Monday, May 17, 2004 ó 1:00 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Speaker:We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Mr. McRobb:Itís my pleasure to welcome to the gallery today some very special constituents from Destruction Bay and Burwash Landing. Please join me in welcoming Roxienne Prestone and her students, Michael Blahitka and Synclair Naylor, who are in grade 5; Collin Johnson in grade 3; Chishana in grade 2; Angeline Carlick, Riverleigh Pope and Curtis Carlick in grade 1; and Monica Johnson in kindergarten.
Also accompanying the students is Aggie Jeanson from Burwash Landing.
In recognition of retiring teacher Roxienne Prestone
Mr. McRobb:Iím honoured to rise on behalf of all members in this Legislature in tribute to Roxienne Prestone, who is retiring after 27 years of teaching, 21 of those for the Yukon Department of Education. She has been a teacher at the Kluane Lake School in Destruction Bay for 16 years and became the principal and sole teacher there in 1990.
On April 30, Roxienne achieved a Yukon excellence in education award. She is a dedicated and caring teacher who shows genuine concern for all of her students. She is known for never missing a school committee meeting. Working hard to provide a well-rounded and quality education, she incorporated traditional Southern Tutchone activities into the curriculum. She has assisted in gopher hunting, berry gathering, setting fish nets during the winter, storytelling events with the elders, and beading and drum making with the Kluane First Nation education liaison.
Every year she coordinates a round of highlights for her students. These include a Christmas concert, storytelling days, foster child tea, salmon in the classroom, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing and field trips. To help pay for the extracurricular activities, she organizes bake sales, raffles, recycling and the local garbage dump cleanup.
Kluane Lake School is a kindergarten to grade 8 school. Students graduating to grade 9 apply for distance education course work. Roxienne supervises their coursework voluntarily. As an alternative, she helps parents find suitable accommodation for their students so they can attend school in Haines Junction or Whitehorse.
Roxienne follows the progress of her graduates and assists community members by tutoring and supervising various exams. As an educational leader in her school and as a community leader, she has been a positive role model to her students and their families.
Roxienne has always been active in making her community a better place to live. She serves as a director for three local boards: the Kluane Museum of Natural History, the Burwash Landing Community Library and the Kluane Lake Athletic Association.
Roxienne has contributed to local government through the athletic association. As an unincorporated community, the association is part of Destruction Bayís local government and helps to sustain the local economy by participating in government programs and exercises.
Roxienne has also been an active member of the Yukon Teachers Association and the Association of Yukon School Administrators.
Her tireless participation in the communities of Burwash and Destruction Bay will be sadly missed. We wish Roxienne and her husband, Joel, well with their future plans. Thank you, Roxienne. Mahsií cho. Günilschish.
In recognition of Canada Road Safety Week
Hon. Mr. Hart:On behalf of the House, I rise today to recognize national Road Safety Week, which we are noting here in advance of the official week of May 21 to 27. These dates are chosen to coincide with the first summer long weekend, a time when millions of Canadians take to the road and vehicle crashes are much more frequent. During this week, the Canada Safety Council works to educate the public about safe driving practices with a focus on the bad behaviours that put drivers, passengers and other motorists at risk.
There has been a shift in how we view road safety. At one time in Canada, road injuries and fatalities were widely seen as events largely beyond our control. However, road crashes are now largely viewed as preventable events, which makes the deaths and injuries that result from these crashes profoundly tragic.
Mr. Speaker, road safety has become a truly global problem. Both the European Union and the World Health Organization are taking action with regard to this issue.
Closer to home, in Canada, approximately 3,000 people a year die and 140,000 are injured. In the Yukon from 1989 to 2003, 163 people died in crashes. Iím sure each of us can think of cherished Yukoners who are no longer with us because of automobile accidents.
As in the rest of the world, the main causes of road injuries and deaths in the Yukon are due to people failing to buckle up, speeding or driving too fast for road conditions, and drunk driving.
Statistics show that 78 percent of Yukon vehicle occupants wear seatbelts, compared to the national average of 90 percent. This figure is even lower in rural Yukon where less than half of motorists buckle up.
Why is buckling up so important? On average, half the people who died in Yukon crashes between 1993 and 2002 were not buckled up. In 2002 alone, nine of the 12 people who died on our roads were not wearing seatbelts.
In the Yukon, speeding or driving too fast for road conditions is also high on the list of factors that can lead to crashes. Drinking and driving is one of the top three factors in death and injuries in the Yukon. The transportation and road safety ministers in Canada have endorsed a national strategy called "Road Safety Vision 2010". Our goal for this strategy is to reduce significantly deaths and injuries on Canadaís roads by 2010.
We have come a long way, but as you have heard in the stats today we have much more work to do. Yukoners may contribute to safer roads by buckling up their seatbelts, slowing down, not drinking and driving and, Mr. Speaker, road safety starts with every one of us here today. Please unite with me to recognize Road Safety Week, and letís do our part to keep Yukon roads safe.
In recognition of Emergency Medical Services Week
Hon. Mr. Jenkins:Itís my privilege today to rise on behalf of the Legislature to formally recognize Emergency Medical Services Week and to take this opportunity to acknowledge the dedication and professionalism of our full-time and volunteer emergency medical services attendants.
Now, the theme of this yearís EMS Week is "There When You Need Us", and it focuses on the commitment and the dedication of the EMS personnel who provide this essential community service. In the Yukon we are fortunate to have a strong corps of EMS attendants who work and train very hard to provide emergency services in their respective communities.
Earlier this year our government recognized this dedication of rural volunteer EMS attendants by increasing honorariums and providing uniforms. These men and women respond immediately to the call for assistance and they deserve our gratitude for their commitment to the health of our communities.
This week we all need to think about the services provided by emergency medical services personnel. We never know when we will need their services and it is comforting to know that EMS are standing by ready to respond, and for these reasons we recognize Emergency Medical Services Week and the dedicated personnel who serve so readily.
Mr. Fairclough: I rise on behalf of the official opposition in recognition of Emergency Medical Services Week. We are pleased to be able to pay tribute to the territorial emergency measures services. EMS provides lifesaving care to anyone in need, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Over 40 staff serve the Whitehorse area and 170 volunteer attendants work in rural areas. The volume of calls both in Whitehorse and the communities is increasing annually. In Whitehorse alone there were over 3,000 ground calls and 544 medevacs in 2003.
In a plane crash exercise last week, ambulance crews proved their worth. They rescued, triaged, treated and transported over 20 mock patients efficiently and with compassion. We especially want to point out that many of the ambulance crews in that exercise were volunteers from the outlying communities. These volunteers work in conjunction with 13 health centres and nursing stations. They give of their own time to be on call, to respond to any medical emergency despite minimal recognition and pay. It is truly a calling. We recognize the devotion to care that is required of the men and women of EMS who work under stressful circumstances. This demanding work is becoming more and more technical and requires thorough training and recertification. The psychological and technical skills needed underline the fact that it is vital for the territory to support them to the greatest extent possible. We support any initiative to that end.
Speaker: Introduction of visitors.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Mrs. Peter:I would like to ask members of this House to please help me make welcome my husband, Ernie Peter, who is in the gallery with us today.
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Speaker: Under tabling of returns and documents, I have for tabling a report of the Auditor General of Canada, made pursuant to subsection 30(2) of the Yukon Act. This report, which is known as the Report on Other Matters, covers the 1999-2000 to 2002-03 fiscal years.
I also have for tabling the annual report of the ombudsman and information privacy commissioner for the 2002 calendar year.
Are there any other reports or documents for tabling?
Hon. Mr. Lang: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to table the first annual Yukon Minerals Advisory Board report for the year 2004.
Speaker: Are there any other reports or documents for tabling?
Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Ms. Duncan:Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House recognizes
(1) that the Government of Nova Scotia has recently introduced legislation requiring petroleum companies to give 48 hoursí notice before raising gas prices;
(2) that the Yukon Party government has reneged on a commitment to eliminate territorial gas on gasoline; and
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to examine the Petroleum Products Pricing Act recently introduced in Nova Scotia.
Mr. McRobb: Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to immediately increase the budget for fire protection in the territory and produce an informational video on the risk of wildfire for Yukoners and visitors both in VHS and DVD format and to make it freely available through the governmentís own Web site.
I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to initiate and undertake consultation with Yukoners on matters related to the concept of the international railway proposal, regardless of federal funding, with emphasis placed on determining the routing of any such railroad.
I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to identify items that are required for the territory to become "pipeline-ready" and finance those undertakings instead of spending $50 million on the Dawson bridge.
I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to resolve the uncertainty within the territory about its highway sign policy by undertaking to work with the stakeholders to finalize its signage policy without further delay.
I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to order the Yukon Utilities Board to undertake a review of all options to displace the electrical diesel generators in the Town of Watson Lake, with such a review specifically including an assessment of cogeneration and grid expansion.
I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to improve public access to the proceedings of this Yukon Legislature by:
(1) expanding the availability of local television coverage of the Legislature to all Yukon communities;
(2) expanding live radio coverage of the daily proceedings to all Yukon communities;
(3) providing access to a digital video of the televised proceedings through its Web site, including an archives dating back to the start of the 31st Legislature;
(4) working with the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network to broadcast the proceedings through its satellite broadcast to the Yukon; and
(5) working with APTN on rescheduling the proceedings to return to starting the one-hour program at 9:00 p.m. instead of 9:30 p.m.
I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to eliminate the secrecy surrounding the reclamation of Yukon mine sites by making public at the time of any release of securities, the following:
(1) a balance sheet showing the financial history of transactions within the account;
(2) an explanation of the reclamation work done in relation to each release;
(3) an explanation of the remaining reclamation work done along with the estimated costs;
(4) a list of any correspondence or materials related to the securities and reclamation; and
(5) the titles of any existing agreements associated with the mine site reclamation; and
THAT the Government of Yukon undertake to provide any of the above information upon the request of any citizen of the Yukon.
Mr. Cathers: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the federal Liberal government to live up to its obligation under the Umbrella Final Agreement and final agreements with individual Yukon First Nations to provide funding for cultural centres.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Mr. Hassard:Iíd like to ask all members to join me in making welcome to the gallery Mrs. Pearl Keenan.
Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?
Is there a statement by a minister?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Energy Solutions Centre
Mr. McRobb: My question is for the minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation.
Last November I asked the minister what his plans were with respect to the future of the Energy Solutions Centre. He vowed it would stay. At that time I put on record the concerns of his chief of staff, who called the centreís activities embarrassing and added that its budget had to be reduced. But the minister denied that there was any such secret agenda and stressed the importance of the centreís work.
Now weíve discovered that the minister has curtailed the centreís spending authority. Can he explain for the record his reasons for such interference?
Hon. Mr. Lang: The Yukon Energy Solutions Centre is certainly running on a daily basis. I, myself have not done anything with that budget. As Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources ó the Yukon Development Corporation is a Crown corporation. They have a board of directors and, of course, the board of directors gives the corporation direction.
Mr. McRobb: The minister hand-picked a chair for Yukon Development Corporation almost a year ago and gave him a one-year contract for $175,000.
Now, the chair was supposed to develop a governance relationship that would prevent this type of political influence on these independent entities, including the Energy Solutions Centre. But the minister recently told this House that they are not even looking at governance. Itís no wonder, Mr. Speaker, the minister is keeping his hand-picked chair too busy carrying out his unofficial political instructions, such as freezing out the Energy Solutions Centre.
Will the minister now call off his chair from destroying the centre and will he clear the air and tell us if he is planning to extend the chairís contract beyond one year?
Hon. Mr. Lang: Again, and thank you to the member opposite ó the Yukon Development Corporation runs Yukon Energy Solutions Centre and of course Yukon Energy Solutions Centre is directly responsible to that board of directors. So to answer the member opposite, the board of directors of Yukon Development Corporation runs the daily operation of that corporation. It is a Crown corporation. Myself as a minister ó we do not run the daily business of that Crown corporation.
Mr. McRobb: The ministerís hiding behind the board. The Energy Solutions Centre is jointly funded by its parent corporation, the Yukon Development Corporation, and the federal government. It contributes to our economy and plays an important role in steering the territory toward greater energy efficiency and smarter energy management. In fact, its mandate is to encourage and assist Yukoners to implement projects that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In his relentless pursuit of carbon resource extraction as Mines minister, why has the minister decided to freeze spending on the excellent work the Solutions Centre is doing on behalf of our environment?
Hon. Mr. Lang: Again in answering the member opposite, as the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources and Yukon Development Corporation ó being that I oversee it, but I do not run it on a daily basis ó as far as hiding behind the board of directors, Mr. Speaker, I give the board of directors no direction. Thatís why we have a board of directors. The directors run the corporation. Yukon Energy Solutions Centre is certainly funded both by territorial and federal money and certainly does a lot of good work for the Yukon, so as far as the Yukon Energy Solutions Centre is concerned, it is being run by the board of directors of Yukon Development Corporation and I think they do an excellent job.
Question re: Deputy minister salary range
Mr. Hardy:I have a question for the Premier. In Fridayís newspaper the Government of the Yukon advertised for a Deputy Minister of Justice. Now in that advertisement the salary that was mentioned was $121,622 to $157,967 per year. Now, is this salary range exclusively for the Deputy Minister of Justice or is this a new pay range for all deputy ministers?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: What was advertised in the paper is what the salary range is. This is mainly dealt with through administrative issues.
Mr. Hardy: I would like the Premier to take some responsibility for this area, and hopefully stand up and answer a question.
Last year the deputy minister salaries ranged from $89,000 to $125,000. The new salary range posted for the Deputy Minister of Justice represents about a 25-percent increase. Iím sure Yukon people will be impressed by this governmentís generosity, but it does raise serious questions about this Premierís spending habits. Can the Premier explain why this position has such a hefty price tag attached? Is it because Yukon judges are now so well-paid or is it because the Premier has raised the bar for government consultants to unbelievable levels?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: First, let us look at the official oppositionís view of our deputy ministers. We on this side of the House recognize good work and contribution to this territory. We also recognize that we must compete nationally to attract the best possible people to fill the jobs that we have available or open here in the Yukon.
Yes, we have, based on the good works of our deputy ministers and the need to compete on the national stage, increased the range for deputy ministers to bring us in line with other jurisdictions. But thatís a good thing. We certainly respond in a positive way to our officials and our deputy ministers when they are delivering on behalf of the Yukon Territory. Thatís the government.
Now letís look at the contrast with the official opposition. They take exception to rewarding our employees and our deputy ministers. What a difference.
Mr. Hardy: I canít believe what the Premier just said there. It doesnít make sense when you look at the other applications, the other advertisements for deputy ministers. Letís take a comparison here: Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services, only four months ago, $89,000 starting wage. Thatís a $32,000 difference between the two deputy ministers, $20,000 at the upper end. So what is this talk about raising the salary? Is it only for specific deputy ministers? It has been a number of months now since weíve been in this House listening to the double standards of this government, and it gets awfully tiring.
Now can the Premier explain why there are two clearly different standards at work here, and can he give us an update on the search for the Deputy Minister of Health?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, first, we have to get the official opposition to fast-forward to today. The government has recently made a decision in increasing the range for deputy minister. It certainly has no negative reflection on any deputy minister working in the past ó quite the opposite.
Now letís look at the double standard. The NDP in this House, the official opposition, present themselves as the champions of labour and the public service. Well, I say to you, Mr. Speaker, with their obvious opposition to our increasing our ability to provide our deputy ministers and our employees with the contract that this government tabled with us increasing those areas to reward our employees and our deputy ministers, who is the real champion for the workforce in the Yukon government?
Question re: Dawson City health centre feasibility study
Ms. Duncan:Mr. Speaker, the Yukon Party government has a father-knows-best attitude when it comes to governing. Weíre building a bridge in Dawson City, yet we have no proof that it makes economic sense or that it will increase tourism. Yukoners are supposed to just trust the government.
The ministerís hand-picked chair of the Workersí Compensation Health and Safety Board spent $17,000 on a trip to Vancouver, and the minister responsible wonít show us any receipts. Weíre just supposed to trust him.
Now the government is building a new health centre in Dawson and is refusing to provide the feasibility study that says itís needed. I wrote and asked for it. The minister has refused to give it to me. Will the Minister of Health drop his "just trust me" attitude and make public the feasibility study for the new Dawson health centre?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, not only did I agree to provide the opposition and the third party with the feasibility study and the reviews that have been conducted on Dawson City but also on Watson Lake. And as soon as they have been received in their final form, everyone will have a copy of them, Mr. Speaker.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Speaker, we know the government has had the studies for months. The minister is making excuses in refusing to make the information public. On April 8, I asked the minister to provide the studies. He said there are three and he will provide them. Six weeks later, he still has not provided them. Itís the minister-knows-best attitude once again on display for all Yukoners: "Weíre building a new health centre in Dawson City. Just trust us. We need it." Well, Yukoners know they canít trust the word of the government, especially the minister. Yukoners want to assess the information for themselves. Is the minister admitting that the decision to build the new centre in Dawson was made before the feasibility study was even completed, or will he give us the completed studies today?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The process as spelled out is the same for all communities. First of all, a needs assessment is conducted and our government committed to a needs assessment in Watson Lake and Dawson City on this very important issue. That has been undertaken. Since that time, studies have been forwarded and produced and there are already studies in the hopper dealing with this important area.
To that end, as soon as these studies are in the finalized form, the member opposite will receive a copy. They are currently in draft form.
Not only that, Mr. Speaker, we are moving forward in this next budget cycle with the feasibility studies in Haines Junction and in Teslin on these very important initiatives.
Ms. Duncan: This government has spent the entire session withholding information from the public. Last week the minister refused to provide information about a trip to Vancouver that the hand-picked chair of the Workersí Compensation Health and Safety Board went on. Before that it was information about the transfer of ambulance services to the hospital. Before that it was information about the future plans for the Thomson Centre. The list goes on and on, and thatís just the list with that minister.
Will the minister drop the hide-and-seek routine and provide the completed feasibility studies on the new health centre the government has already committed to?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: What has happened here is we have done our homework, weíve analyzed the situation, weíre moving forward on the process and we are in the process at various stages depending on which community one looks at.
