Whitehorse, Yukon

Wednesday, May 6, 1992 - 1:30 p.m.

Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time we, will proceed with Prayers.



Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.

Introduction of Visitors.

Are there any Reports or Documents for tabling?


Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have for tabling a copy of the loan agreement between Curragh Resources and the Government of Yukon.

Mr. Brewster: I have for a tabling a copy of a letter from the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board, and the study on declining moose and caribou populations and management policy for large carnivore animals.

Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?

Are there any Petitions?

Introduction of Bills.

Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?

Are there any Notices of Motion?

Are there any Statements by Ministers?


New Aboriginal Justice Initiatives

Hon. Ms. Joe: I rise to inform Members of this Assembly that two new aboriginal justice initiatives have been implemented by the Northern Tutchone Tribal Council and the Selkirk First Nation in cooperation with the Yukon Department of Justice. One initiative concerns the regional devolution of native courtworkers and the other concerns the delivery of native probation services in Pelly Crossing.

These initiatives stem from our government’s goals to complete land claims and to invest in healthy communities. From the first goal comes recognition of aboriginal rights and from the second comes the necessity to make programs and services more culturally sensitive. The aboriginal justice initiatives serve both by giving native people control over the design and delivery of justice based on traditional values and custom.

Until recently, the native courtworker program was provided under contract by the Council for Yukon Indians with funding equally shared by the Yukon and federal governments. The program assists native persons charged with local, territorial or federal offences. It gives them information on their rights, the court process and how to get legal advice.

In the fall of 1991, the Northern Tutchone tribal council approached the CYI and the Yukon Department of Justice to gain local control of one native courtworker position. The devolution of this position occurred last December. I am now pleased to announce that our government has just concluded negotiations for the first 12-month contract with the Northern Tutchone Tribal Council. The contract will be signed shortly.

This contract gives substance to the long-standing idea that devolution of the Whitehorse based program should occur as regions are ready to assume control. It makes the council responsible for the delivery of native courtworker services throughout the Northern Tutchone region, including Pelly, Carmacks and Mayo. In short, it enables the Northern Tutchone people to take charge of their own lives in their own way.

The second aboriginal justice initiative also extends the influence of traditional values and custom over the process of justice. I am happy to announce the startup of the probation services contract signed between our government and the Selkirk First Nation. The contract is intended to cover areas such as probation, alternative sanctions and adult diversion. Under its provisions, the Selkirk First Nation has recently hired a person to work in the Pelly area. That person will identify community resources, needs and options, and deal with individuals who appear before the court circuit or elders council.

Both initiatives are designed to enable Northern Tutchone authority and remedies to work in concert with the public legal system. Both initiatives respond to the needs of native people whose values embrace a communal sense of balance and restoration. In short, the initiatives move aboriginal people closer to a justice system that they understand and trust. Given our government’s policy to encourage change through consultation, I am pleased to support these positive efforts to reduce crime and mitigate its effect on First Nations people.

Mr. Phillips: As most Members know, we on this side initiated the native courtworker system and we are pleased to see that the system is now being expanded and devolved to some of the communities, where it can probably be better managed.

I have some concerns, however. I would like to ask the Minister how much more this is going to cost, and if we are going to be able to provide a similar or better service for the same cost.

We have always supported cautiously the implementation of tribal justice and we will be following this program as it proceeds.

Mr. Nordling: We wish the Northern Tutchone tribal council and the Selkirk First Nation every success with this program. We are pleased that they asked for it and are assuming control. They have taken a bold step in that, often with programs like this, it is better to have someone else responsible who is not quite so close. When one is an employee of this individual and the band is upset, they end up at a meeting wanting to fire that person. If they are employed by CYI or by the territorial government, that is not an easy thing to do. I am pleased they are willing to take on what might be a bit of a political hot potato.

I know that Teslin has received most of the publicity and attention with respect to tribal justice initiatives, but I know that in Pelly, there have also been initiatives taken that appear to be successful. Again, we wish them all success in reducing crime rates and in implementing this program.

Hon. Ms. Joe: With regard to the comments by the Member for Riverdale North about extra costs in the contract for the courtworker position, I believe there are no extra costs and it will be taken out of the courtworker money that was allocated for the whole of the Yukon.

We were able to find the money within our budget for the probation costs; therefore, we are not seeking any additional money. One program might have had to be decreased in order to provide this needed service in the communities.

The comments from the Member for Porter Creek West in regard to whether or not it would be successful, in that there had been some occurrences in the past that were not entirely successful, is an old excuse that might have been used a long time ago in regard to whether or not people from that community would assume some control over what was happening.

With changes in attitude and a return to tradition and culture, there has been more respect for individuals in the communities. Big changes are being made. In the past two or three years, we found that people are gaining respect for each other and, in this sense, the person who will be chosen will have that respect. There will always be some negative attitudes out there, of course, because it does not matter what you do or who you are.

I hope there will be success in this end and, as others, do wish them well.

Speaker: This then brings us to the Question Period.


Question re: Land claims, overlapping

Mr. Lang: I would like to turn the attention of the Legislature to an ongoing issue: the trans-boundary land claims and their implications. Specifically, I want to pose some questions with respect to the pending Tetlit Gwich’in land claim.

As we know, there was an official signing by the Minister of Indian Affairs and the officials of the band, yet at the same time it is still not law because certain steps have to be taken to finally bring it into effect. One of the final steps, I understand, is that it has to go to Parliament for due debate and for final ratification.

I would like to ask the Government Leader if he has any indication when this particular claim would be going to the House of Commons for debate?

Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have no indication of any exact date, but I understand it could be as early as the spring.

Mr. Lang: The situation is fairly similar to the COPE land claim that took place back in 1978. The Minister signed that particular agreement and then certain steps were taken by the Government of Yukon and other national political parties, which effectively stopped it and forced amendments to that particular proposed land claim in northern Yukon.

Could the Minister tell us what position his national party is going to take on this bill when it comes before Parliament for debate?

Hon. Mr. Penikett:   As the Member knows, I do not speak in this House for the national party, but I could certainly make enquiries, very quickly, as to the party’s position. However, I suspect that most caucuses do not take positions on bills until they are actually tabled, because they want to look at them first, and I suspect that may be the case with this bill as well.

Mr. Lang: The implications to the territory are not only to the northern Yukon but throughout the Yukon. We are very fortunate in the fact that our Member of Parliament is not only a Member, but also has the status as a national leader of one of three major parties in the House of Commons.

I want to ask the Minister: is he telling this House that he has not discussed in detail the steps that should be taken from here, in conjunction with the Government of Yukon, with his own national party?

Hon. Mr. Penikett: No, in my capacity as leader of this government, my responsibilities in government-to-government relations are to deal principally with the national government and with other provincial and territorial governments in this country.

Of course, I do make every effort to keep our Member of Parliament informed of events pertaining to our ministry, and no doubt I will be having conversations with our Member of Parliament on this topic.

In conclusion, I want to say that I do agree with the Member opposite that we are extremely fortunate to have the Member of Parliament that we have.

Question re: Land claims, overlapping

Mr. Lang: It is quite surprising - mind you, I should not be that surprised - that the Government Leader has not solicited the support of the Member of Parliament and the Leader of the New Democratic Party nationally, in view of the lack of public opposition to the Tetlit Gwich’in claim, except for what was expressed in this House last July.

Another area of concern that I have is with the question of the northern land claim, and its implications. It is my understanding that the Mayo Indian Band supported the Tetlit Gwich’in claim in Yukon with the understanding that they may be able to claim land in the Northwest Territories.

I would like to ask the Government Leader if that is correct?

Hon. Mr. Penikett: What is not correct is anything that the Member said in his preamble. First, he has argued that this government and this Minister had not sought the support of our Member of Parliament with respect to the Tetlit Gwich’in transboundary land claim in the Yukon. That is incorrect, as is his statement, repeated again for the sixth or seventh time, that we have not protested other than in the sitting last summer.

I have already corrected the record on that. In essence, he continues to accuse me of misleading the House. I would ask him to withdraw that comment.

We have continued to protest this matter, and we have continued to deal with the federal government on the matter. In terms of dealing with the question of precedent, we have dealt with it effectively. This week, in Ottawa, we are negotiating an amendment to the umbrella final agreement to deal with the question of precedent and making sure that this unfortunate event does not happen again.

Mr. Lang: I have not misled the House. The observation has been made, not only by me but by many others, that the government on the other side has done very little, if anything, since last July with respect to trying to effect changes as it affects the northern Yukon.

The Minister did not answer my question. I asked him if it was true that the Mayo Indian Band, who supported the Tetlit Gwich’in claim, are claiming land in the Northwest Territories?

Hon. Mr. Penikett: Unfortunately, there was not enough time to answer the question under the rules of Question Period, because the previous time, I had to correct the mistakes in the Member’s preamble.

The short answer to the question put by the Member is, yes.

Mr. Lang: Can the Minister tell us how much land is being claimed in the Northwest Territories by the Mayo Indian Band and can he tell us if it is over and above the land quantum that has already been allocated to the Mayo Indian Band through the Yukon Indian land claim?

Hon. Mr. Penikett: I believe the claim by the Na-Cho Ny’ak Dun for land in the Northwest Territories is of the same order of magnitude as the land claimed by the Tetlit Gwich’in in the Yukon.

Question re: Education department, assistant deputy minister of corporate services

Mrs. Firth: My question is to the Minister responsible for education. Over the past seven years this government has created 15 new assistant deputy minister positions with a salary range of approximately $77,000 to $110,000.

Recently a new ADM was appointed to the Department of Renewable Resources. This advertised position created a lot of discussion. It has come to my attention that we also have another new ADM position in the Department of Education. It is called the ADM of corporate services, Department of Education.

Could the Minister tell us when this position was created?

Hon. Mr. McDonald: The position of ADM of Government Services was created this past spring to take responsibility for the branches of finance administration, personnel services and libraries and archives, which had previously reported directly to the deputy minister. The director of finance and administration position, itself, was reclassified to become the ADM position.

Mrs. Firth: Why did this position not go through the normal advertising processes and competition as other positions?

Hon. Mr. McDonald: The ADM of corporate services position was being staffed by a person who has been effectively filling the role for some time. He was a person who was uniquely qualified for the job. There was a request from the department to have the position exempted for those reasons.

Mrs. Firth: We understand now that this was a unique person and that this job could be exempted from the Public Service Commission. This is a very high paying and prestigious job within this government. I would like the Minister to review his policy with respect to these high paying, prestigious jobs just being awarded to unique people and have them all go to public competition. That is our preference. We think all jobs should go to public competition. Will the Minister make a commitment that that will happen?

Hon. Mr. McDonald: If the Member goes back to the days when she was a Minister, she will understand that there were jobs that were exempted during that period, as well. Nevertheless, as a matter of principle, the vast majority of jobs do go to public competition. It is only in very exceptional circumstances that an exemption is requested. In this particular case, in accordance with Public Service Commission rules, a notice was sent around to all departments to determine whether or not any objection might be filed by any person who might wish to compete for the job. Nobody filed an intervention at all. Consequently, that is the reason why the appointment was finally made.

Question re: Land claims, overlapping

Mr. Lang: I want to refer again to the question of trans-boundary land claims and the precedent and implications of what is taking place involving the northern Yukon and, obviously, what is happening along both the Northwest Territories and Yukon borders.

The Minister just informed the House that the Mayo Indian Band has put in a land claim in the quantum equal to the amount that the Tetlit Gwich’in have been allocated in the northern Yukon, which is approximately 600 square miles. I want to know from the Minister if his government is supporting that trans-boundary land claim on behalf of the Mayo Indian Band.

Hon. Mr. Penikett: I hope that I did not mislead the Member in suggesting that it was exactly 600 square miles. It is a large amount of land that the Mayo Indian Band is seeking in the Northwest Territories. As I have said during the debate referred to by the Member, we do think that there are opportunities for reciprocity between First Nations - especially neighbouring First Nations such as the Tetlit Gwich’in and Na-Cho Ny’ak Dun. However, our understanding of federal policy - and the federal policy that we supported - was that the quantum was finite and that such exchanges would come from the finite quantum in the Yukon, and so in the Northwest Territories. The matter involving the Na-Cho Ny’ak Dun in the Northwest Territories is still under negotiation and, as yet, there is no indication whatsoever that even the Government of Canada is responding to that claim and the way they did the claim of the Tetlit Gwich’in in the Yukon.

To make the Member fully aware of all of the complications - and as the Member knows - we are not at the negotiating table with respect to the Tetlit Gwich’in matter, nor are we at the table with respect to the Na-Cho Ny’ak Dun claim in the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Lang: This leads to another question with respect to the trans-boundary claim in question and the implications to other parts of the territory. Is the amount of land that the Mayo Indian Band is claiming in the Northwest Territories going to be coming out of the maximum land quantum allowed under the Yukon Indian land claim?

Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not think there has been a negotiated resolution of the matter. I have just explained that we are not at the table. I do not believe I would be betraying any confidence in saying that I think that that is the position of the federal government.

In his question, the Member also keeps referring to implications for other parts of the Yukon. I have tried to make it clear that, through the amendment we have sought in the umbrella final agreement, we believe it would very satisfactorily address the problem of the precedent or the problem of the potential for a repetition of this event somewhere else in the Yukon.

I think the two questions are distinct.

Mr. Lang: The question has to be asked again as the Minister has not indicated one way or the other - he has danced around it very well - and I think the public deserves a straight answer: is the Government of Yukon supporting the trans-boundary claim in the Northwest Territories as presented by the Mayo Indian Band?

Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member has suggested it is a simple question requiring a straight answer, but I have just explained to the Member that we are not a party to those negotiations. Our Cabinet, on a weekly basis, will have dozens and dozens of issues to deal with on matters respecting claims in which we are involved and which we are negotiating. Our Cabinet has not taken a position on this question, nor have we had any need to take a position on this question since we are not a party at the negotiating table on this matter.

Question re: Advertising campaign by government

Mr. Phillips: My question is also for the Government Leader, the Minister responsible for the Executive Council Office. In the past few months, the Executive Council Office and other departments seem to have become the NDP campaign headquarters. Campaign-style ads are appearing in local newspapers and on local radio stations. One ad starts out, “diversity, investment, initiative and a healthy environment are the ingredients of a sustainable economy”. It goes on to say that the Yukon government “supports mining, construction and tourism, as well as a sustainable growth in forestry, energy, manufacturing and agriculture. Yukon people and governments are working together to develop the vision of the future”.

These are excerpts almost verbatim out of the throne speech the Government Leader gave in this House - a very political speech. This is obviously a blatant -

Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the question?

Mr. Phillips: I am, Mr. Speaker. This is obviously a blatant misuse of the office and I would like to ask the Minister if he would put a stop to these campaign ads immediately.

Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not know where the Member was when the throne speech was read, but I can tell him, for an absolute certainty, that I did not read it. It was read by the Commissioner. It was a statement of government policy. This government has an obligation to communicate with the public on partisan matters, as well as on matters of policy, among those that have been approved by all sides in this House on a number of occasions.

