this need is actually in this budget? In reality, very little.

I am aware of studies that were done in various communities in the territory to develop cultural centres or expand museums and there has been no follow-up in terms of funds in this budget for those purposes. So I am a little concerned that cultural centres could be getting paid lip service from the government and be given the short shrift in the budget.

What about heritage? I had an opportunity to review the line items in the budget and it appears there have been reductions in the area of spending in heritage. What is this all about? We expect the minister to defend those decisions.

Heritage is important to us all in the Yukon and in most places in the world. Without heritage, itís hard to understand who we are as a people and where weíve been, and we all know those are very important factors. In the Yukon, especially with all the abundant culture we have ó First Nation traditional culture, especially ó heritage is very important.

Thereís a dire need to protect that heritage. The government should not be reducing funds in that area. We look at the waste of money on the Dawson bridge ó $50 million ó yet all it can put out for something like ice patch surveys is $50,000. Thatís .1 percent of the bridge. Ice patch surveys have produced the world renowned artefacts that we have become aware of in the past few years from the receding snow packs. This could be the main attraction of the territory in the future. Letís make no mistake about it. Those artefacts could be the main drawing card to the territory.

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Mr. McRobb:   Well, the Education minister says, "No, it will be the Dawson bridge." Iíll dispute that with him any day.

We need to put our resources where they will provide the biggest bang for the buck and also address the priorities of Yukoners. Well, we on this side believe that this government is not holding up the heritage file as high as it should be. The example of the ice patch survey budget is only one example of many. What about the Holland America contract with the Yukon game farm? We donít hear that from the side opposite. What ever happened to ministerial statements in this House before Question Period? That was an opportunity for everybody to get involved and discuss a matter. That would have been a great issue to bring forward as a ministerial statement, to at least advise everybody about whatís going on with Holland America and the Yukon game farm. Well, unfortunately weíve heard very, very little from this government.

What about Holland Americaís continued involvement with Kluane National Park? Well, there is a good-news story, Mr. Chair. And itís especially good to see Holland America starting to work with the First Nations in the region, which is something the Yukon government failed to do when it set up the deal to begin with. The Yukon government was there taking credit for setting up the deal, but later we found out that First Nations didnít know about it. They werenít consulted about it.

Mr. Chair, there are sections in the final agreements that require first right of refusal for business opportunities in certain areas like Kluane National Park. Those were negotiated points of the Umbrella Final Agreement, and certainly the Champagne and Aishihik final agreement. And this government had no business ignoring all of that when it set up the Holland America deal in the first place.

Now, Mr. Chair, because of the benevolence of Holland America, we know they are starting to work with the First Nations and resolve this oversight, but I certainly expect the minister not to repeat such a dire mistake again in anybodyís traditional territory.

Mr. Chair, finally regarding Holland America, last year, I took part in a group discussion on Holland Americaís activities in the Kluane region. It was a very interesting discussion, especially for the last hour. It really opened up and some great questions were asked, and thanks to the Holland America representative, some good information came back in return. If only Question Period would follow that type of an example, maybe weíd have a greater flow of information.

Anyway, what I would like to do is invite the minister to come out and be present if thereís a meeting again later this year, perhaps after the tourism season is complete ó at least the traditional season, the summer season ó and take part in the meeting, because the Yukon government should be represented at such a gathering for discussion.

Another area ó and I have brought this up at almost every opportunity when discussing the department ó is the need for expanded communications throughout the territory. Itís an issue I brought up with other ministers ó the Minister of Economic Development, who is apparently now responsible for communications. Previously it was the Minister of Highways and Public Works who was responsible. It seems this hot potato just is bouncing among the ministers over there and nobody really wants to do anything about it. Maybe they canít do anything about it, Mr. Chair, because thereís no money. All the money is being sucked into the Dawson City bridge, and once that bridge is given the firm go-ahead, there wonít be any money for this, at least not as much as it deserves.

I want to put on record before leaving this item that a few years ago there was a survey done as part of the stay-another-day program and visitors were asked questions. Three of the top 11 responses identified the need for communications in parts of the territory that currently have none or have inadequate communications.

Visitors came right out and said they need cell-phone service in areas in order to stay in contact with their family and friends while on vacation.

There has been a lot of discussion about how after 9/11 there is a greater need for tourists to stay in touch with people back home. So it follows suit that communication is very important to the tourism sector, and I would encourage this minister to try to make the case at the budget table. We know thereís a supplementary budget coming in the fall, and it would be great to have some money to partner with industry and other governments to maybe launch a few cell towers in neighbouring communities. Before I mentioned Teslin, Carmacks, Haines Junction as examples. Well, perhaps Carcross as well. This would have the net result of expanding the coverage zone greatly and encouraging our visitors to stay in the territory longer, to stay longer in those campgrounds without fear of events happening that theyíre not aware of, and for the reassurance that a simple phone call will settle their fears and the reassurance that a ring on the phone will connect them with other family members and friends or work associates who need to get hold of them. This is an important factor and this government has the opportunity to do something about it. Weíll be following up on this matter in days ahead.

Finally, I want to raise the issue of insurance rates. Weíre aware how rates for home, auto and corporate insurance have increased quite drastically in some situations and also how insurance for wilderness adventure has increased. This increases the burden on our wilderness operators and people who work in conjunction with those operators, and the government should be looking at solutions that would alleviate this additional pressure on our wilderness operators.

What we hope to do in this sitting, perhaps when we get to this department in the mains, is ask the minister what options she is considering in this particular area.

So we will just flag that matter for the minister now and follow up on it probably a month down the road, when we get to the department.

As well, there is a need for an update on the Marine Liability Act issues. We know that the federal government agreed to go back and readdress this matter with operators and other stakeholders to refine the problems in the previous legislation. We are all aware of how that act, if allowed to remain as is, would impact the territory. Basically it would remove the options for virtually everybody ó all wilderness operators, boat tour operators, anybody with a vessel on water ó it would remove their ability to get insurance.

So I know my time is up. I have raised a number of issues for the minister and I am looking forward to a response.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   I frankly donít know where to start. The member opposite has raised a number of issues. Certainly, I donít know if I am going to be able to address them all within my 20 minutes, but I will certainly do my utmost best.

The member opposite talks about air access issues and I am glad that the member opposite has put that issue on the table. Air access, as the member opposite knows fully, is key to the development and growth of our tourism industry here in the Yukon.

With industry ó tour operators and our air carriers ó we continue to work on an ongoing basis, to work closely with one another on options to improve the current and future air services to our territory.

As the member opposite made reference to Air North, Yukonís regional airline has certainly played a key role in providing accessible, affordable, very good service to the territory, as has their counterpart, Air Canada.

There is no question about it. We have had some turbulent times in our air industry, and that is a very large concern to our department, to our government, but we continue to work on these particular issues, whether they be on the domestic front or on the international front, to continue to work with industry and our existing air carriers to determine what it is that we can do to ensure that we maintain affordable and accessible service here in the Yukon and also grow that service.

Iím very pleased to say that industry has stepped up to the plate, and industry has played a very important role in these discussions with both airlines on an ongoing basis. You know, I also repeat that the end-all goal is not necessarily to get perhaps another carrier into the territory to service our domestic service because, as a very strong representative of Air North once said, itís not about capacity; itís an issue more about connectivity.

I recall when Air Canada had pulled out its service ó they had reduced its flight from two to one last fall ó and they had changed their times of arrival and departure into the Yukon, there was quite an uproar, and we were very upset as a result of the changes. There was no notice provided, and industry, again, together with our department, stepped up to the plate and made our concerns known right away.

Interestingly enough, the member opposite ó the Member for Kluane ó obviously hasnít been talking with his counterpart from Vuntut Gwitchin because, if he had, he would have realized the issue was about connectivity and not capacity, that between the two carriers, there is actually about a 66-percent occupancy load, and that in fact if we were to run out and get another carrier, as the Member for Kluane suggested, it wouldnít have done Yukoners any good. In fact, it just may have put one of those airlines out of business ó perhaps it might have been Air North.

So Iím glad to put that on the record because I remember the president of Air North had taken issue with the Member for Kluane and his statement about that. He wasnít sure where the member opposite was coming from, but Iím glad to see he has changed his tune about the very importance of Air North and the very important service they provide to Yukoners on a day-to-day basis.

I agree with the members opposite: they do a fine job, an exemplary job providing excellent service to all Yukoners and to our visitors alike.

Mr. Chair, we talked about a number of things. One thing I would like to elaborate a little further on ó and I thought I had done that in my preamble earlier but I guess I didnít do a good enough job. Iím pleased to reiterate on the investments in heritage. I think our government has really done a remarkable job in providing additional monies to the heritage sector, whether it be to Yukon museums or whether it be to our First Nation cultural heritage centres.

I just have to go back to 2002-03. There was a total of $688,000 when it came to providing organizational support or museum assistance programs or exhibitions assistance. And then of course we look to this budget, the 2004-05 mains, and that, lo and behold, has increased to $1,293,000.

I think thatís quite significant. Thatís a 50-percent increase. I think thatís a pretty remarkable increase, and weíre very proud to be part of a government that recognizes the very importance that heritage institutions in our territory play not only as attractions for all visitors to enjoy but as places to house our history, who we are as people, where weíve come from as a territory, and again weíre very proud to place those additional investments.

Regarding our museums, as the members opposite know, we were able to increase our operating levels of support to Yukon museums in the last budget, and that was thanks to the good work of our Department of Tourism and Culture in revamping and enhancing the funding programs available to Yukon museums, hence providing additional flexibility for museums to decide what is the priority on which they wish to spend funds. As a result, we were also able to expand the eligibility list for museums funding to include qualified interpretative centres, such as that of Binet House in the Village of Mayo, the Campbell region interpretive centre in Faro, the Miles Canyon Historical Railway Society in Whitehorse, and of course the Northern Lights Space and Science Centre housed in Watson Lake. I think that the establishment of a process to provide multi-year funding agreements for museums in subsequent years not only provides stability to our heritage institutions, but it provides those people working in the industry the ability to place more investment in the heritage sector.

When we talk about museums, I also must refer to the First Nation cultural centres and culture. That is reflected in the 2004-05 budget with $220,000 identified in operational support for existing cultural centres. I also refer to investments such as a First Nations heritage worker position that will soon be going out to competition in the department, and that position will be housed in the cultural services branch as well.

These are all very important investments. Again, these additional funds help provide stability in funding and operating these particular facilities, but it also provides these institutions the ability to leverage additional funds, whether that be from the federal government or private sources or otherwise.

Again, itís all about growing our product. Certainly heritage is a very important product in tourism to the Yukon, and it was identified in our territorial election platform in 2002. We are very pleased to deliver some of that particular commitment.

The member opposite also went on at great length about Holland America. I have to say that Holland America plays a very important role as well in growing our tourism industry. Holland America has been in existence certainly in the territory for many years and has contributed up to 25 percent of our entire visitation to the territory. So their presence is very important to the Yukon and we are very thrilled that they have been able to garner partnerships with the Yukon First Nations and with other Yukon communities in developing and enhancing products. So we are very appreciative of their service and their very presence in the territory.

