Tuesday, December 11, 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.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would like to have noted the presence in your gallery of the members of the new Yukon Child Care Board who have been meeting here today. I would like to introduce them and ask them to be recognized by the House. The chair is Diane Gough; members are Linda Gagne, Grant Meekins, Rosemary Zenovitch, Mary Kane, Lulu Tizya, Lois Pope and Barbara Hume.
Speaker: Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 22: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move that Bill No. 22, An Act to Amend the Liquor Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Minister of Renewable Resources that Bill No. 22, An Act to Amend the Liquor Act, be now introduced and read a first time. Are you agreed?
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 22 agreed to
Speaker: Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Notices of Motion.
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Skagway Road blockade
Mr. Phelps: I have a question for the Minister responsible for land claims regarding the unsigned letter on Carcross/Tagish Indian Band letterhead. The letter states that the Skagway Road will be blockaded as of Friday, December 14. Can the Minister tell us what steps his government is taking as a result of this letter?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I thank the Leader of the Official Opposition for the question. The threat to blockade the highway is, as far as can be determined, primarily directed to the Minister of Indian Affairs for failing to act on a request from a group of band members to replace an existing band custom principle with a clan system. The threat is an obvious negotiating ploy, which must be taken seriously, and it requires immediate mediation by the Minister of Indian Affairs to help resolve the dispute in a peaceful manner and to keep the road open.
Our Cabinet has met this morning to discuss this question. We have reviewed the matter and concluded that it is imperative to avoid any closure of the road and accordingly, my office has contacted the Minister of Indian Affairs with an urgent request that the Minister take steps to resolve the dispute. A similar message has been communicated by the Cabinet secretary to the Director of Indian Affairs in Whitehorse and other officials of our government have been meeting on the question.
I would note that the Minister responsible for the highway system and the Cabinet secretary met this morning with the chief of the Carcross Band who shares our concern about the situation and has expressed a willingness to try and achieve a resolution.
Mr. Phelps: It seems to me that there are major problems within the band and several factions have emerged. Is this government going to be involved in trying to set up a process by which the two or three factions will be at least talking to each other about the problems?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Leader of the Official Opposition originally directed the question to me as the Minister responsible for land claims. I think it has to be made clear that this is not a land claims issue per se. The unsigned petition is directed at the Minister of Northern Affairs with respect to the matters he has just described.
We, as I have indicated, have been in communication with the other parties. At this point, and because of the issues described, we are not a party in those discussions between the First Nations and the federal department on the precise question the Member describes.
Mr. Phelps: If the highway is blockaded, the government has the responsibility of seeing it removed. My suggestion is that I would like to see something done to effect at least a process of dialogues so that the various parties will have some kind of forum or process in which to air those grievances. It seems to me that one of the problems is that there has not been that kind of communication. I would like to see if this government is going to do anything to try and encourage this, aside from just talking to Indian Affairs and the chief.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I think, as I have indicated, we have already taken steps that from our part are designed to facilitate communication between the parties. Strictly speaking, we are not likely to play a mediating role, such as the Leader of the Opposition has suggested, without being invited to do so by someone, and nobody has asked us to do so. The representations that have been made by the dissident group have been made to the federal department and the federal Minister and I think it is appropriate that the federal department and the federal Minister respond in the first instance.
I should point out, though, that we have established an internal working group to follow the situation carefully to coordinate action and to open lines of communication with the other parties. I have taken steps already to assure everybody that we very much want a peaceful resolution to this problem and a solution that does not result in any interruption to traffic on that particular highway.
Question re: Tagish Kwan Corporation/bankruptcy
Mr. Phelps: I would like to follow up on some questions I asked yesterday of the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. I was questioning yesterday in lead off about the $2 million bail-out of the Tagish Kwan, that was proposed last June. The Minister said he would check to see whether or not YTG paid Kwanlin Dun or Tagish Kwan for the expenses, including legal fees, incurred in preparing for the $2 million deal that fell through.
Can the Minister answer those questions now?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I apologize to the Member. I cannot confirm today what costs, if any, were paid to Kwanlin Dun as a result of the land negotiations that took place over the last summer. Unfortunately, the confirmation I would like to provide the Member may take a couple of days because my deputy, who was closely involved in the administrative side of those negotiations, is in Ottawa this week for meetings and will not be back until late in the week. However, I have directed that the research take place and I will provide the information to the Member as soon as I receive it.
Mr. Phelps: I want to get the answer to that question soon. I trust it will be made available by Thursday because I do not want this swept under the rug or for us get into the Christmas season and not have this answer. If there is not an answer, we will be here for a long time.
Question re: Budget cuts
Mr. Lang: In review of the budget over the past month and a half, the government has been forced to admit that there have been some substantial cutbacks in critical areas of the budget. An example that comes to mind is the area of the municipalities where there has been a cutback of more than $1 million.
A number of municipalities are now looking at tax increases. We have just heard that one councillor in the community of Mayo has resigned and a number of the mayors are starting to voice some very strong disagreements about how the government has set their priorities within the government. Last night, the government released information through the Department of Government Services that the government is planning to spend more than $1 million on computers for the civil service.
I have a question for the Government Leader. Can the Government Leader tell this House how he can justify approving more than $1 million on computers while at the same time cutting back the municipalities by $1 million, which in some cases is going to force the municipalities to raise taxes?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This is the seventh or eighth time we have had this debate. I know the Member will note on the question of computers that the Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee have criticized us on a number of occasions for not putting financial management information systems and computer systems in place fast enough. In fact, I believe the most recent criticism was that we were way behind in projects and should be spending more in this area.
The question about municipalities and the suggestion that somehow the small increases provided to municipalities this year have triggered tax increases is quite preposterous. I happen to know that the City of Whitehorse is sitting with a surplus of $3.5 million, and itself had an 18 percent increase in expenditures this year. That is the reason for the tax increase, not something that we have done in terms of the O&M increases, which in fact are up.
Mr. Lang: It is too bad that the Government Leader is taking the tack of blaming the municipalities. The municipalities do have some reserves, but many of them are committed and will be expended over the course of this year. I do not think it is fair for us to attack the municipalities when we are the senior level of government and have cut back by over $1 million what was supposed to have gone to them over this current year. The whole credibility...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Lang: Yes, Mr. Speaker. The whole credibility of the government is in question when the Minister of Finance and Government Leader tell everybody to cut back and at the same time they budget over $1 million for computers.
Other than the fact that he lays the responsibility on the Auditor General, why are we budgeting over $1 million for computers when we have areas such as highways where we have seen a cut of over $6 million in expenditures from last year? This is going to cause seasonal employees to have to look elsewhere for work.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We spend money on computers because we get many, many demands from citizens for improved services. We get demands from Members for faster information. We get requests from people to try to improve service delivery without adding staff. There are many, many reasons, and we are not spending anything like the amount of money on computers that many people would like us to spend. The money we do spend on computers is all directed at improving service. If we did not have computers and if we did not have improved technologies, we would have a lot of people sitting around with eyeshades and quill pens and things would be moving much more slowly than they do around here.
Let us be clear about something...
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Well, I am going to answer the question now that I have dealt with the preamble.
The fact of the matter is that the municipalities have had massive increases in their capital through block funds provided by this government in the last several years. There is a slight reduction in the capital this year, as there is in our capital budget this year. That is a function of the financial realities around here. It is also reality that a number of the municipalities, as a result of the generous block capital arrangements made in previous years...
Speaker: Order please. Will the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: A number of those municipalities are now sitting with very substantial surpluses in the bank, which they have the option of using, rather than raising the taxes. They have made the choices - not choices we necessarily agree with.
Mr. Lang: This government has money in the bank and obviously there is some reason to keep some money aside for unforeseen needs. The interesting thing is that I have been an MLA for going on 17 years and I have never had one constituent come up and ask me to buy them a computer. This government is budgeting $1 million for computers, when they are going around the territory...
Speaker: Order please. Will the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Lang: I am going to play by the same rules as the Government Leader. - ... going around the territory...
Speaker: Order please. I have asked the Member to please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Lang: I would like to ask the Government Leader how he can go around the territory with his Minister of Finance with any credibility, telling the people of the territory that they have to tighten their belts, that the government expenditures are such that certain things cannot be done - for example, spending dollars in the area of non-profit organizations, just to meet inflation - and how can he expect his government to have any credibility when they budget over $1 million on computers and not one constituent has asked for them?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It may be that not one constituent has asked for computers, any more than a single constituent ever asked for an increased research budget for the official Opposition. There are some things one does in the government to try and improve services to citizens.
The increase in funding to municipalities this year is something like two percent, as my colleague, the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, reiterated time and time again, rather than the cutbacks claimed by the Member opposite. The tax increase talked about for the City of Whitehorse this year is a function of the fact that their budget is going up 18 percent. We have never had an 18 percent increase in our budget since we came to office, and that would be ...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Minister please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would be quite happy to document in this House the reason we need computers. It is not because people ask for computers; it is because they ask for services that can only be provided as a result of computer technology.
Question re: Budget cuts
Mr. Lang: It is amazing how the Government Leader can dance over $1 million and, at the same time, tell the municipalities they are getting too much money and the taxpayers should pay more indirectly because of the way he sets his priorities.
Yesterday, we were told that the government is proposing an additional $1 million, over and above the rental fees paid last year. An additional $1 million will be paid for the purpose of renting government space this coming year.
It is amazing that the government has grown so much for an additional $1 million worth of rental space. At the same time, we are telling non-profit organizations, like the transition home, that we cannot give them an increase to meet inflation.
How can the Government Leader tell the general public his government is serious about meeting financially difficult times when, at the same time, they are proposing to spend an additional $1 million on rental fees this coming year?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As usual, the Members opposite want to have it both ways. They demand more services but they do not want more expenditures. They demand that people get enhanced programs, but when we try to hire people to do so, that is a bad thing, too. Obviously, office space is a function of trying to provide adequate working conditions for our own employees. It is something we want to do and we want to respect them.
When he says nothing is being done for the transition home, that is nonsense. I have an extra $200,000 before this House for the transition home this year, in addition to the land and the other initiatives we have taken in order to enhance that service and improve its accessibility and quality in the last few years. I do not think the Member knows what he is talking about.
Mr. Lang: With all due respect, I feel I do have a fair amount of background on the subject. We have witnessed over $11 million being wasted on the Watson Lake sawmill alone. We have seen $65,000 being paid to Mr. Stuart to go on a holiday.
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Lang: I have no problem getting to the supplementary question, Mr. Speaker. My question was never answered. How can he justify...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mr. Lang: I want to know how he can justify to the public, when we are facing financially difficult times, and he is telling various organizations that they are going to have tighten their belts and maintain their expenditures and, at the same time, going out...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please take his seat. New question.
Question re: Budget cuts
Mr. Lang: I would like to ask the Government Leader the question I asked previously. How can he justify proposing an increase of $1 million, for renting increased government space and, at the same time, tell the public of the territory that they should be cutting back and taking less money from the government, specifically the non-profit organizations?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Well, I will go back. How can we justify trying to house our employees in conditions that meet the law, that meet the standards of occupancy space? It is very interesting. When we came into office, we discovered that in this building, I am sure under the tutelage of the Member opposite, people were crammed in here in violation of the governments own laws, own minimum standards, own occupational health and safety regulations. We did something about that. That involved having to rent some space and adding to some space. In this budget before us, we have added teachers; we have added special education teachers; we have added people in a number of areas. If the Member opposite thinks they should be working outside in the cold or they should be jammed together in working conditions...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Minister please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: If the Member opposite is proposing we jam people together in positions we would not even permit for the private sector, then I reject that proposition absolutely.
Mr. Lang: The Minister has not answered my question. I asked the Minister how he can justify spending an additional $1 million, over and above what was budgeted last year, for new office space when we are supposed to meeting difficult times. I want to ask the Minister if he would answer that question. How can he, with any credibility, tell the public they should tighten their belt when at the same time he is spending more than $1 million on new computers that could maybe wait a year and budgeting over an additional $1 million over and above the $2.5 million spent last year on office space.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I suspect I have already answered the question. In fact, I want to check the Members numbers because he is not notorious for bringing accurate information to the House. If there is additional office space, I am sure that some of it is for renovations. When he says to the Members that we should wait a year on computers, that is very interesting because that is contrary to the view expressed in this House before. Numerous Public Accounts Committee reports say that the six- or seven-year backlog of computer programs, financial information systems, information systems and management systems should be accelerated and the that government should reduce that backlog. There were motions passed unanimously in this House.
