Wednesday, December 11, 1991 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: Introduction of Visitors.
Tabling of Returns and Documents.
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have for tabling a legislative return.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I have three legislative returns for tabling and a copy of the report on the Voice of Northern Youth Conference for tabling.
Speaker: Reports of Committees.
Are there any Petitions?
Introduction of Bills.
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: Yukon Energy Corporation/mock hearings
Mr. Lang: I would like to direct a question once again to the Minister responsible for the Yukon Energy Corporation. Some time ago, we were informed that there was up to $20,000 paid for a mock hearing with respect to preparation for the upcoming hearings. These hearings have just been held by the Yukon Electrical Public Utilities Board. We are also aware that a lot of money was spent over and above that amount for preparation by the Yukon Development Corporation for the hearing on the rate application.
In speaking to some of the intervenors, speculation is that there could well have been hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on that preparation, in view of the numbers of people involved and the fact that consultants who are hired for this sort of thing do not come cheaply.
How much did the Yukon Development Corporation spend in total in preparation for the Yukon Electrical Public Utilities Board hearing?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will take notice of the question, but I am sure that the information was filed at the rate hearings and is publicly available.
Mr. Lang: To my knowledge, that is incorrect. The question was: how much money did the Yukon Development Corporation spend in preparing their case before the Public Utilities Board?
I want to know from the Minister, in view of the information that I have heard - and we are talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars, I understand - will these charges be charged to the electrical ratepayer?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, the information related to costs of operating the utility, which would include administrative costs and costs for lawyers, research and management, have all been filed at the rate hearing. So those costs are known; they are public; they are available. I certainly cannot, however, on my feet, tell the Member collectively what that total would be.
Mr. Lang: I understand that there was a mock hearing held in Whitehorse for which the projected costs were in the neighbourhood of $20,000. Was there any other mock hearing or anything similar held elsewhere, outside the territory?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: There was, as the Member alludes, an occasion where staff and management of the utilities did get together to review the evidence that was to be presented. To my knowledge, the occasion that took place in Whitehorse was the only one.
Question re: Yukon Energy Corporation/Public Utility Board hearing
Mr. Lang: Another area of significant concern to the electrical consumer in the Yukon is the cost to the interveners who took the time and effort to appear before the Yukon Public Utilities Board. For example, one large industrial user of electricity appeared, Curragh Resources, who I am sure spent thousands of dollars to prepare their intervention. Other concerned citizens took time off work to appear before the hearing because they are concerned about the long-term plans of the Yukon Development Corporation and the Yukon Energy Corporation.
I want to know if these interveners are going to be compensated for the time, effort and work they have put in?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I believe the Member is familiar with the policy on public hearings. The Utilities Board has the authority to provide assistance to interveners. Interveners are entitled to seek that financial support.
Mr. Lang: This is going to be a substantial amount of money, depending on the intervener and the work that was done. It could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Could the Minister tell us whether or not this is going to be a direct charge to the government, or is it going to be paid for by the Yukon electrical consumer in Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It is my understanding, and I believe it is also the Members understanding, that matters relating to the rate hearing are part of the cost assigned to the operation of the utility and are therefore costs that are submitted for review at the hearing and approved as a legitimate expenditure.
Mr. Lang: The electricity consumer of Yukon is getting hit about five different ways here. With the Watson Lake sawmill and every other avenue of seeking funds, the government is doing everything it can to increase the rates. Does the Minister feel it is fair that interveners who appear before the board should be paid out of the electrical consumer rates that are levied throughout the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not sure what the Member is seeking. Is he suggesting that somebody else should pay for the legitimate costs associated with provision of the service in the territory, or not? The structure of a review of a rate increase proposal is set out. The Public Utilities Board is an agent of the public; it protects the public interest and it allows the public to appear before it. It is also prepared to support costs associated with that review. So, I am not sure whether the Member is referring to the legitimate costs related to a hearing or costs that will be borne as an expense of providing the service.
Question re: Yukon Energy Corporation/Curragh lawsuit
Mr. Nordling: I would like to continue with a question to the Minister in charge of the Yukon Energy Corporation. Speaking of money, in early November it was reported that Curragh was suing the Yukon Energy Corporation for $578,000. Can the Minister update us on the status of that lawsuit?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will take the question as notice.
Mr. Nordling: I would like to know if the Minister is telling me that he does not know anything about what is happening with that lawsuit, because Chris Dray of the Yukon Energy Corporation was quoted as saying that there were not any adversarial relationships between any of the interveners and the corporation and I wonder if the Minister considers a lawsuit by an intervener against the corporation an adversarial relationship, or not.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The matter between Curragh Resources and the corporation is a legal one. It is being pursued because of a difference of opinion; it is being put forward in a fair and judicial fashion and being treated that way.
Mr. Nordling: Perhaps the Minister could expand on that for us. What does he mean that it is being pursued and put forward in a fair and judicial manner? Are there settlement negotiations going on? Have defence documents been filed? Can the Minister tell us where we are on this matter?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: If the Member is really serious about getting an answer he would have appeared at the rate hearings and made a direct inquiry on the question.
Question re: Watson Lake sawmill/Carroll-Hatch lawsuit
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions of the same Minister. My questions arise from the legislative return that he filed here in response to some questions that I raised back on November 25. It related to the outstanding lawsuit, with the subject matter being the Watson Lake sawmill. I was rather perplexed that the very important lawsuit against Carroll-Hatch International Ltd. was not mentioned in this return.
Members will recall that this case was important enough that, when it was launched, a couple of days before the Public Accounts Committee was to hold hearings into the sawmill, it was deemed sufficiently important to have those hearings postponed for a year; thus a lot of evidence vanished, including the evidence of the key witness, Mr. Sigalet, who died in the intervening year.
Can the Minister tell the House why this very important case was not included in the legislative return?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not have an answer for the Member. I think the Member raised a legitimate question. My understanding is that there are legal proceedings against Carroll-Hatch International Ltd. and it ought to have been included in the return. I will ensure that the return is updated.
Mr. Phelps: We did search the court records and we understand, from the minimal amount of information that we could glean, that the matter is set down for trial in June of 1992. I would like to know whether or not - and perhaps the Minister will have to take this under advisement - examinations for discoveries have been held and, if so, whether it is true that one of the officers or witnesses on behalf of the Yukon Development Corporation, Mr. Alwarid, has been examined for discovery by the solicitors for Carroll-Hatch International Ltd.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am certainly not in a position to comment in any detail on a legal proceeding that is currently before the courts. In fact, I doubt if it is appropriate even for comment. I do know that the Carroll-Hatch case was initiated under alleged breach of contract and negligence. Simply because it is before the courts, I would not want to comment; however, I will undertake to provide appropriate information as an update to the previous return.
Mr. Phelps: As examinations for discovery are done with the official court reporter present, a transcript is made available to all parties to litigation. This is important evidence because it is under oath.
Would the Minister undertake to provide us with the transcripts of all examinations for discovery in the case of the Yukon Development Corporation versus Carroll-Hatch International Ltd.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will take the question under advisement.
Question re: Employment standards/special consideration for highway lodges
Mr. Devries: I have a question for the Minister of Justice. As critic for small business, I receive many concerns from rural business people about the employment standards working paper questionnaire. Many of the highway lodges are presently forced to stretch the existing rules to the limit, in an effort to stay in business during winter months. Much of this is done in cooperation with the employees.
I would like to seek reassurance from the Minister that in developing legislation, she will take into account the special needs and the unique Yukon nature of our highway lodges.
Hon. Ms. Joe: That is the intention of the review. When we published the books and introduced them in the House, we had about 280 work books delivered to the business community. Most of the books went out to employers, although some books went out to employees. A number of others were mailed to employers who live outside of the community of Whitehorse. We have allowed enough time for those individuals to make presentations regarding their concerns.
The book, as I said, is a work book, not a wish list as indicated by a group in Whitehorse. We are quite willing to hear what those people are saying. I understand that, in the past, decisions that we have made have been done after consultation. Some individuals may not agree with this. Some employees may not agree with the decisions that are made, as well as employers, but certainly, the option is there to hear what those individuals have to say and for us to listen to what they are saying.
Mr. Devries: These lodges often remain open in the off-season, often at a loss. They are very important to the safety of the travelling public. The employees are often treated as an extended family.
Would the Minister be prepared, if requested by the employees, to acknowledge them as family members where it pertains to this legislation?
Hon. Ms. Joe: We do have an obligation to all people of the Yukon to live within certain standards. I am not aware that we do have extended family situations in some of those lodges. I am familiar with a lot of the lodges on the highways and the kind of work they do. We do have an obligation to live within some kind of guidelines and standards that are common across the country.
Mr. Devries: Some of the Yukoners that I have been talking to suggest that the government did not seek enough public consultation in the development of the options for change. If there are numerous suggestions made within the consultation process, other than those little cards with the numbers on them, would the Minister be prepared to distribute a follow-up paper prior to developing this revised act?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The information we used to prepare the workbook was information we had gathered over a period, I think, since 1985, when the Employment Standards Act was implemented here in the Yukon. We have received numerous presentations from both employers and employees over that period of time. It was as a result of all of that information that we prepared the workbook. As I said, we are open to hearing from all people who may have something to present to us about changes they want made.
We know that the spring session is the time set aside to deal with legislation. It is at that time that we would like to introduce the changes to the Employment Standards Act. We will be busy up to that time listening to people and responding to their needs. If they want more information, they will certainly get it.
Question re: Occupational therapists
Mr. Phillips: On December 4, I asked the Minister of Health a question concerning the need for occupational therapists at the Whitehorse General Hospital. The position is currently half-time and has been vacant for the past eight months. I explained to the Minister that some patients, mainly children, are forced to go outside to Vancouver and Edmonton for special treatment. At that time, the Minister said she was dismayed that anyone would have to send their children outside for treatment when we have occupational therapists working in the Yukon in Macaulay Lodge, Workers Compensation and in our schools with some handicapped children.
The children I am talking about are those who have minor foot problems, such as flat feet, high arches and twisted limbs. These problems become more serious if not treated as soon as possible. Occupational therapists make orthotics for these children to correct the problem, and none of the Yukon territorial government occupational therapists presently carry on this function.
The Minister told this House that she was going to contact officials at the hospital to raise this issue. Has she raised the issue with officials at the hospital? What was their response?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: That was a good speech. I have asked my department to raise the issue with the hospital, and I have received no response as of yet. I will also question whether we are talking about occupational therapists or physiotherapists in this instance.
Question re: Whitehorse General Hospital/surgical ward
Mr. Phillips: We are talking about occupational therapists. I have another question for the Minister about the hospital.
Last year, there were about 1,200 operations carried out in the surgical ward of the Whitehorse General Hospital. This year, the figure is somewhere around 1,900. There are 28 beds in the surgical ward, which is staffed by three very hard-working, full-time nurses on one particular shift. The stalled negotiations are having major effects on Yukon health care, which will soon be felt by all Yukoners.
What is the Minister doing with her federal counterpart to help alleviate this increasingly intolerable situation?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I was so enthralled by the Members speech that I almost missed the question.
First of all, the transfer negotiations are not stalled. They are carrying on, as they should be. As the Member well knows, the hospital is still a federal responsibility. I can write letters and ask questions, but it is the federal people who call the shots until the transfer is completed.
In the very detailed transfer negotiations and agreement, we are trying to ensure that we have the resources to provide the services that are needed for Yukon people.
Mr. Phillips: We have been talking about this particular issue for six years now, and the problem is getting worse all the time. Yukoners are beginning to suffer as a result. I am concerned about the cutbacks in staff at the Whitehorse General Hospital while at the same time the patient load has been increasing. I would like the Minister to bring back to this House a comparison of the ratio of the hands-on staff, the staff that deals with the patients, versus the administration staff at the Whitehorse Hospital; also, I would like a list of all programs and staffs that have been cut or reduced in the past five years.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: If that information is available to my people, I will ask them to put together a return for the Member. I would remind the Member that we have one of the best health care systems within Canada. We are trying to ensure, through our negotiations, that we do not lose it.
Question re: Assistant deputy ministers/hiring without public competition
Mrs. Firth: My question is for the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission and for the Government Services department.
I asked the Minister a week ago about two assistant deputy minister jobs in Government Services that were filled without being advertised. Could the Minister report to us now why these positions were filled without being advertised?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I recall, the two positions the Member talks about were the ADM responsible for property management and the ADM responsible for finance and administration. One was filled through a secondment from Economic Development and the other has been filled on an acting basis by another person from another department; it has not yet been filled on a permanent basis.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell me, then, whether the proper procedures were followed in the awarding of the position that was filled by secondment?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: My understanding, from discussions with both the Public Service Commissioner and the Deputy Minister responsible for Government Services, was that the procedures were followed for filling the one position by secondment.
Mrs. Firth: In the Management Board directives that deal with temporary assignments - I am of the understanding that temporary assignments are secondments - the temporary assignment of an employee to another department may be made only with the authorization of the Minister concerned.
When the Minister responded to this issue in the House on December 2, he said that he was not aware of the situation that the Member raised, referring to me.
Was the Minister aware of the secondment and did he authorize it, as he was supposed to, according to those Management Board directives?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member has me at a loss as I do not have the Management Board directive in front of me and I do not take what the Member says at face value.
I understand that there has to be approval from both Deputy Ministers responsible for both the departments that send and receive the employee and the Public Service Commissioner. I understand that in this particular instance both Deputy Ministers and the Public Service Commissioner approved this secondment.
Question re: Auxiliary employees
Mr. Brewster: My question is to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services.
When the Department of Community and Transportation Services hires workers as auxiliary employees, are these workers issued an employee number?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I take the question as notice; I do not know.
Mr. Brewster: I expect that the Member will answer my next question in the same way.
Are there ever any circumstances under which one employee would have two employee numbers for the same department?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is clearly getting at a specific situation. I would be more than willing to explore the problem that he seems to have uncovered, if he gives more detail.
Mr. Brewster: I am not as sneaky as some people in the House. I simply asked a few questions.
When the auxiliary workers are finished at the end of the season, why does it take one month to receive their records so that they can apply for unemployment insurance?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will explore that, because it seems to me that a separation slip should not take more than a few days to issue. I accept the Members query as a possible deficiency and I will get back to the Member.
Question re: Elsa curling rink/move to Mayo
Mr. Lang: I would like to direct a question to the same Minister. It has to do with the McDonald memorial curling rink in Elsa - the $1 million curling rink that we built that has never seen a sheet of ice.
Back on May 15, 1991, there was some discussion in this House with respect to the question of whether or not it was going to be moved to the community of Mayo. At that time, the Minister was doing an estimate of what it would take to move this structure from its present location in Elsa, to Mayo. On May 15, he committed to the House that he would bring that information to all Members. Does the Minister have that estimate now?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am working from memory, but it seems to me that I corresponded with the Member on the subject and thought I fulfilled the commitment made relating to discussions between the municipality and us. I may or may not have discussed possible costs related to it, but the Member would understand that costs related to the acquisition of the facility by a municipality would ordinarily be borne by the municipality.
Mr. Lang: The Minister undertook, on May 15, 1991, to do an estimate. The department was doing an estimate with respect to what it would cost to relocate this particular building to the community of Mayo. The Minister committed himself, and I will quote, I certainly cannot provide that kind of detail to the Member on my feet, but I can certainly undertake to provide such an estimate, should the information be required.
He goes on at some length, telling us that we would receive the information on the estimated cost of moving the building. Has that estimate been done?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I cannot tell the Member whether the estimate has been done. As the Member quoted, the estimate would be done, should it be required. My understanding is that discussions are still ongoing between us and the municipality on the matter. Those discussions have not concluded. Now, as to whether specific costs related to relocation have been compiled, I can undertake to determine that. I suspect they have been, if there are any kind of discussions.
Mr. Lang: There seem to be mixed signals on this. I got the impression from a recent newspaper article that discussions had been concluded and there were no further discussions on the question of relocation. Is the Minister saying there is still a possibility that the McDonald memorial curling rink may be moved from Elsa to Mayo?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: What I am saying is that the Elsa recreation facility may move to a new location. Discussions are indeed ongoing and they have precipitated as a result of the recent municipal election and a renewed interest in the matter.
Question re: Assistant deputy ministers/hiring without public competition
Mrs. Firth: I want to follow up with the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission and the Department of Government Services. The two ADM jobs were given through a secondment and an appointment to an acting position. It has been brought to our attention that there has been another ADM job given in the Department of Finance, without it going to competition. It was not advertised.
I would like to ask the Minister why the government is... Now that he has his advice from the Government Leader, I would like to pose my question. I would like to know why the government is allowing these jobs, which are paid approximately $72,000 to $102,000 a year, to be given out in this manner, as opposed to their being publicly advertised so that all Yukoners have a fair opportunity to apply for the jobs.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member has asked a generic question about the filling of assistant deputy minister positions. As the Member will know, it is not an uncommon practice by this government or its predecessors, to fill positions on an acting basis from time to time. This is quite a common feature of managing personnel. The Members assumption or allegation that somehow something is untoward in the filling of a position through an acting position is dishonest.
The practice of internal secondments throughout the government is something that has gone on for some time, as well. The suggestion that the use of secondments to fill any position, including the assistant deputy minister position, is somehow wrong is, again, wrong. Clearly, the use of secondments and acting positions are quite often used throughout the government. Consequently, I do not agree with the Member that there is something wrong in what has been done in these particular cases.
Mrs. Firth: The issue is whether or not all people are being given a fair opportunity to apply for these jobs. We all understand that there are jobs given in an acting capacity. Secondments are supposed to be authorized by the Minister. This Minister has said that he was not aware of the situation. He will have to come back with that information, hopefully, tomorrow.
The issue is whether people are being treated fairly or not and that all employees are being given equal access to these jobs. They are very prestigious, high-paying positions. These jobs should go to competition as other jobs do.
I would like to ask the Minister for the Public Service Commission, how prevalent is this occurrence throughout the government? Does it happen rarely or frequently that jobs are given in an acting capacity or in a secondment capacity?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is a great deal in the supplementary preamble in terms of the tone of voice and the allegations that I have to take issue with.
