Monday, November 5, 1990 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper. Introduction of Visitors.
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Speaker: I have for tabling a report of the Assembly on deductions of indemnities of Members of the Legislative Assembly made pursuant subsection 39(6) of the Legislative Assembly Act.
Speaker: Are there further documents for tabling?
Are there are Reports of Committees?
Are there any Petitions?
Introduction of Bills?
Notices for the Production of Papers?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Ms. Hayden: I give notice of the following motions:
THAT this House congratulates the Conservation Society, R.O.T.S, the Recycling Centre and other volunteer groups that are working to keep Yukon green.
THAT this House supports the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment and its mandate to encourage sustainable development.
THAT this House supports the principle of on site before and after school child care in elementary schools and that this House encourages elementary school councils in the Yukon to consider providing space on site before and after school care for school age children up to the age of 12.
THAT this House supports the Line of Life Society in its quest to make independent living possible for more seniors and people with disabilities.
Ms. Kassi: I move
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Citizens Forum on Canadas Future must, as a prerequisite to any meaningful discussion of an inquiry into Canadas constitutional future, be represented by a diversity of Canadians and that this House urges the Prime Minister of Canada to appoint a representative of the northern territories to the panel of Citizens Forum on Canadas Future.
Speaker: Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Trade and Investment Policy for Yukon Businesses
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would like to inform the House of another new initiative of this government to promote trade and investment that will benefit Yukon businesses.
This government recognizes that an important factor contributing to continuing growth in our healthy economy is cooperation and partnership between government and the Yukon business community. For this reason we have consulted with Yukon business organizations to develop a policy for promoting trade and investment for the territory. The resulting policy enhances the trade and services policy outlined in the Yukon Economic Strategy, and addresses the promotion of business and investment in the Yukon not only nationally but internationally.
This new policy is defined in the document Principles for Promotion of Trade and Investment. These principles include the following: firstly, to encourage economically viable ventures; secondly, promote an accurate image of the Yukon and its investment opportunities; thirdly, maintain communications between sectors to cooperatively attain compatible development; fourthly, focus support for trade and investment in industries and sectors likely to be controlled by the Yukon people; fifthly, assist private sector development by supporting the enhancement of infrastructure, the natural environment, communities, and human resources, as well as providing business and investors with marketing information, research results and other information, and, finally; expand investment promotion to Europe, the Pacific Rim, Circumpolar regions and other new markets.
In many ways, this government has, over the years, already implemented elements of these principles. For example, in 1986 we introduced a trade show policy that assists Yukon businesses to promote trade and investment opportunities at regional, national and international trade shows and investment forums. In 1989/90, 25 firms were assisted, resulting in an estimated $350,000 worth of trade.
Whitehorse has also produced promotional materials, such as the Invest in the Yukon brochure, and supported private sector production of brochures, catalogues and advertising. As well, we have assisted with research projects that promote new Yukon investment opportunities. One notable example is the Klondike Placer Miners Associations study of Industrial Minerals and Minor Metals and their Potential in the Yukon, sponsored by the industrial research assistance program of the National Research Council.
We have regularly promoted investment in the Yukon mineral industry at the Northern Geoscience Forum, the Dawson Gold Show, the Cordilleran roundup in Vancouver, and the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada Annual Meeting in Toronto.
We have also promoted trade and Yukon investment opportunities nationally and internationally, concentrating on the Circumpolar and Pacific Rim regions. We have sent trade missions, composed of both government and private sector delegates, to Nordic and Pacific Rim countries. We took part in and assisted private businesses to participate in Globe 90, an international trade show on sustainable development, the International Business and Investment Exposition and the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce Conference and Trade Show. As well, we recently assisted Yukon delegates in a joint trade mission with Alaska to the Soviet Union.
Principles for Promotion of Trade and Investment will be our framework for enhancing economic development in these areas. This policy is in keeping with the goals of the Yukon Economic Strategy and the priorities of the Yukon business community. It will guide the actions of this government in its continuing promotion of trade and investment for the territory. It also sets guidelines for the development of future policies to meet our changing needs in trade and investment.
Mr. Phillips: I am pleased to see that the Government of Yukon and the Chamber of Commerce have reached an agreement in this matter. It is nice to see an NDP government finally coming out in support of the free-trade agreement and encouraging people to participate.
I would suggest, though, we could be doing a lot more. I would like to see this government working a lot closer with her nearest neighbour and her nearest market, Alaska. We do not seem to have any type of in-depth analysis of benefits we could receive if we increased our trade with Alaska. That is one area we could look at. This government should also be assisting the Yukon businesses in this regard.
Several times in the past I have also suggested that we could develop a made-in-Yukon catalogue similar to the one that has been developed and produced in Alaska. It could be sent out to the potential buyers the Minister mentioned in his statement earlier. This could result in direct benefits to Yukoner suppliers and Yukon businesses.
I am encouraged by the statement made here today by the Minister, and I would encourage him in the strongest terms to consider other initiatives such as the ones I have mentioned here today.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I thank the Member for his comments. I will assure the Member that these are not our only thoughts with respect to trade and investment. We have taken seriously some of the points he has made in the past and we will continue to do so.
We have also made serious intergovernmental contacts with the State of Alaska to improve our understanding between governments. Both governments now recognize that increased trade opportunities will come gradually with time and with increased business contacts.
We are assisting businesses in that effort and will continue to do so. I am sure that will make the Members opposite very happy. The government will also certainly continue promoting the principles of the Yukon Economic Strategy, which I know all Members support.
Speaker: This, then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Budget revenues
Mr. Phelps: I have a few questions of the Minister responsible for the Bureau of Statistics.
I am concerned about a chart that has been annexed to the budget speech of the Minister of Finance on page 48. It is a chart that both the Minister of Finance and the Minister responsible for statistics have alluded to on numerous occasions. I find the figures there to be misleading and deceptive.
Why on earth would the department include the gross revenues for Yukon Housing Corporation and the Yukon Liquor Corporation in determining the total budgetary income of this government?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I believe the Member directed the question to me, as Minister responsible for the statistics branch.
I would have to verify this information, but I am reasonably sure that the information provided as appendices in the budget speech and in the budget book would be the product of the Department of Finance.
Unless otherwise indicated, I would have to verify that. Much of the departmental information that is provided as supplementary information comes from the departments, so I am not exactly sure who is the author of the chart. I would have to ask the Member to restate his question in a way that the Minister of Finance could respond to it.
Mr. Phelps: It is interesting that the Minister responsible for statistics has alluded to this chart in comments he has made. But I will redirect my questions to the Minister of Finance. I would like to know why they would include gross revenues for the Yukon Housing Corporation as part of the total budgetary income. This is a practice the Auditor General of Canada does not follow.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I can only assume that what is being attempted here is to provide comparative information from one year to the next so that, if the information is provided in 1984-85, comparable information is provided in the following years. I can only assume that is one of the reasons for providing the information in this manner.
Mr. Phelps: It is a practice that is not followed by the Auditor General. He does not include any revenues for Yukon Housing Corporation in his figures leading up to revenues for the territory - tax revenues and income - and only the net profit paid from the Liquor Corporation over to the government.
Why would the Minister use completely misleading figures in arriving at this chart? It is part of his speech, after all.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not agree that the figures are completely misleading. The entire budget speech is almost completely dedicated to refuting the misleading interpretation of budget figures presented by the Member who is asking the question.
The interpretation of the budget books the Member has put forward to the public is incredibly misleading, and I will be explaining that more clearly in my budget speech. I hope that I will have the opportunity to present even further information, if the Member wishes, in the Committee of the Whole debate.
Question re: Budget revenues
Mr. Phelps: This chart has been used by the Members opposite and the Minister of Finance in particular as proof somehow that we are less dependent on federal transfers than we were a few years back. That is completely false and misleading. Using the gross income for the Yukon Housing Corporation to try and make that weak case leads us to the inevitable proposition that if everyone was living in welfare housing, we would be totally dependent. Does the Minister not agree that is an inappropriate way to mislead the people of the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No, it does not mislead the people of the Yukon. It is an appropriate comparison showing that the assertion made by the Member opposite that the government and people of Yukon are becoming more dependent on the federal transfer payments is wrong. This is wrong and has been wrong for some time.
The many assertions the Member has made that suggest more and more people are working for the Government of Yukon is also wrong. The percentage of the total labour force he quotes is wrong. Consequently, it is up to us to refute the allegations the Members are making, because they are misleading the public.
Mr. Phelps: The Auditor General also includes established program financing as part of the federal transfer payment to this government. Why does this chart not include established program financing as part of the transfer payments from the federal government to this government?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will have the matter checked, but I can assume that established program financing is financing available to all provinces in the country, and it is provided on a per capita basis to provide certain programs and services on a contractual arrangement between the federal government and the territory or province.
The allegation made in the past is that federal dependence is something we have historically associated with the federal transfer payment, which is our discretionary funding. If the Member is now going to incorporate the EPF, as well as other contract services we provide for the federal government, like other provinces do, then I think that is a terribly misleading proposition.
Mr. Phelps: Is the Minister saying the established program financing is not a transfer payment from the federal government to this government? Is he contradicting the Auditor General?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I said nothing of the sort. Firstly, the Member alleged last week in his budget speech that the EPF was essentially the same as it was this year. The EPF is not the same as it was, from this year to next. There is a $280,000 cut.
The Member opposite may think that that is not a lot of money, but it is $10 for every man, woman and child. We regard it as being a lot of money, and we say so.
The EPF has been cut. The reason we are comparing federal transfer payments here is to demonstrate that the discretionary funding to the Yukon government is declining as a percentage of budgetary income.
Question re: Budget revenues
Mr. Phelps: We say this is completely misleading, and that it is calculated to mislead. Has the official responsible for this travesty been rewarded in any way by the government? For example, has that person gone to Sweden on a free trip?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is complete and utter nonsense. The comparative figures here are accurate. They are not misleading. They are very informative. It is a fact of life that the federal transfer payment, as a percentage of budgetary income, is declining. I know that this upsets the Members opposite, because this very graphically refutes the argument that the Government of Yukon is becoming more dependent upon the federal government. Clearly, they are going to do everything they can, through their misinformation campaign, to try to smear obvious and true statistics. I cannot accept that.
As for our treatment of employees is concerned, we treat them fairly. In respect to the people in Finance who were responsible for putting together the information, they are hardworking people, and there is not a dishonest bone in their bodies. They put together accurate and fair information. If the Members do not like the conclusions, that is tough.
Mr. Phelps: Here we have a Minister who could not tell us why they include the gross revenues for the Yukon Housing Corporation in these figures. Would he agree that the Yukon Housing Corporation loses money every year?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Yukon Housing Corporation has been deficit financed by this government. Prior to 1985, it was deficit financed by the government. Clearly the information here is to provide for comparable information one year to the next. That is the point of the exercise.
The Members opposite do not like the way the budget itself has been laid out. The the budget has been laid out in the same manner as it was when they were in office. Are they saying now by presenting the facts and figures in such a way as this that they were misleading the opposition of the day, the NDP? I certainly hope not. We do not believe we are misleading anyone. I know we are not. We are providing fair and accurate information.
Question re: Lawsuits
Mrs. Firth: My question is for the Minister of Justice.
The cost of government suing various businesses or firms has increased quite dramatically. The Minister is asking for $400,000 in the supplementary budget to pay for lawsuits. Last year we paid approximately $272,000.
How many lawsuits are actively being pursued by her department?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I certainly would have appreciated some advance warning in regard to the specifics she is asking me for right now. I would be pleased to bring that information back in written form, but I cannot tell her right now exactly how many there are; I can come back with the information.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister is asking us for $400,000. We will be talking about this today. I know of at least four lawsuits that the government has against firms and businesses. I would like to ask the Minister what the money is for? Can she tell us what the $400,000 is for?
Hon. Ms. Joe: It involves a number of things. As I mentioned to the Minister, if she wants specific names and what the money is going to be used for I would certainly be pleased to bring that information back. I would have liked to have the question this morning; I would have had the answers available right now. There are some things you can answer off the top of your head but information like this requires more work. I will bring the information back.
Mrs. Firth: I would have expected the Minister to know how many lawsuits are going on, unless they have hundreds and hundreds of them. This budget is paying for them.
Can the Minister tell us whether the lawyers handling the cases are from her department, one of the five or six, or are they being handled by lawyers from outside of the Yukon, or outside of the government?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I will return tomorrow with that information.
Question re: Lawsuits
Mrs. Firth: Our concern is the Justice department having to pay, out of its budget, for, perhaps, incompetencies in other departments of government.
The Minister does not even know how many there are. If I have to get a written question back from the Minister then perhaps we could ask for all the information.
Will the Minister bring back a schedule of all the lawsuits against the government, and a schedule of lawsuits by the government against firms and businesses, including wrongful dismissal suits, and if she will bring the costs for the legal services, both outside of government and outside of Yukon, for all of those lawsuites?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Member is asking me for an awful lot of information. I am not entirely sure whether or not it would be fair to bring back the type of information she is asking. She is asking for specific information. I will return with written information on the kind of questions she is asking. There may be some questions I may not be allowed to bring answers to to this House. That is a concern. It could be a concern for the businesses involved.
Mrs. Firth: The public is paying for all of this and the Minister stands up and says she may not be allowed to bring back this information. I would have expected this Minister to know how many lawsuits are actively under consideration.
Speaker: Order please. Will the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the Minister if any of the other departments are helping to pay for the costs of these lawsuits?
Hon. Ms. Joe: She has already asked me for all kinds of specific information. There are some times that you cannot bring information into this House and she knows it. Some of it may be of a very technical nature that may interfere with what is happening in regard to any court cases that might be happening. I will bring back the information that I can but you cannot expect that the kind of information that she asked me for right now would be at the tip of my tongue. I will provide her with the information that she needs but I will provide her with the information that I am allowed to bring back.
Mrs. Firth: Well, the public wants all the information with respect to this - all the information. It is all public information and we want all of it, not some selected little bit of information, excluding things that the government wants to hide and keep from the public, but we want all of it.
Hon. Ms. Joe: She may want all of it but I can only bring back the information that I am allowed to bring back. As I have said, there are things that you do not talk about in this House. She knows it; so does everybody else sitting on the other side of the House. I will provide the information that the House allows.
Question re: Whitehorse waterfront development
Mr. Phillips: My question is for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, regarding the proposed waterfront development. For over a year now the three parties - White Pass, the City of Whitehorse and the Yukon government - have been developing a new waterfront plan, following their first disastrous attempt. The parties have put off unveiling the new plan several times and now tell us they have arrived at a stalemate.
Is the Minister doing anything at all on this issue to try and come to an agreement by which we can get on with the waterfront development?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Yes, I am quite pleased to tell the Member that there is considerable activity taking place. As a matter of ongoing discussion, the City of Whitehorse and my department have communicated on the issue. The mayor and I have met on the issue. Clearly, the results of the waterfront exercise that has taken place over the past year and a half, in terms of the tripartite planning exercise, have fallen by the boards and the city and the Yukon government are now attempting to piece together a plan that will work.
Mr. Phillips: I take it from the Ministers answer then that we are currently sitting down with the City of Whitehorse and negotiating to purchase the land from White Pass. What is the purchase price of the land and have the negotiations to actually purchase the land actually begun?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It would be entirely premature for me to disclose any details relative to discussions or negotiations that may be taking place. Let it suffice to assure the Member that a series of discussions are planned among the city, me and White Pass respecting the land. Whether the lands will be purchased, leased or some other arrangement struck, remains yet to be seen.
I can assure the Member that given the collapse of the tripartite planning exercise, it is incumbent upon us as a government and upon the city, who are also interested in seeing the waterfront development occur, to try to achieve some progress on acquiring waterfront lands for waterfront development.
Mr. Phillips: A lot of water has gone by the development, you might say, in the last few years in trying to come to some resolution in this matter. The Minister says they are in current negotiations. Do they have some kind of time line set or do they have an actual date set where they hope to inform the public on what is actually going to happen with the waterfront development? Are we going to see it before 1992? What status is it at right now?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The current status is as I have described it. Discussions have taken place between the city and the government, the Mayor and myself, respecting various options we can pursue now. The Member will recall that the tripartite planning exercise collapsed largely because White Pass could not accept the reduced interest of the land, given that development does not mean the highest commercial return. Given that breakdown of planning, the city and the government are now trying to piece together a doable development plan.
Question re: Tagish Kwan Corporation
Mr. Nordling: I have a question for the Minister of Economic Development with respect to the Tagish Kwan Corporation. Last May I asked the Minister of Economic Development what security the government had for a loan in the neighborhood of $400,000 to the Tagish Kwan Corporation. The Minister said the loan was secured against the new apartment building on Centennial Street and he said, and I quote, We feel quite confident that no matter what course of action is taken in the future we will still recover the $400,000. Have we recovered the $400,000 and if not, what is the status of the loan?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: A lot has transpired, as the Member, I am sure, is aware, between the time the Member asked that question and today. It probably requires a long answer but I realize that I am unable to give a detailed answer. The short answer is that the government will be recovering approximately $205,000 on a $350,000 advance to the Tagish Kwan Corporation under an arrangement that was signed between the bank, the government and two other parties who had an interest in the project. The final settlement for this particular project was determined after considerable discussion and in an attempt to be fair to all persons associated with the project, the government undertook to take a smaller share than the $350,000 it had advanced. That is the short answer.
Mr. Nordling: I would like to know what happened to the Ministers confidence in May. Is that a final settlement, or is the government doing anything at all to recover the outstanding amount of approximately $150,000?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is the final settlement. The reasons for a lesser amount, as I said, were to be fair to other partners and players in the Centennial Street project, who stood to lose a great deal of money themselves. By that, I mean small contractors who had an interest in the project.
For its part, the Royal Bank will forego interest as a result of the arrangement. The persons who had an interest in the business, expressed through their lawyers, and which could be legitimized, also received a portion of the funds that would naturally be owing to them if the project was entirely successful.
We did accept a lesser amount in order to allow all legitimate partners to have a fair share of revenue accruing from the project.
Mr. Nordling: My impression of what happened was that the Royal Bank received all its outstanding loan, plus a portion of the interest, while the Yukon government and Yukon businesses took considerably smaller shares.
What role is the government playing now, or is willing to play, in assisting the other small businesses to recover money owing to them from the Centennial Street project?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Through the finalization of this agreement, we have played the role we thought was appropriate to assist the other creditors in the project. Everyone had to take some loss in order for everyone to have some benefit. The government had losses, as I have stated. I believe that was fair to the small businesses that were associated with the project in terms of providing contract services to help construct the project. Under the circumstances, it is also fair to the taxpayers, who provided an investment in the project at one time, as well.
Question re: Mendenhall subdivision
Mr. Brewster: In the debate on the motion regarding the Mendenhall subdivision last Wednesday the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, to his everlasting embarrassment, amended the motion deleting any reference to granting the leaseholders a two-year extension in order to allow them to complete their homes.
In view of the fact the road conditions made it extremely difficult to bring building material into that area, is the Minister prepared to grant the two-year extensions? A simple yes or no, please.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I believe I already indicated during debate I am not prepared to grant an extension to the agreement for sale holders at Mendenhall. I have not been persuaded, nor am I convinced, that the road contributed to the failure of people to meet terms of their agreement for sale whereby they would be able to build their houses within five years from entering into that agreement. I noted for the Member previously that at least 12 agreement holders have already met conditions relative to those conditions to be met within five years, by doing so early.
The Member can share with me the reasons or the arguments, if he has them, of why an extension should be granted.
Mr. Brewster: If that is a yes or a no... I was trying to help him, but it is quite apparent that if I gave my reasons, Mr. Speaker, you would have me sit down.
Will the Minister be amending the homestead policy in relation to the provision of roads to more accurately reflect what the government is prepared to provide, instead of trying to dupe the people?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have to tell the Member that I resent his suggestion that there was some deception on the part of the government with respect to the agreements for sale on any homestead subdivision. The Member knows quite well that there was a prospectus provided to applicants, there was an agreement for sale that had terms and conditions clearly understood and signed off. The Member knows what the government attempted to do in its effort to provide homestead land for a low price. The Member is entirely unjust in suggesting there was anything deceptive about the effort.
What I can tell the Member is that we are reviewing our roads policy. We are reviewing those criteria and conditions that must prevail for maintenance to be provided to roads. I expect to be coming forward with that revised policy shortly.
Mr. Brewster: I will try again to see if I can get a yes or no.
Has the Minister done anything to help the people in the Robinson subdivision improve their road so they can at least get the water trucks in?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is actually raising another question, in this case on the Robinson subdivision, again a homestead subdivision where roads were constructed to a particular standard to keep the cost down. Those roads have been upgraded, as the Member knows, by a substantial amount of work done on a number of areas identified as being weak, at no cost to the individual tenants of the properties. The Member knows it is not policy for the government to be maintaining or upgrading home-stead roads without a cost-recovery method. The short answer is yes, the government has done improvements to sections of the Robinson road, and the responsibility for maintenance and any further upgrading rests with the residents.
Question re: Capital block funding to municipalities
Mr. Lang: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation. It has to do with the municipalities and the $1 million cut in capital block funding that is represented in the main estimates for 1991-92. I do not understand the reasoning for the cuts, especially in view of the fact that we are receiving an additional $19 million from the federal government in this years budget over and above last year. Could the Minister explain why he has cut the capital block funding by over $1 million.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: To correct the Member, it is closer to a $900,000 reduction. The Member should also be aware I am entering into discussions with all municipalities, specifically their mayors and perhaps a number of councillors, in early December, to address details pertaining to the block fund reduction.
