Wednesday, January 26, 1994 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will begin with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors.
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I have some legislative returns to table for the Government Leader.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I have one legislative return for Community and Transportation Services and three for Economic Development.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills.
Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers.
Are there any Notices of Motion?
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Non-government organizations, funding for
Ms. Commodore: My question is for the Minister responsible for Health and Social Services.
I received a number of phone calls this morning from a number of community groups, who have been informed by a letter that their funding was going to be completely cut off. The Learning Disabilities Association and the Association for Community Living have both had their funding terminated. What exactly is the plan of this government with respect to funding community groups?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I cannot speak on behalf of the whole government. In our department, there is a concerted effort being made to move away from core funding for non-government organizations and move into fees for services.
Ms. Commodore: I would like to ask the Minister what other community groups are facing these cuts and what criteria the government is using to determine who is getting the axe?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Again, it is the Departments of Justice and Health and Social Services, and the criteria we are moving into - we will talk to these groups - is to move away from core funding for advocacy groups and move into fees for services for non-government organizations.
Ms. Commodore: Groups such as the Association for Community Living and the Learning Disabilities Association provide a valuable service to disabled people in the Yukon. It appears that this government cannot resist picking on those who are least able to defend themselves.
Does the Minister have plans to provide any alternative assistance in place of those services now provided by those community groups?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: To repeat my first answer, we are prepared to sit down and discuss, with non-government organizations, funding on a fee-for-service basis.
The direction in which we are going, which was raised when we were discussing Bill No. 38 earlier in the session, has to do with the criteria for funding organizations. We are moving, in a philosophical way in the two departments that I represent, in a fee-for-service direction, rather than providing core funding for advocacy groups.
Question re: Non-government organizations, funding for
Ms. Commodore: My questions are for the same Minister, in regard to the same issue. The government feels it can jumpstart this economy on the backs of community groups and the clientele they serve. I find it outrageous that the Yukon Party government can find $36,000 to give to the Yukon Chamber of Commerce, to cover their O&M costs, but cannot find any money for community organizations that assist and speak on behalf of Yukoners who are the most vulnerable.
Does the government feel that the Yukon Chamber of Commerce activities are more important to fund than services to disabled Yukoners?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I cannot speak about the Yukon Chamber of Commerce; that is not one of my departments. What we are trying to do is rationalize the criteria for funding in the Departments of Health and Social Services and Justice. We are moving away from the concept of simply providing core funding and we are willing to sit down and discuss with these groups fee-for-service arrangements. We want to make it very clear, however, that the criteria are going to have to be more or less standardized, over time, with respect to the non-government organizations to which we give funding.
Ms. Commodore: I find it absolutely astounding, the disrespect that this Minister has for these community groups. They were completely blindsided and were given no warning before yesterday that their funding was going to be cut. Given that most organizations start their budget planning for the coming year in the fall, why did this government refuse to give any warning to these organizations that their funding was to be cut?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We are prepared to sit down and discuss the arrangements for financing, on a fee-for-service basis. We are moving away from core funding. I think that it is time that we realize that we have got to take steps to rationalize the way in which non-government organizations are being financed by government. We are trying to take steps now that will save us from being placed in the same position that non-government organizations in provinces such as Saskatchewan were placed, where they were all cut off, with no questions asked, by the NDP government of that province.
Ms. Commodore: I am not asking what other governments have done. I am asking what this government is doing.
I have a letter here from the Department of Health and Social Services to Teegathaa Oh Zheh. This agency provides independent living support to disabled people. This letter, signed by Mike McCann, hints that their budget will be cut and invites this organization to meet with Health and Social Services, and I quote, outline our plans for 1994-95". It is obvious that they are interested in telling them what their plans are and are not asking what the plans are of the community services groups.
Will the Minister please explain why his government has excluded all of these community groups in setting the social policy direction without any prior consultation with them?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: That is not what we are doing at all. We are talking about the rationale for government providing funding to organizations, particularly the departments of which I am in charge. What we have is a plethora of groups - something over 100 - which get funding, in one way or another, from Health and Social Services. It is really important that we rationalize the basis upon which funding is given - not just a knee-jerk reaction to political outcry, but a philosophy of the government that is willing to fund organizations to provide services to government.
Question re: Non-government organizations, funding for
Mr. Cable: I want to follow up on the same subject with the same Minister. I have two letters that were sent by the Ministers department to the Learning Disabilities Association of Yukon, one dated October 29, 1993, indicating that funding for a certain project was turned down, because the department provides core funding. A later letter, dated January 11, 1994, indicates that core funding is not available, because it is an advocacy group.
When did the Ministers thinking change on the rationale for funding of this type of group - this advocacy group?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: My thinking has evolved most sharply during debate on Bill No. 38, when we discussed the problems that the Members opposite had about funding that we give to organizations.
Our position is going to be that these departments will provide a fee for services. We will sit down to talk about the kinds of services that are appropriate. We are getting out of providing money for advocacy groups, and core funding as well.
Mr. Cable: The Minister mentioned that there was a plethora of these groups. I think that he mentioned over 100 groups. Does the Minister have a list that he could table in this House of who received what I think was a standard form letter stating that their funding was cut off?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I can arrange to obtain a list of those non-government organizations that received correspondence from my departments, and undertake to provide it to the Member as soon as possible.
Mr. Cable: The funding change would appear to hinge on the fact that these groups are determined to be advocacy groups. Does the Minister have any terms of reference that would permit his officials to determine which is an advocacy group and which is not?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am not sure what the question is. If the Member is asking for some written criteria that determine core funding, advocacy and fees for service, I do not know. I will have to bring that back.
To me, it seems straightforward. One examines an organization and finds out exactly what the funding is for.
Question re: Health services, controlling costs
Mr. Penikett: I have a question for the Hon. Minister Willard Scissor Hands. I would like to ask him about his plans to cut health expenditures by controlling doctor fees, the utilization of doctors, restricting drugs available under Pharmacare, de-insuring medicare programs like chronic diseases and extended health care benefits, and requiring patients to pay a share of medical travel costs.
Does the Minister believe that these proposals, that we heard for the first time yesterday, were openly and fairly presented to the citizens of the Yukon, during his departments recent consultations?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I attended some of the sessions. There were certainly a broad range of views and discussions, which probably varied from session to session throughout the territory. I think the dilemma with which we are faced was made very clear to those who attended any of the sessions, as were the trends across Canada, and the fact that we want to take some steps now that are seen as fair. We are attempting to take control of costs before we are faced with the situation that Ontario and Saskatchewan were, when all they could do in order to stay afloat was to slash right and left. That is not what we are doing. We are trying to get these issues under control, get the criteria for funding under control and agreed upon, in a timely fashion, before we are hit broadside with what, as anyone can see, is a major trend across this nation.
Mr. Penikett: The Minister admitted yesterday that forcing sick people to travel south for treatment in Vancouver area hospitals or by specialists in Edmonton will prove highly controversial. Therefore, with respect to the recent consultation, did the Minister or his department publish any document or paper that clearly laid out the proposal that would require patients to share part of the costs of medical travel south? And, did that paper or any document that the department put out guarantee that people would be fully consulted before such a measure was put in place?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Teams went to the various communities and discussed the issue, showing the costs, and discussed, among other things, the issues that are being raised by the Member opposite. Certainly, at some of the consultations where I was present, those issues were discussed. The feeling about cost-shared travel outside was discussed at each and every one that I attended. The issue of medical travel within Yukon was discussed at each and every one that I attended. It is my view that in the consultation process we got a pretty good understanding of the thinking of Yukoners. Certainly, the vast majority understand that we cannot forever go on with wasteful programs that do not target the people who need help and are escalating, and have been historically escalating, at an overwhelming rate. Chronic disease, for example, which we were told about in a ministerial statement, and I have the Hansard, started out at $170,000 over and above the $65,000 being spent by Medical Services Canada. Three weeks later, it was $365,000 more - and they did not know the administration cost - and now we know it is $1.5 million. We have to get these things under control.
Mr. Penikett: Since the only document I can find - that MLAs have received in the last few months - which advocates a reduction in the number of insured health services is a Canadian Federation of Independent Business survey - according to its results, 65 percent of Yukoners propose cuts to these programs - when and where did the department squarely and directly inform the people of this territory that it was considering de-insuring, or cutting, programs like chronic diseases and extended health care benefits from the Yukon Health Insurance Plan? When did the department clearly say to the public that is what they were thinking about doing?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It was during the consultations. The de-insuring seems to be a bit of a red herring. That is not cutting the programs; it is putting it under the Health Act instead of under the other one. At the sessions I attended, these issues were discussed.
Question re: Health services, controlling costs
Mr. Penikett: We have established that there is no document put out by the department that clearly outlines these proposals. Earlier today, the Minister said he was moving toward a fee-for-service system for non-government social organizations.
Can the Minister explain why he is moving to a fee-for-service model for non-government organizations when, just yesterday, he admitted that the fee-for-service model is a source of huge problems in terms of health care financing?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Talk about mixing apples, oranges, bananas and sperm whales. We are talking about two entirely different concepts. We are talking about the government receiving services from non-government organizations. That is one issue. It is my respectful position that government should be in a position to purchase services from non-government organizations under specific conditions, and be purchasing the services it requires.
An additional fee for service for physicians over and above the amount charged by physicians to the Hospital Insurance Plan is a completely different issue. It has to do with whether or not that scheme would deter patients from abusing our health care plan. I clearly stated yesterday, with the greatest of respect, that I was opposed to that concept, because I did not think it would achieve the desired result.
Mr. Penikett: With the greatest respect, I believe it is the Minister who is confused. The organizations whose funding has been cut 100 percent by the Minister represent a small fraction of the total expenditures of his department. The fee-for-service expenditures of professionals represent a huge portion of the costs of the department and have been rising rapidly.
Let me ask the Minister if he could indicate to us in his discussion with doctors about capping doctors fees and incomes whether the concerns of rural Yukon about the adequacy of professional medical services in the rural communities will be taken into account in the Ministers discussions with the medical profession here?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Most certainly. It was a very grave concern at the last joint management committee meeting I attended and one we are going to be discussing. It has a bearing on why they want to take a look at the Prince Edward Island model in determining how these things are to be done.
Mr. Penikett: I would like to ask the Minister, for the record, what his target is for the growth in health expenditures this year, given that in recent years it has been rising at the rate of 10 percent a year and, in the context of the cuts he is now considering, what is his target - down to what figure does he hope to bring the rate of increase?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We talked in principle about some of the options that we were looking at and I made it very clear when I was discussing these with the hon. Member in Committee of the Whole that there had been no decisions taken, that I had not prepared a paper yet to take to Cabinet and that Cabinet would be making the decision based on options. When he starts talking in terms of targets, we do not even have a position as to how we are going to proceed with regard to these programs until the paper is finally prepared and Cabinet makes those decisions. At that time, we will be making the appropriate announcement, coupled with our forecast of targeted savings.
Question re: Non-government organizations, funding for
Mr. McDonald: To the same Minister - non-government organizations, guided for the most part by volunteers, advocate on behalf of disadvantaged people in our territory and often provide services to the general community beyond that required, specifically, by Yukon government departments. In moving to a fee-for-service arrangement, is the Minister sending the message that he does not respect the general activities of these organizations and does not feel that the Yukon government has a role in supporting them as it traditionally has done?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Not at all. The position we are taking with regard to funding of non-government organizations is that the criteria ought to be a fee for service. With respect to organizations that wish to advocate on behalf of any group, whether sports groups, people with health problems or whatever, it is our respectful view that this kind of work is done on a volunteer basis by people.
Mr. McDonald: That is very strange. When the Yukon Party was in Opposition and the Member was, at that time, the leader of that party - he tried to disavow himself from any association with other Ministers just a moment ago - he advocated very clearly that funding support for the volunteer service sector should grow by the same amount as the growth in YTG revenues. We know now, from discussions with the Minister of Finance, that the YTG revenues are going to grow by three percent.
Can the Minister tell us why there has been this reversal of position? Why were they not telling us truly what they believed while they were the government-in-waiting in Opposition? Why have they taken this very different view now?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I would want to do a little research on exactly what was said and by whom with regard to this issue before I even attempt to answer the Members question. I do not recall our position when I was part of the Yukon Party as being exactly as portrayed at all.
Mr. McDonald: I have done the research and I feel very confident that the Minister has a lot of explaining to do.
The Yukon Chamber of Commerce has received operational assistance. The last time I checked, this Minister was still the Minister of the Yukon Party government and participated in Cabinet meetings. He will ultimately have to take joint responsibility for Cabinet decisions.
Can the Minister tell us, without pawning off the fact that he is working on his own and trying to suggest that other Ministers are doing their own thing, sometimes inconsistently with his own views, why one Minister would provide operational assistance - not on a fee-for-service basis - to the Chamber of Commerce, which provides a useful service, while this Minister refuses or has decided to change a longstanding practice that there be operational assistance given to advocacy groups, which provide a very useful service to the territory and for which we should show a great deal of respect?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I think you can show respect for people without throwing money at them and show respect for organizations without throwing money at the organizations. I suppose that is one way in which I differ from the Member opposite. With respect to the manner in which the other organizations are funded and whether it is fee for service or not, that is a debate that the hon. Member has had, and I am sure will continue to have, with the appropriate Minister.
Question re: Social assistance fraud
Ms. Moorcroft: Yesterday, the Minister of Health and Social Services suggested that we on this side of the House are not concerned about fraud and are encouraging people to defraud the social assistance program. I would like to assure the Minister that this is the farthest thing from the truth. What we are interested in is this governments inclination to use a heavy law-and-order stick to take on social assistance recipients, based on unsubstantiated claims that they are cheating the system.
I asked the Minister yesterday if he had any empirical proof that this was happening and he said, I cannot answer that questions specifically. Can he today?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The question arose as to why the department is taking the position that they would have to receive receipts from bona fide wood suppliers before they would pay for the wood, and I explained why this step was taken. The implication made by the Member opposite was that, somehow or other, we were depriving social assistance people of legitimate income. That is not what we are doing and those suppliers of wood who would like to be on the list can simply go forward and ask to be placed on the list with the department.
Ms. Moorcroft: In his capacity of Minister of Justice, and from his vast knowledge of the courts, he will agree that there are apparently many ways in which people try to defraud governments. It is not just poor people who do this, as the Minister was suggesting yesterday; it is corporations, businesses, people who maintain Yukon health benefits or elections privileges, while spending the majority of the year in Palm Springs. These are also people who commit fraudulent crimes in our society. I wonder whether the Minister is planning to hire a special, full-time fraud investigator for these kinds of white-collar crimes, or is it strictly a firewood fraud squad he plans to hire?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I really find it curious that they are so upset about trying to prevent fraudulent abuse of a government program. If that is the issue, then I fail to understand it. If she is trying to make some point about the class struggle, about who is rich and who is not rich, and whether or not, at the turn of the century, England was a bad place to live and the Tories were bad, and the Socialists were good, then those are all wonderful principles and wonderful theory. Unfortunately, some of the Members opposite seem to have been born about 65 years too late.
Ms. Moorcroft: For all of the Ministers rhetoric about socialist dogma and the Minister not having a socialist bone in his body, I am surprised that he would sanction a state-generated list of approved woodcutters. This kind of move smacks of state control over free enterprise and it only applies to those people who are unfortunate enough to be forced to survive on social assistance.
Can the Minister tell us the criteria for being on the state-approved list and who established this list?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: When we receive a bill that we are expected to pay and we find that there is no such company and no such person, it makes us kind of suspicious. I am just from Carcross, but even I get kind of suspicious about that sort of thing, especially when it is government money that is being spent.
Question re: Whitehorse General Hospital, project manager
Mrs. Firth: I thought that we were going to get the barefoot boy from Carcross story again, but thank goodness we were spared.
I have a question for the Minister of Health and Social Services. We now know that as of April 1, 1994, the Department of Health and Social Services is taking over the complete responsibility for the construction of the new Whitehorse Hospital, and because everyone recognized that there was a lack of expertise within the department, they went to lengths to hire a project manager to do virtually everything with respect to this $47 million project.
How and when was this project manager hired?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: He was hired in the late fall. A board was set up, various people applied for the position, interviews were conducted with two or three finalists and the person was selected. The board was composed in the usual fashion, except that one of the members was a senior official, an architect with the Government of British Columbia.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister is saying this was a public process; however, I do not recall seeing any public advertisements with respect to this position.
Can the Minister tell us if it was a public process? Was the job advertised? Is there a job description for this position? Is this person an employee of the Government of the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I would be happy to come back with the actual details of the hiring. It was done in accordance with government procedures. I could also come back with the details with regard to the Members question about the status of the project manager.
Mrs. Firth: Surely, the Minister knows whether this project manager is an employee of the government or not. Has he been hired on a contract basis?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will come back with full details and make sure that everything in the written response is absolutely correct. I do not carry around all the details in my head.
Question re: Whitehorse General Hospital, design changes
Mrs. Firth: I am not asking the Minister to give me an encyclopedia. I am just asking him about the status of this employee. He should know whether this person is an employee or not, or on a contract, the terms of the contract, what they are going to get paid over the next three years, whether or not they are there for the full term of three years of the project.
I have a great deal of concern about the accountability process. The Minister has indicated to us, in the House, that this person - the project manager, although he does not quite remember how he was hired - is on some committee that reports to the deputy minister, who reports to the Minister, who reports to Management Board.
Before any tenders even go out, who will make the decision on how this project will be divided up?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Those are issues to which I will be happy to bring back written responses. She is getting into details that I would be more comfortable with bringing back in a written submission, so her instinct to become a lawyer, while in the House, is fully satiated.
Mrs. Firth: I asked a question a couple of days ago about this whole change of plan, where the Department of Government Services was not good enough to manage this project any more, so Health and Social Services was taking it over. The Minister stood up in the House, and his whole justification for that approach was that they had gone to great lengths to hire this project manager. Now, he cannot even tell us any details of the hiring of this person.
I have a great deal of concern, as do many small contractors here in the territory, with respect to just how this project is going to be tendered.
The Minister cannot tell us who is going to make the decision on how the contracts will be divided up. Can he tell us who is going to evaluate the bids, once the contracts are tendered, and who is going to be responsible for choosing the successful bidders?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: In favour, as I am, of access to information and ensuring that the Members of this House are as fully informed as possible under the laws under which we do business, I am going to ensure that all these questions are answered in detail in writing, so the hon. Member will have a lot of bedtime reading and grist for the next session.