Nevertheless, the practice of using acting positions and the practice of using secondments is not used widely throughout the government, but it is used as a management tool from time to time. Of course, when jobs go to competition for the permanent filling of the position, the normal and well-known procedures for filling positions is followed.
When there is a secondment, the secondment is used quite often as a training mechanism to try and give people a broader experience in managing various aspects of the public service. When it is used for that purpose, it is often considered to be an appropriate management tool.
In this particular case, I am satisfied that the managers made management decisions that were appropriate for this particular position. If the Member is asking me whether or not it is commonly used, or widely used, I would have to say no.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us if the individuals who fill those jobs by secondment or by appointment receive acting pay, an increase in their salary, while they are there for that training period?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Certainly, a person who is in an acting position will receive acting pay. I think that is a truism. Consequently, I would have hoped that the Member would have understood that.
People who are filling positions - I believe there is a directive on this point - in excess of a certain number of days, get paid the actual position rate.
I can check that for the Member, but the Member usually tries to glean the information before asking questions, so I am certain she knows already.
Question re: Bison/damage by
Mr. Brewster: We will try a different Minister, and then maybe we will get some answers. I would like to talk about the four-legged, furry animals that run along the Alaska Highway.
When the governments buffalo tear down a fence owned by an individual, who pays for the repair of that fence?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I think the Member asked, if an animal knocked down a farmers fence, who would pay for it. If wildlife knocks down a farmers fence, that is an unfortunate occurrence, and the farmer has the responsibility to mend his own fence.
Mr. Brewster: Well, we are changing our tune again. I guess we will have to keep asking questions, like we did on the question about buffalo that were killed; it took almost the whole session for them to own up to it.
When these same buffalo break down a fence used to prevent horses escaping, and those horses are picked up by the government pounds keeper, who pays the cost levied by the pounds keeper?
Hon. Mr. Webster: Up to now, the tradition has been the person who owns the horses.
Mr. Brewster: Why was a horse from the Champagne area taken to the pound after some buffalo broke the fence down and were in the field? This panicked the horses, who left the field and went onto the highway. When the owner went to court to plead not guilty, no one from the department was in the court room. Why?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I was not in the vicinity of that court room. I was not a witness, but I will ask my department. I am sure it will have the answer and I will bring that information back.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will now proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Speaker: Opposition Private Members business identified pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(3): Bills other than Government Bills.
BILLS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT BILLS
Bill No. 103: Second Reading - adjourned debate
Clerk: Second Reading: Bill No. 103 standing in the name of Mr. Phelps; debate adjourned - Mr. Phelps.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Member for Hootalinqua that Bill No. 103 entitled, An Act to Amend the Yukon Development Corporation Act, be now read a second time.
Mr. Phelps: I was reviewing the very interesting discussion on this matter the other day in preparation for continuing with my opening remarks on this motion, and I found that, when I was forced to suspend my comments during the last time I was speaking to this matter, I was engaged in trying to explain to the Member for Faro exactly why I thought it necessary for politicians, at least from this party, to always try to explain things fully and honestly to people. He seemed rather perplexed, from the comments he was making from the gallery, as to why we would do that; I was simply trying to instruct him that forthrightness and honesty are the best policy, and I think he understands our position on that now, and I can carry on with the other remarks I had intended to make.
As I said the last time we were speaking on this subject, I was concerned that there has been undue political interference with the corporation - particularly the Energy Corporation, but both corporations - and I had gone to some lengths to illustrate the causes for concern. I had not enumerated one that I will now: the whole situation surrounding the electrification of Hendersons Corner. I think I have made it abundantly clear that I felt the Yukon Energy Corporation was used as a political tool in the midst of a campaign.
As Members may recall, there was a promise made by the Government Leader and the then Minister of the corporation to residents at Hendersons Corner that they would be supplied power and the main line would be built from Rock Creek to Hendersons Corner, compliments of the Yukon Energy Corporation and in turn, of course, the ratepayers of the Yukon.
That amounted to $110,000, according to legislative returns subsequently filed in this House. This was something that had never been done for other Yukon residents and property owners who had availed themselves of the provisions of the rural electrification program.
I was further concerned that the then Minister in charge announced, by way of a letter on Yukon Energy Corporation letterhead signed by that Minister, that the corporation had decided to provide this benefit to those residents. I believe that letter was dated a mere five or six days prior to the election taking place.
Mr. Speaker will recall that we had subsequent lengthy exchanges in this House, and that we were first told that this expenditure was justified because it was really a main line extension that would be utilized to transmit power from the Klondike River hydro that was being examined, and that there was a feasibility study that had not been received, but that they felt quite justified in spending $110,000 on this, because it would be needed in order to transmit power from the hydro facility to Dawson.
It later turned out that the feasibility study showed that particular project was not feasible. It was not feasible at the time. We were then told that it did not matter, because there was going to be a transmission line built from Mayo to Dawson City, that that section would be part of that main transmission line and therefore was required and was in the interest of all Yukon energy consumers. We were told that the Yukon Energy Corporation board was acting in a very noble way, adjudicating on whether or not this was a justifiable expense, and, in an announcement made toward the latter stage of a general election, they had decided it was indeed in the best interests of all consumers.
I am sure that we were all rather dismayed at their lack of judgment, when we find that, subsequently, the North Fork hydro was not feasible, and that they had not waited for that feasibility study to be completed, although it was in progress. If indeed - and we still do not know for sure - the transmission line from Mayo to Dawson is built, we are rather concerned about the lack of judgment, because we are told now, by way of a legislative return, that the Hendersons Corner line would not be used as part of the Mayo to Dawson line, for technical reasons, and that it would be far cheaper to use a different facility for transmission of electrical energy to Dawson.
So that was another area of concern about the way in which corporations such as these two can be abused, in our view, because of the political masters of such corporations.
Another issue that bothers us, and an issue that I want to spend just a bit of time on, has to do with the manner in which the Yukon Development Corporation funds are used as slush funds. The appropriate tool for many economic initiatives by government is through the ministry of Economic Development: Mines and Small Business.
The politicians are, of course, at the helm with regard to this department. It is clearly understood that expenditures, grants, loans, forgivable loans, debentures and so on, granted by that department under any of its programs or even on an ad hoc basis, will certainly have to come before this House for scrutiny and votes. We, as Members of this House, vote that money. The money then is spent and we scrutinize the way in which it is spent.
That is a significant difference, it seems to me, from the way in which the Yukon Development Corporation can be and has been used to acquire slush funds that are derived not from Ottawa or from the taxpayer as taxation, but accrued as a result of the exhorbitant rates being charged to electrical consumers in the Yukon. Profit is earned from that and dividends then are being declared and paid by the Yukon Energy Corporation to the Yukon Development Corporation. The Yukon Development Corporation can then, without having to have to pass through this House for vote, utilize that money for various pet projects of the people in political power. These pet projects include revamping Old Yukon College, giving some money to a convention centre, spending money on firewood that is burned outdoors at the Watson Lake sawmill and so on.
I guess our concern is that the controls are certainly not nearly as clear as are the controlling processes of government expenditures through the various ministries of government, because we do not have the opportunity in this place to scrutinize, debate and then vote on monies spent from the public purse.
We are concerned about the potential and, now, the established precedent and practice of these profits becoming slush funds and spent instead of monies being spent through what is the appropriate ministry, that of Economic Development in most cases. That is a concern as well.
I do not want to belabour this at all. I believe in short, concise speeches. I want to conclude by saying that this bill is our attempt to curtail the abuse of the electrical consumers in the Yukon. We want to see profits not paid as dividends to then be spent on the wish list of the government-of-the-day through the Yukon Development Corporation. We want to see the profits end up being invested in the development and upgrading of energy resource infrastructure or in equalizing or reducing the costs of electrical energy to Yukon consumers.
We feel this is a fairly broad principle. It has been drafted with a view to allowing a lot of leeway. Also, it is clear in its intention. It is a friendly amendment. If the government side does not view it as friendly, well, shucks, I am awfully sorry, but it is certainly friendly to anyone who has to pay electrical bills around the territory. Those folks are the friends we like and the friends we want to assist and the friends we want to keep.
I hope all Members will join me on second reading and vote for this bill in principle. It is a bill that is put forward solely for the benefit of our friends, the electrical consumers of the Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The mover of the bill suggests that this is a friendly amendment to the act. I would submit that the purpose of this bill is as transparent as glass. I do not think that it has anything to do with ensuring that the profits of the Energy Corporation are invested in the development of energy resource infrastructure or reducing the cost of electrical energy to Yukon consumers at all. The fact is, this is already being done.
I would submit that this bill is simply a soapbox, and nothing more than another soapbox. In fact, I would submit that all it does is give the Conservatives over there - both parties, the PC Party A and the PC Party B - the opportunity to recycle a bunch of worn out old rhetoric that they have been using now for about three years.
We have been over this ground more times than a prospector looking for the mother lode. We have been through this in countless Question Periods. We have been through this in countless budget debates. We have been through this in weeks of public accounts hearings. We have been through this in the Yukon Public Utilities Board hearings and of course, we have been through this repeatedly in the media. In fact, I would suggest that YDC is probably the most scrutinized corporation in the world.
But yet, the Opposition, PC Party A and PC Party B, have not turned up anything new. There is no new evidence; there is no new information. The reason that they have not been able to do that is because it all has been put on the public record time and time again.
I think that the Opposition is simply using these soap box efforts to recycle old arguments with new fabrications and new twists to arguments. Today we heard the same old bafflegabb about Hendersons Corner. On the one hand, PC Party A says that they want a Development Corporation, but they do not want it to do anything. They supported the investment being made in Watson Lake, but now they say that was a bad thing to do. They want improved electrical services throughout the territory, but then they condemn the service when it is provided - we heard that today - I have to ask the rhetorical question of where do they really stand? I suspect that is determined by which way the wind is blowing on any particular day.
We then have PC Party B continuing with the fabrication. We hear the insistence that late night shredding goes on at the Yukon Development Corporation on a rampant basis.
Will the Member admit that she made a mistake? No, she will continue the fabrication. This reminds me of the old adage: do not confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up.
I would submit that this bill is yet another opportunity for the Opposition to milk an issue for all that it is worth.
This, of course, begs the question of who is using the Development Corporation for political purpose: this side of the House or that side of the House?
We should take a moment to look at some of the phantom arguments the opposition is putting forward from this soapbox of theirs today. First, there is the sawmill. Some people opposite would have the public believe that the Watson Lake sawmill investment was a huge waste of money. Well, there is another version to that story. Nobody went into Watson Lake to lose money. The investment in Watson Lake was made to diversify the economy; it went to create jobs; it went to put food on the table of the people who lived there. No, it did not turn out the way we would have liked to see it happen, and it is easy for people across the floor to say that it was a big mistake, but the people of Watson Lake desperately needed assistance and there was a response to their needs; someone took action. And, Members opposite supported that action.
I do not think I will ever apologise for wanting to help a community. I think the Members of the Opposition are saying that peoples livelihoods and a community are not worth $11 million. I say it is worth that kind of money if it has to be done. The money in the sawmill was an investment in the wellbeing of a community. It went into the livelihoods of the people in that community. As a government, we believe in taking some risks, and especially when it comes to investment in the economies of communities. I would submit that probably we would take such a risk again. We would do it differently, but we would do it again.
Let us take a look at the other point the Members opposite are trying to make daily in Question Period, through the media and in every soapbox effort they can muster. The Conservatives opposite want people to believe that there is a link between power rates and the investment that took place in Watson Lake. No matter how many times Members opposite want to say that, it will not make it true, because it is not true. The power rate increase is totally separate from the issue at Watson Lake.
At the time the sawmill was running into trouble, electrical rates were actually going down. That is something that people continue to ignore. The fact is that rates are based on the cost of the operation of the utility, and nothing else: the anticipated and projected costs of operating that utility. The rate of return is set by the Public Utilities Board. The simple fact that dividends are issued is a decision made by the board of directors.
Members opposite are having difficulty understanding that. I could use a simple analogy to help them to understanding. I would submit that there is no relationship between Yukon Energy Corporation retaining earnings and electrical rates, just as there is no relationship between what a department stores profits were three years ago and how much a pair of shoes would cost today. That is an example of what Members opposite are trying to compare.
From what I heard today in Question Period, yesterday in Question Period and last week in Question Period, it seems to me that the Oppositions line on electrical light rates is really quite simple. Their line is that the sky is falling. Six months ago, in the spring sitting, I listened to Members opposite challenging me with their facts that rates were going up 100 percent; it is in Hansard. A few months later, they revised those estimates downwards a bit, and said 50 percent. Well, what are the facts? The facts are that this is the first rate increase in four years.
The other fact is that this rate increase is far less than the rate of inflation during that same period of time. Inflation was somewhere in the magnitude of 17 percent. Consumers are going to pay nine percent more if the Utilities Board approves the rate increase.
I do not like rate increases. No one likes rate increases. But, if one looks at what we have done as a government, for six years, we have not budgeted for a tax increase or a rate increase for electricity for four years - and it was a modest one, at that. It is reasonably acceptable.
How much is that in dollars? If the Utilities Board grants the increase, the average household, using about 1,000 kilowatt hours a month, will pay about ten bucks a month more. But, if that same household invests six dollars in a low-flow shower head and a power cord saver, it would save $16 a month, more than the entire rate increase. That, to me, would be quite breathtaking.
The bill that the Member for Hootalinqua has put forward proposes that the Yukon Energy Corporation retain its annual investment returns and use them for the development of energy resource infrastructure. I believe the bill also suggests that those returns could be used for equalizing or reducing the cost of electrical energy to Yukon consumers. In fact, what the bill proposes, is already reflected in the current dividend policy of the corporation.
The dividend policy, approved by the board of directors of the Energy Corporation, is reflected in the strategic plan, tabled here in the House. It is also reflected in the general rate application, put forward to the utilities board and heard in the past couple of weeks.
As a result of that policy, no dividends were paid in 1990, and none intended for 1991 or 1992. The need to enact this bill is not there. The desired impact of this piece of legislation has already been accomplished by the board accepting its current dividend policy.
I would like to review a couple of facts surrounding the need for this legislation. The Yukon Development Corporation Act, which was approved unanimously by all Members in this House, at a time when I was not here, states that, the affairs of the corporation shall be conducted by a board of directors who shall be responsible to the Executive Council Member - the Minister. Having delegated the responsibility for management of the corporation to a board, I think it is now inappropriate for us to limit its ability to act by encumbering it with restrictive legislation. In fact, I would submit that to pass legislation such as this, would be to allow this Legislature to interfere with the operation and management of the utility. This government does not intend to interfere. This government has not interfered and will not interfere, particularly, when the board of directors has already achieved through policy, what is being proposed by this legislation.
Actually, I find it kind of surprising that after the Oppositions accusations of political interference by this government with the Energy Corporation, they would advocate the very type of interference that they have been so critical about.
Let us go back over the origin of the corporation. The Yukon Government made a commitment to strengthen and diversify the Yukons economy. That is clearly stated in the Economic Strategy and is made clear in many public statements inside and outside of this House.
The Development Corporation was founded as an economic instrument of the Government of Yukon, in order to achieve those objectives of strengthening and diversifying the economy. It was supported by both sides of the House. In fact, as I recall, the Member for Hootalinqua was arguing that his party ran in the last election on a platform of creating such a corporation.
The Yukon Development Corporation Act, which was approved by all Members of the Legislature, clearly states that the corporation, for all its purposes, is an agent of the government and its powers may be exercised only as an agent of the government.
This government believes that the Yukon Development Corporation would be most effective in meeting its goal as an agent of the government, by operating in an arms length relationship from government, with a private sector style of management. That was stated and that has been, and is, the case.
As already noted, the management of that corporation was entrusted to a board of directors.
The Government of Yukon, as a sole shareholder in the corporation, invested some $43 million in the Development Corporation, in order for the corporation to achieve its commitment and mandate.
The first expenditure decision by the board of directors of the Yukon Development Corporation was to use $39 million of that investment capital to purchase the assets of NCPC.
Under the legislative authority of that investment, it was clear that the Development Corporation was to be the sole shareholder of the Energy Corporation, and that the directors of the Energy Corporation would be the same as for the Development Corporation.
It also notes that the directors and officers of the Energy Corporation shall not pay dividends without the approval of the board of the Development Corporation.
It also notes that the Energy Corporation should apply to the Yukon Public Utilities Board to have its rates fixed at a level that is sufficient to recover the costs of the Energy Corporation, including a provision for normal commercial return on the equity contributed to the Energy Corporation by its parent company.
This is not unlike the standard provision that exists for any utility in the country. In fact, the government determined that it should not earn a full commercial rate of return. It directed that the Yukon Energy Corporation recover one-half percent less than the standard commercial rate.
All utilities in Canada, whether investor-owned or publicly owned, collect a rate of return. The rate of return on investment is determined by the Utilities Board using evidence of precedents that are set in other jurisdictions.
The Yukon Electrical Company Limited receives an annual rate of return, the same as the Energy Corporation. Its owner, Canadian Utilities, is eligible to take an annual dividend, and that dividend is taken and goes to the parent company, the shareholder, which exists outside the Yukon, incidentally.
At the recent rate hearings, the Yukon Public Utilities Board heard testimony from a number of experts, including an international expert on rates of return for utilities. I believe the expert, Kathleen McShane, told the Utilities Board, and I quote, The prerogative of the shareholder to do with their dividends exists as they choose.
In 1988 and 1989, the board of directors of the Development Corporation took a dividend from the profits of the Energy Corporation. The funds were deemed surplus to the utility at the time, and the Yukon Development Corporation determined that they could best fulfill their mandate by using the surplus revenues to invest in other projects.
Those projects would fall within their mandate and their commitment respecting the economy. Recognizing the original $43 million that was invested by the government through Yukon Development Corporation into Yukon Energy Corporation, part of those funds were reinvested by the board of directors in the Watson Lake sawmill project. Accusations by Members opposite that the government stripped money from the Energy Corporation to pay for losses incurred by the Watson Lake sawmill are untrue. What is true is that, in 1988 and 1989, the board of directors - not the Government of Yukon - exercised their right as sole shareholder in the Energy Corporation and declared a dividend from funds that were deemed surplus in those years. What is also true is that the board of directors, and not the government, exercised its mandate to invest in projects that would further develop Yukons economy. Of the original $43 million invested by the government into the corporation, some $11 million was reinvested into the Watson Lake sawmill.
