Thursday, May 6, 1993 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will begin with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors.
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I have two legislative returns.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I have one legislative return.
Mrs. Firth: I have something for tabling today but it is not really a document that has to be stamped. It is more in the form of a gift that I would like to present to the Minister of Renewable Resources.
Speaker: Are there any further Returns or Documents for tabling?
Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 20: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I move that Bill No. 20, An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act, be now introduced and read for the first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government Leader that Bill No. 20, entitled An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for Introduction and First Reading agreed to
Speaker: Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Notices of Motion.
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
Alcohol and Drug Strategy: initiatives and discussion paper
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I rise today to announce the release of a discussion paper on the Yukon governments Alcohol and Drug Strategy. While some changes will take place immediately to strengthen existing services, we are also inviting Yukoners to review the general ideas presented in the discussion paper and tell us how they want us to proceed.
The Alcohol and Drug Strategy has three stages. During the first stage, we will begin to strengthen the core functions of alcohol and drug services.
Our resources will be used to reinforce day treatment programs, so more people will have access to treatment without removing themselves from their families and normal lives. Not everyone can put their jobs and children on hold for a month while they attend residential treatment. At the same time, we will continue to support residential treatment for those who would benefit, such as people with both drug and alcohol addictions, and people whose home or life situation does not encourage abstinence or reduced consumption.
Alcohol and drug services will immediately begin to recruit two additional addictions counsellors. This will alleviate the waiting period for people seeking treatment and allow a wider range of treatment methods to be used. The next step will be to look for an additional prevention and education consultant at ADS. This will make it possible to respond to more requests from the community for workshops and training, and to support community development in the drug and alcohol area.
The government has a responsibility to respond to public demand for our services and these new positions have been identified as a priority for action.
The government will ask Yukoners to share their experiences and provide advice on the best way to implement the strategy. The consultation process will begin this summer with targeted groups. In the fall, we will be asking communities and people for their ideas on areas of service such as day treatment, youth programs, after-care recovery, professional training, assessment and public education campaigns.
When funds become available, we intend to build a new detoxification centre to replace the present facility, which is inadequate both in terms of space and physical structure. As well as providing more beds for severely intoxicated clients, the new centre will have the space to accommodate some people who are engaged in day-treatment programs, and provide some shelter for drinking, homeless people. The program of the detoxification centre will expand to provide assessment and pretreatment support.
During the second stage of the Alcohol and Drug Strategy, we will assist in the development of community-based resources, including those provided by First Nations. Negotiations are underway with CYI, the northern native alcohol and drug abuse program and individual First Nations to collaborate on initiatives on a project basis.
With funding from Canada drug strategy, the Ross River Dene Council and alcohol and drug services will bring together community action teams for the second community mobilization conference to discuss how substance abuse issues can be addressed in their communities. ADS staff and social service workers will be available to help communities prepare and carry out action plans.
It is anticipated that the level of service provided in stages one and two will not be required over the long term. Stage three will involve a re-evaluation and assessment of service and program needs, when linkages and cooperation with community-based services are firmly established.
This government has promised to address the problems of alcohol and substance abuse. No one expects the problem to be fixed quickly, easily or cheaply. It will take hard work, time, and it will be costly.
We have the human resources in our communities, people who care enough to make a difference. Money spent now on prevention and treatment will reduce costs in the health care, social service, justice and education systems over the long term.
Ultimately, this strategy will result in healthier, more productive individuals and communities.
Ms. Moorcroft: I am pleased to rise today to speak to this announcement on the release of the Alcohol and Drug Strategy. The problems of alcohol and drug abuse are wide-spread in the north and they need to be addressed in a comprehensive way.
I am pleased that the government is taking steps in this direction and I look forward to reading a copy of the discussion paper.
The department is responding to the public outcry for more addiction counsellors. The Ministers announcement that they are recruiting two more counsellors is definitely a good start. The hiring of an additional prevention and education consultant for alcohol and drug services in the near future is also a positive step forward. I hope that the Minister will continue to respond to public demands for resolution of this too common and tragic problem, and that support for community development and the treatment of alcohol and drug abuse will be an integral part of the governments strategy.
Perhaps the Minister could elaborate on who he had in mind when he referred to targeted groups who will be involved in the consultation process to begin this summer. When the community tours on this strategy begin, I trust that the targeted groups that the Minister mentioned will include Yukoners of all ages from all walks of life.
The Minister has said that as soon as funds become available, a new detoxification centre will be built. I hope that the phrase when funds become available does not indicate a convenient escape route. I would like the Ministers assurance that a new detoxification centre continues to be a spending priority for the government.
I would like the Minister to also advise if this detox centre will become a branch of Health and Social Services or will it be supported to remain in the non-profit sector.
During the second phase of the Alcohol and Drug Strategy, the development of community-based resources will begin. I believe we can learn much from the First Nations approach to healing, and I hope the department feels the same way.
This Alcohol and Drug Strategy must allow for aboriginal self-determination in the development of treatment policies. I trust this phase of the Alcohol and Drug Strategy will be conducted in collaboration with the repatriation of medical services to the communities.
Citizens of the First Nations community must be active in developing workshops and training in the alcohol and drug area, so that these policies and resources will be culturally sensitive and relevant.
I agree with the Minister that the problem of alcohol and substance abuse will not go away quickly, easily, or cheaply. The presence of alcohol and other drugs permeates the lifestyles and social problems facing the Yukon. We know alcohol abuse results from other, more serious, problems, which must also be addressed.
Alcohol and drugs have both direct and indirect costs to our health care systems and dominate many social welfare issues. The socio-economic costs of alcohol and drug abuse are high. The government cannot afford to delay on an effective strategy any longer. It is time to put money where the governments social conscience is, and I look forward to the predicted result of healthier, more productive individuals and communities throughout the Yukon as a result of the Alcohol and Drug Strategy.
Mr. Cable: Alcohol and drug abuse is a serious social problem in the Yukon. As Members know, substance abuse contributes to many visible and hidden miseries. I am especially pleased to see that the Ministers statement commits the government to hiring additional front-line addiction and prevention counsellors. Government efforts to effectively deal with complex social problems are often diminished because valuable resources are used for administration, rather than the delivery of front-line services.
It is the view of my party that a commitment to front-line services, programs and people is valuable, not only in combating substance abuse, but also in delivering most other government services and programs.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I thank the Members opposite for their views. I am pleased they share the same commitment that we do on this side. I can assure them that I will do everything I can to ensure that we move this program along as quickly as possible.
Speaker: This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Public Service Commissioner, appointment of
Ms. Moorcroft: I have a question for the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission.
Last night, the Ministers stonewalling on the issue of why he appointed the Public Service Commissioner for a six-month term raises a lot of questions. As well as being disrespectful, it was an appalling avoidance of a vital question. The Government Leader stated he is now committed to appointing the Public Service Commissioner for a longer term. Why?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I and the Executive Council have the right to appoint the public service minister for a period of up to 10 years.
Ms. Moorcroft: To say again, as the Minister did last night, that he did it simply because the law allows him to is not an acceptable answer. This is stonewalling and childishly stubborn. Why did he put the Public Service Commissioner on probation?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We did no such thing.
Ms. Moorcroft: If the person in that position was not on probation, if the Government Leader has every confidence in the Public Service Commissioner, if he trusted her to act in an impartial way, as he says he did, then why did he not treat her abilities with respect and appoint her for a longer period?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I have the utmost respect for the Public Service Commissioner.
Question re: Public Service Commissioner, appointment of
Ms. Moorcroft: The Government Leader says he has the utmost respect for the Public Service Commissioner but he does not seem to have the utmost respect for this Legislature because he is refusing to answer my questions. Surely the Minister can understand why the people of the Yukon need to know the reasons for this. In the absence of a clear answer to this question, they are already suspecting the new government of meddling in the Public Service Commission. Of all the deputy minister positions he recently appointed, this one needs to have the security of being appointed for a term; therefore, I must ask the Government Leader: did he want this appointment to be probationary?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We have been in power about seven months and it does not seem like this has been a real burning issue with the public, but it seems like it is a burning issue with the Member for Mount Lorne.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would say thanks but no thanks for that answer. I will ask the Minister if it is because he had qualms about whether or not a woman could handle this job?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Not at all.
Ms. Moorcroft: How does the Government Leader expect a six month appointee to hear an appeal or grievance of ministerial interference in the hiring process when there remains the possibility that she will not even be in the position in the future?
I wish I could trust the Government Leaders answer, but we, on this side, are getting suspicious about some of the flip-flops the government side is doing.
Speaker: Order please. Was there a question there, or was it simply an insult to the government, which is not allowed under the rules.
Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, I was not attempting to insult the Government Leader. Instead, I was asking him how he could expect a Public Service Commissioner to hear appeals or grievances of ministerial interference if she did not have the security of knowing that her job would continue?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I have not heard of any grievances that have been filed about ministerial interference.
Question re: Whitehorse General Hospital, construction
Mr. Cable: I have a question for the Minister of Government Services. The Minister was good enough to provide me with a legislative return yesterday, indicating that of the $14 million budgeted for the new hospital for the current fiscal year, about $3 million would be spent before construction begins. This leaves about $11 million to be spent on construction for this year, about one-quarter of the total construction budget.
As the total construction period is set at 26 to 28 months, and the best we can hope for this year is four months of construction, is the Minister of the view that spending one-quarter of the construction budget in that four months is realistic?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I would like to simply say to the Member opposite that during the course of the last several weeks it has been apparent that our timetable has slipped to some extent. Additional money, as was tabled in the House and as the Member is aware, was spent on the planning and tender documents.
However, the contract with the architect was signed yesterday. It would appear that roughly half or so of that money will not be spent until the commencement of the construction season next year.
Mr. Cable: On April 20, I asked the Minister of Government Services to table cashflow and workflow charts for the project. He indicated that workflow charts for the present fiscal years construction were ready. Will that Minister or the Minister for Health and Social Services table that chart, as it has been amended according to what the Minister of Health and Social Services has said?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The Member is quite right. We now have flow charts that are more realistic, given the contract that was negotiated and signed yesterday. We will be quite prepared to share them with the public by tabling them.
Mr. Cable: If the project is tendered in November, as I believe there has been an indication in the House previously that it will be, when could we realistically expect that the tender would be awarded and construction started?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: After some fairly heavy meetings, it has been agreed that the tendering would probably take place in late December or early January. In that case, we are now convinced that the actual construction should not start until April 1, for expense reasons.
Question re: Cabinet decisions/Public Service Commissioner, appointment of
Mr. Penikett: I have a question for the Government Leader, arising from a remarkable statement made last night in Committee of the Whole by the Minister of Economic Development who expressed the position that he does not, ...discuss Cabinet decisions in the public forum. Can the Government Leader advise this House if he shares this view. Is it indeed his governments policy not to discuss Cabinet decisions in public?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I think the Member is trying to pick straws there. The decisions that are made by Cabinet are in the public domain. The decision is in the public domain. How that decision is arrived at, is confidential Cabinet information.
Mr. Penikett: I think I picked the short straw. The Minister of Economic Development has also expressed the view that he did not think the Legislature was, the proper forum to discuss Cabinet decisions. Is this also the position of the Government Leader and his government? If so, what would the Government Leader consider a proper forum in which to defend and explain, not Cabinet discussions, but Cabinet decisions.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I have no problem discussing Cabinet decisions in this forum.
Mr. Penikett: Our problem is with the unwillingness of Members of his Cabinet to discuss those decisions, but I also want to remark on the fact that the Government Leader has refused to discuss rationale for his decision about the Public Service Commissioner.
Could I ask the Government Leader if there is a policy foundation for the view expressed by his Cabinet colleague last night and by him today in refusing to explain the reasons why the Public Service Commissioner was appointed for only six months?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I believe that we explained that in detail last night I am on the record stating that what happens in the Cabinet room is confidential.
Question re: Cabinet decisions/Public Service Commissioner, appointment of
Mr. Penikett: I think I knew that, but what I am trying to get at are the statements of policy made last night by the Government Leaders colleagues. I want to ask the Government Leader, for the record, if it is the policy of the government that Cabinet Ministers have neither the responsibility nor the obligation to explain and defend policies, which they have adopted and the decisions that Cabinet has collectively made.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: As I was one of the people interrogated by the Member opposite last night, let me say that the question had to do with what was occurring in the Cabinet meeting. The question did not have to do with my ability or willingness to defend the decision.
Mr. Penikett: I think that I must have been in a different place from the Member opposite last night.
Perhaps the Minister of Justice could tell us if there is either a legal or policy reason for the government to refuse explaining the reasons for decisions made with respect to the Public Service Commissioner.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Like many tough decisions that we make in Cabinet, we sometimes have to do things because it is the right thing to do and this is one of those cases. It was the right thing to do at the time.
Mr. Penikett: We are to understand that the Public Service Commissioner was appointed for six months because it was tough and because it was right.
May I ask the Minister of Justice if there was any policy reason, beyond the toughness and rightness, to support the unprecedented decision to make the Public Service Commissioner a temporary appointment - a position that we believe is completely contrary to the spirit of the law, the Public Service Act.
Does the Minister of Justice not share that view?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It is an interesting proposition that the side opposite is attempting to put forward. Therefore, I would ask the Member opposite what the position of government is during the last six months of the contract that the Public Service Commissioner enjoys? What is the difference?
Mr. Penikett: I would be happy to answer the question.
Question re: Union representation
Ms. Moorcroft: Last night in Committee, the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commissioner stated, ... unions have a role to play in the workplace. They are the bargaining unit for all employees. Through that type of an organization, employees can make their concerns known.
Can we take this as a signal to the workers, through their union, that the policy of the government is for a more cooperative working environment with less of an adversarial relationship between employer and employee?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: If the Member is asking if that is the policy of this government, it certainly is. We want to see a harmonious workplace.
