††††††† Whitehorse, Yukon
††††††† Wednesday, November 24, 2004 ó 1:00 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.
†Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
In recognition of the fight against child poverty
†Mr. McRobb: Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of both the official opposition and the third party to pay tribute to all those professionals and volunteers who fight against child poverty across Canada and especially in the Yukon.
The House of Commons of Canada passed a resolution in 1989 that endorsed the concept of ending child poverty in this country by the year 2000. That led to the creation of the Campaign 2000 initiative. Campaign 2000 is a non-partisan cross-Canada coalition of more than 85 national and community organizations whose purpose is to implement the House of Commons resolution.
Today we have the latest report card from Campaign 2000 and the news is not good. After 15 years, the analysis sadly indicates there has been no appreciable decline in the child poverty rate of 15 percent. In contrast, European countries have successfully reduced their child poverty rate to near five percent. In Canada today, food bank users represent a staggering 26 percent of the total population; 40 percent of those users are children. More than half of the children in poverty live in families with at least one working adult. Families with children are the fastest growing demographic within our population in need of emergency shelter.
It should be noted that national statistics exclude First Nations on reserves or children in the three northern territories. If included, we can safely assume that the statistics would only further skew the number of children who live in poverty.
While these statistics indicate problems, solutions are just as clear. Thereís a need to raise allowances for social assistance and rates for disability pensions for families with children. There is also a need to raise the minimum wage. What about homelessness? Governments need to satisfy the budgetary need to help alleviate the lack of social housing across this great country of ours.
These are all conditions that can be resolved with the necessary degree of political will from governments. In closing, we wish to recognize the many professionals and volunteers who work to fight child poverty in our territory. We say thank you to the many social workers, food bank volunteers, Anti-Poverty Coalition members, donators and many others who give a helping hand and a few dollars to family and friends in their time of need.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I rise in this House today to ask my colleagues to join me in recognizing the 15th anniversary of the Canadian Parliamentís vow to end child poverty.
Mr. Speaker, please note that I do not ask that we celebrate the date ó only that it be recognized. Because, in spite of the fact that 15 years ago the House of Commons unanimously resolved to seek to achieve the goal of eliminating poverty among Canadian children by the year 2000, approximately one million Canadian children are still living in poverty.
The quoted statistics are Canada-wide, but they exclude northern Canada and on-reserve status aboriginal populations. Canada is not a Third World country. Our children should not live in poverty and, as Yukoners, we lend our voices in asking that action be taken to finally solve this problem.
We are very fortunate here in the Yukon, and as a small jurisdiction we have the ability to respond to problems in creative and innovative ways to support families and children. We have been able to make some investments in programs that support families and children and make a difference in their lives.
We have increased our funding to the Yukon food for learning program, which funds school nutritional programs throughout the territory. Children are able to access breakfast, snacks and lunches in participating schools, depending on the schoolís individual program. With 27 out of 28 schools participating, no child should go hungry.
This government also funds the kids recreation fund, which supports children from low-income families to participate in recreation or sport activities. Healthy active minds and bodies make good citizens.
Earlier this year we increased the Yukon child benefit for low-income families, putting more money into the hands of the individuals who need it most. We have increased support for our early childhood intervention programs, added increased funding for childcare. Weíve also eliminated the requirement for Yukon Housing to take in child support payments for families in determining their rent in social housing.
But we cannot stop there. There is still much work to be done at the national level, but we can take pride in knowing that we have taken steps to drive down child poverty and to show that we care for families and children ó all children. Our work continues.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Are there any further tributes?
Introduction of visitors.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
†Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, today in the gallery, we have some students from the Tantalus School in Carmacks. They are grades 10 to 12. They are accompanied by two teachers, Kelly Beacon and Grace Roberts. I ask all members in this House to welcome them here today. They are here to observe the proceedings of this House and see how politicians do their job in both opposition and government. I ask everyone to help me in welcoming them here today.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: †I, too, on behalf of this side of the House and the Government of Yukon, would like to extend a warm welcome to students and teachers of the Carmacks Tantalus School. Itís a pleasure to have you here with us.
