Wednesday, April 19, 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.
Introduction of Visitors.
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
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?
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: World Wildlife Fund, protection of endangered spaces
Mr. Harding: I have a question for the Minister responsible for Renewable Resources.
The World Wildlife Fund has just given another seriously negative report card to the Yukon Party for their action responding to commitments they made to protect endangered spaces.
I would like to ask the Minister this: does he agree with the criticism levelled at the Yukon Party by Yukon environmental organizations and the WWF, and if not, why?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We are about in the middle of the heap. If the Member looks at that report card, there is a failure and there is a D-minus; we are a D so we are about in the middle of the heap. There are a couple of points. Firstly, we started in about 1987 or 1988 and other provinces and jurisdictions have been at this for upwards of 100 years. We are actually doing very, very well and I disagree with the analysis of the World Wildlife Fund.
Mr. Harding: Perhaps the Minister of Education should have a talk with this Minister. He is prepared to settle for a D and thinks that is pretty good.
This government has signed on to the protected-spaces initiative, which means it has committed to protect 23 endangered natural regions by the year 2000. So far, we are halfway through this decade, and fewer than half of the areas have been suitably protected. Why did they sign on to an agreement for endangered spaces, and then sit back for the last 18 months and designate no new areas for protection?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: As I said before, this started in 1987, when the Members opposite were in government, but that is not the point. The point is that we are very well along the way to fulfilling our commitment. The World Wildlife Fund, in its own report, said that there should be a scientific approach to the support of these areas. We are the only jurisdiction in Canada that is doing a full assessment - mineralization, logging potential, wildlife potential, and that sort of thing - of the regions. We have committed by letter to have the assessments completed by 1997, and we feel confident that we will.
Mr. Harding: It is not good enough to blame everything, as these people often do, on the previous government. The NDP cannot hold the Yukon Party's hand forever. Sooner or later it is going to have to crawl, walk and run on its own. It is going to have to do some things itself. It will soon be three years into its mandate.
When this government wants to put the Environment Act on the back burner, or when it wants to gut it, or when it wants to support Killermun Lake exploration in the wolf kill zone, it pushes ahead, no problem.
Why does it seem to have so little resolve to follow up on its endangered spaces commitments, or as one famous Yukoner, Howard Tracey, said, "Why does this Cabinet have so little willpower?"
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I think that we have a little bit of willpower. The Member should also be aware that 7.5 percent out of 12 percent is protected. It is kind of interesting the jurisdictions the Member opposite seems to support. For instance, Saskatchewan has 3.1 percent. Manitoba has, I believe, 5.5 percent. Ontario has 5.5 percent. They are all well below us. We are at 7.5 percent and we are quite confident we will reach our goal for 1997 and the year 2000.
Question re: World Wildlife Fund, protection of endangered spaces
Mr. Harding: It is obvious that this Minister has confused federal and territorial issues and territorial parks, and he does not understand that there is a difference between the two. This government has said that it believes that it is possible to have multi-use protection for endangered spaces - in other words, mines and parks. However, the endangered spaces program the government agreed to does not share this view. I would like to ask the Minister how the government is going to meet its commitments, while reconciling this obvious contradiction.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: It is rather interesting that in debate on our budget the other day, the Leader of the Official Opposition said that he supported certain types of logging in park areas. That is one of the worst types of things that could be done in a park.
We are quite committed to our 1997 deadline and to our year 2000 deadline, and I am sure that we will meet both of them.
Mr. Harding: The Minister brought up some of the things that have been raised in this session.
On February 23, this Minister said, in response to a question from the Member for McIntyre-Takhini, "Once we have identified the areas and done an assessment, as I have said before, it is our intention to have those areas protected from mining and any other activity." Then, April 12, in answer to questions from me, the Minister said, "We identify these areas and then move to protect them in some way." I asked him what "some way" means, and he said, "There may be some parts that are merely walk in and there may be some that allow recreation vehicles or some sort of resource development."
It is clear that there are some very confusing messages and no clear plan by this government for the protection of endangered spaces.
Given that no areas have been designated for the last 18 months, when are Yukoners going to see a clear plan and timetable for this initiative?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I think that there is a very clear plan, and there definitely is a clear timetable. We have looked at the whole question. We are conducting it in a scientific way. By 1997 we will have the areas selected. We are doing a full assessment.
As I said three times now, I am quite confident that we will meet our commitments.
Mr. Harding: This government has been spinning its wheels in two very important areas: land claims negotiations and the protection of endangered spaces.
If the government has a clear plan and timetable, as the Minister has just said, I would like to know if he will commit to having these natural regions protected by the year 2000, as the government has committed to in the past?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: For the fourth time, I am sure that we can meet our commitments for the year 2000 deadline.
Question re: Energy policy, role of the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Minister of Economic Development. Yesterday I asked some questions of the Minister on energy and forestry policy initiatives and the role of the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment, in relation to those initiatives.
With respect to forestry policy development, the Minister said yesterday that his officials had been dealing with the chair of the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment to determine exactly what his department's role and the council's role would be.
Have there been similar conversations about the role of the department and the council about the development of energy policy?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yes, there have been discussions, but I am not sure what the outcome of those discussions were. There have been discussions between the department and Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment.