Ms. Moorcroft: Regarding working conditions, the Minister said employees have their say in the workplace through the union. Can the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission clarify whether this means, for example, that the government will confer with employees through their union about changes to be made to the workplace environment that will result from the full-time equivalent system?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: There are many avenues by which workers who are not happy or content with the full-time equivalent system can make their case heard.
Ms. Moorcroft: Regarding the ongoing controls on hiring - not a freeze, according to the Ministers remarks last night - these are now in the hands of the Ministers and their deputy ministers, rather than Management Board. In what ways does the Minister see the other Ministers and the deputies working with the union on implementing the full-time equivalent system?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The departments will be following the corporate policy of the government.
Question re: Affirmative action
Ms. Moorcroft: Last night, the Government Leader said he was committed to having an affirmative action policy implemented through every department. What exactly are his plans, and will he give us an update on how they are being implemented?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I will have to get back to the Member with that information.
Ms. Moorcroft: During the term of the last government, every department was required to regularly table their individual employment equity plans with updates. If this is, indeed, still the policy of the government, perhaps the Minister could also get back to me on the governments time line for achieving full employment equity.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We will see if we can get that information for the Member.
Ms. Moorcroft: The employment equity policy states that the goal of government is to make substantial progress in this area by the year 2000. This means making the public service a representative workforce. Why has the government not included this goal in its self-sufficiency by the 21st century economic plan? Was it an oversight, or does the Minister not believe that employment equity should be a part of an economic strategy?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We put our policy on the record last night with regard to employment equity for the Member opposite.
Question re: Contract bid evaluations
Mrs. Firth: I have a question about contracting for the Minister responsible for Community and Transportation Services. The contract I am referring to specifically is the Logan subdivision storm outfall. The company that was the low bidder lost this contract because the department used a new system, called a point system, for evaluating the tenders. This company lost by one point in a very competitive and close bid. The department admitted to the unsuccessful bidder and to me that the system was unfair and that they were not going to use it again. Could I ask the Minister why they awarded the contract if it was an unfair system and they were not going to use it any more?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do not know exactly who told the Member opposite that the system was unfair. The system is, in fact, fair; however, it can at times reject the low bidder when the low bidder may not have been quite as qualified as another bidder but would still be able to do the job. That is the reason we have changed the policy.
Mrs. Firth: It was the deputy minister who spoke to me regarding the department not using the process any more because it was unfair, and I am not sure which officials told the contractor, but they were also told it was not fair.
Speaker: Order please. I would ask the Member to ask a question rather than respond to the Minister.
Mrs. Firth: I am asking my question.
Speaker: I would remind the Member that a one-sentence preamble to a supplementary is required by our Standing Orders. This is not the opportunity to make speeches.
Mrs. Firth: I want to ask the Minister why they did not use a different system when they re-evaluated this contract, prior to awarding it?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The tender was advertised using the ranking system. Once the evaluation took place using the ranking system, that was the only way that they could either award the contract to that particular bidder or award it to somebody else. They had to continue using the same system because that is the one they started with.
Mrs. Firth: The department could have incorporated this project in with another and retendered the whole project. I would like to ask the Minister why they did not look at other alternatives to make it a more fair system of tendering in these highly competitive times?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The tendering was fair. It was not an unfair tender. If it would have been deemed to be unfair, it would have had to be cancelled and retendered. There was no reason to do that because it was a fair tendering process.
Question re: Financial statements of government, year-end
Mr. McDonald: I have a question for the Minister of Finance. On April 5, the Minister told the House that the year-end accounts for the 1992-93 year would be available by the third week in April for Members to see. Yesterday, the Minister said there would be no indication of the accounts until June 9 - which is more than two months after year-end. Given that we have already identified multi-million dollar lapses and major padding in the supplementary estimates, is the government scrambling now to find further expenditures that they can book into last years accounts to maintain and increase the projected deficit?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We need not look for things to pad the supplementaries with. We need not look for them at all. We only have to use the real figures. I believe that if we were to table the raw figures that we have now it would not be in the best interest of this Legislature, the Members opposite or the general public. I would like to have more refined figures before I table them in this Legislature.
Mr. McDonald: We found many examples of serious padding in the supplementary estimates, so we do not have to look any further. We have found the padding.
Is it true that the government is looking for ways to change the way the extended care facility was financed so that they can book the entire capital cost into the 1992-93 fiscal year?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We are not looking for anything of the sort. The fact remains that the extended care facility will be booked, somewhere between $7 million and $11 million, into the 1992-93 year, not in the 1993-94 year. The facility has been sitting there empty for a year, because they did not leave enough money to open it.
Mr. McDonald: I think we have found a major problem here. Can the Minister say that paying for the extended care facility as a capital grant in the 1992 fiscal year, or any other particular fiscal year, will increase the long-term total costs to the Yukon government for the facility, because that option sacrifices a larger amount of federal CMHC financing?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We are looking for ways to have that thing written off with the least cost to this government on that previous governments books.
We are talking about the public interest. If we had wanted to write the whole $11 million off, we would have. We are exploring all those avenues.
Question re: Visitor exit survey
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Minister of Tourism.
On March 17, I asked the Minister why he withdrew funding for the visitor exit survey planned for this summer. His reply was, and I quote, I think the Member has his facts wrong. He went on to say that when I saw the budget, I would see the real facts. Well, I have seen the budget and I am not much wiser.
Could the Minister tell us what the real facts are?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I would have to get the exact amount for the Member, but there is funding in the budget for the statistics branch and Tourism to start preparing for the visitor exit survey.
They are now working on a letter to go out to organizations and groups, asking for their input. That will take place this year.
Mr. Cable: I have been told by a member of the tourism community that, since the 1987 visitor exit survey, there have been several significant changes in the tourism market, such as the anniversary celebrations, the downturn in the North American economies and changes in tourists spending habits. These should lead to a revision of the tourism marketing strategy. Does the Minister agree with this assessment?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, there are changing times in the tourism industry. We have to keep up to date. That is why we are now working with the statistics branch on a proposal for some type of visitor exit survey for next year.
Mr. Cable: I understand that the Whitehorse tourist community has been asked for input into the 1994 survey. Have other communities been consulted?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I cannot say offhand. My understanding of it is that all communities will be consulted, and all groups that are interested in a visitors exit survey will be consulted. The tourism branch and the statistics branch are now working out a formula or a strategy for developing those questions.
Question re: Government year-end purchases
Mr. Penikett: Two days ago, Committee of the Whole tried to gain an understanding of how, during a time of alleged restraint, the Management Board, which the Government Leader chairs, approved the purchase of several hundred thousand dollars worth of computers. Can the Government Leader explain how it was that he apparently did not remember these acquisition decisions when first asked about them in the House?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I thank the Member opposite for the question. I believe the question came up in regard to computers that were purchased in March. I had not realized at that point that it was a matter that had been brought to Management Board as early as the first week in January, I believe.
Mr. Penikett: Either there was a financial crisis last year, in which the case the government ought to have postponed these purchases, or the crisis was of purely political construction. Can the Government Leader tell us now why he bought those computers last year rather than this year?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: The Member knows very well my dislike for computers. I can assure the Member opposite that the requisitions that came to Management Board were questioned very, very seriously.
Mr. Penikett: Unfortunately, while the Government Leader may not like computers, he is showing an unhealthy appetite for deficits. Let me ask the Government Leader this: since the Government Services Minister told us a couple of days ago that, in addition to the cost of this new hardware, which is in the amount of several hundred thousand dollars, before the years end, the government also bought software to the tune of $200,000. As chair of the Management Board, did the Government Leader give any consideration at all to postponing these purchases as a way of reducing expenditures?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I was looking for my briefing note on that but, if I recall correctly, the request for these computers came in April or May of 1992, and they passed through the various committees and were approved by all of the committees back in July or August of 1992. The requests had not gone to Management Board, but they had gone through all of the other processes and had been approved.
Question re: Land claim legislation through Parliament
Mr. Abel: I have a question for the Minister responsible for land claims. The Vuntut Gwichin have voted over 97 percent in favour of their land claims and self-government agreements, and they are the fourth Yukon First Nation to ratify their agreement.
Could the Government Leader tell us of the initiatives that he is taking to ensure that settlement legislation is brought before the Parliament of Canada?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I thank the Member for Vuntut Gwichin for his question. There is no doubt that we have grave concerns about getting this legislation through the federal Cabinet and through the Parliament, prior to an election being called.
I have written letters to many federal Ministers urging them to give quick passage to this settlement legislation. Further to that, my office has been in contact with Joe Clarks office and several other ministerial offices, and I am attempting to speak with individual Ministers on the telephone.
Mr. Abel: Could the Government Leader tell us if he and other Members of this House will be going to Ottawa to lobby federal government officials to fast-track the settlement legislation through Parliament?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I can assure the Member that we are coordinating our lobbying efforts through the Council for Yukon Indians, and the timing for the trip will depend upon their lobbying strategy.
I have also invited the Leader of the Official Opposition and the Leader of the Liberal Party to accompany me in this initiative. They are tentatively trying to make arrangements for some time late next week.
Mr. Abel: Following passage through the House of Commons, the settlement legislation will have to go through the Senate. Can the Government Leader tell us how he plans to address this part of the process?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Once the legislation has gone before Parliament, we will also be lobbying the Senate of Canada to give their assent to the Yukon Indian land claims, something that needs to be completed, as negotiations have been ongoing for 20 years.
Question re: Government financial position
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister of Finance.
We have had two interim supply bills passed in this House, for a total of over $120 million.
We have been going through the supplementaries in which virtually every department has admitted that money is lapsing.
The other day when I asked the Minister for the year-end financial statements, he said that they would be tabling that information when they had accurate information.
He also made reference, and I will quote it, You only have to look at our bank account, which is $17 million overdrawn, to see the financial health of this government.
What does the Government Leader mean by the bank account being $17 million overdrawn?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: On that particular day, we had drawn $17 million on our line of credit at the bank.
Mrs. Firth: I do not understand that. The Government Leader said we were overdrawn $17 million on that day. What does he mean by saying we were overdrawn?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: That is exactly what I said, and it is correct. We were overdrawn by $17 million.
Mrs. Firth: Why, when we have just approved all this money?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: It is my understanding that the money comes through from Ottawa on a monthly basis. It is a cashflow problem; it is not that we are out of money. It changes from day to day, but the fact remains, for the Member opposite - and I can clarify it later for her with the Deputy Minister of Finance - that the balance changes from day to day, and we are going to be overdrawn every month for a certain number of days. Right now, as of today, the balance in the bank is $10 million. Yesterday, it was $14 million. It is going to change from day to day. Every month, we are going to be overdrawn to some extent.
Question re: Federal dependency
Mr. Harding: I would like to talk a little bit about political deficits and the proposed budget. The proposed 1993-94 Yukon Party budget increases our dollar dependency on the federal government by $73 million. Faro and Watson Lake mine shutdowns would also increase the dependency.
How much more dependent on the federal government, in dollar terms, with the mines shut down, if they do shut down, does it make us? Surely, the Finance department has forecasted these numbers.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I do not have those numbers at my fingertips. As the Member opposite knows, we are doing everything we can to see that the Faro operation does not stay shut down.
Mr. Harding: I would like to ask the Government Leader a question regarding this federal dependency - it is very important for the territory. Why is the Yukon Party making us more and more dependent on the federal government, rather than taking action by investing in the Grum ore stripping, in some capacity, which could help stimulate the reopening of the Faro and Watson Lake mines?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Months ago, we put forward some terms and conditions by which we would lend money to the company. The Members opposite said they were unrealistic. We came back and offered $5 million while the company was under CCAA. We are doing whatever we can to get the Grum stripped.
Mr. Harding: The terms and conditions work really well. We have unemployment of 16 percent and both mines are shut down. Perhaps the Government Leader could tell me this: when he gets the numbers for what is forecasted for the increase in federal dependency if those mines stay closed, would he please table them in this House, along with a total picture - a macro-economic forecast - of how those will affect the economy?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Again, we have the Members opposite, the doom and gloom party, the no development party. We expect to do everything within our power to see that the Faro operation continues to operate, not the doom and gloom we get from the other side of the House.
Question re: Land claims, land selection within Whitehorse
Ms. Joe: My question is for the Government Leader regarding the breakdown in land claims that caught Kwanlin Dun. We all know the disappointment last week when neither he nor any of his Ministers showed up for the meeting.
I would like to ask the Minister responsible for land claims if he will make a special effort to personally meet with Kwanlin Dun First Nation to help resolve the situation.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I thank the Member for the question. I have said that I will meet with Kwanlin Dun at any time, and I received a request for meeting with them yesterday or the day before, and I have a reply drafted on my desk to sign this afternoon. My officials and I will meet with them on the requested date if I am available and not in Ottawa.
Ms. Joe: I would like to ask the Government Leader if he has considered the request for slowing down of land alienations in the Whitehorse area and, if so, what is the decision. Can he tell the House? Are we up to date on the issue?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: As I have told the House before, negotiators are working with the Kwanlin Dun to get a process in place that is acceptable to all parties - to us, Kwanlin Dun and the federal government. There will be a paper coming to Cabinet tomorrow for approval of that process, and I hope we will be able to relate it to Kwanlin Dun early next week.
Ms. Joe: I would like to also ask the Minister whether he intends to deal with his definition, which is a little different from what is in the land claims agreement on balanced selection, because that is a very controversial issue and it would be important for Members on this side of the House and all other First Nations groups to know what his definition of a balanced selection is and that Kwanlin Dun First Nation agrees with it.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: My definition of a balanced selection is such as is laid out in chapter 9 of the umbrella final agreement, and I will be discussing this issue, I am sure, when I meet with Kwanlin Dun.