Question re: Environmental contaminants conference
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for another Minister, the Minister of Renewable Resources.
The news media carried a report earlier this month indicating that at the end of this month the Yukon Conservation Society was going to organize a conference relating to environmental contaminants. Will the Ministers staff be making any presentations to this conference on environmental contaminants?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Whether they are going to actually make a presentation or not, I do not know, but I do know that they are working with them to help get the conference going.
Mr. Cable: The Ministers department received funding from the federal governments arctic and environmental strategy to test wildlife for metals and other contaminants. At the time of receiving money, the news reports indicated that the analysis of the testing would be done about this time. Will the Minister confirm whether the results of that testing will be ready for presentation to the conference?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, I cannot confirm that. I will get back to the Member on it.
Mr. Cable: My last question could perhaps be best directed to the Minister of Health and Social Services. In April of last year during a debate on the safety of eating kidneys and liver from caribou in the Finlayson herd, the chief medical officer offered to test people for problems relating to caribou. Was that testing actually carried out and, if so, what were the results?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I would have to come back with an answer on that. A lot of work was done with the Kaska, and certainly information was taken personally to the elders with regard to the dangers. The issue of the testing, as I recall, led to some concern over the manner in which that would be done and whether it was acceptable to the elders. I am not sure whether it was carried out or not. I will have my department find out from the Government of Canada what did happen and provide the hon. Member with an answer.
Question re: Endangered spaces
Mr. Penikett: I would like to ask a question of the Minister of Renewable Resources concerning the World Wildlife Funds endangered spaces program which, in the words of Prince Phillip, is intended to conserve a whole range of viable ecosystems and habitats covering all the countrys natural regions. I would like to ask the Minister if the present Government of Yukon still supports the endangered spaces program and its objectives.
Hon. Mr. Brewster: Yes, we certainly do, but at the same time, if there is mineralization in these areas, we expect to be able to work out a situation so that both can operate together.
Mr. Penikett: That is the point. The World Wildlife Fund has said very clearly that if a jurisdiction like the Yukon allows mining in its parks, those parks will not count as contributions toward the endangered spaces program and, indeed, the government will not be moving forward on the program, but will be moving backwards, because they will have fewer and fewer protected areas in the Yukon than we had previously.
Can I ask the Minister of Renewable Resources if he has had any reason to reconsider their plan to allow mining in the parks, in the face of the World Wildlife Funds strong objection to that practice?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: No, we have not, but I would also point out that in a great deal of the places where there are protected spaces there is no mineralization, and the ones that are already protected will not be touched with respect to this situation.
Mr. Penikett: The World Wildlife Fund has also been extremely critical of the Government of Yukon for developing the plans for multi-use parks in secret and for taking deceptive action, such as the action it took in respect to Tombstone Mountain area, over which the Dawson First Nation felt greatly betrayed. Has the Minister been involved in any direct conversations with the chief or council of the Dawson First Nation about their desire to see the Tombstone Mountain area protected, as was promised to them by the Yukon government?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I personally have not because that is under land claims, but I do know that they have talked, and I believe they are getting along quite well on the situation right now.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed.
Point of Order
Hon. Mr. Phelps: On a point of order, I would like to correct for the record the Hansard for January 24, page 2054, where I am quoted in response to a question from Ms. Firth regarding Whitehorse General Hospital design as saying that the project management committee was made up of, among other people, the Deputy Minister of Health and the Deputy Minister of Government Services. In both cases, it should be the Assistant Deputy Minister.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I move 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 call Committee of the Whole to order.
Is it the wish of the Members to take a short break at this time?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed,
Chair: We will take a short recess.
Chair: I will now Committee of the Whole to order.
Bill No. 11 - Second Appropriation Act, 1993-94 - continued
Department of Health and Social Services - continued
Mr. Penikett: I indicated yesterday that I would have some questions about some of the activities of the Yukon Health and Social Services Council. I will also have some questions on general health policy, including two or three issues about which I want to ask the Minister before we leave general debate. Other Members on this side will have other questions, including my colleague from Whitehorse South Centre, who will concentrate on the social services side of the Ministers budget.
Some days ago, I asked the Minister about activities with respect to the proposed Mayo project, which was looking at the integration and coordination of the delivery of health and social services in the Mayo community. At one point, during the time of the previous government, they were interested in looking at a single-window community health and social services facility, through which people may be able to access a range of health, social services and justice issues. At one point, there were some people in the community who even looked at having a truly holistic approach by having a school in the same building. That idea seems to have evaporated.
When I asked the Minister about the capital budget, he indicated that there was no current dialogue about the Mayo project with the department - he seemed to indicate that, anyway. Yet, I note that in the minutes of the Health and Social Services Council of March 28 and 29 of this year, a reference to the Mayo project, and I quote, The department has had some contact from Mayo re: the development of community boards pursuant to the Health Act. One of the things that was a concomitant to the idea of an integrated facility in Mayo was also the idea of taking the existing inter-agency group in Mayo to a higher level than contemplated under the Health Act, and perhaps establishing a health and social services district, complete with a board.
Can the Minister indicate something about the nature of those discussions with Mayo and tell the Committee if those discussions are continuing?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I have a note here that says we have just received a call from the mayor and that they are requesting a re-establishment of discussions about the Health Act.
The discussions that I have had with Mayo and the Chief of the First Nation have been directed more at the issue of the group home, which is in bad shape. We have negotiated with the First Nation about the placement of children in care in Mayo, and have worked with them toward establishing what was the group home as a healing centre for the First Nation.
About the talks the Member asked about, I have been advised this afternoon, and I gather that there is some interest in starting them up again.
Mr. Penikett: We understand that there was some conversation going on prior to the March 28, 1993 meeting with the Health and Social Services Council, which, judging from the Ministers comments, have not been continued, but there is an effort that the Minister just advised about from the mayor to resurrect those talks. Let me say no more now, other than I would be interested in a progress report on those, having some - I will not claim parentage - interest in that question going back some years, in particular with regard to developments in that community.
I also note in the minutes of the same conference that the Health and Social Services Council had requested the Ministers approval to use $10,000 for the purpose of holding a fetal-alcohol-syndrome and fetal-alcohol-effects conference, and that the Minister had denied this request, according to this document, in a letter dated March 17, 1993. I wonder if the Minister would either be willing to table that letter, or indicate today his reason for refusing that request from the council on an issue that we all know is extremely important to a great number of families here in the territory.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The issue, in that case, really centred on the appropriate use of the budget for the councils activities to advise the Minister. It was felt that a request for a conference such as that could well be made by that particular council, but it was not appropriate that it come from the funds that were targeted to their meetings.
I think that that was the sole reason for my position.
Mr. Penikett: I am aware that on at least one other occasion the council co-sponsored a major conference on health and social policy with the Council for Yukon Indians. It was held in Dawson City some years ago. I do not recall if it was done under the established funding for the council or whether there was a special allocation.
Am I to understand that, had the request been made under a different line, or for special-occasion funding for such a conference, the Minister might have smiled on it?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: That probably was the case. It is some time ago. We would prefer that that kind of funding be requested from the health investment fund, or whatever line is appropriate.
Mr. Penikett: Would it be unkind to ask the question in the present sense? In other words, if the Minister received such a request today for such a conference, would he be likely to respond in the affirmative?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I would entertain it. I fully recognize the problem surrounding the issues and the lack of adequate responses from the government and the community.
Mr. Penikett: Also in these minutes, a concern of the Minister or the department about a high rate of successful appeals under social assistance was noted. Perhaps the Minister might respond to my colleague, but I would be interested in hearing whether the Minister perceived a fault in the appeals committee, which I understand has been changed, or a flaw in policy that led to this perception of an excessively high ratio of successful appeals under social assistance.
The minutes of this council meeting also recommend or discuss the possibility of an evaluation on the effectiveness of the health investment fund, and there is some discussion about how to measure the effectiveness and so forth.
Could I ask the Minister if such an evaluation has been done and, if so, can it be tabled in the House?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: With respect to the latter question, I have not received such an evaluation from the council yet.
The issue regarding the social services committee and appeal committee is an area we are examining and we have consulted with the Health and Social Services Council about it recently and we will be discussing the issues with the appeal committee. We are looking at the policy issue in that some of the policy issues ought to be contained in regulations. This is an area we are looking at with regard to the social assistance review issues.
Mr. Penikett: The Minister said he had not received an evaluation on the health investment fund and seemed to indicate that he thought the Health and Social Services Council was actually conducting the evaluation. The minutes are not clear on that point and it is not clear to me whether the council had recommended that someone else do it or whether the council was assuming this responsibility for itself. Could the Minister make that clear?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It has not been done. It could be done by the council. I am not sure if that is a moot point at this point as to what their wishes are. I will discuss it with them.
Mr. Penikett: Let me make it clear why I think an evaluation is useful. I am not making a representation either way. I was just curious about the facts. At the same meeting in March 1993, the Alcohol and Drug Strategy, which the Minister has spoken of in this House, was noted and a synopsis of an implementation plan for the Alcohol and Drug Strategy was referred to. That document appears to have been made available to the council. I wonder if it could be made available to the Members of this Legislature.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I stand to be corrected, but there was a synopsis of the Alcohol and Drug Strategy?
Mr. Penikett: Yes, the Minister seemed to refer to a synopsis being in draft form, but noted that recommendations were not attached to the copy that was provided to Members. Obviously, I am referring to almost a year ago. There has obviously been some progress since then. Is there a new draft of the strategy available, which might be available to Members, even in draft form, or are we at the point when the recommendations, which were not attached for the council, might be available to us?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: That was done prior to obtaining Cabinet approval for the Alcohol and Drug Strategy, which was subsequently tabled in the House. We presented a synopsis of the document, which later went to Cabinet, and was presented in the House with a ministerial statement and circulated throughout the Yukon.
Mr. Penikett: So, there is nothing more recent than that. Okay. Reference is also made in these minutes to the discussion that the council had on the situation of homeless people. Mention is made of contact with the Yukon Housing Corporation and Kwanlin Dun on the issue. We know what initiatives Kwanlin Dun has taken. The Minister was asked in Question Period some weeks ago about the departments response to the situation of homeless people. I wonder if, in discussion of the departments estimates today, the Minister would have anything to add.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I have nothing new to add, except that we will be looking at the issue of housing for transients - that is, looking at it as an issue - and that may have some bearing on this issue. There has been some discussion in the past involving the detox centre and its role in providing some housing for the homeless.
Mr. Penikett: I take it, then, from the Ministers comments that he does not contemplate or envision a discreet program directed at the problem of the homeless, or homelessness, in this city or territory?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Certainly, not at this time. It is an issue, though, about which we would be pleased to discuss with the city and other organizations.
Mr. Penikett: I am someone who is on record in this House some years ago as having supported the institutionalization of treating certain people with physical, mental, health and other needs. I have learned in the years since to be extremely mindful of the problems institutionalization creates, where there are not adequate supports provided in the home communities to which people are returned.
I was fascinated to read a piece in the Globe & Mail recently, which was an essay that had been written by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, pointing out that an extremely high percentage of the people who are now described as homeless in New York state are, in fact, people who were formerly residents of mental hospitals and were described as mental patients, and who had received from the state a certain level of care and attention in that capacity, but, as homeless people, were only seen as deserving of the provision of occasional shelter or food support. Obviously, the state had considerably cut its costs, but there was a huge social problem, which was the result of redefining people from being mental patients to simply being the homeless.
Has the Minister and his advisors had any discussion about the character or nature of the particular homeless community in Whitehorse? Have those discussions, if they have taken place, led the Minister to make any conclusions about the appropriateness of either existing programs or their suitability, or, even though he is not contemplating a new program, does he feel that the responsibility for these particular citizens is in the right agency or department, and that they are addressing the needs and care of this group of people?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There are certain initiatives and supports that the department has been undertaking. We support the independent living program, which supports individuals. There are some home support services and family support services, and there is housing that is paid for by social assistance. I guess that we will be looking at the issue of kids at risk as a priority in the coming year. There are certainly issues of homelessness surrounding that area. We have not looked at this issue as a priority by itself; however, it is something that we can entertain representations on.
Mr. Penikett: I could not help noting the Ministers observation that he supported independent living. This morning I had a telephone call from one group, Teegathaa Oh Zheh, who fear funding cuts that the Minister is now contemplating for non-governmental organizations may drive people who are seeking independent lives and independent living back into institutional settings for want of funds.
I asked the previous question in a bit of a clumsy manner and I would like to ask the question directly.
With respect to the homeless, is it the Ministers view that it is principally a social housing program and therefore Yukon Housing Corporation should be the lead agency, or does the Minister see the needs of the homeless as being more complex, in which case the Department of Health and Social Services should be the lead agency in dealing with their needs?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Certain aspects of this issue are more complex and the department has an important role to play. The previous question about Teegathaa Oh Zheh is an issue that I want my department to discuss with that organization, possibly moving the basis for funding from one to another. Providing services for those kinds of people should not result in driving them back into institutions. That is not the intention.
Mr. Penikett: The next question may be my fault, in that we were not sufficiently careful in drafting the mandate of the Health and Social Services Council when it was originally created. The council raised a question at its March 1993 meeting about the relationship with the Department of Justice and its role regarding justice issues. I do not want to presume on the turf of my colleague, the Member for Whitehorse Centre but, in terms of the relationship between the Department of Health and Social Services and the Department of Justice, and in terms of the role of the council in advising the Minister who wears all those hats, has its responsibility for what we could broadly describe as justice issues been discussed and defined in a dialogue between the Minister and the council?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Of course, its primary responsibility is to the Department of Health and Social Services. As the Member is aware, I am trying to ensure that there is a one-window approach to problems. There is a lot of inter-relationship between health problems, social assistance type of problems, and justice problems.
I have been taking steps to try to involve the Health and Social Services Council in a more meaningful way with regard to consultations and decisions about to be made. I am now looking forward to their being more involved, as they have been recently, in discussing issues such as the social assistance reform proposals we have been discussing in this House, and health reform proposals, and being involved in a meaningful way in the Alcohol and Drug Strategy and the initiatives regarding youth at risk. In fact, several of the more recent appointments to that council have been with a view to having some assistance from people who are involved with youth-at-risk issues. We have one RCMP member who is responsible for assisting in establishing the youth centre at Carcross and having a youth conference at Carcross last November, and a young lady who is very interested in doing things for fellow youths in the City of Whitehorse. We will be taking some initiatives in the near future and hope to have a subcommittee of the Health and Social Services Council involved.
Mr. Penikett: My next question was about the appointments to the council. I notice that, at the March meeting, the council was concerned about the fact that at that point there were seven vacant positions and made recommendations about filling those posts, including trying to get someone from Old Crow and someone from the Carmacks, Pelly, Ross River or Faro area as well as recommending the inclusion of an RCMP member and other particular suggestions. Are all the positions on the council filled now, and was the Minister able to accept the advice of the council in filling them?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am really not certain at this point if there might be one or two vacancies. I believe there are 10 members now - two people were appointed because of their heavy interest in youth and one senior was appointed. Seven are mentioned, so I would have to review it; I cannot recall which names were put forward and accepted.
Mr. Penikett: The March meeting also concluded with a discussion about the role of the council in tracking different initiatives related to the Health Act and the proposal that this would be a very positive role for the council. Can I ask the Minister if the council has, with his consent, assumed this role and, as a supplementary to that, ask if there is any document that the Minister could table to indicate something in the nature of a progress report or a tracking report that the council has been able to do?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The implementation issues are of high interest to the council. We have had some discussions about those issues. I know the Member is aware of the alcohol and drug survey that was done and more recently the health promotion survey, if that is the right word, that has been done. We are going to be looking at those documents, trying to get some basis for looking at the issue - which I see as a bit of a red herring in the legislation, so I do not want to belabour the point - of the five percent for health promotion and what is its definition. We are going to have to find some way of establishing progress with regard to health promotion. Unfortunately, the language of the bill makes it very easy for those who would want to to try to describe almost anything as health promotion. I am sure the Member can understand.
Mr. Penikett: I concede the latter point and would recommend caution in terms of tampering with the five percent, since we are the first jurisdiction in the English-speaking world to actually set a target. Even though the health expenditures in Canada and the United States are far higher, on a per capita basis, than many other nations, our two countries spend the smallest portion of our health budgets on health promotion and disease prevention of any jurisdiction in the world. I know it was perhaps a clumsy measure, or modest measure, on my part to try to offer some target or some goal - it says to move toward it. I actually think that my mother was right about an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure.
Let me concede immediately that not every dollar spent by the health investment fund has given high quality health promotion or prevention, but I think that is a problem that experience and time can solve. My own view is that I would not recommend the removal of a target, as soft as it may be.
Let me ask the Minister about another meeting of the council that took place in late June of 1993, where the question was raised about the accountability of the council. They were obviously wrestling themselves about how they would evaluate their own work. Has the Minister had anything to say to the council on that subject?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I guess not in that form. The discussions I had with them about that time, and since, were with respect to the valuable role they could play by giving advice on matters that were priority policy matters, and we have talked about three main areas, and the one that is coming up, the youth-at-risk initiative. I can see them as playing a valuable role, and they would at least be able to see an end result as a result of their efforts.
With regard to the accountability issue, as such, I do not have anything really useful to say about that.
Mr. Penikett: The minutes of the June 1993 meeting of the Health and Social Services Council make mention of a presentation by a Mr. Mike McCann, in which he is said to have outlined the general departmental budgetary process and noted the decisions on what NGOs were going to receive were made at a Cabinet retreat. That implies that the Cabinet retreat was prior to this June 27 meeting. Can the Minister tell us when the Cabinet retreat that dealt with the funding of NGOs took place?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: That refers to the current budget. It was a retreat that was held - I do not know - more like December or January, prior to the O&M budget for 1993-94.
Mr. Penikett: Can I ask the Minister what decision was made about the funding of NGOs in December 1992 or January 1993, that was announced or described by Mr. McCann to the council?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There was simply a discussion about what the policy should be with regard to each of the NGOs and what direction should be taken. I think the policy, generally speaking, was that the general rule, at that time, was two percent, except in exceptional circumstances.
