Tuesday, April 26, 1988 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed with prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order paper.
Introduction of visitors?
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Ms. Kassi: I would like to welcome Elsie Netro to the House today. Elsie is better known to us as Che-al. Elsie graduated in 1979 with her Bachelor of Education degree from the University of British Columbia. Since then she has taught at Jack Hulland School and JV Clark School in Mayo. With seven years of teaching experience, Elsie decided to go back to the University of British Columbia to get a masters degree in education administration.
Elsie just finished her academic studies at UBC and is now working on her thesis. Elsie is the first aboriginal person from the Vuntat Gwitchin nation to complete a masters degree program. On behalf of the Vuntat Gwitchin, I would like to congratulate Elsie. We are very proud of her and wish her every success in the future. I ask hon. Members to join me in welcoming her to the House today.
Speaker: Are there any Returns or Documents for Tabling?
Are there any Reports of Committees?
Are there any Petitions?
Introduction of Bills?
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Presentation to the Parliamentary Committee on the Official Languages Act
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would like to inform this House that, with the leave of my pair, the hon. Leader of the Opposition, I will be travelling to Ottawa late this afternoon to speak before the parliamentary committee on Bill C-72, the Official Languages Act.
This act is designed to strengthen the commitment of the federal government to the principle of equality of the two official languages and to guarantee the availability of service in French in all the institutions of the federal government.
This government accepts the fact, grounded in our constitution, that French and English are the two official languages of Canada and we also accept, as did the previous government, that francophones, wherever in Canada they may live, have certain language rights.
Our objection to Bill C-72, in its present form, arises from two equally important considerations.
The first is that, while the Northwest Territories is explicitly exempted from the definition of federal institution found in the act, the Yukon is not. This means that a court might find that the Yukon was a federal institution and that the principles of bilingualism articulated in the act also applied to the Yukon.
The Yukon has a duly elected government with many of the powers of a provincial government and cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be considered merely an institution of the federal government. In the wake of Meech Lake, this designation adds insult to injury and does nothing to help Yukoners achieve equal status in this country.
Our second objection is to the manner in which the act would impose official bilingualism in the Yukon, a status which might not provide the services most urgently required by the territorys francophones. Application of Bill C-72 might necessitate the translation of all government legislation, as well as Hansard, into French, whether or not Yukon francophones wanted this service. On the other hand, it does not guarantee that essential services would be available in French.
Clearly, this bill would do nothing for our aboriginal people and their languages. It neither protects aboriginal languages nor does it propose any measures for their preservation.
While the proposed legislation would spend millions of dollars implementing official bilingualism in the Yukon, not one new dollar would be spent to preserve the linguistic traditions of Yukon Indians. The rights of aboriginal language speakers are also important and must be protected.
This House is aware that, for some time now, we have been attempting to negotiate a French and aboriginal languages agreement with the federal government. Twice we have reached agreement at the official level, only to have it refused by the federal cabinet. An agreement would see a significant improvement in services provided to the francophone community and would provide significant support for our native languages. It would also exempt the Yukon from the provisions of Bill C-72.
I remain hopeful that we can still achieve such an agreement.
Mr. Phelps: I am pleased that the Government Leader will be travelling to Ottawa to speak before the Parliamentary Committee on Bill C-72, the Official Languages Act. That presentation will be enhanced by the unanimous support this Assembly gave our motion opposing Bill C-72 in December 1987. As I stated then and numerous times before, we are not opposed to bilingualism per se. We are proud of our governments record of achievement in this regard and can state that Yukoners are prepared to improve on this record by offering a reasoned, rational, well-balanced approach designed to meet the needs of francophone Yukoners.
We must insist, however, that it is the right and responsibility of this Assembly to ensure the development of French and native language services in Yukon. It is an afront to the right of responsible government for which we have fought so long and hard to have the federal government suggest the Government of Yukon is a mere agent of Ottawa and must accept the arbitrary dictates of our senior government.
In a letter to Federal Justice Minister, Ray Hnatyshyn, on October 20, 1987, I expressed our strong objection to this attitude by the federal government. I also said most Yukoners are opposed to the imposition of official bilingualism in our territory. Even many francophone Yukoners believe it is too excessive in meeting their needs. What is the point of providing simultaneous translation in the Yukon Legislative Assembly when none of the Members in the House is francophone? What is the point of translating all government statutes, policy manuals and memorandums into French when virtually no one will read them?
The enactment of Bill C-72 in its present form will only breed hostility and resentment in Yukon. It will also promote the feeling of alienation that is now so prevalent in northern Canada as a consequence of the 1987 Meech Lake Accord.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish the Government Leader every success when he appears before the parliamentary committee.
Mr. McLachlan: I fully realize the sensitivity with which this issue is boiling in many parts of Canada at the moment, and the touchiness with which it will be, no doubt, accepted or rejected shortly within the territory. I sincerely hope that we are not painting ourselves into any corner that we cannot get out of.
What I would like to have a comment from the Government Leader on, and what I have questioned about on a number of occasions, is that there seems to be a lack of understanding by the francophone community and the aboriginal community as to what agreement was reached at the official level, only to have it rejected. Can the Government Leader tell us why it is not more generally known in the Yukon the steps that resulted in that agreement, and what it was, because there is a genuine lack of knowledge of the efforts made by this government in trying to reach agreement?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Cest un plaisir de repondre a cette question.
I would like to say to the Member for Faro that it is a serious question, but the answer, if I am to avoid complication, is that the agreements that we reached at the officials level previously had to do with the guarantees of certain levels of service, both to francophones and aboriginal people, which would be subsidized by the federal government. The agreements failed at the Cabinet level on the insistence of the federal government that the Yukon had to become officially bilingual, and that was something that we felt that we had no mandate to accept.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Land claims/Teslin land selection
Mr. Phelps: I have a couple of questions that arise from the Teslin land selection and the making public of large areas of land that have been frozen by Order-in-Council, and the relevance to those maps of the overlapping claim in the Yukon by the Atlin Tlingit people. I have been trying to get the maps showing those overlapping claims tabled in the House for a number of years now.
Is it still the Government Leaders position that no map of the Atlin Tlingit claim in the Teslin area is available to the government?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not know what might have been received recently in the negotiators office. Following the introduction of the notice of motion by the Members opposite yesterday, I made a request this morning on that score, but I can tell the Leader of the Official Opposition that I have personally not received or seen or know of a copy of any such map.
Mr. Phelps: Does the Government Leader know whether or not the office of native claims in Ottawa has maps showing that claim in Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have previously indicated to the Member that we would make inquiries of Ottawa about such maps, and I assume those inquiries produced a negative answer in terms of the availability to us. I will repeat the inquiry and find out what is available that I can table in this House. I have not been given any new information about the availability of the map referred to by the Member.
Mr. Phelps: Do I take it from that, then, that the YTG has officially asked for those maps from the federal government?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I can confirm that, following the request in this House made some time ago by the Leader of the Official Opposition, I conveyed that request to our officials. I assume the request has been made and a response of some kind has been received.
Question re: Land claims/Teslin land selection
Mr. Phelps: The Teslin land selection, which is public, has caused a certain amount of consternation in Yukon because of the fact that it freezes both sides of the Nisutlin River, the Wolf River, and has strips from waterline up to the 2,800 foot mark along Teslin Lake and rivers and so on. Can the Government Leader tell us whether this selection went to Ottawa for the Order-in-Council freezing that land with the approval of YTG prior to the YTG negotiator seeing the Atlin Tlingit claim in the Teslin area?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This was not a matter that came to the attention of the Cabinet of this government. Given the question, I feel bound to emphasize again that the interim protection that has been sought and provided for by the Order-in-Council on this is to prevent further third party alienations of this land while negotiations are proceeding. The interim protection is provided without prejudice and, to emphasize again, it does not prohibit access or hunting or picnicking or other use of the land, but simply withdraws the land from alienation under the Yukon Quartz Mining Act and the Yukon Placer Mining Act, so the negotiations can proceed. I know the Member opposite will understand that the difficulties presented for the claims process was considerable in areas like Ross River where there was a staking rush going on. The process of interim selection is to provide for withdrawal of those lands without prejudice pending negotiations.
Mr. Phelps: I think the Government Leader can appreciate that I, certainly, have a great deal of difficulty with the negotiating methods employed by this government and the federal government, because surely the Government Leader will understand that there was a substantial selection that was approved by the Teslin band, which remained frozen right up until...
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question?
Mr. Phelps: Does the Government Leader not feel that there is a prejudicial result which comes from freezing land in a manner that does not conform to government principles, i.e. strip selection on both sides of a river.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would be quite prepared to concede that the Member opposite may be able to tell me things about negotiations, but I emphasize again that the selections are done without prejudice, enabling us to facilitate the process of obtaining final agreement and moving towards a resolution of a land claims settlement. It does not have the impact which some people are alleging it will have. It does not prevent access. It does not prevent use of those lands by, for example, hunters, as I mentioned. It is without prejudice, pending a final negotiation. The principles that were enunciated here in this House in terms of our negotiating position are as I have stated them.
Mr. Phelps: The Government Leader seems to be contradicting what the CYI and the Chief of the Teslin Band have said in claiming that it is done without prejudice. Surely he understands their statements that they intend to keep land on both sides of the Nisutlin River?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am sure it would not surprise anyone to know that, when two parties or three parties are in negotiations, public statements made by those parties may differ. That is what negotiations are about; that is what we are trying to get a resolution on. The Member asked me about our position; negotiations are going on at the land claims table and we will be negotiating from the position that I stated here.
Question re: Land claims/Teslin land selection
Mr. Phelps: Aside from the fact of whether or not the new Teslin land selection maps are prejudicial, - and we maintain they are because of the obvious statements made by Indian leaders in that regard - can the Government Leader answer my question as to whether or not this government agreed to those maps and agreed to the Order-in-Council going ahead freezing those lands without even seeing the claim by the Atlin Tlingit people over the same area of Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Again, the fact that they are without prejudice and the fact that it is interim protection pending negotiations, meant, as I said before, that it was not a matter that came to Cabinet. If the Member is asking if the government, i.e. the Cabinet, gave approval to this particular interim selection, no it did not. It was a request for an Order-in-Council to the federal Cabinet to withdraw these lands pending negotiation - interim protection without prejudice pending final negotiations.
Mr. Phelps: So it went ahead, then, without this government even knowing what the Atlin Tlingit were claiming in the same area. Is that the answer?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not know the particulars of the Atlin Tlingit claim in this area. As I have told the Member, I have not seen a map.