The member opposite is very concerned and I share that concern with her because thereís no political mileage to be gained from criticizing a government thatís doing an effective and efficient job of looking after the needs of seniors. As soon as these studies are in their final form, the official opposition and the third party will receive a copy of them.
Question re: Trapline allocation process
Mrs. Peter:I have a question for the Acting Minister of Environment about trapline allocations. A number of First Nations have expressed concern about the process this government appears to be using to allocate traplines. In his answers to some earlier questions, the minister has talked at some length about the number of traplines he considers vacant. The number he used on March 4 was 56.
What criteria is the minister using to decide a trapline is vacant?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: In response to the member opposite, I believe that the question that the member opposite really wanted to ask is to do with the Old Crow group trapping concession.
The Old Crow group trapping concession has never been issued to Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation. It has always been made out to the Old Crow trapping group in care of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation. This practice will continue.
Mrs. Peter: If the minister were listening to my question, he would agree that it was to address a trapline issue all across the territory. There is a big difference in understanding between the minister and the First Nations about how to define the use of a trapline. Some First Nation families have occupied a trapline for many generations. The work that they have done to clear the trails and build cabins should be taken into consideration. So should the animals they trap for subsistence or to make clothing and use it for other uses.
Mr. Speaker, why is the minister pushing ahead with a trapline allocation policy that defines the use of a trapline according to the fur market ó the dollar value ó and ignore the other traditional uses?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: This government has a very good working relationship with First Nations and I am quite certain that if there were a real issue in this area, it would be brought to the governmentís attention and it would be dealt with with respect.
Mrs. Peter: The minister needs to consult with his colleague on this very serious issue. The ministerís answers do not give the people in the territory any security. Section 16.3 of the First Nationís final agreement says that approximately 70 percent of traplines in the First Nationís traditional territory should be allocated to First Nation people.
Under the new allocation policy there could be lotteries to allocate so-called vacant traplines in overlapping areas. Many people are concerned that friends of this government are going to line up to get traplines allocated to them if the 70 percent requirement ó
Speaker: Order please.
Would the member ask the question please?
Mrs. Peter: Will the acting minister tell this House if they will agree to pull this new policy until the renewable resource councils have been properly consulted and the provisions of the final agreements have been fulfilled?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Well, I believe the member oppositeís allegations are incorrect. This has nothing to do with friends and Iím quite confident that this government will respect and meet with the First Nations on these issues. This government is well known for being right up front and working with First Nations, and we intend to continue that practice.
Question re: Outfitters land tenure
Mr. Fairclough: My question is for the Environment minister, the acting Environment minister, or whichever minister on that side of the House would like to answer this question. This Yukon Party government committed to the public that they will be consulted on matters that affect them. I think this Yukon Party has done a very poor job on that. As a matter of fact, they have made many decisions with absolutely no consultation and Yukoners have taken note. The Yukon Party wants to open up the Yukon for business at any cost. Policies are being developed and the public is the last to know. When will the public be made aware that a big game outfitters land tenure policy is well on its way?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Iíve not been briefed on this issue and I will take that question under advisement.
Mr. Fairclough: Someone on that side of the House must know, so Iím going to give the ministers an opportunity to answer the question. He can answer the question I just asked and thereís a next one. The policy may give outfitters an advantage over wilderness tourism lodge sites in the Yukon Territory. There are about 50 sites or more in question. The public and the First Nations have not been consulted but that doesnít seem to bother this Yukon Party government. When did the minister, or when did this Yukon Party government, give direction to the Department of Environment to have this new policy developed and when will the policy come into effect?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Well, I want to remind the member opposite again that this government takes pride in its ability to consult with the stakeholders. To date, I must say that I believe this government has done a very good job on that and we will continue to consult with stakeholders. I can assure you that these consultations do and will take place.
Question re: Whitehorse Copper land development environmental screening
Mr. Cardiff:My question is for the Minister of Community Services. The ministerís department was conducting an environmental screening of the proposed Whitehorse Copper land development. The deadline for public input was February 19 of this year, and residents were told that a final determination and the screening report document would be available sometime in March. Itís now a month and a half late. Itís not on the Web site; it hasnít been made available. Why is the minister withholding this information from residents, and when will it be made available to the public?
Hon. Mr. Hart: We have received several issues with regard to that particular development, and we will be submitting that information and making it available shortly.
Mr. Cardiff: Well, the ministerís schedule and the deadlines that he imposed on the public for the screening were cast in stone, but he hasnít been able to live up to the commitments that were made to those who participated in the screening or even give them the courtesy of an update on whatís happening. Now he says that there is information out there, but heís not providing it to the public, letting them know whatís happening with the environmental screening or what the outcome is going to be. Itís another example of this government withholding information and itís another example of double standards. Will the minister tell the public now what the pre-determined outcome of the process is going to be?
Hon. Mr. Hart: For the member opposite, Iíve conversed with him on this subject on several occasions. We have consulted with those in question and the results are in. Weíll be going back with the results of that environmental study that we initiated under YEAA, and the members of that particular community will be getting the results of that.
Question re: Northern Splendor Reindeer Farm, animal purchase
Mr. Hardy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Acting Minister of Environment. On Friday, there were some closed-door discussions at the political level with the owners of the Northern Splendor Reindeer Farm. The purpose of these discussions was to find some common ground to proceed with identifying options regarding the future of the reindeer herd. Do the options under consideration include the government buying these animals, as it did in the case of the Yukon Wildlife Preserve?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I believe the question the member opposite is asking this side of the House is whether or not we really respect animals, and we do. It is my opinion that the discussions have to take place and I cannot comment on the outcome of a discussion that hasnít taken place yet.
Mr. Hardy: Iíd like to remind the Acting Minister of Environment that the question I asked was: what are the options? Is one of the options buying these animals? Obviously thereís a hearing problem on the other side with this minister in this regard because I was very clear about that question.
The Yukon Partyís double standard seems to be alive and well, Mr. Speaker. Some people are bought out and others are shut out. Itís my understanding the government still intends to pursue the option of designating reindeer as game farm animals ó weíve heard this ó even though the Wildlife Act and the Yukon First Nation final agreements donít recognize them as such.
How does the minister plan to consult Yukon people about whether or not they agree with designating reindeer as game farm animals?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I believe itís just a difference of opinion when the member opposite alleges there are double standards here. There are no double standards, Mr. Speaker. This is merely a case of one reindeer farmer wanting to talk to the government about their reindeer.
The animals in question have been domesticated for thousands of years. Theyíre not animals that were native to the Yukon Territory.
So, Mr. Speaker, the discussions that have to take place havenít taken place, and this government is not going to predict the outcome of any discussions before they take place.
Mr. Hardy: Itís amazing that this acting minister would say that these discussions are happening and heís not going to make a statement about it and yet, leading up to this, thatís all he ever did was make all kinds of statements about what reindeer are, what reindeer arenít and actually never brought anything into the Legislature to prove their point. I had to do it on this side. It was last week that I tabled information demonstrating that reindeer and caribou are essentially the same animal. They belong to the same genus and the same species. Now, if reindeer are designated game farm animals, will caribou be classified the same way? If so, how does the minister plan to resolve the concerns of First Nations and other Yukon people?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: To start with, Iím not a biologist and I donít pretend to be one. I refuse to make any comments on an issue of this sort that needs many years of high school to be able to make these informed decisions. I will continue to state for the record that this government will do its best to ensure that these animals do not get into undue stress.
Speaker: I would like to apologize to the House. The Independent member was to ask question seven; I inadvertently missed it.
Question re: Hamilton Boulevard
Mr. Arntzen:I have a question today for the minister responsible for Community Services regarding Hamilton Boulevard. $3.2 million has been identified in this budget for work on Hamilton Boulevard. Can the minister explain what will be done for this money?
Hon. Mr. Hart: We are looking at making improvements to Hamilton Boulevard as per our CFA with the City of Whitehorse. We have been in consultation with those in the area as well.
Speaker:Before the member asks the first supplementary question, I would like to remind all members that the questioner has the floor, then the answerer has the floor. I would appreciate no extraneous comments. Independent member, first supplementary.
Mr. Arntzen: Can the minister explain the agreements between the City of Whitehorse and the Yukon territorial government on Hamilton Boulevardís plans?
Hon. Mr. Hart: This plan has been in effect for some years with the development that goes back to the early 1990s. There have been several amendments to this particular agreement with the City of Whitehorse and we are in the midst of working with the City of Whitehorse on achieving it. We are nearing the completion of this project and we anticipate that will commence next year.
Mr. Arntzen: Hamilton Boulevard is the only access route to the fastest growing and largest residential area in Whitehorse. So, many of my constituents are concerned with only one access for ambulances and fire trucks and all other emergency response vehicles. Can the minister advise this House when this major issue will be addressed in regard to the construction of a second access route?
Hon. Mr. Hart: As I mentioned earlier, we have been in consultation with the residents of Hamilton Boulevard and that region, as well as the First Nation, with regard to this particular aspect and we are exploring the options that are available to them in conjunction with the City of Whitehorse.
Question re: Yukon Museum of Natural History, animal purchase
Ms. Duncan:I have some questions for the Acting Minister of Environment. In a May 1, 2003, letter to the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board, the minister said that his government ó the Yukon Party government ó "does not have an interest" in purchasing animals from the Yukon Museum of Natural History. Less than a year later the minister stated publicly that he was in active discussions to purchase these same animals.
The government has a reputation for saying one thing and doing another, for changing their minds, for double standards.
How much money has been set aside to purchase the animals from the Yukon Museum of Natural History?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I would like to correct the record for the member opposite. Again, Mr. Speaker, there are no double standards here. It is just a difference of opinion. It must sound good from that side, I imagine.
But, again, Mr. Speaker, this game reserve was a very popular item and the member opposite knows that everybody was prepared to save it during the campaign. Now that it has been saved, there appears to be a problem with the member opposite. This government is not ashamed of saving the game preserve.
Ms. Duncan: Well, in spite of the memberís protesting the opposite, the Yukon Party has had several misadventures with game farms over the past several months.
They purchased the Yukon game farm at taxpayersí expense, and they pay a half a million dollars per year to operate it at taxpayersí expense. A third party was called in to do the evaluation. After being shamed into it through questions in this Legislature, the government agreed to engage a third party with respect to the reindeer farm. A very specific question: has a third party been engaged in evaluating the purchase of animals at the Yukon Museum of Natural History?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: For the record, again, I want to put on record that the member opposite also had several issues while in government with the game farm. I specifically remember quite a few of those issues, and I would have called them very hot items. Mr. Speaker, this government did everything in due process, and the game preserve was handled correctly, and it is going to be saved for the benefit of all Yukoners.
Ms. Duncan: The minister has been asked several times this afternoon to listen to the questions. What I have asked several times in this Legislature during this session ó and Iíve asked again today ó is for information about the governmentís intention with respect to the Yukon Museum of Natural History. Weíve heard what theyíve done with the game farm. Theyíve been shamed into ó in this Legislature ó dealing fairly with the reindeer farm. The minister has publicly said he was entering into discussions with the owners of the Yukon Museum of Natural History, yet he has steadfastly refused to answer any questions. Has a third party been engaged, as was the case in the other purchases? How much money has been set aside? Will the Acting Minister of Environment today provide some answers and some information to this Legislature about the expenditure of Yukon taxpayersí dollars with regard to the Yukon Museum of Natural History?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Well, Mr. Speaker, this government has not been shamed into anything. The member opposite is incorrect ó totally incorrect and grasping at straws for something to talk about. Mr. Speaker, this government has worked faithfully with everyone in the territory, as is what took place with the owners of the reindeer farm. This government is very aware and has the utmost respect for animals. And this government will continue to look after the best interests of the animals, and it will continue to do that.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. Weíll proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Motion No. 289
Clerk:Motion No. 289, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Jenkins.
Speaker: It is moved by the Minister of Health and Social Services
THAT this House urges the federal Liberal government to live up to its fiduciary responsibility to provide health care to aboriginal Canadian residents both on reserve and off reserve, as recommended by the Auditor General and requested by all three territories and all 10 provinces.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Itís a very important motion that we have before the House today and Iím urging all parties to support this motion. Iíll be brief and just spell out the concerns that we have.
Under the Canadian Constitution, the federal governmentís obligation to aboriginal people is rooted in section 91, part 24, which states that the federal government is responsible for Indians and lands reserved for Indians.
Over the years, the federal government has acted in ways that tend to meld these two obligations into one. Health Canadaís First Nation and Inuit health branch, for example, sees its responsibilities as being primarily for Indians on lands reserved for Indians.
The Yukon has a growing concern about Canadaís apparent reduction of available programs and services to aboriginal people in the north. Where Canada used to refer to on reserve and in the north, this phrase is rarely heard now. In the Yukon, with the transfer of the hospital and of community health services, the Yukon government negotiated with the federal government that it will provide universal health care to all Yukon residents, including all First Nation aboriginal residents, through funding negotiated and received through the formula financing agreement.
The formula financing agreement does explicitly state that any new funding programs offered by the federal government should be available to the Yukon, and the formula has a built-in mechanism to permit the Yukon to take advantage of any new federal initiative or program. Thus, for any new programming intended to enhance insured health services, specifically targeted to aboriginal people, there ought to be an allocation provided to the Yukon government.
Furthermore, for any new federal funding program rolled out for aboriginal people that is targeted to help address a problem that exists among First Nations, there ought to be a federal allocation made for Yukon First Nations.
An example of this would be FASD and diabetes. It does not make program objective sense to limit funding to specific geographic locations if First Nation people living elsewhere equally share the problem that is the target of the program. Such funding may flow, as it usually has in the past, directly through to First Nations for community-based programming in the Yukon rather than to the Yukon government. There must be a financial allocation for Yukon First Nations. The Government of Canada must live up to section 91, part 24 of the Canadian Constitution and address their responsibility for First Nations health care in Canada, more specifically for Yukon aboriginal people.
Ms. Duncan: I wish to state for the public record that this motion as brought forward by the Health minister need not be called today, that it is the considered view that the motion as presented is nothing more than grandstanding on the eve of a federal election. If the member wants to fight the federal election, I encourage him to run for office in that forum. This forum is currently debating $700 million in the expenditure of taxpayersí money. Thatís what we should be focused on today; thatís what we should be discussing. We should be focusing our time and energy on these issues. Motions such as the one presented are generally reserved for motion day and should be discussed at length on those dates. We at that time could discuss the fact that the motion as presented neglects to note that the federal government also has a responsibility for the health care of the military and there are a number of Yukoners, constituents I have assisted, who have had issues with the federal government, no matter what their political stripe, and their management of the health care services for military. A thorough discussion of the motion would include that and would offer an opportunity for amendment.
The other point missing from this particular motion is that there are several significant current concerns around the dental care and issues between the professional sector and First Nations and the federal government. Those two concrete suggestions might be offered to the federal government with respect to those particular issues in a thorough discussion on motion day.
Another point with respect to this particular motion and the memberís ó the minister in this case ó desire to discuss it on the eve of the federal election, we really should also discuss the fact that one of the other key parties in the federal election ó the drug plan, which would cost up to a billion dollars annually ó their own candidate, an experienced Health minister, has pointed out that the Conservative drug plan would in fact be six times the estimated cost that their leader is saying.
The federal election campaign will be fought on the doorsteps of this country. It need not be fought this afternoon in this Legislature. This Legislature has a greater responsibility right now to be discussing $700 million of taxpayersí money, and itís unfortunate that the Minister of Health and Social Services has chosen to grandstand instead.
Speaker: If the member now speaks, he will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, our position remains firm. We are cognizant of the federal governmentís responsibilities to health care for First Nation members of Canada.
Now, I can understand why the member opposite is sensitive to asking the federal Liberal government to live up to this commitment but this is an issue that has been led by the Auditor General. It is on the first ministersí table right across the Canada and all three territories. Mr. Speaker, this is something the federal government is not doing and should be doing. Now, just because they happen to be a Liberal government and the member opposite takes exception to that, so be it. This is a motion that we have to move forward on. We have to demand the federal Liberal government come to the table, and this is an opportune time to do so. Mr. Speaker, we only have two days left in this sitting.
We have to look at the member oppositeís suggestion that they donít have enough time for debate. The official opposition and the third party have failed to debate any line items in this largest budget ever in the history of the Yukon.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Point of order
Speaker:Mr. McRobb on a point of order.
Mr. McRobb: The government House leader is grandstanding; heís diverting away from the subject matter at hand at debate and needs to be reeled back in. There is a rule in the House rules against such practice. If I had a little more time, Mr. Chair, Iíd be able to locate it for you.
Speaker:There is no point of order.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, this motion, as we stated earlier, will ask this Legislature ó and I encourage all parties to support this motion. This is a very good motion. If we get into debate on the budget, the official opposition and the third party will be clearing $30 million an hour in departments and they wanted to have this session shortened, not lengthened. It was at our insistence that we had an obligation to the taxpayers of the Yukon to debate this budget.
Part of the debate of this budget is the health care needs of First Nation members in the Yukon, and to that end it is incumbent on all of us to ensure that the federal Liberal government live up to their obligations to First Nations for health care ó health care not just here in the Yukon but all across Canada. The feds have this wonderful ability to balance the budget of Canada on the back of health care, and it should not be that way. We are not going to have a better opportunity than we have today, coming into a federal election. The member opposite hit the nail right on the head, but unless we take the initiative, weíre not going to be able to get another red cent out of the federal government after the election. Leading into election is one thing; after election is another. But this motion deals with the fiduciary responsibility of the federal Liberal government. I couldnít be more firm in my beliefs about what should happen.
The state of aboriginal health care in Canada has been reported by the Auditor Generalís office and others as being deplorable. Let us do something about it. Let us get together and lobby the federal Liberal government to seize the initiative and move forward.
In the interest of moving forward in debate, I encourage all members to vote for this motion and letís get back into the budget.
Some Hon. Members: Division.
Speaker:Division has been called.
Speaker: Mr. Clerk, would you poll the House.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Agree.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Lang: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Hart: Agree.
Mr. Rouble: Agree.
Mr. Hassard: Agree.
Mr. Cathers: Agree.
Mr. Hardy: Agree.
Mr. McRobb: Agree.
Mr. Fairclough: Agree.
Mr. Cardiff: Agree.
Ms. Duncan: Disagree.
Mr. Arntzen: Agree.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 14 yea, one nay.
