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††††††† Whitehorse, Yukon

††††††† Wednesday, May 4, 2005 ó 1:00 p.m.

 

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

 

Prayers

DAILY ROUTINE

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

Tributes.

TRIBUTES

In recognition of Hepatitis C Awareness Month

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Speaker, I rise today to ask my colleagues to join me in recognizing this month of May as Hepatitis C Awareness Month, which is recognized right across the nation.

It is important that we heighten the awareness of hepatitis C, which is often referred to as a silent stalker. Hepatitis C is an infectious virus that is carried in the blood. The number of people with hepatitis C is increasing rapidly in Canada and around the world, primarily among those who are sharing needles and other drug paraphernalia. But it is not just those who participate in at-risk behaviour who contract the disease.

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Many have contracted it through no fault of their own, either through blood transfusions or other contacts. This is important to us because there are now more than 550 individuals in the Yukon who have been diagnosed with this disease. Because of its nickname, the ďsilent stalkerĒ, there are probably many more individuals out there who are not aware that they have it. Many individuals have no symptoms. For some, those symptoms may not show up for one or two decades. In the meantime, these folks are still sharing the infection. We need to create more awareness about hep C, how it is transmitted and how it can be prevented. We need to recognize the individuals who are infected.

Later this month, Yukon communicable disease control will join Blood Ties Four Directions in a public forum to outline the various roles YCDC plays in prevention, diagnosis and treatment. We have a nurse dedicated to hep C patients here in the Yukon and we have a visiting specialist who deals solely with hep C patients.

This is a disease that can be prevented through education, but education needs to be ongoing through departmental programs, through programs sponsored by non-government organizations and through our educational system. All Yukoners need to know the risks and how to prevent them.

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Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

 

Mr. McRobb:   I rise on behalf of the official opposition in tribute to all those who work so diligently to combat hepatitis C.

Hep C is a virus in the blood that infects and can seriously damage the liver. Most at risk are Canadians who received blood transfusions prior to the screening implemented in 1990, people exposed to contaminated needles and health care workers. It is estimated that up to two percent of Canadians carry the virus.

Symptoms of chronic hepatitis C may not appear for a long time after infection but include fatigue, jaundice, nausea and hair loss. Many of those infected do not get sick and may only feel ill for a brief period of time; however, the chronic type affects about 80 percent of those affected, and 20 percent of those will develop cirrhosis or scarring of the liver. Current treatment includes medication thatís injected weekly and can suppress the virus by interfering with its reproduction. Many people infected with hepatitis C are not only physically ill; they experience isolation, uncertainty and fear about their future.

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The Hepatitis C Society of Canada offers support in experience-sharing for people to overcome those difficulties. The society has over 50 chapters across Canada. Through the chapters and telephone support networks, the society offers support and public awareness programs to those afflicted with this disease. It also advocates for compensation for those sufferers who contracted hepatitis C via the blood system prior to 1992, which is the federal governmentís cut-off date.

The risk of spreading hepatitis C is very low, since it is spread through contact with blood. Prevention of the disease from becoming chronic depends on helping the liver to function. Alcohol consumption should be moderate, and exposure to toxins, such as paint fumes, nicotine and chemical preservatives should be avoided to reduce the amount of work the liver has to do.

Yesterday, we learned about the close connection between physical and mental health in that one has a great bearing on the other. As with all disease, the mental attitude has a profound bearing on health. Such is the case with hepatitis C. The more emotional support we can give to patients with this disease, the healthier they will be.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

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Ms. Duncan:   I rise today on behalf of the Liberal caucus to pay tribute to Hepatitis C Awareness Month. Hepatitis C is the most prevalent liver disease in the world, caused by the hep C virus and spread through contact with infected blood. The World Health Organization considers hepatitis C an epidemic. Often itís called silent because it can infect a patient for decades before being discovered.

Currently itís estimated there are about 270 million to 300 million people worldwide who are infected with the hep C virus. The new symptomatic infections of HCV have been estimated to be 13 cases per 100,000 people annually. For every one person who is infected with the AIDS virus, there are more than four infected with hepatitis C.

We must raise awareness and vigilance, and we are doing that in part through our tribute to Hepatitis C Awareness Month today. I would, in raising awareness and vigilance, remind members of the motion on the Order Paper that the Yukon government give consideration to the Blood Samples Act. This legislation has been reviewed by the Uniform Law Conference of Canada and, at its 2004 meeting, the conference passed a resolution recommending that the bill be adopted by all jurisdictions.

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I would also like at this time to offer my congratulations to Blood Ties Four Directions, the non-government organization and its many volunteers who work in this area. This organization, as is noted, is there for the affected as well as the infected. Thank you, Blood Ties Four Directions, for your tremendous contribution to our community. In closing, I would encourage all members to raise the level of awareness of ourselves and our community of the hepatitis C virus.†

In recognition of Sandra Henderson

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I rise in the House today to congratulate Sandra Henderson in her successful campaign for the Yukon Teachers Association presidency. Sandra brings a great deal of experience and talent to the office of YTA president.

A teacher since 1981, Sandra has played a very important role in the development of French immersion and French-as-a-first-language instruction in the Yukon. She has been a strong advocate on behalf of French language education and was indeed the first teacher in the French immersion program in the Yukon. Sandra has had both experience as a teacher and administrator, and she was the vice-principal at F.H. Collins in charge of French immersion.

Certainly Yukoners are not the only people who will recognize Sandra for her good work. Sandra was an Order of Canada recipient for her work in forwarding French language instruction in the Yukon. I wish Sandra all the best during her term as president of the Yukon Teachers Association.

Our teachers will be well represented by Sandra and I am certain that she brings her own unique leadership style and her passion for teaching to the office of president. I would also like to thank Ian Oostindie, the past president, for his time spent as the president and to wish him sincere luck in the future.

Joining us in the gallery today is Sandra Henderson and the past president Ian Oostindie, and I ask all members to join in welcoming her and Ian to this House and Sandra to her new position at YTA.

Applause

 

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Mr. Fairclough:   I rise on behalf of the official opposition to pay tribute to a great Yukon educator, Sandra Henderson, who has recently been elected as president of the Yukon Teachers Association.

Victor Hugo, the great French novelist, remarked that those who open the school door, close the prison door, and those who are tasked to shape the young minds in our society have a critical role to play in our society.

Mrs. Henderson has long been active in the Yukon Teachers Association. She has been vice-principal at F.H. Collins, here in Whitehorse, and served as chair of the school council. She has worked as special projects coordinator with the Department of Education. Mrs. Henderson has long championed French immersion education, helping to establish a program almost 25 years ago. She has been involved in creating innovative programs like the Rendezvous spelling bee, and throughout her career as an educator she fostered the values of community, culture, identity, citizenship, equality of opportunity in education, lifelong learning and creating a safe and healthy school environment.

She has not been hesitant to criticize the value of standardized testing as of little value to her students.

Today, we recognize and give appreciation for all the work Sandra Henderson has done to educate children in our territory. We wish her all the best in her new role with the Yukon Teachers Association.

At this time I would also like to thank the past president of YTA, Ian Oostindie, for all his hard work.

 

Ms. Duncan:   I rise to join with my colleagues in the Legislature in tribute to past president Ian Oostindie of the Yukon Teachers Association and Madame Sandra Henderson.

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Je regrette, madame, je ne parle pas le franÁais. I do apologize to Madame Henderson and to the House that this tribute is not in both of Canadaís official languages. Yukoners will know, of course, that Madame Sandra Henderson was instrumental in establishing the French immersion program in the Yukon and most recently, of course, the very successful late French immersion program.

Members of this House may not know that Sandra Hendersonís teaching career, which has spanned many years, began at 15, with a letter of tolerance from the Quebec government, and I am sure there is a very interesting story to be told about that letter of tolerance, Madame.

Throughout Madame Hendersonís teaching career in the Yukon, I was not fortunate enough to have her as a teacher. I know her accomplishments from the tribute today and as outlined by the member of the official opposition, the Member for Mayo-Tatchun. I do know that she has made a fundamental difference to our Yukon community as a teacher, as an innovator, as a member of the Yukon Teachers Association executive, and as maman to her children. She truly has made a difference throughout our Yukon.

Merci, Madame Henderson, and best wishes in your newest challenge as the Yukon Teachers Association president.

I would also like to join with my colleagues, of course, in recognizing that the about-to-be past president, Ian Oostindie, is in the gallery, as well as Madame Henderson. I note that they are joined by the office manager of the Yukon Teachers Association, Patty OíBrien. Itís important to keep the organization running.

 

Speaker:   Are there any further tributes?

Introduction of visitors.

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

Ms. Duncan:   I would like to ask all members of the Legislature to join me in welcoming one of my constituents to the gallery today. Faye Eby has joined us to watch the proceedings. Welcome, Faye.

Applause

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Speaker:   Are there any other introductions of visitors?

Are there any returns or documents for tabling?

TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS

Mr. McRobb:   I have for filing a letter of May 2, 2005 to the Tourism minister about funding a display for the Kluane region at the visitors centre in Tok, Alaska.

 

Speaker:   Are there 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 Party government to implement a system of joint case management for Social Services and Justice clients reflecting the complex problems faced by some Yukon families; and that it encourage communication and action on cases by supporting inter-agency committees in all communities.

 

I also give notice of the following motion:

THAT it is the opinion of this House that

(1) with proper training, some people on social assistance are capable of employment;

(2) existing programs for training employable social assistance clients are inadequate in terms of meeting the need; and

THAT this House urges the Yukon Party government to increase the availability and duration of training programs for people on social assistance to avoid delay in helping them become self-sufficient and productive citizens in our society.

 

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

THAT it is the opinion of this House that

(1) the gross domestic product system of measuring our economy is the tally of all products and services bought and sold;

(2) this method of measuring the economy is outdated and inadequate since it ignores all economic activities outside of money exchange;

(3) there are several systems of measurement that improve this conventional measure of societyís progress and well-being; and

THAT this House urges the Yukon Party government to research and implement a more responsive system of measuring the Yukonís economy, such as a genuine progress indicator system and to include the environment and sustainable development indicators endorsed by the federal government in any economic development policies of the Yukon government.

 

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Speaker:   Are there any further notices of motion?

Is there a statement by a minister?

This then brings us to Question Period.

QUESTION PERIOD

Question re:† Alaska Highway pipeline, environmental impact

Mr. McRobb:   For the past two days, the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources has been at the big grocery store in Ottawa in search of a little nourishment for the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition. The minister was shopping for a $3.2 million steak, but he couldnít even get the sizzle; not so much as a burger or even a few crumbs from a day-old bun.

Two and a half years into its mandate, this government is no further ahead in preparing for an Alaska Highway gas pipeline than when it was hatched, so let me ask the acting minister this: what contingency plan does this government have for funding the studies that are so urgently needed into the environmental and social aspects of a pipeline on the traditional territories of Yukon First Nations?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   As the member opposite knows, this is an initiative of the First Nations. The Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition is their initiative. Our government is assisting the First Nations in this regard in every way we can, thus the reason for the ministerís trip to Ottawa and the lobbying in Ottawa on behalf of our First Nation partners here in the Yukon.

Mr. McRobb:   Theyíre doing a pretty poor job of it, Mr. Speaker. Weíve watched this government flipping and flopping on a potential pipeline down the Alaska Highway corridor for the past two and a half years. It was a major component of the Yukon Party platform in 2002 but then, when it looked like the Mackenzie Valley line had all the momentum, the Premier adopted a new position. He said, thatís okay, weíll just wait our turn, as long as Yukoners get a few jobs in the Northwest Territories.

Now the Mackenzie Valley pipeline is stalled, and the Yukon Party government is scrambling to play catch-up. Why did the minister wait so long before making any real effort to lobby Ottawa for funding when the federal government was already funding the First Nationsí effort in the Northwest Territories?

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Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   This government has not waited. This government has moved forward on the initiative of pipeline and pipeline right-of-ways and developments in a very, very positive manner. In fact, it was this government that came to arrangements with the Government of the Northwest Territories with respect to the availability of both pipelines, and both of them could possibly come to fruition within a short time frame. That is still not out of the range of possibilities.

Now, the issue of which pipeline goes first is not for us here to decide. What we have to determine is that we are prepared for these pipelines because the determination of when they are built is out of our control. What is in our control is we are to be prepared for it, ready to accept it and ready to benefit from the construction of either pipeline and the resulting ongoing O&M of either pipeline in any way possible. Thus the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition is in place and we are going to do our level best as a government to ensure that the federal government funds that group so that they can move forward and address the issues in their traditional territory alongside the Yukon governmentís initiative in this regard.

Speakerís statement

Speaker:   Before the honourable member asks his next question, Iíd just like to remind all members that it makes rather difficult for the Speaker to follow the debate when there are extraneous comments, so Iíd ask all members to keep those extraneous comments to themselves. I understand you need to talk among your own caucuses, but I ask that across-the-floor comments not be made while another member is speaking.

You have the floor, the Member for Kluane.

 

Mr. McRobb:   Some contingency plan that was. This government ought to be embarrassed.

We have warned the minister from the get-go that a pipeline would have a huge impact on all Yukoners, especially on the First Nations whose land it would run through. The government brags about its role in helping set up the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition and the $200,000 it contributed to that.

A few days ago, the Premier unilaterally wrote a $3-million cheque for a railway feasibility study in the hope that Ottawa will eventually fund it.

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To quote the Energy, Mines and Resources minister, itís a timely time for this government to take the initiative. Will the minister be putting up the $3 million the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition needs to get on with this important work right away, or does he plan to go back into sleep mode and wait for Ottawa to respond?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Let me share with the House what has just transpired. Mr. Speaker, in Ottawa, meetings were recently held between our Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources and the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition representatives Chief Allan, Chief Massie and Chief Porter.

They met with Minister Blondin-Andrew, Minister Efford and Minister Emerson of the federal government. The federal politicians and senior officials were very responsive to the delegationís requests. Federal politicians and senior officials understand preparedness and its issues and the consultation required, a lot of times, is being witnessed in the Mackenzie Valley process.

Today the Yukon is supporting the work to date on a plan, and weíre proposing a joint workplan for getting the coming pipeline ready. Weíre also supporting the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition.

The intent, however, is to get federal support, similar to what was given for the Mackenzie Valley project.

Question re:  Alaska Highway pipeline, environmental impact

Mr. Hardy:   Let me see if I can get this straight. There has been talk of an Alaska Highway pipeline since the 1970s. There has been talk of an Alaska to B.C. railway since the 1940s. A pipeline could be coming around the end of this decade ó there has been a lot of talk about that. A railway may or may not ever arrive.

All of a sudden, though, the Premier found $3 million in spare change for a railway study, but weíll have to wait for Ottawa to come through before we can take a serious look at the social and environmental impacts of a pipeline.

Interesting, isnít it, Mr. Speaker?

Can the Acting Premier explain why the impacts of a pipeline are given such low priority compared to the Alaska governorís dream scheme of a railway to resources?

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Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The member opposite is following his colleague, the Member for Kluane, in comparing apples to turnips. Itís not a reasonable comparison. We are moving forward in all of the areas possible, and due diligence is being applied in the equation. The issue of the railroad is one issue, and the plans underway for a study to address the socio-economic components of that railroad are going to be underway very soon, as well as the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition, which is seeking funds to address this issue. The Yukon government is assisting them in that regard.

Mr. Hardy:   Spending $3 million on a railway and seeking funds for a pipeline doesnít add up very well. Where has this government been for the last two and a half years? For the first year or so all we heard from them was, ďPipeline, pipeline, pipeline.Ē We urged them to get on with the job of studying what impact a pipeline would have on the Yukonís environment and the people who live here. They did nothing. But when the governor snaps his fingers and says, ďLetís have a railway with that,Ē the Premier jumps to attention with his chequebook, taxpayersí money in hand. Now that the Mackenzie Valley pipeline is stalled, what is this government doing right now to make sure weíll be ready if a pipeline down the Alaska Highway goes ahead first, which it looks like itís going to?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Let me share with the members opposite where this government has been for the past two and a half years. Weíve been restoring investor confidence here in the Yukon. Weíve been rebuilding the Yukon economy, thanks to the policies, programs and way that the previous two governments here in the Yukon ó one NDP, one Liberal ó failed to address the issue of the economy.

Weíve moved forward, and today the Yukon is growing population-wise. We are seeing one of the lowest unemployment rates in Canada. We are seeing a series of projects across the Yukon that are having a very positive effect, and they are done after addressing the socio-economic needs of Yukon, after the due diligence that is required is undertaken, understood, and then we move forward. Nothing has changed from then to now. These two projects that the members opposite are referring to are both going through a similar process to ensure that should they come to fruition ó which in all probability they will ó everything is in place to the best of our ability to address the socio-economic factors and all other factors here in the Yukon.

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Mr. Hardy:   It sounds like itís going to be like the policy for the bridge project, where theyíll go ahead and build it, and then theyíll develop the policy after ó deal with the mess after. Thatís what this government is doing.

All the MOUs, accords and bilateral agreements in the world are just window dressing if this government isnít prepared to do the hard work ó and thatís all weíre asking them to do.

Yesterday, the Energy, Mines and Resources minister admitted that he didnít understand the issues involved in the Mackenzie Valley pipeline and why it is stalled. Itís his job to understand this. Thatís what heís being paid for. Thatís the role he has over there. Itís also his job to find out what impacts an Alaska Highway pipeline will have on Yukon people and their environment. Our question on this side is: how long can he go on making these excuses?

