††††††† Whitehorse, Yukon
††††††† Monday, November 8, 2004 ó 1:00 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Withdrawal of motion
Speaker: The Chair wishes to inform the House of a change that has been made to the Order Paper. Motion No. 327, standing in the name of the Member for Mount Lorne, has been removed from the Order Paper as the action requested in that motion has been fulfilled.
We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
In recognition of Hockey Canada Week
Hon. Mr. Hart: I rise today to pay tribute to Hockey Canada Week and to hockey fans here in the Yukon who love our national game. November 7 to the 14 is Hockey Canada Week. For many players, coaches, mothers, fathers and referees, this week signals the beginning of the 2004-05 hockey season.
As such, now is the time of full anticipation and excitement for Yukon families who love to play this great game. It is time when the thoughts turn to lacing up the skates, early morning practices, and passes up the wing. Normally, it is also the time when we turn on our TV to watch our favourite NHL teams. However, this year the National Hockey League Players Association and management decided not to return to the ice for this season, but the lack of the professional game does nothing to dampen the excitement in homes across the Yukon. In fact, it only heightens our anticipation for the local amateur season.
This yearís Hockey Canada Week is, in part, a reminder that national, provincial, territorial and local amateur hockey can be as entertaining as professional hockey. When we cheer for our children or for our local community team, it is always more rewarding than any television broadcast and that is really the point of celebrating Hockey Week. It is our opportunity to commend all the volunteers, coaches and hockey moms, some dads, who keep our local rinks running and the local locker rooms full of excited kids.
Hockey Canada, a national amateur sport organization, is a major part of amateur hockey in every Canadian province and territory. It is the galvanizing governing body for amateur hockey in Canada, and it provides guidance, training and a host of other resources for our local games. Today, coaches are better trained, officials are more competent and players have more opportunities to attend training sessions that will develop their skills.
Hockey Canada is also striving to raise the profile of women involved in the sport at all levels. More women are playing, coaching and officiating today than ever before. Walk into any locker room on any given hockey night at Takhini Arena, and youíre likely to hear girlsí voices mixing with the boysí. That is something that just didnít happen when those of us in this Legislature were young enough to play peewee or bantam hockey.
Hockey Canada, along with all hockey parents, coaches and volunteers, is also emphasizing the importance of safety in the game. We all talk about the value of our children and the importance we place on their safety, and it is no different when it comes to playing hockey. We all know about the stop sign on the back of our kidsí jerseys, put there to stop hits from behind. Thatís just one more example of the good work done by Hockey Canada.
For all those reasons, the national Hockey Canada organization and its local representatives are to be commended.
†Hockey Canada Week is also a period for parents to reflect on the enjoyment that the game brings to their children. It is time shared with our children when they are the focus and their accomplishments are being celebrated.
For many young players, hockey provides experience in teamwork and it can also inspire self-confidence and foster a sense of accomplishment in young players. This game binds families and communities together and it allows us to celebrate sportsmanship, competition and physical fitness. Through Hockey Canada Week we are reminded that these important lessons can be learned in an atmosphere of fun and fair play.
Iíd like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the outstanding efforts of the Yukon Amateur Hockey Association. It is no exaggeration to say that hockey is fundamental to our Yukon identity. As such, we are eager to provide formal recognition of Hockey Canada Week for the 2004-05 season.
Mr. Hardy: I rise also, on behalf of the NDP, to acknowledge and pay tribute to Hockey Canada Week. My esteemed colleague across the way has just recognized and listed many, many organizations, individuals, parents, volunteers, coaches and just about anybody else you could name, and thanked them for the tremendous amount of work that they do for our national game.
There is a fascinating situation in Canada. There are very few games in Canada that the whole nation identifies itself with. In hockey, this is where that actually happens for Canada. I can remember the excitement of the last Olympics. Iíve said this before, and Iíll say it again: the most exciting moment for me, of course, was when the women won the gold, not when the men won. That to me was astounding, and it was a great achievement of this country. But it also united people, and it crossed the boundaries. I felt it broke down barriers.
Frankly, and Iíll say it on the floor as well, Iím glad that the NHL is not up and running, because I have found since then that there seems to be a far greater interest in all other levels of hockey throughout Canada. That only bodes well for the future. If the NHL ever does get back up and running again, I believe we will see a swell of support and greater opportunities for people to play at whatever level they wish to play this great game.
I look around in this Legislature, and I see so many people in here who have played some form of hockey in their lives.
It has a profound impact on people, and it is part of our makeup and our structure and who we are and what we are as a nation as well. So, for all the volunteers, coaches, organizers, players, parents and guardians, and those who care deeply for the game, as well as for people who participate, thank you very much. You contribute so much ó for every small community, every large town and for the nation as a whole.
Ms. Duncan: Canada is hockey, hockey is Canada ó period.
More than a slogan on a t-shirt, hockey is about who we are as Canadians, and it is part of our cultural identity.
Itís an honour to rise in tribute to Canadaís national game during Canada Hockey Week.
It starts at a very young age with Can-Skate and into tykes hockey. Hockey continues throughout many a young Canadianís life as they learn the skills of life on the ice. Every member in that arena and every person on the team is equally as important.
For many a parent watching in the stand, their goals for their children are not that they score the goals; itís that they learn to play as a team: how to win, how to lose, how to take one for the team. All of those skills our children learn in addition to the net-minding, the stick handling and the skating; and all of those skills carry through life, off ice and on, through to old-timers, who are still playing the game. Some players are still waiting for ďthe call.Ē The call did come for some old-timers this fall, as they got called up to play for the provincial teams when we hosted the Canada Senior Games. The call and hockey are about more than the NHL. The country is not united in picking sides on that particular dispute, although we are united in missing the NHL this year. But some good must come of everything, Mr. Speaker, and one good thing, rather than watching movies ó some of which are not even Canadian ó is that we are being driven back out to the arenas to watch hockey as it should be played ó for the love of the game.
And we love the game. To the Yukon Amateur Hockey Association, our sponsors, parents and grandparents we see at the arena, the volunteer convenors, coaches and, yes, the referees, and the players who have nothing left because they gave it all in three periods of play: thank you. We pay tribute to you and to our national game.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Are there any further tributes?
Introduction of visitors.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORs
†Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I would ask all members to join me to make welcome to the visitor gallery Stella Gregory, the owner of the Northern Splendor Reindeer Farm. These people will be called upon very quickly to have their reindeer pull Santaís sled on December 24.
Speaker: Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
†Mr. McRobb: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Yukon government to fully involve the citizens of our territory in meaningful public consultation before proceeding with any changes to the ownership or governance of the Yukon Development Corporation and Yukon Energy Corporation.
††††††† Mr. Cardiff: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Yukon Party government to honour its election commitment to practise good government by establishing an all-party standing committee composed of representatives of all three political parties to oversee Yukon government appointments to government boards and committees.
Mrs. Peter: I give notice of the following motion:†
†THAT it is the opinion of this House that
(1) Arctic climate change is causing a drastic change in northern habitat due to rising temperatures;
(2) Arctic climate change is affecting animal behaviour;
(3) traditional ways of life such as trapping and hunting are being threatened by Arctic climate change; and
THAT this House urges the Yukon government to make funding of a climate change study a priority in light of the information contained in a newly released Arctic climate impact assessment.
Speaker: Is there a statement by a minister?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re:† †Income Tax Act amendments
†Mr. Hardy: I have a question for the acting Minister of Finance about an amendment to the Income Tax Act that the House is currently discussing.
This amendment would reduce the small business tax rate from six percent to four percent. Itís not a big drop, but basically it represents about $800,000 in reduced revenue for the government.
Now, weíre not opposed to giving small business a break, Mr. Speaker, but we do have some concern about the way this government is proceeding on this.
Can the acting minister advise us if this tax cut is one of a kind, or could we see further cuts either in this tax or in other taxes during this governmentís period?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: This is to bring Yukon in line with other jurisdictions that have reduced the small business tax rate. It provides an incentive; it builds on our platform commitment to restore investor confidence here in the Yukon, to rebuild the Yukon economy and put Yukoners back to work. We have done just exactly that.
Mr. Hardy: Well, Iím sure the minister is aware that section 8(1) of the Taxpayer Protection Act prohibits the Legislative Assembly from even considering a new tax or a tax increase without putting the matter to the Yukon people by way of a referendum. The Yukon Partyís election platform promised to maintain the Taxpayer Protection Act, yet weíve already seen this government amend the Taxpayer Protection Act once to allow for full accrual accounting. If the government finds out down the road that it needs more revenue, does the acting minister expect to amend the Taxpayer Protection Act, call a referendum that could cost around $800,000, or cut services to the Yukon people? Whatís it going to be?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, none of those options are going to be pursued by this government ó that I make abundantly clear. There will be no tax increases by this government.
Mr. Speaker, we have campaigned on that. What you have before the House is a campaign commitment, and it is a reduction in effective tax rates, not an increase. I donít know where the member opposite is heading with this, but this is a reduction in taxes.
Mr. Hardy: Well, the minister didnít catch what I was saying about section 8 of the Taxpayer Protection Act and what it actually does in this matter. The Taxpayer Protection Act was introduced by a previous Yukon Party government. Itís no secret that section 8 binds the hands of any present or future government. It could also be argued that it undermines the authority of the Legislative Assembly. Itís not hard to see how an unpopular government that expects to lose the next election ó we could be looking at one right now ó could use this act to hobble the incoming government by slashing taxes and forcing a new government to hold a referendum just to pay the bills. If this government is determined to pursue a course of tax cutting, does it also plan to correct this poison-pill aspect of the Taxpayer Protection Act so MLAs can do the job theyíre elected to do?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Our government campaigned on the commitment to restore investor confidence here in the Yukon, to rebuild the Yukon economy and to impose no new taxes. Now those taxes that are being reduced are being done so quite cognizant of our responsibilities under the Taxpayer Protection Act, and I can assure the members and all Yukoners that this government has put in place sound fiscal policies and has a handle on the accounting here in the Yukon, has a very good handle on where weíre heading fiscally with respect to the Yukonís economy, with respect to the finances of the Yukon.
Question re: YEC and YDC, chair appointment
†Mr. McRobb: I suppose Fridayís appointment of another former minister from the Ostashek Yukon Party government isnít surprising given this governmentís zest for trickery and yearning for patronage. Not only was its announcement saved for a Friday, but now the minister responsible canít even answer our questions directly until possibly next week. Nevertheless, the Acting Premier sits in Cabinet, which dealt with the appointment of Mr. Phelps, and should be able to answer this question: can the Acting Premier tell this House what attempts were made with respect to public involvement in the appointment of a new chair for the Yukon Energy and Development Corporations?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I would like to respond to the member oppositeís question regarding this announcement and this appointment.
I think what is paramount here is the credibility and the experience of the individual in question. We are very lucky to have someone of Mr. Phelpsí expertise and knowledge as Chair of the Yukon Development Corporation. We were looking for the best person for the job and we believe that we have found that in Mr. Phelps. I congratulate him today.
Mr. McRobb: This may be a conflict of interest. Hereís the Minister of Justice, which department houses the independent Yukon Utilities Board, which regulates the very corporation heís standing up answering the questions on. The question was directed to the Acting Premier.†
Itís rather interesting to discover this Yukon Party government avoided attempts to formally advertise for a new chair, even though it knew about it for more than six months. Meanwhile, weíve seen a parade of patronage appointments, including three former party ministers, two party presidents, party executive members and other outsiders. Whose next: the gold pannner?
Last week this government received an F for broken promises. Can the Acting Premier explain why, in the case of Mr. Phelps, it broke the promise to establish an all-party standing committee comprised of representatives from all three political parties?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I guess the first thing to note is that every member of this House is entitled to their own opinion. Thatís what I accept this as: an opinion of the member opposite.
Mr. Phelps is part of the family that started Yukon Electrical and, as a very young man, he was involved in many aspects of the business. When he was leader of the Yukon government, he initiated the process to have the Northern Canada Power Commission transferred to the Yukon. Under the Ostashek government, Mr. Phelps was the minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation and the Yukon Energy Corporation. Again, I think itís vitally important to recognize the credentials of the individual and to look beyond the colour of the political party of affiliation.
In my opinion, this man is very well qualified for this position, and I am rather surprised that members opposite want to question one with such credibility.
Mr. McRobb: Mr. Speaker, I noticed the minister didnít have in his written response any mention of the controversial nature of this minister or the private agenda to privatize the corporations of this minister.
Not only has this government broken another promise, it is ignoring the Standing Orders of this Assembly and the appointment of a standing committee on appointments to major government boards and committees. It is interesting to note the top two boards of the nine identified are Yukon Development Corporation and Yukon Energy Corporation; yet, the Yukon Party couldnít resist its yearn for patronage.
Now, the governmentís own Web site says public business should be conducted in an open and accountable system of decision making; government should fairly represent the people it serves and so should the boards and committees trusted to carry out government business.
How does the Acting Premier reconcile that statement with the closed nature of this patronage appointment?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Again, I canít stress enough how important it is to focus in on the credibility of oneís ability to do a job. I believe that Mr. Phelps has all the credentials necessary to really fulfill this position and do a good job.
Mr. Speaker, to the best of my knowledge, every party in this House has at one time or another appointed someone that they thought was very credible. I applaud them for that. I think that, given the population of the Yukon, one cannot ostracize people because they may have belonged to the Yukon Party or they may have belonged to the Liberal Party or they are NDP supporters.
This is about credibility. This is about an individual who has all the necessary knowledge and credentials to do a very good job in this position, and I welcome him.
Question re: Dawson City bridge
†Ms. Duncan: I have some questions for the Minister of Economic Development, who is now in charge of the Dawson City bridge.
The Yukon Party is well known for breaking its word and for not doing its homework.
That reputation will only be enhanced by a decision it announced late on Friday. The Yukon Party announced it was going to build the Dawson City bridge using a public/private partnership. It is doing so without any policy in place.
On November 27 of last year, the Premier made this very public comment in the Legislature, and I quote, ďWe would never enter into a public/private partnership until a clear, transparent policy is developed.Ē Yet, Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what has happened.
Why is the government breaking the Premierís word, a commitment he made to Yukoners on the floor of this Legislature less than a year ago?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: The concept of P3s, or public/private partnerships, is certainly not something thatís new. Partnership British Columbia defines P3s ó for those who arenít familiar with them ó as contractual arrangements between governments and private sectors, combining the best of both partnersí experience and expertise. P3s provide a framework for delivering projects jointly, with a mutually beneficial division of tasks and risks ó and I stress the word ďrisks,Ē in that, Mr. Speaker. Clearly, legal definitions of each partyís responsibilities must be laid out. This is a pilot project. It is a way of exploring this as a possibility and is again a pilot project and a way for Yukon to join much of the world in their use of P3s for government infrastructure.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, Yukoners donít trust this government, and with good reason. It makes commitments and then breaks them.
Last fall, the Premier said, ďWe would never enter into a public/private partnership until a clear, transparent policy is developed. We will do that so that when we do proceed with a project it is understood that it makes sense, the business case is valid, and itís a good project for the Yukon.Ē
A year later, the government is barging ahead with a bridge. There is still no policy in place. The government has not made a business case for the bridge; it has not done its homework. Why is the minister and this government breaking a commitment the Premier made on the floor of this House to Yukoners a year ago? Why is the government breaking that commitment?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Again, P3s have been utilized in France for hundreds of years, as an example. Partnerships B.C. has been in existence for about two years and has already completed projects in excess of $3.5 billion. This includes the Sea-to-Sky Highway, a project of the British Columbia Liberal government. It also involves replacement of the Kelowna bridge; Kicking Horse Pass ó $3.5 billion involved in that. I also refer to Partnership U.K., which was formed in 1999 and Partnership Victoria, which is the State of Victoria in Australia. This is an evolving concept ó one that will save Yukoners an enormous amount of money to work with ó
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: If I can speak over the chatter from the other side ó it will save a substantial amount of money, and itís a way to look at and develop that policy. It is a pilot project. It makes no sense to sit in the small corner of the world called Yukon and ignore the experience of a large part of the rest of the world. Thatís not the way this government operates.