As everyone knows, the Watson Lake project did not go as planned. The reasons for that failure were reviewed by the Public Accounts Committee for, I believe, two successive years of hearings, and a full report has been tabled in this House. The Public Accounts Committee report notes that there were errors in the management of the project. The report also notes that the project may have been a marginal investment in the first place. The report acknowledges the private sector role in Watson Lake and the lack of tight controls.
The Yukon Development Corporation and the government have accepted these criticisms and, as a result of the recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee, the Development Corporation is currently developing new investment criteria, and it is also reviewing its mandate. I have informed Members previously that the exercise of mandate review has been ongoing for several months.
Although the Watson Lake project failed in the financial and corporate sense, I think it is important to remember that the project also produced a number of benefits to the community. For the period that the mill was in operation, it did much to support the economy of the community, during a time that the employment situation was very bad. The money that was spent on the sawmill project was not entirely lost, since most of it found its way into the pockets of Watson Lake people and other Yukoners. In that regard, it has to be recognized as a reasonably good investment.
Let us talk about the impact on rates. Members opposite have said that if the 1988 and 1989 dividends had not been paid to the shareholders of the corporation, rates would be lower today. That is not true. Rates are determined by the costs of production. The dividends came from investment returns and have no bearing on rates occurring today or next year. In fact, had the money been retained by Yukon Energy Corporation, then rates would have been affected adversely.
This is because the cost of retained equity is greater than the cost of debt. I know that is a tough concept to grapple with but it is important for the utility to maintain an appropriate debt/equity ratio. At the time, it was determined that the retention of revenues would have produced an imbalance in that ratio.
Yukon Energy Corporation is embarking on an aggressive capital development initiative. As a result of the aggressive capital investment initiative, the Yukon Development Corporation board of directors has determined that it would be best to increase the debt/equity ratio. Equity is now being gathered for future capital development and, as I noted, no dividends have been taken in 1990 and no dividends are planned, as least for the next couple of years.
In 1990 alone, over $10 million was spent on the upgrading of existing facilities. In addition, some of those costs went toward new supply development. As Members may have noted in the application at the rate hearing, between two and three million dollars are planned for capital upgrading over the next several years.
Retained investment revenue will also be used by the Yukon Energy Corporation as investment capital for a number of major projects that are designed to provide for the 16 megawatts of new capacity we anticipate we need in the 1990s. The supply options that are currently being considered include a number of different options. We are looking at small-scale hydro development, transmission lines, demand-side management and various conservation programs.
Members have also said that the Yukon Energy Corporation and the Yukon Development Corporation should be separated. The Yukon Development Corporation Act which, again, was approved by all Members, clearly states that the Development Corporation and Energy Corporation should have the same board of directors. Right from the start, they were intended to be closely aligned. The Members opposite approved this concept when the corporations were founded. Members opposite are now suggesting that they want two corporations. They want them separated. They suggest that the Yukon Energy Corporation is somehow being used to fund the activities of the Yukon Development Corporation. Members have also suggested that the government has interfered politically with the activities of the Yukon Development Corporation.
It is important to note that the Yukon Development Corporation Act clearly states that the Yukon Development Corporation is an agent of the government. The government would be remiss in its responsibilities if it did not give clear, overall policy direction to the Development Corporations board of directors, but that is where the relationship ends. The board of directors of the Development Corporation work within the guidelines provided by its mandate. That mandate has been approved within this House and is within the guidelines set by the board and by the broad policy directions of this government, whether we are talking about energy policies, economic policies or other policies. The board works with the staff of the Development Corporation to make independent decisions on the investments made by the corporation and on the operations of the utility itself.
I believe that there is a need to review the relationship between the Yukon Development Corporation and the Yukon Energy Corporation. The government has always anticipated that that would be necessary. In fact, the process of that review has already begun, as I indicated to Members previously. It is not being done because something has gone drastically wrong. It is being done because it is simply good management to do so. It is a good management practice. Circumstances do change, plans do become updated and priorities must be reassessed. The board of the development corporation would be remiss if they did not understand this basic management principle and review both its policies and its management structure.
As part of this review, the corporation has gone to the step - on its own - of requesting the Auditor General of Canada to perform a special examination of the operation of the corporation. It should be emphasized that this request was not made because it was felt that there are problems that exist, but in order to ensure that the corporation would be fully accountable, and because it has nothing to hide. This special examination by the Auditor General will look at all aspects of the operation that is typically reviewed: the economy, the efficiency and the effectiveness of those operations.
We do not expect the report of the Auditor General until some time in 1992, and we certainly are very open to that accountability process.
The facts of the matter are that Yukon Energy Corporation has grown as a utility over the past several years. What was once a holding company with a few employees and a few defined plans for future development, has now become what amounts to a very well-managed corporation with a five-year strategic plan and a number of major projects being planned for future development. As a result of this growth and this change, it is appropriate for this kind of mandate review to be taking place.
Once again, I will remind Members opposite that the Yukon Development Corporation is an arms length organization from government. As a result, a review is being conducted by the directors and the staff, in consultation with myself.
Clearly, any changes that may be proposed will be sought for approval, and the Utilities Board will be involved where appropriate.
The Opposition Members have also criticized the Energy Corporation for its mismanagement. As I have just pointed out, it is a very well-run operation. I think that the Opposition, in its typical shoot-from-the-lip style of criticism has outdone itself on this one.
I think if Members of the Opposition placed calls to the Yukon Energy Corporation, they would have found out the kind of detailed information that they are seeking on the floor of the House.
A number of new supply options are being considered by the utility, which are, by implication in this bill, not occurring. I would like to talk about some of those supply options, but I think that I would like to dispel a couple of myths first.
I think it must be emphatically stated that there is no such thing as cheap hydro anymore. There is no doubt that hydro generation is preferable to diesel generation for a number of reasons, not only environmental and long-term economic reasons. But the fact remains that, until a hydro project is paid for, the cost of that hydro generation is almost identical to the cost of diesel generation. Those are the problematic, economic facts that we are dealing with now.
I do not think megaprojects are the answer. In the past, I have heard Members opposite suggest that, if they were in control of the Yukon Development Corporation, they would develop large power projects to stimulate economic development and have a large quantum of supply.
The obvious question is, who is going to pay? Who will pay for these megaprojects? Are the ratepayers going to pay, that is, the consumers of electricity? Should the public taxpayer pay for it? What do you do with a megaproject, if you have a downturn in the economy and the loss of a major consumer of that supply?
I do not think I would want us to be plunged headlong into a massive hydro project that could cost hundreds of millions of dollars, a project we cannot justify, do not need, cannot afford, which would do irreparable damage to the environment and, essentially, a project that would bankrupt the utility.
The Energy Corporation is a very well-managed utility. It is a utility that has listened to the wishes expressed by Yukon people. During consultations last year, electrical consumers told the Utility Board that they want to see future supply needs met through the development of small-scale hydro projects. They want to see our energy needs met through alternative energy sources, and they want to see us exercise conservation in energy.
We believe our demand-side management program will reduce that anticipated 16 megawatt requirement in the 1990s down to 10 or 11 megawatts. That is what you can do with conservation efforts.
The corporation is planning to go to the Public Utilities Board in the spring of 1992 to outline its capital plans in detail and seek approval from the board for its capital projects. As I have noted, the Energy Corporation has a carefully thought out strategic plan, which forms the overall basis for decision making and movement toward future development in the territory. There was a criticism by Members opposite that the strategic plan was based on out-of-date forecasts; I think Members should be reminded that forecasting is done on an annual basis and a document entitled Electricity Supply Options for Yukon was based on the 1989-90 forecast. That document is being updated and will be updated prior to the capital hearing in the spring.
At that spring hearing, the corporation plans to put forward a number of supply options to take the Energy Corporation well into the years past 2000. A significant aspect of this review will be an examination of the risk, which must be borne by someone in the development of future generating capacity.
One key element of the Energy Corporations plans is its demand-side management initiatives. I have already indicated how we intend to reduce the need to build at least five megawatts of capacity by aggressive initiatives in controlling demand.
Members are familiar with the Power Smart Idea Shop, but Members should know that demand-side management alone will not meet all the needs of the future. We are looking at a number of projects and the corporation anticipates spending a number of capital dollars on hydro reconnaissance and studies of various projects. We are looking at Surprise Lake. We have the Mayo-Dawson transmission line being examined in its final stages. We have the addition of a peaking turbine at the Aishihik plant. We are doing work at Drury Creek.
At Moon Lake we are doing a reassessment of the North Fork project. In addition, the corporation reviewed, in its strategic plan, a number of alternatives, including co-generation of power at Watson Lake, the watching brief of coal - however, we must be very conscious of the environmental impact of coal, and we are carefully assessing and measuring those impacts against the benefits.
We are expecting, in the capital hearing, that we will firm up the long-term direction for the corporation and its capital plans, which will involve a full and open public disclosure of those plans and comment by Yukoners, just as has been done at the recent rate hearings.
I think it is important that one of the overall goals that was sought when the transfer of the NCPC assets took place - that is, the control and direction of the utility is that it be made in Yukon, by Yukon people and for Yukon people.
I submit that the corporation is in a healthy financial condition. It is ready to meet the challenges that face it in the future and an impediment like the interference of this bill will hamper its ability to do its job.
Mr. Devries: I must say that I was slightly amused when the Minister started up. He seemed to indicate that everything that this bill would do is already being done. As he carried on, he contradicted that statement. My first thoughts were: if everything this bill will do is already being done, then why vote against it? Let us vote for it and get it over with and get on with the business of the House.
Obviously, that does not seem to be the case, because as the Minister carried on, he seemed to have several problems with the bill.
From listening to debate thus far, the Member for Hootalinqua carefully laid out a chain of events that no doubt indicates, in my impression of what he said, that we have to get a handle on Yukon Energy Corporation profits.
The Member for Hootalinqua also mentioned some of the aspects of the Watson Lake sawmill, and I shared with the government the frustration that we experienced in getting the mill up and running.
I still stand by the fact that my initial instructions were to get this to hang together for two or three months and then we will be building a new mill. That is what I was told when I started there. We all know that did not happen.
I think that things have changed considerably since then. Right now we have a healthy Economic Development Agreement. There are a lot more options available to us to get the communities back on stream in a time of crisis.
Also, at times we have to look at past mistakes, no matter how well the intentions may have been, and analyze some of the poor decisions. In the energy sector at the Watson Lake sawmill - it is still unclear to me whether the power house at the sawmill was run by Yukon Energy Corporation, whether it was run by the sawmill and Yukon Energy Energy Corporation paid the bills or what - definitely, there were some poor decisions made there. If it was run by Yukon Energy Corporation, as the annual reports seem to indicate, it generated power at the sawmill at a loss of about one-half million dollars over the first year and a half; obviously, something went wrong.
If we had spent a portion of the money that was lost at the sawmill - and this is all in hindsight - subsidizing, or perhaps creating, a cheaper source of power for the forest industry, perhaps, then, this would have created a more attractive climate for private investors, and we would possibly have something there today.
Uncontrollably high energy costs were part of the downfall of Cattermole Timber, originally. There is no doubt that they contributed substantially to the plight of Hyland and also Yukon Pacific Forest Products.
A lot of money was spent by both the Yukon Development Corporation and Yukon Pacific Forest Products in trying to get that 1930-technology power house upgraded and operating to produce power. In fact, the power house could not even produce enough power at full capacity to run the whole sawmill and the hogger at the same time. During the night, we often had to run a huge diesel generator to make hog fuel. In turn, the hog fuel was used to run the steam plant the following day.
The irony of the situation was that the steam plant only produced 200 kilowatt hours more than the diesel generator did in the first place. The power house was costing us almost $1,000 per day to operate, plus the $800,000 that it cost to retrofit the power house. This was, no doubt, a losing proposition. If we had not had the power house, for another $150 per day we could possibly have met all our power requirements through diesel generation.
I know that some of the political decisions that were made when the sawmill was purchased were to try and get to the power house operating and also sell power to the community, et cetera, as was in the mill development plan.
People could say that diesel generation, as it was used at the sawmill, was a harm to the environment, but we also have to consider the fact that the power house also makes smoke. The fact was, that during those months that I am referring to right now, much of the hog fuel was being made from low-grade lumber and logs that would not have been burned under normal circumstances.
Again, we have to realize that the issue we are talking about here, today, is really not the issue of the Watson Lake sawmill. I brought it up because of the energy component of the sawmill. It is still unclear to me who instructed management, at that time, to operate the power house in the way it was operated.
The creation of a power infrastructure will provide resource-based industries, such as forestry, with a reasonably priced power supply. There definitely is not that power supply in Watson Lake today, which is another reason we are faced with this log export problem in the Watson Lake area right now. We do not have a reasonably priced source of energy available to make it economically feasible for sawmills to operate on a larger scale in the lumber markets. There are several small operations going now, but they could also operate much more efficiently if they had a reasonably priced supply of power.
As I mentioned earlier, the annual report indicates that the power house in Watson Lake is still owned by the Yukon Development Corporation. I can only anticipate and hope that the Yukon Energy Corporation will recognize this particular power house as a loser in its long-term plans.
I am not saying there is no room for waste fuel energy production in the Watson Lake area, but it has certainly been proven that it cannot be done with that heap of scrap metal. I am happy to see several things in the Yukon Energy Corporation annual report, where they talk about McNaughton Creek near Swift River. It is being considered as a hydro source. The other micro hydro project near Rancheria could also be tapped into a grid that would tie the entire Yukon into one huge energy grid. This would definitely lead to orderly economic development and energy savings for all Yukoners.
There is no doubt that more economical energy, and energy conservation methods for communities, will lead to a lower cost of living for all.
I found it interesting when the Minister talked about the low-flow shower heads. I put one in my house, and I am just about getting divorced over the thing. My wife has a big head of hair. She gets a bunch of shampoo on that hair, and there is not enough water coming out of that thing to get the shampoo out. She has to run it about three or four times as long as she used to, but we are still sticking with it, even though it is tough. It is not going to make much difference to the Minister, anyway, because I heat my water with propane. Regardless, it is still energy.
As a result of lower energy prices in the communities, there will be lower grocery prices, as stores can operate their refrigeration units more economically. These savings would be passed on to consumers.
Lower street lighting costs would lead to lower property taxes because of savings in the operation of government infrastructure.
The Minister of the Yukon Development Corporation has not convinced me, and I urge all Members to support this bill.
Mrs. Firth: The Yukon Energy Corporation has fallen disappointingly short of our expectations. The need for more money from the pockets of its electrical subscribers can be mostly attributed to both the NDP governments gross mismanagement of our utility revenues and strategic short-sightedness within the Yukon Energy Corporation.
When the federal government transferred the assets of the Northern Canada Power Commission to Yukon control, things were supposed to be different. The lack of consideration shown to Yukon interests and ratepayers pocketbooks was going to be a thing of the past, now that we could finally make our own decisions - decisions that would have our long-term interests at heart and provide the territory with an economic development tool to encourage investment and bring us prosperity far into the future.
Instead, Yukoners are facing a sharp increase in the cost of living, escalated financial burdens on industry, unhealthy environmental damage from diesel exhaust, depletion of our hydro reservoirs, social impacts - imposed mainly on our First Nations people - and, perhaps most frighteningly of all, we are sending a clear signal to investors not to expect any help in obtaining an economical energy source to encourage development of our resources.
It is not as if the utility was besieged by unforeseen difficulties, declining sales or economic hard times. Rather, it was the mismanagement of the NDP government that has stripped the utility of its cash surplus, built up from the pockets of Yukoners.
The Yukon Energy Corporation has enjoyed the highest revenue years ever in the history of the Yukon utility. Record sales to the Curragh Mine in Faro, full hydro reservoirs the year after it took control, a two-year rate freeze and despite $66.5 million of debt forgiven by the federal government, guaranteed big profits in the first few years.
Instead of reinvesting this money into the utility, either by responsibly developing our energy infrastructure, replacing old equipment, providing better service and keeping rates fair, the money was siphoned off by its parent company, the Yukon Development Corporation. This money was unwisely spent on non-energy-related schemes that were based more on political dividends rather than economic viability.
The Government Leader was the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation until he was recently replaced by the new Minister earlier this year. He knew things were going to get hot so he bailed out. Then, the former president also bailed out.
The five-year strategic plan for the Energy Corporation released in November of 1990 is based on projections that severely underestimate Yukon energy demand. This plan does not make sense when compared to the actual totals of the last two years or revised future projections.
Because the Yukon Energy Corporation has not changed the strategic plan, it is now dependent on diesel generators to supply new electricity instead of developing sensible and more economical sources.
The policies of the NDP government are molded from outdated information. The utility is becoming a financial drain and the shortsighted forecasting almost rendered it incapable of meeting its power supply commitments.
More by good luck than good management, this inevitable result has been temporarily postponed. Because of the unusually heavy rains this past summer, our hydro reservoirs have been refilled. Otherwise, they would have been empty by next spring and diesel costs would be doubled. We must use this second chance to revise our energy policy at once, and to ensure continued prosperity in tomorrows Yukon.
Before going into any detail with respect to this proposed change to the Yukon Development Corporation Act, I would like to remind everyone of the words of the Government Leader, when the transfer of NCPC was taking place and he gave his speech. At that time he said: Today marks the end of careful and detailed negotiations. The people of the Yukon have long desired control of their own affairs. The acquisition of NCPC provides us with control of a significant resource. We plan to have the utility explore possible investments to reduce our dependency on imported fuels, reduce power costs to consumers and simultaneously create jobs in the construction and operation of these investments.
We shall maintain a viable and financially accountable utility operation while responding to Yukoners wishes for stable and predictable power rates and the use of our hydro resources as an economic development tool.
