Whitehorse, Yukon

Thursday, June 2, 1994 - 1:30 p.m.

Page Number 2829


I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with silent Prayers.




We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.

Introduction of Visitors.

Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?


Hon. Mr. Nordling:

I have a legislative return in response to a written question for tabling.

Hon. Mr. Fisher:

I have a legislative return.


Are there any Reports of Committees?

Are there any Petitions?


Petition No. 8 - Response

Hon. Mr. Phelps:

I am rising in response to the child care petition to the Legislative Assembly.

Unlike teacher assistants who work for the territorial government, child care workers are employed by a variety of employers including businesses, owner/operators, non-profit groups, First Nation and church groups.

Each employer has the ability to set their own wage scale and their own child care fees.

The territorial government assists with operation and maintenance costs through the direct operating grant system. It is up to each child care facility to determine how to allocate these funds.

The grant is determined by a formula that takes into account actual amounts spent on rent, the number of workers with training and the number and ages of children using the service.

The Yukon contribution per licensed space for the operating grant is one of the highest in Canada.

Child care subsidies are provided to families according to their income and the number of dependents they have. Several provinces have to maintain long waiting lists of eligible parents before they can access a licenced space. The Yukon allows subsidy to go to any parent who qualifies and who can obtain licensed child care. We lead, across Canada, in the percentage of licensed spaces provided per 1,000 children and in the amount of subsidy paid per 1,000 children.

The one concern about the subsidy is that in some cases the maximum subsidy payable is less than the actual fees charged by the child care service. In these cases, a low-income family is required to pay the difference between the maximum subsidies, which are $450 to $500 per month, depending on age.

Monthly child care fees for a full day service range between $400 and $750. We appreciate that child care workers are dedicated, committed and hard working. The operating grant has helped to increase wages in the child care fields and assisted centres to provide better care. The government is one of the partners in this relationship, but we are not the employer.

I would like to table a number of charts showing Yukon's position relative to the provinces.


Are there any Bills to be introduced?


Bill No. 48: Introduction and First Reading

Hon. Mr. Phelps:

I move that Bill No. 48, entitled An Act to Amend the Condominium Act, be now introduced and read a first time.


It has been moved by the Hon. Minister of Justice that Bill No. 48, entitled An Act to Amend the Condominium Act, be now introduced and read a first time.

Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 48 agreed to

Bill No. 70: Introduction and First Reading

Hon. Mr. Phelps:

I move that Bill No. 70, entitled Lottery Licensing Act, 1994, be now introduced and read a first time.


It has been moved by the Hon. Minister of Justice that Bill No. 70, entitled Lottery Licensing Act, 1994, be now introduced and read a first time.

Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 70 agreed to


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

Are there any Notices of Motion?

Are there any Statements by Ministers?


Whitehorse Rapids fish hatchery and fishway, funding of

Hon. Mr. Phillips:

I rise today on behalf of my colleagues, the Minister of Renewable Resources and the Minister responsible for the Yukon Energy Corporation, to announce financial support for the operation of the Whitehorse Rapids salmon hatchery and fishway.

When the hatchery was built in 1984, the federal government would not declare the facility to be a necessary mitigative action and as a result, the costs of its operation could not be passed on to electrical consumers through rates. This has led to a continuing public debate over the funding and operation of the hatchery. Fisheries and Oceans funded the operation until July of 1990. When this funding was withdrawn, the Yukon Fish and Game Association took over operations with short-term funding from the economic development agreement and the Yukon Energy Corporation. The EDA funding ended in 1992.

Under this new three-year agreement, the Departments of Renewable Resources and Tourism, along with the Yukon Energy Corporation, will share the costs of operating the hatchery and the fishway from 1993-94 through 1995-96, to a maximum of $140,000 per year. Over the three-year period, each agency will have contributed an equal one-third share.

The agreement stipulates that the revenue from the hatchery operations will be used to reduce the Yukon government's contribution accordingly.

This agreement supports the Energy Corporation's efforts to enhance the salmon run above the Whitehorse Rapids dam. It also supports the Department of Renewable Resources at the Yukon River salmon negotiations by demonstrating our efforts to protect fish habitat and enhance fish stocks in the Yukon system.

It also supports the Department of Tourism's efforts to promote the fish ladder and viewing facility, and includes a commitment for the continued operation of this fish viewing and interpretive facility at the Whitehorse Rapids fish ladder.

The original fish ladder and viewing facility was a popular spot, attracting thousands of visitors and Yukoners. In 1991, with funding from the renewable resources economic development

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agreement, the Yukon Fish and Game Association expanded the viewing and interpretative areas. These major renovations transformed the site into one of Yukon's most popular attractions. Now, tens of thousands of visitors spend time learning about Yukon salmon. Thousands of Yukoners also visit the facility, many several times a season, bringing family and friends to see this living Yukon legacy.

In closing, I would like to commend the Yukon Fish and Game Association for its commitment to the operation of the salmon hatchery and the fish viewing facility, and for its ongoing efforts in the areas of fish management and public awareness. Thank you.

Mr. Harding:

I would to say, on behalf of the Official Opposition, that this is a good initiative. The Yukon Fish and Game Association should certainly be congratulated for the work that they have done.

It is reasonable to give this project some stability. It is a worthwhile project. We know that the Yukon government has a lot of money and is spending a lot of money, and it is nice to see a contribution in this area. It looks to be in about the vicinity of $420,000 over three years. We hope that other groups with similarly worthwhile projects will also be in line to make representations to the government for funding for their initiatives.

I think that this spending certainly points out the need to get very serious about settling the Yukon River salmon negotiations. We think it is important that the government get aggressive in pursuing a solution at the Yukon River salmon negotiations.

We would also like to see the government pursue Alaskan contributions for Yukon hatcheries, because a lot of the stock that we produce is definitely harvested by Alaskan fishers, and certainly we have an interest in what is going on there, as do they have an interest in what is happening here in the Yukon with our hatcheries.

Last year, the Yukon Party did not send a delegate to the Yukon River salmon talks, on the Yukon government's behalf. We would like to suggest to the government that they get very serious about helping to settle those talks and that they will send somebody to the table.

We would also suggest to the government that they take initiatives to raise the profile of the Yukon in the Pacific salmon talks, which have an ancillary relationship, I believe, to the Yukon River salmon talks. The Pacific salmon talks are becoming a very big national interest, and I think that here in the Yukon and Alaska, the Yukon River talks are related and are very, very important.

So, I would just like to say that if the Minister is interested, when the talks come around again for the Yukon River, and he wants to attend the talks - a front-line person of the Government of the Yukon - then I would certainly be prepared to send him, because I think the talks are important, and I think the Yukon government should be there. I would pair with him, if he wants it. Thank you.

Hon. Mr. Phillips:

I thank the Member opposite for his semi-positive comments to the ministerial statement.

One of the reasons the government has shown a commitment here to the Whitehorse hatchery is specifically for the reason the Member mentioned: to show a commitment to the salmon in the Yukon River system. I know our negotiators will be taking the work that is now being carried out at the Whitehorse hatchery and the work that is being carried out by the Yukon Fish and Game Association and the people in Mayo - the enhancement work - to the Americans to show that we are actually doing something to preserve our salmon stocks.

As for our sending a delegate to the talks, there was one meeting to which we did not send a delegate and much to-do was made by the Member opposite about that; in fact, some of the people who initially spoke out against our not being there verbally rescinded some of their comments because they feel we have made a very valuable contribution to those talks. In fact, we solved all the issues but two. There were only two outstanding issues. They would not have been resolved at that meeting; they would not have been resolved, no matter who was there.

In regard to the international talks on the Pacific Salmon Treaty, we are not involved, other than to provide advice to our negotiators on the Yukon River system. We certainly will be continuing to do that as well. As I mentioned the other day, I have recently written a letter to the Alaskan officials expressing our concern in urging the Americans to get back to the table with the Canadians and come to a resolution of this very serious issue.


This then brings us to the Question Period.


Question re: Social services, verification officers

Ms. Commodore:

My question is for the Minister responsible for social services regarding his fraud squad.

Yesterday during Question Period, the Minister continued to insult all social assistance recipients when he said, "I am sure that many criminals who are not on social assistance are totally insulted by the actions of the police who dare to investigate murders, dare to investigate fraud in business and dare to investigate fraud among government workers." By making these comparisons, the Minister is stereotyping social assistant recipients as criminals.

I would like to ask the Minister again, as I did yesterday, is it his policy and personal belief that all social assistance recipients are criminals?

Hon. Mr. Phelps:

That has to be one of the most outrageous interpretations of an answer during Question Period that I have ever had the misfortune to be subjected to.

What we are doing is very simple; we are following a course that is being implemented across Canada, most specifically, in the most high-profile way in British Columbia by the NDP and in Ontario by the NDP, and elsewhere in Canada.

We are trying to ensure that people are not abusing the system and committing fraud. There are all kinds of people who need the safety net that is provided under social services and the welfare system. We want to ensure that the people who need that safety net are looked after under the laws.

We are trying to ensure that those who abuse the system and try to cheat do not get away with it for very long.

Ms. Commodore:

The Minister has got to listen to his answers. It is no wonder people are making these accusations about him.

The Minister of Social Services is also the Minister of Justice and is a lawyer and should be well aware of one of the fundamental cornerstones of our criminal law: a person is innocent until proven guilty. Can he not see the injustice in talking about criminals in the context of investigations, or does he think social assistance recipients in the Yukon are second class citizens who are guilty until proven innocent?

Hon. Mr. Phelps:

I find it difficult to believe that the Opposition is taking this direction in questioning what seems to me to be a very straightforward proposition: people should not be allowed to abuse or commit fraud on the system.

If one of the Members opposite went to a bank to borrow money and wrote down a bunch of things on the loan application, he or she would expect that the bank would follow up and ensure that what is on that application is correct. If somebody comes to the government, makes an application and signs a declaration in order

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to obtain social assistance, then he or she ought to expect the same from our department - that the facts that they put down on paper will be checked. If they are being honest they have nothing to fear. If the person who goes to the bank and makes these kinds of written declarations is honest, then that person has nothing to fear either.

Ms. Commodore:

The Minister may not know it, but most social assistance recipients are honest, decent people who genuinely need assistance. Can the Minister tell us if they will also be subject to his criminal investigation actions?

Hon. Mr. Phelps:

It is ludicrous to suggest such a thing. What we are doing is entirely consistent with what is being done across Canada. All jurisdictions are concerned that these programs not be abused. If the Member opposite believes for one second that there has not been abuse of the welfare system and that 99 out of 100 people are not aware of examples of abuse, then she lives in a very wonderful, isolated world indeed.

Question re: Social services, verification officers

Ms. Commodore:

It is the manner in which the Minister is doing this that is the problem.

My next question is to the same Minister. The Minister of Health and Social Services has spoken at length about the need for fraud investigators to help with cost savings in the social assistance programs. He has also stated his goal of helping social assistance recipients move out of a state of dependence on government assistance. Some social assistance workers manage a case load of well over 150 people. I do not know whether the Minister is aware of that.

If more social workers were hired, has the Minister considered whether or not the result would be far greater efficiency and case management, which would mean fewer long-term recipients and, in the end, greater savings to the department?

Hon. Mr. Phelps:

It may shock the hon. Member but, yes, I have considered that. On the advice of people in the department, from the social services side, we are taking actions to assist the workers with regard to aspects of their duties. The actions we have taken, for example, in the area of looking for abuse and fraud, is designed to complement the work of the individual social workers. My sense of things is that we have a very dedicated staff who are very sincere and are pleased to see this kind of attention being paid to the problems that existed in the program.

Ms. Commodore:

No one doubts the sincerity of people working in his department. The hiring of fraud investigators who, periodically, descend on people in their homes will, no doubt, create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, which further demoralizes recipients in their efforts to achieve greater control over their lives. Does the Minister see this as a problem?

Hon. Mr. Phelps:

There is no intention to abuse personal liberties and freedoms. I wonder whether or not the message we are getting, loud and clear, is that the Member opposite is very supportive of fraudulent schemes, perpetrated against the government, so long as they fit the category of most desirable citizens, in the eyes of the NDP.

Ms. Commodore:

Most people who know me will know that to be the opposite. The Minister, because he cannot answer these questions, is making accusations and insulting more people. It is already clear that the Minister's plan will only serve to accomplish the opposite of his intended goals, and has resulted in lower morale among workers, whether he knows that or not: fear and suspicion among the recipients and a lack of incentive to break out of the welfare trap. Has the Minister considered that the most effective way to achieve his stated goals is to enhance the worker/client relationship by hiring additional workers and eliminating the climate of fear he has already created?

Hon. Mr. Phelps:

I am always delighted to receive the kind of constructive ideas that I receive constantly from the hon. Member across the way, but perhaps she would have better success if she started with these suggestions by making those recommendations to her colleagues, her brothers and sisters, in Ontario and B.C., and we will see what they do in response.

Question re: Education, grade reorganization

Mr. Cable:

I have some questions for the Minister of Education on some issues that bear on the Grey Mountain School. Yesterday we talked about grade reorganization, which is one of the determinants as to whether the Grey Mountain School is going to be expanded, and he indicated that he had received from his department an analysis of the public hearings that had taken place with respect to grade reorganization. He also indicated that he did not seek a recommendation from his department. Could he indicate why he did not seek a recommendation on grade reorganization?

Hon. Mr. Phillips:

I asked the department to prepare a report. I just wanted a report; I did not necessarily want recommendations. Recommendations would be obvious from the content of the report.

