Wednesday, April 5, 1995 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with silent Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Are there any Introductions of Visitors?
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Brewster: I have the annual report of the Liquor Corporation for tabling.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I have for tabling a legislative return.
Are there any Reports of Committees?
Are there any Petitions?
Are there any Bills to be introduced?
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
Unanimous consent requested to withdraw motions from Order Paper
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The House Leaders have agreed that I should request unanimous consent for a number of motions to be withdrawn from the Order Paper. I would like to make it clear that the Members whose names these motions are standing in have asked that they be withdrawn.
The motions that we are requesting to be withdrawn are Motion No. 11, Motion No. 12, Motion No. 15, Motion No. 16, Motion No. 24, Motion No. 27, Motion No. 30, Motion No. 31 and Motion No 37.
Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: Unanimous consent has been granted. I would ask the Clerk to withdraw those motions from the Order Paper.
Motions 11, 12, 15, 16, 24, 27, 30, 31 and 37 withdrawn from the Order Paper
Speaker: Are there any Statements by Ministers?
This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Gun registration legislation
Mr. Penikett: I would like to find out from the Minister of Justice if the Government of Yukon has obtained an expert legal opinion on whether or not the federal Minister of Justice Allan Rock's legislation on the registration of firearms may be inconsistent with chapter 16 of the UFA, namely the Wildlife Act, specifically the provisions in section 16.3.3 which limit the ability of government to restrict the harvesting rights of First Nations.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: When I was in Victoria, that was one of the points I made to Mr. Rock. His officials were going to get back to us on that. We pointed out that there is a concern with that section of the UFA and that the proposed legislation may be in violation of it.
Mr. Penikett: I do not mean to sound unkind, but it occurs to me that an expert legal opinion from a prominent Canadian authority might impress Mr. Rock more than the views of a provincial or territorial Minister. I therefore asked the question about expert legal opinion.
Let me ask the Minister this: since section 126.96.36.199 specifically requires government to consult with affected Yukon First Nations before legislating in a way that restricts their harvesting rights, can the Minister say for a certain fact whether or not the federal government has gone through the kind of formal consultation required on this issue under the terms of the UFA?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I also pointed out to Mr. Rock that there was a requirement. My understanding at this time - and I spoke to Albert James about this recently - is that there has been no such consultation. We are working with the Council for Yukon Indians on the preparation of a joint presentation to the standing committee; however, as far as I am aware, there has been no consultation whatsoever with First Nations regarding these provisions.
Mr. Penikett: No one can object to a joint presentation before the committee on this bill, but since it appears that it is being rushed through Parliament - I am sure that the Minister would agree that the negotiators of the umbrella final agreement quite deliberately put this provision in to protect the harvesting rights of First Nations from inappropriate restriction by the territorial or federal governments - could I ask the Minister of Justice if he has given any thought to retaining expert legal advice with a view to preparing for the possibility that the government may have to commence a legal challenge to the law on the grounds indicated in chapter 16 of the umbrella final agreement?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: As I said before, it is our understanding that it is a requirement of the umbrella final agreement that the federal government has to consult. The suggestion made by the Member opposite is a good one and I will give it serious thought.
Question re: Outfitter quotas
Mr. Harding: I have a question for the Minister of Renewable Resources. Over a year ago, at taxpayers' expense, the government struck a blue-ribbon committee to tour the territory to hear Yukoners' views on outfitter quotas and to help develop recommendations. Since that time, we have not heard a peep from the Yukon Party government about when the quotas will come into effect. I would like to ask the Minister when we will see these quotas?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There were 27 public meetings conducted. The finalization of the recommendations occurred in January of this year. A discussion paper is nearly complete, and two more discussion papers about moose and caribou should be ready some time this summer. They will be made public shortly after completion.
Mr. Harding: That commitment was reported a lot longer ago than January. This process seems to be moving slower than cold molasses. About the time this committee was going around the territory, the Government Leader publicly stated that he was against quotas on the wildlife harvested by outfitters. Why does the Government Leader have so much influence on the Cabinet, so that he is able to stall this process indefinitely - because it appears that that is what is happening.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: That is just not true at all. The Government Leader had no influence on the process whatsoever. There was no influence used on me or on the former Minister.
Mr. Harding: The Minister expects Yukoners to believe that the Government Leader, who says publicly that he is opposed to quotas, would have us believe that he has no influence on this Cabinet. I do not think that Yukoners are going to buy that. When it came to game farming regulations, this government said that a report by the subcommittee of the Fish and Wildlife Management Board was good enough to constitute the opinion of the Fish and Wildlife Management Board, when it came to those game farming regulations. However, in the case of outfitter quotas, the government wants to have what appears to be some kind of a Spanish inquisition to delay this process, even though, when CYI objected to the game farming regulations, the government totally ignored the CYI position that the umbrella final agreement had been violated. Why is it that when outfitters object, the government acts, but when First Nations raise concerns, it bulldozes ahead?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There were half a dozen accusations in there, none of which are true. There has been no influence with the process. The process is carrying on. There were 27 public meetings, and one paper has been completed. We want to get all three papers completed and give them to the Fish and Wildlife Management Board for their comments. The Outfitters Association wants to work with the Fish and Wildlife Management Board. There is no problem with the system as it is working.
Question re: Environment and energy ministers meeting
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the same Minister. The Minister of Renewable Resources, as our minister of the environment, was quoted in February as saying he wanted to raise the awareness of his southern counterparts on the issue of hazardous air pollution. Then he went on to say that he wanted to include it on the agenda of the national meeting of environment and energy ministers, to be held in Haines Junction in May. Has he been successful in getting that issue on the agenda?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The agenda is still being formulated. My understanding is that we are having some difficulty. The main item on the agenda is about harmonization. We are having some difficulty, because some ministers from across Canada are not able to spend the full time we had hoped, so we might have to cut back on some items. However, I would still like to get hazardous air pollutants on the agenda.
Mr. Cable: The Minister was further quoted as saying that "in Atlin Lake and Lake Laberge, the livers of burbot have shown toxaphenes, DDT, and things like that. It is a very big concern of people in the north, like the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Alaska," and this was confirmed by some comments that came out of the Arctic environmental strategy workshop a couple of months ago where it was quoted that there is a possible concern with burbot livers in some lakes and with trout in Lake Laberge. Has the Minister asked the medical officer of health to review the contaminant levels in those fish and in the burbot livers to determine whether there is any health hazard?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: No, I have not asked the medical health officer, but I believe there have been studies in the past. I can check that for the Member and provide those results for him.
Mr. Cable: The Ta'an Kwach'an First Nation, the Yukon Conservation Society and the Downstream Coalition had launched, some time ago, an application for an investigation under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act pertaining to the contamination of fish in Lake Laberge. Is the Minister aware of the status of that examination being carried out by the federal government?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: No, I am not aware of the exact status of that, but I can find out. I believe there has been some work done, but I will find out and provide it for the Member.
Question re: Outfitting areas, foreign ownership
Mr. Harding: I had to chuckle this morning when I heard the interview on CBC Radio with the Outfitters Association. The vice president, Cliff Hanna - who works for Fritz Mayr-Melnhof at Rogue River - said, "A financial arrangement is completely different from the day-to-day working of a business. He is a silent partner ..." - referring to Fritz Mayr-Melnhof.
I want to table a document provided to me by the general manager and development officer for Safari Adventures, signed by Fritz. Safari Adventures is the umbrella company that really owns and controls Rogue River and two other outfits. It tells the outfitters and guides exactly what they must do in every aspect of the job to operate the outfitting area - hardly a silent partner and simple investor.
A copy was given to the department weeks ago. Does the Minister of Renewable Resources not think it is strange that a so-called silent partner and 49-percent owner would have ultimate control of the whole business?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The Member opposite is confusing two entirely different issues. The concession is issued to a Yukon resident. Mr. Hanna said on the radio this morning that his name is shown as the holder of the concession. If there are any breaches of the Wildlife Act, or if there are any contraventions of our territorial laws, the concession can be removed from him.
We have absolute and total control over the harvesting and allocation of game in the territory, and I think that is what is important.
Mr. Harding: The Minister is playing games with words. The intent and spirit of the Wildlife Act is clearly written to establish Yukon majority ownership and control. That is the issue, and that is not what is happening in this situation.
The document I tabled spells out exactly how an outfitter for Safari Adventures must act. Here is a supposed 49-percent owner of three territories directing three majority owners about what they may do. Yukoners are not getting the straight goods on this issue. How deep an investigation into this matter has the Minister directed of the Fish and Wildlife Management Board, so that all the cards are on the table? When will we see the conclusions?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I have asked the Fish and Wildlife Management Board, and they have agreed, to review the Wildlife Act to see if in fact we could tighten up the requirements under the act. What I think should be pointed out to the Member opposite is that our Wildlife Act may very well be in contravention to the Canadian Charter of Rights right now. Every concession holder in the Yukon - all 20 concession s - is a resident, Canadian citizen and full-time Yukoner, as required under the act.
Mr. Harding: This government is afraid to defend what Yukoners wanted in the spirit and the intent of the Wildlife Act. If Yukoners do not have control and ownership over what happens with public wildlife, why would resident and First Nations hunters want outfitting? It does not make any sense.
On another issue, people in the industry have told me that there is going to be a shake-up with Kluane Outfitters, which is now owned by the Government Leader's son-in-law. Apparently Mr. Melnhof is getting a new employer to run it. The Minister's department has been made aware of this and this will be the seventh concession holder in Mr. Melnhof's three territories in just a few short years. What does the Minister think of this and will he commit to inform me of any concession holder change?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The Member opposite hit on it in his preamble when he said that the issue is control of the game, and we have absolute control under our Wildlife Act and regulations in Renewable Resources. The change of concession holders is public knowledge and I have no problem specifically making sure the Member opposite has that information as soon as it is made public. I can certainly do that.
Question re: Outfitting areas, foreign ownership
Mr. Harding: We do not have control if outfitting territories are bought by conglomerates that operate out of Vancouver, Austria, or other centres that are not in the Yukon. That is not what the land claims agreement is all about for resource councils, where there are First Nations, resident hunters, outfitters and all interested parties at the table making local resource-use decisions. Does the Minister understand how having a conglomerate owning outfitting territories would have a detrimental effect upon this local decision-making process?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The Department of Renewable Resources makes the decision on the granting of the concessions, and those concessions are in the name of Yukon residents. There is no question about it. The people who own the concessions have been here for some length of time. They are residents of the Yukon Territory, their children go to school here. We have absolute control over game management in the Yukon Territory.
Mr. Harding: The issue is all about local control, local decision making, the future, the umbrella final agreement and how we are going to make decisions about wildlife resource management in the future for this territory. It is not about whether or not the government can enforce the laws and protect the game, as it stands right now. The Minister is missing the entire point. Both of these issues are addressed as it stands now in the Wildlife Act, but that does not answer the question about local control.
Does the Minister not understand that the erosion of this local control is going to have a detrimental effect on the resource council model, which is so critical to the success of the umbrella final agreements?
Does the Minister want to sit down with someone from Austria to make decisions about who is going to harvest the game?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: This Austrian that the Member opposite keeps talking about has been a landed immigrant in Canada since 1973. That is like saying that I am more of a Yukoner because I have been here for 40 years than the Member opposite, who has been here about six. That is not the point.
The point is that we have control over game management in the Yukon Territory. We have the Fish and Wildlife Management Board, and we have the renewable resource councils. They provide advice to the Minister, who will react to the advice they provide. We have a good outfitter group in the territory. We have the Fish and Game Association that provides input. We have absolute control over fish and wildlife management in the Yukon Territory.
Question re: Caribou enhancement program
Mr. Harding: I have a new question. I would like to move on to another issue. It is obvious that this government is not interested in protecting the rights of resident and First Nation hunters in this territory.
Last week, I asked the Minister of Renewable Resources about the wolf kill. I asked him about the effectiveness of the program. He said some astonishing things. First of all, he said he had not been briefed all winter, although he is accountable for this particular expenditure of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money.
I would like to ask him today if he is prepared to tell Yukoners, who have a right to know right now, how effective the wolf kill was this year and what was spent on it.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There will be information provided to the public tomorrow on the caribou recovery program. We had budgeted an amount of money for that program and the department has not come back to me for more money.
Mr. Harding: I think that Yukoners object to being spoon-fed this information about a program on which taxpayers' dollars are being spent. Why can the Minister not stand up today and give us the goods?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We are announcing the results of the program tomorrow.
Mr. Harding: The Legislature is sitting. We have been asking about this issue since last week. We want to give the government time to prepared the figures once the wolf kill ended. It has ended. Why is the Minister spoon-feeding Yukoners the information about a program for which they are paying? Can he tell us about it today? If not, why not?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We have made it very clear that we are announcing the results of the program tomorrow. That is what we will do.
Question re: Education, Carmacks school expansion
Mr. McDonald: I have a question for the Deputy Government Leader, the Minister of Education or the Minister of the Department of Community and Transportation Services - whoever wishes to answers.
I know that people in Carmacks and others around the territory have waited in anticipation for Mt. Nansen and Carmacks Copper to come into production. The two mines could provide employment for 150 people or more, many of whom would be based in Carmacks.
People in Carmacks have indicated to me that these mines, along with the Casino property - Minto Explorations, Aurchem - will put significant pressures on existing facilities in Carmacks, most notably the school and the sewage treatment system, which is now working at capacity.
I would like to ask the Minister what commitment the government has made to address the anticipated infrastructure needs of Carmacks?
Hon. Mr. Brewster: It is my understanding at the present time that the copper mine at Carmacks may not go ahead.
Mr. McDonald: We understand that the projects that I cited were predominently featured in the government's throne speech, as well as Carmacks Copper and the Casino property. The Carmacks Copper property is listed to come into production later this year. In any case, there is obviously mine development taking place in the area and it has not escaped the attention of the people in Carmacks that the government is building a school in Dawson in anticipation of the many new mines that are going to open in the Dawson area.
I would like to ask the Minister of Education if his department has approached the school council in Carmacks to talk about the expected needs of that community as a result of all of this new mining development?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I am certainly glad that the Member corrected himself and did not stick with Dawson, because he knows that the Minister sitting beside me and I have travelled to Dawson and had extensive consultations.
The department is going to be conducting a facility study of schools for rural Yukon once we receive the results of the current facility study that is underway for Whitehorse. The department is in communication with the school administration and the school council, and the government will be monitoring the situation.
Mr. McDonald: I am happy to hear that the Minister is monitoring the situation, but of course the facility study for rural Yukon was something that was announced some time ago and was pre-empted by the announcement, in the end, to build a school in Dawson.
During discussion of the estimates, the Minister indicated that the government had to build a school that in the end is going to have a surplus capacity - after Loki Gold is accommodated - of 150 students on the strength that there is further mining development anticipated in the Dawson area.
There are a number of mines in the Carmacks area, which have been given top billing in the government's throne speech.
If they proceed, this will mean a fairly significant growth in the Carmacks population. Why has the government not treated Carmacks in the same way it has treated Dawson, and made commitments to Carmacks, as it has to Dawson, in advance of this facility study?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: It is a shame that the Members opposite have such a dislike for Dawson. Perhaps it is because Dawson turfed out the NDP Member last time and put a real Member in - and they did it by a fairly substantial margin. Whatever the reason, they certainly seem to have it in for Dawson.
Nevertheless, the unique characteristics regarding Dawson are that the school was built on a parcel of land that was inadequate for expansion. We had to move fairly quickly in order to resolve the very obvious crunch that was coming, and coming soon, with regard to the numbers of children in the system and the overcrowding that is in existence now.
With regard to Carmacks, we will move to ensure that the needs of additional students are met, and there will be time for us to build an addition to the school or make whatever accommodation is necessary.
Normally, we can buy some time with the addition of portables. That has been done in Dawson and it can be done in Carmacks if we get some unexpected and immediate growth.
Question re: Education, Carmacks school expansion
Mr. McDonald: I hope we can pass the loyalty acid test for our support for Dawson without having to endorse the Member who represents that community.
The issue here is fairness, and the issue is whether or not the government is prepared to treat other communities, which have obvious needs, particularly as a result of mining activity, in the same way that the government has treated the community of Dawson.
The people in Carmacks have indicated to me - many people in Carmacks have indicated to me - that there are a number of mines slated for production that are going to have a significant impact on the community of Carmacks. Among those impacts is going to be the school. Siting issues aside - and that is an issue that has to be addressed and it may have to be addressed in Carmacks too - how is the government going to be addressing the needs in Carmacks and why has the government not gone to Carmacks in anticipation of the opening of these mines and indicated to the people in Carmacks, at least in an agreement in principle, that the government will be expanding the school facilities in order to accommodate the influx of population expected there?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: That is a given. If there is a need demonstrated in any of the communities because of overcrowding or realistic anticipated growth in the student population, then we will take steps to ensure that these needs are met in a timely, effective and efficient way. I am really surprised that the Members opposite are trying to make something out of the fact that they disagree with Dawson getting a school, despite the fact that they built a school on an inadequate acreage and despite the fact that this government has already taken steps to add portables because of the overcrowding situation.
Mr. McDonald: I will not respond to the Minister's obvious attack on the community committee that helped to design the school and to choose its site in Dawson. However, I must return, of course, to the situation in Carmacks, because it is a question of fairness to that community.
The Minister has indicated to us that the demonstrated need in Dawson is a mine that has not yet made a production decision - Loki Gold. Even with that mine's impact on the community, the government has made a commitment and is planning to build a school that has a surplus capacity of 150 students.