I understand the Member feels strenuously that only his point of view should be communicated to the public, but the government also has an obligation to communicate to the citizens, in the same way that the government consults with the citizens to find out what their wishes and desires are.

Mr. Phillips: Every Member in this House thought that the advertising of the government was to promote government programs and encourage people to become involved in them, not to promote the NDP philosophy and tell people they are doing a great and wonderful job. That is what these ads are doing. They are campaign ads, and they are being paid for by the taxpayer.

Could the Minister confirm that the only reason he is using this new tactic is because he feels he is not getting very positive press in the local media, so he now intends to use taxpayers’ dollars to buy positive space in the local newspapers and on radio, so that people will think he is doing a good job?

Hon. Mr. Penikett: Quite the opposite. Unlike the Member opposite, I have had the advantage of having dozens of public meetings in recent months, and I have a pretty good idea of what they think of our programs and policies, and the government programs and policies. I also have a good idea of what they think of the Member opposite’s.

The Member is wrong, in fact, about the ads. The two I have heard both specifically reference government programs and initiatives, and were designed to increase public knowledge and awareness of those programs and initiatives, and to make sure those programs were accessible to citizens.

Mr. Phillips: It is interesting that the Government Leader is stretching his idea of the ads to the ninth degree.

These same type of ads were opposed by his counterpart, Mr. Harcourt, in British Columbia, when the Social Credit government was in power.

Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to his supplementary question.

Mr. Phillips: Would the Government Leader not agree that these types of ads are exactly the same as the ones the NDP government in B.C. opposed, because they knew they were entering an election year, and that is what the Social Credit government was doing? He is doing the same thing.

Hon. Mr. Penikett: I, too, would oppose ads like the ones run by the Social Credit Party or the Conservative Party, in many of the provinces or by the Conservative Party nationally. But, these ads are nothing of the kind. They are designed to make citizens aware of government programs.

Question re: Advertising campaign by government

Mr. Phillips: There are separate rules for this government. They have their own set of rules and they are going to make the rules, so we just have to live by them.

I would like to know from the Government Leader who approved the ads that were entitled “What Yukoners Can Do Together” and the “better government” ads. Does the Executive Council and Cabinet approve these ads?

Hon. Mr. Penikett: No, the Cabinet has many, many important things to do and it does not sit around approving the text of advertisements.

Mr. Phillips: Someone just reminded me that this government has hired thousands of dollars’ worth of communication advisors to produce these ads and promote government propaganda.

Can the Minister bring back to the House the total cost of producing all of these ads that are run in local newspapers, on radio and on television, promoting better government and what Yukoners can do together?

Hon. Mr. Penikett: I understand the Member’s concern, but of course, we have considerably improved the way government operates, from the Member’s party days in office. One of the things that we are pleased to do is to provide the information that the Member has asked for. I do not have that information while on my feet, but I will come back to the House with that information.

Question re: Workplace wellness program

Mr. Nordling: I have a question for the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission, with respect to the workplace wellness program.

I would like to ask the Minister if there was a specific need identified that prompted the creation of the workplace wellness program?

Hon. Mr. McDonald: As a general proposition, it was felt that a workplace wellness program would be designed to improve the spirit of individual employees working for the Government of Yukon, to make their working lives better, and consequently, the program was designed. I believe that the program was announced in this Legislature some time ago; I was not personally involved in the announcement.

Mr. Nordling: I guess from that answer there was not a specific need identified, just general malaise in the government employ.

I would like to ask the Minister how the success of the program is measured?

Hon. Mr. McDonald: I think the Member’s twist on the question was predictable. It suggests that all government staff are in a general malaise and, consequently, the government felt it had to do something about it. It is a mischievous kind of twist. I see from the smirk on the Member’s face that he would agree.

Nevertheless, the government, as a stated public policy, has a desire to become as close to a model employer as possible and deal with its employees fairly and sensitively. Consequently, while the public service morale is generally good, there are situations where individual employees may suffer from personal circumstances that can cause them not to be altogether comfortable. As a model employer, we would like to have a program available to them that provides an opportunity to relieve some of the concerns they have. The wellness program was struck to do precisely that.

Mr. Nordling: We still do not know how the success of the program is measured.

I would like to ask the Minister if this little stress-test card, distributed by the employee assistance and health promotion program, is a serious health tool for dealing with stress in the Yukon government workplace or if it is just kind of a source of amusement?

Hon. Mr. McDonald: I think the people who manage the program itself would be the first to admit that the so-called stress-test card is not a proper diagnostic tool to determine the level or cause of stress. It is primarily an awareness tool to make people aware of the program itself. I believe that in that respect it has done a very good job.

Question re: Yukon Development Corporation, Mayo-Dawson transmission line

Mr. Phelps: I was kind of hesitant to ask a question of one of the Ministers. They have so many important things to do, according to their leader. I felt a little guilty that I would be intruding upon their precious time by asking questions on behalf of the good people of the Yukon. Nonetheless, this is Question Period so I will ask the question.

My question is directed to the Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation. This Minister has a lot of important things to do these days, what with the refinancing of the convention centre going on. My question has to do with the feasibility study that was - as I understand it - completed with regard to the economic viability of the proposed transmission line from Mayo to Dawson.

Can the Minister tell us whether or not that study has indeed been completed?

Hon. Mr. Byblow: I had this horrifying prospect that for the second consecutive day I might be shut out of Question Period. Given the volumes of information and undertakings that I provide to Members, I suggest that might even constitute a question of Privilege, but, Mr. Speaker, I will not test your judgment on that matter.

The matter of the Mayo-Dawson transmission line is one that I believe is currently before the Energy Corporation and the Development Corporation boards. The regional environmental review has just concluded. I have not seen the report, but I understand that the matter is before the corporation now. I expect to be reviewing those details shortly.

Mr. Phelps: I apologize to the Minister for not asking questions yesterday, but we have been reviewing his answers in Hansard over the last number of weeks and it has been a rather agonizing experience. It reminds me of the old saying that if you have 100 monkeys typing, eventually they could produce -

Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.

Mr. Phelps: Unfortunately, these monkeys have not.

Has the feasibility study been completed? I understand that it is an independent study. Is it not true that it shows the proposed transmission line as not being economically viable?

Hon. Mr. Byblow: At this time, I cannot confirm the assertion of the Member. I do not know precisely what report he is referring to. I will give the undertaking to provide a further detailed answer to him when I can procure the facts.

Mr. Phelps: Would the Minister undertake to surprise us all and, this time, not allow the government to interfere with the economic viability of the proposed transmission, i.e., if it is not viable or feasible, do not proceed?

Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member realizes he has posed a hypothetical question, in that he has made an assumption that the transmission line is not economical. Economic arguments are a very broad spectrum of data analysis and debate.

I will provide the undertaking to the Member that I have already given. I will proceed to find out the precise current status of the analysis and review what has been ongoing with respect to that line and provide information directly to the Member.

Question re: Training strategy, Investing in People

Mr. Devries: In November 1991, the Minister of Education tabled a draft copy of the Yukon training strategy, entitled Investing in People. From reading it, I understand that a consultation process was to be completed by March 31.

When does the Minister expect to table the completed version of this important document?

Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member is quite correct in virtually every respect, especially the statement that this is an important document. Consequently, I feel obligated to answer him absolutely directly and accurately.

Within the next two weeks, I will be tabling the final strategy in this Legislature for all Members to review.

Mr. Devries: I am aware that several initiatives of the strategy have already been implemented; for example, the Sa Dena Hes training agreement. When this document is tabled, will the Minister be tabling an implementation timetable along with the projected associated costs?

Hon. Mr. McDonald: Firstly, the Member should understand what the training strategy is all about. It is to guide the way training is undertaken in this territory; it is not a program, nor a summation of programs, that will be implemented. It is meant to be a blueprint for how we undertake training and with whom we establish partnerships and relationships in the undertaking of the training activity. That is what the training strategy is all about, so it would be a mistake to suggest that there will be a whole lot of new programs associated with this strategy.

However, we will be talking about - and I hope there will be an opportunity to discuss in this Legislature - the implementation plans that attend the strategy, because they are an important feature of the strategy. Over the course of this year and in following years, as the strategy is implemented and new training arrangements are made, the financial costs to the Yukon government - as one partner in training - will be identified in the annual operating budgets.

Mr. Devries: Therefore, the Minister would have no way of determining the potential savings in both social and economic benefits associated with a training strategy like this, and he would have no way of projecting what those could be, because they fit into the overall education program. Is that what the Minister is saying?

Hon. Mr. McDonald: I was saying something that was related to that. The Member identified one particular element that is associated with a good training strategy, and that is the savings that could be found through having a more educated and versatile working population. I believe there was some question as to whether or not we could identify the savings in social and economic costs from having a better educated and better trained Yukon population.

The mechanisms for determining those savings would be a very complex project. I doubt very much if we could do it with accuracy, but I think we would all agree, as a basic assertion, that a better trained and better educated population will wreak some savings in terms of social programming costs the taxpayer has to bear. It will also benefit the private sector world, which must also face costs associated with training.

Question re: Deputy minister position vacancies

Mrs. Firth: My question is to the Government Leader regarding deputy minister positions. Currently, we have three vacant deputy minister positions: the deputy minister of Economic Development, the deputy minister of Education and the deputy minister of Community and Transportation Services. These positions are being filled on an acting capacity.

Can the Government Leader tell us when these positions will be filled on a permanent basis?

Hon. Mr. Penikett: I cannot give the Member the exact dates by when these positions will be filled, while on my feet, but I hope that they will be filled on a permanent basis in the relatively near future.

Mrs. Firth: That could mean anything.

I would like to ask the Government Leader if he is having trouble finding individuals to fill these positions.

Hon. Mr. Penikett: Quite the contrary.

Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Government Leader can tell us if the positions will be filled with Yukoners, or if the Government Leader will be having special people from outside coming to the Yukon to fill the positions.

Hon. Mr. Penikett: No, I have a great number of very special people here, whom I am sure will be filling these positions. I understand from the Public Service Commission that 99 percent of our hires are local and that is the first time in the history of the Yukon government that has ever been the case. I am sure that I want to contribute to that good record.

Question re: Wolf reduction in game zone 5

Mr. Brewster: My question is for the Minister of Renewable Resources. Yesterday, I asked the Minister about a contract for wolf trapping in the Aishihik area. Can the Minister confirm today that the value of that contract is $13,000?

Hon. Mr. Webster: No, I cannot confirm the cost of the contract. I will get the information for the Member as soon as possible.

Mr. Brewster: Is it true that for the $13,000 investment no wolves were taken?

Hon. Mr. Webster: Again, I cannot confirm if that is the fact.

Mr. Brewster: I will try one more time. Does the Minister agree with the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board recommendation that trapping alone will not effect an immediate wolf reduction in game zone 5?

Hon. Mr. Webster: Yes, I would agree with that recommendation. Certainly, trapping alone would not result in an immediate reduction in the wolf population.

Question re: Speech and hearing services, waiting list

Mr. Lang: I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Health and Social Services. It has to do with the speech and hearing services waiting list. This has been of major concern to this House. When the previous Minister of Health and Social Services, who sometimes acts as the Government Leader, was responsible for the same portfolio, he assured this House, approximately one year ago, that there would be a minimal wait for this service. I can tell you that it is very disruptive to an individual’s daily life when they find they have to wait for up to six months for even an examination for a hearing aid.

I previously told this House a true story about a senior citizen lending another senior citizen a hearing aid because they could not get the necessary service. I received information that there is a waiting list once again for up to six months. Why is this happening?

Hon. Ms. Hayden: The information I have indicates there is indeed a waiting list for speech and hearing assessments. The figures I have say about five months. My understanding is that each year the waiting list is shortened to a respectable waiting period and then the expectation is that the person who does this work, quite rightly, travels around the territory to each of the rural communities. During that time, the waiting list builds up. Then we have to try to reduce it. I am also told that there is some difficulty, across this country, in recruiting people with this skill. Other jurisdictions across the country, in most cases, have even longer waiting lists.

Mr. Lang: This matter was brought up approximately one or two years ago. There was a waiting period at that time of 12 months. These people are generally senior citizens and I can tell the Minister that a five-month or one-year wait is a long time. We were able to get that list down from 12 months to about a month’s wait. Now, we are back up to five months.

Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question.

Mr. Lang: I want to know what the Minister is going to do to get this waiting list down to an acceptable level and kept there so that these people can be serviced.

Hon. Ms. Hayden: I have been discussing the situation with my department and asking what can be done in order to reduce this waiting list. I agree with the Member - it is intolerably long. I trust then that if we are able to find someone to work, that the Member would support another person year for that position, if we are indeed able to recruit someone.

Mr. Lang: I support, for example, the reclassification of the position in the Executive Council that is there strictly to appoint people to boards and committees. We certainly do not need that particular position; it can be reclassified. Although the Minister is always concerned, she never seems to give an answer. Why do we have a waiting period of up to five months - my information is six months - when we have purchased thousands and thousands of dollars’ worth of some of the most sophisticated equipment that one can get on the market in order to expedite these examinations?

Hon. Ms. Hayden: I have not recently put a price tag on that equipment, but it appears that the Member has. We do indeed have a five-month waiting period for new referrals. In terms of reassessment, it is indeed a six-month waiting period. It is very well for the Members to say, “Hire other people to be put into this position.” However, as the Member himself outlined, we have very sophisticated equipment and it requires people with sophisticated skills to use that equipment. My understanding is that these people are not readily available around the country; therefore, we continue to have this waiting list and, until we somehow resolve that, we will be in a better position than jurisdictions in British Columbia and many in Alberta, but nevertheless, we have a waiting list that is very long.

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


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


Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will take a brief recess.


Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will be discussing Bill No. 93, Electoral District Boundaries Act.

Is there general debate?

Bill No. 93 - Electoral District Boundaries Act

Hon. Mr. Penikett: I hesitate to intervene with so many of my critics - I am not allowed to say that they are absent - inattentive - perhaps I can put it that way.

I would like to make a couple of observations from my own point of view as a legislator in this House and as someone who has taken an interest in the matter of redistribution and has been here in the past when redistribution was effected.

The first is, of course, to remember that the recommendations by the learned judge to the House as a whole are just that: recommendations.

The second is that there are a number of controversial elements to the judge’s recommendations of the terms of the location of boundary lines, as well as a less important issue, the naming of constituencies. The boundaries are the meat of the issue; the names of the constituencies are probably only of concern to the particular residents of that constituency. As I mentioned yesterday, it is a well-established procedure in the House of Commons that a constituency name can be changed simply by the sponsoring of a motion by the incumbent and usually, such changes are made without objection. You do not have the kind of mean-minded, rather petty debate that we had yesterday.