When the minister returns, will the Acting Premier make a commitment to direct the minister to get on with his job, find out the facts, consult with Yukon people, and make the necessary preparations for how to cope with this megaproject before itís too late?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Thatís exactly whatís underway ó a process to address all the areas that the member is referring to.

I can understand the member oppositeís frustration, because when they were in power, nothing really transpired. There was a U-Haul economy, with everything going south.

We ran on a commitment to restore investorsí confidence in the Yukon, to undertake the appropriate steps necessary to rebuild the Yukon economy. These areas ó with a railroad that may come to fruition and that, in all probability, will, or a pipeline or two pipelines ó are what weíre working on, but not without undertaking the necessary reviews and steps to address the socio-economic issues that surround the Yukon.

The railroad was first conceived in the 1940s. There were a whole series of studies and reviews that were done on the pipeline in the 1970s. That said, itís something our government is working with, and weíre working with it in a forthright manner to address the needs of not just this side of the House, but of all Yukoners.

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Question re:  Alaska-Yukon railroad, feasibility study

Ms. Duncan:   I have some questions for the Minister of Economic Development. Yukoners are now on the hook for over $3 million for a feasibility study for a railroad to Alaska ó a railroad that the private sector has demonstrated no interest in building. The signed agreement with the Alaskans is now in place. Terms of reference are set to be completed by May 6, the end of the week. The committees are to be named later this month. There are two groups to be named. Now, the side opposite has not given us any information about who will be named to the committee, how they will be named or these terms of reference. So I have a very specific question for the Minister of Economic Development about the terms of reference. Will the terms of reference contain any provisions on how the $3 million of Yukonersí money is to be spent? In other words, can the minister guarantee that Yukon companies will receive any work on this project?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   For the member opposite, the committees are really two-fold, as she alluded to. There will be an oversight committee to keep a constant overview on this project and a working committee, which will be doing the day-to-day work. We are aiming at this point to have representation split between Alaska and the Yukon. On the Yukon side, our proposal is that we have two representing the territorial government and two representing First Nations. These will be chosen in due course, and the process will continue on that, Mr. Speaker.

Ms. Duncan:   Well, once again, the side opposite has provided some words ó information that was on the memorandum of understanding ó but they havenít provided an answer to a very specific question. The ministerís record and the governmentís record on this project is not a good one. Yukoners have already shelled out $130,000 to a company from Boston, Massachusetts, for a report. Now we have committed $3 million, and there is no guarantee that Yukoners will receive any work or have any opportunity to even bid on the work. The terms of reference very specifically are to be done by May 6 ó in two daysí time. Will they include a guarantee that Yukon companies will have an opportunity for work, an opportunity to bid on this $3-million expenditure by the government?

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Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Certainly the working committee will be directed by the overview committee. This is a work in progress.

In terms of the company that we have our initial report from, which I would remind members is on the Web site in full and in 20-page summary, Charles River Associates has a long history of providing information in support, in evaluation of railroads and in evaluating their competitive and regulatory environment. Their work has spanned the range from general strategic planning to policy analysis to assessments of specific market situations. In addition, Charles River has advised clients on capital investments, asset valuation and budgeting issues. They bring to bear a combination of experience in rail market evaluation in a number of countries and on numerous different continents. They offer sophisticated cost allocation and evaluation methodologies and world-class tools to evaluate competitive environments.

We are very proud of our association with Charles River Associates, one of the largest companies in the world in terms of evaluating transportation corridors. We would prefer to do that than simply call a consultant who is retired and ask their opinion. As I mentioned yesterday, you can probably talk to 22 people and get 23 opinions. We deal with facts.†

Ms. Duncan:   Iíd like them to deal with answers. This is the same government that is building a multi-million dollar bridge in Dawson and managed to disqualify the only company that had any participation from Yukon First Nations. Again, we have so far spent $130,000 on a railroad project and all that money went to a company from the United States.

We have quite clear policy guidelines for contracting from the Yukon government. We have chapter 22 of the Umbrella Final Agreement, the economic measures. We have guidelines in place. Weíve worked with Americans before and weíve worked with American contracting when we built the Shakwak. What guarantee, what policy guidelines does the minister have in spending $3 million of Yukonersí money so that Yukon companies have an opportunity to bid on it? So far weíve seen no opportunity.

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Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Again, I will try to pick several of the questions out of that list. In terms of the bridge that she mentions ó as part of our commitment to our First Nations, we have ensured that the request for qualifications reflects opportunities for right of first refusal for the TríondŽk HwŽchíin First Nation in construction of temporary ferry landings, production of rip-rap, construction of bridge approach and roads, supply and production of concrete for the project, provision of office and other accommodations, land-lease rental opportunities, opportunities related to concrete placement and form work, job training and job shadowing, equipment rental, environmental monitoring, maintenance and operation of the bridge and camp supply. We have looked after those things within that. And, Mr. Speaker, I know time is limited, so it is difficult to answer any of the others on that list. But we still look forward to receiving from the member opposite some of the names she alluded to yesterday of people who were interested in this project. Again, if there is no cooperation with an all-party committee, weíre more than welcome to take that in a note.

Question re:  Dawson City bridge, tender process

Mr. Fairclough:   For the past two weeks, the government has been back-pedalling on its plans to use a public/private partnership to build a bridge in Dawson. Just yesterday, we heard the Minister of Economic Development admit that a P3 may not be the best idea. Perhaps the minister has finally done his homework and understands what an expensive boondoggle a P3 project can be. So maybe this minister or his colleague who would normally be in charge of building bridges will go a step further. Will the minister admit that even considering a P3 project of this size without a policy in place was a big mistake, or does this government still believe that the cart should come before the horse?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Itís very gratifying to hear the member opposite admit that he has finally heard the message. A P3 might not be the best idea. That is part of developing a policy as we go forward on this and look at the request for proposals. This is an ongoing process. Itís a live process. Itís something that we have to evaluate as we go. As I have been saying for weeks in this House, weíll evaluate it at that point in time. I am very pleased that the member opposite has finally realized that.

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Mr. Fairclough:   We disagree with the minister about this being a live process. This government is going to extraordinary lengths to keep the public in the dark about their P3 agenda. Thatís no surprise ó P3s are like mushrooms; they thrive in darkness. With any other bridge project, the tender documents would be public. For a small fee, anyone could pick up a package. Not this time ó all of a sudden, government tendering is shrouded in secrecy. We canít even learn what vow of secrecy the government took to the two qualified bidders.

So my question is: under what authority or regulation is the government keeping the request for proposals a secret, and why are they ignoring the normal process?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Because this is a live procurement and we are approaching the close of the request for proposals phase, itís imperative that we maintain the stability of that process and avoid any political commentary. Again, we would like to deal with fact.

However, an expert team of government representatives from many departments and Partnerships B.C. will evaluate those proposals and make a recommendation to government on whether or not to proceed as a P3. Management Board will make that final decision. All Yukoners will be informed of that decision, and Yukoners will know what we are buying, how much we intend to spend, and when the bridge will be constructed.

The people of Yukon, through the government, will own this important piece of infrastructure, and there will be no toll charges, as was proposed by the Liberals about a decade ago.

Mr. Fairclough:   There is a lot of funny business around this P3 bridge in Dawson. One proponent that was shut out at the qualification stage has appealed. They had to go through access to information to find out why. The appeal was extended and ó surprise, surprise ó the deadline for proposals was also extended until after this Legislature shuts down. Itís interesting.

Letís lift the curtain a little. If it wasnít the minister or Premier who requested this delay, then who did and why?

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Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Again, things like this are negotiated among all parties. It is not a unilateral thing, as I believe the leader of the official opposition is going on about over there off the microphone. Itís a live procurement. Weíre approaching the close, and itís imperative that we maintain the stability of that process and avoid political commentary.

However, the government does remain committed to a transparent process, and the government is following the P3 process very well. Our goal is to disclose as much information as possible in the public interest without jeopardizing the ability of the government to get the best value for taxpayers. After the request for proposals closes, the government will maintain its secrecy by releasing the documents.

Question re:  Government attitude

Mr. Hardy:   Thatís really something else. This Question Period has been very revealing ó much more revealing than the Yukon Partyís platform document, which now deserves the same place in the comedy hall of fame as the Liberal red book from 1993.

Yukoners thought they knew what they were getting when they voted for this government, but theyíre getting something completely different, so Iíd like to ask the acting minister to explain something. How did a promise of openness, accountability and good government translate into a practice of secrecy, lack of accountability and an advancement of private sector interests before the public good?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The member oppositeís premise for his question is totally way off base, totally incorrect and very inappropriate.

Mr. Hardy:   What a rebuttal.

Letís look at the record. This is a government obsessed with sole-source contracts to avoid public scrutiny. It has already been proven. Boards and committees are absolutely stacked to meet the governmentís agenda. Weíre witnessing this on a daily basis.

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Mandated boards, like the renewable resource councils and the Fish and Wildlife Management Board, are hamstrung so the government can push its anti-environmental agenda forward, a government that refused to consult or listen to its citizens but likes to tell them what they should think. Hundreds of thousands of dollars spent to provide completely one-sided information on things like P3s and the benefit of a rail link ó actually, I underestimated that. Itís going to be $3 million on top of the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

So how is the public good served by a government that insists on doing everything its own way and ignoring its responsibility to inform and consult the public?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The opposite is in place under our government, and what is actually happening is the opposite of what the memberís questions are about.

Thereís a full round of consultation. If you want to look at any of the initiatives ó let me just take one in my department that Iím familiar with. Itís the Childrenís Act review, one of three major reviews taking place today. In October 2003, we had preconsultation meetings. In January to February, there were meetings with the Grand Chief and the Chiefs Committee on Health. In April, there were 50 meetings held with First Nation governments and non-government agencies. In May 2004, 52 meetings with First Nation chiefs and councils, Yukon First Nation citizens, elders, non-government agencies, government representatives and other Yukon citizens. There were 68 further meetings between June and August.

The list of consultations that this government is going forward with is across the board, in all areas. Whether it be education, whether it be health, whether it be justice, whether it be the issues of the upcoming conference on substance abuse, there are a number of areas where we have done an exemplary job of consulting with Yukoners.

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Mr. Hardy:   Iíd like to tell the minister opposite, since he has not been listening to the public, thatís not what the public sees or is saying out there. Maybe this will help them in their deliberations about the next election call, which I hope comes pretty soon.

I think itís time to call whatís really happening here. This government is truly on a mission ó a mission to privatize public services. There is no question. The privatization of seniors care ó as far back as this ministerís secret plan for Macaulay Lodge, and we havenít forgotten about that, all the way to the recent subsidies so U.S.-based developers can build so-called affordable housing for Yukon seniors, which we know is not affordable; millions of dollars toward a rail link to satisfy the Governor of Alaska, whose position on privatization is no secret; a multi-million dollar P3 bridge as a pilot for the best way to turn over public services to the private sector.

Itís time the Acting Premier laid the cards on the table. What other parts of its public responsibility does the government plan to let the private sector dominate? Health care, environmental regulations, correctional services? Whatís on the privatization agenda?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   I have difficulty letting go the comment about producing reports that only support the government. First of all, in terms of the Charles River Associates report for the railroad, if we didnít support the concept in the first place, it would be rather silly to have commissioned a study. Weíve never hidden the fact that weíre supportive of proceeding with the rail link feasibility study, and weíve always believed ó based on our internal review ó that this study has significant merit. We proceeded with an invitational tender to have independent research conducted to test this assertion, and Charles River Associates won the bid.

We asked them to support us in building a rationale. They made it very clear, right up front, that they are an independent firm whose research conclusions cannot be bought. They told us clearly they are happy to conduct an independent research study that seeks answers to the following question: is there merit in proceeding with a feasibility study?

They made it clear to us that they may not give us the answers weíre looking for.

022a

Thatís the risk of independent research. But I am pleased to once again state that the Charles River study, which is on-line, did ultimately support clearly our original in-house review and that there is merit in proceeding with a feasibility study on this rail link.

 

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

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT PRIVATE MEMBERSí business

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

Clerk:   Motion No. 459, standing in the name of Mr. Cathers.

Speaker:   It is moved by the Member for Lake Laberge

THAT this House urges the Yukon government to continue spending its $20-million share of the initial three-year Health Care Accord funding on addressing the health care needs of Yukoners through programs and services such as:

(1) pharmacare and chronic disease programs including programming specific to seniors and children;

(2) specialized medical services including internal medicine, cardiac testing, replacement knee surgery, increased orthopaedic visits and increased visits by ear, nose and throat specialists;

(3) funding for the Child Development Centre to assist with assessment and support for children with developmental delays and to assist with the five-step FASD program;

(4) support for families and children with autism;

(5) providing money for additional family support workers;

(6) meeting increased costs for out-of-territory hospital and physician services;

(7) funding recruitment and retention initiatives for family physicians to improve Yukonersí access to a family doctor; and

(8) enhancing home care services to assist seniors in remaining in their own homes longer while still receiving needed assistance.

 

023a

Mr. Cathers:   Iím pleased to rise today to debate the motion I tabled on Monday and urge all members of this House to support the motion. The motion reads as follows:

THAT this House urges the Yukon government to continue spending its $20-million share of the initial three-year Health Care Accord funding on addressing the health care needs of Yukoners through programs and services such as:

(1) pharmacare and chronic disease programs including programming specific to seniors and children;

(2) specialized medical services including internal medicine, cardiac testing, replacement knee surgery, increased orthopaedic visits and increased visits by ear, nose and throat specialists;

(3) funding for the Child Development Centre to assist with assessment and support for children with developmental delays and to assist with the five-step FASD program;

(4) support for families and children with autism;

(5) providing money for additional family support workers;

(6) meeting increased costs for out-of-territory hospital and physician services;

(7) funding recruitment and retention initiatives for family physicians to improve Yukonersí access to a family doctor; and

(8) enhancing home care services to assist seniors in remaining in their own homes longer while still receiving needed assistance.

Mr. Speaker, health care is an issue of critical importance to Yukoners. It is very much on the mind of many citizens of our territory, and indeed it is an issue on the mind of most Canadians. Our party recognized the importance of this issue and campaigned on improving the quality of life for Yukoners in the 2002 election campaign. In fact, one of the three sections of our 2002 election platform was entitled ďAchieving a Better Quality of LifeĒ and included subsections: Caring for Yukoners, Caring for Children, Assisting Elders and Seniors, Protecting the Family, Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Creating Safer Communities, Supporting Sports and Recreation, Education and Training, Excellence in Education, Youth Justice, and Promoting Arts and Culture.

024a

The other two sections of our 2002 election platform were entitled ďBalancing the Economy and EnvironmentĒ and ďPractising Good GovernmentĒ. Iím very pleased to note that 89 percent of our platform commitments are either complete or on the verge of completion. The remaining commitments will be targeted for completion by the end of our mandate. We are very proud of this. I urge Yukoners to compare this with the records of all previous Yukon governments, and they will find that no previous government has even come close to our record in terms of delivering upon commitments. In fact, a comparison to any jurisdiction in Canada will show that we stack up very well indeed.

Federally, the Liberal government kept only three percent of the promises made in their red book number one, the platform for the 1993 election.

Our government has worked very hard to deliver. The first thing we had to do upon taking office was to put the Yukonís financial house in order. This required all ministers to work hard with departmental officials on reining in spending in areas where it was either out of control or was poorly targeted. For the 2004-05 fiscal year, this has resulted in a yearly surplus of $27.3 million, the increase to our financial position. The net financial position of the Yukon government as of March 31, 2005, is a $77.9-million surplus. In the past year we have seen an eight percent increase in our own-source revenues. However, the Yukon, as we all know, does depend to a large degree on federal funding. The eight percent increase is certainly a good sign that the work that this government is doing is coming to fruition and is improving the Yukon economy.

Following our financial exercise in the Yukon, one of the next steps was to work on convincing the federal Liberal government to restore at least some of the funding for health care that it had slashed during its budget-balancing exercise of the 1990s.

025a

All Canadians should remember that under Jean Chrťtien as Prime Minister and Paul Martin as Finance minister, the federal Liberal government balanced its budget on the backs of the provinces and the territories, largely through cuts to federal funding for health care and other transfer payments.

These cuts have resulted in a loss of over $1 billion of federal transfer payments to the Yukon over the years since the Liberals have taken power. Action was needed. Our government, under the leadership of the Premier, took action.

In the summer of 2003, the then Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Chrťtien, offered a deal to the premiers of the provinces and the territories that would restore some of the federal funding for health care. This increase in funding was to be on a per capita basis. The three territorial premiers asked the Prime Minister to provide additional base health care funding for the territories. The Prime Minister refused, presenting the proposed deal as a take-it-or-leave-it offer.

Rather than accepting a deal that did not address our needs, our Premier and the premiers of the N.W.T. and Nunavut walked out on the Prime Minister in front of cameras broadcasting on national TV. The three territorial premiers then held a press conference to explain clearly to Canadians why per capita based funding arrangements do not adequately address the needs of our large, sparsely populated jurisdictions. This attracted the attention of many Canadians and we were supported in our position not only by the premiers of all 10 provinces but by the majority of Canadians.

Under this intense pressure, the Prime Minister capitulated and agreed that funding in addition to per capita based funding should be provided to the territories.