In the throne speech, we heard about all the mines in the Carmacks area that are in the permitting stage, and some of those mines promise to go ahead later this year. Clearly it would justify the Minister making a commitment to Carmacks, as he has in Dawson. Why has he not made a commitment to Carmacks in anticipation of possibly 150 to 200 employees that may be moving there the same way he has made a commitment to Dawson, where we know there is going to be approximately 80 employees - perhaps, if the mine goes ahead - associated with the Loki Gold project?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I suspect that the Minister has been taking his silly pills on a regular basis recently, because it is absurd for him to jump to those conclusions.
First of all, the throne speech was a long, long time ago. I think we have been sitting in the House for some 60-odd days, and we are not through the budget yet, because the Member opposite likes to nit-pick on points like this. We pride ourselves on being a commonsense government and being straight with the people throughout the Yukon.
We will take all the steps necessary to ensure that the school needs of Carmacks are met and that the students get the best education possible. Again, we will take the steps necessary, as and when we see the need. To simply say that Carmacks is in the same situation on all scores as Dawson is to be misleading or to simply misread - which this Minister often does - the real situation in Dawson. We cannot expand the school any more than it is right now. They built it on a small plot of ground. Incidentally, the government was apparently told that the site was too small by the building committee in the first place.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister is going to have to speak to the Town of Dawson and the mayor, when it comes to finding a site for the school. Nevertheless, let me put it this way. First of all, people are going to be fundamentally offended in Carmacks by the claims that the Minister is making.
I have a question for the Minister of Economic Development on the same issue. Is the government then saying that the mines that they have repeatedly said were in the permitting stage and opening just around the corner, that were associated with the big mining boom - that even the Minister of Education has announced on a number of occasions as being just around the corner, I heard him on the radio - that, despite the mines in the Carmacks area being in the permitting stage, that the production is not realistically stated? Is that what he is saying - Casino property, Carmacks Copper, Minto Resources - the ones that are stated in the throne speech as being in the permitting stage?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Those mines are in the permitting stage. We are not absolutely certain when they will start production; however, they are in the permitting stage.
Question re: FAS/FAE, survey on
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister responsible for Health and Social Services. The Minister has indicated in his budget debate that he will be making an announcement shortly concerning the implementation of the alcohol and drug strategy. Prior to the announcement, I had been asked by interested individuals to follow up on some information that the Minister gave us during the debate. The Minister talked about concluding arrangements for $200,000 worth of funding from the Canada drug strategy to do a survey or study on fetal alcohol syndrome/fetal alcohol effects. The concern that the people have is that the government is spending money collecting scientific data, instead of putting money toward helping those with FAS/FAE and their families. I would like to ask the Minister why they need to collect this scientific data.
Hon. Mr. Phelps: The intention is to investigate the causes of FAS/FAE and how predictable it is in certain groups within our society who might give birth to FAS/FAE children to get an idea of the scope of the problem, regarding the social problems, by the Department of Justice, as well as by Education and Health and Social Services, and to get reliable base-line data in place upon which to base future decision making on prevention as well as the kinds of training and changes in the justice system that would suit those people.
The $200,000 agreement with Canada is money that is tied to doing this type of statistical research.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister indicated that he recognizes that we have a problem. In fact, he has indicated that it is a very serious problem. Chiefs, mayors, teachers, principals, justice workers and health workers are all concerned about this and know we have a problem.
People who have asked me to raise this issue have a question. Will this study further delay any help for the individuals and families affected by FAS/FAE?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: Of course not. I would have thought that the Member would know that before she started in on this line of questioning.
Mrs. Firth: We had the throne speech almost four months ago, which indicated that there would be broad-based FAS/FAE activities planned. We are now going into the fourth month of waiting for the announcements to be made.
To be eligible for funding under the Canada drug strategy, a proposal must be submitted requesting the money. Will the Minister table the proposal his government made to the Canada drug strategy for these interested persons to read?
Hon. Mr. Phelps: I have no difficulty providing that information, and I will. It is interesting that the longer we are here, and the fewer questions Members opposite have, the more it is "do it now, do it now".
As a matter of fact, the long-awaited announcement on the alcohol and drug implementation plan, as well as the FAS prevention policy, will be announced in these Chambers tomorrow.
Question re: Shallow Bay planning committee
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Member for Laberge, the Minister of Renewable Resources. In his MLA report, Spring 1995, just issued the other day, he indicated that the Shallow Bay planning committee is nearing completion of the studies and is ready to draft final regulations.
Minimal lot size in this area remains as the outstanding major issue - that is in the Minister's covering letter. Which of the options that were put to the Shallow Bay residents did the Minister support in his conversations with the Minister of Community and Transportation Services?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do not live in Shallow Bay, as the Member knows. I did not support any one of the options over others. Basically, it was up to the people who live in the area to decide on the lot size that they wish to see.
Question re: Abattoir
Mr. Cable: The Minister lives in Laberge, which encompasses Shallow Bay. That is why it is referred to in his report.
The Minister went on to talk about the abattoir. He indicated, as he has indicated before, the commitment of this government in the amount of $200,000. I understand that the success of the abattoir and the likelihood of its going ahead is partly dependent on an application under the Canada/Yukon infrastructure program. Could the Minister indicate when those Canada/Yukon infrastructure program applications will be finalized and when we will know if the abattoir has the support of that program?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: To go back to the Member's preamble for a moment, he is correct that the Laberge riding encompasses the Shallow Bay area, but we had five areas that were defined for zoning purposes. I do not live in the Shallow Bay zoning area.
I did allow the people who live in the area to make the decision. I think that is what we should be doing. The people who live in the areas should make the decision. It should not be a government bureaucrat or politician who decides these questions.
Mr. Cable: I think we became unraveled on the abattoir.
I asked the Minister about the Canada/Yukon infrastructure application being made by the Agricultural Association. Could the Minister address this question: when can we expect that there will be a decision on the application for a grant by the Agricultural Association?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am not certain that the infrastructure program is handled under the Department of Community and Transportation Services. It does review the applications, but I am not sure when the decision will be made, or if it has been made.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed.
We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Is it the wish of the Members to take a brief recess at this time?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will take a brief recess.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We are in operation and maintenance estimates, page 9-9.
Bill No 4 - First Appropriation Act, 1995-96 - continued
Department of Justice - continued
On Operation and Maintenance - continued
On Legal Services - continued
On Litigation Costs/Judgments - continued
Chair: Is there further debate on the line item?
Ms. Commodore: Just before we start, I have a question that I would like to ask of the Minister and I do not know if there will be an opportunity while we are in this budget debate. It is in regard to the Judicial Council. Does that come under court services, or what?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
I do have a question. I can ask it during this debate or I can ask it in Question Period. Mr. Chair, he has indicated that I should go ahead, so I will.
It is in regard to the appointment that he just made. He just made an appointment today and appointed Ken Gabb to the Judicial Council.
Under the functions of this council, it says "makes recommendations to the Minister on appointment of judges and justices of the peace; deals with formal complaints respecting judges and justices of the peace in matters respecting efficiency and uniformity."
On March 24, there was a letter to the editor, entitled "Enough is Enough" - by the editor, I suppose. It essentially criticizes Judge Barry Stuart, and we may or may not agree with the criticism, but he criticizes the judge for a judgment he made and comments that went along with it. I actually find that, or it is my opinion, that this person is very biased. It is my understanding that we appoint to the Judicial Council people who are without biases in regard to things that they are going to be doing, such as making recommendations for appointments of judges.
I thought I would let the Minister know that some of us do have some concerns in regard to the appointment, considering that he appears to be biased and has no problem writing letters to the editor criticizing judgments by judges.
This is dated March 24, and I am sure he knew prior to March 24 that he was going to be appointed to the Judicial Council, so I will let the Minister know anyway about our concern. The matter of his biases has been raised a couple of times.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I do not know if Mr. Gabb can be described as biased or not, but I can say that I believe he is an ex-RCMP member. I think he had 20 or 25 years' service in the RCMP before retiring. He was well respected as a member of the RCMP. He had some legal background because he was a member of the RCMP. I can tell the Member that I had many, many, many comments from individuals about Mr. Gabb's concerns, not necessarily specifically on that case but based more on an overall expression of concern about the justice system and what is happening. It is valuable to have people of Mr. Gabb's experience on the Judicial Council to bring another perspective to the council or to hear the judge's perspective or to hear others.
It is a valuable interchange. One day the Member opposite may not be a Member of this House any more. I know she was a JP at one time and may want to go back to doing that and may want to be on the Judicial Council or something like that. She has been very biased in some of her views sometimes, but I think the Member is a fair Member and would be a reasonable and fair member on these boards and committees and would treat it that way. I would not rule that Member out because she had written letters to the editor unless they were absolutely outrageous and something about which the community was in uproar.
In this case, Mr. Gabb is expressing, in some part, some of the frustrations that some in the general public feel about the judicial system. I thought his would be another perspective and a valued perspective to put on the Judicial Council and bring new input to that council.
Ms. Commodore: I am familiar with who Ken Gabb is and what he has done in the past and everything the Minister has told me.
The Minister mentioned the possibility of me being asked and I think my biases are very well known in the House and certainly will not change once I am out. I would not be a very good candidate to sit on a committee like that, but I thank the Minister for saying that he feels I would be a fair person.
There are committees that look for these kinds of recommendations, but I thought his criticisms were too close to his functions as a member, and that is all that I have to say about it. I wanted my comments on record, because there may come a time when it might show.
Litigation Costs/Judgments in the amount of $60,000 agreed to
On Outside Counsel
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The reduction is due solely to the Curragh and Taga Ku legal costs, which are estimated to be $100,000 for Taga Ku and $150,000 for Curragh for the year 1994-95. There is a reduction of $250,000 for that reason.
Outside Counsel in the amount of $600,000 agreed to
On Community Legal Support
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is a seven-percent reduction of $90,000 from 1994-95. During 1994-95, the program delivery method for legal aid was changed and staff lawyers were hired in an effort to contain the program costs, which have been increasing steadily over the past few years, and due to changes in the necessity of the payment costs of outstanding certificates at March 31, 1994. In 1991-92, the costs were $928,000, in 1992-93, they were $990,000 and, in 1993-94, they were $1,325,000. In 1994-95, they were $926,000. This reduction was $70,000.
Ms. Commodore: Can the Minister tell me whether or not the changes in the legal aid program have been effective? I know there were big changes that were criticized by individuals because of the manner in which the department was going. I know the problem, because I am familiar with rising legal costs. Is the new system proving to be effective?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I think so. It is still a bit early to tell, but my understanding is that we have just brought a bill into the House that changes the makeup of the Legal Aid Society that manages it. I have sent letters out to individuals and groups. The Law Society has now indicated that they want a bit more time, but that they wish to put someone back in that group.
They are getting back into it again. I think that people are realizing that it is a different way of doing it, but it appears to be delivering the service at a reduced cost.
Community Legal Support in the amount of $1,133,000 agreed to
Legal Services in the amount of $3,123,000 agreed to
On Consumer and Commercial Services
Ms. Commodore: I think this is the branch under labour services where - and I could be wrong - complaints are brought to the Minister in regard to unpaid wages and other unfair things in the workforce. We used to have a total of - I am sorry, I spoke before looking. There is information on page 9-16, so my question is irrelevant.
On Program Director
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is a decrease of $6,000, due entirely to salary adjustments.
Program Director in the amount of $226,000 agreed to
On Consumer Services
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is an increase of $138,000 in this line item over 1994-95, including an $8,000 reduction for salary adjustments. Other operation expenses include an increase in contract dollars for executive secretarial support specializing in financial consulting to the Yukon Utilities Board. The regulatory review currently underway will determine what support is needed for the board, so funds in the amount of $25,000 were budgeted in anticipation of the board hiring specific expertise for projects.
Budget funds for hearings, primarily under the Public Utilities Act and Medical Profession Act were reduced in the first supplementary in 1994-95 as the anticipated rate application did not proceed and medical inquiries did not continue as expected - $114,000.
Under the gaming and lotteries budget, funds in the amount of $7,000 have been allocated to hire specialized expertise, probably from another jurisdiction, to conduct casino inspections at Diamond Tooth Gertie's. In previous years, these inspections were carried out by the gaming specialist unit of the RCMP. This unit has been eliminated. The total cost is $138,000.
Consumer Services in the amount of $689,000 agreed to
On Corporate Affairs
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is a decrease of $15,000, including a decrease of $6,000 for salary adjustments and a reduction of salary expense due to a staff member returning from maternity leave. During her absence, backfill staff was hired, thereby incurring expenses. That was a reduction of $9,000, for a total of $15,000.
Corporate Affairs in the amount of $280,000 agreed to
On Labour Services
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is a nine-percent increase of $35,000. In 1994-95, salaries were reduced due to a vacant position, work assignments for some staff, recruitment lags for backfill positions and lower rates of pay for incoming personnel. The 1995-96 budget has been restated to reflect the salaries of a fully staffed branch, for a reduction of $35,000.
Labour Services in the amount of $409,000 agreed to
On Occupational Health and Safety
Hon. Mr. Phillips: During 1994-95, responsibility for the corporate safety loss control branch was transferred to the Public Service Commission. The funding shown in the budget represents the transfer payment from Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board for the government's contribution to occupational health and safety of $329,000.
Occupational Health and Safety in the amount of $329,000 agreed to
On Public Administrator
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is a decrease of $10,000 over 1994-95. The salary adjustment is a reduction of $4,000. In 1994-95, a summer student was hired through the summer student education program. The position has not been budgeted for 1995-96. That is $6,000, for a total reduction of $10,000.
Ms. Commodore: Who is the public administrator?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Judy Suley.
Public Administrator in the amount of $149,000 agreed to
On Land Titles
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There are no changes made to this program over the 1994-95 forecast.
Land Titles in the amount of $304,000 agreed to
On Chief Coroner
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There has been an eight-percent decrease of $22,000 over 1994-95; salary adjustments amounting to a $3,000 decrease; reduction of a part-time investigative coroner position, for $35,000. It was originally a two-year term, which expired in September 1994.
Other operations expenses were increases in the expenses anticipated for doctors' examinations, autopsy and medical tests. The first supplementary 1994-95 expenses in this area are reduced to reflect changes made in the office and resulted in lower activity than expected.
For 1995-96, the budget was restored in the amount of $9,000 to reflect anticipated costs; an increase in costs anticipated for general inquest expenses, the cost of transcripts, court reporting, rental space, et cetera, have all increased in general, for $7,000; for a total reduction of $22,000.
Ms. Commodore: I have one question about the line item. The Member knows that there was a death last week in the RCMP cells and that there will be an inquest and other things. It was stated in the paper that it would be many months before an inquest would be completed. I just wondered why? It was something that was said by the chief coroner. I do not know why it takes so long, so I am asking the Minister. If he does not know, I would like him to bring back a ministerial statement.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It is my understanding that these types of investigations are taken extremely seriously and that all kinds of work and various tests have to be done on the deceased, to determine if there were any other factors involved. These tests take some time, and that is one of the primary reasons. The other reason is that these types of investigations do take time to conduct, but I understand that things are underway.
Mrs. Firth: I understand that the position of chief coroner was filled on a short-term basis with a six-month casual. The position was then advertised, the individual applied and was the successful applicant. Two local individuals applied for the position, but the successful applicant was from outside of the territory. Could the Minister tell me why a local person could not have handled this job, rather than having to hire someone from outside of the territory?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Initially we had to bring someone in to do the job. The individual that the government hired on a casual basis was a very experienced individual. When the job vacancy was advertised, this individual came across as the most experienced and most qualified to do the job and was offered the position.
Mrs. Firth: I guess I have a couple of questions. I have raised a concern before with previous governments and with this government with respect to that whole approach where someone is placed in a position in an acting capacity and then applies for the job with other individuals who have not been doing the job. It is only logical to conclude, and everyone would recognize, that the person who has been doing the job has the advantage, because they have been doing the job for some period of time. I still have that particular concern about this job.
The second question that I have is with respect to how the government got this person from outside of the territory in the first place. Who was responsible for recruiting the individual? Who recommended how the recruitment process should take place? In other words, if there was no one here who could do the job and the Public Service Commission had to look outside of the territory, why or how did the department go about doing that?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: As the Member knows, the job of a coroner is a highly specialized type of work. It needs an individual with those kinds of specific skills to do the job. I can get back to the Member about how it came about, but not everybody can be a coroner. Specific training and experience are needed, and this individual evidently was quite experienced. It is my understanding that somebody was needed fairly quickly to fill the position and this individual was available, so the department contracted with that individual and when the job was put out that individual had the most experience, did very well on the job interviews and was offered the position.
Mrs. Firth: I want to find out how the job was advertised in the first place and how the person came up here in the first place. The Minister said there was no one here who could do the job, but once it was advertised two people applied. Obviously in the judgment of the department and the Public Service Commission, the two individuals did not qualify for some reason - the two local people anyway. How was this person contracted on the short-term, casual basis? Who did the tendering? Was it advertised publicly? Was it just done by word of mouth? How did this person get to be here in the first place?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can bring that information back to the Member. I believe the individual came from the Alberta government but I will get details and bring it back for the Member.
I want to make it clear that I did not say - and the Member is trying to put inappropriate words in my mouth - that no other individual was qualified. I said that this individual was very qualified, was the most successful individual in the interviews and was offered the job. I did not say that no one else was qualified. I want to make that perfectly clear to the Member.
Mrs. Firth: I do not want to be picayune, but I thought I heard the Minister say that the reason that the casual was brought here in the first place was because there was not anyone here who could do the job. I thought that was what he said when I originally asked about it. I am not making a big deal about it, but I wrote it down when I heard it, as I wanted to question it further. We can wait for the Blues. It is not a big deal to me if that was not what the Minister actually said.
I would like to know how this individual was recruited in the first place. I think it is fairly significant. I would like to know if the process was fair, if it was publicly advertised or if Yukoners had an opportunity to be recruited. I would like to have that information. I would prefer to have it before passing the line, but I do not want to hold up the whole budget debate for that information. Perhaps the Minister could bring back the information this evening.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will try to get the information back as soon as I can.