Ms. Duncan: The Premier made a promise to Yukoners a year ago: no public/private partnerships until a policy is in place. In other words, we will do our homework before we do this, not embark upon an evolving concept. Weíll do the homework first. A year later, that promise is broken. This government is recklessly gambling $50 million of taxpayersí money with no betting limits, no safeguards in place and no public policy on the matter. The government has broken another promise. No project should be undertaken until the proper groundwork has been done and the policy is in place. Can the Minister of Economic Development explain to Yukoners why anyone should trust this government when they consistently break promise after promise, commitment after commitment to Yukoners? Why should we trust them on this?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: The alternative way, I suppose, would be to go out and sit out in isolation and try to develop a policy, ignoring many, many groups and many, many governmental agencies such as Partnerships B.C. who have been working on this policy for some time. We need to develop that policy and a pilot project that is working in conjunction with the experience of a large part of the western world.
There are a number of ways to develop this bridge. One could be the Liberal concept of a $50-million bridge† ó or a public/private partnership that will save this government millions and be in the range of $25 million to $30 million.
Itís interesting to note that, so far, Partnerships B.C. has estimated our numbers to be correct. They also estimate that in their experience this is a relatively small project. They are very happy to become involved with this government, and weíre very happy to become involved with them.
Question re: Johneís disease
†Mrs. Peter: I have a question for the Minister of Environment. When I asked the minister about the extent of Johneís disease at the governmentís Wildlife Preserve two weeks ago, the minister didnít know the answer. I hope he has taken the time to find out, because this is a very serious issue.
When did the government first become aware of the Johneís disease at the Wildlife Preserve and how many animals are known to be infected at this time?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Iím not aware of the specific details as to the date and the numbers. I am aware that it is an issue that is being contained, and it is being monitored. The health of the game animals in the Yukon Wildlife Preserve is of paramount importance as is the health of all animals in Yukon.
Mrs. Peter: This issue is a very serious one. The Yukon government paid more than $2 million for this facility, including the animals. Thatís only one reason why it is so important to get a clear picture of this situation. Did the government know that Johneís disease was present in these animals when it was negotiating the purchase of this facility? And specifically, did the former minister know the extent of the problem?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: There is always a potential for risk of unhealthy animals anywhere in this world, specifically here in Yukon. The health of our animal population is of paramount importance. The department has taken great strides recently to capture more data on this area and to continually monitor this area of the animals taken during the hunts.
This is ongoing. I am aware that on the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, any outbreak has been contained; it is being documented, monitored and studied. That was one of the whole purposes of the Yukon government acquiring the Yukon Wildlife Preserve: to put in place a study area.
Mrs. Peter: The last time I raised this issue, the minister didnít show much interest in the growing evidence of a link between Johneís disease in animals and Crohnís disease in humans.
The minister did say that there will be money in the next budget cycle for double fencing to help keep the animals at the preserve from spreading Johneís disease to domestic and wild animals. He did not explain how double fencing would prevent foxes, coyotes, domestic dogs, birds, and even human visitors from spreading the disease through exposure to contaminated soil at the preserve.
Will the minister tell us what steps are being taken right now to prevent this from happening?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: One only has to look at the seriousness of what the member opposite is explaining. It is the spread of animal-borne diseases to the human population, and we can look at a great number of the recent outbreaks that originated in animal populations or reptile populations in China and other jurisdictions. The member has a very valid point. That is one of the reasons that the Yukon took the step to acquire the Yukon Wildlife Preserve and to contain these animals and to use it for study and for educational purposes. This will go a long way to identifying any potential or future problem we might have. That is coupled with a whole series of other undertakings that the Department of Environment has underway and will hopefully be improving on in the not-too-distant future and that is monitoring some of the game animals that are taken during hunts.
Question re: Northern Splendor Reindeer Farm
†Mr. Hardy: Mr. Speaker, I have a related question for the Minister of Environment. The operators of the Northern Splendor Reindeer Farm have been trying without success to get a fair treatment from this minister and the Premier.
The last time this issue came up, the minister made some grandiose promises about helping these people stay in business, but it doesnít take a rocket scientist to figure out that the ministerís solution is not a solution at all. The operators have asked the government to move these animals to the Wildlife Preserve and compensate them for looking after them.
Is the prevalence of Johneís disease at the preserve the reason this government is refusing to consider what the reindeer farm operators have been asking for? Is that the reason?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I would take the member back to the petition that he tabled in this House on this matter and the response that this side provided. The Yukon Wildlife Preserve was set up for a specific purpose, and that was not for the purpose of containing domesticated animals like this reindeer herd that is owned by Northern Splendor. They are a domesticated animal, one of the oldest domesticated animals known to mankind. They originate from herds in the northern part of Europe and Russia that were brought over to Canada and subsequently brought down by the owners of this farm from the Tuktoyaktuk region. It was done with government assistance and cooperation and done very well.
Now, the issue before us is one of a difference of opinion, but if this company wants to sell, we are prepared as a government to provide them with the permits necessary for them to sell their reindeer.
Mr. Hardy: Well, maybe the reason this government bought the Wildlife Preserve was to contain diseased animals, and we paid $2 million for that. Even though the minister seems to know next to nothing about Johneís disease, he should be aware that the Northern Splendor reindeer do not have this disease and have never had it. There must be some other reason that the minister and the Premier are digging in their heels with these people.
The operators of the reindeer farm recently got a letter, which I have for tabling, threatening them with a ministerial order and Supreme Court order under the Animal Health Act unless they give a written assurance than they wonít release the animals into the wild. Was it the minister or the Premier who directed the department to take such a heavy-handed draconian action and threatening approach to these people who have actually done nothing wrong but care for these animals?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I would refer the member back to the matter of containment of diseased animals. What we have are domesticated animals that the owner is threatening to release into the wild. Thatís unacceptable.
†Mr. Hardy: This is the same minister who got on his feet a few weeks ago and went on about natural justice. Where is the justice in this? This government is acting like a schoolyard bully, and itís not the first time weíve seen this. No wonder people are saying this government is out of control.
The fact is this government has essentially put these people out of business. Itís refusing to show them the same respect it showed the two other wildlife-viewing operators, which they bought out. Now itís using threats against them when theyíve done absolutely nothing wrong.
The letter even acknowledges that these people are genuinely concerned about the animalsí welfare and have always been cooperative with the department in any business dealings. They have a record, and itís an excellent record.
Will the minister do the honourable thing by directing his officials to withdraw this heavy-handed letter and start to work on a fair and realistic solution to the mess this government has created?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, this government is very concerned with the health of all animals, be they domesticated or wild. To that end, for the reindeer held by Northern Splendor, the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources has purchased the necessary food to feed these animals, because there was an indication that they didnít have the appropriate funding to feed these animals over the course of this last period of time.
Further to that, the owners of this firm have indicated that, because of other pressures on them, theyíre going to release these animals into the wild, and thatís unacceptable. What you have is the Department of the Energy, Mines and Resources and its officials doing their jobs and doing it in a straight-forward and appropriate manner.
Question re: First Nations, government relations with
†Mr. Hardy: I have a question for the Minister of Education.
Last week the TríondŽk HwŽchíin First Nation wrote to the Premier expressing frustration and disappointment over what it terms a marked absence of good faith by this government toward certain sections of the First Nationís final agreement.
This is just the latest in a long string of difficulties this Yukon Party government has been experiencing in its relations with First Nation governments. What is this minister doing to uphold a legal agreement with the TríondŽk HwŽchíin First Nation regarding the division and sharing of responsibilities for education?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Iíd like to start out by stating for the record that in all of my years in the Yukon Territory and being involved with First Nation government as a councillor, I have never witnessed as much by any government with respect to First Nation initiatives and headway being made as what has been made in the last two years in this territory. I can testify to that because I was in the position to know which governments over the last 12 years have really done anything with regard to First Nation initiatives.
In response to the question from the member opposite, this government is in the process today with negotiations on section 17.7. The negotiations are proceeding and, to the best of my knowledge, there has been some very considerable progress there.
Mr. Hardy: Maybe we need to educate this Minister of Education about this.
A workplan to implement this agreement has been prepared and has been under negotiation for nearly two years. He might be referring to that. The Yukon government has also pledged $100,000 to assist in this process.
According to a letter that I have here for tabling, negotiations were to be conducted with due diligence and good faith within the schedule set out in the workplan. The workplan was to begin three months from now, but last week the government advised the First Nations that negotiations would be limited to sharing responsibilities for the Robert Service School, not Yukon College or any other education programs. Why is the Yukon government ignoring the workplan that was developed and not honouring the TríondŽk HwŽchíin Self-Government Agreement, which is the law of the land?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: The members opposite from both parties had numerous opportunities to deal with this issue but didnít.
One of the stumbling blocks was the very financial assistance that the leader of the official opposition member mentioned. Itís true; there was an issue there. There was a barrier there. This government removed that barrier and financed the First Nation.
This is work in progress and I am not prepared to discuss an issue that is in progress on the floor of this House because, as I speak, there is no determined conclusion to any of the discussion that has taken place.
Mr. Hardy: It is amazing some of the answers that we get from this minister, Mr. Speaker, and how many places he decides he is not going to speak of in this House or about so many issues that affect people in this territory.
We have just been talking about P3s. Once again, that was a huge discussion that we had last year and the year before with this government, of how they are willing to enter into agreements with everybody, willy-nilly, but they wonít honour the agreements that exist with the First Nations in our own territory. This is just one more example of this governmentís deteriorating relationship with the First Nations.
So much for Yukon Party campaign promises, Mr. Speaker.
TríondŽk HwŽchíin, Little Salmon-Carmacks, Kwanlin Dun, Na Cho Nyšk Dun ó all those First Nations have serious issues with how this government is treating them. Itís obviously time for a major attitude adjustment by this government.
So, my question: for the sake of improving relations and resolving some of these outstanding education issues, will the minister direct his officials to reverse the decision that is being forced on the TríondŽk HwŽchíin and begin honouring section 17.7 and section 17.9 of the self-government agreement? Will he do that now?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I would like to correct the member opposite for the record: this government does not break promises. As a matter of fact, we do our best to ensure that every promise we make has been held up.
When I talk about the relationships with First Nation people, I was on the other side of the fence for many years, and I have to state for the record again that this government has come forth in leaps and bounds with regard to working with the First Nations to start implementing the agreements.
Section 17.7 has been on the table for some time, and previous to that the First Nation in question here ó
††††††† Both governments over there ó on the other side of the House ó had the opportunity to negotiate section 17.7 but chose not to, or maybe they just couldnít do it. This government is working with the First Nation on section 17.7 and a mandate is being established with regard to this process, and I believe at the end of the day there will be a process in place that will be acceptable, and the official opposition and the leader of the third party may have the opportunity to take on this challenge in the future themselves ó maybe.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed, so we will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Bill No. 50: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 50, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Edzerza.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I move that Bill No. 50, entitled Act to Amend the Crime Prevention and Victim Services Trust Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 50, entitled Act to Amend the Crime Prevention and Victim Services Trust Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I would like to take this opportunity to commend all those who have been active in our communities delivering the crime prevention initiatives that have received funding from the crime prevention and victim services trust fund.
In many cases, in the numerous projects that the fund helps, the fund paid for volunteers who give countless hours of their own time to reduce crime in their communities.
I would like them to know that this government appreciates their efforts. The work of the crime prevention victim services trust fund has been extremely valuable to communities in the goal of crime prevention through community development.
Mr. Speaker, because this issue is dear to my heart, I will practice my traditional way and speak from the heart. I am a traditional, spiritual person and that is not a religion, but a way of life.
To seek understanding of this issue that is before us today with regard to crime prevention and victim services, one must ask: what are these issues and what do they mean? They are directly correlated to each other. They have a connection. One in prevention can limit the number of victims.
The crime prevention can start at home, but so can the victims, then, start at home.
I will refer to the issues of what you learn at home and how it can be related to crime prevention. I speak of my deceased mother, Grace Edzerza. I speak of her with a lot of compassion, because all of the knowledge that she passed on to the children that she had ó which were 10 boys and eight girls ó was in repeated messages of crime prevention. She was always talking to us at home about how important it was to not steal from other people, to respect the personal properties of other people.
She always talked about being kind to other people and not to hurt them, not to fight with them, not to verbally abuse them, but to treat them with respect. She always talked about how important it was to put your hand out to somebody that is in need and not to walk away from them like you donít even know them.
She talked about a lot of things that remind me today of probably a very, very effective crime prevention program, and that was what was being taught at home. She used to tell us all the time that people work really hard to have what they have in their possession, whether itís a car or whether itís a house or whether itís an all-terrain vehicle. It didnít matter how large or how small it was. She used to always tell us that you must respect that that does not belong to you and to not destroy it or damage it in any way.
Again, I will talk about seeking understanding. One must think about all of the negative effects on the social dynamics that crime has on a community. Crime prevention ó we need to look at what crime is.
Itís my opinion that when we are young children and being victims of a crime, we donít know that we are being victims, and we donít even know that itís a crime. When I talk about this issue, I go to look at mission schools, for example, and what they have done and what they did do to all the victims that went through that process. They were victims of something that they had no control over. How does that link to what we are talking about today? Again, it is seeking understanding of the issue and the issues before this House today.
We talk about victims. The mission school created hundreds of victims ó hundreds. When we look at the ripple effect that could have on society, weíre looking at numerous ó hundreds of people ó who really donít understand why they do the things they do in their life because there probably hasnít been any intervention.
Again, the victims do not understand what kind of effects that abuse would have on them. I believe that in my 20 years plus of working with victims and offenders both, I came to realize that a lot of the inmates in the prisons today have historical abuses that they were not able to understand. The effect of abuse on an individual takes an awful lot of understanding to be able to really figure out what is driving the individual. The mission schools created a lot of people who were victims and, not understanding that, were turned into abusers. Some of them ó not all of them ó did turn into the offender. Thatís a sad but very true story.
I go back again to the traditional way in seeking understanding of who you are. One must seek understanding of who they are in order to deal with being an offender or on the victim end of things. In my opinion, there are two versions to knowing who you are. One is the traditional version of knowing what First Nation you belong to, knowing your people, your songs, your dances, your dress regalia, knowing who your aunts and uncles are. Who are your immediate family members? Thatís one version.
The second version is to know who you are spiritually. For example, do you know that if one was sexually abused as a child, they are a victim of sexual abuse? That is getting to know and understand who you are.
It is my experience that a great many, many people never ever make that connection in their lives. I know many people who, for the first time, realized that they were a victim when they were in their 40 years plus of age. So, there were 40 years of a lot of opportunities to create victims that you donít even realize you did.
Mr. Speaker, this is all about knowing who you are and what your path in life is. Itís to know your spirit. A lot of us, and a lot of our people across the country ó both native and non-native ó have had their spirits damaged severely. In fact, a lot of them are damaged to the point where they commit suicide to get out of this world, again not knowing and not understanding that being a victim of sexual abuse from a very young age, and maybe even right throughout your teenage years, could create that kind of an ending.