Mr. Phelps: Will the Government Leader then find out and tell this House whether or not the Order-in-Council went ahead without this government or its negotiator having any knowledge of the land being claimed by the Atlin Tlingit people in the Teslin area?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: If the Member is asking if I will find out, the answer is yes.
Question re: Doctors in rural areas
Mr. McLachlan: Last evenings meeting in Faro was one charged with a great deal of emotion and strong feelings generated by the unfortunate death of a four-year-old the day before. The public meeting last evening certainly seemed to be a culmination of extremely short fuses caused by everyones bitter feelings of resentment and frustration about our inability, at least so far, to recruit a medical practitioner for the community. I am well aware of what the Minister has offered so far in the areas of relocation assistance and recruitment assistance. I do not want to leave any stone unturned in this matter.
Is there anything else that the Minister or her department can offer to assist in what is becoming a very, very difficult problem of recruitment of a medical practitioner? Anything?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The Member has brought a concern to us that we are all aware of. It is unfortunate that an event like this had to happen to cause the town to come together. There are a number of things that my department can do. There are specific things we can work on with the new group that was struck last night. If they require certain things such as help from us with advertising, I am sure that can be negotiated. We would first like to know the kind of things the town would like to have us do and work from there.
Mr. McLachlan: With the indulgence of the Government Leader, there are some people in the Executive Council Office, mainly through the Public Affairs Bureau, who have assisted Health and Welfare Canada with the production and distribution of material to do with general health fitness and aids. Could we possibly second the assistance of some of the people in the Public Affairs Bureau for a day or two for the production of a rather jazzed up type of advertisement for medical practitioner? As a corollary, could we get at some of the advertising budget that department has for the placement of an advertisement in a national publication like the Globe and Mail?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As Government Leader and as Minister responsible for the Executive Council Office, I want to indicate our general willingness to do whatever we can to assist the community of Faro and other rural communities in the territory to get the kind of medical services they need. I think to facilitate the matter it would be best if the form of contract were with the Minister of Health and Human Resources and her officials. She could deal with the committee in the community. Any requests that we can accommodate I am sure she will convey to me or other Ministers who may be able to assist.
Mr. McLachlan: Because it has been such a difficult area to determine what government involvement is or is not, will the Minister consider the development of a formal policy that will spell out the involvement of the Government of the Yukon Territory in any assistance plan that may come up in subsequent years for the recruitment of medical practitioners for rural Yukon?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: We will look at that consideration. It is important that we have something that we can follow and use as a guide and, if it has to be in the form of a policy, then we will work toward that. We do have certain things that we do. We do work in cooperation with the Medical Services Branch but, if there is something specific in the form of a policy that we need, then we will seriously look at that and consider it.
Question re: Doctors in rural areas
Mrs. Firth: I want to follow up on the question raised by the Member for Faro, and tell him not to wait too long for the policy, because the Minister will be announcing in two years that they are going to look at some policies for this particular problem.
The meeting last night in Faro was attended by the MLA for Faro, and it was also attended by the chief medical officer, at which time the people in Faro - some 400 of them - were talking about getting a doctor for that community. Why did the Minister of Health and Human Resources not attend that meeting?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I did not attend that meeting last night because there were some things I was required to do in this House, and there was the possibility of my line coming up in the Supplementary Estimates. My officials were in contact with Dr. Walker from Medical Services Branch, and he agreed to be there on behalf of my officials from my department. I am not sure whether or not anything I could have said at that time would have had any bearing on what was happening. It may have, but I did not realize that an invitation was open for me to attend.
Mrs. Firth: No line is coming up in her budget. The Member for Faro attended and the Minister could have attended. She would have been there if she cared.
Som Hon. Members: Withdraw...
Mrs. Firth: They are saying withdraw. Let us find out what the Minister has done and, if I find out she has done a lot of things, I will withdraw it. Let us find out what she has done first.
Has the Minister phoned any of the people in Faro to see what their concerns are?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: We have had people on our staff that have been in contact with the people in Faro, and we have gotten back information from Faro starting last night. We have not been sitting back doing nothing. I have personally not called anybody in Faro, but we have had one person who has been doing that and bringing back information to me. If we did not all care, we would not be here.
Mrs. Firth: She did not call anyone in Faro. I want to know what the Minister is doing. Did the Minister call the federal government? Did she phone the hon. Jake Epps office to express a concern on the behalf of the people of Faro?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The questions, although I appreciate them, seem to get sillier all the time. She may have telephoned Mr. Epp and maybe Mr. Epp might have put out an ad for a doctor in Faro. I did not telephone Mr. Epp but I did have someone who was in contact with someone in Faro, and we were aware of the situation. We expressed our concerns to them, and we talked about the kind of things that this government intends to do, and the negotiations that would follow, if that were the case.
Question re: Doctors in rural areas
Mrs. Firth: I am very sorry to hear that the Minister thinks that these questions are silly. Did the Minister contact the Medical Association to see if they were prepared to participate in any way on the committee that the people of Faro are busy organizing?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I was in the House yesterday, all afternoon, and I went home for two hours last night, and then came back. My officials were doing what had to be done in order to try to deal with the situation as it was. It was not that nobody was doing anything. I personally did not do it, but my officials were on top it. Whether or not they contacted the Medical Association, I do not know, but there have been discussions with the Medical Association regarding recruitment.
Mrs. Firth: Has the Minister ever met with the people of Faro to discuss this issue that has been going on for four years now?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: No, I have not, but my officials have.
Mrs. Firth: I rest my case. We have telephoned the people in Faro. We have telephoned the Medical Association. We have telephoned the federal government, and we are quite prepared to go to Faro and meet with the people there to see what their concerns are. I would like to know when the Minister is going to do something about this herself?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I have officials in my department who do those things. If there is a request that I attend a meeting, I would be there. The Member across the House does not have a case.
Question re: Northwestel
Mr. Nordling: I have a question for the Government Leader regarding Northwestel. On December 16, 1987, when questioned about the sale of Northwestel, the Government Leader said, No determination has been made yet about what options we are going to pursue. The timing of the sale and the timing of the sittings of this Legislature may not mesh perfectly, but I would certainly give an undertaking to the Leader of the Official Opposition that one way or another there would be a consultation by both sides and some kind of proper debate about our decisions.
With less than three weeks left in the first round of bidding, I would like to know when a decision will be made and when we will get to debate that decision?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As I indicated to the Member, in answer to his questions a few days ago, discussion are proceeding now to a conclusion about the composition of the group that will be making a bid, the kind of bid price that will be contemplated, and the nature of the proposal.
As I previously indicated to the House, I believe a few days ago, in answer to the Member, as soon as there is a decision on this matter I will be bringing the information to the House; then, whatever debate will be in order, will take place.
Mr. Nordling: I would like to know, from the Government Leader, when that decision is going to be made and, if the Members of this House are not going to be consulted, what did the Government Leader mean by giving us that undertaking?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: If we make a decision to participate - that decision has not been finalized, it has not come to our Cabinet - and after we have made whatever decisions about the participation we will make and the nature of our participation, I will bring that information to the House and the House will have an opportunity to express its views.
I have previously, on other matters, had some consultation with the Leader of the Opposition and I would be prepared, having regard for the necessity for commercial confidentiality, to brief the Leader of the Opposition on this matter to the extent that I can at this moment but, until such time as decisions by the potential parties to a bid are final, and until such time as our Cabinet has approved whatever course of action my colleague, the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, and I will be recommending, I cannot advise the House as to the precise steps we are taking. I will say though that the broad outline of the consortium we were hoping to see formed for the purposes we had previously outlined would still be our general objective.
Mr. Nordling: I think it is unacceptable of the Government Leader, who is also the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation, not to be able to tell us who the potential parties are to the northern consortium, and I would like to ask again, today, whether or not a single northern consortium has been achieved and, if so, who are the parties to it?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As at this moment, there has not been a final agreement between the potential parties to a single northern consortium. I hope there will be but there are some outstanding issues between the potential parties and, until such time as they are resolved, I cannot answer the Members question in the way I would like. As soon as I am in a position to answer it, I will.
Question re: Mayo dam
Mr. Nordling: I have a question for the Government Leader with respect to the Mayo dam. In the Throne Speech, this government announced that the Mayo dam would be rebuilt. Last night, the Government Leader said that an NCPC estimate was $8 million but he believed it could be done for substantially less. Can the Minister tell us today what the reconstruction will cost?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No. As I indicated last night, when I am in a position to be able to tell the Member what our estimate of the cost will be, I shall do so and I shall do so by way of a Ministerial Statement or a discussion in the Estimates, whichever is the most timely.
Mr. Nordling: I believe it is highly unusual to announce a major project without knowing the cost or having a commitment from the major customer. Will the Government Leader give us the internal numbers on which the government based its decision to go ahead with the project?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will give the Members the external numbers, the best information I have, when I make the statement that I have already indicated to the House that I will make.
Mr. Nordling: We seem to have problems getting answers from that side. When specifically are the consultants scheduled to finish their study, which will give us a final cost estimate?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: You will not get a final cost estimate until the project is actually tendered and you have the bids in. We will give him the engineering estimate which comes from our consultants when I make the statement which I have promised to the House.
Question re: Yukon Utilities Board
Mr. Nordling: I think we have the message from the Government Leader on that subject.
I have a question for the Minister of Justice with respect to the Yukon Utilities Board. On November 10, 1987, the Minister told me the appointment of three new members of the Yukon Public Utilities Board is imminent. On April 12, four months later, the Minister said, I previously told the House that appointments were imminent. I would hope that the board is brought to full strength very shortly after the regulations are passed. This was with no apology or explanation, and I think that it is either incompetence or deception or disregard for our system of parliamentary democracy. I would like to ask the Minister when we can expect the regulations and when we can expect the Yukon Utilities Board as required by the act?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I have previously informed the House of exactly that information. I believe it was in response to questions from the Member for Faro. In any event, because the Member opposite chooses to repeat the question in Question Period, I will repeat the answer.
The regulation is expected to come before Cabinet this spring, and the appointments to the board will occur very shortly after the regulation is passed.
Mr. Nordling: We do not have an answer again, do we?
My supplementary is for the Minister of Economic Development. On April 14, I asked if the Mayo dam project would be discussed with the Yukon Utilities Board before the project went ahead. The Minister said that he would consult with his colleague, the Minister of Justice. Has the Government Leader consulted with his colleague, the Minister of Justice, and what is the response?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The consultation with the Minister has occurred, and there has been a legislative return from the Minister of Justice which answers the question previously put by the Member.