Chief Coroner in the amount of $259,000 agreed to
Consumer and Commercial Services in the amount of $2,645,000 agreed to
On Community and Correctional Services
Chair: Is there any general debate?
On Program Director
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There has been a decrease of 134,000, a decrease of 17 percent. No additional casual assistants or clerical support was required in the chief territorial firearms office during 1995-96. Additional staff was utilized in 1994-95 to assist with the impact of the new legislation. For research and issues, general clerical support, one-quarter of an FTE has been budgeted for 1995-96, for a reduction of $27,000. In other operation expenses, the contract with Whitehorse Ministerial Association for spiritual programming at WCC was transferred to the WCC budget, for a reduction of $10,000. A contract with CYI for a native liaison officer at WCC was transferred to WCC, for a reduction of $85,000.
The budget for contract services was constructed using zero-base budgeting, which includes programming needs. The budget has been reduced slightly to over forecast expenditures for 1994-95 and includes the following: community justice contracts, $195,000; Yukon Family Services, $3,500; special- needs sex offenders program, $20,000; psychiatric assessments for high-risk offenders, $20,000; program evaluation, $10,000; for a total of $248,000 and a total reduction of $134,000.
Ms. Commodore: Can I just ask him what the special-needs sex offenders program is? He just mentioned it.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will have to bring a briefing note back for the Member on that particular program.
Program Director in the amount of $632,000 agreed to
On Community Corrections
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is a five-percent decrease of $39,000 over the 1994-95 fiscal year. Several staff members were absent for prolonged periods, necessitating additional staff to backfill positions. Reasons for vacancies were work assignments, maternity leave and illnesses. In addition, a summer student was hired for a research project. There was a reduction of $43,000. There is an increase in travel costs for the Watson Lake and Whitehorse probation officers. Officers in these locations travel in Yukon to various communities. Per diem and mileage rates have both increased, necessitating a slight increase to the budget of $4,000. The total reduction is $39,000.
Community Corrections in the amount of $724,000 agreed to
On Institutional Facilities
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is a three-percent increase of $166,000 over 1994-95. The use of overtime and auxiliaries at Whitehorse Correctional Centre is projected to decrease during 1994-95 with the Teslin facility open for the full year. Salaries plus related shift premiums and fringe benefits are reduced to reflect this, a reduction of $79,000. The Teslin facility is budgeted for a full fiscal year in 1995-96, and salaries have increased to reflect the full year.
There is $182,000 for the Teslin facility, and salaries for the Yukon work camps are reduced primarily due to wage restraint. This is a reduction of $11,000. There is a total of $92,000 there. The contract with the Council for Yukon Indians for a native liaison officer is transferred from the director's budget to WCC, for $85,000. Another transfer is from the Ministerial Association of $10,000 for delivery of programs at WCC. Other increases at WCC are primarily for food and utility costs, $26,000. Reduced costs at Teslin are primarily due to one-time budgeting for recruitment costs, a reduction of $51,000. Utility costs for the Yukon work camp are $4,000, for a total of $166,000.
Mr. Cable: Early on in the government's mandate, the government was asked to provide a breakdown of the overtime versus regular time costs at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. Could the Minister's staff prepare a legislative return on that for the immediately past fiscal year, together with the budgeted numbers in each case? The Minister just mentioned that he expects the overtime percentage to go down because of the opening of the Teslin jail.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will try to get that information for the Member.
Mrs. Firth: I have one question for the Minister. Could he tell us what the annual cost per inmate is for the Teslin Correctional Centre and the Whitehorse Correctional Centre?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I read that into the record in my opening statement. I broke it down with the variation of 25 and 15 inmates in Teslin - that kind of thing. At 25 inmates, I believe it is the same as at WCC; at 15, it is higher; at six or seven, it is quite a bit higher.
Mrs. Firth: Did the Minister also give us figures for the average occupancy rate at Teslin?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It has only been open a few months. It started with three, and I believe it has been up to as high as nine. It is somewhere between six and eight right now. It depends upon the number of inmates in the whole system. Right now, there is a lower-than-average number in the system. It is only a certain type of inmate who goes to Teslin. If there were 100 inmates at WCC, Teslin would probably be close to capacity. I believe there are about 70 or 80 at WCC at the present time.
Mrs. Firth: I do not see the connection between WCC and Teslin - if there are more inmates in WCC, there are more in Teslin. If the sentence specifies the Teslin Correctional Centre, I do not see how that can apply.
When the government decided to proceed with the construction of the Teslin facility, what were the projections with respect to inmate population? They are obviously well under the projections.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It has a capacity of 25, but it was figured to average out around 15, with room for fluctuations.
By comparative ratios with WCC, I meant that when there are more people incarcerated, there are more people to choose from at WCC who qualify for Teslin. Some of the 70 inmates at WCC are on remand, and others are there for more serious offences and would not go to Teslin in any case. When there are more minor offences in WCC, some will qualify to go to Teslin.
Right now there are just fewer people going to jail. That is why we have less choice of minor offenders to send to Teslin.
Mrs. Firth: With the low inmate occupancy rates - it sounds like a hotel - can the Minister tell me what the facility does to try to cut back costs to reduce the cost per inmate? Does it temporarily lay off staff? Does it have people double up on their responsibilities? What efforts are made to try to reduce the cost per inmate?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I understand that some of the staff in Teslin are auxiliaries, and they just do not get called in when there are low numbers. We call them in on a need-be basis.
Mrs. Firth: I have some concerns about the cost of the facility, and I will ask the Minister for some more cost information. I would like to know if he could provide me with a legislative return indicating the cost on a per inmate basis, since the facility has been open, and if he could also show us the savings resulting from the cost-saving measures that the department has taken, such as not calling auxiliaries in, so that we can get some idea of the cost savings in comparison to the total cost.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will try to provide that for the Member, but I hope the Member is not going to judge the usefulness of the Teslin facility just on the bottom line - the dollar - because the Teslin facility is a useful facility for certain programs as people are being prepared to go back into society. There are certain programs that are offered in Teslin for that. If WCC was full, as it was a couple of years ago when the decision was made to build the Teslin facility - there would have been quite a few in the Teslin facility, but we are doing things a little differently now. We are not quite sure why our numbers are down at the present time. It may be partly as a result of circle sentencing; it may be partly as a result of diversion and other programs that are running, but it is a little early to tell that. The numbers have only been down for about six or seven months. It is premature to make some kind of assumption about why they are down.
Teslin is much more than just a bottom-line consideration. I think that it is extremely important to try to keep the costs down, but the Teslin facility offers an alternative to helping some people get out of the ever-increasing circle of committing crimes.
It does offer an alternative, and I think it is a useful facility in that way.
Mrs. Firth: This government does have a reputation for judging just about everything on the dollar amount. I am not being inconsistent with the arguments being presented from the other side as to why we can or cannot have facilities or services.
I have these particular interests about cost and value for service, and I like to be responsible in asking about these decisions concerning how much things cost and about the planning stage. If it was averaged out that there were going to be 15 inmates, and it has been found that the number has not gone above nine in six or seven months operation of a facility, I think it should be examined. I do not want the information just in order to put people to work. I want it because I want to review the whole planning of the facility and the costs of it, and look at what the ongoing costs are going to be.
You never know, but that the government might have to make a decision some day to provide some other kind of service from the facility or to use it for something else. We cannot have a facility that I understand costs $1,287,000 million in O&M costs per year just to facilitate three to nine inmates. I might be able to offer some positive suggestions, if I have all the details and information.
Ms. Commodore: I have one question in regard to the superintendent of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. I understood that Liz Lane was moving away from that position - I do not know if she is still in the department or not - and that there has been an acting superintendent. Is the position going to be filled?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Miss Lane is still with the department doing some policy work and Mr. Sutton is the acting head of the facility. Yes, we are very soon going to be advertising for a new superintendent.
Mr. Penikett: Some time I would love to get into the Minister's philosophy of corrections and the efficacy of the program he is presently operating, but my colleagues are urging me not to do that because they want to be out of here by July 1. So I am going to focus on just one question on something the Minister said in a written reply the other day. It was a reply to a number of questions and dealt with an inquiry from my colleague, the Member for Whitehorse Centre, about implements to prevent the spread of AIDS. The Minister said, "the practice would be to issue condoms on request by an inmate only if it was clear that the sexual activity was consensual and unavoidable". What exactly did the Minister mean by unavoidable sexual contact in the jail?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will get back to the Member with the reason why the correctional people feel that that may be a cause for some concern.
Mr. Penikett: I assumed, since there was a written reply and the Minister read the reply into the record, that he had thought about this very carefully. I understand much of the rest of the answer; however, this concept of only receiving a condom if the sexual activity is consensual, which I can understand even though it has previously been prohibited, but then it also states that they can be issued if sexual activity is unavoidable. This raises many more questions in my mind than are answered by the Minister's reply. I would certainly be interested in knowing exactly what the prison system thinks is meant by that wording.
Institutional Facilities in the amount of $5,947,000 agreed to
On Community Residential Centre
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is no change in that line item.
Ms. Commodore: Is this the Adult Residential Centre?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes.
Ms. Commodore: Okay, I do have a question regarding that. The budget was slashed last year and I would like the Minister to let me know what is happening. Is the government receiving more federal inmates, because I know that they are taking some and I do know that the federal government pays that centre a per diem for those inmates?
I would like an update about the utilization of the centre and how many of our inmates are being transferred to the Adult Residential Centre and how many federal clients they are accommodating.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Last year, if the Member remembers, we cut back on the number of beds that we paid for. I toured the facility about one and a half or two weeks ago. I spoke with the director of the facility, and I was very impressed with the hard work that is going on up there. I think it is going reasonably well at the present time under their budget. They had some problems last year with having to replace a furnace. They got a new oil furnace. The correctional people provided some work to build a cooler and other things.
My understanding is that the program is functioning. They are working with the federal government on some of its probation initiatives, I believe. That was also mentioned to me the other day while I was there. I can get back to the Member with more details if she so wishes.
Ms. Commodore: I would like him to let me know how many Whitehorse Correctional Centre people we have had in there in the last year and how many federal inmates were there. There was some concern awhile ago that they were accepting sexual offenders there. I do not know if that is still an issue or if it is still happening.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will get back to the Member about that.
Community Residential Centre in the amount of $176,000 agreed to
On Victim Services and Family Violence Prevention Unit
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is a two-percent increase - $9,000 in 1994-95 - and it is due solely to salary increases to reflect full staffing of the unit during the 1995-96 year. Several positions were vacant and backfilled in 1994-95.
Victim Services and Family Violence Prevention Unit in the amount of $582,000 agreed to
Community and Correctional Services in the amount of $8,061,000 agreed to
On Community Development and Policing
Chair: Is there any general debate?
On Program Director
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is an increase of one percent, or $3,000, for merit and Yukon bonus increases, offset by the wage restraint. There are 1.5 FTEs budgeted for this branch.
Program Director in the amount of $214,000 agreed to
On Police Services
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is an eight-percent decrease of $744,000 over the 1994-95 forecast due to an increase in the policing contract. The RCMP reference level is $100,000 lower than in 1994-95 due to various items being reduced due to cost savings measures introduced within the detachment. The 1994-95 forecast level was considerably lower due to a change in accounting, which I spoke of during my opening statement - $600,000 - which is a major part of it.
Police Services in the amount of $10,517,000 agreed to
Community Development and Policing in the amount of $10,731,000 agreed to
On Human Rights
Chair: Is there any general debate?
On Human Rights Commission Grant
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is no change in this budget item.
Human Rights Commission Grant in the amount of $243,000 agreed to
On Human Rights Adjudication Board
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is a 76-percent decrease, or $31,000. Funding for the adjudication board has been reduced to reflect only operational costs for the board; for example, honoraria for meetings, training, office supplies, et cetera. No hearings have been scheduled in the past two years. In the event that a hearing occurs in 1995-96, required funds will be identified in a supplementary or absorbed in a departmental budget.
Mr. Cable: Would the Chair graciously permit me to ask a question in general debate? I was busy writing something when we began this. I have a question on the amendments to the Human Rights Act that the commission has requested.
The Minister is saying he will be very rules conscious here, but I am sure, after some friendly persuasion, he will answer the question.
With respect to the hate literature recommendation made by the Human Rights Commission, I believe that sort of problem is partly dealt with the Canadian Human Rights Act and by a recent amendment to the B.C. act. Has the Minister had a chance to consider if that sort of amendment is acceptable to this government?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No, I have not had a chance to get into it in depth, because shortly after they were here, I was involved in getting ready for the budget debate. I just received a letter from the Human Rights Commission the other day and they want to meet with me to discuss these three particular amendments they had in mind. I will be asking the department to look at the concerns they have raised. As I pointed out yesterday, there was already one concerning people with mental disabilities having the opportunity to seek rental accommodation without being discriminated against. Our sense is that they are already protected under the Yukon Human Rights Act. I believe the Human Rights Commission thinks differently, but I want to talk with them about that.
I am writing a letter to them. I received a letter the other day and I will respond to it in the next day or two, basically saying, yes, I would like to sit down with them as soon as the session is over. We will sit down and talk about the various concerns they have and possibly deal with them at a future session.
Mr. Cable: It would be useful for the Race Relations Committee to get some sort of formal briefing, or perhaps a written memo from one of the Justice solicitors on the inter-reaction of those provisions in the Human Rights Act and the Canadian Criminal Code that relate to hate messages, and just what the functions are of those two types of legislation. Is it possible for the Minister to ask one of his Justice solicitors to prepare a brief briefing note on that issue?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It is possible. I will see if they can do that.
Human Rights Adjudication Board in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
Human Rights in the amount of $253,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $29,373,000 agreed to
On Management Services
Chair: We are now in capital estimates, Bill No. 4 - First Appropriation Act, 1994-96. Is there any general debate on Management Services program, page 9-3?
On Departmental Equipment and Furniture
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The $715,000 comprises of a photocopier in the court registry, for $7,200; office equipment and furniture replaced on an ongoing basis, $37,150; minor office renovations in the department budget, $10,500; capital building maintenance overall, $107,500; systems development projects, a client-based management system, $325,817; automation of the land titles office as part of the land information management system, $112,000; completion of the corporate registry project, $40,000; Justice common systems contribution to Government Services, $10,000; total work stations, $65,000; for a total of $715,167.
Departmental Equipment and Furniture in the amount of $715,000 agreed to
Management Systems in the amount of $715,000 agreed to
On Court Services
On Community JP/Court Support Offices
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This category includes items required specifically for the court services program during the year. For 1995-96, Justice has budgeted for portable security walk-through metal detectors for each of the courtrooms and a podium to be constructed in Dawson City. In court facilities, there is a winch for the sheriff's truck, replacement and upgrades to courtroom audio and video systems, and ongoing replacement of courtroom chairs, for $31,500.
Community JP/Court Support Offices in the amount of $32,000 agreed to
Court Services in the amount of $32,000 agreed to
On Consumer and Commercial Services
On General Program Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This category includes items that are specific to the consumer and commercial services program. It includes body boxes for the coroner's office, specialized storage boxes for personal effects for the public administrator's office and specialized storage boxes for maps in the land titles office, for $8,000.
General Program Equipment in the amount of $8,000 agreed to
Consumer and Commercial Services in the amount of $8,000 agreed to
On Community and Correctional Services
On Replacement Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This category is comprised of replacing equipment required for the Whitehorse Correctional Centre - welding and carpentry shops at WCC and vehicle replacement. Equipment required for WCC includes security cameras and monitors, fence upgrading, kitchen and recreational equipment. Equipment for the shops includes sanders, routers, drills, saw blades, steel vices, and grinders. Vehicles scheduled for replacement during 1995-96 are a crew cab for the Teslin facility, a vehicle for Watson Lake probation office and a small van for transporting inmates for the WCC - $148,000.
Replacement Equipment in the amount of $148,000 agreed to
On New Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This category includes new equipment to be purchased for the Whitehorse Correctional Centre and Teslin Correctional Centre in carpentry and welding shops. Equipment to be purchased includes a security camera to monitor between WCC and the young offenders facility, a sand blaster and rotor tiller for the shops, materials to build two river boats for the Teslin facility, and desks for the Teslin facility, for $14,000.
Ms. Commodore: Did the Minister say that they were going to be putting in a camera between the young offenders facility and the adult facility? The Minister is nodding "yes". Why are they doing that?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We monitor a lot of areas in the main WCC facility now and this is just to monitor to see if there is any activity between the two. It is just a security monitor to make sure that there are no inmates going back and forth in any way. We cannot see that part of the area right now from the main security area, so they feel it is the one area of the yard that they want to monitor.
Ms. Commodore: Have there been problems identified that caused them to make that decision?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I do not believe so. I think it is an area that has been identified as needing improved security.
New Equipment in the amount of $14,000 agreed to
On Correctional Facility Construction/Renovation-Whitehorse
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This category includes any renovations that have to be completed at the facility, which were identified prior to a condition study carried out in 1994-95, in the amount of $272,000.
Mrs. Firth: Will the Minister make copies of the condition report available to Members of the Legislature?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No, I will not. The reason is that the report includes some security matters. I have been told that it is a full-facility report and there are some areas that have to be kept confidential for security reasons.
Mrs. Firth: I wonder if we could have either the executive summary or the recommendations that are being made, excluding the security or confidential matters.
I am interested in the report in respect to potential renovations or reconstruction. In order to make an accurate assessment about this, I feel that portion of the report would be useful to me.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can provide a briefing note or a synopsis of that report for the Member.
Mrs. Firth: I do not want to sound like I do not think I am going to get all of the information, but will the Minister provide everything in the report with the exception of the security information?