I think that it is a pity that we have had an excess of partisanship, because I believe as an MLA that some of the errors in Judge Lysyk’s report should have been dealt with in a more cool-headed, and rational way. Before we proceed with detailed discussion of this bill, and on the assumption that I understand that it is the will on both sides of the House, not to make changes to boundaries; I would like to say for the record, some of the problems that I believe are in Judge Lysyk’s report, which in a more mature, perhaps less partisan Legislature, would have been dealt with in a bipartisan, open-minded way.

As recently as last night, one of my staff discovered a major arithmetical error in the report that has some bearing on the boundary descriptions and the boundary lines. It is a kind of error that ought to have been discussed frankly in this House and the consequences of it brought to the attention of the chief electoral officer, with a dialogue ensuing about it among the parties.

It is the case that a new boundary line proposes to cut through part of my constituency. According to maps that I can see, it may in the future cut through the middle of about 40 or so houses. It seems to me that is nonsense. It is the kind of error that a sensible discussion among parties would have seen us address. As it is now, we are going to have the consequence down the road, because of this excess of partisanship, of some potentially very peculiar and ludicrous situations emerging that could have been avoidable, but are now not going to be.

It seems to me that, in an urban situation, the most sensible boundary line is often that which may be the centreline of a major road or highway. Even allowing for changes in the shape and contour of roads, from time to time, that is a boundary that is easily understood and accepted by people. Boundaries that cross open country, especially in a rapidly developing community like this, can be a problem, because they may cut across a community’s housing lots, construction lots, or even houses themselves.

This is not the first time that has happened. I was in this House when a boundary commission report came down that recommended doing that before. There was a sensible discussion between the two sides, and an amendment was made. I regret that that is not going to be the case this time.

I think all Members recognize that there are differences between Judge Lysyk’s text, the legal language in the recommendations and the maps provided in the report. In theory, one could have accepted any one of those three. I think there is some legal precedent that says the actual recommended legal description is the one legislators usually proceed on the basis of, and that is what we are doing.

Nonetheless, I understand there is a textual problem with respect to the recommendations for Kluane. There is a related problem with respect to the recommended constituency of Ross River-Southern Lakes, as well as a problem in that the body of Judge Lysyk’s report recommended the Mount Lorne Hamlet be entirely included in one constituency, but the actual recommended boundary line cuts right through the middle of it. These are among the problems that I had hoped that the House, in a non-partisan or multi-partisan way, could address.

Having said that, though, I am going to accept what I understand is the wish of the majority in this House as the majority on both sides of the House - that we should proceed with the boundaries as recommended by the boundary commissioner, and not do what some may believe we ought to do, which is address the anomalies and address errors and correct them. I think that is the ultimate responsibility of legislators the world over on matters like this.

Mr. Phillips: I have to respond briefly to some of the comments made by the Government Leader. I take exception to some of the comments. It seems now that the Government Leader is telling us that he hardly knew the House Leaders were discussing the situation, that he did not know of any all-party agreement or whatever when, in fact, it was the Government House Leader who came to that meeting and told us there would be no changes or adjustments to the Lysyk report - not the boundaries, the Lysyk report - unless there was all-party agreement. That was on instructions from the Government Leader. He not only said that once, he said it at least three or four times to both House Leaders, and I am sure the other House Leader will confirm that. If the Government House Leader is honest with himself, he would also confirm that.

The instructions were from the Government Leader: no changes to the Lysyk report whatsoever - no name changes, no boundary changes, nothing, unless there was all-party agreement. That is number one.

The second important thing is that, although the Government Leader has now suggested there are all kinds of things wrong with that report, not once did the Government House Leader suggest to us that we should change names, that we should change some of the things he mentioned today as being wrong; he did mention a couple of minor things, but he certainly did not mention most of the things the Government Leader has mentioned here today. Obviously, the government has just started to read the Lysyk report and clarify it, and is just now coming in with these items. I get a little concerned when that happens because it was very clear - I think all parties were prepared to look at the report. In fact, we recommended that the electoral office look at the report to make the technical changes that would make it accurate and not run through backyards and so on as the Government Leader mentioned. That was our intention. If the boundary ran through a whole line of new lots or something, that would be picked up. We are not the technical people and we do not know where the lots are; I am sure even when the electoral office looked at it they did not discover it ran through the middle of these lots. That is a concern and something that should be picked up.

The instructions were given to bring back to the Legislature, or at least to recommend to the government, technical changes that would make the bill more technically accurate in its description.

I think some of them were corrected in the bill. I think there was the mention of an unnamed creek and a couple of other things that were picked up in the bill. I think they tried to do that. In this particular case, the Government Leader has tried to slip something in about Whitehorse West. I do not condemn the Government Leader for doing that; he wants to retain the name of Whitehorse West in the area. That is fine, but as I said before, there is an awful lot of people unhappy with this act. There are an awful lot of people on Wickstrom Road who would like to remain in Riverdale North, or people in other parts of the territory who would like to keep the same name they had before in their riding.

We agreed - all three House Leaders agreed - that there would be no changes, and never was a name change ever suggested to anyone from any side. I just put that on the record so that the Government Leader knows from where we are coming. It should not be a surprise to him now that we actually did have a meeting to discuss it. The meeting was not confrontational. In many cases, there was room for discussion. In fact, we met with the electoral officer and we talked about several things. I think that the Government Leader is off-base here, in that there were some attempts made to correct the act. He has now discovered some more things, and maybe they should be corrected technically as well, so that we do not run into the technical problems.

I think everyone agreed, however, that we should not be tampering with the act; that we should not be seen to be gerrymandering the Lysyk report in any way, shape or form. I think some people would see the Government Leader suggesting his name “Whitehorse West” for that riding to be some type of gerrymandering. In fact, as we mentioned before, he suggested that one area should be called McIntyre-Takhini, and it was called McIntyre in the bill. The rationale for this was that it would identify the neighbourhoods. The Government Leader’s riding, which we are discussing here, was called Granger. It encompasses Granger and Hillcrest, so maybe it should have been called Granger-Hillcrest-Lobird - if that was the suggestion of the Government Leader.

The rationale the Government Leader is using in one case does not fit the second case. I think it is obvious to most Yukoners out there that the Government Leader wanted to represent the riding of Whitehorse West in the next election and that is what he was trying to do. No one else imposed that on this Legislature except the Government Leader. I think that was a bit unfair, and now he is rising to condemn me personally and anyone else who criticizes him. That is typical of the Government Leader’s attack and it is unfortunate that he chooses these methods because we are just questioning the major changes that were made to the act when we, as House Leaders, agreed that there would be no major changes unless all three House Leaders agreed to all aspects of that legislation, and not just the boundaries - all aspects of it. The Government Leader has risen to his feet and is defending it as strongly as he can.

Hon. Mr. Webster: For the record, in the presence of the other two House Leaders, about the remark just made by the House Leader for the Yukon Party, I want to make clear that when the House Leaders first met there was an agreement that the boundaries of some of the electoral districts should be reviewed for possible changes, and we did instruct the chief electoral officer to assist us in completing that review. That office did a great deal of work in coming up with some amendments to the boundary descriptions that appeared in Judge Lysyk’s report; they obviously made sense and reflected some of the concerns that were raised in the speech by the Premier.

However, when the recommendations were brought forward to the second meeting of the House Leaders, it was at that time that a decision was made that if we cannot get all three parties to agree, then it would be impossible to make the changes.

I want to make it clear that I came to that second meeting fully prepared to discuss some of the recommendations being brought forward by the elections office.

During the meeting I raised the situation that exists with Mount Lorne, where there is an obvious discrepancy between the text of the commissioner’s report and the legal description of the boundary. In fact, I came to the meeting with a map in hand, willing to suggest a new legal description that would indeed incorporate all of the Hamlet of Mount Lorne. But, again, without an all-party concurrence, there was not much sense in me, or anyone else for that matter, trying to bring forward any changes to the boundaries.

Mr. Phelps: I wanted to say a few words at this time during general debate. I view it as rather ironic that I am the person who raised the concerns about the constitutional imperatives with regard to one-person-one-vote in a public speech, for the first time, several years ago. I did that because of a genuine concern that the existing boundaries simply do not meet the tests of the constitutional imperatives, as set down in law by the various courts.

I am really concerned that this debate not be seen by the public as partisan. It is of very deep concern to me. When we talked about the House leaders meeting, I at no time authorized anybody to speak on my behalf, anywhere. Our party has taken the view - enunciated in this Legislature - that it is a free vote. This is not a party or a partisan issue at all.

I echo the concerns that the Government Leader has spoken about. There are serious flaws in the Electoral District Boundaries Act.

If you live in my riding on the Annie Lake Road, and you are part of the Hamlet of Mount Lorne, for example, you might vote in the new riding of Mount Lorne, you might vote in the new riding of Ross River-Southern Lakes or you might vote in the riding of Kluane. Next door neighbours can be placed in that position. I can show you people who live just off the Annie Lake Road who would be forced to vote in each of these ridings and they are next door neighbours.

The people I have talked to in my home town and Tagish are of every political stripe. They are not looking at political advantages. They are genuinely concerned and dissatisfied because their franchise is what is being affected. Their fundamental, democratic rights are being affected.

These are people who have the right in a democracy to vote. They can look around the Yukon and wonder what is going on. One person might vote in Mount Lorne, his neighbour is supposed to vote in Kluane and the guy down the road a few hundred yards is voting in Ross River-Southern Lakes. They have nothing in common with Kluane or Ross River. It is absolutely unconscionable that we stand in this House and bicker over these things. It transcends party politics and is extremely serious.

There would not have been judgments from the various courts in this land unless it were serious. These are judgments that are founded in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They are judgments that go to the essence of democracy, and what people fought wars for, as we have been told in the House.

I know the good judge, Judge Lysyk, and have always admired him; I still do. It is very unfortunate that we have these difficulties with this particular report. I am uncomfortable speaking against it because I know him so well. Nonetheless, I feel compelled to take the stand I am taking. On the other hand, I hear others in this chamber saying that we should not be seen to be gerrymandering and tampering with the report. I feel that for some of the issues I have raised, such as what is to be done with Ross River, I do not think we should be making those kinds of decisions here. If there is a very minor technical point about a line that ought to be down the middle of a main road and not through the middle of a house, we could deal with that.

I said yesterday when we spoke in second reading that it was said at the public meeting I held in Carcross that people could not understand why they did not issue a draft report and then come back to get some feedback. Had they done that, I am sure a lot of this would have been set right. That is the basic problem.

We owe it to the people of the Yukon to come up with solutions that will satisfy them and not in any way give the appearance of partisanship.

I think we owe them that. My humble suggestion is that we have the same commission, or someone else, go back with this, have hearings, and come back with a report. There are so many problems with this, many of them minor in nature, that the only way we can come out of this above any semblance of partisanship is to have further hearings on this and report back.

I do not know how quickly it could be done. I am sure it could be done in a very short time frame. I have been thinking about this for some time. I am not going to come here and say to take Ross River and put it here, do something with Annie Lake Road, and do this and that. I am not going to do that. I know it is wrong the way it is. I know the judge had a difficult task, and much of what he did he was compelled to do, because of the constitutional imperative of the Yukon Act, which is also our constitutional imperative. We can only go to so many seats, and he went to 17. Most of us supported an odd number, rather than an even number, because of the nature of the close elections we have had here so many times. If we ever had a tie, eight and eight, we would be in an awful mess.

I do not think the kind of debate that has taken place here does justice to  the people we represent. My appeal is that we consider having either this commission, or a new commission, go out and fine tune this document. Those are my recommendations.

Mrs. Firth: What the previous speaker just said makes a lot of sense. Both my colleague, the Member for Porter Creek West, and I spoke yesterday and asked if it was possible for us to go back and have the report redrafted. I think that possibility is worth pursuing. I do not know what kind of suggestion we could come up with - whether, as the previous speaker suggested, we try to improve on the present report or whether we start all over again. I think trying to improve on the existing report that was tabled is a reasonable suggestion.

We have to keep in mind that we have to look at making some changes without offending people who have greater concerns - whether that is possible or not, I do not know. I am simply looking for some suggestions from the government Members, if they feel as strongly as we do on this side. I have faith. If they have any suggestions or ideas with respect to some change, or if there are any particular concerns, can they be addressed? If this is not a reasonable solution, perhaps they could suggest something else. They may have other ideas they would like to bring forward with respect to how we can resolve this issue in a non-partisan way and provide a better distribution of voters for the Yukon public.

I look forward to hearing what kind of suggestions they might have to bring forward.

Hon. Mr. Webster: I rise to make one such suggestion, which has already been made. I want to thank the Member for Hootalinqua for his comments, which I certainly do not disagree with. I want to make it clear that I endorse his position that we do need some kind of a review to remove the obvious flaws that are in place, which he has made note of and which the Premier made note of in his speech today. I think we all recognize that.

The Member has made it very clear that the intent of such a review would not be to move large tracts of land - whole communities, such as Ross River - from one place to another but, rather, to fine tune it. This was the real purpose of the original suggestion made two months ago to what I think is a non-partisan body - the electoral office. This was to come up with some reasonable suggestions for consideration by the committee of all House Leaders for changing these boundaries and making sense of them, so that everyone in the House does not receive petitions and representations from their constituents asking, “Which riding do I vote in? The boundary goes right through the middle of my house.”

Now, the good staff of the electoral office did make those recommendations. We came back to the second meeting of the House Leaders, and we were all of a sudden faced with the decision that no changes would be made. If we cannot get all three parties to agree, there would be no changes, and that is where it was left.

As I say, I totally agree with the suggestion made by the Members opposite that a review of this type, to fine tune the report, is in order. However, it seems to me that we are right back where we were two months ago.

Mr. Brewster: I would like to point out a couple of things here. Firstly, there is no doubt that the commission had a very tough time in deciding the boundaries. Secondly, there were two things that Judge Lysyk was to address: demographics and the equality vote.

We are getting all excited about these things, but I did not see anyone getting excited about the Kluane area, when, for instance, I had four constituents at Coffee Creek, which meant I had to go all the way up the Pelly and come down again in order to get to them, when these constituents should have been included in the Klondike riding. These people have been there for years, long before I was elected, but I did not see anyone getting excited about that when the report was completed.

Another suggestion was brought up by the Champagne/Aishihik Band - and they had a very good argument. They are building a whole new community at Takhini and they said the boundary should be stopped there. The band was asked when it would be built, and the answer was, “In five or six years.” The commission made it very clear that they could make a decision on something that was five or six years into the future. The commission used the figures that were used in the last election.

The commission made the recommendation that it said it would, that in 10 years the boundaries should be reviewed. The commission made these recommendations and tried to do this.

Another example is Kusawa; you know that we talked about the line. It is funny that the right hand side of that is Kluane and the left hand side is Hootalinqua and that was in the old one. That boundary was not perfect and neither is this one - I agree with you - but let us not get into a battle here and start this whole thing all over.