The Member for Porter Creek East is now dissenting and saying we should not respect the wishes of the House. We should abandon those positions and wait another year, so that we have an eight or nine year waiting list.
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Well, he is changing his partys position.
Mr. Lang: I was talking to a constituent the other day and he made the observation when he heard what the government was doing that they act just like a bunch of fat cats. They are all taking care of themselves and asking everybody else to cut back. Just for the record, the Member should look on page 557 as far as the rental space is concerned.
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary.
Mr. Lang: I would like to ask the Government Leader: in view of the fact that his government is going around the territory telling people that they should cut back and that we are facing some difficult financial times, would he reassess the priorities in spending this $2 million and see whether or not those dollars could be redirected into areas such as highways, to the non-profit organizations that never got an increase for inflation, or to the municipalities to help them out in the situations that they face?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The priorities of the government are expressed in this budget, and if the Member is opposed to them then he should not vote for them, but he is wrong in saying that this government is proposing cutbacks to non-profit organizations because we are not. We have allocated certain amounts of money in the budget and we will meet with the organizations to negotiate about the amounts of money for each of them. The municipalities are sitting with money in the bank. He suggested we take money out of services to people in order to put money into highways. Well, we have put an awful lot of money, hundreds of millions of dollars, into highways in the last few years. We think we have improved the highway system very substantially. There are also other areas of the community life that now need improving and that is what these expenditures are intended to do.
Question re: Indemnification policy
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister of Health and Human Resources. The government has a policy on their books that was dated March 4, 1988. It is called an indemnification policy. This policy was established to cover situations where people who incur legal costs as a result of doing a job for the government get compensated for those legal costs.
Will the people in the situation I asked about the other day with respect to the former foster parents be receiving compensation for their legal costs under this policy?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: If there was a claim for compensation for legal costs from this government, it would not be under that policy. As I recall that policy, it applies specifically to government employees.
Mrs. Firth: The policy reads government employees and persons who have entered into a contract of employment with the government. Is the Minister saying that foster parents do not come under the purview of this policy?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am not a lawyer, but I am pretty certain that a contract of employment has a very precise legal definition, and a foster parent would not fall within that definition.
Mrs. Firth: This government has employment relationships with other organizations, such as the Child Development Centre and the transition home, all of which are under strict terms of an employment relationship. They are all supervised and all receive remuneration.
Is the Minister saying that none of these groups would be covered under this policy, should they incur legal costs?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The organization she identified, and like organizations, do not have contracts for employment with us. They have contracts for service, or contribution agreements, or arrangements like that. In no sense are any of them employees of this government.
Question re: Indemnification policy
Mrs. Firth: I want to thank the Member for Whitehorse West for letting me go ahead. I would like to follow up on this issue with respect to the indemnification policy. One of the clauses in the policy, on page 3, 6(c), Approval, says that failure to assist employees who have been placed at risk in the performance of their duties may lead to reluctance on the part of other employees to expose themselves to similar risks.
It is evident that this is what is happening with the foster parent program, and the potential is there for it to happen with other services that are being provided to the government, as at the Child Development Centre or the transition home.
When this policy was formulated, was there an analysis and legal opinions sought as to whether these kinds of services would also be protected under this policy?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No, there was not. The kind of question the Member asks was not contemplated. The situation that policy addressed was a situation of employment of an employee who, in the exercise of their duties, might encounter some risks, as happened in this case, and which many people believe was unfair prosecution.
The situation the Member is describing is a situation that arises out of the Childrens Act, which creates an onus on our officials to protect the interests of children from injury and abuse. Whenever a situation like that develops, they are obligated, by law, to initiate investigations that may involve the police and, ultimately, charges.
From my preliminary review of the facts, following the Members question, we have had information that indicates that we have had three such cases in recent years, one of which resulted in a conviction, another resulted in an acquittal, and the third where the matter did not proceed.
In every case that has happened, it is always the hope that the employees have acted properly, but we also recognize that people charged in this situation or caught up in this kind of process...
Speaker: Order please. Will the Minister conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: ....find the experience very traumatic and very painful; the department recognizes that and has tried to work with people in that situation.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister says there is an obligation to follow the rules, and the rules were not followed in this particular instance. There is a growing demand from the public for some stricter guidelines with respect to the reporting of child abuse. This situation has to be reviewed under the terms of the policy...
Speaker: Order please. Will the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mrs. Firth: I was just about to ask it, Mr. Speaker.
I would like to ask the Minister if he will reconsider the application of this policy to this particular instance, taking into consideration the other services that are provided that also could be subject to this kind of situation.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There are three situations that the Member is describing. First of all there is the situation under the Childrens Act, which is very painful but which, when we have mandatory reporting added to the act, I am sure it will make it even more difficult, in many cases. The second situation is the one that the Member talks about where an employee, in duly carrying out their duties, is caught up in the justice system somehow; that is the second situation. The situation the Member is talking about in terms of foster parents or other groups who are not contemplated by the policy, is really a general policy problem of whether society wants to decide that someone charged with an offence and then acquitted should be able to make a claim against the state for their legal costs.
There have been a couple of cases recently, very dramatic events, where society or the state or the government has decided that compensation is due, but, so far, they are extraordinarily rare cases in the hundreds of thousands of cases dealt with - I suspect millions of cases - so far in Canada. You can count on one hand the number of cases where it has been deemed that such a grievous injury was done - so much malice or so much incompetence was involved - that a citizen was entitled to make a claim for compensation. They have been extremely rare instances so far.
Mrs. Firth: I think the seriousness of this case warrants the Minister looking at it. I think the public does, too, from the comments I have heard with respect to the issue since it has become public. I would like to ask the Minister to reconsider and see that something be done with respect to this issue. Maybe he could apply under this policy through some other manner, but I think this is one of those cases of which the Minister has just spoken.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have already said to the Member that I will look into the particulars of the case. She has repeated again today an allegation that employees of the department were involved in some wrongdoing. I certainly am not prepared to concede that at all. From what I know of the case so far, the employees behaved, from what I see, perfectly correctly. I am going to examine it further. The Member wants me to look at, in this case, whether compensation should be due from the government. I could only look at that question with the Minister of Justice as a very broad issue as to whether this society would be prepared to compensate people who have been charged with a criminal offence and then acquitted and decide that, as a general proposition, people then were entitled to make a claim against the state. That is a very, very difficult question and not one we could decide on the basis of one case.
Question re: Child welfare
Mr. Nordling: I have a follow-up question for the Minister of Health and Human Resources with respect to child welfare. Yesterday, I received a legislative return in response to a question I asked on December 3 regarding the six social worker positions that were advertised. The return does not completely answer the question I asked. The return simply states, in part, the social service 16 term positions are new, to respond to gradually increasing workload demands. What I would like to know from the Minister is why these positions are term positions rather than indeterminate.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As the Member may know, the Management Board approves two types of positions in the government: indeterminate and term. Usually the indeterminate position will be approved on the basis that there is ongoing funding and absolute security of funds. Terms are usually approved either because the program funding may fluctuate or because the department and Management Board judge that the need may change, that the kinds of duties may evolve or the demands shift over time; therefore, a term position will be created for a period of time to judge the utility and the effectiveness of that job before a position is made about a permanent position.
Mr. Nordling: I will thank the Minister for his general statement. My question was: what is the answer to that in this case? He gave four different possibilities.
On December 3, the Minister talked about the difficulty in recruiting and said, in part, that we do not have the people locally. Therefore, we have to recruit outside, and that makes things difficult. I would like to know if these six positions were advertised outside.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I think I already told the Member that only one of the positions is being advertised outside and that is the one with the highest level of credentials. The department believed such credentials were probably not available in our community.
The other question the Member asked was why, precisely, each position is term. I will have to take notice on that, but perhaps, since we are dealing with my estimates this afternoon, someone in the department is listening now and will gather the information so that we can answer the Members question then.
Mr. Nordling: I thought the Minister had taken notice of that on December 3.
I am concerned with the burn-out factor. The Minister says we need to look at factors such as rotation to address the staffs stress and pressures. I would like to know when the decision will be made on what options are practical and what can be implemented for these people.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We are looking at that question and a large number of others at this time. I am hoping that I will be able to answer the question in the new year, but I want the Member to know that there are some simple answers and good answers to this problem, but there are no simple, good answers.
There are some people who will find the idea of rotating positions attractive; others will not. That is something, given our system of classification and recruitment, that we would have to work out with the employee group before we could implement it.
Question re: Whitehorse sewage treatment plant
Mr. Phillips: I have a question for the Minister of Renewable Resources, who is responsible for the protection of the environment.
One of the worst environmental hazards in the Yukon today is the lack of a proper sewage treatment plant for the City of Whitehorse. Yet, there is not even $1.00 identified in the current budget to deal with this major environmental problem. I would like the Minister to explain why this problem is not a priority of this government and yet computers and government office space seem to be.
Hon. Mr. Webster: As the Member knows, the proper department responsible for municipal affairs is the one headed by my colleague, the Member for Faro. He has already made commitments during his budget speech to set aside some funding for the City of Whitehorse to deal with the sewage treatment problem as soon as the City of Whitehorse makes a commitment from its own resources to help address this problem.
Mr. Phillips: It may be the responsibility of the Minister of Community and Transportation Services to deal with it in his budget, but I remind the Minister that he is the Minister responsible for the environment. The sewage going into the Yukon River today is the strongest pollutant in the whole territory and this Minister is not addressing that. If the proper treatment of the sewage from the City of Whitehorse is considered to be a priority of this government, I would like the Minister to explain why he cannot convince his colleague, the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, of this priority.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Again, I want to reiterate that there is not a program in my Department of Renewable Resources specifically for assisting communities with the particular problem of sewage treatment. I have already also mentioned that it is properly addressed in the Department of Community and Transportation Services. I have already mentioned that the Minister of Community and Transportation Services has, on many occasions, made a commitment to provide funding for the municipality of Whitehorse, or other municipalities, to treat their sewage problems when those communities have made their own commitments and set aside their own resources for that purpose.
Mr. Phillips: The Minister made my point for me. The government side has said on many occasions that they are willing to do something about it, but we have not seen one penny that this government has put aside in this budget to deal with the very serious problem of sewage treatment in the City of Whitehorse. Can either Minister put his money where their mouth is and tell the House and the Yukon public in which budget they are going to find any money for the treatment of sewage for this year? Is there anywhere in this budget that they plan to find the money for the sewage treatment this year?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to say, again, that we are waiting for the City of Whitehorse to make some commitment for this. So, we are waiting too. The Member for Riverdale North says he is waiting. Yes, we are waiting for the City of Whitehorse, too. They have $4.5 million in the bank and I hope that some of that money is being set aside for putting forward to treat their sewage problem properly. When they make that commitment, the Government of Yukon, as I have already mentioned, is prepared to make a commitment to the capital block funding program that, incidentally, is part of the Community and Transportation Services budget.
Question re: Asbestosis testing, Reynards phenomenon
Mr. Brewster: I have a written question for the Minister responsible for Workers Compensation Board. In a legislative return dated November 21, 1990, that the Minister tabled, in response to a question by the MLA for Porter Creek, concerning asbestosis, he stated that with regard to occupational diseases that a comprehensive, well-planned program is being initiated. I would like to know if Reynards phenomenon, or white-fingered disease, is considered as an occupational disease and consequently is being included in this comprehensive program?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The question was in written form, and I will bring back all the information he is seeking.
Question re: Rancheria microhydro plant
Mr. Devries: It has come to my attention that the Government of the Yukon is proposing to tax the microhydro plant at Rancheria. This plant was built with the private individuals money. Can the Minister of Finance tell us at what rate this project will be taxed?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would like to thank the Member for not allowing me to be frozen out in Question Period today. I was getting quite lonely.