It is going to be difficult for me to know whether or not the Minister has just selected some areas to provide information about, or whether we are getting all of the recommendations and observations that were made with respect to the facility.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will provide what I can for the Member. I said yesterday that the first part of the report dealt with health and safety issues. We spent some money in the supplementary on that, and there will be other money, I believe, in this budget being spent to address those issues. There are some security issues in the report that we are dealing with, and that is what some of this money is for. However, we do not want to release that information because they are security issues. It is for the security and safety of the guards, as well as others, in the institution that this stuff has to be kept confidential. I will get what I can for the Member regarding the report of the facility study that can be made available.
Correctional Facility and Construction/Renovation in the amount of $272,000 agreed to
Community and Correctional Services in the amount of $434,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $1,189,000 agreed to
Department of Justice agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 4.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 3 - Third Appropriation Act, 1994-95 - continued
Public Service Commission
Deputy Chair: We will now move to general debate on the Public Service Commission in Bill No. 3.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: As part of a strategic renewal this year, the Public Service Commission reorganized some of its programs to facilitate a focus and the integration of its service to its clients. The reorganization came into effect on April 1, 1994, and encompasses the following highlights: formation of a new corporate services branch comprising the classification and staffing positions. Included are employment equity; staffing services, such as the native training corps, disabled job entry and mentoring programs.
Secondly, there is the re-focus of the new planning and research branch, formerly called corporate services and employment equity. The planning and research branch retains the responsibility for the coordination of corporate employment, equity and planning and provides corporate human resource research and policy development services.
Thirdly, from the compensation branch, the compensation functions were combined and integrated into the labour relations program under the new staff relations branch.
Fourth, also gone from the compensation branch is the responsibility for the strategic design of benefit programs.
The function was integrated with the administration of benefits under the old records and pensions, and the branch was renamed the pay and benefits management branch.
As of October 1, 1994, the corporate safety loss program from the Department of Justice was transferred to the Public Service Commission. This program is now based in the staff development branch and its integration with the commission better enables the Public Service Commission to fulfill its mandate under the Public Service Act to offer a program of employee training and safety.
These changes reduce the number of branches in the commission from seven to six, and provide a more streamlined framework for offering integrated human resource services.
The Public Service Commission has a total of 52 FTEs. In terms of positions for 1994-95, this complement represents 44 full-time indeterminate positions, eight full-time term positions and two part-time indeterminate positions. Of the eight full-time positions, six are solely dedicated to native training corp training assignments across government departments.
The transfer of the corporate safety and loss control increases the commission's budget by a total of $147,000. This supplementary shows an increase of $128,000 to operations and maintenance. This results from the $145,000 transferred in from Justice and $17,000 transferred out to capital for renovations.
The capital increase of $19,000 is the result of $2,000 from Justice and $17,000 from operations and maintenance. All costs relate to reorganization and salary adjustments have been offset from within.
Mr. Chair, I would like to talk about the operation and maintenance mains, and I would move that you report progress on Bill No. 3.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 4 - First Appropriation Act, 1995-96 - continued
Public Service Commission
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The Public Service Commission is responsible for the corporate management of human resource services in the Yukon government. Its functions include a broad range of personnel services to government departments and employees, including pension benefits, administration, labour relations, staffing, classification, training and staff development, compensation, employment equity, policy and research activities. It is also responsible for providing corporate personnel advice and services to Management Board and Cabinet on matters affecting human resources across the government. This authority is contained in the Public Service Act. Its mandate flows from this act, the Public Service Act, and the labour relations section of the Education Act.
In 1995-96, the staff complement for the Public Service Commission is 52 full-time positions and three part-time positions. Of the full-time positions, six are solely dedicated to native training corps.
The operations and maintenance budget for 1995-96 is $9,970,000. This represents a decrease of approximately 10 percent from last year, attributable mostly to a reduction of $1 million in liabilities as a result of forecasting the annual liability closer to historical trends. The detailed budget estimates will be further discussed during the line-by-line debate.
Continuing in the 1995-96 year will be the focus on integrating the corporate human resource services offered by the Public Service Commission. This strategic approach to client service is based on the Public Service Commission's 1994 strategic plan, which it will be continuing to implement in this budget year.
Monies for the 1995-96 budget year have also been allocated toward actuarial research in support of investigating the feasibility of repatriating the Public Service Commission's superannuation plan from the federal government.
The terms of our own pension plan would allow Yukon public servants flexibility and planned administration, as well as the ability to tailor pension plan provisions to such desired programs as early retirement leave, one of the recommendations of the Yukon Education Review Committee.
As part of its strategic focus, the department has undertaken a number of initiatives that address the recommendations of the Auditor General's study on human resource management in the Yukon government. The stated objective of the study was to review the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of the human resource management framework systems and management-of-people practices. The study focused on four major areas: the legislative and administrative framework for managing human resources, the acquisition of staff, the human resource information systems, and the management-of-people practices.
Working jointly with the Executive Council Office and the Department of Finance, the Public Service Commission has undertaken the task of addressing the issues raised in the Auditor General's study. This work is being carried out in collaboration with the departments through the Departmental Administrators Liaison Committee, DALC, and the Deputy Ministers Review Committee, DMRC.
With respect to the legislative and administrative framework for managing human resources, the government has already implemented a variety of actions that directly respond to the Auditor General's recommendations with regard to corporate structures, policies and mechanisms for managing human resources.
Through a strategic planning exercise, the Public Service Commission has made service to its clients its key mission. Several human resource management functions have been integrated or combined to provide more effective and responsive service to the departments. Public Service Commission and departmental human resource managers are jointly working to develop a human resource planning process, based on sound human resource information.
With respect to acquisition of staff, a project team with representation from client departments and the Public Service Commission has been established to redesign the staffing process. The project is examining the purpose and principles of staffing, current practices and policies, responsibility and management of the process, and ongoing monitoring and evaluation of effectiveness to ensure continuing improvements.
With respect to the human resource information systems, a project is underway to help the government address the problems identified in the Auditor General's report. The report identified two major problems with the Yukon government's current human resource information systems. Current available information is no longer adequate to support effective personnel management, either corporate or in departments. Current stand-alone systems create a costly duplication of effort and are unable to support the information needs for effective human resource management.
The human resource information systems will determine what is needed for a corporate human resource information system to meet personnel management needs, identify the package technology currently on the market that will meet our needs and analyze the costs and benefits to government of implementing such a system.
In the area of management-of-people practices, a number of specific initiatives are completed or underway that will help employees do their jobs more effectively. We will get their ideas about better ways to deliver programs and services, and provide them with opportunities to develop their skills and knowledge.
First, a comprehensive orientation program for all employees has been developed in collaboration with departments and the Public Service Commission. A guide, orientation workshops and a follow-up evaluation with employees are all part of the program.
A boards and committees orientation guide, which contains information about government boards, how they are intended to operate and how participation on these boards can be both productive and rewarding has been developed by the Public Service Commission with input from government departments. Copies of this guide have been circulated to employees and members of the government boards and committees, supporting them in performing their jobs.
A performance management system for management employees has been developed. Implementation of this system began in October, 1994, and the new system focuses on leadership, achievement of corporate departmental and work unit goals, human resource financial and customer service management practices, and a detailed guide that promotes solid performance management practices has been developed to assist management employees to effectively utilize the new system.
A human resource development program plan has also been produced, in consultation with the departments, to meet the corporate training needs of government departments and employees.
Course listings and descriptions are available twice annually in the training calendar, and employees can learn about current offerings through regular Sluice Box columns and through listings on the office vision bulletin board.
That concludes my opening statements. I move that you report progress on Bill No. 4.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 3 - Third Appropriation Act, 1994-95 - continued
Public Service Commission - continued
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Ms. Moorcroft: Could I ask the Minister if he would provide us with a copy of the speech that he just gave? After the break would be fine. The Member for Riverside sent me a note saying that he would also appreciate it. I was taking notes as the Minister was speaking, but I would like to get a copy of his comments.
The Minister is nodding his head, so I will just proceed with my questions.
The issue that I wanted to start with was the Public Service Commission reorganization. We have the plan for last year. The Minister went through the various branches as they are now reorganized. Did that follow the plan that the Minister who was formerly in charge of the Public Service Commission distributed to us last year?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, it does, and I have a slightly different document here that I could supply to the Member as well. It is the same information that the Member has, but is in a slightly different format.
Ms. Moorcroft: I understood from what the Minister was saying about the reorganization within Public Service Commission that it has shifted from a role focused mainly on control to a more responsive service to clients. I would like to ask the Minister whether or not the clients are defined as departments and the public, and I would also like to know if I could have a copy of the strategic plan.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The departments are considered our main client; we consider the public an indirect client. We deal mostly with the departments.
Ms. Moorcroft: We believe that the interests of the community are best served by a representative public service. I have asked the Minister a number of questions in Question Period about employment prior to getting to the debate on the Public Service Commission. I would like to ask the Minister if he could tell us how the Public Service Commission contributes to the economic and social development of the Yukon? How do they improve job opportunities in Yukon communities?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I am not sure what the Member is getting at. We have an employment equity policy. We try to hire, the best we can in all of the communities, individuals from all walks of life. I really do not know what the Member is getting at.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to get a sense from the Minister of how he and his department are working toward the goals that have been put forward regarding the achievement of a representative workforce. I would like to know how the Public Service Commission is working to improve job opportunities in Yukon communities, because that contributes to their economic and social development. Perhaps the Minister could tell me what his position is on recentralization of jobs. There have been a number of jobs, for example, in Watson Lake and Haines Junction and Dawson City that are now moving back to Whitehorse. Can the Minister tell me what his position is on recentralization?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: My belief is that if the job can be more effective in the communities, then that is where the job should be. It depends on the role of the individual. The type of decentralizations I like to see are the ones like the Teslin Correctional Centre, for example. There is a whole group of individuals down there working on a specific task. However, to put somebody in a community just to say that you have an individual in that community, even if it is not cost effective, is not something that I strongly support. I think that there have to be some good reasons why the individual is in the community. I have seen a document that shows that there has been quite a bit of decentralization over the past couple of years, when the Teslin facility is taken into account, as well as other initiatives by this government.
Deputy Chair: Is there any further general debate?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Perhaps I can give the Member the positions created since October 1992. Some of these would be auxiliaries or casuals, and they are new positions since 1992. There have been two in Beaver Creek, four in Carcross, one in Destruction Bay, 12 in Dawson City, two in Faro, six in Haines Junction, one in Klondike, six in Mayo, three in Old Crow, two in Ogilvie, one in Pelly, three in Ross River, two in Stewart Crossing, 30 in Teslin, one in Tuchitua and seven in Watson Lake, for a total of 83.
Some of them are indeterminate, seasonal, on-call terms, but they are all new positions since 1992.
Ms. Moorcroft: That is helpful, but a list of new positions is not a complete picture. We have been provided with lots of documents - for example, we have had two reports giving a one-year picture of all the positions created or deleted. It will not tell me how many new positions there are in the communities if we do not also have an accounting of the positions that have been taken out of the communities. The new full-time equivalency accounting is different from the person year accounting that used to exist. We do not really know exactly how many people are working for the government and in what positions, and how many positions are in the communities, which is what I would like to know.
The Minister just referred to a position in Tuchitua. We know the Tuchitua road camp was closed down for the winter and only reopened on Monday of this week. I would appreciate receiving from the Minister the list he was just referring to, and I would also like to have an accounting of the positions that have left the communities.
We have heard of jobs from Watson Lake, Haines Junction and Dawson coming back to Whitehorse, or being deleted. I would appreciate it if the Minister could give me a full list.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can get that information for the Member, but it will take a little bit of time because it is fairly labour intensive.
Ms. Moorcroft: There is also a written question on the Order Paper asking for a list of all the positions. I thought that that information would be in our hands before we got to the Public Service Commission debate.
I have another question related to personnel, on the subject of secondments. I am interesting in knowing the number of secondments that have been provided by other governments and agencies to the Yukon government. I would also like to know the number of secondments that this government has provided for the purpose of working with other governments outside of Yukon and other groups and agencies within the Yukon, and I would like to know how many secondments there have been within government. Do deputy ministers have the authority to second people from other departments?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will get the information the Member wants about secondments. Again, that will take a little bit of time.
Deputy ministers cannot make secondments on their own; they have to be arranged with other deputy ministers. They discuss the need and the employee has to agree to the secondment.
Ms. Moorcroft: Another personnel question that I have is related to advertising positions restricted within the government.
Recently, there was a position for a manager of policy analysis and development within the Department of Renewable Resources. This position was restricted to employees of the Department of Renewable Resources. I had a legislative return from the previous Minister on the subject of competitions for management positions. One of the ways of achieving employment equity was to restrict these competitions within the government to try and promote women, First Nations or others into management positions. This particular manager of policy analysis and development in Renewable Resources, because it was only restricted to that department, would only have had a few people who were qualified to apply for it. How often are senior management positions such as this restricted to a department?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: That decision is made by the deputy minister in the department. The deputy minister is allowed to do this under the Public Service Commission Act. The deputy minister would make the decision to restrict the position depending upon the number of individuals in the department that would be qualified to apply for that position. That is why the decision is made in that manner.
Ms. Moorcroft: Can the Minister tell me how often senior management positions, such as this, have been restricted to one department over the last year?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I would have to get back to the Member with that information.
Ms. Moorcroft: I am looking at the chart of the reorganization of the Public Service Commission and it does cover a lot of branches and a lot of changes. Can the Minister tell me who is doing the competition appeals now?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It is the corporate human resource services.
Ms. Moorcroft: Can the Minister indicate what positions are responsible for that work and what the rationale for it is?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: They are the human resource advisors. They do the recruitment and reclassifications. They are responsible for that work.
Ms. Moorcroft: I believe that, in the past, competition appeals were done by a different group of employees. The whole notion of an appeal means that one has an avenue to go to a second hearing if it is felt that there has been something wrong with the way a competition was conducted. If the people who are responsible for recruitment are also doing the competition appeals, I think it could raise a question in people's minds as to whether the appeals were being fairly heard - if they are being heard by the same people who did the initial recruitment.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: They are not hearing it; they are defending it. It is still being heard by an outside adjudicator.
Ms. Moorcroft: Have the employees of the Public Service Commission been involved in the reorganization work? Normally when a reorganization or a strategic plan is done, there is consultation with the employees' representatives. The Public Service Commission employees are not represented by the union. Have they been involved in the reorganization?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: My understanding is that the employees were fully involved right from the beginning of the reorganization.
Ms. Moorcroft: Can the Minister bring back additional information for me? I would like to know what the grievance and adjudication numbers were over the last year. I would also like to know how many local hires have been done - what are the numbers for people hired from within the Yukon and from outside of the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We are searching for the answer to the first question. With respect to the last question, I am told that 98 percent this year was local hire.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister may have this information in one of his briefing notes. What were the travel costs within the Public Service Commission for the 1994-95 fiscal year? There was some debate on the travel freeze during a previous Public Service Commission budget, and I would like an update on whether or not that is in effect, how much travel is being done and what the complete cost to government has been for travel.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will bring that back.
Ms. Moorcroft: I do have a number of other issues that I would like to deal with, but I believe they can be dealt with in general debate on O&M and capital in the mains.
Mrs. Firth: I have just this one question for the Minister: can he tell me how many more, or how many fewer, people are working within the Public Service Commission now than there were two years ago?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is one less director's position and two more native corps positions.
Mrs. Firth: I understand the positions. Do those translate into actual, physical persons? Is the Minister saying that there is only one actual, physical person more in the department than there was two years ago?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will have to bring back information when we are talking about individual people. I will bring the number back for the Member.
Ms. Moorcroft: Since the reorganization of the Public Service Commission has been done in the present year, I would like to proceed now with the questions I have related to employment equity.
The Minister indicated that all would be made clear in the departmental budget debate and that there had not been significant reductions. The budget allocation for the employment equity program, before this government took power, was $883,000. In 1993, a budget of $761,000 was shown, and the commission actually spent $262,000. In 1994, $725,000 was budgeted and then, in the supplementary budget, it showed a forecast of $354,000. I would like to ask what the difference is between the original budget of $725,000 and what we see now as a forecast of $354,000. I am wondering what will actually be spent in 1994-95. I am wondering if this reduced amount is based on a variance report at some period or is it based on something else?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I think the Member has confused the employment equity part. She has the whole branch there. She has policy people included in there and is not just talking about employment equity. She is talking about the whole branch and that is where the confusion lies with the Member.
Ms. Moorcroft: The employment equity branch has been involved in the restructuring, and I would like to ask the Minister if he can tell me how the commission plans to meet the goal of a representative public service as stated in the policy and how many people it has involved in putting those programs together.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The departments now have to consider employment equity as part of the staffing procedure when they staff. I know that direction has gone out to all departments to prepare their employment equity plans and to encourage the policy. I know that my own departments, in particular, filed employment equity reports. It is incumbent upon the Ministers to speak to their deputies and others to ensure that, when we are hiring, we keep the employment equity plan in mind.
Ms. Moorcroft: What I would like to know is whether the government is making progress toward its goal of a representative workforce by the year 2000. What has been the success rate in getting more women and First Nations people into the workforce?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It has been improving over the years. I think this is the first year that we saw a very slight decrease. There has been an indication in 1994-95 of a slight increase in First Nation participation, but we are working toward that end and we are far ahead of the federal government, locally, in employment equity.
The territorial government is working on this and I hope that we reach our goal by the year 2000.
Ms. Moorcroft: The government-wide annual report about the activities and results of the employment equity program is to be used as an instrument to increase public awareness and understanding. Departments are to prepare annual reports about the results of its action plans. The Minister just referred to the action plans that the departments have to come up with. Could the Minister provide me with copies of those departmental plans and the initiatives that have been undertaken by departments over the last year?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No, the government does not normally provide department corporate plans, because some departments are smaller than others and the plans identify specific jobs and people, which is not fair to the people.