I should also point out that on the operations side we have increased all the operating grants by three percent. That effectively amounts to a net reduction of just under $500,000.
Mr. Lang: Talk about voodoo economics. The Minister has not answered my question. This government was given an additional $19 million by the Government of Canada over and above what we received in our main estimates last year.
The economic guru is saying that I am wrong. He is the Minister who stands up and says that if the federal government dies tomorrow we would not need them because they do not give us any money; they only give us $310 million per year.
Speaker: Order please. Will the Member please not use unparliamentary language.
Mr. Lang: I am being attacked on all sides.
I would like to ask the Minister of Community and Transportation Services if he could tell this House why he is cutting back the capital block funding by more than $1 million between the main estimates of 1990-91 instead of increasing it by $500,000 over last year as the legislation states.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: To correct the Member again, there is no increase of $19 million from the federal government. The real figure, in net dollars, without inflation, is more like $10 million. What we have is an overall reduction beyond inflation.
The Member inquires why this cut is in funding to the municipalities. The short answer is simple; we cannot maintain our level of services provided to the communities, to the people of the Yukon, without sharing the reduction in revenue being provided to us with them. It is entirely reasonable to share that responsibility with the municipalities, and it has been done.
Mr. Lang: The government closest to the people is that of the municipality.
If you take the City of Whitehorse and the City of Dawson and the Town of Watson Lake, the cost to the taxpayer obviously is going to go up. Maybe the Minister of Community and Transportation talks about maintaining the level of service. Could he explain to this House why they are increasing the size of the civil service by an additional 117 positions and at the same time cutting back on the transfer payments to the municipalities?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Talk about voodoo economics. I want the Member to stand up and tell the House which of the 117 positions that have been added to the civil service he would like to see cut. Does he want to see the 20 teachers who have been added to the civil service cut? Does the Member want to see 15 native language instructors cut? The Member has to stand up and be counted himself. How, on the one hand, can he argue that the civil service should be cut but not offer any particular service cut of his own. The fact of the matter also remains that as a percentage of the budget this government in this year is giving more to municipalities than his government ever did. We have provided more to the municipalities since 1985, far more than the Member ever did when he was Minister. Today it is still higher than any amount than he ever gave to the municipalities, not just in dollars but in percentage increases as well.
Question re: Whitehorse sewage treatment plant
Mr. Lang: I could start listing a number of cuts. First of all maybe the Cabinet, the front bench and even those backbenchers, could maybe stay home for a year. Maybe they could forego Sweden for a year. That might be a start in the right direction. Maybe, we could start with the land claims negotiator who is on a sabbatical for $65,000 a year, who earned over $750,000 in six years, but we felt that we owed him money to kind of get his head together. Maybe we could start by cutting the Member of the Executive Council off who has been appointed to find people who can serve on boards.
Speaker: Order. Would the Member please get to the question.
Question re: Whitehorse sewage treatment plant
Mr. Lang: I am answering a question, Mr. Speaker. I am at your disposal. Sorry Mr. Speaker.
I would like to ask a question in respect to the sewage treatment plant. Almost two years ago, March 13, 1989, the Legislature unanimously agreed to negotiate an agreement with the City of Whitehorse outside the capital block funding to fund the most serious environmental hazard that the territory faces and that is the question of the Whitehorse sewage treatment plant. I would like to ask the Minister: in view of the fact that he has, on one hand one day, said he has agreed to the resolution and, on the other hand on another day, written a letter to the council saying that he could not comply with the resolution, of the extra $19 million he has received from the Government of Canada, could he find himself fit to honour this particular resolution that was agreed to by all Members of the House?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The figure in transfer payments from the feds is not $19 million. The Member is being very misleading to the House in suggesting that it is in fact is. The point should also be made with the Member that his own staff, now in opposition, has increased by nearly 600 percent. When I was in opposition in 1984, we had one clerk and a part-time researcher. Look at the half a dozen people that are supporting their offices now. So they can not have their cake and eat it too. The Members have to be quite clear, when they are talking about increasing the civil service, they should look at their own ranks of increasing back-bench support for the opposition.
The Member did ask me a question related, I believe, to the Whitehorse sewage lagoon. I have indicated in previous responses to the Member that we cannot make a commitment of funds before we know the type of treatment that is going to be provided. We cannot make a commitment of funds before we know the cost of that particular option. The Member knows that my officials are working with city officials in reviewing the various options available to the City of Whitehorse with respect to the sewage lagoon upgrading.
I might also point out also for the Member that in 1984, when he was Minister, he knew the condition of the Whitehorse sewage lagoon.
Speaker: Order please. Will the Member please conclude his answer.
Mr. Lang: In 1984, I did not have $310 million of federal largesse that I could turn around and spend. I would again ask my colleague, the frugal Minister of Community and Transportation Services, about the resolution that passed in this House two years ago - two years ago. Is he going to honour that resolution that stated that we would negotiate an agreement outside the capital block funding provided to the City of Whitehorse? The question is: is he going to honour it or is he not? I ask for a yes or no - or is that impossible nowadays?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member knows the answer. Of course this government will honour that resolution. Of course this government is honouring that resolution. In my numerous meetings with the council of the City of Whitehorse, with the mayor, I have indicated our willingness to cost share anything under existing legislative capability; that is, on anything in excess of two and a half times their current block fund, this government is automatically required to participate in extraordinary funding. So the short answer to the Member is: yes, this government will honour that resolution; yes, this government is honouring the resolution, and when we have some final options costed out, we will continue those negotiations. So the Member should not put words in my mouth that are not accurate.
Mr. Lang: I do not have to; I just let the Minister talk. In view of the very significant commitment that the front bench has made to this very real problem, what I do not understand is that, normally in the budgetary process, if they know that a capital expenditure is going to come up, at least one dollar is voted to give them vote authority.
Speaker: Order please. Will the Member please get to the supplementary.
Mr. Lang: Why has it not been separately identified in the budget in order that vote authority can be given to the government to proceed with the negotiated agreement with the City of Whitehorse? You can get your instructions from the Government Leader. I see him prepping you.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member knows that you do not require a separate line item to provide special extraordinary funding authority, such as may be required with respect to the Whitehorse sewage lagoon. It is entirely possible to create such a vote authority within the framework of the existing budget. I have already indicated to the Member that it does not make sense to try to identity a particular amount when you do not know what the amount will be, not to mention that discussions and negotiations are going on with the city and the government, and on top of which, I am in discussion with the federal government for a possible tri level cost-sharing arrangement on the Whitehorse sewage lagoon. So the Member is trying to calculate a specific amount prematurely, way ahead of where the discussions are...
Speaker: Order please. Will the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am concluding. The answer with respect to the Whitehorse sewage lagoon is quite simple. When we have costs, when we have negotiations concluded, when we have all the arrangements in place..
Speaker: Order please. Will the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: We will assist in the required funding.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
ADDRESSES IN REPLY TO THE SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It is rather difficult to change gears but, nevertheless, in my remaining time of 95 seconds, I would like to take advantage of the few moments and extend to my constituents an appreciation for their recent participation in a household questionnaire that I circulated in the community. The advice they gave me, the opinions they provided, and the general information afforded to me through that questionnaire was very useful to me for purposes of addressing constituency concerns.
At the same time, I was extremely appreciative of the very thoughtful presentations, including a petition with some 300 names, which was given to me at a public meeting held a couple of weeks ago. Over 70 people attended the meeting. This totally impressed me.
Speaker: Order please. I would like to remind the Member he has 30 seconds.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It impressed me because, historically in Faro, to get more than 15 or 20 people at any public meeting was extraordinary. It says to me that people in Faro are very well informed and very interested in their community. To me, this is a sign of a healthy community and, given the history of Faro, it is a particularly satisfying state of affairs.
The fact that housing is a problem, that adequate space is a problem, that a number of road problems exist ...
Speaker: Order please. It is time.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: ... are matters we will continue to address.
Mrs. Firth: I want to begin my response to the throne speech by thanking my constituents for all their assistance and help over the last five or six months. I have been visiting with some of them, and asking questions, trying to find out what their concerns are, as well as reassure them that I will continue to make representations on their behalf in this Legislature and, as usual, come to the defence of the good people in Riverdale South, whom I represent.
I have been thinking a lot about this government and this governments performance, as well as looking at the governments throne speech and the announcements they have made halfway into their second term. I could not help thinking about a book I had read some time ago as a school girl, which reminded me and seemed to keep nagging at me about the way this government was performing. The story had a direct relation to the style of government we now have here in the Yukon, as well as a direct relationship to the attitudes of the government.
The name of the book is Animal Farm. It is by a well-known author, a friend of the Government Leaders. He makes reference to this individual occasionally, and that is George Orwell.
It is a small book and I am going to refer to it occasionally through my presentation today. I had to read it over a couple of more times to make sure I could believe what I was reading, and I could believe what I was living. To tell the truth the analogy was too striking to pass up.
Essentially, this book Animal Farm, by George Orwell, is a story that tells about how animals captured the Manor Farm from the drunken, incompetent farmer and how they changed the name to animal farm and established it as a model community. All the animals in that model community were equal. It makes reference to some characters in the book. I am not, of course, attributing any of these characters to any of the Members across the floor, but in describing some of the characteristics of those animals in the book Animal Farm, if the public, or other Members of this House, or the media draw conclusion that some of these characters may depict some of the attitudes or individuals in the front seat, then I do not have any control over that.
The book makes reference to animals on the animal farm, pigs, horses and so on. In this story when the animals took over the farm, the two key pigs were Napoleon and Snowball. It talks about how these two pigs gained control over the revolution and how they fought each other for the mastery, how the neighbouring humans reacted and counter attacked and were beaten off, and how Napoleon, the more superior pig, ousted Snowball, and how economic necessity compelled the animals to compromise within the human system, how Napoleon negotiated an alliance with the human enemy and exploited it to establish his personal dictatorship, and how the farm learned that some animals were more equal than others, and their state was as bad as their first state, and daily, the ruling pigs became more and more indistinguishable from their human neighbours. The human neighbours were considered the enemy in this story.
Animal Farm is subtitled A Fairy Story, and fairy stories usually have fables, morals or some message they want to get out. My feeling is that there is a message in this book, like all fairy stories have messages, that life is like that and you can take it or leave it. It further extends that message to a political message about power and the use or abuse of power and how power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
We hear the Members in government talk about meaningful words like democracy and equality and we hear this from the government Members time and time again. This little story book illustrates a story where some people are more equal than other people with a political message about the use of power.
I would like to go to the book for a minute and talk about some of the characters in the book so people can understand why I felt so strongly about this comparison and analogy I am making.
I have made reference to a pig called Napoleon. This pig was a rather fierce looking Berkshire boar. It was the only Berkshire on the farm. This fellow had a reputation for getting his own way. There was another pig, Snowball, about whom I made reference. He was a far more vivacious pig than Napoleon. He was quicker in his speech and quite a bit more inventive but was not considered to have quite the depth of character as Napoleon. The best known pig was known as Squealer. This was a pig with very round cheeks, twinkling eyes and nimble movements. He was the brilliant talker. When he was arguing some difficult point he had a way of skipping from side to side and whisking his tail that somehow was very persuasive. The other pigs said that Squealer could turn black into white.
Then there was a mare called Molly who always had ribbons in her hair and silly little things like that. There were a couple of faithful cart horses, Boxer and Clover. These horses had great difficulty thinking things out for themselves, but having once accepted the pigs as their teachers, they absorbed everything they were told and passed it on to the other animals by simple argument. They were unfailing in their attendance and support of the superior animals, the pigs.
The whole objective of this story about animal farm was that these animals were going to take over and make a better life for all the animals in the farmyard. To do that, they listed seven commandments all the animals had to follow. It is not unlike the rules the Government Leader and this government espoused when they were elected some six years ago: all those self-righteous, pure principles and rules that these people were going to stand for and all the good things they were going to do, such as having longer sessions. I believe the previous government was criticized for not sitting long enough. Another big promise was open government. This was another promise and rule the government would abide by. Consultation was another rule. We were going to consult people and make information available. One of the preachings, or the commandments of this government when they were elected, was accountability. They would be there for the people and everyone in the Yukon was going to be treated equally.
Time has passed. It has been six years now and the government is now midway into its second term of office. There is a great cynicism out there about government and politicians in general. We only have to look at the Members of this government who are making the rules and setting the standards, tone, attitudes and atmosphere here in the Yukon, whether that influence is positive or negative. We have to take a close look at the performance of the individuals within government. I am not levying personal criticisms; I am looking at the performance, unlike the name-calling tactics that we get from the side opposite.
I have to look at the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, who is responsible for Government Services. This is the Minister who stands and talks about everyone else in the Yukon not having done their homework. I believe that is one of the favourite little comments he makes. This is the gentleman who stood up at an Association for Yukon Communities meeting, promised that the Smith report would be made available, had to be corrected by his deputy minister, had to turn around and say they will have to make it available after all, as he had promised. That is having his homework done.
This is the Minister who stood up at a chamber meeting and told the Yukon businesses that, in a fuel swap contract, it cost the taxpayers $20,000, when it actually cost the taxpayers $40,000, because they did it two years in a row. This is the Minister who tells the truth; this is the Minister who has his homework done.
He even challenged me at the meeting, because I raised my hand and said it happened two years in a row, so the total cost is $40,000. He insisted it was $20,000.
This is the Minister who stood up at that same chamber meeting and said there was no government money in the Dakwakada Development Corporation. Then, the announcement was made by the Development Corporation that there is $2 million of Development Corporation money in that project. This is the Minister who has his homework done.
He is calling me picky, when this man has a responsibility to stand up in front of the chamber members and give accurate information. Now there is a qualifier. Now it is, to his knowledge. The Minister should do his homework before he makes charges that other people have not done their homework. If, to his knowledge, he has not done his homework, he should not be standing up and publicly making statements, and leaving the impression he has done his homework and is giving absolute facts to those people.
Then, we come to the equality issue. The Minister of Government Services has high principles and standards about equality. The fuel contract swap had to be made because that community contractor had to be treated equally and fairly. When I raised the issue about the Mary Lake school being built and the local contractor getting it, as opposed to the Atco Trailer Company in Alberta, all of a sudden there was a whole new set of rules. The Minister could not even stand up and defend his set of rules and his new position. He turned around and attacked me for being against local contractors.
When we were asking for the preservation of a principle of fairness and equality and integrity within the tendering process. We are asking for that principle to be maintained.
This individual, who talks about unfair treatment, also stood up at that chamber meeting and dazzled everyone with his figures about how unequally Yukoners were being treated compared to other Canadians. He had all kinds of fancy figures about how the federal government, the big bad guys in Ottawa, were forcing Yukoners to take a five percent cut, but other Canadians were only having to take a three percent cut when it came to per capita payment or to transfer payments. He had all kinds of other amazing figures but when one person asked him a question about what the per capita payments were per Yukoner compared to other Canadians, he just conveniently could not remember that figure. He just could not conveniently remember that Yukoners get approximately $13,000 compared to $2,500 for other Canadians, and that is just territorial government funds.
We are wrong, everybody is wrong on this side; everybody is right on that side. It just confirms, the story, Animal Farm.
Now, this Minister gets up at the chamber and he comes along with this feeble defence of his interfering with the tender process; he tries to go on and tell everybody how fair this government is. He makes a big announcement about 98 employees from the Renewable Resources department being moved over to the new office complex that Dakwakada Corporation is building. He tells the chamber and all Yukon people that these 98 employees are being moved over there. You know who he does not tell? Nor does he even offer an option to bid on the space again to the person, the contractor, who is presently providing space to government for those 98 employees. And that is fair treatment? This person had to read it in the paper. He knew nothing about it. The Minister better be careful about what he is saying. He better do his homework because the first that person heard of it was when it was announced at the chamber of commerce by the Minister, so he better get his facts straight.
Fairness. There are some people who, by this Ministers standards, are being treated more equally than other people. Let us take a look at the gentleman sitting next to him, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Education. This Minister has all the high standards and the high principles; this is the Minister who demands top performance from his employees like they were some kind of motor oil or something he was advertising - We get top performance out of them, or you know what happens to them. He is not prepared to accept the best that people can give. He wants top performance out of everybody. The Department of Education has undergone more turbulence and emotional stress in the past year and a half, more stress and strain with firings and removals of branches of the department. The staff is demoralized, grief-stricken and some people have even become physically ill because of the way this government has treated the public servants within that department of government.
There has been the largest turnover of staff in the Department of Education I have ever seen. I have to look to the dean of the House who concurs he has never seen such devastation within one department of this government, ever.
This is the Minister who stands and says the union is wrong, this person is wrong, you are wrong, everybody is wrong but this Minister. Everybody else is wrong. If something in his view is okay then that is fine, it must be fine in everybodys view.
He stood in the House and said that in his view this was the right thing to do. Everybody else is wrong. The Minister saying that only enforces that attitude and impression that the public has of politicians, that attitude of arrogance, knowing what is best for everybody. In his view that is the ultimate view.
This is the Minister, the Minister of Finance, who brought second-hand gossip here into the Legislature and made scathing attacks on Members of this House on this side of the Legislature, with wrong information. That kind of performance only confirms a saying I remember that goes something like this: in the days of the Old Testament it was considered a miracle for an ass to speak, while today nothing short of a miracle will keep one quiet.
I do not want to be unkind. I do not want to attack Ministers personally, but we have to examine the performance of these individuals because these people are making decisions on behalf of all of us as Yukoners and they are very, very costly decisions.
We are speaking about money and it brings us to the next Minister, the Minister of Tourism. This is the Minister who has the attitude that you cannot go around and talk to people, ask them questions, do a survey yourself, do the legwork yourself, fill out the survey form yourself, without getting good information. Do you know why the information was no good? Because we did not spend hundreds of thousands of dollars having some consultants do some kind of survey for this government.
The Minister stood up and tried to defend what he said, and that he did not really mean it, but he said it and he meant it. The Minister stood and launched an attack on all the information that was collected by the Member for Riverdale North, through all his hard work, efforts, and his sincere commitment toward improving tourism here in the territory. He said his information was incorrect; it was not incorrect. The Member brought the correct information into the House a few days later, proved that the Minister had the wrong information and yet the Minister still insists, with that attitude that is becoming very prevalent - we know better, we know best, we have all the answers, we will take care of you, we will pay thousands and thousands of dollars and all our information will be right and nobody elses information will be right, everyone else will be wrong.
He is free and loose with someone elses money. The taxpayer really, really does not condone that kind of behaviour. The Minister of Justice, this lady who so depicts that self-righteous attitude of the socialist, that only they speak for the people, and that they somehow have a monopoly on compassion and caring - we have been listening to this Minister for the last six years saying that only they can care about people, only they are compassionate, only they are in tune with womens issues. This Ministers intentions may be very good but she just does not deliver when it comes time to deliver. When that happens, it is Yukoners who suffer because the Minister does not deliver. Because of the Ministers past performance in Health and Human Resources, we lost the window of opportunity for the health care transfer; we never did get a mammography machine that she said she was committed to; we never did get a fetal alcohol syndrome coordinator that she said she was committed to. Those things hurt Yukoners.
On the issue of violence against women, we hear in the media reports about women being attacked in the street yet we hear not one peep out of the Minister of Justice. We hear not one peep out of either backbencher about these assaults on women, assaults that are taking place in the Member for Whitehorse South Centres riding. We do not hear one peep from these people.
The Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission and Justice stands up in this House and tells us constantly that there is no morale problem within the Public Service Commission, that everything is fine, that the public servants are all fine, yet I have never seen a time when the morale has been so low. There is a lack of direction coming from the Members opposite. The worst thing that happens is when a mistake is made or it comes time to be held accountable for something; where do these people put the blame? They put it right on the shoulders of the public servants. It is always someone elses fault. So we have a public service that gets no direction yet that is required to take all the blame for the mistakes of this government.
No wonder people are cynical about politicians. No wonder they are completely demoralized by the lack of direction and the responsibility that these people put on their shoulders.
The Minister made some comments on the radio one morning about the position of the executive director for the Workers Compensation Board. I had quite a few telephone calls after the Minister came out with her comment. The position was temporarily being filled by a woman. The Minister went on the radio and said that the intention and the hope of the government is that they are going to replace that temporary position by a full-time position and it is going to be another woman. It is fine for the Minister to want to do that, just to stand up and say, Men need not apply for this job because we are going to fill it with a woman.
If she does that, she cannot stand up in this House and say everyone is being treated equally, according to her standards, because she is not treating people equally. Some have become more equal than others. It goes right back to the rules in the books: the principles of equal treatment.
Now, we come to the main man. He is the main person responsible for setting the tone and leading this government. He talks in the House of poor people and social justice and all the rules about how we were going to sit longer, have open government and be accountable. One of the principles of the throne speech was good government. This is the man who calls a party in the government foyer with a big cake to anoint himself as Premier of the Yukon. There was no big movement or request from the public to have this happen. People were not calling because they felt they were not being treated fairly as Canadians if he did not call himself Premier.