Following that historic recognition of the unique needs of our northern jurisdictions, the three territorial premiers and the Prime Minister of the day negotiated a three-year Health Accord funding deal totalling some $60 million.

026a

The allocation of this fund breaks down into $20 million per territory, spread over three years, or slightly over $6.5 million per annum.†

Some Hon. Member:   Point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Quorum count

Speaker:   On a point of order, the government House leader.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Speaker, 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.

 

Bells

 

027a

Speaker:   Weíll do a count. There are 13 members present. A quorum is present. We will now continue debate. Member for Lake Laberge, you have the floor.

 

Mr. Cathers:   Itís disappointing to see that the opposition has so little interest in debating health care for Yukoners. Iím glad to see that at least one member opposite was interested.

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Speaker:   Sit down. It is inappropriate to mention whether a member is or is not present in the House. Member for Lake Laberge, you have the floor.

 

Mr. Cathers:   Weíre off to a great start. Iím glad to see ó

Some Hon. Member: † †(Inaudible)

Speaker:   †††Order. Order please. Member for Kluane, the Member for Lake Laberge has the floor. Please allow him to speak.

 

Mr. Cathers:   I see weíre off to a great start here.

Returning to the motion, Iím glad to see the renewed interest from the opposition in discussing the health care of Yukoners.

The health care fund was negotiated by the three premiers and the Prime Minister, following the three premiers walking out on the Prime Minister on national television. The recognition by the Prime Minister that per capita based funding was not adequate for northern jurisdictions was, in fact, a historic recognition in Canada.

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Following the recognition, the deal negotiated for the Health Care Accord is a total of some $60 million over three years for the three territories. That breaks down into $20 million per territory over three years, or a little over $6.5 million per year per territory.

Following that historic success in 2003, pan-northern cooperation between our government and the governments of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut has resulted in further successes in lobbying the federal government. We made a platform commitment to work with neighbouring jurisdictions rather than argue with them like the previous Liberal government did. Our pan-northern cooperation has resulted in the amount of federal dollars flowing north of 60 increasing by approximately $780 million. That increase in federal funding is through the $60-million Health Accord, the new health access fund and the $90-million pan-northern economic development fund ó Mr. Speaker, a platform commitment of the Yukon Party was that we would lobby for the creation of such a fund, and weíre very pleased that that was successful through pan-northern cooperation. There is also the new $120-million northern strategy and there are increases to the territorial funding formula for each territory. This will assist us in providing not only for the health care needs of Yukoners but also in developing our territory and in fostering economic growth that is both sustained and sustainable.

Mr. Speaker, regarding the fiscal management, other health care expenditures by this government include: $10 million for increased costs at Whitehorse General Hospital; $6 million for pharmacare and chronic disease programs; $1.1 million for specialized medical services, including internal medicine and cardiac testing, replacement knee surgery, increased orthopaedic visits, increased ear, nose and throat specialist visits, $400,000 for the Child Development Centre to assist with the assessment and support for children with developmental delays and to assist with the five-step FASD plan; $300,000 to FASSY, the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Society of Yukon, to provide outreach support to families with children with FASD; $600,000 to support families of autistic children; $900,000 for additional family support workers; and money to meet increased costs for out-of-territory hospital and physician services.

029a

Regarding our commitment to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, this government made a commitment in our 2002 election platform to implement a five-step program to combat FASD. The Yukon government has demonstrated its commitment to addressing the impacts of FASD in the Yukon by outlining a comprehensive action plan that we outlined in 2003. Substantial progress has been made on meeting those commitments.

To date, the following has been accomplished: the development of an interdisciplinary team and hiring of a coordinator for the early diagnosis and identification of children affected with FASD. This position is stationed at the Child Development Centre. We have established priority access to addiction treatment for women at risk, a comprehensive primary prevention initiative that includes public service ads targeted at individuals, families and community, the use of radio spots to complement ads in the print media; updating the fetal alcohol spectrum disorder prevention brochure; updating kindergarten-to-grade 12 FASD curriculum in schools, in partnership with the Department of Education, as well as a comprehensive secondary-prevention initiative that included a series of workshops targeted at allied professionals who work with at-risk population; the delivery of two workshops aimed at increasing effective support to pregnant, substance-abusing women; consultation with stakeholders regarding alternative strategies for reaching high-risk parents; presentation at the nurses conference and to the Yukon Medical Association regarding alcohol and drug services programs and support for high-risk women; the development and distribution of a training needs assessment survey for communities in order to aid in the building of capacity.

In addition, the department will continue to support summer programs for children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, fund residential services for persons with FASD who require a high level of supervision, fund the Child Development Centre, continue to fund special needs childcare, provide respite services to families and foster caregivers, provide family support workers to families and continue to strengthen the healthy families program, continue the supported independent living program for adults, provide individualized support to adult caregivers of persons with special needs, fund day programs for adults with special needs, support programs such as Options for Independence, which provides need housing supports to persons with FASD, and support agencies such as FASSY in the work that they do.

030a

No single body can address the issues presented before us. We have fostered an approach of working with non-governmental organizations and with stakeholders to address the issues facing us. This comprehensive plan on FASD shows the leadership that our government has taken under the guidance of the Minister of Health and Social Services, who is the minister responsible for addressing the FASD problems facing Yukoners.

The money that weíre discussing today ó the health care funding ó we do of course debate such expenditures in the budget, but the reason this motion was brought forward was in part so that we could discuss some of the basic philosophies being applied to this. I would look forward to comments from members opposite and to their input and, indeed, from members on this side of the floor perhaps as well that we could further discuss this in a public forum and discuss ways that we could work together and to move forward.

031a

I can see the Member for Kluane is once again eager to participate in the debate. I will certainly endeavour to wrap up and allow him to have his turn, but I thank him for his efforts at assisting me ó Iím sure that was the intention.

In addressing the health care matters, this government has also worked, through the Department of Health and Social Services, with the Yukon Medical Association. We signed an agreement with the Yukon Medical Association that includes components such as $1.4 million for on-call programs; $46,000 for the continuing education fund, bringing the annual value of the fund to $200,000; $50,000 for the physician relocation fund to assist with the relocation costs of family practitioners moving to the Yukon.

Certainly the issue of access to a family doctor is something that is facing a number of Yukoners, and that is certainly something that this government wants to address. The Minister of Health and Social Services and the Department of Health and Social Services officials have been working with the Yukon Medical Association on trying to come up with a joint resolution to address this program.

It needs to be recognized that a shortage of health care professionals, including physicians, is not a problem unique to the Yukon. This is a problem being faced from coast to coast to coast in this country. We are competing with other jurisdictions for a declining number of medical professionals. The ageing population and the age demographic within the fields of doctors and nurses, among others, have created a problem that will only continue to grow as the baby-boomer generation retires. They make up such a large portion of the medical profession field.

032a

So these problems are not easy to fix with a sweep of a magic wand. We are taking action. Weíve worked with the Yukon Medical Association, and every member on this side of the House has great sympathy for any Yukoner who does not have access to their own family doctor. That is something we would like to address in any way we possibly can to fix the problem.

Other components of the agreement with the Yukon Medical Association are: $100,000 for an education support program to support Yukon physicians who leave the territory for specialized training; a $15,000 training fund for rural physicians; a retained resident support program of $20,000 per year; a retained medical practice insurance coverage at 100 percent of cost with an estimated value of $262,000. That agreement was between the period of April 1, 2002, and March 31, 2004. The extension between April 1, 2004 and March 31, 2008 includes: $1.7 million for increased funding for on-call programs; $3.9 million for a new retention program; $190,000 added to the compensation for medevac physician program; $400,000 for a new orphan patient program; $600,000 added to locum support program; $150,000 for relocation costs; $150,000 for office start-up; a retained specialized educational support program of $50,000 per year; a retained rural training fund at $7,500 per year; a retained residential support program at $20,000 per year; a retained continual medical education support program at $200,000 per year; and retaining the medical practice insurance coverage at 100 percent of cost with the estimated value, again, of $262,000.

033a

Representatives of the physicians, hospital and department participate in the specialized services working group to address access to specialized services in the Yukon. This group has been instrumental in recruiting an internal medical specialist to the Yukon, increasing the number of ear, nose and throat clinics per year, which has decreased the waiting list by 70 percent. I think thatís pretty impressive, with the waiting lists being a huge issue in the country and having grown from an average of four weeks ó

Some Hon. Member:   Point of order.

Quorum count

Speaker:   Government House leader, on a point of order.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Speaker, once again, I would like to draw your attention to there not being 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.

 

Bells

 

034a

Speaker:   I have shut off the bells and will do a count. There are 11 members present. A quorum is present. We will now continue debate. Member for Lake Laberge, you have the floor.

 

Mr. Cathers:   Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Itís nice to see the opposition paying attention once again.

Mr. Speaker, while weíre discussing the item that I was bringing up before the quorum was called, I was talking about the reduction, by some 70 percent, of the waiting list for Yukoners waiting to see an ear, nose and throat specialist. Itís unfortunate that the opposition doesnít seem to be paying a lot of attention to that. Since 1993, wait-lists for surgery in Canada, under the fine health care spending policies of the federal Liberal government, have increased from an average of four weeks to an average of 18 weeks today. During this time, in fact, such an effort for the reduction of this wait-list is pretty rare in Canada.

Other items that the group composed of the representatives of physicians, hospital and the department and the specialized services working group have done is introducing knee replacement surgical services and supporting physiotherapy services, increasing the number of orthopaedic specialists and the number of annual clinics, which has resulted in reducing the wait-lists for services. Also, they have increased the number of neurological specialist visits. Representatives of the physicians and department have met to discuss access to family physician services and are in the process of developing options to address the needs of those patients who are without a family physician.

Mr. Speaker, other initiatives to address the problem of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder that have been taken with the health care money and other money from this governmentís own budget are for the FASD diagnostic team, and funding provided to the Child Development Centre through Health and Social Services to a total of $160,000 for 2003 and 2004-05, to hire a coordinator and develop and train FASD diagnostic team and deliver diagnostic services in the Yukon.

035a

Also there is the increase for family support workers. We have increased the number of family support worker positions in family and childrenís services, providing base funding in the family and childrenís services budget to ensure continuation of summer camps for children with FASD.

We will also be hosting a symposium on fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in the summer of 2005. There has been active participation in these initiatives at the ministerial level and program level. The partnership membership yearly contribution of the Yukon is $6,750. The Yukon is a member of the newly formed research group into FASD and has committed to funding it for three years.

In the past five years, the total expenditures on the Yukonís drug and extended benefit programs have increased from just under $2.5 million in 1997-98 to almost $4.8 million in 2001-02. At this rate, program costs could approach $9.5 million by 2005-06.

We are dealing with tremendous pressures on health care funds and rising costs while for a number of years we had the declining federal dollars being injected for health care. The achievement of our Premier and the premiers of the other two territories, working with the premiers of the provinces on getting the federal government to provide more health care funding, has still, unfortunately, not restored it to the level that we were at before the budget-cutting exercise of former Prime Minister Chrťtien and former Finance minister and now Prime Minister, Mr. Martin.

036a

I would be the last person to argue against the need to get oneís financial house in order. That is something that is of critical importance to balance the budget. No government should be spending beyond its means. What I cannot agree with is the manner in which the federal Liberal government decided to balance its budget: the cuts to health care spending, cuts to transfer payments to the provinces forcing the same Canadian citizens to foot the bill at the provincial and territorial level while the federal government has not addressed its misspending. It has not ceased the expenditures on programs such as the firearms registry, which is not only offensive to many Canadians ó including Yukoners ó but has wasted almost $2 billion of taxpayersí money, and according to the federal governmentís own import and export records, not even half of the firearms in Canada have been registered. It was promised by the Liberal government, when that program was implemented, it would only cost $2 million to implement. Instead itís over 1,000 times the original budget and has not even gone half of the way there and it will, in the long run, not do anything to benefit crime reduction. It will not benefit public safety. It will take money that could have been spent in health care, could have been spent on increased policing, could have been spent on any number of services that Canadians want and need, and has instead been allocated to a badly run program that will not achieve public safety benefits.

037a

It is simply a waste of taxpayersí dollars, and the money is being wasted simply because it appears that the federal Liberal government doesnít want to back down from a failed initiative and instead chooses to throw our tax dollars into this. We had the boondoggle of the Human Resources Development Canadaís billion dollars that went missing. I donít even have to mention for Yukoners the federal sponsorship scandal going on now with the question of just how much taxpayersí money went into the pockets of Liberal-friendly ad agencies in Quebec.

So, Mr. Speaker, balancing your budget and keeping your financial house in order are very important things. Speaking personally, I find it very offensive to have to pay a bill for something that was done before I was even born. Canadians are still paying for Pierre Trudeauís spending spree; we have inherited the debt left to us by his government and are paying for programs where, for some of us, the spending was done before we were even born. This reminds me of the old slogan of the American Revolution: no taxation without gestation.

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Mr. Cathers:   I and others are being taxed to pay for spending by Trudeau before I was even born and to pay for spending by the Trudeau and Mulroney governments before I was old enough to vote.

So balancing the budget is a very good thing. Itís necessary. It is irresponsible for any government to run successive deficit budgets and put the country or any jurisdiction into debt or an accumulated deficit, but it is the way it is done. The cuts to health care by the federal government, while pretending that health care is a priority, are offensive.

038a

Mr. Speaker, the efforts of the Premier of the Yukon and the premiers of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut in working together to get the federal government to recognize the unique needs of our northern jurisdictions have been very important. The opposition can try to spin federal dollars all they want, but the fact of the matter is that, without pan-northern cooperation by our government and the governments of the other two territories, the federal funding increases that we have seen within the past couple of years would not have occurred.

Mr. Speaker, I have an extensive list in front of me of some of the spending that has been done by this government on improving health care and also, in a related field, the related increases to spending for childcare by 30 percent ó a 30-percent increase in the budget for childcare. It now stands at some $5.5 million per year. But I would like to see the opportunity for other members to put their views forward, and I look forward to hearing some of what they have to present so, at this time, I will conclude my opening remarks and thank members for their attention.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

Mr. McRobb:   Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I might add that the attention of all members was intently on the Member for Lake Laberge as he spoke to this motion and introduced it on the floor of this Legislature this afternoon. And I would like to thank him for bringing forward this motion today. We welcome the opportunity to debate these health issues that are so important to Yukoners. We feel health issues are very important, as Canadians know, and we believe they are fundamental to the policies of the New Democratic Party.

039a

The motion weíre dealing with today is not the same motion as the one read into the record on Monday, May 2. Many people listening and reading Hansard may not realize that, but in fact most of the preamble to the motion was struck by the Table Officers, and itís therefore deleted from the motion that weíre debating today.

People might be curious as to why such a large portion of the preamble was struck from this motion. Well, whenever sections are deleted, Mr. Speaker, as you know, no reasons are provided by the officers; however, I can speculate. The reason was that the Yukon Party politicized this health motion by inserting into the preamble a number of political statements, trying to take credit for health care dollars coming to the territory.

Now, why would the Yukon Party want to play politics with these issues of such great import to Yukoners? From listening to the Member for Lake Laberge, itís clear that heís rewriting history.

Some Hon. Member:   Point of order.

Point of order

Speaker:   The Member for Lake Laberge, on a point of order.

Mr. Cathers:   The term ďrewriting historyĒ has clearly been ruled out of order in the past in this Assembly, and that is why all of us have to refrain from using such a term, as tempted as I might be to use the same one. I would ask you to have the member retract that statement.

Speaker:   The Member for Kluane, on the point of order.

Mr. McRobb:   On the point of order, I would submit that the member is a little too sensitive. This has been ruled out of order before, in certain contexts, but not in the example that I used it in.

040a

Speakerís ruling

Speaker:   The Chair did hear the Member for Kluane use the term ďrewriting historyĒ. Unfortunately, I didnít make a connection to the context. Having said that, we fully understand in this Legislative Assembly that that term, whatever context itís in, is bound to cause disputes and points of order, so the Chair would be very comfortable to ask the members not to use that terminology.

The Member for Kluane, you have the floor.

 

Mr. McRobb:   Thank you for that clarification. I would say the memberís version of history is different from reality in my understanding.

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Mr. McRobb:   Well, the Member for Klondike casts some insults; thatís fine. I donít see the Member for Lake Laberge standing on a point of order now to what the Member for Klondike just said.

Let me continue, because itís interesting that the Yukon Partyís version of history has put forward a very limited perspective of what has actually happened over the past. We donít hear too much about how the federal health care dollars were clawed back in the mid-1990s.

As a matter of fact, I recall the mover of the motion, the Member for Lake Laberge, disputing the point that the federal Finance minister at the time, who is now Prime Minister of Canada, clawed back a large amount of money from health care funding in the mid-1990s. Itís my recollection that that funding was in the order of $20 million, which is what weíre debating today. We all know that due to inflation, especially in the area of health care with how wages for medical professionals have increased, $20 million in the mid-1990s is less today in terms of real dollars.

041a

So what this government is enjoying is how the Prime Minister of Canada is basically giving back money he took away in the 1990s. Thatís a fundamental point for anybody to understand when looking at where the territory is today in terms of the financial situation in health care and trying to compare it with previous governments.