It has not been a policy of the previous government to provide this information, and it certainly is not a policy of this government to provide that kind of information.
The government prepares a corporate report, which, in general terms, sets out the direction the government is taking in various departments. However, some of the departments are so small that individuals would be easily identified in the departments that were targeted.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would hope that a plan would be broader in scope than to simply be identifying individual employees, because I am not looking at having individual employees identified. I am looking at having an indication about how the departments are going to achieve the goals that the Minister states he finds so laudable.
I have the 1991-92 employment equity corporate report and the 1992-93 report. When this program was introduced, it was introduced as a program that was to be data driven. I would like to ask the Minister if the government has the information on the 1993-94 corporate report, and if so, when it report will be forthcoming?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: For 1993-94, it will be September. We will have that report by September.
Ms. Moorcroft: Do they still have the position within the department of someone working specifically on compiling the statistics to do with employment equity? Can the Minister explain why there is such a lag in the production of these reports?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is a bit of a lag partly because this is a new experience for us. I appreciate the Member's concern. I think that we are getting more on track now, and the reports will be more timely. There is a person dedicated to that. Part of the problem in the past was getting departments to respond in a timely manner so the individual could put the reports together and get them out in a timely manner. That is being worked on more now as we are moving along.
Ms. Moorcroft: What is the Minister doing to ensure that there is quicker response from the departments?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The Public Service Commission is writing to the departments to remind them that they have to get their information in, and it is offering assistance if required.
Ms. Moorcroft: I believe that the employment equity policy requires that an internal committee be established to manage and guide the implementation of the program. I believe that there is also an external advisory committee. I would like to ask the Minister how often the committee has met in the past year and who is on the internal committee?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will have to bring back the number of times they meet, but there is representation from the unions and the departments on the committee. The advisory committee just met in February. I attended the meeting in February and spoke to the committee. I met with the committee just about the time that we tabled our last report, and it took the report and is looking through it to make recommendations to us.
Ms. Moorcroft: Were either the internal or external committee involved in the Public Service Commission reorganization?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The committees themselves were not, but the employees of the department were.
Ms. Moorcroft: The only change that I see with regard to employment equity in the 1995-96 budget is any direct mention of the target groups that employment equity is supposed to help integrate into government. Can the Minister tell me what is happening with native training, disabled job entry and corporate services to meet the goals that have been established and defined in the budget in previous years?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: All three of those areas are still there, but now there is a more of a corporate approach to the issue, so there are more people working on the issue.
I move you report progress on Bill No. 3.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 4 - First Appropriation Act, 1995-96 - continued
Public Service Commission - continued
Chair: Is there any general debate on the operation and maintenance and capital estimates?
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to start off by asking the Minister if he agrees with the principle of joint consultation with the union.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, I do agree with it.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to ask the Minister if he has available for me something I requested on February 1. This was a breakdown of the changes that have been made to the general administration manual, volume 3, human resource policies.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I thought we provided that. I did see a briefing note in the last day or two about the changes. I am not sure if I sent a letter to the Member or if it was a legislative return. After the break I will get something to the Member, because I did see the rationale and reasons for the things that were left out of that policy document. I have seen a document about that. If the Member does not have it, we will make sure that she gets it after the break.
Ms. Moorcroft: Just so that the Minister does not have to do any unnecessary duplication, I do have the legislative return on the training and education leave policy and why it is not in the manual. However, I had asked for an itemization of all of the changes made in the human resource policies. I started asking questions about this in Question Period some time ago. For example, in the employment equity policy there was a clause that was missing regarding consultation with the employee union. The Minister assured me that it had been a typographical error and that that clause of the policy has been put back in. Rather than having to sit down and go through each of the old policies and compare them, clause by clause, with the new policies to see what had been omitted and what had been changed, I had asked for an outline of those changes. I thought I made that clear. Is that available to us?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We sent a letter to the union with the items the Member mentioned. I can send over a copy of the letter, as well as the information the Member is asking for. We are also having another close look at the written policies to make sure there are no other errors. We are going through it quite methodically.
Ms. Moorcroft: The union has put out a newsletter as recently as March 1995 saying that, contrary to information put out by the government, the policy review is much more than housekeeping and reformatting, and that there are a number of attempts to implement changes that could have an unfavourable effect on the employees.
I would like to see a list of the changes that have been made, so I can determine which are beneficial and which are not. I also believe that the union should be involved in the amendment of policies, rather than merely informed after the fact.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I understand that wherever we are required to consult with the union on these matters, we have. In areas in which we are not required to, we do not. My understanding is that we have where we are required to do so.
Ms. Moorcroft: There is some disagreement about that, but I would like to move into some specifics related to some of the policies. Has the disabled employees policy been used in the last year? I see that this policy is in the manual, and I would like to know how many employees have made application to be reintegrated into the workforce, and how many employees have been successful in that.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I understand that there has been a fairly significant emphasis put on that policy. I do not have the numbers here, but I will get them for the Member.
Ms. Moorcroft: Is there anything in the policy manual that addresses the issue of decentralization? Also, can the Minister give me any information about how the government comes up with its rationale for placing positions into communities and also for taking positions out of communities?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: That policy is not in the Public Service Commission; it is in ECO, and that question could be better answered by the Minister responsible.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to ask the Minister about housing policy, as well. There have been highway maintenance camp closures and people have asked questions about whether their homes would be purchased when they were forced to move out of their community because their positions have been deleted. Can the Minister respond to that question?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is an old policy on employee buy-back that still stands. It is a fairly outdated policy now, but I believe an employee buy-back policy was developed some years ago.
Ms. Moorcroft: Perhaps the Minister could provide me with a copy of that so that I can send it out for the information of the people who have inquired.
I am looking to see if there is a policy on workers with family responsibilities. I would like to ask the Minister how the Public Service Commission is supporting employees of the government to meet their family responsibilities.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There are a number of alternate work-arrangement guidelines being developed. The department is currently working on completing them.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister referred to the training calendar and the work on staff training. Could I ask the Minister to elaborate about what resources have been put into staff training?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It may be useful for me to provide the Member with a copy of the staff development mission and the staff development plan. These documents outline many of the initiatives that are planned. I only have two copies here so I will have to have another copy made for the Table Officers.
Ms. Moorcroft: I have a notice to employees regarding public service pension reform and part-time provisions. Part-time employees now have the option of contributing to the public service superannuation plan. I would like to ask the Minister if he could let me know how many people have elected to buy back their prior service. I would like to know how many more people are participating in the public service pension plan. I would also like to know what the status of negotiations is on repatriation of the pension plan. There has been some debate about that in all of the previous Public Service Commission debates that I have looked at.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can provide the information on the pensions to the Member. I do not have the number handy, so I will have to get that for the Member.
The repatriation of the public service superannuation plan is in the early stages. The Treasury Board is exploring options for mechanisms to allow for our withdrawal from the PSSP, and formal approval will be contingent on the type of pension plan that YTG creates. If a mechanism for withdrawal and transfer of funds is found and the pension plan meets Treasury Board secretary requirements, they have indicated that they are willing to transfer sufficient assets for the current employees to pay for their accrued pension liabilities to date. Work has been completed on the partial assessment of moneys left in the PSSP, and as a result of employee terminations, for example, for terminating employees who have left YTG contributions, plus interest in the PSSP.
The transfer of these assets will have to be negotiated. When the Yukon is able to bring home a YTG pension plan, management of the fund will be a joint venture between the employer and its employees.
Mr. Penikett: This is an extremely interesting development. I recall discussions on this possibility some years ago with my colleague, the Member for McIntyre-Takhini. At the time, the previous government had received representations from a number of people in the Yukon who were gainfully employed in the workforce, but not in what we would normally call secure jobs. We had begun to contemplate the possibility of a Yukon pension plan that not only covered Yukon government employees - a very significant part of the workforce - but in some form might also be open to other citizens without pensions right now. We have experience with pension plans and large holdings, and the Public Service Commissioner has experience with it at the Workers' Compensation Board.
I am therefore interested to know if the present government, as it pursues these discussions with the federal government, will also be open to the possibility of a public debate on the wisdom, or otherwise, of creating a Yukon pension plan that would extend coverage to more than just the salaried employees of YTG, but indeed to other people, on a contributory basis, who live and work in the Yukon but do not, at the moment, have the advantage of a pension plan.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can tell the Member that we are always open to public debate on the matter, but in respect to discussions on opening it up to all Yukoners, that has not taken place, nor has our Cabinet discussed that in that way. We have been concentrating mainly on repatriation of the plan for the Yukon government workers, but we would certainly be open to any kind of open debate on the issue. I have not looked into it myself and I am not sure of all of the ramifications of something like that. I do not want to comment on it much more than that.
Chair: Is the wish of the Members to take a brief recess at this time?
Some Hon. Member: Agreed.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I have some information for the Members that was requested before the break.
As well, I would like to inform the Members that a question was asked about buying back pension services. There are 162 who did. Grievances filed in the calendar year 1994 were 105, but that includes PSAC, YTA, managerial and WCB. Adjudications held in 1994 were two.
We had seven applications for the reintegration program - six are in process and one person has been appointed. As well, we have the positions in the communities, and I gave that information to the Member earlier, as well as the letter to Mr. Hobus regarding the policies that were changed and clarifying those changes.
I have copies here for the New Democratic critic, the Liberal critic, Mrs. Firth and the Table Officers.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister just said that - I think it was - 105 grievances had been filed in the previous year. I would like to know how they are doing in keeping up with the numbers of grievances that are filed. When were the grievances filed that are being heard now? How long is the normal backlog before a matter is dealt with when a grievance is submitted?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is a backlog, but we have scheduled 41 days of adjudication this year. We have also employed more adjudicators this year, in order to catch up on the backlog. For the most part, we hope to get rid of the backlog fairly quickly.
Ms. Moorcroft: Is the backlog simply at the adjudication level? If there are 104 grievances filed per year, how many grievances are normally heard in a month?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I have to check that because it varies depending on what level they are at.
Ms. Moorcroft: Perhaps the Minister could get back to me with that information, because I would like to know how many grievances are outstanding at the final level and at the third level - and how long they have been outstanding - how many grievances are outstanding at the adjudication level and what the schedule is for paring down the backlog.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We are trying to expedite the grievances as quickly as possible and we are looking at the option of arbitration called "expedited arbitration at the final level."
Ms. Moorcroft: Does the Minister know how many cases will be going to expedited arbitration at the final level?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We are in discussions with the union about those cases at this time.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to ask some questions related to negotiations with the federal government and the devolution of federal programs.
The two governments are negotiating for the devolution of airports and forestry. I would like to ask the Minister if, in those negotiations, they are involving the Public Service Alliance of Canada, which does represent the existing federal employees.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I understand that PSAC was involved in the talks on forestry, but we are not at that point yet with airports.
Ms. Moorcroft: What will the effect be on the terms and conditions of employment for affected federal employees of the transfer to the Yukon government?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We do not really know that at this time. We are not that far along in the discussions.
Ms. Moorcroft: A major concern that we dealt with in Community and Transportation Services debate has been the devolution of airports. I recognize that the Department of Community and Transportation Services will be the responsible department; however, there are a lot of personnel issues that will be related to it. The automatic weather observation systems mean a reduction in personnel. We have heard the news items about how, within the next nine months, Transport Canada will cut back the fire fighting staff at the Whitehorse airport to one for every shift.
I would like to know the position of the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission on the loss of jobs and how the government is working with the federal government to combat the downloading and downsizing and also how they are dealing with the safety concerns of these reductions.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Those types of questions are more properly put to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, but our government, like every government in Canada, is extremely concerned about the Liberal government in Ottawa downloading on to the territorial government.
I would suggest that the Member put that question to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. We deal with the employees once the numbers and positions are decided. I will leave it at that.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister said that he agrees with the principle of joint consultation with the union. I would suggest that if the government involves the union as a partner in the negotiations, it would actually benefit the government and benefit the position of the Yukon government. If we end up inheriting a system that has been gutted, the money for the personnel resources is going to have to be generated completely out of Yukon government revenue. Is that being addressed by the Minister?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Our position in all these programs has been that we must get sufficient assets to run the program. The difficulty we are having with the federal government over the forestry transfer and others is that it is a moving target. Every time we get close to an agreement, it seems to move again. Our position has always been that we obtain sufficient assets to deliver the program.
Ms. Moorcroft: I have just been looking through the information that the Minister provided us after the break. Before I move into another area of questioning, I wonder if the Minister could provide us with a copy of his opening remarks, in case I have any questions arising from them.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
I would like to ask the Minister some questions relating to the Public Service Act review. I know that the department is engaged in a review of the Public Service Act. I would like to ask the Minister what is involved in it. What stage is it at? Who is involved? What are they looking at?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We are not looking at a Public Service Act review.
Ms. Moorcroft: Are you looking at a review of the Public Service Staff Relations Act or any of the legislation that the Public Service Commission is responsible for?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There was some talk about the Public Service Commission Act with respect to the conflict-of-interest legislation that was before the House and applying it to employees. That is the only one I am aware of, but it has not gone much further than consultation with Opposition Members, I believe.
Ms. Moorcroft: The question that I have raised before and would like to raise with this Minister now that he is responsible for the Public Service Commission has to do with casual employees of the Yukon government being defined as "employees". Presently, casuals are not defined as employees in the Public Service Act. Casuals are also excluded from the provisions of the Employment Standards Act. There have been cases arise where employees have had no coverage when it comes to hours of work, payment of overtime and some of the other provisions that are found in the Public Service Act and the Employment Standards Act. Is the Minister aware of that concern and is he addressing it in any way?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: YTG casuals are covered. They have better terms and conditions than those covered by the Employment Standards Act. For example, they are paid higher wages than the minimum wage in the territory of $6.72 an hour. The lowest wage paid by YTG is $13.27 an hour. They are paid higher overtime rates. The Employment Standards Act requires for one-and-a-half times the hourly rate and YTG pays one-and-a-half for the first four hours and double-time thereafter. They receive eight percent vacation pay. The Employment Standard Act provides for four percent. They receive pay for statutory holiday in the first 30 days of employment if they work the day before and the day after.
Employees working under the Employment Standard Act are not entitled to be paid for general holiday during the first 30 days of employment, but are entitled to the same premium pay as regular employees, if applicable, such as reporting pay for four hours, call-back pay, standby pay, shift premium and weekend premium. The Employment Standards Act provides for reporting pay of two hours and no other premiums. So, although they are not covered in the act, the benefits that they receive are, for the most part, significantly better than what is in the Employment Standards Act.
Ms. Moorcroft: I am glad that someone was prepared for the question, and had a statement for the Minister to read out about the better terms and conditions that Yukon government employees have. The fact is that, where there is a dispute, there is no protection under the law for casual employees. They are not covered, because they are not defined as an employee under the Public Service Act. They are specifically excluded from being a public service employee in the Public Service Act.
They are also exempted from the Employment Standards Act. I can tell the Minister that there have been cases where there have been disputes over such issues as eligibility for overtime pay, and the employee has had no recourse. Does the Minister think it is fair that the casual employees of the Yukon government should fall into a grey area where they have no legislative protection?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will take the Member's representation and have a look at it. I do not like it when anyone falls through the cracks of legislation. However, it is really unfair to compare employees of the Government of the Yukon with the standards in the Employment Standards Act. The Government of Yukon employees receive much better benefits than they would if they were just under the Employment Standards Act. I will look into the issue of employees falling through the cracks - the issue about which the Member is concerned.
Ms. Moorcroft: Regardless of the information that the Member has just read into the record about better working conditions, I would submit that being covered by the Employment Standards Act is better than having no legal protection at all. It is presently the case that there is no legislative protection for casual employees of the Yukon government. That is one of the reasons that we are opposed to the use of casuals, and believe that indeterminate, term and auxiliary employees should be used as much as possible, rather than casual positions.
Mr. Cable: I was just going through the Minister's opening comments in relation to the human resources study. I do not know if the Minister has a copy of it.
There were some questions asked of the Government Leader by the Member for Porter Creek South on one of the recommendations and the comments on page 35 of the report. I would refer the Minister to the left-hand column, about halfway down.
It is not clear which of the Public Service Commission, the Executive Council Office or the Management Board Secretariat can or should assume the leadership role for ensuring the harmonious and efficient development of YTG as an organization.
On December 14, 1993, I asked the Government Leader about that recommendation and observation. He indicated that the government would look at it. I then asked his successor on June 7, 1994, and he indicated that there had not been one group identified to lead the charge, but that the Public Service Commission was the one reviewing the report and making recommendations based on it.
What is the Minister's thinking on the comment found in the human resources report?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We have taken a corporate approach to that issue. We have a joint committee, as I mentioned in my opening comments, made up of the Executive Council Office, the Department of Finance and the Public Service Commission to look into that very issue.
Mr. Cable: Is the Minister saying they are looking into the issue of who should take the lead role?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: That group is dealing with the whole report and all the recommendations flowing out of the whole report. Some immediate action has been taken with some of the documents that have been produced already - some of the reorganization and that kind of thing - but that group is sort of the lead group looking at the whole report.
Mr. Cable: What the Auditor General was saying was - unless I am reading it incorrectly - that he thought there should be somebody driving the train. There should not be a sort of diffused piece of leadership. Is the Minister not reading the report that way?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Three departments are looking at all the recommendations in the whole report. No decision has been made yet about which department will take the absolute lead role there, but they are working on the whole report in a corporate sense.
Mr. Cable: That would seem to be one of the threshold decisions, would it not? If they are going to look at the whole report, should there not be somebody in the leadership role to drive the thing forward?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The Public Service Commission is taking a fairly significant role because many of the recommendations relate to our employees and employee service. As the Member can see by my opening statement, we have produced several documents out of the report. We have reorganized within our department so we will probably be doing more in relation to the recommendations of the report than any other department. We are part of an overall team discussing the recommendations of the report. If there is a lead role to be played here, it is the Public Service Commission that is playing a bit more of a lead role than others, but the report is being looked at jointly by the three departments because it affects all three departments.