Mr. Penikett: The Minister may want to look at the next sentence in this item in the council report. It states, and I quote, Members raised concerns that NGO submission may not receive a thorough review. It then goes on to say, It was noted that often budget decisions may be made more on dollars available than on program needs. Was that message communicated to the Minister following the June meeting? Did it have any bearing on the decisions he made or is now making with respect to the NGOs who, just this morning, were telling us that they feared that the decisions about their futures had already been made, without any input from them.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I certainly received the minutes from which the Member is reading. The issue raised is one that is often raised by some of the members on the council, because many of them are also involved in NGOs. It is not a new issue to them.
Mr. Penikett: I may be one of the few people in the whole Yukon who has actually read all of the Yukon health promotion research programs, parts 1, 2 and 3. I have not seen part 4, entitled Accounting for Health, which was a review of the considerations of the health promotion research program. However, I did hear the Minister saying one day on the radio that he was from Missouri on the subject. Notwithstanding his well-known propensity to support outside interests, I wonder what he meant when he said that he was from Missouri? Had he read the documents and not liked them or not read them and not liked them? Exactly what was his response to this three-volume working paper? I understand there is a fourth volume, but, for some reason, I cannot get one.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: My concern was to determine the value, in my own judgment, of this expensive exercise about setting health policy. I simply meant that I had some concerns about the utility of the exercise and being from Missouri simply means that I would like to see the end product, what use can be made of it and how.
Mr. Penikett: I count myself a fan of Doctor Glen Grant, but I would be the first to concede that volume 1 is probably not intended for the general reader. However, I am deeply interested in what volume 4 has to say, having read volumes 1, 2 and 3. I would hope, even if we are out of session, that the Minister will make one available to me, as the critic, at the first opportunity.
The Minister also mentioned a moment ago the Carcross initiatives about the youth recreation centre. He is reported to have told the council in June of 1993 that he would be very interested in a youth recreation centre for Whitehorse. I was wondering when we might expect an announcement on that project?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Members of the RCMP, the Department of Justice and I met with the City of Whitehorse about two weeks ago for lunch to discuss crime prevention and various issues relating to policing and crime prevention in the City of Whitehorse, including the Qwanlin Mall police office, and so on. During this meeting, I raised the issue of a youth centre and the lack of services or a place to hang out for kids at risk, or kids that are not involved in hockey and other activities - there are lots of them.
It struck a cord with the council members and we are in the process of getting our act together in the government, interdepartmentally, with members from the Health and Social Services Council. We are going to try to arrange a big meeting on a Saturday in March to discuss the issues and some of the possible solutions.
With regard to a youth centre kind of facility, we hope that the lead role in that process will be taken by youth, but we do not think that in a large centre, such as Whitehorse, that that is the only kind of approach that might be taken to the issues.
Mr. Penikett: I would like to turn to a series of very specific issues, about which I want to ask one or two general separate questions before turning the Minister over to the tender mercies of other Members in Opposition.
I have not seen all of them, but I have before me the notes that were taken at one community meeting with respect to the consultations that the department went through about its programs. The Minister is right that some of the issues that we talked about yesterday and today in Question Period in terms of options for cuts in health care expenditures have been discussed. However, I want to express my strong concern that the government may be proceeding to make plans and cuts, and may even claim that some of these matters were discussed in some communities, but there has been no coherent statement, options paper, leaflet or pamphlet that has gone out from the department to the general public outlining what is under consideration to provide a means, or an avenue, for the public to respond either to their MLAs or directly to the Minister of the department.
I want to go on record today, in discussing these estimates, as making a very strong representation - as strong as I can, without increasing the decibels - that the Minister, as soon as possible - even if it is crudely prepared and printed - ought to put something together, outlining the range of options under consideration, giving the people of the Yukon the opportunity to express, or grade, or rank, or give an opinion on the options. I believe the Minister would be in a far better position to make fair decisions about the cost-cutting options, if he had clearly put out into the community what the range of options were and given the public a reasonable amount of time in which to respond and give him the benefit of their advice.
I have a couple of questions about the Thomson Centre. As the Minister knows, I have asked a lot of questions about the hospital, but I have not asked very many about the fate of the Thomson Centre which, I worry, will be gobbled up by the new shopping mall hospital.
There was an open letter to the editor on January 12, in the Yukon News, from the Yukon Council of the Canadian Physio and Occupational Therapy Association. The letter states, The hospital changes proposed offer opportunity for effective coordination rehabilitation services in the program.
Did the Minister receive any representations from any of these groups prior to his decision to redesign the hospital? Can he tell us something about the nature of those representations?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: During the transition period, there will be two separate rehab locations in use. Prior to any de-integration, there will be a full study and consultation. That is the answer.
Mr. Penikett: The issue involves not just the Thomson Centre and the hospital when it comes to rehabilitation, but also the Workers Compensation Board, because part of the package of financing for the Thomson Centre that was originally negotiated by the previous government involved a recognition that there were very important social and economic values in patriating rehabilitation services for injured workers - that people who had previously been sent south at great expense, removed from their families and friends and neighbours, might have the term of their recovery affected by that distance from community and family and friends, and that it was important to be able to provide a range of rehabilitation services here in the Yukon - services that are not just occupational therapy and physiotherapy but of a wider range than that. Indeed, the Workers Compensation Board agreed to contribute, I believe, $250,000 annually toward that service.
I want to find out whether the Minister has talked to the Workers Compensation Board about that program yet, and whether he is actively contemplating farming it out to private physios or whatever, which of course would not be the program to which the Workers Compensation Board originally subscribed.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There have been staff level meetings and president-to- deputy-minister-level meetings and there is no intention at this point to privatize the operation. At this point, they are comfortable with the way things are proceeding.
Mr. Penikett: The Minister will forgive me, but the lessons of March 1993 are firmly in my mind when the Minister, in respect of privatizing the power corporations, said it was not going to happen but later we found that was not completely the case. When the Minister says at this point what does he mean? Does he mean he has not made a decision yet? Is he thinking about it? Is it an option for him? Is he prepared to say he does not plan to do it while he is a Minister?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We are the provider of the services to the WCB. It is an issue that just has not been considered at all. That is all I can say. It is not something that has been contemplated.
Mr. Penikett: I would draw on the Minister a little further. Is the Minister prepared to give the House the assurances that he will not be discussing that option with anyone in the next year?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: All I can say is that it is not an issue that is under consideration for discussion. If someone came along and wanted to talk to us about it, I suppose we would do so. It is not an issue I have not discussed with anyone. I am not going to stand here and say that I am against privatization or against this or that. I am not. It is something we are looking at.
Mr. Penikett: I am not asking the Minister to say he is against privatization, any more than I am asking him to believe in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. I just want him to understand that we have a reasonable fear about someone coming along to the Minister and suggesting that they make a deal. We are bound to ask questions about that.
Let me move on to another question. The Minister put out a press release on June 30, 1993, about the Yukon Kaska First Nations government signing a child protection protocol. I also understand that the Minister has negotiated a community agency contribution agreement with the Kaska Tribal Council. Can the Minister indicate to us how many such agreements have been negotiated between himself and First Nations since he became Minister? Perhaps if he does not have the information at his fingertips, he could come back with a legislative return.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: With respect to the agreements mentioned, I believe there have been the two with the Kaska, one with Ross River Dene and one with Watson Lake regarding the alcohol and drug pilot program. We are in discussion with other First Nations regarding this type of arrangement, but, as of yet, we have not got around to finalizing any agreements.
It centres on the issue that the Member raised, and on the advice of the Land Claims Secretariat and Justice, we put wording in to try to ensure that we did not have a dumping of responsibility, once again, by the federal government. This was discussed in very clear terms with the leadership of the Kaska. They had absolutely no problem with the wording, understanding that this was clearly a pilot project and was not, in any way, to absolve the federal government from its fiduciary duty to provide such services. It is with an abundance of caution about that one issue that that wording was advanced by the lawyers.
Mr. Penikett: I understand the problem the Minister mentions, although there are many, many programs this government now provides which are not targeted for non-aboriginal people and are clearly targeted for the general population. I do not think anyone can seriously make the claim any more - not since Commissioner Jeckell - that we did not have responsibility to provide services for aboriginal people, as well as non-aboriginal. In other words, we provide programs for the general population.
The protection against the federal government claiming that we have occupied some field or some jurisdiction of theirs was usually contained - in agreements that I was involved with - in language that suggested it was a pilot program, rather than a general program. In other words, we were doing an experiment, we were doing a pilot program rather than automatically assuming federal responsibilities. I know that we used the words pilot program. Certainly the Management Board minute with respect to an agreement negotiated by my colleague, the Member for Whitehorse Centre, with the Champagne/Aishihik First Nation with respect to child protection, did.
The press release I dealt with concerning child protection protocol with the Kaska First Nations does not use the words pilot project, but perhaps it did not need to. However, the community agency contribution agreement with the Kaska Tribal Council does use the words pilot project. It raises a serious question in my mind about how many pilot projects we can have between the Yukon government and the First Nations before the federal government suggests that maybe we have too many pilots at the wheel, and maybe we are occupying their field, which they would be happy to vacate.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: That is a good question; I do not know. It is something that we have to take advice on from negotiators. We are particularly concerned with self-government agreements and the funding that might be jeopardized by things that we do.
Mr. Penikett: Did I hear the Minister say that, essentially, there are only these two agreements with the Kaska that he knows about? No other First Nations have signed them with the Minister?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We have had some contribution agreements and some program development agreements. I will have to come back with that information.
Mr. Penikett: I am aware of some funding for a healing centre in the Kluane First Nation, but, of course, I was astonished to find that the money came from the community development fund, not from Health and Social Services. That is another subject we will get to on another occasion.
In the community agency contribution agreement with the Kaska Tribal Council, there is language I find curious. I know the Minister is a lawyer, and I am not, so perhaps he could help me understand the departments reason for negotiating this language.
The agreement contains the following words, The federal government has constitutional fiduciary responsibility to deliver services to aboriginal people in Canada. The next paragraph says, The Yukon recognizes the importance of providing services to all Yukon residents and is contributing funding under this agreement to assist in providing addiction services to Yukon residents not under the jurisdiction of the federal government.
I concede I am not a lawyer, but my ability to read plain English is fairly good. My understanding of that language seems to imply that the Yukon government is saying that the federal government has the responsibility to provide programs for First Nations, and the Yukon government has the responsibility for providing programs to other people.
I understand that the Yukon government has to be careful about assuming responsibilities from the federal government because, in the last few years, the federal government has a notorious appetite for program dumping. However, I thought we had gotten past the point in this territory of describing ourselves as only in the business of providing services to non-aboriginals. The kind of language in agreements we tried to write in the last few years has, I think, been more directed toward the idea that we were providing programs and services to the whole community, including the aboriginal community, recognizing the special responsibility of the federal government to finance programs for First Nations.
Can the Minister offer any comment on the reason for the particular formulation contained in the agreement?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: (Inaudible)
Mr. Penikett: For that reason, I go back to my original question, which was, how many such agreements are there? I hope the Minister would get back to me on that, because I am not presuming to know the answer. I appreciate his recognition of it as a good question because, clearly, if you have half a dozen or more, or if you start to get a dozen pilot projects with First Nations in the territory, it seems to me that we are potentially at some financial risk with respect to our relations with the federal government. I only make that point.
I believe very strongly, as did our government, in YTG providing services to First Nations, as we do to other citizens. I will make the point that it is no secret that you have to be careful. We were very keen to help First Nations achieve community facilities, and believed that they were entitled to the same kind of recreation and civic facilities that other Yukoners enjoyed. Although we went to great pains to make sure that we never supported the construction of a band hall, we were always helping with the construction of a community hall. Even though, to a DIAND official, the buildings might look similar, in our eyes, they were very different entities.
It is a difficult area, I admit, until we complete all the self-government and land claims negotiations, but my concern is that I want to be sure that we are not being too liberal with the use of the term pilot project. Otherwise, we might rob it of all meaning.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I take the Members caution and representation, and I understand the issue. Some proposed pilot projects are going to be agreements entered into to which Canada will also be a signatory. Canada is contributing money to the initiative in Watson Lake, so it is being done with their eyes wide open.
I just signed a contribution agreement on justice regarding the Kwanlin Dun, whereby Canada is making a contribution and we are making a contribution. Again, it is on the same understanding, that the words are being used very carefully to ensure that we are not simply allowing them to dump a program on us.
The unique thing about the Kaska is that, for the first time, in my understanding at least, we are complementing - working in partnership - with northern native alcohol and drug abuse program money and other funding from the feds and us, and trying to have one deliverer of the service for all the people in Watson Lake, which has been accepted by all the people in Watson Lake and Ross River. We look forward to seeing a more comprehensive system, rather than a duplication of services between NNADAP and community addiction workers.
Mr. Penikett: I am almost complete. I would just like to ask a few questions about the general policy on some specific questions. I do not want to mention names here but the Minister has been approached, as have people on this side, about a very serious situation facing a young woman in the territory suffering from a serious eating disorder. Because this woman is being treated in a non-medical facility, the costs of the treatment, which are staggering, are likely to have to be borne by the family, and the Government of Yukon has declined to assist pending some potential change in policy in British Columbia that would recognize the treatment facility as an insured service.
I was interested to read, in the British Columbia Hansard, that the previous Minister was perhaps more open-minded on this question than one might have expected and made the point that even though there might not have been a long track record for this facility in Victoria that would allow them to feel comfortable about funding it, they seemed to be open to the possibility and, accordingly, I have written to the new Minister of Health in B.C. on the subject to find out whether there is any likely change in policy.
Could I ask the Minister if he would be willing to make a general statement about the problem of eating disorders, which affect, it seems to me, rather an alarmingly large number of young women, especially overachieving, highly motivated young women from very professional families - I understand, typically - and whether this government will be willing to assume some of the costs in this case if the British Columbia government does indeed recognize the treatment facility in which the young person is now resident. I understand the medical model, or the hospital-based model, is one that is risky and costly, and even though the government would pay for it, it is not the chosen course of treatment by the family and by the individual.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am very sympathetic to the case in point. I am certainly well aware of the problem. Someone my family knew very well passed away recently with it.
I believe that I sent a letter to the Member about what had been done by the department to date. Should the Minister of Health in British Columbia recognize the facility, we would be quite willing to assist.
Mr. Penikett: I am not quite sure about how this happens, but in the popular magazines we have been reading all kinds of articles about prostate cancer, and it so happens - maybe it is my age - but all of a sudden I discover many people that I know who have been suffering from prostate cancer.
I noticed in a Time magazine article an interesting thing about Alaska, that the incidence of surgical response to this problem is five times the national average in the United States. I found this particularly interesting, since I have a friend in Alaska who has recently gone through this surgery.
I understand that the incidence of prostrate cancer is quite high and yet it does not receive the kind of attention that other cancers, such as breast cancer, have received.
Has the Minister had any reason to take an interest in this issue and is the department likely to be involved in any public information initiatives surrounding this disease? Of course, we have responded to the breast cancer concern with some programs, such as the mammography program, but I wonder if the Minister had undertaken anything further?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I thank the Member for the representation and we will raise it at JMC with medical services and the doctors.
I certainly have become more aware of the issue myself, as we read some of the same popular magazines. I have seen all the ads in some of those magazines about some of the new medicines that you can take for an enlarged prostate. I see that the Leader of the Republicans in the United States Senate, Senator Robert Dole, is a survivor of prostate cancer and there was recently a story on CNN.
I certainly will look into that matter. It perhaps concerns me for the same reasons as it does the Member opposite.
Mr. Penikett: There are a lot of issues about which I could ask questions. I will not. I notice that I have a press release here from the British Columbia Minister of Health that the practice of acupuncture is becoming a self-regulating occupation in that province. I doubt that is imminent in the territory.
I have also noticed a fair amount of literature about an issue that is obviously a major one in the Yukon - that being the FAS and FAE situation. During my delightful time as Minister, I was pressured enormously by Members on this side of the House to appoint an FAS/FAE coordinator, something which, based on the advice of the department, we decided was not a good idea, even though we did set up a coordinating body that involved Education, Health and Social Services and perhaps one or two other agencies. What is the Ministers current view on the usefulness of an FAS/FAE coordinator?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Our policy has not changed from what it was under the previous administration. The whole area of FAS/FAE is of huge interest to the Health and Social Services Council and the Advisory Council on Indian Child Welfare and is something that I hope to be able to direct some attention to once we get into dealing with issues surrounding kids at risk.
Mr. Penikett: On July 17 or 18, the Minister was asked some questions about the request for urgent financial assistance for the youth healing camp in Old Crow. Has the Minister had occasion to respond to that request yet?
The Minister had questions about the youth healing camp in Old Crow. There was an urgent request for financial assistance conveyed from Randall Tetlichi to Johnny Abel, MLA. The Minister was asked questions in this House. We want to know, has the Minister responded, and has he responded positively?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I was just trying to get the date of this. Was it July? January 17 - it has gone to the department. We have not responded yet. I spoke briefly to Chief Robert Bruce today over at CYI and told him we would be getting back to him.
Mr. Penikett: I believe I have also indicated to the Minister that I want to pursue in the spring session the community mental health needs assessment submitted to territorial government by the Second Opinion Society. The Minister, I think, indicated he could not respond at length now but he might in the spring and I will just record that.
I was not clear about the Ministers answer in respect of the question I put to him about the role of the Health and Social Services Council in monitoring the implementation of the Health Act but, assuming that the Health and Social Services Council is playing a role in that, can I ask at the spring session for some document that would provide something in the way of a brief progress report?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Yes.
Ms. Commodore: I am going to be asking certain questions in regard to the social services side of Health and Social Services. Prior to that, I have a couple of questions that I have been asked to present in this House to the Minister, as they are waiting for responses.
Since we will possibly be getting into Justice tonight, I would like, with the Deputy Chairs permission, to ask the Minister a question with regard to that, so that we can be prepared with some information that we might require. Is this agreeable?
Deputy Chair: Do Members agree?
Some Hon. Member: Agreed.
Deputy Chair: Members are agreed. Go ahead.