I would also like to extend a warm welcome to Mr. Wayne Wannamker, a fellow Whitehorse West constituent, who has also blessed us with his presence here in the Legislature, and a big thanks to Mr. Wannamker for his efforts in initiating the veteransí licence plate.
Speaker: Are there any further introduction of visitors?
Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Mr. McRobb: I have a document for tabling.
Mr. Fairclough: I have a couple of letters for tabling at the request of the Mayor of Carmacks. One is an open letter to me dated November 18 of this year, and another a letter to the school planning committee from Lizza Larkin dated May 18 of this year. I also have for tabling relevant information to this issue: a press release from the Village of Carmacks and mayor. It is dated November 2 of last year. Also, I have for tabling a letter to the editor from Karen Gage, another open letter to Mick Larkin from Viola Mullett and a letter to the editor from Cathy Cochrane of Carmacks.
Mr. Cardiff: I have for tabling a written question addressed to the Minister of Community Services.
As well, I have a written question addressed to the minister responsible for the Yukon Workersí Compensation Health and Safety Board.
Speaker: Are there any other returns or documents for tabling?
Any reports of committees?
Any bills to be introduced?
Speaker: Before calling notices of motion, the Chair will rule on a notice of motion given yesterday by the Member for Kluane. At that time, the Member for Kluane gave notice of Motion No. 367. As given by the member, this notice of motion contained in full the text of Motion No. 83, which, as the member stated, was given in this House on April 8, 2003.
This presents a procedural difficulty for the Chair. Members are aware that it is in order to have on the Order Paper notices of motion that are similar to one another. It would have been in order, therefore, for the Member for Kluane to have given notice of a motion that was similar in intent or subject matter but textually different from Motion No. 83.
However, it is not in order to have on the Order Paper two notices of motion that are exactly the same. Members will note that the version of Motion No. 367 appearing on todayís Order Paper is an edited one. This editing was done by the Table Officers under my direction. Nonetheless, the notice of motion remains a problem because calling Motion No. 367 for debate would, in effect, result in a debate on Motion No. 83. Therefore, Motion No. 367 merely serves to put Motion No. 83 on the Order Paper twice. That is not in order.
Furthermore, the Chair does not wish to see a practice develop where members are using the Houseís limited time to place on the Order Paper notices of motion that are, in effect, already there. The Chair therefore orders Motion No. 367 not be transferred from the Notice Paper to the Order Paper.
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
†Mr. McRobb: Letís hope I have better luck today. I give notice of the following motion:
THAT† it is the opinion of this House that
(1) the rate of child poverty in the Yukon is unacceptable;
(2) many children in poverty are in households that have at least one parent working; and
THAT this House urges the Yukon Party government to take immediate measures to increase the income of families that have at least one working parent by raising the minimum wage, increasing social assistance rates for families and children, and providing stable financial assistance to food banks in the Yukon.
I also give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Yukon government to deal immediately with the emerging coal-bed methane industry in the Yukon by launching a territory-wide information campaign on the impacts of coal-bed methane extraction, along with the fair opportunity for Yukoners to decide whether they want this industry established in this territory.
Mr. Cardiff: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Canada to respect the intent of the Employment Insurance Act by eliminating the yearly employment insurance funds surplus and use the unrequired portion of the accumulated $46-billion surplus to provide benefits and training to working people.
Speaker: Is there a statement by a minister?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re:† †Veterinary college, University of Saskatchewan
†Mr. Fairclough: My question is for the Minister of Economic Development. The Minister of Education has said that the minister did not take part in Cabinet discussions about reinstating a Yukon seat at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine. The Premier has said that the minister did take part in such discussions.
Mr. Speaker, the facts cannot support both positions, so my question is: which position is correct?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: †It is indeed a privilege to be able to speak to this topic, because I feel as though not all the facts have emerged from this issue, and Iím very pleased to elaborate on those particular areas.