Mr. Cable: Yesterday the Minister indicated that the agenda for the council's meeting at the end of the month had been set after several submissions had been received. It is my understanding that there were only three submissions received. Is the Minister satisfied that this important council, dealing with an important conference - with a $30,000 budget for the whole year - is going to have significant input into the energy and forestry policy development, and is the Minister satisfied that the mandate given to this group is adequate for the task?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yes, I am. I am quite satisfied with the mandate.
Mr. Cable: I thought yesterday that the Minister had indicated that there were ongoing discussions between the chair and his staff with respect to the forestry policy development. Perhaps the Minister could tell us just what is the mandate of the council at the present time with respect to the forestry policy development?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The department and the YCEE are discussing what the roles of each one will be. The department certainly has more resources than the YCEE, so the intent of those discussions is to make the best use of both groups. Discussions are still ongoing and have not yet come to a conclusion on the respective roles of each.
Question re: Tombstone territorial park
Mr. Penikett: I have a question for the Government Leader.
Prior to June 1992, the Dawson First Nation had a land claim selection named R-10 in the Tombstone area but, in recognition of the territorial government's longstanding interest in creating a Tombstone territorial park, the Dawson First Nation proposed a special management area of 1,000 square kilometres, and negotiations toward this goal proceeded between the parties until the change in government.
Since the Government Leader has never told the House exactly why YTG reneged on the previous promises with respect to this park, made by YTG to the First Nation, can he tell us what his reasons were for radically changing the territorial government's position?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: We felt that the area was far too large to be set aside as a special management area. The area is very rich in resources. We felt that we needed to protect the Tombstone Mountain and its aesthetic value to the tourism industry, and if the Dawson First Nation wish, they could claim the rest of the land that was not being committed to the park. That is my understanding.
Mr. Penikett: As I understand it, in February of 1994, approximately 388 square kilometres of the Tombstone area was withdrawn for a park. However, according to the Dawson City First Nation, the Yukon Party has been, throughout, absolutely inflexible in negotiating boundaries. I would like to ask the Government Leader this question: did this unbending attitude arise from prior commitments to certain mining companies that had contributed heavily to the Yukon Party election?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I think the Member should get his facts straight before he makes allegations of that sort in this House. There were certain mining companies that relinquished their claims so that we could make a park in that area.
Mr. Penikett: I would like to table the maps showing what the previous government had proposed, what the Dawson First Nation had proposed and what the Yukon Party government had proposed, because they make it quite clear what happened here.
I would like to ask a question of the Minister of Renewable Resources. The 1991 parks and outdoor recreation policy says, "The objective for territorial parks is to preserve natural and heritage areas which have the greatest significance for Yukoners. Most commercial resources extractive activities are incompatible with this objective of territorial parks." Can the Minister say, for the record, when and how the territorial government changed this policy? Are there Cabinet minutes or any kind of coherent policy statement that can be tabled in this House on this subject?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I cannot table a Cabinet minute or an actual policy because the policy remains the same.
Question re: Tombstone territorial park
Mr. Penikett: I do not see how the policy can have remained the same when the government shrunk a park by two-thirds - to permit mining in the area - and the government continues to say, from time to time, that it likes to have mining in parks. The World Wildlife Fund says that if there is mining in it, it is not a park. Let me ask the Minister this: the Governments of Canada and the Yukon have both officially agreed to create a network of protected areas in all of the territory's 22 ecoregions, with the objective of protecting 12 percent of each ecoregion. Since the 388 square kilometre park, proposed by the Yukon Party, represents less than five percent of the south Ogilvie region, what environmentally defensible justification can the Minister offer for cutting the park's size by two-thirds and then actually bragging about it in the throne speech?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: As I mentioned before, we are doing assessments; we are looking at mineralization; we are looking at potential forestry; and we are looking at wildlife. We are looking at all of the things that may have some future impact on a park. When that assessment has been completed - all of the assessments for all of the 23 ecoregions in the territory will be completed by 1997 - and when a territorial park is actually created, that park will be there forevermore.
Mr. Penikett: The whole point is that long before any of these assessments were done, the Yukon Party made a politically driven decision to cut the size of this park by two-thirds. As the Dawson City First Nation points out, the Tombstone area, including the Cloudy Range to the north, is an incredibly beautiful area with viewscapes and natural features that are staggering. As many people agree, this area cries out for protection, in the interests of both Canada and the Yukon. I want to ask the Minister of Economic Development - who is also, incidentally, the environment Minister - does he not accept the Dawson First Nation's view that the long-term tourism and renewable resource values in this area might well outweigh the short-term benefits of mineral extraction? Or, does the Minister always think - as the Government Leader says - that mineral extraction is more important?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I think I did answer that already. The boundary is still under negotiation. It has not been finalized, but what we did not want to do is to include areas of high mineralization, because as we have all seen - maybe some of us older ones might have seen - in times past that, when some sort of resource was required, it was taken. Whereas what we want to do is identify these areas through our assessment so that what does become a park, remains a park. That is what our ultimate goal is.