There are a lot of Yukoners who feel they are being treated very fairly as Canadians. They feel this is due to the generosity of the federal government. They do not feel this way because the Minister of Tourism pats himself on the back and says he is good government.
The Government Leader has a constitutional committee that will travel throughout the Yukon. This committee may have recommended that the government change its direction and that the Government Leader should now refer to himself as Premier. Did the Government Leader wait for input from that committee or from Yukon citizens? No, he just one day decided he would be Premier of the Yukon Territory and that was that. The stationery was all changed to read Office of the Premier, in gold letters.
There were not hundreds of people from the public coming to the party to celebrate the new name. People think this is one of the most arrogant things this government has ever done. That will stick with this government.
The Premier - the Government Leader - in his capacity as the Minister of Health and Human Resources, talks about social justice and fairness and how he supports women. We had to badger this individual before he would finally agree to purchase a mammography unit for the women of the Yukon. After the promises from the previous Minister were not delivered on, he had to be badgered to do this. Where were the private Members who stand up to represent womens issues and fight for women? We never heard one peep or question put forward by them in this Legislature about this machine. Not one representation was made on behalf of women. We had some ridiculous question asked once about government grants alluding to some allegation about racism which was outrageous, but not one question was asked about the mammography unit.
They cannot have it both ways. They cannot espouse all these self-righteous and pure principles and act the way they have been acting.
The Government Leader send a memo to the school that absolutely outraged and incensed people and parents in my constituency, in the constituencies of my colleagues, and the constituencies of the Members in government. There were phone calls to this government en masse complaining about that memo. The memo the Government Leader sent, along with the letter from the Council for Yukon Indians, made representations to essentially politicize the education system and use Yukon children to do it. That is an action people of the Yukon will never forget. The mothers and fathers in the constituency I represent will never forget this government doing that. They were absolutely outraged that this government would be so arrogant and presumptuous as to do something like that.
Let us look at how all these self-righteous rules have changed in the last six years. Sitting longer sessions: big political campaign. The Tories do not want to go in the House; they only sit 11 days. We promise longer sessions; we are going to do this, we are going to do that. We have now gone almost six months without being in this Legislature. The government has combined the capital and operation and maintenance budgets, with a hope of pushing that through a little faster and getting out of the Legislature. They do not want to be before the public, where they have to be accountable for their actions, where they have to stand up and answer questions. They do not want to go and come back, and go and come back again.
Open government: We were going to have open government. Everything was going to be made public. We were going to have access to reports, and we were going to be able to get whatever information we wanted to get. Just today in Question Period, the Minister of Justice stood up and told us she would only bring in information she was allowed to bring in. She has denied copies of reports to the press with respect to safety conditions at Curragh Resources, and she has denied me those copies. We have had to go to access to information. All Members on this side of the Legislature have constantly had to bombard this government for information, as well as the media. So much for open government. That is another rule broken.
We talk about the rule of accountability. We are going to be accountable, we will stand up and take responsibility for the mistakes we make; I am not saying we are mistake-free. That is what we hear from the Government Leader. It is interesting to note that, whenever the government gets up to defend what happened in one of their departments or areas of the government, it is somebody elses fault. We have had the blame put on practically everyone from the Public Service Commissioner down to the cleaning staff who clean the waste baskets. It is ridiculous. There is always an architect handy to blame, or a public servant handy to blame, or someone else: anybody other than the Minister responsible.
It is totally unacceptable. If the government is going to espouse the pure principles, then it better stick by them.
We come to another rule here on consultation. Oh yes. That is the one where the Tories never consulted and we consulted, and asked people their opinions. You see that the Minister of Education now has a new line: it is they consult but they do not negotiate. This is a whole new approach. We do not negotiate. We consult but we do not negotiate. Now consultation takes the form of a phone call or a couple of words in passing when at another meeting like, By the way, this program is going to be annihilated and I thought we better tell you. The Minister refers to that as consultation. This is selective consultation - selective consultation that the Minister of Tourism enters into at his convenience. The selective consultation that these Members have and the selective results of these consultations that the Yukon public is provided with are always in the favour of the decision of the government.
Another rule can be crossed off on the side of the barn, if this were an animal farm.
These were the people who were going to have good government and be there for the people.
Speaker: Order please. I would like to remind the Member that she has three minutes to conclude.
Mrs. Firth: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. These were the government Members, the politicians who were going to be there for the people. I do not know who the Minister has talked to because the complaints I get are that they cannot even talk to the Ministers on the telephone now let alone get in to see them. They can always go through a secretary or an executive assistant, a constituency worker or someone else, but you do not talk to these Ministers because they are up there with all their heavy responsibilities and busy duties. They do not talk to the people any more. The Government Leaders little sojourn to the Taku bar, or wherever he goes to mingle with the common people, is not enough to keep him in touch with people. It just does not wash.
The last rule of equality is that everyone in the Yukon is going to be treated equally. Today we have seen that there is a whole different set of standards for the Ministers. There are some people that are going to be treated more equally than others.
I want to finish by saying that the principles this government stood for have been eroded; they have decayed and vanished. They have been replaced by that arrogance and the deceitfulness, deviousness that all Canadians are rebelling against in politicians. This government is the mold of the present disenchantment of the public.
The message was: oh well, life is like that, take it or leave it, we will use the power the way we want to use power. It is just like the pigs in the book, Animal Farm, just like the pigs who broke all the rules. The rules have been broken here and the pigs have moved into the house.
Speaker: The hon. Member will now close debate.
Ms. Kassi: The description by the Member for Riverdale South of the Animal Farm sounds to me like a fight for the leadership within the Yukons Tory party.
I have had an opportunity to make some general sense of the replies to the Speech from the Throne and have been particularly saddened by some of the remarks of the Member for Porter Creek East. His comments speak to another time in the Yukon, a time when there was no understanding between the two cultures that make up the Yukon community. I am sorry that the Member from Porter Creek East feels so vulnerable and threatened as the rights of the Yukons First Nations are finally recognized in the land claims agreement, which has been initialed by the governments of Canada and the Yukon and the Council for Yukon Indians.
My elders would say that the Member from Porter Creek East and his comments are like a trandu-dye, like a black fly or a mosquito that should be ignored. I am inclined to agree with them. I am proud to be Vuntat Gwichin and will continue to represent the interests of my people here in this House and anywhere in this world.
The Member from Porter Creek East seems to be suggesting that I do not avail myself of modern methods to be effective. Apparently he finds the idea of being aboriginal and using telephones, air travel and vehicles do not mesh together in his rather limited perspective. Just for the record, when I am in Old Crow I do not use such modern conveniences. I have had a dog team in my time; that is still my favourite form of transportation. Our community has also taken many positive environmental steps, such as the ban on styrofoam and spray cans and other things harmful to the environment. There is strong pressure from the elders to become less dependent on oil and gas and to continue to rely on traditional methods of transportation. So, you see, my community is very environmentally conscious and we are doing something about it. If it seems that the Old Crow area is not as economically diversified as the party opposite would like to see it, the people of Old Crow are very aware of it. If the Member for Porter Creek East thinks about it for awhile, I hope he may figure out that this might indeed have something to do with why he or his party were not re-elected to represent Old Crow in this House. As a specific example, on one of the many discussions on North Slope development in this House, I refer to the motion to support in principle the development of a deep water port on the North Slope. Subsequent to her supporting this motion, the then Conservative Member for Old Crow was not re-elected.
Speaking about such developments, during our recent elders and youth conference in my village, we had an elders storytelling evening. One story stands out in my mind and I found it quite hilarious. It was about the time when everybody and their dog was coming to our lands exploring for oil and minerals and our people did not like what was going on. However, out of respect they cooperated a little bit at the time. Anyway, the story was about a small man coming to our land, looking to get rich. One of our elders was selected to go as a guide on this particular expedition. They had walked a long way through the rough terrain in the hills of brush and muskeg and they finally stopped for a break. The guide noticed the tantrums of frustration and anger by this sweating, small man. He decided to play a joke on him and while the little man was not looking and was not aware, the guide put a huge rock in his packsack. On they went and they walked and trudged on further up the mountain and finally reached the top. Then the small man took off his packsack and it fell to the ground with a huge thud. Everyone looked, and the totally exhausted small man pulled out this huge rock that he had carried all the way up the mountain. Of course he was very upset and embarrassed.
Our people never get tired of that story. It gets funnier and funnier all the time. I thought I would share that with you today. I do not know if that small man remembers how heavy that rock was at the time but for us in Old Crow, while we continue to live as we always have - and in some aspects still live in a healing process - oil and gas development would be like carrying a heavy rock all the time. So you see, apparently the will of the people is not good enough for the Member for Porter Creek East.
Our people are of one mind and one voice on the issue of the North Slope. We will not endorse any non-renewable resource development. Am I now hearing that the side opposite is once again supporting oil and gas development in the calving grounds of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge and the Yukons North Slope? The Gwichin, as a people, are not interested in non-renewable resource development. I cannot make this clear enough.
Of what benefit are such developments to a community such a mine? What morality has any of this type of development ever had? They come in and they get rich quick and they get out, leaving the land drained and damaged and exploited. That program is not our proposed path for our future and I, as one of the spokespersons for the people, will never endorse any development that will hurt our land, its animals or its people at any level.
The Members seem to think that Old Crow is further from being self-sufficient. When was the last time any of the PCs Members were in Old Crow to see our healthy little village as it is now? Well, I say to you that the people of Old Crow are very self-sufficient. They have been so for thousands for years. Our people have always been self-sufficient and are much moreso nowadays.
We want to assist each other in making sure that no one goes without food, shelter, or basic necessities of life. That is our culture. In modern terms, the neglect by the previous government has added years of exercise in doing without and, still, my people have survived. The Member for Whitehorse Riverdale North is quite correct in stating he has heard me thank the government for all the things done in Old Crow. He apparently finds such service to the public as foreign to his nature. I believe history proves this observation correct.
I look forward to continuing to thank the present government for real service provided to real people. I will thank them for health programs; I will thank them for education. Speaking of which, I believe education is a fundamental key to self-sufficiency and self-government. That is why we need the new college. I will thank them for sustainable economic development without environmental devastation. I realize this will not fit in with the Oppositions economic development policy of: If we cannot sell it, kill it anyway. For this, I thank the government.
We have heard of the alternatives offered by the side opposite. Not only will heads roll, but positions, such as secretaries, which the Member for Porter Creek East demeaned in his comments last Thursday, will no doubt be exterminated. With the Members past record, one wonders whether Indians and vocal women will be far behind?
Prior to my election in this House in 1985, Old Crow was a sad place. It was a town forgotten way up north. The town was normally under three feet of water in the spring time. Large rocks have been dumped everywhere all over town, and those were supposed to be roads. The previous governments solution to the sewage problem was to issue yellow garbage cans. These unhealthy conditions were reflected in the morale of the community. Once the New Democrats formed the government, in 1985, much happened in that community.
There were jobs created; there were several small businesses that have started up and are running well at this point in time; old buildings were renovated and cleaned up; landscaping was started; a new nursing station was built, and four or five people are now working there. Very few people are on welfare. Our social strategy, which we developed ourselves, is now being implemented. These include treatment camps, ongoing education in healing. My village is much happier now than they have ever been in a long time.
We have a school that we built, and where we have our own language teachers. Our children are being taught in our language and learning their traditions. The Member opposite seems to take the position that it is either his way or just plain wrong. He would like to take credit for the rebuilding of the school when he was a Member of the previous administration. Since the school had burned down, it was big of him to allow the rebuilding of the school, as if we did not have the right to education. Of course we have to have a school. Any government is obliged to rebuild a school that has burned down. I believe there was a Member for Old Crow in that administration at the time, who was instrumental in seeing the school rebuilt.
Let us give credit where credit is due. While forming the government, the Members were not seen in my village. It is nice to see some consistency in that now they are the Opposition, they still are not seen in my village. Yet these same Members claim to voice the concerns of the people.
The Member for Porter Creek East has noticed that I refer to myself as a First Nation Vuntat Gwichin first. He is very observant of that. I am and I will go back into this earth as such. No one can ever deny me that right. Until the Canadian government recognizes the rights of indigenous people within the Constitution of this country and there is equal ownership of resources and land subject to First Nation government, maybe I will be happy to consider myself as an equal partner in this country called Canada.
Mr. Speaker, I conclude my comments. Thank you.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move
THAT the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne be engrossed and presented to the Commissioner in his capacity as Lieutenant Governor.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader
THAT the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne be engrossed and presented to the Commissioner in his capacity as Lieutenant Governor.
Motion agreed to
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Speaker: Government Bills.
Bill No. 16: Second Reading - continued
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 16, standing in the name of Mr. McDonald. Debate adjourned, the Hon. Mr. Webster.
Hon. Mr. Webster: You may recall that I was cut off last Thursday afternoon most unceremoniously. You may recall that I was talking about the policy of decentralization. I remarked at that time about the criticism we had received from the Opposition about the decentralization policy of this government. We were accused of being an uncaring government in that we do not care about the well-being of its employees and especially of those in positions that were to be moved to rural communities.
There were claims from the Members opposite that it would be too expensive to provide office space and housing. They claim it will cost millions and millions of dollars.
I made brief mention of the report that was filed by the Advisory Committee on Decentralization, which everyone demanded to see months ago. Upon its release last week, no one has even referred to it. I just want to refer to it briefly to give an idea of the work that has been completed by this committee, including its report on the subject of decentralization. They write that the purpose of the report is to outline proposals for increasing government employment and with it, population bases in communities outside of Whitehorse, by means of major government decentralization moves. The objective is, they claim, to more equitably share the benefits of government employment throughout the Yukon.
The main thrust of this report was to present options showing which units or departments could be moved from Whitehorse.
Just looking at the Department of Renewable Resources, from which I am sure some 110 members of this government will be very interested in learning about the plans suggested in this report, the main conclusion of this committee was that the entire department could be decentralized. At that time there were 91 employees.
This committee developed three scenarios on decentralization. The first was maximum decentralization - scenario number one. They recommended that the Department of Renewable Resources, with 91 positions, be completely moved to the community of Dawson City. That was 91 positions out of a total of 328 total positions under scenario number one.
Scenario number two, entitled medium decentralization, recommended for the Department of Renewable Resources, with 91 positions, that the entire department should be moved to Dawson City. In that particular scenario, 241 positions were being considered.
In scenario number three, minimal decentralization, it included a total of 172 employees of the government whose positions would be moved to rural Yukon communities. Again, the recommendation was that the entire Department of Renewable Resources, with 91 positions, would be moved to Dawson City.
They cautioned that these scenarios may take into consideration criteria noted in other parts of the report and there are a lot of considerations and additions to those noted. One of them, of course, is the time frames. A number of obstacles would impede a speedy implementation of decentralization. The major one would be the availability of office space, housing and auxiliary buildings in outlying communities.
They made an assumption that the government wants to make these implementation moves as painless as possible. This includes provision of an office environment of at least the same quality as that provided in Whitehorse. As high quality office space is not currently available in the target communities it must be constructed by either the public or the private sector.
It mentions that in Dawson City a detailed overview is required. The City of Dawson has pressured YTG for a number of years to comply with the historical development plan by moving the Community and Transportation Services mechanical workshop and the highway maintenance camp out of the city to the industrial area. If this was done a large piece of land would be available for an office building with a lot of parking space.
Based on that information, they concluded that, without moving too deeply in this area, suffice it to say that a minimum of two years would be required to provide the building infrastructure for offices, housing and auxiliary buildings, commencing from the point planning has been completed and funds have been voted for this purpose.
That is, in a nutshell, the recommendations of the advisory committee on decentralization. Beginning in two years from now, the entire department, under all three scenarios, the Department of Renewable Resources would be moved to Dawson City. I do not know, quite frankly speaking, what costs would be involved in developing another area for the highway camp to move to, developing a building for office space for 91 employees. I do not know what it would cost to provide housing and to pay for all the moving. And I really have no idea the extent of the concern that would be voiced, I am sure, by the employees of the entire Department of Renewable Resources at the prospect of moving, all of them, to Dawson City.
But I really do not think they have made other considerations of the effect it would have on Dawson City and the infrastructure of a community that size. For example, the size of the school would have to be increased. Certainly they would have to increase the size of the school and have to do water and sewer extensions. What I am trying to say is the costs for such a program as recommended would be really too much to calculate. I am really pleased to see that our initiative, as announced last week in this House, over a three-year period involving over 100 government jobs, is really, in comparison, a model of common sense. I believe it is sensitive towards the people who work in the service of the public.
I would like to address a few criticisms that were raised by the Members opposite, dealing first with the growth in bureaucracy or the growth in government. The Members of the Opposition, in almost every utterance in this Assembly over the last several sessions, have alleged that the Yukon government has experienced an unprecedented growth in bureaucracy in recent years. The bureaucracy to which they refer never has a human face. They talk about disembodied person years in education as if they are some sort of mindless machines to plug into the system only to drain taxpayers pockets. There are new person years in education this year: 53 of them. All those person years will be filled by people, 20 of them teachers. Most of the rest of the position years are not going to be filled by nameless paper pushers but by custodians, returning to learning instructors and school secretaries. Eighteen of the public school teaching positions are not new at all but are conversions of contract positions to full-time positions. That simply means that 18 aboriginal language teachers instructing in schools throughout the territory now have formalized positions within our education system. I do not know which of these positions the Opposition would have us cut.
It strikes me as strange that the Opposition personalizes these positions that they would like to see added to the government, the most recent being a request for a fetal alcohol syndrome coordinator, but depersonalizes those people who are actually hired by the government to teach our children or to look after our senior citizens.
The opposition is crying that government is growing. Well, of course it is growing. Of course it is growing. Our population is growing. We have a strong economy here, and a stronger economy means an increase of population, it means more programs, it means more services to serve those additional people and consequently, yes, you do need more person years for the growth of government.
The Leader of the Official Opposition speaks about the growth of government, and I want to quote him on page 80 of the Hansard. There is a lot of money being spent by this government, but most of it seems to end up in a growing government, a government growing in leaps and bounds. On page 79, he states, They are going to squeeze off the private sector, and everybody is going to work for the government.... If they had their way ..., and I imagine he is talking about the government, ... there would not be a private sector job in the Yukon, or Canada, or quite possibly the world. I know that is a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the intent of his message. We will all dance down to this wonderful world where there is nothing for anybody but government, government, government.
Later on, he claims, and I am quoting again from page 80 of the Hansard, We must have a government that will provide incentives for businesses, incentives for mining - that awful word, mining ... It is quite a joy to hear the Opposition make those comments about the growth of government, and there is nothing but government jobs here in the Yukon, and how we should support mining. I want to remind him of this governments record over the last six years and our support for the mining industry.
We have reduced taxes for fuel for offroad use for the mining industry - five cents a litre off fuel oil, 4.2 cents a litre off gasoline. Incidentally, that was one of the first things our government did when it came into office in 1985. We established the Yukon mineral exploration incentives program; contributed funds to support the first two Dawson City gold shows, which I am pleased to report is operating quite successfully without any financial assistance from government. We have revived and enhanced the prospectors assistance program; established a resource transportation access program, which many large and small mining companies have tapped into. In the past, and perhaps even now, we have contributed to the Klondike Placer Miners Association and the Yukon Prospectors Association to assist their active role in fostering the growth of our mining industry. These are hardly all government jobs.
In conclusion, we have assisted the diversification and decentralization of the mineral sector through the support of geological surveying, the Yukon minerals incentive program, RTAP and the EDA. We have been assisting the development of mineral resources in all regions of the Yukon, and the development of diversified mineral products.
The second item I want to make a comment on, for which we were heavily criticized by the Opposition is that of diversification.
The Leader of the Official Opposition said in his speech last Thursday, in Hansard on page 80, I feel that there has to be more done in the communities.... There has to be a sense of encouraging the private sectors and individuals to build businesses...
Let us look at the record of this government in the last six years. Let us look first of all to the support for diversification and decentralization of the renewable resources sector.
This government has supported numerous projects based on all of the Yukons natural resources and in every community. Some more prominent examples are: Arctic char farming, salmon roe and caviar processing, salmon speciality products, fish plants, game farming, fur enhancement program, sod farming, northern seed stock development, greenhouse food production, food processing and bottled water.
With respect to support for diversification and decentralization of the manufacturing sector, our government contributed, I believe, a great deal in this area. We supported projects such as a roof truss plant in Haines Junction and Whitehorse, northern windows, cabinet manufacturing, furniture manufacturing, pottery manufacturing, clothing design and manufacture.
There are some examples of how this government has contributed, in a variety of ways, to diversify our economy and also to assist our rural communities.
I guess what was of concern to me, representing a rural community, were the remarks made by the Leader of the Official Opposition with respect to the situation in rural Yukon communities. On Thursday in his speech, with reference to this area, he said, and I quote: You talk to people who want to get involved in business and find something they can do, whether it is related to tourism or whatever, and a feeling of real hopelessness comes through. They cannot get anything going, for example, with regard to a hotel in Mayo. Though people have been trying, they have been thwarted in each and every one of their attempts.
Now that is what he says about diversification of business and economic activity in the communities, despite what I just read into the record.
I want to read into the record what our support has been over the past five years for community-based economic development. We have assisted Indian bands and communities to employ economic development workers to assist in further planning and initiation of community-based economic development. We have located business development offices in each region of the territory, along with six government economic development officers in rural areas, to provide better assistance with economic development initiatives put forward by residents of rural communities.