Mr. Cable: I gather from questions I asked the Government Leader just after the report was tabled that the government generally agrees with the recommendations that the Auditor General had in the report. Are there any areas where the government disagrees with the recommendations of the Auditor General?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: In general we accepted the Auditor General's report, but it was not in the context of other Auditor General reports where the audit is done, the Auditor General makes his recommendations to the department and the department has an opportunity to respond. That was not done in this situation. The report provides a list of recommendations with no avenue for the department to respond, but we are doing that now. The department takes exception to some of the recommendations, but in general, the department agrees with the report. We are working on all of the areas where we may have a concern about what the Auditor General has recommended and the way that the department does some things, which, as I mentioned, the department takes some exception to. For the most part, the department has accepted the report.
Mr. Cable: The Public Service Commission is then taking the lead in reviewing the report and following the recommendations. Has there been a report prepared by the Minister's officials about those areas where there is disagreement with the Auditor General's recommendations?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I have asked the department to provide an overall review of the report as if the department were replying in the regular manner of replying to each of the suggestions of the Auditor General. That review will be presented to me. I will then take the review before Cabinet.
While the department is completing that review, it has moved on some of the initiatives in the area of employee orientation and the production of guides. For some of the re-organization that has taken place in the department there is no need to wait for the completion of the review. The department is trying to complete everything fairly quickly and moving ahead with some of the recommendations that have been made.
Mr. Cable: Is there some time line that the Minister's officials are working on for the response to the Auditor General's report - the conventional response that the Minister said he was going to use to deal with the recommendations?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No, there is not a fixed time line because we do not have to respond to the Auditor General in this particular case. It is for our internal use. I want to get it done as quickly as possible, but I do not know how soon an action plan will be completed and approved by Cabinet. I would hope it would be sooner, rather than later.
Mr. Cable: What I was getting at is that it would be useful for there to be some response to the Minister and thence to the House, so that we can get the Minister's thinking. I am sure he wants to do that, as soon as he gets time, and I am looking forward to that. Could the Minister make a commitment to have that ready for the next sitting?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Every time I give the Member opposite some documents, he stands up in the House and asks me questions, so I do not know if I want to give him any more documents. I will see if I can get it done and bring it in for the next sitting.
Mr. Cable: That would be useful. The report has now been in circulation for well over a year, so some sort of response or analysis of it might be timely.
Let me get on to the standard operating agency concept that the Minister's colleague, the Minister of Government Services, has brought in in three areas. I noticed that, sprinkled through the Minister's comments, is the word such as "service" - in that sort of verbiage. Are there standard operating agencies being projected for the Public Service Commission?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No, not at this time.
Mr. Cable: I asked the Minister for some information in two areas. First, I had asked the Government Leader for information on merit increases for management. I reminded the Minister of that commitment by the Government Leader. I had then filed a written question on the number of FTEs and the number of employees on the payroll at certain times, to see if there is any seasonal variation. The Minister filed a legislative return dated March 13, 1995. Perhaps it raised more questions than it gave answers.
I had hoped that would be ready for the debate today. My staff person had contacted the Public Service Commission on that. When can these documents be expected?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The merit document was tabled February 7. The Member could probably find it with the tabled documents.
Regarding the other matter the Member talks about, our department has had about two or three people working full-time for three or four days on this. It may take another couple of days. There is no computer program to pull the information from. It is a matter of going through each and every record to get the information the Member wants. It is very labour intensive. I tried to get it done as soon as we could, but we are finding that, because of the way the question was asked, and because three different breakdowns were asked for, we have to go through it three different times to get the numbers. We are trying to get it as soon as we can.
Mr. Cable: I thank the Minister and the official. If that merit increase question was answered, it must have escaped my attention.
The Government Leader talked about downsizing the public service. The Minister has heard the questions put to the Government Leader. The gist of his answers was that there were no goals, it is simply reducing the public service as it went along. There were also no goals in numbers or in payroll.
What is the role of the Public Service Commission in this downsizing exercise?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We are watching it within our own department. We reiterated the Management Board decision to control staffing. We do not necessarily oversee the decisions the individual deputies make, but we encourage them to control their staffing. I have a letter we sent out to all deputies, which I believe I can table, and which is the criteria for proceeding with staffing actions.
I can send copies over for the Member.
Mr. Cable: In response to whatever guidance is coming from wherever it is coming, does the Public Service Commission make any projections of what the numbers on the payroll or the full-time equivalents will be, or what the actual payroll dollars will be over the next few years?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No.
Mr. Cable: There has been a blizzard of documents tabled in the last few months. Has the department tabled its 1994 strategic plan?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The Member for Mount Lorne asked for that strategic plan. We will be bringing it back.
Mrs. Firth: I have quite a few questions for the Minister in general debate. I will just start with the first one on my list.
A lot of jobs are given as full-time jobs to persons proposed for appointments. What happens is the proposed appointment is posted without competition. It states the department, job title, classification, salary range, the name of the person proposed for the appointment and it indicates that people can appeal this particular appointment if they are interested in the job, but I understand that that very seldom happens and almost never happens that the person whose name appears on this appointment sheet does not get the job. I have here 10 of them from a one-month period - and not even a full month - that were posted in that manner for all kinds of positions. They included reference assistance, policy analysts, receptionists, project managers, pay and benefit clerks, directors and land negotiators.
Can the Minister tell me how many jobs are awarded in a year through this kind of process, which is really more of a posting than a competition? If we get 10, say, in not even a one-month period, how many of those jobs would be filled this way in a year?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will bring that information back for the Member.
Mrs. Firth: When he brings back that information, could he also bring me back the number of times the appointment has been challenged and those who have not been appointed after having been named on the proposal for appointment?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, I will do that.
Mrs. Firth: I want to ask the Minister a question about the hiring of the Deputy Minister of Justice. The Public Service Commission sat in on that interview, as well. The Minister indicated to me that there were 100 applications, but he would not tell me how many were local. Could he tell me how many of those hundred applications were Yukoners?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I was not in on the initial screening. I thought that there were 100 applications, but I corrected that yesterday or today. There were 58 applications. Of those, there were three local applicants. There were four interviews, and one local person was interviewed.
Mrs. Firth: How many of the applicants were women?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I think there were three or four, but I will check the file on that.
Mrs. Firth: I would like to know about the one local who was interviewed - whether or not the candidate was a woman.
I have some concern about someone from outside of the Yukon being appointed. It does not necessarily matter to me whether it is a woman or a man, as long as it is a good individual, but my preference would have been to see someone local get that job.
I appreciate the qualifications of the individual hired and I would expect that that individual would probably have been hired at the top of the payscale, judging from the qualifications listed in the press release. Was there not a local person who could have carried out the duties of the job?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: After the interviews were concluded, it was decided that the individual asked to accept the job was the most highly qualified to do the job, and the offer was made to that individual.
Mrs. Firth: Is the Minister saying that the local individuals who applied were short in qualifications and absolutely could not qualify to do the job, or were they just no comparison to the individual who was hired?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We were looking for strength in certain areas. The local individual was not as strong in those areas as the individual who received the job.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us in what areas they were looking for the strengths?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It was in legal issues and administrative. Administrative was an important area.
Mrs. Firth: I want to make a representation to the Minister. I have a great deal of concern about the number of higher paid positions within the government that do go to outside applicants as opposed to local individuals - Yukoners.
There used to be a program called an underfill program where employees who wanted to move up in the ranks, who did not have all of the qualifications or could not compete with some of the expert talent from around the country that we have competing for jobs, could fill a position in an underfill capacity and gain the knowledge required through experience and taking additional courses and programs to qualify for that position. Is that program being used at all any more?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: That program is still in place.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us if that program has been used, and if so, how many times, and how many employees have taken advantage of the program over the last year and advanced their positions through the use of that program?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can get back to the Member with that information; I do not have those numbers with me.
Chair: The time being close to 5:30 p.m., we will recess until 7:30 p.m.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
We are dealing with Bill No. 4. Is there any further general debate about the Public Service Commission?
Mrs. Firth: I was asking the Minister about the underfill program before we broke. He indicated to me that he was going to get some information back to me about it. I gather he does not have it yet, so I will wait until it comes.
I want to ask some general questions about hiring and hiring practices, job descriptions and so on. The Minister has given us a copy of this memo to the deputy ministers regarding controlled staffing.
I gather by this memo that Management Board has delegated the authority to approve departmental essential staffing requests in accordance with the staffing criteria. Does Management Board not have to approve the establishment of new positions or the creation of new jobs within the departments any more? The memo says that Management Board has directed the Public Service Commission to submit a monthly monitoring report. Has the Management Board given the authority for hiring and the creating of new positions completely to the departments?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, it has.
Mrs. Firth: Why was that?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Because we believe that the departments can make those kinds of decisions and there is control through their budgets. The departments do have to produce monthly reports and they meet on a regular basis with the Minister. We feel that they are supposed to have managerial skills, and we are letting managers do their jobs.
Mrs. Firth: Well, I thought this was a government that was going to keep tight controls on the creation of new jobs. It would be my preference that Management Board approved or disapproved a new position being created before it was completed, and then there be a monthly report stating what jobs have been approved.
I am registering my opposition to this. I think that tighter control could be put on it if Management Board maintained that control with respect to new positions being created in the department.
The heads of Crown corporations have also been delegated the authority to approve their staffing requirements in accordance with this criteria, and it is a requirement that they report once a month. There is no requirement for the managers to discuss staffing with their Ministers previous to hiring. I do not see anything in the criteria that, before proceeding with staffing actions, they have to consult with their Minister, so I take it that they do not have to consult with their Minister. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No, there is no requirement to consult with the Minister but they are ultimately answerable to the Minister so I think they keep that in mind when they make decisions.
Mrs. Firth: From my past experience with this government and how tough the Ministers are, I do not think any of the managers find that a particularly intimidating exercise.
I want to ask the Minister some questions about writing up the job descriptions and how much leeway is given to the deputy ministers of the departments to draft job descriptions. Do they simply do them on their own and send them to the Public Service Commission for the Public Service Commission to say whether it is fine, or can they write the job description completely on their own, advertise and hire to fill the position? What is the relationship between the Public Service Commission and other departments with respect to drafting job descriptions?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The department itself draws up the job descriptions, but they are run by the Public Service Commission to make sure that the credentialism is up to par and that it is not overly credentialized - that it does meet the requirements of the government.
Mrs. Firth: Who sets the requirements and credentialisms? Is it the Public Service Commission that decides them?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We ensure that the requirements of the job meet the job description, but it is not too credentialized. That is the way it is done in the department.
Mrs. Firth: That is kind of an objective decision. Who writes the job descriptions? Is it the deputy minister or is it the Public Service Commission that writes the job description?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The department would write the job description and take it in to the Public Service Commission to have a look at it.
Mrs. Firth: Then, when the position is advertised and the interviews are done, is it the deputy minister of the department and the Public Service Commission that do the interviewing?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: For managerial positions, I believe it is senior people in the Public Service Commission and the department that do the hiring. In the lower ranks, the manager would sit on the interview team, and the Public Service Commission audits the file.
Mrs. Firth: The practice is the same as it has been in the past. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: That is correct. That practice has been in place for some time.
Mrs. Firth: Is it fair to say that deputy ministers have a fair amount of discretion when they write the job descriptions for positions that become vacant within their department?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: They have a fair amount of discretion, but it has to fall within the requirements of the job. They have some discretion, but it is narrowly focused on the type of employee they require.
Mrs. Firth: What kind of mechanisms or safety measures are in place to ensure that deputy ministers do not write job descriptions to fit individuals? Is the Minister concerned about that? Is there something in place to ensure that that cannot happen, if that accusation were to be made?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The very best one could do would be to review the position description and the requirements to see if they match. There is some discretion, but I would hope that deputy ministers are not writing job descriptions to suit individualsbut to suit the position, and that they have an individual who is qualified to fill the position.
Mrs. Firth: There have been some incidents brought to my attention lately with respect to a particular job within Renewable Resources - the director of policy and planning. The position had been filled by an individual, but when the job description was written, that individual applied and did not even get an interview. There should be something in place to ensure that this kind of activity does not take place. I hope the Public Service Commission has some kind of standard or rationale that all jobs and job descriptions are based upon.
There is little discretion left to the deputy minister to try, in any way, to pick a job to suit a person, as opposed to fitting a person to the job that has to be done.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The Member makes a good point, and there is a concern. I think that for the Renewable Resources job that the Member is talking about, three deputy ministers and the Public Service Commission sat on the board. I do not know how that could be favouritism. It was judged fairly by the three deputy ministers and the Public Service Commission. The successful applicant was the one who was judged to be best suited for the job.
Mrs. Firth: Why would there be three deputy ministers sitting on that board, as well as the Public Service Commission?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I believe it was for a director of policy position, which is considered to be a very senior position. The commission wanted to have senior people sitting on the board.
Mrs. Firth: I have asked the Minister who the three deputy ministers were. I would guess that the Deputy Minister of Renewable Resources would be one and the Public Service Commissioner would be another. Who is the third?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There were two other departments aside from Renewable Resources. The Public Service Commission was not one of them.
Mrs. Firth: Which departments were the three deputy ministers from - Renewable Resources and which other departments?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The two other deputy ministers were from the Tourism department and the Liquor Corporation.
Mrs. Firth: So three deputy ministers interviewed for a position for the director of policy and planning of Renewable Resources, and it was the Deputy Minister of Renewable Resources, the Deputy Minister of Tourism and the Deputy Minister of the Liquor Corporation? Do I understand that correctly?
The Minister is nodding his head yes. Why would the Deputy Minister of Tourism and the Deputy Minister for the Liquor Corporation interview someone who was going to be the director of policy and planning for the Department of Renewable Resources?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: They were invited to sit on the board by the Deputy Minister of Renewable Resources because of their expertise, their managerial skills and their abilities. They sit on boards all the time. They are very senior people. They are very good at doing it and were invited to do so.
Mrs. Firth: I have to ask this question: does the deputy minister, who is writing the job description and advertising for the position, get to choose who is going to sit on the interview board? Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The people are chosen in consultation with the Public Service Commission. The two individuals who were chosen, besides the Deputy Minister of Renewable Resources, are very qualified people. I cannot see where there is a problem.
Mrs. Firth: I will tell the Minister what the problem is. It has nothing to do with the qualifications of the individuals or who they are. It has everything to do with the process. I have a concern, and the Minister admitted that he could see the point I made about the deputy minister writing the job description. Then, if the deputy minister gets to choose who else sits in on the interview committee, and the deputy minister has the authority to create a job or a position when they want - that has been delegated to them - I say that those deputy ministers have an awful lot - a hell of a lot - of authority and control when it comes to hiring people within the public service.
They not only get to hire individuals, but they get to create the jobs, write the job descriptions and decide who sits in on the interview. They only have to go to Management Board after the fact. I have a great deal of concern about that situation, and I think the Minister should too. There are not very many days that go by in a week that we do not hear a complaint from someone or another about their ability to get a job and the fairness of the hiring process in government. It would be my recommendation that the government should perhaps take a look at all of the authority and responsibility it is giving to these individuals.
I have a lot of concern and I do not think I agree with all that objective authority being vested in one individual, regardless of how competent the individual is or what that individual's qualifications may be. I have a great deal of concern about the process.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The Public Service Commission has the responsibility to ensure that the people on the board and the people who are qualifying for the position are certified and qualified people. That is what this department does. I may have a little more faith in the system than the Member opposite, but I take the Member's representation.
Mrs. Firth: It is not a question of having faith in the system; it is a question of whether or not the system is fair. I can appreciate that the Public Service Commission does not act as a policing agency, but I would be interested to know how many times this department actually intervened and said that a situation was not correct. I think the Public Service Commission acts more in the capacity of saying, "This is fine. Proceed", and then the department proceeds.
I have a great deal of concern about the process and the perception as to whether or not the process is fair. If the process is fair and if there are qualified people who are not getting the jobs for whatever reasons, then the process is flawed.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to follow up on the line of questioning regarding the policy position in Renewable Resources. Can the Minister tell me why this position was restricted to employees of the Department of Renewable Resources?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I think the position the Member is talking about is the managerial position and I think the department felt that there were several people in the department who were qualified to try for that position.
Ms. Moorcroft: Who sat on the interview committee for the manager of policy position?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I would have to get back to the Member on that. I think the deputy minister and the personnel officer did, but I would have to get back about any other members who might have sat on the committee.
Ms. Moorcroft: Why would there be three deputy ministers sitting on the selection committee for the director of policy and no one from outside the department sitting in on the interviews for the manager of policy?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will have to get back to the Member about who the other individual was, if there was another individual.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister has just said that he is going to get back about who was involved in the interview. The question I asked him was why the government would bring in people from other departments to interview a director of policy and not have people from other departments interviewing the manager of policy.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The director of policy is a very senior position; I mentioned that to the Member for Riverdale South. That is why we brought in people from other departments.
Ms. Moorcroft: Does the manager of policy report to the director of policy, is it the other way around, or are they in different branches of the department?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I understand that they are in the same department, and that the manager reports to the director.
Mr. Cable: Before supper, I had asked the Minister where the return was about the request for information on merit increases. I was advised by the Minister's official of the legislative return dated January 31, 1995. I think that the confusion arose from the fact that both the Member for Mount Lorne and I had asked basically the same questions. I had followed up with a letter to the Government Leader on January 25 and had asked for some baseline data on merit increases from the last fiscal year, previous to the one that was reported on in the legislative return, so we could see if there were any differences. If I could just walk through the legislative return - maybe the answer is apparent in the return, and I am not recognizing it. The large part of the legislative return has these percentage increases outlined in the column in the centre. Those are the increases as of January 1, 1995. Are those the increases starting as of that date?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No. They were due October 1, 1994.