On the topic of mineralization, if there is a resource that has a potential maybe - I am not saying this in all cases, but in some cases - it may be best to extract that resource and in fact replace the vegetation, and so on. Then we do not have to worry about it in future years.
Mr. Penikett: Yes, a nice little Butchart Gardens.
What is so nonsensical about what the Minister says is that the special-management-areas provision that the previous government introduced to deal with problems like this at the land claims table allowed for prior assessments about resource values before the establishment of a park, but First Nations tell us that this government's attitude is that there shall be no more special management areas in the Yukon.
I want to ask the Minister this question: since, today, he and his government got a D grade from the World Wildlife Fund - nine other jurisdictions in Canada did better than the Yukon government - in this report, how can this Minister of Renewable Resources show his face, much less chair the Council of Canadian Environment Ministers, which is happening soon, without hanging his head in shame about this report and what he is doing about the environment in the Yukon - or failing to do.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I have said three or four times today, as I have said in the past, that we will live up to our commitments. We want to do a full assessment, as I said before. We want to look at the extractable resources, renewable resources, wildlife and all of these things, to find out what the impact will be. We are doing our homework.
Another thing that should be taken into consideration is that Ontario has reached only 5.5 percent of the 12 percent that it is working toward. We are higher than that at 7.5 percent.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Speaker: Order. Please allow the Member to complete his answer.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am being heckled, Mr. Speaker.
As I have said, this government will live up to its commitments. During the 1995-96 fiscal year, this government is spending in excess of $250,000. There are about four people working on this.
Provinces, some of which are doing much poorer than we are doing in protecting areas, have millions of dollars in their park budgets and hundreds of staff. The Yukon has a staff of four or five people working on this. I think that we are doing very, very well, compared to the rest of Canada. This government has made commitments that it will live up to.
Question re: Caribou enhancement program
Mr. Harding: I think the answers to the questions prove what we have been saying - this government has reached no land claims agreements and we have no parks. It is clear what the government's priorities are.
I have a question about something that this government is good at. I want to ask a question about the wolf kill.
The snaring method was predominantly used in the Yukon this year. This was also the method that was used in Alaska, which, as far as the news reports have indicated, ultimately ended that kill.
Does the Minister feel that the concerns that ended the Alaska kill are relevant here, and will the government be mainly using the snaring method instead of the aerial kill next year?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The Member is quite right. I believe it is the snaring methods that stopped the Alaska wolf kill program. I think that we in the Yukon are somewhat better at using the snaring method, because we do have quick-kill snares. However, there has to be an evaluation of this year's program completed. That evaluation will look very carefully at the snaring program as well as at the aerial program. Following that evaluation there will be a recommendation made.
Mr. Harding: The Minister indicated in Committee of the Whole debate that he and the department were considering conducting a kill over the next few years in a couple of areas where moose populations are low in the central Yukon.
I would like to ask him if there have been discussions about this in the department and what is the Minister's view of this?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I do not believe I said there would be a wolf kill. I said that we have to look at other areas in the territory where moose and caribou populations may be declining, but I do not believe I ever said we would be conducting a wolf kill.
Mr. Harding: The Minister indicated clearly that it was under active consideration by the department, and he even said they had had some meetings with people concerned in the communities about low moose populations when that topic had come up. Is he categorically denying that the wolf kill in any other areas is an option over the next few years, and that there have been no discussions at all in the department about it?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: There would be a full assessment prior to entering into a wolf kill program. There may be other factors that affect the populations. As in the case of the Aishihik area, we would look at all of those factors - the ground cover, vegetation growth, disease and other factors that may affect those herds - prior to effecting a wolf kill.
Question re: Energy conference
Mr. McDonald: I have a question about the energy policy conference sponsored by the Council on the Economy and the Environment.
I am puzzled that a public agenda for the conference has not been established at this late date. There are only 10 days left before the conference, and no background papers have been prepared by the Department of Economic Development to identify what work has already been done.
Is the government encouraging the council to start public discussion about energy policy from first principles? Is there some sense as to what the priority issues should be to focus the agenda somewhat, so that the discussions at the council meeting will advance from what we already know about energy policy issues in the territory?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We are certainly not going to try and drive the conference at all. Yesterday, I received a draft agenda. I expect that that will be made public in the next few days.
Mr. McDonald: One of the things that the Minister said during Committee estimates is that the department itself is going to be developing a business plan that would identify the public consultation process in the development of an economic policy, and if the business plan was not finished by now, they would be facing us in Question Period. They are not here, but we are looking forward to their participation.
Yesterday, the Minister indicated that the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment would be advising the government on the consultation process for the development of economic policy. Can the Minister tell us whether or not this consultation process has been designed, who is responsible for developing it and where we go from here?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Yesterday or last Thursday, I received a copy of the draft business plan. I hope that I can have it tabled in the Legislature. If I cannot, I will make the department come to the next session's Question Period, because I am hoping that there will not be enough time left in this one.
The consultation is laid out in the business plan. I am not sure about the details at this time, but the way it expects to go about the consultation process is laid out.
Mr. McDonald: I have many more questions about that, but one of the issues that is of the most importance to the public is the electricity rate policy, which was to be developed and considered by Cabinet in the month of April, according to the government.