We have established a community development fund, as a single source for community development in approving projects. Through block funding we have given communities greater control over the development of their infrastructure. The resource transportation and access program has also been used to assist community development and community-based economic development projects.
This is a very lengthy record, I would say, and a very substantial example of this governments assistance to encourage and diversify economic development in rural Yukon communities.
I would like to say a few words about the example that the Leader of the Official Opposition used in his speech last Thursday about the hotel in Mayo. Realistically, the private sector is not going to build a hotel in Mayo. As a matter of fact, the banks are not going to get involved. That is quite obvious. Who else but the government would get involved in such a venture? Naturally, it requires assistance from the government, and at quite some risk. I do not think the chances for success would be all that great.
We tried the same venture in Watson Lake with the Belvedere Hotel. We did try and when the government failed we were criticized. Of course, whenever something fails - a risk venture like that - the government is criticized.
Another example is the MV Anna Maria, which the Opposition always raises as another example of the mistakes and failures of this government in its attempts at economic diversification. I do not know how many more years they are going to use that example, but I think it is a good one to focus on. I think we had a good idea here in the MV Anna Maria. A lot of people thought it was a good idea. Reliving our history, travelling through the Yukon wilderness between Whitehorse and Dawson City on the boat attracted the interest of a lot of investors, Yukon businessmen who have been active here and successful for a number of years who put some money into it. Obviously, so did some banks, but obviously, not enough. This government had to loan some money to the owners of the MV Anna Maria, and yes, it had to give some public grant money to get this going. We thought it was a good idea, as many people did. We took a risk. When the risk failed we were criticized, even though this government assisted in any way possible, not only with grants and loans, but also with getting the boat up here. The Community and Transportation Services department helped a great deal. Because the private sector did not know how to design a boat, because the private sector did not know how to build a boat, because the private sector did not know how to pilot the boat, and the private sector did not know how to get the boat up here into Yukon waters, this government was blamed.
If we had of asked those questions of the proponent of this project we would have been accused of having too much red tape, trying to stifle a project, of not taking any risks, and not wanting to help rural Yukon.
On one hand we get criticized for not trying ventures such as this, but when you fail after taking such a risk, you are criticized again. That is the position on just about everything by the party opposite. They like to have it both ways. They like to speak out of both sides of their mouth. We have noticed that over the past four or five years. That is the position of the PC Yukon party, to the extent that PC no longer means Progressive Conservative. It has not meant Progressive Conservative for a long time. Progressive was dropped many, many years ago for obvious reasons. Recently, with Members on the side opposite tearing up their membership card in the federal Conservative Party, with members of their caucus defecting, some of their own members starting up new parties, people do not know if they all still the Conservative Party. The name of the Progressive Conservative Party has gone out years ago.
PC stands for something entirely different, as has been exhibited in this House for the last five years. It is the party of perpetual contradictions. On the one hand they put forward one position this government is taking and on the other hand they are criticizing it. Their position is diversification; they want us to take a risk and build a hotel in Mayo, but as soon as we do and fail, they are against it. That is the party of perpetual contradiction.
On decentralization, our government has been criticized since 1985 for not doing enough to decentralize government positions from Whitehorse to rural communities. We have done some decentralization since 1985, but this year we have done it in a major way by announcing a three-year program, and we are now criticized by the Leader of the Official Opposition for this stupid policy.
Another example is the question of the growth of government. On the one hand, they want devolution. Everyone knows that if devolution is to occur, the government will grow. In my department, for example, in the last year, the freshwater fisheries unit was devolved from the federal government to the Yukon government. Five positions came over because of that transfer. So, yes, the government grew by five positions. We also took on some new responsibilities recently, such as the establishment of an environmental protection unit, which gave us another three positions.
From what I have heard from the side opposite, I think they are in favour of those new responsibilities and the devolution of the freshwater fishery and, through having heard from the Member for Watson Lake, I think they are in favour of devolution of forestry from the federal to the territorial government. But, on the other hand, the party of perpetual contradictions says that we should not increase the size of government. I do not know how that can be done.
Let us take a look at where the party of perpetual contradiction stands on financial responsibility. They are very much against the dependency on government and grant handouts. When they were in government, prior to 1985, the Yukon might as well have been called grant city and the government made no attempt to change that. That is when the dependency on government by the people of the Yukon really started.
What is their position on taxes? Taxes are a very interesting point because, back in the 1982 and 1985 election campaigns, I can remember people from the PC Yukon party...
Speaker: Order please. I would like to remind the Member he has three minutes to conclude.
Hon. Mr. Webster: ...saying that if the NDP ever got into power there would be territorial taxes right away. It is very ironic to see that the only tax we are going to get around here in the form of a territorial tax is that imposed on us by the federal Tory government.
Apparently, the Members opposite are against the introduction of the GST and have voiced this in a motion in this House. However, I heard the leader of the party of perpetual contradiction say on the radio two weeks ago say that they are all in favour of the GST.
I could talk about social issues as well. The party of perpetual contradictions have come out in favour of increasing some programs and services as long as it does not add a person year.
As for day care, who knows? I can recall during the last territorial election campaign one Member of the caucus opposite put forward her policy on child care, which was contradicted the next day by the Leader of the Official Opposition. Again, we do not know where that party stands on so many issues. That is why they are now officially known as the party of perpetual contradiction.
I can say the same thing about the comments made by the Leader of the Official Opposition about the lack of direction of our government. It is really ironic that he would raise that considering we ran on a platform in 1985 on economic improvements, diversification, and we met that. In 1989, we ran a different platform and switched to social issues and finishing land claims. We have a policy in place; we have a platform; the economic and conservation strategies have all given us some direction with the input from the Yukon public. It is very ironic that the Leader of the Official Opposition would put that position forward when they clearly have no direction. That is what the voters told them in 1985 and again in 1989.
In the last minute I have available to me, I want to reiterate that this budget is another fine budget that involves no taxes, does not increase the government spending above that of the inflation rate. It adequately addresses all the goals that this government wants to achieve. I can say with a great deal of confidence that the measures put forward in this budget will address the needs of all people in the Yukon.
Mrs. Firth: I will be brief with my comments in response to the budget speech. I want to emphasize the point I was making earlier this afternoon. I guess the two messages that governments want to get out in their budget speeches are: one, we are going to have a balanced budget, and two, there is going to be no increase in taxes. That seems to be what people are looking for first, and it seems to be what the government is bending over backwards to present so they can reassure everyone they are operating their books in a fiscally responsible way.
I want to go through the news release that the Minister of Finance presented to the media. This is information going to the public, which will help the public understand the figures and get the real facts and truth that this government likes to pat itself on the back for presenting, while challenging the Opposition Members for not presenting that information.
We look at the first sentence. Fiscal responsibility is the key to a balanced budget. This government is patting itself on the back saying how fiscally responsible they are. The first statement the Minister of this government makes is that the proposal of the government is to spend $355.7 million during this 1991-92 fiscal year. Then they compare it to last year and say they spent $370.1 million last year. So the Minister talks about the reduced budget representing their continuing policy of responsible financial management. Blah, blah, blah; toot, toot, toot.
We get the briefing from the department officials, which makes reference to the surpluses that the government is announcing. There is not one word mentioned in this opening statement that there are outstanding matters like: the Yukon Government Employees Union contract to be negotiated; the teachers contract to be negotiated; the college contract to be negotiated; or the RCMP contract to be negotiated, which we were told by the officials is going to eat up about $15 million.
When you compare the budget last year with the budget this year, they are both probably going to be the same. When you add the supplementaries that come forward this year, and I know there will be more supplementaries come forward, it will probably exceed the $370.1 million. For the Minister of Finance to refer to this as his reduced budget, representing the continuing policy for fiscal restraint, it can hardly be believable when you start adding up the figures.
They go on to say how they have had to make accommodations; they talk about the fiscal restraint that the federal government has decided to impose upon the people, and how they have managed to give us all these great things in the Yukon without increasing territorial taxes.
Now, we have not yet started through the budget this year, so we have not had an opportunity to examine every department in detail. In past years, though, when we have examined the departments we have found, for example, that fishing licence fees were increased. That is a form of increased taxation. I believe that happened last year.
Then, we had a huge debate about the licence plate issue, and we found out that the licence plate fees were going to increase by a huge amount of money. That is another form of taxation. We may find something like that this year, and we may not. I think it is fair to put the Members on notice that we will be looking for that when they make their claim that there have been no tax increases. We will be looking for areas where licensing fees may have been increased.
They give the big scary message to the public about how much less money we are going to have from the federal government. They start talking about all the good things they are going to do. They then make the big announcement that, in the end result, they have this balanced budget that is fiscally in balance to the needs of the Yukon people.
I have to use as an example the Health and Human Resources budget, because this is one budget that we have had a lot of debate and discussion about through the Public Accounts Committee and with the Minister in the Legislative Assembly. In the briefing, the officials explained the increase in costs in the health budget. First of all in the budget book, there is going to be a two percent increase in the health budget.
All the time the Minister stood up last session and talked about how health care costs were increasing, and how they had no control over it, and how the department had to look at taking steps to improve budgeting, and how it was harder and harder to predict and control health budget forecasts, and how adequate they have been. I took a quick glance through the health budget, and everything is going up: utility grants to seniors, income supplements, chronic disease recipients, health costs. We have a couple of new programs, day care costs are up, and kids in care are up. All the health care costs are up, but the budget is only going to increase by two percent.
The officials then explain to us that, actually, when you subtract the capital costs for the extended care facility, which is the three point whatever million dollars identified in the budget and is now going into the Yukon Housing Corporation budget for a long term care facility for $5.2 million, the health budget is only going to go up by one percent.
I ask you, all the public wants is accurate, trustworthy and useful information they can follow, not half on one side, half on this side, six of one, half a dozen of the other kind of financial management information that this government is bringing in here and trying to pass off as a well-balanced budget with no tax increases, yet providing more services to Yukoners.
I would like to make an appeal to the government to reconsider the kind of information it is bringing forward and that is being passed on to the public. I listened to the Minister of Finance on the radio the other morning. This was the Ministers opportunity to get his message out to the public. He was going to tell everyone about his great budget. The reporter asked the Minister one simple question, which was where are the spending cuts occurring? I think people have the right to know that. Where are they getting the extra money?
We got this answer from this smooth talking Minister. He said they had focussed their expenditures - whatever that means to the people of Ross River or Teslin - we have shaved in various areas. Then the reporter and the Minister got into a little thing about shaving and close shaving. There was still no answer on where they got the money.
The Minister then said they cut some luxuries. I believe he said they had some luxuries. They cut some luxuries, some little things. The reporter asked like what, like telephone and travel?
Well, how credible is that information to the Yukon public? People in my constituency heard the Minister saying this and they were just in awe of the information he was presenting. He never brought forward one fact, not even one intention of explaining to the people where they were reducing their spending, after he had made this big announcement about how the budget was going to be $355 million, compared to $370 million in his reduced budget. But he could not give us one fact, not one fact, to show where he could put claim to this financial management of his, this fiscal responsibility.
I want to alert the Members that we will be examining the budget very, very thoroughly, that our expectation is like the expectation of the public: we want accurate information; we want open and forthcoming responses to the questions; and we want trustworthy information. The government has a responsibility to defend its policies and its positions and its decisions and the information that it brings forward so that we can make a true and a honest comparison of this governments track record when it comes to the management of the budget.
I do not think that is an unreasonable request from the taxpayers of the Yukon and from the public. I do not think it is unreasonable at all that the government, instead of trying to make things sound good or make them sound better than they may really be, just come out and tell everybody what the truth is. That is all we ask.
I look forward to debating the budget and I look forward to the the Members doing some soul searching when it comes to the kind of information that they are going to come and present to this Legislature. Thank you.
Ms. Hayden: What I have learned over the past few days of debate is that, like the old cliche, it is indeed possible to please some of the people some of the time but absolutely impossible to please all of the people all of the time. Perhaps that is as it should be in a democracy. The Oppositions role is to oppose and oppose they most certainly do, and sometimes quite indiscriminately.
We are accused of not running this government properly if we do decentralize and we are accused of not serving the people of the Yukon if we do not diversify the economy. We are accused of mismanagement if we do not offer government services on a broad scale and we are accused of mismanagement when we deliver these services. Yet still, the Members opposite repeatedly make requests for programs, policies and person years that, if implemented, would mean even greater costs and a larger government payroll. Perhaps that is their job too.
In the midst of this, however, are the very real needs of very real Yukon people: people with children to raise or parents to care for, people with homes to pay for or with no homes at all, people with hope and laughter in their lives and people with no hope at all.
This government has accepted its responsibility to implement and deliver programs and services on behalf of all the people of the Yukon. We recognize we must play a lead role in diversifying the economy if the economy is to remain stable, if it is to meet the needs of our people.
This government has promised to help and is helping by facilitating a partnership type of relationship between the public and private sector. We are providing infrastructure and support, and loans, to Yukon business. We understand how important jobs are - not just for purchasing power, although that is important, but jobs are important for the enhancement of the self-esteem and self-worth of our people. If you have lived on the other side of the economy for awhile, you know what it does to your self-image to be without work. A stable economy is the best insurance there is.
To build that stable economy means taking some risks, but this government believes that loan programs are needed to stimulate the private sector. There is some risk that the private sector cannot or will not undertake, but which may be necessary to achieve diversification and economic growth and stability. These risks may be related to the establishment of a business in rural Yukon. They may mean backing first-time business people in Whitehorse or in rural communities. These are prospective business owners who are traditionally disadvantaged in terms of access to financing. Women, for example, are traditionally at a disadvantage when seeking private sector financing, yet research shows we are some of the best small business people around.
Risks may also mean supporting the development of innovative ideas, and risks may mean supporting economic development in areas that are tailored to the north.
Surely the time has come when we can look at living in the north as an advantage. We can turn our thinking around from always feeling at a disadvantage to one of looking for the advantage in circumpolar services and industries, for example.
We have much to offer our polar world, including our creativity, knowledge and learning, not only in our college, but in our long experience, long years of living in this subarctic territory. There is no doubt that we love our part of the world. There is no chauvinist like a northern chauvinist. I use this word in its original meaning.
Why would we not take risks to better the lives of northerners? It makes sense. Many Yukon businesses have benefited from government loan programs. We have invested over $7 million in people who had business ideas for the Yukon. The creativity and ingenuity is here. It just needs to be nurtured. So often we just hear about the failures but figures show that only 3.5 percent of loans have failed, compared to institutional lenders whose loss rate is two to three percent on what are considered to be safe loans by the private sector lenders - private sector lenders, whose sole purpose is to make money on their loans. The word safe means that it will bring back more money to the lender. It brings to mind that several years ago one of the safest so-called stock investments was in private homes for old people.
Owners of these places made money, not only by providing a needed facility, but by charging a little bit less than some other homes, and providing almost no service at all.
There have been too many cases of true exploitation of someones parents and grandparents, and of the people who paid for their so-called keep in the cause of safe investment. I use this example to explain that safe does not always mean good or even better, and certainly not best. Let us face it. We will not have growth and diversification without some risk taking and, without growth and diversification in tight economic times, we will not have jobs.
There are many ways to help communities. Whole communities, including Whitehorse, have benefited from this governments community development fund. It is one of the most direct ways of meeting a communitys, a neighbourhoods, or a societys need. Often creating jobs, a new or renovated facility, and a very vital sense of accomplishment for those who have seen the project through from start to finish.
We sometimes forget that our complicated society does not often lend itself to the satisfaction of seeing a project through from concept to completion. All communities benefit from government spending. This government has not grown unreasonably when we consider the services being brought to the people of the Yukon in terms of education, language agreement implementation, health care, libraries, social services, aboriginal justice programs, and many other programs. Yet, we have achieved a balanced budget with no tax increases.
As an MLA in Whitehorse, I am pleased this budget has made provision, once again, for work on a Capital City Commission. Fifty thousand dollars was budgeted for the project last year, and the same amount has been set aside in this budget. We have the opportunity to enhance Whitehorse as a capital city, one the whole Yukon can be proud of. Personally, it is my hope that, for example, the waterfront can be developed as a people area, with walkways, small shops, benches and historic artifacts to attract tourists in just a comfortable riverside space. Other cities do it - perhaps we can, too.
Parks could be built in the downtown area. Land suitable for parks could be used for parks, and not office buildings, other commercial development, or parking spaces.
We are a community of neighbourhoods, and neighbourhoods are people, real people. We are not just population statistics to be manipulated for perceived political gain.
Much has been said about the increasing violence in our city. I, too, am concerned. One of the things Whitehorse can learn from other cities mistakes is that we must keep the downtown residential, as well as commercial. People living in an area 24 hours a day, seven days a week, help keep it safe for others who merely shop or work there.
Many government departments spending is people-oriented, too. We are investing in healthy communities with projects like the Skookum Jim AIDS awareness program, health investment fund, support for nonprofit groups like churches, service groups and child cares, the education appeal tribunal, aboriginal justice programming, family violence prevention programs, and many others. The visitor reception centre will benefit both tourism and trade in Whitehorse and throughout the Yukon.
As well, work will be done on the Two-Mile Hill. The fire truck to the Golden Horn area will be replaced and there are many improvements to the Whitehorse library. Schools in Whitehorse, Jack Hulland and Selkirk Street School in particular, have been renovated and the South Highway school has been constructed. No doubt parents in Porter Creek are looking forward to the construction of a new elementary school there.
Provision has also been made for renovation to Macaulay Lodge and for equipment for the communications disorders clinic.
I have touched on just a few of the projects in this budget that will benefit Whitehorse. There are many more.
All in all, I have to say that this government has done a good job developing a budget that is balanced while continuing to provide top services to the people of the Yukon without raising taxes. The sign of a responsible government is one that can keep program expenditure in line with the rate of inflation in spite of a growing population and a growing demand for more and more services.
This government has again managed to walk the line between meeting the needs of the people of the Yukon and being fiscally responsible. The budget is directed at meeting the four priorities: land claims, building a sustainable economy, investing in healthy communities and ensuring good government. These are the areas the people of the Yukon told us are their priorities. There is more than $2 million to support the implementation of land claims. This money is earmarked for a training trust fund, outfitter compensation, fish and wildlife enhancement trust, band-by-band negotiations and the implementation of boards and councils.
This government is living up to its commitments to build a sustainable economy through other programs, such as the business incentives program, museum program and airport upgrading.
In Whitehorse, over $2 million has been budgeted for the construction of a new visitor reception centre. There is $150,000 in funding set aside to host the 1992 Arctic Winter Games in this city. A paper recycling project in Whitehorse is receiving $60,000. Another $100,000 will be used to clean up abandoned metals in the territory. Any of you who have heard about the hundreds and perhaps thousands of oil drums abandoned around the territory over the years know how important this is. We all know how disconcerting it is to think you are in the midst of a pristine wilderness and suddenly discover someone elses garbage.
I want to conclude my remarks by saying I am looking forward to the challenge ahead of us in the coming months and years. It is a challenge to truly represent all Yukon people and meet the change the 1990s will inevitably bring. I am confident we can all work together to build a more caring, compassionate, non-racist, non-sexist, accepting Yukon society - a society that is accepting of all people: male, female, aboriginal, Caucasion, people with disabilities, old or young, rich or poor, shoppers and street people - and one that also accepts newcomers to our country and to our society.
Hon. Ms. Joe: I would like to first of all thank my colleague, the Minister of Finance, and his department for the excellent job they have done with this budget, which has suffered cutbacks from the federal government, cutbacks that are very real regardless of what the side opposite says. If you have an increase to a transfer payment, it is not due to the commitments made under our old formula but rather because this government has worked to devolving programs such as the airports and roads from the federal government to the Yukon government. We have been able to live within our means while continuing to maintain our level of service. The Minister of Finance should feel very satisfied in the way he has managed to bring a budget before this House that is fiscally responsible. Not only has he been able to hold off on any tax increases but has also been able to present a balanced budget. This is what good financial management is all about. Everywhere in the country there is concern over the economy due to the recession that is being created by the Conservative government, but here in the Yukon we are able to continue with a good healthy economy and Yukoners can be hopeful that this trend will continue.
During the past week, we have heard a lot of talk about the growing government. I would like to know why the side opposite would feel that government employees do not contribute to the economy and social well-being of the Yukon. The population of the Yukon is growing and this government is acting accordingly. We have developed new programs, we have implemented programs, we have hired new people and those people are there to do a good job. Are the Conservatives saying that the employees are not worth more than the mining industry or the tourism industry? We are not talking about person years, we are talking about people - people who live here, have homes here, raise their children and work right here in the Yukon. There are many new businesses right here in the Yukon. Right here in the Yukon, we can see a small mall being built, new stores opening up, many businesses expanding. I cannot imagine why business people would be doing so well if it were not for the people here in the Yukon. The side opposite have been questioning the person years as if they were just figures on a piece of paper. These are real people. They are doing real jobs and they are helping with the economy here in the Yukon. I am telling Mr. Performer that he has done a good job, and I am very proud to be a part of his group here.