With respect to the issue at hand ó the issue that the member opposite refers to ó itís important to note that persons wishing to attend a veterinary college ó any veterinary college in Canada ó must do so by applying for a seat that is allocated for the region they live in. In this case, Yukon is allocated one seat at the Saskatchewan veterinary college, the facility that covers the western region that incorporates the Yukon.
This is not a new initiative; this is an initiative that has been in place since 1976. A total of three students have graduated from this program.
The cost for the seat allocation is $25,000; itís not for tuition, itís not for scholarship; itís for a seat allocation. This government has agreed to fund this seat where there is a demonstrated need ó in other words, the successful candidate. In this case there was.
The veterinary college pre-screens the applicants and decides whether the applicant is qualified to be accepted. The Government of Yukon has no involvement in screening the student. The student cannot gain admission to the college without government maintaining the seat.
Mr. Fairclough: We on this side understand that but weíre hoping the Minister of Economic Development can answer the question because of two things that have been said, one by a minister and one by a Premier. We need to clear this matter up. Itís only right that we clear it up. The only person who can clear this up is the Minister of Economic Development. So I will ask him this question again. Which position is correct: the Minister of Educationís position that he did not take part in any Cabinet discussions, or is it the Premierís position that he did? Which position is correct?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: †Again for members opposite, for their clarification, itís extremely difficult for any student in the Yukon, or in the country for that matter, to gain entry into any veterinarian school in the country. The student at hand, the student that we are talking about here, went through the normal admissions procedures and was accepted into the program. Any student wishing to attend veterinary college must apply to the college in the same way that one would apply to a university for acceptance. Individuals become aware of the program in the same way that one might become aware of any secondary school program and must be accepted on their own particular merits.
Again, the Yukon government had absolutely nothing to do with the admission process. Positions in any other professional colleges such as medicine, law, optometry and others are not advertised, I should also add. Interested students investigate how to be admitted to their program of choice through their own independent research, through their own merits. Again, to the best of my knowledge, since this initiative began in 1976 ó again, an initiative that has been in place since 1976 ó there have been no public releases on this particular area.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, I think we have a problem here, and I think the minister, filling in for the Minister of Education understands it, too. One minister would say one thing in this House; the Premier says another. Itís about a Cabinet minister being part of the discussion in Cabinet about a position in the veterinary college in Saskatoon, Mr. Speaker. Thatís the issue here. We understand about admission and so on. People do it on their own. The only person who can clear this up is the Minister of Economic Development. So I want to direct my question again to the Minister of Economic Development. He needs not hide from this question. So I will ask him again: which position is correct, the Minister of Educationís or is it the Premierís? Which one? Because we cannot be told again the position of the acting minister ó thatís totally away from the question.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: †Well, Mr. Speaker, we on this side of the House are not hiding from any issue. We are not dodging the ball. We are in fact addressing the issue, as the member opposite has raised questions in this House on a number of occasions. We are doing our very best in providing answers to the member oppositeís questions.
Now, if the answers are not what the members opposite like to hear, that is certainly within their purview. We are doing our best to provide the answers that the members opposite have posed in front of us, and I would also add to the member opposite that if there is an accusation to be made, perhaps that accusation should be made outside of this Legislature.
Question re: † Veterinary college, University of Saskatchewan
Mr. Hardy: Well, we heard that rant yesterday about accusations being made outside the House.
Speaker: The leader of the official opposition knows exactly where Iím going. I would just ask him to restrain himself a little, please.
Mr. Hardy: We heard those words spoken yesterday. We say in this House what we say out of the House, and we stand by that.
It may take some time, but the stone walls will crumble. The Berlin Wall did crumble after some time. We were able to do it. The people were able to do it in Germany. Brick by brick, we will dismantle this governmentís wall of secrecy, because thatís what this is about.