Question re: Telephone rate increases
Ms. Joe: My question is for the Minister responsible for Community and Transportation Services. Yesterday, I was offered some assurances by the Minister of Justice that someone was, indeed, keeping an eye on Northwestels proposal to increase telephone rates. Today, I would like to ask the Minister responsible for the communications branch if he can advise what specific steps are being taken to monitor Northwestels rate application to the CRTC.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I will have to get the details of the action plan back to the Member opposite. We are monitoring, but I am not sure to what extent at this time.
Ms. Joe: I would like to ask the Minister, if he cannot answer today, if he would bring this information back as well: can he advise whether or not he or his officials have expressed any concerns to the corporation about the effect of yet another increase in cost to consumers and small businesses during this period of recession in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yes, I have, personally, and I understand that my officials have.
Ms. Joe: Can the Minister advise whether there has been any discussion between Northwestel and his officials about rebalancing telephone rates - that is charging higher monthly rates - in order to reduce long distance rates? Has the government taken a position on this question?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I was just made aware of Northwestels proposal very recently and I am not sure if it is being discussed at the department level. I have not discussed it with my colleagues up to this point.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed.
Question of Privilege
Mr. Penikett: I rise on a question of privilege arising from the fact that within a few short hours we may be asked to begin Committee debate on a budget that some of us have yet to see.
Hansard records that the Minister of Finance introduced his first budget on March 25, 1993. As I said to you, Mr. Speaker, in a letter that I sent this morning, it soon became clear that neither the governments tax nor its expenditure plans enjoyed very much support, either from the public or among private Members in this Legislature. It is a matter of record that subsequently, on April 26, the Minister made a statement to the House announcing his intention to reschedule some income tax hikes and to cut the estimates of 11 departments.
The problem is that 10 days later this Opposition Member still has not been given sufficient information about the changes to even begin to debate them. However, it is quite possible that upon passage of the supplementaries through Committee, we may be asked to begin the process of approving those main estimates later this afternoon.
There are two problems with that as I see it. The first concerns the nature of the amendments. Amendments to a budget, in the normal course of debate, are not particularly a rare event, but changes in both the revenue plans plus the expenditures for almost every large department is quite a novel event in this parliament; perhaps even in this country.
The changes indicated on April 26 amount to an overhaul of the March 25 budget.
Today, rather than amending the income tax measure, the government introduced a new bill: Bill No. 20. This act constitutes, in effect, an admission that, as of April 26, the March budget no longer enjoys even the support of the government, and that as a result of negotiations between the government and some Opposition Members, a brand new budget has emerged.
The second point I want to make is that it is a basic, fundamental feature of our system of lawmaking that each measure before this House receive three readings. It must be approved in principle and then in detail in Committee and it must have final reading. I think it would be quite improper for a major new measure to be introduced essentially in Committee - in other words, to have only two readings instead of three. That is a violation of normal and proper practices in our parliamentary system of government.
I have no objections whatsoever to the Minister of Finance having private discussions about the budget. Of course, the Minister of Finance has every right to negotiate private deals to ensure passage of his legislation. However, in this House we all must respect the principle that the public business must be done in public, and what is essentially a new budget that we might be asked to debate later today is still an unknown quantity for some Members here. Therefore, our most basic rights, as democratically elected Members of this Assembly, are offended against by a situation in which we will soon be asked to consider a proposal, the precise contents of which are unknown to us.
Mr. Speaker, as I understand it, this situation is without exact parliamentary precedent. I am, therefore, asking you to consider my modest representation seriously.
The remedy I seek is not a dramatic one or even a punitive one. It is simply that I would like the Speaker to rule, if he sees fit, that the Minister of Finance should, prior to calling debate on the subject, table new or revised estimates for the 1993-94 fiscal year.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I have to disagree with the Member opposite.
While there is going to be a reduction of $1.7 million in the budget, as I stated in this House, that is not a major overhaul of a budget of $483 million. In fact, the reductions on the O&M side will be two-tenths of one percent of the total departmental O&M expenditures. On the capital side, it will be seven-tenths of one percent of the total departmental expenditures. That cannot be called a major overhaul of the budget.
It is my intention to give the Members opposite a list of the line items that will be reduced as we get to them. I intend to do that tomorrow morning. I did not, for one minute, think that we would be getting into our budget this afternoon. I intended to give them to them tomorrow morning and they would have had until Monday to go over them. Since I seem to be getting a message from the Leader of the Official Opposition that we may get into that budget, and after my meeting with him this morning on this same subject, I have asked my officials to have the list ready immediately. I would hope that I can give it to the Members here shortly after Question Period.
I suggest that this is not a major overhaul of a budget. It is minor amendments in 11 different departments.
Speaker: On the question of privilege, I would thank the Leader of the Official Opposition for giving me notice that this would be raised pursuant to Standing Order 7(1).
A review of the Leader of the Official Oppositions concern indicates that it is not privilege, in that the essential element of privilege is the right of free speech in this House. More accurately, I would think that the Leader of the Official Opposition would have brought this under a point of order. As I was given notice of this potential point of order, parliamentary authorities were reviewed and the Table research branch of the House of Commons was consulted. There are no rules or precedents that we were able to find that would stop the government from introducing amendments to reduce a number of line items in the main estimates it presented to the House in March of this year.
Clearly, this is an unusual approach. The lack of precedent cannot be taken to imply that the government cannot introduce these amendments. In a minority situation, as the Leader of the Official Opposition has said, it should be expected that some unique procedures may be utilized as the government seeks to obtain the support of a majority of the Members in the House.
Therefore, I find that it is not a question of privilege, nor a point of order. I cannot provide the Leader of the Official Opposition with the remedy he seeks; however, I should say that I have great sympathy for the Leader of the Official Oppositions point of concern. I hope that it has been satisfied by the Government Leader offering to provide a list immediately of those items that are anticipated to be changed in the main estimates, so that the Opposition has them before we begin debate on the budget, and there can be full and informed debate on those items.
Speaker: We will now proceed to the Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Question of privilege, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: The Minister of Justice on a question of privilege without notice.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will be very brief. I note that I overlooked tabling the Alcohol and Drug Strategy earlier this afternoon. I would like the privilege of tabling that document now, if I may.
Speaker: It has been agreed that the Minister of Health and Social Services should be permitted to table his Alcohol and Drug Strategy at this point.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Is it the wish of the Members to take a brief recess at this time?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will take a brief recess.
Chair: I now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: Just before we start, I have for filing the proposed amendments to the 1993-94 budget.
Bill No. 4 - Second Appropriation Act, 1992-93 - continued
On Renewable Resources - continued
Chair: We are dealing with Bill No. 4. We are on Renewable Resources. Is there further general debate?
Mrs. Firth: I have had quite a few calls and people approach me on the street about a general issue in the Department of Renewable Resources right now that has something to do with goldfish, so I would like to ask the Minister some general questions about the goldfish.
First of all, I want to present to the Minister some suggestions that have been made to me in the various calls I have received and from people who have approached me on the street about it when I was out today buying the Minister his goldfish. There seem to be two opinions about this issue. Some people are very concerned about the goldfish and want to help save them, and other individuals have come to me and said that they would prefer to see some less violent and drastic measures, other than electrocution and poisoning, and they made some suggestions about how to get rid of the goldfish.
Perhaps, just for the Ministers information, the people who wanted to save the goldfish were advocating that we should have an animal shelter for endangered goldfish. They wanted me to present that suggestion to the Minister. We have started this program this afternoon because people suggested that we have an adopt-a-goldfish program. I started the Minister off with his own goldfish this afternoon. Someone else suggested that we could have National Geographic come up and do an article on goldfish north of 60, so that we could let other people in other parts of the world know what was going on.
The other group of people who spoke to me were very creative with some of their suggestions. These were the people who wanted to help those poor Fisheries gentleman who have had to dive in ponds and think up all kinds of different ways to get rid of these horrible little beasts. Some of the suggestions were that perhaps we should radio collar the goldfish and then keep track of them. Another suggestion was made that perhaps we should have an aerial goldfish cull. Someone thought that perhaps we could just shoot them from helicopters.
I understand, from the newspaper article, that they had also considered trapping them and people wondered if they were going to use fin-hold traps to help get rid of those little creatures.
These are suggestions people have made. I promised I would raise them with the Minister. People who do have little tropical fish in their house do have concerns about new laws that the government might impose, requiring everyone who owns a tropical fish to be registered and licensed with some kind of fish authorities, requiring water-use permits and so on. Then, if they did want to dispose of their fish through the regular method, they might require medical examinations, permits and environmental impact studies before they can flush their little tropical fish.
Someone else recommended that perhaps we could have a goldfishing derby and people could go out to the Hot Springs, have a barbecue, and help the Fisheries officials get rid of the goldfish that way.
I have made the representation on behalf of those people. On a more serious note, I would like to ask the Minister if he has talked to his department officials and if they will be arriving at some sensible solution to this problem.
One of the Members is indicating that we could dynamite the little goldfish. That is another solution that is coming forward.
I would seriously like to know if the Minister will direct his officials to approach this issue in a more cooperative and logical way. Perhaps we could use some common sense instead of resorting to these drastic measures and expedite the issue as quickly as possible so that we are not wasting taxpayers money on these kinds of things.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I always thought that we were elected to come here to get business done, not get paid by the hour to go on like that.
When the Member stands up again, could she please tell me if the fish she gave me was male or female as I would like to name it, and I am not quite sure what it is; however my grandson in Inuvik will appreciate it very much.
Everyone seems to think this is a funny joke. One of the concerns is that the fishery regulations completely forbid anyone from putting live fish into any fish habitat and those goldfish were introduced into the pond at the Takhini Hot Springs by people who put them there. They are an exotic species and do not belong in the Yukon.
The story about my department harassing people - they made six trips over a period of eight months to try and talk to the individual. They thought that they had cooperation a number of times. The story about electrocuting them is not completely true, although I suppose we can draw straws on this. They have a thing that stuns fish, which brings them to the top and this is used to count fish and take fish to other areas. I suppose if one wants to pull straws on it, it could be said that we are electrocuting them - although they are all alive.
The poisoning is chlorine, which we put in our own drinking water, and I do not think any of us are dead around here - although sometimes I think there are Members in here who are dead, but I do not think we all are.
He never came to my office, which is open any time he might want to talk to me. I am sure my officials would talk to him. The office is open any time he wants. I think we had better face facts. We have a number of exotic animals in the Yukon that should not be here - which could spread disease.
I find it really strange that buffalo lived here and ran around out in the wild, but when we put them in a pen, all of a sudden, they are diseased.
These exotic fish could transfer disease to the water. I am told that they will live in cold water, but they will not produce. The dam broke this year and the water spilled over, which meant that some of the fish could get out - we do not know if they did or not. It is a salmon-bearing river and has other species of fish.
I am rather concerned, yet the Member on the other side shakes her head and thinks that it is funny. It is not quite as funny as she thinks. If they were really serious and wanted these goldfish, they could have put them in some type of an escape-proof pond.
Fisheries officials do not like having to go out to the Hot Springs and do things like this, but they do have a job. There are regulations that the federal government passes and we have to follow them. It is the job of the Fisheries employees to ensure regulations are adhered to and they are doing their best to be as nice as they can and try to help everyone. When you think someone is cooperating with you and pretty soon you find out that he is not, what do you do? You have to keep looking at this.
If someone would like to have some goldfish, I am sure they will help the person catch them and take them somewhere else. There are literally hundreds of goldfish right now and something has to be done.
Mrs. Firth: I can appreciate the position that the Minister is in. I can understand how the officials think this is a very serious matter, but the public does not see it that way. All the public sees are people who want to kill these little goldfish.
I think that the Minister has always prided himself in being a reasonable person and a person with some common sense - at least that was the impression that he had always given me. If there was something happening that was not based on common sense, he would do something about it.
Surely there is a better way than for Fisheries officials to go to the Hot Springs, dive into the pool and try to count the goldfish. To even discuss having to stun them, electrocute them or poison them demands a more commonsense, reasonable and realistic approach. I would not have raised this issue had I not received a letter from the Minister that said very clearly at the end of the letter, Since Mr. Kreft takes issue with the efforts of the Fisheries people, fisheries staff are prepared to turn this matter over to the federal Crown counsel for appropriate action.
What are we talking about here? Surely the Minister can come up with some kind of commonsense approach to this, without threatening the owner with court action and without having to discuss such extreme issues. I do not want to take up hours of public time talking about this. I have spent not quite 10 minutes on it, and I really do not anticipate spending any more time on it. Could I just get some assurance from the Minister that the officials will stop harassing the owner, and will not threaten to take him to court? That threat is a form of harassment. Will they look at some commonsense solution? Perhaps the Minister could go out there himself and personally review the situation and assess it. Maybe he can come up with a suggestion that has some common sense and logic to it, as opposed to what has been going on.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I would gladly go out to see the situation for myself, if I could get out of this place; I would be much happier and much more at home than I am in this Legislature.
He mentioned the public. I have run into two or three people, and one of them is in this House now, and they thought they would change my name from Buffalo Bill to Billy the Goldfish, or something, and I would just as soon not choose that. I do not think they are really concerned. They are just having a lot of fun with an old elder here, and that is quite all right with me; as long as we, as old elders, can make people laugh and joke, that is better than some of the things that go on in the House.
I must point out that, number one, this is a federal fishery act; it is not ours. It is a federal law and we have to enforce it. Is the Member indicating to us that we should just turn our back? They say we should come up with something different. We tried. We suggested chlorine; that was turned down. We suggested stunning them, catching them as they came up and getting rid of them. You state that they were diving around in there. The scuba diver only went down once to see if they were reproducing and he could not believe the number of fish he found in the pool. He said it was just like down in the Bahamas.