Well, it is now less than five years since the transfer and the utility is hindering economic development. For example, new mining prospects that need an affordable supply of power are being neglected.
The Minister of the day, the Government Leader, promised to reduce diesel generation, but Yukon Energy Corporations original projection in the general rate application increased our dependency on costly, imported fuel by more than eight times the amount used at the time of the transfer. Diesel-generated electricity is both very expensive and damages our environment.
Those Yukon Energy Corporation figures meant that about an unbelievable 100 million kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions would spew into our air this year alone. In a press release last February, the government said that ...diesel generation will increase by two or three times over the next two years, in order to meet demands for new electricity.
Power costs to consumers have not been reduced. Instead they will increase by over 30 percent, plus the GST, within one year, if the rate application that has been applied for is allowed to proceed.
There have been no new jobs created from the construction and operation of new hydro facilities, despite a 25 percent increase in power demand on the main grid since the transfer. The government has not maintained a viable utility operation.
The government asked for an electrical increase from the consumers in the Yukon. They wanted more money because, without it, they claimed the utility would not be viable. Financial accountability was promised by the Minister; however, the operation and maintenance expenses of the utility in the period from 1989 to 1992 are projected to increase by about 250 percent.
What about the $21 million and more handed over to the Yukon Development Corporation? And the need to borrow back $5.5 million of it at high interest rates. Instead of the utility becoming an economic development tool, it has become a cash cow for government and a handicap to future economic development.
The Wellgreen deposit near Destruction Bay is another example of missed opportunity. The Yukon Energy Corporation told the investors to supply the development with its own electricity. This contributed to the abandoning of its plans to open a large mine. Western Copper Holdings is trying to develop a mine at Williams Creek, located west of Carmacks. The Yukon Energy Corporation is only able to supply them with some power in the summer from the Whitehorse Rapids plant. This restriction practically forces the proposal to become a seasonal operation only and its viability is reduced.
Curragh Resources is now having to pay more for its power to develop the new ore deposits, despite reporting large financial losses in the first three-quarters of this year. Recent layoffs and speculation of a closure puts further development in jeopardy. We were promised stable and predictable power rates. We have seen three increases in the past year and are warned to expect continued uncertainty in the times ahead.
Many of our constituents have shown us their recent power bills in comparison to last year. Under the averaging plan, monthly payments have increased from $90 to $130 a month. These people simply cannot afford to pay the extra $480 a year for electricity. I am referring to pensioners, single parents, low income groups, the unemployed and homeowners or tenants. I have listened to many apartment dwellers complain that rents have sharply increased without fair notice. Rents are quickly increasing to cover snowballing operating costs from recent power bill increases.
The rate shock is passed on down the line to all sectors of our economy. Commercial retailers and the service industry now have to charge their customers more for products or services to recover higher expenses attributable to increased electrical rates.
There should be an efficiency audit done on the utility, to ensure it is operating by the same standards as other businesses. How much money is being wasted that could be otherwise be saved?
I am aware of several new positions that have been created within the office lately. How do we know if this expense is absolutely necessary?
In my review of the general rate application, I have not found any evidence of cost-cutting or increased efficiency, anywhere. The Yukon Energy Corporation quite simply can spend whatever it wants, because the extra costs are paid for by the consumer. Exorbitant salaries within the company, outrageously expensive consulting contracts, promotional propaganda in the form of glossy brochures, media advertising and high operating costs are all areas long overdue for close scrutiny. The cost to operate this utility is much too high and this fosters additional escalations, such as the price tag for the hearing, which was also imposed on the electrical consumer. For instance, if the Yukon Energy Corporation had not been so inconsiderate to the interests of its customers, would it now be necessary to go to the extreme expense of bringing in so many experts to try to justify the application for the rate increase that we just went through?
A further example that I personally witnessed was the $20,000 mock hearing staged by the Yukon Energy Corporation and some of its experts. This is not only outrageous from the perspective of the electrical consumer, but it was intimidating to the interveners.
What gives the Yukon Energy Corporation the right to rehearse answers to interveners questions and be allowed to add to the cost of Yukoners power bills?
Another major expense that should be scrutinized is the management contract with the Yukon Electrical Company, which is up for renewal. Are its operating costs getting out of hand as badly as they were with the Yukon Energy Corporation? How are they getting paid for all of the expert help that they supply to the Yukon Energy Corporation?
The proposed rate hike certainly did not reflect the quality of service provided. In the past few years, we have experienced more and more power outages that have inconvenienced too many customers. In the last two and one-half years, there have been over 1,000 power outages in the Yukon. There was also a power bump in the Whitehorse area that destroyed several thousands of dollars of personal property.
Considering the poor service record, I find it rather incredible to believe the utility would even hint at such a huge rate increase as they asked for at the Public Utilities hearings.
Perhaps the most significant factor affecting the utility since the transfer is the way it is set up under the ownership of the Yukon Development Corporation. The NDP government and its hand-picked board of directors control both the Yukon Development Corporation and the Yukon Energy Corporation.
As an elected Member of the Yukon Legislature for the past 10 years, I realize how important it is for the good of society to introduce motions, bills or budgets into this House. This provides a forum for discussion, analysis, critique and possible improvement before elected public representatives have an opportunity to vote. This is the very basis for the parliamentary style of democracy on which our government is supposed to function.
This has not been the case with more than $21 million taken from the utilitys earnings. Decisions on how to spend these public funds were made behind closed doors. We discovered this in the annual reporting of the Yukon Development Corporation and the Yukon Energy Corporation when the dividends were shown as paid in the annual report.
The rate hike application just requested can, in part, be attributed to this undemocratic process. The end result of this closet policy was the loss of millions of dollars on the Hyland Forest Products sawmill in Watson Lake.
The Independent Alliance supports this bill calling for the complete separation of the utility from the Yukon Development Corporation and the government. The Yukon Development Corporation Act must be changed to guarantee that the money gained from Yukoners power bills will stay within the utility to either improve service, build badly needed power sources or transmission lines, or, if the need be, to repay excess profits back to the people. The money must not be allowed to be spent at the whim of our government on risky ventures.
Not long ago, on CBC Radio, I listened to the senior utility engineer from the Energy Corporation tell us that power outages were a fact of life in the Yukon and that it was something we must get used to. He went on to say that we should expect a lot more future outages because of aging equipment that is unreliable by todays standards. This is an absolute disgrace. I cannot believe the spending priorities of this government. It must have been very difficult for this gentleman to go on public radio and deliver that message when he knew about the $21 million that could have replaced that old equipment.
Let us hope that every time the lights go out the NDP government takes a moment to reflect on what has been done to the people of the Yukon.
Political interference of the government into the affairs of the utility has been ongoing since the day of the transfer. The Yukon Utilities Board, for example has lost its complete independence and is restricted by Cabinet directives. The net result of this meddling is that board can no longer base a decision solely on what it thinks is best.
The 1989 rate hearings led to a rate reduction in the form of temporary riders, because of the need to reduce the utilities excessive profits. The use of these reduction riders and their subsequent expiry gave the politicians an opportunity to deny that rate increases last January were in fact increases.
Both Ministers, the present Minister and the previous Minister, are on record as saying this general rate application that was requested recently was the first increase ever in the history of the Yukon Energy Corporation. This brings up the question: when is a rate increase not a rate increase? As if Yukoners are not having enough trouble trying to understand power bills and the operation of the utility, to intentionally cloud the issue further with rate riders is another example of this government distancing its inner workings from the general public.
When it comes to announcing good news, the politicians are front and centre. A recent example is when the Minister announced the last minute reduction to the original rate application. The Minister sounded so delighted with himself talking about our wet summer and repeated the same old cliches that we heard only three years ago, when the heavy rains filled our hydro reservoirs. The timing of utility-related announcements is suspiciously political. We can remember that days before the last territorial election, the NDP announced that a power line would be built to service the small community of Hendersons Corner near Dawson City. The government realized the Dawson riding could be a close contest and this decision, coming at such a critical time, suggests that the utility company is being used as a political tool.
The proposed Dawson-Mayo power line has similar connotations. If the governments plan to route the line goes ahead, about half of the energy output from the Mayo dam will not be used, because the load in Dawson City is not large enough.
On the other hand, if the Mayo dam was connected to the main grid at Carmacks right now, every available drop of water stored in its reservoir would reduce our high costs of diesel-generated electricity and help to keep our rates more affordable.
What exactly is the energy policy of the Yukon Energy Corporation and this government? Are the best interests of Yukoners honestly represented when policy is formulated, or are they only concerned with short-term gain at the expense of our long-term pain?
As we were glibly reminded by the Government Leaders transfers speech, the utility has an important role to play in promoting the future expansion and development of our economy. It can be used as a tool to achieve these goals by supplying an available and an affordable source of energy to developing industry.
So far, the utility has fallen far short of developing anything but rate increase applications. The Yukon needs a strong energy infrastructure to attract investors in todays world. I am referring to the increasingly competitive global marketplace, where the dollar is the bottom line. What financial incentive can the Yukon possibly offer the world to help offset the high cost of doing business here? What better way than to develop our energy options in a capacity large enough to attract economic growth and simultaneously wean ourselves from the undesirable diesel generators that are driving our rates higher every year. This alternative is certainly brighter than suffering through a power shortage while our money goes up in diesel smoke.
The Yukon Energy Corporation is quick to respond that the Curragh Mine shutdown could be costly if we are left making the payments on something we might not need right away. I would like to remind these people that opportunity has played an important role in Yukon history. We must continue to ensure that opportunity is provided now and into the future. We must view the temporary closure of a mine as an opportunity to develop our energy potential to eliminate the possibility of ever falling behind again.
Other possible energy options may include the development of a modern-technology thermal plant, using our own fuels. This would provide an economical alternative to diesel generation, provide jobs for Yukoners and millions of dollars would not be leaving the territory to pay for diesel fuel.
To reduce the financial risk, the Energy Corporation should seek investment from industry, such as Curragh Resources, as co-generation partners. There are ways to reduce the risk and avenues to explore that the Yukon Energy Corporation and this government have ignored.
Instead, they are afraid to make any decisions, because so many mistakes have already been made. We hear all about all sorts of small hydro options, transmission lines, wind power and micro hydro, but we still have nothing, just conservation. They are telling us to conserve so they will not have to fulfill their obligations. If conservation does not work, they will blame us for not cutting back enough.
The Yukon Energy Corporations strategic plan, released last November, is based on outdated information and incorrect load forecasting. It is founded on the pretense that energy sales last year would drop and then remain stable until the end of the century. This would justify needing only 16 megawatts of power added to the main grid for the next decade.
The Yukon Energy Corporations report, entitled Energy Supply Options for the Yukon, was prepared to provide the background information for this plan. In this report, the Yukon Energy Corporation states that total sales are forecast to decrease 3.7 percent in 1990. For the period 1991 to 1999, total sales are expected to rebound slightly and start increasing at an average rate of 1.1 percent throughout the period.
How wrong they were. Power demand increased by 7.8 percent in 1990, and later revised to increase by a further 2.7 percent this year. How are they satisfying this demand? By diesel power generation, that is how - expensive diesel generators that are very costly to operate and pollute our clean Yukon air.
This government has sadly committed itself not to invest in a large enough new power supply to meet our future needs. The projects they have in mind are not sufficient to allow turning off the diesel generators and saving millions of dollars. Now, they will not do the right thing and amend this obsolete plan, because they fear a political backlash this close to an election.
I say that is too high a price for Yukoners to pay. Let us have some vision for a change. We are tired of paying high electrical bills and being subjected to rate hikes without building for tomorrow.
Now, they want to kill Aishihik Lake, just to funnel more water into the turbines of the hydro dam. The Yukon Energy Corporation has a plan to drain the lake seven feet below natural elevations and hold it there for the foreseeable future. This means that, when the peak of its annual cycle occurs in the fall, the lake will be near the same low level it was last spring. That is when we heard about the severe environmental damage and social impact it caused.
It also means that when the low of its annual cycle occurs in the spring, the lake will be drained about three feet lower than last April. Thousands of hectares of ecologically sensitive shallow areas will become biologically barren mud flats. Boating access to traditional areas will be restricted and native culture destroyed. Beautiful Aishihik Lake would become an eyesore and an embarrassment to all Yukoners.
What possible reason could there be for the utility to inflict this devastation. Unbelievably, it is only so that they can generate that lake water on a one-time basis. This crazy plan reveals to all Yukoners that this government will go to any extent necessary to avoid admitting it is wrong.
What about a contingency power reserve in the event of a failure at the Whitehorse Rapids plant? With the Aishihik reservoir depleted, it would be lights out for many Yukoners, possibly for a lengthy period during cold weather.
Then, there is the Yukon Energy Corporations environmental mandate, which includes these quotes: Protecting the environment and mitigating impacts is important, and Yukon Energy Corporation is committed to minimizing and mitigating the negative environmental impacts of its activities, and, finally, The Yukon Energy Corporation will also consider the environment in the operation of its existing facilities by being as flexible as possible in the use of these and meeting its mitigative requirements. It seems quite clear that the Yukon Energy Corporation is not living up to its environmental mandate. The Yukon Conservation Strategy recently declared Aishihik a high quality management lake. Is it that fellow government departments and corporations are exempt from the same laws that the rest of us must obey?
The revision to the original rate application told us that the depletion of the Aishihik reservoir means higher electrical rates; therefore, we also realize the economic importance of storing as much water behind the dam as possible. Why, then, has the Yukon Energy Corporation not done the work at Aishihik to allow for more storage during wet years or due to interruptions at the Curragh Mine. Unknown to most of us is the fact that almost four million dollars worth of water was spilled from Aishihik Lake in the past three months. This water has gone down the drain and will not be there for power generation this winter or the environment next spring. Instead, the Yukon Energy Corporation would rather drain the lake seven feet and leave it there.
Before wrapping up, I want the record to show very clearly the position of the Independent Alliance.
We made a presentation at the Public Utilities Board hearing opposing any further rate increases on the grounds that the utility had been badly mismanaged and public funds squandered. Political interference and a lack of ability to keep pace with Yukon power demands have combined to bring our utility to the point of having to ask for higher rates - even after having made such huge profits in recent years. Unless major changes are made to the Yukon Development Corporation Act, the strategic plan and the way the utility is manipulated by the government, the Yukon Energy Corporation will become a sad legacy in Yukon history.
The Independent Alliance is also calling for a public enquiry into the whole operation of the Yukon Development Corporation and the Yukon Energy Corporation before Yukoners are asked to pay one more cent for electricity. We, on this side in the Independent Alliance, will be supporting this initiative brought forward by the Member for Hootalinqua and we thank him for bringing it and allowing all Members of the Legislature to voice their opinions about this very important issue.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I really did wonder, having listened to the speeches of the three Members on the other side who have spoken so far, whether there was any point in entering this debate. The Member for Porter Creek West said, in his typical manner, something about Members of the Independent Alliance cannot trust the government. We know what the word of the Independent Alliance is worth and whether it can be trusted; that has been a matter of public record in the last few days.
Let me return to the question of the motion by the Member for Hootalinqua who, I think, presented the motion in all seriousness. I think he is serious about his central idea, but it became clear in the speeches that the main purpose of todays debate was to rehash old subjects - subjects we have gone over time and time again. The Member for Hootalinqua managed to sound quite tired and bored as he gave his own speech. He used a lot of emotive words like slush and strip and pet projects - colourful language - but he used those emotive words without any emotion. He is already clearly bored with his own arguments, as I suspect most people outside this building are.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The territorial councillor for Riverdale North suggests that I check outside and ask people whether they are bored.
If one manages to refute certain assertions a number of times, even if they are untrue, there will be a certain number of gullible people who will believe the Member, because I suspect every Member of this House has some following and there are some people who will believe the Members opposite, even if their statements are not factual.
It is a pity, but I do concede to the territorial councillor from Riverdale North that that is correct.
But let me return to the Member for Hootalinqua, because I have not finished responding to his speech yet. I think the Member for Faro is right, that this is an effort - a rather tired effort, probably even a boring effort - by the Opposition to milk an issue for all it is worth. I think milking the issue is probably the right expression. Unfortunately, I do believe that a lot of people think that it is essentially a dry cow. The matters that we have gone over today, for the most part, except for the rather extraordinary reading we had of the presentation to the Public Utilities Board, which the public had already heard once, which the Member for Riverdale South read into the record again, word for word - I do not know why that was necessary. It, of course, appalled everybody and this kind of political statement bored the Public Utilities Board when it was made the first time. Perhaps because there was not an appreciative audience, she decided to try it on again, but I will come back to that.
The Member for Hootalinqua will forgive us all if, in the words of Yogi Bear, we have a sense of deja vu all over again, because this matter has been hashed out time and time again. I think it has taken on the status of a hardy perennial in this House; in fact, it probably is a subject that is returned to almost every week, and I have no doubt that, as long as the Members opposite can get news stories out of it, they will continue to do so.
As the Member for Hootalinqua did concede, in presenting his bill, we debated a motion on a similar subject back in 1990, that was allegedly about energy. As I noted at the time, however, it was yet another motion about the Watson Lake sawmill.
It is interesting that no sooner had the Member for Hootalinqua spoken and the next Member from his side, the Member for Watson Lake, waded right in to prove that is what this is all about, by speaking almost entirely about the Watson Lake sawmill, although he asserted that his colleague, the Member for Hootalinqua had carefully laid out a chain of events. I want to say to the Member for Watson Lake that I respectfully disagree, because in the chain, most of the links were missing. We had some free-standing metallic circles, I guess symbolically representing a certain kind of loose idea in this political syllogism, but there certainly was not anything like the complete story or the complete picture, even as it has been provided by contributions from all Members in previous debates.
What the Members, back in 1990, proposed was to hinder or hobble the Yukon Development Corporation from carrying out its mandate, a mandate given it in law by this House. They did not believe that the Yukon Development Corporation should be involved in making strategic investments for the public good. We found that rather surprising, given that it was a complete contradiction of what all Members in this House had voted to do and indeed, it is a complete contradiction of what people of all political stripes, including the Hon. Erik Nielsen had argued the Development Corporation should do, an argument that he had made for many years.