The member opposite also made reference to the ice patch research. We are pleased to be providing a total of $50,000 to ice patch research, and thatís reflected in the 2004-05 budget. Itís an increase of $35,000. Itís an increase in funding, and itís a very important initiative. Again, ice patch research in the territory has garnered worldwide attention from the Smithsonian Institute, to radio coverage, to the Discovery Channel, CBC, CNN, not to mention all the local coverage that it has been able to garner over the last few years. Again, weíre very pleased to be working with the relevant, respective First Nations toward this systematic investigation of this particular entity. It reflects on what we have to offer. It certainly provides a source of generated interest from all over the world, but it also serves as a mechanism to enhance our awareness in changes in our climate as well as to learn about our First Nation history, culture and so forth.

With respect to other elements that the member opposite had referred to, one was insurance. We are especially cognizant of the problems associated with insurance for not just tourism operators but all Yukoners.

That is why our government put forward a motion urging all members of the Legislature to join in an all-party standing committee to look at the issue of insurance and to come up with some very innovative and creative recommendations that would address some of these challenges. Unfortunately, so far the response has been rather meek but Iím very hopeful that we will be able to work together. After all, we are all a team and we are all working on behalf of Yukoners. I certainly urge members opposite to work with our government as equal partners and to look at these very issues confronting industry and come up with a solid set of recommendations that work with Yukoners. This initiative would entail the full involvement of Yukon citizens and industries ó including the Wilderness Tourism Association, Tourism Industry Association and so forth.

In the meantime, the Wilderness Tourism Association, in conjunction with TIA Yukon ó there are a number of workshops and information sessions being held over the next while to raise the level of debate and to raise awareness of these problems. Our department will be part of those discussions but, in the meantime, I also urge members opposite to look at the bigger picture and to perhaps come together to address some of these larger issues at hand when it comes to insurance in the territory.

The Marine Liability Act certainly has been an issue of contention from the very day the act was tabled, and the regulations coming out of that particular act. We have been lobbying the federal government, the federal transportation department in particular, in making changes that work for particularly the smaller wilderness operators in the territory. Thanks to the very hard work and efforts of our officials in the Department of Tourism and Culture, as well as the very efforts of the Wilderness Tourism Association of the Yukon, weíve been able to garner some success. Itís very important to keep this particular issue on the front burner, so to speak, so we donít go in the way the federal government had proposed in the first place. So certainly we are working on that front, and I will be pleased to go into that at greater length when we get into the debate of the mains.

Again, when we talk about a product and when we talk about infrastructures surrounding tourism, I just have to look at the huge investments that our government has placed in highway infrastructure, whether that be on the Dempster Highway, the Klondike Highway, the Campbell Highway or the Alaska Highway. Certainly all those investments attract visitation to the territory and make it a destination of choice, and weíre very pleased to be able to work with the Department of Highways and Public Works. Weíre also very pleased to be working with the Department of Environment when it comes to enhancement of wildlife viewing sites and rest stops.

Again, we are very pleased to work with other departments in making known the very importance of the tourism industry to the territory and to this government.

Ms. Duncan:   I just have a couple of questions with respect to this supplementary budget.

There is a recovery from the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development fine arts accreditation of $30,000. Could the minister just provide a little more detail about that? She may have said this, but in the lengthy responses I possibly have missed it. If she could just outline what that program is ó my concern is that itís not a boutique program that weíve gotten ourselves locked into. So I would just like a little elaboration please.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   I believe that this $30,000 is a 100-percent recoverable contribution agreement with DIAND to provide the support for the development of an accredited and transferable fine arts program. I believe that this funding was identified within DIAND under the knowledge and innovation funding program.

Ms. Duncan:   So, DIAND had some money available and made it available to us for fine arts accreditation. Itís a contribution agreement. How long is the contribution agreement for? Is it anticipated that at the end of the contribution agreement the Yukon would be funding this, or is it a specific project?

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   As far as I am aware ó I could be mistaken ó this is a one-time deal. However, as I understand it, monies have been made available in the past ó I believe in the previous year ó that were also recoverable, and that was building upon the ability of the Dawson City Arts Society to further develop their efforts of an accredited fine arts program.

Of course, this also encompasses or enhances the additional funds that they have also received from the Yukon government to KIAC ó that was produced in the last fiscal year as well.

Ms. Duncan:   In other words, then, this is, once again ó because it sounds like we had it last year ó a one-time funding contribution agreement from Indian Affairs and Northern Development, and this money is toward KIAC to ensure their steps along the process to becoming accredited, such as the Banff School of Fine Arts, that kind of an accreditation. The minister is nodding, so my understanding is correct then? The minister nodded.

Could I just ask the minister, then, to flag it for the Minister of Education? Some of our local institutions in the Whitehorse area, Iím thinking specifically of the Northern Lights School of Dance, and Iím not certain of my pronunciation, but children in the Cecchetti ballet exams would get their accreditation for grade 11 and 12 fine arts programming. Thereís a link there between our arts organizations such as the Northern Lights School of Dance and our education system. So if I could just ask that in light of this, perhaps we could look at a contribution agreement for our own education system and some of those other arts institutions in the territory. I would just ask that the minister look at that and flag it with the Minister of Education.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   I will certainly do that. Iím sure the Minister of Education is also tuning into this debate. Certainly the very value in our cultural industries and, of course, in education is very important to this government, and we think that this particular investment in the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture is a good investment. They do operate a number of programs, the arts for employment program, for example. They do an amazing job with the funds that they do receive from the various levels of sources. I have to say that they have worked very hard over the last few years acquiring different sources of funding from a number of levels of government and other sources. So certainly, if applications were made, they would be looked at just as any other application would be coming forward to the government.

Ms. Duncan:   The minister has made reference to a number of statistics in her responses to other questions over the last period of time. Could I have sent over or tabled the statistics from last summer? Iím thinking of the statistics kept by the visitor reception centres. Thereís usually a count of rubber-tire traffic, walk-ins; some of the airline statistics are made available. There have been some read into the record and I know that information is provided. Is there additional information and could the minister send it over?

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   Yes, actually this statistical information is referenced in the mains here under the statistics in Tourism and Culture, and it does refer to the visitor reception centres broken down by community. It also references air charter, when we talk about European stats, as well as private automobile. I hope that will suffice.

Ms. Duncan:   I appreciate that and will examine those in greater detail. I was looking to see if there was anything additional the minister might have that perhaps wasnít included in this or if the visitor reception centre statistics are broken down any further. Space only permits so much information to be in these statistics, so if thereís additional information, I wouldnít mind having it if she could send it over at some point.

The agreement the Government of Yukon has with Fulda, as I understand it from some of the media reports, was just renewed. Has there been an evaluation done of the previous two or three agreements, or is there any sort of written assessment of the contribution agreements and, if there is such a thing, could I have a copy of it? Perhaps the minister would like to also address any information she has on the renewal of the agreement.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   As the member made reference to, we did sign an additional extension of the memorandum of understanding with Fulda. That was for an additional two years, and it was at the same level of $150,000 per year. Of course, I think I had made reference earlier as well, through our department and through our general sales agent situated in Germany, we have been able to track media attention and exposure. This particular Fulda event again was very well-received. We had a great event. We were able to garner the attention, I believe, of 60 to 70 different journalists coming to the Yukon to showcase the event, and that in itself ó the exposure from the international as well as the national markets ó has certainly garnered a lot of attention for the Yukon at an estimated value of $413 million. Thatís over the last three years, I should add, of media coverage with exposure to approximately 1.5 billion people in Europe and North America.

This year we were actually able to have Toyota Canada as well as Toyota Germany ó as the member opposite may know ó as the major sponsors of Fulda and their participation in this event. Of course, those partnerships have certainly been lucrative to the Yukon. Toyota Canada, for example, just launched, through the CTC, I believe, a $3-million investment campaign over the next two or three years. Again, they are showcasing a piece on the Dempster Highway as a scenic drive this particular year.

So, these types of partnerships we were able to form between Yukon companies ó whether it be through our department ó and with other companies such as Fulda, we were very pleased to be able to do that, as they are able to leverage additional dollars that we were not necessarily able to obtain through our own funding.

Hopefully that addresses the question.

Ms. Duncan:   Yes, it does. Thank you very much.

I would take it from the ministerís comment ó I am not sure Iím using the right term ó in addition to the contract with Fulda, we still maintain a general sales agent in Germany. We still contract the services of Mr. Berghold ó is that correct? The minister has said yes.

Do we also still have a general sales agent in Britain?

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   Yes, we do, to both ó yes.

Ms. Duncan:   Thank you.

Can the minister advise me ó she may not be aware of this, although I think we discussed it at one point in this Legislature. Alberta and Ontario opened a tourism office and had offered space to the Yukon. Did we ever follow up and use that space? It was at no cost to us and it was a tremendous opportunity. Was it ever followed up on?

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   Yes, Mr. Chair, it was.

Forgive me, it has been awhile since we did follow up on that particular matter that the member opposite raised.

As I understand it, Ontario and Alberta had established a marketing office in the Canadian consulate office in Munich during the Canada trade mission to Germany in 2002, which the member opposite was more than likely part of. This was done through a rental arrangement with the Canadian Consulate Generalís office in Munich. The marketing office was to assist companies in doing business in Germany and to attract German investment.

Separate from the economic development office, Alberta also retains the services of a contractor in Frankfurt to represent their tourism interests in Germany. Ontario, on top of that, has a tourism marketing contractor located in Munich but at an address separate from the consulate.

With that said, we do provide ó I suppose you could say we obtain the services of a general sales agent and we continue to do so. In fact, that contract is almost ready for renewal. It has gone out to tender and I believe the tender has closed or will be closing very shortly.

Ms. Duncan:   I appreciate the ministerís answer. I believe there was more of an opportunity there; however, a number of the players have changed along the way and it may not have been fulfilled in a way that was originally discussed.

There has been a great deal of talk about ó sorry, before I leave Europe and our marketing in Europe, there was a great deal of discussion on that trade mission with a potential airline other than Condor coming in to service the Swiss market. There was work being undertaken; it was a matter of aircraft availability. Perhaps the minister could just outline what aircraft we do have coming in this summer and what direct flights, when and whatís anticipated for this summer? Then, while sheís on her feet, could she also outline what negotiations there are ongoing with other European airlines.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   As I alluded to earlier, we have certainly seen a lot of turbulence in the air industry, but fortunately we are able to maintain our air service through Thomas Cook Condor, and they will be continuing the twice-a-week service from Frankfurt to Whitehorse scheduled from late May through to mid September for this year. At the same time, with respect to other direct charter flights, of course our department strives, in conjunction with the German sales agent, to work with tour wholesalers to introduce other charter flights to Whitehorse, whether that be with Air Canada Germany or otherwise. But these efforts continue.