Speaker: The ayes have it. I declare the motion carried.
Motion No. 289 agreed to
Motion No. 301
Clerk:Motion No. 301, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Jenkins.
Speaker: It is moved by the government House leader
THAT the membership of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, as established by Motion No. 21 of the First Session of the 31st Legislative Assembly, be amended by:
(1) rescinding the appointments of the Hon. Dennis Fentie and the Hon. Peter Jenkins; and
(2) appointing Dean Hassard and Brad Cathers to the Committee.
Motion No. 301 agreed to
Withdrawal of motions
Speaker:The Chair wishes to inform the House that Motion No. 185 will now be dropped from the Order Paper, since the object of that motion has been dealt with by Motion No. 301.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: Order please. Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
The matter before the Committee is Bill No. 10, First Appropriation Act, 2004-05. We will continue on with the Department of Justice.
Before we begin, do members wish a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will take a 10-minute recess.
Chair: Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We will proceed with Bill No. 10, First Appropriation Act, 2004-05, with Vote 8, Department of Justice.
Bill No. 10 ó First Appropriation Act, 2004-05 ó continued
Department of Justice ó continued
Hon. Ms. Taylor:Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you for the additional opportunity to talk about the Department of Justice budget.
Within this budget we have a number of items. As members opposite are aware, the Department of Justice contains a number of very important services and programs, which we deliver on a day-to-day basis. One of these services is the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. We have monies allocated within this budget to conduct the consultations with Yukon First Nations. These consultations reflect our government-to-government relationship between the Yukon government and Yukon First Nations. It is a process that reflects the memorandum of understanding that the Government of Yukon signed off with the Kwanlin Dun First Nation in 2003, a commitment that was made to consult with all Yukon First Nations on the future of corrections in the Yukon, as well as to ensure the full involvement of First Nations in the design, delivery and evaluation of correctional services in the Yukon.
And, of course, members opposite know that a critical aspect to this particular initiative is to also ensure that First Nations are involved in the planning, the correctional programming within the facility and outside of the facility in our communities and, of course, in planning the further design of the correctional facility.
Certainly within this budget we have additional resources allocated to the victim services and the family violence prevention unit to provide for additional training in our communities, to provide for additional monies for contract services to provide clinical supervision and certainly to provide those very services that are so very important in our communities, whether that be spousal abuse programs, whether that be victim services programs, the very initiative to provide services either one-on-one or individual counselling or group counselling ó to provide those very important services to both our victims and our offenders. When we talk about providing family violence prevention services, itís something that I in conjunction with the Premier in his capacity as minister responsible for the Womenís Directorate as well as the Minister of Health and Social Services as well as the Premier also in his responsibilities for the Youth Directorate as well ó we all work collectively, as well as the Minister of Education, to address this very dire problem that we have in our communities today.
Itís something we take very seriously. We are working to provide the additional services that are needed in our communities today. I believe that, yes, thereís always room for improvement but we are certainly working with our many partners, whether thatís with the various agencies or womenís associations, womenís transitional homes, shelters in our communities, or whether thatís with the RCMP, the judiciary or with the legal professions. We certainly work very closely with them on a day-to-day basis. One particular initiative that has worked in the past and continues to do a very good job of addressing domestic violence in our communities is that of the domestic violence treatment option, which has been very innovative, combining court with treatment. It has proven to significantly reduce the collapse rate of domestic violence cases before the courts.
That in itself and that particular program offer both assistance to the victim, ensuring that the victim is involved in every step along the way, and treatment for the offender, which is a very important component of addressing our root causes in our communities. So initiatives such as these weíre very happy to promote and continue to support.
The Family Violence Prevention Act is yet another very important initiative that was adopted by this Legislature years ago. We are continuing with the review of the act and are incorporating the views of the many participants on the steering committee overseeing the act itself.
So all of these different initiatives certainly help to provide the services and the needs of the citizens we serve on a day-to-day basis here.
Of course, as the members opposite are also aware, $100,000 was made available in the last supplementary budget to the Womenís Directorate, which we continue to work with in the advisory committee. That particular initiative was to address violence against women in the north and in particular aboriginal women as there is unfortunately three times the spousal abuse against aboriginal women than there is anywhere else in the country here in the north.
Working with our aboriginal womenís organizations and committees, we will soon be coming out with a number of community-based initiatives to address the very unfortunate situation we have and have had in the past. Also, together with the Womenís Directorate, the Department of Justice is also exploring the possibility of developing a territory-wide strategy on violence. This is one of our government priorities and has also been identified by the Family Violence Prevention Act review process. A territory-wide strategy would certainly help bring together government, First Nations governments and community organizations to enhance dialogue between our service providers, improve the services for both victims and offenders and provide coordinating mechanisms throughout the territory, as well as providing an overall framework for family violence prevention.
One particular example of an initiative that I was involved in last fall was the Northern Community Conference on Sexual Abuse, which was held last October. I believe we had close to 300 participants from all across the northern territories. They attended to share and learn best practices and ways to assist our victims of abuse and ways to combat domestic violence in our communities. We certainly learned from each other various approaches to this violent act and sexual abuse in our communities.
Again, our government has been expressing by voice as well as our actions, and we believe it is important to continue to do that.
Again, whether itís remembering women and the violence that has occurred against women on a day such as December 6, Canadaís Day for Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women, or whether that may be the International Womenís Day, for which there was a vigil held on the steps of the Justice building, we are certainly there and, again, our actions speak loudly of our governmentís support for women and the need to provide those various initiatives to not only assist our victims but to assist in providing the necessary treatment for offenders as well.
Certainly, through training opportunities, by working closely with our various agencies, by working with communities such as Watson Lake, we continue to provide support, either through facilitating discussions or providing additional services in our communities.
I refer to the community of Watson Lake. Watson Lake is one example of a community that actually requested assistance from our government last fall. Since then, over the last several months, almost a year, that community has very much taken ownership of the problems at hand. They have tackled the issues, hand in hand, collectively, with one another, with the various agencies, with the various governments. And they have been able to effect change, and I believe that is change for the betterment of that community and change for the betterment of the entire territory.
There are initiatives looking at crime prevention, for example: Citizens on Patrol. There are initiatives such as auxiliary police. Theyíre currently recruiting four auxiliary police in the community of Watson Lake. That particular community is holding regular meetings among the mayor and council, the Liard First Nation chief and council, the RCMP, chamber of commerce, and of course all the various agencies within the community, including our educators, people within our Justice department, and talking about some of the issues and what we can do to address some of the unfortunate circumstances that have found their way in the community. I certainly applaud all our communities for rising and taking action against violence in our communities. It is only through those particular actions that we will be able to effect change in the territory.
In addition, we will continue to provide support to the RCMP. That certainly is reflected within this budget. The RCMP, through the aboriginal community constable program and through our territorial police service agreement, support the Liard First Nation through the tripartite police agreement that has been in place for a number of years, which we have just been able to extend to the year 2008, I understand.
We continue to work with our family violence prevention unit and through them provide education, training sessions to each of our RCMP members on all the various elements incorporated within the Family Violence Prevention Act. These are all very positive initiatives and these are all part of the recommendations so that we aim at improving agency cooperation, public education and awareness of family violence issues in the territory.
There are initiatives such as the DVTO, the domestic violence treatment option, of which I am very pleased to speak. When we talk about the community of Watson Lake as an example, members of the Justice department were actually just speaking recently to members in Watson Lake to see the possibility of arranging a domestic violence treatment option court in the community of Watson Lake. It seems to have been well-received to date and we will certainly support those very initiatives.
Through our Department of Health, of course we work hand in hand providing support to our elders, to our seniors, providing support to our youth. Justice is just one very important department, but we work very closely with other departments in ensuring that services are provided on a timely basis.
So thank you, Mr. Chair, for the opportunity to provide an overview of some of the very worthy initiatives that our department continues to undertake. I certainly thank each and every one of our employees within the Department of Justice, and all the various agencies that we do partner with on an ongoing basis to provide services to Yukoners.
Ms. Duncan: I would like to thank the minister for her lengthy responses to the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin. This must be the only government in history that filibusters their own budget. Unfortunately, the scrap at SCREP that has gone on for several sessions of the Legislature is doing the public a disservice.
The amendments have tried to deal with such issues as 12 days of debate on which larvicide the government should choose and now we have ended up with this situation, where a government is filibustering their own budget.
I have three or four very short questions for the Minister of Justice, and then Iím prepared to move on in this particular department. There is an increase in victim services. Itís up eight percent. The minister has addressed that particular issue. She did not, however, indicate whether or not there is any new programming initiative. My direct question is: is this an enhancement of existing program initiatives or are there new programs included in this eight-percent expenditure increase?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I guess I go on at great length, particularly with our departments, because I think we have a lot of good news to bring, and perhaps the opposition members donít agree. We take the opportunity to inform Yukoners about what our government is doing.
With respect to the member oppositeís question about the eight-percent increase, there are a number of things. I think I touched on some. One reason is that there is an increase to the personnel budget of the victim services, family violence prevention unit. There are also monies incorporated for training in the unit to support community training, as well as money identified within the very same unit for clinical supervision in order to provide primarily professional support for counsellors who work in this area. This is to avoid burnout in this particularly difficult field.
So this enhances existing program initiatives that we have in place in this unit ó initiatives that are working and that we support.
Ms. Duncan: The increased services, I would concur with the minister, are important, and I particularly appreciate that there have been resources dedicated to staff. However, I am concerned that there arenít any new initiatives with which we could substantiate the progress that has been achieved and to further the progress. The federal government has provided new money under the access to justice program ó $270,000. What specific programs does that money cover?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: This is actually $210,614 for each of the three years. That is part of the investment fund that is being administered through the Yukon Legal Aid Society.
Ms. Duncan: There is also, as I understand it, an additional increase to the Legal Aid budget. Is this additional federal money, over and above the access to justice money? Is Legal Aid accessing additional federal dollars from two envelopes? Is that correct?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: These additional monies are all incorporated within the access to justice agreement. The member opposite is quite correct, in that there has been an increase to legal aid.
When we talk about the investment fund, this is an actual new fund that has been put in place by the federal government, and this particular year is year 1 of a new three-year agreement.
Ms. Duncan: How is this investment fund used and accessed, or how is it anticipated that it will be used?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: This particular fund was developed in large part through our department working very closely with the Yukon Legal Aid Society. They put forward a proposed business plan to the federal government. I understand that it has been endorsed and adopted as such.
Ms. Duncan: So will Yukoners see the benefit of this federal money then by enhanced legal aid services? Is that how the average Yukoner will see the benefit of these monies?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: That is correct. The intent of this fund is to enhance services available to Yukoners. One initiative that comes to mind is the poverty Law Line, for example, so itís an enhancement of services being provided by Legal Aid. So we certainly look forward to improved access to these particular initiatives.
Ms. Duncan: There is some monies for the Yukon Utilities Board, but could the minister outline what hearing might be scheduled for the Utilities Board? I believe itís $100,000. I donít have the precise budget figure in front of me. Is this anticipated for a hearing, or what is it anticipated for?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Of course, we always anticipate that there may or may not be particular utility hearings, so we budget as such. Certainly there could be more, there could be less, there could be none, but we certainly do put a budget forward. We can reflect increases in the supplementary, but this is just but one figure. I certainly donít know of any anticipated hearings.
Ms. Duncan: Itís also generally anticipated that this money is recoverable from the Yukon Development Corporation. The minister has nodded ó thank you for stating that for the record.
Under her area of responsibility, the minister also has the legislation for the forthcoming legislative session. There has been talk of some amendments to existing acts. Thereís also the necessity of reviewing our existing legislation. One that comes immediately to mind is the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which we talked about in this Legislature last week. When a personís privacy has been violated, thereís no remedy in that legislation ó none that I could see. So there are problems in some of our existing legislation.
Does the minister have anything she could or will share with the House today in regard to the forthcoming legislative agenda and/or any legislative review being undertaken by her department?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Until those actual discussions have been finalized among the caucus members in Cabinet, Iím a little leery to put forward that information. We do have a fall sitting coming up, and that will primarily be geared toward addressing legislation. Please be assured there will be legislation coming forward in due time, but we have to finalize that legislative agenda.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, Iíve asked the minister in every one of the Justice debates weíve had to date if I could please have a list of the outstanding court cases against government. We get out of session, and I donít know what happens to that request, but I have yet to receive a list of outstanding court cases against the government. Iíve asked every session. Iíve never received it. Itís common public information and has been readily provided in the past on the floor of the Legislature. I donít understand why I donít get it. Would she please ensure I receive it this time?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: As I understand it, that information has not been provided in the past. Perhaps if the member opposite has correspondence of the past, I certainly havenít been advised of that. I have been made aware, however, though, that that information is readily available to the public through the court registry. So the member opposite is very welcome to access that information through there.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Iíll go to the former Member for Riversideís documents and get a copy of the letter that was courteously provided by the Department of Justice in the past. Previous members werenít told to go down and look at the court registry. It was done as a matter of courtesy in the Legislature. Itís unfortunate that that practice has not continued.
Can the minister advise the House ó $463,000 has been set aside to deal with the last fire marshalís report, some of the ongoing structural issues and the Barr Ryder report in the supplementary budget. There has been $50,000 spent on engineers, and hopefully the remainder is going to be revoted at some time. When is the work going to be concluded, and when will the fire marshal next visit the jail?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: As for the next visit of the fire marshal, I certainly couldnít say on the floor of the Legislature. Iím not completely in tune to the fire marshalís schedule. But we are working to adhere to each and every one of the recommendations made by the fire marshal. The tender, I understand, will be closing very soon. It was to close last Thursday, if Iím not mistaken, but due to the particular request of several contractors in the Yukon, they were looking for an extension so we agreed to a one-week extension.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the difficulty with the structure is the ability to meet the fire marshalís requirements and the National Building Code requirements, even after the government does these repairs. So weíve put professionals in an untenable situation ó engineers, electricians, fire marshal ó and theyíre not meeting national codes, no matter how much money the government throws at repairs.
Is the fire marshal going to be able to sign off when these repairs are done?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Thatís exactly what we are doing as a government. The moment that we issued a notice that we were postponing the redevelopment of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, we immediately notified the fire marshal. At that time the fire marshal took a tour and has been working with our department ever since, as well as with the Department of Highways and Public Works, to look at what necessary improvements need to be done. Certainly that has been outlined in a report and we are adhering to that.
Ms. Duncan: All of the work that was done prior to the minister taking office ó has it all been sealed in the archives or has she had access to any of that information? I am talking about architectural drawings, consultations with First Nation elders ó the significant amount of work that was done.
I recognize that Cabinet submissions would have been sealed, as well as perhaps the documentation leading up to those Cabinet submissions. Has that information been made available to the minister?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: We have had a couple of briefings for our caucus members and certainly myself, as Minister of Justice. We were apprised of all the work that was done by the previous government. I refer to the elders regional working group. Again, I would just refer to my remarks when the Grand Chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations and I presented the draft consultation plan to the leadership about 10 or so days ago.
We certainly made it a priority that the first order of business will be to review the very work that was completed.
Ms. Duncan: Have there been any discussions with either the British Columbia, Alberta or Northwest Territories governments or any other governments ó and Iím not referring to First Nation governments, but other provincial or territorial governments ó with regard to temporary housing of prisoners? I would like to put this in two distinct categories. We have the issue with the not criminally responsible patients, or those awaiting psychiatric evaluation. Have we reached an agreement with other provinces or territories with regard to housing these prisoners in a more effective manner? Thatís one question. The second question is: what about our existing prisoners at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre? Have we had discussions about housing them while repairs are being conducted, while the reconstruction is under discussion?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: For those individuals who are waiting perhaps for a psych assessment or perhaps when those individuals who have been declared by the court to be not criminally responsible are ordered to seek treatment at an Outside psychiatric hospital, we have had agreements in place. Theyíve been informal agreements in place with Alberta and British Columbia. We have since confirmed those arrangements with each of the hospitals and we even went so far as to talk with Saskatchewan as well, which we just put to use with a particular other matter that came up last week.
We are certainly working to formalize those arrangements we have in place, albeit keeping in mind that in many of these hospitals clear across the country there are resources being stretched with respect to psychiatric patients and services that are required. Within those particular jurisdictions if there are waiting lists of individuals in Alberta, for example, as I understand, Alberta people will come first, and we will be served thereafter. But certainly we have been working to provide more formal arrangements with our hospitals, and weíve also since talked with Saskatchewan as well.
Ms. Duncan: That covers off those awaiting psychiatric assessment. Could I ask the minister to then address our existing inmate population? Has she had discussions with other governments with regard to providing not only the housing situation but the programming at other institutions during the time weíre dealing with these repairs and the eventual, we hope, reconstruction of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: We have been working pretty closely as a department, coming up with an interim plan to accommodate the renovations to occur at the facility this summer, and that is exactly what weíll be doing ó working to accommodate those various renovations. Weíre hoping for a relatively smooth transition while the renovations do take place.
With respect to other jurisdictions, have I had discussions? No.
Ms. Duncan: Have the departmental staff, that the minister is aware of?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: As I understand it, Whitehorse Correctional Centre can house up to 73 individuals at a time within the facility. Beyond that, in exceptional circumstances, it can accommodate others. If the occupancy load were to exceed that particular number, we would be working very closely with the fire marshal and other officials to ensure that the safety and security of our inmate population, as well as of our staff, is maintained at all times.
So in that particular case, if need be, I suppose you could say that other correctional centres across the country ó we would be prepared to handle. We would be prepared to work with other jurisdictions to accommodate if in fact there was an overflow or if in fact there was a problem within our inmate population ó that we need additional space. So certainly we always work to meet contingency plans, but to date there hasnít been any reason to look at that particular option.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, there has been significant discussions over the past number of years since the closure of the jail in Teslin with the Teslin Tlingit Council, and there has been funding, as well, allocated for the drawdown of justice. Could the minister just bring us up to date as to where those negotiations are currently? Is this the final year of the funding and what are the plans with that former correctional facility?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: As I understand it, the agreement that has been in place over the last five years is a contribution agreement from the Department of Justice to the Teslin Tlingit Council for $200,000 a year, and we are in the last year of that contribution agreement. There have been no further discussions about what happens after that.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the minister just refreshed my memory. There were significant discussions around the drawdown of justice, like a PSTA negotiation. Did those conclude? Iím not sure how they finished. It has been 16 months and my memory is not serving me that well. So what happened, and whatís the current status of those discussions?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: The member opposite is correct that the Teslin Tlingit Council has been working with the federal government and us toward coming up with an implementation plan for their administration of justice agreement. As I understand it ó and I would have to clarify this ó a mandate has been received from all parties to proceed with the implementation.