The latest round in this ongoing debate highlights an important ideological distinction between Members opposite and Members on this side of the House, and that is, first and foremost, we, on this side, and Members of both groups opposite, have profoundly differing views of the world.
I will not mention now, my views of the contradictions in the Member for Hootalinquas statement. The Member was so sure that Surprise Lake was not mentioned in the Yukon Energy Corporations strategic plan, and he was shocked to discover that it was referenced on pages 39 and 48 of that plan.
This is the gentleman who has advocated rather large megaprojects - the installation of surplus capacity into our system, and a project that would cost hundreds of millions of dollars and saddle the electrical ratepayers of this territory with very, very large bills for many, many years to come, whether or not they were customers for this power.
My colleague, the Member for Faro, commented on the schizophrenia of the Members opposite, in that they criticize the Development Corporation for making a profit at the same time they accuse it of mismanagement. The Member for Faro is a business person and it is his view, that it is usually not the case that badly managed companies make a profit.
I was very interested in this document read out by the Member for Riverdale South, which is entitled, The Independent Alliance presentation to the Yukon Utilities Board for the General Rate Application by Yukon Energy Corporation and Yukon Electrical Corporation. It is interesting, in this rather incoherent and internally contradictory diatribe against the Yukon government, and me personally, that the Yukon Electrical Corporation - the manager of the system, who is applying for rate increases - hardly rated a mention. It does suggest a certain kind of - what did they call it the other day - apprehended bias, on their part.
This rather extraordinary speech contains phrasing that we have never heard before, and terminology that we have never heard before from the Member for Riverdale South. This suggests that it is a speech written by someone else. The general theme of this speech is that the world will end, lakes will dry up, animals will die, and aboriginal cultures will end and become extinct because of this rate increase. It then goes on to argue that we should have big new dams and flood other areas in order to get ahead of demand and make mining companies who do not plan, with current world prices, to open mines that make them happy, just to be ready for the day when they do.
I do not buy almost anything in this statement by the Member for Riverdale South. In fact, I think it is a statement that is not only wrong in the facts, including the argument oft repeated by Members opposite that the rates were affected by the sawmill decisions. The statement talks about stripping the corporation of cash. This same statement was previously read out by the Member before the Public Utilities Board. The Member for Faro did, of course, explain that the cash had not been stripped and, had the corporation done what the Member said, the consumers would have been worse off.
The Member does not seem to understand that a company - especially a public company, as much as a private company - is entitled to a rate of return. If the company were ever to go to the market to try to raise cash to build a power project, something most utilities do, that rate of return would be one of the first things the market would look at. If it did not have a satisfactory rate of return, they are unlikely to be able to get their borrowing done on any kind of attractive terms.
The Member for Riverdale South does not seem to understand, when she talks about the financial drain on the corporation, that this utility probably has the healthiest debt/equity ratio of any utility in the nation.
She talks about massive rate increases. Apart from the GST-inspired rate increases, which were imposed on us by Ottawa, I happen to know that the stable rates that were promised and provided for the last several years were done contrary to the plans of the federal government, which had planned rate increases of at least five percent for every year from 1987 onward, had the corporation remained in federal hands.
The Member also said that this was a cash cow for the government. Once again, let me state a fact. I know it will make no difference for the Member opposite, but it is a fact that YTG has not taken a penny out of the Energy Corporation or the Development Corporation. In fact, it has done quite the opposite.
The Member talks about a financial drain. Of course, she does not notice that revenues have exceeded expenditures. In comparative terms, the rates are lower than they previously were for many customers. In comparative terms, the rates here are very reasonable.
As I was saying, there is a philosophical difference between the two sides of the House. There is a different view of the world. Members opposite, at least at the rhetorical level, believe in the supremacy of the free market. This side of the House believes that the free market has its place, but it cannot, and does not, meet the needs of all kinds of people in all circumstances.
There is a role for government in providing services and economic leadership for a variety of reasons. Where the free market is unable to provide it, the government has to provide services to benefit all citizens. The Yukon government has to do that for all Yukoners. That is why we favour a mixed economy, rather than a pure, free market economy. Of course, there is no place in the world where a pure, free market economy exists, nor has there ever been. But there are people who are ideological right-wingers and ideological conservatives who do believe in that ideal. I admit that.
We believe that relying on the free market to meet the needs and provide the services can leave the average citizen stinging from the blow from the invisible hand. We think that government should be taking what steps it can to moderate those effects. I am aware that there are people, perhaps the territorial councillor for Riverdale North is one of these, who believes that the invisible hand of Adam Smith is excessive interference in the market...
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible).
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The territorial councillor for Riverdale North is getting his speech ready, and well he should.
During the budget debate, I got to discuss the idea of the Yukon becoming another Hong Kong or Singapore by any means short of magic and that somehow we could inspire some kind of development here by building megaprojects, the costs of which would be borne by local consumers. The benefits would be borne by people who are not yet here, such as mining companies that, it is presumed by Members opposite, would come, even though they could not operate profitably at current world metal prices.
Let us agree on this. There is a role for us to play and for the Energy Corporation to play in providing power for mining companies. That is a role that I am sure the corporation looks forward to involving itself in.
I fundamentally reject the view of the governments in places like Singapore or other places in the world where authoritarian, right-wing governments and big businesses get together to make deals for their mutual benefit, that artificially exist to ensure low-wage economies and no job security, no labour laws, no environmental laws, no human rights and no choices about the kind or quality of work. I have said before that I very much oppose that view of the world and oppose that view of development, because I think it is development in name only.
There is a view that part of the political strategy of right-wingers everywhere is to constantly discredit the public sector, because they do want the public assets and the public wealth to be distributed among their friends in the private sector. In their point of view, that somehow makes the world better, at least from wealthy peoples points of view; but I believe that, whatever ones ideology, in a country like Canada the kind of conservative philosophy that sees the type of cutbacks, layoffs and down sizing and privatization and contracting-out and cuts and cuts and cuts - in other words, the dismantling of the public sector - does, in the end, involve the shrinking of our soul and shrinking of ourselves as a nation. I think it will have very, very bad consequences for national unity and is something about which citizens everywhere in this country are beginning to react very negatively.
Lest it be thought that I am straying away from the subject of the motion today, I do believe that what the Member for Hootalinqua is proposing is something to the effect that the Development Corporation should not do anything else except what he would have it do - which is to build dams and perhaps use its surpluses for the purposes of equalization. I know the Member for Hootalinqua will agree that there are some people of a conservative ilk, such as I think one gentleman by the name of Percival, an intervener at the hearings, who would even oppose the idea of equalization - at least, oppose the utility playing that role. There are different views on the right about this question.
The idea that the corporation should restrict itself to this narrow function is, of course, not what the Conservatives were proposing a few years ago. I do not think it was even what the Member for Hootalinqua was proposing a few years ago, because I do recall that he was, at one time, in favour of the Yukon Development Corporation, and I am naturally disappointed that he now seems to be of the view that we should have a development corporation, but it should not do anything except build dams with surplus capacity and then stiff the consumers with the cost of putting them up.
We, on this side, do have a different view of the Development Corporation. As the Minister responsible for it has pointed out, there are a great number of inconsistencies from the other side on this question. It is a matter of record that, in one form or another, Members opposite supported the legislation for establishing the Yukon Development Corporation, some six years ago. They supported us when we acquired the assets of the federal power company. They supported the two-year freeze on utility rates. As I understand it, at least some of them supported rate equalization for rural Yukoners, and at one key point, in one form or another, they did support the purchase of the sawmill in Watson Lake.
It now appears that, having convenient memories, they now want to deny that they ever supported any of the above. It does remind us, at this poignant moment in Eastern Bloc history, of the photos that we have all seen of the Soviet leaders atop the Lenin mausoleum in Moscow. Mr. Speaker, I think you know the ones I mean, where in one picture a face is there, and in the next moment, the political winds have changed and that face vanishes from the picture and from official memory. It seems to me that there is an official memory of the Conservatives opposite that is very coloured by the political winds.
I think that it would be very interesting if the situation at Watson Lake had worked out differently, but the one thing of which I can be absolutely certain is that whatever would have happened there, Members opposite would have attacked it.
No matter what we had done, there would have been the jeering and snickering and booing on the sidelines. Even in respect to the Energy Corporation today, which is only now talking about its first real rate increase, the suggestion is made - I suspect, perhaps even almost seriously, in the proposition of the presentation to the Utilities Board by the Member for Riverdale South - that this really is the end of the world - this in a world where we have had the GST, which has had a crippling effect on our economy, and a world where a local municipality is raising property taxes to similar levels, but there is no mention of these environmental considerations.
The fact of the matter is that the utility has been run properly. The Members opposite have accused it of not having a supply plan; it does have a supply plan. It is not a supply plan they like, because it is more modest and appropriate to our financial circumstances than they would suggest.
They are not happy with the demand-side management, because that is the number-one policy initiative and key priority of the Energy Corporation, in terms of responding to the gap between the demand and the supply, in an effort to close that gap. It is quite an appropriate response, and one that is being pursued successfully everywhere else in the country.
Many times before, we have gone over why we intervened in the situation in Watson Lake. We did so because there was a community in trouble. We did so in a way that involved us in hiring private managers. Notwithstanding the fact that, every day, I had Members in here asking why we had not hired this local person or this local contractor, or bought a screwdriver from a local store, we did not interfere in the day-to-day management of the operation.
In fact, it is certainly true that the Member for Watson Lake had a lot more to do with managing the operation than I did. Nonetheless, in the official history, as written by the Conservative Party, every single decision about the sawmill was made by me or someone else in this government, which is nonsense.
However, I have to be careful in saying that. When I pointed that out in the past, I have been accused of not interfering enough. Of course, that is not todays theme, but I think all Members opposite would admit they have not been consistent on this score.
The Energy Corporation is new; the Development Corporation is new. Both have probably had a more exciting history than I or anyone else associated with them had wanted. There is no doubt that some wrong decisions and mistakes were made with respect to Watson Lake, and that it did not go the way we wanted it to go. However, the argument that somehow the Development Corporation should do things that have no risk is nonsense.
We did take a risk in Watson Lake and it did not work out, but the argument that somehow we could have avoided all of this is nonsense. The only way that you can avoid ever having a traffic ticket, car accident or a break down of your car is to keep it in the garage. If you want to use that image, I think that is very much the proposition of the Members opposite - that the Development Corporation be kept as an antique car in the garage, under lock and key, under wraps: do not use it, do not employ it, not even if a community like Watson Lake is in trouble; do not touch that car and do not get a fingerprint on it.
We on this side have a very different view. We believe that the Development Corporation has a role to play in driving economic development. We believe that it should continue to have a role in doing that, and given some time and some fair-minded, objective evaluation of what it has done, what it will do and what it is doing, I think that most people would recognize that.
Of course, the classic economic argument would suggest that we should not diversify our economy in the Yukon. The classic argument goes that the comparative advantage strategy would be that we specialize in mining or in tourism, because that is where our comparative strength lies.
That is, if you like, the ultimate free market argument. I do not think that it is an argument that even the Member for Hootalinqua would propose, because he does advocate diversification, although he advocates the kind of diversification that I think is frankly impossible in this day and age: the kind of instant diversification into a kind of Singapore or Hong Kong. But I do believe the diversification that we are talking about, which is strengthening infant industries, developing them and nurturing them to the day when they can put a better foot under our economy, is something that we should do; the Development Corporation should help to play a role in that.
It simply cannot be left for a department like Economic Development, which is mainly involved in small business initiatives. It seems to me that there are some mid-size projects: projects like the hotel, the sawmill, and, indeed, experimental projects such as the renovation of the Old Yukon College, which are appropriate to the strategic investment role of the corporation. I, for one, do not want to see the corporation limited in doing that.
We do believe that there are advantages to having an appropriate role for intervening in the economy because market forces, left to themselves, will not develop the Yukon, protect the environment, provide jobs or provide social services. They never have done and they never will. There is an essential role for government and we have, in the budget that is before the House now, invested a quarter of our budget - more than anywhere else in the country - in the development of our economy. In addition to the education and training initiatives we are doing, we are doing capital projects, all of which are there to help stimulate private sector employment and the development of our communities. The Yukon Development Corporation is one tool for us to use in that approach.
I have talked before of how Members opposite have argued at different times, depending on the debate and the nature of the argument, that we should interfere or we should not interfere. In fact, the territorial councillor for Riverdale North - and I can document these cases in the House - has argued, within the space of days, that we should interfere and we should not interfere. We are interfering too much or we are interfering too little. The Member for Faro has made the point that, everyday we are asked questions about why we do this or that, so it is not surprising that when the Minister responsible calls the corporation, it will want to be sensitive to the needs and questions of not only the Ministers, but also of all Members from both sides of the House, and that it will, in some sense, respond.
Let me remind Members what the Yukon Development Corporation Act says. I know in this debate Members would have found it very helpful if we had actually gone through that and explained what it actually says. That seems to have been lost here. The Yukon Development Corporation Act states, in section 3, that The corporation is, for all its purposes, an agent of the Government of Yukon and its powers may be exercised only as an agent of the Government of Yukon. It could not be clearer.
This corporation is an instrument of public policy. It is what we in Canada call a Crown corporation - a publicly owned company, not a private company. Section 7 of the act talks about how directors are appointed. Directors of the corporation are appointed, and they are accountable to the Minister in the same way that the president and staff of the corporation are accountable to the directors.
It is a source of some amusement to the board members - who the Member for Hootalinqua suggested have bags on their heads, which is a rather offensive comment - for it to be suggested that they are all NDP hacks and that the corporation is an arm of the party, whatever that is. I take it to mean the New Democratic Party. As is well known by most people who have taken note, from the beginning the board has included people of all political persuasions, including people who belong to no Yukon party whatsoever and may not even support any political party.
It is clearly understood that, in most Crown corporations, there is a distinction between the role of the staff, the board and the Minister. It is interesting that, even today, there is obviously some confusion on that point. I and my successor have been accused of making decisions over which we had absolutely no say.
The rather bizarre statement by the Member for Riverdale South includes suggestions that there are all sorts of decisions that I personally made, but which I had no knowledge of until they were made. There is a role for the staff; there is a role for the board; there is a role for the Minister. Because there is some confusion, I think it is a good thing that the Member for Faro, the Minister responsible, is doing a mandate review and contemplating publishing the mandate in a way that will provide a clear statement for people everywhere in the territory to know who does what with respect to the work of the corporation.
Let me say to the Member for Hootalinqua, and I hope he will not be deeply hurt and offended by this, that there is much confusion about who does what and I believe, wittingly or not, he has contributed to the confusion about who makes what decisions with respect to these matters.
Of course, there will be times when an appointed board, or an appointed staff person, may disagree with the government on a matter of public policy. There are well-established traditions in public administration in Canada when that occurs. If that occurs and the board or the staff want instruction, the convention in Cabinet is that you make a Cabinet submission or you make a submission to a Minister and you seek some instruction from the government. In fact, the Auditor General in Ottawa, I think, has recently advised the federal government of this point: boards of Crown corporations should make the decisions according to their own mandates, but they should also understand that from time to time, a government may, on matters of broad, public policy, give instructions to the board.
On a number of questions that might have troubled a body such as the Development Corporation, our act makes it quite clear that, for example, the Financial Administration Act shall apply. There are some Crown corporations that are exempted from the federal equivalent; this one is not. It also makes it quite clear that the Auditor General shall audit them, rather than some private auditor.
All of these things were intended to give some comfort that there would be the financial accountability that was mentioned earlier by Members. Of course, I think that a fair-minded person would recognize that with a Public Utilities Board, with a Public Accounts Committee review, with an Auditor Generals review and all of these situations, there are many tests of the financial health and activities of the corporation.
I want to respond briefly, if I may, to the Member for Hootalinqua, by engaging him, if I can, intellectually, in a question that he posed the other day. Let me put to him, as a serious individual, the following scenario: you have, for example, a government of party A or party B, and they created a Crown corporation whose purpose was to participate with the private sector in the economic development of some jurisdiction, somewhere, and suppose there was an official - let us say an employee - of that Crown corporation, who was philosophically beholden to party C, say, and an entirely different world view.
Suppose that employee reached a point where they disagreed with the approach of the policy or some initiative of the Crown corporation, or let us say, to take another case - and I know this happened with NCPC from time to time - where instructions came from the federal minister to the board of NCPC...
Speaker: Order please. The hon. Member has three minutes to conclude.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This is devastating, Mr. Speaker. I have so much more to say.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member for Riverdale North has offered me his time.
The point is that in a democracy, the employee in that case has to accept the instructions from the elected government-of-the-day or they may chose to leave on a general policy point. There is nothing wrong with that, but in a democracy, the elected government must prevail.
Whether we are talking about the Mayo dam, which came in ahead of schedule and under budget, or whether we are talking about the college project, which came in on schedule and under budget, or whether we are talking about the sawmill project, which did not, or whether we are talking about the energy supply plan, I believe that the Development Corporation has a role to play, not only with the electrical utility, but beyond that. I am, therefore, opposed to the proposed amendment submitted to us today by the Member for Hootalinqua.
Speaker: The hon. Member will close debate if he now speaks. Does any other Member wish to be heard?
Mr. Phelps: I understood the last speaker wanted to speak again. He had his hand up, and it was not because he wanted to leave the room, because he is still here.
I wanted to briefly go through some of the observations that have been made in debate. At the outset, it was rather interesting that the opening argument made by the Minister responsible for the Yukon Energy Corporation was essentially that this really was not needed because it was now the clear policy of the board of directors of both the Yukon Development Corporation and the Yukon Energy Corporation; therefore, somehow or other, he felt compelled to vote against the changes to the act. I found that to be rather an interesting argument and wondered why he was inclined not to support this very simple amendment to the bill.
However, he went on to contradict himself a little later in his speech, and we will get back to that once I have had a chance to deal with some of the issues raised by the previous Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation and the Yukon Energy Corporation - the architect, as it were.