The conference will be taking place on April 29. Will the conference be made aware of the government's new electricity rate policy, which will obviously impact every energy user in the territory?
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: I am not certain what the Member is getting at. I do not remember making a commitment that we were going to set an electricity rate policy in April of this year.
Question re: Energy conference
Mr. McDonald: There is a legislative return dated March 14 that indicated that the Department of Economic Development is drafting a paper for Cabinet with proposals for amendments to the existing electricity rate policy directive to the Yukon Utilities Board. The Cabinet will be revealing this paper in April, according to the legislative return. Obviously everybody in the territory is interested in what the electricity rate policy is going to be. The conference, which is going to be dealing with energy, is going to have a lot of interested and informed people participating. Are the participants going to be made aware of the electricity rate policy during the conference, or by the time the conference starts?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: We are not talking about setting rates. What we are talking about is the method for establishing the rates. I believe that is what the paper is about, and that is what will be discussed at the conference.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister is saying that this new rate policy directive will be made public at the conference. Is that correct? I am not aware that it has been made public at all. Is that what the Minister is saying?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I am not aware of a new rate directive now. What I think we want to do is outline the rate as it is structured now, and get some ideas from the conference about some possible changes to that structure.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister signed this legislative return on March 14 - I recognize the signature. It indicates that the rate policy will be put in place over the next two months - this is starting from the middle of March - in order to facilitate planning for a rate application for the 1996-97 rate period. As I indicated before, it does say that the Cabinet will be reviewing the paper this month. I am not sure that the Cabinet is going to be reviewing anything. Can the Minister give us an update on what is happening? Obviously, something has gone off the rails here. Is there a rate policy? Will the Minister revise the legislative return of March 14 to let us know what is happening with the electricity rate policy? I know there are a lot of people who will be very interested in what it has to say.
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I believe that the intent is to discuss, at the conference, the way the rate is structured.
Question re: Tombstone territorial park
Mrs. Firth: I want to get into the debate on the parks because I find it quite interesting. First of all, I want to say that I find all of the Yukon incredibly beautiful, but I also believe that we should be self-sufficient one day. Therefore, I do support some logging and some mining.
I have listened to the Minister's comments in Committee debate and have listened to his comments today. In Committee debate, the Minister said, "Once we have identified the areas and have done an assessment, then, as I have said before, it is our intention to have those areas protected from mining and any other activity."
Today, I listened to the Yukon Party and the NDP debate who is going to create more parks in the territory and whose track record is better in respect to creating parks. I heard the Minister stand up and say that the government would live up to its commitments about creating parks. Exactly what is that?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: In debate, we spoke about the 23 ecoregions, and that there be representative area set aside in each of the ecoregions. We are now doing assessments of these ecoregions. A geologist has been hired on staff to complete them. The commitment is to complete the assessments of the 23 ecoregions by 1997 and to have the 12-percent protected areas in place by the year 2000.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister said that he is doing his homework. The Minister said that he has a clear plan, a clear timetable and that everything is being done scientifically. So far, all that I have received from the Minister is that by 1997 assessments are going to be completed and the Yukon is going to have more land in the form of 23 more parks.
I would like to ask the Minister this: what, exactly, is this clear plan and clear timetable, which he just stood up and spoke about? Was that it? Is there more?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: The Member opposite is quite gleefully simplifying the whole process. The important thing is that we are doing the assessments. The government's commitment for 1997 is that all of the background work and all of the geological work will be complete. After that time, from 1997 to the year 2000, the government could start creating the parks. However, before we actually create the parks, a full assessment needs to be completed.
Mrs. Firth: This is what we have here now. We have a so-called pro-development-party government trying to outdo the NDP with respect to creating parks. We have a Prime Minister in Ottawa who makes parks just because he loves his wife - he flies over some beautiful part of the country, draws a red circle around it and makes a park out of it.
As one of the individuals in the Yukon who does support some development and some industry, we would like to know what is going to be left for us after this government is finished making all of its parks.
Can the Minister tell us what is going to be left for everyone else? What is going to be left for the industry? What percentage of the Yukon would this government like to see set aside for parks? What is the goal of the government?
Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Fisher: For the sixth time today, the full commitment is for 12 percent to be designated as park. We already are at 7.5 percent in the Yukon Territory.
Question re: Energy and forestry policy development
Mr. Cable: I have some more questions for the Minister of Economic Development on forestry and energy policy.
In his forestry policy paper he put out a couple of weeks ago, a number of steps are set out for the development of Yukon forestry policy and a time frame. Has there been a similar six-step process set out within the department for the development of an energy policy?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: If the Member is referring to framework for the Yukon government's involvement in forestry, no, we do not have a paper as yet for energy.
Mr. Cable: With respect to the forestry policy, the paper sets out a time frame for the various steps relating to the strategy actions. We have an "ongoing" time frame for forestry policy. Can the Minister be a little more precise as to his target dates, both with respect to the steps that will take place and the final policy development?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: I would like to see the policy finalized in about a year; however, again, if devolution happens sooner than that, we would have to speed up that process. If devolution takes longer than that, there would not be a great rush. The target right now is approximately one year.