That is ridiculous. There are mistakes throughout it, but let us get it through. If it does not work out, fine. Then we can start adding some amendments to it, but let us not say we are going to start another commission all over again. People are getting sick to death of commissions and hearings all over the country. They cannot keep up with them. A good example of that was this one. How many people really showed up? I had four meetings and the best turnout was 16 people. At the meeting in Haines Junction, fewer than five people attended. People are getting fed up with this continual bickering. Let us get this act through.

Mr. Lang: I wish to add my comments to complement those of the MLA for Kluane. I think Judge Lysyk and his commission came forward with a compromise on the boundaries in an attempt to meet the objectives as best they could within the boundaries and within the geographics and the demographics that are present in the territory. I cannot accept the fact that we should, “throw the baby out with the bath water”, when we have gone through the very expensive exercise of having public hearings.

I represent one of the largest ridings, as far as population is concerned. If I recall correctly, I do not think that the number of people who attended the meeting would have exceeded 15. I have to concur with the MLA for Kluane. It would be absolutely foolhardy to commission another commission to do a job that has already been done. If that is the case, then we can all get in here with our yellow, pink and blue pens and we can all start drawing lines. We could throw this into a game of poker, and whomever gets drawn first gets to draw the first line, whomever gets drawn last gets to draw the last line.

I understand that there are some people who are not happy with the lines, and I understand why; but, another commission is not going to come back with a panacea or utopia.

About the observations by the MLA for Kluane on the constituents on Coffee Creek, I am sure there is no question we are going to get anomalies of this kind whether we like it or not.

If we are going to adhere to the principles that all Members advocated on the commissioning of the commission, then I do not think we have any choice but to deal with the bill before us.

If there are some minor technical amendments, vis-a-vis the streets in a riding, then I have no problem with the House leaders getting together to go over that. I also have no problem with the House Leaders providing some amendments, as proposed by the elections office, to correct some of these anomalies. If we know of them, they should be corrected. I was quite surprised they were not done. I am not going to start name-calling, but I understand whose opposition it was to make any changes at all. That was adhered to in full faith by the government, in fairness to them.

I have to agree with the Government House Leader that, if he is prepared to come in with some minor technical adjustments to ridings to make sure a line does not go through the middle of a house, like we had in a situation between my riding and that of the MLA for Whitehorse West - it went right through the Northland mobile home park, and in one place, it went right through a trailer. It was very fortunate that the MLA for Whitehorse West was pleased when I took the trailer that the line went through, because he knew they were relatives of mine, and he thought they might be more my persuasion than his own. Whether that proves to be true, I do not know; one can only speculate.

On a more serious note, I want to echo the feeling of the Government House Leader. He has my sympathy. I think we have to deal with the bill in as objective a manner as we can, in the context of the Yukon and in meeting the objectives put on to us by the Charter, in part, which we have an obligation to meet.

Mr. Johnston: I would like to say a few words about the proposed changes to the electoral boundaries, as submitted by Judge Lysyk.

First of all, I think we have to thank the judge for the hard work that went into this document. I know he has put his best into it. There is a lot in there that will create problems for some of us. It is here before us to discuss as a bill and make the best of, so that we can all have input into whatever minor changes have to be made. I am sure that, before anything goes ahead, we all have to agree with it. Then, we will come out with something we can all learn to live with.

When election time comes, I am sure we will all be looking at new challenges in the different areas. We are here to work for the benefit of the people, and I am sure we will put our best into it. That is all I have to say about it.

Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to comment briefly, having heard the remarks of more Members of the House, in which there is clearly no appetite to establish another commission to deal with the subject. We do have a report right now. It obviously has some minor flaws, which has been pointed out by most Members.

I am hearing from most Members a will to make the minor changes that are necessary to eradicate the obvious flaws and shortcomings of the report. I would propose that we instruct the chief electoral officer, who heads a non-partisan office, to come forward with recommendations for consideration by this House by next Monday, May 11.

Mr. Phelps: I want to go on record as opposing that. I feel that the boundaries commission should be treated as a draft report, and there should be feedback from the people before a final report is considered by the House.

There are some very minor things that we might be able to work out, but I must say that it does not give me any comfort, whatsoever, that we are simply going to accept this and make some minor changes. I say this - and I feel very strongly about it - because I know some people whose fundamental rights to democracy are severely impaired by that approach.

Hon. Mr. Penikett: Let me say, I think that the Government House Leader has made a useful suggestion and that I agree, in part, with what the Member for Hootalinqua said - but not with the rest of it. I agree that he is right that the report from the Boundaries Commission is a draft. Legislatures are not rubber-stamping bodies. We are not here to rubber stamp and that is it.

I think other Members who have spoken here, however, are right - we cannot be seen to be doing a flagrant gerrymander and carving up the constituencies in the worst traditions of, perhaps, state Legislatures in some parts of the United States. I have identified, as have other Members, a number of technical  problems. I think that a line going through not just one house, but potentially 40, is an even bigger problem than the Member for -

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Penikett: Well, they may all be related to the Member for Porter Creek East, and that could be to someone’s huge disadvantage - some Member of this House or some candidate. The Member for Hootalinqua was quite right to have reprimanded me earlier for talking about it being partisan. I did not mean partisan in the sense of it being party partisan. I suggested that perhaps personalities or rivalries in this House got in the way of seeing this thing clearly. It seemed to me that he is, in part, right. I want to appeal to him in this sense - notwithstanding the concerns of the constituents, I think that the Member for Klondike is right. The way to deal with these minor technical things is to have the chief electoral officer look at the report, and then have the chief electoral officer report back directly to the House - perhaps not through a Minister, but perhaps to appear at the bar of the House as a witness with the recommendations, in order that all Members of the House are able to hear them at the same time, and then proceed with Committee consideration of this bill with those recommendations in hand. In my view, that is a fairly quick, cheap and expeditious way to deal fairly with some real technical problems.

I do not know Judge Lysyk the way the Member for Hootalinqua knows Judge Lysyk. I know that he is an eminent jurist; I know he has a fine reputation in this country, and I know that he is an excellent constitutional scholar. However, I think that the judge had a problem because he did not have enough people on his staff who were long-time Yukoners and really understand and knew some of the boundaries between communities, or perhaps the geography of the territory. Again, there are problems between the different parts of the report in terms of their meaning and their definition. I think that we need to have that sorted out.

I would say to the Member for Hootalinqua, with respect to the Mount Lorne problem, I think it is much worse than the problem addressed by the Member for Kluane. When the judge said clearly that he heard people in the Hamlet of Mount Lorne say they wanted to be in one constituency but then the technical drafter’s report leads to a different conclusion, what are we to conclude? My view is that I would want to respect the wishes of the people of Mount Lorne, if it can be done without doing something absurd in terms of the drafting. I have confidence in the chief electoral officer and I have confidence in the Clerk’s office that, if all Members who have identified these technical problems could present them to the Clerk - because I believe the work has essentially been done; it was done ready for the House Leaders before they decided there was not agreement enough to proceed in a multi-partisan way - the Clerk, then, could proceed to bring these recommendations forward. It is an unusual request of the Clerk, but I think it is not inappropriate. In the past, the Clerk has been a servant of the Boundary Commission but in this case he was not; so I think he is free to bring his own experience and objectivity and intelligence to bear in this.

Let us say right now, though, that this will not solve all the problems people have with the report. It will not make the people of Tatchun or Mayo happy. It will not make the people of Ross River or Carcross happy. It may not make all the people in my constituency happy, who believe that lines have been put through the centre of neighbourhoods and natural communities. As other Members have said, Judge Lysyk did not have a mandate to make everybody in the territory happy, nor does the Legislature, and it probably is not going to succeed; but I do think the reasonable, technical problems in the report, the discrepancies between text and maps and between maps and legal descriptions of boundaries and other problems of that kind have been identified. Lines through the middle of houses or through properties or building lots are things that ought to be addressed.

Mr. Lang: I am prepared to support the initial proposition put forward by the Government House Leader and further elaborated upon by the Government Leader. I think that if those had been identified - and I think that he is right and I think that in most cases they have been - we should listen to the Clerk and perhaps present the initial recommendations for changes from the elections office and then make some decisions. We should be prepared to make those minor but significant amendments, due to the fact that we recognize that there are some very fundamental, technical problems in some of these areas.

I want to go on record that I think the overall principle in most areas has been met, as has been the fundamental reason for the report: one person, one vote.

That is what we were searching for in trying to reach a balance throughout the territory, with the exception of the community of Old Crow, where there was unanimous agreement that because of its location and its significance it could be seen as an exception.

No matter what you do, if we accept the principle of voter parity across the territory, there is no way that we are going to meet all of the demands and all of the requests of the total population. It is not feasible, because of the demographics and the way that the Yukon is laid out, unless you want 25 or 30 Members in this House.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Lang: I believe that the Yukon Act allows 20 members in the House. I think that the request for the additional seat is probably reasonable, in view of our political evolution, and I think that we are meeting our objectives in the broadest sense. Perhaps what we should do is conclude the debate today with the understanding that the Clerk will appear before the Committee of the Whole with the bill as presented in the House and with practical amendments.

Mr. Joe: I was not going to speak to this, but after hearing the Members, there seem to be some problems with the new ridings. With all the work that has gone into this, it is disappointing to see the way the lines have been drawn.

The new riding of Mayo and Tatchun is very big. It is difficult to represent this area because of the size. If we could change things, I would work very hard to make this riding different. Since we can not, I would like to thank Judge Lysyk for his work on the commission. That is all I have to say.

Mr. Nordling: My understanding was that all three parties asked the elections officer if an election could be run with the boundaries report as it was presented. We were told it was possible, although there were some little things that may not have made sense - a boundary between two constituencies went between lots and between houses rather than down a street.

I do not think it is a technical amendment if we are going to change someone’s riding. Even if it is one house, the Electoral Boundaries Commission has put that family, house or two or three houses in one riding. Now we are going to take it upon ourselves to call it a technicality, take that house out and move it into another constituency. If we are going to make these little technical amendments - described here as not making any sense and take that person out and change their riding - why can we not take five or 10 houses out or take a couple of streets out?

In my riding, it does not make sense that the people on Alder and Birch Streets who live in downtown Porter Creek - that little wee neighborhood that does not contain very many people - should be out in the Lake Laberge riding. Is it a technical amendment that those two short streets be included in Porter Creek South?

Are we being asked to lobby the chief electoral officer to have the little changes we want made, instead of bringing amendments on the floor? The Government Leader has taken it upon himself to make his little change - one that pleased his constituents. Now, if I want to make a little change to please my constituents, am I to lobby the chief electoral officer to get a few more houses added or removed from my riding? Is the Member for Tatchun, or Hootalinqua, invited to lobby the chief electoral officer to change a community because it does not make sense?

I think the Member for Porter Creek East is having a little bit of trouble with this, but he is willing to make little technical changes. We will be accused of gerrymandering. Instead of making changes in the House ourselves, we are now going to make the chief electoral officer responsible. I do not think that is fair, either. We should accept the report as it is or, if we do not like it, then we should have Mr. Justice Lysyk come back and treat this as a draft report. If we do not like the fact that Mr. Justice Lysyk is not from here - the Government Leader complained the other day that Mr. Justice Lysyk is from Vancouver - then let us get someone from here to look at this as a draft report, so we can come in the House and accept it or reject it.

Hon. Mr. Webster: Notwithstanding the comments made by the last speaker, I do feel that there is a general agreement on the proposal for having the chief electoral officer come forward with some recommendations for consideration on changes to the boundaries.

I do not know where the Member opposite got the idea that we were going to take it upon ourselves to individually lobby the chief electoral officer to help us with this task.

To a great extent, I would imagine that the chief electoral officer has already done a great deal of this work, as directed two months ago, following the first meeting of the House Leaders. I think the proposal has merit. It will make some recommendations to correct some obvious flaws and minor technical difficulties. I think this can be done in a short period of time and in an impartial way. I am suggesting that, if the proposal does meet with general agreement to have this report for consideration by the House by Monday, May 11, then I will report progress on the bill.

Mr. Brewster: I am going to stand up in defence of the staff of the Legislative Assembly. Firstly, I have known these people for 10 years, and there is no way that they are going to allow lobbying from anyone in this House.

I do not think that a remark like that should ever have been made about them. They have been very fair about things; they try very hard to accommodate everybody, and it is not an easy job. I do not think that remarks like that should be made.

I would go along with this policy, and I have no problem with it. They are trying to get this into roughly 1,000 people in an area. This is not going to change things much, because there are some areas that have not quite established a population of 1,000. So, one or two houses are not going to make this change. If you start moving streets and blocks, then you will have problems.

I do not think that anyone should be making remarks in this Legislature about the staff of the Legislative Assembly.

Hon. Ms. Hayden: I find myself in the strange position of being in agreement with the Member for Kluane and the Member for Porter Creek East, among others on my own side.

It seemed to me that, for a few minutes here, we were actually going to deal with this in a very straightforward, honest and non-picky, non-partisan way that would be of most benefit to the people we represent. I trust that, before the whole thing begins to deteriorate into name calling, we have a vote on it.

Mr. Phelps: I would like a chance to speak once more and, in doing so, I must say that I feel somewhat like the pitcher who is called in at the ninth inning with the score 19 to one against his team and the bases loaded. Nonetheless, I feel compelled to speak because of the principle involved. I really have a great deal of difficulty with the process that occurred and with the hearings that took place. I know most people in my riding did not bother to come to meetings as they really did not have anything to discuss; it was beyond them somewhat, a frothy kind of thing - they are going to change the electoral boundaries. Some of them who came to my meeting were told for the first time what the current boundary was and, for the first time, were told why it was necessary to have a commission; they were totally awed with the process. For the first time, they really started thinking about some of the matters the commission was determining and holding the hearings on.

If this were a draft report that went back to the communities, where there is a sense that the electoral boundaries, for whatever reason, are unfair, there would be a high attendance at a meeting where that concern is felt. People would be able to go with something concrete to say and the entire nature of the hearings would be more fruitful. I really feel the process itself has failed the people of the Yukon, and those who are ill-served by this document are being shortchanged by us trying to pretend here that, by changing a couple of boundaries in a very minor fashion, we will have dealt with the real issue.

We have heard here that people are sick and tired of meetings. The Member for Kluane has said that, and I know they are. In my small town, it is difficult to get people out, because they are called upon to come out night after night on local issues, school committee meetings, planning meetings, and you name it.

When they have something to look at and think about, such as this report, and how it impacts upon their lives, they want a voice. Right now, they are stuck with just me in the Legislature, trying to save the game in the ninth inning, with the score 19 to one and the bases loaded. I am afraid that even I cannot work that miracle on their behalf.

Hon. Mr. Webster: It appears that everyone is talked out on this subject. We seem to be at a bit of a stalemate. Nonetheless, having heard that the majority of Members concur on a certain approach, I am prepared to move a motion to the effect that we do instruct the chief electoral officer to come forward with recommendations for consideration on the boundaries.

Chair: Is it possible to get that in writing?