My question is for the Premier since he will not allow the minister responsible for this mess to speak. My question will go to the leader himself. The Premier says that the Minister of Economic Development took part in a discussion on reinstating a Yukon seat. The Minister of Education said no. A yes-or-no question for the Premier: did the Minister of Economic Development take part in any such discussion at the Cabinet or Management Board level?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: First, letís correct the record on what the Premier says. The Premier says that the decision in this area was not the Minister of Economic Developmentís decision to make. The government has also articulated the facts of this matter in great detail to the members opposite. Thirdly, and whatís very important here, as directed by the Conflicts Commissioner and his advice ó the government always follows that advice, and this decision was made collectively by Cabinet/Management Board, and in this government every member of Cabinet is a member of Management Board. Therefore, due process was followed; a decision was made based on a screening by a college in Saskatchewan that informed us that there was an applicant accepted to take on this training and education. The member opposite, the official opposition leader, calls this a mess. I say to the member opposite thatís demeaning to that person now learning a very important skill, and I hope they come back and practise that skill in Yukon.
Mr. Hardy: Once again the Premier tries to blame the opposition for the mess they get themselves into. This is getting to be very typical of this government and of the type of leadership weíre witnessing.
The Premier is right: it is the Conflicts Commissionerís job to decide whether or not the minister acts appropriately or not, and we do know that this minister has had to go to the Conflicts Commissioner in the past about other issues. The Premierís job, though, is to provide factual information in this House. So I have a policy question for the Premier, Mr. Speaker.
Does the Premier think it is appropriate for a minister to take part in Cabinet-level discussions that affect the ministerís profession or private business interests? Does he think that?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: First, let me assist with some advice to the leader of the official opposition. It is also incumbent upon the opposition to be factual in this Assembly, and thatís important because, in many cases, we have seen incorrect information being brought forward. In this case, that is exactly what is happening.
No, neither the government nor I, as Premier, condone in any way inappropriate conduct by our ministers.
Speaker: Order please. The term ďincorrect informationĒ is implying that the opposition is bringing other than factual information. A principle that this House operates on is that all members are explaining the facts to the best of their ability. So I would ask the hon. Premier not to dispute the information. Carry on, please.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Considering the issue of facts, thatís what I was alluding to.
In this case, the minister did not participate in any decision in this regard as he was supposed to as a minister under the guidelines and advice of the Conflicts Commissioner.
The real problem here, Mr. Speaker, is the conflict on the opposition benches in trying to ferret out a way to discredit people on this side of the House by not representing the facts.
Mr. Hardy: Well, we know that outside the House yesterday, he said one thing; inside the House he said another thing. Those are questions we have to ask. We want to know what really happened. We want to know what the true story is in this regard.
Let me give the Premier a scenario to consider. If this student comes back to work at the ministerís clinic next summer, she will be better educated, thanks to the governmentís investment in a seat at the veterinary college. This educational experience would make her services more valuable to this ministerís clinic. Does the Premier think itís appropriate for a minister to take part in Cabinet-level discussions that could have that result? Itís a very simple question. Iíd like to see if the Premier can address it.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Weíre not going to deal with ďifĒ or speculation. This particular individual, an ex-employee, applied through due process to a college ó not to the government. The government has maintained since 1976, on an on-and-off basis, a space in this college for veterinary training. I would suggest that if the members opposite were truly interested in the facts of the matter, they would have listened to the answers, and there would be no further questioning in this regard. Theyíve been given all of the information. The evidence is clear that what has been done is appropriate and follows due process.
Question re: Prescription drug abuse
†Ms. Duncan: The Chief of the Liard First Nation has outlined what he sees as part of the prescription drug problem in Watson Lake: there should be some distance between the pharmacy and the clinic. The chief is quoted as saying publicly in the media that the Government of Yukon needs to address the local pharmacy in Watson Lake and how that pharmacy is operating. The pharmacy should be functioning completely independent from the clinic.