Having listened to the question, though, I must admit I do not have a clue what the Member is talking about. Consequently, the answer is going to have to be brutally short.
I am not aware of the Department of Finance scheming to tax the microhydro project. The taxation policies are universally applied across the territory for all enterprises. The Member is referring to something I am not aware of. Perhaps he can explain it through his supplementaries and, then, perhaps I can respond.
Mr. Devries: I expected that. I realize the question was kind of unfair. Would the Minister investigate and put in place a tax break incentive for any company or individual that lessens our dependency on fossil fuel through the use of an alternative energy program? Would the Minister consider doing this?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I thank the Member for the question and the suggestion. The one caveat to providing further tax breaks than we already provide - and we have already considerably reduced the tax load since 1985 - is that we are penalized under the current proposed financial formula with the federal government, such that any tax breaks we provide will carry an additional penalty to the Yukon government in terms of even lesser revenues being provided to us by the federal government.
It is something we have to consider with some care, even though there may be some good candidates for tax breaks. It is the very clearly stated position of the federal government that our tax rates are currently too low, and that we should be substantially raising our taxes, in order to avoid the significant penalties they are proposing in the new formula.
Mr. Devries: I guess on the part of the federal government, there had been a proposal to raise the water licence fees, and I have received assurances from the federal government that there will be no water licence fee at all on small energy projects. I feel that the Yukon government, in line with their environmental policy, could possibly also establish a guideline that tax incentives will be made available to encourage environment-friendly projects. There is nothing in their energy policy that indicates any incentive of this type.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Despite the fact that we have a wide array of incentives, except through expenditures, to encourage energy-efficient projects and also to support environmentally sound initiatives and also to encourage projects that are innovative in improving performance with respect to the environment, we have been somewhat cautious, as I say, in considering even more tax breaks for Yukoners, given the very firm position by the federal government that our tax rates are currently way too low - in fact, 40 percent too low. They have indicated to us that we will be penalized until such time as we raise our tax rates, overall, by 40 percent. So we are currently facing a very difficult situation through the formula financing agreement, which causes us to be very cautious about using that particular mechanism - the mechanism of reducing tax rates - when wanting to encourage a particular activity.
While I thank the Member for the suggestion, and it may be a useful one to study, he will have to understand that we will have to do it with some considerable caution, given the constraints under which we are operating.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Notice of Business
Mr. Phillips: Pursuant to the provisions of Standing Order 14.1(1), I would like to request the unanimous consent of the House to call the following motions: No. 30, No. 28, No. 7, No. 21, No. 23, under Motions other than Government Motions, when that business is called on Wednesday, December 12, 1990.
Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: Unanimous consent has been granted.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order and declare a brief recess.
Chair: I will call Committee to order.
Bill No. 16 - First Appropriation Act, 1991-92 - continued
Department of Health and Human Resources - continued
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I was in the middle of opening statement last night. I thought it might help if I formally table documents that I delivered this morning to the critic,s office. I hope they will answer most of the questions that he tabled at the time of the supplementaries. There are one or two answers there that he will note are not very complete, but it was just not possible for us to answer fully the question at that time. I will come back to that.
I would like to move now to a brief description of the childrens and family services branch as I introduce this budget. One of the most important initiatives taken by this branch during the coming fiscal year will be the preparation of amendments to the Childrens Act, which we will be introducing in the coming sitting.
While it is anticipated that a number of changes to the act will be made, the most important one will be the inclusion of mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse. That is something the government has made a policy commitment to do.
Currently, the Child Care Act and the Education Act have mandatory reporting, but it is not only the care givers of the territorys children who must take the responsibility for reporting abuse or neglect.
We will expand the delivery of child abuse treatment programs to communities outside Whitehorse and work with the Kwanlin Dun First Nation to develop a native family support worker program for that community in the coming year.
The Child Care Act, as all Members know, was passed this past May and proclaimed on July 1. Today in the House, I was able to introduce Members to the majority of the people on the new Child Care Board. We are proceeding to move ahead to meet our commitment to provide quality child care for all Yukon children. The strategy is now entering its third year. Over the past year we have increased the ceiling on financial support for infant and special needs spaces from $400 to $450, very much as a result of representations from people who are providing this kind of care and from the operators of the family day homes.
We have also amended the funding guidelines of the child care capital development program to assist profit-based centres to convert to non-profit structures and two private centres have been converted to non-profit centres under this program. I have given financial details about those conversions to the Member for Porter Creek East - and now to the whole House in the legislative returns that I have tabled.
As Members may remember, a wage enhancement initiative was introduced in March 1990, to try to improve the wages of child care workers. The initiative was for the previous fiscal year, but the child care service union is currently working on a more comprehensive package in consultation with child care workers and the groups representing the child care association and the child care operators.
The department is also in the process of initiating the five-phase procedure for the development of new regulations under the Child Care Act. I previously laid out for Members the steps that we were going to go through about drafting regulations and the consultation on them toward the final adoption of them.
As I indicated earlier, the Child Care Board is now in place and it will be responsible for encouraging the development of child care services and making representations to the Minister on matters pertaining to child care, reviewing policies, programs, services and administrative procedures pertaining to child care and to hear appeals under the act in areas of child care subsidies and licensing.
Other initiatives include the development and implementation of standards for the delivery of foster care services to children committed to care of the director. We are also planning for the development and implementation of therapeutic foster homes designed to care for children with very special needs.
In the area of juvenile justice, we are proceeding to carry out good work there, too, I believe. As Members are all aware, the purpose of the juvenile justice program is to provide and support the development of services and resources in Yukon communities and to facilitate the rehabilitation of young offenders in a manner that encourages community involvement and responsibility for youth crime prevention. Throughout the coming year, the branch will continue to work on the community diversion and youth crime prevention activities, two initiatives of my predessessor, the present Minister of Justice, and excellent initiatives that we think are producing good results.
The department will implement a new wilderness program located near Ross River and will be continuing the operation of our custody programs. It goes without saying that part of this is ongoing training, program refinement and reviewing the levels of cross-cultural sensitivity in our programs.
The Member for Porter Creek East previously asked some questions about discipline and authority and so forth in programs in facilities, and I have attempted to provide some information in the material I tabled earlier today about that, although he may wish to pursue that in the debate that follows.
In regional services, we are fostering community development in rural Yukon. That continues to be the prime motivator of the regional services branch. This years program highlights include the provision of counselling services to Faro, in Dawson on a full-time basis and in Watson Lake on a full-time residential basis. We also plan ongoing training programs for three social work trainees in Carmacks, Ross River/Faro and Old Crow. The purpose of these programs is to train three locally hired people.
We also plan to continue the safe places funding to communities.
The branch will also continue to negotiate a federal/territorial Indian family and children services funding agreement as well as funding for expansion of the family support program.
As all Members know, Mayo plays an important role in the planning for regional services as it is the location of a very important pilot project. That community will be involved in the integration initiative with the Department of Regional Services where we think the initiative for developing integrated delivery of health and social service planning and so forth is more advanced than it is anywhere else and is proceeding well.
I need to say something about the health services branch because it is this branch more than any other within the department that will be the focus of changes that reflect new ways that Yukoners are thinking about health and health issues.
The health services program provides and ensures access to, participates in the development of supportive health care, disease prevention and treatment services that help Yukon residents attain maximum individual independence within the community setting. It is this unit that will oversee two of the most exciting things to happen in the department for quite a long time. The department has an exciting and interesting year ahead with the construction of the long-term care and rehabilitation facility, which begins in the spring and has an opening slated for the following October. The completely new concept for financing this facility means the department will not have to bear the cost alone. Together, Health and Human Resources, Workers Compensation, Yukon Housing Corporation and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation will share the cost of this facility, which will provide extended care to our seniors and rehabilitation facilities for those Yukoners who now must leave their homes and families to receive necessary treatments.
Another very important initiative is the health transfer. For many people, this must have seemed like an unobtainable goal for a long time. We have now signed the framework agreement with the federal government and the Council for Yukon Indians, and we can continue to work toward the transfer of the health responsibility.
As I have previously had the opportunity to describe in this House, the framework agreement outlines what is to be transferred from one government to the other. It also provides for funding for a brand new hospital. We are moving toward the responsibility for our own health and hospital services, as well as looking toward a new hospital - something which many people have wondered would ever happen.
This departments budget does reflect $193,000 new dollars for health transfer negotiations. We are negotiating a transfer funding agreement with the federal government. As has been the case in the past, we expect the federal government will be paying a large portion of the transfer negotiation costs.
In the current fiscal year, health services will implement the new medical travel policy, which I have previously announced. Members will have noticed that the new Health Act provides a legislative mandate for implementing this new travel policy, which provides financial assistance to patients receiving out-patient treatment, for meals and accommodation, both in and out of the territory.
The policy also provides financial assistance to parents travelling with their critically or terminally ill children who require out-of-territory treatment. We were asked by many Yukon parents to consider this option. We did and have included it in the program. The Health Act proposes to give us the proper legal authority for making these changes.
Health Services will also oversee the implementation of the new mammography program. I think, as all Members know, this will be a self-referral program to provide screening diagnostic mammography services for Yukon women. I think the official opening is the morning of December 17. All Members of the House will be extended an invitation to that event next week.
The health services branch is planning strengthening the medical audit committee to ensure effective program reviews and will formalize an agreement with the Yukon Pharmacy Association to establish better cost controls for drug programs, including the chronic diseases program.
A lot of work has gone into the departments initiatives for the coming year. We are doing everything we can to maintain services and, where we can, improve them where possible and yet operate within our budget.
As I said before, some services have been cut and some services have been increased. We are very mindful of the public we serve in this department. As I previously indicated, I will be coming forward during the remainder of this calender year with a number of initiatives that are part of the health agenda. I will make mention of those now.
Although I have not seen them yet, Mental Health Act regulations are in draft form. I hope to see them soon. I understand some have people have already. We will be attempting to put those in place soon and appoint a new Mental Health Board so that the Minister does not have to be involved in committal procedures any more and we can do away with the court-based system we now have.
As well, in the next few days I will be concluding work on some cost-control initiatives that I will be bringing forward to my Cabinet colleagues. I will, probably, in a general way, be able to describe where I am going with some of those things, but I will not be able to describe, during the debate on this estimate, the firm and complete conclusions because I will have to go through Management Board on some of the things I am proposing.
As I mentioned, the Child Care Board has been recently appointed and I expect the debate on the Health Act, which is a very important initiative, will continue in the days ahead.
With those opening remarks, I will resume my place to answer questions. But before I sit down, I am bound to note to Members that I have circulated this document but I have to make a correction on page 234 in the budget book. It is not in the budget numbers, but is in the 1990-91 forecast numbers; the numbers that were typed in here did not reflect the numbers that were debated and passed in this House in the supplementary. What I have brought forward here is a correction sheet that makes it clear that the numbers contained here in the 1990-91 forecast for operation and maintenance expenditures are the same as the ones we debated and approved in the supplementary.
Mr. Lang: I would like to start out with a couple of observations in respect to various initiatives that are being projected to go ahead here. From this side of the House, we want to extend our congratulations in respect to the initiative to acquire a mammography unit, which is presently being put into place. I think it is safe to say that the Member for Riverdale South can take a fair amount of the credit for this initiative taking place. It is long overdue. We are very pleased to see that it is going ahead. If I had a criticism, I would have to ask why it took almost six to eight months after the decision was made by this House to get where we are today where an official opening of that particular facility is going to take place in a week from now. I would have thought it could have been done a couple of months ago, at least.
Other than the fact that we have been critical about the fact we have announced the extended care facility at least three times in this House, we are pleased to see it finally appearing to be going ahead. As all Members of the House know, it has been our position that it is a facility that is long overdue and it is one that should be proceeding and we all have constituents in our various ridings, I am sure, who presently are suffering from the fact that this type of facility is not available. I think that in view of the financial support we have been getting from the Government of Canada over the past five years, this is a facility that should have been proceeded with a number of years ago. At the same time, I want to say we fully support the principle of this type of facility being put in place and we will be looking forward to seeing what the outcome of the construction will bring to us.