Hon. Mr. Webster: Yes. Right after the recess.

Chair: Committee of the Whole will take a 15-minute recess.


Chair:  I will now call Committee of the Whole back to order.

Motion re witness before Committee

Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to thank the Members for their patience for waiting so long for the drafting of this motion.

I move

THAT the chief electoral officer be called as a witness before the Committee of the Whole Monday, May 11, 1992, to discuss the suggestions he made to the House Leaders in a meeting on March 31, 1992, with regard to technical changes to boundary descriptions as found in the Electoral District Boundaries Commission Report (Lysyk Report) tabled in the House on December 10, 1991.

Chair: Is there any further discussion on the motion?

It has been moved

THAT the chief electoral officer be called as a witness before the Committee of the Whole Monday, May 11, 1992, to discuss the suggestions he made to the House Leaders in a meeting on March 31, 1992, with regard to technical changes to boundary descriptions as found in the Electoral District Boundaries Commission Report (Lysyk Report) tabled in the House on December 10, 1991.

Division has been called.


Chair: It appears all Members are here. Shall we stop the bells?

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Chair: All those in favour of the motion, please rise.

Members rise

Chair: All those opposed, please rise.

Members rise

Chair: The results are 12 yea, three nay.

I declare the motion carried.

Motion agreed to

Hon. Mr. Webster: Madam Chair, I move that we report progress on Bill No. 93.

Motion agreed to

Chair: I will declare a brief recess.


Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will be discussing Bill No. 75, An Act to Amend the Territorial Court Act.

Is there general debate?

Bill No. 75 - An Act to Amend the Territorial Court Act

Hon. Ms. Joe: This proposed amendment repeals a section of an act that has been in effect since 1988. We are repealing the section and adding to it. This would allow a justice of the peace to hold office until the age of 75. One of the biggest problems we were having in regard to the section that we are asking to repeal is that if that were left in the act, we would have about 12 or so JPs who would be automatically revoked. In order to be consistent with other acts and in order to maintain some kind of independence from the judiciary, we are asking these two sections be repealed and replaced with another.

On Clause 1

Clause 1 agreed to

On Clause 2

Clause 2 agreed to

On Title

Title agreed to

Hon. Ms. Joe: I move that Bill No. 75 be reported out of Committee, without amendment.

Motion agreed to

Bill No. 2 -Economic Development Act

Hon. Mr. Byblow: During the debate in second reading, Members opposite raised a number of questions about aspects of the bill. I responded to a number of them immediately afterwards and, by way of continuation, I would like to respond to several that I did not have an opportunity to consider at the time of debate.

The Member for Watson Lake identified a problem in clause 12: the identification of organizations versus persons. I want to compliment him for spotting what can be considered an inconsistency in the bill and I will be introducing a small amendment in that clause later on, as we get to clause-by-clause debate.

The Member also raised a question about the reporting procedure for the Council on the Economy and the Environment. I can tell him that this particular act is consistent with the Environment Act in terms of the reporting procedure and the structure of that body.

The Council on the Economy and the Environment is established under the Environment Act and the expansion of powers of that body are identified in this particular act. We will get to the clause that will speak to the consistency of the two bills, going hand-in-hand in relation to that one body.

Members did raise the question of the purpose of the act and about whether or not the operations of the department to date have, in some way, been illegal. I spoke to that in second reading. I do want to reassure Members that this act enshrines a strong economic statement into legislation as a commitment of this government. More specifically, as we get through clause-by-clause debate, we have taken the Yukon Economic Strategy, and the goals that were endorsed in that document, and carried them over into this bill in an almost identical fashion and expanded upon them.

As I indicated in my earlier remarks, in this bill, we have also expanded the duties of the Council on the Economy and the Environment to provide appropriate advice to government on matters of the economy.

A concern was raised about section 18 as being one that provides the government with unlimited power and authority to engage consultants. When we get to that particular clause, we can go into it in more detail, but I want to assure Members that a similar provision exists in the Environment Act to allow special advisory or consultative committees to be established to report to the Minister on specific matters that have been requested. This power is not essential. In fact, it may never be used.

Nevertheless, it is a provision we are putting in when we may need an independent opinion on a sensitive matter that would more properly not be dealt with directly by the department. As I said, a similar provision exists in the Environment Act.

What we are trying to do with this act is to ensure that we have a strong statement of our commitment to the economy. We are expanding the mandate of the Council on the Economy and the Environment and, as I indicated in my second reading remarks, we are enabling regulations to establish programs. Currently, programs have different means by which they are established. In some cases, we have programs established by a vote authority in the budget and, for example, the community development fund is such a program. If you eliminate that program from the budget, there is no program - there is no authority that requires such a program to exist, other than its establishment in the budget and for which we have policy guidelines. The community development fund now would be restated under regulations and attached to the act, thereby giving it a stronger statutory base and a stronger commitment for existence.

We do have separate acts for a couple of the other programs. For example, the business development fund is established under an act of its own now. What will occur, once this act is passed, is that the business development fund will become a regulation attached to this act. It will be similar - in fact, I suspect that it will be identical - to the current guidelines under the other act, but it will eliminate the existence of that act.

Saving Energy Action Loan fund and Yukon energy alternatives program have similar acts that will be automatically repealed as a result of this act. During second reading, one of the Members commented that, when one establishes a new act, properly one should be getting rid of several others. In fact, that is what happens under this act.

Essentially, what is being created is the statutory base for programs to be established and a regulatory power is established that will require the government to seek advice from the various industries or interest groups that the regulations will affect, which I have indicated in previous comments. I have committed to public consultation to ensure that we make no changes to regulations without consultation. That is a statement of commitment. I have said that to the industry and interest groups, and I say it again in the House.

Establishing programs under regulation also allows us the flexibility to meet changing circumstances that may occur. If the need arises for a change in certain criteria of a particular program, we would consult with the affected industry or interest groups, agree on an appropriate change, make the regulatory change and have it gazetted. We would have then reacted, through consultation, to create the statutory base to qualify it in response to the changing circumstances.

I welcome any specific questions. I have attempted to cover all the concerns raised by Members during second reading. If there are outstanding questions, I welcome them.

Mr. Devries: I find some of the Minister’s comments interesting. One comment that I had received on the act was that it does not do for the economy what the Environmental Act does for the environment.

When I read the act, I question what is best for the economy, although when it refers to the Yukon Economic Strategy, and I read this I find that there are more powerful statements in here, and the way that I understand is that it draws from this. Definitely, the act could do something for the economy in that sense. Although, by the same token, I question the success of the economic strategy up to this point.

The Minister mentioned the SEAL program. My understanding is that the SEAL program is going to be administered by Yukon Housing in the future. Is Yukon Housing is taking over the administration of the SEAL program, or am I in left field on that?

Hon. Mr. Byblow: In response to the Member’s earlier remarks about the economic strategy, he is correct, that this act, in many respects mirrors the statements and commitments in that strategy.

In fact, section 5 of this particular act restates the four goals that are the underpinning of that strategy.

Whether the Member has questions about the success of the strategy is another matter. I am quite prepared to debate the health of the economy and the success of the various initiatives - not only the initiatives that the government undertakes, but those initiatives that involve the private sector, outside interests, cooperation and joint efforts that enrich economic activity. However, that is probably another debate.

With respect to the SEAL program, I indicated to Members in the budget debate last fall that I, and one of my colleagues, had contemplated integrating programming that was going on within the Housing Corporation and the SEAL program. Members may recall that the Minister responsible for housing introduced a consolidation of various housing programs last year. In that consolidation of different programs, under new guidelines and new criteria, there was serious thought given to rolling the SEAL program into that. The SEAL program, for what it offers to residents, was similar to what components of the housing program consolidation was doing. There was some very serious thought given to rolling the SEAL program into that consolidation.

I can tell the Member that we have chosen not to proceed with that approach. Rather, we have decided to retain the SEAL program as it is and re-examine it to see if there are any more efficient, cost-effective criteria that should apply to the SEAL program, with a view to the energy consciousness that is prevailing territory wide.

In short, the SEAL program is remaining. It will become part of a regulatory attachment to this act and it is currently under review.

Mr. Devries: That would have been my next question - when would the various regulations pertaining to this act be brought forward? My concern - I cannot remember whether it was with this Minister or the other Minister - especially with the Yukon energy alternatives program, was when someone had originally approached the deputy minister responsible for that program and they got into a bit of a spat right off the bat. It seemed from that point on until this day, this person has been experiencing nothing but frustration with the Yukon energy alternatives program. I am not certain of the parameters of the Yukon Energy Action P program now, but if the regulations are going to change some of the parameters, it would have been nice to have been able to view them - or at least I would like to know when we will be seeing them.

Hon. Mr. Byblow: In part, I am not clear whether the Member is asking about our intentions to revise YEAP or when we are going to be attaching the regulations pertaining to that program under this bill. If it is the latter, I can tell him that we will be undertaking - and this has already begun within the department - a process to rewrite the current program criteria and guidelines, and parameters of each of the programs, one by one. Prior to enshrining them into regulation, we will be taking them out to respective interest groups for consultation before passage.

Again, that is what I have committed. If, for example, we are talking about the Yukon mining incentive program, I have already told the Yukon Chamber of Mines that we will take the current guidelines, criteria and parameters of that program and rewrite them into regulation format. Then, we will sit down with the Chamber of Mines and review them, with a view to any changes the industry may have, and ensure that they are aware of any changes we might introduce. We will then proceed with the legal process of passing and gazetting them. They will then become program regulations under this act.

This will systematically happen with everything. I cannot say which one is first. I expect that those regulations have begun in the department; however, the consultation has not. The only qualification I make to that is that, as Members will recall from the throne speech, we announced the resource infrastructure program to extend electrical grids to resource industries - mining, lumber or any other resource. We have established a draft of the guidelines for that program. We are in consultation with the industry now on them. They may well be the first ones to be attached here. They are program guidelines that are currently being established for a new program. In order to give them a statutory base, we will have to attach them here. YEAP, the community development fund, the business development fund, and the mining incentives program will be done, one by one, and attached.

Mr. Devries: I may have misunderstood the Minister. At one point, he mentioned YMAC or a report of some kind. I understand the Yukon Chamber of Mines, in conjunction with various other agencies, have submitted something to Tom Siddon, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. I believe it is called the YMAC report. This was done in consultation with environmental agencies - several agencies around the Yukon - and also the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. My understanding was that this also needed the government stamp of approval prior to being submitted to Mr. Siddon. Has that taken place? Has the government given the stamp of approval to that report, and is it associated with this act?

Hon. Mr. Byblow: To clarify my reference, at a program level, of what would be attached by regulation to this bill was YMIP - Yukon mining incentive program. That is the program that has several components to it and the one that geologists and prospectors and miners apply to for assistance in the field. What the Member is now referring to is YMAC - Yukon Mining Advisory Committee - which is not a program, as such. It is a committee structure sponsored by the federal government, which still has the responsibility for mining.

We have a representative on that committee, and that committee is slugging its way through the very difficult task of establishing appropriate guidelines in preparation for legislative changes to the Yukon Quartz Mining Act and the Yukon Placer Mining Act. I understand that there are some delays in the final drafting of the report and the recommendations. We are slugging along with the committee members and, at some point, I expect the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to reach agreement on a final position prior to legislating the recommended changes. On that point, I expect to be talking to the Minister on the matter. There is a northern Ministers mines conference later this month, which is a joint session between the federal Minister, me and the industry. I expect that that will be a major subject of discussion.

Mr. Devries: I am sure the Minister would agree with me that the YMIC report could have a tremendous influence on how the Economic Development Act will affect the mining community in the future.

I would like to get down to a few of the questions I have about the act, before we get into clause-by-clause debate. The Minister is aware of some of the concerns I have, and he could possibly think about them during supper.

In clause 5(c), it says, “to preserve and enhance the quality of life in the Yukon by encouraging business opportunities and services to the public as nearly comparable as practicable with the rest of Canada”. I question whether we would want to leave that in there. I do not want to say that I have no faith in the rest of Canada as some people would say that the Government of Canada, in its policies, is almost encouraging companies to move to Mexico, and things like that. If we are going to try to produce services for the public comparable with the rest of Canada, then I can understand why we are allowing these logs to be exported right now. Basically, we are trying to do the same thing that some people say the Government of Canada is doing. I question whether that statement should stay in there.

I will be moving an amendment later, where I will ask that it be cut off right at the word “public”. I feel, again looking at the Economic Strategy and the Conservation Strategy, they would speak out enough on the balance of what whoever drafted this was trying to say. I do not feel it requires that. As much as it may appear that I am trying to be funny or facetious, I do not think we should always balance everything we do with what the rest of Canada does. Does that mean if the economy of the rest of Canada is in a complete flop, we have to try to follow suit, and things like that?

That is what I am starting to see in the balance of that statement.

Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will speak generally to the point the Member raises because he responds specifically to a clause later on in the bill.

The goals of the department - which by extension, are the goals of the government - as described in section 5 are virtually identical to the goals described in the Economic Strategy. The Member flashed a copy of it so he does have it in hand.

On page 3 of the Economic Strategy, there is a strong statement about the feeling of Yukon people to ensure that there is a quality of life generated by economic activity that is not in any way less than the comparable quality of life of other Canadians. In fact, on that page, in the goal described in the strategy, the wording reads: “Yukoners want development to preserve and enhance the quality of Yukon life. We want wages, business opportunities and public services comparable with the rest of Canada, but we are not prepared to sacrifice either the potential for living off the land or the unspoiled natural environment that surrounds us”.

The point that I am making is that I do not think it is a matter of interpreting section 5 to mean that if the quality of life is reduced in other parts of Canada then we are going to work toward reducing our quality of life. I do not think that is the intention or the meaning of the clause at all. The statement in section 5 is simply meant to enshrine what Yukon people told us through a two-year consultation process that said we value the quality of life that our economic activity should bring us.

People want a quality of life that is at least as good as other parts of Canada. That is in a general sense, but not in a sense where if the economy in Prince Edward Island goes for a dive and the quality of life is reduced, suddenly the Yukon is going to be affected. That is not the intention. This is more a philosophical statement; it is more a statement of a general intention that economic activity should, as one of its goals, ensure that there is a decent quality of life.

Mr. Devries: I found it interesting that the Yukon Economic Strategy refers to wages comparable to the rest of Canada and I would think that to maintain a standard of living comparable to the rest of Canada, with our cost of living being consistently higher than the rest of Canada, our wages would have to be a little higher. There may be an inconsistency there. If it is not in this act, it is in the Yukon Economic Strategy.

My next question is in regard to the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment, and I am sure that the Minister has discussed some of these questions with his people, because this is a suggestion taken from the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce letter. The Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce has concern about research projects, and it says that the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment is in charge of research projects, or has the opportunity to carry out research projects. The chamber questions whether or not it is an appropriate task for the Council on the Economy and the Environment.