So, we must look at all the issues that come before the citizens in the Yukon Territory. Again, to know who one is is going to be a solution to being a victim. One needs to understand that one does not have to live the life of a victim forever. Crime prevention helps to minimize more victims in the future.
When I talk about seeking understanding of what creates so many victims, we must look at the history of the Yukon Territory to really understand the victim end of things in this territory.
And I go back to the fur traders and what that brought to this country. What did it bring? It brought wealth. It brought a lot of opportunity for a lot of the citizens in the territory to do some trading, sell trinkets. But I also believe that probably alcohol and other things could have come with that.
And then we go to the mission school there. Again, I spoke of that already, and all the problems that created for individuals in the territory. And then we talk about the Gold Rush of 1898, and what did that bring to the territory? Again, it brought a lot of different nationalities; it brought a lot of different beliefs. And again, it brought a lot of wealth ó gold. Gold was discovered by all of these individuals working here and making a living here.
To the best of my knowledge, all the information I read about this, alcohol was the thing that everyone practically advertised and made use of. This whole era could have created numerous victims. And we go to the building of the Alaska Highway. Now, Mr. Speaker, there was an issue of progress, something that probably had to take place, but it changed the dynamics of this territory immensely. Iíve talked to First Nation elders who were here, living right from Watson Lake all the way up to Beaver Creek, who were living here when there was no highway. Some of the stories of victims that they told me about I will not repeat on the floor of this House because theyíre too ugly to even talk about.
Now, when we talk about these victims and how many of them, especially women, became victims of crime, there was no intervention; there was basically no victim services or help for the victims.
A lot of the individuals would just grin and bear it; they lived with it. To this day, it is my belief that a lot of the victims from those eras are still among us today. Whatís sad but true in my opinion is that there are a lot of victims who become the aggressor. If there is never any intervention in oneís life at an early age to try to correct that, we end up with people who create more victims. I believe that a lot of the victims who are among us today are still in dire need of help.
I go now to talk about some of the crime prevention. Again, crime is an act that can be prevented, but again we must start at a very young age with the children. This is a community event, because crime affects everyone. It is kind of like an issue where one will just take it for granted and go on through life until they become the victim, and then it becomes an issue. Itís my opinion that this is an issue where crime prevention, the prevention methods, should all belong to the whole community, belong to the whole society, because the more people who get involved with crime prevention, the more organizations that deal with it, the better chance society will have of minimizing the number of victims who will become real in the territory.
The crime prevention and victim services trust fund awards money to projects designed to provide service and information to support victims of offences; help reduce the incidences of crime; address the root cause of criminal behaviour; prevent violence against women and children; and publicize information about crime prevention and how people can protect themselves from becoming victims.
Most communities in the Yukon have benefited from the fund since its inception in 1998. I would like to take a few moments now to highlight some of the good work of the fund and our community volunteers. For example, this past year the Na Cho Nyšk Dun First Nation ran a very successful project called ďBridge the Gap between Youth and EldersĒ with $12,000 in funding from the fund. The project allowed youth and elders to come together on the land where the elders shared traditional skills and language, the youth learned new stories and both groups shared a respect for each other. Youth and elders connected playing games, trapping, storytelling, ice fishing and rabbit snaring. The youth learned cooking and working skills and spoke of how to look out for each other.† The project was a definite success. The youth completed their crafts and skills; the elders and youth shared and connected their thoughts and feelings on a daily basis and a mutual respect and affection developed between them all. The long-term effects of this project will benefit the community by way of creating a more positive outlook in the youth: more for the youth to respect and more for them to do. They were taught how to be drug and alcohol free; how to survive off the land; how to be independent and how to interact with their elders and community.
Another project that the fund contributed to this past year was the Yukon Learn Societyís Reach Out for Literacy project.
Tutors were placed at the Adult Resource Centre downtown, at the Salvation Army, CAIRS and the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. At these locations, tutors were able to assist learners as well as increase the many programs and services offered at Yukon Learn. The presence of Yukon Learn tutors increased the number of individuals coming to Yukon Learn from those agencies and gave at-risk learners increased access to literacy programs.
This project targeted at-risk individuals who wanted to increase their educational skills in order to get into college, complete high school or get better jobs. The project brought together many different people in our community. Approximately 10 tutors were placed at the ARC, Whitehorse Correctional Centre and the Salvation Army, and those tutors were in contact with well over 100 people.
Throughout the project, 20 or more learners participated in Yukon Learnís tutoring programs and classes, as well as 30 inmates from Whitehorse Correctional Centre. Because there is a correlation shown between low literacy education and criminal behaviour, this project was extremely successful at bringing literacy programming to at-risk learners, rather than expecting them to seek out programs themselves. It made addressing educational options quicker and easier, giving learners who might never come to the Yukon Learn Society an alternative option for getting help. By providing literacy programs to at-risk learners, the Yukon Learn Society is giving learners the skills to get better jobs, to finish high school, or to get into college. These types of options help individuals escape from an environment where they feel trapped and desperate and give them the tools to change their own lives.
In addition to these activities, a partnership was formed with the Golden Age Society to offer computer classes for senior citizens. This partnership has now led to further literacy initiatives such as Readers Theatre and Robert Service sessions.
Another example of how the Crime Prevention and Victim Services Trust Act has benefited the community is through the RCMP crewís whitewater rafting, kayaking and guide program from the spring of 2002. This project received a contribution of $3,100 from the fund.
The purpose of this project was to provide disadvantaged or high-risk youth with the opportunity to master kayaking and whitewater skills while realizing alternatives to drugs and alcohol. At the same time, they were developing peer relationships with RCMP officers who were leading the program. This project was initiated by Constable Evyi Smith, who recently rescued a man from a burning building. The project can be considered a success from a number of perspectives. All 12 youth were disadvantaged or high risk, and yet they all performed up to the task during training and the instructors were very satisfied. The RCMP members involved in the project had no previous experience with whitewater kayaking, so it was extremely positive for the youth to be able to learn new skills at the same time as the RCMP members. They all had to learn not to get frustrated. That is a skill that comes with experience for everyone.
The RCMP members and the youth formed positive relationships and began to trust each other. It was great for the youth to see the RCMP members as regular people. Unexpected successes were numerous, but one of the youth who participated in the program ended up guiding almost full-time for a whitewater rafting company and guided a long river trip. This youth plans to guide full-time the next summer. All of the youth involved in this program carried with them the whitewater skills they learned, and some might have future whitewater guiding jobs. They will take away increased self-esteem, positive experiences and fun and successful memories.
Another project that the fund has supported is the Dawson City womenís shelterís sexual assault awareness campaign. The Dawson City womenís shelter received $7,000 for this project. The project allowed the shelter to hire a sexual assault prevention coordinator to promote safety, awareness and support through information on the date-rape drug.
They ran a ďNo Means NoĒ campaign and provided information on local victim services; as well, a self-defence course for women was organized and taught by a female RCMP officer.
Every summer Dawson City has a number of young workers who both work hard and play hard. This was an opportunity to provide them with information about learning how to keep themselves safe. This program ó thanks to the crime prevention victim services trust fund ó contributed to women in Dawson City feeling safer, and perhaps it helped someone to avoid being a victim of a sexual assault.
The fund also provided funding to support Yukon First Nation athletes who attended the 2002 North American Indigenous Games. This fund gave roughly $8,000 to the Yukon Indigenous Games steering committee. This money supported equipment, travel, advertising, and a send-off for the Yukon indigenous team. Team Yukon consisted of 177 participants. Some of the major causes of criminal behaviours in aboriginal youth include boredom, falling in with the wrong crowd, following along with the peer group and the need for money to sustain a lifestyle. When aboriginal youth participate in activities like the Indigenous Games, they are encouraged to participate in alternative, healthier lifestyles and they are deterred from inappropriate behaviour.
The Yukon Indigenous Games steering committee provided sports clinics and practices for aboriginal youth, which introduced them to sports and healthier lifestyles. These opportunities encouraged leadership, self-esteem and respect for oneís self and each other. The sports clinics, practices and games introduced the youth to friends who had similar interests and taught them about commitment, fair play and respect for oneís culture and tradition.
Another project that the fund has supported was the ďBreaking the Silence on Family ViolenceĒ ó a Watson Lake conference held last February. The sponsoring body was the Liard First Nation and the Kaska Tribal Council, which have an inter-agency steering committee. The goal of the conference was to promote and provide services intended to prevent violence against women and children.
The objectives were to provide awareness and a specific education to the communities on the issues of family violence through workshops and open discussions and to open doors to community members to stop family violence from happening in the community.
The conference was well-attended by both First Nation and non-First Nation people. They noted that for too long the pervasive issue of sexual assault and violence against women and children in family relationships had been ignored. Finding answers to these complicated problems takes a community effort, and the conference was a significant contribution toward making the community safe and healthier. The presence of a dozen men was encouraging. Many people said they felt less alone as a result of the conference because now they knew that there were others who were also interested in learning ways to live without violence.
Another project that the fund supported was the Ross River school councilís Kaska studies in 2002-03. This project was intended to promote understanding of ties to First Nation traditions, history, values, virtues and land and to promote learning from parents and grandparents. The project targeted all the students in the school and provided an opportunity for the youth and their parents and grandparents to participate in outdoor activities like trapping and snaring wolves, rabbits, beavers and squirrels, gathering plants for medicinal purposes, berry picking and canning, tapping birch trees and making birch syrup, traditional hunting and fishing camps, and camping at the Liard Aboriginal Womenís Society camp at Francis Lake. There were traditional activities like Kaska days, Han games tournaments, Kaska history, Wolf and Crow clan, storytelling with the elders, Dene games, stick pull, snowshoe races, et cetera, and tanning hides. There were arts and cultural activities like coastal art by Eugene Alfred from Pelly Crossing, native art posters, participation in Yukon and nation-wide competitions, moose and caribou hair tufting, drum making, and writing workshops. This project was extremely successful for the school and the community. The participants enjoyed the activities and learned new skills.
The program has reinforced in them a sense of belonging and strengthened the need to actively preserve First Nation traditional and cultural values.
Another project that encouraged community connection was the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nationís Rediscovering Our Ways project of the spring of 2002. A group of kindergarten and grade 1 students went out on the Crow Flats with elders to learn valuable skills on the land. The students kept journals, set muskrat traps and checked them daily, and hauled snow, wood and branches. They played games and heard stories that the elders told them.
As one of the students said in an evaluation, ďI learned hard work really pays off.Ē If this is the kind of lesson that the student learned in grade 1, it shows that the types of programs that the crime prevention and victim services trust fund supports are certainly benefiting our community.
Our government is committed to crime prevention because crime prevention means one less victim, and that is a most important part of the crime prevention equation.
Today, Mr. Speaker, we are reviewing the amendments to the Crime Prevention and Victim Services Trust Act. The amendments have been brought forward by our government to ensure the ongoing viability of the fund. We want to be able to continue to finance crime prevention measures in our communities. These amendments were put forward with assistance and support from the board members who are appointed to govern the fund.
The fund was originally expected to be self-financing when the principal reached $2 million. It was thought that, between the interest on $2 million and revenue from the other sources identified in the act, the fund would generate about $300,000 per year that could be allocated for project funding. However, due to a number of factors, including low interest rates, we have determined that without an additional source of revenue the fund is expected to have about $190,000 per year available for distribution ó a far cry from what is needed.
Our government has decided that the best course of action in this case was to keep the slot machine revenues from the agreement we have with the Klondike Visitors Association flowing into the fund. This will ensure that a sufficient level of ongoing funding is available for crime prevention initiatives. We also address a number of problematic areas of the fund, which I can go into in more detail during line-by-line debate. I urge the members opposite to support the proposed amendments this government has brought forward.
Thank you. Mahsií cho.
Mr. Cardiff: I rise today to speak briefly to Bill No. 50. It was interesting to listen to the minister go on for almost 40 minutes on what would generally be considered a housekeeping matter. I think the initiative that the government is taking is well-founded. The minister outlined a number of things that the crime prevention and victim services trust fund funds. I think he must have gone through the press releases he has issued around this matter ó and probably those of the previous two Justice ministers ó outlining various projects. It was interesting that he didnít get to the meat of the bill, what the bill was actually about, until the last three or four minutes, which is basically to enhance the fund and to continue retaining the revenues from the agreement with the Klondike Visitors Association.
I think it is important to note that we support this, and we do support the crime prevention and victim services trust fund. The monies awarded to various projects that the minister outlined provide information and services to the public, to people who have been victims of various offences, and I think that the hope in providing this information is basically to lead to public education around justice issues and reduce the incidence of crime in our communities.
It also funds projects that are designed to educate men, women and children and, I guess, to show the way and the error of some peopleís ways; to prevent violence against women and children and to educate youth. Another project that it funds is the older womenís program housed at Kausheeís, I believe.
We need to get this information about crime prevention out to people. I think itís important that people have the tools to be aware of how they can protect themselves from becoming a victim. I think that there is a need in society to start with young people, and a lot of the programs that the minister outlined deal with educating young men and women, helping them become aware of problems in their community, and the pitfalls and traps that they can fall into that will lead them into a lifestyle that could be harmful to both themselves and to others.
I know that if you look on the Justice Web site, for instance, there are some crime prevention hints that are aimed at people to help them protect themselves. In this case, if you look at it, off the top of my head, itís things like lock your doors, leave your lights on, set your alarm system ó things like that. Itís basically putting the onus on people to be responsible for preventing crime. At the same time, it would almost lead you to believe that if you donít do those things then you are responsible for crime ó if youíre not taking all of these steps ó which essentially is blaming victims for not taking all of the steps ó and they may not be aware.† Maybe we need to do more work to make people aware of the steps that they can take to prevent crime and to make their homes safe.
I think that we need to look, though, as well, at what we can do in communities. I think that, as communities, we need to take responsibility as a whole for the root causes of crime. What are the things that we can do as a community to address the crime and victimization that happens in our communities? There are things like living conditions ó whether itís here in Whitehorse or in an outlying community. I know that the minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation is in receipt of a rather large document, a report on social housing. I havenít had a chance to review the entire document, but I think that ensuring that people have safe, adequate housing is an important tool in raising families, and that can reduce the incidence of crime. If they grow up in a warm, healthy, safe environment because of their living conditions, that will go a long way to preventing them from going down that path.
There are other factors ó poverty ó which can be addressed through training and education, through social services, through the Minister of Education and his initiatives.
We need to look at other causes of crime as well, like substance abuse. We need to put more effort into educating young people ó and older people as well ó about the pitfalls of not just alcohol but other drugs that are becoming prevalent here in the Yukon.
We need to look at other factors related to the root causes of crime and start to address them when they become, I guess ó put up the flags. We can do that in our education system. The Minister of Justice is also responsible for the Department of Education, and this is something that he could promote as well. That is to look at the flags that go up in the school system, whether itís truancy ó missing lots of school ó consistently being late or poor achievement. There are lots of things that could be done within the education system that can reduce the incidence of crime and help to educate the public.
I noted earlier that there has been work done on community justice issues here in the Yukon. The previous minister had a news release last year about the review of community justice. I saw some of the reports that came out of that and the framework to do that review. I think thereís going to be a lot that can be done on that front as well. Itís about communities taking responsibility for their own and to provide opportunities to educate and to help people take responsibilities for their actions. I donít think we have any problems with the bill as it stands. I do have a few questions when we get into Committee, and I look forward to discussing them with the minister.