As I have often said, if you have a better answer, bring it up and we will do it. As for harassment, I do not think there was any. They pointed out what the laws are. The law says we must prosecute if one brings in exotic animals or fish. That is what the federal law says. It is a big problem all over the place, and it is getting to be a big problem up here. I can name a number of exotic animals here that we do not have any control over right now.
If there is that many in there, which I am quite prepared to believe there is, and if that dam every broke and they all got into the lake during the time the salmon were coming up, what would happen? Maybe we do not have the answer to that, but let us not find out when we find all the salmon are diseased or something. Let us control this while we can.
Mrs. Firth: I do not want to go on and on about this. First of all, I recognize it is a federal law but the department is responsible for freshwater fisheries now, so the department has a responsibility to show some initiative - not to just say, well, this is the law, we are going to implement it whether it sounds reasonable, logical, or whatever. The department has some responsibility to be creative and deal with its own problems.
Secondly, it does not make sense to me as a taxpayer, or to a lot of my constituents who are being asked to pay extra taxes and then they hear that a lot of time is being spent on this kind of an issue. That is the second point I want to make.
With respect to solutions, a lot of people are questioning whether the fish even have parasites. Do the biologists know whether they do or not? A lot of people find it very difficult to believe that these fish would live in the cold Yukon waters. Has that ever been put to a test to see if they actually would? I just cannot visualize schools of goldfish swimming in the Yukon River. I am sure you cannot either, Mr. Chair, as a person who was born and raised here and knows a lot about the fish.
All I am asking for is that the Minister look for some serious approach, that he give some kind of commitment that they will withdraw the threat to the owner about the court action, that maybe he will make a personal visit out there and will look at some kind of reasonable solution rather than bring up suggestions about taking over the fish habitat of the Yukon and that the goldfish are full of parasites and so on, unless there is really some conclusive proof of that.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I am sure, Mr. Chair, that you have a lot of these goldfish swimming around in Old Crow, too, so you will know about these and be an expert on them. If we do not react, the federal Fisheries officials have every right in the world to react. That is the rule and that is the law. They can live in cold water. We know this, but they cannot reproduce. They are still there, and if they have the parasites, they are still putting them out there. What does the Member want me to do?
Most animals of any type carry parasites. Even if they do not have them right now, they are known for having these things. Do we want to take that chance? In the first place, the goldfish were put there illegally by children, I suppose, who thought they were doing something good. I do not suppose they realized the harm they were doing when they did this. All we are trying to do is correct something that is there that should not be there.
As I said, if the Member has a better answer, she should give it to us and I am sure that we, in the department, would be glad to do it. We do not appreciate what is going on. I do not appreciate standing here and debating this. I am not withdrawing the threat because we never made a threat. We simply said that with the regulations saying that, if he will not allow us to do something, we have no choice but to turn it over to the Crown Attorney and let them do what they want to do. If we do not do it, federal Fisheries may do it.
Mrs. Firth: Does that mean then that Mr. Kreft is going to have to get legal counsel? When is this court action pending, or when is it going to happen?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It is my understanding that he has already talked to his lawyer. As I said, this is not necessary. If he wants to come in and talk with me, or sit down and talk with the department, we are quite prepared to talk. We have to do something whether he likes it or not. I am not prepared, and I know the department does not want to go to court. If he wants to let us remove those goldfish, then that is the end of the problem.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to ask the Minister to make a commitment to go and see the owner of the Hot Springs, to see what solutions there are before there is any court action taken. I would like to get a commitment from the Minister to do that.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I have no problem with that at all. It probably will not be until I can get out of the Legislature, but I will do it. That means we may have to wait two or three weeks, or a month, but if I can slip out some night, I will do it. I have no problem with that. It would be much simpler if he came here and we could get the department to sit down with him at the same time. If he prefers not to do that, I have no problem with that.
Mr. Harding: The NDP caucus has some questions, both the Member for Mayo-Tatchun and I, of a general policy nature on renewable resources and also some questions about some of the Ministers feelings and some of the more topical and pressing renewable resources issues now.
I know that the Minister gets a little cranky with me sometimes, but I hope that this afternoon we can avoid that and get to the heart of some of these issues and have some good discussion so that I can gain a better understanding of where the Minister is coming from.
I want to discuss a number of issues, and because we just got off the topic of goldfish, rest assured I am not going to ask any more questions about that, although I do share some of the Ministers concerns about exotic fish and wildlife in the Yukon where they are not indigenous. Of course, that brings us to the issue of game farming and game ranching.
I am aware that the proposed draft regulations do not allow for game farming or ranching of non-native species of wildlife.
Could the Minister please explain to me what other examples of exotic wildlife we have in the Yukon today, to coincide with this importation of goldfish?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I might say to the Member for Faro that he should not fear me if I get grumpy once in awhile. My four-year old grandson says, Sometimes you are a grumpy, grumpy grandad, but I love you, grumpy grandad. I hope the Member for Faro will take the same position.
The other exotic species that we are having problems with right now are four llamas from South America - they are cute little things about this high and they love to kiss you when you stand close to them. Unfortunately, they are also in my constituency. I did not put them there. We also have wild boars and the Vietnamese pigs.
These are all exotic species that have been brought to the Yukon and some of them are running around on the road.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Snakes? I guess there are any number of them; I do not know which ones the Member is referring to - the two-legged ones or the ones that crawl on the ground.
Mr. Harding: We are having some fun this afternoon.
I would like to ask the Minister what the department is doing, since they have dedicated all their resources to the removal of these dangerous goldfish, to remove the llamas, wild boars and Vietnamese pigs from the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The Member can always have fun with older people, when he turns around and talks sensibly, as he is right now.
This is a plug for the game regulations: we have to have game regulations to control things. Right now, there are no regulations stopping any of this. It is a big problem. We have no way that we can stop them. If the game regulations were in force, we would be able to stop this exotic stuff. We stated very plainly in the game regulations that exotic animals cannot be brought in. We would have a law then. We do not have it right now.
Mr. Harding: Is there a plan afoot, once these regulations are in, to remove these animals from the territory and compensate the people who now own them?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I presume that I am getting a man on my side who was against game regulations. He might vote for them if I say the right thing now. I will have to try to say them.
I suppose the easiest thing would be to grant grandfather rights on the ones that are here now, but not allow any more in. That would probably cause less harassment. Sometimes our department is accused of harassment when they are trying to enforce the laws. I think we have caught this at a time before it is a big problem and I think we can control it if the regulations are all right. They have been sent out to different groups for input. I have no idea whether or not they will be accepted or whether or not they will need changes. We will have to see when the time comes.
My suggestion would be to grandfather the few that are here at the present time and try and go that way. They are only going to live so long. Some of them are being sold, such as the wild boars. This is an easier way to do it, without causing harassment. It will just prevent more being brought in.
Mr. Harding: Will the Minister be grandfathering the goldfish?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We could look at that. I understand the problem there, according to the Member for Riverdale South, is that they are flushing them down the toilet. I do not think I have enough conservation people to go around and check every toilet to see how many have been flushed down. They may be sneaking them in and flushing them down the toilet, but I am not too sure we can do that. Somewhere, we have to draw the line.
Mr. Harding: Will the Minister check to see that people are not flushing pigs down the toilet?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I can almost guarantee, having been a plumber and having had to unplug toilets, that they are not flushing pigs down the toilet.
Mr. Harding: We talk about grandfathering and the goldfish being a big problem, because they are not native. Then, we talk about the other non-native animals we have. I share the concern. I make the representation to the Minister that the option of exploring the removal, with compensation, of these non-native species, rather than grandfathering them, be looked at. While the grandfathering does establish a baseline, it is not consistent with the principle we are talking about. That should be explored. The Minister can take that as a suggestion from me.
I want to talk more about game farming and about the Ministers knowledge. I sent the Minister a video of a documentary done on some serious problems of game farming. There is tons more information, but I thought it was a particularly telling video regarding the issue. I got a response back from the Minister that the animals were imported and the Yukons solution would not involve imported animals; however, that was not the point of the video. The point was that, as a result of the industry in a number of jurisdictions, there have been considerable taxpayer dollars spent to deal with some of the problems that have been created.
Right now, in Alberta, there are some serious problems with tuberculosis. It happened in the Premiers riding, and he had to put a moratorium on game farming. Some other jurisdictions have banned it outright.
Is the Minister aware of these concerns and the problems that have been identified in a lot of jurisdictions throughout the country?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes, I am very well aware of them. The video you sent me was very interesting and I appreciate that they are imported animals from other places in the world. They are red deer, not the same type as we have, and I am not saying that our type could not do the same thing.
I have a letter from the University of Saskatchewan, Department of Veterinary Pathology that says, The regulations appear suitable as well as being written in a clear commonsense manner. Application of the regulations will have to be done on a non-compromising style to make them work. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to review and comment on the proposed game farming regulations, March 31, 1993.
I believe the Yukon is in an enviable position in having a population of game farm animals that have been tested several times over a number of years and found to be free of diseases. This is a highly desirable status and the regulations proposed appear to be adequate to maintain it.
While a proposed regulation may slow the growth of a game farming industry somewhat by controlling importation of breeding stock, I believe it is much better to have an industry that grows somewhat slowly but remains disease free, than to risk the type of setbacks suffered by industries in southern Canada.
I think that we have learned from southern Canada and we are doing our best to make use of the regulations and experiences they have had in trying to combat the problems. The expert from University of Saskatchewan feels that we have gone a long way in trying to do this. I should also point out that these animals have been tested numerous times and so far - except for the reindeer and they have been cleared of any serious disease - we have an almost perfect record.
Mr. Harding: I do have some concerns about using a veterinarian as an expert in the consideration of whether or not the industry stacks up for the simple reason that veterinarians have an economic stake in the industry. Veterinarians get a lot of business in wildlife testing and, certainly, if the industry is eliminated - while they have a domestic market to exercise their trade in - they lose that new market. I do not consider that to be a neutral opinion, and I think that we have to take that with a grain of salt.
Also, there seems to be so much polarization around this issue. You get the game growers associations who say there is absolutely nothing to it. We have one gentleman in the Yukon who has been doing it for 800 years and has not had a problem and all the problems everywhere else in Canada are totally the figments of the imaginations of people who are out to get him.
We have a lot of problems with people on the other side of the spectrum who are philosophically opposed to it and are not prepared to look at anything in the way of putting wild animals behind fences except in the most unusual circumstances.
I have seen documentation that testing of domestic animals does not always transfer well to indigenous wildlife; therefore, it is hard to determine whether or not they are disease free.
What are the Ministers views on both the point of the veterinarians having an economic stake and secondly the test work not always being accurate on wild animals.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This is a veterinarian who works at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, so I cannot see where he is operating a commercial business at all; he is in a college studying and probably teaching people there. Although in some ways I sympathize with the Member; I sometimes wonder about these people who are so tied up in a profession that they cannot see the other side of it. Sometimes the ordinary people like us wonder what they are doing, but they usually have a really good reason for what they are doing. I am quite pleased that this individual would write to us and the fact that we sent him the game regulations shows that we are trying.
On the question of tests not always working out, I would have to point out that the way the present regulations are right now, the breeding stock would be coming from our animals here. Most of this stock came from Elk Island; there is only one animal that I know of that came from the United States and it was kept for a long, long time in Alberta under quarantine and tested before it came up here. I do not think, as I understand from talking with the game growers, that they really want to bring in any more animals. They are in the position now where they would like to be able to export. This is good breeding stock that they have.
The Member for Faro asked how we know they are not diseased. I always hear the argument that they are diseased because they are behind a fence. For instance, the buffalo here have never been tested. Once we put those buffalo in a field and fence them, they are going to have to be tested all the time. How do we know that the wild animals out there do not have diseases?
For instance, in Wood Buffalo National Park there are 4,000 animals that they figure have tuberculosis. What do you do with them? If you try to shoot them, you get in trouble, yet they are spreading disease.
The Member also mentioned game ranching a couple of times. We have said there is no game ranching and I think that, as long as I am here and have any say, there never will be game ranching. I am saying right now that the government game ranched because they turned them loose. They have a situation here where they turned elk into the wild. If that is not game ranching, technically, what is? If the government turns domestic stock wild, it is not game ranching, but if an individual does it, they are game ranching. This has to be balanced. I have no hesitation as to what they were doing when they turned the elk loose, because those elk were born and raised in the Yukon; they have been tested - almost every year, vets came in from outside to go through the animals. Sure, a mistake could happen. In everything a human being does, a mistake can happen, but I think we are in a very good position by having done this slowly. I give credit to the Members on the other side. I do not mean this in a sarcastic way; actually, they started game farming and made the first regulation in 1989. I do not think that was bad. In fact, if I remember correctly, I agreed with what they were doing.
They were trying to set up and diversify the industry. These regulations are replacing the temporary ones; we have gone ahead with almost the same policy.
If you ask me if I can guarantee that 100 percent, I would say no. I have been around long enough to know that I would not guarantee anything 100 percent.
I think that we have good control and I have to agree with this veterinarian here, whether you do or not, that we have a good chance to keep Yukon disease free as long as we watch what we do, go slower and make sure that we have things right as we go along.
Mr. Harding: I would like to discuss a few points on that.
I could put some credence in the letter from the vet that the Member showed us, but I have seen much documentation on the other side of the issue. I think what you have to look at is what has and has not happened.
You could stack all the experts up on either side. If you wanted to have a contest on that, it probably would not be too effective. I think the best judge of what can and cannot work is the results of game farming.
I have read Hansard and the now-Ministers comments when he was in Opposition regarding the issue and he expressed many concerns about the issue, so I know at that time he shared some concerns about the actions of the previous government regarding game farming.
The issue has been heightened in the last two to three years and a lot of information has come to light in that period. I certainly do not know whether the previous government had all that information - they could not have, because a lot of that information was not available when they made the decisions. It is rather futuristic and they did make some decisions that perhaps, in hindsight - which is always 20/20 - may or may not have been good decisions. Some in the game growers industry would say that they should never have placed a moratorium on the industry.