My feeling would be that the duty of the Council on the Economy and the Environment would be, for instance,  like what they are doing with the Employment Standards Act. They are reviewing something that has been put before the Legislature to see if whether or not the act should go ahead in the form that the government was wishing to present the act, giving the government an opportunity to make changes.

If this act stays as it is, it really broadens their mandate and, in a sense, they almost become another government department. I would think that the research projects should be carried out by a department. Once the project has been carried out, the results and information that has been gathered should be presented to the Council on the Economy and the Environment to see if we are satisfied that it has been carried out in an appropriate manner.

Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member raises an interesting point, and I can tell him that I have given a lot of thought to the role of the Council on the Economy and the Environment. I agree that it is most appropriate that the council undertake specific projects assigned to it by government. I say that because it is under the original mandate of the council. The council is named through the title of Council on the Economy and the Environment because it is charged with a mandate to address issues specific to the economy and to the environment. As we, as a society, become more and more sensitive to the value of the environment and the impact of the economy on that environment, it becomes a most appropriate committee to address the issue of balancing those two interests.

By way of discussion, I would propose to the Member that a department can often be committed under its narrow objective of dealing with an issue to the exclusion of other factors. Let me be more specific. For example, we have a branch in the department dealing with a mining issue, and their objective is one of support to the industry. Therefore, in whatever assistance they are providing to that industry through their programs, they are going to be biased in favour of ensuring that the mining activity continues.

On the other hand, the Department of Renewable Resources, which would be more sensitive to the renewable or sustainable nature of resources, would have a different view. The Council on the Economy and the Environment would be a much more appropriate agency to find a fair balance between those competing interests.

I can think of no other body, independent and at arm’s length from the government, that could provide the kind of advice to government that does not represent somebody’s exclusive interest - departmental or otherwise.

I said in my earlier remarks that one of the objectives of this bill was to solidify the role of the Council on the Economy and the Environment in its commitment to balance the economic and environmental objective of the government. One has to agree that this has to be in the public interest, as well.

I consider the council quite capable, because of its broad interest representation, to provide a fair, balanced recommendation to government in whatever research project, review process or public discussion it may be charged with.

The council is represented, as the Member knows, by broad interest groups from a cross-section of public interest. This act ensures that that broad public cross-section of interest continues to be represented on that body. In this act, we expand the role of that body to give us better advice that is truly representative of the people we all are trying to serve.

Mr. Devries: I understand what the Minister is saying there.

My next question would be with regard to accountability. Since I do not have the Environment Act handy, I am not sure how the Council on the Economy and the Environment is held accountable. My concern is that, with the broadening of its mandate here, I understand that they can hire consultants and experts. This would mean an increasingly large budget. The concern of some people is where they are held accountable.

The suggestion is then that somewhere in this act there be an amendment that would force them to come up with an audited financial statement of their activities.

Hon. Mr. Byblow: I suppose the answer to the Members general query is multi-faceted. This act, just like the Environment Act, requires that council report annually to the Legislative Assembly. The council reports to the Cabinet. The council can be directed by Cabinet and, under this act, in the expanded mandate, the Minister responsible for Economic Development can give certain limited directions specifically to the council; but, by and large, it reports to and is responsible to Cabinet.

The accountability would be through this House, through its reporting and through the budgets that fund it. The council is currently funded, in part, through the Department of Economic Development and partly through the Department of Renewable Resources, depending upon the prescribed assignment that they are undertaking. I would have to do more research in order to break out the budgeting side.

Generally, if the government is assigning a responsibility to the council, the government has a responsibility to provide it with the funds with which to do that. Unfortunately, I cannot speak to the specifics of the budget on my feet and I hope the Member will respect that. The council, in any assignment, will require resources to do that job. I expect that will continue to be the case.

Mr. Devries: I still feel that the accountability question is rather loose. From what the Minister says, it depends on which department they are working for as to where the money comes from. By the same token, that means that it would just be a line item in perhaps one or two budgets, and it does not really indicate how the money is spent. If I remember correctly - I believe they have done one annual report - I do not recall seeing anything about money in that annual report. All I remember seeing is the things they had done. So, I think it is important that at some point the Legislature actually sees an audited financial statement. Perhaps the appropriate place to state it would be in the Economic Development Act, but maybe we have to change some legislation somewhere else. If the Minister is open to the suggestion, I will prepare an amendment to have it put it into this act, somewhere in the area of clause 10(i).

Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would like to take the issue under advisement. The fundamental creation of the council is in the Environment Act. This act expands its mandate. I do not know if this is an appropriate place in which to make the council accountable in the financial sense that the Member is requesting, but I will take the matter under advisement. I am sure that, by the time we reach the relevant section, we can conclude the debate on that point.

Mr. Devries: Basically, those are most of the questions that I had in that regard. I still feel that, as an Economic Development Act, many of the little explanations here and there take away from the economic areas, and it seems to make it lean heavily toward the environment and other concerns. I am not saying that is bad, because the environment and sustainability are two very important aspects of our economic picture, especially in this day and age.

I have no further questions. If no one else has questions, I am prepared to proceed to clause-by-clause debate.

Hon. Mr. Byblow: In general response to the Member, I would advise him, as I believe I already have in written correspondence, that there have been fairly extensive discussions and representations from the industry and business community, as well as from the Council on the Economy and the Environment. There have been several rounds of discussion about the original discussion paper we sent out for comment, followed by meetings with departmental personnel. In some instances, I joined the meetings, or had meetings myself. We had a draft of the act circulated through the various chambers of commerce and business community interests.

It would be fair to say that, by and large, the suggestion of creating an act to enshrine an economic commitment by the government was well-received. In some cases, there were suggestions for improvements as perceived by the interest groups. We acted on some of them, and discussed others and rejected or did not deal with them because it was recognized that the bill dealt with them in another section.

By and large, the response from the industry on this bill has been very good.

Given the lateness of the hour, one question is permitted.

Mr. Phillips: It is not a question, it is more a comment. The Minister said he talked to many people in the industry when this act was being developed. Well, I have talked to a lot of people in the industry who have since read the act and, if there is a comment to be made that seems to run consistently throughout the industry, it is that they only wished that the economic development component of this act was as strong as the environmental component was in the Environment Act. They feel that is lacking. There is not as strong a commitment in here, other than the airy-fairy stuff that is written in here that says we are going to do exactly what we are already doing. I think the industry is a little concerned that there was a lot more care and a lot more energy put into the Environment Act with a lot more meaning and commitment by the government than there is in this Economic Development Act.

Hon. Mr. Byblow: Just in very quick response, I have heard that suggestion as well but, in talking it through with representatives from the industry, and as we went through clause by clause and looked at the commitments stated through the terminology used, there was a growing recognition that a very powerful statement was being made about the economy in this act. Part of the comparison with the Environment Act is that when that act came forward it was, to many people, a relatively new phenomena, but the economy is one we have been living with for decades and generations.

To restate what one has been doing for generations may not, on the surface, appear as powerful as something that is newly articulated. We recognize that that was part of the psyche that was going on.

Chair: We will take a break until 7:30 p.m.


On Clause 1

Clause 1 agreed to

On Clause 2

Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would like to draw the Members’ attention to the fact that the official name of the department will be the Department of Economic Development. This is a slight variance from the current name, Economic Development: Mines and Small Business.

In discussions with the industry, there was no particular feeling that this was inappropriate. There was a recognition that economic development has a very broad scope and does not only include  mines and small business, but could, down the road, include other economic interests; for example, tourism and other resource developments that may occur.

Calling it “Economic Development” as a broad term is a reasonable approach, and that is not to denigrate mines or small business.

Clause 2 agreed to

On Clause 3

Clause 3 agreed to

On Clause 4

Mr. Devries: I am seeking assurances from the Minister that in passing this portion about the deputy minister and staff, we are not adding extra person years to the department because of this act. If person years are necessary at some point, it should be because of expansion in economic development rather than simply because of a bunch of paperwork.

Hon. Mr. Byblow: In the general spirit of the question, there is clearly no intention to camouflage some hidden person years under this clause. The Member should be aware that, quite often, when a new program is introduced, such as under the Economic Development Agreement, there is provision for additional people to help carry out the broad responsibility that that program may entail.

It comes to mind that all six subagreements of the EDA now do have provision for additional field office staff built into the budgeting of the deal that was made. That comes under a different arrangement and is not straight departmental staffing. Departmental staffing has remained consistent for a number of years. There is reallocation, repriorization and clearly, only through the introduction of a new program or activity or responsibility would there be the contemplation of additional person years.

That is logical. That is understandable and sometimes necessary.

Clause 4 agreed to

On Clause 5

Hon. Mr. Byblow: This is the clause that the Member highlighted in his earlier remarks. I repeat to the Member that the goals of the department and, therefore, the goals of the government, are drawn straight out of the Yukon Economic Strategy. I cited page 3 as a reference, earlier.

What we have done in clause 5 that is a slight variance from what is in the Yukon Economic Strategy is to have changed the order of the goals stated in the strategy. For example, in the Yukon Economic Strategy, the first objective stated was the option to stay in the Yukon. In other words, people wanted not to have to leave when things went bad. They wanted to be able to make the choice between having to leave or finding new employment. We just changed the order to what would be more appropriate. There is a priorization made in clause 5 that was not in the Yukon Economic Strategy as such.

The Member raised clause 5(c). I spoke to that in general debate. I do not believe there is anything wrong with the wording there. In fact, if anything, it is a stronger statement of our commitment to a quality of life that, on balance, is comparable to the rest of the country.

That, to me, is a stronger statement than not committing ourselves to a standard of equality of life.

Mr. Devries: By leaving section 5(c) as it is, I feel that we could be limiting ourselves. When we look at the Yukon as being a relatively virgin territory and, perhaps, someday a virgin province, and recognizing the ingenuity of the Yukon people, we have to realize that we have untapped energy and renewable resources that are only limited by sustainability and environmental concerns.

I beg to differ with the Minister. I think we can have a vision. As legislators, we should have a vision that looks beyond trying to have a lifestyle that is comparable with the rest of Canada. With the wonderful opportunities that we have here in the Yukon, we should be making a statement in there that our vision is to come up with something that is superior to what the rest of Canada has. I feel this is a kind of a bland, boring statement.

I do not really have any suggestions of what should be in there, but I still feel by cutting it off at the word “public”, that possibly we could leave the balance of the sentence to the imagination. We are really limiting ourselves in appearing as a bunch of boring people who are just happy to go with the status quo. I think we should be looking beyond that. Let us get excited about the Yukon. Let us show the people that we want to see the Yukon go beyond the rest of the country.

That is what the Yukon people are: they are independent and they perhaps have a different dream from other Canadians.

Hon. Mr. Byblow: I respect what the Member is saying because I think he is speaking from the heart. I do not think section (c) at all detracts from what he states as what ought to be the vision of Yukon people in their pursuit of quality of life. To me, section (c), if stopped after the word “services”, would be even more boring than what is presently proposed. Section (c), in its entirety, takes the goal of wanting to preserve the quality of life we have now and enhance it. At all times, we want to improve the quality of life, but we want to do it not at the expense of, or to the detriment of, or at the expense of, some other injurious method; rather, we want to do it in a method that is still consistent with all of our other objectives - our objectives of sustainable development, our objectives to ensure a respect for our social values and, as also stated, our respect for our environmental values and interests of the Yukon people. To me, that is a much broader statement than to just say we should preserve and enhance our quality of life. We should do it in respect of all of these other qualities.

To me, that is a better articulation, albeit boring - a stronger articulation of where we are coming from and what we want to achieve. Section 5 is really the philosophical underpinning of this whole act and the underpinning of the economic statement of this government. This is what the people of the Yukon had said they wanted to see as the principal objectives in any kind of economic activity; this is the statement of those objectives, in a slightly different order than in the Yukon Economic Strategy.

I think (c), as it stands, is a stronger statement than would be the case if we concluded the statement after “services”.

Clause 5 agreed to

On Clause 6

Hon. Mr. Byblow: In general terms, in its entirety, this clause addresses those responsibilities of the department. Clause 6 is more of a specific, obligatory case-by-case commitment of the department in carrying out its economic mandate, and it flows from clause 5, the philosophical underpinning. We have actually spent a lot of time reworking clause 6 and consulting with the industry to include all the elements that people felt we should cover in making any kind of a commitment to economic activity through the department.

Clause 6 agreed to

On Clause 7

Clause 7 agreed to

On Clause 8

Clause 8 agreed to

On Clause 9

Mr. Devries: Is this going to establish a new committee? Does this committee already exist? Exactly what would be the result of passing this?

Hon. Mr. Byblow: This establishes the statutory base for the committees that may be required or that currently exist. This does not speak to the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment. There is a special section for it because, as I explained earlier, the council’s mandate and responsibilities speak to the government at large. The committees in clause 9 speak to the departmental obligations.

An example would be the Business Development Advisory Board. The committee established under the Business Loans Act is a committee that reviews applications for funding and makes recommendations to the Minister. It exists now under another act which, at the end of this act, we will be repealing. That is a committee that would be established under clause 9, under those terms.

I do not know if we have another committee in Economic Development. We have representation of Economic Development on other committees. It comes to mind that we have a representative from our department on the business incentive committee, which is struck to review the guidelines for rebates in construction contracts. We have representation on other committees. This does not speak to that. This is for new committees, and I can only think of one at the moment. That would be enshrined under this clause.

However, for example, if I wanted to establish a committee to review applications under the new electrical infrastructure program we have announced, I could create that committee under this authority.

That is not the intention, but that is an example of what could be done.

Mr. Devries: Are there any committees associated with the business development fund, or would that be a part of this in a sense or are they going to end up with another committee that does much the same thing as the business development fund or do they basically approve loans and other things of that nature?

Hon. Mr. Byblow: To answer the Member’s question correctly, this clause will give me the authority to establish a review committee under that program.

Ironically, that committee exists, but under a different act. When we wipe out that act and establish the regulations for the loans criteria, that will be attached to this act. Under this clause, I will be able to establish the advisory committee to review the loan applications.

In effect, I will be taking the existing committee, eliminating them and recreating them under this act, to tidy matters up.

Mr. Devries: Now that we are talking about committees, can I seek the Minister’s assurance that he is going to put some of my friends on that committee, as well as some of his friends? We need to have a good cross-section of people on the committee.

Basically, we are seeking assurances that we are not going to end up with a number of patronage appointments and that we will get a good cross-section of Yukoners.

Hon. Mr. Byblow: I cannot allow that to go unchallenged. Our representation on the loans board, as on all committees and boards, indeed, does reflect a broad cross-section of interest.

On the loans board in particular, you generally try to get a good representation of some business acumen - in other words, someone with some business background, someone who may have some accounting background, someone who has had some familiarity with the commercial world. On that kind of board we would generally have a predominance of that kind of talent. But, at the same time, the loans board, under their guidelines, have to recognize the special needs of the territory, whether they are disadvantaged interest groups in society, whether they are handicapped, women or aboriginal people; these are special interest recognitions under that loans act, so we have to ensure that we have a broad representation and cross-section on those boards, and that is what we do have.