The most interesting feature of that particular speech - the most recent speech in this debate - was the complete lack of response to the issue I raised today just before closing my opening debate: namely, that of our concern with respect to this Development Corporation, that it is in some ways taking the place of what we see as the more appropriate body, the Department of Economic Development: Mines and Small Business, and our concern of the Yukon Development Corporation then being used as a tool to launch various initiatives without a money vote in this House. It does that by doing this with profits it receives by way of dividends from the Energy Corporation.
It side steps perhaps the most important role that this House has, and that is to debate and vote on money bills. I really feel that the corporation has been used in that manner, and I would feel somewhat differently if, when the Development Corporation was to involve itself in a new venture, the funding were to come from government and we had a chance to vote on such funding coming from government in the budgetary process. Similarly then, if government policy were appropriate, in the case of some businesses, I suppose one would expect profits then to go by way of dividend to government, thus completing the cycle. Yukon Energy Corporation is not one of the businesses that we feel should be making a profit that would be siphoned back to government or siphoned off into launching new business ventures unrelated to the provision of reasonably priced, economically sound electrical energy to Yukon consumers.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: This is not a point of order, but unfortunately I did not get to finish my speech. I wonder if the Member would permit a very serious question on exactly the point that he is raising?
Mr. Phelps: I do not know, the Member did have 40 minutes. I am not really sure what the purpose of this is. I thought that there were large portions of the speech that I had heard before that could have been edited beforehand if he had something really important to say. He is nodding his head vigorously, so he agrees.
I want to respond to a few of the comments made by that particular speaker. One of the obvious problems is that that Minister is uncomfortable when we raise the ways in which the Yukon Energy Corporation and the Yukon Development Corporation failed to live up to the standards Yukoners had expected of them.
I realize that it is not pleasant to have to hear some of these errors in judgment, and so on, repeated in the House. But it is very obvious to us that the public is interested in the issue and is concerned with the rate increases.
This initiative, on my part, was a genuine attempt to try to resolve some of the problems by proposing a very straightforward amendment to the act. I was not calling for a public inquiry. Other Members have and, indeed, an editorial in one of the newspapers called for it, but that is not the way I chose to address the problems that we face. I have always felt that this is a fairly straightforward and reasonable initiative.
The Minister raised the issue about the situation where, in his hypothetical scenario, a person is an employee of a Crown corporation. The government in power is of a different political persuasion than the employee. Should the employee, nonetheless, accept instruction from the elected government of the day? I would submit that either the employee should do that or resign.
I think it goes further than that. My understanding with respect to the actual, highly publicized resignation seemed to go beyond having a policy disagreement. It seemed to be more to do with the relationship between the government and the Minister, on the one hand, and the two corporations, the Yukon Energy Corporation and the Yukon Development Corporation, on the other.
It seems to me that I would find the use of Yukon Energy Corporation letterhead to announce politically beneficial things during an election campaign, such the as Hendersons Corner issue, unpalatable. Again, I would find unpalatable, either someone on the board of directors or a high official in the corporation, using corporation letterhead in the billing documents that go to all consumers, signed by a politician, to announce rate reductions. However, not everyone, in the same monthly mail outs, finds a letter signed by the same Minister on the same letterhead announcing proposed rate increases.
I think we must get beyond the simplistic, hypothetical situation suggested to us here, and into, I suppose, what is seen as the appropriate relationship between the political arm of the government and corporations, such as the Yukon Energy Corporation.
The government speakers have deemed it necessary to try to rationalize the sorry mess we are in. They mentioned how successful Yukon Energy Corporation was at the outset because of the large profits it was able to make. But, of course, they failed to mention that this was a tremendously generous gift from Ottawa when the transactions were entered into and completed, and that there was huge write-down of debt by the federal government. The federal government did not want the rates to be decreased right away, because they wanted to be assured, for a couple of years at least, that the corporation would not be used as a political tool to the detriment of the long-term stability and success of the corporation.
It was not, as suggested by the previous speaker, that the Yukon Energy Corporation, through some miraculously efficient organization and management, had huge profits for the first number of years, in my view. Any fair-minded person would recognize that the profit was almost guaranteed for the first number of years by virtue of the debt write-down and by virtue of the demand in place when the assets were taken over and placed into the Yukon Energy Corporation.
The previous speaker tried to make the argument that we, on this side, had supported the takeover of the Watson Lake sawmill and, when things got bad, we suddenly changed direction. That is really not the case. We gave our qualified support. We can go back into Hansard and review what was said precisely, but I can recall that we gave qualified support, saying that our approach to the problems in the forest industry in the Watson Lake area was different than the one this government chose to take.
We have always supported a Yukon development corporation, but our model is somewhat different from that of the governing power. I think that is entirely clear in the minds of those here.
The Minister has it in for Singapore and Hong Kong. He really accuses us on this side of sometimes going on and on in the right-wing fashion. We get rather less than enamored with the continuous, tired, socialist rhetoric that we get from the other side. The Minister, and some of his associates over there, may sneer at those who try to make money and run successful businesses and private enterprise. All I can say is, Try it, you might like it. You never know.
I want to go back just briefly to the speech of the current Minister responsible for the Development Corporation. It is football season - not in Canada right now, but certainly, in the States - so, I hope the Members will forgive me if I refer to that wonderful pastime and suggest that the Minister has been given a very difficult task. After a lot of damage has been done, the football has been handed to him. In fact, it is like handing the football to a player who is buried under six linebackers, each of whom weighs about 250 pounds and telling him to run with it. For Gods sake, run with it. He runs on and on in his speeches and one can always tell, as I have said before, when the Minister is in trouble because he does tend to go on and on and on. Sometimes, if you will excuse me, he sounds like a football player who has played a few too many games without wearing his helmet. He is trying to justify the unjustifiable.
I understand politics well enough to realize that he probably does not enjoy it very much and I give him full credit for trying. Certainly, it does take a certain amount of backbone and gumption to stand up, time and time again, and play with accounting figures of speech.
The side opposite does not enjoy this subject, apparently, and I have sympathy for them. I understand that they are rather tired of criticism. All of us get tired of criticism; I know I do. I get lots of criticism, God knows. So, I am going to be brief.
I am going to learn from the very erudite speeches of the Minister responsible for Education. I have learned, from listening to him, how to be brief and what kinds of things might be cut out of a speech.
I feel that this bill is broad in scope. I feel that this bill allows a lot of moves to be made with regard to transferring profits around and meeting the debt/equity ratio required. I think that the bill is such that the Yukon Development Corporation can still be used for other things, but that money ought not to come from money used to launch new ventures or to be lent out in forgivable loans, or whatever. It ought not to come from the electrical consumer. Indeed, many of the promissory note loans, and so on, ought not to come from the Development Corporation at all.
I am speaking of Taga Ku. If the government seriously felt that that was a worthwhile investment or loan, or whatever they want to choose to call it, it ought to have been done through the Department of Economic Development: Mines and Small Business.
I would urge each and every Member to support this bill. If they do, I am sure that they will not only reassure a good deal of the public out there who rely on electricity to meet many of their daily needs, they will not only give us a much-needed boost at this time of year as we look forward to the festive season before us, but I am sure that they will feel a glow in their own hearts, because they will know, deep down, that in supporting this bill they have done the right thing - perhaps, not the politically right thing, but the right thing.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question? Division has been called. Mr. Clerk, would you kindly poll the House.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Disagree.
Hon. Ms. Joe: Disagree.
Hon. Mr. Webster: Disagree.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Disagree.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: Disagree.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Disagree.
Ms. Kassi: Disagree.
Mr. Joe: Disagree.
Mr. Lang: Agree.
Mr. Phillips: Agree.
Mr. Phelps: Agree.
Mr. Devries: Agree.
Mr. Brewster: Agree.
Mrs. Firth: Agree.
Mr. Nordling: Agree.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are seven yea, eight nay.
Speaker: I declare the motion defeated.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 103 negatived
Mr. Phelps: I am a little alarmed. I see that two Members from the same riding voted on this.
Speaker: Motions respecting Committee Reports.
MOTIONS RESPECTING COMMITTEE REPORTS
Clerk: Motion No. 1, standing in the name of Mr. Phillips.
Speaker: Is the hon. Member prepared to proceed with Item No. 1?
Mr. Phillips: Next sitting day, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: So ordered.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will recess until 7:30 p.m.
Chair: I will call Committee of the Whole back to order.
Bill No. 19 - First Appropriation Act, 1992-93 - continued
On Corporate Services Division
On Operation and Maintenance
On Assistant D.M.s Office
Hon. Mr. Byblow: All the expenditures related to the Corporate Services Division speak to the ADMs office and the human resources support to the Department of Finance and systems support that is provided, as well as the policy, planning and evaluation branches. It is fairly straightforward. There are no substantive changes to resources and activities from previous years.
Assistant DMs Office in the amount of $188,000 agreed to
On Human Resources
Human Resources in the amount of $392,000 agreed to
On Finance and Systems Support
Finance and Systems Support in the amount of $488,000 agreed to
On Policy, Planning and Evaluation
Policy, Planning and Evaluation in the amount of $375,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $1,443,000 agreed to
Corporate Services Division agreed to
On Transportation Division
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The entire operation and maintenance of the department in transportation speaks principally to personnel. In the vote items, the substantive portion of $35 million speaks to the requirements for staffing the highway camps and the auxiliary and seasonal support to those camps. It is similar with airports division and with transport services.
Again, unless Members have specific questions on certain matters, I will wait to get into detail if you like.
Mr. Phelps: I just have one observation that I would like to put on the record. It has to do with the subject matter that keeps coming up. The Curragh ore trucks continue to bunch up from time to time on the Carcross road and I keep getting complaints by phone. As recently as two days ago, I had a complaint about five or six of them within a few minutes of each other, close to the Lewes Lake cutoff.
I would like the Minister, from time to time, to say something to them. I am going to mail out some kind of form letter that people can easily fill out and send in to me. Having the people phone me and getting mad does not do very much, but very simple letters documenting time and place should have an impact on all concerned. I will encourage people to fill in this very simple form and send it off to me, so that we can come to grips with this problem. The natural instinct of most people is to be a little alarmed or afraid when an incident occurs, but by the time they get home, the fear has worn off and they do not get around to entering a real formal complaint.
I regret that more people do not take the time to mail something in to your offices or to my offices.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, I appreciate the spirit of the observation from the Member because he knows we have made considerable effort to monitor and control some of the infractions we hear about ore trucks.
In fact, just recently the Member for Tatchun spent considerable time with me enunciating some of the complaints on the other portion of the ore haul in the Carmacks area. Again, they were related to bunching and ongoing concerns about rock spray where sanding is taking place, and so on.
In the Carmacks situation, I have asked that trucking officials go into the community and have a public meeting, because part of the understanding we have with the trucking division of Curragh Resources is that they will participate in their own good public relations. The Member will recall the school bus incident of a year or two ago. Curragh Resources became fairly involved, as did Yukon Alaska Trucking.
The Members advice is very solid. When people see the trucks bunching, when they see that any truck is not giving them adequate clearance on the road, or if there appears to be speeding taking place, to the best of their ability, people should report that to my office, to the transportation department, and directly to Yukon Alaska Transport. On a very regular basis, I am in communication with Mr. Upton. He shudders when he hears I am calling, because it is usually to enumerate several complaints I have had and on which I request follow-up. The Member can also request follow-up, as well. There have been many occasions where, by reviewing the tachometers, they can determine if, at a certain time, the truck was speeding. Speeding is about the only thing that can be checked by looking at the tachometer.
If the Member feels there is bunching on the Carcross Road, I take that information very seriously. I will be raising it with Mr. Upton. If the Member suggests that Yukon Alaska Transport go into the community, conduct some public relations, hold a public meeting to listen to complaints of the community, they are prepared to do that.
I would encourage and support any effort to improve the monitoring of the trucks. However, in all fairness, it is usually just a handful of trucks that create the problem. Many of the truckers are renowned in the industry and on the roads as excellent drivers, very courteous, observing all the rules, and it is usually just a handful of people who are breaking them.
Mr. Phelps: I certainly want to agree with the Minister on the last part of his remarks, in particular. Certainly, the safety record is enviable, considering all of the miles that have been driven. By and large, almost all of the drivers are extremely professional and courteous, but bunching seems to be something that is a continuous complaint and a continuous problem, and even though the drivers, aside from bunching, are driving in a very safe manner, it is a terrifying experience to pass, in fresh snow, two or three of them within a couple of minutes and be blinded each time, especially if you are in the midst of a fair amount of traffic coming your way. They are going in the same direction as you are, and when you have to slow down all of a sudden, you wonder if you are going to get rear-ended.
Mr. Lang: I was up in the Faro area not too long ago and one of the suggestions that came forward was that the trucks should be numbered with fairly clear, large numbers on them, so that if this does occur, each vehicle is fairly easy to identify. I recognize that time is important, too, but perhaps just adding a plate would be another method of recognition, if this unfortunate situation happens.
I also want to say that the safety record of the company is very enviable, as the Member for Hootalinqua has said. A lot of those drivers reside in my riding and I know how hard they work. The suggestion that was made to me in Faro might go a ways in helping to identify those who do not observe the rules, creating situations that have perhaps put somebody in the ditch, or otherwise.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have also heard that suggestion. It was pointed out to me by Yukon Alaska Transport officials that the trucks are quite clearly numbered now; they have numbers on the rear, on the side and on the front. But the suggestion, as the Member puts it, is that they should be more visible and more obvious and Yukon Alaska Transport officials are considering it.
I should note that we have placed forms at various outlets in the Carmacks and Faro areas for people to pick up to file formal complaints. There has been some use of those forms. They do not appear to be utilized as well as we perhaps would like, because when the incident occurs the immediate reaction is to act upon it now or forget about it forever. I will certainly undertake to ensure that the Member for Hootalinqua has some of these forms for distribution, if they are not already in the area.
Mr. Devries: The ore trucks are new in Watson Lake; they are run by Gateway Transport. The other night, when I was driving up to Whitehorse, the thought came upon me that it would be very handy if an ore truck could be identified when it is approaching. They have a flashing amber light on the back for drivers approaching from behind, but a driver almost has to stop when he meets an ore truck. If one meets a regular van he can slow down to 20 miles an hour and is not necessarily blinded. Those ore trucks are completely blinding, due to the turbulence of the snow. The trucks currently have four amber marker lights on top of the cab; if they had a blue one or some other colour stuck in the middle, it would still be legal and at least the locals could identify it as an ore truck and be slightly more cautious than they are with other trucks. It is just a suggestion. We are happy; we have had no complaints at all about the ore trucks on the Alaska Highway. Every time people see them go through town, they are thinking money.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I appreciate the suggestion. I will raise it with Yukon Alaska Transport people and transportation officials.
On Operation and Maintenance
On Division Administration
Division Administration in the amount of $1,771,000 agreed to
On Highway Maintenance
Highway Maintenance in the amount of $35,845,000 agreed to
Airports in the amount of $2,531,000 agreed to
On Transport Services
Transport Services in the amount of $1,828,000 agreed to
Mr. Lang: I have one question for the Minister that I would like to raise here. I made an inquiry of the Minister with respect to the clearing of one particular wood-cutting road at Scout Lake. The Minister indicated that he was going to check into it and I would like to know what the response is.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I clearly recall the inquiry. I have raised this matter with my officials, but unfortunately, I have not had any follow-up and I have not inquired since. It has been a heavy day and I will undertake to get back to the Member.
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $41,975,000 agreed to
On Highway Construction
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I was only going to observe for the capital portion that all of the information was provided in the handout that I gave to the Members at the outset of the budget debate. Almost all of the figures are delineated by community and by project,
On Planning and Engineering
Planning and Engineering in the amount of $621,000 agreed to
On Klondike Highway
Klondike Highway in the amount of $1,860,000 agreed to
On Campbell Highway
Mr. Devries: It was interesting when we received the engineers report on the Campbell Highway. I think it clearly shows that the highway has been neglected for the past five years. I am not sure how well the Member for Porter Creek looked after it before that. I am assuming that he did a good job.
I think that road needs some considerable work on it. I understand that we have one million dollars plus budgeted for the stretch from the airport road to the Sa Dena Hes turnoff. From reading the engineers report, it is important that the Ministers department give this road some priority over the next number of years.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not want to treat the matter lightly at all. The report is quite critical of the condition of that portion of road between Ross River and Tuchitua. I also want to tell Members, as I have indicated in previous questions surrounding that portion of road, that we have spent considerable extra money in the summer maintenance program to widen shoulders, straighten curves, as well as considerable contour work to improve the standard of the road. This has been done through summer maintenance and I am sure that the Member will have seen much of that road, piece by piece, being upgraded. We have, over the past several years, been providing a much more rigorous maintenance program on the road, simply because, what we are looking at to upgrade it would require millions of dollars. The money that is identified in this budget is, indeed, for the ore-haul portions of that highway; it is a continuation of some work we are doing in the Little Salmon area and work that we are doing on the Sa Dena Hes side. We will continue the efforts to upgrade the portion in between.
Campbell Highway in the amount of $3,700,000 agreed to
On Bridges - Numbered Highways
Bridges - Numbered Highways in the amount of $1,290,000 agreed to
On Dempster Highway
Dempster Highway in the amount of $400,000 agreed to
On Canol Road
Canol Road in the amount of $90,000 agreed to
On Atlin Road
Atlin Road in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Top of the World Highway
Top of the World Highway in the amount of $490,000 agreed to
On South Access
South Access in the amount of $600,000 agreed to
On Other Roads
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That $2,125,000 is made up of $50,000 for various surveys and miscellaneous design work that we are doing on all roads. As the Member knows, we have stepped up our rural road maintenance policy with some capital dollars. What we are going to have to do is some engineering work on some of the roads, like Mendenhall, that we are going to be upgrading.
Five hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars is for the actual construction of those secondary and tertiary roads. Five hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars is the increased portion from several years ago where, for miscellaneous roads, we used to have between one hundred thousand or one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. We have stepped that up considerably since there has been an increasing demand and pressure for upgrading for those secondary roads, and $1.5 million is earmarked for the Two Mile Hill reconstruction.