When I look at what is happening in jurisdictions across Canada and some of the tax dollars that have been spent on the industry, I think that it was a good decision, but it is certainly controversial with the game growers association, whose livelihoods are based on that industry.
As for game farming and the premise that perhaps wildlife in the bush could have disease, you could turn that argument around, because the Member for Riverdale North made that same argument about the goldfish: that they could have diseases.
There is no question that indigenious wildlife has disease; I have seen it myself, but that is nature and it has a tendency to take care of itself. When you start inserting the hand of humans you start to change the equation.
There must have been some confusion regarding game ranching, because I read in the December issues of Hansard that the Minister himself said he supported game ranching. The question was in regard to the support of ranching versus farming. He said he supported it, but he was not committed to it. That was in December. That was somewhat confusing to me. I am glad to see now that there is no policy for game ranching. At least when the government does something with the elk and bison that came from a park, which is not enclosed - it is like saying that the Dall sheep in Kluane are domesticated - we know that we can be assured that they are going to put the resources into it. We should feel assured that the elk that are released into the wild are as disease free as possible. I get a bit concerned when someone in the private sector tries it, because we cannot be as assured as we would if it were done by government - from my point of view, anyway.
I am satisfied that the Member is aware of the problems of the industry. I guess the fundamental question I want to ask the Minister is: given all the problems with exotic and even indigenous animals, such as in Alberta with the elk, what, in his mind, justifies the industry and its further development in the Yukon, when weighed against some of the problems in other jurisdictions in Canada? I know the Minister is well-versed in these issues.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It is a diverse industry. I know that Alberta sent two game growers to Europe. Although there are 50,000 buffalo fenced in Alberta, they cannot keep up with the meat demand in Europe. There is a market there. The buffalo and the elk can stand our winters more than most animals. They eat less than cattle, so they use less land. Land is a real tough situation, as the farmers cannot get much and have to keep within 65 hectares. Cattle cannot live on this. Cattle destroy areas in which they are confined much faster than these animals do. They can acclimatize to the Yukon very quickly. In fact, buffalo were here long before I was and long before Mr. Chairs grandfather.
The Member mentioned the elk that the game farmers have. They were all received from the government here. They were brought in from Elk Island, which was completely fenced in. The Member for Faro disagrees with that, and I would like to hear why.
It is an industry that local families can follow. Experts do not need to be brought in, except for vets once a year. The Canada Department of Agriculture helps us with that.
He mentioned that I mentioned game farming once. I believe that was in a question that was asked here. They said the party policy was game ranching. I pointed out, at that time, that game ranching and game farming were two different things. He is right that an awful lot of people confuse the two.
Ranching is keeping them completely in the wild. If one were to bring them in for that purpose, I would have a problem with it. The way we have done it is the government brought them in and then sold the breeding stock to other people. Now the other people have brought that breeding stock up to where they can resell it. That is business. Those animals have passed all the tests that have ever been asked of them. I think it is an industry that will grow. It will not grow quickly, because our game regulations will prevent it from growing too quickly.
I agree with the moratorium. I had to lift it a little bit and I hope that people will understand why. I did not bring any other animals in. In fact, I have done just about what the Yukon Fish and Game Association asked, except they will argue that I fenced some that I should not have.
You are right that you can go to three biologists and get three answers. Believe me, I went the caribou management plan and I can give you a thousand experts and every one of them has a different answer. I guess when you get to that position, the buck stops here. I made the decision on the caribou management plan. I got support from my department, and I feel that the Yukon should be proud of what we did and the success we had taking that program through the way we did, without causing the ruckus that was happening in other countries. That is because everybody worked and cooperated, including the Tourism department and everybody. Do not think that we did not sweat this out.
You can put 25 biologists, or 25 geologists, or anybody, in a room and you are going to get at least 12 or 14 different answers; you are right. I have to agree with that, but somewhere along the line you have to take the advice of someone. If you have people working for your department, surely you have enough confidence in them that you think that they know what they are talking about. I do; I have known most of them for a long time. I feel they are trying.
Yes, they make mistakes. We all make mistakes. I have made mistakes and I will make lots more before I go, probably, but at least you are trying. When you make a mistake, I hope the big thing is that you have brains enough to admit that you have made it and turn around and correct it, and that next time you do not make the same mistake.
Mr. Harding: I will have questions regarding the Champagne and Aishihik wolf kill for the Member in due course here. We have pretty much, as far as I am concerned, satisfied my urge to debate the issue of game farming. I do have some reservations about it. I think that elected people have to be very careful about taking philosophical approaches to things, unless you make the electorate very aware, prior to being elected, of where you are heading regarding the industry and what your feelings are.
I am looking at a hypothetical situation where you took a policy that you were going to eliminate the industry of game farming. The public should know that, as well as the game farmers and everybody. It is not as simple as a lot of people think. It is not as simple as the game growers think. It is not as simple as the people philosophically opposed to it think. I do have some reservations about taking either of those extreme approaches.
In some ways I am pleased. I am worried, though, that what may happen is that we end up in a crisis situation because of some sort of outbreak. Then what will happen, is the - what is that expression? I guess I cannot say it in here - will hit the fan, and we are going to have some real problems. I would just urge the government to exercise due diligence to ensure that all bases are covered regarding the industry.
It is a major concern to a lot of the people on both sides of the issue. I went to a debate on wildlife management; some people spoke to me about the issue. There are some real, real concerns out there, and there are a lot of people who do not understand the issue, one way or the other.
I can appreciate the position the Minister is in regarding this issue. It is a tough one. I have not seen enough demonstrated economic success to say that I know for a fact it outweighs the potential harm, or risk, of the industry, which is my biggest problem with it. The markets in Europe have been spoken about. As an MLA, I have been sent the literature put out by the lobby groups, the Canadian game growers, and I have also been sent the literature by lobby groups on the other side. I have seen it; I know what both arguments are. My concern is that I am not so sure there is a local market for it. I have spoken to a lot of people. They say that, if they want moose, elk or wild meat, they will go out and shoot their own. I do not know if there is a local market for it. If the game growers get a good European market, they will be able to do it, but we are a long way from that. In B.C. and other warmer climates, I would expect the costs would be much lower for the production of the product.
If the Minister wants to make some closing comments on it, I will close for now.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I am glad the Member is taking the attitude he is. Number one, I have problems with the whole issue. I am convinced that the ones here have been successful. Right now, I would have to agree with him that the meat is not for local people, but I might point out that once the umbrella final agreement is settled, wild meat will not be that easy to get, since 75 percent of each area goes to the First Nations people. That is going to cut that down.
Right now, for the hunters going out, the success rate is probably less than 10 percent. Here is an example where the wild meat would come in useful.
Right now, we are having problems with lake trout fish. We have had to designate some lakes as lakes where fish must be released, yet the lodges all along the highway advertise lake trout as a specialty.
If we had game meat, I would suspect this would cut the trout down by 50 percent, because of the fact that people like to eat wild meat. White Pass, at Bennett, used to serve that for years. When you stopped there for lunch going to Skagway, they would give you moose meat, until it was stopped. I agree with that, because that was from wild animals, and you cannot use wild animals commercially.
The Member says it is not a success. I do not think you have given it a fair chance. We only have six; we had eight. The next step in this is an abattoir, whether people like it or not, where we can butcher this meat. If it is butchered and put up, then it can be shipped out of here frozen. It is restaurants that will buy it. For instance, there used to be a restaurant here, and I do not know if anybody still does it, but they used to bring in reindeer from the Northwest Territories. They could not keep up with that.
People want to taste it, it was a delicacy, and it will be here for a long time. People taking part on bus tours would love to eat this, but there are a number of things that have to be done. Number one, they have to be taught how to cook it - for all of these chefs who go through these fancy schools, cooking this meat is a little different.
Mr. Harding: Did the Member for Riverdale North pass a funny joke about the Member for Faro?
I want to make one comment. The Minister had me wrong. I did not say that it was not an unequivocal success; I did not say that it was. What I did say is that I am not convinced, at this point, that the potential benefit outweighs the potential risk.
I know that some of the game farmers have been very successful here. I will leave my comments there, as my colleague, the Member for Mayo-Tatchun, has some questions.
Mr. Joe: Would the Minister tell me what he thinks about the renewable resources council? What is their job?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I presume you are talking about the renewable resources council in Mayo, which was put in as a trial. We do not have to put them in until the umbrella final agreement is signed, but we went ahead and used money from the territorial government to start a trial one.
The councils are to make regulations in their area, work with Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board and give advice to the government in that area.
Right now, the council is in the working stage, and there are some problems with it. It is a new thing, it is new for the department, and it is new for those people who are just getting into it.
We have to solve our problems and keep working together, and we are trying to do this as much as we can. Once the umbrella final agreement is settled, there will be 14 renewable resource councils. They will work with the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board and then they will come to the government with their recommendations.
The government then has to make the decision of whether it blindly accepts what they have recommended, or whether he gets advice from other individuals, such as biologists, that this does not actually stand up, biologically, to what they are saying.
I think that the Member for Faro is quite right that you cannot use your own personal opinion. You have to try to know what is the best for everyone, not just what you think personally. This is very hard to get out of people, including the present Minister and a few other people. You have to think about these things very hard before you turn around and countermand any of these.
However, the renewable resources councils are a fact of life and, although we only have one right now, we are doing it because it is a trial council, and we have to put the money in. Once the umbrella final agreement is signed, there will be money for other councils and, eventually, there will be 14 of them.
Mr. Joe: Does the Minister feel that government is spending too much money on the resource council?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: This year we are spending $36,000 on the one at Mayo and they have to come in within the budget - this is something that we had problems with. The larger one was running all over the place and was not under budget. We are trying to get them under budget. One cannot run anything that is not under budget. If something special comes up, a special amount of money will be put there. Do we spend too much money on them? If I was a Finance Minister, I would say yes; as the Minister of Renewable Resources, I say no. That is a fight we even have among ourselves as Ministers in the government.
Mr. Joe: The Minister is prepared to give the money and he realizes the need to do the job but will he show the First Nation the respect they deserve by listening to their advice?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: In the case of Mayo, the money is given to the First Nations group and they give it back to the renewable resource council. I think that we respected them. They gave us some recommendations that we did not accept. I think that is the privilege of the Minister - it states right in there that they are an advisory body. I think that if you look at the record, there are very few we do turn down. There are some that we turned down for reasons that we explained to them, and I think that some of them have accepted what we did; others have not.
The large board made a recommendation to the other government to do something and Mr. Webster turned that down. He had his reasons; I have no problem with that. When they are turned down, you take a great kicking on this side of the House - but we get paid for that. I find that a lot of people - I guess it is bred in me and everyone else - use their own personal dislikes of something - an industry or something - and you go after that without realizing what it does for the whole Yukon.
As far as treating them with disrespect, I am unaware of that since I have been here. I have been to Mayo and met with them - not as much as I would like to because we spend a lot of time in here. I would like to get around to all the other First Nations.
I think that we are moving. We do not do everything they ask. Once some of these committees get going, they take the attitude that they are running the government. Somewhere the line has to be drawn, because the buck stops here and we cannot always do everything.
If there is a case where they have been treated with disrespect, I would appreciate knowing, so that we can correct it.
Mr. Joe: I would like to thank the Minister. This renewable resource council is very important to the land claims. I think this is a step that will show the people that we are working together.
I know that when I first started in this House, Members always complained about too many newcomers coming in from outside, usually bureaucrats. This is what it is all about. We have to get our own people working together - people who are long-time Yukoners who have experience. Those people do not have too nice a job. By doing their job, I think they are going to learn more and more and become more experienced, especially those people who get more young people involved in training.
I have more questions for the Minister. Many people feel that the caribou in the Aishihik area would not be in as bad shape if only the Department of Renewable Resources had listened to what the elders were saying years ago. Will the Minister take the advice of the elders and those people who live on the land?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I think I got most of what he said. I agree that we have to have the young people trained. That is one of the big problems we have right now. This land claim settlement is going so fast that all the people who have a good education are employed. We have to go back and convince younger people to go to school to do these jobs.
I have to say that I have done my best since I have been here. I meet once a month with the members of the Fish and Wildlife Management Board and the CYI. I asked the department to go out to all the people involved in the caribou management plan - the Champagne/Aishihik Band, the Kluane Council, some from the White River Band and some from Carmacks. I found that these have been very good, and the department is now going out on their own and meeting with these people. We are trying. This is a slow process. It cannot be done overnight.
I am trying to build that up. Whether I succeed or not is another question. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not. The Members statement about the caribou herd - lots of them would be there if we had done this two or three years ago - I cannot answer. I was not here; I have only been here seven months. I did not act as fast as I could, and I am not going to criticize anyone before me. It is a fact of life, and each person has to make a decision. He has to make it on the knowledge and the things he has been told. I made my decision one way, the other Minister made it another way, and I am not prepared to comment any more on that.
Mr. Joe: The Minister made an announcement yesterday about the poisoning. Does he believe that discovering the poison spread around the area explains why there were so many fewer wolves found this spring?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: If he is talking about the Aishihik area, where we did the wolf control program, we have no proof. We have never found one animal in there that was poisoned, although I must point out that, in the court case, they were just charged with counselling to poison. The Justice department fined them on that, but they had no proof there was one killed.
With this new one, we do not know where it comes into this situation. I want to be very careful not to say too much on this, because I would not want to damage any court case we get into. I want to get whomever did this, and I would feel really rotten if I said something they could use against us when the time comes.