The Premier spoke in this House about the need to work with our partners, that everyone needs to do their share, and that the whole community needs to work together. This is a reasonable, concrete suggestion from the community. Itís a government-to-government suggestion from the Chief of the Liard First Nation. When is the government going to act on the chiefís suggestion?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I find this line of questioning highly irregular, given the dedication and devotion of the doctors in rural Yukon, specifically in Watson Lake. The issues surrounding this matter are that there was a stand-alone pharmacy that couldnít make it in Watson Lake and it was acquired by the professional corporation operated by the doctor in that community ó likewise, for the community I reside in, in Dawson City. Due diligence is practised at all times with respect to the prescription drugs.
What the member opposite is not following through on is the question of double doctoring, the issue of stolen prescriptions, and the issue of moving around prescriptions, which are all outside of the purview of government. Some of them on their own are downright illegal. To suggest that this is all the responsibilities of the doctor having control of the pharmacy is ludicrous.
Ms. Duncan: There is absolutely nothing irregular about standing on the floor of this House and asking when the government is going to act on a suggestion from a leader of another government within the territory, the Chief of the Liard First Nation. There is nothing irregular about that question at all.
Itís difficult for the public to get a real handle on the magnitude of the problem. There is not a lot of public information about it. The Chief of the Liard First Nation has said quite clearly that the Government of Yukon needs to address the local pharmacy in Watson Lake and how that pharmacy is operating. The pharmacy should be functioning completely independent from the clinic. A chief has asked this of the Government of Yukon and put forward a reasonable, constructive suggestion. Iím asking the minister, as a minister in the Government of Yukon: when is the Government of Yukon going to act upon the chiefís reasonable, constructive suggestion?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The member opposite is going on the premise that the chiefís position is very accurate and that he is knowledgeable of all the facts in this matter, which I would ask the member opposite to give careful consideration to before voicing that opinion, because all that is being expressed is an opinion.
The facts of the matter are contrary to the situation being advanced by the leader of the third party in this House. There is a professional and ethical responsibility on the part of the doctor in Watson Lake and the other doctors who have joined him in his practice to dispense or prescribe any drug in an appropriate manner. There is also a professional responsibility on the part of the pharmacist to dispense drugs in an appropriate manner in Watson Lake. To the best of the knowledge that has been provided to me, that is in fact the case.
I have asked for statistics across the Yukon as to how much Ativan and how much Tylenol 3s have increased, and for the periods that I have the numbers for, actually Tylenol 3s have gone down and Ativan has gone up. That is the situation today.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, the duly elected chief in a community knows his community, has made a reasonable, constructive suggestion to the government. The minister just stood on his feet and criticized another elected official. The facts are that there has been a positive suggestion offered ó split up the pharmacy and the clinic. The government has the responsibility to publicly respond to that suggestion, not just to refer to it as an opinion or to sidetrack the issue and talk about information that the minister is gathering but not making public. Two things: would the minister stand up and publicly respond to the chiefís suggestion in a respectful manner, recognizing heís speaking for his community? Secondly, if the minister is gathering information, will he make that information publicly available so we can all assess what the situation is in the Yukon?
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: As a government and as elected officials on this side, we have been very respectful of all elected officials. What I pointed out to the member opposite is that the information the chief has is not accurate information, and what the member opposite is basing a question on is an opinion ó a speculative opinion at that ó that is not based on the facts of the matter. I would be happy to share the information with this House as to the number of Tylenol 3s that are dispensed in the Yukon. As I said earlier, the last two fiscal periods that I have the information on, itís actually gone down while Ativan has actually gone up.
Now, thereís the issue of privacy also, but there are a lot of issues that I will, for the member opposite, say there is some credence to, and that is the theft of prescription drugs from seniors and elders, the issue of double doctoring and going to several doctors in several different locations. There are all of these issues that are beyond the power of the government to control. In fact, some of them are illegal.
Question re: Coal-bed methane
†Mrs. Peter: I have a question for the Minister of Environment. There has recently been increasing talk of potential for coal-bed methane production in the Yukon. This method of producing natural gas causes a tremendous impact on the land in places where it has been used. Does the Minister of Environment have any concerns about the potential impact of coal-bed methane extraction on the Yukon environment?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: As this would fall under the purview of the minister responsible for Energy, Mines and Resources, I will respond to this question.