We are pleased to see the travel policy taking place. We know it is going to cost some more money, and we appreciate that, but we think it is long overdue. With the initiative taken, it is going to meet some of the laborious and, to parents, trying times of the situation where an infant has to go outside unaccompanied by its parent. We feel this is an area that has been overlooked for a long period of time, and it is one we are pleased to see being met.
I would like to go through a series of questions, as opposed to an opening statement. I have some issues I would like to expand on in general debate. One of these is the hospital transfer.
The Minister made his announcement here a number of weeks ago with respect to an agreement signed between himself, the Council for Yukon Indians and the Government of Canada. Since that announcement was made, has anything else occurred in regard to the transfer? If so, what has taken place?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The negotiations have been proceeding. We have another session scheduled soon to conclude the arrangements with the employees about classification as we move toward the situation in the spring when we will be able to make a formal offer to those employees. We will be making that offer at the same time the federal government makes the financial commitment for the new hospital.
We are proceeding to discuss the way in which that capital project will go ahead and the timing. I have recently received indications from the Council for Yukon Indians that, rather than going at a separate table, their preference is for the second-stage transfer to be dealt with at the land claims table as part of the self-government negotiations. This is so their interest in community health matters will be addressed at that table, from their point of view.
There is a lot of work involving the financing, the staffing, the personnel arrangements, the transitional period and the management of the old facility while the new one is being built, which my deputy and other officials have been in discussion with the feds about. All those details, nuts and bolts arrangements, will be put in place as we move toward the scheduled transfer dates, all of which will happen in the next calendar year.
Mr. Lang: I was kind of surprised at the agreement that was signed, initialed, between the two top civil servants at the government level and the Council for Yukon Indians. I would have thought that an agreement of this kind would have necessitated the signatures, in this case, of the Government Leader and that of the Minister of Health and Human Resourses at the federal level. I am just wondering why it was strictly an administrative agreement as opposed to ministerial signatures being on such an agreement?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As the Member will know, I have met with the Hon. Perrin Beatty and talked to him about it and we have communicated. There will come a stage in the next few weeks, I expect, as we move toward the date, when he and I will formally sign some documents. The most important document that we have to have from the federal government may not have Mr. Beattys signature on it and that is a cheque, or an equivalent financial instrument, for construction of the new hospital. As I explained the deal to the Member, we take that cheque with one hand and make an offer to the employees with the other, and six months later the transfer would take place. Detailed work toward that day is moving ahead and will be, no doubt, a formal occasion for which the federal Minister may travel here for that purpose. I do not know, he has not indicated so yet, but there will be some closing, if I can use that analogy, that will involve both Ministers.
Mr. Lang: My concern is with the way the agreement was signed. It being subject to Treasury Board approval at the federal level left the security of the actual agreement open.
When is this particular item expected to go to Treasury Board for formal approval?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There is a finite time in the agreements within which the time the federal government committed to get approval from Treasury Board. I cannot give the Member the exact deadline on that, but it is within this immediate period ahead of time when, according to the agreement, the federal government has to have the approval of Treasury Board. I have no indication there is any problem on that score. In fact, it is quite the opposite because I have had discussions with a number of federal Ministers - and the Member may understand in involved negotiations sometimes it is useful to speak with more than one federal Minister - including Mr. Wilson, about this subject. I believe that rather than it being a problem the opposite is the case; the federal government very much wants to conclude this agreement, especially now we have solved what was potentially a complicated problem about what to do with the second-stage transfer.
Mr. Lang: I would ask that the Minister come back with the information on the time frame in which he expects it to be approved by Treasury Board. If there are deputy ministers involved in negotiations, surely there must be some discussion at the administrative level about what time frame for approval we are dealing.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I think we signed the agreement, if I recall, on some October date. If my memory serves me correctly, the commitment was the federal government had to clear it with Treasury Board within 120 days from the signing of that agreement. I do not remember the date off the top of my head. I would have to go back and check what that was, but that would give the deadline.
Mr. Nordling: While we are on this topic, I would like to ask the Minister how we are doing with the recruitment of a chief executive officer for the hospital. We discussed it at great length, along with the amount that was being spent on the recruitment. I wonder if we could have an update.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: When the negotiations began to slow, some months ago, as the Member will recall, we essentially put that project on hold. We are now re-evaluating the approach of establishing a board or appointing an executive director to manage the capital project, which is how we are now conceiving doing that. We had some discussions with our friends in Government Services and with the federal government as to how we are doing that. We have not reached any final conclusions as to whether we will use the executive director/board model to see the construction project done or use the more conventional arrangement using Government Services, or we could try and work out an arrangement that reflects the realities of money being transferred from the federal government and the different procedures we would inherit from them.
Mr. Nordling: This CO is also going to oversee the details of the transfer as well as the capital project of building it. Are we re-evaluating that portion, too? Is it possible it will be someone other than the CO and the board who handles the details of the transition?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: When the negotiations began to stall and we put that particular model on hold, the negotiations became the personal responsibility of the deputy minister and some other officials. That is the way in which we have been operating the transfer discussions up to now. I have every expectation that we will be able to finalize the agreement on the basis of that, rather than having to hire a CEO in order to do it.
Mr. Lang: I want to move on to the area of physiotherapy. In the legislative return that he tabled in the House, the Minister has admitted there is a four to six week backlog in the physiotherapy department. I suggest that that is probably the case most of the time. The physiotherapists at the hospital try to lighten their caseloads as best they can by putting people in the situation where they do not have to come back. At the same time, it seems to multiply. It must seem like an insurmountable task, as people are continuously sent to them.
We have at least one physiotherapist in private practice with the necessary accreditation. I am not sure if there are others. If we are covered under the auspices of our medicare program, we should seriously be looking at the question of physiotherapy being under our medicare system, under certain guidelines.
I know requests have been made in the past. I know that serious consideration was given to it at times, yet the question of financing comes in at the same time. If we are providing the service, we have to pay for it anyway, one way or another. I was pleased to see that the Minister indicated in the legislative return the possibility of seeing whether, at least in part, private physiotherapy could come under some aspects of the act.
Could the Minister expand on that? How long does he feel this review is going to take before a decision could be made?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Let me briefly say to the Member that I think he knows that the decisions to add to insured benefits under the health insurance plan are decisions with huge financial implications. We have outstanding representations for an addition of a whole range of services under the health insurance program.
There has not been any formal process of periodic reviews of the coverage. What is contemplated upon passage of the Health Act is that we would, as a matter of policy every year in the department, do a formal review of the requests for additions to the list of services covered under the health insurance program. I want to say to the Member that one of the first things that we would be looking at, perhaps the very first, would be the physiotherapy question.
Mr. Lang: I am looking for the copy of the legislative return that I had. I am getting bamboozled with paper here and I sure the Minister would not want that happen to me - it must be the furthest thing from his mind. The impression I got from the legislative return was that it was of serious concern to the government. They admitted they have a waiting list of four to six weeks at the hospital and that they would undertake to research the utilization of private physiotherapy services. My concern is that it seems to me that we are giving it lip service and we are going to give it another year or two years and see how things are going.
This was brought to me by a number of constituents who have some very severe problems with their back, to the point in some cases where they are laid up for not a day at a time but for a weeks at a time. In some cases, they are just not able to get in to see the physiotherapist at the hospital. They cannot afford, however, the price that is charged by the private physiotherapy to warrant going maybe two, three, five or six times a week.
Knowing that there is a very real backlog, I do not understand why we could not move more quickly in respect to trying to come up to a definitive decision rather than putting it more or less on hold with the idea of another year of review. I am making representation, I guess, on behalf of constituents who very seriously need this kind of care and at times are not able to get it because of the situation being created by the backlog.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I did not say I was putting it on hold. Let me explain the situation to the Member this way. There are two scenarios here that we have to deal with. One involves hospital transfer negotiations. If everything goes according to plan, by this time next year we will be responsible for the hospital. Therefore, in terms of hospital-based services, we will be responsible, with the board of the hospital, for decisions about hospital-based services, staffing, the extent to that they will be provided, et cetera.
The other question is about the insurance coverage for physiotherapy services. As a matter of policy, on passage of the act, we will not be postponing, or postponing to the inevitable or tabling or delaying decisions about the addition of new services of health insurances. Every year we will be formally going through a process of deciding what items shall be covered under the health insurance.
One of the items we will first be looking at in just a few months, not waiting a year, is the question of physiotherapy coverage. We are not putting it off for a year or two. We will be making a decision one way or the other but it will be very soon. The intention is to create a formal situation where the government will annually go through a process of listening to the representation of the people about the extent of the coverage, discussing with the public what it is going to cost and their willingness to pay and making a decision about that. I do not want the Member to be left with the impression that we are putting off or postponing or delaying the decision. That is not the case. What we are trying to do is give ourselves a structured way of looking at this issue, this and many other demands for addition of services to the health insurance program, on a regular and formal basis.
Mr. Lang: We should know possibly by spring, is that what the Minister is telling me? Madam Chair, the Minister is nodding his head; I just want to make sure it is in the record. Sometimes I like to refer back to the record just to see how our conversations did go, because the Minister knows I would be the last one to misrepresent him.
Another area that I would like to go on to is asbestosis. I have a legislative return here, quite frankly, and parts of it I do not understand. Maybe it is just me or maybe it is just the way it is written. I appreciate the effort that has gone into it but it is fairly technical and detailed. The Minister will recall that in the debate that we had, I was raising a situation that he was fully aware of and is referred to in the legislative return toward the end. This is a situation where an individual is retired but is pretty sure that he has what could well be asbestosis that he is, in part, suffering from. He was seeking legal advice, with the idea of pursuing his case fairly quickly with respect to his particular situation. The Minister at that time indicated that he did not know where the liability of government or companies was as far as this was concerned, and I think it was a valid observation on his part, quite frankly. It is a relatively new area for us, but unfortunately, as the legislative return points out, it is one that we obviously are going to have to confront.
They are recommending a number of reviews and an overall look at occupational disease in the workplace and how it affects people. I have no problem with that, but in the interim, while this is going on, we have at least one situation, maybe others that I am not aware of, where an individual was caught and no policy exists as far as how it affects him directly. The Minister was going to check to see whether or not, perhaps in this particular case, the government could take on the legal costs of such a case and check the circumstances and what responsibilities the various players had in respect to a situation of this kind. He did not report that in his legislative return.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The legal question of liability is something I have not delved into, yet. The return does make it clear that there are two kinds of claims one can make to the Compensation Board, by Compensation Board policy. One is essentially a claim for lost wages. Now, when you are retired, that kind of claim cannot go forth because you are not in the workforce anymore.
As this return makes clear, particularly in the latter sections of it, a person is still entitled to claim compensation as a result of a work-related illness. The client that the Member is talking about has had his claim accepted. It is, as the return indicates, under investigation. The terms, which come from the Worker Compensation Board and not from my department, were explained to the worker when he met with the president and the adjudicator. The worker, as the claim states, is taking the precaution of seeking legal counsel. This is a workers right.
The decision of the board will be based on the medical evidence, as it is on all such claims. As you know, the Workers Compensation Board has a doctor of their own who will review the file. The patients doctor has made certain kinds of conclusions and a decision of the board comes out of that. That is still pending. It is not something the government can direct.
I have every faith that the Workers Compensation Board will look openly and fairly at the case of any worker who comes before it. If the worker is not satisfied, there is recourse to the worker, either by appeal to Members of this House or through other procedures. Appeal procedures are contemplated under the Workers Compensation Act.
The claim has been accepted. It cannot be accepted as a wage loss claim, but it is being accepted by the board and is under investigation now. I believe we should, on that question at that time, allow the board to go through its process and make its judgments.
Mr. Lang: A certain amount of time has already passed. I am not putting the blame on one particular body or individual. I want to say at the outset that I think everyones intentions are honourable. I am not questioning that.
My concern is that government has the tendency to let time take its course. In other words, we can always do it tomorrow or next month.