Mr. Nordling: The legislative return says there is no provision for review by the Yukon Utilities Board of capital budgets in the sense that the Yukon Utilities Board has to approve capital budgets. The answer is that the Yukon Utilities Board will not be consulted.
In light of the fact that the Executive Director of the Yukon Energy Corporation, who is also the Deputy Minister of Economic Development, wrote in a letter on January 4, 1987...
Speaker: Would the Member please get to the supplementary question?
Mr. Nordling: I am in the middle of my supplementary question.
...which said, All capital investments must be justified to the Public Utilities Board on the basis that they either improve the system as a whole or expand the rate base. Is it the governments policy to consult, as stated by the Executive Director, or to ignore the board as advocated by the Minister of Justice?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member stated the question, which is a false choice. The corporation will do what is required for the utilities board. The Member read an excerpt from a letter, which is perfectly consistent with policies about establishing rates and what new assets will be allowed to be added to the rate base amount. Recently, the Member is fond of making citations about parliamentary government, about which he appears not yet to know very much. The proper approvals in a parliamentary system go through Cabinet and then the legislature. In the case of the authority we have given to the corporation, their decisions will be made. We will be advised, as will the House, and the proper procedures with respect to the Yukon Utilities Board will be observed.
Question re: Yukon Utilities Board
Mr. Nordling: This is a policy question, not a legal question. I accept that the legalities under the act will be observed by the government. The Government Leader said the question as to whether the utilities board would be consulted about the Mayo dam were answered in a legislative return. That question is not answered in the legislative return. Is it this governments policy to discuss the Mayo dam project with the utilities board before that project goes ahead?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not doubt the Yukon Development Corporation, or its manager, Yukon Electrical, will go before the utilities board at some point with a statement of their plans with respect to the Mayo dam, but the decisions about the project will not be made by the utilities board. They will be made by the proper authorities, as provided for in law.
Mr. Nordling: Would the Government Leader agree that the board has been pre-empted by the announcement in the Throne Speech?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No.
Question re: Electricity/ Rock Creek to Henderson Corner
Mr. Lang: To refresh the Government Leaders memory on the subject of energy, my question has to do with the extension of electrical transmission line from Rock Creek to Henderson Corner. My understanding is that the deputy minister and the executive director for the Yukon Energy Corporation met with the people in that area in early February, committed themselves to a reply within a couple of weeks to the requests that were made. No reply came. They then met with the Minister of Economic Development in March with respect to the extension of transmission line from Rock Creek to Henderson Corner. A letter was sent to the Minister some time ago with respect to this.
Could the Government Leader answer the following questions: could the design and planning for the two alternative main power transmission lines from Rock Creek to Henderson Corner be started immediately and be done parallel with the feasibility study for the North Fork hydro project, (a) a transmission line capable of handling the high voltage from North Fork and, (b) a transmission line to be used only as an extension of the main power transmission line from Rock Creek to Henderson Corner?
Could the Minister inform the House whether or not that is possible?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I could meet with the people, as indicated. I have also indicated that I will attempt to answer their questions as soon as possible. Their questions are of a technical nature and not as easy to answer as the Members questions seem to imply.
The people I met with understood the position of the government that a transmission line could not be built before a decision was made as to whether or not the power project would be proceeded with there. They wanted to know whether we would be able to accelerate the time lines for decisions on this project, so that the possibility of them getting power at the same time as the project was being developed could be achieved.
I take the question and the requests from those people extremely seriously, and my reply will be given with the seriousness it deserves. I want to give them a well-considered answer to the questions that they have asked.
Mr. Lang: There is obviously a common concern from all Members of the House with respect to an issue of this kind. I assume that a serious reply is needed in this House, as well as to the individuals involved. Has the government come to any conclusion that the construction of one of these alternative power transmission lines could be completed prior to the onset of next winter?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I cannot give a date as to when a power line can be constructed. A decision would first have to be made about whether the power project itself is going ahead. We could not, based on the economics and the number of customers involved, - there are, I believe, 22 households involved - make a decision to build a high-voltage transmission line in advance of a decision to proceed or not with a particular power project. There are a number of difficult engineering, financial, and energy questions that have to be settled before we can make that decision. My efforts will be directed to seeing if the Yukon Development Corporation can find a way to accelerate their decision points. If that can be done without cost to the integrity of the project, then I am sure that they will find a way. That is the question being investigated, and that is the question to which I have asked the Yukon Development Corporation to respond, or develop a response for me, and I will be communicating back to those good people as soon as possible.
Mr. Lang: One of the major concerns is that commitments were made to get back to the individuals in question, and no replies have been forthcoming. I think that that is worse than no answer - being left in never never land although commitments were made that replies were forthcoming.
When will the Government Leader, in his busy schedule, find time to reply to these people? Will it be within the next two weeks?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: References has been made to two weeks. The Member opposite said that I promised to reply within two weeks. I am not sure that I could say that I gave any such undertaking. The Member also asked about it being within two weeks of the meeting. I am absolutely certain that I did not get the letter in question until at least two weeks after the meeting I had with them, so I did not personally see the letter.
The matter is a serious one; it is a substantial one, and it will be dealt with. Given all the other things on my plate, and all the other things that the Yukon Development Corporation has to deal with, I will be dealing with it as soon as I can.
Question re: Electricity/Rock Creek to Henderson Corner
Mr. Lang: I want to follow this a bit further. In one of his responses the Government Leader indicated that other decisions had to be made with respect to whether or not the North Fork is going to proceed, and various other things of this kind. Is it, then, the present position of the government that no decision in respect of the extension of this line will be made until a decision, yea or nay, is made on the construction of the North Fork itself?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: For reasons I have explained to the citizens involved and reasons the Member for Klondike has previously explained to the citizens involved, it cannot be otherwise.
Mr. Lang: When will the decision for the North Fork be made? Is it not true that that decision will not be made until September or October this year when the environmental studies are completed?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is not just a question of environmental studies; there are engineering studies, there are energy studies and there are financial questions that have to be dealt with. I previously indicated, in answer to another question from the Member, and indicated to the people that I met with in Dawson City, that my effort would be to try and see if decision points could be moved up, if we could accelerate the process in any way and try to get a decision earlier than had originally been intended. We understand their desire to get power to their neighbourhood and we want very much to respond to that need.
Mr. Lang: On April 21, I asked the Minister of Community and Transportation Services a question with respect to the rural electrification program, and asked if there were any active applications under consideration. The Minister of Community and Transportation Services replied he was not aware of any.
Could the Minister now inform this House when he received the application from the people in this area under the rural electrification program?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have not yet received a report from the Department of Community and Transportation Services with respect to applications received under the program, either from the people at Henderson Corner or elsewhere. The program itself was not intentioned initially to be a program that delivered trunkline service along the highway. It was meant to provide distribution of electrical power, and now telephone services, from the highway, dispersed through a subdivision or rural area. I believe the question the Member has in mind is whether or not the funding could be had from this program to provide trunkline service. As the Member knows, all the costs of providing this service are charged back to the users so, effectively, should they make application under this program for a quarter of a million dollars or whatever the costs may be of providing the mainline service, under the current program all those funds would have to be charged back to the consumers at the end of the line. I am sure that is not what the people at Hendersons Corner have in mind.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Bill No. 71: Second reading
Clerk: Second Reading, Bill No. 71, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Penikett.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that Bill No. 71 entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1988-89 (No. 2) be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government Leader that Bill No. 71, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1988-89 (No. 2) be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The purpose of this bill is to seek interim operation and maintenance appropriation authority for the month of May, 1988. This is necessitated because it is extremely likely that we will still be in committee debate on the Main Estimates come May Day. The sums contained in this bill are based on the 1988-89 Operation and Maintenance in the Main Estimates. The expenditures for May are anticipated to be lower than they will be in April and as a result this bill requests less money than did Aprils interim supply bill. This is largely as a result of up front grant payments required to be made in May. As always, I will be prepared to answer any questions that I can when we get into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Porter: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chairman: Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
Bill No. 71 - Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1988-89 (No. 2)
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As I stated in my remarks at second reading, the purpose of this bill is to seek interim Operation and Maintenance appropriation authority for the month of May. I mentioned that the amounts being requested in the bill are based on the Main Estimates. The individual requests will not equal one-twelfth of the Main Estimates because of the uneven pattern of expenditures. Mays expenditures are projected to be approximately $2 million less than Aprils but will still be more than one-twelfth of the Main Estimates because of the cost associated with preparing for the summer season. I will be happy to try to answer any questions Members may have as we go through the bill clause by clause.
On Clause 1
Clause 1 agreed to
On Schedule A
Schedule A agreed to
On Clause 2
Clause 2 agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that you report Bill No. 71, Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1988-89 (No. 2) without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Porter: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. May the House have a report from the Chairman of the Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Webster: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 71, Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1988-89 (No. 2) and directed me to report progress on the same. In fact, Mr. Speaker, progress was so good that I report Bill No. 71 without amendment.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chairman of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried. May I have your further pleasure?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would request the unanimous consent of the House to now proceed with Third Reading of Bill No. 71.
Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: There is unanimous consent.
Bill No. 71: Third Reading
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I move that Bill No. 71, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1988-89 (No. 2), be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government Leader that Bill No. 71, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 1988-89 (No. 2), be read a third time and do pass.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: I declare the motion carried and that Bill No. 71 has passed this House.
Hon. Mr. Porter: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chairman: Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We will recess for 15 minutes.
Bill No. 60 - Fourth Appropriation Act, 1987-88 - continued
Government Services - continued
Chairman: The Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
We will continue with the Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Department of Government Services, Supply Services.
On Supply Services
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Late last evening, we were talking about the revised costs in contract administration and I misread my briefing note about one small issue, which I will correct. I was asked when people started: the supervisor started on February 22, an implementation officer started February 29 and an evaluation officer was transferred within the department in the week of February 29. That is just a minor correction. I believe I had answered the staff questions on Supply Services.
Mr. Lang: Does the Minister have a copy of all the space that has been rented, and a cost per square foot as I requested yesterday?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I promised that for the Main Estimates and it will be ready then. In any event, I will supply it as soon as it is ready. We have it, I believe, in square metres, but he wanted it in square feet and we will accommodate that.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister also provide us with the capital cost to get the office space in the Financial Plaza up to a standard acceptable to the department as well as the particular new space rented for the Yukon Housing Corporation on Jarvis Street?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes, I will. Again, it is not in the Supplementaries here, but it is in the Mains and I will provide that.