Mr. Cable: Perhaps the problem has arisen from the fact that when I asked the Government Leader for the baseline data, there were no merit increases due to the freeze. Are these percentages of increases what one would expect prior to the time that the freeze was on? Are they abnormal? That is what I would like to find out, because there were some rumours the government was just shovelling out merit increases at one juncture. That is perhaps the rumour that the Member for Mount Lorne had heard, also.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I think they are probably within the scope. I do not think there was any intent for them to be abnormal in any way.
Mr. Cable: Are the percentages in the report the merit increases only, or are there other increases in it?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It is just the merit increase.
Ms. Moorcroft: Could I ask the Minister why the merit increases apply to managers when all the other public sector employees have had a two-percent wage rollback legislated?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: As of January 1, I believe, all employees receive merit increases on their anniversary date.
Ms. Moorcroft: What is the percentage of the merit increase that is going to be applied to the public servants effective January 1?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It happens on their anniversary date. It could be as high as four percent if they are entitled to it, and it varies. It is for merit. If they are on regular hourly employment, evidently it is four percent. Bargaining unit people get four percent on their anniversary date.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to move into another area if no other Members want to follow up on this.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister provide us with information on the merit increases? Is the decision on how much it will be determined departmentally, by the deputy minister or the manager? How is that decision made?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: For PSAC and the teachers, it is determined under their collective agreement. For managers, it can be anywhere from zero to four percent, based on merit.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister just said that, but I want to know how it is decided whether it is zero or four percent. Who makes that decision? All employees receive that, so who makes the decision?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: For those employees who come under the collective agreement, it is an automatic four percent, which is specified in the agreement. For managers, the deputy minister and their immediate supervisor make the determination, based upon their performance evaluation.
Ms. Moorcroft: I have a couple of questions related to the Public Service Act. This act covers issues like competitions, appointments, appeals, classification, probation, the powers of the Public Service Commission, pay and allowances, transfers, and a whole range of things to do with employees. The first recommendation of the human resource management report done by the Auditor General says there is a need to revise the Public Service Act to include service to Yukoners as its key purpose, to recognize the role of departments and provide delegation of authority and devolution to departments, to refocus the role of the Public Service Commission for it to provide policies, programs and systems to departments, and establish a requirement for the Public Service Commission to monitor and report periodically on the performance of the Yukon government in relation to human resource management.
The Minister, in his opening statement, indicated that, in response to the Auditor General's study, the Public Service Commission was working with the Executive Council Office and the Department of Finance on one item - a legislative and administrative framework for managing human resources. The legislation involved is the Public Service Act.
I was somewhat astonished, then, to hear the Minister say that he is not looking at any amendments to the Public Service Act. I have just reiterated the statement he made in his opening comments: "... when we look at the first recommendation of the human resource management study." Can the Minister explain that?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, there are many things we can do - we are doing them now - without changing the legislation. I laid out in my opening comments some of the things we are doing with the employees. We do not need to change the legislation immediately. We can act on some of these recommendations from the Auditor General without doing that.
Ms. Moorcroft: The department is not, then, acting on the recommendation of the Auditor General to revise the Public Service Act.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No, not at this time.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister also stated that, through the strategic planning exercise, the Public Service Commission is making service to clients its key mission. Has it met with the bargaining agent in writing this strategic plan and working on these changes?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No, we have not.
Ms. Moorcroft: Why not?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This exercise was internally focused. The department met with them in joint consultation on many other issues. This is an action that was internally focused.
Ms. Moorcroft: It seems that the Minister is only paying lip service to the statement he has repeatedly made about how it is important to consult and work with the bargaining agent that represents the employees.
I would like to ask the Minister a follow-up question relating to the full-time equivalents. We have asked for some information on the size of government, in terms of how many positions they are and their nature - whether casual, auxiliary or contract. With regard to some of the questions we have been asking, the Minister stated earlier, before the break, that he could not answer them, because it involved some complicated accounting. My understanding, which is the rationale that was articulated by the previous Minister, was that the reason for going to the full-time equivalency system was simply to make it easier to do the accounting on human resource management. Why, then, has it been so difficult to come up with answers to the questions we have asked, using the FTE accounting system?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It is two different things. To give the number of FTEs is relatively simple, and we can do that, but to break it down by department and category makes it become more labour intensive, more manual to do. We have two or three people now working about three days, and they will probably be working another couple of days, to pull that information together. There just is not a software program where we can type it in and ring out the numbers. That is why it is taking a bit of time. We can pull out the number of FTEs in government very quickly, but to break it down the way it has been asked - there is no program developed yet that will allow us to do that quite as easily as it might sound.
Ms. Moorcroft: Is the full-time equivalency system a software program? Are they able to manipulate the data with computer programs?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We write a special program to do that. Do not get me into this, because I do not know much about computers.
Mrs. Firth: I just have a follow-up question about the positions that have been deleted in this attrition process.
I have been keeping track of this quite closely with the information that we have been requesting and that the Minister has been providing. I want to use, just as an example, one department, the Liquor Corporation. In the first documentation we were given, there were seven positions deleted since November 1, 1992: liquor store clerk in Watson, one in Dawson, Mayo, three in Faro, and the liquor store manager. Some of them were auxiliary positions that were no longer required, some were replaced with permanent part-time job shares; one was a position of a retiring manager. Then, in 1993-94, there were five positions deleted in the Liquor Corporation: liquor store clerk in Whitehorse, a liquor warehouse worker, another liquor store clerk and a liquor warehouse worker. These were all on-call positions and incumbent terminated for general clean-up of position control. That is a total of 12 positions, but one could argue whether or not they were really 12 full-time positions.
Yet on the legislative return that was tabled for Mr. Cable in this House, it says that since November 23 to February 28, 1995, the Liquor Corporation deleted 21 positions.
When I first read that I thought that 21 positions must include just about all of the people working at the Liquor Corporation and that a whole corporation had been deleted. That is only three months after the last printout that we received that outlined the five positions that had been deleted. One printout shows the number 12 and the other printout shows 21. I am skeptical about this exercise of deleting positions.
It would be really helpful to us if we could receive some accurate - I am sure the department will claim that this is accurate, so I do not want to challenge the accuracy - understandable information. I see an article in the newspaper stating that there have been 450 positions deleted. Of that 450, the 21 from the Liquor Corporation is included in that, because they used this legislative return to compile that article.
When I look at the documentation, I can see only 12 positions, so then I question the validity of the information. I would like to ask the Minister if there is any way we could get a printout of the positions deleted alongside the positions created, because I also have another 15 pages of deleted positions and 15 positions created. I have a lot of questions about the positions created, and I do not want to go through all of these 50 pages of positions with the Minister tonight, tomorrow or for the next month.
Is there any way we can get this information? I do not want anyone fooling around with the figures, and I do not want anyone to try and make the figures say something they should not. I just want to see the figures of all the positions, the titles of all of the positions that have been deleted and all of the positions that the government has created. Is it possible to get this information?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I hope that the Member is not suggesting that she thinks that there are people in the department fooling around with the figures, because I do not think that there are. I have the same problem that the Member has in looking at the figures and seeing some consistency in them so that we can all understand what is going on.
I am told that what the Member has asked me for now will take an enormous amount of work to put together. I would be willing to ask the department to look at developing some kind of a process where we get some consistent, comparable figures that we can use in the future and use on an annual basis.
I face the same dilemna as the Member opposite when I get these figures and try to mix and match them. It is difficult to understand. We have moved to the new system of FTEs and it is sort of another figure thrown into the equation. It just gets more and more confusing, but I can give the Member the undertaking that I will ask the department to look at a way to develop some kind of a system in the near future that will give us that kind of comparable data.
I am hesitant to ask the department to pull together all the stuff the Member just asked for. It is going to take an enormous amount of work to do that and I am not sure if that is a wise use of our time to have people doing all of that kind of work.
Mrs. Firth: I have played the game of how many people are really working for the government and how many more or fewer jobs we have for a long time now. I get concerned when I read an article, because of a legislative return that has been tabled, that says that the government has 450 fewer jobs. That is what the article said, because that is what the legislative return said. It is not true, because when I read the legislative return, the Liquor Corporation one jumped out at me. The number of positions deleted was said to be 21. I thought there cannot be any Liquor Corporation staff left. I went to the forms that the Minister had obviously asked his staff to provide for me on November 1, 1992, because I do not just waste the work I put people to. I read it and study it and try to make some sense out of it.
There are seven deletions on this chart that I was given. When I go to November 23, 1993, to November 30, 1994, and look at the chart for the Liquor Corporation, there are five positions. Yet, this legislative return says 21. I think that is a huge discrepancy. Obviously, this article has taken that into account. I think the article might even have reported that there were 21 fewer jobs. It says, "Next on the list is the Yukon Liquor Corporation, which dropped 21 jobs."
I think we should be working together to get accurate information. We always have these big debates about who is right and who is wrong, and what information is right and what is not. To me, that was a glaring example of where the numbers did not match. I think it is in our best interest to get accurate information out to the public, so that we are not constantly having these kinds of challenges.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: That is part of the problem. We do not have an information system that can track all of this stuff as accurately as we want. I will try and get back to the Member about the discrepancy in the Liquor Corporation that she mentioned.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister has just said that they do not have an accurate system that can track the information. The Minister also said that they have gone to this new system of reporting with full-time equivalencies, and that it is more and more confusing. What we were told when the change was made to go to a FTE reporting system was that this would be straightforward, and that this would be an easier way of tracking. All we want is an accurate picture of what is happening with the size of the public service - how many jobs there are and how many jobs are created and deleted. Can the Minister tell me what the total cost was of converting to this FTE system, which just seems to be making things more and more confusing?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The FTE system is an accurate budget reflection of the number of positions there are in the Government of the Yukon. If the Members just wanted FTE numbers, we could give them those numbers. However, if they wanted to attach people to those - positions added and positions deleted - as a cross reference, our programs are not set up to give the Members all that, and we have to do a lot of it manually. That is the system I am talking about that does not track it as well as we would like. If the Members want the number of FTEs from one month to the next, and from one year to the next, we can give the Members that number.
There are certain times when we have to pull it off, but when people or positions are added or deleted, it complicates the matter, and that is where we are running into problems. It is not the extra cost of going to FTEs. This is the right way to do it. Previously, person years were used, which really meant nothing, because it did not count about half of the people who are working for the government, so one did not know how many people were actually working. The use of FTEs gives an idea of how many full-time equivalents are actually employed in the government at a given time.
Ms. Moorcroft: That is exactly the information the Minister has not been able to provide. I have gone through the various reports we have been discussing. How did they come up with the number of 21 fewer positions in the Yukon Liquor Corporation, when the other reports we had of positions being deleted added up to 12 fewer positions?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I thought I just answered that for the Member for Riverdale South, when I said I would come back with an answer of why there is a difference between 21 and 12, and I will do that.
Ms. Moorcroft: Does the Minister know how much it cost to convert the tracking system to the full-time equivalency system?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There was no added program cost. It was done by people in-house. It is just a different way of tracking individuals who work for the government. Now that we are set up for it, we know how many full-time equivalents were working in government. Even the side opposite, after some discussion, felt that it was a better way to track the number of individuals who were actually working for government. With person years, one had no idea. Casuals were not included before; I am not sure about auxiliaries. Contracts were not included, and now all that is included in FTEs. Now, when one wants to know how many full-time equivalents actually work for the Government of Yukon at a given time, we can get that information. Before there was just no way of knowing. Departments could put all kinds of people on contract, and one would never know they even existed or worked for the government.
Ms. Moorcroft: The record will show that, regardless of what system it uses, the Minister is going to have to come back with the information that we have been requesting in a lot of cases. Can the Minister give a clear understanding of what the full-time equivalency is? The concept of a person year does not seem so different from full-time equivalency. A person year is a full-time year of a person being employed.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Perhaps what I can do is bring back for the Member a comparison of person years with respect to full-time equivalency. It might help the Member understand what an FTE is and how we equate FTEs throughout the government.
Ms. Moorcroft: That would be fine; however, what I was trying to get was an indication that the Minister understands that the system that he is trying to defend is providing more accurate information, and I do not believe I have seen evidence of that.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The full-time equivalency is far more accurate than the person years. If the Member would like a briefing from the Public Service Commission on the difference between the two and who we used to count before and who we count now, I would be more than happy to provide it.
Mr. Cable: The Minister tabled a copy of the memorandum dated March 19, 1993, from the Public Service Commissioner to the deputy ministers. It outlined that Management Board had directed the Public Service Commission to submit reviews on a monthly basis. Just for my education, it talks about monthly staffing actions by department and by positions. I have not seen the printouts that were referred to earlier. Does the computer printout show the terminations, the hirings and the gross number of positions on a monthly basis?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: At the present time, we are moving to quarterly reports on FTEs. That is how we are doing it at the present time.
Mr. Cable: Was this memorandum actually acted upon? In addition to the monthly staffing actions, it also refers to statistics that include comparisons to previous staffing action levels, including those for the same period of time one year previous.
Was that directive actually put into effect?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We did it monthly for several months, until we felt confident that there was a handle on it, then we decided it was pretty labour intensive to do it monthly so have decided now to do it quarterly in order that we can still keep track of it and notice any changes, one way or the other.
Mr. Cable: Can the information that has been asked for over the last little while be captured then on a quarterly basis - the number of terminations and the number of hirings and the absolute numbers in the department. Is that readily available on a quarterly basis? I am just wondering why we are suggesting this sort of winter works program for the Public Service Commission arising from the questions we have been asking.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We do not do it now but I guess we could set it up to do it that way. What is the purpose of the exercise, though? What is the Member getting at? What does the Member want to know? If the Member tells me what the Member wants to know, maybe we can try to dig in there and get the figures. The employees of the government are already tied up enormously when we are in the House. When we ask these kinds of things that are quite labour intensive it takes people away from all the projects they are doing that we are supposedly approving in the budget. They have to pull people off jobs to punch out all these numbers and figures. If the Member gets right to the bone and tells me what the Member wants, I can try and find out that number for the Member.
Mr. Cable: What this Member wants is some evidence that there has in fact been a reduction in the public service and where it has taken place. We do not want a partial story - at least, I do not want a partial story - in a legislative return that shows the reductions without the additions. It is not a full story.
Let me just go back to this memo. The Minister says that this was put into effect for several months. How much data does the government have on it?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I would have to check that. I know it was done for several months, and then it was decided that it was labour intensive and things were relatively on track, and we decided to go with a quarterly tracking system.
Mr. Cable: What was the track? Why did Management Board give the direction to the public service to collect this information? Was there some suggestion that there was no handle on the staffing levels? What was the reason?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The government had a staffing freeze. The freeze was removed and the government wanted to monitor the activity for the first little while. After we felt comfortable with that, we decided to monitor the activity quarterly. To just remove the freeze right away and not pay any attention to it would have been the wrong thing to do. The government was using a cautious approach to remove the freeze, monitor hiring monthly and eventually, quarterly.
Mr. Cable: I do not want to put a puzzled frown on the Minister's brow. What we want to do is avoid putting the Minister's staff to a lot of work. However, we need more information so that we can find out just what sort of information is available.
The Minister does not have to shake his head. I think we may get to the bottom of this if we spend some time on it.
What will we get out of these quarterly reports? Will we get the terminations, the hirings and the gross level of the number of persons in each department?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We are tracking the number of FTEs quarterly - by department, quarterly, the number of FTEs.
Mr. Cable: When was the last quarter for which this information is available?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I would have get back to the Member on that.
Mr. Cable: Perhaps we can resolve the problem - perhaps there is not even a problem - if the Minister could give Members a copy of the latest computer printout, prior to the resumption of the debate tomorrow.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will see what can be made available.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister has already indicated that he will provide a legislative return to answer some of the questions I asked him earlier regarding the full-time equivalents. I would like to put another question on the record.
Do the full-time equivalency reporting figures include positions that are created by the winter works program?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We do not identify them as winter works, but we roll every job in the Government of the Yukon into the FTEs so that we know how many FTEs we have in the Government of the Yukon at the given times.
Ms. Moorcroft: Does the Minister have with him copies of the strategic plan for the Public Service Commission that he had indicated he would provide before the break?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No. I can probably have the plan for tomorrow.
Deputy Chair: Is there any further general debate?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that you report progress on Bill No. 4.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 3 - Third Appropriation Act, 1994-95 - continued
Public Service Commission - continued
On Operation and Maintenance
On Finance and Administration
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The amount of $5,000 results in the following: Public Service Commission reorganization eliminating an auxiliary-on-call position, a reduction of $15,000; implementing merit increases and applying compensation restraint to increase net salary dollars by $7,000; total expenditure increase was identified through the reorganization with greater human resource emphasis on training Public Service Commission staff for an additional $13,000, for a total increase of $5,000.
Finance and Administration in the amount of $5,000 agreed to
On Corporate Human Resource Services
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The amount of $673,000 results from the following: an increased transfer to the former compensation branch for three FTE human resource managers due to the reorganization for $155,000; an increase in the transfer from corporate services and employment equity for two FTEs, one human resource manager and one support staff due to reorganization for $116,000; an increase in the transfer from corporate services and employment equity for all funding associated with the native training corps for $297,000; disabled job entry for $40,000; target programs due to reorganization for $337,000; implementing merit increases and applying compensation restraint for $13,000, for a total of $621,000.