Of course, when we talk about Condor, we also talk about the opportunity to enhance that service. Of course, our department, in conjunction again with our sales agent, continues to have those discussions with Condor to initiate a direct winter flight to the Yukon from Frankfurt. But of course, as I understand, the most important factor in this regard comes down to the availability of the aircraft. Certainly we have been working with Condor and we have been stepping up our marketing efforts in Europe with our travel trade partners in Germany. Of course weíll continue to do so. Of course Rendezvous Canada, held in early May, will be another opportunity to sit down and negotiate.

Ms. Duncan:   Does the minister have the dates for Rendezvous Canada with her? Thereís a world travel trade show we usually attend in Germany as well, but the name is escaping me at the moment. What are the dates for that? Itís a major one that our Minister of Tourism generally attends.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   I believe the Rendezvous Canada is held the first week of May, if Iím not mistaken ó May 1. We were just going over the dates earlier today. I believe itís May 1 through 5, if Iím not mistaken, or the very end of April.

The other show I believe the member opposite was referring to is ITB and Spotlight Canada. Thatís also held in London. Those shows were both held in March, I believe.

Ms. Duncan:   Did the minister attend ITB this year?

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   No, we did not.

Ms. Duncan:   And Rendezvous Canada, where is it taking place this year?

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   I should actually qualify that response. With respect to ITB and Spotlight Canada, we certainly had representation from our Department of Tourism and Culture at those showplaces. Rendezvous Canada this year is being held in Montreal.

Ms. Duncan:   I would anticipate the Yukon is having a significant presence, as we usually do at Rendezvous Canada, but the funding for it would be in the mains so weíll leave any discussion to that.

I have one final question with respect to the Department of Tourism. The minister may wish to address that in the mains as well. There has been much talk of a potential economic development agreement with Canada, a new and improved version. However, all the funding and granting agencies seem to be shuffled into Economic Development. What role is Tourism having and the Minister of Tourism having in discussions on any new, improved EDA with Canada? Tourism played a major role in the last economic development agreement.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   Yes, the EDA with the tourism component is something that was outlined in our platform, and itís something I have raised and will continue to raise at every opportunity with my tourism counterparts, particularly with the federal Tourism minister. I have done so in the past, and I will continue to do so until we see something come to fruition.

With respect to perhaps any recent announcements on EDA funds, we await more news and more details surrounding this particular agreement. We work very closely with the Department of Economic Development, because it just happens to be that many of our tourism operators are also represented very much by the Department of Economic Development, because they are a major economic generator in the territory.

So we always have that ongoing dialogue between the two departments to ensure that what weíre doing in our Department of Tourism and Culture complements that which is happening in the Department of Economic Development. So there are very close synergies recognized and realized between both departments, and weíll continue to work at that.

Ms. Duncan:   Do departmental officials have a seat on the reviewing of any of these economic development applications? Like thereís a regional development fund ó I think thatís the title for it ó in the mains budget. Is the Department of Tourism represented on the overseeing board or the administrative board?

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   Iím not aware of that, although I believe thereís probably ó as with many of our new initiatives ó additional consultation taking place with industry on the implementation of those funds.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, are there any current vacancies outstanding in the Department of Tourism? And related to that, is there any significant funding in the supplementary over and above that $30,000 that is recoverable and that is not related to the collective agreement?

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   As in every department, we certainly have a vacancy factor that I believe every government, including this government, continues to have. I believe itís probably on the average of five percent, if that. So hopefully that will suffice.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, is there any significant money? There is the $30,000 that is recoverable. Is there any significant money over and above the collective agreement in this supplementary that we havenít already discussed?

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   Mr. Chair, Iím just looking at the budget here. As is reflected, in particular with the marketing branch, of course part of that money is collective agreement. Part of this additional funding, though, also does increase the contribution to the Midnight Sun Pipe Band to refurbish and upgrade their performance apparel and some instruments. And I believe we did receive letters of support from both opposition parties as well.

Ms. Duncan:   Yes, very much so. And Iím pleased to see that recognized and that that funding was forthcoming to this ó if I may use the term ó institution in the Yukon.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. I have no further questions.

And may I request the unanimous consent of the House to deem all lines in Vote 54, Department of Tourism and Culture, cleared or carried as required?

Unanimous consent re deeming all lines in Vote 54, Tourism and Culture, cleared or carried

Chair:   I will first confirm: are there any additional questions for general debate?

Hearing no other questions, Ms. Duncan has requested unanimous consent to deem all lines in Vote 54, Department of Tourism and Culture, cleared or carried as required.

Are you agreed?

All Hon. Members:   Agreed.

Chair:   Unanimous consent has been granted.

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Department of Tourism and Culture in the amount of $265,000 agreed to

On Capital Expenditures

Total Capital Expenditures for the Department of Tourism and Culture underexpenditure of $2,000 cleared

Department of Tourism and Culture agreed to

Chair:   It is my understanding that we will continue on with Vote 11, Womenís Directorate.

Womenís Directorate

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   In the supplementary, the Womenís Directorate has a very small allocation to deal with the retroactive issue on the collective bargaining agreement. The total is $11,000 ó all attributed to wages.

If the members have any discussion on the $11,000 and its effect on the wages and why it is there, we can debate that. Otherwise, I would suggest that we can move this along. There are lots of issues to discuss with the Womenís Directorate in the mains.

Chair:   Is there any general debate?

Mrs. Peter:   The Premier is a little hasty there. We do have some comments that I would like to put on record.

There is $11,000 allocated in this supplementary budget for the Womenís Directorate. That is the only amount that weíre dealing with today.

I would like to put on record that, given the situation of the past year in the area of violence against women in our territory and the statistics that are out there, we have some of the highest statistics of violence in Canada.

That, in itself, speaks volumes. We as a government and as people who hold responsible positions in this territory have to be vocal and outspoken in this area because it is totally unacceptable. We have people in our communities who are finally willing to address these issues and concerns regarding violence. When there is violence in the home, it affects every person in that home. It affects the community as a whole. So the impact is great.

Iím happy that this department is back up and running again. I congratulated the Premier for that last year. One of the mandates of this department is to support the Government of Yukonís commitment to equality of women in the territory, and we mustnít forget that. The participants at a recent workshop I believe were all very vocal. I believe the message was very clear. Iíll be addressing more of those questions in the main budget. Those are my comments.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   I share the Member for Vuntut Gwitchinís view on whatís happening in the Yukon ó indeed in the north ó when it comes to the violence issue specifically against women. I will take it a step further: aboriginal women suffer three times the rates of violence.

That is why the Womenís Directorate has taken a lead on the national stage in developing an action plan and a group involving all provinces, territories and the federal government to deal with this specific issue. And I think itís incumbent upon all of us to do our part to ensure that we diminish this scourge in society.

I also want to point out for the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin that, upon re-establishing the Womenís Directorate as an effective agency within government, a great deal has been undertaken by the Womenís Directorate: the aboriginal women and violence project, the aboriginal womenís forum, the issues of abuse help lines, anti-racism and discrimination initiatives. The Womenís Directorate heads up the bare essentials campaign. They are working on gender-inclusive analysis. There are other issues around the Royal Commission on the Status of Women, issues for rural pregnant mothers and their accommodation, also involved in the sexual abuse conference and sexual assault prevention.

So the Womenís Directorate, within government and outside of government, is extremely busy, and I think giving the Womenís Directorate a status within government that makes it effective is the first and most important step in dealing with the issues women face today.

But we know there is much to do. We know there are many challenges. Itís up to all of us to do our part, and I can say that the Yukon government has not been silent when it comes to violence against women. We have spoken loudly ó very loudly ó through our actions, as led by the Womenís Directorate. And for those people in the Womenís Directorate, we commend them for their efforts. We are confident and know that they will continue on, making every effort to improve on this situation.

Ms. Duncan:   In the last budget for the Womenís Directorate we voted $100,000 for funding a program to deal with violence issues, but I understand from the briefing that money has not actually been expended, and that only a very small portion of the $100,000 has been expended. This is a technical question for the minister responsible. Is that $100,000 coming up for a revote in the mains or would it be in the supplementary in the fall? Itís not in this one.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   First I want to give a brief history here. I will answer the question immediately by saying it will be a revote. The $100,000 was an allocation in this fiscal year subsequent to the ministers responsible for the status of women in Canada and the conference in Edmonton, Alberta, last September.

It was at that conference that the issue of violence against women, specifically in aboriginal communities, became a priority issue, and it was at that conference that there was an agreement with Ottawa, the provinces and the territories, to move away from collecting statistics to actually doing something.

The allocation of $100,000 was for the Womenís Directorate to take the lead on behalf of the Yukon government on this initiative and to begin work internally in meeting with aboriginal women and other women in the territory on the violence issue and, as we build that information and action plan that we see evolving, we will continue to participate at the national level with the working committee.

So the money is allocated toward this issue as it evolved out of the Status of Women Conference in Edmonton in September. The revote will happen, and we will continue to focus on that specific aspect. I think itís important that we make sure that Ottawa stays on board and lives up to its obligations here, because there are many aboriginal communities in this country all facing the issue of violence against women, which is three times the national average in this area, and thatís something we have to address. So thatís what the $100,000 has been allocated for.

Ms. Duncan:   Itís a result of a federal-provincial agreement. Is some of the money federal, or did each province agree to put in a certain amount?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Each province will be allocating their own monies toward this initiative. The Yukon has given the Womenís Directorate $100,000 to participate.

Ms. Duncan:   So none of the money is federal then? The minister is shaking his head.

When will the ministers next meet to report on the progress of this initiative?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Well, we can get into more detail in the debate on the mains, but for now there is $11,000 of retroactive wages for this. In the debate for the mains, there is much more information that we can deal with, but I think we should get to the main budget to do that.

Ms. Duncan:   I can wait for the main budget for the minister to find the answer on that. The minister said this $100,000 was coming forward for a revote. Itís not for a revote in the mains though. Itís to come at some point in time, he didnít say when. So is it in a fall supplementary? Because the revote, as I understand it, is not in the mains.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Weíll deal with that when we get to the mains.

Ms. Duncan:   I would just go on the record to say that a simple question such as when that money will be revoted shouldnít be such a cause for consternation on the part of the Premier. Iím just looking for information. When are we going to deal with the revote? Itís not in the mains was my understanding of the briefing, so is it a fall supplementary, is it next mains ó could he just provide that simple answer?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   We are dealing with the supplementary budget that has a specific allocation for the Womenís Directorate of $11,000 for wages to deal with the retroactive portion of the collective bargaining agreement, and all other issues the government side is prepared to debate and discuss when we move on to the main budget.

Chair:   Is there any further general debate?

Hearing none, we will continue on line by line.

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

On Policy and Program Development

Policy and Program Development in the amount of $11,000 agreed to

Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Womenís Directorate in the amount of $11,000 agreed to

Womenís Directorate agreed to

Chair:   I understand that the next department we are going into is Vote 10, Public Service Commission.

Public Service Commission

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I am pleased to present today the Supplementary Estimate No. 2 for the Public Service Commission.

This request is for an additional $625,000 and is related to the four-year collective agreement for Yukon government employees negotiated and finalized in December.

It was of utmost importance to our government to ensure that we settled a fair and equitable collective agreement in a timely, efficient manner. We accomplished that, and employees will receive a 10-percent increase over four years, retroactive to January 1, 2003.