Mr. Cable: I had a sinking feeling yesterday, after listening to the Government Leader, that the energy policy development is being winged by the government. The Minister has partly dispelled that illusion. Can he give us a third, fourth or fifth commitment for the target date for the development of energy policy?
Hon. Mr. Fisher: Right now, I cannot say when we will have our energy policy in final form.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Is it the wish of the Committee to take a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will take a brief recess.
Bill No. 3 - Third Appropriation Act, 1994-95 - continued
Department of Tourism - continued
On Operation and Maintenance
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is just for miscellaneous expenses and payroll adjustments.
Mrs. Firth: I want to ask the Minister a question about his comment with respect to an administrative matter concerning the schematic design. He said that when the schematic design is ready for the visitor reception centre, the design committee will look at it. He then said, "in June or July before deciding on the final design and before going to pretender and tender" - what does the Minister mean by pretender? Is this going to be another one of those prequalification projects like the government had for the hospital?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The job will just go to tender, through the normal process.
Mrs. Firth: By "normal process", I expect the Minister means a public tender?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes, it will be a public tender process, the way all of the capital building projects are tendered.
Administration in the amount of $4,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This line item includes payroll adjustments and miscellaneous expenses.
Heritage in the amount of $5,000 agreed to
Development in the amount of $3,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This line item is the one I spoke about in my opening comments. The amount of $233,000 is for foreign exchange and U.S. postal rates. The line is adjusted at the end of the year. Also included in this line item is the impact of wage restraint and transfer of assistant development officer from development capital for $24,000, for a total of $257,000.
Marketing in the amount of $257,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is a transfer of administration capital for contributions to the Arts Centre to build a storage unit for the permanent art collection, resulting in a reduction of $12,000.
Arts in the amount of an underexpenditure of $12,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $257,000 agreed to
On Office Accommodation, Furniture, Equipment and Systems
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is a transfer from the arts branch operation and maintenance for a storage unit, in the amount of $14,000. There are planning costs for an office accommodation project, $300,000. There is a reduction of $40,000 for delayed equipment purchases.
Mr. McDonald: I am not really good at quick math. Can the Minister run down that list of the items again?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is an increase of $14,000, an increase of $300,000, and a decrease of $40,000, for a total of $274,000.
Mr. McDonald: Can the Minister give us a more detailed explanation of the $300,000?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: That is the planning costs for the new downtown business centre and visitor reception centre.
Mr. McDonald: Is it exclusively for that one project?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Yes.
Mr. McDonald: The tender was approved just for the design a couple or three weeks ago, and we are almost three weeks into the new year. What was the $300,000 spent on? I do not understand. I understood yesterday that there was no functional plan. How was the money spent?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The bulk of it - about $270,000 - will be revoted. As the Member knows, this budget was put together quite a bit earlier in the year, and it was anticipated that this work would have been done earlier.
Mr. McDonald: Have the time lines been changed at all, in terms of the obvious delay in work? To spent $274,000 would take some time.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We do not think at this time that it will affect the final time lines.
Office Accommodation, Furniture, Equipment and Systems in the amount of $274,000 agreed to
On Artifact Inventory and Cataloguing
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This was an impact of wage restraint, and $25,000 is provided by the federal government for artifact inventory cataloguing.
Mr. McDonald: That does not make any sense. There is $25,000 for inventory and there is wage restraint, which suggests a reduction. There is not a reconciliation in these figures. How does the Minister account for that?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: These are the supplementaries. The impact of wage restraint was positive because of no Christmas closure and that kind of thing. That is why there is a $1,000 difference in the wage restraint and a $25,000 difference in the inventory cataloguing.
Mr. McDonald: I am not sure I understand that explanation but, nevertheless, what is interesting is the artifact inventory and cataloguing. What work has been done on cataloguing and inventory work?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It is an ongoing process. I can bring back a report for the Member about where it is at this time. It has been going on for several years now.
Mr. McDonald: I am interested in the artifacts that have actually been catalogued. Is there such a catalogue?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The catalogue is the federal CHIN database. It is where we are entering it now. I cannot tell the Member much more than that.
Artifact Inventory and Cataloguing in the amount of $26,000 agreed to
On Historic Sites
On Historic Sites Maintenance
Historic Sites Maintenance in the amount of an underexpenditure of $1,000 agreed to
On Historic Sites Inventory
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is an acceptance from DIAND for the Arctic environmental strategy program. It was to be used for inventorying artifacts and machinery in the gold fields.
Historic Sites Inventory in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Historic Sites Planning
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is transferred from historic sites planning to Yukon archaeology in order to fill the position of assistant archaeologist.
Mr. McDonald: In terms of the historic sites inventory and planning, the Minister was going to give me a list of sites. I hate to be accused of prolonging the session and I have asked the question almost 15 times, but am I going to get this list? When is this list going to be delivered? Can the Minister please give me a date and a time, please?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I think I read that into the record yesterday. I will find the note and read it into the record again today.