Ms. Duncan: Perhaps I could just ask the minister if, as more information becomes available over the summer months, she would just keep us updated on that. I would appreciate it.
I would just like to conclude by noting that the minister unfortunately has had the situation where her deputy minister has moved on. On behalf of the Legislature, I certainly wish the former Deputy Minister of Justice well. I also wish the minister and the government the best in recruiting for this particular position. It is an extremely difficult position to fill. The former deputyís services will be very much missed. I am sure they will be very welcome in Saskatchewan, which is where he has moved on to.
I wish the government well in the recruitment and wish our former deputy minister well and thank him for his services to the Yukon public.
That concludes my questions, Mr. Chair.
Chair: Is there any further general debate? Hearing none, we will proceed line by line.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I would request the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 8, the Department of Justice, cleared or carried as required.
Unanimous consent re deeming all lines in Vote 8, Department of Justice, cleared or carried
Chair:Ms. Duncan has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 8, Department of Justice, cleared or carried as required.
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: There is unanimous consent. That concludes Vote 8, Department of Justice.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Department of Justice in the amount of $36,677,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
Total Capital Expenditures for the Department of Justice in the amount of $1,077,000 agreed to
Department of Justice agreed to
Chair: I understand that weíre moving on now to Vote 2, Executive Council Office.
Executive Council Office
Chair: We will continue on with general debate.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Chair, Iím happy to introduce the Executive Council Office budget for fiscal year 2004-05. This budget is focused to support the objectives established for the Executive Council Office. These objectives include, but are not limited to, finalizing the outstanding land claim and self-government agreements, ensuring effective implementation of the settled land claims, building strong government-to-government relations with all Yukon First Nations, fostering effective relations with Canada and our neighbouring jurisdictions, providing management audit services to government, enhancing the governmentís support for youth by promoting participating in the territorial social, economic, cultural and political activities, ensuring effective communications with the Yukon public, implementing the development assessment process, fostering the growth and revitalization of Yukon aboriginal languages, and providing advice, analysis and other services to Cabinet and its committees.
The operation and maintenance budget request recognizes that the government must continue to use our financial resources wisely and ensure priority initiatives are fully supported.
This Executive Council Office budget forecasts overall spending of $19 million. This is an increase of $1,643,000 for Executive Council Office over the 2003-04 forecast. As noted on page 4-4, the increases are requested in both the other and transfer payment allotments. The increase in the other allotment is due primarily to the following two initiatives: an additional $100,000 under corporate services, policy for the electoral reform contract, which will continue to June 2005, and an additional $605,000 under land claims and implementation secretariat for an increase in land claims implementation projects as additional final and self-government agreements come into effect.
The increase in the transfer payment allotment is due primarily to the following budget adjustments: an additional $836,000 under land claims and implementation secretariat for increases in funding to boards and councils established pursuant to the final agreements, and an additional $150,000 under the Youth Directorate for increases in support to the Youth of Today Society, Bringing Youth Toward Equality and the Whitehorse Youth Centre society organizations.
Members will note on the program detail pages that the personnel allotment shows changes due primarily to the effects of the collective agreement and settlement and to the movement of positions within branches to provide the necessary services for the department. As in previous years, the allocation for land claims activities represents the largest investment, approximately 42 percent of the total Executive Council Office budget.
First Nation relations has been allocated $1,241,000 with the express mandate of building strong government-to-government relations and enhancing business partnerships and opportunities with all Yukonís First Nations. $1,100,000 of this amount will be recoverable from Canada. Intergovernmental relations allocation is $962,000 to carry out their work of developing positive working relationships with other governments. Some program areas within Executive Council Office have had minor budget reductions, but the corporate and program services Executive Council Office provides to the departments and Cabinet will continue as in the past.
The most significant decrease you will notice is in devolution. That budget was reduced by 30 percent, reflecting the end of the term positions in Executive Council Office, which were supporting the devolution exercise. All the funds requested for this program area will be distributed to the departments across the government for priority transitional activities related to the transferred responsibilities. The decrease in the budget for the development assessment process reflects a partial-year allocation to November 2004, as a responsibility for environmental assessment of projects in the Yukon will be filled by the designated offices of the YESAA board.
On the capital side of the budget, again, the majority of the funds ó 81 percent ó are requested for responsibilities relating to land claims and implementation. The majority of these funds are designated for land development costs outlined in the Umbrella Final Agreement. The remainder will support specific implementation projects across departments.
With these brief comments, Iíd be happy to answer any questions the members may have on the budget for the Executive Council Office, specifically in line-by-line, as that would be the most constructive debate we could carry out in this House. Unfortunately that has not taken place over the last number of months.
Mr. Hardy: I have very few comments to make in this department. Many of the issues were brought up in general debate of the budget as a whole. In some cases we did get some answers, and in most cases we didnít. Iím not going to belabour the point. There are many outstanding questions that still need to be asked in many other departments.
Iím very pleased to see an increase in youth services, the spending there. I applaud the government for that. I believe that is going to go to assisting many of the programs of these groups that have been named to implement positive change for youth within the Yukon.
I hope it does get spread out in that regard. Iím very pleased with that. I do have some concerns with regard to decreases of nine percent in the First Nations relations and the decrease in intergovernmental relations of 14 percent, since this government has been very adamant that their intergovernmental relations and all the MOUs and agreements theyíve signed are having a very positive effect. I do have concerns when I see a reduction in the money being spent in that area.
I have one outstanding question. Is the government involved in any way, shape or form at this present time with the issues surrounding the recently failed vote of the Carcross-Tagish First Nation? Have they been asked to come in and assist in any way, shape or form for the future? Have the Premier or his department had any discussions on how to advance the settlement of this claim and readdress the issue the vote has brought about?
If the Premier could elaborate on that, I would appreciate it and, hopefully, thatíll be it.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: The discussions to date have evolved around the fact that the Carcross-Tagish First Nation will be holding a general assembly. That will be an assembly whereby they seek a mandate on the next steps in regard to this matter. As stated, the government respects the decision made by the citizens of the Carcross-Tagish First Nation, and we will also await and respect the decision that comes out of their general assembly. We will act accordingly once we know what the results of the assembly are and what kind of mandate the leadership has been provided by its citizens.
Ms. Duncan: Following up on that question, I appreciate the answer with regard to the next steps with the Carcross-Tagish First Nation. I believe it was late last week the Kwanlin Dun First Nation announced they were delaying their ratification vote. Thereís a committee in place that deals with such things as hiring the returning officer and ensuring that information is put out to citizens so theyíre well aware of the ramifications of the vote. Itís basically a non-partisan committee, if you will ó and Iím going to refer to it as the ratification committee.
My understanding is that the ratification committee that is composed of three individuals is funded by Canada. Is my understanding correct?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Yes, Mr. Chair, that is correct. Canada does fund the ratification committee. I would also point out that it is not Canada or Yukon that makes the determination on the timelines for the ratification process. That is solely within the purview of each respective First Nation ó in this case, the Kwanlin Dun First Nation.
Ms. Duncan: I wasnít suggesting that it was anything, anyone or any government other than the First Nation government that set the time frame for that ratification vote.
Canada and Yukon are represented on the committee, however; and their work is paid for by the Government of Canada ó the work of the three. There are three bodies named.
Now, Kwanlin Dun has announced that their ratification vote is delayed. My question is: is Canada going to continue to fund the committee during this time so that the committee can continue their work? As I understand it, they have quite a public process. It takes a long time to outline the complete details of these very comprehensive claims. Will Canada continue to fund that committee during the time period that the vote has been ó I donít want to use the word "delayed" but it has been set aside for a time. Will Canada continue to fund the committee?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: At this point, the First Nation has made the determination that they will exercise their authority to extend the ratification timeline. I would submit that Canada will be responding in the very near future to the First Nation with regard to the funding. I am sure they would respond directly to the First Nation.
Ms. Duncan: I would hope that Canada would see fit to fund this committee and the Yukon names a member to that committee. So I would hope that Canada would see fit to continue the work of the ratification committee in the interim and an extended work period, if you will. I would hope that the Premier would express that view to the minister responsible.
Would the minister responsible for the Executive Council Office, the Premier, outline the current status with regard to the White River First Nation land claim?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: First, let me point out that Yukon has expressed to Canada its position of support for the decision that the Kwanlin Dun First Nation has made. In regard to the White River First Nation, we are in the process where we believe in the very near future the ratification process itself will be determined. Beyond that, we know that there is no more mandate to negotiate land claims in the Yukon. Therefore, the only other alternative, once the citizens of First Nations made their decision, is either ratifying a land claim or remaining an Indian Act band.
Ms. Duncan: What I understand from the ministerís response is that, first of all, Yukon did make their support known for the Kwanlin Dun to extend this ratification period. Will the minister provide opposition parties with a copy of the letter or representations he has made?
With regard to White River, I understand the ministerís response to have been that there has not yet been a decision whether or not to proceed with ratification. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: We anticipate in the very near future that that decision will be made. The government has urged the First Nation to proceed with ratification to allow its citizens to make the decision.
Ms. Duncan: I didnít get a commitment from the minister to supply opposition parties with copies of the representations made to Canada in support of Kwanlin Dun.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Chair, our support was direct to the First Nation. We voiced that in a meeting with the Kwanlin Dun leadership and the chief himself. It was between Canada and the First Nation, in terms of the First Nation extending to Canada its position that it was going to exercise its authority to extend its ratification process and, as I pointed out, Iím sure Canada will respond to the First Nation in regard to that decision and the funding that goes with it. Our support was voiced to the First Nation in a meeting.
Ms. Duncan: I would put it to the Yukon public that the Yukon government and the Premier have a greater role to play and should communicate their desire to see Canada continue to fund the ratification process, particularly the public education component of the ratification process, and extend that funding to the Kwanlin Dun First Nation and the ratification committee.
In Calgary the minister announced the work being undertaken on the transboundary claim with the Acho Dene Koe, and that there would be negotiations undertaken with that particular transboundary First Nation. Are there other transboundary claimants, other than the Kaska, that the Yukon government has entered into negotiations, or restarted negotiations, with?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: First, the Yukon is obligated under the Umbrella Final Agreement to negotiate transboundary settlements as only a third party. The federal government must also be at the table. I think the Umbrella Final Agreement is quite specific. Maybe I should rephrase "third party" ó as one of the parties at the table, because itís specific in the Umbrella Final Agreement that there would be a necessity that other transboundary jurisdictions also be involved in the negotiation.
So, to date, there are no transboundary negotiations between Yukon, Canada, any other jurisdiction and/or a transboundary First Nation.
In fact, we are awaiting Canadaís position and Canadaís lead, considering Canada is the fiduciary agency ó the responsible government. They must come forward with their mandate and their willingness to commence transboundary negotiations. We await that.
However, we also recognize that there are, in certain areas of the Yukon, tremendous potential to advance development in such areas as oil and gas. We are not averse to sitting down with other jurisdictions, transboundary First Nations, and Canada, in fact, to develop business arrangements that are based in reciprocal agreements in order to advance development in not only the Yukon, but also northern B.C., southwest N.W.T. ó all relevant to net benefit Canada, but, more importantly, arrangements that will ensure the maximum retained benefits for the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and so on.
Ms. Duncan: I am quite well aware of the Yukonís obligations under the Umbrella Final Agreement. As a former minister, I didnít announce negotiations with a transboundary First Nation in a speech in Calgary. The current minister did.
My question is: what other negotiations or preparatory work is being undertaken? There are Yukon First Nations who have transboundary claims south of the border. There are other transboundary claimants in the Yukon, other than the Kaska and the Acho Dene Koe. What work is the land claims secretariat undertaking with regard to these negotiations ó or anticipated negotiations ó to support our Yukon transboundary claimants? Is there any work being done by the land claims secretariat on these other transboundary claims?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Well, first, I think itís important to rebut a statement made on what we are doing in places like Calgary in promoting and ensuring that Yukon is an attractive place for the resource industry to look to and invest in. Unlike the former member when responsible as a minister, the Yukon has broadened its horizons. It does not simply go to the investment community in places like Calgary to announce that the Yukon will support the Alaska Highway pipeline. Everybody knew that at the outset. Thatís not what the industry wanted to hear anyway.
The industry wants to know what is land access certainty? How can they work in partnership with Yukon and First Nations to advance land access certainty in the development of resources? Theyíre very interested in investing in the Yukon. The transboundary issue, again I point out, is a federal obligation and responsibility. The Yukon is one party obligated to conduct, along with Canada and other jurisdictions, and transboundary First Nations, a negotiating process as laid out in the Umbrella Final Agreement. So until Canada comes forward with the appropriate transboundary mandate, there are no tables today, but we are not averse to sitting down to negotiate reciprocal benefit arrangements on a business level to advance the investment in the Yukon.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the significant increase in the deputy ministerís salary is a Management Board decision, and that is chaired by the Premier. The Premier appoints the deputy ministers. I believe the figure is a 25-percent increase in the salary range. Is the same salary range increase anticipated for Cabinet and caucus staff?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: First, letís get the correct information into the House. This is not a 25-percent increase in specific salary; itís a 15-percent increase in salary range from the minimum threshold to the ceiling ó a dramatic difference. To date, in the Yukon governmentís corporate structure, there are some deputy ministers with this change in range who fall below the minimum threshold, which means they would have to be increased to be brought in within the range. Beyond that, there are no increases for any deputy minister until performance evaluations are concluded, but the one advantage now that the Yukon has is to compete on the national stage for attracting deputy ministers to the Yukon as we are now much closer on average with other jurisdictions in Canada. No, this policy has nothing to do with caucus and Cabinet staff, nor members opposite.
Ms. Duncan: I know which act our salary falls under, and I know which act the deputy ministersí salaries fall under, and the government has clearly made a decision where they have increased the salary range. Theyíve picked a different range. Thatís in keeping with southern Canada. I donít have a problem with that. I was very pleased to hear the minister responsible commit on the floor of the House to the performance evaluations as well, because thatís an important element of this discussion. The minister has stated on the floor of the House that there is not a similar increase anticipated for the Cabinet and caucus employee staff. The minister has said, "No".
I just have a couple of other questions with regard to the Executive Council Office. The Yukon Party committed to advancing a Crown in right of Yukon case and review. Has there been any work done on that?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: First, just so thereís no confusion, Mr. Chair, there will be caucus and Cabinet increase based on merit and other forced increases. I guess that happens on an annual basis. Just so thereís no confusion for the member opposite, who historically sometimes gets confused with the facts.
However, we pass no judgement. I merely state for the record what does take place.
Now, with regard to the other issue ó Mr. Chair, in the meantime, while the official gives me some information, the member might want to ask more questions until I get the information.
Mr. Chair, that work is ongoing. What needs to be critiqued in the greatest detail before a decision is made is proceeding to the possibility of legal challenge. I shouldnít say "legal challenge" ó asking a ruling on a legal question. Thatís something weíre going to take our time in doing because, when you bring forward the question to challenge the courts to provide a response, I and the government feel itís important that we do our homework and present the case as it should be.
Ms. Duncan: Before proceeding, is the minister prepared to share with the Legislative Assembly the background information, or will it just be a Cabinet decision on whether or not to proceed with this Crown in right of Yukon case? Will that be a Cabinet decision or is the minister prepared to share the background information thatís being prepared with the Legislature and allow a vote as to whether or not we proceed with that case?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Well, Mr. Chair, I see little purpose in that exercise. The member opposite, when in government, negotiated devolution in the absence of determining and resolving the question of Crown in right. So the member opposite already has a position. It is hardly worthwhile to spend time in this Legislature reaffirming that the member has no desire whatsoever to see the Yukon advance its governance and ability in this territory under a possible Crown in right.
The minister also failed to address the forest fire issue in the devolution agreement. The member also failed to address the offshore issues for Yukon in determining a boundary. The member also negotiated an agreement that had a shortfall on wages. The list goes on and on.
This was a decision that was made very public through the campaign. Itís well known that the Yukon Party government will look into the issue of Crown in right.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, on the offshore boundaries issue, there was a committee established under YOGA, as the member well knows. That committee has been somewhat slow in getting established. I am sure the very hard-working public servants who spent many years and many hours negotiating a very good devolution agreement truly appreciate the current Premierís comments on that particular agreement. It was very well done. I also recall very vividly the current Premier refusing to attend the briefings on the devolution agreement as it progressed.
Itís now well known that, with the Yukon Party commitment to establishing some kind of a constitutional challenge to the Crown in right, they have discovered that they donít have a case, have not done their homework, and are not proceeding with it, although itís contained in this particular budget.
I would just like to return very briefly to the comments on the transboundary negotiations. The minister said ó it was part of the discussions on the Kaska bilateral agreement ó with regard to the Acho Dene Koe that he had met personally with the Acho Dene Koe and has subsequently instructed the land claims officials to prepare for the negotiation of an interim measures agreement in the short term and a transboundary land claims settlement in southeast Yukon for the long term.
So what is the status of the interim measures agreement? My understanding is that that would certainly be outside the Umbrella Final Agreement.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Well, hereís that confusion again. The issue that we as a government are looking into on a Crown in right is not a constitutional question, nothing of the sort; itís a legal question. It has nothing to do with the Constitution. The member opposite is certainly incorrect in her assertion that this is a constitutional question. It is not. It is a simple legal question. Does the Yukon, considering its authority as a jurisdiction with a duly elected government and after achieving devolution and so on and so forth, have under legal terms a Crown in right? This is not about provincehood, which would be a constitutional question. Iím not asking about provincehood; weíre simply asking the legal question on Crown in right.
As far as interim measures, interim measures are something that can be used in a way, in the absence of land claim settlements, to advance such things as development. Itís not outside the Umbrella Final Agreement at all. In fact, the process we are envisioning includes the federal government, which must live up to their obligation on the rights, titles and interests question that they are committed to in this country. Therefore, in our efforts to continue to advance the territoryís development and partnership with First Nations, weíre not going to sit around and wait forever for the federal government to come forward with a land claim mandate, but we certainly would propose to them options on interim measures until they spend the necessary time to develop the appropriate mandate to conclude transboundary negotiations.