Mr. Lang: When can we expect a revision of the business incentive program the Minister spoke of the other day with respect to how it applies as far as the value added concept is concerned for contracting? I understand, at least in the area of supplies it has been deleted and that there is to be a decision made in respect of that particular issue. Has that decision been made?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: No, it has not, and I am unable to put a specific date on it. One of the things we were looking at seriously and discussing with the Contractors Association is the operation of the contractors on their bids and the actual impact on the contractors. We are continuing to discuss that with the Contractors Association. I would not expect a change in the wording in the next couple of weeks; it will certainly take longer than that.
Mr. Lang: The Contractors Association is a Yukon-based organization. It is Yukon-based, and it represents Yukon companies that hire Yukoners. These companies have a long-term commitment to the territory. They object fundamentally to the principle the Minister is bringing forward.
It is like asking somebody if they want to go before the firing squad. After they have said yes, and they are going before the firing squad, they then get to choose the bullets.
Why is the Minister pushing this so hard, when Yukon contractors get 92 percent of YTG contracts? Why are we pushing this particular principle so hard, when it is going to cost more than $170,000 when we are finished? I am sure that administrating it properly will cost more like $400,000 to $500,000. Why is he so intent on putting it into place?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The question sets up a full debate about the policy of value added. If the Member wants to engage in that now, that is fine, but there will be lots of other opportunities, in the Main Estimates, especially. There is also a motion on the Order Paper.
The intent of the government is to reduce the leakages of money from our economy. The value added policy works to that end. It applies to subcontractors, as well as contractors, and it is not as restrictive in possibly setting up a barrier to new business to establishing here. We can debate those policy objectives in various forums.
I want to be careful to let the Contractors Association speak for themselves and not to interpret their statements, but it is my understanding that the Contractors Association membership is divided. There is not a uniformity of view. It is my understanding that a good number of the contractors agree with the principles, but the majority presently does not agree with the implementation of those principles.
That appears to be where we are. In any event, it is entirely accurate to say that the present position of the Contractors Association is to have no preference at all. It is absolutely clear now that they would abandon even the old business incentive policy, previously called the northern preference policy; that is their current position. It is my view that, if we did that, we would very soon be in a situation here similar to what occurred in the late 1970s, and a large percentage of the work would be going to outside companies.
Mr. Lang: If we had started a policy of northern preference with regard to judges in the 1970s, we may not have ever been blessed with the presence of the now Minister of Justice. Maybe that is where the previous administration erred to a great degree. I am sure that there are many people in the territory who may well agree with that.
The point that I am trying to make is that the Ministers social experiment is becoming so complicated that it is having major effects on contractors. The real dilemma is being felt outside of Whitehorse, even more than by the major contractors in Whitehorse. A contractor who looks at maybe bidding $20,000 or $30,000 jobs - very minor jobs in terms of government contracts - gets deluged with paper.
I want to impress upon the Minister the feeling of helplessness that these people convey to us. The unfortunate aspect of the situation is that there is real fear being expressed by these people - a fear of the Minister of Justice. The tragedy is that the Minister not only has to be fair, but, more importantly, he has to be perceived to be fair by the electorate that we represent.
I am not understating this. I think that there are other Members from both sides of this House who could stand up and be frank and truthful about what is being said on the street. An actual fear is being expressed over the actions that the Minister is taking in various areas, not just this one. That fear is being translated into a very deep discontentment amongst those people who are being directly and adversely affected by the actions of the Minister in question. Quite frankly, I think that I am doing the side opposite a political favour by having the guts to raise the issue and the guts to stand up to the Minister of Justice, and convey the genuine concerns that are out there on the streets of this community.
Getting back to the issue at hand, the Contractors Association has consistently, in writing, objected to the actions that the Minister has taken on this particular issue.
He has conveyed to this house in the previous debate last fall that the contractors supported his initiatives. That is not true, if he takes a look at the correspondence that was tabled in this House and was made available to the Minister. Any written correspondence has objected to what the Minister has been attempting to do. The effect it is going to have, not just to the people in business, is a negative effect on younger people getting involved in the construction industry. Who needs it? That is probably going to be the most tremendous effect of the Ministers zeal to do social justice. There is a real fear on the street about the Ministers end objective. It is being expressed by many quarters, very quietly, but it is there. The Minister had better address his departmental responsibilities and see what is good for society, not just what is good for him.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The Member opposite is trying to personalize this. I will avoid the temptation to fall into that. This value added policy is not a social experiment. It is a policy that in some form or other is followed by all the provincial and territorial governments in the country - with the possible exception of Ontario, which does not need to because they are the net beneficiaries of interprovincial option action, generally, and especially in manufacturing. I want to say on the record: this is not a social experiment and this is not something I am trying to impose on the Yukon from any social policy perspective. The efforts by the Member opposite to try to personalize it simply will not work.
Mr. Lang: I appreciate the comments the Minister has made. Is he telling this House that it is not the governments position to impose it so if the Contractors Association comes forward and wants to go back to the initial business incentive program with the northern preference, and leave it simple as it was at that time, the government is prepared to do that?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: That is not the position that the Contractors Association is taking. They are taking the position that they do not want any policy, not the northern preference for the business incentive that used to exist. That is their current position. They are also working with us now to improve the implementation of the present value added policy.
Mr. Lang: The Minister said that it is not his policy to impose things on people that they do not want. If the Contractors Association comes to the Minister of Government Services and asks him to rescind those aspects that they find repugnant in the business incentive program and replace it with the policy that was in existence in the late 1970s and early 1960s, would the Minister do that?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: It is a fast question. First of all, the questions here are not for me to answer as the Minister. These are Cabinet decisions. All the way along the line, the policy in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s have been put in place by Cabinet decisions and Management Board considerations by the previous government and by this government. For that reason alone, it is impossible for me to simply answer yes or no. I do not have that power. We decide these things in Cabinet.
The Contractors Association is not the only group here to consider. The other factors are contractors who may not be members of that association. There are contractors who would potentially be here and do business here to the benefit of the territory. There is the factor of the implementations or the effect of these policies on the bids that come in and the consideration of the prices that the taxpayer is ultimately paying for public works.
The Cabinet will consider all of those factors in deciding any firm policy or any changes in the policy. I will commit to negotiating and discussing constantly, on a regular basis, with the Contractors Association. That process is valuable for both the association and the public interests. That process will certainly continue.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister tell us when was the last time he attended a contractors/government meeting?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I do not remember the date but I believe, on the last two of them, I have had competing appointments. I believe I missed the last two and that is probably why the Member asked the question, because he wants me to admit that I had missed the last two meetings. I have, but there have been good reasons for that. It is not that I am overworked, I just have competing appointments on occasion. But because the question is asked, I will say that I am proud of the record of this government of establishing these regular meetings to the mutual benefit of the contracting industry and the government.
Mr. Lang: I have no problem with the concept of meeting on a regular basis and I think I commended the government and the department for initiating those types of meetings. In fact, they have been going on for quite some time; the Minister cannot take full credit for that, although he takes credit for a lot of other things.
Whether or not the essence and the substance of these meetings are to the mutual benefit of both parties is the question in dispute at this time. The point I made to the Minister, which I think is a valid point, is that I do not understand, when we have a 92 percent success rate in awarding Yukon contracts to Yukon contractors, why we would go to the expense of at least $400,000 - and I am probably right - within a year or two years to administer this business incentives program, at a cost to the taxpayer, and also at the same time to throw the contract regulations into such disrespect and disrepute because of the discretionary powers that are going to be there, this is going to lend itself, rightly or wrongly, to the perception of political interference and perhaps to the point of political corruption. That is my bottom line and my major concern - that the tenders be done in a proper manner. Now, even talking to contractors, when they tender, it is just a question of who fills out what form to see how many people locally they are going to hire. They might say, I am going to hire all 10 boilermakers locally and, what happens, because we all know that there might be only one or two living in the Yukon? If a contractor does not fill it in like that, he is crazy.
There is another concern I have, and I want to express it to the Minister and hear his comments: the end result with respect to the question of unions, and I am talking about labour. As the Minister knows, their headquarters in many cases are outside the territory and, in respect of the membership on the union list and how they are called in and carded for the purpose of going to work. What steps are going to be taken to ensure that, where there is a place for unions throughout the territory, in those jobs that are large enough the unions are going to ensure that their membership is going to be put to work where appropriate?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: It is interesting. We are on general debate on a Supply and Services Supplementary Estimate. The Member said last night that he did not want to debate value added as a general policy, but he has changed his mind and decided to debate that this afternoon. He made what I considered to be allegations essentially implying corruption, or the possibility of corruption, which he has said in the past with absolutely no factual basis. He simply gets up every now and again and says, You know what, Mr. Joe Lunchbucket, corruption is possible, and I think this government might be corrupt. That is what he is saying. It goes on and on like a broken record.
Now he is asking about unions. There is nothing in the budget about unions, but because he bullies his way into setting the topical agenda of these debates I will debate unions if he wants to.
The value added policy has nothing to do with unions. There are policies in some unions, through local union hiring halls, that promote local hire. It is a fact that for the use of some union labour on some contracts the union hiring hall will supply a non local person even when there is a local person who could do the job who was not here. That has occurred and that is a factor that we wish to avoid.
The policy of the government is to promote local hire and we do not specify in either the contract document or the value added policy that the union hire one way or the other. We are attempting to achieve the absolute maximum local hire and I would submit that all Members of the House and all parties here have that same general objective. We may differ a bit on how to achieve it, but we all have the same objective. We are doing our best not to make any of the policies such that they impact on the unionization of the work force.
Mr. Lang: Has the effect of this policy been fully discussed and explained to unions such as the carpenters union?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The question was whether it was fully discussed and explained. I guess that is a matter of interpretation. Certainly I, personally, have had discussions about value added with the sole permanent staff member of the carpenters union. The labour movement, as represented by the Yukon Federation of Labour, has discussed the policy in a general sense with government. The consultations that occurred prior to Christmas involved the unions as well as the Contractors Association, so I think that I can answer that a very substantial consultation has occurred and is continuing on an ongoing basis.
Mr. Lang: I am going to save the remainder of my questions for the Main Estimates. I want to go on the record respecting the reply to the Minister on who sets the agenda and what issues we can discuss. I do not think, in deference to the House, that we have got to the point that the government side can dictate what areas in a particular budget that we, in the Opposition, choose to debate, and in what context we choose to debate it, as long as it is an item. I will concur with the Chair that the issue at hand yesterday - the Mayo dam - upon reflection, would more appropriately be discussed during debate on the Yukon Development Corporation.