Territorial site designations have already been agreed to - and I read this into the record yesterday - for Rampart House and Lapierre House, Vuntut Gwitchin; Lansing Post, First Nation of Na-Cho Ny'ak Dun; the Dalton Post designation will be addressed as part of the development of a site management plan with Champagne-Aishihik First Nation; the Carcross White Pass and Yukon rail depot is already protected through federal legislation; and other significant properties are preserved through existing ownership by the government. Examples are the Klondike national historic sites, and Yukon national historic sites in cooperation with national parks, Ivvavik, Kluane, Vuntut or territorial parks, the Pauline Cove settlement on Herschel Island and the Herschel Island territorial park. As well, I mentioned other sites yesterday such as Canyon City, the Old Territorial Administration Building and Montague House - the ones that are known. I think we all know which sites they are. The 30-some-odd sites in the city are available in the city walking tour guide. I will get a copy of that for the Member and have it delivered to his office.
Mr. McDonald: I do not want the Minister to read me a briefing note again. I want the precise list. Is that the list that has been in the budget for so long, that cost $96,000? I want the precise list of sites. If that is the sum total of the work that has been done, then it leaves some more questions. I want to know every building of which they are aware. If they have done the inventory then it should be simple to provide that information. I realize it is an ongoing process, but if everything he has just read off is the complete list and there are no other items, then that is fine.
Is this the complete list? Are there any other buildings that the Minister knows about?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I will check on the complete list and bring it back to the Member.
Historic Sites Planning in the amount of an underexpenditure of $20,000 agreed to
On Canyon City Tramway
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is for the purchase of logs and an interpretive plan.
Canyon City Tramway in the amount of $60,000 agreed to
On Interpretation and Signage
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is an activity transfer from the development program capital.
Mr. McDonald: What has been transferred?
All of the information that I have at my disposal is that under interpretation and signage there is an extra $60,000. The Minister has indicated that something has been transferred. Can the Minister be more precise about what has been transferred?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We have pulled the responsibility of signage out of the development program and put it into the heritage program. The heritage people will tie in a heritage component to the signage throughout the Yukon and are working on an overall plan for signage. The $60,000 went from one area into another.
Mr. McDonald: Is the Minister saying that nothing has changed in terms of the original plan for the $60,000?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Nothing other than to design signs in the future with more of a heritage component to them.
Interpretation and Signage in the amount of $60,000 agreed to
On Montague Roadhouse
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This was a public safety issue. The Montague Roadhouse was starting to cave in, and we moved money ahead in order to stabilize it.
Mr. Joe: All I want to know is who owns it. Can the Minister tell me if it is government-owned?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: My understanding is that it is a building that the Government of Yukon is responsible for. Many of the tour buses stop there every year and tourists walk through the building. It was starting to cave in and became very hazardous. We were worried about something falling on someone, and also worried about the preservation of the building. A contract was put out to straighten up the walls, stabilize the building and preserve it. There was some improved signage put up at the same time.
Mr. Joe: It is good that the government owns the building. At one time, I was told that Mr. Tracey owned it.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I am not aware of that. My understanding is that it is a Government of the Yukon building, and it is our responsibility.
Montague Roadhouse in the amount of $30,000 agreed to
On Yukon Archaeology
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I think I mentioned earlier that this is a transfer from historic sites planning to Yukon archaeology for an assistant archaeologist position to be filled by November 1994 for $20,000.
Yukon Archaeology in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Destination, Regional and Community Planning
On Destination, Site or Product Assessment
Hon. Mr. Phillips: That is for miscellaneous reductions.
Destination, Site or Product Assessment in the amount of an underexpenditure of $5,000 agreed to
On Product Development
On Signs and Interpretation
Signs and Interpretation in the amount of an underexpenditure of $60,000 agreed to
On Visitor Reception Centres
On VRC Capital Maintenance
VRC Capital Maintenance in the amount of $2,000 agreed to
On Facility Development
On Living Cultural Centre
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is just a revote.
Mr. McDonald: How much of the $30,000 is going to be spent in this year?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I understand there will be about $4,000 to $5,000 spent this year.
Mr. McDonald: The government is revoting $15,000 so that it can lapse $26,000 - is that how it works? What is that all about?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: In July and August, when the budget was put together, we had no idea that it would be held up. There was some work done by the Council for Yukon Indians. Then there was a request to hold off because they wanted to do some more consultation with the chiefs. It stopped at that point. We are waiting to hear from them.
Mr. McDonald: When did the government hear that the CYI was going to take more time to consult with the chiefs? Where does it stand, precisely? When was the last meeting that the government had with the CYI?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I am not sure of the specific date. It was a few months ago. It might have been just before the new year, somewhere in that time, when I spoke with them.
Mr. McDonald: I would like the Minister to actually ask the department to provide a more specific time as to when the matter was last addressed with CYI. Where does the project stand right now? Is there nothing more to be done until the government hears back from CYI? What is the expectation? What does the government need to hear to take it to the next step?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I do not know if I can provide the Member with an exact date, because I think it was a phone call from the chair of the Council for Yukon Indians. CYI had had a study done and a bit of a report done. They were not entirely happy with the report and the chair, Ms. Gingell, wanted to run it by the chiefs before they went any further with it. I have not heard back from them yet about where they were going to go. The study, I think, wandered a bit from what CYI intended it to do. Ms. Gingell wanted to get a clear direction from the chiefs on the types of living cultural centre they wanted.