Ms. Duncan: I rise to address the Act to Amend the Crime Prevention and Victim Services Trust Act at second reading. The bill is very brief, and it essentially accomplished three things: it extends the amount of money that may be in the trust fund; it ensures that board members who serve without remuneration may receive recognition for their significant contribution; and it does some housekeeping work in terms of reporting to the Legislature on the activities of the fund.
The minister did not pay a great deal of attention in his remarks to where the fund comes from and some of the key issues surrounding that. It is useful to note that the money for the crime prevention and victim services trust fund comes from the surcharges imposed upon territorial and Criminal Code offences; interest earned on the court trust account; fines imposed under territorial legislation, which were brought into line with those throughout Canada as per a recommendation from the Auditor General; fines collected under the Criminal Code of Canada and money received from either an appropriation in this Legislature or from the federal government on the Sharing of Proceeds of Crime memorandum of understanding. Fundamentally, the largest amount of the money contributed to the victim services trust fund comes from the slot machine revenue at Diamond Tooth Gertieís. Just to illustrate my point, I will note a few figures for the record. Both parties in the opposition requested this information at the briefing, and it was provided immediately by the staff, and I would like to thank them for their cooperation and their assistance in helping us to debate this bill. The information was provided in a very timely manner and was very thorough, and I thank them for their efforts.
My point was that, in the balance of the fund, the amount contributed by the surcharges imposed by Criminal Code and territorial fines is about $617,388. The interest is $283,413; fines paid into the court where there is a special fine from the Criminal Code of Canada is $777,915; money that has been voted in the Legislature is $150,000. We havenít received any money under that memorandum of understanding I mentioned.
Money received from the KVA ó the Klondike Visitors Association ó as slot machine revenue at the end of 2003-04 ó and all the figures Iíve noted are 2003-04 ó is $1,112,579. By far and away, the Klondike Visitors Association and the slot machine revenue are the largest contributors to this fund. In fact, their contribution arrangement goes back to a slot machine management regulation passed in 1992 that says, in part, under which the Klondike Visitors Association will conduct and manage the scheme at Diamond Tooth Gertieís as agent for the Government of Yukon using slot machines, and under which 25 percent of the revenue will come to the government so long as the expenses of conducting and managing the scheme do not exceed 75 percent of revenue. In other words, there is a substantial contribution made by the Klondike Visitors Association, and the slot machines are very substantial. It dates back to an arrangement made 12 years ago and their contribution has been significant. This amendment will ensure that contribution continues.
My question for the minister, and perhaps he can get into this in line-by-line debate, is what discussions were undertaken with the Klondike Visitors Association about that 25 percent figure? Are there portions of the Diamond Tooth Gertieís gambling revenue that, by the stipulations of their licence, continue to build the tourism industry and the community of Dawson? Twenty-five percent of the slot machine revenue comes to the Government of Yukon to this fund. So what discussions were held with them about that 25 percent, discussions like, for example, many of the projects that are funded from the crime prevention and victim services trust fund are aimed at assisting young people in recreational pursuits?† I have lobbied on the floor on this House through motion and to the Minister of Finance and the Deputy Premier, the Minister of Health, that the kids recreation fund be enhanced; however, it has not been in the supplementary budget.
Although it was noted on the floor of the House that it was a good idea, there hasnít been additional money put into that. Itís oversubscribed. Is it possible that a portion of this revenue could be put into that, if the government continues to insist upon that 25-percent figure?
It also opens up the discussion of what the governmentís position is on expansion, or not, of gambling in the territory.
There are many areas where we could have a significant public discussion in relation to this act. Overall, however, the purposes of the act are very straightforward, and I certainly recognize them. They are housekeeping, to a degree; however, as I noted, we could have quite a far-ranging and significant public discussion within the context of discussing these particular amendments.
Overall, I would indicate to the members opposite that I have no difficulty with the amendments. I do have difficulty with the government in that there has been a lack of initiative, homework and creativity in terms of what could have been done. Once again, we see the government simply bringing forward housekeeping amendments as opposed to the opportunity for, as I said, a significant public discussion, and to determine where else this revenue might be used to very good ends, as well.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I look forward to line-by-line debate.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: †It is indeed my honour and privilege to be able to speak to this particular bill as it relates to the Crime Prevention and Victim Services Trust Act ó an act that was proclaimed on November 1, 1998, and which provides funding to deliver a whole host of crime prevention and victim services projects in response to community needs, which are mostly community driven, most importantly.
Since the fund was set up, as the Minister of Justice may have mentioned, this particular fund has awarded approximately $1.5 million for projects throughout the Yukon since 1998, and that averages about $250,000 per year. As the Minister of Justice outlined, there are a whole number of projects that have been approved over the last number of years since the act was proclaimed, and I have to say that theyíre all wonderful, very ambitious, very good and very much-needed projects. Most importantly, as I mentioned before, they are community driven, so they are made by the communities throughout the whole Yukon. As a result, there is buy-in at the community level. Although we may not have technically changed the way funding is administered, I have to say that I support this fund wholeheartedly. The very fact that it is community driven makes it all the more legitimate.
The trust management principles as set out in the act provide that, until the fund reaches $2 million, 10 percent of the principal in interest can be awarded for recommended projects, and that once the trust reaches $2 million, only the interest or any principal over $2 million can be expended. So when we look back to 1998 when the trust fund was originally set up, its structure was created based on the assumption that all the sources of funding ó as the leader of the third party had mentioned or just recently outlined ó combined with the high interest rates of the day ó it was about 10 percent in 1998, I believe ó would create a relatively healthy and stable fund through and through. It was also anticipated that by the time the trust fund reached $2 million, as well as the Klondike Visitors Association contribution continuing, the trust fund would be sustainable and would basically have been between $250,000 and $300,000 per year to allocate.
As we are all aware, there has been a significant decrease in interest rates over the recent years, and there has also been a reduction in the amount of funding flowing to these various funds from other sources, such as the federal Criminal Code of Canada fine money and victim fine surcharges. So basically, this means a whole lot less money than expected has been made available to distribute, and that is the whole impetus, the whole rationale for bringing this bill forward: to look at the trust fund structure and to ensure that the fund continues and adequately funds crime prevention and victim services projects in response to community needs. This has been the case over the last number of years.
I think this bill is relatively straightforward and relatively simple. I think it is good legislation. It is the right thing to do, and we on this side of this House fully support the fund. The fund, as has been mentioned earlier, provides money to a number of projects designed to provide services and information to support victims of offences, helps reduce the incidence of crime, addresses the root causes of criminal behaviour, prevents violence against women and children, and also helps publicize information about crime prevention initiatives and how people can protect themselves from becoming victims.
As minister responsible for the Womenís Directorate, as I mentioned before, there is a whole host of very positive initiatives that have been funded over the last few years, and I would just point to some of the initiatives that were funded in 2003 ó just a couple in particular. One was through the Kaska Tribal Council that was partnered with the Liard First Nation to host a family violence awareness and education program in Watson Lake. That fund provided about $12,500 in assistance. Another one was the White Ribbon Campaign ó money that went, very well used, toward the continuation of addressing the problems of violence against women by presenting their play on domestic violence with accompanying discussion. Again, this is a great concept. It was originally conceived by the Inuit in Greenland, and it was carried through, thanks to the delivery of this fund to a number of communities.
Again, that was for almost $13,000.
So, there has been a whole host of great initiatives that have been funded through the trust fund and, thanks to the amendments coming forward to this particular bill, we will see those positive initiatives continue.
We talk about crime prevention in the Yukon and we talk about root causes of crime. We look at crime prevention, particularly through the social development of our communities and of our territory as a whole. We look at prevention exercises and initiatives that are delivered by the communities and for the communities.
Crime prevention is not simply my problem. Itís not your problem. Itís all of our problem, and itís a challenge that we continue to strive to achieve day in and day out. But together as a collective, as a community, we are able to make a whole lot of experiences. From my own personal experience as the previous Minister of Justice, there was one particular time that I recall. It was almost a year and a half ago when our office received a number of calls from the community of Watson Lake, from a whole host of individuals, from the mayor and council to the chamber of commerce, and from the First Nation, looking for some assistance with respect to the amount of crime that had been occurring in that particular community and the level of domestic violence that was also occurring.
So, we took it upon ourselves to work collectively with the town and with the people of the town to help facilitate discussion ó not to lead discussion, but to facilitate ó and to help bring the community together to raise these issues of importance as a collective and to address some of these major, dire issues head on. Thatís exactly what we did. We were able to facilitate a whole series of forums and it was amazing to see the transformation within the town because it was no longer simply a problem that was owned by the RCMP; it wasnít a problem that was owned by one youth member down the street; but it soon became apparent that, by working collectively as a whole community, we would be able to achieve much more needed results versus pointing our fingers at one another and saying that ďYou are to blame and what are you going to do about it?Ē
So I have to say that, through that exercise, a number of positive initiatives came out of that forum, including a number of crime prevention initiatives, one being the family violence awareness and education program that was delivered by the Kaska Tribal Council, and that was thanks to the funding of this trust act. But also there were collaborative efforts on behalf of the community to develop a Neighbourhood Watch program and a Block Parent program. They even became engaged in Citizens on Patrol. I have to say that there are a number of constituents in my own riding who are very active participants of Citizens on Patrol and, thanks to their efforts, day in and day out ó volunteer efforts, I might add ó our communities are much more aware of what is going on and much safer.
So there have been a number of positive initiatives that have arrived from those meetings held in the community earlier last year. As a result, the community has taken ownership of some of these problems and we, as a government, continue to provide assistance wherever we can on an ongoing basis. Again, through providing positive, healthy choices such as recreation activities, and again whether that may be funded through this trust fund or the kids recreation fund, or maybe the youth-at-risk investment fund, thereís a whole number of different funding areas that communities and groups, individuals and governments can certainly access to provide those positive choices for our youth and our citizens at large.
Again, the emphasis is on education and training opportunities, but our education and training opportunities are only as good as the jobs that are waiting at the end of the road, so our government has also placed a great emphasis on job creation here in the territory. Again, just recently the employment stats are certainly testament to some of the good efforts we are making on the economic front in the territory.
We are very pleased to be providing jobs for Yukoners and providing additional emphasis on training. We are providing $2 million in training opportunities to Yukoners, whether that be in cultural industries, whether that be in trades, and so forth.
This trust act does specify that some of the funds do go towards violence prevention initiatives, looking at women and children in particular, and weíre very pleased to be able to have this funding available in addition to the other initiatives that we are promoting ó whether it be through the Department or Health and Social Services or the Department of Justice of the Women's Directorate, or the Department of Education for that matter. Itís very important that again we continue to work collectively in addressing this very dire, serious problem that faces our communities daily.
In addition to these funds, weíve made some other strides. I just look at additional resources to our family violence prevention unit who are, I might add, doing a tremendous job. Itís not an easy job, but itís a very important one. I thank the staff of that particular unit for all the work that they continue to do day in and day out in all our communities; whether itís providing training, working in our transition homes or as front-line workers; whether itís working with the RCMP and raising the awareness of the Family Violence Prevention Act or working with victims of violence. I look at VictimLINK. For the first time ever we now have a 1-800 crisis line in place. Itís available 24/7 to all Yukon communities and it actually has bona fide counsellors on the other end of the line providing assistance to those in need.
I look at measures such as the domestic violence treatment option ó an option that has certainly has collapsed the rate of sexual assault cases and family violence cases before the courts, and it has done tremendous good work for all our communities. Thanks to the work of the Department of Justice, weíve been able to now look at communities such as Watson Lake and so forth, and expanding those services available to those communities who request it and would like that assistance.
Our own work in the Women's Directorate ó I canít say enough about all the education and prevention initiatives that our own staff continues to work on. The $100,000 that was identified last fall toward prevention of violence against aboriginal women, $150,000 that we identified in this fall supplementary budget toward prevention initiatives ó again, to all women in the territory, whether that be safety kits for women fleeing abusive relationships or assisting aboriginal women in leadership and governance initiatives, helping to build capacity in our own communities to help combat crime and violence.
So I think that the initiatives here, the amendments proposed to this particular act ó it is very well-received. I am certainly pleased to support it, and I would also like to take the opportunity to thank all the members of the board who have participated in the distribution of some of the funds and members from the Department of Justice, from the RCMP, from the Department of Health and Social Services, and from the Council of Yukon First Nations, to others who are concerned with womenís issues ó people from the general public who have an interest in Justice issues. So this bill will also reflect an honorarium to be paid to the non-government board members, a small token of appreciation, and it certainly is very consistent with our policies that we have in line with the boards and committees of similar stature.
So Iím very pleased, again, to offer my support for this particular bill, and I would urge all other members on the other side of the House to carry it as well. Thank you.
Mr. Cathers: It gives me great pleasure to rise today in support of Bill No. 50, Act to Amend the Crime Prevention and Victim Services Trust Act. I think this is a very valuable change to the act. Itís a simple amendment on the surface ó only one page ó but I would urge all members of this House and members of the public not to underestimate the importance of this change even though it is a fairly short amendment to the act.
The crime prevention and victim services trust fund has paid out about $1.5 million since 1998 with an average of $250,000 per year approximately. This fund provides resources for many valuable projects. As has been raised by other members of this House, the initial trust fund structure was created on the expectation that once the crime prevention and victim services trust fund had reached $2 million, the interest on that fund would allow it to continue its operations and provide sufficient resources for doing so. However, at that time interest rates were much higher, and they have since declined significantly.
The revenue being referenced in this, of course, is the annual KVA slot machine payment, which averages about $223,000 per year, I believe. The other money that goes into the crime prevention and victim services trust fund comes from money held in the victim services fund, which was established under a previous act, the Victim Services Act, and has continued under this act. It includes all territorial and Criminal Code victim fines surcharges. It includes interest received by the Government of Yukon as a consequence of money paid in court, which is not required to be paid out to any beneficiary. The other sources include fines paid into court by an offender on whom a fine was imposed under the Criminal Code of Canada and any money received by the Yukon from Canada in accordance with the memorandum of understanding respecting the sharing of the proceeds of dispossession of forfeited property and other matters entered into by the Yukon and Canada on March 28, 1996. It also can have, of course, any money that is appropriated to this trust fund by the Legislature. There was a supplementary payment, which our government made in the fall of 2003 through the supplementary budget, of $150,000 to top up the funding in there.
Also, the fund can accept any money that is donated by any person on condition that it be used for the purposes of the trust.
As I stated, in my opinion this is a valuable change to the act. It was mentioned by the leader of the third party that she felt this was a housekeeping amendment and that we werenít being very creative in coming up with this. I would submit to her that the structure seems to be working very well and I donít see a reason why it needs to be changed. Also, the source from which this money comes under the slot machine revenue going to crime prevention and victim services is probably something that, from an optics perspective ó for lack of a better term ó is something that many Yukoners would find appropriate, that money being derived from gambling revenue is used to go back into the community and try to prevent crimes from taking place and try to prevent victimization.
There was certainly very careful care and consideration done with this bill, contrary to what was suggested by the member of the third party. There were other options that were considered for funding this victim services trust fund. It was simply the decision made by this government that the change before us was the most appropriate way of doing that, in our opinion.
I was involved in discussions of this and with the review of the drafting of this act ó both at the Legislative Review Committee and Cabinet Committee on Legislation ó and I would like to thank both the present Minister of Justice and the former Minister of Justice for their hard work on this. Both of them have put a significant amount of effort into this. Of course, I would like to thank the officials from the Department of Justice for their work and expertise on this.