I resent the Ministers statement that we should not have the right nor the authority in this House to debate it. I guess that that goes with his character and with the way that he has conducted himself in the House for the past three years, plus the way that he is implementing the policy in question.
I have brought forward what I believe to be a genuine concern, a real reflection of the general public. Whether or not the Minister wants to recognize it not, it is there, and maybe it is in his best interest that there is someone like myself to express it directly to him and in front of him, so that he can hear what other people are saying about the policy that he has brought forward and is imposing on those particular people in the business community. It is an imposition; it is definitely not by choice, and the Minister should be made well aware of that.
Chairman: Anything further under Supply Services?
Mr. McLachlan: Regarding the Queens Printer, is anything being done to speed up the time in for their material and their time out for the material? Does it require an additional shift? It takes the Queens Printer three weeks to turn out some of the material. Is anything being done to get material through the system faster?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The answer is yes, on an ongoing basis. If the Member will look at the statistics in the Main Estimates, and the statistics in last years Main Estimates, he will see clearly demonstrated the substantial increased use of the Queens Printer over the last couple of years. The number of pages printed has gone up dramatically. The Queens Printer is coping with that demand as best they can within the resources they have. Contrary to the allegations of some Members opposite that the government is growing at the whim of the public service, the resources available have been admittedly increasing, but at a far slower rate than the demand has increased. That has caused a tension in the Queens Printer.
We are sending more and more to the private sector to be printed. Essentially, the Queens Printer acts as the contract administrator for those jobs. That policy has proven effective in keeping the waiting periods down. The Queens Printer will always have some waiting period. We are keeping it down as short as we can.
Mr. McLachlan: That is a long-winded answer that did not tell me very much at all. Putting it on a practical basis, there are 21 eight hour shifts in a week. We are working five of them, and the work is not getting through. Being a practical man - as I am sure the Minister will agree he is - the simple conclusion is that when you cannot get the work done, you schedule more time on the equipment, whether you are operating heavy equipment, trucks or computers. The Minister does this, as there are people who program computers on a night shift in this building. When the work is three weeks from start to finish, I fail to see why something cannot be done to speed up the process.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Mr. McLachlan has raised one factor, and that is to use the equipment on either a 24 hour basis, or approaching a 24 hour basis. We are going in that direction, and we have done that in the last few years. That is one of the things that is possible. I thank him for that particular suggestion, and I will personally inquire into whether we can go further or not in the next year.
Mr. McLachlan: Is there an established priority as to who goes first with the Queens Printer? Do budgets get number one and MLAs newsletters number 31? What is the priority?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: There is a priority, and I do not think that I can do justice to it on my feet at the moment. Things like the budget are the number one priority. There are also security concerns about the budget and the like. Occasionally, things can be speeded up by changing the priorities. There is a policy about that, and I would tell Members that MLAs newsletters are very high up in the priority. They are not number one, but they are close to the top.
Mr. McLachlan: Could the Minister advise if the material printed by the private sector comes out at less per unit cost than the Queens Printer cost?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: It is absolutely impossible to give a general answer to that. Sometimes it is yes, sometimes it is no. It depends upon the quality of paper, the quality of printing and the machinery that is in use at a particular time.
The Queens Printer acts as both a print shop and as an administrative unit to contract out some printing projects in the private sector. They do make judgments that some projects, at particular times, would be more cost effective to do in-house or to contract out. We are contracting out more and more, and it depends upon the bids on the particular jobs.
Mr. McLachlan: Who makes the go or no-go decision as to who gets priority on a particular morning at 8:00 a.m. when there are a number of projects lined up? Can the manager of the Queens Printer do that or must it go to the director level?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The short answer is that it is the manager of the print shop who makes the decision. There are some limits that are generally called signing authorities that are established by policy by Management Board.
Supply Services in the amount of $156,000 agreed to
On Public Works
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The breakdown here is the contract settlement is $97,000. The building engineers at Yukon College and casual employment around the territory for building engineers was an additional $43,000 this year. Materials and supplies for building maintenance was an additional $220,000. That is broken down into many small projects of a building maintenance nature.
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister tell us what the cost estimates are now for renovating the Yukon College for the purpose of the Department of Renewable Resources moving in?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: No, I am not prepared today, but I have promised an up-to-the-minute progress report in the Main Estimates. A particular branch of the Department of Renewable Resources is going to move in as soon as the building is vacated; they will move into the present office or administrative space there, and the rest of the space will be renovated into office space. The cost estimates are not complete as of today.
Mr. Lang: I do not understand how a decision could be made to move a department and not know what the cost is. Was the decision made to move the department there, with no knowledge of what the costs were going to be, other than for the $10 million study, tabled in this House last fall - or $13 million?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The move into the administrative section of the old college is going to cost nothing, or very, very small amounts, which will be absorbed into the existing budgets. The remaining moves are not fully costed. The reason why decisions can be made is that one has to start somewhere, and we have started by making the decision that the building will not be either sold or lying vacant; what flows from that is that something must go in. We have investigated some alternatives, which have proven too expensive, and we have decided that the Department of Renewable Resources and Community and Transportation Services will go into the building as a global decision; the specifics as to who goes where and particularly what renovations are going to be made are still under review. The final decisions are not yet made.
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister refresh my memory? Was the study with respect to renovations that was tabled in this House not going to cost $13 million? Can the Minister confirm that?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes.
Mr. Lang: Just to get this straight in my mind: with this long-term objective as far as the move is concerned, does that mean, then, that the Lynn Building will no longer be needed by the Government of the Yukon Territory and neither will the Keiths Plumbing and Heating building up by the Airport Chalet?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: That is accurate, and in fact I reported that some months ago.
Mr. Lang: When will we be able to get an accurate picture of the cost projection of the total capital cost of that move? Will we be able to have it within the next week?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I cannot promise that. The Management board has asked for a report and the report is not ready. When it is all finished, you will get it, of course. I strongly expect it will not be ready in the next couple of weeks.
Mr. Lang: Was that report commissioned last December? Could the Minister inform us who is doing the report? What deadline was put on that report to be presented to the government?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The work is being done partially in house and partially by the Carlberg Jackson architectural firm. The effective deadline is June.
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister make the commitment that as soon as the report is completed that Members of the House will be provided with copies?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I will make the commitment that, as soon as Management Board has made a decision, specifically, I will communicate that decision to all Members.
Mr. Lang: Will we get a copy of the report?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I am not confident we are going to get a report in the sense of a Cirlox-bound architectural report. I believe what we are going to get is a series of options presented to Management Board in a Management Board submission referring to information which is collected by the in-house people and the architect. I am not confident that it will be in a publishable form. I will certainly communicate the decision.
Mr. McLachlan: I think we should not worry about what the cover looks like, or whether it is Cirlox-bound or has fancy blue, white, orange, pink or green on the cover. The Members simply want to look at the final results and do the analyses ourselves without the benefit of the Ministers decision making to go along with it. Is that a reasonable request - that the information be made available to the Members and let us make the decision?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I have a mission to perform, which is the instruction of the Management Board. I will report to the Management Board. When Management Board makes a decision, I will inform all Members of the decision. When we are talking about the budgets at any stage, I will be prepared to debate the factors that go into the decision. If Members opposite have any particular views to make, I would be pleased to hear them either here and now or privately. I will debate it after the fact as well if they wish.
Mr. McLachlan: What is wrong with the request that Members on this side be permitted to see the analysis and the data? We understand the Minister has a mission to present this to Management Board. Why can the data not be provided for Opposition Members at the same time, or within 48 hours of going to Management Board?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: There are several answers, but the most concise is that it is a Management Board document, which is akin to a Cabinet document. The Member opposite wants me to sit down, and he does not understand basic parliamentary processes. Perhaps I should explain it to him.
The duty I have, which is a duty I swore an oath to perform, is to be part of a Cabinet and a Management Board, which is a collective form of government, and I swore an oath of secrecy around that parliamentary principle. I am saying that there is a report to the Management Board in progress. I will make available what I can make available.
Mr. Lang: This is the best one I have heard in a long time: the mission of the Minister of Government Services and Justice and, boy, do we have a mission here. Nobody on this side is asking for a Cabinet document, nor for a Management Board document. We are asking that the material and options that will be presented in a draft form by the consultants, in conjunction with those people in the department who are working on it, be made available to us with respect to the information that has been provided to the government on a project that is, at this time, slated to cost $13 million.
A document has been tabled in this House. I agree with the Minister of Government Services that it is much too high. I am asking for the draft working document on the cost options that will give the foundation for the decision.
Will the Minister make the commitment to provide us with that information? That is not classified information. I know, as I have been there.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The Member for Porter Creek East was wrong in several of his assertions. The simple answer is no.
Mr. Lang: I know there will be other ways to proceed with this, and we will proceed accordingly. We will debate it at another point.
Will the hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of renovations that are going to be done be put out to private tender?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The shortest way I can put the answer is that when decisions are made as to what work will be done, we will be making the decision immediately following. Consequential to that, as to what will be tendered and what will not, we will be following the past practice of the government. The shortest possible answer is that I do not know, but I expect they will.
Mr. McLachlan: Am I correct in presuming that not all of the branches of Community and Transportation Services will be moving out of the Lynn Building? If I am correct, which are staying?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The matter, as I have been trying to express, is under review, and the final decisions about those details are not yet made.
Mr. Lang: Why was I told just a few minutes ago that we are moving totally out of the Lynn Building when a final decision has not been made?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The questions were different. The Members opposite accuse me of not answering the questions, but the problem is I listen to the questions too well. The situation is that we have made a decision to put Renewable Resources and Community and Transportation Services into the old Yukon College. As a consequence, the Lynn Building and Keiths Plumbing and Heating building will be vacated at the end of their leases.
The particulars of exactly which civil servants, which desk and which filing cabinet are going into which room have not been made. It is conceivable that there will be a person or so somewhere else, elsewhere than the old Yukon College. It depends upon how it is all squeezed in there. The details are not finally decided.
Mr. Lang: Is the Lynn Building going to be emptied of civil servants by this government when the lease expires?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: That is our present timing, yes.
Mr. McLachlan: The Minister has a particular way of confusing the questions and making us think that we were at fault when we asked them. The question was simply whether departments or divisions of Community and Transportation Services were moving out simply because the analysis is beginning to show that there is not enough room at the old Yukon College to accommodate everybody.