We have a situation where a number of months have passed. From the perspective of the individual involved, it is very traumatic. I am sure we would all agree that it should be dealt with expeditiously. If the Minister cannot tell me, could he find out for me what time frame we are looking at with respect to a final decision being made in this particular case?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will take that question as notice and come back to the Member with the answer. I am a little concerned with the suggestion that, somehow, people are sitting on this or that there is some kind of red-tape delay. In fairness, on the day the gentleman came to see me, I made an arrangement to meet with the president of the Workers Compensation Board that day. I know the gentleman has subsequently been to see a lawyer. That is a matter of record. I know the claim is now being investigated. I do not know what processes are involved in that.
I will ask what kind of time frame they envision to come to a decision on this. I have not recently had complaints from workers about excessive delays in dealing with the Workers Compensation Board, and I would be very concerned about that. I will take the question as notice and see if I can find out what time frame the board will need to reach a decision. I know they are dealing with the matter.
Mr. Lang: As an MLA raising this, I want to know what kind of time frame we are dealing with, in fairness to the gentleman involved and for the knowledge of Members on how the process works. We are not talking days here; we are talking months. I recognize that there are medical implications have to be reviewed, and that takes time. There are outside specialists involved, and all that kind of thing.
I want to impress upon the Minister the importance I place on this and why it should be expedited as quickly as possible.
During the debate on the question of asbestosis, I asked the Minister if he would look at what is happening in other jurisdictions where asbestosis has been experienced, such as the Province of Quebec. He was going to ask for an overview to be done on how Workers Compensation, the Department of Health, or the various agencies dealt with asbestosis, once one gets into a situation of disabilities, et cetera. Has the Minister had a chance to do that? If he has not, when does he expect that kind of information to be available?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Of the inquiries following our conversation, I have not received any information about replies yet, in terms of the review of what is happening in other jurisdictions. I want the Member to know, if I can be permitted to say so, that, as a former asbestos worker and asbestos miner myself, it is a matter in which I take a great personal interest. I will be making sure that we pursue the matter aggressively and I will provide the information to the Member as soon as it gets here.
Mr. Lang: I appreciate that the Minister will provide that information to me as soon as it arrives, because I think it is an issue that we all have some concerns about, especially those who have lived here many, many years. I know that many of my friends have worked at one time or another at Clinton Creek and some at Cassiar, of course.
I would ask another question on the subject of asbestosis. Have we any other suspected cases of asbestosis in the last year or year and a half, other than the one that the Minister and I have been dealing with?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have anecdotal, not professional, knowledge of two other cases, personally. One of the people has since died.
Mr. Lang: My question to the Minister is this: what are we doing in respect to the general population in the territory here? I know some people who lived in Clinton Creek for quite a number of years and worked there. Are we going to be putting a program of some kind together that will be asking them - voluntarily, if they wish - to come in and take the necessary tests and do whatever one has to do, to see whether or not they have been exposed to the extent they may have asbestosis?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As the Member may know I, personally, have asked the officials in our government and the board to look at developing and maintaining a registry of workers who worked in hazardous occupations or sites such as this, not just because of my personal interest, but because I have fellow workers from my time, before and after, who, I think, have a reason to make requests of the government to do this. As the legislative return points out, there is quite a substantial commitment of work and resources involved in doing this, but as the legislative return notes, the board has become aware there is an increasing need to look at this situation of occupational diseases and they are doing so.
I cannot tell the Member what the conclusions of their investigations and their study of this question will be, but I do appreciate the board responding so readily to the request that they consider doing this, and thank them for it. I know the board is treating this as a very serious question, but regrettably, as we know with anything like this, it is one that has significant cost implications.
Mr. Lang: I appreciate what the board is doing as well. I take the Minister at his word. I realize he is not doing it because of his personal situation; it is a question of public interest and what we are elected to do when things like this come to our attention.
If we are flagging it to occupational diseases, that brings in a lot of other possibilities. I am not saying we should not take a look at that. We know in the Yukon that we have the potential for asbestosis. We know that for a fact. We know there was a major work force living and employed in the Clinton Creek area, primarily, and some in Cassiar. It would seem to me that rather than wait for the outcome of the review perhaps we should try to get more of a press relation campaign going so that people are aware that there has been a situation of three possible cases of asbestosis already identified. I am a Member of this House and was not aware of the two other cases. I am more concerned about the general public who had worked primarily at Clinton Creek.
I was wondering if the Minister would take it upon himself, upon the representation I am making, to have a look and see what we can do to get more public exposure about this issue and try to encourage people who have been working in this area to come in and register, and also go through physical examinations on an annual basis, or whatever the medical profession recommends that they do. I am just hoping, and I may be being perfectly naive on this because it is not an area that I know a lot about, I just know that it is very dangerous, that if people are examined early enough and it is detected maybe there are things that could be done to negate the real tragic final developments of that disease. I do not know if that is possible or not, but I just put it to the Minister and I would like to hear his comments.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I agree with the Member. What I have contemplated is that under the health investment fund or the health promotion initiative, this is the kind of issue where we might encourage a union group representing the workers in that kind of situation. People who were directly and intensively interested in the question have an immediate interest in seeing that kind of health promotion initiative taken to perhaps access this fund and get involved in that kind of campaign so the government does not necessarily have to do it. The people themselves can talk about their own campaign, their own initiative with their own literature, with some modest funding from us, perhaps with a huge payoff in terms of the public good and the public health.
I have already had some preliminary discussions with my colleagues and with the Steelworkers union who represent most of the organized mine workers here about some of these questions. I have every intention of pursuing those at a pace and a speed at which the employee organization wishes to pursue the matter.
Mr. Lang: I think we are generally of some agreement here. I am just a little concerned about employees who are no longer working with these organizations or are no longer members of these particular unions. They have gone into different vocations. We are talking about a mine that has long since closed about 15 years ago, or 12 years ago, or whatever the time frame is. My concern is that as time goes by - time is one of the worst aspects of diseases of this kind - it is going to have more and more of an effect. I just want to say to the Minister that the Health Act obviously is going to be dealt with this session but if it comes into effect it may well not come into effect until April 1. I do not know what the time frame is for it coming into effect and to set up the bodies. It takes time and it takes effort. Meanwhile, as I said about the individual case we are dealing with, time takes its course and government being government, and knowing how it works, there is maybe a month that goes by when perhaps other priorities come in, such as the health transfer or all these other things. You only have so much staff to work with. I am just wondering if, in the interim, we can work through the public relations side of the government, whether it be part of Health and Human Resources or some other department, to try to get the message out for people to get into this registry and maybe get the necessary medical examinations.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not disagree with the Member, but I will just say on the registry question that the kind of work done there will be directly done in house. We are talking about a health promotion initiative, which is warning people about the risks associated with certain kinds of materials and that kind of thing. This is an appropriate way to involve an employee organization and the steelworkers did represent the workers at Clinton Creek. They did not for the whole time, but did for some years. They did it pretty well all the time that Cassiar Asbestos was operating. Yukoners worked in both those asbestos plants.
There are other products that can be hazardous to health. A lot of people are involved in mining lead in the territory. If we were going to get into a discussion about that item, we would obviously want to involve both the company and the union at the workplace, where most of it was mined.
Mr. Lang: I do not disagree with what the Minister says about looking into the future and the hazards of occupational diseases such as that.
What I am saying, and I think the Minister agrees, is that we are dealing with a situation that has long passed. In order to give initiatives, I am wondering if the Minister could commit himself to take this as an undertaking and see what kind of press we could get with respect to letting people who worked there know what we know today. The fact is there have been three people who we feel have asbestosis and it is very serious and they should be getting checked.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Obviously, I will ask the health branch to work with the Workers Compensation Board on the question of the registry and promotion of same once the board has completed its study of the situation.
There are, actually, as a result of the reunion this year, some fairly good lists of former workers at Clinton Creek.
When I said to the Member earlier that I had anecdotal information, I wanted to make it clear that that is street talk that does not come to me in my capacity as Minister, but from what former fellow workers have told me. That is an entirely different thing from health data or statistical information that is collected by the department or recorded at the hospital. That is a whole different thing.
There were hundreds of people exposed. I suspect the majority of them do not even live in the territory any more. We have to look at all those things. I am sure the board is looking at those questions. I agree with the Member, and I will have the Department of Health make sure our liaison with Workers Compensation Board - which is very good these days - is maintained, and that I am in a position to report back to the House at an appropriate time.
Mr. Lang: I would like to move on to the question of the Mayo hospital. Could the Minister give us an update on that?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The federal government has announced that they want to not continue with the Mayo hospital as it is presently constituted. I confess that it was a matter of some annoyance to us that they arrived in Mayo to begin the discussions without alerting us, when we were in the middle of discussing the transfer of some of these facilities. Leaving that aside, I think they decided to take advantage of the group we had set up to have some discussions about what was needed. All of that has led, with the Mayo pilot project, to them now talking about the kind of facility they might want to succeed the hospital.
We are in the early days of the discussion. The community is now talking about an integrated health and social service facility that would have all these things under one branch. Some members of the committee have even wondered aloud if it is possible to have a school, since it may be scheduled some years in the future, and have an educational health and social service facility all in one building - same heating plant, same water system, and all that stuff.
From a purely economic point of view, that greatly interests us. In this budget, we have some money provided for the further development of those ideas and the discussion of the needs and concepts of the design for the facility. We intend to have someone in that community working with that group - which involves both the village and band councils, care givers of both the federal and territorial government - in very intense discussions in the next budget year about what kind of facility we are going to have there.
One way or the other, whatever negotiations we make with the federal government about the transfer, it will be our responsibility to see that project go ahead. Money is provided this year for talking about what will replace that hospital when its useful life has ended.
Mr. Lang: What kind of commitment has been made by the Government of Canada that the hospital will remain as it is, prior to any changes? Have there been any commitments of any kind?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I regret to report to the House that the federal government has made none.
Mr. Lang: I would like to move on to the area of group homes. In the supplementaries, I raised the question about the type of discipline administered in the group homes. A very major concern that I brought forward, and one that is being reported to me, is that there seems to be no respect shown by many of the children who are taken into the group homes. There seems to be very little backup for the people working in the group homes and very few options, as far as discipline is concerned.
It is very difficult to write these things down, but the Minister has tried to enumerate what governs physical restraint versus the policy prohibiting such things as corporal punishment.
Is the Minister satisfied with the present policy and the way it stands? I am sure he has also had some complaints from either parents of some of the children in the group homes, or those people having to administer the group homes. They feel almost helpless when trying to control these very serious situations that the Minister indicates stem from behavioural problems they refer to as disruptive. Is the Minister satisfied with that policy?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Well, one is never perfectly satisfied, but we have to recognize that for the most part the kids that we get into our group homes are not from model homes. They are often kids who have had neither love nor authority in their lives. They may have had little in the way of structure. They may have had little in the way of warmth. Their socialization is such that they may be very angry and very emotionally immature people.
The policy that the department has, I think, is sound in theory, but I know of cases where kids did not respond to the kind of approach we have taken. It is very rare that we get a kid in this kind of situation, in the open custody facilities, for example, who has not had a long history of problems, already. Even if they are 14 or 15 now, they may have had, in some cases, seven or eight, nine, ten, sometimes 14 years of hell before they got there. It is very hard, in the short time they are in care - I would say, damn near impossible, to be practical - to undo that damage or to correct all that damage. Our people try, in very difficult circumstances, to do what they can.
There are a lot of problems in our society, the north American society and in the western world right now with family stability. We have seen a phenomenon that we have not seen in years past, which is, I guess, non-native, teen-age kids, sometimes from middle-class families, walking away from their families and their parents and their homes and presenting themselves to the public, saying they have had it with those two, or that one, or whatever.
When many of the services that we have set up were contemplated, they did not anticipate that kind of a situation at all. They anticipated, perhaps, a case of broken homes or dysfunctional families, or people falling afoul of the law. Those were the kinds of clients that we expected. The profile is changing, the pattern is changing, and we are not sure about where all this is heading.
I know that experts in the field talk about an interesting phenomena. They say many troubled kids, if they can actually get through their teen years without getting incarcerated, end up turning out all right.