Ms. Commodore: Thank you. I know that the Ministers people are probably listening to questions. I have asked for this before in the House, and I would ask him again for information with regard to the reorganization of the different branches in the Department of Justice. He did send me a copy of the chart, which indicated what the new branches were. I do know that there was an internal document that briefly tells people in the department about the changes that are going to be made - for instance, what has been moved around to those new branches. I would like to ask him if he could have that information available for me this evening in case we get into Justice.
The information regarding what has happened to the different programs is not confidential or a deep secret. It is information that should be available to this Legislature, or anyone else for that matter. An example is community administration and others that I cannot remember right now. Anyway, there were a number of programs under the responsibility of one branch that have been moved over to community and policing or corrections or something.
I am trying to find out, prior to getting into the debate on Justice, exactly where some of the programs have gone in this change. It is important that I have this information. I know it is not confidential, so I cannot see a problem in asking for it to be provided to me, because it is already included in an internal working document. I do not know its title.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I have received a representation, and we will do what we can.
Ms. Commodore: I certainly do hope that we are going to receive that, because I would like to get out of this House some time in the next day or two.
I have two questions, as I mentioned before, about health. People are waiting for these answers. I am sure that the Member for Mount Lorne will have further questions on the Phelps firewood fraud squad.
These questions are in regard to health care. I had a representation made to me prior to Christmas. The person phoned because she had a concern about costs, and whether or not this government was spending their money wisely. The Minister may not be able to answer the question today, but her concerns were about the problems that they face in communities where individuals seek medical or dental care and referrals are made to Whitehorse to see specialists. This person is aware of a situation in Dawson City, where a person had problems with their teeth. The dentist there gave his diagnosis, but sent the young person into Whitehorse to see another dentist. The person came to Whitehorse, and the cost was paid for by the department. Because of the travel arrangements, this person spent four days in town, saw a dentist, and was given the same diagnosis as by the dentist in Dawson City. This person felt that this was a waste of taxpayers money and that these kinds of circumstances should not be allowed. This person really wanted to find out where the government is coming from in regard to referrals made from communities to Whitehorse where, as it appears here, they get a confirmation of the diagnosis given by the dentist in Dawson.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I can only say that there has not been any change in policy from the previous policy with regard to that situation. I will certainly look into the matter, as it seems to be a very valid point.
Ms. Commodore: Can I expect that the Minister will provide me with a written response to this question, so I can send it to the individual who telephoned me? I would like to be able to do that, as I am sure the MLA for Klondike would.
Ms. Commodore: The other question I have relates to travel as well. Actually, a person was very angry about this because she knew the two individuals involved. It was with respect to travel outside by an aboriginal person for medical care. I do not know if she was status or not. She had a medical problem with her hand. She was reported to have told the people who make the travel arrangements that she was unable to carry a suitcase, so would require an escort or companion to travel with her. Her request was granted.
The problem that this person who contacted me had with this was that they sent the womans best buddy out as the escort who would help her carry her luggage. It did not sound like something that this government provided. It was another question. I also told her I would bring this up in the House during budget debate because I thought we would possibly get into it before Christmas and would be able to give her the information sooner.
I guess what she is wanting to know is what the criteria is for a person to be permitted an escort to accompany them for medical travel. It appeared that she told them that her hand was not well enough to be able to carry her luggage and that she needed someone to accompany her. That person ended up being her buddy. I could give the names, but I will not.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We will make sure that the policy is sent with an explanation.
Ms. Commodore: I actually got a copy of the policy, but that did not answer my question. So, I would appreciate it if the Minister could look for further information with respect to those two cases in order that I can then provide the answers to this woman, who happens to live in my riding and not the riding of the Member for Klondike.
I have a number of things that I would like to talk to the Minister about today. They vary from our big concern today about the cutbacks in NGOs to the treatment of people in care to other services that are offered. I would just like to start off by letting the Minister know that we were very distressed today to learn about the cuts in the NGO funding. When I was asking him questions in the House today, they were as a result of many people who approached us and, I am sure, approached the Member for Riverside, about the concerns they had in regard to what they would not be able to do when the funding is cut - it was not if it was going to be cut, it was when it was cut. The funding they needed was to pay for certain things that they would not be able to do with the money they were able to raise.
One of the biggest concerns we had was in regard to the manner in which they were being approached - for instance, the Teegathaa Oh Zheh. The letter sent to them said that the government wanted to have a meeting with them to talk about some changes that were going to take place and to let them know what the governments plan was. Our concern was in regard to the perception they had in reading a letter like that, which said basically, We are here and we are going to tell you what we want to do, what our plan is and whether or not your plan is different does not really matter. It tells them that consultation is for naught because, before any consultation has taken place, the department has a plan of their own and refuses to give out any information on the phone to those individuals who would like to know about that plan. They are being told, If we told you, we would not have to have a meeting. When a situation like that occurs, the organizations concerned become very suspicious of the manner in which they feel the department is going to be dealing with them in the future.
Most of the funding will probably end at the end of this fiscal year, which is not too far away, and there are many individuals and community groups out there who are concerned as to where the government is going in regard to the cutbacks and, in some cases, total cuts in funding. I would like the Minister to tell me and to tell them what they can expect - because the Leader of the Official Opposition asked some questions and some questions were asked in the House today, and there was a lot of concern among those individuals who would be affected - not only the people who are volunteers for these organizations but also the individuals for whom they are working or speaking and trying to help. Perhaps the Minister could let me know where he thinks his department is going. According to information from the Leader of the Official Opposition, there was a decision made, or a discussion had taken place in a Cabinet retreat, where they discussed cutting back and cutting off funding for NGOs, and it appears to be a government decision. The Minister implied today that he did not really know what anyone else was doing or what the other departments were doing and that his department alone was going to do this.
ICan he tell me right now where his department is going, even if it is a plan of the whole government, and the other departments, to cut funding, because we are concerned about who will still be getting funding and who will not.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I thought I made it clear that the meeting that was referred to in the question from the Leader of the Official Opposition was one that was held over one year ago. It was with regard to the budget for 1993-94. The results of that meeting were evident in the last O&M mains. That meeting had no bearing on the current position of the department. The meeting had to do with the previous budget. We are now talking about the new budget coming up.
There have been some letters sent to some of the NGOs regarding our change in approach to funding some of these non-profit organizations. My understanding of the letter that the Member is referring to is that it is requesting meetings with that group. We want to sit down and have the department talk to them and arrange to see what can be done to fund them to an adequate level to meet the needs of the people to whom services are being provided on a fee-for-service basis. That is the gist of the letter. I would respectfully submit that the NGO in question should make that contact and enter into these discussions.
There is a big difference in kind. We are saying that we feel that we should be paying a fee for service to people who need help, instead of paying core funding and money for advocacy and so on. That is the general principle that we will be following, in general terms, in these two departments.
Ms. Commodore: In a representation that was made by some of those people to us, they outlined some of their concerns with regard to what would happen if their core funding was cut off - the small amount that they get. Some of those individuals also raise their own money, and we commend them for that. However, they are unable to use the money they raise for certain things. One of the really important things that a lot of these NGOs require is an office, a specific place where they can do their business, whether that is accomplished through money provided by this government or is raised by them. These funding cuts would not allow them the ability to set up these offices, other than in someones basement. I do not know how much thought was given to making this decision.
The letters have outlined that the department was going to outline their plan, which told them that there was one. In these meetings, are they going to be talking about the problems that could occur if this funding is cut, or will they be seeking advice from those individuals or community groups about what difficulties they would face if their funding was completely cut? What I would really like to know is whether or not the Minister has made a final decision with regard to the cuts in funding. If he has, and there will be no more funding for any of those NGOs, there is no point in meeting. If there is some indication that he may listen or his department may listen - I know he is not listening to me now, but I will wait.
If there is some indication that they are prepared to listen to what some of the concerns are, is there a possibility that there may be some change in a decision that may have already been made?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Yes.
Ms. Commodore: I would ask the Minister to elaborate.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The Members opposite are welcome to come and meet with the department. We will listen to their concerns and discuss the issue further. I am simply speaking about a general approach to the funding of non-governmental organizations. There have to be some principles that rationalize the way in which various non-governmental organizations are funded. Some of the broad variances and the way that funding has been delivered in the past do not make any sense, in my view.
There is no rationale for it. It appears that over the years the squeaky wheel got the grease. Without pointing to any one group in particular, we want to rationalize what the money is used for and whether or not that organization is providing services that we feel are needed and meet our criteria. That is our responsibility in spending government money.
Ms. Commodore: The reason that I wanted the Minister to elaborate is because I had asked him two or three questions in that area, and one of the questions was if his decision was final in regard to a complete 100-percent cut off of some of the money that was being given to those individuals, or can those individuals sit down and talk to the Minister. Is the Ministers decision final?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We welcome those organizations to come to the department and talk with the officials and me. It is not a final decision in terms of the amount, but we want to move toward a comprehensive set of principles that are fair to the groups that will received funding, primarily on the basis of the services that they provide.
We have had situations in the past of organizations trying to find reasons for their existence. I am not singling out any particular organization, but it seems to me that government ought to be saying, We need certain services. Can you provide them?, and carrying on business in that way.
Ms. Commodore: I am going to be asking about a program that has been discussed in the news media in the last week or so following a training session or whatever by Cathy Deacon in the department. She has come back from some training, I believe, and has talked about a treatment that will be provided, or is being provided, for teenage sex offenders. I was wondering whether or not the Minister could give me more information in regard to that program. Is it a new program or is it something that is already being offered by NNS? It appears she has been provided with some exceptional training to deal with the problem, and the problem is very big. Are we going to be looking at something new in the way of how that treatment is offered? I want to know how it is going to fit in with what is already in existence.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It is not residential; it is supplementary - it is group therapy that is being offered and some of this has already commenced. The program captured the interest of the Advisory Council on Indian Child Welfare and they have brought in a primary instructor from the United States and are offering some sessions with that person. I think they had some 35 people who took the preliminary course last week, and there is follow-up work they can do - not in order to have them be professionals; their hope was that it would make people in the community more capable of dealing with that sort of crisis and give them a better understanding. It is an interesting program.
Ms. Commodore: This program is very important, because it deals with a problem that is bigger than most of us realize. During the panel, a person who spoke at that meeting made mention of our children who are sexually abused. They made a comment that, every single day, a child is sexually abused somehow. That makes it a very serious thing.
I know that treatment is being offered to those people the department is aware of, and perhaps some of those young people seek treatment on their own.
What is the department going to be doing in regard to making individuals aware that this is a problem we have in our territory - and right across the country, I am sure? How are we going to educate the public, and those children, to let them know that there is something that can be done, and that what has happened to them is not right? It is horrible to imagine that a child is sexually abused every single day of the year, and it deeply saddens everyone who is concerned about those children. Somehow or other, there has to be something in place to let those individuals who are abusing the children know that they cannot get away with it, and to let those young children who are being abused know that there is help for them somewhere.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The Department of Education has programs underway, and the forum that was attended by the Member was part of that education process. It is a major, critical problem. It is a problem that has some communities just coming to grips with its magnitude, such as Teslin and Old Crow. When denial is lifted and the extent of the problem is realized, we have some difficulty in providing enough support to get over the initial crisis. That has been our experience, and the experience of Teslin, in particular, in the not too distant past.
Ms. Commodore: I actually did not attend that forum. I only know what I read in the paper, but I did attend a forum prior to that that was very good. The unfortunate thing is that there were not a lot of parents there. There were a lot of people who work in the system or provide some kind of service to those individuals in trouble with the law. Although I would like to have attended, I was unable to.
The Minister mentioned, and I think it was mentioned in a news release, that the Advisory Council on Indian Child Welfare was provided with information or training. I would like the Minister to tell me how extensive that was or who took advantage of it, and what they will be able to do once they return to their communities.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The council brought in the person who taught Cathy Deacon, who is in our department. They had space for 32 or 33 people to participate. They set up their own screening procedure for who would come and participate in the learning session that took place in Whitehorse over the course of about one week. The intention was that the people not be therapists, but would go back to their communities with a better knowledge and ability to cope with some pretty awful problems in these communities.
I can get more in writing for the Member. I will have to review the report I received. I received minutes or a report separately - I am not sure which. I will have to see if that is detailed enough. If not, we will add to it and send it.
Ms. Commodore: The other question that I have is with respect to the training or awareness being made available to other people as well, because we know that it is not just aboriginal children who are offending or being abused, but other Yukoners as well. The Minister made mention that they had provided the information to the Indian child welfare group, but what about other people who do have the same concern?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: That council became interested in that issue on their own. It was not on my initiative; it was theirs. They invited Ms. Deacon to explain the program she had taken and, as a result of that, the expert person was brought to the Yukon.
There are programs within the Department of Education that try and reach out to all kids. The forum that the Member read about in the paper is one example. This is something that I think has to be constantly raised. We try to inform as many people as we can that we do have some help available. I rather think that we are going to have to study other training mechanisms to deal with the problems in the communities, because it seems that people here are pretty well run off their feet with problems we have in this community.
Ms. Commodore: There is no question that the people who provide this kind of treatment or information to deal with the situation are run off their feet. There is no question about that at all. It is one of the areas, among many, that we know - and I know that the Minister agrees - has to be dealt with. I know how difficult it is going to be to provide all of the services to those individuals.
The Minister is going to give me information about this program and the new things that have been learned by the person. I am wondering if the Minister will let me know in the form of - it will not be a legislative return, because I hope that we will be out of here pretty soon - a letter about the future plans and how the department will be dealing with this problem and how all Yukoners can be involved. This situation is something that has to be dealt with as soon as possible.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Some of those policies are under development, but I will do my best to advise the Member of their present status. We are thinking in terms of community-based health, and some of the healing centres and programs with which we may be able to assist. We have ideas about training people to be generalists in terms of counselling. We are trying to come to grip with a very important priority.
Ms. Commodore: The next question I have is in regard to social assistance. The Minister will recall that I had asked him for information on the number of people in the Yukon who were on social assistance. He provided me with a legislative return and gave me the numbers. They are quite astounding, because he is telling me in this return that Indian and Northern Affairs are currently funding a monthly average of 472 families, containing 1,416 persons. Also, the single cases average, on a monthly basis, is 414, for a total of 986. That is just from Indian Affairs.
In addition to that, the territorial government is funding a monthly average caseload of 402 families, containing 1,168 persons. In those cases, there may be two people in the family - both the mother and father - who are unemployed. We are looking at the number of people who could be working as higher than is indicated here. There could be a two-parent family included.
What is so amazing about it is that the monthly caseload for Indian Affairs is 986, while the monthly caseload for YTG is 943. The caseload for status Indians, who make up 25 or 30 percent of the population, is much higher.
My question for the Minister is with regard to the manner in which they deal with this problem, in cooperation with Indian and Northern Affairs. Has there been any contact? It has been years since I was the Minister. I cannot recall whether or not there was any dialogue between the two governments with regard to this issue. I wonder if the Minister has taken it upon himself to look at the problem that exists right now, in order to find out if there is some way to arrange some cooperation in dealing with it. I know the Minister has talked about certain programs that he could make available to community groups that might be very helpful in cutting down on this problem.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We did take the initiative to communicate with the Indian Affairs people to ensure there was a parallel program in place for status Indian people that looks like our headstart program under SARS. Of course, the Canada Employment and Immigration Commission has training that both status and non-status people do take advantage of.
I have a high regard for the kind of training that is provided by New Opportunities, and those kinds of people. I hope we can build on that training and the chance for on-the-job opportunities, and the chance for these people to network with people in the workforce. There is no magical cure.
Ms. Commodore: There is a big difference in the total fiscal year expenditures. For instance, the Indian Affairs total for the last fiscal year for social assistance was $8,228,000. The total amount YTG spent was $11,883,000. It is interesting, because there was less spent by Indian Affairs, which had a higher caseload, than by YTG. Why did that happen? There is a difference of $3 million.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The program is largely administered by the individual First Nations. They know who is on and who is off, and they sometimes set rules that are more stringent than ours. They do not buy wood from anyone, unless they know exactly who is providing the wood for the band member.
Ms. Commodore: I have some questions in regard to some information. The Leader of the Official Opposition was asking questions about this. The information was contained in the minutes of the Yukon Health and Social Services Council.
I noticed that in the last set of minutes I received, for October 1 and 2, there are a number of new people on the council. Could the Minister tell me how those people are placed on a committee? Are there recommendations made by certain groups for certain people to be on this committee? I would like to know how they are chosen.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I indicated an interest in having seniors represented, so one person was from the seniors groups. I forget how the name was arrived at. There were two people who were brought forward. I had conversations with the RCMP regarding youth at risk and my expectation that, as part of their crime prevention, they would be involved. They actually volunteered the name of the person who started the youth centre in Carcross. That name came from the chief superintendent.
Another young lady was recommended to us by Skookies, if I recall correctly, as well as by other people. I noted that individual had spoken out in the newspapers with regard to youth issues and, along with two other young people, had also spoken out at the community consultation meetings held in Ross River about alcohol and drug problems. There was a lot of discussion during the part of the meeting I attended regarding the problem with youth at risk in the communities, with nothing to do, so I was quite happy that she was recommended to me. I think it was Skookies who gave us the name, but it was a long time ago, and I would have to check.
Ms. Commodore: I notice by the list on the latest set of minutes I have that there is a great change in the backgrounds of the people who are on that committee. I would like to say that, as far as I am concerned, that is a good change.
In answer to my question, the Minister was trying to explain to me the manner in which they were chosen, and he mentioned some organizations and some people who recommended certain people. Are we looking at certain organizations? For instance, if someone were to resign who had been recommended by Skookies, would we go back to the friendship centre and again ask for recommendations? I am curious as to how that works.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I felt there was a need to seat some people on there who were truly interested in the problems of youth. I mentioned those two. Because of my interest in seeing justice concerns taken under consideration by the council, there was the one RCMP member, as well as a person from the Kwanlin Dun justice people - I believe their role is justice coordinator - placed on the committee, because of the whole issue of community-based justice and what is happening there. I do not know who gave us her name.
The chair of the hospital board was invited to participate because we felt there was a need, particularly at the outset, to have a firm understanding of what is being offered and what is being contemplated by the department relating to health and the role the hospital board is seeking to develop for itself.
I think that we invited a member from the Indian advisory council. I think those are all of the ones that were appointed.