Corporate and Human Resource Services in the amount of $673,000 agreed to
On Pay and Benefits Management
Hon. Mr. Phillips: An increase of $192,000 results from the following: an increased transfer to the former compensation branch for .5 FTE benefits analyst due to reorganization; implementing merit increases, compensation restraint, increased net salary dollars by $3,000. The remaining $35,000 represents converging two budgeted half-time positions to full-time, funded from the former compensation branch for $38,000; increased transfer from the former compensation branch fund to repatriation and superannuation plan, $101,000; an increase in the transfer of the former compensation branch to fund program materials associated with investigating repatriation of the superannuation plan for benefits forms, $5,000; communication costs associated with the transfer of a staff member for $2,000; employee premiums for post-retirement life insurance as a result of reorganization for $6,000, for a total of $192,000.
Pay and Benefits Management in the amount of $192,000 agreed to
On Staff Relations
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The net increase of $145,000 results from the following: an increased transfer to the former compensation branch, two FTEs, one for staff relations advisor, one support staff for the reorganization, $139,000; implementing merit increases and compensation restraints, $7,000; an increased transfer from the former compensation branch, $2,000 for communication costs associated with the transfer of staff and $2,000 for non-consumable assets due to reorganization, $4,000; a decreased transfer of $5,000 to corporate human services for competition appeal CHRS now responsible for competition appeal as a result of reorganization, a reduction of $5,000; the total supplementary increase is $145,000.
Staff Relations in the amount of $145,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The breakdown is as follows: three FTEs were transferred to corporate human resource services for three human resource managers, $155,000; two FTEs transferred to staff relations for one staff relations advisor and one support staff, $139,000; one half FTE transferred to pay and benefits management for a benefits specialist, $40,000; two FTEs to planning and research, one policy analyst and one full-time support staff, $100,000; a total of $17,000 was transferred, $2,000 for communications to staff relations for associated transfer of staff and $15,000 to finance and administration capital for renovations - for a total reduction of $17,000; transfers to cover increases in other PSC branches arising from implementing merit increases, $79,000; transferred to pay and benefits to fund the investigation of the repatriation superannuation plan, $101,000; transfer to planning and research to fund the staffing project, a reduction of $10,000; transfer to corporate human resources services communication costs associated with transfer of staff, $6,000; transfer to pay and benefits management for program materials investigating the repatriation superannuation plan for benefit forms, communications costs associated with transfer of staff, $5,000; post-retirement life insurance premium, $2,000; transfer of staff relations for non-consumable assets, $6,000; transfer of corporate human resource services classification appeals, $22,000 reduction; for a total supplementary decrease of $648,000.
Compensation in the amount of an underexpenditure of $684,000 agreed to
On Planning and Research
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is a $358,000 decrease due to a transfer to corporate human resource services of two full-time equivalents for one human resource staff manager and one support staff, for $116,000.
There is an increase due to the transfer of funding for two full-time equivalents from the former compensation branch for one policy analyst and one support staff, in the amount of $100,000.
There is a decrease in funds for the native training corps transfer to corporate human resource services as per their reorganization, in the amount of $297,000. There is a decrease for a disabled job entry transfer to corporate human resources, $40,000; implementing merit increases and applying the compensation restraint increase for a net salary of $349,000. There is a decrease due to a transfer to corporate human resource services for mentoring programs, for $6,000. There is a native training corps and disability training decrease of $10,000; disability equipment, a decrease of $2,000; associated travel for target group members, a decrease of $1,000.
There is an increase due to a transfer from the former compensation branch for a staffing project in the amount of $10,000. There is a total supplementary decrease for this line item in the amount of $358,000.
Ms. Moorcroft: Could the Minister confirm that all those decreases on the various programs, including the mentoring program and a couple of others that I heard, were due to those programs being transferred to other branches in the reorganization and not due to cutting the programs?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Virtually everything in this budget is transferred from one side to the other. There is very little change.
Planning and Research in the amount of an underexpenditure of $358,000 agreed to
On Staff Development
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is an increase of $155,000 approved by Management Board to transfer from the Department of Justice to this branch the corporate safety laws control function and two full-time equivalents, in the amount of $131,000.
The implementation of merit increases and applying compensation restraint totals $10,000. Increases associated with the transfer of the corporate safety laws control function from the Department of Justice for program materials, communications, supplies and in-territory travel is $14,000, which totals an increase of $155,000.
Staff Development in the amount of $155,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $128,000 agreed to
Chair: Is it the wish of the Members to do capital expenditures now, or take a break?
On Finance and Administration
On Computer Workstations
Computer Workstations in the amount of $2,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Renovations were done as a result of PSC reorganization funding provided within the commission's 1994-95 budget and transferred to this capital line item. Due to the reorganization there were several office walls that had to be built and some that had to be changed.
Renovations in the amount of $17,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $19,000 agreed to
Chair: Is it the wish of the Members to take a brief recess at this time?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 3.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 4 - First Appropriation Act, 1995-96 - continued
Public Service Commission - continued
On Operation and Maintenance
On Finance and Administration
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is a $3,000 increase that results from a $2,000 reduction in salary, previously used by an acting assignment in administration that is no longer required. There is an increase of $5,000 in travel due to centralizing funding from other branches.
Administration in the amount of $395,000 agreed to
Finance and Administration in the amount of $395,000 agreed to
On Corporate Human Resource Services
On Staffing Administration
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is an increase of $66,000 in staffing administration that results from a vacancy in leave without pay that occurred in 1994-95, and we anticipate a full staff complement in 1995-96.
Staffing Administration in the amount of $821,000 agreed to
On Staffing Operations
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is no change in this item.
Staffing Operations in the amount of $87,000 agreed to
On Employment Equity
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Employment equity shows a $3,000 increase. This results from employees qualifying for Yukon bonuses.
Employment Equity in the amount of $357,000 agreed to
On Classification Appeals
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Classification appeals shows an $8,000 increase and is due to an anticipated increase in the number of appeals.
Classification Appeals in the amount of $30,000 agreed to
Corporate Human Resource Services in the amount of $1,295,000 agreed to
On Pay and Benefits Management
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Pay and benefits administration is expected to decrease by $7,000 as a result of an $8,000 decrease in salaries, a reduction of one position and conversion of two half-time to full-time positions. There is also a $1,000 increase expected in the cost to purchase federal government forms and pamphlets.
Administration in the amount of $685,000 agreed to
Pay and Benefits Management in the amount of $685,000 agreed to
On Staff Relations
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is due to $5,000 in merit increases.
Ms. Moorcroft: Are those merit increases strictly within the Public Service Commission or do they apply across the government?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: They apply to the Public Service Commission.
Administration in the amount of $545,000 agreed to
On Yukon Government Employees Union/Public Service Alliance of Canada
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This activity shows an increase of $12,000. It results from increases in professional services for adjudication required for the backlog of grievances and appeals.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to state for the record, on this line item, that we are waiting for information from the department on the amount of the backlog and how long the department anticipates that it will take to clear it. I see the Minister nodding his head. Are any additional staffing resources being applied to help clear the backlog?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We have hired more adjudicators to clear up the backlog.
Ms. Moorcroft: Are those positions hired on a contract basis or are they additional positions within the government?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The positions are on contract through the public service staff relations board.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would also like to ask at this time if the Minister could provide us with the contracts list for the department.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I cannot provide the lists at this time, but I will provide it shortly.
Yukon Government Employees Union/Public Service Alliance of Canada in the amount of $102,000 agreed to
On Yukon Teachers Association
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It is the same as PSAC in dealing with adjudications.
Ms. Moorcroft: How many adjudication cases are there within the Yukon Teachers Association?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: That is part of the number we are putting together. We are putting it together for all government.
Yukon Teachers Association in the amount of $8,000 agreed to
On Managerial/Confidential Exclusion
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Expenses in this area are incurred when there is a labour relations dispute between Yukon government and confidential or managerial exclusions. Costs include legal expenses incurred when negotiating settlements.
Managerial/Confidential Exclusion in the amount of $5,000 agreed to
On Long Service Awards
Long Service Awards in the amount of $47,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: In 1988, an indemnification policy was approved that indemnifies employees for legal and judgment costs arising from the performance of their duties, where the employee acted in good faith and without malice, dishonesty, gross negligence or gross disregard or neglect of duty.
Indemnification in the amount of $5,000 agreed to
Staff Relations in the amount of $712,000 agreed to
On Workers' Compensation Fund
On Workers' Compensation Payments
Workers' Compensation Payments in the amount of $1,507,000 agreed to
Workers' Compensation Fund in the amount of $1,507,000 agreed to
On Planning and Research
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Planning and research administration has an overall reduction of $61,000. Included in this is the elimination of one analyst position, for $52,000. There was a reduction in the staffing policy project of $9,000.
Ms. Moorcroft: This is the program area that now coordinates the employment equity program. Can the Minister give me more details about what position was eliminated and what the nature of the work that was done was?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We had one position to get the administration manual in place. It was a one-year term. Now that the manual is in place, that position is terminated.
Ms. Moorcroft: I believe that when we were provided with updated copies of the administration manual on policies, there was one volume that had not yet been completed. Is there any more work to be done on revising policies?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Ours is done in Public Service Commission. There may be one in another department. I can check that out and get back to the Member.
Administration in the amount of $306,000 agreed to
Planning and Research in the amount of $306,000 agreed to
On Leave Accruals
On Leave Liability
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is a decrease of $1 million for leave accruals. This reduction is based on historical information and will bring the account closer to anticipated accruals.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister has indicated that the $1 million reduction is due to historical patterns. Has there normally been an underexpenditure in this line item over the years?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There was an underexpenditure in the last couple of years.
Leave Liability in the amount of $2,800,000 agreed to
Leave Accruals in the amount of $2,800,000 agreed to
On Staff Development
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Staff development and administration shows an increase of $44,000. This includes a $16,000 increase in salaries. This is a result of a secondment that occurred in 1994-95. There is an increase of $28,000 for various other expenses required for arranging and providing materials for courses, including increases of $3,000 for communication, $6,000 for travel, $29,000 for education materials and supplies, and a decrease of $10,000 for contracts.
Administration in the amount of $846,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Staff development operations has a decrease of $33,000. This results from the elimination of the $20,000 salary support to departments for on-the-job training. There is a reduction of $33,000 for tuition assistance, and a transfer of $5,000 for travel to administration. There is also an increase of $17,000 for consulting services, and $8,000 for training classroom rental space.
Ms. Moorcroft: Why is there a decrease in consulting services? What consulting services did they use in the past that they are not using now?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Perhaps I misspoke myself. It is an increase, and not a decrease, of $17,000; it is for training.
Ms. Moorcroft: There are a number of personnel within staff development, and I recognize that most of the instruction is provided by people whom they hire from outside government. Are these additional programs that they need to hire more people for? What is the increase in the contracts for training for?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is for different training courses that we do not have the expertise in house to facilitate and that is why we have to bring outside expertise in.
Operations in the amount of $578,000 agreed to
On Corporate Health and Safety
Corporate Health and Safety in the amount of $14,000 agreed to
Staff Development in the amount of $1,438,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $9,138,000 agreed to
Mrs. Firth: Before we clear the operation and maintenance budget I wanted to ask if the department is currently examining the Government of Yukon establishing its own superannuation act?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, I mentioned earlier this afternoon that the department is looking at repatriating that, and we are now discussing this with the federal government.
Mrs. Firth: How long has the department been examining a move in this direction?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We started last year and will be continuing with it this year.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell us why the government wants to do this?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It is something that the government has been working on for some time. The act would allow the government to have local control and allow the government to consider such things as early retirement, which was a recommendation that came from the education review. Those are some of the reasons why the government is looking at bringing this back.
Mrs. Firth: I know that by doing this activity there would be a huge pot of money that would have to be kept in trust. Will the government have access to that money?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No, the money would be jointly managed by the government and the union. It would be pension funds for the employees, so it would be pretty well secured wherever it was secured, and very well invested by the group.
Mrs. Firth: Is the union supportive of this concept?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes. We talked to both unions and they are supportive.
On Finance and Administration
Ms. Moorcroft: We just have the one line item in the capital budget here and, before we completely clear the department, I would like to get an idea from the Minister of when he expects to be able to come back with some of the information we have requested - for example, on the amount of money spent on travel and information on secondments, the strategic plan, and some of the other information. I recognize that some of it is information that may take a while to compile, but some of it is information that I would think should be readily available.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The information requested will be treated as a priority. There are individuals working on it as we speak, almost, and we will get it to the Member as quickly as we can. We will treat it with priority.
On Office Facilities and Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The breakdown for this is as follows: computer workstations $26,000; photocopiers, $10,000, and office furniture $7,000, for a total of $43,000.
Mrs. Firth: I have asked this question for all the departments - does the department keep a list of computers that become obsolete? When the computers become obsolete, what constitutes their being obsolete? Is there a rotation or some organized way in which the computer and systems equipment is replaced?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The department has a five-year plan with respect to computer replacement.
Mrs. Firth: What does that mean? Are they all replaced after five years?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No, there is an analysis done of the needs of the computers. As the computers become obsolete, they are replaced. It is an ongoing program. Some computers do become obsolete these days. Some of the newer types of computers out can be added to, can be used for other services. This is just an ongoing program of purchasing new computers as other ones become obsolete.
Mrs. Firth: There is that word "obsolete" again. It is always being used to justify why the Minister needs new money for more computers.
I do not know what the word "obsolete" means. We would like to know, as Members, what that means. We are waiting for the Minister of Government Services to get back to us about whether or not there is an inventory of computers. Does the department keep an inventory? What constitutes a piece of equipment becoming obsolete?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Computers, like any other piece of equipment, do wear out. Some of the programs are too slow for the demands to recover information that are put on them now. We upgrade them as we need to in order to respond to the demands. Some of them just basically wear out after a while, like any other piece of equipment.
Mrs. Firth: I can understand a piece of equipment wearing out to the point that one is no longer able to use it. Things break down and get completely trashed. What I am concerned about is departments identifying or deciding that their equipment is obsolete. In other words, they think it does not work fast enough any more, or there is some fancy new program that can be used. I do not think that we should just be replacing computers for the sake of replacing computers.
Every department in this budget has had more and more money identified for computers. I am trying to get a handle on how the department have come to the Ministers to request these funds and the Ministers have given them the go-ahead. I would like to know how the purchase of all this new computer equipment can be justified.
Now I find that no departments really keep a list of inventory, and I cannot get a definition of what the word "obsolete" means from any department, so I will just keep asking each Minister in each department what he means by it.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Some of the computers in the Public Service Commission are just computer terminals; they do not have a word-processing capability. We are asking employees to do that kind of thing. Personal computers are also required to do pension calculations. Some of the terminals will not do that and certainly will not do it with the speed that is required.
Mrs. Firth: What happens to the computers that the departments do not need any more? I gather that they are still good computers and they can still be used. What happens to those?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is a priority of who needs what computer power. Some departments need a 486, some can get by with a 386 and other departments can just use a terminal. The computers get passed down as computers are replaced. When it gets to the end of the line, I guess they go to Government Services and are either put back into the system, or, I imagine, they go to the Crown assets disposal. I am not sure.
Mrs. Firth: That is my concern. If one is going to buy new equipment, one should be able to justify it.
Is this money specifically identified to purchase specific units, or is it just an amount that has been given and they will just hand down some computers and purchase new ones until they run out of money? If this is for a schedule, can the Minister tell us exactly what it is going to purchase?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I can give the Member an idea of what we are purchasing with the $26,000: a 4039 printer, 3.4, as the current printer is obsolete and does not meet the branch's needs for better quality day-to-day correspondence while printing pension calculations for government employees; and, two personal computer terminals for 7.6. These computers are replacement for personal computer workstations. The equipment this branch possesses is obsolete and does not possess word-processing capabilities. Personal computers are required to do pension calculations.
In human resource services there are two personal computer terminals. Again, the computers are slow and without due usage they hinder the production of automatic correspondence to job seekers. Another 4029 printer is being purchased at a cost of $3,400 and one personal computer terminal - the current computer is a mainframe terminal computer and, as such, has no word-processing or spreadsheet capability. The new station would facilitate the production of employment equity statistics at a cost of $4,000. The total for these purchases is $26,000.
I would remind the Member that, in the business world today, one of the biggest expenses for many businesses is computer equipment. Everyone is getting into the computer age; demands are greater because people want much more, much quicker. The technology is there and government has to be as efficient as it possibly can.
I respect the Member's concern about whether or not there is a set of priorities, how the department can deal with the priorities and the concern of replacing computers for the sake of replacement, or are the computers being replaced in an organized fashion. I believe the department is doing it in an organized fashion.
Mrs. Firth: I am certainly not opposed to advanced technology. When businesses upgrade they have to be able to pay for the upgrades. Governments have unlimited, endless supplies of money and it is coming right out of our pockets.
My job is to be here to see that there are at least some controls and some justification, and that is what I am doing. I think that we should be able to ask and get information about how every piece of equipment is purchased here in the government. That is what I am doing.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I am not denying the Member the opportunity to ask. However, it is also my job as the Minister to make sure that these are justifiable expenses, and in this case I feel that they are.
Office Facilities and Equipment in the amount of $43,000 agreed to
Finance and Administration in the amount of $43,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $43,000 agreed to
Public Service Commission agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that you report progress on Bill No. 4.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Abel: The Committee of the Whole considered Bill No. 3, Third Appropriation Act, 1994-95, and Bill No. 4, First Appropriation Act, 1995-96, and directed me to report progress on them.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Member: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House stands adjourned until 1:30 tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:25 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled April 5, 1995:
Yukon Liquor Corporation: 17th annual report for the year ended March 31, 1994 (Brewster)
The following Legislative Return was tabled April 5, 1995:
Foster care rates: basic rates for foster care across Canada as at September 1994 (Phelps)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1579
The following Document was filed April 5, 1995:
Safari Adventures Yukon: tentative operations manual for wilderness operations (dated March 15, 1995); letter dated March 4, 1995, to Trevor Harding, MLA for Faro, from Safari Adventures (Harding)