Mr. Cable:

The impression that was left in the House yesterday was that the report was to be an analysis of what took place at the public hearings. It was to be a report about what people said. Is the Minister saying that he is taking that as tantamount to a set of recommendations as to whether we have grade reorganization or not?

Hon. Mr. Phillips:

No, I do not think I am doing that. I think I am taking it as a representation that was made by the various people who appeared before the committee. I told the Member yesterday that we are still looking at some other numbers before we make any decision on grade reorganization. We are waiting for those numbers to come in.

Mr. Cable:

On the issue of numbers, and in particular, the numbers in Riverdale, during the education debate, the Minister indicated that the Grey Mountain School council had indicated that there had been a number of homes sold in Riverdale and that the council expected the school population numbers to go up. He also indicated that there was a second report that he thought would be filed imminently, about the numbers of students in Riverdale. That was on May 9. Has the Minister received that report yet?

Hon. Mr. Phillips:

I received an initial set of numbers that were made available to the Grey Mountain Building Committee, and I believe the Member for Riverdale South may have seen the numbers as well. These are initial numbers and it is a formula that is worked out with the Bureau of Statistics using the health cards. It is a formula to determine the population breakdown of various areas.

I think that the next reporting time will be late June or early July, and that will give us some idea of the trend that is happening. We are waiting to get those numbers in before we make a decision.

Question re: Child care spaces

Ms. Commodore:

My question is for the Minister responsible for social services. Recently, the Minister of Health and Social Services announced his innovative changes to social assistance, including forcing single parents of preschool children back into the workforce. At the time, the Minister indicated that the increased demand for child care spaces would be met through a special program not yet designed.

Can the Minister provide us with assurances that sufficient child care spaces will have been created by the time his new single parent eligibility policy comes into effect?

Hon. Mr. Phelps:

What we have said is that we have identified a cost of up to $400,000 per year, and we will make money

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available, as needed, to ensure that child care is provided to single parents who are either training, or working or seeking work.

Ms. Commodore:

I assume, then, the answer to my question was "yes".

There is also a problem with parents of young school kids. Does the Minister also have a plan to assist parents with young school-age children, who are too old to qualify for child care, and who would find themselves on their own after school, without a special program in place?

Hon. Mr. Phelps:

I am not exactly certain where that question comes from but she is making a representation that there is an area here that ought to be looked at. I am always happy to take her representations seriously and have the department look into it.

Ms. Commodore:

The Member has never taken one of my recommendations seriously yet, so I do not know what he is talking about.

I am talking about latchkey kids, and I am sure that the Minister is aware of that. I would like to know whether or not he will consider putting a program in place for those latchkey kids, who may not have a day care to go to after school.

Hon. Mr. Phelps:

I heard her representation, and I will look into it.

Question re: Extended care facility, integration with hospital

Mr. Penikett:

This morning I was advised that the integration of the hospital and the extended care units seems to be well underway, despite the fact that health care experts and the Government Leader's favourite book, Reinventing Government, advises against this kind of integration of two such fundamentally different programs. Can the Health Minister explain why, contrary to information provided to this House, the department seems to be proceeding with the amalgamation of acute and extended care programs against the best professional advice, and perhaps tell us the time table for the completion of this process?

Hon. Mr. Phelps:

As I indicated earlier, we have people looking at the issue of placing the Thomson Centre under the governance of the Hospital Corporation. It is at a fairly preliminary stage, but there are people moving ahead with the examination of the issues. Final decisions have yet to be made by Cabinet, and we are really looking at perhaps being able to complete such a transaction by the end of this fiscal year.

Mr. Penikett:

According to the staff at the place, it seems people are not just looking at it, they are actually doing it. As the Minister must be aware, those who work in special and extended care centres operate from very different philosophical bases from acute care providers, who operate on a medical model. Can I ask the Minister what assurances he will provide to the health care workers and professionals at the Thomson Centre that the integrity of the extended care program will not in any way be compromised by amalgamation with the Hospital Corporation?

Hon. Mr. Phelps:

These are all issues that are under review. The methodology, the kinds of insurances and discussions with those who work at the facility are all ahead of us and will take place in due course. I am moving toward a position where I can take some recommendations to Cabinet. That is where it is now.

Mr. Penikett:

It is not ahead of us. There are people who complain that it is already here. This morning I received a complaint of serious problems at the Thomson Centre due to inadequate staffing, low morale, high staff turnover, personnel on stress leave and distress over unsafe conditions for staff and patients alike. Given the staff concerns that we heard this morning, why has the Minister not yet officially consulted with the employees or the union regarding integration plans and their potential impacts on staff and patients? Perhaps I could ask him if he plans to do so.

Hon. Mr. Phelps:

Of course we plan to do so, once the appropriate steps have been put in place and we proceed. The first step is to bring some documentation to Cabinet in order to get some decisions from Cabinet. At this preliminary stage, we are moving in a direction to try to ascertain what the issues might be and what types of consultation, et cetera, would be appropriate.

Question re: Child care spaces in communities

Mr. Harding:

I have a question for the Minister of Health and Social Services on his new proposal, which states that parents receiving social assistance will be considered employable once their youngest child reaches two years old, and how this will be felt in the rural communities.

Will the Minister ensure that there will be enough child care spaces available to meet his new policy for rural communities like Faro and Pelly Crossing, where there are precious few child care spaces currently available.

Hon. Mr. Phelps:

The intent is to ensure that the children of people who will have to seek out training and look for work will be accommodated in the communities.

Mr. Harding:

That answer was very, very vague and there was nothing concrete in it. I think people are a little concerned about the fact that his answers are so vague in this area. Given the new rule that parents with children over the age of two are defined as employable - even if they live in a community with few private sector jobs - is the Minister willing to commit to creating public sector jobs in Yukon rural communities before people lose their social assistance - if they cannot find private sector work?

Hon. Mr. Phelps:

The Member seems to be approaching this from a completely backward perspective. I do not know if that is deliberate, or he is just unaware of the situation as it is right now. All we are saying is that those people will be treated in exactly the same way as are other recipients of social assistance in the rural communities. If there are no jobs available, then the people do not have to obtain work. That is a non sequitur, but they do have to look for work and try to obtain jobs, in a very realistic way, if there is employment available.

Mr. Harding:

We will see if the Minister's words meet the actions of this government when the policy is brought into effect. The Minister will have to agree that for this initiative to work, job training, child care and job opportunities have to be provided to the rural communities, and not just to Whitehorse. Is the Minister going to require that people on social assistance leave their community in order to access the job training, child care and job opportunities this government is promising, or is he going to put concrete programs to work in the communities to address this?

Hon. Mr. Phelps:

We will be providing programs. I cannot, with specificity, describe them in each and every rural community. We do want people to be trained, willing and able to take on employment, and we are very concerned that there are people who need some motivation and assistance, particularly those who had no employment during the years of reign by the side opposite.

Question re: Legal aid

Ms. Moorcroft:

On May 20, the Whitehorse Star reported that the Yukon Legal Services Society could only fill half the contracts for Yukon legal aid work, because there were not enough bids from the territory's lawyers. As a result, the society has advertised for two staff lawyers - a partial move to a public defender system.

The Legal Services Society will now be administering three different mechanisms for the delivery of legal aid. Some legal aid work will be done under the contracts, some by staff lawyers, and some under the old certificate system. This change comes as a direct result of the government's massive cuts to the legal aid

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budget, rather than because of a recent policy decision on what the best system for the delivery of legal aid in the territory should be.

Is the Minister of Justice at all concerned with the hodge-podge system that has been caused by his huge cuts to legal aid?

Hon. Mr. Phelps:

We are very, very displeased with the necessity for restricting the amount of money that can flow into legal aid, and we made our case as best we could, with assistance from the bar, to Ottawa, because Ottawa is cutting back - it is not just here, but throughout Canada. Each and every jurisdiction, provincial and territorial, is suffering from the freeze that was placed on legal aid by Ottawa. However, we also stand united in not allowing the federal government - be they Conservative or Liberal - to off load these programs onto the shoulders of the junior governments.

Ms. Moorcroft:

The article quotes the Minister as saying that the interesting issue will be whether or not the society can restrain its costs. By this, I take it that, as usual, he is interested in how they can save money but he is not interested in people. Why is the Minister not concerned about the more urgent issue of how these changes may affect people's access to justice and the quality of service delivery?

Hon. Mr. Phelps:

I am certainly very concerned that the people have access to lawyers. The different systems, however, and the mixed systems are not unique to this jurisdiction. There has been a shift away from the certificate method in many of the provinces, and most provinces now have a mix of public defender and private lawyers who do legal aid.

Ms. Moorcroft:

This government built a $1 million liquor store in Watson Lake but we already have one of the poorest levels of legal aid coverage for civil work in the entire country. There is no coverage for landlord/tenant problems or appeals on behalf of the unemployed, injured workers or social assistance claimants - people we know this Minister likes to think are deadbeats and criminals.

Given the unexpected healthy state of the government's finances, will the Minister promise to improve legal aid delivery by restoring the funding to last year's levels?

Hon. Mr. Phelps:

We are really talking about providing the same service for the public, albeit in a different way and at lower cost to government. It is unfortunate that we have to take these steps, but we are being victimized by the Liberals in Ottawa.

Some Hon. Member:



Order. Order.

Hon. Mr. Phelps:

With regard to the liquor store, it was the side opposite that planned the liquor store. I did not see any corresponding plans to enhance legal aid coverage in the Yukon.

Question re: Health and Social Services, deputy minister

Mrs. Firth:

I have a question for the Minister responsible for Health and Social Services.

Since it has been a few months since the Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services was rather unceremoniously removed from her job, and it has been over two months since the closing date of the competition advertising for a new Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services, could the Minister tell us when there is going to be a new deputy minister for this department?

Hon. Mr. Phelps:

We are being well served right now by the person who is acting in the position, and he is doing an excellent job.

With regard to the final decisions regarding applicants for the position, I cannot, at this time, provide the Member with a definitive answer as to exactly when a decision will be made.

Mrs. Firth:

I am sure that we all agree that the individual who is serving in that role is doing a very good job; however, I think that it is important that we not leave positions unfilled for any great length of time. Perhaps the Minister could tell us how many people have applied for the job and how many people have been interviewed.

Hon. Mr. Phelps:

I cannot give the exact numbers, but there were in excess of 120 applications. To date, no interviews have been held.

Mrs. Firth:

Could the Minister tell us why there have not been any interviews if the closing was two months ago and there are so many people interested in the job? What is the government waiting for?

Hon. Mr. Phelps:

I am not exactly sure what the Member is attempting to do from her side of the House. If she is trying to run the government, she is not really going to succeed by demanding that we jump every time she rises in her place and makes a demand. That is not how we operate on this side, and it is certainly not the way this Minister operates.

Question re: Health and Social Services, deputy minister

Mrs. Firth:

Far be it from me to ever think that this government would do anything that I ask them to do, or take it as constructive criticism and respond to it. The government has made it very clear what they think about my advice and my ideas. However, people have come and asked me about this situation, because the job has been unfilled, on a permanent basis, for some time now. This is a department that is launching into a huge program of social reform. There is a new hospital being built. I have had lots of concerns brought to me, as other Members of the Opposition have, with respect to the future and the direction in which the department is going. My preference would be that we had a deputy minister to run the department instead of having the politician running the department.

I am not asking the Minister to jump to any of my tunes. I am simply asking when we are going to have -


Order. Would the Member please ask her question.

Mrs. Firth:

I am in the middle of it. The Member of the long wind keeps telling me I am giving a speech. I want to ask the Minister when they are going to start doing interviews for this position, and when they anticipate having it filled?

Hon. Mr. Phelps:

What a refreshingly new question. Nobody can say that I am being nagged by the Member opposite, or browbeaten. If they should suggest such a thing, let them never say that I was browbeaten into submission by her.

Some Hon. Member:




Hon. Mr. Phelps:

We prioritize and deal with a great many issues, and we are always happy to take observations and recommendations from Members on the side opposite under consideration. We will do that. With regard to the demand that we just jump and do it now, I think that the answer I would give the hon. Member is the same one I give my grandchild when he demands something. We will do it, but take it easy; there is time.

Mrs. Firth:

I should caution the Member not to be such a smart-aleck when he answers questions, because when he did that with the Boylan issue he did not exactly come up smelling like a rose at the end of the issue. He might not think I am the smartest person in the world; he might think I nag, but, when I ask questions about issues, it is for good reason. He should not take people for granted and underestimate them.

Can the Minister not answer the question about when there are going to be interviews? Is that why he is refusing to tell us when the interview process is going to start?

Hon. Mr. Phelps:

The Leader of the Official Opposition yelled over "yes or no". How about "maybe"?

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Question re: Employment standards consultation

Mr. Penikett:

Before the old Government Leader becomes completely witless, I am going to put a kind -


Order. Let us try to get things back in order here please.

Mr. Penikett:

I am doing that. I am going to ask him a very kind and gentle and very direct question.

Today is the day before the deadline for submissions for opinions in the consultation about the new and disimproved Employment Standards Act, 1994. Can the Minister of Justice explain why, the day before the deadline for the end of the consultation, neither the Federation of Labour nor the Building Trades Council have been invited to submit views on this question?

Hon. Mr. Phelps:

Let me give the Hon. Leader of the Official Opposition a very kind and very general and direct answer.

It was my understanding that they had been delivered or mailed a package, and I will look into it right away to see if anything has gone wrong.