Ms. Duncan: The current budget for the Executive Council Office has $300,000 set aside for First Nation economic accords and agreements. Which accords or agreements are envisioned under this $300,000, and with which First Nations?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Itís money available for any First Nation in the Yukon that wishes to sit down with the Yukon government and negotiate a framework economic development agreement. Our commitment is full partnership. Our commitment is sharing not only in the decisions that create benefit but sharing in the benefits themselves. This is not something that the third party supports whatsoever. The third party is very much about "them" and "us". This government is not. This government views the Yukon and its future very much within the context of meaningful relationships with First Nations and involving them in the economic development and growth in the future of the territory.
Thereís a real good reason for that. It will provide an increased benefit for the territory overall. It will assist First Nations on building capacity. It will obviously provide sources of revenue in the Yukon whereby we share and increase our ability to promote and achieve responsible development in this territory in partnership. It also improves our relationship, our government-to-government operations, and the list goes on and on. Itís much about relationship building, itís much about envisioning and delivering on the spirit and the intent of what the settlements were to bring the Yukon Territory and its First Nation people and indeed all Yukoners.
Ms. Duncan: So thereís $300,000 contained in a line vote and we have no framework around the expenditure of these funds? We have no guidelines? There is no anticipated ó as the memberís colleague would say ó there are no negotiations in the hopper for the expenditure of these funds? Itís just $300,000 in the hope we will negotiate an economic accord? Are there any measures at all anticipated in this expenditure?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Herein lies the problem: the third partyís unbelievable misunderstanding of the Yukon, its traditional territories and its regions. This is not an umbrella accord, because every traditional territory and every region has different economic potential. Itís all based on specific development. This is an investment to advance partnerships, to advance building capacity, and it includes or ensures the participation in the economic environment of the Yukon. It is also investing in language restoration initiatives.
So the member opposite has certainly diminished what First Nations believe to be economic partnerships by lowering the bar to one generic overall and overriding umbrella accord, considering that the First Nations to date who have settled have achieved governance in their traditional territory, have established ownership of lands and resources and are very much involved in what takes place in their traditional territory; therefore, economic agreements would be specific to what development could, may and will, in all likelihood, take place in this territory from now into the future.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the only one in this Legislature diminishing the full weight and significance of the self-government agreements is the member opposite, who just talked himself into a compete circle; heís so intent on spin. I asked: there is $300,000 set aside for First Nation economic accords/agreements. I asked: what is this money intended for? The minister is using words like "umbrella." Is it intended for those nine First Nations who have self-government agreements? The minister, in his last answer, introduced the element of language, which would explain why this particular line item is in Executive Council Office as opposed to Economic Development. Iíll ask the minister again: what is this $300,000 line item intended for? What is it for?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: The pages of Hansard ó the written word ó will show that the answer was given, but letís reflect on the difference in positions. This government promotes and will continue to pursue economic partnerships with First Nations. The member opposite, when in government, was approached by First Nation leaders on this very concept, and she said a flat-out "No." I say to you, Mr. Chair, thereís no point debating with the member opposite, unless the member opposite is clear on what the third partyís real position is. It is anti-First Nation economic partnership from A to Z. Thatís the third partyís position. The fact that the third party is now asking what this money is for even further reflects on that position and gives credence to what First Nations thought all along, that the third party ó now and when in government ó were anti-partnership with First Nations. They were totally against it.
Ms. Duncan: The minister can spin and create Hansard however he wishes. Thereís no point in engaging in that kind of nonsense with the minister opposite. A civil question warrants a civil answer. Unfortunately we donít get them from that particular minister. Does the minister have any plans for decentralization of government now that the devolution agreement has been in place for a year?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: No, we donít have plans for decentralizing government. We certainly have plans to create better governance in the territory; however, given the performance in debating the biggest budget ever in the history of the Yukon ó the largest capital investment ever in the history of the Yukon ó the fact that the members opposite tend to stay in general debate and the rhetoric that goes with general debate and refuse to get into line-by-line debate whereby they could contribute in representing their constituents says to the government side that we may want to decentralize the opposition.
Chair: Is there any further general debate? Hearing none, we will then proceed with line-by-line.
Ms. Duncan: I would request the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 2, Executive Council Office, cleared or carried as required.
Unanimous consent re deeming all lines in Vote 2, Executive Council Office, cleared or carried
Chair:Ms. Duncan has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 2, Executive Council Office, cleared or carried as required.
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: I believe there is unanimous consent. That concludes Vote 2, Executive Council Office.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Executive Council Office in the amount of $19,000,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
Total Capital Expenditures for the Executive Council Office in the amount of $2,893,000 agreed to
Executive Council Office agreed to
Department of Finance
Chair: We will continue with Vote 12, Department of Finance.
Ms. Duncan: I request the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 12, Department of Finance, cleared or carried as required.
Unanimous consent re deeming all lines in Vote 12, Department of Finance, cleared or carried
Chair:Ms. Duncan has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 12, Department of Finance, cleared or carried as required.
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: There is unanimous consent. That concludes Vote 12, Department of Finance.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Department of Finance in the amount of $4,784,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
Total Capital Expenditures for the Department of Finance in the amount of $264,000 agreed to
Department of Finance agreed to
Chair: We will continue with Vote 1, Yukon Legislative Assembly.
Yukon Legislative Assembly
Hon. Mr. Staffen: The Membersí Services Board is responsible for the budgets of the Yukon Legislative Assembly and its House Officers. This includes the Yukon Legislative Assembly, the Chief Electoral Officer and the Ombudsman/Information and Privacy Commissioner. Funding for the Conflicts Commissioner is included as a program in the budget of the Yukon Legislative Assembly.
The Membersí Services Board reviewed Vote 1, estimates for the Yukon Legislative Assembly now before the House at its meeting of January 22, 2004. The board agreed to these estimates and further agreed that they be forwarded to the Minister of Finance for inclusion in the main estimates. The estimates found in Vote 1 are identical to those that received approval from the Membersí Services Board.
The operation and maintenance budget proposed by the Yukon Legislative Assembly for 2004-05 totals $3,927,000, which is an increase of $81,000, or two percent, over the 2003-04 forecast.
The capital budget proposed for the Yukon Legislative Assembly for 2004-05 totals $40,000, which represents no change from the 2003-04 main estimates or forecast.
There are five programs in this vote. First is legislative services. In the legislative services program, there is an increase of $94,000 on the activity level. This breaks down as follows: Legislative Assembly increases total $56,000 in this activity. This is due to a $23,000 increase in MLA indemnities and expense allowances resulting from the indexing of 2.7 percent required by the Yukon Legislative Assembly Act, and an additional $13,000 in MLA travel. There is also an increase of $20,000 in fringe benefits, which reflects the actual cost of the benefits. In the past this activity has been underbudgeted.
Caucus support services: caucus funding has been increased by $23,000. This is in accordance with the long-standing practice of adjusting caucus funding in accordance with the overall percentage changes in the collective agreement between the Yukon Government Employees Union and the Government of Yukon.
Legislative committees: thereís an increase of $5,000 due to the increased activities of the Public Accounts Committee.
Commonwealth Parliamentary Association: thereís an increase of $2,000 due to an increase in the membersí fees for the Yukon branch.
Speakerís Office: this is a new activity containing total funding of $8,000. Its intended purpose is to finance events and projects initiated by the Speaker. The Membersí Services Board, at its meeting of January 22, 2004, when discussing this activity, expressed support for educational initiatives, outreach programs and the production of brochures and other materials providing information about the Assembly.
Legislative Assembly Office: thereís a decrease totalling $16,000 in this activity.
Retirement allowance and death benefits: thereís an increase of $13,000 in this program due to the increase in government contributions required to cover the liabilities of the MLA pension plan. This reflects an increase of 2.7 percent to the MLA indemnities as of April 1, 2004.
Hansard: thereís a decrease of $10,000 in this program due to a decrease in the hourly rate charged for the video recording proceedings of the Yukon Legislative Assembly. A further adjustment may be required in this program as the video recording contract ends September 30, 2004, and will be retendered. The cost of the contract for the remainder of the year, therefore, is not known at this time.
Conflicts Commissioner: the Conflicts Commissioner program, upon recommendation of the Conflicts Commissioner, has a funding of $40,000. There is no change from the past year.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, all parties are represented on the Membersí Services Board and weíve had opportunity to discuss the Yukon Legislative Assembly budget and a number of the items contained therein. I would respectfully request the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 1, Yukon Legislative Assembly, cleared or carried as required.
Unanimous consent re deeming all lines in Vote 1, Yukon Legislative Assembly, cleared or carried
Chair:Is there any further general debate?
Hearing none, I will put forward Ms. Duncanís request. Ms. Duncan has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 1, Yukon Legislative Assembly, cleared or carried as required. Are you agreed?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: There is unanimous consent.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Yukon Legislative Assembly in the amount of $3,927,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
Total Capital Expenditures for the Yukon Legislative Assembly in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
Yukon Legislative Assembly agreed to
Chair: That concluded Vote 1, the Yukon Legislative Assembly. Weíll now go on to Vote 24, Elections Office.
Hon. Mr. Staffen: Iím speaking to the House on behalf of the Membersí Services Board, which reviewed the estimates of the Elections Office at its meeting of January 22, 2004. The operation and maintenance budget proposed for the Elections Office for 2004-05 totalled $214,000, which is an increase of $75,000, or 54 percent, over the 2003-04 forecast.
The capital budget proposed for the Elections Office for 2004-05 totals $5,000, which is an increase of $2,000 over the 2003-04 forecast. The operation and maintenance estimates for the elections program are being increased by $75,000.
On an activity level, this breaks down as follows: Chief Electoral Officer has an increase of $24,000 due largely to the increased expenditures in preparation for the next general election, including training of returning officers and assistant returning officers and for printing.
Elections administration activity remains at $1.
Elections: Education Act: there is an increase of $51,000 in this activity. This reflects the funding required to conduct a general election of school councils of the francophone school board during the fall of 2004.
Mr. Hardy: I request that the Committee grant unanimous consent to deem all lines in Vote 24, Elections Office, cleared or carried as required.
Unanimous consent re deeming all lines in Vote 24, Elections Office, cleared or carried
Chair:Mr. Hardy has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 24, Elections Office, cleared or carried as required.
Are you agreed?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: There is unanimous consent. That concludes Vote 24, Elections Office.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Elections Office in the amount of $214,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
Total Capital Expenditures for the Elections Office in the amount of $5,000 agreed to
Elections Office agreed to
Chair: We will now proceed to Vote 23, Office of the Ombudsman.
Office of the Ombudsman
Hon. Mr. Staffen: Iím speaking to the House on behalf of the Membersí Services Board which, pursuant to section 9 of the Ombudsman Act, reviewed the estimates for the Office of the Ombudsman at its meeting of January 22, 2004. During that meeting, the Ombudsman/Information and Privacy Commissioner appeared as a witness to discuss the proposed estimates that he had submitted to the board.
Following completion of its review, the board approved the delivery by the Speaker to the Minister of Finance of operation and maintenance estimates of $409,000 and a capital estimate of $5,000. These estimates approved by the Membersí Services Board are reflected in Vote 23 now before the Committee of the Whole. The operation and maintenance budget proposed for the Office of the Ombudsman for 2004-05 totals $409,000, which is an increase of $2,000 over the 2003-04 forecast. The capital budget proposed for the Office of the Ombudsman for 2004-05 totals $5,000, which is no change from the 2003-04 forecast.
Mr. Hardy: I once again request the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 23, Office of the Ombudsman, cleared or carried as required.
Unanimous consent re deeming all lines in Vote 23, Office of the Ombudsman, cleared or carried
Chair:Is there any further general debate?
Mr. Hardy has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 23, Office of the Ombudsman, cleared or carried as required. Are you agreed?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: There is unanimous consent.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Office of the Ombudsman in the amount of $409,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
Total Capital Expenditures for the Office of the Ombudsman in the amount of $5,000 agreed to
Office of the Ombudsman agreed to
Chair: We will now move on to Vote 11, Womenís Directorate.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Chair, Iím very pleased to present to the House the budget for the Womenís Directorate for the fiscal year 2004-05.
On the O&M side of the ledger, the Womenís Directorate budget has been increased by $76,000 and thus highlights this governmentís commitment to womenís issues and gender equality. This increase directly enhances the Womenís Directorateís policy and program development. Personnel costs account for a $5,000 increase, which relates to the collective agreement. Policy and program accounts for a $68,000 increase, $47,000 of that increase to public education, womenís programming in areas such as health, leadership, and economic security and $21,000 for violence prevention.
The Womenís Directorate will direct this increase in program funding directly to womenís programming and exploring a territory-wide violence prevention strategy. The remaining $3,000 is allocated for administrative and operational expenses. The Yukon Advisory Council on Womenís Issuesí budget includes sending an individual to the annual national advisory council meeting. This increase complements the addition in the Womenís Directorate budget in the last fiscal year, when the Womenís Directorate received an increase of $100,000 for aboriginal women and violence in the violence project. In regard to transfer payments, Mr. Chair, transfer payments of $87,000 remain the same and are directed to the Victoria Faulkner Womenís Centre ó $20,000 for programming and $50,000 for the advocate position. The Yukon Status of Women Council ó $12,000. And grants for community workshops on violence ó $5,000.
The reason you see a decrease of $50,000 in the total 2004-05 estimate for Victoria Faulkner Womenís Centre is because there are two contribution agreements for the centre and they have been split into two line items: $20,000 for programming for the centre and $50,000 for the advocate program. Nothing has changed in the contribution agreements in total except for the way they are presented in the budget layout.
The $5,000 in grants for community workshops on family violence maintains the level of funding from the 2003-04 budget.
On the capital side, Mr. Chair, the Womenís Directorate budget has $8,000 to cover the expense of three new computers. The funding of $8,000 for office equipment enhances the ability for the Womenís Directorate to carry out its good works and policy and program development.
Last year, the Womenís Directorate received an increase of $104,000 through the supplementary budget process, of which $100,000, as I alluded to earlier, was directed to address aboriginal women and violence. The Womenís Directorate has spent approximately $12,000 on seeking advice from aboriginal women through a forum on violence back in February of 2004. The Womenís Directorate also plans to request a revote of the remaining $88,000 to provide funding for the community-based projects on violence prevention developed for and by aboriginal women as well as for educational materials on violence prevention.
There are a number of initiatives since re-establishing the Womenís Directorate to its rightful place within the corporate structure of government that have been undertaken by this small but dedicated force within our government.
The aboriginal women and violence project is but one. The aboriginal womenís forum, of course the abuse helplines, the A Cappella North II, which was a presentation of information and material to help better inform the public, anti-racism and discrimination initiatives, the bare essentials campaign ó a very noble enterprise in assisting at a time in the season when all should be in the good mood and good spirit, assisting those in need through this very important and noble campaign.
Our involvement in CIDA, which is a long name, and I wonít recite it here on the floor of the House, but CIDA plays an important role internationally in regard to issues with respect to women, work on crisis lines, the December 6 National Day of Remembrance and Action, of course, the gender-inclusive analysis within government structure, involvement in the land claims issues, midwifery, preparing for such things as the ministers conferences, the priority housing issues, the Royal Commission on the Status of Women and our involvement in regard to that, work on the rural pregnant mothers accommodation, always the update with senior officials at the FPT, the sexual abuse conference, northern community conference on sexual abuse, involvement in Sexual Assault Prevention Month, statistical information on women, the territory-wide strategy on violence, women in trades, Womenís Abuse Prevention Month and the Womenís Directorateís involvement in that process, the womenís advocate program in relation to the Victoria Faulkner Womenís Centre, of course, the Womenís Centre itself, the womenís forum and, of course, the Womenís History Month, women in the workforce, the changing workplace culture, YACWI ó which is the Yukon Advisory Council on Womenís Issues and the very integral involvement of our Womenís Directorate with the council.
As you can see, Mr. Chair, itís a very ambitious workload for the Womenís Directorate, but I think it brings tremendous balance and focus to government internally and outside of government, in our communities. With that, Mr. Chair, I will entertain any questions with regard to the Womenís Directorate.
Mrs. Peter: I would just like to offer a few comments and a few questions for the minister responsible for the Womenís Directorate.
Since being reinstated, the Womenís Directorate has done some major, major work that needs to be done in the Yukon. I would like to thank the staff for that. We cannot have a resource where the women of this territory cannot go. The department was done away with by the last government. That was absolutely appalling.
I would like to bring the minister responsible for the Womenís Directorateís attention to an article that was in the paper a few weeks ago. I donít have the exact date. The title of the piece in the paper was "Without hope, weíll suffer the consequences." It was written by Brenda Chambers. If the minister has not read that article, I can provide a copy for him because this article says it all about what aboriginal women have to address in our communities and out in the real world.
If the minister doesnít have a copy of that article, Iíll be glad to provide one.
Moving on, I have one question in regard to the revote. Iíd like to hear from the minister the amount that was to be revoted in this main budget.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: In regard to the $100,000 that was specifically allocated for violence against aboriginal women, a revote of $88,000 is housed in the budget.
I also recognize the Member for Vuntut Gwitchinís point on the article in the paper. I would accept her tabling that article. I think the memberís assessment of it is correct and it should be disseminated among us all, to be sure. I would welcome the Member for Vuntut Gwitchinís lead in that particular area.
When it comes to the third party in this House, similar to their position with First Nation people ó which is anti-partnership, not wanting to involve themselves in a partnership level with First Nations. It was evident by dismantling the Womenís Directorate under the former Liberal governmentís watch. They are also anti-women.
Mrs. Peter: Mr. Chair, moving on, I would like to hear from the minister responsible for the Womenís Directorate how this $88,000 that had to be revoted will be spent. I had stated many times on the floor of this Legislature that I would like to see the communities in rural Yukon have access to some of this money so they can have some effect and impact at the community level.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I am very pleased to be able to assure the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin that those monies will flow ó at least a large portion of those monies ó out into the communities to aboriginal women so that they can participate in determining what projects would be best suited to deal with their issues in their community. So that is happening. That is a commitment.