Probably almost every adult at some point while growing up may have committed an offence that would technically have been an indictable offence for which they could have been severely punished, and if they had been punished they may well have gotten into that cycle of the justice system, institutions and all that stuff, and not been able to get off the treadmill. It is pure fortune that some people did not get caught and were able to straighten themselves out, matured at a certain stage, and became adults and responsible contributing citizens. I am not going to presume to know what other Members know, but I know that I did some pretty stupid things in my own youth and, technically, if I had gotten caught I would have been in a hell of a bind. I suspect, knowing what I know about my own contemporaries, that is probably true of most of us here in this House. It is a sociological fact that some people are more likely to get caught for one reason or another than others, and are more likely to fall afoul of the system. There are some people who, for a number of reasons, are more likely to become our clients than others.
Another thing the experts talk about is that it is common for teenagers, or young people generally, to learn about our system, learn about the rules, learn about authority and learn about structures by testing the limits of those rules and those authorities, by sometimes going over the boundaries and getting slapped down, or punished, or reprimanded - sometimes punished by the law. I suppose that throughout history that is the way that young people learned about the conventions and what the rules and accepted standards of conduct were in society.
There are a lot of tensions between young adults and their parents, or youth and their elders. There always have been throughout history. You do not have to go back and read Roman or Greek writers to know that is not new. Some Canadian writer once had a character say in a recent movie, which has become a teen cult movie, Pump Up The Volume, that one cure for being a teenager was to become an adult.
That is the only cure needed for some people. Other people need much more structured situations than they have ever had in their lives. Some of them become our responsibility and they have never had any structure. They have never had either love or authority in their lives. Conventional wisdom in our society is that a healthy young person probably needs both, and we see a lot of people who have not had either.
Mr. Lang: I guess it is a matter of how one approaches the situation, but the message we are receiving as MLAs is that there are people quitting - burned out, if you like- these group homes, exasperated. The message is that there is very little they can do as, from an authority point of view, there is no respect from most of these young people. It is just a place to stay - kind of a built-in hotel. They do not have to listen to the workers and they go about their business. My concern is that if that is the case, I think we have to review the policy as to what authority can be given to the group home operators to enable them to gain some respect from the kids.
I do not think we can maintain a laissez-faire attitude in the administration of these types of homes. I really think the worst disservice of this is to the kids. We are almost propagating their disrespect of the system and of society if we, as legislators and government, are not giving guidelines to the group home parents who are well intended. There is always a case where there is a person who should not be a group home worker, but in most cases, these people are well intended in the jobs they are doing.
If we are finding that there is a problem of people just throwing up their hands or considering it just a job and they feel they cannot control the situation, we are remiss in our responsibility. I have received this observation from a number of quarters within our community that this is happening in some cases. I would ask the Minister if he is prepared to review the policy, perhaps in conjunction with those working with the situation on a day-to-day basis. The Minister should see if there is anything else we can do that will allow these people to do their jobs and have the authority that is necessary to exhibit the love and attention these kids need.
It is a wide open ball game. I know what kids are like. I recall going to school and, if the teacher was not there to administer some sort of authority, I know the way we ran.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I understand what the Member is saying. From time to time, I have had representations of the kind of the Member is making from people who either work in the system or know. I have also had representations from people who believe otherwise, in terms of an approach. They believe that, if anything, we are too concerned about control, regimes and structures, and not concerned enough about the emotional needs of people in our care. It is a debate that will go on.
The one thing I was taught while I was very young is that you cannot force people to respect you. You have to earn respect. I remember myself being beaten by teachers. I never respected anybody who did that. They may have controlled me, but I did not respect them; in fact, it was quite the opposite. I had contempt for them.
I suspect that a lot of young people who end up in our care do not respect authority, did not respect their parents or anybody in school, were difficult all along and probably got more difficult as they got older. Rather than trying to deal with their problems, people usually just tried to control them. As they got bigger, stronger and more physical, more and more they attempted to challenge that kind of authority and control.
It is not an easy question. Kids who arrive on our doorstep with that kind of attitude, mood and mentality are not going to be easy for anybody to deal with. They are going to be tough for the staff to deal with. There are no easy physical remedies for the staff. I would not recommend them. I suspect that, often, the kids we have coming into care are kids who have already been heavily physically abused all their lives. I am here to say that I do not believe for a second that it did them any good whatsoever.
The idea that to spare the rod spoils the child is, in my view, one of the dumbest philosophies that ever occupied our civilization. All it did was teach people violence and violent solutions to problems.
My view is that I do understand very well what the Member is saying about the difficulty of it and I do understand how challenging it is for the staff. I will say to him that I am quite happy to do a review of the program. I believe that. That is fine. I am quite happy to do that.
I myself do not believe you can force people to respect you and I do not believe, necessarily, that getting tougher with kids will end up producing better citizens. I go back to the point I made earlier. There are two things missing in their lives and somehow you have got to try to provide both. The trouble is if you see this kid at 15, it may be just, frankly, very late in the day to be trying to play catch-up with him. All the problems are coming with him from before.
Mr. Lang: One can differ as far as philosophy is concerned but I look forward to the consequences of what the review will be and I will be raising it this spring. I think it is an area that has to be reviewed to ensure that we are doing our job as well as we can.
That leads me into the next area and that is the legislative return that was tabled. I had asked questions about these young people who have gone from group homes on to juvenile court, wound up in the court as young offenders and then subsequently carried on; in some cases that wound up in the correctional institute or unfortunately maybe into some of the institutions outside because of penalties administered by the justice system.
The reason I was asking that question was to see if a pattern had developed among the majority of the young people who are in our group homes getting older, graduating into the young offenders facility and from there into the correctional institute.
The reason I was asking is to see from my point of view, and all Members points of view, if our programs are working. Is there a need for revision or modification of the programs? I was quite surprised to see from the legislative return that the department took the position that it was not on computer. They said it was a situation where it was going to all have to be cross referenced and they could not provide me with this material. I would have thought that first of all, with the $6 million to $10 million to $20 million that we spent in the last eight years on computers, that that type of information would have been available, especially in view of the fact that the Justice department was put on computer two years ago to tie in with this information.
I would like to think it is part of the program. Would the Minister not be interested in looking at such information to see whether or not there is some credence to the argument being given that some of these programs are not working? The converse may actually be true that there is no pattern. I hope there is not. I would like to think that we would be examining to see what effect we are having, as far as these programs are concerned.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: First of all, let me say that I do not denigrate the question at all. In fact, I think it is probably the best question the Member has ever asked in this room. It is an excellent question; it is just that we do not have the means to answer it quickly. The Member says that Justice was on computers a couple of years ago. One of the problems of computers two years ago is that the historical information is two years old. We will not have information going back to previous history.
I think it is an excellent question, and it is one that I would like to look at myself. When the Member asked the question, I had hoped that we might have some senior people in the department who had been around long enough to have actually seen kids from near-birth who had problems, then entered our care; then had problems in the school system; then entered the juvenile justice system; and so forth.
We have some people who have been around long enough to have some informal knowledge of this, but we have not had the time in the last few weeks to go through the manual files, education files, juvenile justice files and justice files, nor to go through early child protection files and all of those things.
We have some people around who said, yes, there are some people who came from rotten, alcohol-ridden, violent, abusive families, who were probably going to be in trouble from the day they were born, had problems in developmental stages, had problems in school, got into trouble with the law, ended up in the young offenders facility, then in the secure custody facility, then in jail, and maybe even the pennitentiary - a classic profile. There are tons of studies in Canada, the United States and Britain about that. I have been recently reading up on this.
To predict the likelihood of whether someone is going to end up in the pen or not, as the deputy minister says, if they are a young offender at 12 or 13, then they are 10, 20 or 30 times more likely to end up in the pen than a kid of the same age from the same community who is in school, getting okay marks and comes from a functional family. The probabilities are there.
It does not mean the program is not working; it may be that you are dealing with someone whose mainspring of their life was twisted and bent or busted before they were even two years old. That will be a massive cost to society for the rest of that persons life and we know that. When you get a person like that at 21, it is going to take damn near a miracle to turn him around. I mean, I tell you, that is the way it is. I know enough about some files, although I do not like to intrude in personal files, to know that that is the case.
I would like to see the question answered for the Member. I would like, if we have the capacity at some point, to do some retrospective looks. I say this to him, and I hope he will understand, that at such time as I have some staff who have the right training ability to be able to do this and who have not got their desk full of other urgent things, that I will do it. There may be some opportunity in the next little while to have a look at this and to see if we can do it. Right now we would have to do it with manual searchers with files from several different agencies, several different departments and I do not know who we would be able to spare in the immediate future to be able to do that. I would love to be able to answer it but I just have not been able to spare the staff since the Member asked the question.
Mr. Lang: I appreciate how much work is involved. I was actually quite surprised that a lot of this was not already on file, quite frankly. I did not really think it was such a difficult question. I recognize what the Minister says, that, in some cases, you get a situation where you are just not going to be able to do anything with the individual involved, for whatever reason. On the other hand, the Minister will concede that if there is a pattern all the way through and you can follow that pattern, then maybe there is something we should be looking at and giving serious consideration. I just want to give the Minister notice that it is an area that I will be pursuing with him as the critic because I think it is important that we all be aware and, it is hoped, have an objective view of what is happening in this particular area. It is so costly to us all. Of course, the tragedy is that the one it is most costly to is the individual in question. That is the real sad part, as time unfolds and, perhaps in some cases, they never really recognize the folly of their ways.
I would like to move on to another area. That is a question that was raised by a constituent and that had to do with ambulances and medicare. Would it be medicare or Yukon health care involved down in B.C.?
It turned out, unfortunately, that he had a heart attack and when the ambulance was called he was charged $150, let us say, for the price of the ambulance. He called me. He did not begrudge the fact he had to pay for it out there, but he understood that here, if somebody was from outside of the territory and the same scenario happened where an ambulance was required, obviously the service would be provided and they were covered under the same policy that residents are. Can the Minister provide me with an answer to that particular question for my constituent?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will check that out, but I am pretty sure if someone from another jurisdiction has that particular problem they are billed, or the other jurisdiction, or their insurance plan, for all the costs.
Mr. Lang: I would like a definitive answer to verify that. It is not a question of billing under the plan. This happened in British Columbia and the individual was billed. I would like to know whether or not the individual is billed here for the total cost of whatever the service is?
I am prepared to go on to line by line if other Members have no questions.
On Policy & Planning & Administration
On Operation & Maintenance
Mr. Lang: The Minister indicated to me in his opening comments that he had one aspect under review. I believe there was a major review underway of foster homes. There is a review going on somewhere and I was wondering if it was in this particular area, and if so, how much it was going to cost, how it was going to be done, and who was going to do it?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The foster home program is under review, but it is not under this line. It is under family services.
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister tell us if there are any new initiatives that are going under this particular line item?
Prior to the Minister responding to that I would appreciate it, as we are going through these line by line, if there are new initiatives, could he stand up and let me know. It will save me having to stand up on each line item.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Yes. As I said in the opening remarks yesterday, there are basically two new term employees employed in two major initiatives in this area. First, there is the implementation of the Health Act. The second is land claims. As the Member knows from the health care transfer negotiations and for other reasons, the self-government questions and the delivery of health and social services in communities will be part of the table. We need to have one person in the department who is prepared for those negotiations.
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister tell us how much he feels the projected costs are in total, taking into consideration the cost of employees as well, to implement the Health Act?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I think the most definable cost is for this one term employee. I am not talking about additional costs. If you count the health investment program, which is also in this budget, you could count that as a new cost, but that will be a question of just changing emphasis and priorities. I cannot assign global costs to it beyond what is in the budget.
Mr. Lang: There must have been some projected costs. For example, as the Minister knows, I have raised serious concerns about all these boards. They, along with their administration, cost money. Were there any projected costs given to the Minister prior to tabling this bill that would indicate what was needed?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Let us assume that, in this coming budget, there will be one board that will move progressively to being established under this act. I think the most likely one will be the Mayo project that is already funded here and underway. I do not see major new costs being associated with the implementation of that board; we already have an allocation in here to cover it.