Our government is committed to fostering a working environment where all employees are respected and valued for their contribution and where they are free from discriminatory or harassing behaviours. We have the utmost respect for all employees of the Yukon territorial government.

This government was successful in negotiating two collective agreements, the first being with PSAC, which is a four-year agreement totalling $24,867,768. The second is the three-year agreement with the YEU, totalling $3,385,291, which totals over $28 million.

Mr. Chair, this government is committed to the staff of the Yukon government. Over $28 million over the next four years, Mr. Chair. In my opinion, this is confirmation that all government workers are respected and valued by this government.

Mr. Chair, I believe that members opposite will address everything but the supplementary, so I have made some comments now on questions that were asked of me before.

Letís talk about the whistle-blower legislation. The members opposite appeared to be confused about its purpose and definition. So for the record, I will clear this up. With respect for my colleagues and the employees listening to this debate, I would like to be very clear about whistle-blower legislation. The intention of whistle-blower legislation is to provide and protect avenues for a Yukon government employee to report a government violation. This could be a government violation of a territorial enactment, a criminal law or a policy or a practice posing a great threat to public health or public safety.

It is not the intent of whistle-blower legislation to deal with sensitive government process issues or even workplace harassment. Those protected avenues are currently in place. Both the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Environment Act protect employees who report hazardous conditions under them. Both acts are extensive fields of government administration. An abuse of authority is already addressed with the Yukon government workplace harassment policy.

The Ombudsman Act protects the anonymity of people who complain under it and the complaints under it can refer to virtually any aspect of government administration. Also, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms assures substantial protection to employees. The laws on disciplinary action against employees and the dismissal of employees include important protection for employees against retaliatory action. The law includes that disciplinary action must be justified and the law on disciplinary action includes a process of grievance and adjudication that requires justification be proven.

I have said before in this Legislature, and I will say it again: our government has the utmost respect for our government employees. Furthermore, I would like to reconfirm this governmentís commitment with regard to the whistle-blower legislation, so I would like to take this opportunity to say again for the record what our commitment is with respect to this important piece of legislation. As minister of this government, I feel a strong commitment to government employees and I would like to clear up misunderstandings about this legislation.

First, our government is completely committed to whistle-blower legislation.

Our commitment means that when we want to develop this legislation, we will direct the Public Service Commission to seek input from all government departments, to seek input from the Yukon Employees Union, the Yukon Teachers Association, and the Public Service Alliance of Canada. The Public Service Commission would seek input from the appropriate parties and the Public Service Commission would then provide the results to an all-party committee. The all-party committee would then have an opportunity to provide input into the development of legislation. Only after the consultation and the input were complete would we then support drafting and tabling the legislation.

Mr. Chair, with respect to Bill 104, our government has committed to bringing that piece of legislation to a select committee when the leader of the official opposition brings the bill forward for debate.

I would like to also touch now on another important issue that this government has been able to get in place, and this initiative has been on the drawing board since approximately 1990, and it has to do with workplace diversity. Letís talk about this workplace diversity, Mr. Chair. There have been past governments who have been approached to enact and to establish this workplace diversity office. This government acted on this important initiative, because we recognize that all people are important contributors to our society, regardless of a disability. The opposition was never interested in pursuing this initiative, and therefore it never came to be.

I would like to say in summary that all employees are important to this government and we intend to serve the best interest of all employees.

I will entertain any questions from the members opposite in anticipation to debate on the main prize package this government has to offer the citizens of the Yukon Territory, and that is the main budget.

Thank you.

Mr. Hardy:   Well, I donít understand why the minister is so cynical and thinks that the only thing we are going to talk about is computer use investigations and whistle-blower legislation. Thatís not necessarily true, and itís a sad state to think that this is the kind of relationship that weíre going to have to have with this minister, if thatís what he thinks of us on this side.

However, since he brought them up ó heís the one who opened the topic, so I guess we can start with it. I actually wasnít going to ask anything about whistle-blower legislation but he did raise my interest in it at this present time.

I just want clarification, because I wasnít sure if I heard him correctly. When I reintroduce the whistle-blower legislation, he will go forward with it. Was that the indication?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I committed to going forward with consultation and a standing committee.

Mr. Hardy:   Okay, is the minister committed to bringing forward whistle-blower legislation in this term of government?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I would be willing to say that if all the conditions were met, it would go forward.

Mr. Hardy:   Could the minister elaborate very quickly what those conditions are so that we can all work toward achieving those?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   It would have to be to seek input from the Yukon Employees Union, the Yukon Teachers Association and the Public Service Alliance of Canada. The all-party committee would then have an opportunity to provide input into the development of legislation. Only after the consultation and the input were complete would we then support drafting and tabling legislation.

Mr. Hardy:   Could the minister be so kind as to give us an indication how long that process might take?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   That would be rather hard to predict.

Mr. Hardy:   The minister is fully aware that they have approximately two and a half years left in their term. Does the minister believe that this is achievable in the last two and a half years of this governmentís existence in government?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I would have to compare it to other jurisdictions, which have probably been trying for I would guess 50 years plus, if two years seems realistic. We might be a lot faster than other people. Who knows?

Mr. Hardy:   Well, I am definitely not here to correct the minister, but heís totally wrong about 50 years and all of that nonsense. When a government makes its mind up that they want to bring something in, I believe it happens. It is all about will and allocating the resources to make it happen. Excuses of other governmentsí failures donít wash very well in the Yukon and shouldnít be used.

A tremendous amount of work has been done around whistle-blower legislation. There is whistle-blower legislation in place around the world. There is also whistle-blower legislation in place in the States, which is closer to home. There is whistle-blower legislation that has been brought in in some provinces. Some of it has been drafted and has been brought forward.

There is enough written on it that I think we wouldnít be reinventing the wheel in many cases. Weíd be able to rely upon a lot of the informed analysis, debate and put together a package. If the minister wants to do this consultation, get it out there, get that consultation started immediately and set some realistic guidelines such as what has been set around the review of workersí compensation ó although that one seems to have fallen to the wayside a little bit.

All governments do a lot of this, and I think this one is very achievable. We on this side are very eager to assist the government in bringing forward whistle-blower legislation. We are not here to battle against it; weíre here to support it. So I want the minister to rest assured that good, progressive whistle-blower legislation will be well-received by this side, and we will contribute very much in a positive light toward it, and we will applaud this government if they bring good, progressive whistle-blower legislation forward. I believe that two and a half years is plenty of time to do it, and I would hope that the minister also feels that that is achievable. Does he feel that it is achievable for the people of Yukon to move that forward?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I believe that the political will for this legislation is on this side of the House. I think it would really depend on the cooperation that is put forward as to how speedy anything can be put into legislation.

Mr. Hardy:   Other than the work that we on this side did in our very short period of time and focus on it, what work has been done on that side in regard to whistle-blower legislation?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Well, this government has taken the initiative to check out other jurisdictions that have whistle-blower legislation in place. Again, I state for the record that this government is also very interested in what is happening on the federal stage, because that is important too. I would tend to believe that every bit of progress from other jurisdictions would be of value to any kind of legislation that would go forth from this government.

Mr. Hardy:   When the minister says that theyíve looked at other jurisdictions, I actually did that too. I turned my computer on, I typed in "whistle-blower", I hit the button, and up came hundreds of hits on whistle-blower legislation. I think it took me approximately five minutes. Is that what I could assume was the amount of effort that has been put into this in the last 17 months?

Has the minister directed the department to do any substantial work in regard to whistle-blower legislation, other than turning the computer on and hitting a button?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   This was a platform commitment of this government, and this government will continue to work on this issue.

Mr. Hardy:   Has the minister directed the department to do any work on whistle-blower legislation to date?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I guess at this point what I would say is that if the opposition is prepared to go to an all-party committee, then weíll be able to start some consultation.

Mr. Hardy:   So in 17 months the minister has not directed the department to do anything at all ó17 months ó although itís a priority, itís an election promise, and whatnot, until we actually brought forward some legislation ourselves. Iím assuming that. But I will come back to this in the debate in the mains. I donít want to get bogged down; this is a supplementary. Honestly ó and I say it in all sincerity ó I wasnít going to talk about the whistle-blower legislation, but the minister brought it up, so he got my interest on that one.

I donít have the response to some information I requested back in spring. The minister indicated that the department would supply the information. I received half of it. I will get the letter and forward it to the minister, if he wishes to refresh his memory, but I did bring it up to him in the fall as well to see if that second part of the request was forthcoming. The minister had indicated that yes, it just took awhile for the department to gather it. So can the minister assure me once again that the stuff I asked for last spring will be forthcoming soon? It has been a year.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   This is a request that PSC has never really been doing in the past. I would just ask that the member opposite resend that request.

Mr. Hardy:   I will happily resend it and see if that last section can be filled out. It was indicated it was possible to be done; it was just going to take some time. If I could add to that an update on the initial stuff, because that came fairly quickly ó it didnít seem to be a problem. Iím not sure if the minister remembers the request I made. I will get the initial letter and response and make sure the minister gets it so weíre on the same wavelength on that.

Part of it was ó Iím not going to ask many more questions. I think it has been explained fairly well here. He can just send me a breakdown later or we can come back again in the mains and he can supply it then. Iíll just ask it now so he has the time to prep us.

How many part-time, terms, full and auxiliary are in the departments to date? If he doesnít have that information today, just supply it when we get into the mains. Iíll be quite happy with that.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   We will leave that to be discussed in the mains.

Mr. Hardy:   Will the minister commit to supplying the numbers?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I believe if we could just receive that letter of request again, weíll go from there.

Mr. Hardy:   Thatís not a problem. I have just a couple more questions.

Have there been any problems in morale or any concerns in integration of workers after devolution, especially when work spaces are being readjusted, shared and new techniques are trying to be blended, I guess, a little bit? Have there been any problems and, if so, how were they dealt with?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Well, before devolution came into effect, I believe there was a lot of work done, knowing that devolution was coming down. So there was a lot of reorientation done and this government is not aware if there are any issues of concern.

Mr. Hardy:   Thatís incredible, actually. People are people. Sometimes you always get friction. Sometimes you need somebody to step in to resolve those.

However, my last question ó and this might not even be a question for this department, so feel free not to answer it if you donít want to. Iíll give you a big out on this one.

It really involves pensions and investments. Normally I would ask this in Finance but it does affect the public service. I guess that my concern would be: from your perspective, is there going to have to be ó how do I put this? I am only putting it out this way because I had to deal with this a few years ago when I was looking after a pension plan for some people. But because of the reduction ó quite the drop in investment rates, and as they come to term, and you have to reinvest when there is a drop ó that puts a tremendous amount of pressure on sustaining the type of pensions that have been created. Does the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission anticipate any difficulties? Because I would suspect, like every other pension outfit, firm or group out there ó we are also, with the government workers, suffering from the reduced income from investments. Are there any concerns in that area?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   This government really doesnít have control over that. The pension plan is currently managed by the federal government.