I simply wanted to know if, in fact, this is true which parts of the department were to stay? The Minister said that those questions were different. I did not think that they were different. I thought that that was the same subject.
Does the Minister have an answer when the decision will be made as to who or who is not moving and staying?
Mr. McLachlan: I have answered that several times already. The answer is that when the studies are complete, the matter will go to Management Board. We are expecting to vacate the old college in June, so our effective deadline is June.
Mr. Brewster: I am getting a little confused but then I am always am when the Minister of Justice gets up. Last fall when we debated this we asked if the Marwell area personnel were going over there. In fact, we told them that they could not put it over there, that there was not enough room. They stood up and argued for two hours that there was. Then, when I come back into the House this year and ask questions, the Minister gets up and tells me that it is not, and now we have Community and Transportation Services going over there. I do not really think that there is any plan at all; they are just running around doing what they want to do.
Public Works in the amount of $360,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $778,000 agreed to
Chairman: Are there any comments on the Recoveries?
Mr. McLachlan: Can the Minister explain what ordinance was worth 24 times the originally budgeted amount that we were able to sell, that generated another $72,000 for the government?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The present consolidation of the Yukon law, which has in practice been consolidated every seven years or so. We are selling those volumes and that is the largest amount.
Chairman: If there are no more comments on Recoveries, we will turn to Capital Expenditures, on page 36. Is there any general debate on Capital Expenditures?
On Whitehorse Facilities
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: This is all very small amounts for minor projects and renovations.
Mr. Lang: What are they?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I did not prepare a specific list. I can make it available in writing, if Members wish. The problem of a list is that the original line item, as the Member well knows, is more or less like a revolving fund. It is a sum of money for a large number of small projects.
It is impossible to say which of them went over or which of them were budgeted and which were not, because we started the year budgeting this line for projects that come up during the course of the year. This is essentially building maintenance, and we have found the expenditures to be more than we anticipated. The easiest way is simply to provide a list of all the expenditures, and I will do that if the Members wish.
Mr. Lang: Is this line item largely to do with renovations of office buildings?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Renovations of buildings are included here, yes, that is accurate.
Mr. Lang: When would we get that list?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: By the end of the week.
Mr. Lang: One other concern I want to raise is: has the Minister or his department brought in a new policy where, if members of the maintenance crew go out of town, they are only permitted so many dollars in total for hotel room, lodgings and food? I think it breaks down to $50.00 a day in total. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I do not know of a recent change. There has certainly been some discussion in the department over the years about building maintenance people going out of town and the discussion has generally been over the issue of overtime. I am not aware of any particular problem about travel expenses or any policy that is different from general government policy.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister please check for me, then, to see whether or not that particular branch of the government is following the overall policy where the cost of the hotel room is picked up, plus so much per meal, or whether or not there now is a different policy in effect for this particular branch, and could he please report back to me in Hansard when we are in the Main Estimates?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes.
Mr. Lang: The information has not been provided on the $58,000 other in a general context. I just want to make sure I have permission of the House, if there is an issue to be raised with the information unless it has been provided that we were able to do that, because it will be past expenditures as opposed to the Main Estimates?
No problem, Mr. Chairman?
Chairman: It is agreeable.
Whitehorse Facilities in the amount of $58,000 agreed to
On System Development
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: This is a large budget and as we knew we were going over in some of the lines we purposely found a reduction or two here.
System Development in the amount of a reduction of $92,000 agreed to
On Queens Printer
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: This is attributable to a piece of capital equipment that was in the Main Estimates. The tender prices came in $37,000 less than the budgeted amount.
Mr. McLachlan: Could the Minister clarify what the tender was for? I missed it.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: It was a particular piece of printing equipment. I do not know precisely what, but I will provide that for the Member.
Mr. McLachlan: That begs the question from the previous debate. Why would we not put the money into equipment that would turn the work out faster? That would make the questions on the previous section unnecessary.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: You cannot do that for $37,000. Also, that is not the way we budget. We budget and inform the House. I particularly remember informing the House of the machinery that we were planning to buy, because the Members so frequently asked about the Queens Printer. My memory escapes me as to the particular kind of equipment, but I informed the House in the fall. It would be dishonest budgeting if we informed the House we wanted the money for a particular thing and, then, spent it on something else.
Queens Printer in the amount of a reduction of $37,000 agreed to
On Records and Micrographics
Records and Micrographics in the amount of a reduction of $9,000 agreed to
On Central Stores
Central Stores in the amount of $2,000 agreed to
On Capital Maintenance of Public Buildings
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister bless us with an explanation?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Before I do that, the piece of equipment under the Queens Printer was a collator for the print room in the Marwell area.
The line item here is $1.8 million for capital maintenance. This is similar to the Whitehorse facilities line, although the maintenance is less of a repair and more of a capital improvement. The accounting distinction is much like a repair on a house and a capital improvement on a house. The line item encompasses many projects, of which I gave a description to the Member in the Main Estimates. Some of the projects have turned out to be more expensive than budgeted.
Mr. Lang: Will the Minister provide us with such a list?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes.
Mr. Lang: I would like a further breakdown of what the renovations for our office space has cost in the past year. I would like it clearly identified in those documents.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: That has been asked before, and I agreed before. The answer is yes.
Capital Maintenance of Public Buildings in the amount of $165,000 agreed to
On Energy Conservation Program
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: This is largely two projects. The micro-hydro project at the Fraser Camp is not going to be built by the government but by the private sector. We are negotiating. There were proposals called, and we have selected New Era Engineering to build a micro-hydro plant. They will finance that privately and supply us with electricity, which we will pay for in almost precisely the same way as the contract that occurred for the heat plant in Whitehorse for the Philipsen building. That saves the government the capital costs. The Watson Lake heat recovery project was anticipated this year but will be done in 1988-89.
Mr. Lang: Was the project at Fraser put out for proposals?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister explain how this system is going to work?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The person who was chosen by a committee of Community and Transportation Services and Government Services people is going to build a micro-hydro plant and sell the electricity to the government.
Mr. Lang: Is that similar to the small hydro that was financed under the Economic Development Agreement along the Carcross Road a number of years ago? Is that the same principle involved in this project?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I do not know much about that earlier project, so I am unable to say from specific knowledge. I will look into that and answer for the Member.
Mr. Lang: What is the project going to cost?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: It is not going to cost us anything for capital costs. The price of the electricity will be established by a formula in the contract. That will be 90 percent of what it would have cost us to generate that electricity by diesel.
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister provide us with a copy of the contract?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes, when it is entered into. What we now have is a letter of agreement, and I will provide that.
Mr. McLachlan: The Minister has said that there will be no capital costs incurred by the Government of the Yukon and, therefore, it is cheaper. That applies as long as the contractual arrangement with New Era Engineering is at a sufficient rate that it will allow for it to be amortized. How long a contract do you have? It could go up in the fourth year of the contract and ruin the Ministers calculations. Is it a 20 year term?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I will provide the documentation that we now have which governs the situation, but it is not a situation that has a fixed cost and an escalator clause. There is a formula to establish the cost; I believe it is per kilowatt hour of electricity. The formula is based on what our previous plan was, which was to put in a diesel generator. The government is guaranteed a cost that is less than the diesel generator cost.
Mr. McLachlan: Although the Minister has said there will be no cost to government, does he really mean no cost to his department? Did New Era Engineering apply under the Yukon Energy Alternatives Program at Economic Development to receive funding to do the project?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I do not know. That is not covered by this Supplementary.
Mr. McLachlan: That is because we did Economic Development before Government Services. That is a fair question. Can we have an answer to that from the Minister of Economic Development?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I will undertake to provide the answer. I can find out, even though it is not my department.
Energy Conservation Program in the amount of a reduction of $1,027,000 agreed to
On Pre-Engineering Studies
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Again there is no particular project but this is for pre-engineering studies on many projects. I would anticipate that in the long term future this line will increase. I sincerely hope that it does as long as we maintain a healthy capital building program. We are engaging more and more in what the Leader of the Official Opposition has called life-cycle costing. That life-cycle costing planning is done here.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister, for the Main Estimates, provide us with a copy of the areas that were under study?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes.
Pre-Engineering Studies in the amount of $212,000 agreed to
On Public Works Facilities and Equipment
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: This is attributable to one project: the new Watson Lake workshop. It was tendered and the tender prices were higher than anticipated.
Mr. Lang: Could the Member tell us what it cost?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I do not have that immediately at hand; I will provide it.
Mr. Lang: Could the Member tell us what other costs were included for this increase? Was the $75,000 totally attributed to the building in Watson Lake?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes, I am advised it is that one project.
Mr. Lang: I want to make an observation that I have received comments from a number of people about the Watson Lake workshop, and the general public is questioning the necessity for it, especially in view of the fact that Renewable Resources also has a facility close by that could well have been used in conjunction with the work being undertaken by the government at certain times of the year.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I will keep that observation in mind in considering any future projects.
Public Works Facilities and Equipment in the amount of $75,000 agreed to
On Asbestos Removal and Reinsulation
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The sole remaining building is Building 215, or the old building maintenance workshop. We are going to remove this insulation but we did not do it in 1987-88, the reason being that, after we moved out in order to reinsulate and renovate, we determined that the expenditure was simply going to be too great. It is a situation the Member for Porter Creek East may have mentioned in the same context as the expenditure of the Watson Lake workshop. We have restudied that question. We have recently made a decision to remove the asbestos and to do the absolute minimal amount of work on that building to essentially make it a cold storage building and a building assembly area for building maintenance. It will not completely accommodate the building maintenance program.
The asbestos will be removed this year.
Asbestos Removal and Reinsulation in the amount of a reduction of $125,000 agreed to
Capital Expenditures in the amount of a reduction of $778,000 agreed to
Chairman: Is there any discussion on Capital Recoveries?
Mr. Lang: I have the pleasure of driving home every night to that wonderful riding in Porter Creek East. On my left every night, and on my right every morning, I have the opportunity of looking at 50 to 100 stoves and fridges sitting out in the compound in the Marwell area. It appears to be pure coincidence they have so many fridges and stoves that are no longer working and have to be replaced. Why are so many of these appliances in the Marwell area going up for auction? Was there a conscious decision made some time ago through the Housing Corporation to replace all the stoves and fridges throughout the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: It was the Housing Corporation, and it occurred many years ago prior to the change of government. They are there for auction. I have no specific personal knowledge about those stoves, and I will check into those appliances and report back the date they became surplus.