Am I trying to do that, Mr. Speaker ó compare the state today to previous governments? No, Iím not. Iím merely responding to something the Yukon Party does very frequently, and that is to point the finger at previous governments and ask why they didnít do something, and then they point out with the other hand how theyíre doing something today.

Well, Iíve gone over the reason for that, and that is that the federal government is giving back $20 million in health care funding, and more. Itís far more than $20 million. This motion refers only to one pot of money; thereís more than that.

Anyway, the federal government is being very generous to the Yukon in terms of health care dollars whereas, 10 years ago, it took the opposite approach. You will recall that the Chrťtien government that, I believe, was elected in 1992 or 1993 inherited a terrible fiscal position because of the previous Mulroney government and how it racked up the national debt.

We heard the member across the floor chastise Pierre Trudeauís Liberals, but in reality I invite anybody to check back on the past federal situation and you will discover the Mulroney government ran up the debt far more than the Trudeau government ever did.

042a

Thatís their party. This is just another example of how, when the Yukon Party points the finger, there are four pointing back at itself. Let them remember that. Thatís the term I usually use, once ó

Some Hon. Member:   Point of order.

Point of order

Speaker:   Order please. The government House leader, on a point of order.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   As Minister of Health and Social Services, I must clearly point out to the member opposite that he has four fingers and a thumb, not five fingers.

Speakerís ruling

Speaker:   There is no point of order. Member for Kluane, you have the floor.

 

Mr. McRobb:   Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the Member for Klondike for that clarification. Iíll give him the thumbs-up for that intervention.

Now, not to lose the significance of the point, Mr. Speaker, in terms of past federal governments, we have to look at the Mulroney government as the big debt-incurring government of the past. It is because of the Mulroney Conservative government that the Finance minister at the time was put in the unfortunate position of having to claw back, and that included the Yukon Territory. It was before I was elected, but I recall the hue and cry from the government of the day, and it was a Yukon Party government of the day when this happened.

It was very unfair to the territory, because that money had a severe impact on the Yukon governmentís ability to treat patients in the territory and administer health care.

So weíre in an opposite situation today, a drastically opposite position. The federal government isnít clawing back. Itís pouring money into the territory, wheelbarrow loads of thousand-dollar bills ó there is a line-up of them, and theyíre making their way to the Yukon governmentís bank account, thanks to Prime Minister Paul Martin, who has seen the light. He has seen the light, Mr. Speaker.

This money is not due to the Yukon Partyís lobbying or whatever. The Prime Minister knew the history of what happened. He knew that he had to make amends for his earlier mistake, and it was a top priority of Canadians. The previous government leaders, going back to Mr. Ostashek and Mr. McDonald and Iím sure Ms. Duncan, all lobbied the federal government for replacement of those lost health care dollars.

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Finally we got it. Thatís something we should all celebrate.

Letís move on from there. Letís all celebrate how weíve recaptured what we lost a decade ago.

The question before us is how we should spend that money. In the motion, the Yukon Party identifies eight different areas where the $20-million share, which is only some of the money, should be spent. We might take issue with some of those eight items and question some of those eight items as to how this government is really dealing with each of the eight items, but weíre not going to nitpick. Weíre going to look at the bigger picture.

Now that this motion has been amended by the Table Officers to remove the political comments, we see it as generally a good motion and itís something we can agree to. Before we do that, we want to improve it. Yes, because we know that the Yukon Party, deep down, is humble enough to know that they donít have a monopoly on all the good ideas. We want to step up to the plate and contribute, as they know we can do.

So later on Iíll be introducing an amendment that will add to the list. Letís make this a good motion, not one thatís just half-baked. Letís put it back in the oven, add some spices and other components to it, and really make it something to behold ó something all Yukoners will want a piece of. Letís do that.

Earlier today we scoped out a list of items. The staff is diligently working away on it and putting it in the form of an amendment. Weíll be introducing that, and weíll all be listening very intently to how the government side will deal with the suggestions put forward by the opposition.

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Because we know, weíve heard before challenges from the government about the opposition and how it should pony up with suggestions. Well, this is another example of how the official opposition has met that challenge and risen above it, and Iím sure the members opposite will be so impressed with the list, theyíll have to vote for it too.

The only problem is that we donít have much more than three hours left today to deal with it all. Thereís a question about whether we will run out of time. I know if the Member for Klondike continues playing the games of calling quorum on a motion day, on a private membersí motion day at that, we probably wonít have time to deal with this important motion for Yukoners. So I would ask him to curtail his extraneous activities and do whatís right for Yukoners. Letís try to bring this motion to a vote so we can all accept it and show Yukoners and other Canadians and people worldwide viewing on the Internet what we really stand for, and that is a true and full list of health care items for Yukoners and the signal that we wonít settle for anything less.

Letís look at the list of eight points the Yukon Party has included, starting with point (1). It says, ďpharmacare and chronic disease programs, including programming specific to seniors and children.Ē We know thatís important, too. We canít dispute that. That certainly is valid. Point (2) is: ďspecialized medical services, including internal medicine, cardiac testing, replacement knee surgery, increased orthopaedic visits, and increased visits by ear, nose and throat specialists.Ē

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Now, that is the only one of the eight points that deals with the specialists. Generally we donít have a problem with that list. However, I know, from being MLA for the Kluane region and being contacted from some constituents from time to time, that there were still other specialties missing from the list. One of them I recall is a urologist. I donít see a urologist on the list. The Health and Social Services minister has a blank look, so obviously he knows this motion really does deserve to be amended, deep down, and that is one item that is not on the list. There are others as well. But like I said earlier, weíre not going to nitpick with the motion as it exists. Weíre going to add to it.

Now, point (3) says: ďfunding for the Child Development Centre to assist with assessment and support for children with developmental delays and to assist with the five-step FASD programĒ. Well, thatís the only point out of the eight that deals with childcare. Now, is that sufficient to meet all the childcare needs and issues in the territory? I hardly say so. There are several other issues that need to be addressed in the area of childcare.

That same line also includes the five-step FASD program. For some reason, childcare wasnít important enough to the Yukon Party government to stand alone as a bullet in this motion. It had to lump in the five-step FASD program along with it. What does this say for the five-step program?

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It wasnít good enough to stand on its own either.

Weíre not going to nitpick with the Yukon Partyís motion, but we will point out an important fact. It was one raised yesterday in Question Period about how the Yukon Partyís program does not provide for adults with FASD ó bingo. So we will respond to that omission by including it in the amendments Iíll be introducing later.

Point (4) is: ďsupport for families and children with autismĒ. We know that certainly is a valid point. We know the Yukon government has been trying to work with other jurisdictions and not implementing its own full program and so on, but we wonít nitpick on that item. For now, thatís fine with us.

Letís move on to point (5): ďproviding money for additional family support workersĒ. What does that mean exactly? Does it mean there will be more family support workers across the Yukon wherever theyíre needed? No, it doesnít. As a matter of fact, the Health and Social Services minister has refused to provide us with information on where those additional family support workers will be located. We have asked him for that information and he was unwilling to respond. So weíre left speculating. Perhaps in Watson Lake or Dawson City there might be some additional family support workers in this budget, but certainly not in Haines Junction. What about Carmacks or Pelly Crossing? What about some of the other communities? Are they getting additional family support workers? Well, not that weíre aware of. So thereís a fairness issue, just like there was last week when I asked the questions on fairness in providing funding to seniors groups across the territory. There are several other issues. Home care is another one, but weíll get to that later. Seniors facilities is another one of fairness, but weíll get to that later.

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So in response to this fifth item, there are more questions than answers. When the Health and Social Services minister gets up to speak, we would like him to tell us where those additional family support workers will be located ó in which communities.

I recall the previous government promised one in Haines Junction that never materialized. Even though it took credit for adding an extra family support worker in Haines Junction, it never materialized, so we want to hear from the Health and Social Services minister and weíll be following up on it.

Point (6) is: ďmeeting increased costs for out-of-territory hospital and physician servicesĒ. What does that mean? Does that mean the government will be providing more money for medical travel for Yukon outpatients? No, it does not mean that at all. Iíve looked at this item and have concluded that all it means is that the cost of health care in Outside jurisdictions we subscribe to has increased and the government is paying the bill. Well, so what?

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So what? The same goes for practically anything else, in any other department. What is it doing as one of the top eight funding reasons in this motion? You know, the same applies across the board, whether the government hires somebody, or contracts something out ó especially to an American firm ó the costs have gone up in recent years. The rising cost of fuel is a major driver for inflation in commodities across the board, from a loaf of bread to steel products to whatever is related to energy. The costs have increased.

To make a hullabaloo out of providing more money for increased costs for out-of-territory hospital and physician services ó well, thatís really questionable. Why didnít the Yukon Party try to do something more constructive and have it as a line in this motion instead? I will refer you to the amendment I will be introducing for lots of examples of more constructive items. Unfortunately, this government just isnít doing them. Itís not happening.

Point (7): ďfunding, recruitment and retention initiatives for family physicians to improve Yukonersí access to a family doctor.Ē

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Well, this line is almost laughable. What makes it so sad but humorous is the Yukon Party is trying to take credit for its initiatives to recruit and retain doctors at the same time as the territory has a crisis with respect to orphan patients whose doctors have left. Think about it: never before in Yukon history has the situation been so bad; never before in Yukon history has the territory had so many orphan patients; and never before in Yukon history has a government tried to take credit for its initiatives to retain and recruit doctors. Simply, it doesnít add up.

If we look at one of the initiatives the government is trying to take credit for ó the $200 incentive for new patients program that came in awhile back ó that program simply hasnít worked very well, and is certainly nothing for the government to hang its hat on. Well, obviously the government must be desperate for it to bring forward this item as one of its accomplishments.

What about doctors who are overworked, who are being forced to cut back on their list, yet want to stay in the territory? What does that incentive program offer them? The answer is nothing ó nothing at all. Does it encourage doctors to retain their existing clientele? No, it doesnít, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

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It encourages them to get rid of all their clients and take on new ones, in order to get the incentive. Iím not trying to portray doctors as wanting to do that. Iím merely pointing out what the incentive is aimed at doing and point out its shortcomings in providing for doctors who want to do the right thing for all their patients. So, the Yukon Partyís $200 incentive program really reversed that whole mentality and is contrary to the public good, yet itís trying to take credit for its recruitment and retention initiatives at the all-time high of orphaned patients in the territory. Thatís pretty sad.

Letís look at the final point. It says: ďenhancing home care services to assist seniors in remaining in their homes longer while still receiving needed assistanceĒ. Enhanced home care services is something we support. However, the Health and Social Services minister has refused to provide us with information on how home care services have been enhanced throughout the Yukon on a regional basis. I recall that discussion from about two weeks ago, when in Health and Social Services debate. I followed up with the Health and Social Services minister a few times, asking for evidence to prove the government has applied enhanced home care services to areas based on need.

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There was no answer. The Health and Social Services minister actually refused to get up out of his chair and respond to the question. Well, some democracy this is.

First of all, the Health and Social Services minister couldnít respond in a legitimate way and then he refused to respond altogether. Of course, we know why. It would appear that home care services are not being applied fairly throughout the territory. It would appear that theyíre being applied on a political basis, and that is wrong. Otherwise, why wouldnít the Health and Social Services minister pony up with the information weíre requesting so he can prove the need and he can prove the fair allocation of those resources in the territory?

It is no mystery to us on this side of the House how this is just another example in the bigger story of how this government operates. Itís the old secrecy game. It goes back to day one, when the government didnít want to hold the fall sitting it said it would in the election campaign, and it didnít want to be accountable, all the way to the present day. There are thousands of examples in-between of how the government is not forthright with information or transparent in the way it does things.

I know that some of the members across the way agree with me, but their hands are tied. Both premiers insist on doing things a certain way; they learned well in opposition. Thatís the way it will be. They tell them ďmy way or the highwayĒ.

Well, maybe at some future point the other members on the government side will have more authority in determining how they as a caucus conduct themselves but, for the time being, thatís the way it is.

Certainly itís frustrating from an opposition point of view to deal with such a closed government and in trying to get legitimate information on some of the points Iíve covered, or just some of the examples. As a matter of fact, the Ombudsman made a point in his report late last year when he referred to the wall of secrecy with this government.

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We know reporters have referred to the wall of secrecy of this government. The reporter who recently left the territory who was employed by the Whitehorse Star, in his final interview on the radio referred to that as well. Reporters are shut out; the opposition is shut out. This government is extremely controlled in the messages it gives to the public. Health care and this motion before us today are good examples of how it is closed. This government will stand up and say anything; anything that sounds convenient it will say. We heard that in todayís Question Period and yesterdayís and the day before. Itís an ongoing example. As the Minister of Economic Development said today, ďItís a live issue.Ē Well, thatís a live issue with the Yukon Party, all right.

So, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I think I have covered the points in the Yukon Partyís motion. Some of them we agree with, some others we are ambivalent about. Some others we contest; we see the weaknesses and need for enhancement and so on. But weíre not going to nitpick. Weíre going to add to this motion, because we believe thatís the right thing to do, and we want to set an example for other parties, both in this session and for future governments on how to act responsibly. We believe the amendment Iím about to move does exactly that. We in the official opposition put our heads together in caucus and scoped out as many issues as we could under the tight time limitations and have come up with a number of them. They are very good items that deserve to be on a list for consideration when spending all this largesse the territory is getting from the federal government.

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When the members get up and respond to the amendment, I invite them to indicate which items they disagree with. Letís put it on the table. Iíve reviewed their items; letís hear from them.

 

Amendment proposed

Mr. McRobb:   I would like to move the following amendment to Motion No. 459:

THAT Motion No. 459 be amended by adding the following:

(9) increasing medical travel allowances for Yukon outpatients starting, on day one, and providing funding for their medical escorts;

(10) investigating the feasibility of a stay-over lodge in Vancouver for outpatients;

(11) increasing the capacity in Whitehorse to accommodate expectant mothers from the communities;

(12) expanding mental health services to decrease wait times for diagnosis and treatment;

(13) establishing a collaborative health clinic with nurse practitioners and other health professionals;

(14) expanding medical services to include First Nationsí traditional healing practices;

(15) incorporating alternative health care methods into the public health system;

(16) developing effective recruitment and retention strategies for nurses, nurse practitioners and other health care providers;

(17) providing expanded home care services in all Yukon communities on a fair and consistent basis;

(18) making a full range of kidney dialysis services available in the Yukon;

(19) providing ongoing funding for the community health improvement project, or CHIP program, and other programs to promote healthy lifestyles and introducing such programs into the school curriculum, as appropriate;

(20) making a healthy lunch program available for all schools;

(21) investigating and establishing programs that prevent childhood obesity;

(22) establishing street-level health clinics for homeless youth and others for whom conventional treatment facilities do not present the most appropriate venue for seeking help;

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(23) lobbying Ottawa to pass legislation to reduce pharmaceutical costs;

(24) implementing a confidential, effective prescription monitoring system;

(25) including adults in programming for fetal alcohol spectrum disorder;

(26) expanding palliative care programs to rural communities;

(27) providing stable and predictable funding to non-governmental organizations that promote health, such as Blood Ties Four Directions;

(28) making the full scope of services of dental therapists available in rural communities when needed;

(29) providing the resources to ensure an appropriate level of community nursing services is available in all Yukon communities at all times;

(30) increasing the number of permanent positions in the emergency medical services while maintaining an appropriate level of auxiliary on-call positions;

(31) providing full training for EMS staff in Whitehorse and volunteers in the communities;

(32) establishing a credible medical detoxification unit in Whitehorse and expanding detox services in rural communities;

(33) increasing investment in health education measures, with a view to prevention;

(34) reducing injuries by expanding the PARTY program and by funding the safe community initiative;

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(35) funding the Red Cross to establish an expanded medical equipment loans project;

(36) working in cooperation with the federal government to expand optometric and dental programs in all communities, with particular emphasis on the needs of people 55 years of age and older; and

(37) such other measures as will allow all Yukon people to meet the World Health Organizationís definition of health as ďa state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmityĒ.

 

Speaker:   The motion is in order. It has been moved by the Member for Kluane that Motion No. 459 be amended by adding the following:

(9) increasing medical travel allowances for Yukon outpatients, starting on day one, and providing funding for their medical escorts;

(10) investigating the feasibility of a stay-over lodge in Vancouver for outpatients;

(11) increasing the capacity in Whitehorse to accommodate expectant mothers from the communities;

(12) expanding mental health services to decrease wait times for diagnosis and treatment;

(13) establishing a collaborative health clinic with nurse practitioners and other health professionals;

(14) expanding medical services to include First Nationsí traditional healing practices;

(15) incorporating alternative health care methods into the public health system;

(16) developing effective recruitment and retention strategies for nurses, nurse practitioners and other health care providers;

(17) providing expanded home care services in all Yukon communities on a fair and consistent basis;

(18) making a full range of kidney dialysis services available in the Yukon;

(19) providing ongoing funding for the community health improvement project, or CHIP program, and other programs to promote healthy lifestyles and introducing such programs into the school curriculum, as appropriate;

(20) making a healthy lunch program available for all schools;

(21) investigating and establishing programs that prevent childhood obesity;

(22) establishing street-level health clinics for homeless youth and others for whom conventional treatment facilities do not present the most appropriate venue for seeking help;

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(23) lobbying Ottawa to pass legislation to reduce pharmaceutical costs;

(24) implementing a confidential, effective prescription monitoring system;

(25) including adults in programming for fetal alcohol spectrum disorder;

(26) expanding palliative care programs to rural communities;

(27) providing stable and predictable funding to non-governmental organizations that promote health, such as Blood Ties Four Directions;

(28) making the full scope of services of dental therapists available in rural communities when needed;

(29) providing the resources to ensure an appropriate level of community nursing services is available in all Yukon communities at all times;

(30) increasing the number of permanent positions in the emergency medical services while maintaining an appropriate level of auxiliary on-call positions;

(31) providing full training for EMS staff in Whitehorse and volunteers in the communities;

(32) establishing a credible medical detoxification unit in Whitehorse and expanding detox services in rural communities;

(33) increasing investment in health education measures, with a view to prevention;

(34) reducing injuries by expanding the PARTY program and by funding the safe community initiative;

(35) funding the Red Cross to establish an expanded medical equipment loans project;

(36) working in cooperation with the federal government to expand optometric and dental programs in all communities, with particular emphasis on the needs of people 55 years of age and older; and

(37) such other measures as will allow all Yukon people to meet the World Health Organizationís definition of health as ďa state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmityĒ.