We do not put our friends on those boards, because that would be patronage. If we put the Member’s friends on those boards, then that would be the Member’s patronage and that just is not done.

We have a very good board reviewing these loan applications. I value their advice immensely.

Mr. Devries: Would these all be appointments or would some of them be suggested by the Yukon Chamber of Commerce or YMAC or other interest groups, such as the disabilities people?

Hon. Mr. Byblow: I only hesitate because I am not sure. It seems to me that the loans board is entirely appointed. As a matter of practice, I have sought nominations for appointment, from interest groups. In some cases, we can oblige and in some, we cannot. Part of what we try to do on the board is balance the interests. We want a good rural representation and a good urban representation. If the Yukon Chamber of Commerce happens to give us three Whitehorse people and we already have three Whitehorse people on there, I will not take any one of them. I will try to find someone from a rural area. Specifically, I have sought nominations from interest groups. I have sometimes accepted them and sometimes I could not because it did not achieve the balance I needed.

The short answer is that these are appointments. Nominations are sought, but it is not enshrined that nominations shall be accepted for this particular board.

It comes to mind, however, that the idea has merit. As we rewrite the regulations, we may want to consider that the loans board shall consist of representation from such and such. Of all the boards and committee representatives, close to 20 percent of the appointments are mandatory in the sense that they have to be appointed from the nominations we get.

Mr. Devries: On the subject of regulations, is there anything in here - I have not noticed it - that ensures that when the regulations are written, they are passed by various interest groups prior to the final regulation being put into the act? I think the Minister mentioned something about it being gazetted, but my understanding has always been that once it is gazetted, it is a regulation. Is there any opportunity for public input prior to it being gazetted?

Hon. Mr. Byblow: Prior to passing an order-in-council that will attach the regulations of the specific programs to the act, we will be running those draft regulations past interest groups such as the Chamber of Mines, the Yukon Chamber of Commerce, the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce and, I believe, the Association of Yukon Communities. I have given that commitment here in the House and privately to those organizations. That is the only decent thing to do, in my opinion.

From past experience, I have found that, quite often, these groups have most valuable input and make suggestions of how a program could be slightly reoriented or a criterion could be changed slightly that would make it a better service. In view of that, I have undertaken the commitment that no regulations of this act will be passed without a review of those regulations by the interest groups affected.

Mr. Devries: As critic, I would consider myself to be an interest group. I have some questions about that same area under the Education Act. I know that several regulations in the Education Act have basically been gazetted now and, as education critic, I never was shown them prior to that. I think the government should consider the critics of the various areas as one of the interest groups.

The Minister can give me all of the assurances he wants, but it is written in the Environment Act that he shall do that. Is it written in here anywhere that he shall do that, or must we take his word for it?

Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would consider my word pretty good.

The Member is correct that I have given the undertaking that no regulations attached to this act will occur without a review by interest groups.

This act is slightly different than the Environment Act. When we were reviewing the Environment Act, we were doing something brand new. We were doing something that was breaking new ground. There were not any existing programs that would be an appendage to this act by a slight rewrite. Right now, we have program guidelines, criteria, and policy that govern the community development fund, the Yukon mining incentive program, the business development loan funding and the SEAL program.

We already have these things so it is not a big deal of writing brand new things that people must review because we might pull a fast one on them. These things are going to be transposed to this act with a slight rewrite in a different format. It is very much a housekeeping exercise. Before we do that, we will run a new cut of them past you, but they do already exist and are available to the Member.

Mr. Devries: I have the Minister’s word in Hansard so I think I can let it go at that, unless my colleagues have a problem with it.

Clause 9 agreed to

On Clause 10

Hon. Mr. Byblow: I rise only because the Member has raised some general questions about the council. I believe he talked about wanting to see better accountability.

I have had an opportunity over the supper hour to do a quick review relating to how the council was established, why it was established and how it functions. In short, this would not be the act in which to create a tighter measure of control. The council was originally established by order-in-council, which was a gazetted set of guidelines. I have copies of them with me if the Member is interested. I will have the Page pass them along.

At the time the Environment Act was passed, the formal structure for the council was established, in terms of the representative bodies who would be on the council, in terms of the duties that it should perform and in terms of the broad responsibility it had. As I explained earlier to the Member, what we have done in this act is to expand the terms of reference for the council.

So, the structure originally established by order-in-council was reaffirmed in the Environment Act and is now expanded in the Economic Development Act. That is the structure.

With respect to the financing and activities of that council, it is an independent, arm’s-length council but it reports to the government. It reports through an annual report to the House and it is accountable to the two departments: Renewable Resources and Economic Development, which provide its funding base. The funding base is established in each budgeting year by the council coming forward and stating that it would like to do certain activities over the course of the coming year. At the same time, the government, through the two departments, may have certain other obligations it wishes the council to carry out. It may have another study it would like to have done; it may have another review it would like to have the council conduct.

So, the Departments of Renewable Resources and Economic Development establish their budgets for their respective responsibilities to that council.

My budget of Economic Development has in it voted amounts for specific duties it expects the council to do, and so does Renewable Resources.

I can provide that to the Member at another time; I cannot right now, but if the Member wishes that data accountability, it is certainly available from me. I cannot speak for my colleague but I am sure he could provide it, too.

The budgeted amounts will remain as close to the budget as possible, depending on the duties that are, indeed, carried out over the course of the year; but it comes to mind that there may be extraordinary duties for which new funding will have to be found.

The employment standards review, for example, was not an anticipated duty at the time the budget was struck. Another example comes to mind. I am currently contemplating approaching the Council on the Economy and the Environment to do some work concerning Aishihik, because a number of broad issues are developing, relating to the environment and to the economy because of energy generation. To me, the Council on the Economy and the Environment is the ideal instrument or mechanism or tool to do an assessment of the broad public interest surrounding Aishihik.

I am contemplating that, but we did not budget for it, so I will have to find new funding for the council if I ask it, and it agrees, to proceed with any specific review on it.

In short, the point I am making here is that all we have done here is to expand the duties and mandate of the council; the budgets are set in two departments - I am quite prepared to provide that in detail to the Member at any time - and the accountability is through that budgeting process, through this House and through its annual reporting. I do not think it should be in the form of an audit because it does not control its funds. We do.

That is the bottom line.

Mr. Devries: The way I understand it, when we get to that budget line item in a supplementary, or whatever, the Minister would then be able to explain the breakdown.

Clause 10 agreed to

On Clause 11

Clause 11 agreed to

On Clause 12

Mr. Devries: This is one of the areas where they forgot the “or organization”. It starts in subclause (k), unless they just want to leave it as “person”. However, it is definitely a problem in clauses 13 and 14.

In subclause (k), it should also be “or organization”, “prescribing how a person or organization to whom financial assistance is given to account for how the loan, grant or contribution is spent ...”, since it says “person or organization” in subclause (d).

Otherwise, it is starting to put some parameters in, and I do not think it was intended that way.

Hon. Mr. Byblow: I indicated to the Member I would be introducing an amendment to this clause, and I would like to do so now.

Amendment proposed

Hon. Mr. Byblow: I move

THAT Bill No. 2, entitled Economic Development Act, be amended in clause 12(2)(k) at page 10, by inserting “or organization” after “person”.

Chair: It has been moved by the Hon. Minister of Community and Transportation Services

THAT Bill No. 2, entitled Economic Development Act, be amended in clause 12(2)(k) at page 10, by inserting “or organization” after “person”.

Is Committee agreed?

Amendment agreed to

Clause 12 agreed to as amended

On Clause 13

Hon. Mr. Byblow: Could we have a two-minute break.

Chair: Is that convenient for you?

Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have an amending problem.

Chair: We will take a break for two minutes.


Amendment proposed

Hon. Mr. Byblow: On clause 13 I would like to introduce an amendment similar to the one in 12(2)(k).

I move

THAT Bill No. 2, entitled Economic Development Act, be amended in clause 13(1) at page 10, by inserting the words “or organization” after the word “person”.

Chair: It has been moved the Hon. Mr. Byblow, that Bill No. 2, entitled Economic Development Act, be amended in clause 13(1) at page 10, by inserting the words “or organization” after the word “person”.

Mr. Devries: I realize that I cleared clause 13, but also the last word in clause 13, is again, “person”. I question whether that should have “or organization” behind it to be perfectly legal.

Hon. Mr. Byblow: The legal interpretation is that, in terms of an occasion where information is received, it is received in all cases by a person. A corporation cannot act as a warm body in certain instances, and such will be the case in section 14.

Our legal advice is that there is no need to change section 14(2), as may be considered by some, because it requires, in the case of obstruction, the obstruction to be done by a person, not a corporation.

Chair: I have been advised that we are going to have to change the amendment. The words “where it first occurs” are to be added to this amendment.

Amendment agreed to

Clause 13 agreed to as amended

On Clause 14

Clause 14 agreed to

On Clause 15

Clause 15 agreed to

On Clause 16

Clause 16 agreed to

On Clause 17

Clause 17 agreed to

On Clause 18

Clause 18 agreed to

On Clause 19

Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would ordinarily suggest that there is a typo in clause 19, but I am sure that the Clerk would not permit it. Therefore, I would like to introduce a final amendment.

Amendment proposed

I move

THAT Bill No. 2, entitled Economic Development Act, be amended in Clause 19(1)(a) at page 12, by inserting “Development” after “Business”.

Chair:   It has been moved

THAT Bill No. 2, entitled Economic Development Act, be amended in Clause 19(1)(a) at page 12, by inserting “Development” after “Business”.

Hon. Mr. Byblow:  The word was missed in typing and the correct title of the act that we are revoking needs the word “Development” in order to be totally accurate.

Amendment agreed to

Clause 19 agreed to as amended

Mr. Devries: Just before we close debate, I would like to clarify one question that I came across when I was reviewing my notes. My question is with regard to the energy strategy that the Minister provided us copies of just a short time ago.

I recognize that the Economic Development Act does not mention the energy strategy. To me, the energy strategy is a very important component of economic development because of the Yukon Economic Strategy. Making the energy strategy a continuation of the Yukon Economic Strategy  would cover it. I felt that possibly it should have mentioned the energy strategy in it as well.

I would like to hear the Minister’s comments on this before we close debate.

Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member raises a very reasonable question. The reason we have not included the energy strategy is because I did not consider it to be complete yet. The Member will appreciate that we have prepared a statement surrounding energy, which is a compilation of everything that has occurred in the past in terms of our policies, programs and commitments.

However, there are a number of outstanding questions before we can conclude a final statement about our total position in energy. That is part of the consultation occurring now. When that is concluded, it would be very appropriate to include a commitment to the energy strategy. The comprehensive strategy will not be completed until sometime this fall.

Mr. Devries: What the Minister is saying is that we could be seeing an amendment to the Economic Development Act a year or so down the road that would include the energy strategy as a component.

Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not think it would require an amendment. What we will see, even before the energy strategy is concluded, are energy programs attached to this act that will speak to the energy strategy. For example, the SEAL program is part of our energy strategy and our statement about conservation and the retrofitting of homes being an energy conservation commitment. What we will see is the energy strategy included, once it is completed, in programs that are attached to this act.

Mr. Lang: At this time, in the last session, the Minister committed himself to a total review of the mandate of the Yukon Development Corporation. He has given us some indication of the problems in the energy field, but he has not given us any indication of the question of the mandate, its review and the need to get that in control so that we will know what is going to happen to any profits generated through the energy field.

I would like to hear the Minister’s comments on that. Is that mandate review or proposal going to be available to us prior to the end of this sitting?

Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can assure the Member that the mandate review is clearly in hand and is, similarly, clearly under control. The problem is that we have not concluded that exercise. I had hoped that by now, we would have reached agreement on the final articulation of the mandate and acceptance of that mandate by the board of the corporation and me. We are in a very final stage of refining the terms of that mandate and it is clearly my expectation to table that document for public comment in this House, and also to circulate it to specific energy interest groups and the business community at that time. In other words, I will be inviting comment on it once I do table it, which I intend to do before this session concludes.

Mr. Lang: If we happen to have recessed and the mandate review is approved by Cabinet, may we obtain a commitment from the Minister that we get a copy of that proposal?

Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can give the Member the undertaking that I will circulate to all Members copies of that mandate once it has reached the stage of release for public review, which would be the same stage at which I would be tabling it if the House were in session.

Mr. Lang: Can the Minister tell us who is actually doing the work on the draft of the review of the mandate of the Yukon Development Corporation?

Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can tell the Member that, in fact, I took the first cut and have participated at every cut since. It is done in house by staff of both the Yukon Development Corporation and Economic Development, principally Economic Development. I might as well also point out that it has gone through several reviews by the board of the corporation, the board having also offered comment on redraft.

Mr. Lang: Can the Minister tell us if there are any consultants involved in this review?

Hon. Mr. Byblow: Not to my knowledge. There has been advice sought from other jurisdictions by the department to get background information as to what the mandates of other Crown corporations are in other jurisdictions. However, to my knowledge, there has been no use of consultants. It has been done in house and within the government.

On Title

Title agreed to

Hon. Mr. Byblow: I move that you report Bill No. 2, entitled Economic Development Act, out of Committee, with amendment.

Motion agreed to

Chair: The Committee of the Whole will take a brief recess.


Chair: I will now call Committee back to order.

In dealing with Bill No. 2, we neglected to carry the preamble, so I would like to request that we take it that the preamble was carried by the Committee before the motion to report the bill.

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Chair:  The preamble to Bill No. 2 has been agreed to

Bill No. 33 - Registered Nurses Profession Act

Hon. Ms. Joe: This is a brand new nurses profession act; we have not had one before so everything in here is totally new. This establishes an act to look after the registered nurses profession and allows them to be a self-regulating body with their own bylaws, objectives and regulations. It allows them to do all the necessary things in order for them to carry out their business.

Mr. Lang: Perhaps the Minister could tell us if there are any principles different from, for example, those contained in the Alberta or British Columbia acts. Is there anything of any significance of which we should be aware that is different from those two provincial counterparts?

Hon. Ms. Joe: I understand that a lot of research went into putting this act together. As the Member knows, it has been in the works since some time in the early 1980s and has finally reached the House. They looked at a lot of other pieces of legislation, and this is very similar to the other acts across the country.

Mr. Lang: Perhaps the Minister could identify the areas in the bill that are different in principle from those in Alberta and British Columbia legislation. It is one thing to say that we have reviewed these areas, which I appreciate, but although I am not familiar with the Alberta or British Columbia acts, I know that there has to be a relationship between the two acts, and if there are differences, I would like to know what they are.

Hon. Ms. Joe: As I said, the act is very similar and as a matter of fact, in some cases, it copies what is in other acts across Canada. It is the kind of act that will permit the same thing that the nurses are permitted to do all across Canada, with the same kinds of bylaws, regulations and objects.