I would urge all members of this House to support this act. With that I will close and look forward to hearing comments from other members of this House.
Mr. Rouble: I rise today to support Bill No. 50, Act to Amend the Crime Prevention and Victim Services Trust Act.
The crime prevention and victim services trust fund awards money to projects designed to provide services and information to support victims of offences, help reduce the incidence of crime, address the root cause of criminal behaviour, prevent violence against women and children, and publicize information about crime prevention and how people can protect themselves from becoming victims.
Sadly, in our society today, we have to put in place these worthy initiatives. Itís a shame that we canít invest funds in other more positive areas; however, we must recognize that this expenditure and this fund will provide significant benefits to victims and those who have been harmed in our society. These amendments increase the amount of money in the fund and ensure the ongoing viability of the fund. They recognize board members and provide them with more than a thank you, and they increase the accountability of the program ó hardly housekeeping amendments.
This is a good bill, itís a worthy bill and I ask all members to support it.
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: I rise today as well to speak to the bill and indicate my support for it. Crime prevention is a major thing in the Yukon and itís something that I think in Yukon we take more seriously and in Yukon we spend more time on it than in the south, or at least that has always been my impression. The fund has allowed us to do a lot of good things in the past ó major and minor. I just wanted to mention a couple of individual initiatives that have been made possible either directly through this fund or indirectly through the fund in some respects. Neighbourhood Watch is one of them. It started really in the Yukon when a citizen in Porter Creek was broken into at about 4:00 in the morning ó quite a home invasion. It was found out sort of later on that in fact a neighbour had seen this occur and had not reported it. Of course, the question was, ďHave you ever seen anyone else go through my window at 4:00 in the morning?Ē and the answer, of course, was ďnoĒ. Very quickly, the Neighbourhood Watch movement began in Whitehorse.
It is also followed by a program called Rural Watch. I certainly encourage anyone in the communities or in the rural areas to get involved with this initiative. This came out of the prairies and is built upon the same sort of premise of just neighbours looking out for neighbours. Having been a member of the RCMP for nine years, I can assure you that the police are not averse to getting phone calls of suspicious activity and are more than happy to check it out. Itís certainly much better than the alternatives.
One thing in the Yukon that has always surprised me is the number of people, for instance, who drink and drive; and the number of phone calls that come in when someone who is teetering a little bit more than they should is leaving a bar ó very frequently there is a flurry of phone calls with the RCMP, a description of the driver, a description of the car, direction of travel. Sometimes they can stop the driver, sometimes they canít and sometimes itís an error, but itís still very, very worthwhile. If anyone thinks that doesnít occur on a nightly basis, they are sadly mistaken.
Another program that I was briefly involved in was the COP, or Citizens on Patrol. To give you an idea of the effectiveness of this, I was sent out one night to watch a particular property and, having noticed a rather suspicious car coming in and out, I called it in. By the time we actually got the thing sorted out, it seems that a car with two members of the Citizens on Patrol was, in fact, monitoring and watching a member of the auxiliary police. We had a good laugh over it but it was still a very worthwhile exercise and something thatís very, very good.
Another program that is involved in a different way with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police ó we are all, I think, familiar with the victim services unit, which is a territorial initiative. These are people who counsel victims with crime, walk them through the court system, do all of the things attendant to this and try to work with victims of all types, whether it be abuse, assault, almost anything that you can imagine. There is also a very good group within the RCMP called the VAV, the Victim Assistance Volunteers. I just want to mention that people should really consider getting involved in a group like this. These are volunteers, they get no money for it, and they get the privilege of often once a week getting called out, sometimes at pretty strange hours, to deal with anything from assault, sexual assault, armed robbery or notification of next-of-kin of deaths. They provide a very wide function to the RCMP and they can often serve in capacities where victims of crime are nervous speaking with a uniformed officer. They can react at the time the crime occurs. They can get involved later on for the same thing. Iíve seen these people do everything from comforting and working with families and survivors of motor vehicle crashes, fires ó again, they are a very, very worthwhile group and I encourage anyone who has an interest in working with that aspect to contact the RCMP. They would be very, very welcome.
I certainly support this bill and I support anyone to get involved with crime prevention at any level. This is something that we do desperately need in our society and we desperately need in the Yukon. While we have a high level of volunteerism and a very high level of working with victims of crime in the Yukon, we can always use the additional help.
With that I will certainly indicate my support of this bill and pass the mantle on.
Hon. Mr. Hart: I rise today in support of this bill also. Crime in the Yukon has been an issue for many years. Violent crimes, mostly committed by people known to the victims, are always concerning. Domestic violence places tremendous stresses, not just on the family but on the whole community. In addition to the parties involved, friends, neighbours, teachers, co-workers are all affected by domestic violence. We see our children are quite often affected. In some cases, it is detrimental to their learning capacity because of violence at home, violence through alcohol, violence just through violence. The issue is that it affects their sleeping habits; it affects their ability to do homework; it affects the ability of the family to provide appropriate food on the table and to provide the children time to sleep and to rest. These issues are brought to the classroom, and it further affects several of the other children within that classroom, and in some cases, special assistants have to be provided to assist these children in getting through the normal working day. These are all very important aspects out there.
In Riverdale, we have had a problem of vandalism. As a community we came together, and as a result, we have seen a decrease in some of our crime rates. Unfortunately, within the last year, this downward trend has reversed somewhat, and we now start to see it increase again. Along with the Member for Riverdale North, we sponsored a community meeting to discuss ways to minimize crime in our neighbourhood. We had groups like Neighbourhood Watch, Crime Prevention Yukon, Corrections, RCMP, and I think we even had somebody from the youth process there to provide us with some information about impact on these programs within the youth. I think the general cause of the vandalism is a case of making sure the average person protects their habitat as much as they can, as the member opposite indicated earlier. We do have a Web site that provides that kind of information. In essence, I think it is the responsibility of all members of the community to ensure they go that extra step to protect their household effects and to make it as difficult as possible for individuals to enter their facilities.
Quite often, the main reason for getting into a home is the easy access that is afforded them to achieve this.
The cause of crime is always a big question. Itís always the largest question that everyone asks. The answers are always hotly debated. As the Minister of Justice just noted, some of the causes of criminal behaviour in aboriginal youth include boredom, falling in with the wrong crowd, following along with peer groups, and the need for money to sustain a lifestyle. I think these causes may apply to other youth as well.
I am also reminded of the fact that itís very important to ensure that you have something for the youth to participate in, as I mentioned earlier in my tribute to hockey. There has to be some means with which they can participate in something in a community, where everybody can see them and they have a meaningful process in that event, whether it is bingo, helping set up a tent, helping with a community event of some sort, and then having some benefit from that process. Those are all means through which youth can be kept busy and feel like they have some benefit to the community itself.
We are working on many ways to make our communities safer and reduce domestic violence. Many of us here ó my colleagues ó have already indicated some of the methods with which we are doing that. We are trying our best through this program to make our communities safer by giving young people the ability through the funds from this program to create fun, enjoyable projects ranging from sport and recreation to clean-up jobs within their communities ó things that are noticeable right nearby.
Minister Edzerza and I were up at the Elijah Smith Elementary School last summer meeting with the community on this particular subject, and I believe that we were actually able to assist them in working on their situation to reduce the crime in that area.
We have done several projects that we are trying to work with all throughout the Yukon, both rural and here in Whitehorse, to reduce the crime and violence within the community.
Mr. Speaker, I support this bill and hope the others do also.
Deputy Speaker: If the Minister of Justice now speaks he will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I am very pleased to rise and speak further on the proposed amendments to the Crime Prevention and Victim Services Trust Act and the importance of crime prevention initiatives in the Yukon. This government continues to support an approach to crime prevention that attempts to identify and address the social and economic causes of criminal activities and victimization, promotes investing in our children, youth and families, and focuses on reducing factors that put people at risk for criminal activities and victimization. We are aware that, in order to be safe, communities must be healthy and therefore prevention must occur at several levels, from early intervention to healing.
In Canada, crime has been traditionally dealt with through reactive measures: apprehension, sentencing, incarceration and rehabilitation of offenders. Police, courts and correctional services cost our government an estimated $10 billion each year, but this amount represents only a portion of the total cost of crime. If personal and physical costs are included, such as the pain and suffering of victims or loss of productivity, the cost of crime in Canada is estimated to be $46 billion per year. Furthermore, this figure does not include the cost of white-collar crimes such as tax evasion and stock market manipulation. It is clear that crime costs Canadians and Yukoners dearly. Recent data from Statistics Canada indicates that it costs Yukoners approximately $300 per day to house an inmate in our correctional facility. There are other costs that cannot be quantified. Crime hurts people and makes them feel unsafe. It decreases our quality of life and it changes the face of our communities. Our government is committed to reducing the economic and social costs associated with crime.
In the past, the primary responsibility for crime prevention rested with the police, courts and corrections, and the focus of their strategy was primarily to reduce the opportunity to commit crime.
Neighbourhood Watch and target hardening are examples of this type of strategy. These are important efforts, and our government will continue to support initiatives by the police, courts and corrections to reduce the opportunity for crime. Responses to crime that rely on enforcement, prosecution and correctional services are reactive in nature. They respond to crime after it occurs. Our government is committed to proactive crime prevention. We seek to stop crimes before they occur. Our government is committed to a broad understanding of crime prevention. We are committed to crime prevention through social development. Crime prevention is not something that the police, courts and corrections systems can accomplish alone. Crime prevention through social development begins with the premise that crime is linked to social and economic factors. This means that prevention programs must go beyond reducing the opportunity for crime. Successful crime prevention programs must help build healthy and vibrant communities.
Successful crime prevention through social development programs will include a variety of programs targeted at social problems, such as ineffective parenting and domestic violence. The most successful crime prevention strategies are those that emerge from communities themselves. The most successful crime prevention strategies will be those that promote the rebuilding and strengthening of communities. Our approach to crime prevention is consistent with the trend in other jurisdictions and reflects the state of the art in research. For instance, the federal Standing Committee on Justice and the Solicitor Generalís report on a crime prevention strategy for Canada identify the following principles of the safer communitiesí approach to crime prevention. The community is the focal point of effective crime prevention. The community needs to identify and respond to short- and long-term needs. Crime prevention efforts should bring together individuals from a range of sectors to tackle crime, and strategies for preventing crime should be supported by the whole community.
More recently, the national crime prevention strategyís community mobilization program provides funding to increase the development of broad community-based partnerships focused on dealing with local crime prevention issues; to increase public awareness of the support for crime prevention at the local level; and to increase the capacity of diverse communities to deal with crime and victimization.
I am pleased to say that, for the past six years, the Government of Yukon has been working in partnership with the National Crime Prevention Centre to fund innovative programs of this type. We have an agreement with the National Crime Prevention Centre whereby Canada will provide approximately $300,000 per year to fund innovative crime prevention through social development initiatives in the Yukon. The crime prevention and policing branch of the Department of Justice promotes and supports the prevention of crime at several levels, which include: the development and support of crime prevention strategies such as the Whitehorse safer cities strategy and the national crime prevention strategy; the development and delivery of programs such as the Yukon youth leadership project; and public education and training such as the Northern Community Conference on Sexual Abuse: Prevention, Education and Awareness held in the fall of 2003.
Justice Yukon also supports grant funding programs such as the youth investment fund. This crime prevention through social development philosophy focuses on addressing social factors that put people at risk for anti-social behaviour, including crime, and promoting factors that protect people from becoming offenders or victims. Both Yukon Justice and the National Crime Prevention Centre support this philosophy.
In conclusion, this government will continue to work with Yukon communities, youth, First Nation governments, police services and other to address the root causes of crime, support crime prevention projects and support victims. I am very pleased to point out that these amendments to the Crime Prevention and Victim Services Trust Act will help achieve these goals because they will provide additional funding to community-based projects aimed at crime prevention and victim services. Thank you.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?
Some Hon. Members: Division.
Speaker: Division has been called.
†Mr. Clerk, would you please poll the House.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Agree.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: †Agree.
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Hart: Agree.
Mr. Cathers: Agree.
Mr. Rouble: Agree.
Mr. Hassard: Agree.
Mr. Hardy: Agree.
Mr. McRobb: Agree.
Mr. Cardiff: Agree.
Ms. Duncan: Agree.
Mr. Arntzen: Agree.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are thirteen yea, nil nay.
Speaker: The yeas have it. I declare the motion carried.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 50 agreed to
Bill No. 49: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 49, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Edzerza.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I move that Bill No. 49, entitled Act to Amend the Legal Profession Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 49, entitled Act to Amend the Legal Profession Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I am very pleased to present Bill No. 49, Act to Amend the Legal Profession Act, to this House. This legislation represents the hard work of our government Justice staff, the Law Society of Yukon, paralegals and the aboriginal courtworkers. I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone involved in putting it all together.
Over the past several years, the legal profession has requested that these changes be made, and I am proud that it is our government that has brought forward these amendments. After consulting with the legal profession and the aboriginal courtworkers, a number of problems were identified with the existing act, and these amendments will be addressed. Other problems being fixed by this act I will go through now and in greater detail in the line-by-line examination.
The first change was in the definition. The bill was originally drafted prior to the advent of the Internet, so there was no recognition of electronic mail in the definition of ďmailĒ.
This small change will allow the Law Society to use e-mail to contact its members for official business of the society.
Mr. Speaker, the practice of law will also be clarified in this act. This section has been modelled after the B.C. act and more accurately describes what the practice of law is and who can practise it. The new wording also identifies specific exemptions to the definition of the practice of law, such as notaries, the public administrator, the registrar of land titles and licensed insurance adjusters working under part 11 of the Insurance Act.
Members of our own Yukon Legislative Assembly, municipal councils and Members of Parliament may also need to act in a capacity that may be defined as a practice of law, particularly in our dealings with constituents who have problems with legislation or regulations.
I am sure that the members opposite would agree that members of this House need to feel that they are not restricted in responding to the needs of their constituents on matters that originate in some way from the work done in this House.
Mr. Speaker, this act also adds aboriginal courtworkers to the exemption of who can practise law. Aboriginal courtworkers operate under a funding agreement that details the type of work that they are to carry out. While the agreement does state that aboriginal courtworkers shall promise not to give legal advice, some of the activities that are part of the courtworkerís job could arguably fall under the present and proposed definition of the practice of law.
There is a general exemption in the present legislation for persons who perform these activities with no expectation of reward. Given that aboriginal courtworkers are paid a salary for making submissions, among other things, they might not fall under the existing exemptions. This proposed amendment makes it clear that aboriginal courtworkers can continue to operate as they have been.
I am very pleased to report to this House that the aboriginal courtworkers were consulted with regard to having their activities added to the act, and they were in support of this amendment.
Another group of Yukon workers who needed to be exempted from the practices of law provisions were the paralegals. Under the amendments these employees who worked for law firms or government must carry out their duties under the supervision of lawyers. The changes allow the public some security with regard to quality of service and still allow staff to perform many of the tasks that we as a public access legal assistance for. The amendments represent a balancing of the public interests in making legal services more available to a greater number of people and the public interest in protecting the consumer of legal services. As a government, we wish to ensure that courtworkers and paralegals can continue to engage in their activities as they are an important part of the administration of justice in the Yukon.
The amendments to this act also protect the public interest by specially restricting lawyers who have been disbarred by a law society, or have resigned from a law society because of a disciplinary matter, from practising law. There are other provisions that protect the public from the improper practice of law that I will go into in further detail in Committee.