Mrs. Peter: I appreciate those answers from the minister. I have no further questions or comments. I would request unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 11, Womenís Directorate, cleared or carried as required.
Unanimous consent re deeming all lines in Vote 11, Womenís Directorate, cleared or carried
Chair:Mrs. Peter has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 11, Womenís Directorate, cleared or carried as required.
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: There is unanimous consent. That concludes Vote 11.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Womenís Directorate in the amount of $626,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
Total Capital Expenditures for the Womenís Directorate in the amount of $8,000 agreed to
Womenís Directorate agreed to
Chair: I understand the next department is Vote 18, Yukon Housing Corporation.
Yukon Housing Corporation
Hon. Mr. Hart: Itís my pleasure today to present the 2004-05 capital and operation and maintenance budgets for Yukon Housing Corporation.
The corporationís mission is to improve housing in the territory and to assist Yukoners to resolve their housing issues. To accomplish this, Yukon Housing Corporation offers choices for safe and affordable housing to enhance the life of all Yukon citizens. The corporation maintains housing offices in 10 Yukon communities, including Whitehorse.
Through its operations, it assists customers with consistently high quality service and a respectful, cooperative environment.
The corporation has a professional staff that strive for continual improvement. I thank them for their daily dedication and hard work.
This budget provides opportunities for Yukoners to access funding to purchase or repair their homes. It generates employment and business opportunities in all Yukon communities. This budget helps to protect our environment through energy efficient programs that reduce greenhouse gases.
The Yukon Housing Corporationís 2004-05 expenditure budget consists of $12,683,000 in operation and maintenance expenditures and $13.3 million in capital expenditures, for a total of $26 million. The recoverable portion of this total expenditure is estimated at $21.3 million.
Mr. Chair, also included in this budget is this governmentís commitment to excluding child support payments in the calculation of rent for social housing. This places monies directly in the hands of members of our society who need it the most.
I am pleased to say that in response to an increasing senior population, the Yukon Housing Corporation is continually assisting with the housing needs of our seniors. The Yukon government is improving the quality of Yukon seniorsí lives and is continuing to improve their living environment.
This capital budget includes an additional $100,000 investment in the senior housing management fund. In addition, the O&M budget includes a potential fund investment of up to $270,000 based on the amount of interest revenue generated from green mortgages.
The seniors housing management fund is a dedicated source of funding to provide for future housing needs of Yukon seniors. This budget also includes $55,000 for the seniors home and yard maintenance program, which is being offered in Whitehorse and now in Teslin. This program, together with the accommodating home mortgage and the home repair programs, works to meet the housing requirements of seniors and enables them to remain in their homes as their needs change.
Yukon Housing Corporation has also made progress toward the implementation of the affordable housing agreement. The corporation is currently negotiating with CMHC to allow changes to the agreement that will provide more flexibility as to the type of projects that can be funded under this agreement.
Through this budget, the Yukon Housing Corporation will be 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.
Yukon Housing Corporation is assisting Yukon First Nations to improve housing in Whitehorse and outlying communities. The major areas identified include general administration of housing, improving structural condition of individual units, minimizing energy consumption and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These efforts will continue to enable First Nations to apply for federal funding to address their specific housing needs. Yukon Housing is also helping First Nation governments draft and implement various housing policies. These policies and guidelines include home ownership, land tenure, registry systems, operation and maintenance, home ownership assistance funds and energy initiatives.
Yukon Housing staff continue to collaborate with First Nation housing departments to remove barriers that impede existing housing repair and new home construction. The focus is primarily on developing accurate and efficient workplans that identify actual housing needs within a specified community.
The staff at Yukon Housing Corporation provides guidance in assessing potential funding sources designed to address housing issues. They follow up support in drafting proposals and essential documentation is also offered. A key component of this initiative is facilitating intergovernmental meetings.
Yukon Housing Corporation offers training and education to First Nation representatives involved in housing. This is done through on-site seminars, individual consultation on specific issues, both technical and administrative, housing conferences and distribution of written materials.
Yukon Housing Corporation staff continually work to improve communication between First Nation housing departments and government departments. This includes building inspections, federal agencies ó such as CMHC and INAC, et cetera ó all territorial departments and some municipalities.
Yukon Housing Corporation staff has established connections to federal energy initiatives and programs such as EnerGuide, R-2000, ANCAP and other funds.
Yukon Housing Corporation offers Yukon First Nations training both on-site and in informal settings to improve energy efficiency in community housing and steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Yukon Housing Corporation has established initiatives to assist Yukon First Nations to improve housing. Some of these initiatives include committing human resources assigned to assist First Nations in administration, technical and clerical areas. This includes specific resources in community development.
We also look at design and implementation of housing-related projects such as the northern EnerGuide housing project, planning and hosting housing conferences, such as the Yukon and Northern First Nation Housing Conference, preparing and delivering specific seminars on housing issues, such as indoor air quality, residential ventilation and mould, integrating First Nation housing policy initiatives into existing program delivery, such as the First Nation housing assistance grant. Some First Nations subsidize the purchase or construction of a home by their citizens. This subsidy can be used within the Yukon Housing Corporationís mortgaging process.
Environmental issues are becoming increasingly important to Yukoners, and Iím very pleased that consumers can seek information from Yukon Housing Corporation to address this important concern. The Yukon Housing Corporation provides assistance in the area of energy efficient designs, certification such as green home and R-2000, and direct programming, such as the home repair program.
The Yukon Housing Corporation has proactively incorporated energy efficiency into all of its program offerings, as well as leading the home industry in staying current with the latest energy efficiency principles and technologies. For example, the corporation offers a green mortgage program to encourage energy efficient construction and to emphasize the higher market value of energy efficient dwellings. The program gives preferred financing to households constructing or renovating dwellings that meet this high level of efficiency.
Yukon Housing Corporation is the delivery agent for the R-2000 program in the Yukon Territory. This federal program consists of higher than average energy standards being applied to new home construction. Yukon Housing Corporationís home ownership program provides technical assistance and available financing for clients who wish to build new homes.
The Yukon Housing Corporation staff advises clients on energy-related issues and encourages the use of current energy standards in all new home construction. The home repair program provides technical assistance and available financing to address energy-related issues in housing.
The residential energy management program, in conjunction with the Yukon Energy Corporation, helps clients switch from electric heat, thereby reducing the need for diesel-generated power.
The Yukon Housing Corporation is working with the building inspection branches at the Yukon government and the City of Whitehorse to implement the EnerGuide for new houses program. This program consists of building plan audits and energy labels placed on all new homes going through the applicable building permit and application process.
I would also like to point out that the Yukon Housing Corporation co-developed the EnerGuide for houses auditing tool, which rates the energy efficiency of a home. The assessment helps the homeowner make an informed decision regarding upgrading their home. It is important to note that, on a per capita basis, the Yukon is leading the nation with regard to the number of home energy audits being performed.
The Yukon Housing Corporation promotes and delivers the EnerGuide for houses program. Energy advisors, certified by the Yukon Housing Corporation, perform home inspections and input the collected data into program software, which generates a report. The report identifies the homeís existing energy rating and provides a list of recommended upgrades to increase the energy rating for that home.
The Yukon Housing Corporation also runs various energy efficiency-related courses for the building industry. The corporation provides Yukon homeowners and Yukonís housing industry with information on new technologies, building materials and practices so that they can improve the energy performance of Yukon homes.
Yukon Housing Corporation is working collaboratively with the Yukon government, federal government, municipalities, First Nations and the private sector to address environmental issues. Areas identified by the Yukon Housing Corporation include improving energy efficiency in existing housing stock, applying minimum energy targets for new home construction, climate change action plans and specific initiatives.
Yukon Housing Corporation includes representation on committees established to improve new housing. Examples of these initiatives include make up air guidelines, CSA standards, et cetera.
Yukon Housing Corporation continues to raise awareness and provide public education on climate change and the available resources dealing with energy issues related to housing. These initiatives require Yukon Housing staff to remain current with applicable territorial and federal guidelines in this area.
The Yukon Housing Corporation is an active participant in drafting and implementing climate change action plans. This includes working with Energy, Mines and Resources to draft the memorandum of understanding and bilateral agreement between Canada and Yukon and includes work with the City of Whitehorse to develop the local action plan. It also includes providing northern data for Government of Canada initiatives on climate change.
Yukon Housing Corporation is involved with the National Research Council of Canada to host a forum called EkoNorth to study the feasibility of building and maintaining an innovative research facility in the north. Yukon is lobbying for the actual centre to be located in Whitehorse. I am pleased that the National Research Council of Canada is considering the development of a northern innovations centre. Such an investment offers a unique economic development opportunity for the north.
Our recently released economic strategy, A New Direction: Building a Sustainable and Competitive Yukon Economy, clearly indicates our commitment to innovation, research and the expansion of the Yukon economy. The EkoNorth forum, which will be held in Whitehorse on May 27 and 28, will include approximately 60 participants representing all northern jurisdictions. It is intended to begin a dialogue surrounding the feasibility of a northern innovation centre, and the Yukon is proud to host this very first meeting.
YHC raises public awareness on environmental issues through media venues such as housing conferences, trade shows and through direct communication from Yukon Housing Corporation staff to clients.
Yukon Housing Corporation delivers courses that have specific components dealing with environmental issues. These include ventilation, indoor air quality and others. Thanks to these efforts, the Yukon is reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and many Yukoners are benefiting from a reduction in heating costs.
Mr. Chair, Yukon Housing Corporation also has a very important role to play in assisting Yukonís housing industry. Through industrial training and continuing interaction with all components in the building industry, Yukon Housing can assist to ensure our industry is knowledgeable, proactive and meeting the needs of the consumer.
For example, Yukon Housing Corporation in cooperation with Natural Resources Canada offers R-2000 builder workshops. R-2000 workshops teach the participants about the most efficient building techniques and standards, minimizing energy consumption through energy efficiency and improving indoor air quality. The workshop participants become better builders.
Iím pleased to note that Yukon College has implemented R-2000 training within its existing carpentry apprenticeship program. This was a result of a collaboration between Yukon Housing, Yukon College, NRCan and the Yukon chapter of the Canadian Home Builders Association.
HRAI, which is the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute, has developed and delivers a variety of courses primarily dealing with residential mechanical systems. Yukon Housing, in collaboration with HRAI, offers courses annually to address specific concerns in the Yukonís mechanical systems industry. The courses are co-sponsored by NRCan and Yukon Housing Corporation and enable the participants to learn how to design and install residential mechanical systems, which provide safer, more efficient operation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
For consumers, Yukon Housing Corporation developed and delivers the self-help course. By delivering specific components of the course, the expertise of the industry professionals is shared with consumers. The course provides education and management skills to Yukoners wishing to manage the construction of their own home or undertake the management of a major renovation within their home. Components include energy efficiency, ventilation and others related to improving the home.
Yukon Housing Corporation also coordinates housing conferences. This initiative is done in collaboration with various federal departments, INAC, CMHC and NRCan, and private sector sponsors. Professionals in specific areas deliver seminars to participants. Networking opportunities are established and the valuable information is shared between governments and the private sector industry representatives.
Yukon Housing Corporation has also collaborated with the local chapter of the Canadian Home Builders Association and the Lions Club to host home shows to promote the housing industry to prospective consumers. Yukon Housing Corporation also coordinates community visits with officials from CMHC to provide optimum service to rural Yukoners.
Yukon Housing Corporation staff prepares and delivers distinct seminars designed to address identified problems in the housing sectors. These seminars are offered to user groups such as First Nations, consumers and the housing industry. Examples of the seminars include mould issues, insulation values, et cetera.
Yukon Housing Corporation remains current on all housing standards and building techniques. This information is received and shared through interactions with clients and industry experts. The Yukon Housing Corporation offers training to members of the housing industry, so they may become energy advisers. The advisers are experts in residential energy efficiency and deliver the EnerGuide for houses service.
Chair: The member has two minutes.
Hon. Mr. Hart: Iíll be done.
The specific component added to the service by Yukon Housing Corporation is the requirement that energy advisors take time to communicate energy efficiencies and applicable standards to building contractors, professionals and homeowners taking part in the program.
As the minister responsible for Yukon Housing Corporation, I am proud of this budget. It delivers the Yukon Housing Corporationís social mandate and strongly supports rebuilding Yukonís economy by providing jobs in all Yukon communities.
Thank you. I now look forward to discussing this budget in detail with the members of the Assembly.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order, Mr. Chair.
Point of order
Chair:Mr. Cathers, on a point of order.
Mr. Cathers: Mr. Chair, a few minutes ago, the MLA for Kluane had removed his shoes and placed his feet on top of the desk, following which he placed his feet inside the lid of the desk. I believe this is contrary to the standards of decorum for this Assembly, and I ask that you direct the Member for Kluane to respect the standards of decorum in this House.
Mr. McRobb: On a point of order, the Member for Lake Laberge is completely wrong in his assessment of what took place, and I would urge all government members to get on with the publicís business.
Chair:The Chair is not aware of any breaking of the Standing Orders. I would like to take this opportunity, though, to remind all members of our Standing Orders and the level of decorum and ask that members do keep their shoes on and do not attend the Assembly in a T-shirt and running pants.
Itís the Chairís responsibility to ensure decorum, and I would ask all members to act appropriately.
Is there any general debate on Vote 18, Yukon Housing Corporation?
Mr. Cardiff: Well, Mr. Chair, the minister kept true to the governmentís strategy of ragging the puck and wasting time in the Legislature, which means that we have less time to ask questions. I would like to thank the minister and his officials for providing a briefing that was probably more informative than the 20 minutes we just listened to the minister talk on. He mentioned a lot about energy efficiency, and it wasnít a very good use of energy either.
I have a couple of questions in Yukon Housing, the first being: the most current information that is available to the opposition from the government ó so weíre not sure how reliable that is ó tells us that there are four of seven board members on the Yukon Housing Board. Iím just wondering if the minister is planning to fill those vacancies and, at the same time, if he could tell us if he is planning on meeting with the board?
Hon. Mr. Hart: For the member opposite, we have one remaining vacancy outstanding on the board. I am trying to get that board member to come from the Haines Junction area, and Iím currently investigating that particular possibility, and I do meet with the board on a regular basis.
Mr. Cardiff: I thank the minister for that update on the information that we have been provided. One other question: when we were debating a supplementary budget some weeks ago, the minister promised the social housing report. He said it would be available shortly, and I was just wondering exactly when we might expect to see that.
Hon. Mr. Hart: As I mentioned, it will be available shortly. We are currently in the draft stage of that report. Once we are able to remove the draft from it, we will get a copy to the member opposite.
Mr. Cardiff: Could the minister tell us if there are any plans at Yukon Housing Corporation to sell off housing stock?
Hon. Mr. Hart: We do not have any plans to sell off any of our stock. In some communities we have provided a sale to the First Nation of some of our excess stock but, at the moment, we have no plans to deal with that particular situation.
Chair: Is there any further general debate? Hearing none, we will proceed with line-by-line.
Mr. Cardiff: I would request the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 18, Yukon Housing Corporation, cleared or carried as required.
Unanimous consent re deeming all lines in Vote 18, Yukon Housing Corporation, cleared or carried
Chair:Mr. Cardiff has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 18, Yukon Housing Corporation, cleared or carried as required.
Are you agreed?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: I believe the ayes have it.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Yukon Housing Corporation in the amount of $12,683,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
Total Capital Expenditures for the Yukon Housing Corporation in the amount of $13,316,000 agreed to
Yukon Housing Corporation agreed to
Chair: Seeing itís our normal time for an afternoon break, do members wish a recess?
Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)
Some Hon. Member: Point of order, Mr. Chair.
Point of order
Chair:The Member for Kluane, on a point of order.
Mr. McRobb: On a point of order, I will ignore the unparliamentary language from the government House leader. I would like to put on record that we will agree to a break if he will undertake to provide us with a list of the departments and the order in which they will be called from now on. We expect it by the end of the 10-minute break.
If he is willing to do that, weíll stop for a break.
Chair: If members wish a break, it requires unanimous consent. Do members wish a recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Some Hon. Members: Disgreed.
Chair:There is a "disagree"; therefore, we will not have a break.
We will continue on with Yukon Liquor Corporation, Vote 19.
Yukon Liquor Corporation
Hon. Mr. Hart: Iím honoured to be presenting the 2004-05 operation and maintenance budget for the Yukon Liquor Corporation.
Yukon Liquor Corporation operates with a vision to support the evolution of a Yukon culture where all beverage alcohol is consumed in a legal, socially responsible manner while continuing to provide quality customer service.
The corporation is responsible for the purchase and sale of all beverage alcohol products in the Yukon. It also enforces the Liquor Act and the regulations as they apply to individuals and licensed establishments in the Yukon. While dealing with its responsibilities, the corporation also focuses on developmental objectives to ensure that employees and licensees and their employees are aware of their legal and social responsibilities and are knowledgeable about the effects of alcohol and associated implications of misuse.
Directing the activities of the corporation is the president, who reports to the minister, and the Yukon Liquor Board of Directors makes decisions on licence-related issues, such as approving all new licence applications, and hearing appeals on licence and suspension issues. For these responsibilities, the board is not accountable to the minister. Through the Corporate Governance Act, the minister can provide direction to the board with respect to the boardís role and performance expectations.
The corporation operates six community liquor stores located in Dawson City, Mayo, Faro, Haines Junction, Whitehorse and Watson Lake and one warehouse in Whitehorse. The stores are primarily responsible for selling beverage alcohol products to retail customers, which include individuals and local licensed establishments. About 23 people are employed in six stores.
The Yukon Liquor Corporation focuses on providing quality customer service through our liquor stores, by issuing licences and permits for licences, and by providing valuable product and consumer information for both the hospitality industry and the general public. The corporation provides access for the public to various government-related services and community liquor stores outside of Whitehorse. These services include driversí licences, vehicle registration, fishing licences, payment of property taxes and payment of court fines.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Chair:Mr. Cathers, on a point of order.
Mr. Cathers: Pursuant to Standing Order 3(4), there does not appear to be a quorum present.
Chair: Mr. McRobb, on the point of order.