The Member from Porter Creek East stated during his response to the Speech from the Throne that we do not fire employees but instead we give them another job in the public service, such as a secretary. This statement shows that in fact the Member from Porter Creek East has some biased opinions about secretaries. His belief is that secretarial positions are the lowliest positions anyone could want to aspire to. This belief is not shared by myself nor is it shared by the secretaries of this government. A presentation has been made to me regarding his statement and I must tell this House that the secretaries found his comment neither funny nor particularly amusing. The Member opposite has in fact demeaned and degraded a particular segment of the public service that I appreciate and I am grateful for their long hours and dedicated service.
The Member for Porter Creek East may make comments about the treatment of our employees by this government but I can tell the Members of this House that between himself and the Member for Hootalinqua, who wants to roll heads, the members of the public service can thank their lucky stars that these two individuals are not running this government.
The Member for Porter Creek East has made statements in this House and I quote, Quite frankly, as a member of the public, I am saying this publicly to the Members across the way, there is a growing resentment in the general populace that any time there are any real issues dealing with the general Indian population, if one raises a question about it, the Government Leader or the front bench jumps up and says, you are anti-Indian.
The aboriginal people will never forget things that happened in the middle 1970s. It was reported by the Toronto Star that the Yukons brash 27 year old Education Minister, Danny Lang, was quite defiant about it. If the settlement of the Yukon land claims next spring excludes the majority of Yukoners, meaning whites, someone will get killed.
It also mentions, and I do not imagine he disputed it, that he was a member of the northern land research society, which opposed handing land back to the Indians, and that the societys membership at that time reached 1300 people. He mentioned that he was not a member of the society at that time because he was an elected Member of this Assembly. He said that if the land settlement justifies it, he would quit his job and start a citizens movement, I would hate to split the Yukon but I am sure we could get 8,000 behind us if we worked at it. And he talks about anti-Indian.
I remember the days, many years ago, and things have not changed with this Minister. He talks about our responsibilities here in trying to make people think differently, when he was the person who caused some of the bad relationships between the aboriginal people and the other sectors of society. Aboriginal people do not forget that. In those days he was the friend of a person who said that they should put a bounty on Indians and this very same person said that they solved the Indian problem in Newfoundland: they shot them.
I do not want aboriginal people of the Yukon ever to forget the kind of things that were being said, the kind of things that perpetuate the relationship between the aboriginal people and people like the Member for Porter Creek East. I do not think that he has any business telling us, as a government, how to do our job in regard to aboriginal people.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Ms. Joe: I sat here and I listened to the Member for Porter Creek East speak. I did not interrupt him. I listened to him and that is the way that I was taught in my culture.
The Member for Porter Creek East also says we should all be proud to be Canadians. What he does is encourages all the people in here of Indian ancestry to put the pressure on the government to stop blaming the Indian people for an action in such areas as this. I am not quite sure what he was talking about.
I had an experience last summer when I was in Norway, but I was embarrassed at that time to be a Canadian because they were likening this country to South Africa. I happened to be there when it was ordered by the federal government to sent the military into Oka. It was unbelievable. The people at an international level in other countries could not believe that that was happening. The news of that request by the federal government had reached the world council of indigenous people at that time and it was an international disgrace. I was embarrassed to respond to the media. It was such an important item to them and something so unbelievable that they asked me if I, as a Canadian, could be interviewed by a TV station and newspaper.
Then I thought of the kind of things aboriginal people have had to put up with since the government made the acts that legislated the movement of Indian people. I asked myself as I was growing up: why could I not vote? Was I not a Canadian like everybody else? Why could I not vote? I do not think very many people in this day and age realize that aboriginal people were not allowed to vote in Canada. It was not that long ago. I remember my parents not being able to vote.
He says we can thank Erik Nielsen. Hogwash. Hogwash. That is a bunch of baloney if I ever heard it. My grandmother would turn over in her grave.
When I look at the number of Indian inmates in our correctional centres right across Canada, I ask myself if I am really proud to be a Canadian. When I see the standard of living of the majority of aboriginal people I ask myself: is this Canada, is this a democratic country where everything is great?
As a Canadian aboriginal person, I cannot seek recognition of my aboriginal rights in the courts. I ask myself again, am I proud to be a Canadian?
The Member for Porter Creek East has no idea what it is like to live and experience the life of an Indian. He was not torn from his family as a small child to go into a world that was totally alien. He has never experienced the helplessness that aboriginal people face when trying to understand the decisions or the authorities that make decisions for them. He can never understand the feeling of an aboriginal person when you see people throwing rocks at them.
There are many white people in this country who were absolutely appalled at that, so appalled in the Yukon that a group of white people decided to stage a demonstration, and they did. There was much support for that.
I come from a small reserve in British Columbia. I have five brothers. I have three sisters. I have a father. There are two roads that go through our small reserve, two public access roads, and one that goes right through the reserve.
I come from a very passive group of people. We like to get along with people in this world. I like that. I think it is the way we should be. In support of Oka, they agreed they would put gates up, not at the public access roads, but on roads going directly through the reserve. The only people who would have access to it were people from the reserve. There was great resentment about that, not from the people who lived there, because they could get in, but from the people who decided they did not care for the reserve and had no respect for the land. They could not drive through as they used to and have parties. They wrecked the graveyard. They broke headstones, pulled up flowers and plants and left a sign that said to the living people of the reserve, die, Indian scum. He wants to know if we are proud to be Canadians.
I went through that graveyard. I saw what they did to a tombstone that had been there since 1897. It had been broken into three pieces. I do not think he has ever had to put up with that kind of stuff in his life. I can stand here and say that I am proud of this country. I am proud to be an aboriginal person of this country. But, before anything else, I am an aboriginal person.
During my visit to Norway, I was invited as an aboriginal Canadian to attend the womens conference for the international indigenous women. The objectives of the conferences were not unlike those many native organizations work toward in Canada and the Yukon.
I have said in this House before that I do not practice or support violence. I supported a peaceful resolution to the Oka situation. I did not support the carrying of arms. I did not blame the people for doing it, but I did not support it.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Ms. Joe: If we are talking about people getting killed, the Member for Porter Creek East was ready to shoot Indians in 1975.
I was speaking about my recent trip to Norway. It has been a topic of discussion in this House. I attended the International Indigenous Womens Conference in Norway. The objectives of the conference are not unlike those of many aboriginal organizations. They included providing a forum for sharing, encouraging and supporting the efforts of indigenous women in setting up their own organizations and actively participating in indigenous peoples movements and womens movements. Another objective was to come up with a political platform for indigenous women the world over to participate in lobby work in international bodies such as the United Nations, to seek consultative or observer status in appropriate UN bodies and to forge solidarity relations with existing indigenous and womens groups. I was invited to that meeting and I chaired a whole day of it. I was able also to chair a workshop, along with some other workshops that were going on at the same time, and was able to make a speech during the plenary session on the global situation of indigenous people.
There has been criticism about my going to the conference. The fact is that no one ever knows how helpful those kind of exchanges will be. Very often, it has been of benefit to Yukoners, in an economic way. We encourage those conferences to be held here in the Yukon. We have encouraged many people to come over here and spend money. That is a good thing to look forward to: the exchange of ideas, the exchange of people and what they bring to this country.
The government recognizes the importance of other countries. In particular, circumpolar countries can offer to improve our quality of life here in the Yukon. It is not easy to build the healthy communities we envision and enjoy here in the Yukon, but we have gone a long way toward reaching our goals. Much of it has been with the help and consultations we have had with other countries. These are the countries that have the most to offer to us, and we have worked very hard at building a relationship with many of them. The relationship has been reciprocal. Many people have come to visit us, and they have left many dollars in the Yukon.
One of the examples is the Circumpolar Health Conference last year. I have no doubt in my mind that many other countries will come to the Yukon to hold conferences and spend millions of dollars. I do not think there is a hotel owner, a shop owner, or anybody else in the Yukon who will criticize something like that.
While the most stable in the country, our economy will undoubtedly require some tightening up in the next couple of years, but I feel confident that if we continue on with the trend we have been on, we will see the Yukon suffer a lot less than the rest of the country in terms of tax increases, recession, loss of services and budget deficits.
In my own department, we have felt some tightening of the belt but will continue to keep our priorities in order. Our commitment to aboriginal justice concerns will be reflected in the budget. We will also see some new development in French language programming. All Yukon legislation, statutes and regulations will be passed in both English and French, beginning January 1, 1991. The program will require an increase of three person years. The three individuals who will be involved in this process will find the program exciting and will benefit the French-speaking citizens of our jurisdiction.
In our agreement to ensure land claims as a priority, we will extend a lawyer position to be devoted to land claims issues, as well as devolution issues. In the coming months, land claims will be an important issue that this government will be working on. With our increased use of the justices of the peace, we have provided for an increase in the rates of pay, although these costs will be absorbed through reallocation of funds, and no additional funds will be required for these increases.
The victim/witness administration program will be expanded to all circuit court communities, which will be of extreme interest to the communities. The risk reduction project will continue with its commitment to reducing workplace hazards and injuries. The funds committed to this project will be 100 percent recoverable from the Yukon Workers Compensation Board. This program will also require three additional person years. The individuals involved in the risk reduction program will be working closely with the occupational health and safety branch and Workers Compensation Board in their determination to reduce workplace injuries.
A program has been developed in response to the needs of the Yukon workplace. We will complete the devolution of the mine safety program from the federal government in 1991-92. This will provide for an increase of $200,000 from the federal government as part of the devolution agreement. The services provided to the public through the consumer and corporate affairs, labour services, occupational health and safety, mine safety, public administrator, coroners office and land titles have increased significantly since the last fiscal year, and we expect the demand on these services will continue to increase. However, these increases will be accommodated within existing budgets.
New initiatives in our Public Service Commission in the training and development area will contribute to the commitment this government has to being a good employer. As I mentioned earlier today, we will be offering the opportunity for employees to participate in the Masters degree program through a cooperative effort between this government, Yukon College and the University of Alaska. The workplace wellness program is being enhanced to provide for a number of activities that will include wellness courses, noonhour health information, an information session and a wellness newsletter.
With the new employment equity policy, we can look forward to a public service that is much more representative of the Yukon population. We will continue to provide training opportunities for aboriginal people through the native training core, assist departments in making job accommodations for workers with disabilities, and reduce employment barriers to women. Achieving a fully representative workforce is a long-term goal but one that we will be pursuing vigorously in all departments in the coming year.
With a workforce survey completed this year, we will be able to have a look at our public service profile and enable our departments to identify human resource needs on an ongoing basis.
The Womens Directorate budget reflects a very minimal increase over the present budget. This department, while very small, has a huge mandate with which they do an exceptional job. The Womens Directorate has taken a lead role in the family violence issue, and their budget reflects our commitment to the public awareness initiative on family violence. Family violence, particularly violence against women, is a problem not just here in the Yukon but nationally and internationally. I recently attended a third meeting of the Commonwealth Ministers responsible for womens affairs, and one of their major topics was violence against women. I am pleased to say that there was much interest in the programs we have developed here in the Yukon.
We have set aside funds for a second annual conference on family violence, which will provide a forum of discussion on this very serious issue. We have also set aside funds for public awareness activities in the communities. The directorate will explore the possibility of a youth conference dealing with such issues as family violence, suicide and depression, and other issues that may be of interest to our youth. They are also going to explore a conference on women and aging. We will have some funds set aside for both these initiatives. We will also continue assisting the Yukon Indian Womens Association and their infrastructure program.
These are just a few of the initiatives that are provided by the Womens Directorate. I hope to be able to address all of the initiatives during our discussion on their budget. The activities of this department are viewed with interest when considering how much support they provide to the women of the Yukon.
The Workers Compensation Board will be constructing a new building with an occupancy date of October 1991. This new building will be constructed utilizing local materials and local employment, which will certainly contribute to the economy of the Yukon. I would also like to say that the Workers Compensation Board is going to host an international conference on victims of crime. This conference will take place sometime in May of next year, and I am pleased to inform this House that this will be an international conference with participants from communities in the Yukon.
That is an example of the kind of things you can do on an international level to improve the economy of the Yukon. I am pleased with the efforts of our Minister of Finance in providing this House with a budget that is balanced despite the recession of the national economy. I would like to congratulate that department for a job well done.
While I am on my feet I would also like to thank all those individuals in all my departments for the support they have given me in the last year. Many of the initiatives that I, as the Minister, have had, the kind of things we wanted to do and the programs we wanted to implement have been done through their hard work and dedication. There are a lot of individuals in this government who have contributed to making this a better place for Yukoners to live.
Mr. Nordling: After an initial look at the budget, I did not believe there would be much to say in reply. The government had presented a balanced budget - in reality a budget indicating a $15 million surplus, which the government rightly conceded would be used up by contract settlements, a new agreement with the RCMP and the inevitable supplementaries.
The budget itself outlined the priorities of the government, which may be somewhat different than the priorities of this side. However, that is allowed, because the people of the Yukon gave them the mandate to set those priorities.
The federal government had agreed to provide more money for the Yukon than in previous years, and there were supposedly no tax increases. All seemed right with the world without much for the Opposition to attack. For some reason these points were not enough for the front bench to hang their hats on. Perhaps they felt guilty about the way the figures had been presented, or perhaps they wanted a diversion from close scrutiny of those figures, so they got up, whining and crying, about how hard done by they were and how we had suffered cutbacks - that we would only receive $10 million more for the coming year, instead of the $20 million we would have received had the old formula continued, and how dastardly the federal government is. As I recall the original agreement signed in 1985, before the NDP came into power, was not meant to go on forever; it was an infusion of huge sums of cash to rebuild the faltering economy of the Yukon. It was to be for three years with an option to renew for two more years. There is a problem in Canada that this government refuses to acknowledge.
The Government Leader said in this House, and I quote him, The federal government has billions of dollars more than we do to give away. That is not true. The money given to us by the federal government is not part of a huge surplus it has; it is part of a multi-billion dollar deficit. In other words, the money we are being given is being charged against our children and grandchildren. They will be expected to pay back the money we are spending right now that we do not have.
The formula financing money apparently accomplished its goal to such an extent that at one point we were even talking or worrying about an overheated economy in the Yukon.
It bothers me, and it worries me, to hear the lack of responsibility and commitment this government has shown toward the rest of Canada and to our own future generations. The NDP government Members opposite are giving Yukoners the impression that they are a greedy, whining, sniveling and irresponsible group. I hope that is not true.
However, they are attempting to deceive Yukoners and, in their silly rhetoric about how hard done by Yukoners are, I do not think even their own party members believe them. I hope I have made it clear that my disgust is with the attitude of the Government Leader and the Minister of Finance opposite, and not with the budget itself. The budget contains many worthwhile programs and projects, a number of which have a direct impact on my riding of Porter Creek West. We appreciate that it is a balanced budget. It is too bad the federal government cannot achieve the same thing. I suppose the federal government could do it if they received a big, fat cheque that quadrupled its revenue without increasing its expenses. It may work for them, too.
We appreciate the money for the Jack Hulland School, and the fact that a new elementary school will be built in Porter Creek. We appreciate the fact that more teachers will be hired, because that should help with the quality of education for our children. The mammography machine and extended care facility, although long overdue and much promised, seem to be on line. The new visitor reception centre, and the establishment of a Capital City Commission, will be welcome additions to the City of Whitehorse.
My biggest concern with the budget, from the point of view of Porter Creek West, is the reduction in block funding for municipalities: cuts that will be between $500,000 and $1 million, depending upon who you talk to. Most of our concerns in Porter Creek West are municipal responsibilities, such as street lights and streets, especially in Crestview where the streets remain unpaved and poorly maintained. There has been a cut in funding to the City of Whitehorse. I assume the City of Whitehorse will bear the brunt of these cuts, and it may lead to the situation in Crestview being prolonged.
The lack of money in the Community and Transportation Services budget to improve safety and/or relocate access roads into Crestview, and improve safety along the highway through Porter Creek, is also of great concern to me. I have been asking the Minister, and the Minister has been promising to do something for several years. Anyone who has ever looked at these intersections in that area agree it is dangerous. I hope the Minister is not waiting for a major accident to convince his colleagues that money is needed in this area.
In conclusion, I hope the Minister of Health and Human Resources really does have health costs under control and the budget will really balance, but, given his track record of huge over expenditures despite large lapses in capital expenditures, I doubt that will happen.
I look forward to debating and examining the budget in detail in Committee of the Whole.
Mr. Joe: Once again, the Minister of Finance has put together a good budget for the people of the Yukon.
In my own riding of Tatchun, the community of Carmacks, the Little Salmon First Nation and the Selkirk First Nation have all been able to do new things because of the funding programs available from this government.
Our communities are better because of improvements to roads, grants that lead to jobs, preserve our heritage and protect the environment.
There has been a 35 percent increase in money for work on the Robert Campbell Highway. Many people have received business development grants and community development grants for work and projects in our communities.
I have been concerned for a long time about pollution of the Yukon River caused by the overflow of sewage from the City of Whitehorse. I am concerned about what this does to people who live along the river and who live in communities downstream.
For many years, I have been saying that we must all take time to work together to solve problems. Sewage is one of those problems. There are differences of approach to be worked out, but this government is willing to talk and to listen. I am sure that in the coming months something can be settled so that we can prevent more damage to our rivers.
This government has repeated its commitment to the aboriginal peoples of the Yukon. Aboriginal justice planning is moving ahead.
Last February I spoke in this House about the need for a change in the justice system we have. I spoke about the number of young people who are caught in a justice system they do not understand. The native people of the Yukon have known a better way. Traditional justice ways are better for the community. I am glad that there are steps being taken to reach some kind of understanding about aboriginal justice. The $55,000 for the aboriginal justice coordinator in the Department of Justice and the $93,000 to develop aboriginal justice pilot projects with Yukon First Nations are both positive steps.
A top priority of this government is settling land claims. There will be a land claims training trust and a fish and wildlife enhancement trust.
In Pelly Crossing, I was pleased to help develop group traplines and I am always happy when I can help with applications to the community development fund.
The Carmacks Development Corporation had $50,710 approved in the last year for store manager training. The Village of Carmacks received $17,000 for a community beautification plan. The Little Salmon/Carmacks Indian Band had more than $27,000 in CDF funding approved for the old telegraph wire clean-up and the Selkirk First Nation got three grants for ball park upgrading, display case construction, and the curling rink.
The business development fund is another way for government to work with people in the Yukon. It is good when government and business can cooperate in this way. Small business is important in all communities. Businesses like the Carmacks Hotel, the Carmacks Development Corporation and the Selkirk Development Corporation have all received funding from the BDF.
I am continuing to work with the Minister of Community and Transportation Services to have better street lighting in Pelly. Perhaps sometime in the future, we will also be able to talk about having some sort of community gardening space so that the elders will be able to work together in a garden project. If we have more positive activities in our communities, we will have healthier communities.
There are so many things that this government has done to build healthy communities. The Education Act has made it possible for communities to have more power in running schools. I want to congratulate the people of Carmacks, where the Tantalus school committee was the first in the Yukon to vote to become a school council.
I was also happy to attend the graduation of students from Tantalus School in June and to be on hand for the school and community awards at the Eliza Van Bibber School in Pelly.
The Minister of Community and Transportation Services has visited in my riding and spoken to people about improvements in the area. I thank him for his time.
The Premier also visited both Carmacks and Pelly, and the Minister of Renewable Resources was in town for the public meetings on the environment act.
Over $1 million in work will be done to upgrade the Carmacks airport. More residential, commercial and industrial land will be developed in Carmacks. In Pelly, the fire truck will be replaced and work will continue on streets.
In the announcement of decentralization plans, we learned last week that native language interpreter positions will be open in eight rural communities. This includes both Pelly and Carmacks.
Local residents have also been appointed to boards and committees. I want to congratulate Milly Johnson, who was appointed to the 12-member Yukon Recreation Advisory Committee earlier this year. I am pleased that the government has taken such an interest in the people in the Tatchun riding.
I am pleased that rural Yukon can depend on the government to support local activities. The future of the Yukon is bright and the people of the Yukon can look ahead knowing that the government has a balanced budget and there are no tax increases ahead - except for the Conservative GST that will make the cost of living here even higher than it already is.
We must not forget that it is this NDP government that has worked for a fairer society for everyone. We have brought in minimum wage, pay equity, employment equity, better child care, environmental programs, utility grants, language rights, literacy programs and many other improvements.
I also want to congratulate the members of the advisory committee at the Yukon College campus in Carmacks and the Little Salmon/Carmacks Indian Band on their plans to bring in a series of six resource people over the coming months. The first of these resource people is Bertha Blondin who will be in Carmacks for one week to lead a program in traditional counselling. Bertha is well known for her work in family violence and life skills training.
These are the kinds of programs that are good for communities.
To end, I want to say that I believe this is a responsible budget that balances the needs of the people in all communities. It will give a good start to the decade of the 1990s.
Speaker: The hon. Member will close debate if he now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is a pleasure to be able to speak once again to the budget and close debate on this very important subject. I have had an opportunity now to listen to some of the comments made by some of the Members from both sides of the House, and I can now appreciate for the first time how frustrating it can be for Members of the Conservative Opposition to hear this budget at this time. It must be irritating to them that the budget is balanced. It must be truly irritating that there are no tax increases associated with the budget, particularly since the tax burden has been reduced substantially since 1985 when the NDP took office.