 

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Mr. McRobb:  † I apologize for the length of the amendment but, again, this was a result of a scoping exercise undertaken earlier today by our caucus and staff, and itís a cumulative effort. I would like to thank my colleagues and staff for their contributions to this list. It is not a totally complete list, Mr. Speaker, but itís something we were able to do on a best efforts basis and we believe itís fair to say it covers most of the areas of concern.

I would invite the government members, if they have no problem adding these items to the list, to maybe collaborate among themselves and their staff members and see if there are other items they would like to add to the growing list. I would extend that invitation to the leader of the third party, as well.

The time is about 3:22 p.m., which means that about two hours and 35 minutes are left for debate this afternoon, and weíre at the point where Iím only introducing an amendment to the motion. Iím first speaker in reaction to the movement of the motion. This is probably something, in all fairness, that members can talk about for a longer period, probably. Itís something that could go on for hundreds of hours if the time and energy allowed, but we all realize we have time constraints upon us today in this limited opportunity, and I would request that all members and all parties keep that in mind. We would like to see it brought to a vote, where we can all take part in helping to build a more complete list of health care items that ought to be included in this motion that will hopefully be approved unanimously in this House today.

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Itís something that I think all Yukon legislators can be proud of and use as a tool and a message to send to Ottawa if at any future point federal politicians are ever considering cutting our health care budget, as they did a decade ago. Letís not let that happen. Letís pass this motion. Letís send the signal to Ottawa to be on guard, if they ever consider cutting our health care budget again.

There are a number of items here that are important to Yukoners, and itís incumbent upon us, as current legislators, to establish this tool for use ó hopefully, not by us. Hopefully, the federal government wonít cut what they are presently giving us within our term, but for future MLAs in the territory ó something they could use on short notice to respond to any threat of federal cuts in this very vital area.

Iím also cognizant of the time and that Iím limited to ó 20 minutes ó so I wonít have time to fully review the number of items that have been introduced in this amendment, but I would like to elaborate on a few of them.

Letís look at the first item, which is (9) ó increasing medical travel allowances for Yukon outpatients starting on day one and providing funding for their medical escorts. This was a question put to the government a couple of weeks ago in Question Period, and it was debated during debate on the Health and Social Services budget. As it currently stands, the situation is that Yukon patients who travel Outside for medical services get nothing from the government to reimburse them for their expenses during the first three days.

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Most outpatients travel Outside for three days or less, so they get nothing. I related one example of somebody who approached me who is on a very tight budget, low income, who cannot afford to travel Outside to seek the medical treatment that person needs. This is a grossly inadequate service provided at the hands of the Yukon Party government. That ought to be changed. Whatís worse is starting on day four, patients are eligible only for $30 a day. Well, thatís a mere pittance compared to what our neighbouring territories provide to their outpatients. So we ought to spend some of that federal largesse to resolve this problem and to also provide funding in certain situations for people known as medical escorts who travel Outside with the patients. This can apply to young children, perhaps seniors, perhaps people with disabilities and so on. We know when they get Outside in the larger cities, like Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary ó which are the three main cities we send patients to ó quite often theyíre strangers in urban areas, and they need the comfort of a companion they can trust to enable them to go through the rigours of attending to their medical needs while in the hustle and bustle of the larger cities.

So on the first point, this is something the government should have no problem ífessing up to. It was omitted from the motion. Itís something the government should give a resounding endorsement to.

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Item (10) is similar. It promotes the investigation of the feasibility of a stay-over lodge in Vancouver for outpatients. Mr. Speaker, we in the official opposition have proposed to the Health and Social Services minister the application of a model similar to the one in Edmonton, at Larga House, because it would avoid having to ship outpatients back and forth; it would save a lot of medical expense for travel if people could simply stay over in a familiar surrounding until their treatment is done. Thatís what Larga House does in Edmonton, so weíre suggesting the investigation of a similar place in Vancouver.

The next point is increasing the capacity in Whitehorse to accommodate expectant mothers from the communities. This is a problem that virtually all our MLAs have encountered on a constituency level, and itís something the government has overlooked in its budget and in this motion weíre dealing with today. So letís resolve that omission.

The next item asks to expand medical services to decrease wait-times for diagnosis and treatment. Thatís another good suggestion.

Point (13) asks to establish a collaborative health clinic with nurse practitioners and other health professionals. This was something suggested by the Yukon Registered Nurses Association earlier this year. Itís a very good idea and is one where we can have a clinic to take some of the pressure off the hospital and other practitioners by bringing together medical professionals from across various disciplines to help treat Yukoners on the front line.

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This would serve to reduce the pressure on doctors and nurses and help alleviate the need for recruitment of doctors to the territory and, as well, increase the service available to patients within the territory. It is a very good suggestion, yet it was ignored in the Yukon Party budget and in the motion today. We have fixed that problem by including it in this amendment.

The next item deals with First Nation traditional healing practices. Iíll leave this for my colleagues for Mayo-Tatchun and Vuntut Gwitchin who are personally familiar with First Nation traditional healing practices, and Iíll look forward to their contribution.

The next point, dealing with alternative health care methods, well, I know my colleague from Whitehorse Centre is an advocate of this and itís something his wife when she was a Member of Parliament also advocated, and itís something we as a caucus believe in. There are other ways of treatment out there, such as holistic health and so on, that deserve recognition.

Now, as mentioned, I donít have time to go down the complete list, item by item, but letís look at item (17): providing expanded home care services in all Yukon communities on a fair and consistent basis. Well, what does that mean? It has become apparent through our scrutiny of the budget to date that there is a real unfairness in the way the Yukon Party has applied public health care dollars in the area of expanding home care services in the territory. I alluded to this earlier. The Minister of Health and Social Services has refused to provide the official opposition with the statistics on how itís increasing health care services within regions in the territory on an as-needed basis.

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I put it on the floor, and I would invite members opposite to refute this point. I believe the government is applying those extra home care services on a political basis. I contend there is no need attached to how it has applied the extra funding, and I challenge the government to prove me wrong. If Iím satisfied, at the end of the day, if they ever provide evidence, I will apologize for my challenge. So letís put that on the record.

Letís look at the full range of kidney dialysis services, as indicated in (18). This is an issue in the territory. It was an issue a few years ago. There was a high profile case of a girl in my riding, who ultimately passed away from this terrible disease, and the lack of services in the Yukon was all part of that situation. I understand the number of current patients in need of full kidney dialysis has greatly increased. Is this part of a trend? If it is part of a trend, then we can safely predict there will be even more one, two and three years down the road. Letís deal with it.

Weíve heard nothing from this Health minister about expanding kidney dialysis treatment in the territory. Does the Health and Social Services minister have opportunities to talk about it? Yes, he does. We had the budget review of the Department of Health and Social Services that spanned six days. Several issues were raised by the minister and us ó this was not one of them. I say, ďShame on the government.Ē It should have known better.

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The next item, (19), is another item the government has fallen short on ó providing funding for the CHIP program and other programs to promote healthy lifestyles and introducing such programs into the school curriculum as appropriate. We saw an example in the first three months of this year where the Health and Social Services minister hid from this issue. He was nowhere to be seen. I published a letter to the editor and I sent him a copy; he ran from this issue. We all know the post-Christmas period is prime time for people to get involved in programs related to physical fitness.

Now, I know myself that itís hard to say no to the turkey and all the other festive delights at Christmas, and I was personally looking forward to taking the program in Haines Junction, but the Member for Klondike denied me that opportunity, so Iím here in heavier presence today as a result of his neglect. I would like to impress upon him that he is responsible for some of my problems. Anyway, before we lose sight of the discussion today, I would like to say that this is a very good program and the government should be funding it on an ongoing basis so that it can operate year-round in all Yukon communities.

Iím aware that the government was privy to a proposal, but this Yukon Party government said no. Well, we resolved that by including it in our list of items in this amendment to the motion.

Make a healthy lunch program available for all schools ó well, thatís another excellent point. This is becoming a very popular initiative in other countries in the world.

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There was a high-profile case in Appleton School, which I believe is in Florida, that was featured in the movie Super Size Me as well as in other productions. We all realize how important it is for schoolchildren to eat properly and consume a proper level of nutrition while avoiding high-sugar and fatty foods in order to learn properly and have the right attitude approaching education.

In the example of the Appleton School, there was a complete turnaround. The Appleton School was a school for learning disabled students. There was a high dropout rate; there was a high rate of problems in the school, including fighting among the kids and other disobedient activities. Once the school introduced this program, it all turned around. Itís a remarkable case. Other states and other countries are adopting it; even the governor, ďthe terminatorĒ in California, has adopted this program. He has banned junk food in schools, yet weíve heard nothing from the Health and Social Services minister in the territory. Why not?

He should care more about the children. He should investigate whatís happening in the outer world a little more and be open to introducing good ideas as they come forward.

So, because the Yukon Party hasnít done that, once again weíve stepped up to the plate and improved the motion through another item in this amendment.

There are lots of other items in here, Mr. Speaker, but my time is running out. I have but two minutes left. Letís just quickly review the rest of them: lobby Ottawa to pass legislation to reduce pharmaceutical costs, which is an excellent point; implementing a confidential and effective prescription monitoring system, which is another item the government has refused to do.

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Including adults in the FASD programming, another point the minister has refused to do. Refer to yesterdayís Question Period.

Expanding palliative care programs to rural communities ó exactly, good point. Providing stable predictable funding to Blood Ties Four Directions, for example ó excellent point. Today we gave tribute to hep C victims. This government has done nothing. This line in our amendment resolves that inadequacy.

Making the full scope of services of dental therapists available in rural communities ó my colleague, the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin raised the issue two weeks ago, and this government has done nothing. Once again, we have resolved that issue by including it in the amendment.

Providing resources to ensure appropriate level of community nursing services is available in Yukon communities at all times. This makes sure our rural nursing stations are properly staffed and letís make sure that our nurses are reprieved, so they can have a break. That is a serious issue to nurses throughout the territory. Theyíre being asked to work above and beyond the call of duty for months at a time without any reprieve.

My time is up. Thank you very much. Iíll look forward to hearing the members on this amendment.

 

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Just allow me to briefly run down the amendment as moved by the Member for Kluane and also to thank him for the tremendous review that he and his colleagues have undertaken on the many new initiatives that our government has moved forward on, implemented and enhanced. This is certainly a recognition of the member oppositeís limited scope during budget debate to analyze the various areas of the department.

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But, that said, they have clearly done their work in the official opposition ranks ó

Speakerís statement

Speaker:   Order please. I am not going to cite specific words that the Minister of Health and Social Services is using. I am just urging the minister to be a little more cognizant of the words he is using in addressing the House, please. Minister of Health and Social Services, you have the floor.

 

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Iím just complimenting the members opposite for assembling such a fantastic list of the programs that our government has moved forward on, enhanced and done a tremendous amount of work on. Letís start with the first one. That is the medical travel and feasibility of the stay-over lodge in Vancouver. This review is underway. In the next budget envelope that we receive from Ottawa, weíre looking at ways to improve this area. When you compare apples to apples ó not apples to turnips as the member opposite constantly does, Mr. Speaker ó the issue of the comparison between the Yukon and Northwest Territories and when you take into consideration their basic amount, they have a copayment of some $250 per trip, per person. If there is an escort sent along, the copayment applies equally to the individual travelling for medical purposes and the person who is travelling as an escort. Mr. Speaker, the increase in the capacity in Whitehorse to accommodate expectant mothers was done the last budget cycle through a very capable NGO, the Victoria Faulkner Womenís Centre. They are providing an excellent service here in the community of Whitehorse for expectant mothers who come down to give birth.

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Unlike Nunavut, where most of their births take place in southern hospitals, here in the Yukon virtually all our births take place in Whitehorse and a few in the rural communities, specifically Watson Lake. We have excellent programs and excellent accommodations provided in this area through an NGO and at the Whitehorse Hospital.

Expanding mental health services, decrease wait time for diagnosis and treatments ó we now have a full complement of people in this area, and wait times have been reduced significantly in all areas. The greatest number of questions previously were coming at the government with respect to assessments required by the courts. Currently there is no wait time, and thatís a credit to the government of the day for putting in place the necessary health care providers that can address these needs.

Establish a collaborative health clinic with nurse practitioners and other health professionals ó a walk-in clinic is currently in place in Whitehorse. Across the Yukon we have nursing stations that are available 24/7 for emergencies. As well, we have a rotational system for nurse practitioners.

It must be pointed out clearly that here in the Yukon there are currently three nurse practitioners who have the full accreditation ó three. This group of health care providers is in the same short supply as doctors and other health care professionals are.

We have one of the most comprehensive packages of wage and benefits for all our health care providers across the Yukon. The Yukon Hospital Corporation has negotiated a new collective agreement with their nurses. I believe it resulted in about a $4 an hour higher rate here in the Yukon per category than British Columbia.

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Expand medical services to include First Nation traditional healing practices: those First Nations that are self-governing can draw down their own practices but, that said, weíve also included an individual in our programs who will be available at no cost other than the cost thatís incurred in travel to the respective First Nation for an individual here in the Yukon from the Yukon to go out and work with that First Nation on traditional methods and provide sweats.

Incorporate alternative health care methods into the public health system ó that is recognized and currently is incorporated and has been expanded under our watch.

Recruitment, retention strategies for nurse, nurse practitioners and other health care providers ó I elaborated on that earlier to a considerable extent. We are receiving benefits. We now have one of the best ratios of doctors to population here in the Yukon of virtually any place in Canada. Thatís not to say that there isnít room for improvement, but we have undergone an initiative in cooperation between the Department of Health and Social Services and the Yukon Medical Association and weíre moving forward. We hope to see improvements in service delivery and availability of health care providers all across, but as it stands now we have some of the best health care providers in all categories doing an excellent job of providing services.

Provide expanded home care services to all Yukon communities on a fair and consistent basis ó we have done that and we have expended by some $300,000. Let me share with the member opposite where we currently stand.

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Currently in Beaver Creek, there are no clients; Carcross-Tagish, 18 clients and five home support workers; Carmacks, four clients and three home support workers; Dawson City, 13 clients, two home support workers; Destruction Bay, there are currently no clients; Haines Junction, 27 clients, six home support workers; Faro, four clients and two home support workers; Mayo, three clients and two home support workers; Old Crow, there are currently no clients; Pelly Crossing, one client and one home support worker; Ross River, two clients and two home support workers; Teslin, four clients and two home support workers; and the greatest area of all is Whitehorse, which currently has 261 clients receiving home care and home support services from 13 home support workers, 6.8 FTE registered nurses, two social workers, 1.9 occupational therapists and 1.6 FTE physical therapists. Watson Lake has five clients provided with home support.

When you look across the support issue in the whole Yukon, there are also the First Nations who provide home support to their respective members, and they are also doing an excellent job. That said, what it clearly points out and clearly demonstrates is that the Yukon has one of the best home support systems in place in Canada. Thereís room for improvement, yes, and we are working on that.

Some of the home support care is provided by NGOs to this day. In the case of Watson Lake, the Signpost Seniors in that area provide an excellent service to their members.

Letís look at the next item on the memberís list: a full range of kidney dialysis services available in the Yukon. Currently there is one client who is being provided with peritoneal dialysis ó hemodialysis is currently being provided. This is an area where weíre expanding services to meet the demand.

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Diabetes is rampant throughout the Yukon. Its numbers are increasing in our population, and it is quite prevalent in our aboriginal population. We are expanding, but some of the types of dialysis require very highly trained specialists, and they have to have a base of a number of individuals requiring this service in order to maintain their ability to perform the dialysis. Technology is changing. Technology is improving, and equipment is moving forward. We are hoping to be able to provide the full range of dialysis very shortly, Mr. Speaker.

The next item is to provide ongoing funding for the CHIP program. Well, Mr. Speaker, we have. Currently, we have just signed an agreement with CHIP to provide the services in Haines Junction. But I bet you at the end of the day, Mr. Speaker, the Member for Kluane will choose not to take the program. The program is starting very quickly. It amazes me, Mr. Speaker, that he knew about the program starting in Haines Junction and yet failed to mention that. But that said, this CHIP program is a very worthwhile program. It is on a community-by-community basis, which it is going forward on. It is in place in the memberís community.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we can go down the healthy lunch program, and we have that in place; weíve enhanced it and improved it.