Mr. Joe: Is the Ministers department thinking about a wolf control program anywhere else in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: That is a loaded question. I would hope that I would not have to do it in my term of office. However, I do know that Carmacks has a problem, Teslin has problems, and I know we have to prove this one definitely. It will take at least two years to definitely know if it worked. I would say, up to the two years, no, because, number one, if we start another program, we would have to give two years where we cut the hunting and so on off, so it is in the future. The First Nations people have told me quite often that they want to do this. However, having gone through it once - and we hope we have survived and not hurt the tourist business - I would want to know definitely that, not only was the Finlayson one a success, but that the Aishihik one also was, before I started another one.
Mr. Joe: Have there been any studies this spring, or any studies planned, to count the number of caribou and moose calves born in the Aishihik area to see how many of them survive?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes, we are doing ongoing studies. Of the $515,000 spent on this thing, only $127,000 was spent for wolf removal. The rest is for collaring caribou, moose and wolves. We will be going back over the area this spring. I hope, when they go back in July, they can come back and tell me that we are getting a lot more than seven calves per 100,000 caribou, and I hope the moose will also be coming up, too.
Mr. Joe: What plan is there for the trap exchange program, or something like it, to continue so trappers can be sure they can sell their furs to Europe?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We plan to continue it, and it is in the budget for next year. As long as I am around, there will be money to encourage trapping, as much as I can, and also to help any organization that is combating the environmentalists around the world who are trying to stop it.
Mr. Harding: I think it is now appropriate for me to move into the caribou management program. It is an issue that I hold near and dear to me, and I know the Minister also does. He talked fondly about the cooperative effort between Tourism and Renewable Resources. It has been a very political issue in this territory. It has been used by the Members opposite to say that they had a commonsense, cut-to-the-bone approach to things, and they did it as soon as they could when they got into office. The Member for Riverdale North has talked about the lack of guts shown by the previous administration, and that sort of thing, by not going right in there and mowing down the wolves.
I have to get into a little bit of the philosophy behind the Minister and his thinking regarding this issue. For example, the previous government stopped hunting in the area for a couple of years prior to the kill being done. Does the Minister think that was a good policy?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes. If the Member had listened to the question from the Member for Mayo-Tatchun, I said that. I said that before any others could go on, we would have to stop hunting for two years. Yes, I agree with that.
Mr. Harding: Then, the Minister said he would talk to the elders. He said he was not going to criticize the previous administration, because he has done that before. From that, I got the feeling that he felt the previous administration had lallygagged around and had not gotten to it. Then, he said there had been requests from other First Nations to do it, and he has said he has to prove it and make absolutely sure - and it may take a couple of years - that there is a problem there before he wades in and does it.
Will he concede that, perhaps, it might have been the best option to stop hunting for a couple of years and make sure that absolutely, unequivocally, there was scientific proof to justify the kill in the first place?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: If you look at this politically, you have to go this way, whether you like it or not. If we came into a position where there was complete slaughter and a danger, I suppose I would grab the bit between my teeth and go again, but I would be very reluctant, realizing the things that we went through, and realizing, quite frankly, that we stood up to a couple of people here that the rest of the world does not seem to be able to understand or stand up to. We got away with it, and they left.
I certainly would not invite danger that might hurt the tourism business, and it may hurt the Yukon to do this, unless there were a complete emergency. If a complete emergency were proven to me, and I could prove it to the Cabinet, I would. I feel that the way the world is right now, you have to do more or less ranching. That is to cull when you need to cull, to keep the balance of nature. Admittedly, I, like anybody else, have heard that hunting has something to do with this, but what are you going to do with the people who want to hunt? Do they have no rights? Do you always have to listen to the other side, or do you have to listen to both?
The program that we put on is not so much for the hunters, because their take in that area was not that great. They are not killing the calves. The calves are being killed. If you are given a position where all your new stock is being killed and your old stock is dying out, you make a decision. Do you want to get it so low that it cannot come back, or do you go in and do it? It is not a pleasant situation. I would not pin myself, or anybody, down to say absolutely you would not do it unless certain things come, because you do not know what is going to happen. Nature is a funny thing, and you have to look at these things. If you have gone through it, and I have gone through it twice now, it is not a very pleasant situation. I can sleep at night, because I feel that I made the right decision, and I will live with that for the rest of my life.
Mr. Harding: I also think that, because this was such a desperate situation, we also had some concern about it. My main concern, and that of our party, contrary to the one speech that I heard by the Member for Riverdale North, never changed position. We put out two press releases regarding how we felt about it. It was reported differently twice. That is something beyond our control, the Yukon News printed it one way, and the Whitehorse Star printed it another.
We do have some concerns about the fact that the government may be looking at this as a management tool. The Minister just said that, sometimes, you have to cull, when you have to hunt. I really have a problem with that. I am not philosophically opposed to the kill. I think that there was an emergency circumstance there. What I am opposed to is the using of it as a management tool on an ongoing basis. I think it is only a crisis situation management technique.
I looked to the government to adopt the wolf management plan. I know they threw some parts of it out, but I believe that they will probably be the least favourable of the wolf management plan in the eyes of the public - that is, having tags for wolves, and that sort of thing. There were aspects of the plan that I thought were quite good, because they looked at challenging the problems pro-actively.
Fortunately, much of it would have been quite expensive, but to me the argument for that expense was that we are paying for it now. We are paying for it in the loss of wildlife; we are paying for it in the loss to the Yukon of what would be considered as a pristine wilderness by people who we depend on for tourism.
It may have a cumulative effect; perhaps it did not hit the tourism industry as hard as some expected this year, but it may have a cumulative effect because people come here because they think it is pristine. If word gets around that in order to have healthy populations of animals so that they do not become extinct, we have to shoot wolves from helicopters-
Secondly, I think the problem with not looking to pro-active, long-term solutions is that we will end up in this boat again, and the Minister just talked about a couple of areas. We are going to pay for it now in that we pay for it in the cost of the kill; we pay for it in the biological work to justify the kill; we pay for it in the valuable time of the Minister, who was wrapped up in public relations trying to sell the wolf kill when he could have been doing other things - as he said, it is not a very pleasant thing to do.
I would like to hear the Ministers views about long-term management and the wolf management plan, and his views as to whether or not he believes the wolf kill is a management tool that should be used on an ongoing basis in any situation where we have a decrease in the population of animals.
Chair: Is it the wish of the Members to take a brief recess at this time?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Mr. Chairman let me answer the Members question before I forget the answer over recess.
Chair: Mr. Brewster.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The Member mentioned that we were conducting the wolf management to enhance hunting. Let me point out that the majority of places that we go are to the First Nations people, which under the umbrella final agreement we are required to do. The First Nations are hunting, whether you like it or not. If that is who you mean, yes, we are doing it for hunting. We are not implementing the management program for resident hunters like yourself. You are going to be on a quota shortly, whether you like it or not.
I said that the wolf management plan - and I still maintain it - has been reviewed by the First Nations; I will try to get it into Cabinet, but there are problems with it.
I am not going to look back and say what I would have done. It was not a good consultation program and I went to the meetings. Maybe this is a new style of consulting with people, but it did not fly. It was a different situation and a different way. The Members were not sitting there, only the one person, Mr. Bailey, and in Haines Junction there were two of them.
People are not used to that, but perhaps we have to get used to it. I am used to going to meetings where the whole board sits there, or a percentage of the board, and you can ask questions.
One of the members of that board sat beside me, but he would not sit up front. I do not know if they were instructed that way; I am not going to go back and judge any person on the board. We have it in place now and there is a great deal of it that my department can handle.
I see the Member is smiling - in other words, the joker here is sending a message to the joker there and I am trying to talk seriously.
The First Nations were not consulted. That was the first thing that they said to me when I came into this position. That is right and is something that people do not understand.
In Haines Junction, we do not go to the school and expect the First Nations to come there. We go to their village. People have to start realizing this. That is not the way it is done. It is a protocol system that goes on. That is a fact of life. They are not comfortable up there at that meeting, but they are at their place. This has to be done and it was not done.
I am not criticizing anyone. I am not sure what the orders or the terms of reference were. I am just saying that I went to a fair amount of these meetings and they just did not work. The department is using a great deal of it as guidelines now. If we can get the First Nations on hand, I will try and get it through Cabinet. That is all I can say.
Chair: Is it the wish of the House to have a recess at this time?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will have a brief recess at this time.
Chair: I will now call the Committee of Whole to order. Is there further general debate?
Mr. Harding: I want to ask the Minister a very simple question - I asked it before, and we got sort of tied up as I asked two or three questions in one question. Does the Minister believe that wolf killing is a management tool that should be used on an ongoing basis? Does he believe, philosophically, that it is an effective way of dealing with under-populated ungulate areas?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes, to some extent. The wolf is not all to blame. However, if you look at this from all sides - socially, and that - it is the one that is the easiest to sell, and none of them are easy to sell.
I recall, the last time I was in here, they wanted to get rid of 60 grizzly bears when I first became Minister. Believe me, I had a problem with that. The wolf management plan is a way that seems to be acceptable, even though there is disagreement with it. Although it is not officially one of ours, we are using it for a guideline. As we have said, once the First Nations have had a look at it, I will try to get it through, because the department believed that they could live with it.
I might point out that, in the Finlayson area - and, possibly, the Member for Faro is aware of it - we now have around 8,000 caribou in there, and the wolf population is up over and above what it was before.
Mr. Harding: So, if the Minister had to deal with the problems of low ungulate populations - even if they were not as low as the numbers in the Aishihik area - he would feel that a good solution to the problem would be a wolf kill. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I am sorry, I got talking and did not hear the question. Could he ask it once more?
Mr. Harding: I asked the Minister whether, if we were dealing with declining populations - not emergency lows such as the area of Aishihik but we had considerably less ungulates in our area than was considered a safe level for their continued existence - he would think that a wolf kill was an effective solution?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I would point out that I know it is an effective solution; whether it is the right one or not, I do not know. However, I must point out that they never should go down as low as these did. For instance, we lost roughly another 100 this winter. This puts us very, very low. The Burwash herd is really, really low; whether it will come back or not is another question.
The other thing we have to weigh, very shortly I hope, once the final umbrella agreement is signed, is that we have to keep the other animals up to a certain standard so that the First Nations have enough food. We are signing an agreement, and if we sign it we will have to keep it. Also, the wolf management plan gives us a position. If we are able to get that through and accepted completely, it tells us pretty well where we should and should not go on this. But we also have to weigh our commitments to the First Nations at the same time.
Mr. Harding: The Minister probably introduced to me a way of asking the question that was more appropriate. By way of explanation, I believe it is effective; killing wolves increases the number of caribou in an area. There is no question about that. I guess the question that I wanted to ask is: does he think it is the right solution? I personally do not. I think it is expensive. I think it is proactive. I think it is economically damaging. I think it is socially damaging.
If you had an area populated by caribou and they were in declining numbers, to address that, would a wolf kill be the right situation in the Ministers opinion?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Number one, you would have to weigh that by looking at the biological information that is being given to you by the people who radio collar them, count them, and such things. I still maintain that it is the right solution. I do not like it. I have told hundreds of people all over Canada and the United States that if they have a better way to do this, I personally would be the happiest man in the world.
As people move further into the world, you have to start managing animals. We have this argument with people all of the time. To me, it is much more appropriate to manage wolves, than it is, for instance, to start getting rid of grizzly bears. A sow might have three cubs in 10 years, where a wolf will have five, six or perhaps even seven pups every year. If you look at the two things, it is much easier, socially, and even with the environmentalists, to manage wolves than other species. If the Member has a better suggestion, my door has been open for a long time.
Mr. Harding: I guess we are philosophically opposed on this issue. Whereas I can support the action for the Aishihik herd, my concern is that it becomes an ongoing practice of handling these situations. I think that in the areas where we have declining numbers now, we should look at other solutions to the problem. I understand the needs of the First Nations and subsistence hunting and I think that resource councils are going to be beneficial.
I believe that first and foremost, subsistence hunting needs have to be taken care of. Secondly, I believe that resident needs must be addressed, and third, non-resident hunting needs, in that order. To me, that is the way it should be handled. As for other suggestions, I believe that the wolf management conservation plan had some good suggestions for proactive management. It started to look at some areas where we have had some declining numbers that have also been indicated by the Minister today.
Whereas I can support the Aishihik kill, I have got a real problem elsewhere. In the long term, I think it is socially damaging and economically damaging.
This plan worked out fairly well because there was a lot of work done. To use the word of the Minister, it was proven that there was a scientific decline. We have a lot of scientific back-up. I know the Minister, when he was in Opposition, thought it was more straight ahead than that. As a Minister now, I am sure he can appreciate that he had that scientific backup. Second of all, there was a two-year hunting ban. When people asked why not just stop hunting, you could say that it was tried for two years and it did not seem to work.
If he had just said that they did not think they should try that, he probably would have faced a lot more heat.
The Member for Riverdale North wants me to stop. I feel very strongly about this. It has to be documented. The Member for Riverdale North can read it when he goes to bed tomorrow night.
Let us get into another area, if we want to talk about possible long-term proactive solutions. I remember the Minister gave a pretty cranky speech regarding renewable resources a while back in the Legislature. It involved the idea that people are going to have to start to learn that they are not going to be able to do some of the things they have always been able to do. I was not sure what he was getting at. Now is the time, I guess, to ask him.
I know he has talked about quotas for outfitters. I think that is a long time coming and much needed. There has also been some discussion in the territory regarding a territory-wide permit system for game. How does the Minister feel about that and what is he implementing or has he implemented anything in those areas?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I think I have publicly stated a number of times that we will all be on a quota in a short time. We are already talking with the outfitters about it at the present time. I firmly believe in the permit system, because it controls how many people can go into one area and hunt. It takes the pressure off these areas. We are working on all this. We are now trying a system where we might put out 10 licences, but they are only for 30 days. If one person does not get a moose, that licence will go out again because, biologically, they tell me that we can get out a few more moose. Actually, we only end up with 10, but we give everybody a longer hunting period. Our success rate for hunters is very low. If they are a lot like me, they like to go out and enjoy the country. I suspect a few of them have one of those little brown jugs with them and do not really hunt that much, but they enjoy being out there. It is part of resident hunting. I think they enjoy it, even if they do not get their animal. They would love to get one. The permit system helps to control this. The department is trying this in four or five different areas to see if we can make this system work.