Mr. McRobb: This is nothing but another vexatious point of order from the Member for Lake Laberge. As you informed him and the rest of the House last week, Mr. Chair, this rule is very seldom exercised in Committee debate on the budget. Looking across the way at the government side, Mr. Chair, there is no way we can have a quorum in here if the government doesnít help us out on the numbers, because on this side of the House there are only seven members, and quorum is much higher than that. The Member for Lake Laberge is consistent with Yukon Party colleagues, and he is just wasting budget time in this House ó
Chair: Thank you, Mr. McRobb.
Mr. McRobb: ó and he should apologize.
Chair: Order please. According to Standing Order 3(4), if at any time during the sitting of the Committee the Chairís attention is drawn to the fact that there does not appear to be a quorum, the Chair will cause the bells to ring and then do a count.
Chair: I have shut off the bells and made a count. There appears to be a quorum. We will proceed.
Hon. Mr. Hart: I just thought Iíd try to recap some of these things. Iíll sort of go over it, just in case somebody forgot where I was.
The corporation provides access to the public, to various government-related services in the community, liquor stores outside of Whitehorse. These services include the driverís licence, vehicle registration, fishing licence, payment of property taxes and the payment of court fines. The agency offices are operated by the local liquor staff.
The corporation has an important role to play as a corporate citizen. It is our role to educate customers and the public about the responsibility of consuming alcohol on a conservative basis. In conjunction with other levels of government and special interest partners, the Yukon Liquor Corporation continues to assist in the development, promotion and distribution of materials promoting the safe use of beverage alcohol.
The Be a Responsible Server, or BARS, program was delivered to 95 participants at eight seminars in five Yukon communities. The training sessions were held for licensees, managers, servers and permit holders. These programs are designed to make the participants aware of their legal responsibilities as alcohol providers and to encourage responsible service and the voluntary compliance is strongly supported.
The corporation continues to work closely with other regulatory agencies within the Yukon and other jurisdictions to stay abreast of and address liquor service and the health and safety issues with respect to licensed premises.
As a source of revenue for the Yukon government, the corporation transfers all the net income generated by its activities to the Yukon government. The corporation can only incur expenditures that are directly related to its core responsibilities. The Liquor Tax Act requires the corporation to collect a 12-percent tax on the retail value of all liquor products to individuals or businesses in the Yukon.
The Yukon Lottery Commission, as established under the Public Lotteries Act, is responsible for managing public lotteries in the Yukon and for allocating the profits of the public lotteries. To achieve this, the commission, as an affiliate member of and agent for the Western Canada Lottery Corporation ,licenses retail outlets, provides retailer support and distributes lottery tickets to retailers throughout the Yukon. Lottery profits are distributed in the form of grants to not-for-profit organizations and local and First Nation governments for recreational and arts-related purposes.
The commission is responsible to the minister, who appoints members to the commission. Management, administrative and secretariat support staff services are provided to the commission by the Yukon Liquor Corporation. Commission support staff report to the president of the corporation. Revenues earned are deposited in the Yukon Lottery Commission fund, a trust fund established within the Yukon consolidated revenue fund.
The Yukon Lottery Commission incurs all administrative and operating expenses related to its responsibilities. In the 2004-05 fiscal year, the Yukon Liquor Corporation is expected to earn $19 million in gross sales. Major expenses for the year will include cost of goods sold at approximately $9 million and wages of $3.7 million.
Other expenses, which include facility operation costs, travel and communication costs and office supplies are expected to be $1.5 million.
This activity will generate a net income to be transferred to the Yukon government of $4.7 million. This activity is consistent with the previous year. This budget will allow the corporation to maintain its current level of service to Yukoners. Included in the net income budget are capital expenditures of $66,000 to be spent on upgrades to the system software and hardware. The activity in 2004-05 will also generate $2.2 million in liquor tax revenues for the Yukon government. This along with the net income revenues of $4.7 million that I just mentioned will provide the Yukon government with a total income of $7 million.
On behalf of the Yukon Liquor Corporation, I would like to thank our employees who are committed to the corporationís goals. Their dedication and commitment enable us to improve efficiency, build on existing or new initiatives, provide quality customer service and sustain revenue delivery to the Government of Yukon while acting in a socially responsible and environmentally conscious manner.
I now look forward to discussing this budget with the members of the Legislature.
Mr. Cardiff: Here we go again. That was another 20 minutes between the childish point of order and the speech by the minister. It doesnít do anything to improve decorum in this House. It doesnít do anything to expedite the business of this House. If the minister had provided that information in his opening statement to us in advance, we would have had more information to ask questions about.
I only have a few questions because our time is short. Iím going to take the top questions and ask them.
The other reason weíre in a little bit of a bind on this is because the government House leader refused to provide a briefing on the Yukon Liquor Corporation.
The minister has a queried look on his face like he didnít even know we requested a briefing. Well, we did request a briefing. The government House leader refused to provide a briefing and the minister refused to provide his opening speaking notes, so we just have to go with the information ó as little as it is ó as it is supplied and doled out by the Yukon Party.
Once again, on the latest information provided by the government, the liquor board currently only has two members. Could the minister update us on the status of that and whether or not heís had an opportunity to meet with the board?
Hon. Mr. Hart: All the positions on the board have been filled.
Mr. Cardiff: The minister answered part of the question. Has the minister had an opportunity to meet with the board?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Yes, I have met with them on previous occasions.
Mr. Cardiff: As the minister is well aware, there was a very long, extensive process to review the Liquor Act, resulting in 49 recommendations to the government. There was a lot of information, a lot of good information that provides guidance and some recommendations that would be of value to all Yukoners.
A little over a year ago, the ministerís alternate said in the Legislature that they wanted to take some time to look at all of the recommendations and that they would be reporting back to this Legislature within a year. Thatís what weíre committed to, and thatís what weíll do. We have yet to have a report back to this Legislature on the status of the Liquor Act review.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Cardiff: The Member for Klondike just told me to hold my breath. Well, weíre not going to do that. If I held my breath waiting for this government to do something, weíd probably have to call out emergency medical services.
This is of importance because it deals with a lot of important social issues as well ó the changes that were recommended in the Liquor Act. In the Public Accounts Committee testimony earlier this year, it was even admitted that the corporation is using the recommendations of the Liquor Act as a guide to change some of the policies and as direction for the Liquor Corporation. Maybe the minister could outline where the Liquor Corporation is using the recommendations of the Liquor Act to guide the direction of the corporation.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I will be responding to these questions when it comes to the Liquor Act review. As I stated pretty clearly in the Legislature not long ago, changing the Yukon Liquor Act is certainly not a priority of this government. While it may have been a priority of the previous Liberal government, itís not one of our priorities. Rather, meeting the social and economic needs of the territory is.
Thatís why weíre moving on a number of other fronts, including addressing the needs associated with alcohol and drug abuse in the Yukon, needs associated with family violence in our communities or those associated with children in care and childcare, education and training, and so on. Just as a testament to that, we are actually contributing ó we have committed over $10 million in new spending that will address some of these very important social issues alone, right here in the budget that weíre debating.
We have been pretty clear regarding this particular issue all along. It was during the territorial election, back in 2002. As stated in the letter that Iím sure all members have a copy of ó I believe this letter was sent to the British Columbia and Yukon Hotels Association during the election at that time. We stated that we do not support the introduction of a new type of licence to market alcohol. Right out of the letter, the issue of alcohol abuse in the Yukon has not been adequately dealt with, and opening pubs in residential neighbourhoods wonít help. That was made very clear in our letter to that association.
Again, this is not an election commitment that we made and is not a matter that we wish to address at this time. It certainly was not outlined in our party platform.
With respect to the Liquor Act review, there are a number of recommendations that were actually addressed by the previous government. There are also a number of recommendations that, as the member opposite refers to, are currently being worked on by the Yukon Liquor Corporation.
Just to make it very clear, some of those recommendations have been undertaken by the Liquor Corporation and some were completed by the previous Liberal government.
But when it comes to actually changing the Liquor Act, thatís something that is not high on our priority list in terms of legislation changes, so hopefully that will address those questions that the members opposite have raised.
Chair: Is there any further general debate? Hearing no further general debate, we will now proceed with line-by-line.
Mr. McRobb: I request unanimous consent for all lines in Vote 19, Yukon Liquor Corporation, to be deemed cleared or carried as required.
Unanimous consent re deeming all lines in Vote 19, Yukon Liquor Corporation, cleared or carried
Chair:Mr. McRobb has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 19, Yukon Liquor Corporation, cleared or carried as required. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Disagreed.
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: It appears that we do not have unanimous consent. We will now proceed with line-by-line.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Gross Advances
Gross Advances in the amount of one dollar agreed to
On Less Internal Recovery
Less Internal Recovery in the amount of one dollar agreed to
Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Yukon Liquor Corporation of one dollar agreed to
Yukon Liquor Corporation agreed to
Chair: That concludes Vote 19. I understand now that we will go on to Community Services, which is Vote 51.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Chair:Mr. McRobb, on a point of order.
Mr. McRobb: We need to cooperate at least to the degree that the government informs the opposition of which departments are called next. The government House leader awhile back said he has done that. Heís wrong, Mr. Chair. We were informed right now that Yukon Development Corporation is supposed to be up. Heís engaging in this kind of trickery. We have ó
Chair:Order please. There is no point of order. There is a dispute among members.
We will continue on with general debate on Vote 51, Department of Community Services.
Department of Community Services
Hon. Mr. Hart: Iím pleased to introduce today to this House the 2004-05 budget for the Department of Community Services. This budget is about creating healthy and safe communities, fostering strong relationships and rebuilding the economy. Community Services embodies leadership in community relations and service delivery.
The main estimates show that the department has planned gross expenditures of $45.5 million in operations and maintenance and $32 million in capital. This will have an impact on every community, territory-wide.
The Yukonís fire management team is currently busy preparing for the upcoming forest fire season. I wish to thank our team for the hard work it does year-round to protect our communities. Our staff, the wildland fire crews, First Nation contact crews, municipal and volunteer firefighters are among the best in Canada.
This budget improves and builds on our communitiesí ability to fight fires locally. This is a critical investment into the safety of Yukoners and their property. This budget includes $500,000 to build a new fire hall in Mendenhall and $225,000 to purchase a new fire truck to add to the Yukonís protective vehicle fleet.
Volunteer firefighters are vital for creating safer communities. This budget includes $38,000 for better compensation for volunteer firefighters. The honoraria for volunteer fire chiefs will increase from $100 to $200 per month, and for firefighters from $10 to $20 per hour.
Our statistics show that the Whitehorse area and the populated areas south of Whitehorse face a high risk of forest fire. To mitigate this risk, we are establishing a pilot project with our volunteer firefighters in Tagish, Mount Lorne, Marsh Lake and Carcross. Two volunteer firefighters will be stationed at their respective fire halls when the forest fire alerts reach an extreme hazard. This is expected to reduce crucial response times significantly and cost just under $41,000 per annum.
To further mitigate wildfire risk and create jobs, $1.5 million is budgeted for the FireSmart program. Last year, more than 30 projects, valued at greater than $1 million, were completed around the territory. FireSmart is an investment in the reduction of wild land damage and the protection of Yukoners, their property and the Yukonersí infrastructure. It is also a program that provides employment opportunities. To create healthy communities, in the area of community development, we are investing in our relationship with municipalities.
Mr. Chair, the Yukon municipal councils must continually balance the needs of their communities with their budget realities. For some communities, the task has been more difficult due to funding inequities. At last yearís Association of Yukon Communitiesí annual general meeting, I heard the municipalities say the Yukon government must address this funding issue. Life in the Yukon communities has changed, and the Yukon governmentís funding must reflect that change.
Iím very pleased to say that this budget raises the municipal grant for four municipalities. Over the next two fiscal years, the base grant for Haines Junction, Mayo, Carmacks and Teslin will increase to $650,000, which is equal to that of Dawson, Faro and Watson Lake.
The department is also investing in local area planning for many Yukon communities. Communities on the Whitehorse periphery, including Carcross, Tagish and Marsh Lake, as well as communities requesting assistance, such as Ross River, are our current priority.
In the area of land development engineering, the department is working in partnership with the City of Whitehorse in investing monies in improvements for Hamilton Boulevard. Weíre also budgeting $3.5 million in the potential areas adjacent to the city in the City of Whitehorse that they have identified in their official city plan.
Weíre also investing in community infrastructure. Sewage treatment and disposal is an issue in many Yukon communities. Community Services is assisting Carmacks to plan for its treatment plan and will participate in funding that project. This year, the department has budgeted over $1 million for detailed design and the start of construction. Financial assistance is also budgeted for Teslin and Watson Lake pending federal support to improve their systems.
This year the department has budgeted $150,000 for the maintenance and management of community dumps Yukon-wide. The maintenance of waste disposal areas is a priority in all Yukon communities, a priority that benefits the health and welfare of Yukon residents and our Yukon environment.
The department provides water delivery services in Old Crow, Ross River, Keno and Carcross. This yearís budget includes funding of $180,000 for a new water truck in Ross River to ensure reliable water delivery service.
Mr. Chair, over the next few months, the department will be consulting with rural residents, local representatives, environmental health and business on the rural water supply program. The department is developing a program to provide rural Yukoners with access to reliable domestic potable water. In Old Crow, the department has agreed to purchase crushed gravel for $1.2 million for a rock quarry development this summer.
The department has also contracted with the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation for a supply of quarried rock to stabilize the riverbank. The supply and placement work is estimated to cost a million dollars.
The department is also negotiating an agreement with the federal government for joint participation in a municipal rural infrastructure fund, commonly known as MRIF. The Yukon government and Canada will both contribute $16 million to this fund over 10 years. In this budget we have included $5 million for MRIF for all Yukon communities. Identified projects include funding support for a community centre in Mayo, a main sewage trunk line in Teslin and a pumphouse in Watson Lake.
Weíre also negotiating details on the Canadian strategic infrastructure fund with Canada. The Yukon government and Canada will match funds and provide a total of $80 million over 10 years for large-scale infrastructure projects. These projects will be mainly related to highways, water, sewer and waterfront development. Both these funds will promote healthy communities through an investment in long-term infrastructure while promoting economic development and creating new job opportunities.
Mr. Chair, the department is also investing in community recreation-type infrastructure. This budget supports the construction of a new community hall in Ross River and planning for community centres in Marsh Lake and Carcross.
My department is working in many ways to address a number of issues around animal protection and control. In particular, this government very much appreciates and supports the valuable work Yukonís two humane societies provide to our community.
To demonstrate this commitment, this budget includes $95,000 for the operation and maintenance of humane societies ó the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter and the Dawson Humane Society will receive funding.
Finally, in this Yukon decade of sport and culture, my department will work to help make the 2007 Canada Winter Games a resounding success and a memorable experience for Yukoners and our guests alike. This budget includes $140,000 for this yearís contribution to the pan-territorial sport development strategy and the Best Ever program. The Best Ever program is a sport development and opportunity program to strengthen Team Yukonís participation in the Canada Winter Games. The federal government has agreed to match Yukonís contribution each year for the next three years.
The Yukon government has contributed $4 million toward the Canada Winter Games Host Society capital budget and O&M budgets and an additional $8 million toward the multiplex. Included in this budget is the final $1 million commitment for the recreation complex.
On March 26, the Yukon government negotiated an additional commitment of $2 million with the city to assist with the budget shortfall for phase 2 of the multiplex. This additional $2 million will be part of our 2005-06 budget. The timing of the release of these funds for the city is under discussion.
I am also pleased to announce that Yukonís fair wage schedule for all categories will apply to the construction of this project. Mr. Chair, this means that the project will begin this summer and Yukoners will be working as they are right now. The multiplex is the largest construction project ever in the Yukon. It is also the cornerstone of the success of the 2007 Canada Winter Games.
Mr. Chair, while the Canada Winter Games is the highlight of the Yukon decade of sport and culture, the Yukon government will also provide financial and technical support for a number of sporting events over the next few years. This year, the Department of Community Services O&M budget includes support for the Senior Games, the North American Indigenous Games and the 2005 Canada Games in Regina.
I look forward to discussing this budget in detail with the members in the Legislative Assembly.
Ms. Duncan: I would like to start by asking the minister to elaborate on the funding thatís being made available to the Village of Mayo. As I understand it, itís for the recreation centre rebuild. Is it planning money? Is it a commitment to an actual structure? They had done substantial work on the plans. Could I have a project update on exactly what the governmentís commitment is?
Hon. Mr. Hart: I had a long discussion with the mayor and council in Haines Junction this past weekend on this particular project. Basically the Village of Mayo has a conceptual design of the facility only. Theyíll be working with our staff and officials on going forth with the project, but the project still has planning to take place and we still have to get the approved funding from the federal government.
Ms. Duncan: So to be clear then, the current Yukon Party governmentís commitment is for precisely what amount, and is that money for planning and taking this conceptual design to architect drawings or drawings that we can get a class D estimate on? What is the precise amount and how will that money be used?
Hon. Mr. Hart: We have $1.2 million dedicated in 2004-05 and a further million in 2005-06. We plan to leverage that full amount with the federal government on the MRIF as well as dealing with the municipality on putting portions of their funding together to complete the project.
Ms. Duncan: The ministerís answer gave me an amount. He was less than precise about how itís going to be used. So, as I understand it, there is $1.5 million from Yukon this year and another $1 million next year, and thatís going to leverage an equal amount from a federal program. The minister used the initials ó could I have the full name, please? So that like amount puts us at $3 million, and is the contribution, then, by the Village of Mayo $3 million? Could he roll out the figures a little more specifically, please?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Weíre trying to construct this particular infrastructure under the MRIF program, which is the municipal rural infrastructure fund, where itís one-third/one-third. In this particular case, weíre looking at some flexibility from the federal government in that the municipality may not be able to put up its one-third of the monies. But in essence we are looking at putting forth $1.2 million this year, a further $1 million next year, on the pretext that weíll get our money into that program.
We currently have a template agreed upon with the federal government but we are unable to get any confirmation from them in view of everything thatís happening in Ottawa right now. In essence, we have a very similar agreement as to what the Government of Ontario has.