No, the government is not concerned that there are impacts on the environment from coal-bed methane extraction in todayís Yukon because itís not happening.
Furthermore, to the credit of the minister and the department, they recognize that this situation must be managed appropriately and are working diligently to ensure that whatever takes place in this area of potential resource development is done in a very responsible manner.
Mrs. Peter: My question was for the Minister of Environment. A coal-bed methane well needs to pump an incredible amount of water from a seam in order to release the gas. This waste-water has to go somewhere. The impact of the waste water on the environment varies according to the specific makeup of the land.
Can the minister tell us what Yukon-specific research the department has conducted on the environmental impact of coal-bed methane and, if so, will he table it?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Again I want to reassure the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin that there is no coal-bed methane extraction in todayís Yukon. There is work being done by the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources to ensure that this is an area that is not forgotten, to ensure we are addressing the situation in a very responsible way. I would point out to the member opposite that, before any type of development of this manner, thereís a tremendous amount of screening, environmental assessment and other processes that must be gone through before one hole would ever be drilled.
Furthermore, we must look at the scale of economies here. The only place right now in the Yukon that has the economic potential for development and production of natural gas is in the southeast Yukon by virtue of the fact that we are hooked to the marketplace through TransCanadaís pipeline grid.
Thatís the only place we are drilling in todayís Yukon. Natural gas is a clean-burning energy. It is contributing to a safer environment and Yukoners are receiving revenue from that production, and we share that revenue with the self-governing First Nations in the Yukon. I think thatís testimony to how the government makes sure that responsible development takes place.
Mrs. Peter: It seems that we have two ministers of Environment today.
Coal-bed methane production is increasingly controversial all over the world. This minister has an obligation to inform Yukon people about this source of energy and the serious impact it could have on our environment. The Minister of Environment has an obligation to ask Yukon people directly if they want this industry here.
Alaska, a very pro-development state, had placed a moratorium on coal-bed methane leases because of raised concerns. In many places, regulatory agencies have been caught off-guard by the growth of this industry.
With the record on consultation that this government has, will the minister make sure that Yukoners are properly consulted and that effective environmental regulations are in place before any coal-bed methane production takes place in the territory?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I think itís critical that we understand in this House that there is no coal-bed methane exploration, development or production in the Yukon today, and probably there will be none in the foreseeable future. But I would point out to the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin that before any type of development in this particular sector takes place, we must go through the appropriate environmental screening processes. Thatís a very public process.
Furthermore, we are embarking on a new era in the Yukon, and itís called YESAA, formerly the development assessment process. That particular process has a tremendous number of safeguards in it to ensure that this type of development will not take place in the Yukon, should environmental impacts not be mitigated. The purpose of what we do as government is to ensure that we apply all these environmental assessment regimes ó regulatory regimes ó in a consistent manner and that we promote nothing more than responsible development.
In summing up, there is no coal-bed methane production in todayís Yukon. There are two wells producing natural gas in the southeast Yukon. Thatís it.
Question re: Tantalus School, Yukon College campus at
†Mr. Fairclough: My question is for the Premier. The issue of the Carmacks school and the college campus has gone unresolved far too long. Carmacks wants a school. What they donít want is a college attached to it. That message is clear. The Premier has a duty to bring this project back on track. The Yukon Party campaigned on having people involved in decisions that affect them. Will the Premier let the people of Carmacks make the decision whether or not the college should be part of the construction of a new school? Will he do that?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: †Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely correct, and Iím very thankful that the member opposite pointed it out that consultation was a key ó working in collaboration with First Nation governments, with all levels of government and the citizens of the Yukon in providing a collaborative approach to issues such as schools. And education is a key priority of this government.
The community of Carmacks has been asking for a school for many, many years. This government ó the Yukon Party government ó has been the first to act upon that request. We are very pleased to be acting upon this particular need in the community. We feel that there is a need. I believe the residents feel that there is a need. We are taking steps in collaboration with the community to address the construction of a brand new school in Carmacks.