Mr. Hardy:   I wasnít necessarily asking who manages it; Iím asking about the concerns around it, because the concern is that in just about every employee group in Canada there are very, very strong concerns being expressed about what is happening, the tremendous amount of pressure that is being placed upon pensions now. As the minister might know, pensions are built by contribution and investment, and there has been a significant drop in revenues made from investment. I know hundreds of pension plans that are really struggling and in many unions and in many situations, theyíre having to go back and having to change the conditions, whether itís the booking of the hours, the credits, retirements, all that stuff. I guess Iím just wondering if the government itself is feeling some pressure there, because Iím quite concerned about that. Itís nothing that maybe this government itself has total control over, but itís information Iíd be very interested in knowing, whatís happening to so many others.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Well, the federal government does manage the pension plans totally. To date, we have not been notified nor are we aware of any changes.

Mr. Hardy:   Iím just going to wrap up and thank the minister and the deputy minister for the work theyíve done in some areas. Itís really nice to see a workplace diversity employee being put in place, and we appreciate it on this side. Thank you.

Ms. Duncan:   I just have a couple of questions. I would like to follow up on the pension issue raised by the Member for Whitehorse Centre. Significant work had been done on repatriation of the pension plan in terms of approval of principles and so on. Now those discussions, as I understand it, ceased for a time. Have they been restarted and where are we currently in the process?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   No, we have not restarted those discussions at the present time.

Ms. Duncan:   Does the minister anticipate starting those discussions in the near future? Is there any talk at all of getting back to what is considered a very worthwhile project?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   There appears to be some very mixed reactions from the different stakeholders at this point in time, so I guess itís an issue that is going to take some time to be able to move forward with it.

Ms. Duncan:   Thatís disappointing because there was a great deal of work that had been done and I thought we had come quite a way in what really represents an opportunity for all of Yukon governments to work together. I guess the question is: does the minister see this project the same way I do and others in the past have seen it? Is he anxious to restart the dialogue and resolve any outstanding issues, or is it simply going to be allowed to rest for a time until such time as parties are perhaps more willing?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   At this time, there appears to be mixed reactions from the YTA and the PSAC, so I guess itís an issue thatís going to have to be worked out at some point in time but I canít see it happening in the immediate future.

Ms. Duncan:   I have just one final question Iíd like to ask the minister in respect to this area. Pension and pensionable service is a key issue for employees, whether theyíre employed by the Government of Yukon, the Government of Canada or a First Nation government. As I understand it, patriation of the pension, if it were to happen and be successful, presents an opportunity for governments to work with First Nation governments and others in working toward pension plan services for employees.

Has the minister discussed this at all with any of the First Nation chiefs and made them aware of what work has been done, or does he intend to have that discussion?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Apparently there were some discussions with First Nations; however, they were very preliminary and there would still be a lot of discussion to take place yet to be able to determine any kind of progress in this area.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, I understand they would be very preliminary, just conceptual discussions. Iím just wondering if the minister himself, as he has responsibility in this area, has had any discussions with First Nation chiefs and/or CYFN.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I think it wouldnít be so very beneficial for any government to go ahead and start talking to a bunch of other governments when we have the YTA and the PSAC who are not on the same wavelength with regard to this issue. Therefore, no, I havenít really gone out to any chiefs with this yet.

Ms. Duncan:   Could I just ask the minister to state when these ó and I appreciate that he may not want to state specifically, but when did these discussions or negotiations on the pension repatriation end? What is, broadly speaking, the sticking point?

Certain principles had been agreed to. Is there some sense now of those principles not being agreed to, or is it that the pension repatriation has stopped as a result of other issues in the public domain?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   The YTA recently had a vote by its membership on this very question about patriation. It was really split, so that sort of really presents a problem. If the membership is not in agreement with moving ahead on this, I believe that it would be very difficult for any government to try to force this on the people.

Ms. Duncan:   No one is in any way suggesting that. I am concerned as to what the problem is in moving this project forward. I am calling it a project because I donít know what other term to use. It has many elements ó there is agreement of the principles about how a pension would be managed, there is legislation; itís quite a lengthy process.

Does the minister happen to know what the resolution was that was voted on? Was it a straightforward whether or not to continue discussions with the Government of Yukon on repatriation of the pension or was it a vote about a specific principle that was split?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   As the members opposite know, this government never goes forward without full consultation and support of initiatives, and the vote was on the general patriation. Whether or not it was fully understood would be second-guessing things, and I am not going to do that here.

Thank you.

Ms. Duncan:   I want to be clear with the minister that Iím not suggesting that it should proceed without the full support of partners. Itís like the partners in education, his other portfolio: everybody has to be working together. That was my concern. Was it a specific principle or was it the overall concept? And what Iím hearing is that with the current government, the Yukon Teachers Association is not prepared to proceed with these discussions, and thatís unfortunate. The occupational health and safety regulations that have been discussed in this House in other manners ó there are new regulations. Has the Public Service Commission evaluated those regulations, and is there a significant cost attached to them for the Government of Yukon?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   For the record, I would like to correct the member opposite. It wasnít that the employees did not want to work with this government on the pension patriation; it was just that it was among their own staff that they have issue with it. And, no, we havenít found costs on the previous request made.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr Chair, would the minister outline what funding ó thereís significant funding in the supplementary. Thereís $420,000 in the employee leave and termination benefits adjustment. As I understand it, the fund, employee leave and termination account, is now uncapped; is that correct?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Thatís correct.

Ms. Duncan:   Is there any funding over and above that employee leave and termination benefits adjustment and the collective agreement? Is there any other funding in this supplementary for specific projects?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   No.

Ms. Duncan:   I have no further questions.

Chair:   Is there any further general debate?

Ms. Duncan:   There being no further general debate, may I request that we deem all lines in Vote 10, Public Service Commission, cleared or carried as required?

Unanimous consent re deeming all lines in Vote 10, Public Service Commission, cleared or carried

Chair:   Ms. Duncan has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 10, Public Service Commission, cleared or carried as required.

Are you agreed?

All Hon. Members:   Agreed.

Chair:   I believe there is unanimous consent.

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Public Service Commission in the amount of $625,000 agreed to

Public Service Commission agreed to

Chair:   I understand weíre moving on to Vote 3, Department of Education.

Department of Education

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   As I previously indicated, this supplementary budget for the Department of Education covers the collective bargaining increases negotiated with the Yukon Employees Union. Our government is committed to fostering a work environment where all employees are respected and valued for their contribution and where they are free from discriminatory or harassing behaviours.

We have the utmost respect for all the employees of the Yukon territorial government. Of the total amount of $908,000, there is $402,000 for the College collective agreement and $506,000 is for the department staff members who are covered by the Yukon Employees Union. The department has employees associated with capital budget projects and therefore the capital supplementary shows a small increase of $17,000 for negotiated increases due to collective bargaining.

The Yukon Teachers Association settled their agreement earlier in the year and the increases associated with that agreement were included in the first supplementary of 2003-04. There will be ongoing impacts on these agreements in the 2004-05 main estimates. This government successfully negotiated a three-year agreement totalling $3,385,291 for the teachers.

This is a summary of the requests by the Department of Education for the supplementary funding, and I will be prepared to answer any questions brought forward from the members opposite.

Thank you.

Mr. Fairclough:   I only have a few questions for the minister in the supplementary budget. The supplementary budget is additional spending on top of an already big budget brought forward last spring. There are several things that this government has done ó a direction that theyíve moved in ó that I would like to ask questions on. One of them will be the needs assessment and the alternative paths direction by the government.

I would like to know from the minister what consultation on the design and location of this program ó this is the alternative paths ó has taken place with YTA or with any practising teachers.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   This government saw a need for those youth who did not desire to attend public high schools any more. This government saw a need to try to address some of the issues that youth were facing on the street. That is where several requests came from different individuals such as high school teachers, principals and what have you, for alternative pathways to education, which would be of the utmost value to the young people in the Whitehorse area.

We have started work on three initiatives that offer alternative paths. First, we will open an alternative school in downtown Whitehorse to help school-age youth who have dropped out of school. It will be a welcoming, flexible environment designed to encourage academically capable students to return and continue their education. We plan to have this school opened by February 2005. In terms of the location, we donít have anything selected yet, but we are not considering using any existing downtown schools.

Mr. Fairclough:   The minister didnít answer the question. What consultation on the design and the location of this program has taken place with Yukon Teachers Association and with the practising teachers?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   All of those particulars have not been established yet. However, negotiations will certainly take place with the Yukon Teachers Association and they will be part of this process.

Mr. Fairclough:   I believe the minister has already made some decisions without consultation. One of them was in regard to location ó time that the school will be built and when students are to be moving in. There are several things that the minister said. There will be programs to address the issues that he said students are facing on the street. Can the minister give us some timelines? When will the Yukon Teachers Association be consulted on this matter? When will their input be reflected in some of the decisions that the minister has taken?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I thank the member opposite for putting words in my mouth, but I donít recall saying that this government has already selected a location for the school. What I did say is that the school would plan to be open by February 2005, which does give this government ample time to have the consultation that is needed.

Mr. Fairclough:   The minister didnít answer the question again, and he did say downtown, Mr. Chair. Just read the Blues.

What consultation has taken place to date? Can the minister tell us if the department and when the department will be talking to the YTA and the practising teachers in regard to developing this school and this location?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Again, I donít know if we have to read the Blues or not, but I will read again what I did say.

In terms of the location, we donít have anything selected yet, but we are not considering using any existing downtown schools. Thatís what I did say.

With regard to the consultation to take place, at this point in time I would say that the department anticipates it will be started in the very near future. When we discuss the mains, we could probably have a more accurate time frame.

Mr. Fairclough:   The minister is giving himself time to be briefed on this matter. Well, thatís good. I do have a few more questions.

The minister said they saw a need. How did they see that? Through what mechanism? Studies? Was this on the doorstep during the election over a year and a half ago? Is it as a result of talking to teachers or students? Can the minister give us some detail on how he saw the need?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I believe one only has to walk around town and one will see there is a need for some of the youth to be doing something other than wandering the streets. I believe that a lot of the requests did come from First Nation people. Iíve had discussions with the public at large. A lot of the school councils felt there was a need to try to address the issue of students who are just about at an academic stage where they can go into a trade, for example, but need a bit of extra help to get to that point. I think itís quite obvious, when one talks to instructors in the College or people who have businesses in town trying to find journeyman carpenters or journeyman mechanics, that itís very difficult. Businesses in town have had discussions with me through phones and other ways saying that we need to try to encourage the youth to move into trades and different fields. There are a lot of different avenues where this was brought to my attention.

Mr. Fairclough:   The minister is skirting around some of the questions. I will continue and hope heís more briefed as we move into the mains.

Was this decision a political decision or was it a recommendation from the department?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I believe this was an initiative that the department was aware of and had been looking at, and brought the discussion to me.

Mr. Fairclough:   That is very interesting, because the minister said that all you need to do is walk around the streets and see, and thatís how they saw the need. Now he is saying that the department is making this recommendation. What is the department making its recommendation on ó a study or information from high schools? How did this recommendation come about to develop an alternative paths school?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I believe that a lot of this was initiated by the dropout rates being brought to the attention of government and other stakeholders. This government, unlike others, decided it would try to initiate a program that would meet the needs of this issue.