The fact that growth in revenue was cut by $10.5 million and we are still able to balance the budget must be particularly galling for the Members opposite. It must be annoying as well that the O&M increases are less than inflation, as must be the fact that the inflation rate itself is less than the national average. When one considers the public accounts for the last year and the record of the previous years of NDP administration, each year shows a surplus which is doing nothing but accumulating a larger net surplus. That must be the most irritating fact about this whole budget.
The Members opposite, with the exception of a very few, have had next to nothing good to say about this budget in the last couple of days. It has been a frustrating time for the Conservatives and I understand that. But it has also been a frustrating time for the NDP government, listening to the Conservatives, not only today but over the course of the past few years. We have been trying to understand the focus of the Conservative Opposition. We have been trying to ascertain what their position is on spending, on taxes, on the growth of the O&M budget, on the growth of the capital budget, on the growth of person years, on the formula financing arrangement, on decentralization. We have been trying to figure out where they are coming from next. It is like trying to solve the riddle of the sands. The ground continually shifts, over and over again.
There are times when the Conservatives in the Opposition tell us to keep our spending under control. This is the good, conservative rhetoric, which we are used of hearing from their brethren and countrymen across the country. Talk to us about keeping the spending down. Do not interfere with the economy. Do not live beyond your means. Do not let those government wage budgets or the government wages exceed the private sector or even compete with the private sector. Cut social spending.
On the subject of spending we also get the message from the Members across the floor that the government of Yukon received money in 1985 through the good offices of the Liberal government of the day and the PC Yukon government of the day, so you have got to spend it. You have to spend it on the economy. And when you spend it, do not forget we are going to charge you with having your spending out of control simply because you are spending it. That is a contradiction we are going to level at you. While we were talking about cutting social spending, they also talk volumes about increasing social spending. They can make good rhetorical statements to their party faithful about how it is great to cut social spending and that is where the Conservative faithful really stand, and yet we can deal day after day in this Legislature with requests for more social spending on every single front. Does an extended care facility come free? Does the capital come free? Will the 40 people who will be staffing the extended care facility come free? Are we facing a situation in the not-so-distant future where we will build the extended care facility and staff the extended care facility only to find out that the Conservatives are accusing us of bloating the government, feeding on itself, increasing the person year complement? That contradiction is simply outrageous. And yet, the government of the Yukon, the NDP government, is desperately trying to determine where the Conservative Opposition stands.
Last year we passed a motion opposing the GST - to quote the federal finance committee chairperson, the gouge and screw tax.
We all agree that this tax was inflationary, is an administrative hassle, is unfair to the north. Yet at the same time we listen to a good friend of the Members opposite, the president of their party, give a spirited if not somewhat hollow defence of that very tax saying how good it was not only for Canada, but for Yukon. Where does the Conservative Opposition stand on something like the Goods and Services Tax?
We get a statement from the Conservative Members across the floor that the tax burden is already too high, taxes are too high, do not even consider the concept or possibility of raising taxes because the taxes are too high. The formula agreement, which the Members opposite have been championing and accusing us of being whiners when we critique that same formula agreement as a pivotal point - and that is my only comedy routine in this whole presentation - in the new formula agreement is that Yukon tax rates, according to the federal government, are too low. We should be raising our taxes in the Yukon.
This is the same formula agreement the Members opposite are championing. They think we should not be raising our taxes on the one hand, but are agreeing with a formula that has a major component penalizing us because we have not got high enough taxes. It provides a powerful incentive for us to increase our taxes. Where do the Members opposite stand on taxes? Where do Members opposite stand on the growth of the O&M budget? They have made a number of statements that O&M increases are, in and of themselves, bad. The Leader of the Official Opposition, in speechifying to the media, talked about O&M increases being bad and making the government bigger. Government feeding on government. Government just bloating and bloating.
This is coming from the same people, many of whom were in the front benches of the government only a few years ago, who experienced O&M increases in the range of 10 to 12 percent - clearly exceeding inflation each year, one after another. They have the gall to criticize this government for providing an O&M increase which is less than inflation, both this year and next year.
The Conservative Members opposite make demands daily. Unfortunately, I was really disappointed to hear the remarks from the Member for Porter Creek West this afternoon. I thought there would be one person I could reach throughout this whole mire of contradiction.
The Members opposite continually make spending requests in the O&M side every single day in this Legislature and criticize the Government of the Yukon for increasing its O&M spending and telling the Yukon public that the O&M spending is growing out of control.
The O&M spending is growing at a lesser rate than it was under the Conservatives, in their day. When it comes down to the detail of the number of people we provide, or the programs we provide, we have not yet been able to get the Conservative Opposition to disagree with things like increased number of teachers, the cost of education reform. If they did disagree, I would respect them for it. I would disagree with them, but I would respect them for it, because at least they are being honest.
Where does the Conservative Opposition stand on the growth of capital? In their view, this is the only spending that is good for the economy and that supports the private sector, in their view. It is as if nothing the government does on the operation and maintenance side helps the private sector; only the spending on the capital side helps the private sector. So, for gosh sakes, keep those capital budgets rising and increasing.
We then hear criticism that capital spending overheats the economy. For gosh sakes, do not overheat the economy; do not interfere with the marketplace; do not spend that money; spend the money; do not spend the money. They say if you spend too much on capital, you are going to entail some operation and maintenance increases down the road. Are you going to be irresponsible and spend more on capital when you know you have to spend more on operation and maintenance? Capital spending and government spending raises dependency. It is an artificial stimulant to the economy. You should not be spending it, even though we have the money. They are claiming total credit for getting the money. You have the money, but you cannot spend it because it is an artificial stimulant.
It brings new meaning to the Joni Mitchell song about Both Sides Now, does it not?
A growth of person years is a favourite tune amongst the Members opposite. The person years are bloating out of control. There is nothing worse than an extra person year, in terms of sound fiscal management and sound government action. There is nothing worse than another person year.
Presumably, they may be saying that we should hide people in employment contracts, like they did. Maybe they are not saying that. Who knows? Maybe they are saying we should not spend any more monies on person years, but direct those resources at the economy. You have to remember not to be an artificial stimulant, because anything that has to do with government spending is an artificial stimulant. When it gets right down to the details, we do not disagree.
Education has a whopping 50-plus person year complement in this budget. Terrible. The government is ballooning out of control. I am prepared to stand here and defend that particular estimate. I believe in it, I support it, I support the 20 extra new teachers, I support converting the 18-point-something native language instructions, who have always been on employment contracts and will now be given person year status as government employees.
There are a couple of extra custodians. There are a couple of extra school secretaries for the schools because we have been building schools around the territory, and have even expanded the school in Carcross. Even that entailed extra janitorial staff. We have provided person years for the student residence and special education. I want to hear, if they disagree with 117 person years, that they disagree with those or any others. I do not want to hear some general dishonest criticism of the governments growing number of person years without being prepared to be disagreeable about the details. It is dishonest.
Where do they stand on the Formula Financing Agreement? I always assumed that I could walk into this Legislature and, no matter what a persons ideology, I could always count on one of the first principles supported by any Member of this Legislature being that they supported fairness for the north. Many of the motherhood motions we have put through this House have had that principal feature to it: fairness to the north. We could all agree on the idea of fairness for the north. When it came to the Formula Financing Agreement, I had always assumed that because they took credit for negotiating this agreement in 1984 with the Liberal government, they would support it. I do not think this was a proper assumption. I think they did something they did not like. They got some extra money that was much needed for the Yukon government.
When the Minister of Finance or any Member of this government stands up to criticize the formula agreement we are accused of being whiners and snivelers. This is the same agreement that provides for greater cuts for the north than those inflicted on the provinces, on a per capita basis.
When I met with Mr. Wilson, the federal Minister of Finance, I said that if he wished to cut the expenditures in the north because there is a federal deficit problem, all that I would ask is that you be fair.
Presumably the Members opposite champion the concept that it is okay to cut the north proportionately more than the south. This is the same formula that explicitly penalizes the Yukon government for having tax rates that are too low. Are they advocating higher tax rates? They must be advocating higher tax rates because that is a principal feature of the formula agreement.
Is the Member for Porter Creek West, through his kibitzing now, suggesting that the formula agreement, which is being imposed now, and about which he is accusing me of being a whiner for critiquing, which shows we should be penalized for having tax rates too low, advocating higher tax rates?
Have they made that distinction themselves? No they have not. When they speak they do not think.
Before the session starts we hear that they want some action on decentralization. They say the rural communities need support and that we should get on with the job. They say as well that government involvement is an artificial stimulant to the economy and really is a bad economic influence. Nevertheless, let us get on with the job and decentralize those people as soon as we possibly can. Then we get into the Legislature. The policy is stupid, according to the Member for Hootalinqua. The policy is too expensive and should be even more expensive according to him. The four jobs in Carcross alone, according to his figuring, should be worth $1 million worth of capital program expenditures.
Good grief. Four jobs for $1 million in a rural community. Can you imagine? Carcross would have won the lottery if we had been spending money like that for the sake of four jobs.
Is there an assumption that decentralization is free, that we can simply decentralize personnel into communities that do not have personnel and it can all be done for no cost? Of course there will be a cost to it. Members are saying it is too expensive. They are obviously not supporting a cost as expensive as the one we proposed. We can only assume that if they are saying that $500,000 is too expensive, and they think $1 million is going to provide four jobs, they would be decentralizing at a snails pace if they were in government.
They are saying that government is becoming a bigger and bigger influence all the time. Pretty soon everybody is going to be working for the government. Then we had to endure that facile theme song from the A&W fastfood chain. The percentage of full-time YTG employees of the total labour force is less while we have been in office than it was while they were in office, only a few years ago. Would it have been appropriate, because when they were in office there were more public servants as a percentage of the labour force, for somebody in the Opposition to stand up and say that the Conservative government was leading the territory into some state where everybody worked for the government? It would not have been believable. But these people here are promoting this concept.
As the Minister for Justice indicated, the government is getting bigger. Why is it getting bigger? Because there is more population in this territory than there was when they were in government. There is more population because the economy is a whole lot healthier than while they were in government. Then we had the accusation of dependency on Ottawa, that the government of the Yukon is becoming more and more dependent on Ottawa, and they used that simple-minded fact that the dollar growth of the grant is larger, therefore we are more dependent.
Nonsense. Phooey. That is ridiculous. I really wish I could use stronger language. The dependency relationship is not growing, it is decreasing. What can they do? They have to try to pick on details. First, they misread the budget. Then they have all the people in the territory dancing around trying to figure out what kind of voodoo - to use their terminology - interpretation of the budget is coming out of the mouth of whatever Conservative frontbencher. Well, the way we are defining the budget is exactly the way the figures were being compared in previous years, compared to when they were in government. The form is comparable to when they were in government. They are accusing us of being deceitful. We can only assume that they now recognize their own deceit, if this is what they believe, and project it on the government of today. Well I can help put their minds at rest.
They were not being deceitful prior to 1985 with respect to the budgeting format, and the Government of Yukon today is not being deceitful. It is being quite straightforward.
I realize time is going fast. I have a number of other things I would like to talk briefly about. One of these things is the increased growth of the federal spending. They have taken the cover page of the budget, read the numbers, added up all kinds of different columns together and, in the end, they have decided we are getting $19 million more than we were before. The federal formula transfer agreement is up $22 million. That is obvious. I tried very hard to explain to the honourable people across the floor in particular - I do not want to put the press and the hon. people across the floor in the same statement, as it would not be fair to either - that the $22 million increase has at least half of it accounted for by the new transfer of the inter territorial road program and Arctic B and C airports program, through to the transfer payments and out of recoveries, recoveries being contract services.
The only difference is we are now responsible through the transfer payments. It does not mean the federal formula transfer is up $22 million. It means it is up only half of that now.
Perhaps it does not fit in with the PR strategy of the Members opposite. They made a decision. Let us keep repeating this because, if we keep repeating a lie, people will believe it. The Members indicate they have now caught on, and I am glad to hear it.
The total income for the Yukon is up $10.8 million, which is three percent. When one projects an inflation rate of six percent, which I think is accurate given the GST is coming in, you are projecting a three percent decline in spending power. You cannot avoid it. You cannot be immune to inflation, and that is what the budget is all about.
We have focussed our expenditures. What does it mean to focus your expenditures? What does shaving your expenditures means? It means focusing and shaving. That is exactly what it means. It means you do not cut programs to the bone. You do not slash, cut and gouge programs. You do not gouge and screw people. It means you shave programs, and you shave expenditures, so everybody bears a little bit of the cost.
The Members opposite have been surprised and outraged at the amount of transfers from Ottawa. What is the point? There are 30,000 people in this territory. It is an extremely large territory. We maintain roads hundreds and hundreds of miles long between communities of only a couple of hundred people, only a quarter of whom are taxpayers. What is the point?
Are they saying the services and programs of the infrastructure should match the spending power of 30,000 people? Are they saying that realistically? I do not support that.
There are many other issues here that Members opposite have brought forward with respect to particular numbers of the budget. I will be more than happy to debate these at some length in Committee debate, where it truly belongs.
I heard some of the concerns expressed by the Leader of the Official Opposition regarding spending practices by the government. In particular, we heard the old song that the Yukon College was an example of a gross cost overrun, that somehow this college was slated for $26 million. That is the new figure, because the Howard Tracy press release had it slated at $24 million, and somehow it magically jumped to $50 million. This is part of the mythology and the lore of the Conservative Party, that somehow the Yukon College is a giant over expenditure.
Yukon College was never slated for construction at $26 million.
The original estimates were $39 million in 1984-85 dollars. A number of things happened between 1985 and 1990 at $39 million; good things. The Yukon Arts Centre is one of them. Yukon archives as a separate facility is another. Inflation was not one of the good things but was nonetheless a fact of life.
The Member for Riverdale North asks about the $44,000 for the opening ceremonies. On the one hand, they are saying that the government has budgeted up to $50 million - a 100 percent cost overrun on the budget. As soon as they are told that is not true, they say that perhaps the $44,000 was not really well spent. How outrageous.
The Member for Riverdale North says I am being too sensitive about this. When someone puts something on the record in this Legislature, I am bound to be sensitive about that. When these myths are being propagated in the public, of course I am sensitive about that.
Speaker: Order please. The time now being 5:30 p.m., I will now call a recess until 7:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Before we broke for dinner I was explaining the weird and wonderful intricacies of the Conservative cost estimates for Yukon College. I was explaining that the fantasy figure of $26 million is known only to the mythology of the Yukon Conservative Party and not known to those who dwell in the land of the real and the actual.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It did not take any time at all for the Member for Riverdale South to interrupt. The record should show that.
Nevertheless, the Members opposite have indicated on a number of occasions that they believe a number of Yukon government programs were a waste of money. They talked about our grant programs being the great grant giveaways. I presume they were referring to the community development fund in particular. They went on at great length about streetscapes being a total waste of tourism money, and mentioned a number of other programs that were particularly unsavoury from their perspective.
The legacy of what the NDP Government of Yukon has done for rural Yukon stands for itself in almost every community that one would want to enter today.
There was a concern raised regarding the fact that the government only raises $60 million in taxes. I thought to myself as I listened to the Leader of the Official Opposition make this claim whether or not he was actually suggesting that those tax revenues should be raised, or whether the Government of Yukon should, out of their concern for donating even more money than what was fair to the federal deficit fighting venture, hand money back to the federal government. The Member opposite did not make that clear in his comments. Perhaps he may want to volunteer exactly what he had in mind at some time during the debates.
The same Member also indicated that the NDP Government of the Yukon is the government that loves grants. I had to ask myself at that point whether or not the Progressive Conservative government had grants for businesses. The obvious answer was that their business programs were larded with grant programs and grant funding, whereas the NDP government of today is moving more and more to loans. I thought this was the general intention of the Members opposite and was something they would support.
Perhaps we may have an opportunity to explore that item a little further when Members have a chance to speak during the main estimates debate on Economic Development.
But I also want to explain their position with respect to our business loans program, which they regard as being an utter failure, that our programs are a complete bust, I think was the terminology used. I think it is only appropriate that given that they were here for the debate and given that I was treated with silence about the investiture of the business development fund, it might be incumbent upon them now to explain why they feel that the programs are a complete bust, and why they feel that the many businesses that have been supported around this territory in many of the Yukon communities that were not in the traditional mining or tourism sectors are considered to be not worth noting under the circumstances, in their claim that there has been no diversification taking place.
I think the debate in Committee will be rather interesting. The assessment that the communities in this territory, including Whitehorse I guess, have been passed by by the NDP government is truly a mysterious claim put forward by the Leader of the Official Opposition. Once again, it is clearly the opposite that is true, no matter where you go. Of course, the answer, in his view was cheap energy, a big, mega hydro project.
Speaker: I would just like to remind the Member that he has three minutes to conclude.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The answer that the Opposition put forward was that we should be pursuing a massive hydro project, of cheap energy, which I presume would mean massive grants to some business, which of course they do not believe in.
The Member also ended his speech by asking for another person year in social services side, which I found a fitting conclusion to a speech explaining a very confused position. I think what we have to understand is the position of the Conservatives: to save money for a rainy day, to spend money supporting the economy, to remember to avoid artificial stimulants by government spending, we should remember we have the money negotiated in 1984 so we have to spend it helping private enterprise but we should not interfere with the market place. We have to deal with the grants they instituted and new loan funding. Do not do anything risky in a high risk environment. We should remember that loan funding provides an artificial stimulant to the economy. We have to cut overall social spending, but we should add more overall social spending. We should keep the government size under control but we should add more person years in certain areas of their choosing. Decentralization should happen as soon as possible, but the policy is stupid and decentralization costs too much. Perhaps we should be spending more per person.
We should be going higher, lower, faster, slower, bigger, smaller, sooner, later, lesser, more, all at the same time. Well this is an interesting if not very stiff critic position and I would just like to say that the Government of the Yukon does have a direction and we are going to stick to that direction; it is a fair direction and I am proud to be supporting the budget under these circumstances.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 16 agreed to
Bill No. 14: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 14, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. McDonald.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Bill No. 14, entitled Fourth Appropriation Act, 1989-90, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Finance that Bill No. 14, entitled Fourth Appropriation Act, 1989-90, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The purpose of this finance bill is to vote additional sums for the year just ended, that being 1989-90. The additional monies are required because one vote out of the Legislative Assembly recorded an operation and maintenance over expenditure for the year. Every other operation and maintenance and capital vote was under spent for the same year.
While these under expenditures far exceed the single vote over expenditure, Members will be aware that we are obliged to pass an appropriation bill for that single over expenditure. We are requesting an additional $1,776,000 for the Legislative Assembly to cover the shortfall between the actual expenditure for the year and the sum previously voted for that activity. The over expenditure represented the unrecorded actuary liability for MLA pensions under the Legislative Assembly Retirement Allowances Act.
This act was passed in the 1984-85 fiscal year. An initial sum was set aside at that time to account for the liability being assumed by the government. Since that time, a small amount has been voted each year to add to the reserve set up in 1984-85. I believe it has been recognized by all Members in this Chamber that more monies would be required once the actuarial evaluation was completed.
That evaluation has now been carried out, and a supplementary is required to bring the reserve up to the amount our actuaries feel is sufficient to provide for the outstanding liability. This appropriation does not require a cash expenditure at the present time. It is merely the transfer of monies from our accumulated surplus to a reserve liability account on the balance sheet.
Since this supplementary deals with the final results of our operations for 1989-90, I would like to take several moments to take a look at the financial position with which we opened the current year.
Our recorded total gross operation and maintenance expenditures for the year were some $4.9 million below the budgeted amount. All the capital expenditures were considerably below budget. These sums do not all represent a net gain to the government, because the accompanying recoveries were also lower, and many of the capital expenditures budgeted, but not made, in 1990 are being requested as revotes in 1991.
Nevertheless the final 1989-90 year-end statements show an annual surplus for the year of $3,392,000. This annual 1989-90 surplus is added to the accumulated surplus with which we entered the year. The result is an accumulated surplus of $53,913,000 on March 31, 1990. This surplus will be drawn down during the current year and will result in the Supplementary No. 1 for 1990-91, which I tabled at the same time as this item.
Despite this anticipated draw down in the current year, our accumulated surplus will remain at or above the minimum level we consider prudent to allow some flexibility should the government be required to inject additional funds into the economy.
That basically explains the expenditures in this particular vote. If other Members wish to comment, I would be more than happy to respond.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 14 agreed to
Bill No. 15: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 15, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. McDonald.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Bill No. 15, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 1990-91, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Minister of Finance that Bill No. 15, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 1990-91, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This bill is necessary because additional funds over and above those already voted will be required for government operations for the 1990-91 fiscal year.
Given that this is the first year of the new Formula Financing Agreement and hence the major cutback in the federal grant, we have had to restrict the supplementary to those items necessary to carry out our essential programs.
We are requesting an addition $27,605,000 in net spending authority for the year. Over three-quarters of this sum, or, $22 million is accounted for by the revote of capital monies that lapsed in 1989-90. The remainder of the sum, approximately $5.6 million is new money we find necessary to request for the current fiscal year.
Of the total $27,605,000 request, $5.3 million is for O&M purposes and $22.3 million is for capital votes.
I will only briefly touch upon the principal items that make up the supplementary since we will be going into it in some detail in Committee debate.
The Office of the Legislative Assembly requires $306,000 in additional O&M funds. These monies are necessary to cover the expenses associated with school council elections and the MLA pension plan.