Mr. Fairclough: Nice answer, but this is directed to the Premier. The minister didnít answer the question. The issue is whether or not the college campus should be attached to the school. The community understands that. What we are asking is if the Premier will let the community people of Carmacks decide that for themselves. Why wouldnít the Yukon Party do that? You cannot be heavy-handed on this matter. They campaigned on something else.
So Iíd like to ask the minister again to let the people of Carmacks make the decision whether or not the campus should be attached to the school. Would she do that?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: †Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, also addressed in our election platform two years ago, education was a key priority. It remains a key priority of this government, and our actions speak louder than our words. I would just refer to all the millions of dollars of the new investments in education, one of which is a brand new school for the Village of Carmacks.
Mr. Speaker, we have been working as a government over the last year with the residents of the community of Carmacks. We have been working together with the village, the mayor and council, with the First Nation chief and council and we will continue to work collaboratively with the community to address these very needs.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, Mr. Speaker, the minister is not correct in her answer. They are not working in consultation and collaboratively with the community of Carmacks and the First Nation. As a matter of fact, the First Nation knew that something like this was going to happen, and do you know what they did to try to solve this problem? They had an intergovernmental agreement with the Yukon government to set the process straight so we wonít vary off the process. The minister comes in, makes a decision, messes the whole thing up, and now this Yukon Party doesnít want to talk to the First Nation. They know there is a mess down there. People are talking about it; theyíre writing letters to the editor over and over again. This is a real clear winner for the minister to set the record straight and do the right thing. What weíre doing is asking the minister to leave that decision of the College campus attached to the school or not up to the people of Carmacks. Itís a simple thing. They said they would campaign to do it. Will she do it?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: †Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I certainly cannot do it on my own. I am one member. I am the Acting Minister of Education today, in the absence of the Minister of Education, but I can say that our government is very much committed to constructing a brand new school in the Village of Carmacks. I should also say that the safety and security of our children, of our own students, in all communities in the Yukon, is of utmost importance to me as a minister of a Cabinet and Management Board as well as to this government. The construction of a school is a commitment that our government has made. We will continue to work together with the community of Carmacks, with all its citizens, to resolve these issues, and we are committed to constructing a new school.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Point of order
Mr. McRobb: On a point of order. With all respect, I submit that Motion No. 322 is not debatable at the present time. Please allow me to explain. The subject matter of the motion pertains to developing a pan-northern approach to the Canada Winter Games. Earlier today I tabled a document that clearly demonstrates that the subject matter proposed for debate this afternoon is already taking place. The decision has already been made. Thereís nothing to debate. Therefore the motion is outdated. In fact, the three pan-northern jurisdictions issued a press release jointly on October 19 announcing the appointment of Mr. Jim Antoine as the pan-northern ambassador for the 2007 Canada Winter Games.
Given this fact, I would respectfully request that you exercise the authority that you and previous Speakers have exercised many times in the past. I am respectfully requesting that you remove Motion No. 322 from the Order Paper rather than allowing a pointless debate on a motion that is already out of date. I would be happy to provide you with another copy of this joint news release to assist you in making your ruling.
Speaker: I would ask the opposition House leader to give me a moment to confer with the Table Officers.
Although there are similarities with the press release tabled by the Member for Kluane, the Chair is unable to make a ruling. Itís beyond the purview of the Chair actually to make that kind of a ruling, so I will allow the debate to go ahead.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
GOVERNMENT PRIVATE MEMBERSí BILLS
Motions other than government motions
Motion No. 322
Clerk: Motion No. 322, standing in the name of Mr. Cathers.
Speaker: It is moved by the Member for Lake Laberge:
THAT this House urges the sport and culture ministers of the Yukon government to work in cooperation with their counterparts from the Northwest Territories and Nunavut and the 2007 Canada Winter Games Host Society to develop a pan-northern approach to sharing unique northern sports and cultures when the Canada Winter Games comes north of 60 for the first time.
Mr. Cathers: It gives me pleasure to rise today in the House to debate this motion, despite the fact that the Member for Kluane would rather skip debate on this.