Mr. Penikett:

The two large labour-central groups - the Federation of Labour and the Building & Construction Trades Council - did not receive a package from the Minister. Two groups did - the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Steelworkers Union - but they received the package at a time that gives them three or four days to read the material, analyze it, develop a position and reply to the Minister before the deadline.

Does that meet the test of meaningful consultation, by the Minister's definition?

Hon. Mr. Phelps:

Let me be kind, gentle and direct, and tell the hon. Member opposite that, in the first place, the legislation is not new. It does not contain some of the clauses that were in the bill that was under such intense criticism a couple of years ago. There is one new aspect to the legislation, but everything else has pretty well been hashed over. If we receive some kind of indication from groups that there has not been enough consultation, and that they have something new to say, then we would have to take that under advisement.

Mr. Penikett:

Given that the Minister is taking us back in time, and making the Legislature older and older, in terms of contemporary values on these questions, and given that the government has failed to consult working people on economic policy, and failed to consult them on social policy and, now, appears to be not consulting some of the major groups on labour policy, as kind and as gentle as I can be, does the Minister not think that the failure to consult working people about matters affecting working people might make them a tad cynical about this government's genuineness of their stated intentions to make sure that everybody who is affected by legislation might get an opportunity to express their views and convey their thoughts to the government before the government does what it planned to do anyway?

Hon. Mr. Phelps:

It might, but that is not the intention. There may have been an oversight, in terms of the delivery or mailing of packages, and I will look into that. He may not believe this, but I do not take every letter and every piece of mail to the post office, or hand deliver it myself although, of course, I am always pleased to deliver urgent material to the Member opposite.

Surely, one would expect that those organizations he mentions, which have been represented in this House daily, would have access to all the material from their very good friends, the NDP Members opposite.

Question re: Mayo service cuts

Mr. Joe:

I have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, but I do not know how much time I have. I hear that the airport in Mayo is going to be run by a machine. A good system is in place now and it should remain there. Can the Minister tell us what he is going to do about this?

Hon. Mr. Fisher:

I always appreciate a question from this Member. He asks a good question and wants a direct response. He does not play with words, so I will try and answer as directly as I can.

He is referring to the automatic weather observation system that the federal government has put forward as one of the things they want to do with Mayo. In other words, they want to automate the weather observation from Mayo. We disagree very strongly with that. It is a federal Department of Transport responsibility, but we are disagreeing with them. We feel that possibly they could reduce the number of hours in Mayo by putting in an automatic station, but that the community air radio service station should stay there. That is our representation to the federal government.

Mr. Joe:

Is that the same system that was put into service at the Watson Lake airport? I heard that it is not working very well.

Hon. Mr. Fisher:

The Member opposite is correct. It is the same system that was put into the Watson Lake airport, approximately one year and a half ago. The Member is right that it has given poor information to pilots, at least on one occasion.

Our problem is that we would like to see it tested much more before it is installed at small airports.

Mr. Joe:

I would like to thank the Minister for his answer.

I would like to ask the Government Leader a question. The government is cutting back health services in the Mayo Hospital and now they are making cutbacks at the airport.

Last year the government refused to take money from highway construction and build a new school in Mayo. As well, the municipal grants have been reduced. What other kinds of services are going to be cut in Mayo?

Hon. Mr. Ostashek:

The Member is quite right. There have been cuts made in Mayo, but the first two that he mentioned, the hospital health cuts and the airport, are federal cuts; they are not territorial cuts.

As for the school in Mayo, the government did not have the resources to start building the school. I believe that the Minister is going to be doing some work on the school this year.

We attended a community meeting in Mayo and there seemed to be a good understanding by the people there that they were quite prepared to have their children go to that school for another few years, as long as they were guaranteed the school was safe. That is exactly what we are doing; we are going to ensure that the facility is safe and that the people in Mayo feel comfortable with the school.


The time for Question Period has elapsed.

We will proceed to Orders of the Day.


Hon. Mr. Phillips:

I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.


It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House do resolve into Committee of the Whole.

Motion agreed to



I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Are we prepared to take a break at this time?

Some Hon. Member:



We will take a short break.

Page Number 2835



I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.

Bill No. 94 - Public Sector Compensation Restraint Act, 1994 - continued


We will be dealing with Bill No. 94, entitled Public Sector Compensation Restraint Act, 1994. Is there further general debate?

Mr. McDonald:

After I expressed some frustration last evening about the government's position, particularly with respect to its financial justification for this particular measure, I permitted the Minister to have the last word. That is not something I regret, but I am not sure it was entirely useful.

The problem we have is that it is patently obvious, after a few weeks of debate on the finances of this government, that the arguments the Minister and his colleagues have been promoting to justify this measure cannot be sustained. The Minister complained last night about the Yukon's unemployment rate and the need to put money into job creation. Never mind the fact that, if one promotes a gloom-and-doom message about the government's finances or one extracts money from people's pockets, either through increased taxation or through wage restraint, it is going to cause some measure of crisis in consumer confidence, which will have a very direct impact on the territorial economy.

We heard the Minister indicate, while complaining about the Yukon's unemployment rate, that they needed to spend money in areas to encourage employment. Yet, at the same time, we hear about the government's desire to build surpluses. At the same time, we hear about the government's concern about the trajectory of spending well into the future.

Is the government intending to spend the money it is saving or reallocating, or is it not? If it is, then we all agree that there is no financial crisis but there is in fact a reallocation of priorities in terms of spending.

The Ministers, every once in awhile, when all else fails, throw up the argument that this legislation will help prevent layoffs. Well, the Minister will understand, given that he can grasp logical inconsistencies, that this may be an artificial set of choices, particularly when the government is spending more money than it was in the last year - which in turn spent more money than in the previous year, et cetera.

This may be an artificial array of choices into which we should not be drawn. We should be more careful in determining what other alternatives there may be to this particular measure to meet the government's desire to put more money into capital works.

The problem is that the arguments that have been presented - not just by this Minister, but particularly by the Finance Minister - are not only not sustainable, but they are contradictory. I think the government has been able to master the art of the circular argument because when all else fails, all one has to do is keep the argument going.

For example, we say the Yukon government does not have a fiscal crisis. The government side says, "Well, Canada does and we are all part of Canada."

So then we say, "But this government is trying to get as much money as it can from Canada and, in any case, the Yukon government does not have a financial crisis."

They say, "Well, then, YTG has a deficit problem."

We say, "Well, YTG has an accumulated surplus."

Then, they say, "Well, what if we do? We are proud of it; why should we be ashamed?"

We say, "The Yukon government cannot predict, with any precision, its financial state of affairs into the middle distant future - three or four years from now."

The Yukon Party says - prior to the introduction of this Minister on the scene, certainly - "We certainly can, because we are the master managers. We know how to budget tightly. We need every penny for the purpose we have designed. Just watch us."

Then we say, "Well, you lapsed $30 million."

Then the government side said, "Okay, so what if we did? It is due to more efficient management."

Then we ask, "Where are the efficiencies?"

They say, "Well, maybe they are not efficiencies. So what if we did lapse money? The NDP lapsed money, too."

So, we said, "The Yukon government cannot predict, with any precision, three years ahead, when they cannot get within 10 percent of their budget estimates within a 12-month period. You should not pretend that there is going to be a deficit of a lousy $1 million, or as much as $1 million in three years, when you cannot demonstrate, with any precision, that you can accurately predict even within a 12-month period."

Then they say, "Well, it is just trend lines we are after. If we continue the spending pattern that we have been following, we are going to get into trouble."

Then we say, "Did the government not argue that they are going to spend all of the money anyway, and that they just simply wanted to change priorities? They wanted to spend more on capital, and in fact are spending more - period."

Then the government said, "Yes, that is right. That is what we are all about. We are doing exactly that, and we are proud of it."

Then we said, "Okay, then. It is all about spending priorities and public servants, and the O&M services they provide are lower on the priority list."

Then they say, "No, it is not that at all. It is that we are in a financial crisis."

Then we went back up to point number one, and we say, "We are not in a financial crisis."

The government said, "Well, Canada is."

Then we say, "You are trying to get as much as you can from Canada. In any case, YTG is not in a financial crisis."

Then the government says, "We have to worry about the deficit situation."

Then we said, "Well, you have a surplus situation."

Then the government said, "So what if we do? We are proud of it." We are going around and around this argument. It is impossible to bring closure to it - maybe it is possible to bring closure through exhaustion. Some of us want to follow a logical train of thought, and feel comfortable about the positions we are taking, and feel that we can legitimately bring closure to these issues. The Minister must know that this is a very frustrating position for those of us who want to decide this debate one way or another, and feel comfortable about the positions we are taking.

I think the problem that we are facing here is that the only argument, from a ideologically, conservative perspective - an argument that could be sustained through all of this debate, and the only one that I can think of; the only one that has been presented - has nothing to do with the financial circumstances of this government, because those circumstances are not sustainable. However, it has everything to do with a belief that public servants are paid more than they should be paid in relation to private sector workers.

That is an argument that the government side has dismissed from day one, saying that it is not part of their repertoire, it is not part of their arsenal of arguments - they have adopted all those other ones, and all of those other ones get them into a tremendous maze of contradictions, conflicting positions and circular arguments. We go around and around in circles, but we do not ever come to conclusions.

I am puzzled as to why the government has not adopted or

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accepted what I would regard as being a typically Conservative position. I know that not all Conservatives believe that public servants' wages should be cut back, but it seems to be consistent with the ideological perspective of many Conservatives in this territory.

We can then have a discussion about the economic impact of various sorts of public expenditures. Then, we could have a debate about the effect on the private marketplace of public sector wages. That would draw us into a true debate as to whether or not this is a useful measure, because then we would know with more certainty whether or not we have the real arrows in our quiver to defend this measure.

We know that in three or four years things may be very much different fiscally than they are now, both in Canada and here.

The Minister must be careful about presenting too much of a gloom-and-doom message with respect to the financial situation and following the Government Leader down that track, because that is one of the tracks that the Government Leader is taking us. When the Government Leader stands up with a different deputy minister beside him, he will have us go down the track of economic prosperity in this territory and how we are going to be setting up new mines that are now all on track and in the permitting stage and there is light at the end of the tunnel, in terms of more jobs, lower unemployment and that sort of thing.

We listen to that and we take the signals, then we try and pull them together to get some sense of where the government is going. So, if the Minister wants to follow the Government Leader on the track of a gloomy financial situation and a gloomy economy three years from now, he is going to have to find a way, intellectually - because, obviously, the Government Leader has found a way to do this - to switch gears and follow a different track somehow.

With respect to prosperity, we would be well into the middle of the decade of prosperity we have been told about. Given that we cannot predict with precision, given that we have been talking about realigning our priorities, in order to put more money into capital works, and given that we have talked about more prosperous times unfolding ahead of us, it makes it very difficult to accept some of the arguments the Minister has been told he must be using to justify this measure. He, probably more than anyone on the government side, will be able to identify how stimulating the debate can be when one is not particularly consistent in making those arguments.

I appeal to the Minister. If he can pull together a consistent stream of arguments, I would invite him to do so, so that we can have the solid and honest debate. If he cannot, could he please try to keep us off the merry-go-round about whether or not we are going from a financial crisis to prosperity, and back to a crisis again.

Mr. Harding:

I would like to say something to the Minister, and I am not sure whether I will end up with a question or not.

This wage restraint legislation has kicked off a lot of debate within the community I represent. I have talked about a lot of it in the context of the education debate that I had with the Minister of Education, and I was not sure of the reaction of my constituants toward this wage restraint initiative. I was not sure what, in general, it would be. I know a lot of my constituents have fallen on some pretty hard times lately with the shutdown of the mine, and some of them are working pretty hard to get back on their feet. Nonetheless, it is apparent that most people in my riding have seen better days financially, and it struck me that this wage restraint legislation might be popular because I think it is easy for people to feel that, when they are on hard times, everybody else should pull up their socks and suffer a little bit. I was worried that people would be very quick to find fault with the circumstances that others find themselves in, i.e. people who work for the government as teachers or government employees in my riding who are continuing to earn a healthy paycheque and have work on an ongoing basis.

I talked to people in my riding about it, and some people agreed - they said everyone was taking cuts and that the teachers and government workers should cuts - but I would say that the majority of my constituents, both people who are involved with organized labour and those who are not, felt that they did not like the approach the government was taking - one, because there has been no financial justification shown. The projections do not line up, and we have said that since day one. The merits of our arguments have become stronger and stronger last 18 months, and it has reached a crescendo with the announcement of the lapsed funding from last year - a common occurrence and one which we knew was going to occur and we said was going to occur. Now, it has been announced, and we know that there is a healthy financial picture for the Government of Yukon.

I know the Government Leader came to my riding just about the time of the announcement. One of my constituents - who neither works for the government as a teacher nor a government worker, and is not involved with organized labour - got up and gave a little speech at the public meeting. There was resounding applause for what he said. He felt very, very upset about the manner in which this was handled. He felt very, very upset at the fact that the duty of the government to engage in collective bargaining could be so easily reneged on.

This constituent also talked about what is happening in other jurisdictions, but he made the point that we have made to the government probably 5,000 times in this session - that one should only tamper with the right to collective bargaining when one has a serious, serious financial problem.