For instance, I must say that if you brought the Alberta act into this House, it would be very similar. There are no differences here that are pertinent to the Yukon. It is an act that is similar to wherever there is an act for registered nurses.

On Clause 1

Mr. Lang: I would like to ask a question on the “nursing education program”. I am assuming the responsibility would be a combination of the Department of Health and Social Services and the Department of Education, in referring to nursing education programs. What are we going to be offering in the next number of years?

Hon. Ms. Joe: I am told that the refresher course is the only thing that is offered right now. This refresher course is offered to nurses who have to get their profession back on track if they have not worked for a number of years.

Clause 1 agreed to

On Clause 2

Mr. Lang: What added costs are there to the government, other than for the purposes of the registrar ensuring that the legislation is adhered to? Are there other added costs to the general taxpayer?

Hon. Ms. Joe: No.

Clause 2 agreed to

On Clause 3

Clause 3 agreed to

On Clause 4

Clause 4 agreed to

On Clause 5

Clause 5 agreed to

On Clause 6

Clause 6 agreed to

On Clause 7

Mr. Lang: What is the fee for a registered nurse to be registered?

Hon. Ms. Joe: That fee is set by the association.

Mr. Lang: What do they run?

Hon. Ms. Joe: I cannot tell you that right now. Apparently, they have not set it and they are waiting for the act.

Mr. Lang: The Province of Alberta and British Columbia no doubt would set the trend as to what fee would be prescribed. What does an RN pay in Alberta or British Columbia?

Hon. Ms. Joe: I am told that it runs in the area of about $200.

Mr. Lang: A year?

Hon. Ms. Joe:  A year, yes.

Mr. Lang: That is a significant amount of money. Why would it be that high?

Hon. Ms. Joe: When the nurses have their own act and they have to do all the things this act requires, they have to have a pot of money. There are appeals, hearings and meetings they attend and the money that is paid in fees goes into their account. As we go along, the Member will notice that they will be able to do a number of things that will require money. The $200 fee, or whatever amount they choose, will allow them to carry out these duties whenever they cost money.

Chair: Which clause are you on, Mr. Lang?

Mr. Lang:  Clause 8. I am referring to the registrar in conjunction with number 8.

Chair: Does Clause 7 clear?

Clause 7 agreed to

On Clause 8

Mr. Lang: I want to pursue that $200 a little further.

Are registered nurses presently paying anything to their association or not?

Hon. Ms. Joe: They do pay a fee right now to be a member of the association. This fee is a registration fee in the jurisdiction they are working in, like the Yukon.

Mr. Lang: If I am reading this properly, once this is passed, if you are a registered nurse you will be required to pay that fee; you will have no choice. Is that correct?

Hon. Ms. Joe: That is right.

Mr. Lang: That is similar to the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta?

Hon. Ms. Joe: Yes.

Mr. Lang: I realize a lot of people have done a lot of work on this. I take it there is a consensus among the nursing profession and that they are agreed that registration would be compulsory. Is that correct?

Hon. Ms. Joe: When the act was being drafted, there was ongoing consultation with the nursing profession, so they are familiar with everything that is in this act. The fees are similar to what they are right across the country. We do not know if it is going to be $200. They have not established that amount. However, for instance, the doctors pay an annual fee of $200 here in the Yukon.

Clause 8 agreed to

On Clause 9

Mr. Lang: Why would you have to have various classes of members? What is the significance of that section?

Hon. Ms. Joe: The Yukon nurses register is broken into separate rosters for each class of registration. For instance, a non-active registered nurse would be classified as something else, but would continue to be a member of the profession, through registration.

Clause 9 agreed to

On Clause 10

Clause 10 agreed to

On Clause 11

Mr. Lang: Is there any indication that a temporary permit might be issued? For example, I am talking about a person who is hired for a couple of days or one who comes in with a specialist. When would the issuance of a temporary permit apply? It seems to me that, if you are a registered nurse, you should be able to come into the office and, as long as your credentials are those that are required, then you should be able to register and not have to apply for a temporary permit. I do not understand why, if we are allowing them to meet requirements or conditions for registration, we would be asking for less than what is required?

Hon. Ms. Joe: If a registered nurse comes in to train or to conduct certain classes - something that requires that her nursing skills be used here - then a temporary permit would sometimes be offered. Another time when that would apply would be, for instance, when a nurse who had graduated was waiting for her marks to come in; he or she would be allowed a temporary permit until those marks came in.

Clause 11 agreed to

On Clause 12

Clause 12 agreed to

On Clause 13

Clause 13 agreed to

On Clause 14

Clause 14 agreed to

On Clause 15

Clause 15 agreed to

On Clause 16

Clause 16 agreed to

On Clause 17

Clause 17 agreed to

On Clause 18

Clause 18 agreed to

On Clause 19

Clause 19 agreed to

On Clause 20

Clause 20 agreed to

On Clause 21

Clause 21 agreed to

On Clause 22

Clause 22 agreed to

On Clause 23

On Clause 22 - continued

Mr. Lang: I would like to return to clause 22. That is a pretty broad section. For example, “nursing services” is not defined. In the case such as home care, the nursing services provided are those of a certified nursing assistant. I wonder how this section affects that type of employment. These people could be employed privately by the individual or senior citizens in question, as opposed to going through a government program.

Hon. Ms. Joe: I do not know whether or not this answers the Member’s question, but this act does not include certified nursing assistants.

Mr. Lang: I realize that.

Hon. Ms. Joe: Okay.

Mr. Lang: To explain my question: the act says, “No person shall knowingly employ a person to provide nursing services unless that person (a) a registered nurse whose name is entered on the roster of active practicing members and who holds a current annual certificate, or (b) the holder of a current temporary permit.” My question is: how does this relate, for example, to someone other than a registered nurse who may have their certified nursing assistant’s certificate and is employed primarily for the purpose, in the broad context, of nursing? I am thinking mainly of home care and that type of thing. I understand that within the confines of the hospital, what one can and cannot do is very well-regulated, and I am not suggesting that a certified nursing assistant would do more that what his or her licence would allow; but how does that apply in a private home situation?

Hon. Ms. Joe: In most cases, the onus is on the employer to hire a person who is a nurse registered under the act and regulations. In another case, later on in the act, on page 23, it talks about exemptions from this act and it says when it does not apply. It sets out another list of how these exemptions apply. If the Member goes to that page, under “Exemption from Act”, (c) says “a person who, although not a registered nurse, is providing care to someone in a private residence but does not make a practice of providing care to persons”, meaning that a person whose livelihood is not dependent on nursing may provide that care under this exemption.

Clause 22 agreed to

On Clause 23

Clause 23 agreed to

On Clause 24

Hon. Ms. Joe: On subclause 24(1), with respect to complaint committees being struck, the members serving on that committee do not necessarily have to be members of this association. Members of the association are registered, so  the committees do not necessarily have to have registered nurses.

Mr. Lang: I am concerned with the small population of our community, and everybody knowing each other in one way or another. It seems to me that it is going to have to be very carefully structured so that those who are sitting on the committee and investigating complaints - whether the complaints are valid or not - are seen to be impartial. I can understand that that could be very difficult considering the limited number of registered nurses in the territory.

Hon. Ms. Joe: The act does allow them to appoint people who live outside of the territory; for instance, such as the doctors do in some cases when they have to be heard. They are able to bring in a board that is unfamiliar with the profession in the Yukon.

Mr. Lang: I want to go further on that point, because I think that it is really important, especially when we are dealing with the disciplining committee and that type of thing.

I think that it is going to be very important. When we are dealing with someone’s livelihood and their credentials, it cannot only be seen to be impartial, but has to be perceived as being impartial.

From my perspective, I would be expecting the association to utilize the services of individuals who perhaps are not directly involved in the day-to-day nursing in the territory, for matters of a serious nature.

Clause 24 agreed to

On Clause 25

Clause 25 agreed to

On Clause 26

Clause 26 agreed to

On Clause 27

Clause 27 agreed to

On Clause 28

Clause 28 agreed to

On Clause 29

Clause 29 agreed to

On Clause 30

Clause 30 agreed to

On Clause 31

Clause 31 agreed to

On Clause 32

Clause 32 agreed to

On Clause 30 - continued

Mrs. Firth: I would like to go back to clause 30 and the powers and privileges of the discipline committee. I would like to ask the Minister a question about patient/client confidentiality. If the public inquiries act is initiated, will the discipline committee have access to all the clients’ or patients’ charts and information?

Hon. Ms. Joe: I am told the kind of information that is pertinent to these committees will be held in-camera and that none of that information would be available to anyone else.

Mrs. Firth: If an inquiries act was initiated and if, for example, it was to investigate an incident at the hospital, in order to proceed with the full information and knowledge of that incident, they would be required to access the personal and confidential medical records of patients or clients at the hospital. Is the Minister saying that they would have full access to that and that there would be in-camera sessions as opposed to open sessions with respect to completing the hearings?

Hon. Ms. Joe: That is correct.

Mr. Lang: I think that section 32 is the one that really applies, is it not? “All hearings of the discipline committee shall be held in private...”.

Mrs. Firth: That was not my question.

Mr. Lang: That indicates to me that confidentiality would be applicable because it says that the hearings have to be done in a confidential manner, in private.

Mrs. Firth: That was not my question.

Clause 30 agreed to

On Clause 33

Clause 33 agreed to

On Clause 34

Clause 34 agreed to

On Clause 35

Clause 35 agreed to

On Clause 36

Clause 36 agreed to

On Clause 37

Clause 37 agreed to

On Clause 38

Clause 38 agreed to

On Clause 39

Clause 39 agreed to

On Clause 40

Clause 40 agreed to

On Clause 41

Mr. Devries: On clause 41(2)(c), I was just reading through it. I cannot quite make sense of it. Right at the bottom it states “... or direct of the same kind that the committee can order in connection with a suspension”. Is there a typo there, or what does that mean? The sentence does not seem to flow.

Hon. Ms. Joe: The only thing I can say is that we went over this act very thoroughly with the drafter, a wordsmith, two other lawyers and about three or four of the people in the House. We have two lawyers here. I do not know if they have anything new to add, but we did go over this with a fine-toothed comb.

Chair: Is the Committee agreed that we stand this clause over?

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Clause 41 stood over

On Clause 42

Clause 42 agreed to

On Clause 43

Clause 43 agreed to

On Clause 44

Clause 44 agreed to

On Clause 45

Clause 45 agreed to

On Clause 46

Clause 46 agreed to

On Clause 47

Clause 47 agreed to

On Clause 48

Clause 48 agreed to

On Clause 49

Clause 49 agreed to

On Clause 47 - continued

Mr. Lang: I would like to return to clause 47. It has to do with the question of legal expenses. It is going to be a fairly small organization. It is not as if it will have access to a great deal of financial benefits. These cases can be very expensive, when you start dealing with them. Is there going to be assistance made available through the legal channels of government? How is this going to work?

Hon. Ms. Joe: I am advised that for any expenditure for any reason of the board or discipline committee the fees will be paid for by the association. That is the understanding.

Clause 47 agreed to

On Clause 50

Clause 50 agreed to

On Clause 51

Clause 51 agreed to

On Clause 52

Clause 52 agreed to

On Clause 53

Clause 53 agreed to

On Clause 54

Clause 54 agreed to

On Clause 55

Clause 55 agreed to

On Clause 56

Clause 56 agreed to

On Clause 57

Clause 57 agreed to

On Clause 58

Clause 58 agreed to

On Clause 59

Clause 59 agreed to

On Clause 60

Clause 60 agreed to

On Clause 22

Mr. Lang: I would like to draw Members’ attention to clause 22. Could I reopen it?

Chair: Is there unanimous consent?

All Hon. Members: Agreed.

Mr. Lang: Should that not read, “No person shall knowingly employ a person to provide nursing services unless that person is (a) a registered nurse” ... “(b) the holder of a current temporary permit.”?

Chair: What page is that?

Mr. Lang: It is on page 11.

Does the Minister know what I am talking about here?

It looks like the word “is” has been deleted.

Chair: Where?

Mr. Lang: Right after the word “person” in the third line.

Chair: Is the Committee agreed to accept this as a typo?

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Hon. Ms. Joe: In my act, I do have “is” in it.

Mr. Lang: Do you have a different document than we do?

Hon. Ms. Joe: I do not know. If it is missing, we will make sure it is put in.

Chair: Is the Committee agreed that it is a typo?

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Clause 22 agreed to

Mrs. Firth: Before we finish the debate on the bill and pass all the clauses, I understand that the proclamation date is going to be later, somewhere around September 1.

Hon. Ms. Joe: The Member is correct. We are looking at September, but that would allow them time to do their regulations, bylaws and all the other things that are necessary.

Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister make a commitment to us to provide a copy of the regulations, standards and so on - even in a draft stage, I would be prepared to have a look at them prior to Cabinet approving them and the act being proclaimed.

Hon. Ms. Joe: I can make that commitment.

Mr. Phelps: If I may, I would like to go back to clause 41. The sentence referred to by the Member for Watson Lake does not make sense. It seems to me that the word “direct” ought to be “direction” or “directive”, as it refers to something that the discipline committee has directed.

Chair: Would the Minister like to take that up with the department, or just accept it as a typo, or amend it, or whatever?

Mr. Phelps: I think it is a typo.

Hon. Ms. Joe: I suspect it is a typo, even though I claimed that we went over it with a fine-toothed comb and saw no problem at that time. I appreciate the advice from the Member for Hootalinqua, and I would definitely like to get the exact word or change. Would I have to bring it back tomorrow?

Mr. Phelps: Agreed.

Hon. Ms. Joe: Madam Chair, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 33.

Motion agreed to

Hon. Mr. Webster: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.

Chair: It has been moved by the Hon. Mr. Webster 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 please have a report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole?

Ms. Kassi: The Committee of the Whole passed the following motion:

THAT the chief electoral officer be called as a witness before Committee of the Whole, Monday, May 11, 1992, to discuss the suggestions he made to the House Leaders in a meeting on March 31, 1992 with regard to technical changes to boundary descriptions as found in the Electoral District Boundaries Commission Report (Lysyk Report) tabled in the House on December 10, 1992.

Further, Committee considered Bill No. 93, entitled Electoral District Boundaries Act and Bill No. 33, entitled Registered Nurses Profession Act and have directed me to report progress on them.

Further, Committee considered Bill No. 75, entitled An Act to Amend the Territorial Court Act, and directed me to report it without amendments.

And further, Committee considered Bill No. 2, entitled Economic Development Act, and directed me to report it with amendment.

Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Speaker: I declare the report carried.

Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the House do now adjourn.

Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.

Motion agreed to

Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. Thursday next.

The House adjourned at 9:22 p.m.

The following Sessional Papers were tabled May 6, 1992:


Loan Agreement between Curragh Resources and Government of Yukon, March 30, 1992 (Penikett)


Documents pertaining to moose and caribou recovery plan (Brewster)