Ms. Commodore: The Minister has just indicated that if there appears to be an issue at hand, they would seek out a recommendation from that certain group. I would like to ask the Minister whether or not anyone who had seen the ad in the Yukon Update came forward to sit on that council.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I could be wrong, but I am pretty sure that those were all done before that process was put into place. They were appointed way back in the spring, I think.
Ms. Commodore: There is a great change in the two meetings. There is a change from the minutes in March to the one in October. I do not know what time of the year any of these were changed, but I just wanted to know how effective the political Update was in reaching out to party members to seek names to be put on these different committees.
There is some information in the minutes dated October 1 and 2. Included is the number of staff who are of First Nations ancestry, who work with youth services. I imagine that includes kids who are in care in foster and group homes, and possibly kids who are in custody, whether it is open or secure. Five out of 22 staff are of First Nations ancestry. That is not a very good breakdown. Also, 27 out of 48 youth in custody are First Nations. I do not know where these figures come from because the Minister is telling us there are not a lot of people in custody and he is thinking about closing down the open custody facility. But, according to this information given by Tim Brady, five out of the 22 staff are First Nations and 27 out of 48 youth in custody are First Nations. That sounds like a lot of people in custody.
So, I guess I have two questions: one in regard to the percentage of people working in that area - five out of 22 being First Nations; I guess my second question is in regard to the minutes that tell us that there are 48 young people in custody. Is that right?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The answer to the second part is that these are people for shorter and longer periods of time throughout the whole year; they are not all there at one time.
With respect to the issue of the numbers of First Nations on the staff at the secure custody facility and elsewhere, steps are being taken - and we try as best we can - to encourage hiring of aboriginal people to deal with these kids.
I think that we have come a long way in the working relationships between First Nation people and non-First Nation at the closed facility. There were some problems prior to my assuming office, and there was some work done. A consultant was brought in and programs were brought into play in order to facilitate the relationship between staff to overcome existing problems. I understand that is going quite well.
All that I can say is that the Advisory Council on Indian Child Welfare has been to the facility and is keenly interested in the programming. They also seem pleased with the progress, although it is never good enough; I am aware of that.
Ms. Commodore: I hope the Minister is right in letting us know that things have improved. I know from talking to First Nations people who were working in the system that they were very disillusioned with the manner in which things were happening. At least the First Nations kids in custody were not getting the kind of programs offered to them to the extent they would have liked. I know there were some. Not too long ago, I was told there had been a cutback in some of the programs that were being offered. The Minister has indicated that that is not the case, and that things have improved. It has been awhile since I heard from anyone, and I know that anyone who has a problem may be reluctant to give us any kind of information during the session.
According to the minutes here, the goal of the representative workforce of the population at large was questioned, and it was suggested that consideration be given to setting a goal to achieve staff representation equal to that of the client group.
How does the department intend to do that? If they are going to be setting a goal, how long does the Minister anticipate that will take? I know you just cannot fire people to bring in new people to meet this goal.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We have an employment equity plan. There is fair turnover in the field of the young offender programs, but certainly I could provide the Member with a written update of the response to the recommendation of the council.
Chair: 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 will call Committee of the Whole to order.
Ms. Commodore: I am referring to the minutes of the meeting of October 1 of the Yukon Health and Social Services Council. I am doing so in addition to what I was asking the Minister before about the population. These minutes indicate that 28 out of 48 total youth in custody are First Nation. Can the Minister tell me, for a fact, that this is the number of people we have had in our facilities, open or secure, in one year? I would like to know where he got these figures from. I know there are people spending time there for as much as three years. Some of the people go in for two months, and some are in open and some in secure custody.
I had heard that they did have foster parents for young people, but the Minister has said that was not the case. At a gathering I was once at, I was told that. The Minister said that it is not true, so I guess it is not.
Can the Minister indicate to me whether or not this is an accurate figure? Have there been 48 youths sentenced to custody of some kind within a year? If it is not correct, could the Minister provide me with the information?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Yes, I can do that. I am not really sure as to the context.
Ms. Commodore: I would appreciate it if the Minister could give me the information about the amount of youths who are sentenced to open and secure custody. I am in no rush for it, so he can give it to me when he can. I wish to know how many youths are in open custody, for instance, because the Minister is looking at closing down 501 Taylor.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Yes.
Ms. Commodore: In the same minutes, there is some information about various programming offered at this facility by Larry Whitfield. It focussed on the cultural education program developed by Darren Leas and it involved many things - access to traplines, fish camps. He also gave an overview of the other programs offered at the facility.
A whole range of things in here are being offered and it seems quite extensive. I would like the Minister to tell me whether or not all of these things are happening. For instance, are there programs with access to traplines and fish camps? There is education - kids are still going to school, and I know that. They also provide work experience in regard to apprentice cooks and maintenance workers; they also have access to a salmon hatchery program, a health program, and what is included in that? What do they do for recreation? He has given me some information on the elders program. I am not sure whether he can stand on his feet and let me know what all of those programs are, but I am interested in them and I would like to know whether or not they are fairly successful. This is the area where I was told that some of the cultural programs were being reduced, and I would like the Minister to tell me whether or not that is a fact and can he tell me anything else about any of the other things I have indicated.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The Member seems to know more than I - she knows too much. I realize this is from the minutes of the Health and Social Services Council. I could provide something in writing or arrange a briefing, if she would like, by the same officials who briefed the council. I have absolutely no problem with her talking to them and I can have my executive assistant set up some kind of a briefing if she would like.
Ms. Commodore: I would appreciate it if I can talk to the individuals who worked in that specific area. That would be good.
There are also some questions about the recidivism rate of kids sentenced to security. There really is not any solid information in that regard and I know that our open and secure facilities have been in existence for seven or eight years - maybe not that long - and there should be some information about how many kids are repeat offenders. I know that there are a number of kids whom we keep seeing over and over again. It would appear that some of the training or treatment that is provided in those facilities is not successful.
When I was the Minister and meeting with the adult offenders in the jail, there were a large number of individuals who said that it was a training field for the adult jail. That sounded pretty scary, but that seems to be the case in many instances.
There appeared to be an interest in the recidivism rate of young offenders, but there are no statistics about that number. I would be interested to find out how many kids do not go back. That would indicate some success.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The problem is that kids reach a certain age and then they are adults. One of the items in the capital budget had to do with computer linkups to the various departments to get that information from the RCMP, probations, youth services, Whitehorse corrections, Teslin corrections, probation officers and others. We know that there are some gaps.
Ms. Commodore: I do not know if the Minister has read these minutes or not - I would hope that he has - because there is good stuff in here, lots of good topics are brought up. I am not going through all of them because there is a lot of stuff in here, such as alternative health perspectives, and so on. There was a presentation made by the Race Relations Council. I wonder if the Minister can tell me what role it plays in any of the discussions or the working relationship with the department.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It is a cross-cultural group. We have not had a lot to do with them. Serena is involved in that group and she is also vice-chair of the council.
Ms. Commodore: I am actually not totally familiar with the group, but I have an idea about some of the things it is doing. There appeared to be an interest in hearing about what they were doing and in giving an update to this council. My question was in regard to how it fits in with the department. Is the department going to be working with them to deal with this big problem? It is a big problem.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We have not received any advice from the council. It certainly makes itself available to people from all walks of life who are doing things related to the general mandate of the council. We act more on its advice, rather than simply on the fact that they have talked to people, or had presentations from people.
Ms. Commodore: I should have asked questions on this meeting first, because it happened six months before the other one. It is in relation to the continued direction from the August 1992 action plan. They referred to the action plan. I am not familiar with this. It was noted that traditional healing was to be forwarded to the next agenda. They talked about certain contacts in regard to that plan, and they mentioned Allan Jacobs, Laurie Jackson, Betsy Jackson and Wayne Jim as possible contacts to talk to about traditional healing.
The Member has talked about traditional healing, and so have I. Has there been any follow-up in regard to this? This is dated March 28, and I noticed in the minutes I just read, there was a reference to something that was presented to them by Mike Brine. Have they been in contact with this group to talk about traditional healing?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It is something that did not result in recommendations to us. I am aware of the presentation by Mike Brine. He forwarded a copy of his presentation to me.
Simply because we have met with groups, or talked with them, it does not necessarily lead to any action plan by the department.
Ms. Commodore: I have some questions in regard to the homeless. I know the Leader of the Official Opposition also asked questions on this.
In his legislative return, the Minister indicated that Eagles Nest has reached out to youth on the street and tried to link them to services that ensure that they have a place to stay. I am not familiar with the Eagles Nest program. Is it an ongoing program that is in operation 24 hours a day? How do they reach out to those kids on the street?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There is an ongoing program, as I am sure the Member is aware, on Lambert Street, beside the video place. It operates on certain evenings. It does not operate 24 hours a day. They hook them up with resource people such as Maryhouse.
Ms. Commodore: I am actually not that familiar with it. I know that it was something that the former Minister had talked about in Cabinet. I think at that time it was either just in the process of opening or had barely started before the election last year. I know where it is.
The Minister has indicated in his legislative return that the program does reach out to youth on the street. I would like to know how that is done. If they meet, for example, for two hours on an evening, is it part of the two-hour time that they spend together? How do they really reach out to youth on the street? I would really like to know.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: In this kind of issue, I can offer the Minister a written description or a tour of the program.
Ms. Commodore: I guess I will have to settle for that.
There is other information in here, as well. There was, as the Minister knows, a very serious concern about the homeless. People were contacting us and a home was opened by the Kwanlin Dun to deal with the situation. He mentions here that the childrens receiving home that is operated by this government is open 24 hours a day for homeless children. That is a fact, and I know it. However, the question is, if these people are homeless and on the street, can they actually go to one of these receiving homes if they want a place to sleep that night?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Yes.
Ms. Commodore: Are they then identified as children in care? I know that when children are apprehended, that is one of the places they go. If the kids on the street know the place is open 24 hours a day, and need a place to stay that night, can they go there? Is there no process that they must go through? Are the places full sometimes? If the children knew that it was open 24 hours a day and that they could just walk in, there could be a number of children in those homes each night.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There does not seem to be that volume. There are beds at one receiving home. If children were taken in overnight, they would be considered a youth in crisis, not a youth in care. They would be looked after by the department on that basis.
Ms. Commodore: If there is a need for a place for a youth to go at night, how do we determine whether or not he or she is in a crisis? For instance, as has been indicated by many people - and particularly at the panel session I attended - there are a number of youth that just leave their homes. They know that they can go back at any time. I am wondering if there is any way of determining whether or not the kid is in a crisis. If there is, what is it?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am advised that it is an investment process that would involve the parents and a decision would be made on that basis. The receiving home is not a hang-out place - if that is the question.
Ms. Commodore: That is my question and what I am trying to get an answer about. The response is right when it says that the childrens receiving home operated by the department is available 24 hours per day for homeless children. If that information were to get out to the kids on the street who could be looking for a place to stay because they had ended up in unfavourable circumstances, and they end up at one of the receiving homes and say, I want to stay here tonight, they may get turned down because there has never been an assessment done.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: If someone shows up at 3:00 a.m., there would be an assessment done the next day.
Ms. Commodore: Is there something somewhere in a brochure that tells kids that that service is available to them?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: No.
Ms. Commodore: How would they know that service is available if they are in a crisis in the middle of the night, and there is nothing available to them? Have we had children in the past who have ended up at a receiving home, been let in and dealt with the next day?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Yes, it is normally on a referral from an agency, such as the RCMP or a social worker on call.
Ms. Commodore: In the legislative return the Minister has indicated that the government is providing $3,000 toward the home at Kwanlin Dun. I understand that Kwanlin Dun is using some of their own money and they have indicated to me the manner in which they plan to spend the money.
The Minister has given them $3,000 - I do not know if he has given it to them yet, but this legislative return says the government is going to be providing that amount of money. Does the Minister intend to consider any future requests from this home for funding?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I really have not considered that issue yet.
Ms. Commodore: It is probably a hypothetical question, but I know they are continually dealing with the possible loss of any funding they are using within their own band.
I have some more questions in regard to a legislative return on the detox centre. The Minister knows that the problem is serious, and I know the problem is serious. He gave me the figures for the fiscal year of 1992-93. I imagine it is a pretty accurate total for almost every year. There were 408 clients admitted to the detox centre in that one year. In the last year, up to November, there were 261 people admitted to the detox centre.
I would like the Minister to tell me when they are going to be dealing with the problem that we know exists: that we need a new detox centre. I know he has talked about new, innovative programs that he could possibly introduce in the new budget in the spring. I do not know whether or not he is going to do that, but the problem has been there for a number of years. Even though he made a ministerial statement, the Minister indicated that he was not going to be proceeding with a new detox centre, at least for the next fiscal year, but 408 clients in one year is a lot of people, and the need for a new centre is pretty drastic.
Does he have an alternative to that, as a result of the Alcohol and Drug Strategy or survey, which he keeps talking about? There is still concern that the program will be privatized and that people working in the system may possibly lose their jobs.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We are still developing the Alcohol and Drug Strategy, and no decisions will be finalized or taken in this budget we are discussing.
Ms. Commodore: Can we assume that there will be no change in the alcohol and drug program dealing with detox until 1995?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There will be no change in the course of the year this budget covers, which ends the end of March.
Ms. Commodore: I understand that it ends, and that we are dealing with the budget for this year, and we will have a chance to discuss the new budget and what is in it after it has been introduced in this House. I speak about concerns I and other people have, because the Minister very proudly announced that he was going to do all these new things and since has changed his mind. The hopes of some individuals who either work in the system or have to take advantage of it are up and then they are let down again. I know that a person will end up in this centre more than once to make up for the 408 people who end up in the detox centre.
Could the Minister let me know, right now, if he has any new and exciting plans for the next fiscal year in the operation and maintenance budget? I know he does not want to talk about it, but if we just had an indication that there might be some changes made, we might have something to look forward to.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will look forward to discussing that with her when we table the main estimates.
Ms. Commodore: I also look forward to discussing that.
I have some other questions in regard to the meeting the Ministers officials, from both Justice and Health and Social Services, and possibly Education, had in Ross River. Someone referred to the group as a government SWAT team that swooped into the community to deal with the problem.
Have the Ministers officials had ongoing meetings with the community, since the meeting they had on January 6 or 7? There was a burning problem, at that time, that needed to be dealt with right away. If they have 10 people from government coming in to a community to talk about a problem, they expect some kind of reaction to it.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We have staff up there this week, interviewing applicants for the social worker counsellor position in Ross River, in conjunction with the community.
Ms. Commodore: I know that the social work position was one of the recommendations that came out of the review that was done after the suicide in Ross River. That was a couple of years ago. If there is going to be someone put in that position, that will add to the complement of people available to go, too, but there are other problems in that community that were voiced very loud and clear at the meeting. I would like to ask the Minister whether or not both of his departments are looking at any other new things that might be included. I know the Minister of Education is not here, and I know he has cut funding in the education area. I know that was one of the concerns that was told to us. But, other than a social worker, I would like to know what else the Minister is planning to do, at least in the Department of Health and Social Services.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We are in almost continuous consultation with Ross River with respect to these issues. We have entered into several agreements with them, which were discussed earlier. We are looking at training positions. We are looking at their role in connection with the alcohol and drug pilot program that is being provided to that community, and which was discussed earlier. And, I guess, we will be monitoring and determining what other kinds of assistance might be required from this department. In this budget year, the primary accomplishment between now and the end of March will be to get this new position up and running in Ross River.
Ms. Commodore: I know that we are dealing with this fiscal year, and I would certainly hope that we would be looking at other services that might be available - not only to Ross River because it is not the only community in crisis. There are others.
One of the things that was mentioned to me during that period of time was that there did not appear to be a community that was working together, and that a number of agencies were working alone. Although everyone knew about the problems, there were different groups of people, even from government staff and other groups in the community, who were making representation, not only to YTG, but to CYI and other groups as well. Has there been a move to look at that problem? For instance, two or three different people would be phoning and asking about the same thing. So, there was some indication that there was a problem, I guess you would call it, of a lack of coordination. I do not know if that is a fact, because I have not had dealings with that community for a long, long time. I was wondering if the Minister has been told about that problem that may exist in that community.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: What we are trying to do is deal with the community and get all the players together with regard to health, social services and justice.
There was a protocol agreement signed among the three departments - Education, Justice and Health and Social Services - that helps to some extent. However, those kinds of issues are dealt with on an ongoing basis. We are hoping that the communication lines will get better over time. There is no magic solution.
Ms. Commodore: Has there been a decision made with the departments to meet with this group on an ongoing basis? The Minister mentioned that they were going to be interviewing for a social worker of some kind in Ross River about two weeks ago. I am interested in ongoing consultation with that community, with regard to all the issues that they feel are important.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Our local staff and our regional staff will be in touch on a continual basis.
Ms. Commodore: My next question is very short. It is in regard to Kaushees Place. It appears, from what I have heard in the last little while, that things are starting to settle down there. I do not know if that is the case. I have not heard anything for a long time.
There will be a review. I think it has started, although I am not sure about that. The deputy minister has indicated that it has not started yet.
The problem they were facing occurred quite a few months ago. It was months again before the committee was struck to do a review or an evaluation. I would like to ask the Minister what he expects to get from that evaluation and how extensive it is going to be.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I understand that we are in receipt of a number of proposals in regard to how to carry out the evaluation. A decision will be made shortly. The object of the exercise is to be forward looking, to see where we are now - what gains we have made and what gaps remain in the service - and what problems there are with regard to the running of the finances of Kaushees, and so on. I expect that we will get a general, all-encompassing report that will identify needs that look into the future, in order to ensure that it is run in an appropriate manner.
Ms. Commodore: Is the Minister telling the House, then, that he is receiving proposals from people who are interested in doing the evaluation, and are submitting their proposal to him indicating how they plan to do it? Is that what I heard?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There was a tender call and proposals have come in. I will not be evaluating them; the department will.
Ms. Commodore: Proposals are forwarded to him, and he or the department will have to choose the manner in which they are going to go in regard to the evaluation and who will be doing it.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The committee will be doing that, not the department.
Ms. Commodore: Is that the committee that consists of Anne Sheffield, Lorraine Stick, Joy Waters, Jo-Ann Waugh, Wynne Krangle, Val Liske, Clara Linklater, Ingrid Bill and Karen Morin?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Yes, it is.