Even in terms of the community boards down the road, such as if a second one comes into place, it could well be in a community where a couple of committees have talked to us about having the same people on the board as are on the school council. Some of the administration costs would therefore be ones we are already bearing, because we have people there, telephones and offices there. I do not know about the additional costs; that would depend on the negotiations but I do not think they would be as bad as if we are talking about totally new offices and equipment everywhere. In almost every community, the department has some presence already. In most cases, there already are offices, equipment, fax machines, telephones and all the other stuff that goes with modern government.
Administration in the amount of $1,870,000 agreed to
On Equipment Operational
Equipment Operational in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Facility Construction - Integrated Health and Social Services: Mayo
Mr. Lang: How much is this projected to cost? What exactly are we dealing with? There is no multi-year cost that I could find in the budget, and I want to see where we are going with this.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We cannot assign multi-year costs until we know exactly what we are going to be building. This is in the process that is a continuation of the Mayo project of defining exactly what kind of services, size of facility and what kind of health and social service plan will be provided in the building, where all these questions will be defined as a result of this expenditure.
Out of this will come the early stages of design concepts and, ultimately, a design. At the design stage, we will know the capital cost. We will also be required to know what the operating cost will be in future years.
Facility Construction - Integrated Health and Social Services: Mayo in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $210,000 agreed to
Mr. Lang: I just want to ask a question here. I am not too sure on the allotments. The O&M transfer payment was $33,000 in 1989-90. It went to $265,000, then dropped to $100,000, for a 62 percent decrease. Perhaps the Minister could tell us exactly what happened.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The basic reason is that last year we held the Circumpolar Health Conference and we are not doing that this year and will not be for many years to come, I suspect. That meant $150,000 not spent. We also have a reduction of $35,000 in a contribution agreement with Yukon College regarding the social work development program. This does not reduce the cost of the program, but the program is costing less than we expected. That is further offset by $20,000 for funding for the Yukon Health and Social Services Council.
Mr. Lang: This particular budget does not reflect the costs of the increase in the civil service and the results of their negotiations. Yet we are looking here at a 21 percent increase in this particular area. That is fairly substantial when you compare it to other parts of the budget and you take a look at your non-profit organizations that we have talked about, like the transition home that has not seen any increase to even match inflation, yet we see a 21 percent increase here. Is this because of just strictly the two employees - the employee with the land claims and the health branch or is there some other aspect in here that reflects this increase?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The personnel allotments the Member mentions increase by $260,000. As I mentioned, they have the two three-year term employees, one on the implementation of the health act the other on land claims self-government. We have two other positions that were transferred from other branches within the department, so the total department personnel does not go up; they are just moved into this branch.
We had a child welfare pilot project coordinator, who was in the regional services branch to the policy unit. That project is completed and the position is now working on the health transfer. We also had a secretary to the former director of health services, who has been reassigned to the ADM of health services and is now reported under this line.
Mr. Lang: Is the Minister telling us that the increase in this particular area of roughly $300,000 is attributed to those four positions? That roughly figures out to over $75,000 per position, if one were to take the figure and just divide it.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There is also provision in this budget for some auxiliary personnel dollars transferred from other auxiliary personnel dollars in the budget for various projects that may come up. Let me assure the Member that these positions are not in the $75,000 range. Those are the four positions that most significantly account for the amount of money here, which is the $260,000 described by the Member.
Mr. Lang: There seems to be some problem on page 209 then. If we have two term positions identified, and an additional two positions that have been transferred, then that should be indicated in the estimates for the person year establishment on the following page. In other words, we had 23 in the forecast and, if we have another four person years, it should reflect 27.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am told that the accounting for the person years that the Member sees on page 209 shows it has been adjusted historically to reflect these transfers. If you look to the budget for the year as it was originally presented in 1989-90 you would not actually find the positions there. I am not quite sure why that would be done, but I will ask. I am told that does reflect the position.
Mr. Lang: I am not going to pursue this further. I am concerned we seem to be told one thing, and when we look at the person year complement, it does not reflect what we were told. Basically I was told we had an additional four person years from last year, yet that does not reflect it. Maybe we could compare it with 1989-90. The problem is with the forecast versus the budget of last year. I am sure that is, in part, one of the problems. I find it confusing.
Is the Minister saying that the two person years over the course of this past year were adjusted and moved over here, and reflected in the forecast of 23 person years and an additional two person years go on to make it 25?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will take it as notice. All I know is that the money is being transferred in this year for some reason. According to my officials, the Department of Finance is insisting; therefore, we have to change, retroactively, the numbers for 1989-90 that the Member refers to here. I am sorry I cannot explain it because it does not make any sense to me, but I will check into it.
Chair: The Committee will take a break.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I was confusing things when we broke about person year establishments. I understand that the rules handed down by the accountants on high in the Department of Finance are that when we move positions from a branch to another, they are presented in the book so that there is a historical comparison so the Members can see whether there is a real increase in person years in the line or in the department or not. What has been done is that the positions, as they were transferred, have been shown so they are comparable now with the previous situation, following the transfer into the line. If the Member wants me to explain it in more detail, I will.
Policy & Planning & Administration in the amount of $2,080,000 agreed to
On Family & Childrens Services
On Operation & Maintenance
On Program Management
Mr. Lang: I would ask the Minister about something I heard the other day. Is there a group home closing down in Whitehorse? If so, where and why?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am not aware of any group home closing down. I may as well say that we do not have any new initiatives at this time, even though I have some details if the Member wants to get into them.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister tell us why there is a 29 percent decrease in this area?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This is as a result of the reallocation of personnel dollars, the reallocation of two term positions employed in family violence and family support from program management to family and childrens services. Neither of the positions changed in responsibility. It is just a reporting relationship. You will see it down here and not in the other line.
We have also moved a secretarial position from the regional services branch to provide support to the director of family and childrens services. This position was formally, and still is, located in Whitehorse. These dollars were moved to the family and childrens services to partially offset the expected increases in personnel costs for this unit.
Program Management in the amount of $156,000 agreed to
On Family and Childrens Services
Mr. Lang: In staff increases, we are looking at over $150,000. I wonder if the Minister could tell us what that is for?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Again, as I mentioned previously, the amount budgeted is increased by $145,000, or 13 percent. This reflects the reallocation of personnel dollars within both the branch and department, and, as previously mentioned, two term positions have been moved from program management to family and childrens services. That is an increase of $103,000.
Additional auxiliary personnel dollars were required to maintain the family support workers. That is $39,000. Budgeted salary dollars were adjusted to reflect actual expenditures, which is an additional $3,000.
Family & Childrens Services in the amount of $1,247,000 agreed to
On Placement & Support Services
Placement & Support Services in the amount of $5,050,000 agreed to
Operation & Maintenance in the amount of $6,453,000 agreed to
Equipment Replacement - Group Homes
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This $40,000 reflects an increase of $6,000, or 18 percent, over the previous year. The increase can be attributed to rising costs in furniture and equipment. This project provides for the maintenance of equipment levels in the five government-owned child welfare group home facilities. Expenditures in 1991-92 will follow the replacement scheduled guidelines established by the government that I have described in previous budget briefs.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to raise a minor issue with respect to group homes and equipment replacement. Regarding the equipment, would they be purchasing minor things like snow shovels? It has been brought to my attention that in several group homes, specifically the one on Klondike, residents of the City of Whitehorse are required to keep their walks clean. Seniors walk up and down that road there and the sidewalks in front of the group home on Klondike are never shovelled. It would be an easy task for the youth in that group home to go out in the evening, like I have to do for my house, to shovel the walk off. I do not think that would be too demeaning a task to ask someone to do.
As well, I wonder if I could raise the same issue about Macaulay Lodge. They do the sidewalks right in front of the Lodge, but the sidewalk extends right up the street along Klondike Road, and that is all Macaulay Lodge. They have the flower boxes all along there, and it goes all up the street. If they did that, some of the seniors could actually walk up and down the road for their little walks.
Now you could not walk up and down that road very well. I know the city does it once in a blue moon, but I think the taxpayer or the home owner has to clean the sidewalks in front of their homes. I would ask if the government considers that type of policy for all of the buildings and homes that they own in the territory.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member raised a good point. I will take note of the question and have it examined.
Equipment Replacement - Group Homes in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
On Child Care Services Development
Mr. Lang: I just want to refer to the legislative return that was tabled here with respect to the purchase of day cares. I assume that I can discuss it in this line item as it has to do with child care. Are there any other day cares that the Minister is contemplating purchasing over this forthcoming year, through non-profit organizations?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Apart from having to repeat again to the Member that we do not purchase day cares, there is, as far as I know, none contemplated at this moment.
Mr. Lang: That is a matter of opinion. The money is put up by the government and is put through an organization for the purpose of purchase. I understand how the system works, but I also understand where the money comes from. I just want to ask him a question on that legislative return. I had asked about the two day cares that had been purchased and the amount of money that was paid for those day cares. We have got $48,600 for the Playcare Centre Society. Is that the total amount paid by government, through the non-profit organization, for the purchase of that particular day care, which I believe is Carols Playcare Centre?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am informed that that is the case.
Mr. Lang: I just want to go through a little bit of that if I could. Toys and equipment are $32,600, yet grants were made available through the capital grant program since 1987. For Carols Playcare Centre, for an example, the total amount was roughly $42,000, yet at the same time we are paying $32,600 for toys.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I explained last time we talked about this that we have not purchased anything twice. This is for toys and equipment that is not on the previous list. The Member may recall I presented lists to him that were involved in this operation last time we were sitting.
Mr. Lang: Could he explain where the $200,000 is being spent?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Basically this reflects what we expect to be the result in the change in demand for both start-up and enhancement grants in 1991-92.
Mr. Lang: Perhaps the Minister could tell us where the start-up grants will be then.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Of course, I cannot know with absolute certainty where the start-ups will happen in the next fiscal year but I can tell the Member that the major new development, the emerging trend we are seeing, and what we are anticipating in the next two fiscal years, is in the school-age spaces. This is an area of growing need that we have recognized and that is where we anticipate the biggest growth area to be.
Mr. Lang: I do not quite understand this. Does this mean the government is going to be going into the day care business or providing service to school-age children prior to school and after school? Is that what the Minister is indicating?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No, it means that family day homes and day care centres will add spaces and staff, if necessary, to take care of and provide after school care for school-age students who, rather than being latch-key kids, will go to a child care centre for a number of hours after school before their parents come home from work.
Child Care Services Development in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Community Agency Innovations
Mr. Lang: I wonder if the Minister could tell us what the money is going to be spent on?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Every year we have a line in the budget that varies somewhat. Community agency innovations provides for small amounts of money for renovation of facilities, access by disabled persons, acquisition of equipment and furniture for facility program purchases in order to pay for improvements and it is for the private sector organizations, basically, who access this money.
Community Agency Innovations in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $280,000 agreed to
Family and Childrens Services in the amount of $6,733,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any other questions on the following pages?
On Social Services
On Operation & Maintenance
On Program Management
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There is a modest increase in this program, which is mainly attributable to the reallocation of personnel dollars to increase auxiliary home support workers in the seniors program. Like family and children services, these dollars became available through the repriorizing of the personnel budget, in order to better reflect current salary levels paid, and to reflect actual auxiliary expenditures.
This is an area in which there are no new initiatives.
Program Management in the amount of $204,000 agreed to
On Alcohol & Drug Services
Mr. Lang: I want to make the observation I made during the supplementaries. I hope the Minister takes it in the manner it is being presented. I do have a concern with respect to the number of people who come back and repeatedly use our services, with no thought of their own responsibilities to society. I realize the difficulty we have.
To me, it is an area the government could be looking at in conjunction with the various organizations involved in this area to see what could be done to instill some responsibilities in the individuals who are using this service.
I would like to have provided to me what would be seen as the success rate, or the number of people who have utilized our services and those who have been successful in no longer being addicted to either drugs or alcohol, or both.