I think the Leader of the Official Opposition made one of the best arguments I have heard. He said that the right to collective bargain is a fundamental democratic right, but it is not an absolute right. Only when there is an extreme case of financial despair, or the probability of financial despair, should one tamper with it. That is what happened here. We have a situation where, now, and in the very near future and in the longer future, we do not have financial despair. We have a federal Finance Minister who said he is prepared to extend our formula financing agreement. We have a situation underway where, in the next couple of years, we could expect our mines to be going again. We have a good situation to build on here in the Yukon. Right now, it is in very, very bad shape, but we hope it can improve.

The government, in particular, is in even better shape than the economy as a whole. There is a big difference there because financially they have more revenues, more money than ever before, and it is just a question of determining how they are going to spend it and what their priorities are.

We have not proposed that the government should not - if they are concerned about trend lines - take a position of constraint and restraint at the negotiating table. I think that the members of both the Yukon Employees Union and the Yukon Teachers Association would have been able to deal fairly with that fairly. Let us talk about what the real state of the government finances are. Let us talk about the real impact on the economy of having restraint measures against us.

When I say restraint measures, I do not necessarily mean rollbacks. I mean looking at increases and agreements that represent the concerns of the workers for the government but, also, the concerns of the finances of the government. I do not know what that settlement range would be, and I am not here to prejudge that. What I believe should have taken place here was a full, free collective bargaining session. I think what happened was that the government adopted an ideological position where they wanted to

Page Number 2837

rearrange their priorities. They wanted more money for capital infrastructure spending, and they felt government workers received too much in the way of pay. Therefore, they would take the money from the government workers and put it into their other priority areas. However, that is not as easy to sell as covering up debt, deficits, and all the words that are very scary to Canadians and Yukoners right now - they work very well in this climate.

We have some of the people who wanted to address how they were going to bring in this legislation, and they talked about the need for the restraint and the rollbacks, and the need to remove the right of collective bargaining under the auspices of financial concern and need.

That has gone now. That is not to say to the Minister - and I can probably anticipate what he is going to say - that there should not be some recognition that cost cannot climb forever, with no end in sight. That does not mean that the government employees have to pay the whole price of getting costs in line. It does not mean that we cannot sit down at the table and collectively bargain.

Look at what went on with the teachers during the last bargaining session. I know a few teachers who were not happy with what happened, but they were prepared to live with it. I do not know what position they would take at the table this time. I would say that they are reasonable people and, if all the cards were put on the table in a fair and open manner, they would deal with it in a reasonable manner.

However, where this broke down miserably was when all the goop was piled around it - fighting the federal debt and the poor financial situation of the government. This government has been in a good financial situation; it has never been in a bad one.

We have gone around and around. I get really galled the most when I stand up to argue for collective bargaining, and for the government to respect that, and the government stands up and says that I do not care about the federal debt. This astounds me, because I do care about the federal debt.

At the same time that the government is saying to me that we should be concerned about the federal debt, I have letters from the Minister of Renewable Resources and Government Leader going to the federal government telling them not to cut their budgets anywhere.

We have the Government Leader standing up and blaming the federal Liberals for not putting enough money into the federal infrastructure program, a program that the Government Leader himself has denounced as a political move, but yet, he still wants more.

Of course, we then have the infamous comments of the last week that the Government Leader made, where he said how he was going to fiendishly, cleverly, extract big, fat programs from the federal government and then chop them back so that we could extract some savings in the Yukon.

The Government Leader called them savings, but we would not save that money, because every penny the government gets they would probably spend on some capital infrastructure project, and we are not yet sure what that is.

We know that money has gone into the Alaska Highway, both discretionary and non-discretionary funds, but we are not sure where the priorities are.

We have seen a document by the government about capital infrastructure, and that has tremendous projects in it such as the infamous railroad to Carmacks and the pipeline from Watson Lake - megaprojects that I think are non-starters at this point.

The government has not sat down and had an active dialogue with Yukoners about what their priorities in capital spending are.

We have had two capital budgets from this government, and we have yet to see a school built. The Government Leader stood up the other day and said that he might have to build a $25 million school. We would like to hear more about this, because that really caused us to perk up our ears.

The Government Leader talked about the Grey Mountain School and honouring election promises for the building of new schools, and we have only two capital budgets left.

This government has had two huge capital budgets, but we are still unclear as to what their priorities are going to be. It is hoped that they are going to build some schools and I would say that the Minister of Education is going to be very feisty in the next capital budgeting session - feistier than he has been in the past, I hope - and make sure that his colleagues finally get around to putting some capital money into schools. I am sure that he is going to do that. I predict that with some certainty, but I can never be 100 percent sure with this government, because just when I think I have them figured out they do something else.

To get back to where we are on the issue of this wage restraint legislation, I would like to say that the Minister and the government that announce this should think about being clearer in terms of their reasoning for this. It is finally starting to come out. I read on the front cover of the Yukon News yesterday that the Minister said he wanted to put the money that he got from the government workers elsewhere.

When this whole thing started out, it was not a question of putting the money elsewhere. The point was that we needed the money to fight the debt. Now we know the debt is non-existent. We always knew that, but we had trouble convincing the Members opposite and some of the members of the public that that was indeed the case.

What I think the government has to do is re-evaluate how they are treating their employees. There are people in my community who do not even work for the government, who are concerned about where they are going with this legislation. For example, in Faro, the school is an integral part of the community. People care about the teachers, and they care about how they are treated, and vice versa. There were a lot of people in the community who were upset about what was going to happen to morale in the school. They were upset at the government's responses to the teachers, and the few government workers that we do have in the community - they were not very appreciative of it.

I would just ask the Minister to recognize this, be upfront with these people, and to take another look at what they are doing with this wage restraint legislation. They should rip it up, go to the bargaining table and negotiate collective agreements. I think it can be done. I think the parameters the government union and the teachers have set can meet the parameters set by the government. I do not think it will be easy. It may mean conciliation, and all of those things. Nonetheless, I do believe that the goals of all parties can be achieved, if there is a real attempt by the government to get rid of this legislation and say that they will sit down with their employees and freely and collectively bargain.

Ms. Moorcroft:

I have some further general debate. I am not prepared to see this legislation go through without going over what this Minister has said both in radio interviews and in Hansard and in letters to teachers, and in really answering questions and being accountable for what he has had to say. What I find and what the public finds is that this Minister's word just cannot be believed.

The Minister said that negotiations are valuable and that they have listened to the concerns of the unions and of the teachers. He has said that the wage rollback will be modest and that the burden on employees will not be as great. The burden is not cost; the burden is the lack of respect for their own workforce that this government has and, indeed, their lack of respect for all working people in the Yukon.

This Minister went on the radio and talked to CBC on March 11. He was commenting on the last round of bargaining where they

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never achieved any savings at all, but at that time John Ostashek said he would accept the conciliator's report, but they still have to achieve savings and find some money. Why did he accept the report when he does not accept the effect of the report? Have they not found enough money yet? How much more are they going to have to find or save, or are they just going to keep writing things off, converting a $12 million loan into a grant?

The Minister said he believes that Yukoners would better like to share the burden with their neighbours than enter a round of negotiations that ended up with a raise for some people and no jobs for others. How does he think a round of negotiations would end up with no jobs for people? When he said, "they would have to go into collective bargaining with the union - and they all know how difficult negotiations are - and that having to bargain with the unit would cause extreme anxiety and upset", I think that is when we are starting to get into the real feelings of this Minister about collective agreements. When they say they want to legislate some stability, what they want to say is that they want to be in control, they want to have the power, and they want to make things happen the way they want it to happen. They are not going to enter into negotiations with anyone who might reduce their ability to dictate what happens in the Yukon.

The Minister says we can do anything we want by agreement. He says we have to work cooperatively, rather than with the adversarial approach that has been taken in the past. Is bringing legislation to this House his idea of how to find agreement? Is overriding the voice of unions and forcing the workers to agree to do what he wants them to do his idea of how to work cooperatively?

He says he does not want to do away with the collective bargaining process, but that is exactly what he is doing.

He says they are sure willing to listen if the union wishes to make representations. I would like to see what evidence there is that he is willing to listen to anyone. How is this legislation cooperative?

We have also noted that the workers are unhappy with this announcement, and they are trying to predict what some of the future cuts will be. I know why workers get the feeling that this government is not really prepared to negotiate with its employees. I have a number of questions to ask about the morale of employees, but I think I will start by asking this question: is the Minister confident about how the Yukon economy is being managed? I can tell him that other Yukoners sure are not.

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

That is a difficult question, and it is a difficult thing to do. We have talked about the economy of the Yukon since the white man first arrived. It is a boom-and-bust economy, and that happens, regardless of who is in power, or what political stripe they are. That will continue to be the way the economy of the Yukon goes for the foreseeable future.

We have had our downturns, and we have had our upswings. With the new mines that are at the permit stage, we hope there will be an increase; we hope that tourism will help, and the economy will expand, and we will be better off, as Yukoners; however, it is not something that can simply be decreed by any government.

Ms. Moorcroft:

The Minister can stand up and say it is not something that can be decreed by any government, but he is decreeing the wage restraint legislation that we are debating just now.

Yesterday, during the debate on the Public Service Commission estimates, I asked the Minister about a projected increase in the number of participants in career counselling programs under the employee assistance program.

We look at the cost to the department of contracted counselling services last year and wonder if the Minister has calculated whether those costs may rise over the next three years, as the unsettling effects of the wage rollback and wage freeze begin to show up.

Given that the Government Leader has made it clear that this wage restraint legislation is just part of an overall downsizing of government, can the Minister tell us how much he expects employee counselling to increase over the life of the wage freeze, considering that there is bound to be considerable disruption, as people are called upon to take up the slack when jobs disappear through attrition?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

Overall, we do not expect a great increase in that. We hope that things will settle and the employees will work and that there will not be concern and upset - that they will feel secure in that job security has been assured, as much as it possibly can, and that we will not encounter those problems in the next three years.

Ms. Moorcroft:

I do not know how the Minister can stand up there and talk about security when the Government Leader has said this week that they are hoping to get programs devolved from Ottawa so that they can get all the money to offer those programs, and then cut them and use that money to do other things. What kind of security are government workers or the Yukon public supposed to take from the contradictory statements that are made by the Ministers over there.

The Minister thinks that they will be providing security and that will take care of all the problems. We have heard numerous reports of government employees applying for stress leave in the past year. This nefarious anti-worker legislation can only increase employee stress.

I would like to know about the projection of costs arising from stress leave over the proposed term of the wage restraint. When the government calculates that, I would like it to take into account the direct and indirect costs of lost productivity and the cost of hiring replacement workers.

I would like to know if the Minister will be providing additional support programs for employees under the employee assistance program to deal with the confusion, anger and family disruption that this bill is going to cause.

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

I think that is very difficult to quantify, but certainly, as a government and as a Minister, I would expect to meet the need. If there are not sufficient resources, then I will bring supplementaries into the House to ask for those resources.

Ms. Moorcroft:

There are many studies to prove that employees perform better and have more job satisfaction if they are treated with respect and dignity, and if their input is both sought and respected. This round of so-called collective bargaining has not shown any evidence of the input of the employee associations being sought or being respected.

The government employee attitude survey that we talked about yesterday in the House confirms the fact over and over and cites many studies showing that respect does enhance performance. Yet, what the Minister is doing with this bill is the exact opposite of empowering: it is demeaning and it is embittering.

Does the Minister consider that the savings that he hopes to achieve under this bill, savings that the government definitely does not need, will offset the damage that he is deliberately inflicting on employee morale?

I can see that the Minister is not prepared to answer that question, so I will try asking him about the same issue in a different way.

The operation and maintenance budget established that the government anticipates a 25-percent increase in employee grievances over the next year. The Minister clearly admitted yesterday that they knew that this legislation would damage relations between the government and its employees, and that that is the main reason for the anticipated increase in grievances.

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Is the Minister not concerned about how long it will take to regain employee trust after this malicious, misguided and pig-headed attack on the fundamental rights of the public sector goes ahead? Does the Minister not expect that the pile of grievances that his department will have to deal with will simply grow and grow as long as this noxious legislation is in place?

Does the Minister intend to respect the established, negotiated legal grievance procedure outlined in the two contracts in question, or does he intend to treat those procedures with the same contempt he has displayed toward the fundamental right of free collective bargaining?

This legislation includes in it a provision that the provisions of the collective agreement that are not specifically legislated will continue in effect. However, I would like to have the Minister's assurance that they will continue to honour the grievance provisions of the collective agreement.

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

I do not know if there is much I can add to what we discussed last night about employee morale, other than to again say there are things other than money that motivate employees, that empower them, that give them job satisfaction. It simply is not the money that is paid to them. I do not expect grievances to continue to grow and grow and grow as a result of this legislation, and yes, we will respect the terms and conditions of the collective agreements that are in place with the unions other than the monetary provisions outlined in section 6 of this act. The unions do, in my opinion, have a fairly good collective agreement that has been negotiated through free collective bargaining and we will live up to that as an employer.

Ms. Moorcroft:

The Minister just said that there are other ways to improve morale. Something that can be done to improve morale is to ensure that employees have the right to participate in the determination of their working conditions and their level of pay. This legislation takes that away.

The main concern of teachers is how these actions were taken. There were no consultations, and all actions taken by the government were done in a unilateral manner.

The main concern of government workers is how these actions were taken. There were no consultations, and all the actions taken by the government were done in a unilateral manner.

I would like to get back to the Minister's infamous letter of April 19. The Minister has insisted he wrote that letter to teachers in response to letters he had received. Obviously we are not talking about fan mail here; otherwise, the Minister could have answered it with 86 cents' worth of stamps instead of tying up the government's internal mail system with a blizzard of downright misleading and manipulative mail.