Mr. Fairclough:   Well, as we ask questions, I think we are educating the Education minister on this particular issue, which they said was a political one but ends up as a recommendation from the department.

Was this a recommendation from the chairs of school councils?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   This is beginning to sound like a nursery rhyme. I think the one that would suit it is "Here we go Ďround the mulberry bush."

I mean, the member opposite is constantly saying that this minister is, for example, saying that this was a political decision. I never said that, so I donít know where the member opposite is going. However, with regard to the school councils, I would probably have to say that they were aware of the fact that there was a need to address the dropout rate.

Mr. Fairclough:   Well, here we go again ó non-answers to the questions. Was this a recommendation from the school councils?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Mr. Chair, if the member opposite is asking if the 28 school councils ran into my office and said, "Put an alternative pathways school out", the answer would be no.

Mr. Fairclough:   So this was not a recommendation. Is that what the minister is saying? It was not a recommendation from school councils. Itís a really simple question. Itís a yes-or-no question.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   It seems like it might be a yes-or-no answer to the member opposite, but itís not over here, because I donít know exactly which one said yes and which one said no.

Mr. Fairclough:   My goodness, the minister does need a lot of time to be briefed in this area.

Well, the minister does have an official beside him and heís getting tremendous help from him. I would like to ask another question then. The minister said that no other governments have taken on this type of challenge, but was there an evaluation done on the downtown drop-in school called the Essentials, which ran for about six months four or five years ago. Was there an evaluation done on that one?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I donít know where this runs into the supplementary budget, but at this point in time I donít have any information on that request.

Chair:   Order please. As we have reached our customary time for a recess, would members enjoy a recess?

Some Hon. Members:   Agreed.

Chair:   Weíll take a 15-minute recess.

Recess

Chair:   Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We will continue with general debate on Vote 3, Department of Education.

Mr. Fairclough:   I was hoping that the minister would have a bit of an update on whether or not the department did an evaluation on a drop-in school that was called the Essentials. I would think that the department would perform an evaluation of all of these types of programs that have been tried in the past. This one failed. I want to know if there will be an evaluation, if there hasnít been any ó if there will be an evaluation for the minister to look at when heís making his decision on how he designs this alternative path school.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I would like some clarification from the member opposite on what the member calls Essentials. Iím trying to get on the same page as the member opposite. Are we talking about an alternative school called PASS?

Mr. Fairclough:   No, Iím talking about a school that was downtown, and it was called the Essentials. It was basically a drop-in school. This was approximately four or five years ago, and maybe a bit longer. It ran for approximately six months.

When the minister makes a decision like this, Iím sure he would take into consideration whether or not a program like this was tested in the Yukon, why it failed, and how the department could make improvements if they are suggesting a similar school to what had been done in the past.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:  I believe that what I could commit to is that Iíll have the department try to look up the information provided here from the member opposite because I donít have any of that information here today.

I want to put on record here, Mr. Chair, that this initiative for alternative pathways to education is a very positive step in trying to address the numerous requests to deal with dropouts. This is still in the planning stage, and I can anticipate there will be growing pains as to the success of this initiative. However, at least this government has the political will and the energy to really try to address the issues that youth are having problems with. Now, some stats tell us that some of the youth who drop out have difficulty integrating back into their regular school system. This alternative school will merely provide another option to help those youth continue on in their education.

I would encourage the member opposite to accept the fact that it is a very positive initiative, and I believe it shouldnít be viewed as something thatís negative.

Mr. Fairclough:   Mr. Chair, I donít know how the minister read that into my question. If anything, if he looked at it carefully, he would see that Iím trying to help him out in basic things, like keeping the Yukon Party to their promise of consultation. At this point in time, the decision is made and no consultation took place. Weíre just asking for that to take place.

Iím asking the minister to evaluate the programs similar to what heís proposing to this House ó evaluate them, look at where things went wrong and how we can improve them. Thatís what Iím asking the minister to do. He says theyíre trying to address the problem.

Hereís another little question for the minister: will this school complement or replace other alternative programs that are now in place?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   The alternative school will not be intended for students who are attending existing schools. The alternative school concept is still in the planning stages. Policies, procedures and the operational framework and guidelines all need to be developed, including site selection, student selection, attendance requirements, and the like. As part of this process, we need to talk with the young people who may access the school and professionals who work with students who have dropped out.

Mr. Fairclough:   I will leave that one and let the minister get briefed on it, too, so that we can ask questions in the main budget on these particular programs.

I would like to ask the minister, though: what programs does the department have to prevent high school students from dropping out now?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   There are several programs that would keep children in school. Just to name a few of them, we have, for example, ACES, MAD, options for children, experiential sciences. So there are initiatives in the education system that would assist in helping a student to stay in school.

Mr. Fairclough:   Well, maybe this would clarify why I asked the previous question. Again, I thank the minister for that answer. In regard to the alternative path school, can the minister tell us at what stage is the design of this program now? He gave me some dates of February 2005. I asked for consultation, and I was wondering where the department is now with the design of this program.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   The alternative school concept is still in the planning stages. Once work on the implementation plan for this alternative school is developed further, I will provide the member with details.

Mr. Fairclough:   I think Iíll leave this one alone. I have lots of questions that Iím going to be asking of the minister in this particular initiative that the Yukon Party is bringing forward, which is also reflected in the main budget that weíre presently in, 2004-05, so itís just a heads-up for the minister.

A million dollars went toward the needs assessment. At the beginning, the minister was asking the schools about programs, where their priorities are. And it wasnít a slush fund for capital projects or capital purchases. Why did it change so much from the beginning to what we end up spending money on, which was capital things? Some of them were school equipment, balls, soccer balls and so on. This needs assessment was for something else at the beginning. At what stage did it change to just address anything the school was bringing forward, including capital projects?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I donít believe anything really changed with respect to the needs assessment and what it was intended for. This government, upon talking to the different school councils and First Nations, found something that was quite consistent, and that was that the different schools had different needs. Some of those needs were short-term, which would assist an immediate need of a school, and some were long-term.

So the government asked the school councils to have some input into some initiatives that would improve student retention, attendance and achievement, which were considered for the funding. In addition to the immediate and short-term needs, I asked school councils and First Nations to identify the longer term education systems facing Yukoners.

So we have collected some information with respect to the long term, but the immediate needs were something that the schools have been lacking and werenít able to obtain in previous years. This government merely went and did what they could to meet those immediate needs.

Mr. Fairclough:   I think the general public, the schools and parents were expecting something different ó a needs assessment. I believe they were looking at how to make improvements to curriculum to maybe address the shortfalls in the number or type of teachers the schools had. Was this a limitation? Was this not included in curriculum development or the standard O&M costs of running schools? Did the department consciously make decisions not to approve projects in some schools that perhaps involved an increase in the number of teachers in the schools?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Well, for the member oppositeís interest, I can say that this was received wholeheartedly by every school council in the territory. In fact, I have a number of letters upstairs from school councils addressed to me in appreciation of this governmentís commitment to improve things for the students. They are very well-received. I canít say enough about how much appreciation was demonstrated by the different school councils.

To add to what I said earlier on the previous question on short-term and long-term education issues facing Yukoners, these will form the basis of an education action plan that we can work on together over the next few years. And the department assessed each proposal against the following criteria, and Iíll read that criteria out for the record: provided positive impact on school attendance, retention and achievement of students; enhanced the cultural relevancy of current programs and/or facilities in the school; upgraded existing programs and/or recreational facilities, provided that this investment created no long-term or ongoing funding obligations; created a partnership between the school and the community and will have measurable benefits in the community; enhanced the opportunity in the community for lifelong learning opportunities involving the school ó for example, home tutoring, family literacy; enhanced the opportunity for high school apprenticeship programs.

So as you can see, Mr. Chair, the criteria that the government developed for requests of the $1-million funding all went to a very legitimate and purposeful cause.

Mr. Fairclough:   The minister just admitted that the funding was not to address any long-term commitments. Obviously the minister has heard from schools and communities on this matter. What is being done to correct or address the issues as brought up by schools that involve long-term funding commitments?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I believe this government has stated on several occasions that, where thereís a demonstrated need, we will meet that need, and weíve been doing that to date.

Mr. Fairclough:   Thatís to be seen.

The minister said there were three guiding areas that are being used for the needs assessment: retention, attendance and achievements. As a result of this needs assessment, is the minister monitoring the improvements, and will we be seeing a small report or some type of report on this needs assessment and how he saw this million dollars improve retention or attendance in school, or even the achievements?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   There is no report planned on this. I believe the actions will speak for themselves. I mean, how would you report repairing a soccer field and putting goalposts in ó as something thatís not going to benefit the students? I think itíll be of tremendous benefit. Buying sports equipment ó for example, putting tools into the heavy duty mechanic course in the high school. Itís obvious theyíre going to be greatly appreciated and they are going to benefit students because, at the present time, they didnít have any tools.

Mr. Fairclough:   Well, maybe the minister ought to visit some schools.

The minister just put those words out. Those were the guiding principles in his million-dollar needs assessment. It wasnít to address long-term funding commitments.

So thatís why I asked the question. He canít just let it go and say, "We splashed a million dollars around in communities", and thatís it. It bought some soccer balls and some equipment, and so on, and that was it, but it was supposed to improve student attendance and achievements and retention. So I would think this minister would have tracked that somehow to see if in fact his million dollars made improvements. Or was this just another slush fund that the minister discovered at the beginning of the year when they said they were broke and they had to cry poverty to communities. Then they said "Oh" ó they actually read the budget and discovered that, hey, there was a lot of money that was left to them in the surplus and, in fact, government could be spending a little more than they have. Thatís why we see budgets in front of us like the one we are addressing now, and we see commitments by this minister, like the million-dollar needs assessment.

So I would think that the minister would have had some kind of tracking on what his million dollars did to schools in his three areas: retention, attendance and achievement. He cannot just leave it, I would think, and have it read at the end of the school year to see whether or not we improved or the studentsí marks have improved or the attendance improved throughout the territory.

Is that what he is leaving it to: just leave it alone now, the million dollars are spent and the schools got some sports equipment and some other priorities of theirs addressed?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I believe the member opposite would really benefit if he went back and practised some of the traditional ways of how to listen. I did state very clearly that the long-term needs that were demonstrated will be met. Itís not like theyíve been pushed under the carpet somewhere. They will be met. The members opposite all have a copy of all the schoolsí lists of items purchased and the amount given to each school. I beg to differ if they would ever be able to convince me or anyone else that all the different things the schools purchased were not of value to that school. For example, First Nation curriculum books in the elementary school are very important. So how would anyone say that that would not be of assistance to education, because it is. They didnít have it; now theyíll have it. Where they didnít have reading materials, they now have them. I can spend a half an hour going through all the items that were purchased for the different schools, but I donít really think thatís necessary.