Ms. Commodore: The Minister tabled a proposal for tenders for the evaluation. It appears that this was sent out in December. It is very long, so I know that it is going to take a great deal of time for the committee to sit down and look at the proposals that come in, and then make a decision as to who is going to be doing it.
Does the Minister have a time limit by when he would like to have the evaluation done and presented to him in an official capacity?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The evaluation of the proposals - is that what she is asking? The committee is going to make the decision, not me. It would be the committee making the decision, not me.
Ms. Commodore: I understood that the committee would be making the decision as to who would do the evaluation as a result of going through all the proposals. What I was asking him, after a lengthy representation, was whether or not he has a time line as to when he expects an evaluation to be complete. The problem was last summer, I believe, and they would hope to have some kind of response to it in the next little while.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: No, I do not have a definite time line.
Ms. Commodore: If I asked him if he expected to have it back in six months, would that be a good guess?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: No, because I do not have a time line.
Ms. Commodore: So we could be looking at five years down the road, and the people who are involved in that program could still be waiting around five years from now to find out what changes may have to occur in order to deal with a problem that we appeared to have a few months ago?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Of course not. We have a committee. It is a broad-based committee. We expect it to act rationally and reasonably. I do not know what the problem is or what the genesis of the curiosity is of the Member, but I am not dictating to them any particular time and saying four months, three months, jump through a hoop. We anticipate that these people will operate in the best interests of all concerned.
Ms. Commodore: We had a really serious problem quite a few months ago. There were people who were former staff and people who were former residents being interviewed by the media. That indicated to the general public that there appeared to be a big problem in the program that was being offered at Kaushees. There are a lot of people in the Yukon who are waiting for some kind of an answer to the problem.
The Minister has taken a number of months to actually get the proposal together. I can understand that it would take a long time, because it is quite extensive. They are looking for answers. Despite the fact that the Minister has a well-qualified group of people to go over the proposals and offer the contract to someone, I would think that he would have some kind of an idea of what he expects from them. His department gives them the money to operate Kaushees, and there are people out there who are expecting some kind of feedback from the problems that occurred a number of months ago.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Is that a question, or what?
Ms. Commodore: I guess I was trying to find out whether or not we can tell Yukoners if the Minister is being responsible in his capacity as the Minister in dealing with a problem that happened. He appears to be leaving it up to everyone else and will not make any kind of a commitment about when he expects this to be done. If there is a perceived problem in a program that the government is funding, he has to be responsible in getting those answers back to the people who are concerned. If the answers come through an evaluation, surely the Minister should know when to expect it.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Within a reasonable time.
Ms. Commodore: Within a reasonable time, with this government, could be two years from now. In this last session, we certainly found out that in many areas there was some question about their responsibility in meeting deadlines for certain things.
I know that I am not going to get any other kind of an answer from him in regard to that, so I will just tell anyone who calls that the Minister has no idea when the evaluation will be done, that he is going to be leaving it up to this committee, and that the department will decide. That appears to be what is happening - that department bureaucrats are dictating to the Minister what is going to happen. That is the information I will give back.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will advise Yukoners, or perhaps the committee, that a representation has just been made to me that I should have no faith in the reasonable responsibility of the members of the committee, that I should stand over their shoulders and tell them exactly when to do things and how to do them because the representation has been made to me in a very roundabout and illogical way by the hon. Member that I cannot trust these people, who, from what I know of them, are very trustworthy, responsible people. If that is what she is saying, I will tell them that. I am happy to.
Ms. Commodore: The message is very clear; we do not have to ask the Minister anything, because he does not have to respond to any questions in the House when we want an answer. When we want an answer we can go to his department and get a true answer from them. I agree that the Minister has very efficient people working in his department, but I am trying to find out who is responsible for that department. The Minister seems to take no responsibility whatsoever - that is the message that has been coming across for the last two months. The Minister is not going to answer me anyhow, and I know it is not that easy to get information from the department because they are being stalled in giving us information. If we cannot get an answer from the Minister in this House, we cannot leave here with the information that we need.
We will leave it at that and find out how long it is going to take for this evaluation to happen and when it will be presented to the Minister. I suspect that we will have the final results of that evaluation, and any recommendations that come out of it, in a year.
I am going to be getting into another area where I have a number of questions that will take a great length of time.
Mr. Chair, if you would like to recess at this time, I am agreed.
Chair: Is it the wish of the Members to recess at this time, the time being 5:28 p.m.?
Some Hon. Member: Agreed.
Chair: We will recess until 7:30 p.m.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I would like to bring the attention of the House to Virginia and Joe Lindsay and their extended family, who are constituents of mine from Porter Creek.
Chair: Is there further general debate on Health and Social Services?
Ms. Commodore: I do not have many questions left, but the remaining questions that I have are in regard to treatment for our young people under the responsibility of Department of Health and Social Services.
We have had discussions in the House already about the treatment that is available to these young people. The Minister has indicated, through his questions and answers in the House and a legislative return, that the Northern Network Services treatment home in Whitehorse is based on the treatment of the Woods Home in Calgary. I understand that to be the case.
The contract was given to the people who are running the home now, I guess, some time last summer. Shortly after that, an evaluation was done of that home, among others. I believe evaluations were done on three homes to see the kinds of services that were being provided to our young people.
It was brought to the attention of the Minister, through this evaluation, that further training was necessary. I would like to ask the Minister what the approval of this group was based on? I ask the Minister this because it was later found that the training being offered was not adequate for the problems that some of these young people had.
I do have some further questions, but that is my first one.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will be pleased to respond in writing to the Member.
Ms. Commodore: I hope I will receive answers to my questions. If he does not know the answers now, I will accept that he will respond to them. This has been an issue for quite awhile.
According to the legislative return, when the individuals went out to get further training to accommodate the needs of the kids in care, not only the staff, but all the kids went out as well. I wondered if the Minister might explain to us why the kids went with the individuals who needed training, and, while they were training, did we pay a per diem to Woods Home, or was that out of the money that was given to the NNS treatment home?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will be more than pleased to file a written response to that question.
Ms. Commodore: We are going to be in here for another day or two, I think, and I would like to have these answers back. I do not want to have to leave here when this House adjourns and find out that we are not going to get any responses for awhile.
I have some questions in regard to the manner in which this treatment is offered. I know we were sending a lot of our children out to the Woods Home in Calgary prior to this treatment home being opened in Whitehorse and, during Question Period, I asked the Minister about the problems we were made aware of concerning some of our Yukon children who were attending the Woods treatment home in Calgary over the years. We know that, in one case at least, a parent was sent down, along with a staff worker from Health and Social Services, to look for one of our kids who had ended up on the street down there, and I think she was probably down there after the treatment home in Whitehorse had opened up.
So, I would like to ask the Minister, since I asked him the question about how many children went AWOL in Calgary and he has not responded, if he might be able to give me that information now. We certainly have been made aware of many kids who have run away from the treatment home in Calgary.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am not sure if this is a policy question or a request for an issue of fact. If the Member wants the department to respond, we will do that in writing.
I find it rather amazing that we are getting this level of questioning here.
Ms. Commodore: The taxpayers of the Yukon are spending their money to pay to someone on contract to offer treatment services to these young Yukon people who have been referred to the home for care. I am questioning the treatment these children are getting. It is based on a treatment that is offered in Calgary at the Woods Home.
There were problems at the Woods Home with many children leaving the place. As I understand it, at one point in time, there were five Yukon children on the street at the same time. If we are basing the treatment that these children are getting at the home in Whitehorse on the training given by the Woods Home in Calgary, I wonder if Yukoners are getting their moneys worth, including the young people who are getting the treatment.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I take it I am now getting a submission from the Member, in which she is telling me that the Woods Home treatment in Calgary is terrible, or not up to snuff. I take it she wants me to do something. Perhaps she could ask a question, so I can answer it.
Ms. Commodore: I am asking a question he has not responded to. It is in regard to our children. When our children are referred for treatment to this government, we trust that the treatment they are going to get is going to be treatment we are paying for and which will do the children some good. The treatment that is being offered in the existing home right now is based on treatment that was provided by Woods Home in Calgary. We have information - perhaps the Minister does not - that a lot of the children who have been sent out to Calgary for treatment are skipping out. Sometimes, a parent and a government social worker have to go down to look for the child.
I am questioning whether or not the Minister feels that the treatment that is being provided by Woods Home is adequate, and also whether or not the treatment the people in Whitehorse are getting is adequate. We keep hearing stories, even when we were in government, of kids disappearing from this home and ending up on the streets in Calgary. These are Yukon children we are concerned about, and whose parents have provided information to me. It is not as if the Minister does not know about the problems that have occurred in Woods Home in Calgary.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I do not know what the question is, but I will try to understand it. If the Member is suggesting we should get into a debate about the merits of therapeutic treatment at Woods Home, perhaps she has the wrong person. I am the Minister responsible for the department; I am not a psychologist, and I do not have that kind of background.
If she is concerned about kids not staying within the home, she surely knows that Woods Home is not a secure facility and disturbed children often leave a therapeutic setting. It is very commonplace and is something that is dealt with in the program here.
I would ask the Member to at least consider the rules of the House and try to ask questions relating to policy. I am not an administrator, and I am not a social worker. I am quite happy to do my best to answer reasonable questions. If it is not the fault of the Member for the quality of the question, perhaps it is the big research budget and the hiring practices of the caucus opposite.
Ms. Commodore: I suspected before I came in here that I was not going to be getting any answers and it appears that my suspicions were correct. What we are asking is in regard to the policy of the government and the manner in which they contract out the services to provide treatment for our children who, as he said, have deep emotional psychiatric problems and those are the children we are talking about. We are talking about the care that is provided to them and we talk about specific ways of restraining them. As a matter of fact, I was criticized by him in the media for describing a restraint measure that was described to us not by one person but by three. He described it as a hug. It was not only described to us - we were shown how it was done. When we start hearing different stories about treatment that is offered by a home in Calgary, which is training our people to work in our home in the Yukon, then we have to question the policy in regard to the manner in which they give out those contracts. Certainly, all these questions have to do with the manner in which this government does their work and how they provide the care to our children who are in desperate need of it. He has mentioned the deep, emotional problems that some of these children have.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I do not understand the line of questioning or why the Member is asking the questions here. If the Member wants to get into a debate about how many people are hugged or how many locks are on a door, with the greatest of respect I do not think this is the time. Far be it from me to tell the Member what is and is not parliamentary.
There were invitational tenders sent out for the provision of the therapeutic program. I presume that these tenders were sent out to very highly qualified treatment centres. One of these treatments centres was Woods. That tender was accepted, signed, sealed and delivered before we took office. It was done under the Members administration.
Perhaps the Member should ask her colleagues if they went to the trouble of inquiring about runaways at Woods and the relative merits of each and every program. I suspect that they would not have done that and, if they were at all reasonable, they would have heavily relied on the competency of their administration.
Ms. Commodore: The Minister has a habit of turning questions around saying, Why do you not ask yourselves about some of these things? Well, I am not the Minister. The Member for Whitehorse West is not the Minister. The Minister is sitting over there on that side of the House and he is responsible for what is happening in his department now. I do not think that it is fair for Yukoners to have him stand up and not answer these questions. These questions are of great importance to the people of the Yukon who have children and relatives in care anywhere, whether it is at a treatment home, a foster home or a group home.
When I ask questions about restraint measures such as the face-to-face and pelvis-to-pelvis restraint, which has been described to us, not only by children who have experienced it, but by people who have seen it, when the Minister turns around and tells me it is a hug, I have something to worry about and so do those people who come to with some of those concerns.
My line of questioning is in regard to the treatment that is being offered and the training that is being provided by a place in Calgary, where many of our children have gone for treatment, have disappeared, have run away and have been found on the streets.
These stories have been told to me. Someone responding to remarks yesterday in the paper said it was one person, but it is not one person. We have many people who are concerned. These problems may have been happening prior to the Minister taking over the department, but he is the Minister now and I am very concerned about what I am being told about the treatment.
If someone comes to me and says, I know of five of our children who disappeared from the home all at once and they had to go look for them, and Ithe five were found on the streets of Calgary, you have to wonder about the kind of treatment that is being offered to the children, based on a home from which five of our kids have disappeared all at once.
I am asking the Minister, since this issue has arisen, if he has done any background checking with people in his department to find out whether or not these allegations have some merit.
I know that the Minister will come back and say, Well, I was told this and this and this, according to what I have said in my legislative return. People who are waiting for that information to come back from him have some concerns about what is taking place.
So, I want the Minister to tell me whether or not he might have any concerns in regard to the treatment that is being offered, looking at what has happened to our children who went out to that home in the past and are still going out, I believe. It was not that long ago that I was aware of a mother who had to go out with a social worker to look for her child, who might have been on the street.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Well, after all that, I still do not know what the question was. Do I have some concern over the care of our children? Of course I do. If she is making specific allegations, perhaps the best thing she could do is to bring the specific incident to me. Or, is she telling me that I should put on a different uniform, sneak around and hide behind bushes and investigate this myself? I just do not understand the relevance of these questions.
Ms. Commodore: They are relevant because they are about our children who are in care. If three individuals come to us to report something that happened the night before because they have a great concern about it and the reason they do not report it is because no one is going to believe them, of course we have to be concerned. I think the Minister should be a little bit more concerned about the issues that are coming up right now. I do not know what he would do if he were to sit down with some of these individuals and listen to what they had to say, because I know that he will go back to the department and the department will tell him that everything is just fine. I know that I am certainly not ignoring the things that I am hearing from those individuals, but I am more concerned about the training because it was obvious that the people who were working there are probably good citizens of the Yukon but did not have the training that was required to look after the really deep problems that these children had. I wonder about the ongoing training. I would like the Minister to tell me right now if they are still sending our children out to Woods Home in Calgary.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Part of the last question, as I think I understood it, was are we sending kids who need therapeutic care out to Woods or other places outside. It depends on their needs. Yes, we do send some out. I do not know the numbers, but I can certainly have the information brought to her.
Ms. Commodore: I wonder if he can tell me how many of these children we are sending out to Calgary still, because it has been said that the reason why we have opened a treatment home in Whitehorse is to keep our children at home. What would be the reason for sending them outside?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: They are being sent outside because the treatment being offered up here is not adequate to suit their needs. As to how many children, I said that I would try to find out and I will get the factual data back to her.
Ms. Commodore: I have had this information now for a couple of weeks and certainly the Minister must have known that I was going to be asking these questions here tonight. I would like him to tell me about the ongoing treatment that the people who are working in the treatment home are getting, because we do have children in our care right now who have run away. He is aware of it and so is the deputy. I know that you cannot follow these children around all of the time but I worry about some of the things that are being said by them and the threats that are being made by them. According to the newspaper, yesterday or the day before, they indicated that some kids did run away, that sometimes a staff member ran away with them, and tried to reason with them and help them decide to come back, but when someone is having a very deep emotional problem and they have disappeared from the home for days and days at a time, they do not appear to have a policy in place that would allow them to come back. I am just wondering whether or not the Minister is aware of the situation where kids, who are supposedly being cared for by this government, disappear for days at a time. What is the policy for bringing those children back to continue their care here in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am trying to figure out the question. What is the policy for bringing back youths who disappear for days at a time? I can try and get a written response to that.
Ms. Commodore: The Minister is apparently a bright and intelligent person. I have been told this, yet he is standing up and poking fun at serious questions being asked on behalf of people who are concerned about our kids in care. If he does not care enough to answer them right now, I wonder about his real responsibility.
When children have gone AWOL from a place to which they have been referred for treatment for deep emotional problems, what is the policy to try and get them back into care? What does the department do besides run away with them, or monitor them. If they are AWOL and threatening suicide, what does the department do?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will put it on the record that I will get someone to give the Member a written response. I really do not understand what she is getting at, at all. Does she want me to tell her what they feed them? What clothes they wear? Where they go? What movies they like to watch? What is the point of all this?
Ms. Commodore: There are a lot of people in the community of Whitehorse and other communities who have had children in care at the Woods Home or in the Whitehorse treatment centre in town in which there are workers trained by the Woods Home in Calgary. They are waiting for the answers to the questions I am asking right now. If the Minister is going to slough them off as something that is not really important, I think they are going to want to hear that this Minister is not telling us.
These are serious questions. Parents are asking about this issue. People who are aware of the situation of some of these children in care are asking me questions. I am supposed to be asking the Minister so that he can reassure them about the childrens care and safety. I know the fear of one parent who had a daughter who was AWOL from the Woods Home in Calgary. It is a very deep fear. If she does not get an answer as to what we do with these children when they are AWOL, other than paying two people to go to Calgary and look for them on the street, their fears are not going to be lessened. That is only one parent. There are others who have children in care.
I know of one child in care who disappeared on the streets in Vancouver and ended up dead. That is a deep concern. These questions are serious. The parents and relatives and friends are waiting for answers. If he will provide me the answers tonight or in written form, those people will get those answers. I am hoping the Minister will get a bit more serious about answering than he has been here in the House.
I will expect that he will bring to me - possibly not tonight because he has not done his homework - the answers to the questions that I have asked him tonight in regard to children who are able - he sits there and thinks it is funny. I have to tell him, the parents do not think it is funny. They do not think it is funny at all. If they have a child who is suffering from deep emotional problems - which the Minister even says he recognizes, but after tonight I wonder - and if they are wondering about the treatment their children are receiving when they are in the care of this government but are not getting that treatment and are phoning people in the department and everywhere else threatening suicide or whatever, or we are hearing about kids who are on the street in Calgary, then they want some answers.
It is no laughing matter, no laughing matter at all. He can sit there and laugh and make fun all night but to those parents, to those relatives and to those brothers and sisters it is not a laughing matter at all. I want him to be able to stand up in this House and tell me that he is going to give me some real answers.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: In the first place, I did. I heard myself. We will check the record. We can stop now and check the record to see if I said I would. Is that what the Member would like to do? Break and get the transcript and see if I said I would?
Maybe I am not hearing things right. What I am complaining about or concerned about is the questions themselves. There are no questions. When there is one, it rambles on and on and asks me about specific details. If she wants to have a briefing or have the parents go and talk to people who are experts in the field, we will supply that. Surely, this is not the place, during budget debate, to go on and on and on about allegations and innuendoes that are not policy or anything else.
Maybe I am wrong. I move that we adjourn, that we check the record and see if I said that I would provide written answers to the questions. May we adjourn and get that information? Maybe I am wrong.