We have also repealed section 3 and we have added a new section that furthers accountability by the Law Society. The purpose of this section is to make it clear that the society shall be guided by the public interest. This revision section gives further clarity as to how the public interest will be fostered by the activities of the members of the Law Society. Also, the existing legislation does not give the Law Society executive clear authority to purchase insurance for the Law Society, its executive, officers and employees. As well, it does not give the clear authority to provide insurance beyond practice insurance for its members. The amendments before us today address both these issues.
The proposed amendments will also allow for part of admission or membership fees to be paid into a special fund, which is a fund established to reimburse the public for losses arising from the misconduct of members. This will serve to help protect the public from unscrupulous lawyers.
The present legislation also puts a cap of $500,000 on the amount that may be paid out from the special fund to a qualifying person. That amount may be insufficient to reimburse the person and this cap is being removed.
A new amendment will change the way in which the fund can receive revenue. This allows the Law Society to build the special fund by transferring surplus admission and membership fees into this special fund.
Mr. Speaker, there is also an amendment within this act that allows for the recognition of law students who do their articles with government rather than in private practice, which will be recognized without special provisions. The special provisions under the old act consisted of having students perform part of their work in private practice in order to complete their articling. While this practice may have made sense in the past when the governmentís legal branches were small and the student may not have received well-rounded training, the modern Department of Justice offers an excellent variety of legal experience. The change makes this section consistent with the Northwest Territories and other jurisdictions.
Mr. Speaker, these amendments also provide for the practice of law by lawyers from other jurisdictions. The amendments are similar to other small jurisdictionsí legislation in Canada, including New Brunswick, P.E.I., Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. Larger jurisdictions have opted for a different approach that our Law Society chose not to adopt.
Other problems with the act have been identified by the Law Society that are more administrative in nature, and this bill addresses those problems. Before we proceed, I just wanted to point out to members of this Assembly some of the many activities that the Yukon Law Society carries out.
The activities of the Law Society are important in shaping the debate on these amendments because they show a professional organization that is dedicated to protecting the public, building our communities and enhancing excellence in their profession. This past year, the Yukon Law Society contributed $500,000 toward the Porter Creek Secondary Schoolís campaign to raise awareness about childhood cancer. This campaign began as a response to the son of one of the Law Society members battling with cancer.
The money raised by the school campaign went directly to the B.C. Childrenís Hospital oncology where many Yukon children receive excellent care during their long battles with this horrible disease. The Yukon Law Society also contributes $200 toward the Peter Gzowski PGI Golf Tournament to support literacy.
Last February, the Canadian Bar Associationís national mid-winter meeting was held here in Whitehorse, and the Yukon Bar hosted and contributed $10,000 toward the event. I donít need to remind the members opposite that these meetings are not only important in the professional development of the Yukon Bar, but are also an important contributor to our economy.
The Law Society has also encouraged professional development of its members so they can keep abreast of changes in the law. The Law Society of Yukon is an active member of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada.
As well, each year the Yukon Law Society has supported law librarians with grants that assist them in attending their annual librariansí conference. The knowledge they gain from those conferences is then in turn given back to the membership through the work they do in the library. As I have said earlier, the Yukon Law Society has been instrumental in bringing these amendments forward.
Lastly, I wanted to repeat that there is overall consensus on the wording of the proposed amendments from the legal community as a whole, which was obtained during the consultation process. This legislation is an example of how our government is working with Yukoners and Yukon organizations with full consultation to reach consensus on our issues. I look forward to answering any questions regarding these proposed amendments.
Mr. Cardiff: I would like to express our support for Bill No. 49, the Act to Amend the Legal Profession Act.
The minister has outlined ó in fact, he has gone into very deep detail ó what the bill is about. I would like to also take the opportunity at this time ó I think I missed it the last time ó to thank the officials from the Department of Justice for both briefings: on the act we spoke about previously to this, and to this one ó and for providing all kinds of interesting information for someone who is new to the critic area. I know we are not allowed to use the ďRĒ word.
So, basically, the act, as I understand it ó these are changes to a 20-year-old piece of legislation that had been asked for by the Law Society. According to the ministerís press release, they have been asking for these changes for a number of years. The big question would be: what is taking so long to bring them forward? The minister has had two years to do that and it has taken him two years to get there.
I think that basically this improves the way the Law Society operates and the way that it governs itself. It also protects the public interest when they use lawyers ó when they hire lawyers to work for them.
So, we will be supporting this. I have a couple of questions for the minister when we get into Committee, and I look forward to seeing this pass quickly.
Ms. Duncan: Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
I rise in support of Bill No. 49, Act to Amend the Legal Profession Act, at second reading.
As has been noted previously in debate, the amendments are coming forward at the request of the Law Society. The Law Society and the Yukon legal profession have worked substantially with the Department of Justice legal drafts people and largely agreed upon these changes. They are the hard work of a number of individuals, including Justice Gower before he was elevated to the bench.
I appreciate the amendments that have come forward and the work of the Law Society. This modernizes definitions and the practise of law in the territory. I note with interest the references to the Yukon Law Society, having had the privilege of serving on that particular board. As a layperson, it is one of the more interesting boards that I have had the opportunity to serve on, and I appreciated that opportunity and my working experience with the legal community.
I support these amendments, and they donít raise a great number of questions as I note that they are the result of the hard work of Department of Justice lawyers as well as the Law Society and the Yukonís legal community. I look forward to its passage in the Legislature.
Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: †I too would like to lend my support to this particular bill. This bill has been a long time in the coming. I note with avid interest that the member opposite, the critic for Justice, questioned why it has taken us two years. I question why it has taken the previous governments 20 years.
I would like to thank the Minister of Justice for proceeding with this very important bill, and I certainly am very supportive. I had the opportunity as the previous Minister of Justice to meet with the Law Society of Yukon on a number of occasions. This certainly was one of their priorities. As it has been mentioned before, the actual original Legal Profession Act was proclaimed in 1984, twenty years ago, and the Legal Profession Act, as it currently stands, it allows for the profession of the practice of law to be self-regulating. As I understand, there has been only one minor, simple amendment made to the act, which was made in 1991, to require a lawyer practising in a municipality to obtain a municipal business licence.
Certainly I think that these amendments have been requested specifically from the Law Society of Yukon and certainly are a direct result of collaborating with the legal profession, as well as our aboriginal courtworkers and, of course, thanks to the very good work and due diligence by our Department of Justice legal services branch.
As the Minister of Justice also pointed out, the Law Society has felt for a number of years that certain aspects of the act are out of date, and they are certainly not consistent with acts in other jurisdictions in Canada. I understand that the Law Society has been working on these amendments since 1995, and it has been requesting changes to the act from successive Yukon governments year in and year out. Having just been in office for two years, if that, I think that we have made great strides in listening to the community and acting upon that.
With respect to the proposed amendments, they are, by and large, housekeeping amendments. They update operational needs identified by the Law Society here in the Yukon, and this includes some changes to some disciplinary measures, recognizing articling students employed by government, as well as increasing reserve funding amounts held by the Law Society.
The amendments also modernize the definition of practice of law, and certainly our government has looked to other jurisdictions in Canada, including British Columbia, which has perhaps one of the more recently updated legal profession acts. This bill will also clarify the authority of the Law Society to make rules in respect to the regulation of lawyers in the Yukon.
So basically, in a nutshell, these amendments deal with provisions for everything from setting up membership fees, clarifying who is required to become a member of the Law Society and who may practise law in the Yukon, again, allowing lay members of the executive to sit for a two-year term and also allowing executive members of the Law Society to purchase insurance for liability purposes. Again, there are simple amendments ranging from changing the timing for the appointment of the auditor to removing the requirement to have 12 monthsí consecutive practise immediately prior to applying to become a member of the Law Society. These are pretty benign amendments, but again, they are specific changes that will certainly bring the Legal Profession Act here in the Yukon in line with other jurisdictions in Canada.
As the Minister of Justice also outlined, it does have the unanimous support of the legal profession here in the Yukon, the Law Society of Yukon. Aboriginal courtworkers have also been fully consulted and concur with the proposed amendments.
I would just like to pay some recognition to the Law Society of Yukon. As has been heard today, they certainly are active members of our community. They take part in a number of fundraising initiatives. One thing in particular that I referred to is the Law Day Fun Run, which I have participated in for the last two years, despite not being in the best of physical shape. But I have certainly participated in that race, and it is a great initiative, and it certainly raises a number of different funds for different charities of choice each year.
So Iíd just like to pay recognition to the Law Society of the Yukon, to the president, Tracy McPhee, in particular, for her efforts, and to all the board of directors for bringing this important initiative to our governmentís attention and in giving us the opportunity to work with each of the members of the society in coming up with the proposed amendments that we are all very content with. With that said, I thank the members opposite and the members in the House for the opportunity to speak to this bill and certainly look forward to hearing more about the debate on this bill.
Speaker: If the member now speaks, he will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I am very pleased to rise to offer closing remarks to Bill No. 49, Act to Amend the Legal Profession Act, to this House. This legislation represents the hard work of our governmentís Justice staff, the Law Society of Yukon, paralegals and the aboriginal courtworkers.
Over the past several years, the legal profession has requested that these changes be made, and I am proud that it is our government that has brought forward these amendments. After consulting with the legal profession and the aboriginal courtworkers, a number of problems were identified with the existing act that these amendments will address. We have debated the important changes that this bill will bring about.
I am sure the members opposite would agree that members of this House need to feel that they are not restricted in responding to the needs of their constituents on the matters that originate in some way from the work done in this House. This legislation is an example of how our government is working with Yukoners and Yukon organizations with full consultation to reach consensus on our issues. The provisions in this bill will ensure that Yukoners are provided professional legal services to ensure a more efficient legal system and that the rights of all Yukoners will be respected.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 49 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: The Committee of the Whole will come to order.
The matter before the Committee is Bill No. 50, Act to Amend the Crime Prevention and Victim Services Trust Act.
Before we begin, do members wish a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will take a 15-minute recess.
Chair: Order please. Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
Bill No. 50 ó Act to Amend the Crime Prevention and Victim Services Trust Act
Chair: The matter before the Committee is Bill No. 50, Act to Amend the Crime Prevention and Victim Services Trust Act. We will begin with general debate.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Again, I would like to start out by taking this opportunity to thank all of the staff who were involved with preparing these amendments. In many cases, the people involved in these numerous projects that fund and help pay for volunteers, a lot of this focuses back on work that has been done by people who are willing to volunteer their time and to ensure that the communities are a safer place in which to reside.
Again, it involves one seeking the understanding of what it means really to offer crime prevention programs and victim services. Both are very beneficial to society. Both are of equal importance. One must always remember that people who are victims of crime quite often are innocent people, ones who may not really deserve such treatment to be inflicted upon them.†
I believe that a lot of people who are victims go through life without any kind of intervention, thus filling the correctional facilities and living a very, very hard life.
When we talk about crime prevention programs, these programs, again, are very important to maintaining some kind of control over criminal activities that may be carried out throughout communities or throughout the Yukon Territory. Crime prevention means just that: it means initiatives that could minimize the number of people who will become victims of crime.
I believe crime prevention is a very community-oriented process and that everyone has a stake in ensuring that their communities are safe. One has to believe that at any given time a very innocent person can become a victim. Crime prevention is geared toward educating people about crime and the devastating effects it could have on society. Again, itís very important, itís crucial, that crime prevention is considered and maintained as one of the top priorities in dealing with criminal activities.
I will keep this short and I will entertain any questions from the members opposite.
Mr. Cardiff: I have just, I believe, a few questions. Weíll see how it goes, how the answers go. The first question I have: could the minister tell us ó the officials provided us with a detail of all of the revenue sources for the trust and Iím just wondering if the minister could tell us what the current balance in the trust is at this time?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Mr. Chair, we donít have the exact figure, but it is just over $2 million.
Mr. Cardiff: I guess the question that comes to mind is about one of the things that the amendment to the act that we are discussing does. It removes that $2-million cap on the fund. So, what I was wondering was where would potential revenues for this fund have gone if that cap had not been removed? Where would those funds have gone?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: The cap is not really removed. The fund will stay at $2 million.
Mr. Cardiff: Itís my understanding that the act is being amended in order to allow the revenues from the Klondike Visitors Association slot money ó basically the agreement ó so that more revenues can accrue to the fund. So what is being repealed is the expression ó I donít want to get into the lines ó ďuntil the trust reaches the amount of $2 millionĒ, which would lead me to believe that basically those revenues couldnít accrue once the fund had reached that $2-million mark.
So to me thatís a cap. I donít understand ó thatís what it would appear to me, that there was a cap. Maybe the cap only applied to the revenues that would come to the trust as a result of the money from the Klondike Visitors Association. Thatís at the very least what it would appear to me. So maybe the minister can clarify that, and then we will move on.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: The cap that the member opposite is talking about is the funds that will continue to flow until they reach $2 million, at which time now, the monies over and above that can now go directly into projects, as opposed to going into general revenue. Thatís where the change is here.
Mr. Cardiff: I think I understand what the minister is saying. At any rate, it sounds to me, anyhow, like the fund will continue to grow, and that would lead one to believe that there is probably, hopefully anyway, an opportunity to do more programming and fund more projects in the area of crime prevention and victim services.
Iím just wondering if the minister has any ideas or if there are any ideas out there that he has for projects that may be coming forward to be funded.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Historically the communities are the ones that come forward with projects. They submit them to the department. This happens twice a year when proposals can come in for crime prevention projects. At that point in time, the board will determine which projects will be funded.
Mr. Cardiff: In the same vein, Iím just curious if the minister meets with the board that disburses the money on any regular basis.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I do meet regularly with Noreen here and she is the chair of the board. When scheduling is obtainable, I will be meeting with them in the near future.
Mr. Cardiff: Iím sure that the board would appreciate meeting with the minister and hearing his views. Heís a representative of the people and heís in a position to influence things. He has the ear of a lot of people, so Iím sure that he has a contribution to make there as well so that the board can work in harmony with the goals of the government as well.
Could the minister tell me if there are any vacancies? Iíd like to know two things: how many people sit on the board and if there are any vacancies on the board currently.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I can assure the member opposite that I am quite anxious to review the ideas that the communities may come up with in regard to crime prevention. Itís always a very interesting initiative to have an opportunity to view and to witness the ideas that are created by a whole number of people. At the present time there are nine people sitting on the board, and there are no vacancies.
Mr. Cardiff: I just have another question about the board and its operation and the role that the minister plays. Itís my understanding that the board collects the submissions from community groups. The minister outlines a number of those projects that have been funded over the last four years probably. I think he covered off quite a few of them as did some of his other colleagues as well.
Iím just wondering. So they come to the board and then does the minister have the final approval as to whether or not these projects go ahead, or is that left in the hands of the board?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: That decision is left with the board.
Mr. Cardiff: Okay, I just have a few more questions. Given that this is the taxpayersí money, to a large degree, I would be interested in whether or not ó I believe the press release associated with this act said there has been something in the neighbourhood of $1.5 million worth of projects done over whatever the actual period of time was ó I donít remember that ó but over the past four, five, six years, something like that. Iím just wondering whether or not the board has established a way to evaluate the effectiveness of projects. If you look at some of the projects, they range in value. I didnít actually figure out which one was the lowest and which one was the highest, but I know that some of them are a matter of less than $1,000; some of them are more in the neighbourhood of $25,000, $30,000, $40,000. Iím just wondering if the board has some way of evaluating the effectiveness of the projects.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Itís their responsibility to provide an evaluation of how they felt that program went.