Mr. Fairclough:   Iím not going to stoop to the ministerís level. I donít want to go that low. The fact is this minister presented an expectation out there that this government will spend a million dollars on a needs assessment, not so much to buy soccer balls and sports equipment or whatnot. The fact is this minister had the expectation out there and then put a limit on it. The limit was that the schools cannot come forward with any requests that might involve a long-term funding commitment.

So if the minister really looked at it ó anybody would say that if you have an old soccer ball and replace it with a new one, of course itís much better. Improved equipment, whether in the woodworking shop or metalwork shop, of course itís accepted and appreciated. What weíre talking about here is making improvements on how well students do in schools.

This minister just missed the boat and found out, in fact, that the million-dollar schools just werenít going to do it because it ended up being a slush fund. Iím very positive that the schools would have come forward, the First Nations would have come forward, and asked for things like curriculum development ó serious curriculum development, not a small program thatís going to be run for a matter of months or so. Thatís a long-term commitment. This minister didnít want to do that. That was the limitation on this needs assessment, and the minister admitted to that. He admitted to that. He also admitted that the assessment was guided by three areas, where he will do no follow-up in that regard.

Iím sure places like the community of Mayo wanted to have education issues addressed. And what part of this million dollars went to addressing the serious issues that were raised? The minister didnít do that. The needs assessment could have gone miles in that community, and the minister knows that. He turned the program into something else is what happened, and not to the liking of the Chief and Council of Na Cho Nyäk Dun and certainly not to the liking of many communities. There were limitations in place, and it doesnít matter what the minister says, he wonít convince us and the schools that that wasnít the case at all.

So Iíll leave that at that, and I will be asking more questions on it.

I have one more small question in regard to the needs assessment. Much was said in communities, First Nations and school councils to the minister about whatís really needed. The minister says heíll address that. But what we havenít seen in the present budget, 2004-05, is a line item for continued needs assessment in school. Would the minister say that work is complete now and they can take the information forward, or is there continued work? Did I actually miss a line item in the budget?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   To start with, I feel rather sad that the member opposite would refer to my traditional ways as being somewhat stooping to my level. I would hope he would step up to my level and then weíll have a very productive discussion.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I have to say that in answer to the question from the member opposite, what we heard from the different school councils were short-term needs, which we addressed to the best of our ability. Second, we heard long-term needs, and the long-term needs are not going to be put by the wayside, because we will ó these will form the basis of an education action plan that we can work on together over the next few years. So at the end of the day, itís not going to be a waste of time; it was never a waste of time to go out and have the consultation, which this government always does ó goes and does the consultation ó and it is very beneficial for this government to hear what the long-term needs are, because, for example, staffing is a long-term need. And this government is going to continue to meet the demands where a demonstrated need is identified. This government will meet those demonstrated needs.

Mr. Fairclough:   I probably can give the minister a big long list of where this government has not consulted. I just talked about a consultation on the design of the alternative school program. The minister couldnít answer it, because he didnít consult. He made the decision, but he didnít consult. So now heís going to go back and do it. Well, itís a good thing thereís an opposition in this House because the minister would be doing his own thing, just like the Member for Klondike does.

When is this minister going to address the demonstrated need from the community of Mayo?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   This government has been actively trying to orchestrate a meeting with the community of Mayo for months ó more than one, two, three months now. We finally have a date set for, I believe, next Friday. We will be going to talk to the people of Mayo.

Again, I have to say that Mayo, when approached, did request $30,000 to do some short-term projects they required. So, again, the long-term needs are not things that are going to be settled by one visit. We know that, so itís something that is going to have to be worked on.

Mr. Fairclough:   Well, as we go through this whole thing, we can see the minister starts changing his mind about exactly what the assessment was really intended for at the beginning and what it ended up to be. We get it right out of the department. I donít know why the minister fails to understand that. Thatís as simple as it goes.

The community of Mayo brought forward issues to the minister a long time ago, before the needs assessment was even announced. Why does it take so long for this minister to address those issues? Why? What is the delay? The minister cannot hide behind the fact that a meeting was not set up, because I know in fact that the chief, for example, has been in Whitehorse many times. They have been requested to take some action on a committee that was formed. I didnít even hear the minister say that there was a committee that was formed. Still, this government has no action when it comes to the real demonstrated need of a community.

It is not a piece of equipment that they need to purchase. This is one that the minister can address. So why has it taken so long for the minister to make communities outside of Whitehorse here a priority?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   In my opinion, a needs assessment was a very simple process. The member opposite is the one who seems to want to make it into something difficult. However, that is the memberís choice.

With regard to Mayo, the committee that the member talks about was formed. The First Nation withdrew from that committee. So it wasnít from a lack of trying. I respect any governmentís decision on whether to participate or not to participate.

This government is interested in moving forward with issues that are related to education. I believe that quite a lot of the issues that are coming down on the Education department are not directly linked to education. There are other issues. However, we will as a government continue to do the best we can to support any community.

Mr. Fairclough:   Well, this Yukon Partyís best is pretty poor when it comes to the community of Mayo ó pretty poor, to the point where issues arenít addressed still.

Now, Mr. Chair, this minister made a big deal of the $1 million assessment. It was a big deal; it wasnít simple. It was addressing issues of communities and now itís being played down, and we know why. What is the minister doing to address the First Nation issues, and can he tell us why First Nations withdrew from this committee?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   To ask this minister why another government did something is ó probably the only response I can give to that is: because it was their choice. I have no other recourse to force anybody to belong or to attend anything. I respect the choice of other governments.

With regard to First Nation issues, I believe there are a number of initiatives that Education does with First Nations, and I think the upcoming budget is going to be a very good example of what this government has done for First Nations that others have not done over the last 25 years or 30 years that Iíve been living in the Yukon Territory. No other government is even going to come close to matching what this government has done for First Nations.

Mr. Fairclough:   Well, the minister is right there. Others have not chosen the path that this government has. Not consulting is one of them, not trying to respect the First Nations, not honouring their final agreements. Would the minister like the whole list? He probably can get it from the Premier on where this government has gone with First Nations. Theyíve spoken out to the point of withdrawing from committees. This is what happens: they sign a final agreement with the Yukon government; itís called the self-government agreement and the First Nation final agreements; it spells out clearly the consultation process.

But this government was not confident in that. They had to approach the First Nations and say, "Letís sign another accord," just to deal with consultation. Those were really nice words for a little while until they failed to consult on things that mattered dearly to First Nations.

I can give the minister one example of the captive wildlife. Wow, was there ever consultation that took place there, and did this government ever abide by their agreements to consult with First Nations. It was gone. The minister knows that.

So what happens here, Mr. Chair? Youíre a witness to see the answers coming from the government side. Thereís every attempt by this government to try to cover that up nicely and look as if theyíre the best people around and the best government.

My goodness, when you go out and talk to people on the street, it sure isnít there. Itís about attitude and how you approach things. This government doesnít have it.

Iíd like to ask a question in regard to ó Now the minister is getting briefed by the Premier.

Now that he is finished being briefed by the Premier, Iíd like to ask the minister about outdoor education, if they could quickly flip to that page.

This was a pretty big issue with many of the schools across the territory taking little field trips out of the schools, whether to a traditional camp or out fishing. I would like to know what is being done about the liability for outdoor education.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   To start off, I would like to go back to the member oppositeís first line of questioning with regard to First Nation initiatives. I want to remind and put on the record that the NDP government did have the option to deal with some of these issues when that member was a minister. He may not have been the Minister of Education but he was in the Cabinet so he did have some say. I want to say for the record that this government, I believe, is probably the only one that has taken the implementation of self-government agreements very seriously. This government is actively negotiating 17.7 of the self-government agreements and that is a major step forward.

The other thing that this government has done, which others refused to do, was to support the native language instructor trainee positions at the College. Now, this government has put an awful lot of money into that, thousands of dollars, and thereís a demonstration of sincerity in working with First Nations. This government has also committed $500,000 out of the upcoming budget toward First Nation language and cultural material development. Thatís something that other governments refused to do. They refused to go out on a limb and put their money whether their mouths were, but this government is actively doing it. I canít stress enough how much this government is demonstrating that they will meet the needs of all citizens in the Yukon Territory when it comes to education.

Mr. Fairclough:   The minister is wrong. All he needs to do is read the budgets from previous years. How silly is that ó to accuse somebody else of not doing this type of thing. And he says heís working hard with First Nations. Was he working really hard with First Nations when he decided to open up the YNTEP program? Was he? I think not. As a matter of fact, there was no consultation, again, on that matter.

In the ministerís attempt to discredit every other government that has been in place before this Yukon Party government, he forgot to answer the question. Thatís pretty common. We see it time and time again from members on that side of the House. So, I would like an answer to my question.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Well, as an individual, one thing I strongly believe in is that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, so I respect the opinions of the opposition.

With respect to the question on insurance, the insurance issue has been the same for years. Trips are covered by the governmentís self-insurance, and there are also options to purchase individual insurance.

Mr. Fairclough:   Is the minister saying this is not a concern of schools? I recall that it was, and actually is a very big issue when it comes to insurance for a simple thing like boating or even using an inner tube to go sliding ó that type of thing. This was raised not only through the Education department; it was also raised through business and so on.

So I think this would be an area where, because changes have been made in the past ó particularly with pressure from outside of Yukon ó the Education department would address this. So why hasnít the department addressed it in accordance with the wishes of schools across the territory?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Well, to start with, I guess I would have to say that for one to expect a child to be protected from all elements of nature is unrealistic. If one is going to worry about walking down a trail because a bear might eat you, I think youíd have a pretty hard time in this world.

With regard to outings, the buses have insurance to transport schoolchildren. We also buy third party insurance if itís needed.

Mr. Fairclough:   Well, itís obvious the minister has very, very limited understanding of this issue. I will be asking this question again, so be prepared.

I have lots of questions for the minister. Obviously weíre not getting very far. Iím going to ask the minister to go back and get briefed by every section of the department he can possibly round up, because in the main budget coming forward, there are going to be questions in detail. With that, Mr. Chair, I will turn it over to the third party for more questions.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, I donít have a lot of questions on the supplementary. It would appear, if I heard the ministerís opening remarks correctly, that all of the money contained in the supplementary is for the collective agreement and the agreement reached with the Yukon Teachers Association and that there is nothing other than salary adjustments in the supplementary budget ó is that correct?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Thatís correct, Mr. Chair, itís all related to the collective agreement, including the College.

Ms. Duncan:   Could I just ask the minister, then, to prepare for a couple of questions that we can deal with in the mains? Where is the Education Act review at this point in time? The minister said earlier in debate this afternoon that itís never a waste of time to have consultation with people. There was extensive consultation and extensive work done on the Education Act. So what has happened to it? Is the Yukon Party government ignoring that or are they paying attention to it and going through that consultation?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   At this point in time, the Education Act ó there was one particular issue that has held up any kind of progress, and that was with the initial process that took place. There were three parties involved, but the First Nations did not have input into the final review of that act. Thatís where itís at right now. We are actively seeking that written input from the First Nations, and we still havenít received it to date.