Chair: Mr. Phelps, do you mean a recess?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Yes.
Chair: Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Disagreed.
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: I think the disagreeds have it.
Ms. Commodore: I spent about two hours this afternoon asking specific questions and I was getting answers. I was getting answers; he was leaning over and he was asking his deputy minister for the answers.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Commodore: We disagreed. We are not adjourning.
Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)
Ms. Commodore: He is out of order.
This afternoon, I stood here for about two hours, and I was asking him specific questions - the same kind that I am asking him tonight, but not quite as controversial. The Minister was leaning over and getting the information back from his deputy minister and giving it to me in this House. Tonight, he does not want to answer the questions, because he may find the answers could be very embarrassing. I will wait for these answers, and I will provide them to those individuals who have been asking me for them.
The Minister keeps telling me, if I have a specific concern about something that has been brought to my attention, to give him the details. I know for a fact that I can come to him with written complaints. Whether or not they are acted upon, I do not know. What is the procedure? The Minister has told me to come to him with these specific concerns. If I came to him with written complaints, what is the process? What will happen?
I think the Minister can answer that without coming back with a legislative return.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: If the Member comes to me with concerns, I will assure her that they are investigated. I will even discuss who should do the investigation for her and report back to her. She knows the people in the department. These are administrative matters. I am happy to have them looked into, but I just do not think this is the appropriate time and place to be getting into some kind of witch hunt and debate about psychology, counselling, and who ran away where, when, and what they wore.
If the Member has some questions on policy, I am prepared to try to answer them. I am not the administration. That is not my job. I do not know the individuals; I do not tuck kids into bed at night; I do not lock up the jails or run the courts; I am just the Minister. I am here to answer questions about policy.
If the Member has concerns about the administration of the departments, we have a committee of this Legislature that goes after the administration of the departments, one by one. It is called the Public Accounts Committee. I am sure she could be allowed to be a member and ask them all that stuff.
I will undertake to try to address it in the best way possible. What else can I say?
Ms. Commodore: I have been sitting in this House now for almost 12 years. I have been on this side, and I have been on that side. Committee of the Whole was an opportunity to ask questions about the government and what it was doing.
We sat on that side of the House for seven and one-half years. There were many kinds of questions brought up, and we responded to them in the best way we knew how. We did not want to stop the session to get feedback from the tapes that were being recorded.
When we were in Opposition before, we felt it was an opportunity to ask questions of the government and to find out what was happening. We had the same kinds of questions asked of us when we were in government. All of a sudden, according to the Minister responsible for Health and Social Services, the rules of this House have changed.
The Minister may have been advised that he can do this or that in the House, but I think that this is the opportunity to ask questions in this House. It is an opportunity for us to find out where the money is going, if it is being well spent in a proper manner and that we are getting the best deal for the taxpayers dollar.
It seems that the Minister does not want to answer the questions, at least in the House. The Minister knew that I was going to ask these questions; I have been asking about them before.
I wanted to make sure that these questions that I have asked today were on record on behalf of those individuals who have approached me.
The Minister did not stand up and tell me how he would deal with an official complaint, other than saying that he would give it to the people in the department.
One of the biggest concerns about children in care is that they are never believed. Maybe once in awhile one of those kids will have a valid complaint that has a lot of meaning behind it and is true. These kids want to know that they are not going to be ignored when they bring those complaints forward.
I want to be able to go back and tell anyone who comes to me that they will be heard fair and square. The biggest complaint I hear is that if someone complains no one will listen to or believe them, because they have deep emotional problems. They do raise a very big concern, and I think that we have to consider that maybe once in awhile a kid could be right and that they have a complaint that should be looked into.
I do not feel comfortable standing here not knowing if those children in care right now will be protected if they do have a valid concern, because I really feel that a concern is not going to be listened to.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: With the greatest respect, I have no idea if that was some kind of a position that she is asking me to listen to, or if she has a question, or if she has some kind of proposed solution by putting in an ombudsperson. I just do not understand the question. I am sorry.
Mr. McDonald: I have been listening to some of the debate this evening. I would not call it a debate. I would call it more the presentation of concerns in the Opposition ranks and the Minister showing a great deal of exasperation in being called upon to actually respond to those concerns in some way without the benefit of a very specific question or an issue that he, personally, has some acquaintance with.
Well, the Minister will recall - and I would ask the Minister to settle down a bit because I think he is overreacting - that in the past we have been asked questions about how many caribou there are in a particular game zone by the Member for Kluane. I have been asked by the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes when the Triple C road would be ploughed. I recall that, at that time, I did not insist -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McDonald: The Minister now says that it was a policy question. He was asking me constituency questions in Question Period; he asked me when this road would be ploughed. I did not respond at that time by saying I was not a grader operator. I did not respond at that time by saying that it was a departmental responsibility and if you do not like it, go to the Public Accounts Committee and talk to them. There are some serious policy issues and it does not take a wizard to understand what those policy issues are. The Minister is dealing with children in care; he is dealing with what is perceived, at least by some, to be institutional, administrative suppression of the legitimate desires or interests or wishes of some children who feel that they are being suppressed in some way. That is the issue.
What the Member here wants to know is whether or not the Minister regards this as being a problem. If he does regard it as being a problem, what is he going to do about it? We are not going to call the Public Accounts Committee together to analyze this, and the Minister knows that full well. What a ridiculous suggestion.
The issue has been put to the Ministers face. The issue is kids in care. There is the suggestion that some of those kids are not having their rights respected by the institutions in which they reside. There are allegations that they are being mistreated, and it is not acceptable for the Minister to have the same people who are being asked about their administrative policies to simply respond in some sort of letter form, or legislative return, to the Members and then expect that that is going to be sufficient, because that is not sufficient. The rights of these children are at issue and the Minister has to respond to that in some way.
The issue has been put to the Minister many different times. It is not sufficient to simply turn it over to the administrators alone to respond. There is only one elected person to whom we talk about departmental matters. There is only one person of last resort to whom we speak, and that is the Minister himself. If he does not want to play that role, he does not have to, but he does not have to accept the salary and he does not have to accept the Cabinet post either. It all rolls in together.
There have been many, many questions put in this Legislature over the last 10 or 12 years about buildings being over budget - specific buildings. How many caribou are there in a particular game zone? When was a particular road ploughed? Can he please get that road ploughed? Can he please sand the road tomorrow? These questions have been put traditionally in this territory for years and there has been an expectation that the Ministers will adeptly respond and not divorce themselves altogether from the issues at stake, because the Public Accounts Committee is a very imperfect tool to assess the viability of administrative policy.
Now, if the Minister wants to eject this issue into some ethereal policy level that he will deign to deal with - the policy is all about runaway kids. The policy issues are about kids who feel that they are being abused. Those are the policy issues.
The Minister is certainly clever enough not to need it spelled out in the greatest detail for him to agree to respond to those issues. He should do that.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I thank the hon. Member for his morally righteous presentation. I submit to him that the level of debate in this place has just plummeted in the course of the last couple of months. The continual and inane filibuster of the side opposite has brought the dignity and quality of this Legislature down to the bottom of any of those in Canada. I remember when B.C. used to have that reputation.
I have no problem answering questions that have some kind of background. If he wants to act as interpreter, I will let her ask the questions, he can explain to me what it means, and I will try and answer.
Sit and listen to it, Piers. I am happy to answer questions, if they are clear and I can be of any help.
If the question is that there are some kids who have some problems and want to know who to talk to, and will their issues will be looked into, the answer is yes. What do Members suggest? I have no problem if they want to set up a forum.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am waiting for the Member to suggest solutions for what is, with the greatest of respect, his problem. Normally, what happened in the past - and I have been here, too - is that the side opposite said that they would look into it and did to my satisfaction. I am being told that they cannot trust the department to look into it. What do they suggest?
Ms. Commodore: I received a complaint some time ago, when we were in government. I had spoken to an individual who worked in a program. I was provided with three letters with complaints, signed by the children, letting us know what their concerns were. I had individuals who were willing to swear on the Bible about some of the things that were told to me. I passed on the information to the department. The response I got back was that there was a love triangle. It was the person who lost out in this love triangle who was laying the complaints. A letter was sent back to that program apologizing for the investigation that occurred.
Those three children are still wondering what the heck happened. I am serious when I ask about what is going to happen. The Minister has indicated that he will look into it and send it back to the department. A letter will then be written, apologizing for any investigation.
I have spoken to him. I have told him that I would like to sit down with him at some point and look at some of these concerns. I have not yet done this, as I am still hearing from people.
I am not saying that every single thing the Department of Health and Social Services does is not good, as I do know for a fact that there are a number of good programs that are ongoing. However, when I hear complaints, I certainly want to bring them to this House. I want to be able to assure people who come to me that their concerns will be heard.
I look forward to the Ministers responses in this House to the questions I have asked him. They are very serious. I intend to take those responses and provide them to those people who have voiced their concerns to me. I hope that I am not going to have to wait until the next session to get these answers. I hope that the youths will not be left wondering about what happened to their complaints.
The parents want to know, too. I will probably get back to this when we get into the O&M budget in the spring and I look forward to his responses. I know it is going to be with great reluctance that he does that, but I hope the answers will satisfy those people who have brought their concerns to me.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The hon. Member has come to me with one specific issue. We called in people from the department in whom she professed to have some faith and discussed the issue in my office with me present. If she has similar problems, she can come to my office and I will do my best to satisfy her with respect to the answers. If she comes to me with those kinds of valid complaints, surely she knows that. We have known each other for a long time. I am quite happy to try to get answers for her that will be to her satisfaction. Whatever the process is - it can be informal, we do not have to debate it here - I have never ever turned my back on that kind of an appeal from the Member. I am quite happy - as I was when we did the one time that I was asked because of a crisis with an individual - to sit down with the people in the department in whom she has some faith as to their expertise, and have whatever it is sorted out, sifted through, and so on, to her satisfaction. I am not trying to protect people here. I am simply trying, in this forum, to answer questions that are about policy or about relevant facts, and so on, but I cannot see the merit of debating the Woods program here. I am not an expert on these programs. I cannot see the merit in defending why the previous administration picked that one over other proposals. I do not know all about kids running away from Woods. I understand, though, that it is not unusual, and the experts tell me that. I am not an expert. I am just a Minister.
Ms. Commodore: The answers do not have to satisfy me. It is the people who are asking me to ask these questions who want to know the answers. I just did not appreciate the comment he made when he said he would answer questions to my satisfaction. It is the people out there who are concerned.
Mr. Penikett: I will ask a policy question. As I understand the corrections system, there is a panel or a group of respected, locally eminent persons, who are called inspectors of corrections.
I seem to recall that we had a problem at the jail at one time - or complaints about personnel, or processes at the jail. My then colleague, the Minister of Justice, Mr. Kimmerly, asked those inspectors of corrections - whom I think included a couple of local bishops and some other persons - to do an inspection and report. These people were regarded as impartial, objective and trustworthy people.
The Minister of Health and Social Services is also the Minister of Justice. The Minister of juvenile justice is also the Minister of corrections. As a matter of policy, has the Minister considered establishing, or commissioning, the corrections inspectors, or some analogous body, to deal with complaints of abuse by children in care when it would be inappropriate, from the point of view of objectivity, to have the care givers conduct an investigation into their own actions?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: No, I have not considered that. I think it is a good suggestion, and I would be happy to go back to the department and consider the issue. Perhaps we could come forward with something like that, if the side opposite thinks it is necessary under the circumstances.
I must say that we have used the inspectors of corrections - I think that is their title - to inquire into perceived problems, sometimes real problems, at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. The people that we have had do this in the past have provided us with very good service. If we have a similar situation with regard to the issues raised, it would be something that I would undertake to look into.
Mr. Cable: I have some questions on a matter that was briefly touched on by the Leader of the Official Opposition, and that is user fees.
I gather the user-fee debate centres around the fact that there is a suspicion that there are groups of people who would range from those who are careless of the expenditure of public funds to genuine hypochondriacs, who overuse the system.
Is the overuse of the system by those people a significant problem in the health insurance and hospital services area?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: We are really not certain about whether or not they are a major factor in driving up the costs of physician care and utilization of physicians. In respect of the issue of going to see the doctor, the user fee is a policy that is put forward by some as being good, because it would reduce the number of hypochondriacs and abuse of the system.
With regard to that debate, and in the time I have been here and had time to discuss that type of solution with people in the field, I am convinced that the risks far outweigh the potential benefits, that there is a real problem with user fees, in that some people who perhaps most need the services, but who are without the funds - the working poor, and so on - would be detracted from using the services. For one, I do not see user fees, in the context of having to pay to see the doctor, as one of the options I would wish to consider having this government implement, were it even possible. Right now, it runs into some pretty heavy problems with the federal policy.
Mr. Cable: I am not promoting their introduction but, as the Minister will recollect during the last year, particularly in the lead-up to the federal election campaign, there was a fairly lively debate around user fees, but there seems to be precious little information around as to whether this group of supposed over-users actually exists. Does the department collect any data on the median use of the service - the bell curve use of the service?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: If the Member is looking for some background information from our library about debating the issue of user fees and whether or not they are seen by people as a useful deterrent to abuse of the system, that is one question. We could gather up some of the most recent information on that from our library. I am not sure if that is the question being asked. If the question being asked is whether we have the capability to examine each patient profile to determine whether or not there is abuse in that sense, we do not have the capability at this time with the system we have in place. It is something we just do not have available right now.
Mr. Cable: I am not suggesting that each patient be analyzed, but is it possible to pull out of the Ministers departments computers some indication, say, as to whether 10 percent of the users of the system have 50 percent of the office visits or if 17 percent of the users of the system consume 50 percent of the dollars of the system. The reason I ask this is that the debate on user fees does not really seem to have any solid foundation. There is a lot of suspicion that there are a lot of people misusing the system but, so far, I have not seen any data that would indicate that that is the case.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There is not, at least in this jurisdiction. My official said that there are people who are really sick, too, who ought to go and see a doctor. What we are doing, in conjunction with the JMC and the Bureau of Statistics, is trying to put together a study of utilization of physician services, and that is the kind of stuff that would come out of that. It is just being designed and will take some time to do. It will be a worthwhile project, I think, but we will not have this work done, probably until a year from now.
Mr. Cable: The health insurance and hospital services portion of the budget is about $45 million which, of course, is about 10 percent of the overall budget. What sort of check is there on the use of the service, insofar as there is documentation coming from the doctors office? Is there any certification of the physicians? I know there is none from the patients, as I have been one and never completed any. Is there any certification by the doctor in the sense that, for instance, a lawyer would certify their legal aid account, or is it simply signed off by the doctor and dated?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It is signed off by the doctor, but there is no statutory declaration or anything. There have been suggestions that people should see the bill before it goes out. Another that was raised by the Leader of the Official Opposition was that, in some jurisdictions, they send out the bill to the patients once a year. This could be done.
We discussed this, and I am advised that the down side to that is people who would go and see the doctor but would not want their parents to know, such as young girls, for various reasons. It would then be an invasion of privacy.
With specific regard to the forms filled out by the physicians, the kinds of checks that are done on this are fairly minimal at this time.
Mr. Cable: In view of the many millions of dollars on these two items in the budget, is the Minister prepared to consider some sort of certification by the patient, and not just a sign hanging in the doctors office? This would not discourage the people who are misusing the system, but it would simply inform the people who are not. If there was some sort of certification or declaration by the patient to the effect that the service was, in fact, rendered, and a brief description of what it was, then the doctor could sign a collateral certification stating that he or she provided the service.
I have run this idea by a couple of doctors, and they did not immediately knee-jerk a negative reaction. Therefore, I put the proposition to the Minister.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It is something we are prepared to bring to JMC. An alternate kind of policing function would be an audit of a practitioners books and checking with the patients to make sure they were there on a given date and so on. It is certainly something that will be a topic in the JMC. I cannot say more than that. It is an area that has concerned me and we know there have been unsuccessful prosecutions for alleged fraud on this very issue.
Mr. Cable: I have some questions on another topic - Crossroads. Let me ask this question: was Crossroads one of the advocacy groups that was sent a letter by the Minister?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: No.
Chair: Is it the wishes of the Members to take a brief recess at this time?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will take a brief recess.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Mr. Cable: I have a few questions about Crossroads. In response to questions put by the Member for Whitehorse Centre on detoxification, the Minister, back in November, indicated that there were discussions about whether or not something like detoxification might be better provided by Crossroads, for example.
Has the Ministers thinking progressed in that area since November?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Not really. The Alcohol and Drug Strategy consultations are being conducted and we will not be fully addressing that issue until probably March. At that time we will have discussions with the various players including Crossroads, and we will come forward with a policy with regard to how certain aspects of the initial stages of the drying out of highly intoxicated people lead to other parts of treatment in the Alcohol and Drug Strategy. We will be discussing the methodology, who the players will be and how the treatment will be carried out.
Mr. Cable: I do not know if the Minister has the Alcohol and Drug Strategy in front of him, but at page 24, it would seem to indicate that the preferred model, at least when this was drafted, was a day treatment program. Is that the Ministers or the departments present thinking?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It appears to be the predominant view, especially with respect to treatment within Whitehorse. Of course that does not include detox.
You can look at the spectrum of treatment from detoxification up to being in a position for day-treatment counselling service treatment. We genuinely feel that there would be benefits in looking at that, as opposed to looking at the traditional residential treatment that has been offered by Crossroads.
Mr. Cable: I have one final topic, on which I have asked the Minister questions on in Question Period. Could the Minister advise as to the status of the negotiations with the Golden Age Society, with respect to the premises they are looking for in the Sport Yukon building?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The position we have made clear is that if we receive a written request from the Golden Age Society, stating that they would like us to transfer the current premises to them for $1.00 and that the purpose is for entering into a purchase from the city of the portion of the space on Fourth Avenue, and if they can show us in the letter exactly what the financial requirements are and what the proceeds from the sale of the old lot would be used for, and if it is made very clear that that is all we would be asked to put into the project - the lot and building they currently use - then I would be prepared to take that to Cabinet and recommend that we do transfer the lot to them for those purposes.