Executive Council Office is requesting, for O&M purposes, an additional $416,000, of which $270,000 is recoverable. This sum is largely made up of a transfer from the Department of Community and Transportation Services and monies for surveys in the Bureau of Statistics and the rural territorial agent interpretive services.
The Department of Community and Transportation Services are showing reduced O&M expenditures of $626,000 due to a number of reasons, the principal of which is a reduction of recoverable expenditures for the maintenance of the Alaska Highway. In capital, this department will require an additional $5.3 million.
There are a number of increases and decreases in individual capital projects, but in the main the sum is accounted for by revotes.
The Department of Economic Development is asking for $2,052,000 in additional capital vote authority; approximately one-half of this represents revotes and the remainder is required because of the economic development agreement extension.
The Department of Education is forecasting an increase of $1,052,000 in its need for operation and maintenance funds. More than one-half of this is for additional teachers. In addition to these O&M funds, the department is requesting almost $13 million in capital; 90 percent of this sum is simply the result of revote.
The Department of Government Services requires $657,000 more for operation and maintenance purposes; these monies are largely for the property and maintenance program and relate to building maintenance and rental costs. Government Services is also asking for an increase of approximately one-quarter of a million dollars in the capital vote. The largest single item here is for the funding of the new business incentive policy.
The Department of Health and Human Resources needs $478,000 in O&M for the health services program. Members are well aware of the steadily increasing costs of health care in Canada and the needs for these monies indicates the same trend is occurring in the Yukon. At the same time, a number of the operation and maintenance recoveries have increased by over $1 million in total. The department is showing a large decrease in its requirement for capital monies. This is entirely the result of the revised funding pattern for the new extended care facility.
The Department of Justice is asking for almost $2.5 million in operation and maintenance supplementary funding; well over one-half of this sum reflects the latest estimates we have received from the federal government for RCMP costs under the police servicing contract. This is an extremely large increase over previous estimates provided us but given the very limited input we have in controlling this expenditure, we have little choice but to budget for it. The remainder of the required O&M funds are for a variety of purposes, including the translation of statutes under the French and aboriginal language service agreement and costs associated with the mine safety transfer. Some of these costs are recoverable and the Members will note an increase in associated recoveries.
Renewable Resources is requesting relatively small additional funds for both O&M and capital purposes. The bulk of the O&M funds are for costs associated with the new environment act. Members will note that O&M recoveries have also increased, and by an amount in excess of that increase in expenditures.
The Department of Tourism has requested an additional $318,000 for O&M purposes. These new monies are the result of increased postage costs, due to an increase in the responses to our advertisements and our undertaking of a re-contact program. The department is also requesting a increase in capital funds. The principal reason for this is due to the cost associated with the new Whitehorse visitor reception centre.
Finally, Members will note that the Yukon Housing Corporation is requesting $3.1 million in new capital vote authority. This is almost entirely accounted for by revotes in the non-profit housing construction program and is accompanied by a recovery of like amount.
The net result of the supplementary and the more current updates we have in our revenue and grant figures will be to decrease the current year surplus that was shown in the main estimates. We are now projecting a deficit of $9.5 million for the 1990-91 fiscal year. This change is more than accounted for by revotes of 1989-90 capital expenditures brought forward to the current fiscal year.
Although we projected a deficit in 1989-90, we actually ended the year with a surplus in excess of $3 million. It is conceivable that a similar circumstance could come about this year. This would happen where some of the capital expenditures we are currently projecting for the current year are not all being incurred. It could also happen that our O&M expenditures are less than the current forecast, or a combination of these circumstances.
At the present time the supplementary before you is our best estimate of what the results of the year will actually be as of March 31, 1991.
Motion for the second reading of Bill No. 15 agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair and 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.
Are you agreed?
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will call Committee of the Whole to order. At this time we will take a break.
Chair: The Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
Bill No. 14 -Fourth Appropriation Act, 1989-90
Chair: Is there any general debate?
On Clause 1
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This bill is required to cover a single operation and maintenance over expenditure for the 1989-90 fiscal year. The over expenditure is in the Legislative Assembly vote. As I explained in my remarks in second reading, it is the unrecorded actuarial liability for the MLA pension plan.
I would like to point out to Members that, despite this one vote over expenditure, we actually under spent our total budget by $41 million in 1989-90. Also, we were able to record an operating surplus of $3.4 million, and bring the accumulated surplus to approximately $54 million.
Mr. Phelps: Of grave concern to us is the magnitude of the lapses, particularly with regard to the capital side. Is the Minister prepared to share with us which projects were lapsed on the capital side?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The best approach may be to go through the Supplementary No. 1 for this year, at which time we will be seeking revotes of those that are lapsing. There is a large amount of lapse for this year.
Firstly, because of the way the land development expenditures in Community and Transportation Services and the loan programs in Economic Development are accounted for, the lapse is probably over stated on page two by approximately $5.5 million.
When you take that into account, the lapse is approximately $30 million. The problem stems from the fact that the capital budget, some time ago, increased rather dramatically. The system has been unable to catch up; the contracting capacity has been unable to catch up with the large sums voted for capital purposes.
As well, some of the consultation on some of the projects has caused the projects to be delayed, sometimes for a year or two years. For example, the Watson Lake High School or the Yukon Arts Centre are projects for which the funds were voted upwards of two years prior to the start of construction. Given the fact that the capital budget has been declining somewhat in the past year and is projected to climb again by at least a percent means for next year, I would suspect, that the contract capacity would catch up.
Mr. Phelps: I am not sure if I caught that. Is the Minister telling us that he is not expecting lapses for the current year, for 1990-91, and that we are going to crawl up by the end of March 1991?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I cannot guarantee that, given the record the last few years. But I think the record of revotes will improve.
Mr. Phelps: Well I am still a little unclear as to why the first move be made given that the revotes seem to climb on the capital side rather than diminish. In other words, I cannot recall anything any larger than the $36 million revote or lapse.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I sure hope I do not climb any larger. That is 30 percent of the capital budget. I agree, I sure get tired of voting it too. It does not make my life any easier, or any easier for any of us in this Legislature to vote money and not to have it proceed. I think the best explanation can probably be given project by project. I can think, off the top of my head, for example, projects in education where the funds have been voted and a combination of extended consultation and detailed work on the engineering has caused delays in some projects and these projects, in some cases, are large projects. Clearly the problem continues because the projects are not undertaken, despite the fact the money has been voted.
The fact remains, I guess, that the money is still dedicated to those projects that were initially approved by the Legislature and the Legislature does have the opportunity of course to comment, as the funding is still dedicated toward the project despite the fact that the project may not be under construction. There is plenty of time and opportunity to critique or to provide scrutiny on the projects so it is obviously upsetting to not proceed with projects that we have voted but I think in most cases in the budgets there are legitimate reasons for each one.
I would only say as a general proposition - and I cannot read the future - that this situation ought to get better because the amount of project funding available under the capital vote has been declining and, as projected, will decline slightly next year. I anticipate that it will decline but I cannot provide guarantees.
Mr. Phelps: Given that, on page 4, the under expenditure is on the capital side, in the gross amount of $35,800,000, and, given that we are talking about an additional $22,000,000 in the current year revote, what accounts for the difference between those two sums? Are they projects that we have given up on?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are some projects in land development, and there is funding in one program, for example, that we do not revote unless we have actually committed the funds to a particular project. If we vote, for example, $4 million or $5 million for a loan fund and we expend, through loan funding, $2.5 million, for the sake of argument, we will not revote the loan authority for the balance of the loan program. We will vote on only the funds for those projects for which there has been a commitment.
Mr. Phelps: Then perhaps at this time we can be advised about the shortfall and why that occurs. If we are going to be told about the revotes in the next bill, perhaps, at this time, we could get an explanation of the money that is not going to be revoted which, on the capital side, I take it is in the neighbourhood of $13 million.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not have the schedule with me now. I can provide it tomorrow.
Mr. Phelps: Is it the intention then for the Minister to proceed through the O&M and explain the significant under expenditures there?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: In public accounts, the programs are listed by department, starting on page 62, that show where the lapses are in the O&M side.
Mr. Phelps: With regard to the capital, is it the intention of the Minister to provide us with some written explanation?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is correct.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the Minister for some further information about a comment he made with respect to the contracting capacity and that being one of the reasons for the lapsed capital funds. I am assuming he was talking about the contracting capacity within Government Services. He made some reference to some detail work in engineering.
I have had quite a few concerns brought to my attention about the lateness of contracts going out that are expected to be done by this government. Is the Minister aware of this and could he tell us what he is doing with respect to the contract capacity of Government Services if these lapsed capital votes are continuing to increase because of the inability of the department to handle all of the contracts.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not think I was being straightforward about the contract capacity. I do not think it would be fair to level all the criticisms on one department. I think, for example, in Education, of some of the larger projects have had extended consultation periods, which are not the fault of anyone. In those cases, I can explain, project by project, the lapses for those large sums of money in the supplementaries; they are explainable. With respect to some of the smaller projects, probably the Minister for Government Services, at the appropriate time, can respond to the Members questions with respect to the contracting capacity within the one department of Government Services to indicate what they are doing there to try to increase capacity.
Mrs. Firth: It is obviously an overall problem then, if the Minister is cleaning up the departments, which would be client departments through Government Services, for taking an unduly long time in consulting and then Government Services having difficulty with the contracting capacity.
If it is presenting itself as a problem and the lapsed capital votes are increasing and increasing, year after year, I would like to ask the Minister of Finance what he is doing to try to tighten up that process, because we intentionally do the capital budget at this time of the year, so that the money is voted and the contracts can go out and they can be awarded on a timely basis. That was the whole intention of doing the capital budget at this time of the year, yet there seem to be more and more complaints about the lateness of tenders coming out and so on. Is the Minister taking any steps or giving any direction so that they can tighten up that whole procedure, so that it operates in a more efficient manner and we are not having these large lapsed votes?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would like the Minister of Government Services to respond to some of the comments made, but before he does, I think it is important to state that I, at least, in this exchange, have not undertaken to try to level blame on any individual department in particular. For example, I will again refer to examples that I am familiar with: a school project within the Department of Education, which is responsible for the consultation with respect to the general program capital project parameters. Unless they are finished consultation within the prescribed time, it may not be the fault of anyone, including the Department of Education. It is simply a factor of discussions being ongoing and a desire to reach a consensus with the user groups and with the Department of Finance with respect to budget totals, which has caused the delay.
Perhaps the Member has some projects in mind that were delayed beyond the posted date for tender call. Perhaps the Member could take those particular projects up with the relative Minister and/or the Minister of Government Services and perhaps we could provide an explanation on a project-by-project basis. It is fair to say there are a variety of reasons that are all encompassed in the general rubric of contracting capacity. There are a variety of reasons that lead to delays. I admit, 100 percent, that these delays are unfortunate. It is not my greatest wish to vote these project year after year. I can only say that every project has its story.
In order to provide a specific illustration, I will bring up the story of the new student residence in Whitehorse. When the capital was first voted some four years ago, the Department of Education intended to purchase the space adjacent to St. Elias dorm in downtown Whitehorse and expand the dorm. That was changed over a matter of many months after discussions showed that the space next door could not be used.
Then there was discussion about building a new dorm on the same spot. Discussions and consultations with the dorm-user committee ensued, and it was determined after considerable time that if a new dorm was to be built, it should not be built on the same site.
Then there was discussion about another site and requests for changes in zoning had to be made. Those requests were made. There were consultations with school committees adjacent to the student residence and consultation with respect to the kind of student residence to be at that site. Finally a student residence was constructed and is now recently opened.
In the meantime, year after year, funding was voted for design and for construction. The construction ensued only after the consultation was complete.
I would be hesitant to associate fault with anyone. In that particular case, that project was delayed for some legitimate reasons. That is only one example, and every project has a story. Some reasons are legitimate; other reasons are less legitimate: let us put it that way. As a matter of a general proposition, I cannot tell the Member that there is some central directive from on high that is going to satisfy all issues with respect to improving what we will call the contract capacity.
Mrs. Firth: It is not a matter of leveling that blame at any one or two departments. There is a problem, and the purpose of the exercise is to identify the problem, or problems, so that we can come forward with a possible solution or recommendations to make the system operate more efficiently. Then we do not have to go through this revoting procedure all the time. That is the point I was trying to make.
Is something being done? Perhaps I should follow up with the Minister of Government Services. He ends up spearheading all the projects for the client departments. Perhaps they have identified some problem areas or some concerns within the department we could look at addressing, to see if we could resolve the issues and have it operate more efficiently.
I will be raising some of the particular projects with respect to the late tendering. The ones I am concerned about are the things that should be done during the summer, like landscaping, sod, school repairs, painting rooms and classrooms, things that are being done now after the kids are in school, with teachers rooms and offices being moved around, and such.
If we have to revote all the time and revotes are increasing, so that tenders are going out later or it is starting to interfere with daily activities of government, there has to be a problem somewhere. I am trying to make a constructive recommendation that we try and identify the problem and do whatever we can to make it operate more smoothly and efficiently.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In response to some of the Members comments, I think it would be fair to say that a number of steps have been taken in the area of ensuring that projects are done in a timely fashion and are done in the best interests of the clients being served and in full respect of the public dollars being spent. I think the Minister of Finance is quite accurate when he says there is a multitude of reasons why some projects do not proceed and clearly the need to consult and the changing scenario surrounding a project often does cause an unanticipated delay.
The Member is quite familiar, from previous debates in the House, on a specific step that Government Services has taken and that is to head man an entire project management exercise. This exercise is to establish a planning cycle into the budgetary process. In other words, where we could, we required as a matter of policy directive, if you will, that a planning component be built into construction jobs and we essentially created what amounted to a two-step budgeting process. You lay out the requirements for the money through a planning exercise and then once you have established the anticipated amount for expenditure you enter your budgeted amount into the budgeting process. So that is in the final stages now of full implementation. It has been in fact implemented for most of this construction year. We are still working through some policy manual development in the policy directive for the supervision of the construction sites and the inspection work that is done on those projects. The attempt is to tighten up the procedure surrounding the management of projects from the planning exercise through to the final inspection and completion.
In the multitude of reasons why some projects get delayed, there is indeed merit to the suggestion that sometimes the contracting community just cannot absorb the projects that are going on. I would note also that what we have done in the last couple of years is spend considerable amount of time with the contracting community in discussions about how we can best schedule our projects so that they have work not only for a construction season, but year-round. We go to some lengths to schedule our projects so that they do not all come in any particular period. In fact, we have gone to the extent of ensuring that we never have any two major jobs closing within a week of each other.
That was the extent to which the contracting community wanted us to respond, and we have. In that exercise, we have attempted to work with the construction industry in scheduling our projects intermittently throughout the year.
I would like to get back to the point where the industry sometimes cannot actually handle the job requirements of a multitude of projects. There is a case in point in my own community surrounding work at the school. As we do for many of the jobs that go on in the schools, we tendered during the summer period from late June to the end of August. There is no question that it is a problem to accomplish all the jobs in all the schools across the territory in all the communities. There are just so many contractors available to lay rugs, retrofit windows, upgrade ventilation systems, change and relocate walls and do landscaping. We are facing a problem dealing with this one window of intense construction activity surrounding schools and government buildings throughout the territory, and I am addressing it with the contracting community because of some of the problems we had this past summer. We are trying to stagger it a bit. We have tried to make sure those tenders are ready and out there before the schools close.
In quick summary, there are a multitude of reasons why projects get delayed. Part of it is the planning exercise, part of it is the deliberate effort to schedule things and, by scheduling some of the jobs later in the season, you invariably run into the unforeseen type of problems surrounding the job that cause a further delay and a need to push it into a second season.
We work quite closely with the contracting community to try to stagger the jobs. We are sometimes slowed down by the need for full consultation with respective community interest groups affected by the construction. I believe the net result of this is that we are doing a better job of completing our anticipated construction in the anticipated year of budgeting.
Invariably, we end up not completing all of them. In many instances, we will be revoting, as the next supplementary will show. For an example, we have a capital under expenditure in Community and Transportation Services of $11 million. We are going to be revoting about $5.5 million of that to complete jobs that will definitely proceed.
Mrs. Firth: All the things the Minister said sound good, but the fact remains, and the complaints we get are that things are not improving as the Minister says. Concerns have been raised to us that it is worse now than it ever was. People say to me that in the middle of August a bunch of tenders went out to do some school work and the government demanded it be done before the beginning of school.
The Minister talks about all this nice spacing out and things like that, but then we have a flurry of concerns brought to our attention because when that kind of thing happens and there is a rush job, the cost goes up because the contractor ends up working day and night to get the job done on time. I think the Minister has to take a really close look at what is happening and at the way the contracts have been let and listen to some of the complaints that are out there. When I see people laying sod when we are having our first snowfall, it gives me some concern as to what is going on in the area of tendering contracts.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I take, with respect, the comments of the Member, particularly if she suggests that there was a flurry of contracts let for school purposes in late August. That does concern me and is not what my understanding was of what we were attempting to do by preparing contracts in advance of the available window of time for schools. Going back to the example of my own community, I know for a fact that the tenders were let early enough, but the contracting community could not handle all of the jobs in that time. They bid on them, won them and committed to them but they honestly, for their own legitimate reasons, could not complete the work in the two-month window that was available.
I will explore, between today and tomorrow, the one particular concern the Member raised about late tenders and deal with it in the subsequent budget we will be addressing tomorrow.
Mrs. Firth: If I may just follow up with the Minister, the kinds of things we are talking about are things like painting the schools, such as Selkirk and F.H. Collins, office renovations for some of the staff, changing windows at Christ the King and air exchange systems - things that have to be done before the kids are in school. They do not get done, so they end up being put off until the Christmas break or something else happens. It has a lot to do with the lateness of the tendering of the projects. Perhaps the Minister could check into it, and then when we go into either the supplementaries or the main budget, he could give us some indication of what steps are going to be taken. That way we can make the system more efficient so that the Minister of Finance will not get a stress ulcer from all these revotes, and we will not have to constantly question all the revotes.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It concerns me that the Member is suggesting that the tenders were let late and that the work was impossible to do in the remaining time before school resumed. I do know, again, from the example I am very familiar with, that the contractor undertook, through special arrangements with the school principal, to come in on weekends and finish some of the carpeting that was undone. It was not undone, however, because the tender was late; it was undone because he just over extended himself and made honest and sincere efforts to complete the job. I will undertake for the Member to be prepared to provide more specific detail relating to our tendering procedures, in particular in relation to the schools contracts, as cited by the Member.
Mr. Phillips: Just for the Ministers information, on a couple of those schools: in the F.H. Collins High School case, the teachers in the school were asked to take the stuff off of their walls and to put it all in the centre of the room, in anticipation of the school being painted. The teachers went to a great deal of effort at the end of the school year to do that for them, but the tender did not come out until some time around the middle or end of August. The price came out so high, because it had to be done by September 1, that they decided not to tender it at all. Then the teachers came back to school - some of these teachers have been in the same classroom for years - thinking that it was not bad to have taken it down because things were finally going to get things fixed up, but then they came back and found that absolutely nothing had been done.
In the case of the Selkirk School, exactly the same thing happened. They were going to renovate the Selkirk Street School and the teachers were again asked to pile all of the stuff in the middle of the room, remove everything from the walls, take home everything that they thought was of value, that they did not want anyone else to be moving. So the teachers went to a great deal of effort, in June, when the Department of Education said the work was going to be done, and the work was never tendered.
The case of the Christ the King School is worse yet. In this case, they tendered for the removal of all the windows. They diddled around with the contract until the middle of July, and they finally tendered it in the middle of July and you just cannot pluck these windows out of the air. They are especially designed windows. You actually have to have them built by somebody. So the windows were built, installed in the school, and part of the problem of getting the proper windows installed in the school was that the government had somebody do a set of plans of where they wanted them. When the contractor went in to follow the set of plans, there were doors where there were supposed to be windows, there were pipes where there was supposed to be a wall - the plans were all wrong. They virtually had to draw a whole new set of plans.
I thought the Minister had the information. He is the one who tendered the contract. These are the kinds of things that have frustrated the contractors. They have pressure put on them by Government Services people to get the job completed on the time, but they run into these kinds of obstacles.
If we pass the budget here in December or January, surely the government has all kinds of lead time to figure out what they are going to need to do for the next two or three years. This is not as if it just happened this year. From what I understand in the contracting business, and I used to be in that business and have talked to a lot of contractors, this is absolutely the worst year yet for contractors. It is not because they had too many jobs at one time, although they did have that bit of a problem, but because all the jobs ended up at the end of the year. They were sitting around in June and July with nothing to do, and the government panicked in August to get them all done.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am seriously concerned about what the Members are saying, and I will repeat the earlier undertaking to investigate the allegations and provide some further debate and detail on it in the next round of the budget.
Mr. Lang: I want to further echo the comments of my colleagues. I have had some observations made as well, as far as when those tenders come out. Would the Minister make an undertaking for the main budget we are going to be going through that a time line be drawn up by Government Services, in conjunction with the service departments, so there is some indication to us and the public when these contracts are going to be tendered.
That will do a number of things. It will put the pressure on the various departments to comply, knowing there are some people very concerned about this who are watching it relatively closely. That will be of great benefit to the contractors, in that it would give at least a projected schedule of tenders and when they are supposed to be called, recognizing that, if there is a hitch within a department and there is a delay of a week or 10 days, it is understandable. I understand there has to be some flexibility, but it would really accentuate the concern being expressed by all Members in this House that this work get done.