Mr. Lang: I know that a decision was made some years ago that it was not the responsibility of the taxpayer to supply a washer and dryer. It seems to be quite a coincidence to be driving by and seeing all these fridges and stoves sitting outside without protection. I would appreciate it if the Minister could report back, and maybe have a reply ready for Question Period tomorrow.
Mr. McLachlan: With respect to the amount of $110,000 originally voted, was this voted as the recoverable amount from one, two or three auction sales per year? Was the $50,000 we now see as a recovery one more additional sale, or did the previous sales just go better? What is the reason for this amount?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: This is the sale of all government surplus. It involves the auctions and the surplus buildings that are tendered. The global figure here is because we realized more at those auctions than we anticipated.
Mr. McLachlan: Am I correct in assuming this figure represents all the equipment that was sold out of the government yard last year? This is all we received from the heavy equipment as well?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes.
Mr. McLachlan: Last November there was a sale of computers, word processors and typewriters. Is this figure also in there from the November sale?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Yes.
Capital Recoveries in the amount of $64,000 agreed to
Government Services Operation and Maintenance in the total amount of $778,000 agreed to
Government Services Capital in the total amount of a reduction of $778,000 agreed to
Chairman: We will now recess for 15 minutes and return to begin Health and Human Resources.
Health and Human Resources
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I am pleased to present the Supplementary Estimates for the operation and maintenance of Health and Social Services, which decreased the net cost of these services to Yukoners. A total budget of $436,000 is requested to meet projected budget requirements for 1987-88, and a complete offset through a total increase in recoveries of $568,000 is recorded as well.
These changes will reduce the net cost of health and social services to Yukon taxpayers by $132,000. I am sure Yukoners will like this report card. We are dedicated to good financial management and the results of our efforts are here for you to see.
In these Supplementary Estimates for the Capital Budget there are delays to report for two major projects resulting in reduced expenditures during 1987-88.
The first relates to delays in federal decision making for the replacement of the Whitehorse General Hospital, which has in turn required the plans for an extended care facility be put on hold. I reported in some detail to this House during previous budget debates on the status of these two health facilities in January.
The second project is the young offenders secure facility. Building construction did not get started in 1987-88. Therefore, some capital funding is no longer required during this fiscal year. As Members may be aware the tender for construction was published on April 22.
As Members will notice from their examination of the Supplementary Estimates from the Department of Health and Human Resources, the overall picture looks good. These expenditure and recovery estimates are based on information available and forecasts made through the period nine variance report completed in December 1987.
The highlights of the operation and maintenance expenditures are additional funding of $187,000 for the community family services program. This is for specialized assessment support and treatment services for children in care. Pursuant to The Childrens Act the department has been successful in its efforts to establish the first childrens treatment group home in the territory. It opened in December, 1987. This new resource will reduce use of out of territory facilities thereby providing more appropriate care to children in care closer to families and home.
We are also increasing our investment in Yukon by making these expenditures locally rather than outside. A supplementary request of $385,000 for health services is primarily due to the combined effect of increased payments for out of territory medical services for Yukoners of $329,000.
The balance relates to the costs associated with increases in the number of physician clinics in rural communities and the provision of community health nursing services. A budget reduction of $136,000 is requested for Juvenile Justice; this under expenditure is mainly due to the cost savings achieved by an arrangement that allows specialized assessment of young offenders to be treated in the Yukon rather than through institutions in the provinces, at $88,000. As well, there are cost reductions associated with position vacancies at $48,000. Improvements in the administration of cost shared agreements following a joint federal/territorial review of the first three years of the funding arrangement for young offender services together with a reduction in overall juvenile justice expenditures have led to a projected reduction in recoveries for young offenders services of $337,000. A new arrangement for the provision of medical services for status Indian residents of Yukon was successfully negotiated with Canada, resulting in recoveries for services provided pursuant to Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan, a new recovery, totals $800,000. Reduced federal expenditures for northern health services in such areas as equipment and vehicle purchases, facility renovations and the purchase of the Faro staff residence in the prior fiscal year result in a savings of $565,000. The new health centre and residence in Pelly Crossing has been completed on budget, with the Yukons share being $612,500. The extended care facility project has been put on hold pending a federal decision to replace Whitehorse General Hospital. Both projects have been planned on an integrated basis. The reduction in capital spending is $748,000. The deferral of the construction phase of the young offenders secure facility into 1988-89 results in a reduction of capital by $1 million, both as an expenditure and as a recovery.
Mrs. Firth: I am going to be as generous as I can in my comments about the ...
Some Member: (Inaudible)
Mrs. Firth: Excuse me, Mr. Chairman; the Minister of Justice yelled from the back seats there that it meant absolutely nothing. I am very distressed to hear he feels that way because I am going to try to be generous in my comments, particularly when the Department of Health and Human Resources is trying to claim how good their financial management is. When I take a quick look at everything, the whole picture, I see that the new agreement for the provision of medical services for status Indian residents of Yukon was successfully negotiated, which resulted in a recovery of $800,000 - and I believe that is what the department is using to claim their sound financial management. If it was not for that amount of money, which had not even been planned for - if you look at page 39 in the Supplementary Estimates there was a zero voted to date for that project and confirmed by the fact that they negotiated a new agreement for it - I think the department would have probably overspent by $800,000 minus the $132,000, which is probably in excess of $600,000. So, I do not know how the Minister gets herself in the position of standing up and saying these things and saying they are dedicated to good financial management. They are asking here for an additional $436,000 of O&M funds.
I am just pointing that out. We should maybe give credit where credit is due, to the federal government. Had that money not come forward, the financial picture would have been considerably different.
I would like to point out to the Minister of Health and Human Resources that I was quite generous in my comments. I just pointed out the facts. I would like to ask the Minister some questions about the announcements that she has been making periodically over the last three or four months, the public announcements and press releases regarding some of the financially-oriented avenues within the Department of Health and Human Resources.
Can the Minister tell us from how many individuals they are trying to collect unpaid medical premiums? How many are before the small claims court?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: We do not have that information here. We will get the numbers by tomorrow.
Mrs. Firth: Are they going to be following through with these small claims? Are they taking them to trial?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: They have gone to small claims court. That is not as harsh as a trial, and avenues had been used prior to that to try and collect. It has been a long time since the elimination of health care premiums. People in the department have been working on the collection of those claims with those who do owe the money.
They first asked when they sent the bills, and there have been discussions with them. A number of people owed a lot more than others. We are still pursuing the smaller debts through the normal procedure. Some people are making arrangements to pay so much at a time, and others are committing themselves to paying the amount when they can.
Mrs. Firth: I understand that writs have been filed. Perhaps the Minister could indicate to us how many have been filed and give us some indication as to whether or not the government is going to follow through. From her comments, I get some feeling that some are making arrangements with the department to pay on an installment basis. I would like to know about the ones that the department has filed writs on. Will they follow through with trials?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: We will be following through on any action that is taking place right now. We have tried to contact each individual who does owe us money. In a lot of cases, the amount of the bills were corrected as a result of certain information that was given to the department. For instance, an individual who did not make a large wage in one year had their bill adjusted.
Circumstances were different, and this has happened to a lot of people who owe money. We will be following through on any action that we have started. Hopefully, we will not have to take these people to trial, but there are bills that have to be paid.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister give us some indication of how much money is expected to be spent through this process? Could she bring us up to date on the amount that is owing? Is it in excess of $1 million.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I can provide that information to her tomorrow.
Mrs. Firth: I could not hear the Ministers answer.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I said yes, I will provide that information.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister give us any indication of how severe they are going to be? If it goes to trial and people are forced to pay, are they going to repossess things? How far is she going to push this? I would like to have some idea of how serious the government is.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I would hope that something like that would not come to repossessing assets from people who owe us money. We are hoping the small debts court would meet those needs. If they do, then nothing further will take place. I am hoping that is the last place we have to go.
Mrs. Firth: I am asking the Minister in the terms of seizing goods to satisfy the judgments, as opposed to repossessing. Are they prepared to go to that extent?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I would like to let the Member know that we are hoping that mediation through the small debts court will solve this problem. If it does not, at this point in time we are not planning to do anything drastic. There are some cases where individuals will pay, and there are individuals right now who owe us money, but we do not know where they live anymore. We have to wait and find out what happens before we decide whether or not anything further will be done.
Mrs. Firth: I will wait for the Minister to bring back the information she has promised with respect to this matter.
Is there a time line on this whole project? Is it going to go on for six months or a year? Is there some target date that they want to have it completed by?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: When we have done what we can to try to get the money that is owing to us, a report will be made to Management Board. There will then be a decision made as a result of that report.
Mrs. Firth: What kind of report is the Minister talking about? Is she talking about some kind of status report?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: It is an up-to-date report on the results of our efforts to collect money owing to us. By that time, we will have a record of the amount of money we have collected, the amount of money owed to us and, possibly, the problems with the individuals who still owe us money.
Mrs. Firth: I just want to get the process clear in my mind. The Minister is saying, then, that this will go on for a period of time, and then a submission will be taken to Management Board that will outline the success of the project so far. Then they will determine whether or not they are going to follow through with any more action.
Does the Minister anticipate how long it will be before she will go, and will she do that before or after there are potential court cases?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The process in ongoing; it is taking a few months. I cannot say that it will stop at a certain time, but I think that we have done an awful lot up until now, and we have tried to do things the right way. I do not think that it is going to take a long time, but I cannot give her an exact month, even now.
Mr. Nordling: Before we leave the general topic of medicare, I would like to ask the Minister if there are any plans or if there is consideration being given to add to the treatments already covered by medicare, such as physiotherapy treatments, or chiropractic treatments?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: We have been, as all Members know, lobbied strenuously by individuals who do provide those services. We have looked at the possibility; we have looked at the costs; we have asked for statistics from individuals to find out how many patients are using those services. The costs were quite high at that time. We have to have the money, first of all, before we can start to consider including those kind of services under our health plan, but we are dealing with the situation, and we are going back from time to time, trying to find out where the money is and if we can get it. It all boils down to the simple fact that it does cost a lot of money.
Mr. Nordling: I realize that it is an ongoing process, but can the Minister give me an idea of when decisions will be made with respect to these things. Is the Minister considering statistics from other provinces?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: We have gathered all kinds of information with regard to both of those services. We have received information from some of the other provinces. We have got as much information as has been provided to us. The individuals who work in those two groups are giving us information. It was done with the former government, and it is done with this government. Every once in a while we will go back to it and look at prepared reports that we have and information that we have available to us. We have to be very careful when we look at them to find out whether or not we can afford it. We have been quite fortunate that we have been able to stay within our O&M Budget in the last little while, and we would hope that some day the possibility of including it within our health plan would be there, but I cannot tell the Members when a final decision will be made.