I think there was some concern expressed that other First Nation bands were pursuing the idea of a living cultural centre themselves, and so the question was do we have one of them, or do we end up with more than one? Ms. Gingell wanted to consult her chiefs before they went any further. That is where it is at now. I have not had any recent communication with them. They have been pretty tied up lately with land claims and other things, so that has not been a real high priority with them, but we hope to get things moving again in the new year.
Mr. McDonald: When the Minister says we want to get things moving again in the new year, what does he mean by that? Does he mean the government is going to take some initiatives? Is it simply going to wait for the phone call, or is he going to initiate a phone call to CYI? How is that actually going to happen?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: They are working through the arts branch, and someone in the arts branch, I suppose, will contact CYI to ask it where the project is at and try to get it back on track. As I said before, we did not want to drive this project, because one can get accused quickly on something as sensitive as this, and so it was being driven by CYI. We will basically be giving them a call to ask about the status of the project and where they are going from here.
Living Cultural Centre in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $421,000 agreed to
Department of Tourism in the amount of $678,000 agreed to
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
Department of Tourism - continued
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is $434,000 for salaries for 6.9 full-time equivalents, and $20,000 for travel in or out of the territory. There is $76,200 for departmental-wide photocopier supplies, fax costs, repairs and maintenance and other miscellaneous items. There is a transfer payment of $285,000 to the Yukon Anniversaries Commission. There is a $100,000 transfer payment to the Tourism Industry Association.
Mr. McDonald: Where is the bulk of the three-percent growth?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The increase is about $25,000. There is a new half-time receptionist position starting mid-year. There is $6,000 allocated for the maintenance of the local area network. There is $6,000 for maintenance of the product inventory database. There is $4,000 for miscellaneous items, for a total of $25,000.
Mr. McDonald: We have had a fair amount of discussion about core funding to various organizations. Up until now, we have been put off by the Minister saying that there is a new policy being developed that will accommodate all non-government organizations that receive a subsidy for their operations from the government.
Essentially, we have been told that core funding is no longer available and that only fees for very specific services will be approved. Is that what the Minister understands to be the case for the Tourism Industry Association?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Presently, the agreements are contribution agreements, but I know there have been some discussions with the organizations for fee-for-service agreements and that type of thing. TIA does provide a service to us with respect to marketing and other initiatives that we work with them on, and the Anniversaries Commission is certainly providing a service with respect to organizing local events for the anniversaries.
Mr. McDonald: Certainly, I have been led to believe that there is a specific service required and a specific fee for that service, and that the services would be broken down, with fees attached to each one, in the way one would contract with any private sector contractor. That is how it has been described.
The Minister is saying that if there is a specific marketing initiative, the Tourism Industry Association would be provided with a very specific amount for that marketing initiative - is that how it will be constructed?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: My understanding is that, for the most part, most of the things we do with TIA, for example, are pretty fixed. They do three or four shows a year for us and some other things. They are pretty established and have been for some time.
Many of the new initiatives used to be handled under the economic development agreement. It would be relatively simple to sit down with the two groups and draw up a fee-for-service agreement that could be used for the funds that they receive each year.
Mr. McDonald: Will that change the amount of money that the Tourism Industry Association will receive if it goes to a very specific fee-for-service agreement?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We are not planning any changes to the amount of funding at this time.
Mr. McDonald: That is interesting. I guess we will follow up in the next budget about how this will play out for the whole government. I was led to believe that, for other departments, it may well change, because the bottom line is that the decision making will be based on whether or not a certain service can be provided by an organization, whether or not that is the best way to get the service and whether or not there are other, more cost-efficient ways of getting the service.
This is the first Minister who has indicated, in what appears to be a primary consideration, that TIA will receive its funding, and the fee-for-service arrangement will be structured to accommodate the need to provide TIA with $100,000 or another specific amount.
We will follow up on this issue in Committee in general budget estimates when we get around to it again.
Operations in the amount of $915,000 agreed to
Administration in the amount of $915,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This comprises $209,000 for salaries for three positions; $12,000 for in and out of territorial travel; $21,000 for communications; $15,000 for transfer payment to the Yukon Science Institute for a heritage lecture series; and $15,000 for small research contract rentals and materials.
Operations in the amount of $272,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This line item includes the amount of $137,000 for two employees - a museums advisor and conservator; $5,000 for travel in and out of the territory; $75,000 for the passport program; $128,000 for transfer payments to museums; and $900 miscellaneous.
Mr. McDonald: Are the transfer payments to museums a hold-the-line expenditure, or is there any increase or decrease?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It is an increase, and I will read out what the museums received last year and what they received this year. The Dawson Museum received $22,000 last year, and it will receive $22,000 this year. The MacBride Museum received $22,000 last year, and it will receive $22,000 this year. The Transportation Museum received $10,000 last year, and it will receive $22,000 this year. That will allow the Transportation Museum to hire a curator, which will enable the museum to access federal funding. Yukon Historical and Museum Association received $17,500 last year, and it will receive $22,000 this year. That will allow the association to hire an executive director - full time, I believe. The Keno Museum received $8,500 last year, and it will receive $9,000 this year. The Old Log Church, the George Johnston Museum and Kluane all received $10,000 both this year and last year.