I do appreciate his comments regarding the press release put out and the fact that he has noted that much work is actually in progress on this initiative due in large part to the work of the Minister of Tourism and Culture and the minister responsible for sport, who is the Minister of Community Services, as well as the work the Premier has done in taking the lead and working with the premiers of the other two territories.
Iím complimented, and Iím sure my colleagues on this side of the House are complimented, that the Member for Kluane seems to feel weíve done so much work that itís already complete. However, development of a pan-northern approach to work together with the Northwest Territories and Nunavut and the 2007 Canada Winter Games Host Society, and sharing unique northern sports and culture when these games come north of 60, which will be the first time theyíve done so ó that is work in progress.
Mr. Speaker, two years ago, November 4, 2002, my government colleagues and I were elected on a platform of ďTogether we will do betterĒ. Today the evidence is all around us that, together, we are doing better. Yukon unemployment is down to 5.3 percent for the month of October, which is the fourth lowest rate in the country and is the lowest rate in the Yukonís recorded history.
One year ago, unemployment was at 11 percent. Today, 1,300 more Yukoners have jobs than at this time last year. This represents an increase of 10 percent in the number of people who are employed.
The Yukon population has also grown by nearly 500 people in the last year. When we took over the reins of government ó those of us on this side of the floor ó the Yukon economy was locked in a nose dive. Six years of government by the NDP and by the Liberals had resulted in our territoryís economy heading south fast, if youíll excuse the pun, Mr. Speaker. But there was nothing funny about the situation that we had inherited.
From a personal standpoint, one of the things that actually compelled me to run for office was the fact that most of the friends I had grown up with had been forced to move out of the Yukon in search of employment. It would be hard to count the number of people who told me on the doorstep during the 2002 election campaign that either their children, their friends, or their friendsí children had been forced to move out of the territory in search of work or that they were themselves considering leaving the Yukon.
From 1997 to 2002, the Yukon experienced a mass exodus of approximately 4,000 people. This was not an exodus by choice; rather it was a forced departure. People need jobs. My colleagues and I did not promise that we could wave magic wands or that solutions would take place overnight. We recognized and made it clear, to the best of our ability, to Yukoners, many of whom are very well aware of that fact. Given the fact that it had taken two governments to devastate the Yukon economy, fixing it would take time.
Another thing that had been severely damaged by previous governments was our relationships with our neighbouring jurisdictions. The Yukonís relationship with the N.W.T. was particularly frosty. Our predecessors, the former Liberal government, had spent an inordinate amount of time ó
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Speaker: Member for Klondike, on a point of order.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, Iíd like to draw your attention to the fact that there doesnít appear to be a quorum present.
Speaker: Order please. According to Standing Order 3(2), if, at any time during the sitting of the Assembly, the Speakerís attention is drawn to the fact that there does not appear to be a quorum, the Speaker will cause the bells to ring for four minutes and then do a count.
Speaker: I have shut off the bells and will do a count. There are nine members present. A quorum is not present. Accordingly, this House, pursuant to Standing Order 3(1), stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 1:59 p.m.
The following documents were filed November 24, 2004:
Carmacks, Village of - Open letter to Eric Fairclough, MLA for Mayo-Tatchun (dated November 18/04) (Fairclough)
Carmacks Campus of Yukon College, letter (dated May 18/04) from Lizza Larkin, instructor, to Michael Vance, chairperson, School Planning Committee (Fairclough)
Carmacks Campus of Yukon College, press release (dated November 23/04) from Cathy Cochrane, citizen of Carmacks (Fairclough)
Carmacks Campus of Yukon College, letter to editor (undated) from Karen Gage, Community Representative, Carmacks School Advisory Committee (Fairclough)
Carmacks, Village of Ė ďMinister bypasses residents on Carmacks School decision (media release, undated) (Fairclough)
Carmacks Campus of Yukon College, open letter to Mick Larkin (dated November 23/04) from Viola Mullett (Fairclough)