Investigate and establish programs that prevent childhood obesity ó this is one area where we are looking at healthy living, healthy families.

Establish street-level health clinics ó we have street-level health clinics. We have a walk-in clinic.

Lobby Ottawa to pass legislation to reduce pharmaceutical costs ó this is an area that was dealt with by the federal government a number of years ago on the duration of patents and generic drugs. There doesnít appear to be an appetite at the federal government level today to address any changes, but I can confirm for the member opposite that one of the fastest growing cost centres for the Department of Health and Social Services is the area of drugs. Whether they be in the drug formulary or prescription drugs or anywhere in the system, it is one of the fastest growing cost centres here.

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Implement a confidential, effective prescription-monitoring system ó we have that in place. For any drugs that are controlled drugs, there is a three-part prescription and that prescription is controlled by a firm out of Alberta. The problem the member opposite hasnít identified with ó he says there are more prescriptions being issued today for prescription drugs, and the member is absolutely right because normally in a number of areas that the doctors prescribe, they prescribe two weeks to a monthís prescription at one time. But because of the problems that are encountered with the theft of that prescription drug or the selling of that prescription drug, the only people who can prescribe are the physicians, and the prescribing physicians have determined itís in the best interest of the patient if they prescribe a smaller quantity more frequently. So the member cites the statistics as, ďLook at the amount of prescriptions, theyíve gone right through the roof.Ē Well, theyíve increased, but theyíve increased for a reason and that reason is usually because of some occasion of an illegal activity taking place: the theft of the prescribed drugs or the selling of that prescribed drug to someone else. So letís look at the realities of it.

Include adults in programming for FASD ó our government has just done that, and Iíd like to thank the member opposite for pointing that out. We have just entered into a contribution agreement with FASSY, and FASSY is delivering this program. The member opposite might want to also look at some of the other programs FASSY is delivering. They have an open house once a year and I would encourage the member opposite to attend one of these open houses and learn and understand what FASSY is all about, what programs they deliver and how the Government of Yukon, under this Yukon Party watch, has resourced FASSY.

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At the same time, we have also resourced the Child Development Centre, and they have in place the diagnostic team thatís moving forward in this area. The children in the Child Development Centre are just great. I attended there recently and I sat down on the floor. One individual came running over and called me ďMr. SuitĒ. It was kind of nice. Itís good to see that we have such dedicated groups in our society as those working in the Child Development Centre to help those less fortunate than you and I.

Palliative care programs for rural communities ó we have done that. The member might want to check with the association that oversees this area and see the amount of resources that our government has provided.

Dental therapists ó weíve gone through this program with the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin, who fully recognizes that the issue is with the federal government and the uninsured First Nation benefit program. That in itself is a problem, because the dentists want to get paid, and they want to get paid in a timely fashion. They donít want to have to wait. If you want to look at the amount of money that this government and the governments before us have waited for from the federal government for services provided to First Nations, it currently amounts to some $25 million to $28 million. They are the hardest people to get to pay their bills. The member opposite might disagree with that, but thatís the basis of the problem here.

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Now, at the same time, we want to go through the emergency medical staff and just look at what is going on there. We have resourced that. It was almost a three-quarters-of-a-million dollar increase this last cycle and one-quarter of a million dollars plus in capital this year for two new type 3 ambulances that will be going to Whitehorse. Last year, there were two type 1 ambulances, which are four-wheel drive. The members opposite went on and on about how they were inappropriate. There is a need for four-wheel-drive ambulances in certain areas of the Yukon and thereís a need for the type 3 ambulances in other areas.

If we want to look at what weíve done for clothing, training and enhancement of all the programs in this area, it is phenomenal. It had not occurred since the early 1970s. Our government addressed that need.

If we want to look at the funding to the Red Cross, this government has provided them with space in the Thomson Centre for their lending program. We have also provided space to Hospice in the Thomson Centre for the delivery of their programs. At the same time, Mr. Speaker, the Yukon Hospital Corporation is establishing a medical detox and mental health ward in the Thomson Centre.

When we put it all together, more has been accomplished under our watch than at any other time in the health care and social program fields.

I guess the essence of our motion we have before the House speaks for itself. Thatís where we should go. While I donít have any quarrel with a lot of this amendment to the motion, given that our government has addressed virtually all the points in one form or another through direct government delivery of programs and through non-government organizations, to include this in the motion would render the basic essence of our motion so wide-ranging that it wouldnít allow us to focus on the basis of our motion and where weíre heading and what we are doing.

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I would encourage all members to consider shortening the amendment, and Iíd ask the official opposition to reconsider their amendment to this motion and shorten it so that it succinctly zeros in on the few small areas that are appropriate. Then we can move forward. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

Mr. Fairclough:   Mr. Speaker, Iím pleased to respond to the amendment that was moved by the Member for Kluane, Mr. Speaker. I have listened to what the Member for Klondike had to say. He seems to be quite excited about the list that we provided on the floor of this Legislature, and Iím sure they all would be and would all like to respond to the number of issues that we have listed here today.

I would like to respond to a couple of them, particularly with the Member for Klondikeís last remarks about this changing the motion tremendously.

Basically, Mr. Speaker, when you look at it, all we did was add to the list. If he says, for example, that with the $20 million that has gone straight into health care that increasing medical travel is not something that theyíre looking at and itís only the list of eight, then maybe I can see why. But the fact is that $20 million is going into health care, and that means that there is more spending that can be given out to a number of different areas. Itís not as if that government is not interested in many of these areas. It is just unfortunate that we have to go through such a big process and exercise in this House to get them to commit to it, even though many of these have been questioned and asked for when the Member for Klondike was in opposition on this side of the House. So it doesnít make sense for him to basically just not show the amendments as important or relevant to the motion.

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I believe the Member for Klondike said that the amendment, as brought forward in a continued list, only strengthens the original motion put forward on the floor of this Legislature. I am very interested in knowing which way this government is going to vote on this amendment, because they canít vote against the things theyíre doing and that have been in place for many years before they came to power. We have made a list here, recognizing what government is already doing and looking at areas to strengthen it.

We have brought some of the line items here forward because they were issues raised out there in the public and questions raised here during Question Period. So, I believe itís very important not to just push it aside and try to move on with the motion as it is presented. The Yukon Party said they wanted constructive debate in this House, and they wanted suggestions. Maybe they were a bit surprised that we took their motion and worked with it by adding to it and making it stronger.

The mover of the motion didnít spend much time talking about and presenting his case on the motion, but we have looked at it. Weíve examined it and we have concerns. By pointing them out, hopefully the government, with its windfall of federal money, can address some of these. Theyíre not big ones either.

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We have talked about the increase in medical travel allowances for Yukon outpatients now for quite some time. I know that members on that side of the House could not tell Yukoners who stopped them on the street that they are fully satisfied with what is being provided now. Iím sure that what is being said is some commitment to try to improve what we have now. Everywhere we go, every riding that we have been in, people have raised that issue. I heard the minister say ó he didnít say it today, but he has said it in the past ó that a lot fewer Yukon patients are going out of the territory for medical treatment than we have had in the past. That is partly due to the increase in our facilities here in Whitehorse. I understand that. But there are still a lot of our patients who need to travel outside of the territory. This unfortunately hasnít changed. We are still looking at $30 a day after the third day. Some people just canít afford it. I know that particular line about affordability is very difficult for the government side to handle. We brought forward, for example, an anti-poverty motion and talked about that, and guess what, Mr. Speaker? It didnít go anywhere, because this Yukon Party doesnít seem to recognize that we do have families in the territory that are below the poverty level.

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I have taken note of what the Member for McIntyre-Takhini had to say about poverty in the territory. I was quite shocked about it because these types of things are exactly what people out there are talking about ó being able to afford to go out on medical travel. I know it doesnít sound right when weíre providing a heck of a lot of medicare to people here in the territory, but there are people who do not even leave their community to come to Whitehorse for medical attention. Thatís partly why we have such big problems here in the territory. So why doesnít the government use some of the big money that they have ó the $20 million ó and put it toward something that is going to impact people directly.

I think every government that comes in here talks about trying to promote healthier lifestyles in the territory. Weíve talked about programs in schools, programs in the communities and programs that promote healthy eating. Weíve pointed out a couple of our line items here that are directed toward that ó promoting healthy eating in the schools, for example. I know weíve moved a little bit toward that by trying to eliminate the pop and chip machines and so on. But weíre talking about more than that. Weíre talking about whatís being served in the schools, those that have cafeterias and so on, and what our healthy lunch program could mean to the kids down the road.

I guess, if anything, government can initiate this in a more positive light and try to eliminate some of the health problems with some of the students in the schools, such as obesity and so on.

So there is a lot that can be done. When we added this to the list, it just goes on to say that we urge the Yukon government to continue spending its $20-million share of this three-year accord to address some of these issues.

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So, whatís wrong with that? The Health and Social Services minister basically threw it out and said that they are doing all of these. Well, are they not doing the first eight that were listed? Of course, we know that. Weíre not bringing forward anything new in this amendment, but we are identifying improvements and identifying some things that we can do.

I will just skip down the list because I am not going to address every one of them. We have under (14), expanding medical services to include First Nation traditional healing. Well, thereís a lot that goes with that. There are a lot of different methods and ways, including traditional medicines. One of the nice things about the hospital here in Whitehorse is that you can bring traditional medicines into the hospital. They accept them in this hospital.

I think that because we have been dealing with that for a number of years now, people are a bit shocked to find out that other jurisdictions in Canada do not do that. We have taken patients down, for example, to Edmonton. In the hospitals there, they donít allow it. You have to take it out. They only use traditional, Canadian-approved medicines in their hospitals. We were a bit surprised at the whole thing, because many people feel that there are medicines that First Nations use that do indeed work and should be applied when they are sick. If they break from that practice, I suppose itís like going off any kind of medication.

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So with that, this government, I believe, could be negotiating with Alberta. I mean, we have negotiated almost everything else when it comes to economic development. I canít see why we canít negotiate something as small as this but which has some major impacts here in the territory, and also with B.C., and come up with an agreement where we can bring traditional First Nation medicines into the hospitals and identify the different ways of traditional healing practices within the territory and have it reflected again in Alberta and B.C.

Now, Iíve heard the Minister of Health and Social Services talk about home care and services in all communities in the territory. Under (17), we have identified this: to expand home care services in all Yukon communities on a fair and consistent basis. Every time we bring something forward like this, the Yukon Party seems to have a little problem when it comes to who is responsible for what. If it is the federal government that is responsible, quickly they come out and say that. I would like to see the Yukon Party give some compliments, perhaps, to the First Nations in being able to access a lot of the funding to take care of a lot of these services that normally would fall under the Yukon government. It is millions of dollars, Mr. Speaker, and I believe that some of these home care services are very good in the small communities. People know each other, and it is really needed. I think, also, it keeps our elderly people out of the hospitals more and, in the end, when there are proper services in place, I believe weíll see the cost of medicare to our elderly people drop tremendously. We probably have seen that too.

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At the same time, I think we could be more engaged in educational programs to communities. When there are recognized programs out there, we should be using them a bit more, trying to teach people a better way of living, eating and exercising. I know that some people are so entrenched in the lifestyle that to make a change is frightening. I have known people, for example, who have gone through CHIP. One thing that shocked them about it, with their age and height and so on, was that their ideal weight is a lot lower than they think it should be or even lower than they would be satisfied with. It would be really hard for someone to get down to that weight through that program or even by drastically changing their diet. An example would be not eating meat. To many people in the territory, thatís a big move and a big change. I think that through a lot of the education and programs provided, a lot of people would perhaps think more clearly about this and try to make their bodies a bit healthier.

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Implementing the confidential and effective prescription monitoring system ó I know the Minister of Health and Social Services went on about this. We want to see confidentiality; we want to see a really good monitoring system. I know the minister talked about illegal activities. Thatís happening all over Canada and basically everywhere you go. In the territory I donít think we want to be making any mistakes by overprescribing any drugs or having them find their way to the streets.

Providing full training for EMS staff in Whitehorse and the volunteers in the community ó the member opposite said we go on and on about it, but weíve raised this in the House before. I donít think the government would have moved very far on this if it wasnít raised by the people out there in the communities and on the floor of this Legislature. So it does sometimes work to have very strong questions come forward.

I know Iím running out of time here, Mr. Speaker.

Providing the full training for EMS staff has been asked for, and I think that training can be expanded. Weíve talked a lot about the different ones that could perhaps also be with our educators.

I realize Iím out of time here. There are so many different areas to address in this amendment. I hope the next speaker can get up and talk about some of the ones I havenít talked about and havenít had the time to talk about, and that this person goes over them and shares their thoughts. Hopefully they will agree with this amendment and we can move on and vote for it.

 

Mr. Cardiff:   On the amendment, itís obvious that members on the other side of the Legislature canít take some good ideas. We constantly hear that they want to hear good ideas from the opposition.

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We proposed a whole bunch of good ideas, some of which the Member for Klondike, the Minister of Health and Social Services, has said that theyíve made some progress on. I find it kind of incredible, given some of the questions that have been asked in the Health and Social Services debate and in Question Period around things like medical travel and providing accommodation, that the minister obviously didnít know that this was happening in his department, that they were investigating other avenues and looking for places for people to stay. Yet he can come in here on a Wednesday when weíre debating this motion and say that they are doing something on it.

What I find incredible is the fact that, just a few short weeks ago, the minister was saying it was impossible to increase medical travel allowances and make things a little easier for those people who have to travel Outside to obtain medical treatment and diagnosis in Vancouver, Edmonton or Calgary. He didnít seem willing to accept that that was a good idea a few weeks ago, and now he says that theyíre actually doing something.

I guess maybe we should thank the minister for taking us up on some of the good ideas we presented. If we had realized that earlier, we could have given him some credit for that. But he doesnít seem to want to be really communicative, I guess is the word.

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Itís another one of those secrecy things, the culture of secrecy, I guess, not wanting to let the opposition know whatís going on.

The objective of the amendment by my colleague, the Member for Kluane, is to expand the governmentís horizons. The original motion talks about continuing to spend its $20-million share on nine things. It lists eight items. All we have done is to expand the list on some things that are being done and some things that we feel should be funded and do warrant investigation and consideration in the budget process.

So we feel that the Member for Lake Laberge, when he presented this motion in the House, was a little short-sighted and narrow-minded about the medical system and the programs and services that are required to meet the needs of Yukoners who require medical attention and medical treatment, and there wasnít a lot in there about prevention, and prevention is a big thing. I think that thatís an important focus. Itís something that the government could be doing more on ó promoting things like the CHIP program and educating people about healthier lifestyles.

I know from my own personal experience since I have changed occupations in the last two and a half years, I need to look at living a healthier lifestyle. I donít live the active lifestyle that I lived when I was working physically in a shop or out on a construction site, climbing up and down ladders and getting lots of exercise, and the exercise that we get in here consists of mostly exercising our vocal cords and our minds.

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It doesnít contribute to a very healthy lifestyle. So, I need to think about things that I need to do to live a healthier lifestyle. All Yukoners need to do that. The Member for Klondike quite rightly points out something that I need to consider as well, which is a habit. Maybe the minister would like to put more money into smoking cessation programs.

Itís actually interesting ó I did participate in a survey that was conducted by the ministerís department about that. It is a serious problem and it is a serious concern, especially for young people. We need to encourage young people not to take up smoking. I know Iím a bad example for that, and I admit it.

The minister thinks thatís funny. The minister should take a look at himself and think about some of the things he needs to quit doing.

Iím willing to admit my faults and to try to point out some good ideas where we could make progress on improving the health of Yukoners. The minister likes to laugh about the fact that Iím willing to admit my mistakes and shortcomings ó you know, Iím a smoker. The minister should think about admitting his shortcomings. Maybe he should think about paying back the money he owes to the Yukon taxpayers and think about improving the decorum in the Legislature.

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The minister was making fun of the fact that Iím able to admit that Iíve made mistakes in my life and that I donít always live a healthy lifestyle. He thinks thereís something funny about that.

I think that prevention and promoting healthy lifestyles are important things that can improve the health of Yukoners. At the same time, it can reduce costs and the trajectory of health care spending in the territory. I was talking earlier about the fact that I need to make changes in my life since changing occupations. To that end, I am trying to get out and exercise more and change my habits. The government can put more effort into communicating and promoting that in the public. They are important things. I think that will bring down the costs of health care and make all Yukoners healthier.

Some grassroots ideas that are out there include the establishment of a street-level health clinic for homeless youth and others. I was talking with a service provider just a few days ago. Itís not just youth who are homeless. Itís a sad thing. I suppose itís not a health care-related topic, but something that contributes to peopleís health and well-being is housing.

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I know itís not something thatís provided for in the motion and in the health care budget, but just the fact that people have a home to go to where they can raise their family contributes to their health. The government could do more in that area as well.

I guess the point I was trying to make was that when I was talking to this service provider the other day, she had been dealing with people who were in homeless situations, who didnít have anywhere to go. They were going from couch to couch and taking their family with them in some instances. Other families couldnít find adequate housing and had to actually rent two trailers. In order to provide for his family, this gentleman had to actually rent two trailers in a trailer park because there was no housing available. It was a real strain on his financial resources ó to be able to raise your family and have to be forced to pay rent on two trailers in a trailer park that were inadequate. It wasnít conducive to the health of that family. Other families were living in cars because there wasnít adequate housing.