Mr. Nordling: I know these costs can get out of hand. Is the government considering, for example, a limited number of visits to a physiotherapist or a chiropractor per individual per year, so there would be a ceiling on the costs?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: That could very well be taken into consideration when we look at the programs again. It is not only the chiropractors and the physiotherapists; it is also the optometrists and all sorts of other people who are lobbying us for those services.
Mr. Nordling: I am not making representations on behalf of those two groups, by any means. I am talking about generally adding to what is covered by medicare. I would like to get some commitment or some idea from the Minister as to when decisions will be made. Are we looking at six months, a year or two years? Obviously, a lot of data has been collected. We have renegotiated our formula financing, so we know what money we will have available over the next few years. I would think the Minister could come up with an estimate within a six month period.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: We go through the process about once a year to find out how much this is going to cost us. We always have to decide whether or not we have the money to do it. We will probably do that again within the next little while. I still cannot tell the Member if, six months down the road, I can let him know that we have another report together with the costs and everything on it. It is something that is ongoing and that we keep looking at. Some day down the road, if there are extra monies available, we would seriously consider it. However, that has not been the case in the past.
Mr. Nordling: I am going to leave this topic, but I would like to make it clear that I am not trying to add to the cost of medicare. I will be checking with the Minister from time to time to try and find out what exactly the government is doing.
Mrs. Firth: In the Local Employment Opportunity Program, there were announcements made about alcohol treatment camps. What are those camps all about? Were they done in coordination with her department? When I did some checking around, some of the community agencies that provide services related to alcohol and drug abuse were unaware of these facilities being built. Could the Minister tell us what participation her department had in those projects?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: My department did not have any participation in those projects. They were done under Community and Transportation Services. I sit on the LEOP selection committee. There were three that were approved, and there are other things that are included under LEOP that also deal with other departments. That just happens sometimes. The department is aware of these three wilderness camps, and they are willing to work along with whatever it is they would like them to do, if they want this government to get involved at all.
Mrs. Firth: I want to express a concern, because the feeling I had was that the decisions to proceed with these were made somewhat in isolation of looking at what services are presently provided, and I really do not think that is a wise and prudent way to do things. The amounts of money that have been allotted by the local employment opportunities program to these alcohol and drug abuse treatment camps is quite substantial, which indicates to me that they are probably going to be building some kind of facility; then, of course, we move on to the requirement to staff them, to keep them ongoing, and to have O&M costs and, if this is not done in conjunction with the objectives and goals of the alcohol and drug abuse sections of the Ministers department, we would just be throwing bandaid remedies out all over the place without any coordinated and organized approach to deal with the problem. I would like to express that concern because I would anticipate that some of the employees and the staff working in the centres were probably quite surprised when they heard this was being done and that there was really no coordinated approach to the effort. That is the point I am making. I do not want the Minister to get up and say we are against these camps. I do not have any more information about them other than the announcement that was made in the paper and the information I could get from individuals who had requested them or who were participating in the programs. I had to do a lot of phoning and enquiring about them, and I would like to hear some comments from the Minister about what kind of coordination is going to take place within her department now; is there going to be some long term commitment required to continue to fund these alcohol and drug abuse treatment camps?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: Our department does have a long term commitment to deal with the alcohol and drug abuse situation. The wilderness camps that were approved by LEOP were special projects for which groups had applied. As a matter of fact, I think a couple of the groups had already been running their own wilderness camp, such as it was, and felt they needed some kind of assistance to continue them - not for operating them, but to put together a camp in line with the way they thought they could do it. The project itself is being done by those individuals, as are the other LEOP projects. There are a number of others who have been approved for large sums of money; they will be building their projects and will carry on on their own. I do not have any fear, because of the confidence I have in those groups that are going to be operating those wilderness camps, that they will be coming to us down the road and asking us for all sorts of things. A couple of them had already been running their own wilderness camps - a group of people, including a number of individuals from the different bands.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister said several things. When she says her department is committed to funding, I am of the impression she is prepared to make commitments to continue to fund the camps, if they so need the funding. It is rather presumptuous for her to say that they will not come to her and ask for funding later. I think the trend has been that when these projects get started - as the Child Development Centre and the transition home, as well as others - the government is put in a position where they have to continue to fund them. Our concern is that there is some coordinated approach, not some scatter gun approach. If they wanted to give the money to the bands through the LEOP program, I do not have any disagreement with that, but it should have been done in conjunction with the departments so everyone knows what is happening and there was some long-term plan for looking at potential operation and maintenance costs, so it seemed to be a little more organized and more structured as to how they were going to proceed.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I realize we are dealing with a project that has some bearing on my department, but there were a number of other projects that were approved by LEOP. If we were to take the attitude that every single one of those groups who were given some kind of financial assistance would be coming back to us for money to help them operate a building or an organization, I do not think we would have a very good program to offer.
Those LEOP grants are there, and they are there to help people in a number of initiatives. There are private clubs that take advantage of it, there are private groups that take advantage of it, and there are bands that take advantage of it. If we had the attitude that every single one of those people were going to be coming back to us to ask for operating and maintenance money, then we would have a problem. We are looking at those programs in a positive light. They are asking for something they believe is going to improve the quality of life in those communities.
I am not that concerned that they will be coming back to us. If they seek some kind of assistance from our department in anything that has to do with a program, or whatever else they might want, I am sure our assistance will be there.
Mrs. Firth: It is only responsible to look at this. I am only asking the Minister to look at it. She talks about her attitude and all kinds of other monies that are given away. I get the feeling they have this money, and she wants to give it away.
I am not criticizing who they gave the money to. I am asking if they took these things into account. I am asking because it deals with the Ministers department. Part of the responsible decision-making is looking at all the potential impacts of giving the groups the money.
I am not going to ask any more questions about this. I get the message from the Minister that they are prepared to commit money if they do come back for money. I think that is what she said when she last stood up. She does not expect the groups will come back but, if they do, they are committed to these programs and, so, will provide assistance to them. I have raised our concerns, and am prepared to move on to some other area.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: Unfortunately, the Member likes to put words in my mouth. I did not say I was going to be giving them money if they came back to us. What I did say was that I was going to offer them the kind of assistance they may need, such as program-type things. I never said I would give them money if they came back and asked for it.
Mr. Nordling: The Minister said the extended care facility was put on hold pending a federal decision to replace the Whitehorse General Hospital. When does the Minister expect a federal decision?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: On the transfer?
Mr. Nordling: No. The Minister stated the reason the extended care facility was put on hold was that it was going to be an integrated project with the building of a new Whitehorse general hospital. If that has an effect on the transfer, could the Minister tell me about that?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: As the Member knows, in my statement the other day,I spoke about the transfer and that we would be looking at a transfer in phases. The first phase would be the Whitehorse General Hospital. At the same time, we would ask for a commitment of funds to build a hospital, and that would be a part of the agreement of the transfer of the hospital.
In the past, I had been expecting there would be federal money allocated to build a new hospital, and that is what we were looking for. We understood there was a submission that was going to Treasury Board, and we were waiting to hear whether or not that had happened. After many discussions and questions from people in Ottawa, we found out the submission had not gone to Treasury Board. So, there was no way we could plan to build an extended care facility at that time, because it was tied in with the hospital. I am not sure at what stage they are at right now - whether they have completely pulled it or whether it is their intention to take it to Treasury Board.
Mr. Nordling: This is amazing. We have not only announced that there would be an extended care facility, but we budgeted money for it that now is going to be taken away, and the Minister gets up and says that the federal government may have completely removed it. Can this project, for an extended care facility, go ahead without the transfer of health services and without a new hospital being built at the same time?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: That is something that we have considered in the past. Because of the information that we received that the submission had not gone to Treasury Board, we put it on hold pending the results of the transfer negotiations. It is something that can be done. The design plans would have to be changed a bit, but if we feel that, down the road, the possibility of the transfer does not look like it is going to happen very quickly, then that is a possibility that we could look at.
Mr. Nordling: We can get into more detail on this when we discuss the line item. I would like to hear from the Minister what I should tell my constituent when she telephones tomorrow morning and asks when we are going to have an extended care facility in Whitehorse.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I can probably tell her the same thing. I get calls like that all of the time; all of us do. Our constituents have all sorts of legitimate concerns about things like this. The funding has to be available; it really does. The Member says that the funding is there. The information that we have is that the submission for funding for the Whitehorse General Hospital has not gone to Treasury Board, and nobody has told us anything different. That is information from Ottawa.
Mr. Nordling: One more go and I will leave it until we get to the line item. My understanding from the what the Minister said in her opening speech was that the extended care facility is a separate facility, a separate building, and it was to be integrated along with the hospital. I cannot see why the extended care facility is so dependent upon funding from the federal government for a new Whitehorse General Hospital.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: There are a lot of things we have to consider when we talk about building those two buildings. The cheapest thing to do would have been to build them together. That was the initial plan and, as I said before, if there seems to be a problem with the length of time it is going to take to get funding for the hospital then we would have to look very seriously at building a separate building for extended care prior to building a hospital.
Mr. Nordling: If I tell my constituent in the morning that she will have to wait two or three years, will I be in the ballpark?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I would hope not.
Mrs. Firth: It is getting late and we are obviously going to have some more discussion about this tomorrow. I would like to ask the Minister to come back prepared. As far as I am concerned, the announcement has been made twice now that we are going to have an extended care facility and we have identified money for it twice; but the money has lapsed. The impression the public has, because I get phone calls too, is that we are going to have an extended care facility. An announcement has been made and people think it is happening as soon as this summer construction season because the government made a big production about making this announcement. Now we find out from the Minister that she hopes it is not going to take two or three years. Well, this is going to be like the major health review or the young offenders facility.
How many times do we have to go round and round the mulberry bush? The public is wondering what is going on.
It is an illusion of progress, yet all the time creating more confusion and frustrations for people. If the Minister could come back tomorrow with the answers about the unpaid medicare premiums and some plan of the extended care facility and when it is going to be built, so that we can give our constituents some specific answers, we would appreciate it.
Mr. Chairman, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 60.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Porter: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chairman of the Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Webster: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 60, Fourth Appropriation Act, 1987-88, and directed me to report progress only on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chairman of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
May I have your further pleasure?
Mr. Phillips: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Whitehorse Riverdale North that the House do now adjourn. Are you agreed?
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:29 p.m.