Can the Minister tell us exactly how many letters he actually received prior to April 19 and how many of them expressed approval of his plan to legislate wage restraint?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

I do not have those numbers. There were hundreds of letters. Many of them consisted of a form letter that teachers signed and sent to me. The two concerns were that we enter into collective bargaining with the Yukon Teachers Association, and the effect that our proposed legislation would have on the younger teachers. Although we may not have satisfied all of the teachers completely with respect to their demands, we did enter into collective bargaining with the Teachers Association, and we did take into account the effect that the experience freeze would have had on the younger teachers and took that out of the legislation.

Ms. Moorcroft:

Yesterday, when I was asking questions in the Public Service Commission debate, the Minister could not answer a lot of them. He indicated that he had not expected the Public Service Commission department budget to be called that day. That is fair. Maybe he needed a little more time to prepare; however, the Minister now stands up and tells me he does not have those numbers. That has got to be because he does not want to give out the information. Surely, he knows that is information we wanted to have. We have tried to get it in Question Period, and we cannot get it then because there are limits on the way you ask questions and the number of times you ask questions. He is not willing to provide the information - that is the simple fact.

Can the Minister say with a straight face that he received any letters from government workers or teachers that were in favour of his announced intention to legislate wage rollbacks and freezes?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

Yes, I can say that.

Ms. Moorcroft:

Does the Minister know how many of those letters he received? He does not know how many he received in total, and he does not know how many were opposed. Can he tell us how many letters he received in support of wage restraint?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

No, I do not have that number either, but I will tell the Member that there were hundreds more letters expressing concern about the impact on younger teachers and the desire to enter into collective bargaining than there were in support.

Ms. Moorcroft:

The Minister has insisted he wrote that letter himself, and that he was driving the bus in the whole wage restraint initiative. He has also said he did not receive any advice from his Cabinet colleagues or from within his department before he sent out a letter that any sensible person could see was a deliberate attempt to interfere with the collective bargaining process. Anyone reading the provisions of the Education Act could see that that letter was in contravention of what the collective bargaining process should be, according to the act.

When the Minister stood up and said no, he did not receive any advice before he sent that letter out, did he mean he did not receive advice, or that he did not pay any attention to such advice? Does the Minister seriously expect us to believe that nobody in the Cabinet, the Executive Council Office or the Public Service Commission even suggested to him that he was a rookie in the labour management field, was busting to earn his spurs in the Cabinet, and that he should be warned that this was a stupid move, and could even be illegal? Did nobody even suggest such a thing to him?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

We have been over this ground many times. I think the original question the Member asked was if I consulted with my colleagues on whether this would interfere with the collective bargaining process. My answer to that was no. I will tell the Member again that it was not my intention to interfere with the collective bargaining process.

We have a difference of opinion over whether it did or not. I do not think it did interfere with the collective bargaining process. I do not know what the Member expects to gain from this, except that she and I disagree over the intent and the effect of that letter.

In my opinion, the intent was to respond to teachers who had written to me. My opinion is that it did not affect or prejudice the collective bargaining process in any way - what appears on the face of the letter, or is implied by the letter.

The Member opposite is of the opinion that that was the intent and that it did interfere. I do not believe that is true.

Ms. Moorcroft:

The fact that the Minister fails to grasp that it is true that this interferes with the intent of the collective agreement is the exact reason why he should have asked and listened to some advice from someone in Cabinet or the Public Service Commission or the Executive Council on this. I find it difficult to believe that his colleagues, his department and the professionals in the Executive Council Office all left him high and dry - hell bent for self-destruction, and I hope that is not what he is saying.

If that is not what he is saying, is it fair to conclude that he knew all along that the letter was a stupid idea, but he was determined

Page Number 2840

to do it his own way? Just like all the rest of this crash-and-burn kamikaze Cabinet that he has signed up with.

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

No, I did not know or think all along that the letter was a stupid idea.

In hindsight though, if I knew the Member was going to get up and question me for days over it, and call me names, I would not have sent that letter out to the teachers at the time collective bargaining was going on without discussing it with the president of the Yukon Teachers Association to make sure that it would not interfere and that I would be allowed to respond to teachers who took the time and effort to actually write me letters.

Ms. Moorcroft:

That is pretty sad. It is pretty sad that the only thing the Minister regrets here is that he did not ask the Member for Mount Lorne whether he would be facing all kinds of harsh questions if he sent this letter. I would think the Minister should have looked at the Education Act and the provisions that govern collective bargaining before he sent that letter. I would think that he would have the sense to talk it over with his department, his Cabinet and, as he has just said, with the president of the Yukon Teachers Association.

I would like to ask him about what he actually meant in some of the things that he said in the letter. It is certainly a very partisan letter, in that it talks about meeting the overall cost reduction requirements and providing for an equitable sharing of the burden among all government employee groups. It goes into the deficit figures and the expenditures of the government and there are sort of phony-baloney machinations there. It talks about transfer payment reductions. Now they have indicated that probably they are not going to have those transfer payment reductions, but it was a good line, and he says that the task is not an easy or an enjoyable one. I am sure the Minister is feeling that just now.

What really puzzles and disturbs people is that he wrote to the teachers, stating, "Our goal is an absolute minimum of layoffs and labour stability, to avoid last year's bitter confrontation. We appeal to you for your assistance and understanding."

Now what did the Minister mean when he talked about avoiding last year's bitter confrontation?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

We have been over and over that very question. The question was asked by the Leader of the Official Opposition, and I explained it to him. I believe the Member for Faro asked about it and the Member for Mount Lorne asked about it.

The Member for Mount Lorne can interpret that letter any way she wants. That is her right.

Ms. Moorcroft:

I am asking the Minister to explain the letter. I do not want to go on my interpretation of the letter. I want to know what the Minister meant when he said "last year's bitter confrontation." There was not a bitter confrontation. There was an agreement whereby the teachers gave up $2 million in benefits - and the conciliation.

What is it that the Minister thinks characterizes a bitter confrontation? What was the Minister talking about when he mentioned the bitter confrontation? I think that is a question that deserves to be answered and he has not answered the question. That is why we keep asking the question.

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

The question has been answered over and over again. I would invite the Member to read Hansard, but I will provide her with a brief recap of what I have already told the Members on a number of occasions, and I am sure the Member for Mount Lorne was here and heard the explanation.

In the paragraph in that letter the Member is referring to, I am talking about government employees. The bitter confrontation that I referred to was with the Public Service Alliance of Canada, when they ran ads in newspapers telling employees not to do their Christmas shopping because things were going to be tough and they may be on strike.

It was not a comfortable time for the government employees and it was not a comfortable time for business people in the Yukon. That is what I was talking about in that line, and I cannot explain this any more than that to the Member. If she does not like that explanation, then I do not know what she is going to do, because it has been stated over and over again.

Ms. Moorcroft:

What an explanation. The Minister writes a two-page letter to the teachers regarding wage restraint, and in one sentence, the concluding sentence of that letter, he refers to "last year's bitter confrontation" and "avoiding labour instability".

First of all, it is not really accurate to characterize as a bitter confrontation a set of negotiations that were resolved by a conciliation board report that was accepted by both the government and the Public Service Alliance of Canada. Second, to jump to what the Minister characterizes as a bitter confrontation, when he is actually telling us now that he was referring to the negotiations with another union, is really disrespectful of the teachers. It is really treating them like they have no brains, to slide in that reference to a bitter confrontation. Maybe they will think that there was a bitter confrontation in their own set of negotiations, too, so then they will say, "Well, yes, of course, we have to bow to this demand from the Minister that we go along with the wage restraint and with the wage restraint legislation."

The Minister has said a number of times - in Question Period and in his speeches - that they have talked to hundreds of Yukoners. I really have to wonder who were the hundreds of Yukoners they talked to. Did he listen to the hundreds of Yukoners who were at the Yukon Party convention? No, he is not a member of the Yukon Party, so he would not have been there. Did he listen to hundreds of Yukoners in his own riding? Did he call around and speak to his own constituents? Did he listen to the hundreds of Yukoners who signed this petition that says, "Whereas the right to join a trade union or employee association is protected by law in Canada, and the right to collective bargaining is a fundamental right enjoyed by millions of Canadian workers; and the proposed Yukon government compensation restraint measurers suspend the right to free collective bargaining..."?

Hundreds of Yukoners asked the Yukon Legislative Assembly to refrain from suspending the right to free collective bargaining and respect the right to negotiate the terms and conditions of employment currently held by the Yukon Teachers Association and the Public Service Alliance of Canada. Did the Minister listen to those hundreds of Yukoners?

The Minister is not even going to answer that, because he knows the answer is no, he did not listen to them.

Another 362 Yukoners signed a petition, asking the other independent Minister over there, the one on the front bench, to vote against any legislation that removes the right to free collective bargaining for government workers, teachers, education assistants and native language instructors.

Is the Minister prepared to withdraw this legislation, in the face of so much opposition, and in the face of the fact that there is no fiscal crisis and no deficit, and the government is in a surplus position? They said this legislation was only about their need to get more money.

Are they prepared to withdraw it now?

Some Hon. Member:


Hon. Mr. Nordling:

The Member for Faro wants me to say it on the record. The answer is no.

Mr. Harding:

I gave a short representation to the Minister. As I sit here and listen to what is going on, I get more and more frustrated. The fundamental issue we are dealing with here is that the Yukon Party is prepared to take a fundamental, democratic, collective bargaining right away from its employees for no announced

Page Number 2841

reason, other than that they want to have more money in discretionary capital to put more money into an Alaska Highway that is already there, and to refinish it.

This is a very serious right. I appeal to the Minister.

The Minister said the speech the Leader of the Official Opposition gave the other day was nonsense, because he probably believes in his own mind that times have changed, and people do not have to die for these rights any more. He probably felt it was not relevant to the times; however, the fact is that it is relevant to this time in this territory, because we are talking about a situation that is not analogous to other provinces in the country.

We have a decent fiscal situation here, government-wise. To take away this right to collectively bargain so easily from people, who fought so hard for it, really bothers me. We do not even know where the money is going to go for more discretionary spending. We spent hours debating in this Legislature that this government should take some money from the $40 million it was going to spend on the Alaska Highway refinishing and put it into building schools. The government said no, they could not do that.

One can only assume that this government is all about taking this money out of the teachers' and government employees' pockets, ignoring the process of collective bargaining, and putting that money into some project that we are not even sure about. I just think that it is wrong.

I cannot believe that we cannot reach the government on this particular issue. When I see this legislation that, come hell or high water, the government is going to put through - and I suppose that we could filibuster for the entire summer - but eventually they will be wanting to put it through, even though the arguments change on such a cyclical, almost hourly, basis.

We have a government that, in essence, is prepared to break the fundamental democratic principles of collective bargaining for no reason, other than that they have other spending priorities. I think that is very wrong and very sad for this territory.

The Minister of Justice likes to refer to this kind of talk as socialist dogma. It is very symbolic to me, and to the Members of our caucus, of the attitude that people take. This is a right that people actually died for. It is no joke; it is very serious. If you look back at the history of collective bargaining, there were huge riots where police were sicked on Canadian citizens because they wanted to improve, determine and have some say in their working conditions.

It used to be illegal to join a union. It used to be considered a conspiracy. I know that was a long time ago, but that is not the point. The point is that when a government, in the present climate, can just say they do not want to do it, even when there is no financial necessity, then we have a big problem.

That is the fundamental issue here. All of the other things we have talked about are important, but why would the government continue on with this legislation when they no longer have the need they stated when they first presented it? Why would the Minister, who knows the law about collective bargaining, be so quickly prepared to remove that right? Surely he can see why people are upset. Why would he push on, now that the financial justification is not there?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

I can see why people are upset, and I can see why the Member for Faro is upset; however, I do think it is necessary, at this time, to take these steps. It is not that we have reached an absolutely critical situation today. We are not in the condition that virtually every province in Canada is in, as well as the federal government, but we do not want to be. I am satisfied that this is a necessary measure, at this time.

It does not do away with the freedom of association. It does not do away with the existence of unions, the membership in unions, or the rights the union has under the collective agreements that are in place at the present time. It restricts the monetary compensation under the collective agreement.

Although it is a serious measure, and it is not one that should be, or has been, taken lightly, it will be restored. The collective agreements have simply been extended, at this time.

Mr. Harding:

The Minister said they have not taken away the freedom of association. I am anxious to see what is going to be in the next budget.

The three fundamental principles of association, which were originated in the early 1940s in Canada, were the freedom of association, the right to collective bargain, and the right to strike. Two of them have been taken away by this government, with no apparent financial justification.

The Minister says he does not want to get into a situation that some of the other jurisdictions are in. I do not, either. Let me be clear that I do not want to have some of the financial problems that other jurisdictions have. I support initiatives that ensure we do not.

However, the Minister has not turned over the rock of collective bargaining to see what is underneath, in this particular case of the teachers and the government workers, so I cannot support the legislation when there was no attempt to sit down at the bargaining table with employees. I know the Minister initiated plan B, and they went back to the table and said it was collective bargaining, but there already was legislation. The whole thing was a mess.