Right now, it is a joke. We are voting money, thinking, is it really going to be done. How much sincerity is there on the governments behalf, or is this just a flag we can wave to say we are going to do this this year, and will decide halfway through the year to cut it off and let some funds lapse. I do not think that is fair to the public that is represented in the Legislature. It makes a mockery of our job. It is not fair to the contractors who, in many cases, are projecting a good portion of their work on what is going to be let by this government.
The earlier these tenders can be let, the better it is for the contractors and the people working for them. They then know whether they have the work. If they do not, they know they have to get out and get work in other sectors of the economy. There are numerous benefits to have this work out as quickly as we can.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not want to challenge the Members statements. Much of what he is saying makes good sense, particularly with respect to the scheduling of projects. Late last year, on an initiative by Government Services and on the suggestion of the Contractors Association, we developed a contracting schedule and have updated it every three months since that time.
The first one came out approximately last August. It was on the suggestion of the contracting community, which specifically asked when we were going to be putting out these projects. We said that we had a working knowledge and if they wanted it in writing - sure.
We started one in August and updated it in October, with a new one sometime in January. We redid that schedule when the new budget year began. I believe the first one came out in March. After that, there was a longer gap in the winter time. There was a period where we did not fulfill our three-month cycle, and this was largely because projects were finished, and we were in the process of revoting and reassessing for the next construction season.
Every three months, there has been a schedule provided to the contractors, outlining all the major projects, when they are planned to go to tender, what status they are in if not being tendered, and another column carrying the status forward of the projects that had been tendered and were in some stage of completion. We have that document already.
In relation to the summer jobs, I perceive the problem to be that we are not refining some of the jobs in enough detail. In our respective departmental budgets, there is so much money identified for upgrading where we plan to put in windows, do new rugs and upgrade the ventilation system. That is left until tendering time in May/June, so those might be categorized as miscellaneous school upgrading. Those are the ones we might want to refine in more detail. That is what I would like to check, especially in response to comments from colleagues of the Member.
The long and short of it all is we intend to pursue the issue of scheduling. We intend to pursue continued discussion and communication with the contracting community, relative to our capital budgets. I put forward the commitment to investigate whether or not part of the problem is not enough detail on some of these jobs. I will explore that and provide it by tender.
It does concern me that Members feel that this may have been the worst year in respect of school improvements. I do not think they can say that for the general contracting jobs. The climate out there for us committing to a job being tendered, or scheduled for a particular part of the year, has proven to be extremely successful. We deliberately staggered some of the major jobs at the request of the contracting community. I have not heard complaints about that. Now I am hearing complaints about school upgrading during summer months, and I am quite prepared to look into that quickly.
Chair: Would the Committee like to take a break?
Mr. Lang: I do want to turn to another area of concern as far as these 1989-90 supplementaries are concerned. The Minister quite briefly referred to the Public Acounts Committee and I am very very concerned when I read this particular document. Quite honestly, I did not pick it up the first time I read it. There are substantial differences between what we voted in the supplementaries for 1989-90 and what the final outcome of these line items is. It really brings into question the whole budgeting process when we are dealing with this government. For example, on page 71, Fish and Wildlife in supplementary was $188,000, which is under the vote, and then they have an additional $91,000 over and above that. I do not have any problem with a two or three percent variation between our supplementaries and the final year-end. But I really do have a problem when we start talking about $100,000.
What it tells me is that the government is trying to hide something or the government does not know how to budget, because we are voting these supplementaries right toward the end of the year. The projected costs were put in of what is needed for the year-end and all of a sudden we are looking at a situation where basically we should be actually go through the whole 1989-90 budget just to find exactly what monies there are. I think when the Minister of Finance looks and says, gee, I will take a look at Yukon College on page 65. We voted $8,669,000. Well all of a sudden at the end of the year, they are looking for an additional $449,000. Well, nobody can tell me that that is prudent financial management. I have to ask the Minister of Finance, does he condone this type of financing or maybe I am missing something. It seems to me that there is a lot of money moving around that is not getting necessarily through the scrutiny of this House because this is the only check or balance in our political system and if it is not being justified to us than it is not being justified to anyone else and it leaves it pretty wide open for major abuses. These types of figures are the ones we have to deal with on overages. Perhaps the Minister of Finance can explain.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I think it goes without saying that there are only three things that can happen. You can over spend or under spend or hit the target dead on. It is seldom that departments are going to hit the target dead on. There is no attempt to hide anything or do anything other than what is appropriate.
Clearly, in the past, the role has been under and over expenditures for the various departments. The variance here on the operations side is less than two percent overall for the government, so the lapsed funding on the O&M side is less than two percent.
The Member for Porter Creek East is looking at me like he does not understand what I am saying. I doubt if repeating it will make it any clearer to him. The Member made the assertion that he could understand if it was two percent or less.
There may be significant over or under expenditures on a given line item, but in the record of the governments overall financing, the variance is less than two percent, which I would think is not bad.
With respect to Yukon College, I would expect that is an example of pay outs for the employees under the new arrangement to devolve the college to the board of governors.
As far as I am aware, whether we go through the public accounts of today or the territorial accounts of yesteryear, there are over and under expenditures in departments throughout the government.
Mr. Lang: The Minister is twisting words. I am talking about two or three percent on each line item. I do not have a problem recognizing that you have had a very difficult time hitting your projected costs. But when we voted the supplementary, I walked out of this House thinking we were two or three percent over or under either way. When I take a look at the Yukon College, there is a $429,000 over expenditure over and above what we voted and I have to start asking questions. How are we doing our financing? Someone is not telling us exactly what is taking place. Nobody is scrutinizing the budget the way they are supposed to in order to justify how the taxpayers dollars are being spent. That is not the only area. If you go through department by department - and I see the Minister of Renewable Resources looking up - let us just go to his department to show that in Fish and Wildlife, we voted $4.2 million and were then told in supplementary estimates that we will get back $118,000.
No, we voted an additional $118,000, I am sorry, to $4.3 million, and then we gave back $91,000. I could see $10,000 or $15,000 either way, but when all of a sudden we start talking $100,000, why would the Minister, in this particular case, come to this House and ask for $118,000? Obviously something significant did not happen in the department, as he explained to this House. When we left this House we said, yes, the Minister has given us good cause to ask for an additional $118,000. You go back through Policy and Planning: $77,000. We voted an additional $77,000, and then we give back $107,000. Somebody is not telling us exactly what is happening regarding the financing. Have more contracts been let? Have more consultants been hired that we had no knowledge of? It brings up the very question: how honest is the government being to the public?
The Minister stands in his place and quite happily says that it is within two percent. Well sure, there are a couple of areas. You can go down the line, but the whole budget, as was explained to us with our supplementaries for 1989-90, is a totally useless document. You would not even refer to it if you compare it to this document, vis-a-vis the budget that we had passed with supplementaries. The Minister of Renewable Resources says that this is nothing new, but I cannot recall figures like this: significant differences between what both of our supplementaries were and what the final outcome was.
Hon. Mr. Webster: It is just a matter of the priorities of time. I realize that, in some cases, we are talking about significant projects. In Tourism, for example, on page 60, it is very clear that for the historic resources centre - you may recall the debate on the main budget in the spring - we decided to remove that $25,000 that had been set aside for that purpose and put it toward the visitor reception centre. Now in order to get that visitor reception centre built in time for 1992, obviously we are going to have to spend more than $25,000. It is part of the supplementary you see here. You are going to have to add approximately $383,000, for an example.
What we are doing this year is no different than in years past.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Webster: The Member says it does not make it honest and accurate. I guess I am trying to say that in the course of a 12-month period, or a 10-month period, in this case, when you debate the mains and then the supplementary comes into effect, priorities do change. To meet the deadlines, it is necessary to increase the funding for that project.
Chair: Order. Let the Member finish.
Hon. Mr. Webster: As I say, it is no different this year than in years past.
Mr. Lang: I do not have a problem with you coming in for a supplementary when you fully explain how you are spending that supplementary. There is such a startling difference from when you came in for the supplementary and the final outcome.
We are not talking about two percent. In one case we are talking about $100,000 in Fish and Wildlife, with another $107,000 in policy and planning in Renewable Resources. This is a substantial amount of money.
The public is not getting the opportunity for a final discussion on how the money is being spent. When you come with your supplementaries it is like Alice in Wonderland. I think we need this money, we may need it, we hope maybe we can get enough money that we can spread it throughout the department and make it look like we balanced our budget.
To me, that is dishonest. I am asking that when you do come in with your supplementaries 10 months hence after the budget has been passed, i.e. now, and what we are discussing, you be closer in your projections. Obviously nobody in the department is saying that you have a responsibility to project as accurately as you can. That is not being done. These figures can tell you that. You would not run your budget at home like this. Well, some of you might.
We will just go through it and the House deserves an explanation on the ones that are way out.
Hon. Mr. Webster: That is the purpose of this whole exercise: to account, to give reasons for why the extra money is called for within certain projects and why in other projects monies were not spent. It is as simple as that. That is what we are here to do and we will do it.
Mrs. Firth: My concern is that a budget is presented, we go through that budget and get a list of the priorities of the government, we raise questions about the priorities and projects. We are told what they are going to be. Then the Minister of Tourism says that part way through the year they may change some of their priorities.
Neither we, nor the public, find it out until we go through this questioning phase here. Those are the kinds of things we should know when we are voting the money, and that is where the money should be going. The particular instance about Yukon College that concerns me is that we had a great debate in the Legislature when the Member for Porter Creek East said there had been requests made by the College of amounts in excess of $1 million. The Minister of Education said no, they were not getting any more money, and accused us of not having correct information. Then in Public Accounts we saw the amount for almost $500,000.
I have heard that there are three new vice presidents at the Yukon College, and that their salaries are all within the range of $85,000 a year. We have a right to be given information that is accurate, and information from the government that we can trust and is correct. It is the public who is asking, and that is why I make those representations. The public says to me they were told one thing and, at budget time, the Opposition tells them something else, and the Minister stands up and says that we make misrepresentations and gerrymander the figures.
If we are going to get one set of priorities and one set of figures when we do the budget, then everything changes through the year and we get a bunch of different ones when the public accounts are tabled and, when it comes time to do the next budget, what do the government Members expect? The public is going to be skeptical and cynical about the kind of information that is coming forward.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As we are in general debate, I will respond in a general way. First of all, to respond to the Member for Porter Creek Easts assertion, or allegation that there were other contracts the government had to hide: that is not the case. I am sure the Member received the contract list at the end of the year, which covers this period. The Member would have received a listing of any contracts that would have been made at any time during the 1989-90 fiscal year.
With respect to the lapses and over and under expenditures by year-end of this particular year, part of the rationale, or psychology, of the majority of under expenditures is that the Financial Administration Act does state clearly that departments will not, or should not, or shall not over spend their votes. That psychology is being reinforced to departments to ensure they do not over spend their votes.
If they are going to err at all, they will err on the side of the under expenditure. Many things can happen between period 9 or 8, when the estimates are tabled, and the final year-end accounting in that particular department. In a branch such as fish and wildlife services, for example, one Member noted it showed an under expenditure of $91,000, which is about two percent and, at the same time, they ask for a supplementary estimate of $118,000. It may be that they were pursuing an additional project, or an enhancement to a project, or there was a vacancy or other things may have occurred to cause that line item to go to the under expenditure of two percent.
Even though, there was the desire to proceed with a particular project. With respect to others, I am sure there are a variety of reasons for any particular one. But I think, as a general proposition, the departments were less likely to have done so in this particular year. I think Members may have received a sense of this in the spring, that there was no rush spending at year-end, which has been a problem in the past. There was less rush spending at year-end because there was clearer direction that departments should not over spend their estimates. They would under spend wherever they could. That is all I can provide in terms of a general statement.
If there are any particular issues the Members want to pursue they are welcome to discuss them during the supplementary debates.
Mr. Lang: In view of the over expenditures, I assume the front bench has some information on them. I am going to be pursuing some details with the Minister of Education on this over expenditure of more than $400,000 because I recall when I was in the House, if the Member for Riverdale South is correct, I raised the question about whether or not we were looking at an additional $400,000 to balance off that year. The Minister made fun of me saying that there was no such request for any further funds. Yet, eight months later we are back and the Minister says an additional $400,000 is needed. I really question the financial integrity of the government when a specific question is asked in Question Period, which quite obviously was based on quite accurate information, and the Minister tells the House I was not correct. I accepted that as gospel. Then, 10 months later, I find that there is an additional $400,000 being requested. Where does that put the government?
It would seem to me that the public has a right to honest and accurate information and not to be played around with. Whether or not the Minister likes me has nothing to do with the job we are supposed to be performing in this House. The major cornerstone of Parliament is honesty, and to tell the House the facts to the best of anyones knowledge on any given situation.
The part that irks me more than anything else is that I recall the Minister of Education, with a great deal of delight, making fun of me while he looked at the camera thinking how funny it was.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: My recollection of what happened is clearly different from that of the Member. I believe the Member was asking me whether or not there was going to be a supplementary. There was obviously a difference of opinion as to whether or not it was $1 million. Now the Member sees the $400,000 figure -and he assumes he was dead on with his request on additional funding and whether or not that was required for the purpose of operating the college gymnasium, and whether or not there was additional funding for the college administration.
I recall indicating to Members at that time that we did not anticipate that additional expenditures would be required at that time because we were still working with the college to ascertain the full cost of conversion. I am certain that is what I said, and I will certainly check the record tomorrow, because this assumption that I am not telling the truth bugs me a whole heck of a lot. Given the track record of the Member for coming in here and making allegations without being able to back them up strikes me as being yet another episode in the same line of attack that this particular Member has been propagating in this House.
I would suggest that the items that the Members feel strongly about, wherever or whatever they are, be brought up in the supplementary estimates because we are not voting anything other than the Legislative Assembly vote.
It is possible for Members to bring up any other matter during Supplementary Estimates No. 1 for this year, and to bring their case forward on any particular subject.
On Yukon Legislative Assembly
Yukon Legislative Assembly in the amount of 1,776,000 agreed to
On Schedule A
Schedule A agreed to
On Schedule B
Schedule B agreed to
Clause 1 agreed to
On Clause 2
Clause 2 agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move you report Bill No. 14, entitled Fourth Appropriation Act, 1989-90, out of Committee without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Bill No 15 - Second Appropriation Act, 1990-91
Chair: Is there any general debate.
On Clause 1
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have already spoken at some length about the bill in my remarks at second reading. The purpose of the bill is to bring the voted spending authority for the year in line with our current projection of the governments spending requirements for the year 1990-91. In summary, the bill shows that there is an increase of $5,013,000 in nine operation and maintenance votes.
There is a decrease of $646,000 in two operation and maintenance votes, an increase of $24,299,000 in eight capital votes, and a decrease of $1,961,000 in one capital vote.
In net terms, the vote totals are increasing by $27,605,000. Of this increase, slightly over $22 million is accounted for by revotes.
As Members are aware, the revotes simply represent previously voted capital expenditures that lapsed, so they were not actually incurred in the preceding fiscal year.
The bill actually represents an increase in spending of approximately $5.6 million. There are numerous increases and decreases in individual line items in every department; however, the $5.6 million increase can be roughly accounted for by a relatively few items.
Over $200,000 is required for the MLA pension plan annual funding, as a result of the actuarial evaluation I mentioned in second reading of Bill No. 14. This was recently completed. The economic development agreement extension for the current year results in an initial gross spending requirement of approximately $900,000. The arts centre will require over $1.4 million more in new monies than is currently in our main estimates.
The increase in cost for the RCMP and police services agreement accounts for $1.5 million in the supplementary. This is a very large increase over previous estimates that the federal government has provided us. As I have indicated already, there is little choice but to include it in our spending projections.
Additional teachers will cost us $650,000, and we are providing an additional $478,000 for the health services program in the Department of Health and Human Resources. Since we will be going into the various details over the coming days, I will not go into any of the details on the supplementary to any greater extent than this.
I should point out to Members that the supplementary contains no sums to pay for whatever is in the final outcome of the labour negotiations that are currently under discussion. When settlements are reached, we will have to bring forward another supplementary. Those are my general remarks.
Mrs. Firth: I just have some general questions for the Minister of Finance. When we had the briefing session with the government officials, we asked for some information with respect to the Yukon College, the Development Corporation, the Liquor Corporation, the Housing Corporation and we were unable to get the information with respect to the college. I would like to ask the Minister if we could have the information with respect to the monies that are allotted to the person years and the salary dollars for the total budget of the college. Last year we asked for this same information, and I understand and appreciate the Ministers explanation that he is going to give about the college being independent and governed by a board and so on. I guess we have to wait for the annual report of the college, but Finance has been asked to give more money to the college, and it is still coming from the public purse, the big pot of money, and I think that Finance should be able to ask the college for whatever relevant information they need, in order to pass it on to us, as Members of the Legislature and to pass it on to the public. Perhaps the Minister could tell us when that information is going to be made available and why the Department of Finance has not been given the liberty of being provided with that information.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The information respecting the college will be provided to Members. I have asked for the information to be put in a form that is historically recognizable and that information will be provided to Members for their scrutiny. I do agree that, despite the fact that the college is independent of the government in just about every respect and is not bound by the Financial Administration Act as the College Act states, it is still nevertheless is subject to receiving a grant by the Legislature and the government.
Where that grant forms a very sizable portion of their revenues they should be answering questions about the operations of their institution. I have asked for the information and I am confident it will be provided.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister give us some idea of when that will be provided? Will we get it for this supplementary or do we have to wait for the main estimates? Also, perhaps he could tell us at this time when we will be getting the information on the person years for the Housing Corporation, the liquor corporation and the Development Corporation, and so on, as personnel allotments are not included in the main budget.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will attempt to have that information this year during the supplementary estimates. I will have as complete information as possible including representatives of the programs actually present in the Legislature, as I promised I would. They will be required to come before the Legislature and explain their expenditures and they will have the opportunity to do that during the main estimates. During the supplementaries, I will try to have as much information as I can so that I can answer questions on behalf of the college.
Mr. Lang: With respect to the debate my colleague, the Minister of Education, and I got into, we are both partially correct, I guess if one looks back to February 13, 1990, I did ask about a $1 million or $1.5 million request and the Minister assured the House that it was nowhere near that amount. He never did indicate the amount they were dealing with but he did commit himself to returning to the Legislature to tell us how much that amount was. That did not happen. However, the Minister did cover himself in the final analysis by saying he would come back to the House. I apologize if I misled the House with respect to our previous debate. It is a very humbling experience for me. It is not often I have to stand up in this House and apologize to the Minister of Education.
I agree. I said we are both right in part.
One thing that bothers me is when we divest our responsibilities as legislators to various boards or corporations, whether it be the Yukon Development Corporation, or Yukon College, or whatever. There is very little, if any, public scrutiny done on these particular agencies. The Yukon Development Corporation may come in here for one, two or three hours, and that is it. That is the whole public accountability. Yukon College may be the same.
As Members, we have responsibilities for various budgets. Very little is revealed about the internal workings of these budgets. It is very general information that is provided to us. It is not as detailed as the Department of Renewable Resources or the Department of Education.
If we are going to continue to divest our responsibilities as a Legislature, perhaps there should be some provision that the meetings of these organizations be held in public, similar to what our meetings are. That way the public has access and at least has the ability, through the press or in person, to hear exactly how things are being run in an establishment such as the college.
We are being asked to vote a great deal of money - multi-millions of dollars from the taxpayer - yet there is very little public scrutiny with respect to exactly how these monies are being spent.
Perhaps the Government Leader or the Minister of Finance would like to respond to that, but it seems to me there should be further public scrutiny than what occurs in this House.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am sure we can give the Premier an opportunity to speak on the subject. Let me make a closing remark, because I feel we have come to the end of our time.
Yukon College is a different organization than any of the Crown corporations in that there is a specific statement in the act that governs the college that indicates it is not a subject of the FAA. It has a different relationship with the government. It is more arms length than anything else.
Nevertheless, it still has to be accountable - accountable perhaps in a different way than Crown corporations like the Yukon Housing Corporation. We do the estimates quite thoroughly for that corporation, and the Housing Corporation is subject to the FAA and Management Board directives, and that sort of thing.
To my knowledge, Yukon College has very few in-camera sessions. Quite often, they have reporters sitting in on board meetings. The only times they have in-camera sessions is when they are evaluating personnel, discussing their negotiating mandate with college employees for contract negotiations, and very few other times. They have an open-meeting policy. Given the number of stories that have come out of board meetings, that gives a measure of accountability to the college. They will still be requested to come before the House and discuss their request for funding. Over time, I am hoping they will be seeking funding arrangements from other sources to enhance their funding, like other colleges in this country. The portion of government subsidy will perhaps become less of a support.
Given the time, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 15.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Mr. Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole?
Ms. Kassi: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 14, Fourth Appropriation Act, 1989-90, and directed me to report the same without amendment. Further, the Committee has considered Bill No. 15, Second Appropriation Act, 1990-91, and directed me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:30 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled November 5, 1990:
Report of the Clerk of Assembly on deductions from indemnities of Members pursuant to subsection 39(6) of the Legislative Assembly Act (Speaker)