I would like to state that when we deal with anything to do with crime, change is not immediate. To be able to determine if something was successful may not be immediate. But over a period of time, I believe that one could probably determine if the crime rate has gone down at all, for example. That may be one initiative that, as minister, I will try to achieve and maybe start a process where some record of criminal activities is kept and see if there is any drop in the crime rate.
During a pilot project that was done in the Kwanlin Dun First Nation that I belong to, I know such a program was administered over three years. The statistics were just phenomenal for the number of reported crimes in the neighbourhoods of Golden Horn, Valleyview and all of the other surrounding areas. It was really remarkable. So just from my own personal experience, Iím able to say that they really do make a difference.
Mr. Cardiff: I understand the minister, and I understand where heís coming from. I agree. Itís not easy to evaluate the success of some of these projects two days out after the project has been delivered. Some of these are short-term projects that are involved in going biking for the summer ó basically itís diversion. Itís basically taking kids and giving them something positive in their lives that they can do and making them feel like their lives are worthwhile and that theyíre doing something valuable. I donít know; maybe thatís hard to evaluate. Maybe we should be asking the kids what they got out of it.
Then we have projects that are of a larger scope that involve a substantial amount of money, and I think that the taxpayer would like to know that this money is being well-spent. I know if you look at the sources of revenue, maybe it is not actually tax dollars, but the people who are victims of crime pay taxes, and I think that we owe it to all our communities to know that weíre spending money and that weíre actually achieving the goals of the program.
So I donít know. If the board doesnít have the tools to evaluate the program, then maybe thatís something that the minister could assist the board with; maybe his staff or people in the Department of Justice could work with some of these groups that are doing projects and find ways to evaluate the projects and the effectiveness of them. I think that would be valuable, and it would be valuable because then, when the board meets to vet new projects that are coming in, you can look at them and say, ďWell, you know, this was successful here and this was successful there; this is pretty similar.Ē The board may even be able to make some recommendations on how the programs would be delivered and, with these new projects, how they would be delivered.
One of the things I wanted to ask for, which may not be available, was if there were any criteria developed for evaluating these projects. I am sure that it would be different for short-term projects and long-term projects, so I will just ask the minister if there are any criteria that exist and if they could be made available. I donít want them right this minute, but he could provide a legislative return.
†Hon. Mr. Edzerza: To start out with, each project has different objectives and different goals, and they will be evaluated accordingly.
I want to mention to the member opposite that some of the suggestions that the member made are bang-on and some of them are happening.
As for the project that was done in Old Crow, and I quote from the evaluation from one of the students: ďI learned hard work really pays off.Ē So, there is some questioning of the people involved with a project. To hear this from someone who is very young ó I believe in grade 1 ó is quite a statement.
Mr. Cardiff: I actually have no further questions for the minister. I would just like to state once more that I think that it would be worthwhile for the minister to work with his officials and with the board to develop some criteria for evaluation. Some of it is going to be subjective, I guess. I donít know how you provide some level of comfort to the public that money is being well-spent.
There is no doubt in my mind, and Iím sure there is no doubt in anybodyís mind here, that the money is actually being well-spent, but itís nice to actually be able to see that proof. Actually, I think Iím probably doing you a favour because if you were to do that you could get up and you could have talked a lot longer during second reading speeches.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Iíd like to respond to the member opposite by saying that crime prevention is a very serious process within a community, in every community. This government takes it very seriously, as I witnessed other governments do. It must be maintained as a very high priority in all communities to deal with all aspects of Justice issues. I thank the member opposite also for his final comment. Maybe Iíll do that and then next time Iíll talk for three hours.
Ms. Duncan: I just have a few questions and points Iíd like to address with the minister in debate. Iíd like to thank the Member for Mount Lorne for asking some questions on the record so we were all aware of the board functioning that administers this trust.
I do disagree ó this revenue isnít really taxpayersí revenue in the sense that itís fines and I suppose some of the memorandum money is taxpayer revenue. But the other is revenue from gambling. Unlike the formula financing money or revenues from oil and gas, this is revenue from a different source. However, the requirement for accountability is no less so. I appreciate the accountability that the trust fund provides in its annual report to the House and I appreciate that, with the amendments to this act, weíre changing that to ensure that reports can be delivered in a timely manner without creating undue hardship for anyone. I support that particular amendment.
I would like to address the issues around where that revenue comes from. I expressed in my second reading speech that I was concerned that this revenue-sharing agreement with Diamond Tooth Gertieís and the Klondike Visitors Association dates back to 1992. What discussions did we have with them in looking at that formula? I was concerned that the government had had none. Now the Member for Lake Laberge said that in fact there were other options examined. So would the minister outline what discussions were held with Diamond Tooth Gertieís and the Klondike Visitors Association about the slot machine revenue and what options were presented and discussed?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: The ones that do have discussions around this issue with the KVA was Community Services. Justice has not had any discussions around this issue with KVA.
Ms. Duncan: Letís establish my concern for the record. My understanding is that this 1992 regulation reads that the Government of Yukon receives 25 percent of the profit, if you will, after all expenses have been paid. That amounts to, by the information that was presented, in excess of $200,000 a year. Is that correct? Roughly.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Yes, that is correct.
Ms. Duncan: So thatís $200,000 a year, and by far the largest contribution to the victim services trust. Iím going to call it that for short. Prior to us making these legislative amendments, that money would go into general revenue. So itís a $200,000 contribution to the coffers of the Government of Yukon to be spent if it werenít going into the victim services trust fund.
Tourism is a difficult business and the whole object of KVA and the first legally licensed gambling hall in Canada was that revenues and profits are put back into the community. When it was first conceived, it wasnít about dealing so much with the addiction as it was Dawson is a historical place, and visitor services and the Palace Grand and other events like that were being funded out of this. So the minister is saying he has no knowledge of any discussions with KVA and Community Services about maybe instead of 25 percent, it should be 15 percent, and we can put the other 10 percent into Dawson or into addictions or some other venue for this money. There were no discussions with Justice. They were all held with Community Services, and the minister is not aware of any discussions ó is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Mr. Chair, we at Justice did not have any talks with KVA. However, I understand where the member opposite is coming from, and I respect the views. I guess thatís one spin a person can put on it, saying that maybe more money should go into the addictions. However, Mr. Chair, I am inclined to believe that, by putting the money into crime prevention, the tourists will also benefit from this. There is no doubt about it. If there could be a deterrent toward individuals seeking out criminal activities around the mobile parks, for example, this is something that even the tourists can benefit from, including everyone in the territory.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, Iíd like to restate the ministerís point, and it should be noted for the record that, like the revenues from oil and gas ó the Kotaneelee fund, for example, that is shared between the Government of Yukon and all signed Yukon First Nations ó this revenue of 25 percent is shared with all Yukoners. There is a fundamental point that has been made with respect to this gambling revenue and those resource revenues. We need to be mindful of it in other discussions as well.
On the subject of slot machine revenue, would the minister state for the record what the Yukon Partyís position is with respect to any expansion of gambling licences or the use of slot machines in the territory?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I cannot comment on that.
Ms. Duncan: The minister canít state the governmentís position on that particular ó gambling and the expansion of gambling is in the Department of Justice portfolio. Itís licensed through the Department of Justice. Is the minister unable to state what the governmentís position is? Are they currently entertaining any applications for the expansion of slot machine use in the territory?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: The lottery licences are administered through Community Services and not Justice.
Ms. Duncan: I understand that. The bingo licences and so on are dealt with through Community Services. However, the regulations around slot machines and additional slot machine licensing ó that would also be done through Community Services? The minister is nodding. And the same regulations, presumably, would apply. And the minister canít say if there are any other interests in the expansion of gambling? That question has to be directed to the Minister of Community Services ó correct? The minister is nodding.
I will seek to direct my question to that minister responsible when the opportunity presents itself.
One concern I have as an individual and as a representative in this Legislature is that there are a variety of funding organizations. There is the victim services trust fund, there is the kids recreation fund, there is the lottery application, there is Sport Yukon elite athlete funding. There are a number of different funding organizations and we have become a territory of grant-application writers, in some instances. Many volunteer organizations are spending hours and hours and hours on this.
Each one of these funds has different objectives. The kids recreation fund is a very good example where you can see the similarity between the kids recreation fund and the projects funded under that or individuals funded, and some participation in some of the projects that would be funded under this particular fund.
The Member for Mount Lorne asked about evaluation. Has there been any discussion or thought given to a coordination of efforts around these kinds of applications? In particular, I am thinking in that area.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Well, the department is basically involved with dealing with the three different funds. One is the youth investment fund, the others are the crime prevention and victim services fund and the community mobilization fund. We are looking and could look at ways of streamlining these projects to ensure that there is the availability of funds to get to these communities and get these projects going. Again, any improvement that could be made will be an asset to working with crime prevention.
Ms. Duncan: The minister mentioned three funds. There is also the fourth fund in the federal fund for crime prevention. I am not sure of the correct name, but there is also a fourth fund that can be applied for.
I appreciate that what I thought I heard the minister say was that he recognized the suggestion in terms of streamlining and coordinating efforts so that we could ensure that there is perhaps the maximum use of volunteer time and the maximum use of the dollars available, as well. An example I can think of that comes to mind is the Girls on the Run program that was initiated this year by the RCMP. Itís only a $15 fund for girls to participate but itís aimed at young women and it deals with self-esteem issues, as well as physical fitness. I donít believe that the $15 fee would be a drawback to any parent, but it may. As opposed to the kids recreation fund, seeing an application for the $15, it makes sense for that project to apply for a set of funding and make the program available. Thatís where I can see the kids recreation fund, as well, dovetailing with these funds and their objectives. The easier we can make it, while ensuring accountability, make it easier for these funds to get out and to be accounted for and to be applied for, the better I think it would be and the more effective the funding would be in the long run.
I appreciate the minister following up on those suggestions. Thank you Mr. Chair, I have no further questions.
Chair: Are there any further questions? Ms. Duncan.
Ms. Duncan: I would request unanimous consent to deem all clauses and the title of Bill No. 50, Act to Amend the Crime Prevention and Victim Services Trust Act, read and carried.
Unanimous consent re clearing Bill No. 50
Chair: Ms. Duncan has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all clauses and the title of Bill No. 50, Act to Amend the Crime Prevention and Victim Services Trust Act, read and carried. Are you agreed?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: There is unanimous consent.
Bill No. 50 deemed read and agreed to
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I move that Bill No. 50, Act to Amend the Crime Prevention and Victim Services Trust Act, be reported without amendment.
Chair: It has been moved by Mr. Edzerza that Bill No. 50, Act to Amend the Crime Prevention and Victim Services Trust Act, be reported without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 49 ó Act to Amend the Legal Profession Act
Chair: We will now proceed with Bill No. 49, Act to Amend the Legal Profession Act, and general debate.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I would like to start out again by saying that I really am appreciative of all the hard work that went into producing the amendments to this act by all the Justice staff, the Law Society, paralegals and the aboriginal courtworkers. Again, some of these are housekeeping amendments; however, theyíve been a long time coming. I think itís going to really benefit all the people involved with the legal profession.
Iím going to keep my opening remarks very short, as I think I pretty well laid out the whole process and the required amendments in my previous opening comments. I welcome questions from the members opposite.
Mr. Cardiff: I understand and had a very detailed briefing from the officials, and since then there are only a couple of questions I have. It is around aboriginal courtworkers and paralegals. It is my understanding that the Law Society and the aboriginal courtworkers were consulted on this. Iím not sure whether paralegals or aboriginal courtworkers ó do they actually appear in court on behalf of clients, or do they just provide legal advice?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Yes, they do. They do appear in court on behalf of citizens.
Mr. Cardiff: Iím just wondering ó Iím not calling into question the Law Society and how they govern themselves. Iím just wondering what type of training is provided. It is my understanding ó I know from previous experiences, Iíve been involved with another organization ó requests for training for paralegals ó
Iím just wondering, does the government or the Law Society provide training for aboriginal courtworkers?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Yes, the government does provide training for aboriginal courtworkers.
Mr. Cardiff: Itís my understanding as well ó Iím sure that this isnít something that happens only in Whitehorse. The court travels around. Iím just wondering if the minister could give us an idea of how many paralegals would be working in the Yukon and how many aboriginal courtworkers there would be in the Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: At the present time we donít have those exact numbers here; however, we can get them back to the member opposite at a later date.
Mr. Cardiff: I appreciate that. I look forward to getting that information. I believe itís customary to provide it to the third party as well, and Iím sure heíll do that.
Iíd just like to go back ó just briefly ó to the training thatís being offered. Iím just wondering what the nature of the training is, how in-depth it is, and whether or not there is room to provide more opportunities for training to these people. It is my understanding that a number of them work out in the communities. Iím just wondering if that training is made available to those people who are in the outlying communities.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: There is training that takes place. I assume that the member opposite was referring to the native courtworkers and also the paralegals, I guess. Training is available to people in the outlying areas who work in this area. They are brought to Whitehorse and have the opportunity to work with, for example, lawyers, maybe the judges, the public administrator, et cetera. The paralegals who work right in Whitehorse are also provided training here in Whitehorse.
Ms. Duncan: I donít have any questions with respect to this bill or debate around any of its specific points. It has been very well drafted by the work of our own legal drafts folk, as well as that of the legal profession and the consultation with the Yukon Law Society has been thorough on this particular bill and some time, so I would like to again thank the legal profession, the individuals who work for the Government of Yukon, as well as members of the Law Society, for ensuring that we have before us this sort of amendment, which clearly adds to the modern-day functioning of the legal profession and the practise of law in the territory and provides them the legal basis for doing so.
Chair: Is there any further general debate? Hearing none, we will proceed with line-by-line.
Mr. Cardiff: I would request unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all clauses and the title of Bill No. 49, Act to Amend the Legal Profession Act, read and carried.
Unanimous consent re clearing Bill No. 49
Chair: Mr. Cardiff has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all clauses and the title of Bill No. 49, Act to Amend the Legal Profession Act, read and carried.
All Hon. Members: †Agreed.
Chair: Unanimous consent has been granted.
Bill No. 49 deemed read and agreed to
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I move that Bill No. 49, Act to Amend the Legal Profession Act, be reported without amendment.
Chair: It has been moved by Mr. Edzerza that Bill No. 49, Act to Amend the Legal Profession Act, be reported without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Chair: Mr. Jenkins has moved that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Rouble: Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 50, Act to Amend the Crime Prevention and Victim Services Trust Act, and has directed me to report it without amendment.
Additionally, Mr. Speaker, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 49, Act to Amend the Legal Profession Act, and has directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Bill No. 52: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 52, standing in the name of the Hon. Ms. Taylor.
Speaker: Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission, on Bill No. 52,† you have the floor.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: †I move that Bill No. 52, entitled Act to Amend the Education Staff Relations Act and the Public Service Staff Relations Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission that Bill No. 52, entitled Act to Amend the Education Staff Relations Act and the Public Service Staff Relations Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: †I am honoured to rise today in the Legislature to introduce Bill No. 52, an Act to Amend the Education Staff Relations Act and the Public Service Staff Relations Act.† Before I go into details on this specific bill, I would like to provide this House with some background on why this bill is being introduced today.
This act amends the Education Staff Relations Act and the Public Service Staff Relations Act. The Education Staff Relations Act governs labour relations between the Yukon government as employer and the teachers as represented by the Yukon Teachers Association. Similarly, the Public Service Staff Relations Act governs labour relations between the Yukon government and members of the Yukon Employees Union.