The Minister says this is because he believes it is necessary at the time, but the Minister can achieve what he wants to achieve - what is going to be good for the teachers, good for the government employees and good for all of us - through collective bargaining. I really believe that. I have to, at least, see the process go through. There was what the Minister referred to as a bitter confrontation with the PSAC union, but this is not a good situation for the Yukon now. There is not a lot of certainty. It is not a good feeling for the business people in the community; it is not a good feeling for the workers in the communities. We have a bitter confrontation right now. Even in the YEU negotiations, they went to conciliation. This is all part of the process. They reached an agreement; YEU accepted the conciliation report - and I am sure it was a hard pill for them to swallow. I know when I read it I had some problems with what they said. Then, the teachers, of course, had smooth sailing in the negotiations with the government, yet we had to have this legislation. I just think that the government should not be so prepared to take away this fundamental democratic right. I think it speaks loudly of a real lack of genuine concern for the rights to collective bargaining that were so hard fought for. For what? Not for financial crisis, but because the government wants to put more resurfacing on the Alaska Highway. I do not know if they have another project, but at this point, that has been the major cornerstone of the debate in this Legislature for capital spending projects. That and pipelines to Watson Lake and railroads to Carmacks.

I appeal to the Minister. Is there no room for further consideration of withdrawal of this legislation and a real free approach in going back to the table and freely collective bargain - to try to achieve everybody's objectives as best they can at the table. Is there no room on the part of the government to do that?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

No, there is not. When we announced the proposed restraint legislation in March, we were prepared, and we talked to the YTA. It took a long time to get together with PSAC. We did talk to them near the May 20 date that we had set, and we did not see a settlement zone that would allow us to possibly withdraw the legislation. At this point, we are not prepared to withdraw the legislation, and we will see what the situation holds down the road.

Ms. Moorcroft:

Perhaps the Minister will be relieved that I am not going to return to the bullying tone of the Minister's letter

Page Number 2842

to the teachers of April 19, but I am going to ask him some more questions about his bullying wage restraint legislation.

One of the difficulties that we face, both in the Legislature and the community, is that collective bargaining is only one casualty of this government. The Minister has said that "Wage restraint legislation is a necessary measure at this time." What that shows us is that Cabinet's thinking and their decision-making is such that if they decide on a final position on something and there is some other process in place - like free collective bargaining, which they have said is a fundamental right that they believe in, even though they have ignored it - then they will just bring in legislation to override whatever concerns or processes might be in place to deal with it.

We look at the government's targets over the year and one-half that they have been in power, and there is the Taga Ku, the Yukon native teacher education program, architects, archaeologists and transition homes. We have seen cuts to legal aid that we were asking questions about today. We have seen cuts to the PACE program, to community groups, to rural communities in the Yukon, and, of course, the failure of this government to engage in collective bargaining, and the fact that they are willing to bring in a law to get their own way. We worry about what other laws they are willing to bring down to get their own way and in what areas.

When we look at Bill No. 94 and the wage restraint legislation, we have to wonder why the current legislation overrides the conciliation process. Technically, the teachers are still under conciliation, and section 4 of the act removes the ability for the conciliation process to continue. Why is the government afraid of a neutral third party?

I will ask the question again. Why is the Minister afraid of a neutral third party and why are they overriding the conciliation process? If he is not prepared to stand up and give me an answer, can he at least say why he will not answer the question?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

I thought it was obvious on the face of it that this legislation does take precedence over the conciliation process. To follow that through, to allow conciliation at the same time as we have public restraint legislation being debated in the House just would not make sense. The Member knows that we are committed to this legislation, and it does take precedence over that process.

Ms. Moorcroft:

We have found one thing that they are committed to, and that is overriding the rights of Yukoners.

I would like to ask as well about the job security provision and the fact that in this legislation they indicate that all other provisions of the collective agreement will remain in place, other than wages, which are cut back, and the Yukon bonus, which is reduced.

Yesterday, the Minister said that they had agreed to extend the job security provisions of article 7.01 and article 30 of the collective agreement between the Government of Yukon and the Public Service Alliance of Canada, and I have already asked him in general debate whether we can believe and trust that all other sections of the collective agreement will in fact be honoured. Why would the Minister say that they would negotiate a memorandum of understanding on the job security provisions of the collective agreement when the legislation already indicates that the collective agreement will be extended, other than the changes being made on monetary issues?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

In the collective agreement, with respect to job security, there was a sunset clause, whereby that provision would not exist after December 31, 1994. It is not part of the extended collective agreement, and has to be put back in again.

Ms. Moorcroft:

I would also like to ask the Minister about performance increments. The Minister has indicated that, because of the representations that have been made to them, because they have listened to what both the teachers and the public have had to say about how unfair it is to particularly penalize new teachers and locally trained teachers, they are prepared to reinstate the experience increments.

What the legislation actually says is that employees are to be paid performance increments when their next entitlement arises in accordance with the YTA collective agreement, the PSAC collective agreement, and section (m) of the personnel policy and procedures manual. That covers the three categories of employees: public servants covered by the PSAC collective agreement; teachers and others under the YTA collective agreement; and management.

The way I read that - and other people have also looked at it and said - it seems to indicate that they will receive their next entitlement for a performance increment, then wages will be rolled back and frozen.

Is it legally binding that the performance increments will occur on an annual basis over the duration of this legislation?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

Yes. I can give the Member that assurance. They will occur pursuant to the Public Service Alliance Act and the Yukon Teachers Association agreement, on an annual basis.

Ms. Moorcroft:

Would it not then be more clear for the legislation to read that category 1, 2 and 3 employees are to be paid performance increments when their next and subsequent entitlements arise, in accordance with the collective agreement, because the word "next" indicates it is the next one they will get. However, when the whole intent of the legislation is to rollback and freeze wages for three years, it does not seem to be clear that they will in fact receive annual increments. I think the wording is a little unclear on that.

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

The Member brought that up earlier, and I talked to the department about it. It is felt that it is clear the way it was stated. The reason it was written like that is by using the term "when it next occurs", it takes place when their next entitlement comes after January 1, 1995, for PSAC, and after June 30, 1994, for the teachers.

They also referred me back to clauses 6(2) and 6(3), which say, "except as provided by this act compensation payable shall not be increased" and "except as provided by this act" - "as provided by this act" means that the experience increment and the merit increases begin again at their next entitlement, and will continue. I do not think that there is a problem with that. There is simply nothing to worry about in that regard. Certainly, if increments or performance were denied on the basis of the act, it would soon be challenged.

Ms. Moorcroft:

I am glad the Minister thinks that I do not have anything to worry about. I can assure him that there are hundreds of Yukoners who do have something to worry about. What they worry about is this government and this legislation. The Minister indicated that he consulted with the department on that. Does he have a legal opinion to provide to justify his particular interpretation, or does he think that, having made this statement in the Legislature, that if the teachers or the public servants have a problem they can come back to the government and say, "Where is my increment? According to the legislation, I should be getting one?"

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

We can provide that for the Member.

Ms. Moorcroft:

It is sad to see what this Minister's introduction to the Cabinet means. True collective bargaining is not done with a gun to your head. True collective bargaining is both talking and listening. What we have here is a government-dictated agenda that is not based on trust; it is not based on honesty; it is not based on open communication.

The Minister has said that they are looking for equity here, but

Page Number 2843

this legislation does not affect everyone equally. It ignores collective bargaining rights and it is fiscal overkill.

It is clear that the Minister is not prepared to reconsider this really misguided and unnecessary legislation.

I would point out that there is no deficit and there is a projected surplus. This government is spending more than it ever has in the past and it is clear to many, many Yukoners, who have been listening to this debate, who have been reading about what the government is doing, that collective bargaining was not given a chance to work.

This government does not respect Yukoners, does not respect the Yukon public, does not respect the right to free, collective bargaining, does not respect its own workforce and does not respect unions. The Minister stands up and tells us how he supports free collective bargaining, but they are opposed to unions. It is like saying that you support milk, but you are against cows. You cannot support collective bargaining and then ride roughshod over the unions and the Yukon Teachers Association who are the organizations that produce, or that are involved in the collective bargaining process.

I do not see any advantage in standing up here and raging on at the Minister. I think that the points have been made. I think the Minister is making a big mistake and I think that the Minister and the government will be held accountable for that.

Mr. Cable:

I have some questions that relate to how this whole exercise started. I know the Minister was not driving the bus at all times - he came into the government in February, I think, but he did provide me and, I believe, Members of the Opposition, with a document the other day entitled "Savings". It has the number of $10,122,544 on it. When was this document prepared?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

It was prepared the day that I delivered it to the Member.

Mr. Cable:

That would be last week if I recall correctly. Which departments actually prepared the document - was it the Public Service Commission together with Finance?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

It was the Public Service Commission.

Mr. Cable:

About the time that the press release of March 10, 1994, was issued - that was the press release that launched the wage restraint initiative - was there a similar document around as to the projected savings at that time? The plan has changed a little bit because of the merit increases being reinstated. Was there an earlier document?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

Yes, I believe that there was a document that estimated the savings. I think it was a Cabinet document that we reviewed at that time.

Mr. Cable:

What savings were outlined in that Cabinet document? Can the Minister tell us that?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

No, but the Government Leader, in the budget speech, talked about savings between $13 million and $18 million.

Mr. Cable:

That is what I was leading up to - $13 million to $18 million is rather an indefinite savings range. Was there some variable that had not been determined at the time the budget speech was prepared, which I assume was sometime early in April?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

Wage restraint and the legislation was proposed at that time. We were prepared to be somewhat flexible and listen to input...

Disturbance in the gallery



Hon. Mr. Nordling:

...from interested parties, and that is why it was indefinite at that time. There were suggestions early on as to how to accomplish this in a way that would minimize impact and would equalize it across employee groups, and there were different suggestions about how to achieve the savings, so there was no specific number at that time.

Mr. Cable:

I have not gone through the whole budget to calculate all the payroll costs but when the budget was prepared what numbers were used - $13 million, $18 million or $10 million? I have heard a variety of numbers bandied about.

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

We did the budget based on only the one year of savings. At that time, it was estimated to be $3.2 million in 1994-95.

Mr. Cable:

Was that based on the original proposition put forward: rolling back the merit increases?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

Yes. It included merit and experience increments, and Christmas closure.

Mr. Cable:

This may go back to the time before the Minister took over, but how did this whole exercise start? Was there a direction to the Public Service Commission to come up with savings of a specific amount? Did the Minister or his predecessor write to the Public Service Commissioner saying, "Look, we need X dollars in savings; can you come up with some options"?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

I do not know exactly where the process started, but I remember the Government Leader saying that savings were still needed within the government. The Yukon Party government has been saying that we need to control government finances and expenditures and, even after the rollbacks of management, the agreement with the teachers that saved money and the agreement with PSAC, it was the position of the government that there was still a need to control and achieve payroll savings in the government because it was such a large portion of our spending and one of the fastest growing areas.

Mr. Cable:

The Public Service Commissioner is sitting beside the Minister. Could the Minister determine whether the original instruction that went to the Public Service Commission was to come up with specific savings and present options as to how to achieve those savings, or was the original instruction to cost out some predetermined wage rollbacks?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

I do not want to put the Public Service Commissioner in the position of answering for instructions she took from the Government Leader and the previous Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission. We have talked about it in considerable detail in the past, and I am sure the Member will have many more opportunities for cracks at the Government Leader to follow it up and determine exactly how the procedure and process took place and, as time goes on, how effective it has been.

Mr. Cable:

The Minister is responsible for the public service. I do not want to take a crack at anybody. I want some answers.

In the press release, it says that the government continues the process of reducing costs, with no dollars mentioned. The Government Leader went on the radio, and he talked about the savings not being priced out. He said they were around $10 million. If I recollect correctly, he also said they had not priced out the pension ramifications.

Later in the budget speech, he talked about savings in the $13 million to $18 million range.

The whole series of events suggests to me that what happened was the government sat down and said they were going to schwack the public service for a two-percent rollback, do away with the Yukon bonus, do this and do that, and how much does it cost, rather than saying they needed specific savings. It is really an expense analysis, rather than a budgetary analysis.

Could the Minister tell this House whether what really happened was that the government predetermined what they were going to do with the public service, then asked for the numbers, rather than giving a set target to the Public Service Commissioner to work up and cost out?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

That is not my recollection of events.

Page Number 2844

Mr. Cable:

What is the Minister's recollection of events? What was the sequence? The Minister seems somewhat reluctant to indicate what instructions were given to the Public Service Commissioner, but he is, in fact, the Public Service Commission Minister and, presumably, had all these documents on file.

When the Minister took over the job, did he not go through the files and determine how this whole operation got started?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

It was something that was discussed in Cabinet. A course of action was decided on and proceeded with. The Member opposite knows very well what that course of action was: announcing our intention, seeking input and, if we could not reach agreement, bringing in restraint legislation, which is what has happened.

Mr. Cable:

In response to a question that was asked in the House early on in the exercise, the Minister indicated that the purpose of the exercise was not to deal with wage levels, per se. He was not saying that wage levels in the public service were too high vis-a-vis wage levels in outside public services, and vis-a-vis the private sector in the Yukon. Is that still the Minister's position?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:


Mr. Cable:

The government - I do not know whether it was the Minister or his predecessor - released to the media, and to various other people, these charts - bar graphs, I think they are called - and various other notes, indicating the comparative wage levels of teachers in this jurisdiction and in other jurisdictions. If, in fact, we are not arguing about the relative wage levels, what was the purpose of releasing this information to the public?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

I am not sure how that bar graph was released to the public. I can speculate that the intention was to show that this sort of rollback would not have a substantial impact on the wages of Yukon teachers in relation to teachers in other parts of the country; that we would not be bringing our level of wages down to anywhere near the lowest level in Canada.