Other Roads in the amount of $2,125,000 agreed to
On Pavement Management
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This I flagged in my opening remarks. It is what we are more properly applying to the capital portion of the budget for BST overlays. As I indicated in previous comments, the life of BST is being reached on many of the roads where it was put down five, six and even seven years ago. It is necessary for us, in order for us to maintain the integrity of the highway system, to start doing the overlays.
Pavement Management in the amount of $950,000 agreed to
On Resource Transportation Access Program
On Management and Control
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As I believe I announced previously, the resource transportation access program has been somewhat revised. It seems to be more probably reflective of what the demands are. The project criteria have changed. Where there is a requirement for the proponent to participate in the project, you can have either 50 or 75 percent contribution, depending upon the nature of the project. I believe I have provided to Members the criteria of the program, and if Members want the listing of the projects approved this past year, I can provide that, too.
Management and Control in the amount of $70,000 agreed to
On Evaluation and Inspection
Evaluation and Inspection in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On Project Funding Assistance
Project Funding Assistance in the amount $500,000 agreed to
On Facilities and Equipment
On Sundry Equipment
Sundry Equipment in the amount of $300,000 agreed to
On Weigh Scales
Mr. Devries: Last year, during the main estimates debate, I asked the Minister for an air conditioner for the Cassiar Junction weigh scales and this summer, when the Minister was up, around the time of the mine opening, he assured me that this air conditioner was coming. It finally did come in July, when all the hot weather was over. My understanding is that the air conditioner has never been installed. It is still sitting on the counter, waiting to be installed. Mind you, they have been plugging it in and using it. I guess an air conditioner has to sit by a sink because it causes some condensation.
I think it is just inexcusable the way that situation has been handled, and I hope that with the Ministers new decentralization program, with a purchasing agent in Watson Lake, we can alleviate some of these ridiculous problems.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: If what the Member is describing is accurate, then I would agree with him. It is inexcusable that the unit has not been properly installed. The Member has my assurance that I will have the matter investigated and dealt with immediately.
Weigh Scales in the amount of $450,000 agreed to
On Maintenance Camp Facilities
Maintenance Camp Facilities in the amount of $175,000 agreed to
On Miscellaneous Branch Facilities
Miscellaneous Branch Facilities in the amount of $225,000 agreed to
Airstrips in the amount of $2,179,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $16,095,000 agreed to
Transportation Division in the amount of $58,070,000 agreed to
On Municipal and Community Affairs Division
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: On the operations side, the funds are largely for the administration of lands, public safety, sports, recreation, community services and municipal engineering.
The one item I would flag under community services relates to the transfer of the comprehensive block funding monies. As it shows up in the budget on page 93 and, in turn, page 101 of the budget book, it indicates that the Municipal and Communities Infrastructure Grants Act has been transferred over from the capital side to the operations side. That is part of the rearrangement that has taken place.
For the most part, besides that major component, it is all associated with staffing and administrative costs.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister confirm when the mobile home lots in Granger will be available. All Members have voted for this; I think this is the fourth time. One thing about it, it is almost like the extended care facility. In fact, I would say this is going beyond that.
Can he confirm that those lots will not be available until late summer or early fall of next year?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I think I provided some of the information in previous debate and I thought I gave the information relating to when they would be available; I am just double checking.
Mr. Lang: I recall from earlier debate that the Minister indicated that it would be this summer. Summer can be a fairly extended period of time, and my information is that it could be late summer or early fall before those particular lots will be ready to put on the market. I wanted a confirmation on that. Are we talking late summer or early fall?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am working partly from notes and partly from memory of discussions with the city. What we refer to as phase 1 of Arkell consists of 105 lots. The water and sewer was not completed this year; it will be completed between May and June of next year. In discussions with the city, it was suggested that we might release those lots prior to the paving that follows, in order that the city could respond to the demand for those types of lots as soon as possible.
The paving of those 105 lots is not expected to be done until September; so, between the time that water and sewer installation concludes in May and June and the time paving would happen in September, the city is contemplating having those lots put on sale. If they request us to do that, we will.
Mr. Lang: I am going to register my real concern here, because it is an area that allows some affordable housing in Whitehorse, which is sadly lacking. Prices are being driven up everyday, primarily because of supply and demand and partly because land is not available for people to bring in mobile homes to put on private property. Consequently, what has happened, obviously, is that prices have risen.
The government can take some responsibility for that because they are the land developer. In my judgment, this is inexcusable, because it has been four years since the initial plans were tabled in this House. All I can say is that those lots should be put on the market as quickly as possible so that people will be provided with some options when looking for a place to live. Right now there is no land for people to put a mobile home on.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I think that I can agree with the Member. There is a tremendous demand for mobile home lots. I guess that I have to defend, in part, this governments role in trying to bring those lots on stream.
My officials work day and night to try and have the level of services put into those lots and have them approved by the city. There was one complication after another, and I share the frustration of my officials in trying to get mobile home lots to a standard acceptable to the city when there was no agreement.
There were problems between us and the city in reaching what constituted an acceptable standard of lot for a mobile home. Yes, that clearly delayed it by one year; there is no question about that, but, we did what we could to bring on reasonably priced lots. At one point, that was not going to happen if we put the lots on stream at the standard being insisted upon by the city. We seem to have all that resolved; everything is agreed upon; the development agreements are in place, servicing is occurring and it does look like we could have the lots on sale in approximately June or July of next summer.
Mr. Lang: I understand Cabinet has to make a decision with respect to pricing the 40 lots that the Minister referred to the other day in Question Period.
Is the pricing policy staying the same, or is the Minister recommending some other type of pricing policies with respect to the value of these particular lots.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: We are currently dealing with the process surrounding pricing. The pricing policy will not change. The development costs are the fundamental principle related to the cost of the lots.
As I mentioned in my remarks yesterday, the city has recognized the need for developing a fund to meet future upgrade requirements. As the city expands and grows, there is a need to upgrade water lines, sewer lines and other services that provide amenities to subdivisions. The city has requested that the government apply an off-site levy to be attached to future lots, which effectively would be placed in trust in a bank to help pay for the upgrading of services in the future. I will be considering that request and, with the appropriate approvals, will be applying that levy to those 40 lots. The levy being considered is $2,500. This will, indeed, be added to the current price of the lot.
Mr. Phillips: That seems like a fairly hefty levy to be added to those lots. It is very difficult for a lot of young people to get into homes nowadays. That $2,500 might make the difference.
I have a question about those lots as well. Some constituents of mine who were interested in lots in that area have approached the lands branch wanting to know the location of the lots so they can go up and look at the area. Evidently, that information is not available yet. People cannot identify where the lots are.
If all the preliminary work has been done, why can we not just tell the general public where the lots are going to be so people can look at the area, possibly identify the type of house plan they want to put there if they are going to build, and just get an idea of what area is being considered. This is a concern. Right now, people cannot understand why the government is keeping it a secret. We are going to announce it shortly. No one can get in and buy the lots or stand in line or apply or anything. People just want to know the general area in Granger where the lots are going to be so they can go and have a look at the area and see if they even want to apply for a lot.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I sympathize with the Members concern. I see no reason why information cannot be released, in general terms, about the next phase for release by lottery.
I have seen the maps that indicate which block of 40 lots are going to go. It seems to me it would be no problem to recreate that for distribution so people do have an idea which lots are going on stream. I will check on that in the morning. I will let the Member know in the morning too.
Mr. Lang: I will not belabour this $2,500 levy all evening, but, could the Minister tell us exactly where this levy is going to be spent? If I buy a lot in the Granger subdivision and put in $2,500, does that mean the money will be spent right in that subdivision?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I think the matter could more properly be answered by the city. The city has requested an assessment on lots for services related to that subdivision.
Let me quickly try to explain the rationale. For example, this subdivision in Granger is coming onstream. As other subdivisions come on stream, the simple fact that the subdivision is being sold now will contribute to some need for an increased level of infrastructure down the road. In order to ensure that the city, in the future, can afford that upgrading, they have decided to assign a charge now on the development of all lots in the city. That is the simple explanation. Whether or not the money will be spent directly on that subdivision is, in part, unknown, but could be no. For example, if there is a larger water line needed in Granger ten years down the road, that fund will support the cost of it.
Mr. Lang: Does the same principle apply for Porter Creek? Will we be tapping into that fund?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I believe the Members rationale is correct. By the same token, that off-site levy will also apply to lots that come onstream in the future in Porter Creek. There are still some infill lots to come, but I could be wrong.
After a very lengthy discussion on the subject and back-and-forth communications, the city and ourselves concluded that we probably ought to have been doing that for the past 10 years. As the city grows, no one made a projection of the fact that one day we were going to have to upgrade services because of all the growth taking place.
There has been considerable growth in Whitehorse over the past 10 years, but no provision was made for that massive upgrade that, at some point, is reached, because of having exhausted the ability to service land and lots with the system in place.
Mr. Lang: I have some difficulty with the principle of it. To me, it is another indirect way of taxation, and a small portion of the community is paying that taxation versus the rest of the community. Take Porter Creek, for example. It has not applied to us who have bought our lots there, but those new people in Granger are suddenly looking at an additional $2,500 on their lot price.
If the city wants to levy something, it seems to me that it is up to the city to levy it. These lots are going to be expensive as it is, without another $2,500 levy. The Minister blames the city, and the city blames the YTG for the mobile home lots taking as long as they have. The Minister has said he has held them up under the principle that he wanted them to be affordable.
The whole time they wrangled and never came to a conclusion, the amount of money that was saved on the value of the lot by cutting some of the services has been taken up by inflation.
I do not know what these lots are going to cost. I assume they will be in the neighbourhood of $30,000. The Minister has his hand up. I hope he does not mean $50,000. I am talking about the 40 residential lots.
I think it has to be looked at to keep these prices down. I do not care what anybody says, people are having a difficult time paying for these, and people should understand it. It is easy to say to put another tax on, but it will get to the point where people cannot afford them.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will not belabour the point, because I do not think the Member and I are in any major disagreement. I, too, respect the principle of trying to keep prices down and, in rapidly escalating costs for land development, it is more important than ever. However, I want to correct the Members impression that somehow we delayed the project and, as a consequence, forced prices to be higher for those lots. I believe the original standard requested by the city would have pushed those mobile home lots into the $30,000 range. Even today, that is very high. In the compromise reached, we have been able to bring those prices down to the range of $25,000 and $26,000; that is what we anticipate those lots will fall out at.
On Operation and Maintenance
On Assistant DMs Office
Assistant DMs Office in the amount of $224,000 agreed to
Lands in the amount of $1,205,000 agreed to
On Public Safety
Public Safety in the amount of $1,381,000 agreed to
On Sport and Recreation
Sport and Recreation in the amount of $1,002,000 agreed to
On Community Services
Community Services in the amount of $17,822,000 agreed to
On Municipal Engineering
Municipal Engineering in the amount of $749,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $22,383,000 agreed to
On Land Development
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, I call attention to the multi-page handout on the capital projects. The listing provided to Members on a project-by-project breakout for each community includes an itemization of these land development portions of the budget.
Industrial in the amount of $725,000 agreed to
Residential in the amount of $4,685,000 agreed to
On Rural Residential
Rural Residential in the amount of $350,000 agreed to
On Country Residential
Country Residential in the amount of $1,300,000 agreed to
Commercial in the amount of $1,080,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The $300,000 is intended to address three projects in the territory: pre-design work in Watson Lake and in Mayo. There is recreation lot development anticipated for the Little Salmon/Faro area, on and around Little Salmon Lake. As well, there is identification of recreation lot development in the Whitehorse area. If Members will give me a minute, I will identify it more closely.
I do not have the information. I will undertake to get back to the Member on the Whitehorse location.
Recreational in the amount of $300,000 agreed to
Agricultural in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On General/Miscellaneous Recoverable Admin
General/Miscellaneous Recoverable Admin in the amount of $240,000 agreed to
On Land Central Services
Mr. Phelps: What is the situation with the quarries in the Whitehorse area? Are the situations of the quarries being addressed and long-term leases being provided to some of the existing ones? Is there some kind of uncertainty being created with regard to the tenure of some of the quarries in town?
I am concerned about the one at the top of the South Access Road. There are several there. One is General Enterprises and I have forgotten the name of the adjacent one. I understood some of the leases were up and there was some uncertainty with regard to what was happening.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I believe that the Member meant to refer to the quarry leases on the South Access Road.
There are several leases along the South Access Road. They did expire earlier this year, but I believe they were granted a six-month extension that will be coming up either at the end of this month or the end of January. There are discussions going on with the lease holders. As the Member knows, there have been concerns raised about the recreational location of Ear Lake, which is adjacent to the quarries.
No final decision has been made about the nature of any long-term lease. Discussions are occurring with the proponents and I anticipate that in the next month or so a resolution will be found. It may be a compromise of a several-year lease or it may involve some relocation of the leases away from Ear Lake, to address that concern. Those discussions are occurring and I would expect a final resolution within the next month or so. At all times, I should make it clear that there will be respect for the leases that do exist.
Quarries in the amount of $90,000 agreed to
On Miscellaneous Projects Non-Recoverable Central Services
Miscellaneous Projects Non-Recoverable Central Services in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
On Land Information Systems Upgrade
Land Information Systems Upgrade in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Community Planning
Community Planning in the amount of $118,000 agreed to
On Planning and Pre-Engineering
Planning and Pre-Engineering in the amount of $235,000 agreed to
On Public Health and Safety
On Planning and Pre-Engineering
Planning and Pre-Engineering in the amount of $208,000 agreed to
On Water and Sewer Mains
Water and Sewer Mains in the amount of $125,000 agreed to
On Sewage Treatment and Disposal
Sewage Treatment and Disposal in the amount of $2,728,000 agreed to
On Solid Waste
Solid Waste in the amount of $367,000 agreed to
On Mosquito Control
Mosquito Control in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
On Flood/Erosion Control
Flood/Erosion Control in the amount of $242,000 agreed to
On Fire Protection
Mr. Devries: I noticed in the supplementaries that were given to us that Liard is getting a new fire truck. It could be my riding, so I should start looking after this.
I phoned there, and they were not certain if they were getting a new or used truck. So, that is the question.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As part of the $1,035,000, there will be an expenditure of an anticipated $130,000 to replace a 1966 fire truck at Upper Liard with a new unit on the recognition that the existing truck is inadequate for the number and size of the buildings in the area.
The truck that is there now was used as the first fire truck when the new fire department was created. We have a policy that we will replace all trucks that reach a life of 20 years. This is a little past that point, so it is more than time to replace it.
Fire Protection in the amount of $1,035,000 agreed to
On Equipment Purchase
Equipment Purchase in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Hazardous Waste, Storage
Hazardous Waste, Storage in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
On Prior Years Projects
Prior Years Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
On Roads and Streets
On Pre-Engineering Roads and Streets
Pre-Engineering Roads and Streets in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
On Roads/Streets Upgrade
Roads/Streets Upgrade in the amount of $1,100,000 agreed to
On Recreation and Community Facilities/Services
On Rural Electrification and Telephone
Mr. Phelps: We made a submission during Question Period suggesting they might consider raising this and paying $110,000 under this item to the Yukon Energy Corporation for the Hendersons Corner extension, and also a figure for payback of property owners in the Tagish area who had to pay for the main-line extension.
Has the Minister given this any consideration, or is he still pondering the extent of the money required to address this grievous injury done to so many residents of the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It would be entirely premature to make an assumption that the infamous line the Member keeps drawing reference to has to be paid for out of this program or on a recovery basis from the residents who use the service.
I responded to this in Question Period in the past. The line to Hendersons Corner may still be used for the North Fork. It appears it will not fit the requirements for the Mayo-Dawson intertie, but the North Fork, which is currently under re-examination, could well utilize this portion of the line.
I have asked for the rural electrification program to be reviewed in the context of the energy strategy and policy review currently going on. As I have indicated to Members before, the rural electrification program is difficult to budget. You cannot anticipate the applications that come forward under it.
If the Member looks at the previous year, we spent something like $400,000 at a time when we had no idea, going into the budget year, that that would be the amount needed.
Mr. Phelps: I would like to point out very briefly that the Tagish electrification line at the Taku subdivision might be used to supply power back from the potential hydro site on Leine Creek, which is up the lake a few miles. It is not under active consideration at this time but it is a strong possibility. This puts the Tagish subdivision in much the same situation as the Hendersons Corner subdivision.
Rural Electrification and Telephone in the amount of $150,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $15,288,000 agreed to
Municipal and Community Affairs Division agreed to
Community and Transportation Services agreed to
Chair: We will take a short break and then go on to the Department of Finance.
Chair: I will call Committee to order.
Department of Finance
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Department of Finance requests $5,074,000 for this fiscal year. Before I start, let me introduce the real Charles Sanderson, not the one who was on the 28th floor of some office tower in downtown Vancouver and has never been to the Yukon. This is the real Charles Sanderson who lives in the Yukon and works in the Department of Finance.
The Member for Hootalinqua is not here. I have some charts to show him in a second. Before I get to my graphs, I will just say a few words.
As I said, the Department is requesting $5,074,000 for this year. This is an increase of six percent over the forecast for the current years spending. The bulk of the departments expenditure are for wage-related costs and hence, the principal reason for the increase between the two years is for a negotiated wage settlement reached with our employees.
There are no changes in the person year complement of the department for this year. Members will note that there is no change in the public utilities transfer, the workers compensation supplementary benefits and the allowance for bad debts. These items are beyond our control and impossible to perfectly predict. However, if past experience is any guide, the sums set aside in these estimates should be more than adequate.
Revenues are up somewhat, based on our best estimates of the state of the economy in 1992-93. The largest increase is in income taxes, where we are projecting larger yields for both personal and corporate taxes. We are also projecting increases in fuel oil taxes and investment income. The anticipated increase for investment income reflects better cash management techniques more than it reflects higher interest rates, although we do foresee some increases in rates over the course of next year.