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There werenít the resources available ó that canít be healthy. It doesnít improve the health of Yukoners to have our citizens living in cars. Part of it is the fact of opportunities in communities. I think that is why some of the items that we have provided for in our amendment are directed at communities.

Improve levels of nursing in communities and appropriate level of community nursing services ó Iíll just read the whole item here: providing the resources to ensure that an appropriate level of community nursing services is available in all communities at all times. That takes some work. Itís important in communities because, if the services arenít available in communities, people donít feel like they want to live there. If they canít get the services, if they canít get the dental services ó Iím not saying the dentist has to be there 24/7, 365 days of the year, but if we could find some way of having those health care professionals visit the communities and provide those services on some sort of a regular basis, it would provide for much healthier communities outside of Whitehorse. People would want to stay there. And if we could build economies in those communities, that would lead to healthier communities. But what we see are people coming to Whitehorse because there are no opportunities for them and the services arenít available in those communities.

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They end up living in their cars or couch surfing. If they donít find the services, or the available services are full up or inaccessible, where do they go? They go to someplace bigger. They go to Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver or Toronto. They leave the Yukon because they canít get the help they need. Thatís not the kind of Yukon that I envision. We need to be more caring.

Right now, there appears to be a lot of economic activity going on.

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Mr. Cardiff:   The Member for Klondike is providing encouragement off-microphone. Sometimes thatís helpful and other times itís not.

The vision I have is of a more caring Yukon where the services arenít all concentrated here in Whitehorse, where we actually reach out to those other communities, the smaller communities of the Yukon, and try to provide some level of service to those communities so they are healthy communities and people want to live there. I think thatís important.

Only having a short time ó and I know other speakers have said this same thing, that the list is long. We couldnít possibly, in 20 minutes, deal with all the items on the list. One that I think is important and is something this government could do some work on ó and it became a big issue recently for a young Yukoner who had to go Outside for medical treatment ó is that the government could lobby the federal government. The Minister of Health and Social Services should work on this. He should go and lobby the other health ministers at the health ministers conference. If he canít make it there, he should send them all an e-mail or whatever.

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The federal government needs to do something about the high cost of pharmaceuticals; it really does. Many years ago, the federal government provided protection for pharmaceutical companies to provide patent protection for them so that the companies producing generic drugs couldnít do that; they werenít allowed to produce generic drugs. I canít remember what the time frame was, but it extended that time frame, which gives the pharmaceutical companies a monopoly on those drugs, and they can charge whatever they want. That doesnít seem fair. Thatís almost as bad as a P3. The pharmaceutical companies are making millions and millions of dollars. I guess the argument that the minister would make is that theyíre also doing the research and development, but I donít believe thatís necessarily where that should be. I think the federal government should fund research and development so that pharmaceutical drugs necessary for those needing them are available at a reasonable price, and they should remove that patent protection clause so that generic drugs ó more cost-effective drugs ó are available to people who need them.

I realize my time is running out. We could talk a lot more about this, and I look forward to hearing the comments of the members opposite on some of these ideas we brought forward.

 

Mrs. Peter:   It gives me great pleasure to be able to speak to this amendment. Itís pretty interesting to sit back and listen to the comments that have been offered here this afternoon. I couldnít help but notice that when we offered this amendment, the Yukon Party government was quick to say how many of these wonderful ideas they had already implemented.

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Mr. Speaker, I fail to see many of these initiatives in the budget. How they can stand up on the floor of this House and say that some of these initiatives are in place is beyond me.

I helped put forward some of these ideas, along with my colleagues. I can tell you here today that many of these initiatives, programs and ideas are not available in the smaller communities, and that is exactly why we brought them forward.

The Yukon Party government, within the last two sittings of this past year, have constantly asked the opposition for ideas and how willing they would be if we brought forward some good ideas. This is a very good example of the official opposition bringing forward some good ideas to the Yukon Party government. What are we met with? We are met with comments that are not very welcoming.

Most of the ideas that we bring forward are on behalf of the people in our constituencies ó in our ridings. We hear about them every day. I fail to see what was so funny about that, with all the laughter and comments from the other side earlier while my colleague was speaking to the amendment. These are very serious matters.

In my own riding, Mr. Speaker, one of the long-term visions we have, which has been spelled out so very clearly for this government when they go to the community of Old Crow, is for our younger generation.

091a

We constantly speak about healthy living. What are some of the preventive measures that we can take and put in place today so that we can alleviate some of the health problems in the future? When we bring that forward to the Minister of Health and Social Services, to the Minister of Justice and to the minister responsible for the Womenís Directorate, then itís not taken very seriously.

We would like to see programs made available for our people so that they can take the responsibility for their personal lives. We are trying to view it from a community responsibility point of view. We need a government in place that has a willingness to do that. We can do photo ops and sign MOUs and take nice pictures, but that is as far as it goes. I know the memorandum of understanding that the Yukon Party signed with Vuntut Gwitchin, which the Premier is always talking about and saying there is such a good relationship with our community in the social department.

Weíd like to address some of the alcohol and drug abuse issues that we have. Weíre very willing and open to address those. Weíre not ashamed to talk about it. Weíd like to address some of the health issues that we have and provide programs for the young people, especially for the elders in our community. We talk about home care. The Minister of Health and Social Services is quick to say, well, itís a federal program. We offer adult care services in the smaller communities, but the money is sure not coming from him. And, yes, they do provide the services, and it is very much needed.

What about the other people who need extensive care? That issue is definitely out there in the rural communities. When they require extensive care and the family and the health centre are not able to further assist them, then they have to leave home. That definitely causes a problem in their lives.

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What about the kinds of services weíve mentioned here? The healthy lunch program ó make a healthy lunch program available in all schools. I noticed Chief Zzeh Gittlit School in Old Crow would just love to have a program like that. There was an initiative a couple of years ago where they did offer a lunch program for the students, and it was well-received. But again, the money ran out. Thatís something that I know would be very welcomed at the school in my community. Thatís where a lot of the young parents or a lot of the caretakers of children ó whether it be grandchildren or our own children ó plan healthy lunches for the children. They donít have to have the pop, candy and chips that they have after they have their lunch.

With this type of program, they were encouraged to provide healthy meals and healthy snacks. Mr. Speaker, I donít think I need to tell you or make you aware of how costly that is. Just to give you an example, to purchase three bananas at the local store in Old Crow is between $4 to $6. Oranges are the same price. A dozen eggs is almost $4.

So when you think of planning meals for your family, and you want to provide fruits and vegetables and try to follow the food guide, you just get one or two items and you look at your family budget, and that idea goes out the door. Weíre very, very fortunate that we still harvest off the land. Thatís very helpful to us.

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While Iím on that topic, I canít help mentioning the issue of the Porcupine caribou. That is our main source of food. It has been in our diet from the time we can walk. We all know what happened with that issue in Washington; we lost that vote last week. This Yukon Party government can stand and trumpet how well theyíre doing and how theyíre taking care of the Yukon, and yet our people are very sad. What is going to happen to their lives? Who is standing up for us? Who is standing up for us to protect our traditional way of life so that we can continue to have traditional foods in our diet? Thatís part of our healthy lifestyle.

My colleague the Member for Mayo-Tatchun earlier addressed the First Nation traditional healing practices. There are so many issues that one has to understand when it comes to healing practices for First Nation people and what they have to offer in the way of traditional knowledge. The medical profession and medical ways of the south, in conjunction with the First Nation traditional practices ó if they work in conjunction with one another, they can go so far.

094a

We are very fortunate, again, that the local hospital is able to provide some of those services for elders when they come in from the communities. There is such a huge adjustment to make, especially when they are away from home, whether in an adult care facility, the hospital or any other facility where they need any of these services. There is a huge adjustment to make in their diet and living quarters. All these issues need to be taken into consideration.

I am very cautious about the kind of information that I share on the floor of this House with regard to the traditional healing practices of our people, because I donít understand most of it. There are different ways for different people throughout our territory. Some of the practices that I am familiar with are those in my community. They would be different from those in southern Yukon.

All I would like to say is that these traditional healing practices are very important. I know that many people in my community still use the traditional medicines that they gather from the land. Sometimes those medicines work better than going to your local doctor.

095a

Moving away from that topic, I would like to go back to the preventive measures. In the community of Old Crow, when we talk about our long-term goals ó thank you, Mr. Speaker; I have only five minutes left ó when we talk about our long-term goals, weíre talking about trying to provide a healthy environment for the young people who are growing up in our community today. If we can address that and most of all be a role model to the young people, whether they be our children, our grandchildren, you know, by doing various activities, whether it be going to the local school and encouraging your child or grandchild to participate in the skiing program or going for a walk and taking a walk from the school back home instead of jumping on the bus; doing simple activities like that and encouraging my grandmother or my aunties to eat a healthy diet and try to provide some of those and be creative and provide some of those ideas for them.

Another barrier in that regard, when weíre dealing with elders and trying to provide a balanced diet for them, is language and trying to translate what weíre saying to them to help them make that change. That goes for any kind of program that you want to implement in the community. It has to be understandable to all people.

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I just want to address the program that we recommended for fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, to include adults. We know what our justice system is like. We know that our local correctional centre is filled to capacity at various times of the year with First Nation inmates. Many of the people who end up in the correctional facility deal with various different issues in their own personal lives. Some of the issues are not diagnosed and we know that some of the issues not identified can be in this area. There is a very serious problem with that. We need to address that at that level and at all levels, not only within the Correctional Centre, but also more especially again in the communities. Weíre having problems diagnosing this problem within our school system. So if we have that problem with the younger children, or children in our school system, then how are we going to address that with our adult population? I know itís a serious challenge. Many of these items that we have listed here in this amendment to the motion are, I believe, initiatives that can be addressed. I know some of them may take a challenge or two.

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Maybe the government of the day needs to speak a little bit more with the federal government and work in conjunction with other people and allow this dialogue to take place out in the Yukon public, so that we can move forward on behalf of the people of the Yukon.

My time is up, and I thank you for your time.

 

Speaker:   Are you prepared for the question on the amendment?

Some Hon. Members:   Division.

Division

Speaker:   Division has been called.

 

Bells

 

098a

Speaker:   Mr. Clerk, please poll the House.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Disagree.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   †Disagree.

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Disagree.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Disagree.

Hon. Mr. Lang:   Disagree.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Disagree.

Mr. Cathers:   Disagree.

Mr. Rouble:   Disagree.

Mr. Hardy:   Agree.

Mr. McRobb:   Agree.

Mr. Fairclough:   Agree.

Mr. Cardiff:   Agree.

Mrs. Peter:   Agree.

Ms. Duncan:   Agree.

Clerk:   Mr. Speaker, the results are six yea, eight nay.

Speaker:   I declare the amendment negatived.

Amendment to Motion No. 459 negatived

 

Speaker:   We will resume debate on the main motion.

099a

 

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to rise to speak to the main motion. Before I get into the main motion, let me say to the official opposition there was a lot of work done by their caucus in presenting the amendment to the motion. I would like to thank them for pointing out the many areas in the Department of Health and Social Services where we have improved service delivery to Yukoners, enhanced service delivery to Yukoners and resourced service delivery to Yukoners, either directly through programs in the department, or through our Yukon Hospital Corporation and also through NGOs.

Mr. Speaker, if we look at some of the priorities, the new health care funding and the 2004 federal budget, and if you look at the efforts that the three northern premiers made to address monies for the north needed to address the shortfalls in health care, we have a debt of gratitude to pay to the three northern premiers for their efforts to convince the former Prime Minister of Canada to address the shortfalls in the budget and the need for further money.

That $60 million in additional health care funding for the north translated into some $6.6 million per year over three years. It was my privilege to meet with one of the federal health ministers and, in my short term in office as Minister of Health and Social Services for Yukon, I have had occasion to deal with three different federal ministers of health, which is disconcerting in that one would like to see some continuity across the board.

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That said, through the intervention of the premiers here in the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut and the ultimate cooperation of the Prime Minister of Canada at the time, the Hon. Jean Chrťtien, this money did flow and it has been put to excellent use.

I might point out that if we took all the points in our motion and added to it the points in the amendment to the motion and took the $6.6 million, there wouldnít be very much to do anything in any one of the categories. It does bode well for our government that we have been able to address the many, many issues in the Department of Health and Social Services, such as we have done with this funding. We have been specific about where we have targeted this money.

The $6.6 million per year provided to the Yukon under the northern health supplementary funding agreement will be extended for another three years, starting in 2006-07. That, of course, is subject to federal budget approval. But the federal budget announced the intention to make this annual funding supplement ongoing. We donít know where the federal government is going to be, but weíd like to see it included in our base expenditures and also in the base expenditures in the three territorial governments in their formula financing agreements.

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Also, through the provisions of the territorial formula financing, there are provisions to increase and further increase $150 million over five years to allow each territory to target its priorities. The Yukonís portion will be $38 million over five years. Again, the essence of this new money is presently being researched but, given the current state of the federal government, which may fall at any time and there may be an election, this will result in this funding not being approved. So the north, and indeed all of Canada, has a lot riding on an election.

There are many other initiatives that funding has been committed to, announced over and over again by the federal government, yet is subject to the approval of the Parliament of Canada ó and that may or may not occur.†

We look at some of the other initiatives and weíre gaining, but if you look at the federal government and the recent Minister of Health Ujjal Dosanjhís position of $5 billion over five years, and you look at that on a go-forward basis ó I might not be accurate in the numbers, but if you look at it going forward for 10 years in Canada and you look at what the expenditures have been by the provincial and territorial governments for the last seven years, it equals the amount of money that is being committed by the federal government on a go-forward basis for the next 10 years.

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So itís going to be difficult to address the ever-increasing costs of delivering health care by any government in Canada. The drivers are price and volume increases, whether it be the drug formulary or the cost of our health care providers. Here in the Yukon weíre in a very good position with the financial remuneration agreements we have with our various health care providers. These are some of the best in Canada, but at that same time thatís what it takes to encourage this very capable group of individuals ó our health care providers ó as a place to live and work. We are thankful for them. We have to compete with a lot of other jurisdictions in Canada, given the shortage of health care providers and given the opportunities there are.

We have a number of other programs in the Yukon for mentoring practicums, and they appear to be full subscribed to at this juncture. The arrangement we have with the Calgary health authority for doctors is one that sees us having a lot of doctors undertaking their practicums and mentoring programs here. There is more under consideration because we have to address the issue of health care providers in all categories. We only have to look at the recent opening of the additional beds in Copper Ridge Place and Macaulay Lodge and the amount of money that was budgeted to open the additional beds. It was in the millions of dollars, and that is primarily due to the costs of the health care providers ó their salaries, and wage and benefits packages. When it is added up at the end of the day, our O&M cost for a facility like Copper Ridge Place is just under $140,000 a year per bed.

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At the same time, Macaulay Lodge is somewhat less, given that it only provides level 1 and level 2 care, but it amounts to some $110,000 to $115,000 per bed per year. In McDonald Lodge, its 11 beds equate to around $90,000 per year per bed. So weíre looking at considerable costs in this area. At the same time, the cost to occupy one of these facilities after you are accepted is the lowest in Canada. Itís $19 to $24 per day. The next lowest jurisdiction in Canada, I believe, is Prince Edward Island, and I believe thatís some $60 a day.

So weíre seeing a lot of costs, and we have committed as a party to not increase charges, to not increase taxes, to not increase fees, and that commitment will be honoured, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we are looking on a go-forward basis at the initiatives that we can enhance here in the Yukon further to our motion. Our motion does identify quite a number of areas. It identifies those areas that we have concentrated on, and it identifies the areas that we have resourced further.

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Mr. Speaker, if you look further at the cooperative action of the three territorial premiers at the February 2003 First Ministers meeting, the north has benefited from the ensuing northern health supplementary funding agreement. It is specifically for the territories. The Yukon has also benefited from the budget provisions that are also available to all of the provinces, including increases to the CHST. Funding is also specifically earmarked for health reform and medical equipment that was set up in the health accord in 2003.

What are we going to be doing next? We have to look at the newly announced fundings that are allocated for the Yukon and the specific requirements limiting their use or timelines. Itís on a go-forward basis but, as I pointed out when I spoke to the amendment to the motion, many, many ó virtually all ó of the issues identified in the official oppositionís amendment to the motion have been addressed directly or indirectly ó in one form or another.

Letís look at our FASD action plan and our commitments in this area and the resourcing we have provided to the Child Development Centre. We demonstrated our commitment to addressing the impacts of FASD in the Yukon by outlining a comprehensive action plan. To date, through NGOs, we have made substantial progress in meeting those commitments.

105a

What we have at the Child Development Centre is an interdisciplinary team. They have hired a coordinator for the early diagnosis identification of children affected by FASD. We also at the same time have priority access to addiction treatment for at-risk women. We have a comprehensive primary prevention initiative that includes public service ads targeting individuals, families and communities. Weíve also gone into complement ads in the print media and spot radio announcements. The FASD prevention brochure has been updated.

Weíre working with the Department of Education. In fact, the Department of Education, the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Social Services have an agreement in place, the first of its kind for interdepartmental cooperation in a number of areas. Our government has recognized the importance of a collaborative effort in a lot of these areas. We understand and realize the importance of the education system as being a main focus for how we get information to our youth in our communities. We also recognize the availability of ads, the radio and a lot of these areas.