Disturbance in the gallery



Mr. Cable:

The information that was released in these graphs - the Minister can confirm this - conveniently forgets the cost-of-living differences between our jurisdiction, which, of course, has a high cost of living and other jurisdictions, which have lower costs of living.

If, in fact, the Minister wanted to show that the public service was not being hurt by this rollback, why was the cost of living not factored into these graphs, so the people of the Yukon could get a more accurate picture and so they would not draw adverse conclusions?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

I think it is simply a salary comparison. It was not factored into any region of Canada. If the Member wanted to do that, I suppose he could do it himself. He could factor in the differential, but he should also factor in the quality of life in the Yukon, as opposed to the quality of life in Saskatchewan, and if one wants to get into that, we may have an entirely different looking bar graph. It was not meant to be subjective; it was simply salary levels.

Mr. Cable:

The cost of living, of course, is not very subjective; it is a bunch of numbers all calculated and out the end of the equation comes the cost of living. It is surprising to me that that sort of information would not be given to the press at the same time. Was it the Minister's - or his predecessor's - intention to indicate that the public service and the teachers were overpaid?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:


Mr. Cable:

Where did the two-percent rollback come from? What was the suggestion? Was this a suggestion that came from the Public Service Commission? Where did the three-year period come from? Was that a suggestion that came from the Public Service Commission, or was that a direction given by the government to the Public Service Commission?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

I think the government is prepared to take responsibility for that. We would not blame it on the Public Service Commission. The decision came from Cabinet, as I said earlier.

Mr. Cable:

The Minister has indicated reluctance to discuss Cabinet documents and instructions, but could he tell us the initial flow of information to the Public Service Commission? The Minister has indicated that he, or his predecessors, were responsible for the three years and the two-percent rollback. Was that as a result of options presented by the Public Service Commission to achieve a certain savings goal?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

I think that would be fair to say.

Mr. Cable:

What other options were presented? Could the Minister roll back the veil of secrecy and tell us about that?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

I could go through the dozens upon dozens of letters I received from Yukoners, making different suggestions. There was everything from simply doing away with the Yukon bonus, period. There were suggestions that we work on a nine-day fortnight. There were suggestions that there simply be a five-percent rollback and no increments. There were suggestions that there be no percentage rollback and that wages be frozen. We asked the Public Service Commission finance branch to cost all those options, and we came up with one that we thought was the most fair and equitable across the board.

The Yukon bonus, for example, was a very attractive one. Someone questioned why we would fly people out of the Yukon to spend their money; it did not seem like a very smart thing to be doing. We are not an isolated post that does not have services and facilities any longer. It sounded good but, when we looked at the impact it would have on employees, it was not equitable. For example, the $2,000 reduction would impact a $100,000 employee a lot less than it would affect a $30,000 or $40,000 employee, so it was felt that the percentage route would be the most equitable way to go.

There were dozens and dozens of different suggestions made and costings completed.


Order please. At this time we will take a brief recess.



I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.

Is there further general debate?

Mr. Cable:

Just before the break, the Minister was mentioning that he had received a fair amount of input - but from whom? He indicated that these messages were coming in from outside the government. Could the Minister indicate who was actually giving him these suggestions?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

No, I cannot give the Member a list. As I have said many times, there were hundreds and hundreds of letters from teachers, there were letters from people in the private sector, there were phone calls, there were letters from government employees, there were PROFS notes on my computer from government employees making suggestions. There was considerable input, and there is no way in the world that I can provide the Member with a list.

Mr. Cable:

I was not looking for a list.

Just to make certain that we are talking about the same thing, were these suggestions ever given to the Minister before this wage restraint initiative was announced? Is this what we are talking about, or is this commentary on the wage restraint initiative after it was announced?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

This was commentary on the wage restraint proposal.

Mr. Cable:

Before the break, I had the impression that the

Page Number 2845

Minister was getting all of these signals flying in out of the sun and he was running back and costing them up prior to the launch of the wage restraint initiative. Did I misunderstand the Minister?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

That is possible.

Mr. Cable:

Very coy answer. Very coy fellow.

Let us, for a moment, say that I did misunderstand the Minister. After the wage initiative was launched, the Minister then received a number of comments from the street I take it; is that what he is saying?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:


Mr. Cable:

How do these comments and these costings that were made of the comments, if I understood him correctly, mesh in with the machinery of the Public Service Commission, and assumedly, the Department of Finance? Was the proposition fairly fluid at the time it was announced on March 10?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:


Mr. Cable:

What had yet to be decided? There was a three-year rollback and there was a two-percent wage cut. There was also some talk about the Yukon travel bonus, and there was the experience increments that were, of course, later revolved around. What came in off the street that made for a change in the proposition?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

As I have said, essentially it was the concern of the impact on those employees in PSAC, who were on the lower end of the wage scale and had not reached the top of their categories, and the impact on the less experienced teachers, who were not at the top of their wage scale.

Mr. Cable:

It would appear, from what the Minister is saying, that the design of the program was already in place. Is there some document that can be tabled, so we can have a look at it to see what was initially proposed on March 10, 1994?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

Yes. In fact, it was made public in a memo that I believe went out March 16. I do not know whether the Member has a copy of it or not. It was a memo essentially outlining the proposals that we were considering for wage restraint legislation.

Mr. Cable:

Were the costings set out in that proposal - the amounts that were going to be saved in each of the categories?

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

No, I do not believe the numbers were in there. The essential elements were there; for example, the two-percent rollback was proposed, adjustments to the Yukon bonus, and I think the Christmas closure was there. The framework was there, but there were no actual numbers included that had been costed.

Ms. Moorcroft:

For the record, I want it to be clear that, in clearing the clauses of this bill, our caucus is completely opposed to this legislation and everything in it. The Yukon government did not try meaningful negotiations before introducing this Draconian legislation. There is no financial requirement for this bill. Why are they taking away collective bargaining rights? The answer is because they want to. This legislation demonstrates the moral deficit of this government. They do not respect working people; they do not respect the democratic right of collective bargaining; they do not respect the teaching profession or Yukoners.

I have a number of the Minister's statements here from Hansard that I would like to ask him to explain, retract or apologize for. However, the Minister is not even pretending any more that this government has a justification for the Public Sector Compensation Restraint Act, 1994. He is sitting over there and not even getting up to answer my questions. I would think that the Minister would be ashamed to characterize this debate as playing student-teacher, given his demonstrated disdain for education and the teaching profession.

They are not even putting up one logical consistent argument in support of this bill, just as they cannot name one efficiency that they claim caused the $19 million in unspent money. They say it was as a result of government efficiencies, but they cannot stand up there and articulate one more efficient measure they are doing that has resulted in these lapses.

They budget by accident, and they legislate by ideology. The Minister and that government are going to ram this legislation down everybody's throat, even though they cannot justify it. We oppose it; we think that they should pull it, and we think that they should go to the bargaining table and negotiate.

On Clause 1

Clause 1 agreed to

On Clause 2

Clause 2 agreed to

On Clause 3

Clause 3 agreed to

On Clause 4

Clause 4 agreed to

On Clause 5

Clause 5 agreed to

On Clause 6

Ms. Moorcroft:

I want it noted that, on clause 6, which is the section that includes the clauses on performance increments, the Minister has indicated that the intent of the legislation is that, throughout the duration of this nefarious legislation, the increments will be paid on an annual basis and, even though the words "next entitlement" are used, according to the Minister, it is intended to indicate entitlement throughout the duration of the legislation.

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

Yes, that is clearly the intent of the legislation. I am also confident that that is the effect of the legislation, and I will provide assurance to the Member.

Clause 6 agreed to

On Clause 7

Clause 7 agreed to

On Clause 8

Clause 8 agreed to

On Clause 9

Clause 9 agreed to

On Clause 10

Clause 10 agreed to

On Clause 11

Clause 11 agreed to

On Clause 12

Clause 12 agreed to

On Clause 13

Clause 13 agreed to

On Clause 14

Clause 14 agreed to

On Clause 15

Clause 15 agreed to

On Title

Title agreed to

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

I move that you report Bill No. 94 out of Committee, without amendment.

Motion agreed to

Bill No. 15 - Second Appropriation Act, 1994-95 - continued

Department of Tourism


Is there any general debate?

Hon. Mr. Phillips:

I am pleased to introduce the operation and maintenance main estimates for the Department of Tourism.

The budget totals $7 million, representing a three-percent increase over the 1993-94 forecast.

Page Number 2846

The significant increases include a joint funding agreement for the operating cost of the Whitehorse Fish Hatchery and Fish Ladder, a European marketing program, an anniversaries enhancement program, and there are some marketing initiatives.

I will briefly highlight these priority initiatives as I speak to the significant changes in each branch budget.

In the administration branch, transfer payments to the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon and the Yukon Anniversaries Commission have been maintained at the 1993-94 level. One policy position has been eliminated.

The branch has set aside $10,000 toward a mini-tourism summit, perhaps for this fall, to update the progress in various initiatives identified at the first summit and to establish priorities for the future.

In the heritage branch, the Yukon passport program, established in 1992 as a two-year pilot project, has now been given permanent pay-based funding of $75,000. This funding includes all promotions, publications, program materials and prizes. The success of this outstanding program is demonstrated by our visitor statistics for the seven community museums, which showed dramatic visitor increases since the program was implemented. The program contributes to tourists staying longer in the Yukon and spending more money during their stay.

We have also maintained at last year's levels the operating grants to the community museums and the contribution agreement to the Yukon Science Institute toward its heritage lecture series.

In the development branch, the significant change is the transfer payment to the Yukon Energy Corporation to assist with the operational funding of the Whitehorse rapids fish hatchery and fishway.

In the marketing branch, the funding increases include a seven-percent budget increase, totalling $237,000. Applications will be made to the tourism subagreement of the economic development agreement for special projects such as the European marketing program, and a policy decision has been made regarding expenditures in foreign currencies and increases in U.S. postal rates. An additional funding request will be brought forward at the first supplementary.

I will now expand on the funding increases for the marketing branch. Firstly, the budget includes $300,000 annually for the anniversaries enhancement program. This program will consist of identifying and negotiating cooperative marketing partnerships that will leverage Yukon taxpayers' dollars and programs worth in excess of $1 million annually. This program will be designed to complement the programs being delivered by the Yukon Anniversaries Commission and will be coordinated by the commission.

For the European marketing program, the branch has reallocated $50,000 from the style-conscious adventure campaign in North America to the style market segment in Europe. An application will be made to the EDA for $100,000 to match the 1993-94 total program expenditure of $150,000.

Through our marketing cooperative partnerships with Canadian Airlines, Tourism Canada, select high-yield wholesalers overseas and local tourism operators, we will double the marketing dollars in this program.

This government recognizes the importance of diversifying our marketing efforts to the shoulder seasons. This year, we implemented a pilot cooperative Alaska winter marketing program and, although the final evaluation is not complete, indications showed it enjoyed some success. Pending the evaluation and continued support from the industry, an application for $40,000 will be made to the EDA to continue the program for this next winter.

Note also that our joint marketing programs have been maintained at last year's level with both Tourism North and the Alaska Tourism Marketing Council.

Finally, this government recognized that, unlike other government departments, the Tourism budget, specifically the marketing budget, is subject to fluctuations in the exchange rate of the Canadian dollar as compared to the U.S. dollar and other foreign currencies. Yukon tourism activities will not be reduced because of international monetary ups and downs. The department will institute a mechanism to counterbalance the significant exchange swings. This exception for the department, estimated to be between $250,000 to $300,000 at today's exchange rate, will assure that the buying power of our marketing programs is not eroded. This additional funding request will be brought forward in the first supplementary.

In the arts branch, transfer payments to arts groups and artists have been decreased, mainly due to a forecast reduction in the funds administered on behalf of the Yukon Lottery Commission. However, the grant to the Arts Centre Corporation has been kept to the 1993-94 level.

The branch will continue its efforts in arts marketing initiatives, and carry forward $35,000 from its 1993-94 budget. A strategy document was developed last year, and this year some of the priority initiatives will be undertaken as identified in the strategy development exercise. As well, a comprehensive arts policy will be completed this year, resulting in new program directions for the sector.

I will be pleased to elaborate on any of these initiatives, and take questions from the Members opposite.

Mr. Harding:

I have a few questions for the Minister regarding Tourism in a more specific area than the critic, who will shortly engage in some questioning of the Minister.

With the recent shutdown of the mine in Faro, we have had to look very seriously at a number of initiatives to try to find things that we can do economically to try to remain in the community and be able to earn a living. I have had correspondence with the Minister, as have the municipal council, the Faro Wilderness Recreation Association, and other individuals in the community. Through this correspondence, the Minister will know that there are a number of people interested in initiatives to promote tourism.

We believe the area has a lot to offer to people who are interested in the wilderness tourism field, but I do not think we can concentrate on just Faro as a destination; I think that is clear. We must concentrate on the area in general. In the areas of Faro, Ross River, Little Salmon, toward Watson Lake, the Hyland Highway, the North and South Canol Roads, and the Little Salmon-Frenchman Lake area, we believe we have an interesting resource to offer people as an alternative to the traditional loop route, which usually involves communities such as Watson Lake, Whitehorse and Dawson. Then people can go out the Beaver Creek way or up through Dawson and the Top of the World Highway.

We feel, in Faro, that we would like to work with some of the groups - the Tourism Industry Association is the main one - to try to build the organization for tourism for the municipal council and for the Faro Wilderness Recreation Association and individuals interested in working in the tourism field.