Mr. Harding: That is encouraging to hear. We have not talked about this officially, but I think it would be a tough issue in the Yukon. A lot of people think it is their divine right to have a crack at a moose every year and there is a lot of concern over areas that have been closed and never reopened, which people feel should be reopened, and that type of thing. The Minister would probably end up getting some support from this side if some things like that are looked at.
In terms of a priority base for our renewable resources, would the Minister agree that it should be subsistence hunting first and foremost, secondly, resident hunting, then third, non-resident hunting, in terms of priority of access to our resources?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Theoretically, I suppose one could say I agree with that but it would depend on the amount of game. There are different areas where a quota could be set for the outfitters and there would be enough for subsistence hunting and for resident hunting at the same time without bothering it, but there are other areas where the pressure has been too great for too long and that cannot be done. One has to judge the different areas of the Yukon for how it can be done, and that is one of the problems with trying to figure out a quota that could affect the whole Yukon. If a system like that is to be adopted, people will have to be told they cannot hunt in a certain area but will have to go to another one to keep the balance.
Personally, yes, I agree with what the Member is saying and the way the system should go - the three different interest groups should be included. The first one we have to have, without a doubt, is subsistence for the First Nations. I do not think we can close the outfitters off completely; they bring in a great deal of money. I think we are coming around to where there will be a quota system and, in the long run, this will be a benefit. They may have to balance the number of hunters they take out but, in the long run, I think it will balance things and give them security at the same time, whereas right now they do not have security.
Mr. Harding: Until I got elected, I really had no idea how much opposition there was in the territory to the outfitting industry. I have encountered a lot of it here in the Whitehorse area, particularly, and also in some of the communities I visited. I talked to a lot of First Nations people about it and that type of thing. They firmly believe that the effect it has on the wildlife and removal - primarily in the case of moose and caribou - from the gene pool of the most prime animals has a damaging effect on the situation regarding our renewable resources. Some people have expressed the belief that they should go to cameras and that type of thing, and that the damaging effects outweigh the positive and economic impact they have. It was quite surprising to me but, nonetheless, it is out there and I just want to know what the Minister feels about that.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I have heard the same things in quite a few places. When I travelled with the select committee with the Hon. Art Webster, we heard those comments in some places and in other places we did not. I also agree with the Member when he says that the First Nations say they do not want them in their areas, but I also agree that the First Nations say that they do not want anyone else hunting in their areas. How does one judge the rights? You have to weigh the whole thing.
During our last travels around the territory, before we took it to the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board, there were a number of areas - and this rather surprised me - that said there was room for the outfitters and they did not want them closed off. It is an issue that must be weighed day by day, or month by month, however people feel about the issue.
The select committee found, in every area we went to, that everyone would say that this is their hunting area and that everyone else must stay away. We cannot do that realistically, especially with local hunters, because most of them are from Whitehorse and we have to disperse them or they are not going to be able to hunt. We cannot say that people from Whitehorse cannot hunt, but the people from Mayo can have all the resources to themselves and no other hunters can hunt. This is the problem that has to be weighed; therefore, I think we would be better off with a quota system, so that we can tell these people that they can go to area A or B and we can control who is hunting where.
Everyone is hunting in the Finlayson herd now because there is great hunting. The Member is right; we spent a lot of money to do that, but we do not want the game populations to decline because it is overhunted. Do we tell those people they cannot hunt any more because they are all hunting in the Finlayson herd? We have to disperse the hunters, and until we can do that we have to know that there is enough game in each area to do that.
We have a problem in Champagne/Aishihik now with the First Nations and other people who want to get their moose from there; they have to hunt elsewhere to get it, because there is not enough to go around.
I do not think we can blame any one group; these things happen. It did not happen over the course of one or two years, it has been building up. I agree that it should not happen, but it did. Why cry about that? Let us try to straighten this around. If we can be as successful as we have been with the Finlayson caribou herd, we can do this. If we watch game populations and do not allow them to decline, it will not affect us.
The other thing that we have to consider is the cost to control wildlife, manage it and see that everyone has what they want. In this modern world, it is going to cost an awful lot of money, because scientific studies have to be conducted in order to reach a compromise with all sides. Mainly, you have to believe in what you are doing, hang on and take a beating while you are at it.
If you know that you have most of the people in your area behind you, I think this should drive you to do it, regardless of what people say in some other part of the country.
People have given me good arguments on that topic; they say that we do not have a right to do anything with the wildlife because of someone who is living in New York City.
I do not have the answer to that, except that I feel that I was elected to look after the people in my area and, when I became a Minister, to do the best I could for the people in the rest of the area. Therefore, I went ahead with this, because I felt they were right, particularly the elders. As the Member for Mayo-Tatchun said, if we had done this earlier, we would have done it cheaper. If we had done this 20 years ago, it would have been way cheaper - but we did not, and there is no good crying over that now.
We are right that it is going to cost. The only thing that I can say on it is that it may cost a little less each time, because we now have two areas. I presume, by saying that, that this area will be as successful as Aishihik, and I am 100 percent sure it will. Then, we will have two areas, and we can use that information to go to other areas.
Mr. Harding: I do find that prospect a little scary, because I do not want to use the positive effect of the wolf kill at the Champagne-Aishihik area to justify another one. I would rather see us look at pro-active, positive things. I do not want to cry over spilled milk, either.
One can talk about doing it right away, but the Minister knows, and said today in the House, that he has to prove it, then have a two year hunting ban, and go through some of those things, if he is ever going to justify it. I am not talking about crying over spilled milk. I believe that some of the things we have talked about - permits, quotas and futuristic pro-active ways of looking of things - might help us so we do not have to do that expensive kill again.
Someone I spoke to awhile ago said to me - and I never really thought about it - that they close off the areas around Whitehorse for hunting, so everyone will head up the North Canol. What do you do? You end up with a bigger reduction, because there is more hunting going on in that area. So, permits would probably help address some of those things, because you can keep a better handle on what is being taken. You buy a moose licence right now, you can head up the North Canol, or wherever and, if it is a good year, you might knock off a lot more moose there.
By way of a simple answer, can the Minister tell me if he is committed by support to the outfitting industry? Is he committed to supporting that industry?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I have no problem supporting an industry that has helped the Yukon for many years. As long as they work with the department and are prepared to go to quotas, I support them. They are a business. I was in the business. It is not a dirty business, regardless of what people say. I support it.
Mr. Harding: The Minister should not take great offence to my questions. I first came up here to go to work for an outfitter in the Yukon. I am personally not opposed, but I have heard a lot of opposition. It is interesting. I do believe that they are last on the priority list in terms of dividing the resources that we do have in the Yukon, when they are as scarce and finite as they are.
Regarding outfitting, one of the things that has often bothered me is the distribution of the territories. I know that Alaska has a very different situation. Things have changed there in terms of who has the right to guide non-resident hunters. I am disturbed when I see people from outside Canada having that option. Because of the way the territories are distributed, I would even like to see people from inside the Yukon being able, on a priority basis, to gain access to the territories available in the Yukon. I know that three territories have been bought up by an Austrian gentleman. I think that is a very bad thing for the territory. I want to know how the Minister feels about that?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: When I went into the business, I always believed that it was a business for Yukoners. However, someone brought the bill of rights across from England and a few other things. As long as he is a Canadian citizen, we cannot stop him. I did not make those laws. I have much the same problem with it as the Member. I also have a problem with one person being able to own two or three outfits. There is no law telling me that I can stop it. Perhaps the Member for Riverside can tell me that, legally, I am wrong. I hope he can, but I do not think so.
Mr. Harding: Has the Minister investigated - or will he investigate - ways that we can address that problem through law or legislation? Also, if we cannot do it ourselves with controls, would he make representations to the federal government if they, in fact, have jurisdiction over this issue?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The Hon. Mr. Webster investigated it. He could not get anywhere. I have no problem investigating it, but I think that I can assure the Member that the government is not going to change the law just for Yukoners, even though we are a special place. We do not have enough influence to get that changed. It is the right of every Canadian, or anyone who lives in Canada, or even an immigrant, to do these things. They can only own 49 percent here - we do have that. That is not really satisfactory to me, but that is life and the best we could get. It has been there for a long time, and I agree that it is a problem.
Mr. Harding: I do not think that this situation is analogous to a lot of situations. We are talking about land here and rights to guide non-resident hunters. That is essentially what you are buying. Much of the land is not private. It is land held by the Crown. I think that is what the difference is from, for example, someone buying a location to build a store as a business. This is a matter involving Crown land and a right. We could legislate that there be no right to guide non-resident hunters. That would certainly be one way of stopping it. I do believe that we do have some jurisdiction in this matter. I think there is a major differentiation here between this situation and someone buying some property to build a store on. I do believe that there is a difference here. The Minister said that he would investigate it, but is he committing then to look at ways to address this problem for the territory?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I would just like to point out a couple of corrections. Number one, the outfitters do not have control over that land. They have the right to harvest only. Anybody else can go in. They do not have right over the land just as trappers do not have the right over the land, just the harvest. That lets it out as far as land ownership is concerned. I have no problem trying to look at it. However, I am not prepared to go so far that we end up in the Supreme Court fighting with somebody over it because we are not going to win it.
My own philosophy in life is that anybody in Canada has a right to go anywhere in Canada and do any legal business in Canada. I guess I have two philosophies on it. I do not like the situation the way it is, but I do not think that I can change it. Mr. Webster tried. That is two of us who have looked at it. If somebody can come up with an answer, I would be happy, but I do not think there is one right now.
Mr. Harding: I never did say that they had total control. I know that they buy the right to guide non-resident hunters in a certain area of land that is Crown land. That is what I said. I do believe it is a different situation. They buy a right, which is created by government and legislation, and there is a minimal amount of those territories. I believe there are 21 in the Yukon, and it is a pretty closed market, on that basis. I do believe it is wrong. The Minister does have two philosophical views on it, and I will not take the time now. I may come back to this in the mains, but I am asking the Minister to investigate the potential of fixing this situation. I personally have a real problem, especially with what happened with the three territories being bought up by these Austrian gentlemen. I think it is bad for the Yukon.
Perhaps the Minister could tell me something. During the December session, we had some discussions surrounding gun control and how we were trying to get out from under the auspices of those regulations that were being brought in by the federal government. Can the Minister give us some of his feelings about it and exactly what came of that?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We did not get anywhere with the regulations; however, we now have an area where we can train people on guns, and such things as that. The government in Ottawa convinced us that the regulations are going to stay the way they are. We are not happy with that, but that is what they gave us.
We are putting training programs on so that people are not, shall we say, harassed by the police, and a few things like that.
Mr. Harding: There are a number of issues I would like to discuss in the mains, and I will give the Minister the information by way of notice. If no other colleagues have questions, we can then move into the line by line.
Once again, I will be approaching this issue of outfitting territories being bought up by people from the outside. I will be asking the Minister his views about all-terrain vehicles in the territory. Right now, we have precious little legislation. It is a very controversial issue, but there is a lot of concern voiced to me regarding four-wheelers and the access it gives people they otherwise would not have and what it does to the environment, what can be transported and left behind in the territory. I am concerned about some of our laws for cleanliness, tidiness and litter-free camps in the Yukon for hunting parties. We have nothing on that. I would like to know the Ministers views regarding that.
I am going to be asking a lot of questions about the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board. I know the present Minister gave the previous Minister supreme blue blazes - as Nova Scotians would say - regarding the board recommendations, and I am quite anxious to hear if he is going to live and die by their words.
I know how he feels about the departments seeming tendency to have area closures. Then, no matter what the evidence seems to be - it has been my experience and expressed to me by a lot of people - we have a very tough time getting the closed areas reopened.
I am a huge supporter of the catch-and-release fishing program. I believe that the best way to enjoy fishing is to make sure that the next generation has the same opportunities that we do. I would like to know what the Ministers feelings are about catch-and-release fishing, and what specifically the department would be doing to encourage that. If no one else has any questions, I would be prepared to move into the line-by-line debate.
I want to give the Minister notice: in the line-by-line debate, I want to know what the lapses are in operation and maintenance and in capital. I do not expect him to give me a breakdown of each line. I will call on certain lines that I want broken down. For the main estimates, I will be asking for complete breakdowns in each department. I would also like to know if, in any of the lines, there have been new policies in the department since the government took over office.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to ask the Minister a couple of questions about the employment equity goal for the Government of the Yukon, what the Minister sees as the goal of the plan, and if the Minister supports the plan.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We have formed an employment equity program that has been submitted to the Executive Council Office, and we have met most of our objectives, as of now.
Ms. Moorcroft: Could the Minister clarify what objectives have been met and tell us how the department is working to increase representation of women, First Nations, and people with disabilities in their employment equity plan?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: The department has increased the number of female people working in the higher positions. We have training for the First Nations people who come on, and we have both First Nations and women out in the field in a variety of positions, for example, as biologists.
Ms. Moorcroft: In this House, the Minister of Renewable Resources talked about a friend of his. This friend is a true Yukoner, and he and his family were born and raised here. Could I ask the Minister to elaborate on his views of who else is a real Yukoner?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Number one, I was not born and raised here. I was born in Alberta. As far as I am concerned, a real Yukoner is a person who comes into the Yukon and tries to adapt to what Yukon is, rather than trying to bring the rat race in from outside.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to make a clarification for the record, because I believe the Minister misheard me. I did not say that he was born here. I said that he had talked about a friend of his who is a true Yukoner and he and his family were born and raised here. That was a quote; I was not referring to the Minister.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I have a lot of friends who were born and raised in the Yukon.