Ms. Duncan:   I am not going to belabour this point or go around and around it; it would be a dispute between members. There was First Nation involvement in the initial Education Act review ó substantial. The minister has stated that that is the difficulty in proceeding further, so I would reason from that that we would not see an Education Act before the House in the near future.

The minister also said that we cannot protect our children from all elements of nature ó or people from all elements of nature. We do have a responsibility to ensure that our playground equipment at our schools is safe. Of the $1 million, how much was spent on ensuring that playground equipment was safe? Would the minister, once again, commit to me that we are going to ensure that the playground equipment that was a cause of a broken arm on the last day of school last year is going to be replaced? Itís not in my riding; itís in the member behind the minister oppositeís riding ó I only wish they would care about it.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I believe the department is going to be replacing some of the playground equipment in some of the schools in the upcoming summer.

Ms. Duncan:   Will we be dealing with Grey Mountain Primary? Yes or no?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Yes as well.

Ms. Duncan:   Is that going to be done immediately after school is finished, this playground equipment replacement ó and that particular type of playground equipment is evident elsewhere in the territory. Is it all going to be replaced?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   The Grey Mountain Primary School playground equipment is scheduled to be replaced this summer.

Ms. Duncan:   Does the minister happen to know when he can get back to me, by legislative return if he wishes? Is there any other playground equipment that is due to be replaced? Because other schools have similar models of equipment.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I believe I could probably bring that information back in the main debate on the budget.

Ms. Duncan:   Thatís fine. Iíll have a look at it then. There was substantial capital money voted last year. My understanding is that it didnít all get spent. Could I just ask the minister then: is it to be revoted in the fall and the work will be done a summer from now, or is it anticipated that that work that didnít get finished in the last fiscal year will be done this summer?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   There will be some revotes coming up, and there will be projects that will be ongoing.

Ms. Duncan:   There were substantial problems at Porter Creek Secondary School. There are issues with the shop. Itís too small to meet safety standards, and there is one engineering issue with the hallway. And, of course, the cafeteria is too small. Now, there is money in the mains, and there was money last year as well, as I understand it, for some changes at Porter Creek.

When do we anticipate that all of the budgeted for and currently planned renovations will be completed?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   With respect to the Porter Creek project, this project will involve the expansion of the cafeteria seating space and expansion of the cafeteria kitchen to allow a commercial foods teaching space, three additional classrooms for teaching spaces and a small amount of custodial space.

Planning and design funding in the amount of $200,000 has been included in the 2003-04 supplementary, and 2004-05 will see the completion of design and the start of construction, which is estimated at $500,000; 2005-06 will see the construction completed.

Ms. Duncan:   2005-06 ó I appreciate the answer from the minister.

I have just one final question on the capital side of the schools, if you will. There were substantial air quality projects undertaken in our older schools. Whitehorse Elementary was one where the air quality project seemed to go on and on and on. I think it was finally completed. I wonder if the minister could verify that.

And what about the other older schools? Jack Hulland had an air quality study done as well. Has that been completed, and have the recommendations been followed? And I suspect that Grey Mountain didnít have an air quality study done. What about Christ the King Elementary and Vanier Secondary?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   There are funds identified in 2004-05, and this funding would be for Jack Hulland, Watson Lake Secondary, and Whitehorse Elementary, rifle range cleanup in 2004-05. There would also be some duct cleaning done in various schools.

Ms. Duncan:   Iíll debate that further, then, with the minister when we get into the mains. I have no further questions right now, Mr. Chair.

Chair:   Is there any further general debate?

Ms. Duncan:   Itís getting to be a habit, Mr. Chair. I would request the unanimous consent of the House to deem all lines in Vote 3, Department of Education, cleared or carried as required.

Unanimous consent re deeming all lines in Vote 3, Education, cleared or carried

Chair:   Ms. Duncan has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 3, Department of Education, cleared or carried as required. Are you agreed?

All Hon. Members:  Agreed.

Chair:   I believe there is unanimous consent. That concludes Vote 3, Department of Education.

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Department of Education in the amount of $908,000 agreed to

On Capital Expenditures

Total Capital Expenditures for the Department of Education in the amount of $17,000 agreed to

Department of Education agreed to

Chair:   I believe the last remaining item is Vote 18, Yukon Housing Corporation.

Yukon Housing Corporation

Hon. Mr. Hart:   It is my pleasure to present the 2003-04 supplementary budget for Yukon Housing Corporation. The corporationís mission is to improve housing in the territory, to assist Yukoners to resolve their housing issues. To accomplish this goal, Yukon Housing Corporation offers choices for safe and affordable housing to enhance the life of Yukon citizens. Mr. Chair, that is exactly what Yukon Housing Corporation did in 2003-04.

This year, I requested the Yukon Housing Corporation Board of Directors review administrative policies that pertain to the provision of social housing. I am pleased to report that an evaluation of the social housing programs has been undertaken and that the final report is due within the next few weeks. This report will provide the corporation with good information to enable them to focus efforts where most needed.

I am also pleased to announce that we have directed the corporation to make a change in the rent assessment process for social housing tenants. The change was to exclude child support payments from the calculation of rent in determining the amount to be paid by an applicant for a social housing unit. This change has been introduced and took effect January 1, 2004.

Yukon Housing Corporation assists customers with consistently high-quality service in a respectful, cooperative environment. The corporation has highly professional staff who strive for continuous improvement. I thank them for the daily dedication and hard work.

The Yukon Housing Corporation has been very active in the delivery of energy efficiency programs, such as R-2000, energy guides for houses, et cetera. The benefits from these programs are forward-looking and will have positive impact for future Yukoners.

I am also pleased to say that in response to an increasing seniors population, Yukon Housing Corporation is continually assisting with the housing needs of our seniors.

The corporation has utilized funding from the home and yard maintenance program for the community of Teslin. This will enable seniors in that community to access assistance for general maintenance of their homes.

The Yukon Housing Corporation is upgrading social housing and staff housing in Yukon communities. These improvements contribute to community wellness by providing better housing, creating jobs and providing an incentive to attract and retain employees.

These are some of the highlights and accomplishments among others that Yukon Housing Corporation has delivered.

The corporation has done these without requirement for increased program funding. This supplementary request is only to cover the impact of the collective agreement. I would be pleased to discuss this supplementary further with the members if they have any questions.

Mr. Cardiff:   I heard the minister reference the report on social housing that was undertaken, and I think I heard him say it would be ready in a couple of weeks. Does he have a firm date on that? I asked him about this earlier this week and his answer was that heíd bring it forward when it was ready. I believe he said a couple of weeks, but if he has a date I would appreciate it.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I anticipate that it will be a couple of weeks, yes.

Mr. Cardiff:   I think many communities are looking forward to the findings of that report and I look forward to reading it myself. I think there is a lot of concern in many communities about social housing units. A lot of them are old, a lot of them need replacement or renovations, so I look forward to that report when itís ready.

I would like the minister to clarify some other things for members of the Legislature and for the public and for Yukon Housing tenants as well. On April 30 last year in Hansard, the minister said that he had asked the board to review administrative policies that pertain to the provision of social housing and specifically he had asked the board to review the pet policy for seniors housing.

So Iíd like to start there. Has that happened, and what was the outcome of the review the board did on the pet policy for seniors housing?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   We reviewed the pet policy for seniors and we were advised by the board that this was discriminatory. They went back to the pet policy that was there before.

Mr. Cardiff:   Well, Iím not totally clear. Can the minister maybe explain what the pet policy is for seniors in Yukon Housing units now? Are they allowed to have pets or not?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   If we were going to allow pets for seniors only, thatís the portion that was going to be considered discriminatory. At the present time, each community makes its own decision on the pet policy. Some communities do have pet policies, others donít.

Mr. Cardiff:   Well, Iíd like to know what the ministerís intent on this is. He has to work with the board on this. Currently there is a case before the Human Rights Commission, which the minister is apparently waiting for. The minister has also stated that theyíre looking at the issue of pets in units that are rented to YTG staff. I would think that if the policy is different for YTG employees from what it is for seniors or residents of social housing, weíd again be dealing with something that was discriminatory.

What we need is some clarification on where the minister and the board are going with the pet policy.

It would seem to me that ó I understand that this is done on a community-by-community basis, but it would make sense to me that the corporation as a whole should have a policy that guides each individual community. Maybe the minister could shed some light on that.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   With regard to staff housing, thatís a PSC issue. As Yukon Housing we administrate the actual housing unit itself in that particular unit. Each of the communities has the authority to institute a pet policy or not institute a pet policy, and thatís their directive. With regard to the pending issue that weíre dealing with, that is expected to come sometime in early May. Upon the review of that, weíll have a further look at it.

Mr. Cardiff:   Well, Mr. Chair, I donít know that this brings much hope to the people and the children who live in social housing provided by Yukon Housing Corporation. It is my belief that the minister needs to work with the board and show some leadership here and some compassion for people who live in these housing units. I donít know that itís fair that Yukon Housing should have one policy in one community and a different policy in another community. Itís one corporation. I understand the idea of having local boards, local Yukon Housing boards, but the corporation as a whole should have a pet policy that governs whether or not there are pets in there, and I think that people should be allowed to have pets.

It seems to me that there is a double standard if the Housing Corporation is looking after units or has units, and one group of people, based on their income ó if youíre a government employee and you are pulling down $50,000 or $60,000 a year, you are allowed to have a dog or a cat or a goldfish. We are not sure if the goldfish has an ear tag or not, but youíre allowed to have pets. But if you are on social assistance or you are trying to make ends meet because youíve got more than one job ó say youíve got a part-time job working somewhere and a part-time job working ó and youíre trying to make ends meet ó

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Mr. Cardiff:   The Member for Klondike has lots to say about this issue, like he has to say about a lot of issues.

But it doesnít make sense to me. Itís discriminatory to have a different pet policy for seniors as opposed to those in social housing. It doesnít make sense to have a pet policy based on community or based on income ó whether you are on social assistance or whether you are holding down two or three part-time jobs or whether you are a government employee.

So I think that the minister needs to look at that. He needs to listen to what people are saying. Maybe he needs to look at what the outcome of the social housing study says. I donít know, maybe there was some information in there about the pet policy and they consulted about that. Maybe he needs to look at that.

Seeing that weíre getting close to 6:00 p.m., I move that we report progress on Bill No. 8.

Chair:   It has been moved by Mr. Cardiff that the Committee report progress on Bill No. 8.

Some Hon. Members:   Agreed.

Some Hon. Members:   Disagreed.

Chair:   Unfortunately the Chair is in a quandary. The Chair was unable to determine the vote here. Let me try this again. The motion has been made. Do you agree? Disagree?

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:   I 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. 8, Third Appropriation Act, 2003-04, and has directed me to report progress on it.

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

Some Hon. Members:   Agreed.

Speaker:   I declare the report carried.

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

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

Motion agreed to

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

The House adjourned at 6:00 p.m.

 

 

The following document was filed April 15, 2004:

04-1-32

Yukon River Intertribal Watershed Council Resolution re: City of Dawsonís contamination of Yukon River (dated August 21, 2003) (Fairclough)