However, we find that it is very hard to get our voice heard by the big groups such as the Tourism Industry Association because they have been at it for many, many years. Most of the people come from a particular area and their interest is in that particular area, whether it is Whitehorse, Dawson, or Watson Lake. That is where the majority of the representations come from, so it is hard to be heard. We feel that people in Faro need to have a little bit of special cooperation from the department in order to build some laurels on which to rest so they can go with some sense of accomplishment to TIA - and the Yukon government - as more

Page Number 2847

of a player.

We have also had the board of directors of TIA come in to Faro recently for one of their meetings and they talked to a lot of people in the area who are interested in tourism. All of that helps. The Minister has directed some resources of the department to meet the needs of the people in Faro who are trying to build up the tourism industry there, and we appreciate that. I find the Minister has been quite cooperative in that respect. Does the Minister understand what I am representing to him, in terms of our need to have "special attention" - I do not really like that phrase - to try to help us because we are a fledgling in what we like to call the wilderness route area of the Yukon - the Faro/Ross River area. Does he understand what I mean about needing a little bit of investment now, in the beginning, to try to nurture that area for the future?

Hon. Mr. Phillips:

Yes, I do understand what the Member is getting at. I can tell the Member that, when I took my tour last summer, I spent about a week in the Little Salmon, Faro and Ross River area and travelled down the South Canol Road on my way out. That is one of the more beautiful areas of the territory. I took the opportunity, when I was in Faro, to visit the new RV park, and I commend the Town of Faro, because it is one of the nicest in the territory. It is very well done.

I am always encouraged, and specifically encouraged by the people in Faro, who have shown a strong initiative to get something moving in Faro.

I think that we have already indicated that we are interested in helping Faro, because I think the very first trip that the new deputy minister took out of the office was to visit Faro. That was one of the first communities that the deputy minister visited to meet with the people. We have had several meetings since then, some in Faro and some in Whitehorse. I have asked the department to help wherever possible to get a Faro tourism association, or a regional tourism association, established in that area.

The Member mentioned getting involved in TIA. I see TIA as an umbrella organization representing all sectors of the territory, and I am sure that TIA would be very receptive to the Faro wilderness, or the Faro tourism association, getting on board and becoming a very active member in the Tourism Industry Association, and having a strong voice in that association.

The future of tourism in this territory, as I see it, especially in highway travel, is going to be the loop-type trips that tourists can make in the future. I am sure the roads in that area are going to need some upgrading in the future. When we get to upgrading those roads, I would hope that we would have some support for upgrading the highway from the Members opposite, and improving the roads in that area, so more tourists can visit that area in the future.

I also hope, in the future, that we can direct more tourists into that area. I am sure the visitor exit survey that we are going to be doing this year will give us some idea of the tourists who go in and out of the Faro area, and what their sense is of what is and is not there, and what they do and do not like, and it will help us to build on the infrastructure in that area in the future.

Mr. Harding:

I know that the people I have talked to in Faro - and I have gone to some of their meetings - are quite happy with some of the resources that have been sent their way, and I hope the Minister will make it a priority to work with them to chip away at building that market because I really believe there is potential. I do not think it is as huge as some of the other areas in the Yukon, but we can make it a success and that would certainly help diversify the area. I know Ross River is also quite keen to work on tourism initiatives. If we work in partnership with Ross River, it makes it easier to address it. So, if the Minister can make that a priority of the department and send that message to the department, then I would be appreciative.

I have a kind of vision or request of the Minister that I would like him and the department to seriously consider. It is just in rough form and no doubt has to be subject to discussion with people who live in the area. It is just an idea in principle, subject for further discussion with the councils and the Ross River Dene and people involved in tourism in the area. What I would really like to see is some emphasis put on wilderness roads in the area by the government. By that I mean I think we need some displays, some presentations of what is available at the major entry and exit points of the Yukon - for example, at the Carmacks area, Watson Lake, Top of the World Highway - to have a large presentation that is very well done - it has to be something that looks very professional - that shows the loop route, shows the North Canol and shows what it looks like on a map. Each area would have professional photographs on the presentation showing what kind of scenery can be seen there. There could be people fishing; there could be a picture of a beautiful lake. We have all kinds of things to offer in each of the communities in the areas. If we showed what was available - the wilderness roads from Watson Lake all the way through to Carmacks, and the Hyland Highway, which is absolutely gorgeous. I have talked to tourists up there when I go up there dolly varden fishing. There is also caribou and goat hunting, or whatever, up there. When I go there, I always see a few tourists who go back there every year, because they love the serenity and the beauty. There is that highway, there is the North Canol, the South Canol, which is also gorgeous. This would display some of these things, front and centre. We would also have to have some caution for the road condition. We could do that on the presentation of the display, but there will be a lot of people who, I think, would take that route if they had been travelling by chance and were looking for a bit of adventure in order to get off the beaten track.

Would the Minister consider this? I know it would be a little expensive to do it up properly and professionally, but I think it would be a worthwhile investment for the future. If he worked with the people in Ross River and Little Salmon, or Faro, who were interested, he could come up with a very good presentation that show people who are coming up that there is more to the Yukon than just the west side. We have a nice chunk in the central east that we can show people. For those who are a little bit more adventurous, they could get off the beaten track. If we could incorporate that with some of the wilderness tourism ideas - for example, in my riding, there is one fellow who wants to do horseback rides, river trips and that type of thing - then I think we really could do well. I would ask him to consider that. Would he do that?

Hon. Mr. Phillips:

That is actually something that the department does already. One that comes to mind is the Dempster corner. When one pulls into the Dempster corner, right next to the gas station, there is quite an interpretive display there of the Dempster Highway, the Arctic Circle and the First Nations history up and down that highway. It is a good suggestion to look at that for some other areas.

I can tell the Member that one group that has sort of taken the initiative on its own is the people of Mayo. The people from Mayo have gone to Stewart Crossing, and they have set up an information centre themselves. It is not as fancy as the one on the Dempster corner, but there is a little visitor centre there. It is kind of a neat little building, and they have somebody there most of the time in the summer. They pass on information, trying to steer people up the Silver Trail. I would hope, in the future, that we could put together that kind of signage.

I can tell the Member something else we are considering. There is a new concept, called talking signs. The talking signs are an FM

Page Number 2848

sign that people can tune in on their radio at a certain point. They can be specific to an area so, as one approaches, say, the turnoff at Carmacks into the Faro area, one could tune into that and hear a little bit about the roads in that area. It could be updated on a regular basis, as new attractions come by. I think one has up to 30 minutes that can be put on that talking sign - unlike our FM station now, which is sort of a rolling promotion of the Yukon, not specific to a certain area; so, that might be something.

We are looking at doing a pilot project this year. We have not decided where yet, but I will take the Member's recommendations very seriously and look at a better way of steering tourists into the Faro-Ross River area.

Mr. Harding:

I thank the Minister for that, but I would point out that it is my belief that Mayo was supported by community development funds to establish that interpretative centre. That is not a negative from my point of view, but I think that people in Faro have shown that they want to take some of their own initiative.

I know that the municipal council has sent people to the Watson Lake interpretive centres, and hired students to try and direct people up the highway. This has had mixed success.

I believe that my vision of what it is would be quite helpful, and I think it would be fairly expensive - I mean, in terms of $450 million, it would not be that much - but I think it would be a worthwhile investment that would pay dividends for Yukon citizens and the economy in general, in the future. They could be strategically located wherever people decide, but I believe that the Carmacks and Watson Lake areas would have to be front and centre.

The idea that the Minister has for talking signs is fine. I think that it would be helpful to add new things, but I would like to see it happen in the next year. I do not want to wait too long, if at all possible, because I know that the people who are working in tourism in Faro and Ross River are anxious to see the industry benefit.

I have another question for the Minister in another area, and I look forward to his providing me with a more formal response in the future to my request with regard to the kiosks. I would be appreciative of it.

I received a complaint from a person who is involved in the chef industry in the Yukon. I was told by this person that he had communicated with the Minister.

What this person is concerned about - and I think it is quite a legitimate concern, with the decade of anniversaries coming up, which is the phrase we like to use - is that there is going to be a real need in the Yukon for good, reliable, tasty food preparation.

There is a real shortage in the number of people who are qualified to produce good quality cuisine. The Minister knows well that it is important. Sometimes tourists do not mind going out for a burger and fries, but there are times when they go to events when the food preparation and the taste of the cuisine is going to be very important to their overall memory of what their stay was like in the Yukon.

I understand that Yukon College has had some apprenticeships undertaken, but precious few people have gotten through the apprenticeships to gain their red seal, I believe it is called. It is a level of certification for becoming a chef. A Yukoner made a point to me that I think is important - that in order to be ready for the time when people start rolling in for these anniversaries, we should have some people prepared and ready in those areas to take on the tasks of providing culinary dishes for tourists who visit.

I have written to Yukon College about this, with a copy to the Minister, and I was wondering if the Minister could tell me whether he is prepared to engage in some dialogue with the Yukon College board and the administration, to see if we can get people prepared to produce more quality food for the tourists who will arrive throughout the next decade.

Hon. Mr. Phillips:

I share the Member's concern. In fact, the same individual has had discussions with me and I have been working on this one for awhile. At the last two meetings I had, last month and the month before, with the Yukon College board, I raised this issue twice. I do not want to preempt the college, because the college has listened to what I have had to say and an announcement will be imminent on a program that will accommodate exactly what the Member and I have been concerned about. I just do not want to say much more about it because it really is the college that has done it and I want them to gain the credit for taking this one and running with it. I think the Member will be pleased, and so will others in the community, including the industry, which is very much involved in the development of this program. They will be pleased with what is going to happen.

Mr. Joe:

I have a question on tourism. Last year we were talking with the Minister when he was on a community tour to Pelly Crossing. Pelly Crossing is a place where there is hardly anything for tourists. Pelly is an old place with lots to show to tourists. All that is needed is to set it up. We have lots of old stories - you name it. We have trails that lead to good fishing lakes and the river where there is good game, boat trips to Fort Selkirk and all along the river. There are places to stop to tell stories to the tourists - old stories.

To get back to the trails that lead to lakes, there are enough horses in and around Pelly to take many tourists to those lakes.

We do not need to worry about cutting trail. We have that trail cut for skidoos and four-wheelers. We have all the houses built - everything out there is ready at Tatl'  M„n Lake. We also have a place there for any kind of meetings. Tatl'  M„n Lake is the location of a very old village and there are a lot of stories to be told about it.

My old grandfather used to tell stories a long time ago about how to snare a moose along the bay of the lake. There were lots of stories. If one gathered all the stories, it would be a great place for tourists, but today we do not have anything to show to tourists. We have a little campground, but they just pull in, stay overnight. No one tells them anything about our customs.

With help from the government, we could set it up properly.

Hon. Mr. Phillips:

I am pleased to hear the comments that the Member for Mayo-Tatchun made, because the type of thing that all of our studies are showing us is that the tourists really want to come and see and do the type of thing the Member just described. Tourists like to get out in the wilderness and, especially, to hear First Nation stories and the history of First Nation people.

Mr. Van Bibber runs the Minto resort and has done a great job. It is one of the nicest resorts in the territory, and it sits along the Yukon River at Minto. Mr. Van Bibber does well, and there are also other opportunities for First Nations people in the Pelly area.

As the Member knows, we are proceeding with the interpretive plan in Fort Selkirk, so that it is all ready for the anniversaries, and many of the Member's people will be involved in that. If the Member wishes, and wants to talk to some of our people from development on how they could initiate some of these ideas and suggestions, we would be more than happy to have someone come to Pelly and meet with them about establishing or starting a business, the types of things that the tourists want and the quality of service they need, and help in any way that we can to get them to establish these businesses.

If many of the European travellers, who are renting motor homes and travelling up and down the highway, knew that this kind of service was available, they would be taking the time to stop.

When I was at the Minto campground last summer, I ran into

Page Number 2849

nine Germans, who were travelling in two motor homes. They asked me where they could fish. At the time, I did not know you could fish at Pelly. If I had known that, I would have sent them to Pelly. I sent them down the road to Fox Point by Teslin to fly in. I do not know if they did that, but they were all interested in doing that kind of thing. Had I known those services were available in Pelly, I would have sent them there.

It is a matter of awareness. You could let Mr. Van Bibber know that those services are available, and our department would help in any way it could.

Hon. Mr. Nordling:

Mr. Chair, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 15.

Motion agreed to

Hon. Mr. Phillips:

I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.

Motion agreed to

Speaker resumes the Chair


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:

The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 94, Public Sector Compensation Restraint Act, 1994, and directed me to report it without amendment.

Further, the Committee has considered Bill No. 15, Second Appropriation Act, 1994-95, and directed me to report progress on it.


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

Some Hon. Members:



I declare the report carried.

In view of the time, this House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. Monday next.

The House adjourned at 5:32 p.m.

The following Legislative Returns were tabled June 2, 1994:


Attrition: number of positions terminated between November 23, 1993, and May 20, 1994; reasons for termination of positions; 109 new positions created (Nordling)

Written Question No. 53, dated May 25, 1994, by Ms. Moorcroft


Land Development Committee: minutes for August 26, 1993, and March 22, 1994, meetings (Fisher)

Written Question No. 50, dated May 17, 1994, by Ms. Moorcroft

The following Document was filed June 2, 1994:


Child care facility graphs: comparisons by province re number of licensed spaces, operating grants and subsidies (Phelps)