Mr. Cable: Is the Minister aware of where the negotiations sit between the society and Sport Yukon and the government? They appear to be up in the air. Has there been an accepted lease or an accepted purchase?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: My department advises me that we are going to be receiving this information from the Golden Age Society, who have apparently elected to go that route. So if I receive that type of documentation from the society, then I will be in a position to take that proposal to Cabinet, asking, on the basis of these representations, for a transfer of the lot.
Mr. Cable: From a timing standpoint, let us say that a document materialized tomorrow on the Ministers desk, what sort of time would be required to get the approvals in place and the authorization to transfer the property?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: If the criteria fit the basic points I have listed and are clearly addressed, it will be very quickly. It could likely happen with the next Cabinet meeting, or within one or two weeks.
Mrs. Firth: I want to ask the Minister some questions about the hospital. They are questions I asked him this afternoon, specifically regarding the project manager. Can the Minister tell me now how and when the project manager was hired?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: He was engaged on a sole-source contract, authorized by Management Board. That was done in November. There were several people interviewed. He came with a lot of the appropriate credentials, in the mind of the board.
Mrs. Firth: How many other people were interviewed, and who interviewed them?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There were a number of candidates from Alberta and British Columbia who offered their names. Two were interviewed by a senior person from the department and by a person from the hospital board in British Columbia.
Mrs. Firth: So, the Minister is saying that the senior official in the Department of Health and Social Services in B.C. was instrumental in hiring our project manager, as part of the interview committee?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The senior person, an architect from the department in B.C., was advising with respect to the credentials, yes.
Mrs. Firth: Why would someone from B.C. be instrumental in hiring a project manager for us here in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The government asked to have a person sent from the department in B.C. to come and look at the project, and they did send one of their senior people here. He made certain recommendations and observations with respect to the old design and things he felt were needed.
These representations were made to the department, the Government Leader and, and senior people from Government Services. As a result of those representations, it was determined that we should obtain an expert. The expertise of that person was considered invaluable in determining the kinds of qualifications and experience that would be a requisite for the job.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister has said that candidates offered names. Can he tell me about that process? Who phoned the candidates? How were they approached, and by whom?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Contacts in both Alberta and B.C. were asked to make recommendations as to the names of people who might be available quickly and would have the kind of qualifications that we were looking for. From those names, two were interviewed.
Mrs. Firth: So, is the Minister saying that these experts who gave him advice from Alberta and B.C. offered a couple of names, somebody contacted the people and asked them to come to be interviewed? Or, did they submit resumes?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: They submitted resumes and references were checked before the two people interviewed were selected.
Mrs. Firth: What are the terms of the contract? How long is the contract for and what is the dollar value?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will get back to the Member with the details.
Mrs. Firth: Does the department not know how much the contract is for and the length of the contract? Is the contract for the whole three years? Certainly, the dollar amount of the contract would have been approved by somebody - I would have assumed the Management Board, the Minister, the deputy minister or someone.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will get that information to the Member.
Mrs. Firth: Does the Minister really not know, or does he not want to tell me what the amount is?
It is quite interesting that the hospital construction is the Ministers pet project, and I do not think that the questions I am asking are too specific or unreasonable in any way. I would expect the Minister to be familiar with the details of this individuals contract. Why is the Minister hesitating to answer this question tonight, preferring to bring something in writing?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: In the interests of being entirely accurate, I will provide the Member with a written answer to her question. Whether the answer is verbal or written, surely it should not matter that much to the hon. Member.
Mrs. Firth: I asked the Minister some questions about fetal alcohol syndrome. He stood up and told me his department was doing all kinds of things and he would write me a legislative return and tell me what they were doing. I still have not received any legislative return. If the Minister is going to stand and answer every question by saying he is going to bring a legislative return - I appreciate he does not like being in the House; it seems to be some kind of inconvenience for him - but I really would have expected that the Minister could tell the public. I do not have to know every little detail of the contract on the floor of the House, but the two significant things are the length of the contract and how much it is for.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I intend to give her all of that information. I will give it to her in written form.
Mrs. Firth: When will the Minister provide me with that information?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I hope tomorrow or the next day.
Mrs. Firth: I want to ask the Minister some questions about accountability and how much jurisdiction this contract employee is going to have. According to the Financial Administration Act, they have no spending authority. The Minister indicated to us in the House this afternoon that there is a committee comprised of the assistant deputy minister from Health, one from Government Services, a Department of Finance official; they report to the Deputy Minister of Health; she reports to the Minister and the Minister goes to Management Board. Are those steps going to be followed for every contract that is developed and tendered? Where does the buck stop? Who makes the final decision?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It is the spending authority of the department that is employed. The decisions, in the normal course of events, with respect to the issues the Member has raised, will be made by the project management team comprised of the four or five people to which she referred. In extraordinary situations or where it is deemed necessary to, for some reason, change the normal regulations or rules, it would go fairly quickly up to Management Board from there.
Mrs. Firth: Do I understand that the team is going to review all the bids and do the final awarding of the contracts?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Essentially, yes, with assistance from Government Services, as circumstances require. There will be people from Government Services, Finance, the department and the project manager on the project management team.
Mrs. Firth: The only people on the project management committee who have the expertise to do that kind of function will probably be the project manager and the ADM for Government Services. Does that individual have that kind of experience in evaluating and awarding contracts?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Yes.
Mrs. Firth: What role is the hospital board going to play in this process?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: They will have representation on that project team. It is the hospital board, two ADMs, a Finance official and the project manager. Those are the five players. The chair of the board and the deputy minister will be the project executive.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister had missed the hospital board, which is why I asked that question. He had not listed them as being a member of the committee.
Before the projects are even tendered, who is going to make the decision as to how the work will be divided up - whether or not there will be large projects or whether or not there will be several small ones? How is that decision going to be made?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It will be the same project team making those decisions. When there is a feeling that they want to check with us with regard to policy or on what they are doing, they will have access to the project executive and Management Board.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister could virtually be involved in every decision with respect to the contracts being developed and the tendering of these projects. If there is any departure from the routine, it has to go to the deputy minister, the Minister, then to Management Board. So, the Minister and Management Board are going to be quite heavily involved in this whole tendering process.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I do not see it that way. We are going to follow the normal rules but, on issues of policy that are deemed to be a departure from the norm, they will naturally have speedy access to Management Board.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us who the project manager will be reporting to and how frequently, with respect to the general, overall progress of the project?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: He will report daily to the ADM but, schematically, to the project team. The ADM would be reporting to the deputy minister, then it would go to myself, as Minister, and then Management Board.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister provide us with a schematic drawing of the reporting authorities and accountability processes? The concern I have is that, because so much of this is vague and proposals, rather than specifics, there are going to have to be decisions made with respect to overexpenditures. I want to know who reports that. Who will be following it? How will the project be kept on track, and how will the taxpayers money be protected with respect to this project?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will.
Mrs. Firth: I have heard from a lot of small contractors - meaning small business contractors - who are interested in making themselves available for the projects. They have asked me if there is some kind of list that the government is preparing of contractors who can do specific things, or if the department will just go by the contractors list that is available in Government Services now. They want to know how they can make their presence known and the fact that they want to work on this project.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It will be done with a normal list, as it normally is. There has been one contractors meeting and they are prepared to meet with the Contractors Association at any time.
Mrs. Firth: Is the government going to extend the same courtesy to the contractors by having a public briefing similar to what they do with the capital budget briefing? At the meeting the other night, the individual from Government Services was unable to give very much specific information, because he just did not have the information. I want to know if all contractors are going to be given an equal opportunity to be made aware of the details of the project in some kind of public forum.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: They will be attending the contractors regularly monthly meetings, if there is a request. If there is a feeling that they would like a special briefing, then that will certainly be done. It is the intention to inform them as much as possible about the opportunities.
Mrs. Firth: My recommendation to the Minister would be that special public briefings be held, like the government does with the capital budget, where contractors who are interested are invited to attend and can be briefed either by the project manager, or whomever is going to be designated that responsibility.
I think that there are a lot of contractors who are very desperate for work. I think that the way this project is handled, the Minister has to ensure that there is perceived to be a level playing field for all of the contractors.
That would be my recommendation and I look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say about that.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I thank the Member for her representation. It is entirely reasonable and we will take steps to ensure that that is done.
As I advised today, we are also going to be sending out a regular newsletter-type report to the hospital staff to keep them informed on a regular basis of what is happening. This will be in addition to the information meetings.
Mrs. Firth: What is the relationship between the architect and the committee going to be? Will the architect be involved in the committee process? How is he or she going to interact with the whole project?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The architect and engineers, and so on, will be reporting to the project manager, primarily. We are developing a functional plan. We have engaged a firm from Alberta - Sharon Downs - that has done a lot of plans for programming for hospitals in western Canada. She has been up today meeting with all of the groups and, indeed, met with the First Nations leadership with me this morning.
Mrs. Firth: Can I ask the Minister where the functional plan fits in with this whole organization? I will try to be more specific - or clear. The public was told at the briefing session that a new functional program was being drawn up and then we would know what was going to be in the shells, and that was not going to happen until 1995. But I understand that there is some urgency to get the two demolition projects underway and to look at tendering the shell. We were told that the demolition was going to be a separate contract. They were looking at target dates of July for completion. Perhaps the Minister could indicate to us which is coming first: the chicken or the egg.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The work is going along, and it is hoped that there will be a draft plan available by the end of February. Once it is felt by the staff and other user groups that it encompasses everything that is seen to be necessary, the shell plans will proceed. The functional programming plan will continue to be refined, but it will certainly be done by summer - the fine details - I would think.
Mrs. Firth: When the Minister provides us with the information regarding the time line, the terms of the contract, the costs, and the length of the contract, will he also provide us with the functional program plan, when it is completed, so we can have a complete package?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Yes.
Mrs. Firth: I asked the Minister a question the other day about the cost of the temporary moves and temporary initiatives that are going to take place, like the trailers. I understand they are going to have to build a little kitchen somewhere, which will be torn down at a later date. They are going to have to do some construction to accommodate all the moves before they can start the demolition. Can he tell us now what the cost of all those temporary measures is going to be?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It has not been fully costed out yet. They are still finalizing exactly what is going to be required. As soon as that information is available, I am prepared to share it with the Member.
Ms. Moorcroft: I have been looking forward to the opportunity to try and get some answers in Committee that we did not get in Question Period. The Minister is quite the artful dodger.
In Question Period, he engaged in some typically patronizing rhetoric about the class struggle, suggesting that I was born in the wrong century. We have a diversity of constituents across the economic and political spectrum, and I believe we represent those constituents well. It is absolutely ridiculous to suggest that we, on this side of the House, only represent the downtrodden.
Nevertheless, at the present time, the Yukon economy is flat on its back. I hate to be the one to break it to him, but there is poverty and homelessness in the Ministers riding. Unlike the Minister, I do not stereotype the poor as liars and cheats.
If people are cutting wood to make money, they should be applauded for their initiative, as long as they declare the income. The Minister has not produced a shred of evidence of widespread fraud to justify the firewood fraud squad. I would like to know why they think they need welfare police. How many members are they planning to recruit for the Phelps fraud squad?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There was an awful lot of value judgment built into the hon. Members preamble. I am sure that, in the sober light of day, her somewhat justified criticism of my suggesting that they, on the other side, only represent the poor in the riding, may have been a bit overblown and a bit rhetorical. I am sure that she would, as candidly, admit that perhaps the characterization of us on this side as only being concerned about and representing the very rich is also highly rhetorical and every bit as much off the mark.
I do not see her nodding, but I am sure that she would agree with that position. Apparently she would not.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Well, it has been said in these Chambers more than once.
I am well aware of social problems and the plight of people without jobs and who are on welfare in my riding. I would like to think that one of the reasons why I was successful in the past election was that I do spend most of my time with residents and am not out of touch.
If the Member was watching the news at six oclock this evening, she might have been interested in the allegations of fraud that are taking place in B.C. There is fraud of their social assistance system. I am sure she would have been more than enlightened by the questions addressed to the current Minister of the party in power - the NDP of B.C. - who is concerned about fraud and spoke about a zero-tolerance policy toward fraud by people on social assistance. That was her description.
The issue with regard to an investigator to investigate abuses of this system and of social housing is one that we feel is a worthwhile move. The evidence we have is that there are 25 cases under investigation right now by the RCMP.
We believe that issuing a contract for a position for a six-month trial would be in the interests of Yukoners. It would potentially serve as a deterrent and give some baseline data with regard to the scope of the problem.
The woodcutting issue is only one example of people abusing the system. I do not want to get into each of the 25 cases of fraud that are being investigated. I do not think that that is my role. However, I am convinced of it, and I know many people who would support what we are doing. Our actions are in keeping with trends across Canada, and most notably in British Columbia, where there was a most interesting interview with a person who specializes in ripping off the system giving all kinds of examples about how it was very easy for him to abuse the system in British Columbia.
Ms. Moorcroft: First of all, I never made the statement that the Minister only represents the rich in his riding. The Minister talks about the sober light of day and overblown comments; I think the record will show, when we review Hansard tomorrow, who it was who lost their temper and was really overblown in this House this evening.
It is not just poor people who defraud governments. People who maintain Yukon health benefits or election privileges, while spending the majority of the year in Palm Springs or elsewhere, are committing fraud.
The Minister says they are very concerned about dealing with fraud in the social assistance field, but he did not say whether he was concerned about white collar crime. Is the Minister planning these kinds of covert operations - this cloak and dagger approach - to other areas of abuse of government systems, or is it only for the poor people in our society?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: These instances that are spoken of by the hon. Member are investigated. There are specialists within the RCMP who deal with that sort of investigation. We have had many experts up here, and many charges laid against business people - in some cases, with guilty pleas. I can recall some that made headlines in the local newspapers.
However, the issue we are dealing with is specifically the issue of ensuring that the social assistance program is not being abused. That is something we want to take a careful look at. That is the will of this government, and that is what we are going to do. It is not just me.
Ms. Moorcroft: In the present state of the economy, I believe that there are over 2,000 people in the Yukon on social assistance. The Minister has said that there are 25 cases of potential fraud being investigated by specialists in the RCMP. Why then do they think that there is need for Health and Social Services welfare police? What kinds of evidence do they have of this widespread fraud?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: There is a need to ensure and verify the representations made by people applying for social assistance. Some of that is done by social assistance workers. We are advised of many cases where various scams are employed to abuse the system, and we are going to have a look at that. I think that is reasonable, and we feel that we will be able to justify this. If, at the end of six months, it appears that there is not much abuse, then we will be the first to terminate the contract. On the other hand, if there seems to be, as is suspected, some evidence of abuse, we will review the situation at that time.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to ask the Minister specifically about the approved list of woodcutters. I would like to know who established the list, what the criteria was for getting on that list, was every woodcutter approached, and does this apply throughout the entire Yukon or only in the Whitehorse area?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: My understanding is that bona fide woodcutters who wished to have their names placed on the list can do so. We have no problem with the people who want to be woodcutters for a business, who want to report their income, and who genuinely are cutting wood and supplying it to the recipient. We are not trying to restrict the list of bona fide entrepreneurs, or business people or people who are trying to make a buck.
We are trying to avoid abuse of the system.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister just stood up and said any bona fide woodcutter who wanted to get on the list could get on the list. Who is already on the list, and how was the list established? How did they determine who the woodcutters were? Did they go out and approach woodcutters, or did they rely on ads in the paper? How did they come up with this list?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I will have to undertake to have that explained to the Member by way of a written response.
Point of Order
Mr. Joe: I think it is about time for me to get up. We are running out of time. I would like to speed up the sitting, because I am getting tired of sitting here.
I would like to raise a point of order. I think that we all need a break. When I sit here and listen to these questions, I have to ask myself, What is going on here?
I hear people asking questions, and no one answering them. I hear people getting mad, because the answers that are given are not the ones that people want to hear.
We must remember that we are all human. We must remember sometimes that we can be strong and sometimes we can be weak. Sometimes we are right and sometimes we are wrong. There is a saying, I think, from the Bible: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This is an important thing to remember.
I remember sitting here in the House, listening to Members over there, when they were in Opposition. They would ask a question of the government. They did not let up, because they wanted answers. Now, the people on this side are asking questions of them and they are getting no answers. This system does not seem to be working very well.
What I am saying is that I do not think it is right. They had enough time today. We can ask all the questions we want in the spring session.
I do not care who the Minister is, but sometimes we have to give him time to go to work with his department. We are sitting here, every week, and the Minister does not get a chance to get to work with his department. Something will get left out, and there is not enough time to do the homework on this sort of thing.
With the amount of time we have, we do not want to kill ourselves with the questioning. What are we trying to win? If I want to show off myself and stand up here, I can argue with anybody, but what will I accomplish? Sometimes I sit down here and listen to arguments and see the Members of this House getting angry. They do not know how to answer the question or maybe they have no time to answer the question, but it should not be that way at all.
People are listening. We are the elected people here in this House. We are supposed to do good things for the people. Sometimes, on both sides, I think we should have a little respect by asking very careful questions, then I would not mind.
Well, Mr. Chair, I have run out of time.
Chair: Perhaps all Members of the House could take the Members point.
The time being 9:30, I will now rise and report.
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Abel: Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 11, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 1993-94, and I now 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.
Ms. Commodore: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Member for Whitehorse Centre that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:31 p.m.
The following Legislative Returns were tabled January 26, 1994:
Yukon Update: Yukon Party caucus, not ECO, publication (Brewster on behalf of Ostashek)
Written Question No. 37, dated December 8, 1993, by Mrs. Firth
Memberships paid for by the government for senior officials to belong to societies, organizations and associations (Brewster on behalf of Ostashek)
Written Question No. 39, dated December 16, 1993, by Mr. McDonald
Travel by Ministers and senior officials from November 8, 1992, to November 20, 1993 (Brewster on behalf of Ostashek)
Written Question No. 33, dated November 29, 1993, by Mr. Penikett
Delivering Good Government Committee: role and relationship between initiatives (Brewster on behalf of Ostashek)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1383
Whitehorse Copper mine site: decommissioning plan reviewed for technical adequacy; War Eagle pit not addressed (Fisher)
Oral, Hansard, p. 2033
Yukon Update: not printed by Queens Printer (Fisher on behalf of Devries)
Oral, Hansard, p. 2086
Yukon Economic Strategy: governments position (Fisher on behalf of Devries)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1703
Animal shelter application to CDF board: reasons for refusing funding (Fisher on behalf of Devries)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1983