Mr. Cable: I have some neighbours who are game growers and are reluctant to express themselves; they are kind of bashful so I will ask a few questions on their behalf.
On the disease issue, I have been briefed and given literature indicating that there are fairly well respected biologists who will say there is no serious problem with disease transmission between the domestic herds and the wild herds. I have also heard that there are some well respected biologists who take the opposite tack. Is that the Ministers view of the state of knowledge on the disease transmission issue?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: He gave me a choice of two things. I am not a biologist, but I agree that animals that are in a fence and checked every year are much safer than animals running in the wild. All we have to do is look at Wood Buffalo National Park where they have 4,000 animals running around with tuberculosis. If that herd was controlled, it would not have happened. They would have destroyed them if they could not have cleaned it up.
I have heard this argument, but nobody has convinced me that the animal in a fence is spreading disease to wild animals.
Mr. Cable: I guess the question I was asking is: are there two schools of thought that are both well-respected? Is there a legitimate argument? This is the first question that I would like to ask.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I suppose you could say that yes, there are. Both of them believe very sincerely in what they are doing. We have to decide which one we think is right. They both have arguments on their side.
Mr. Cable: If there is to be some conclusion to the argument, there will have to be some commonly accepted information base. I am just wondering how the Minister would go about getting a general consensus in the community as to whether there is a disease-transmission problem?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We brought in experts before we made the game regulations. We are trying to get as much information out to people as we can. We have the game regulations out now. We have made it very plain to areas that say that they do not want it that they will not go in to those areas unless the people agree that they want it.
Some of the First Nations are very reluctant. After you talk to them next time, they think they might want to look at it. A great deal of information is out there. I hope that they are looking at it and trying to make a decision. When that decision comes to us, I guess we will make it the rest of the way.
Mr. Cable: In what time frame does the Minister think there will be a decision on this disease transmission issue?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: At the request of several groups, we have extended the consultation until the end of May. We are trying to cooperate with them and get everyones input before we make a decision.
Mr. Cable: I was not thinking of other groups that are involved. I was thinking of the professional advice that the department is trying to get in order to develop a common information base from which the game growers can operate. Is there some plan afoot to get some commonly accepted information with respect to disease transmission?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We brought in experts from outside before we started the regulations. We are continually consulting with them. For instance, we have one from the University of Saskatoon who thinks we are doing not too bad a job. We are trying to talk with people all over. There is no question that there are two sides to it. We are doing our best to get to both sides. One side says that it does not work; the other says it does. We are getting all the information on this we can from different places all over Canada.
Mr. Cable: Have the biologists that have provided advice to the Ministers department been unanimous in their opinions on the disease transmission problem? If so, what is their opinion?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We cannot say that everyone is on side but we have what we feel is enough technical information to proceed to take the game regulations through and go from there.
Mr. Cable: Is the Minister saying that there is in fact a manageable disease-transmission problem?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, we feel there is. The indications from the veterinarian from Saskatoon indicate that we are in a better position than most places because of starting slow and having disease-free animals at this time in the area. Yes, if we did not figure it was manageable we would not have started the regulation process.
Chair: Is there further debate? We will proceed with O&M expenditures and go line by line.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
Mr. Harding: Perhaps the Minister did not hear me. I am basically looking at the totals of the O&M and capital lapses. If he can give me the total, I will stop him on any lines at which I have a question. He does not have to break them down for me.
Administration in the amount of an underexpenditure of $334,000 agreed to
On Policy, Planning and Assessment
Policy, Planning and Assessment in the amount of an underexpenditure of $190,000 agreed to
On Parks, Resources and Regional Planning
Parks, Resources and Regional Planning in the amount of an underexpenditure of $2,278,000 agreed to
On Fish and Wildlife
Fish and Wildlife in the amount of an underexpenditure of $5,260,000 agreed to
Agriculture in the amount of an underexpenditure of $403,000 agreed to
On Resource Management
Resource Management in the amount of $9,176,000 agreed to
On Land Claims
Land Claims in the amount of $406,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $1,117,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
On Departmental Equipment
Departmental Equipment in the amount of an underexpenditure of $15,000 agreed to
On Computer Equipment
Mr. Harding: I know that the Minister does not like computers either, but maybe he could tell me when these computers were bought.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: They were approved by Management Board last August.
Mr. Harding: My question was not when Management Board approved them. When were they purchased?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Last August.
Computer Equipment in the amount of $70,000 agreed to
On Facility Construction - Faro
Mr. Harding: I would also like to ask him where the $75,000 was spent in Faro. I did not realize that there was any money spent.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: That was money for preparing the site and purchasing the wire for the facility.
Facility Construction - Faro in the amount of an underexpenditure of $125,000 agreed to
On Office Expansion - Haines Junction
Office Expansion - Haines Junction in the amount of an underexpenditure of $75,000 agreed to
On Trap Exchange
Trap Exchange in the amount of $31,000 agreed to
Administration in the amount of an underexpenditure of $114,000 agreed to
On Policy, Planning and Assessment
On Dempster Interpretive Centre
Dempster Interpretive Centre in the amount of an underexpenditure of $20,000 agreed to
On Biophysical Inventory
Biophysical Inventory in the amount of $13,000 agreed to
On Specific Area Resource Analysis
Specific Area Resource Analysis in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
Policy, Planning and Assessment in the amount of $18,000 agreed to
On Parks, Resources and Regional Planning
On Territorial Parks
On Coal River Springs
Coal River Springs in the amount of an underexpenditure of $25,000 agreed to
On Kusawa Lake Management Plan
Kusawa Lake Management Plan in the amount of an underexpenditure of $40,000 agreed to
On Carcross Dunes Management Plan
Carcross Dunes Management Plan in the amount of an underexpenditure of $30,000 agreed to
On Lazulite Deposits
Lazulite Deposits in the amount of an underexpenditure of $13,000 agreed to
Conrad in the amount of an underexpenditure of $19,000 agreed to
On Park System Plan
Park System Plan in the amount of an underexpenditure of $40,000 agreed to
On Territorial Campgrounds and Day Use Areas
Rehabilitation in the amount of an underexpenditure of $280,000 agreed to
Relocation in the amount of an underexpenditure of $250,000 agreed to
On Facility Replacement
Facility Replacement in the amount of an underexpenditure of $110,000 agreed to
On Liability Reduction
Liability Reduction in the amount of an underexpenditure of $30,000 agreed to
On Heritage Rivers
On Yukon River (30 mile section)
Yukon River (30 mile section) in the amount of an underxpenditure of $10,000 agreed to
On Bonnet Plume River
Bonnet Plume River in the amount of an underexpenditure of $35,000 agreed to
On Outdoor Recreation Sites and Corridors
On Systems Plan Implementation Development
Systems Plan Implementation Development in the amount of an underexpenditure of $100,000 agreed to
On Regional Planning
On Biophysical Inventory
Biophysical Inventory in the amount of an underexpenditure of $13,000 agreed to
On Specific Area Resource Analysis
Specific Area Resource Analysis in the amount of an underexpenditure of $25,000 agreed to
On Fish and Wildlife
On Wildlife Management Plan
Wildlife Management Plan in the amount of an underexpenditure of $225,000 agreed to
On Wildlife Viewing Infrastructure
Wildlife Viewing Infrastructure in the amount of an underexpenditure of $125,000 agreed to
On Infrastructure Facilities
Infrastructure Facilities in the amount of an underexpenditure of $50,000 agreed to
On Resource Management
On Infrastructure Facilities
Infrastructure Facilities in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Fish and Wildlife
On Wildlife Management Plan
Wildlife Management Plan in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Wildlife Viewing Infrastructure
Wildlife Viewing Infrastructure in the amount of $175,000 agreed to
On Parks and Outdoor Recreation
On Dempster Interpretive Centre
Dempster Interpretive Centre in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Territorial Parks
On Coal River Springs
Coal River Springs in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
On Kusawa Lake Management Plan
Kusawa Lake Management Plan in the amount of $65,000 agreed to
On Carcross Dunes Management Plan
Carcross Dunes Management Plan in the amount of $38,000 agreed to
On Lazulite Deposits
Lazulite Deposits in the amount of $13,000 agreed to
Conrad in the amount of $19,000 agreed to
On Park System Plan
Park System Plan in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
On Campgrounds and Recreation Access
Planning in the amount of $57,000 agreed to
On Western Region
Western Region in the amount of $72,000 agreed to
On Northern Region
Northern Region in the amount of $294,000 agreed to
On Southern Region
Southern Region in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Central Facilities
Central Facilities in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On Planned Recreation Areas
Planned Recreation Areas in the amount of $24,000 agreed to
On Dalton Post
Dalton Post in the amount of $19,000 agreed to
On Heritage Rivers
On Yukon River (30 mile section)
Yukon River (30 mile section) in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Bonnet Plume River
Bonnet Plume River in the amount of $35,000 agreed to
On Tatshenshini River
Tatshenshini River in the amount of $23,000 agreed to
Resource Management in the amount of $1,399,000 agreed to
On Land Claims
On IFA - Herschel Island Territorial Park
IFA - Herschel Island Territorial Park in the amount of an underexpenditure of $5,000 agreed to
Land Claims in the amount of an underexpenditure of $5,000 agreed to
Capital Expenditures in the amount of an underexpenditure of $122,000 agreed to
Mr. Harding: Does the Minister have the lapsed totals for O&M capital for the department, and also a reorganization chart of the department?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We will provide the Member with that information right away.
Mr. Harding: Could the Minister also get us a reorganization chart? I do not know if he has one at his fingertips but I would like to have one.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: We do not have one right here, but we will provide you with one.
Mr. Harding: Can he provide that to all Members of the House?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No problem.
Chair: We will go onto Tourism.
Department of Renewable Resources agreed to
Department of Tourism
Chair: Is the any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The Department of Tourism is requesting a supplementary funding of $356,000 in O&M and $1,007,000 in capital. Note that $916,000 of the capital request are revotes from the prior year. On a branch for branch basis, the following details comprise the O&M supplementary request.
The administration branch request of $223,000 is for a transfer payment to the Yukon Anniversaries Commission; $100,000 of the total is for a matching contribution by Alaska, British Columbia and the Yukon to the Alaska Highway Rendezvous Society for a cross-jurisdictional administration and coordination of events. The balance of $123,000 is a contribution of the Anniversaries Commission for administration costs for the current year.
I would like to this opportunity to congratulate the Anniversaries Commission for their outstanding work on the Alaska Highway commemoration this past year.
The heritage branch includes $53,000 to be advanced in 1993-94 for the visitor attraction passport program. These funds will be used to prepare for the 1993 tourist season. This very successful program resulted in 7,000 entries, with 89 percent visiting nine or more sites. The program was particularly beneficial to museums, which generally reported a significant increase in visitation.
The tourism branch has reduced its budget for travel and research consultants by $15,000 for the fiscal restraint requirement.
The marketing branch includes $16,000, carried forward from last year to be used as a transfer payment to the Tourism Industry Association, necessitated by the delay in the recruitment of a convention manager.
The arts branch supplementary of $104,000 includes the following three items: an estimated recovery of $220,000 from the Yukon Lotteries Commission, which is used as a transfer payment to the Yukon artists and art groups; a reduction of $100,000 in recognition of fiscal restraint requirements, and the balance is transferred to a capital account for equipment and furniture required in the new branch.
For the capital budget, the administration branch requested $58,000, reallocated from other programs, for computer replacements throughout the department, and furniture for the new arts branch.
Since this supplementary has been approved, the planning purchase has been reduced to $53,000, and the balance of $5,000 will now lapse.
Computer technology has been neglected in recent years, and most of our equipment is obsolete, being 10 to 12 years old. In the past five years, only $59,000 was spent on computer technology, except for some equipment specifically for the heritage branch, which was fully recoverable from the federal government.
The heritage branch request of $79,000 includes the following: $35,000 to be revoted from last year for the planning of the Dawson Museum storage facility; $50,000 as a grant receivable from Communications Canada for the artifact inventory and catalogue program; $6,000 is transferred to the marketing program from heritage studies.
The development branch includes revotes from last year of $21,000 to the strategic planning activities, and $5,000 to the signs and interpretative activities.
The marketing branch total capital request of $850,000 includes the following: $828,000 revote from last year for the Yukon visitor reception centre and the Carcross visitor reception centre. This includes a revote of $27,000, and a reallocation of $6,000 from the heritage program. The explanations and recoveries have been discussed above, and I will be pleased to answer any questions that the Members might have in the line-by-line items.
Mr. Harding: I have a number of questions that I would like to ask, but I think that we should probably leave them until Monday. I move, Mr. Chair, that you now report progress.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Abel: The Committee of the Whole considered Bill No. 4, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 1992-93, and directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: 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. Monday next.
The House adjourned at 5:27 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled May 6, 1993:
The Yukon Alcohol and Drug Strategy: paper for public discussion and consultation (Phelps)
The following Legislative Returns were tabled May 6, 1993:
Executive Council Office: response to questions asked during 1992-93 Supplementary Estimates debate on various line items (Ostashek)
Discussion, Hansard, p. 487-502
Appointments to the Public Service without competition: appointments by direct hire in March 1992 and in 1993; reasons for appointing without competition (Ostashek)
Written Question No. 13, dated April 19, 1993, by Mr. Cable
Yukon Energy Corporation: power rate relief during Curragh shutdown (Ostashek)
Oral, Hansard, p. 752
The following Document was filed May 6, 1993:
Summary of proposed amendments to 1993-94 Main Estimates, Bill #6, First Appropriation Act, 1993-94 (Ostashek)