Let me just mention the departments goals for 1992-93. They include the identification of implementation costs for a number of the First Nations land claim final agreements, a review and evaluation of the governments centralized financial information system development plan, for addressing any shortcomings that we identify in that process. We continue to participate in the financial aspects of the Northern Accord negotiations. We are going to develop, jointly with Economic Development: Mines and Small Business, a Yukon government position on oil and gas royalties. We will be participating in the negotiations of the financial aspects of the health transfer and we continue the assessment of the financial implications of Yukon Indian self-government and provide assistance with the development of financial arrangements for its implementation. We are reviewing the administration process for accounts payable, further expansion of the agency banking arrangements and will implement strategies to deal with the new formula financing arrangement. We will pursue formula financing negotiations to reduce the influence of the tax adjustment factors.
It is what I call a perversity element on revenues derived from expansion of the territorys economy and to reorganize support services to the management board and to redirect analytical emphasis to include the quantifying of levels of service provided by the government of value per dollar assessments of programs, and we are contributing in a small way to the governments decentralization policy, through the devolution of a commodity tax clerk position to Watson Lake.
That is what I can say in general. When we closed general debate, the Member for Hootalinqua anteed up a chart. I am going to pass around a chart that talks about the actual dollar contributions in the Yukons budget, in constant 1986 dollar terms, which paints a somewhat different picture than was painted by the Member for Hootalinqua. Of course, his picture fails to take into account two other factors: the factor of inflation and that of population. I have not factored them into this chart that I am presenting here - inflation is, but not population. We could do this and it would devastate the Members argument even more completely than these do, but we are not going to do that tonight. What I would like to do, though, is show him some of the other information.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Show him mercy? Okay.
I will show, first of all, a number of charts that the Member may find useful.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Sure, I will be happy to table this.
This is Mr. Sandersons chart - the Whitehorse Mr. Sanderson, not the Vancouver Mr. Sanderson - who estimates the impact of the new formula, in terms of reductions over what we would have had under the old formula. Perhaps the page might, when the page has time, pass that over to the Honourable Member for Hootalinqua.
There is also another chart, which is not a bar chart, but a simple line graph that shows...
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is not as pretty but it is instructive.
This shows the federal government expenditures, per capita, in constant 1986 dollars terms. It shows the trend line per capita in Canada, which is a fairly flat trajectory, and it shows a rather erratic path in the Yukon, but with a trend line, in recent years, in per capital terms, going down. I am sure the Member for Hootalinqua will be delighted to have a look at that one, as well.
Next, I have a chart that I have often referred to in debate, but I do not think the Members opposite - certainly the Member for Hootalinqua - have appreciated the full dimensions of this chart. It is something we borrowed from the federal government; they call it their tax effort factor calculation and it shows just how low, according to their view of the world, Yukon taxes are and how much of an effort they think we should be making to raise our taxes to make more of a tax effort. That is what they think we should be doing. I will put the chart on this chair so that the Member for Hootalinqua can look at it, too.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Just to finish my presentation is the graph that the Member for Hootalinqua does not like at all, but it is the one that really, we think, makes the ...
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Penikett: If he had a hat, he would be eating that, too.
This is the chart he really does not like, but it is the one that makes the case we have been trying to make. This chart shows the federal transfer payments as a percentage of budgetary income and, as the Member knows, this has been going down.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I thought this was going to be quite a quiet evening.
I will not show this chart. This one is a demonstration chart of how well the economy has been doing during the time that the NDP has been in office. This is the gross domestic product, but the Member can see that at any time in the regular, quarterly statistics reports. We have already talked about this chart, which compares the capital expenditures as a percentage of the total budget, and you can see how much more the Yukon government invests of its budget in economic development.
The Member was trying to interrupt me before. He did not like this chart...
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Oh no, the difference between this chart and the chart presented by the Member for Hootalinqua is that this is in constant 1986 dollars. In other words, it takes inflation into account, and the point that we want to make is that the economy of the Yukon Territory has grown. The population has grown, we had quite a bit of inflation, not only in the recent past, but as we project the immediate future as a percentage of our budgetary revenue, the federal contribution will be shrinking.
If the Member from Hootalinqua wants to continue here, I have half a dozen more charts that he could have a look at it.
Mr. Phelps: I think that the figures show that there has not been much difference in the years with respect to the percentage of the revenues that are raised locally and spent by the territorial government. Of course, that is using the figures that were debated at some length in this House and presented, I suppose, by the same Charles Sanderson through the previous Minister. All my graph did was simply show what those figures really meant. The transfer payment graph that I objected to refers to the transfer payments only being around 60 percent, and somewhat less, of the total territorial revenues. All of the figures show that is incorrect. The percentages of the money that comes from Ottawa and is spent by the government is really in the 76 to 77 percent range, based, of course, on the figures that were tabled in this House by the previous Minister and by the current Minister in general debate.
I might even have the figures that were tabled at that time. I believe the percentages that were quoted in the information sheet handed out stated that a little over 75 percent of the monies came from Ottawa.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: My colleagues are begging me not to prolong this discussion into taking up another whole evening. Let me repeat to the Member what I said before.
Some of the monies we are including in some calculations, such as EPF and the CAP money, for example, is available to every jurisdiction in the country under exactly the same terms. The other point that is probably worth making is, as with every other jurisdiction, the federal government also collects income taxes and has revenues from here.
The numbers we were presenting were an attempt to show not a comparison with other jurisdictions or a comparison over time, but a temporal comparison. As we have argued earlier, we think the indications are that that dependency is shrinking and will continue to shrink over time. We may disagree with the Member opposite about the progress or rate of change on that line, but we think the trend line is obvious, nonetheless.
Mr. Phelps: That may be the current belief in the church the Members opposite go to. It sounds more or less like we are talking about mayoralty candidates. The last mayor of Whitehorse has an interesting church out close to Carcross - the pyramid. Perhaps that is the one that these folks go to, and that is what they believe in. I, myself, go to a church down the road a ways.
Mr. Lang: I think the point that all Members have to realize is that we better not shut off the tap to the pipeline from Ottawa, because we would all be in a lot of trouble. One can argue the figures, but I think the Deputy Minister of Finance - the real Charles Sanderson - would be very concerned if, all of a sudden one day, the mail stopped being delivered from Ottawa to here and we no longer received those brown envelopes.
I had a couple of questions that were follow-up from the Executive Council debate. I asked whether there had been an increase of person years in any of the corporations. Could the Minister provide us with that information?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: There is one-half a person year in the Workers Compensation Board over the forecast for 1991-92. According to my information here, there is a two person-year increase in the Liquor Corporation. Otherwise, there is no change over the forecast for 1991-92 to 1992-93.
Mr. Lang: The other day, I raised the question during the Executive Council Office debate about the fact that there does not seem to be a correlation between the 85 person years and the number of people actually working within the Executive Council Office, excluding the Ministers.
My understanding is that some information has been made available to the general public. Could the Minister table that?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I cannot table anything yet, because the people in the Executive Council Office are totally mystified about where the Member got his numbers.
However, my executive assistant, who is doing a chart on this for me had a rather unpleasant dental experience today and went home earlier. I do intend to bring a chart to the Member showing the relationship to the people listed in the phone book and the organization chart for the Executive Council Office, including people like the Commissioner and Cabinet Ministers, who are not person years; people such as the position in the Executive Council Office department; the Director of Finance and Management Services, which is a job-share position. Two people do this job; two people are working half-time for this job. It is an employment option a number of people prefer now. This chart will also include the people who are OICs and are also not person years.
I intended to have the chart here today, and I am sorry I do not. As soon as I have it, I will give it to the Member.
Mr. Lang: Are the 85 person years identified in the budget over and above the order-in-council appointments? If so, we are talking about well over 90, much like my observations the other day. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No. I am told that, according to the person who was looking at this, there are not 100 positions in the phone book, as the Member says. There are something like 92. If you take into account the people who are order-in-council people and who are doing job sharing, it is reconcilable with the person years that are shown in the mains. I just have not got the chart yet. But I will table it for the Member when I have it.
Mr. Lang: Looking at the staff the Minister has in his office, if one goes home, surely someone else can carry on the burdens that are put on one particular individual. It seems to me that the numbers indicate that there must be some assistance of some kind, in conjunction with people working together. I would appreciate it if the Minister could have the individual go through the telephone book, which is a public document and available to the general public, and point out which ones are permanent person years and which are order-in-council appointments, because they are all real telephone numbers and real people.
We can play games, but it would seem to me that my figures are fairly accurate, except for maybe one or two job-sharing situations. I would like to know why it is not clearly identified in the budget. Why is the Minister hiding those things? There is no reason to hide it. We know the government is growing. The government has expanded on a basis unparalleled in our history. I do not know why the Minister does not want to outline this in the budget.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The government is not hiding a damn thing. Compared to the growth of the Oppositions resources and staff, our offices have not grown that significantly at all. I will present a chart.
The record will show that, with the illnesses going on right now, I had one person here today. I do not have a lot of surplus staff capacity right now. The numbers are reconcilable. I will bring back a chart showing that.
Mrs. Firth: I want to ask the Minister a question about all the charts he provided and the concern I have that he is going to bring more charts back. I would like to know: did someone in the department not have to assemble those charts, or did they hire someone else to assemble them? How much did it cost or how much time did it take for this person to have to do all this?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: If the Member is referring to the charts that I brought tonight, no, there was not an extra penny spent on them at all; they are part of the information package we prepared for the budget consultation some months ago.
Mrs. Firth: Somebody had to prepare all those charts. Is the Minister saying he took all these charts on the road with him to the communities?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That is correct.
Mrs. Firth: Those are the meetings that nobody came to, to see the Ministers charts. Is that why he is bringing them back in here and running the flag up again? Did he not say this afternoon, about the presentation, that we were running it up the flagpole again? I do not think the Minister should be taking someones time to make up all these charts and put that person to the additional work of having to do that. Now he says he is going to bring more of these charts in.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am absolutely certain that the people who came to the budget consultations would not appreciate being described as nobodies by the Member for Riverdale South.
First, many people came - not only in this town, but also in the communities - and for the Member opposite to describe them a nobodies is just a gratuitous insult.
Second, the information contained in these charts is in the budget book. It was put into graph form for the public meetings so that the people could see the information and understand it. This was done as part of the budget consultation by people in the department.
On Operation and Maintenance
Administration in the amount of $425,000 agreed to
On Financial Operations and Revenue Services
Financial Operations and Revenue Services in the amount of $2,082,000 agreed to
On Budgets and Fiscal Relations
Budgets and Fiscal Relations in the amount of $840,000 agreed to
On Management Board Secretariat
Management Board Secretariat in the amount of $294,000 agreed to
On Public Utilities Transfer
Mr. Lang: It shows an increase from the 1990 but I notice that this year is the same as the forecast of 1991-92. Perhaps the Minister could explain that.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member was asking if the public utilities transfer item was a big increase. We do not have an increase.
Mr. Lang: I was comparing the total for 1990-91, which was $826,000, and then in the 1992-93 estimate it is the same as the 1991-92 supplementary, which is $992,000.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member knows that this is a rebate of the federal taxation. This is just the best estimate that the department can provide of what we anticipate will be the return in the coming year. It is one of those figures that is, as I think I have mentioned to the Member before, almost impossible to accurately predict, but this is the best prediction that the department can give.
Mr. Lang: This is the rebate for electrical taxes, because we have a private corporation for the generation of electricity. I just have one question. I should know the answer to this but I just want to double check. This money is rebated back through the system to those who are paying it?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The federal government gives us back 95 percent of the taxation that they collect and then we redistribute it back to the electrical consumers.
Public Utilities Transfer in the amount of $992,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $4,633,000 agreed to
Treasury agreed to
On W.C.B. Supplementary Benefits
On Operation and Maintenance
On Supplementary Pensions
Supplementary Pensions in the amount of $374,000 agreed to
WCB Supplementary Benefits in the amount of $374,000 agreed to
On Allowance for Bad Debts
On Operation and Maintenance
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $67,000 agreed to
Allowance for Bad Debts agreed to
On Prior Period Adjustments
On Operation and Maintenance
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister explain why he is asking for a dollar here? In the forecast, we also have a dollar. Are there going to be any adjustments? What is he looking for?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We never know if there are going to be any accounting adjustments as a result of the year. As the Member will know from his days as a Minister, you cannot put zero in a line and then have an expenditure. You have to have a one dollar expenditure in order to authorize it if you need it.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister give us an example of what he is talking about, and where this would come into play?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It can typically occur in the case of an overpayment or underpayment of taxes, which is then reviewed. It is concluded that the person was over or under charged, and there may be an adjustment as a result of that.
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of one dollar agreed to
Prior Period Adjustments agreed to
Department of Finance in the amount of $5,074,000 agreed to
Department of Economic Development: Mines and Small Business
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: By way of introduction, I would like to make a few remarks about the estimates, and provide some comments and observations about the direction that the department is going to be taking in the coming year.
The 1992-93 budget will support a number of ongoing program activities as delineated by the line items. A number of increased delivery efficiencies will be undertaken and there will be increased targeting of contribution programs. As I indicated during supplementary debate, negotiations for a five-year Canada/Yukon Economic Development Agreement concluded successfully this past year, with the fiscal year 1991-92 having been year 1 of that agreement.
As Members are aware, it was a multi-year agreement that will afford both the business community and the two levels of government the opportunity for long-term economic planning and activity support.
Past experience with the agreement indicates that more extensive development proposals can be prepared by the business and community clients, if there are opportunities for future year phased-in funding provided as an option. This arrangement, then, promotes a longer term planning for the projects and allows an improvement in the coordination of the funding provided to projects.
Six sectors were dealt with in the funding agreement. Mineral resources was one of the agreements. I have spoken to Members at some length about that particular program. Others are renewable resources, tourism, small business support and, for the first time, forestry. The sixth one is economic planning.
Beginning in 1991-92, expenditures totalling $37,800,000 will be cost shared on a 70:30 ratio over the life of the agreement. There will be recoveries of $26,460,000 under those agreements and a net expenditure by the Yukon of $11,340,000. That is over the five-year period of the agreements.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In the previous agreements, Members will recall that the mineral resources subagreement was administered by the federal government. However, the five year agreement we signed off this past year will see the Yukon as the administrative agent of the program.
To assist with the delivery being done by the territory, the person year complement will be increased by 7.5 five-year term positions to deliver that agreement. Those positions will include a program coordinator, chief geologist, five other geologists and a half-time position for administrative and clerical support.
I believe adopting a model that involves YTG to carry out the delivery is a major and significant step for the Yukon toward support for the mining community. I think it will bring the Yukon geoscience program in line with other provincial and Northwest Territories programs.
The benefits of the territorial delivery approach over the previously federally delivered program will be realized in the simple fact that we are going to develop a core professional geologist who will assist the industry in the Yukon with the interpretation of data and planning for future exploration activities. This is a significant improvement of service to the mining industry, and it has been extremely well supported by the Chamber of Mines.
The Members will also recall the single contact approach to rural service delivery for the business development fund and the community development fund that the previous Minister presented in the 1990-91 mains. That approach has seen officers established in Haines Junction, Watson Lake, Dawson City, the Faro-Ross River area, the Carmacks-Pelly area, as well as in Mayo.
Management responsibilities for all north Yukon service delivery is being provided from the regional office in Dawson and will be further enhanced by the addition of a financial analyst through the decentralization effort.
The capital funding in the energy and mines branch of the department will be continued in the current year. Loan funding is going to be available to both residential and business clients for the energy retrofit measures under the SEAL program. Services for pre-authorized payments directly from a clients bank account are currently being negotiated as a means of simplifying the repayment process for clients.
We are continuing the alternative energy program, commonly known as YEAP. As well, we are demonstrating our further commitment to the mining industry through this budget with an enhancement of the Yukon mining incentive program, commonly referred to as YMIP. The program guidelines, which were prepared after extensive consultation with the Chamber of Mines, reflect the importance of prospecting and development activities in mining within Yukon.
Included in the activities of the economic policy, planning and research branch will be the development of a comprehensive energy policy for the Yukon. Again, I have spoken to Members on the subject. The proposed consultation and information-gathering components of the energy policy are expected to be completed some time in the late summer of 1992, prior to which there will be a round of public consultation on special aspects of it.
As Members know, the idea of preparing a comprehensive energy strategy is simply a matter of rewriting a lot of existing policy, compiling it in a comprehensive format, refining certain aspects of energy policy and delivery and publishing those positions.
New in the economic development budget is some $300,000 for support to the Northern Accord implementation. The money will be for support of the transfer negotiations that are currently going on and, ultimately, the implementation and planning activity.
This budget also reflects some $70,000 to the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment for a number of projects they have identified as appropriate and necessary within their mandate.
I suppose I could go on forever, but I will conclude. I would only reiterate that the Yukon Economic Strategy details a very ambitious series of tasks for the Yukon in the upcoming years.
I am confident that budgets like the ones presented in the House will go a long way to furthering the goals of that strategy. In particular, the Department of Economic Development looks forward to continued, close cooperation with the business community, as well as the communities around the Yukon in general, to promote continued growth and stability in the Yukon.
It remains to be observed, in conclusion, that the previous deputy of the Department of Economic Development, Mr. Dan Odin, was recently awarded a special Presidents award by the Yukon Chamber of Commerce at their annual convention in Dawson City. I think that speaks quite highly and complimentary of an aggressive, cooperative and productive department in harmony with the business community.
Given the lateness of the hour, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 19.
Chair: Is Committee agreed?
Motion agreed to
Mr. Devries: The former Minister used to always provide us with a handout of the various individuals and communities that received funding through the community development fund and the business development fund. I wonder if the Minister could possibly provide some handouts for tomorrow, prior to going into debate, so we can scrutinize the money he has distributed over the past year.
Hon. Mr. Webster: 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 the report from the chair of Committee of the Whole?
Chair: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 19, First Appropriation Act, 1992-93, and directed me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Member: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn. Are you agreed?
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:27 p.m.
The following Legislative Returns were tabled December 11, 1991:
Campbell Highway Engineering Study (Byblow)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1377-1378
Health transfer costs to the Government of the Yukon 1988-1991 (Hayden)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1454
AIDS Program Advisory Committee Members and Executive Board (Hayden)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1434
Voices of Northern Youth Conference Funding (Hayden)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1454
The following Document was filed December 11, 1991:
Voices of Northern Youth Conference Report, October 1991 (Hayden)