We only have to look at one of the initiatives that is underway currently by our government. It was through the efforts of the leader of the official opposition in cooperation with the leader of the third party that our government is moving forward on an initiative for a substance abuse symposium right here in Whitehorse.

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Now this undertaking is going to begin very quickly. Itís resourced in excess of $100,000 and encompasses a lot of work by a number of departments in presenting the information. It will entail a lot of feedback from a lot of Yukoners.

Currently, Mr. Speaker, we have a serious problem with substance abuse here in the Yukon. Crack cocaine and crystal meth are all readily available. Itís common knowledge where crack houses are and that there are crystal meth labs here in Whitehorse. Itís not something thatís a deep, dark secret.

107a(empty)

108a

This is affecting our population in a lot of ways. Mr. Speaker, we only have to look at those born to women who have been consuming alcohol to see what problems we are experiencing with a number of these children. FASD is the most easily preventable affliction that there is. It means you donít drink or consume any narcotics or non-prescription drugs if you know you are going to become pregnant, want to become pregnant or are pregnant. This impact on our society is extremely costly and extremely detrimental to those born with this affliction. We only have to look at some of the children the department has ended up taking into care, and because of their handicap some of them have to be made residents of some of our treatment centres in other provinces, in other jurisdictions. The cost ranges from ó I think the low end is about $30,000 a year, up to in excess of $100,000 a year per child. When they reach the age of majority, there is a difficulty there.

In summary, this motion points out what we as a government have addressed with a sum of money that the premiers of the three northern territories have achieved and asked the federal government to provide to our political jurisdictions. It has been put to excellent use. We will continue as a government to examine programs, examine initiatives, examine service delivery to all Yukoners and enhance these programs and our service delivery where there is a demonstrated need.

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We are very, very forthright, open and completely accountable in all aspects of this money.

 

Mr. Hardy:   That was quite a position that the Minister of Health and Social Services took. Iím going to look at this motion that was brought forward by the Member for Lake Laberge, and Iím also going to take a look at where itís lacking and some of the comments that were made.

Before I do that ó I was listening to the Minister of Health and Social Services. As I was listening, I was looking at the paper ó just glancing through it as I was listening to the minister. It is todayís paper ó Wednesday, May 4, 2005. There is an ad in there, and it says, ďI think that we should rename the Yukon Legislature as the Goon Show.Ē

Speaker:   Order please.

Mr. Hardy:   Oh, youíre aware of it?

Speakerís statement

Speaker:   Order please. Members cannot do indirectly what they canít do directly. If the member wishes to cite or quote from a document containing unparliamentary language, or does not adhere to proper form, the member must paraphrase any offending portions so that they conform to the rules and forms of this Legislature.

 

Mr. Hardy:   Iím not sure, Mr. Speaker, if you were ruling on the fact that the ďGoon ShowĒ words were out or not, but Iíll skip that and say the rest. ďI think we should rename the Yukon Legislature as the ---- Show, Mum the Taxpayer and the Voter. Remember.Ē

Thatís very distressing. Thatís very disturbing.

110a

Unfortunately, what I witnessed today is also very disturbing. Iíll tell you why. We have a motion brought forward by the Member for Lake Laberge, and initially when the motion was read in, it had other stuff added. Then it was cut back and streamlined by the Table Officers. Then itís read into the record. So then itís a changed motion that was actually read on the record originally, pared down ó I still have some issues around why itís happening. Secondly, following that, we bring forward an amendment to help broaden this motion. We bring forward areas that this Member for Lake Laberge had omitted, to assist this member, just as the Member for Southern Lakes tried to assist us on the wording of our poverty motion last week, one tiny part in which we had omitted an identified group ó and for which we thank him. However, the rest of the changes they wanted totally gutted the poverty motion.

What we have done is we have left the motion alone and just added to the list, in good faith. What we witnessed was a rejection by the Yukon Party. So what did they vote against? Well, some of the arguments I heard earlier on in regard to the motion ó and in reading it and the additions that we tried to bring forward ó match up perfectly because itís urging the Yukon government to continue spending itís $20-million share of the initial three-year Health Care Accord on addressing the health care needs of Yukoners through programs and services, and then it lists all these programs and services that do exist in some form or other ó sometimes not broad enough, sometimes not in-depth, sometimes barely meeting the goals theyíre supposed to, but it identifies them.

111a

Then the amendment ó the points that we tried to add to it, doing the exact same thing ó all of a sudden are not acceptable. What are they? The Minister of Health and Social Services gets up and says, ďWell, weíre already doing that.Ē Well, you were already doing it in the first motion too. So whatís the difference, Mr. Speaker?

No argument can be made to justify removing the amendment that was brought forward, and this Yukon Party government is going to have to stand and answer to people why they voted against increasing medical travel allowances for Yukon outpatients, starting on day one, and providing funding for medical escorts. Theyíre going to have to say why they voted against that, because this fits directly in there very comfortably, Mr. Speaker.

I canít wait to send this out to all the ridings, why they voted against it. And whatís going to be their argument? The one that the Minister of Health and Social Services made? That doesnít make sense, because the amendments that the Member for Kluane brought forward are similarly written, in a manner that fits perfectly in there. So that means that the member should stand up and vote against his own motion. That means the Minister of Health and Social Services should vote against his own motion if he used the arguments he used against the amendment.

But fine, they voted against it. What else did they vote against? Investigating the feasibility of a stay-over lodge in Vancouver for outpatients ó no, wonít do it. Why? Thatís the question weíre asking. Because it came from the opposition? Because the Member for Lake Laberge didnít understand the needs of the people out there in regard to what they wanted or what they need when they travel, so he omitted that? So the Member for Kluane brings forward the amendment to assist him in good faith, and he votes against it.

What else did he vote against? Increasing the capacity in Whitehorse to accommodate expectant mothers from the communities.

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Well, that fits very well with the motion. He voted against it. He voted against it, Mr. Speaker. What else?

Well, expanding mental health services and decreasing wait times for diagnosis and treatment. My goodness, I think that fits in nicely in the motion. It all ties together very nicely. The Member for Klondike voted against it. He canít accept it. Why canít he accept it? Why?

How about expanding medical service to include First Nation traditional healing practices? Who voted against that over there? They all did ó every single one of them. I know that a member over there often talks about traditional values and First Nation traditional values. Guess what? He voted against traditional healing practices being part of this motion. That is the Member for McIntyre-Takhini. How, on the one hand, can he stand and talk about his deep belief in traditional values, which I believe this member has, but then vote against traditional healing practices? How can he switch it on and off? That is my question.

As to establishing a collaborative health clinic with nurse practitioners and other health professionals, Mr. Speaker, this is something that is being asked for all over, especially in Whitehorse, to help relieve the pressures on the doctors. It is working together to make medical professionals available to people. Itís a suggestion that has been brought forward and itís a good initiative. It has been brought forward by the associations. It is being asked for by the people of this territory. The Yukon Party voted against it.

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Make a healthy lunch program for all schools ó there are many, many children who are hungry at school. It affects their learning. Itís the least we can do in this rich society that we live in ó supply a small meal at lunch hour. I think we could do that. I think itís within our ability to do that. The Yukon Party does not believe in that. They voted against it.

Increasing investment in health education measures with a view to prevention ó well, increasing investment in health education measures. Thatís all thatís being said. Is it so hard to increase investment in that? If it lowers the cost at the one end, of course itís going to pay for itself and it has been identified that it will pay for itself. Itís not very fiscally responsible when you vote against something that you know probably wouldnít cost any money in the long run and would save a lot of problems for people in their life.

Providing the resources to ensure an appropriate level of nursing services is available in all Yukon communities at all times ó I think we all want to do that. Iíd even say that the Yukon Party would like to be able to do that. Why would they vote against it?

I keep coming back to the question: why would the Yukon Party vote against it? Why? Why couldnít these be added to the existing motion?

Funding for the Child Development Centre to assist with assessment and support for children with developmental delays and to assist with the five-step FASD program. That one fits right beside it, right in there. Why is that one better than this one?

Why are the Yukon Partyís eight points so much better than the additional 27 points that we brought in?

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Why? Why do our contributions to this motion carry no weight? Why are they put down? And what do they put down? Investigating and establishing programs that prevent childhood obesity. Why would the Yukon Party government vote that down? Why canít that fit in there?

Iím having a hard time understanding this.

Establishing street-level health clinics for homeless youth and others for whom conventional treatment facilities do not present the most appropriate venue for seeking help. I see this issue daily. I see homelessness in my riding. I see illness in my riding because of malnutrition, because of drugs being used, because of alcohol consumption, because of either no place or very poor facilities to sleep in. Daily I see that. Why would the Yukon Party vote against that?

These are the questions we have to ask because they did vote against this. Here we are now with 27 more recommendations brought forward to add to this motion, which falls far short of addressing the many needs of our society. Twenty-seven additional line items in the motion rejected by the Yukon Party ó for what reason?

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What reason? I asked the Member for Lake Laberge why he would vote against all these motions, why would he vote against providing stable and predictable funding to non-government organizations that promote health, such as Blood Ties Four Directions? Why would this mover of the motion instruct all his colleagues to vote against it? Why would he not break ranks and say, ďThis is a good motion, a good amendment. Add it to my motion, I can support thisĒ ó why? Because itís politics, Mr. Speaker. Itís silly politics, and it goes back to what I read from the newspaper. Itís why people are disappointed. Bringing forward a motion that is not recognizing the needs in our society, and having any opposition members bring forward more to add to it to build on it so itís more encompassing, itís broader, itís more inclusive, and then to have it shot down ó thatís what this government did because only eight are acceptable in the Yukon Party governmentís eyes. Only eight, not the other 27 ó only eight matter to the Member for Lake Laberge. All these other 27 should not.

Now, as I said, I read that little ad that was in the paper for a reason. I read it because this is the type of politics that people get frustrated with.

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If you presented this motion and this amendment to people, the Yukon public would ask why they cannot accept it; why can they not be put together? I am quite willing to take this motion and these additions out to the public and put it to the test. I would love to have a debate in public on this motion and these amendments with the Member for Lake Laberge or anyone else from the Yukon Party on why they did not support these amendments. They do not change the motion in any way, shape or form, other than adding more areas that had been neglected.

As the Member for Kluane said, very clearly, if there are more, letís put them on the table and add them to this, so that we can move forward and vote for this. Then we can have a motion at the end of the day that recognizes the needs of our society and all the people in it, that doesnít just cover a few areas, which is what this extremely shallow motion does. Basically it says that this is the only area we are going to look at, that all the other ones brought forward, because they are coming from the opposition, do not count. Well, thatís the worst type of politics and once again we are seeing it played by the Yukon Party.

I look forward to them standing up and defending why they would not support any of these. Why would they not support funding the Red Cross to establish an expanded medical equipment loans project? Why not? What is so difficult about that? Is it because it didnít come from them? Is that what itís all about?

117a

They canít take credit for it? Well, weíre going to give them credit because itís still the Member for Lake Labergeís motion. Accept the amendment, roll it in there, and ó guess what? ó we have a better motion. Thatís what it comes right down to ó our addition, working with the opposition. Unheard of, maybe ó definitely unheard of by the Yukon Party.

I put it on the floor today. They had a very good chance to work with the opposition. They didnít have to shoot this one down. They didnít have to say no to working in cooperation with the federal government to expand optometric and dental programs in all communities with particular emphasis on the needs of people 55 years of age and older. They didnít have to say no to that.

They didnít have to say no to reducing injuries by expanding the PARTY program and by funding the safe communities initiative. They didnít have to say no to that. They didnít have to say no to making a full range of kidney dialysis services available in the Yukon. They could have said yes to that. That was their choice. They could have stood up individually.

They could have quite easily done something that the public expects every once in awhile from people in the Legislative Assembly. They could have had a free vote. Guess what? They couldnít even do that. No, they had to close ranks because it came from the opposition ó an amendment, a friendly amendment. The impression weíre getting is, ďDonít you dare touch our motion in any way, shape or form, even to make it better because we will not accept it because itís ours.Ē Thatís the attitude weíre seeing over there, in the dying days of this government.

Itís a shame because guess who suffers? The people who need assistance, the people who expect the government to put in programs to help them.

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Thatís what weíre here for. Itís not good enough to get up and list all the things that youíre doing. Every government does that. Iíve heard that speech many times before ó but itís listening to the people and reflecting their wishes and their values and articulating it with their spending.

 

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   That was quite an analysis by the leader of the official opposition. First I would like to say that I have the utmost respect and praise for the Premier of the Yukon Territory, number one for being very aggressive toward ensuring that health care issues are taken care of by this government. I also take off my hat to the other two premiers of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut because the three of them stood their ground against the giant in Ottawa and were successful at increasing health funds coming to the Yukon Territory. I think that they did an outstanding job by holding out on the Prime Minister of Canada and all their delegates. I think that they need to be commended for that.†

119a

The leader of the official opposition appears to be a little bit jealous because this government is able to stand up and make decisions and actually do some really effective work for the Yukon Territory and all the citizens here. I also believe that the leader of the official opposition, in all his comments and how he tried to discredit this government, at the same time, he would have to go out to the general public and say that everything they recommended in the amendments here is already being covered by this government ó most of it.

This one little item here he covers about ó I assume heís referring to me as being a First Nation person here and talking about First Nation issues. Well, there is a lot to be said about traditional healing. Maybe the leader of the official opposition would like to define that and break it down to ensure that probably he would have to re-establish a whole health care program, a stand-alone health care program, to cover those few words.

Now, if they want to make an attempt at doing that, then I would invite them to do that.

I also want to state, for the record, that these dollars that the member opposite is talking about ó well, maybe we should say again where the new health care dollars are going.

120a

The $60 million Health Care Accord yielded Yukon $20 million over a three-year period, ending this fiscal year. The overview of how that money is spent is very impressive to me. I believe that the official opposition should also fax this, along with whatever other things they want to send out to the communities. For example, there is $10 million for increased costs at Whitehorse General Hospital. The members of the official opposition should convince the citizens in the territory that thatís not a need. Go ahead. Tell them that we donít have to support the Whitehorse General Hospital.

There is $6 million for pharmacare and chronic disease programs. The official opposition, while theyíre at it, need to also explain to the citizens of the territory that thatís not needed either. Thatís a waste of money.

There is $1.1 million for specialized medical services ó internal medicine, cardiac testing, replacement knee surgery, increased orthopaedic visits, and increased ear, nose and throat specialists visits. The members of the official opposition, in their plea to the citizens at large in the territory, also need to convince them that all of that is a waste of money and that this territory doesnít need it.

121a

There is $400,000 for the Child Development Centre to assist with the assessment and support for children with developmental delays and to assist with the five-step FASD plan. I just heard the official opposition state today that thatís not important. Convince the people in the territory that FASD is not an issue here and that we donít need to put more money into that. I would like to have them convince the people of this territory that early childhood development assistance is not necessary. Go ahead and convince them. Try to convince FASSY that $300,000 is not of value to them.

There is $600,000 to support families with autistic children. Now, the champions of social programs are all of a sudden saying that thatís not important. I mean, this government believes it is and this government has said repeatedly that we will work to the best interests of the citizens in this territory and, when it comes to health, itís a very high priority for this government. Some of these expenditures support that statement.

122a

There is $900,000 for additional family support workers. Now, how can you argue against that? It is a demonstrated need. It is necessary in this territory.

I can go on and on about a lot of these initiatives that this government is covering with all of these additional funds. Again, we had a four-year plan that had a number of recommendations to it, recommendations this government complied with; for example, $675,000 was added to the base funding of the direct operating grant for 2004-05, with a three-percent increase and a five-percent increase to be added in subsequent years. This funding will be targeted 50 percent to increase wages and 50 percent to operating costs for child care providers. Now, how can you argue with that?

If the opposition can find fault with that, well, they also need to tell the citizens that this government is wasting money on helping the childcare providers. There is a $10,000 increase to the supported childcare budget, with an additional $5,000 to be added in the next two fiscal years. Now, try to convince the citizens thatís a waste of money and that this government doesnít care about the people who need help.

I think youíre going to have a hard time to convince anybody that this government is not concerned about health care in the Yukon.

123a

All the dollars that this government is putting into different programs directly counteracts anything the opposition has said to date ó totally. I mean, the dollars speak for themselves ó a $45,000 increase in each of the next three years to develop a public education campaign, host an annual stakeholders meeting, and develop and maintain a Web page.

Again, advancing on education in a lot of the areas of need in health ó $80,000 in the 2004-05, increasing to $100,000 in the next two subsequent years for the capital development fund to assist childcare operators with the cost of equipment and to meet safety standards. Now, what is wrong with that? There is not a thing that I can see wrong with that.

And the list goes on. So, if the opposition feels that they have a case and can convince the Yukon citizens that this government does nothing for health care, I invite them to prove it.

 

124a

Speaker:   The time being 6:00 p.m., the House now stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. tomorrow.

Debate on Motion No. 459 accordingly adjourned

 

The House adjourned at 6:00 p.m.

 

 

 

 

The following document was filed May 4, 2005:

 

 

05-1-84

Kluane region display at Tok, Alaska visitor centre; information re: including letter (dated May 2, 2005) from Gary McRobb, MLA to Hon. Elaine Taylor, Minister of Tourism, Government of Yukon† (McRobb)