The goal of both of these acts is to ensure that negotiation and implementation of collective agreements is pursued fairly and reasonably by both the employer and the bargaining agents who represent employees. To this end, the acts spell out specific rules for such things including determining which bargaining agent gets to represent which employees; the negotiation of collective agreements; the resolution of disputes during the collective bargaining process, including the use of arbitration and conciliation; the adjudication of grievances respecting the application of the collective agreement after it is in force; and the conduct of strikes and lockouts.
A key component of these acts and similar legislation across Canada is the appointment of a labour relations board to make the day-to-day decisions that are necessary for the administration of the act. To be effective, these boards must be fair and impartial, and they must be trusted by both the employer and the bargaining agents representing the employees.
In addition, they have to know what they are doing. Labour relations is a complex subject, and the exercise of authority routinely requires a high degree of sensitivity to assist parties to make the compromises necessary to the conclusion of good collective agreements.
These matters achieve exceptional importance in the Yukon because so much of the economy is based on the work done by and the salaries paid to employees of the Yukon government. The importance of the Labour Relations Board in the Yukon under these two acts should not and cannot be underestimated.
The federal government has similar legislation governing its relations with its own employees across Canada. Because of the size of the federal public service, this is a very busy board with knowledge and expertise that a small jurisdiction such as the Yukon could never hope to approach, let alone duplicate. Ever since the Yukon first enacted legislation in this area, the members of the federal board have been appointed also under Yukon legislation to act as members of the Yukonís boards. Further, the staff of the federal board has provided the necessary administrative support for the Yukon boards to do their work. We in the Yukon are very grateful to have enjoyed the services of such competent administration in this sensitive and important arena, and doubly so because the federal board has been providing these services to us and continues to provide them free of administrative charges.
The need for the bill that is now before the House arises from recent amendments to the legislation establishing the federal Labour Relations Board and governing its duties and authority. The purpose of the bill is to amend the Education Staff Relations Act and the Public Service Staff Relations Act to bring them into line with this new federal legislation so that the federal board can continue to do our Yukon work with a minimum of disruption to its federal responsibilities.
Because the federal boardís Yukon work is such a small part of its total workload, and because the federal board provides its services in the Yukon free of charge, it is desirable for the Yukon to simplify the relationship wherever possible.
This legislation promotes this goal by adopting provisions and wording in the Yukon legislation that is, as far as possible, identical to the new federal legislation. It also changes the method for appointing the boards to avoid unnecessary paperwork and some new provisions that are being adopted from the federal act to ensure that, as far as possible the board, in performing its work in the Yukon, has the same powers, procedures and protections as under the federal act.
The focus of these amendments is restricted to provisions governing the constitution, powers and functions of the boards. There are significant differences in other areas between the Education Staff Relations Act and the Public Service Staff Relations Act. This act does not affect the existing policy in these other areas. Advantage is being taken, however, of this opportunity to correct typographical and other minor errors.
Mr. Speaker, Iíll conclude my remarks by saying thank you again for the opportunity to speak to this bill. I certainly welcome the input and feedback from members opposite.
Mr. Hardy: I thank the minister opposite for the detailed summary of the changes. She has indicated that this is housekeeping, and itís to ensure that the Yukon actions and responsibilities are in line with the federal actions and responsibilities. As far as I can see, thatís something that has to be done. It ensures less duplication and problems that would exist if they werenít. So I really donít have any questions on this.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I would also like to thank the minister for her very thorough opening remarks with regard to this bill. A very similar briefing was held by department officials. This is a piece of legislation that keeps us in step with the federal legislation, and that is all these changes are about.
The minister tabled the two reports from these boards earlier in this session. They are reports weíve become used to seeing in this Legislature. They are very professional, and we appreciate these professional services that are provided at virtually no cost, as I understand it, to the Yukon taxpayer. Itís one of those services from Ottawa that we have come to appreciate, both for their professionalism and, quite frankly, it makes our job as Yukoners easier knowing we have two professional boards like this.
I appreciate that these amendments are to keep us in step with the federal legislation and thank the minister for bringing them forward and for the thorough discussion. I have no difficulty with this legislation or questions surrounding it.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 52 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
Bill No. 52 ó Act to Amend the Education Staff Relations Act and the Public Service Staff Relations Act
Chair: The matter before the Committee is Bill No. 52, Act to Amend the Education Staff Relations Act and the Public Service Staff Relations Act. I understand that officials are on their way but it might take a few minutes. Would members like a five-minute recess?
Ms. Duncan: The leader of the official opposition and I have both indicated that we have no questions with respect to the bill. If the minister would like me to stand and deem all lines read and carried, I can do that.
I would respectfully request that rather than a five-minute recess we deem all clauses and the title of Bill No. 52, Act to Amend the Education Staff Relations Act and the Public Service Staff Relations Act, read and carried.
Unanimous consent re clearing Bill No. 52
Chair: Ms. Duncan has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all clauses and the title of Bill No. 52, Act to Amend the Education Staff Relations Act and the Public Service Staff Relations Act, read and carried.
All Hon. Members: Agreed.†
Chair: Unanimous consent has been granted.
Bill No. 52 deemed read and agreed to
Hon. Ms. Taylor: †I move that Bill No. 52, entitled Act to Amend the Education Staff Relations Act and the Public Service Staff Relations Act, be reported without amendment.
Chair: It has been moved by Ms. Taylor that Bill No. 52 be reported without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Chair: I understand that weíre moving on to Bill No. 51, Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act. Do members wish a recess while we wait for officials?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Iím sorry; I didnít hear membersí answers.
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Some Hon. Members: Disagreed.
Chair: There does not appear to be consent.
Bill No. 51 ó Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act ó continued
Chair: Bill No. 51, Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act.
Mr. Hardy: Where I left off last time I was talking in regard to the Motor Vehicles Act, of course, the section about impoundment. I felt that the changes that were being proposed in the Motor Vehicles Act were not going to address the very serious concern about ownership and responsibility of the owner in regard to the vehicles. This example, of course, would be the tow truck.
I felt that this allowed the tow truck owner to be able to walk away from that responsibility and the predominant amount of responsibility being placed on the employees instead of it being a shared responsibility or recognition that actions of the owner do have consequence in a safety matter in regard to highways, of course.
Has the minister given any thoughts to striking those from the amendments that are being brought forward in that section?
Hon. Mr. Hart: As mentioned previously, we are looking at keeping equity on both sides of the issue, both for residential and commercial users of vehicles.
Mr. Hardy: I think we have given a lot of constructive input to this Motor Vehicles Act. We have debated it for quite a few hours now. There have been a lot of concerns raised, whether itís in regard to communities and off-road vehicles, such as in the Village of Old Crow, where that is one of their means of transportation ó ATVs and skidoos make up a large portion of how they get around on their streets ó and what impact that would have for the licensing and restrictions in that regard.
Again, another section, as I just mentioned earlier, on the responsibility of owners ó has the minister listened to this side and the suggestions or is it his position that what we see before us is what we are going to get, no matter what we say?
Hon. Mr. Hart: As mentioned, we noted that changes with regard to the age factor were only to merely correct an error that was identified in the act and weíre not changing any issue as it relates to the Old Crow situation, other than what has already been there.
Mr. Hardy: My understanding is that the people of Old Crow have some very serious concerns, and I would hope that the minister would indicate that he is listening closely to their concerns and he is willing to respond to them. Itís not good enough in this day and age for government to bring forward amendments to bills without proper input or consultation, and I feel that there has been some slippage in that area. The minister is remiss in that. Can the minister tell me: has there been any consultation about these changes up in Old Crow?
Hon. Mr. Hart: For the member opposite, Iím not in possession of the details from the DataPath survey on the specifics but I am led to believe that there has been, through the process, some consultation with some members in Old Crow.
Mr. Hardy: I donít find that answer good enough. Itís too much like you are supposing that there has been some consultation. I would expect the minister to know if there has been consultation, and to be sure he asked the appropriate questions to ensure that his department has had input on these changes that are obviously going to affect many areas of the Yukon, especially that one in this regard.
Can the minister commit to get back to me on how much consultation there has been on this and who were the people consulted in Old Crow?
Hon. Mr. Hart: For the member opposite, I can inquire from DataPath as to whether there were specific members in Old Crow. I canít answer that question right now but I will endeavour to check in when I can and get back to him.
Mr. Hardy: I have read the stuff from DataPath and I would not consider that an in-depth consultative process or one that allows necessarily a dialogue. Maybe I should ask a few questions and maybe the minister can enlighten me on how the DataPath consultation process happened. Was it just questions and phoning? Was it set questions and then they phoned in to areas to get feedback? Is that how it was done?
Mr. Hart: DataPath was part of the survey. We did newspaper ads and we allowed a 1-800 number for them to call in to for the process from the set of questions, and DataPath compiled the information and presented the results.
Mr. Hardy: So basically all the amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act were arrived at through this one type of contact, this one type of what the minister calls consultation? I wouldnít necessarily call it consultation ó maybe input or feedback on a set of questions. Is this how the amendments were all arrived at?
Hon. Mr. Hart: As I mentioned on the first day, we provided a breakdown of how we arrived at the questions through the council and our survey was handed out. As I mentioned, we had newspaper articles out. We did provide a 1-800 number. We sent letters out to all the First Nations asking them for their input on this particular process, as well as the survey that was sent out.
Mr. Hardy: Was there any direct contact with anybody out there, or was it only through telephone, letter, e-mail? Maybe itís not even those, Iím not sure. Maybe the minister can give me an idea how extensive this consultation process was. Was there direct contact, like the minister went out and talked to maybe the First Nations, or maybe groups; maybe some of the ministerís department people did this, Iím not sure. Maybe he could give me an idea of what happened there. It just sounds like it was DataPath and that was it.
Hon. Mr. Hart: With regard to our consultation, as I mentioned, the advisory group was consulted on these issues. The public was left with their opportunities to consult with us. We contacted and we had consultation with the local RCMP. We had consultation that took place with the review officers, and the general public was notified through the newspaper as well as through radio ads. We used DataPath specifically to achieve a good cross-section of the general public throughout the Yukon.
Mr. Hardy: Could the minister tell me how the RCMP were consulted?
Hon. Mr. Hart: We consulted with the RCMP on a regular basis throughout the process.
Mr. Hardy: Could the minister tell me how they were consulted?
Hon. Mr. Hart: We consulted with the RCMP as we went along, directly, and since my staff isnít here, I canít tell them specifically how it was done.
Mr. Hardy: Would the minister consider the DataPath survey appropriate to government-to-government consultation?
Hon. Mr. Hart: As I mentioned previously, we corresponded directly with all First Nations on this particular issue, and that was the from in which we dealt with the First Nations.
Mr. Hardy: Could the minister tell me how they consulted with the First Nation governments?
Hon. Mr. Hart: As mentioned, we dealt with them by sending correspondence directly to all First Nations related.
Mr. Hardy: Were there any meetings arranged with, for example, the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, to see how these changes would impact them?
Hon. Mr. Hart: As far as meetings with the Vuntut Gwitchin, as far as I know there was no specific meeting held with them.
Mr. Hardy: So no department people went up to Old Crow to meet with them, nor did the minister consult them directly?
Hon. Mr. Hart: As far as I know, I did not go up specifically to Old Crow to meet with the First Nation on that particular issue. But as I said, we had correspondence with them, and we will work from there.
Mr. Hardy: Could the minister tell me what type of correspondence he had with the First Nations?
Hon. Mr. Hart: We sent out correspondence on these issues and all the amendments we are proposing to each First Nation and awaited their response.
Mr. Hardy: What manner of communication did the government use in their consultations with the First Nations?
Hon. Mr. Hart: As I mentioned, we used correspondence with the First Nation directly. For those First Nations that contacted us, Iím sure that we dealt with them through the branch and/or through an official in one of our departments.
Mr. Hardy: Could the minister explain to me what he means by ďdirect correspondenceĒ?
Hon. Mr. Hart: As I mentioned, ďdirect correspondenceĒ means ďdirect correspondenceĒ. We provided correspondence directly to the First Nations.
Mr. Hardy: No, Iím sorry, I canít accept that. ďDirect correspondenceĒ doesnít necessarily mean ďdirect correspondenceĒ unless thereís some way to describe how you communicated. Iím sure I wonít get them all, but thereís e-mail ó Iíll tell the minister some of them that I know of. Is that considered direct correspondence? Thereís telephone ó is that considered direct correspondence? There are letters ó are those considered direct correspondence? Thereís the DataPath survey, where somebody else phones and asks specific questions ó is that considered direct correspondence? There is having a public meeting ó is that considered direct correspondence? There is arranging to meet with the chief and council in regard to this matter ó is that direct correspondence?
†I can get into some other layers as well. I can talk about the department people doing all those different levels of correspondence, or I can talk about the minister actually being engaged in this and participating in this. Iím sure there are other types of correspondence that may date me ó like, 100 years ago. Maybe the government used that as well. Would the minister try to enlighten us on this side exactly what this government considers to be direct correspondence?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Correspondence was sent directly to the First Nations asking them for their response. As I said, it was sent directly to chief and council. We went from that particular basis. As I mentioned, I do not have the benefit of my staff at this late hour, but Iím sure we did have correspondence via the telephone. When I can confirm that one way or another, I will.
Mr. Hardy: I would hope that the minister would know what kind of correspondence heís talking about because he informed me that it was direct correspondence. Iím not so sure if ó I guess what Iím trying to find out is what this government classifies as acceptable direct correspondence with another government. Does this minister consider the correspondence, the communications that theyíve had with another level of government, adequate for the changes to the Motor Vehicles Act?
Hon. Mr. Hart: I believe this government has gone through the appropriate steps to make these amendments. We consulted via a direct letter to the First Nations. We have consulted through our newspaper ads to the general public. Weíve consulted through making a number available with regard to responses, either through those questions and/or what other people have to bring up with regard to the act.†
We have followed through with that process. I believe that we have made an effort to go out there and get it and, considering that process, that is what we have done.
Mr. Hardy: Mr. Chair, can the minister tell me what kind of response the department and the minister got in their obviously very extensive outreach to the First Nations?
Hon. Mr. Hart: I canít give him specifics of what we got from each First Nation. Iím not privy to that information right here, right now, but I know that we did get some feedback from some First Nations, but I canít offer him any more than that at the moment.
Mr. Hardy: Was the feedback that the minister got reflective of different regions of the Yukon, or was it consistent across the board? Was it always the same answer?
Hon. Mr. Hart: I canít really respond to that question right now with that information; however, once I am able to determine that particular process, I will be more than willing to provide that information.
Mr. Hardy: It seems at this present time that all Iím getting into is a situation where the minister doesnít have the information at his fingertips and obviously is in need of assistance from his department.
I move that we report progress and then allow an opportunity for him to get assistance.
Chair: It has been moved by Mr. Hardy that we report progress on Bill No. 51, Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act.
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. 51, Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act, and has directed me to report progress on it.
Also, Mr. Speaker, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 52, Act to Amend the Education Staff Relations Act and the Public Service Staff Relations Act, and has directed me to report it without amendment.
Chair: 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: The House now stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:53 p.m.
The following documents were filed November 8, 2004:
Northern Splendor Reindeer Farm, letter (dated Oct. 25, 2004) from John Russell, Director, Conservation Officer Services, Yukon Environment, to Mr. Tim Gregory, Northern Splendor Reindeer Farm: re release of reindeer into the wild† (Hardy)
Education, Sharing of responsibility as per TríondŽk HwŽchíin Self-Government Agreement, letter (dated Nov. 4, 2004) from Darren Taylor, Chief, TríondŽk HwŽchíin to Hon. Dennis Fentie, Premier† (Hardy)