Ms. Duncan: So for the $1.2-million expenditure this year, what will we get? Architectís drawings and the ability to prepare a class D estimate for contractors? Will we be letting tenders? And is this design for the rec centre strictly a relocated and rebuilt community hall and curling facility, or are there other recreational facilities anticipated in the conceptual design?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Weíre looking at working with the mayor and council ó our officials on the entire complex they have. They have agreed, for example, to delineate one aspect of the recreational facility. In essence, it helps reduce the cost of that facility. But we are looking at trying to get this facility so that it provides the most benefit for the entire municipality of Mayo. Right now, thatís where weíre at. Weíre looking at developing this process and moving forward on the pretext that weíll get the money from Ottawa and weíll look at starting construction as soon as possible when we get that funding approved.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I just would ask the ministerís patience to be a little more forthcoming. Mayo has a tremendous reputation throughout the Yukon for the ability of their curlers, for example. They arenít as renowned for their hockey team, like Dawson is. The curling club is desperately in need of rebuild. The community hall is desperately in need of rebuild, although they did an admirable job ó a wonderful job hosting the Prince of Wales. Are we looking at adding an arena ice surface? Are we looking at covering over the pool? What are we talking about in a recreational facility? The minister said we have conceptual ideas. Weíre dealing with something in the neighbourhood of $6 million, if itís one-third/one-third/one-third. What are we getting for that investment? Could he be a little more precise, please?
Hon. Mr. Hart: As I mentioned previously, weíre working with the Mayo council on what is going to be maintained in this actual facility. Weíve asked them to come forth to our department and submit what they plan to have included in this process, but theyíre also looking at moving some of their town offices into this particular facility. Theyíre also looking at a space to hold community events, including the ice surface for the curling rink.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I think thatís as clear as weíre going to get from the minister this afternoon. A key issue throughout the territory is the necessity of rebuilding and, in some cases, initiating water and sewer infrastructure construction. Now, there was a report commissioned by the previous government, and there are various perspectives on that report. But the issue is the status of the territoryís water and sewer infrastructure needs and existing infrastructure. Has the government given consideration to redoing that assessment report and prioritizing the water and sewer infrastructure needs throughout the territory?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Weíre using that report as the basis of carrying forth on our current projects for sewer and water throughout the program and itís basically depending upon whether we get the funding under the infrastructure program or not. Thatís the priority and basis in which weíre utilizing it, in conjunction with our meetings with Association of Yukon Communities on their issues as they relate to our rural communities, in addition to those we have in our unincorporated communities.
Ms. Duncan: Iíd like a specific status report from the minister on the sewage infrastructure in three communities: Dawson City, Carmacks and Burwash. What is the status of the sewage infrastructure construction in Dawson? Are we re-examining all possible options? In Burwash, have we completed the sewage lagoon redevelopment? And Carmacks, where are we currently with that particular issue?
Hon. Mr. Hart: On the Carmacks situation, we are finished with the design and weíre looking at moving forward this year on that particular project. As far as Burwash goes, again itís going to be bundled under the projects that will be handled under the infrastructure fund in order to complete that project. In Dawson weíre looking at trying to determine an affordable and reasonable solution for their facility.
Ms. Duncan: So Carmacks has been finished and the design on the Carmacks sewage treatment has been finished. When does the minister anticipate that being tendered?
Hon. Mr. Hart: We anticipate starting this year once we have the CFA signed between ourselves and the Village of Carmacks.
Ms. Duncan: Is that CFA currently being worked on?
I see nods from across the way. Is it anticipated that the CFA will contain some of the recommendations that have been outlined in either the Auditor Generalís report on other matters, which we saw today, or Mr. Carrelís recommendations? Are we redrafting the CFA in light of previous experience?
Hon. Mr. Hart: For the member opposite, we have agreed with the plan on a joint basis ó that is, the government and the Village of Carmacks. We are very cognizant of the situation previously held in other jurisdictions. We are looking at ways of trying to protect it.
We have had several meetings with the mayor and council and the CEO. We are looking at assisting them in the project management of the facility.
Ms. Duncan: The design work is finished. Do we have any kind of estimate at all on the final costs of the Carmacks project?
Hon. Mr. Hart: The funding for the sewage treatment plant is proposed to be held over approximately four years. We are looking at $800,000 last year, $1 million this year, $2 million in 2005-06 and the balance of approximately $1 million in 2006-07.
Ms. Duncan: So the total cost for the rebuild ó I think thatís the right term ó of the Carmacks sewage treatment at this point is $4.8 million; is that correct? And these are early estimates, I understand.
Hon. Mr. Hart: That would be a rough estimate, yes.
Ms. Duncan: With regard to Burwash and the sewage lagoon there, what is the anticipated date for completion of that particular project?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Again, thatís an application that is being put forward to the federal government under the infrastructure funding program for sewer and water that weíre bundling with several other communities. Depending upon when we get approval of that particular process will dictate when and how that sewage lagoon is fixed. Several projects are predicated on that particular aspect.
Ms. Duncan: What other projects are predicated on Burwash being bundled in with that?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Weíre looking at projects covering Dawson City, Carmacks, Burwash and Teslin.
Ms. Duncan: On the Dawson City project, there has been significant work done on that particular project. My understanding of the ministerís comments to date, publicly and in the Legislature, are essentially that the government doesnít like the answer and like the design thatís on the table and theyíre going to keep looking until they find something less expensive. Is that a correct assessment?
Hon. Mr. Hart: For the member opposite, weíre in particular looking at the actual operating cost of the facility to ensure that the City of Dawson can actually manage the facilityís O&M when it actually is constructed. That is why I mentioned previously that weíre looking for a reasonable and affordable situation for them. The one that was designed previously doesnít meet any of that particular aspect. But we are exploring other avenues and looking at other options, and we have set some money aside in the bundling process to help take care of that particular aspect. But the issue is, itís not a question ó we will build a facility in Dawson City. Itís just what itís going to look like.
Ms. Duncan: This issue has been around and around and it sounds like the minister, upon taking office, has essentially flushed all of the work further down the river ó all of the work done on that in terms of cost estimates, in terms of examining all these other options. Whatís new? What new wonderful answer has the minister got that has changed significantly ó that theyíre going to be able to deliver a less expensive sewage treatment option? Sewage treatment, unfortunately, is not an inexpensive proposition. The difficulty I have is that the appearance to the public and to the Canadian citizens, the Water Board, the courts is that, in a desperate search to reinvent the wheel, the minister is simply stalling. Now what solution does the minister have that is going to create a less expensive sewage treatment option? Are we firing everybody who worked on it before ó oh, yes, the minister did that ó or are we going to hire some Outside expert? We went through this in the City of Whitehorse for years and years, and finally the city had to bite the bullet and build what was then considered a very expensive sewage treatment option. These other options the minister is outlining have been examined. Unless thereís something new on the table ó and if there is something new, what is it?
Hon. Mr. Hart: The recent information was completed for Dawson City in early January and provided us with new information on costs for the facility, not only for its construction but for its operation. These costs identified were very significant and also indicated that the City of Dawson would not be able to afford to operate its O&M costs even if it were financially sound, as the member opposite was trying to get across.
We are looking at issues dealing with solids, with filters. Weíre also looking at dealing with other venues. Environmentally friendly detergents, for example, is one area. We hope to run a couple of pilot projects this summer to see if in fact the results are there and to try to see if in fact we can get a solution thatís, again, affordable and reasonable for the City of Dawson.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, itís not going to get any less expensive as time goes on and the minister and government drag their feet on this very important issue.
The minister mentioned funding for two humane societies in the Yukon ó the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter here in Whitehorse and the Dawson City Humane Society. My understanding is that there are other humane societies that work in the Yukon as well. The difficulty for the minister and the government is that there are no less than five pieces of legislation with overlapping jurisdictions that the humane societies try to deal with.
I appreciate and applaud the efforts in terms of funding for these humane societies. I would like more information. Is it a multi-year contribution agreement? Are there any accountability measures? Will the minister consider dealing with the legislative nightmare and make a recommendation to his colleague, the Minister of Justice, that these five pieces of animal protection legislation be dealt with?
So, three questions in one.
Hon. Mr. Hart: For the member opposite, with regard to the legislation, there are, I believe, six pieces of legislation all over the government. We are in the process this year of trying to combine all those into one. We have money set aside to undertake that this year. We plan to have it so that we can have one department responsible for taking care of animals.
With regard to the facilities, such as Mae Bachur, we do have a template and a format as to how funds are provided on an annual basis to those two facilities. There are criteria they have to meet in order to obtain that funding. Thatís where weíre going with that.
We have also recently started a pilot project with the Village of Carcross for their dog patrol. Weíre will see how that works out later on this summer.
Ms. Duncan: Thank you very much. I appreciate that information and stand corrected that it is six pieces of legislation.
I applaud the governmentís effort in bringing that ó that has been a long outstanding issue. So, I wish them well with that project of bringing those pieces of legislation into one. And the ministerís answer ó I would put forth the conjecture that there would be some consultation work done on that over the summer.
The contribution agreement ó as I understood the ministerís response, itís negotiated on an annual basis, so this wasnít a multi-year contribution agreement. We have multi-year contribution agreements with our health and social service NGOs, non-governmental organizations. This is an annual agreement ó am I correct?
Hon. Mr. Hart: That is correct.
Ms. Duncan: Thank you. I appreciate the answers from the minister and his official.
Mr. Cardiff: I would like to start off with a simple request of the minister for some correspondence. Iíd like the minister to provide ó not today in the House, but by the end of the week, if possible, or early next week ó all of the correspondence from the supervisor in Dawson City to the mayor and council, the ministerís direction to the supervisor, if possible, and any correspondence between the deputy and the supervisor and the mayor and council. Could he do that?
Hon. Mr. Hart: One thing about Mr. Carrel: his never-ending paperwork was massive, to say the least. For me to get it for you by Monday, I would say would be very unlikely, but I will undertake to get it for you when I can.
Mr. Cardiff: In a timely manner is sufficient. That would be appreciated.
I have some questions in the Service Yukon area of the budget. Service Yukon came about as a result of renewal, and itís my understanding there has been a review of Service Yukon. I was just wondering if the minister could tell us where weíre at with that review. Itís also my understanding that about a year ago the department issued a contract to do a report on Service Yukon and its progress. Iíd like to know if the report is complete and whether or not itís available and just a general update on the review of the Service Yukon area.
Hon. Mr. Hart: Given that weíre not proceeding with the Service Yukon ó weíre looking at restructuring that particular aspect and making it efficient and keeping people in the same line of work that they were in before and moving ahead.
Mr. Cardiff: Heís answering questions that I havenít even asked yet, and I thank him for that. Now weíre making progress.
So Service Yukon is not going to continue to exist. Itís going to go back to the old way that the services were delivered. So my question would be: are the employees in that area of Community Services in Service Yukon aware of this yet?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Because weíre not proceeding with Quartz Road as was it was intended ó so weíre looking at bringing in this aspect. Once we have the structure underway, weíll be conveying it to everybody who is going to be affected.
Mr. Cardiff: Well, I think maybe the minister announced it too soon in the Legislature, then, because Iíve had former employees of Service Yukon ó itís my understanding, talking to people who formerly worked there anyhow, that they werenít really happy with the way things were going and they were uncertain about what their future there was. So now the minister has made an announcement, and Iím sure that all those who are listening will be wondering why he did it in the Legislature before he actually communicated to the employees.
I have some questions in protective services. Iím just wondering, in the fire management area, whether or not the minister is negotiating with the federal government for more money. I know that when it was devolved to the territorial government there was concern that there wasnít enough money, and thatís evidenced by the fact that the government doesnít have enough money to pay emergency firefighters a decent wage. So is the minister going to be negotiating with the federal government for more money for fire management?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Weíre working with other jurisdictions. Weíre not alone in this particular aspect. Weíre working with other jurisdictions to try to get Canada to put more money into wild land fire management.
Mr. Cardiff: I thank the minister for that answer. With regard to the FireSmart program, there was a motion introduced in the Legislature within the last month or so urging the government to promote personal firewood cutting in areas where thereís a high fuel load near communities for the purposes of reducing the risk of wildfires.
It was introduced by a member of the government. Iím just wondering whether or not this is going to form part of government policy around FireSmart.
Hon. Mr. Hart: Weíre looking at all ways and means of reducing fuel load. It could be commercial, it could be individual. Weíre currently reviewing the technical criteria for FireSmart assessment as it relates to personnel issues. It may or may not be part of the aspect, but it will be taken into consideration.
Mr. Cardiff: It is also my understanding that the government is planning to do some FireSmart around its own buildings and in some government campgrounds. Who will be doing that work? Will the government contract that out or do it in-house? What are the plans for that program?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Some of the work will be handled by our own crews in-house when we are on stand-by. We will try to maximize the use of that. We have their cooperation to work toward that end. Some work will be done on a contract basis. It just depends on what it will be and where weíre at.
Mr. Cardiff: That leads me to the next question: if the minister is going to do this work in-house, will that have an impact on the overall FireSmart budget? In other words, is the minister going to have his department apply for FireSmart funds to do the work or will there still be the same amount of money in the budget if itís done in-house?
Hon. Mr. Hart: The FireSmart work that we do through our wild land fire management crews will be done in-house under the auspices of their budget, if itís required. It will not affect FireSmart at all.
Mr. Cardiff: One more question around FireSmart: there were some issues with regard to FireSmart that were raised earlier ó I believe it was last fall ó with regard to insurance and liability issues with community groups that were participating in delivering FireSmart programs and with regard to litigation for those non-government organizations and community groups. Can the minister tell me whether or not any work by the department has been done to address those concerns by the community groups?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Weíve been operating the program for five years now or a little longer. The issue of insurance came up under one particular aspect. In our contribution agreement, we ensure that all the groups obtain the appropriate insurance; i.e., workersí compensation, an aspect of taking on that particular role. But up until now we havenít had any request to that specific aspect under FireSmart.
Mr. Cardiff: Iíd like to move on to the area of community development. In the area of community development, there is the area in there that deals with land development. Iíve asked the minister whether or not he read the government audit services report from January of 2002 before, and I hope that he has by now. One of the recommendations was that the whole program, the lands program ó land development, land planning, all of that ó would benefit from formal recognition as a program and that it should have a written plan that includes goals, objectives, standards and strategies for land development. The criticism was that it wasnít organized and that it wasnít recognized as a formal program.
So that was a recommendation that was made close to two years ago, and there doesnít appear to have been any change in that. Could the minister tell me whether or not there was any work toward recognizing it as a formal program and developing those goals and measurable objectives and some standards for that program to operate?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Yes, we are utilizing recommendations in the report. We recognize that the land is a program. We also recognize that it requires some improvement. We are working on that as we speak and carry on. But the issue is that weíre also looking at where we stand with regard to the land development in general and whether we should take the lead or not.
Mr. Cardiff: The other part in community development is sport and recreation. Iím just wondering if the minister has a multi-year plan for recreation facilities in communities throughout the Yukon? Is there a plan in place for that?
Hon. Mr. Hart: We have an inventory of the facilities throughout the Yukon, and depending upon the request from that municipality on their needs or specific needs, weíll address them based on the availability of cash to look at those.
Mr. Cardiff: On the weekend, I had the opportunity to attend part of the Association of Yukon Communities conference and one of the concerns was around infrastructure money and the Association of Yukon Communitiesí input into how that money is spent. Could the minister tell us what Association of Yukon Communitiesí involvement is going to be and decisions around spending infrastructure dollars that are flowing to the Yukon from the federal government? Will they be consulted and play a role in the decisions around that?
Hon. Mr. Hart: We discussed with the Association of Yukon Communities ahead of time, along with the local MP, the infrastructure funding and got their approval before we submitted our application to Ottawa, and it went down. Subsequently, we have submitted a further application, which basically represents the requests of the Association of Yukon Communities to the municipal rural infrastructure fund that is coming in the one-third/one-third/one-third for each party.
We will be consulting with the Association of Yukon Communities on a regular basis, and they will form part of the community on reviewing projects that come forth to that program.
Chair: Is there any further general debate?
Hearing none, we will proceed with line-by-line.
Mr. Cardiff: I would request the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 51, Department of Community Services, cleared or carried as required.
Unanimous consent re deeming all lines in Vote 51, Community Services, cleared or carried
Chair:Mr. Cardiff has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 51, Department of Community Services, cleared or carried as required. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Some Hon. Members: Disgreed.
Chair: There is not unanimous consent. We will proceed with line-by-line.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Corporate Services
On Deputy Ministerís Office
Deputy Ministerís Office in the amount of $341,000 agreed to
On Human Resources
Human Resources in the amount of $373,000 agreed to
On Finance, Systems and Administration
Finance, Systems and Administration in the amount of $809,000 agreed to
On Corporate Policy and Communications
Corporate Policy and Communications in the amount of $366,000 agreed to
Corporate Services in the amount of $1,889,000 agreed to
On Protective Services
On Emergency Measures
Emergency Measures in the amount of $359,000 agreed to
On Fire Marshal
Fire Marshal in the amount of $656,000 agreed to
On Fire Management
Fire Management in the amount of $12,314,000 agreed to
Protective Services in the amount of $13,329,000 agreed to
On Community Development
On Sport and Recreation
Sport and Recreation in the amount of $2,607,000 agreed to
On Property Assessment and Taxation
Hon. Mr. Hart: For the property assessment and taxation, Iíd just like to indicate a few highlights. I have $672,000 for personnel, which includes salaries. I also need $65,000 for other, which includes $16,000 for travel, $6,000 for contract services, $15,000 for rental expense, assessment vehicles for Department of Highways and Public Works, $5,000 for supplies, $5,000 for advertising and $9,000 for communication network and $9,000 for program needs. I also have $2,589 for transfer of payments in the amount to the homeownerís grant payments.
Property Assessment and Taxation in the amount of $3,326,000 agreed to
On Community Affairs
Hon. Mr. Hart: Mr. Chair, in view of the time, I move that we report progress.
Chair: Mr. Hart has moved that we report progress.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Chair: Mr. Jenkins has moved that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Rouble:Mr. Speaker, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 10, First Appropriation Act, 2004-05, 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 government House leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:59 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled May 17, 2004:
Auditor General: Report on Other Matters for the years 2000 to 2003 (Speaker Staffen)
Ombudsman and Information and Privacy Commissioner 2002 Annual Report (Speaker Staffen)
Yukon Minerals Advisory Board 2003 Annual Report (Lang)