Does the Minister have those statistics? Could he provide them to me?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We will certainly try to provide the track record of ADS over a measurable period. Shortly after the Member made his observations about the recidivism or repeat visits for programs like Crossroads, I did discuss it informally with the staff of ADS. My impression was that people often go through the program several times before they dry out. That was confirmed by people in the program. But the idea that we would deny someone who was perhaps coming back for the third time was something the staff had a great deal of problems with as they felt, as I do, that even though the person may have fallen off the wagon a couple times, we have an obligation, despite our frustration about the costs, to try and help them if they are sincere about their effort. That is what the staff will be trying to do.
Mr. Lang: I want to correct the record. I never said we should deny an individual the service. I wanted to build in some responsibility by the individual taking the service. What I mean by that is if the program is being provided for an individual for the second or third time, perhaps it is time to look at the program and how it is being provided. Perhaps there may be some modifications to the program that should take place in those particular cases. There should be some flexibility in the program.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I thank the Member for his comments. As I indicated in my opening statement, we are going to be reviewing the policy in this area as a result of the new research that I previously described to the Member. We will be taking a look at it in the context of that information.
Mr. Lang: I made some inquiries to the Minister with respect to the Tagish wilderness camp for alcohol treatment. I asked if there was any LEOP or any other program money put into that program. The Minister never answered that in his legislative return. Could he tell me whether or not there was any money put in?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am not responsible for LEOP. I will ask the Minister who is to come back with the information. I know the Member asked the question. I will check and make sure. I do not know if there was any LEOP money in it, but I will check.
Mr. Lang: I also asked why that building could go ahead without the requirements for a building permit and I never got an answer to that question either.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I know the question is on the record and I am sure the Member will be getting an answer. I do not have an answer yet. As soon as I do, if it comes through me, I will convey it to the Member.
Mr. Lang: The other allegation made is in correspondence from the fire marshal who indicated that whatever structure is there is a fire trap. In his review, could the Minister follow up to see if that allegation is true?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That is not, strictly speaking, my department and I have no information about it, but I will follow it up.
Alcohol & Drug Services in the amount of $1,413,000 agreed to
On Social Assistance Services
Social Assistance Services in the amount of $3,534,000 agreed to
On Seniors Services
Mr. Lang: I would like a description of what comes under this line item.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We are talking about seniors services. As the Member will note, the program increased by $60,000, or nine percent. This is due to additional auxiliary costs for home care workers in order to permit sufficient flexibility to provide an appropriate level of service. In this area, we also have a contribution of $28,000 to the Yukon Hospice Society in order to provide support for their operation. This is offset by a reduction in personnel cost for senior service counsellors, adjusted to better reflect actual expected costs. We have a reduction in contract services. Members may recall that we helped produce a seniors information handbook that is now complete. The funds for that project have been reassigned. We have a reallocation of advertising and supplies to program management, so there is a $1,000 reduction in that line.
Mr. Lang: I just want to register one observation and that has to do with the home care program. As the Minister knows, it has been the topic of discussion in Question Period and other avenues over the course of this session. My concern with the legislative return that was tabled is that the service being provided obviously is only being done between Monday and Friday. As indicated in the legislative return, there are a number of people who need the attention over the weekends. It is not a question of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The very real situation that is not addressed in the legislative return is if we expanded our home care program to some degree in more of a nursing care capacity, perhaps we can have fewer people in the hospital and at home. The legislative return does not deal with that particular situation. I guess I would like to ask the Minister if, in view of the concerns raised by Members of the House, he could take it upon himself and the department to do a further review of our home care program and see what other elements can be incorporated within that program. I think that should be looked at to see if we can provide a better service within realistic dollars, because we are all faced with that question as well.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Yes, we already intend to do that.
Ms. Hayden: I have many constituents who use the Whitehorse Transit Handybus during the somewhat limited hours it is available to them. I am told that the one they have currently is suffering from metal fatigue and needs to be replaced. In other words, it is falling apart. I understand that in the past the service has been jointly funded by the City of Whitehorse and the Ministers department, Health and Human Resources. I am wondering if there is money available in this budget for a new Handybus or if the Minister knows how that new bus is going to be funded.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We are negotiating with the city on that project. It was our understanding that the operating money we provide for that program would have committed certain reserves to be set aside for the acquisition of new equipment. In the past, that appears not to have been the case, and we will have to address that in the current set of negotiations. We are in discussion with the city on that important question.
Ms. Hayden: I wanted to reiterate that my concern is that the service be continued, as well as extended to evenings and weekends, so people who use the service can have some type of mobility, as other people do.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The point made by the Member is well taken. If that objective is achievable within the means available to us, we will look to doing that.
Seniors Services in the amount of $735,000 agreed to
On Rehabilitation Services
Mr. Lang: Why is there a decrease here?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There is a five percent decrease, which is due to the reallocation of a secretarial position to program management, in order to create an office administrator position.
The woodlands project is finished, and that is a reduction of $50,000. The previous one is a reduction of $42,000. We have a reallocation of supplies, advertising, communication, and cost of program management, for a reduction of $6,000. A resource development contract service is no longer required, for a reduction of $15,000. This is offset by an increase in personnel dollars for auxiliary support workers to help independent living workers. This is $27,000.
Rehabilitation Services in the amount of $1,658,000 agreed to
Operation & Maintenance in the amount of $7,544,000 agreed to
On Alcohol and Drug Services
On Facility Construction
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There are four projects listed under capital. First of all there is the alcohol and drug services facility construction. We are talking about funding for a site acquisition preparation required for a residential detoxification facility. The one we have now is very crowded and we have to replace it. The department is currently completing the planning phase and will be submitting various options to Management Board for their consideration but these options are looking at the future program needs, the location of the facility, the number of beds we need, program content and so forth, for detoxification. When we have completed the Management Board review of the proposals, there will be tendering for architectural drawings out of the allocation that we are providing here. We have also some allocations in this line for ADS equipment replacement for the alcohol and drug services, detoxification and Crossroads.
We also have a small amount here, $10,000, for home care operational equipment. This is to purchase a variety of aids and appliances used to provide support or treatment and personnel services: wheel chairs, grab and support rails, respiratory equipment, patient lifters and other specialized items. The $4,000 item is for small pieces of program equipment furnishings that are not funded through us, equipment or furnishings for any of the social services programs that may require such equipment.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister give us an indication of what the facility construction for alcohol and drug services is going to cost?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We are talking about just over $2 million for the project. As I said earlier, we are talking about acquiring the land, design and the front-end costs.
Mr. Lang: I do not want to talk about it too much until we see the design, but $2 million seems to be like a lot of money. I just want to register a concern about that amount of money being spent. I am not saying we do not need a new facility, but I really think that, in some cases, the government is being put in a situation where the architect has completed some plans and we are almost committed to doing it and suddenly we are dealing with a $2 million facility when a $1 million, or even less costly, facility would have done the job.
I am thinking in monetary terms, but $2 million is almost 20 new medium-sized residential homes. If you use that comparison, it is a lot of money. I want to ask the Minister, in view of that, if we could meet the objective for less money?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will certainly be mindful of the Members comments when the final proposals come to Management Board. I share the Members concern about costs. I hope he understands that we will be wrestling with those realities. We are talking about replacing a facility that has dozens of beds now and is extremely crowded and cramped. Unfortunately, the demand for this service has increased.
Facility Construction in the amount of $600,000 agreed to
On Equipment Replacement
Equipment Replacement in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Home Care - Operational Equipment
Home Care - Operational Equipment in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On General - Operational Equipment
General - Operational Equipment in the amount of $4,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $624,000 agreed to
Social Services in the amount of $8,168,000 agreed to
On Health Services
On Operation & Maintenance
On Program Management
Mr. Lang: I see a decrease here. Perhaps the Minister can tell us what it is.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is not really a decrease. As you may remember, last year we had a major increase in the health services budget, and we actually added something like $6 million to it. We had a lapse last year of $1.6 million. So in terms of the actual last year and the increase this year, we have something like an increase of eight percent. The budget, as we present it in terms of budgetary terms, has increased by $488,000 or one percent overall in terms of health services. That is what I want to put into context.
In terms of the particular program management point, the reduction of $43,000 is due to the transfer of a secretarial position from health services to the policy, planning and administration branch. Members have talked about that previously. This position will provide support services to the ADM of health services. The secretary that was reporting to the director of health services, is now with the ADM of health services and is now reported on that earlier line at the front of the budget.
Program Management in the amount of $275,000 agreed to
On Health Insurance
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As Members will recall, I gave a corrected sheet out, which makes it clear that we have a decrease of $37,000, not $307,000. That can be attributed to a decrease in personnel costs of $17,000, which were adjusted to reflect actual costs, and a decrease in Other allotment of $61,000, as well as an increase in the transfer payment allotment of $115,000. These adjustments reflect moving dollars to places where they are most needed.
If the Member likes, I will go through the long list of those, but that is the summary.
Health Insurance in the amount of $28,307,000 agreed to
On Community Health
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This is an increase of $174,000, due to the addition of the health promotion funding we have talked about providing for in the Health Act for $150,000, as well as a contribution to the Skookum Jim Friendship Centre for the AIDS awareness program, which is done as a result of an agreement with the Department of National Health and Welfare.
We have some adjustments in this budget as a result of the family life coordinators portion of this budget to reflect greater travel, and community and personal contact, within the territory. We have a reduction of personnel costs of $30,000 and contract services of $5,000 to reflect actual costs.
Community Health in the amount of $2,600,000 agreed to
On Extended Health
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This is an increase of $320,000, or 15 percent, that is caused by an increase in personnel costs for new positions at Macaulay Lodge, offset by a reduction of $12,000 in personnel costs, which reflects the actual.
Extended Health in the amount of $2,510,000 agreed to
On Vital Statistics
Vital Statistics in the amount of $49,000 agreed to
Mrs. Firth: Just before we clear the total, does the chronic disease program appear in this part of the budget under one of these lines?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It comes under health insurance.
Mrs. Firth: That is what I thought. Could the Minister tell us what the costs of the chronic disease program are going to be for the next year?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We are budgeting an increase of $57,000, to a budgeted amount of $673,000. Some of the cost control initiatives I intend to bring to my Cabinet colleagues, and which I will be reporting in this House, may have an impact on that budget and bring it down to a lower increase than that.
Mrs. Firth: On page 236, it says the 1991-92 estimate is $2,385,000. Is that what the government is expecting to spend on the chronic disease program this year?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The number the Member is looking at is the number of people using the program, not dollars.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister give us the total cost of the program for this year? Last year, it was in excess of $1 million. What will it be this next year?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not have it in excess of $1 million. The information provided to me now says that the chronic disease drugs program is budgeted at $673,000 for next year, which is an increase of $57,000, as I have just said.
Mr. Lang: We are missing the boat somewhere along the line. I recall that we voted a figure as high as $900,000, prior to this budget.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will come back with a written explanation. What has happened here is that we previously included in that line chronic mental patients who were on drug therapies or institutional arrangements. We separated them out and put them in a separate line. The best thing to do, because I do not have the numbers here in an acceptable form, is to come back with a written description of how those numbers were moved. I am sorry I did not have that here for Members in the House, and I do apologize.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to have that because in the chronic disease list schedule it did not have a category for mental illness drugs to be paid for. I think that will affect the cost of the program. I know that last year the government spent in excess of $1 million on the chronic disease program because we had raised it as an issue.
In light of the time I will follow up on another matter later. I move you report progress on Bill No. 16.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Ms. Kassi: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 16, First Appropriation Act, 1991-92, 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 5:30 p.m.
The following Legislative Returns were tabled December 11, 1990:
Returns of information on a variety of topics in Health and Human Resources raised during debate on November 20 and November 21, 1990 (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, pp. 296, 325, 326, 328, 329 & 330
Capital Development Grant Program: Health and Human Resources - Contributions to two day cares to assist provision of equipment and renovations (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, pp. 325 & 326
Capital Development Program: Health and Human Resources - Contributions to non-profit societies to assist with conversion from private day care to non-profit (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 325
Dakwakada Project only one invested in, in the same manner, by Yukon Development Corporation (Penikett)
Oral, Hansard, p. 339