Mr. McDonald: Did the Minister say that an extra $5,000 was going to allow a half-time position to move to a full-time position for the Yukon Historical and Museum Association? Is that what he said?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: My understanding is that we provide partial funding. By providing an extra $5,000, along with other funding they receive, they can hire somebody full time for the position that was previously half time.
Museums in the amount of $346,000 agreed to
On Historic Sites
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is $131,000 for two employees, and $4,000 for travel in and out of the territory.
Historic Sites in the amount of $135,000 agreed to
Heritage in the amount of $753,000 agreed to
On Industry Services
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is $345,000 for salary for five employees; $12,000 for travel in and out of the territory; $9,000 for communications; $69,000 for contract industry development support; $10,200 for a newsletter and postage and miscellaneous; a $61,000 transfer payment to Yukon Energy Corporation for the third year of the funding agreement for the hatchery and fish ladder.
Operations in the amount of $506,000 agreed to
Industry Services in the amount of $506,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is $574,000 for nine employees; $515,000 for advertising, which includes the Style-Conscious Adventures campaign, film industry program and the winter program; $34,000 for communications; $57,000 for marketing research, focus groups, conversion studies and border crossings; and $1,300 for miscellaneous.
Operations in the amount of $1,181,000 agreed to
On Public Relations
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is $45,000 for travel in and out of the territory to various media marketplaces and film-site industry travel. There is $81,000 for program materials, including familiarization tours for both media and film producers. There is $30,300 for miscellaneous purchases.
Public Relations in the amount of $129,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is $78,000 for travel to various trade show and marketplaces. This includes registration, exhibits and space rental costs. There is $15,400 for familiarization tours for travel agents; $15,000 for program materials for promotional items and exhibits; $114,000 for promotional activities for the style-conscious adventures campaign; $125,000 for the Tourism North joint program with B.C. and Alaska; $15,000 for the ambassador program; $220,000 for transfer payment to Alaska Tourism Marketing Council; a $25,000 transfer payment for the conventions program; $300,000 for the anniversaries enhancement program; and $135,300 for European marketing related to promotions activity.
Promotions in the amount of $1,043,000 agreed to
On Information Services
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is $715,000 for 13.9 FTEs, a travel counsellor and 33 seasonal visitor reception centre staff; $448,500 for envelopes, postage and freight; $416,000 for departmental publications - that is the vacation guide and tour planner - and $60,000 for the operation of six community visitor reception centres.
Mr. Cable: I wonder if the Minister could give us a breakdown at some juncture on where the marketing monies are going with respect to the various markets? Is that a major enterprise? How many dollars are being focused on Germany, for example, or Europe? How many dollars are being focused on the United States, and how many dollars are being focused on Canada?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: In broad terms, I have sort of stated it in the budget. The SCA campaign is North America, the European campaign, of course, is Europe, but when we get down to the specifics, it gets a little more complicated and a little more labour-intensive to do it. I think the Member can go through the budget estimates and pretty well extract from that where our marketing dollars are going. If the Member needs more than that, I can provide a briefing from the department, possibly at a later date, to give the Member a more accurate figure, but it still will be difficult. If the Member wants to get very specific on exact dollars, it is difficult to pin down.
Mr. Cable: I think it was indicated in a previous briefing by department staff that they did not see the Asian market as being a major focus. I would like to explore that further. The Minister suggested a briefing at the same time he mentioned the briefing that is being done on the market research. That information would be appropriate for me, and I am sure that some of the other Members of the Opposition would like to attend.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I could get that information for the Member. I do not think I ever said that the Asian market is not a major focus. We have moved into the Asian market and have been marketing in this area for the past three years, but everybody we have talked to says that it is an extremely expensive market to get involved in and, with our limited dollars, the department has to be as efficient as it can. As well, we have some difficulties with the Asian market because of the location of the Yukon and the access to it.
The people from Japan primarily take short holidays: seven days. Sometimes it is very difficult to get in and out of the territory within a short, seven-day time frame. We are still exploring some avenues in that marketplace, and I hope some inroads will be made in that market over the next two to three years.
Information Services in the amount of $1,640,000 agreed to
Marketing in the amount of $3,993,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is $262,000 for four full-time equivalents. There is $10,600 for travel. There is $9,800 for arts, boards and juries. There is $44,700 for contract services in the areas of arts marketing and arts awareness initiatives. There is $4,000 for advertising. There is $6,700 for communication. There is $9,800 for program materials, supplies, repairs and maintenance. There is $781,800 for transfer payments to the Arts Centre Corporation, YRAC, arts groups, artists, the artists in the schools program. There is a forecasted recovery of $180,000 from the Lottery Commission.
Mr. McDonald: Where is the new arts policy?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I believe it is going back to the public in its final form. I hope it will be back in September and be ready for implementation then. It went through the government departments after the consultation was completed. They had a look at it. It has gone out in much the same form that it came in. It will be taken to the various communities and run by the people in the arts community who were very much a part of its drafting. Then it will come back to the department and be implemented as government policy.
Mr. McDonald: Can the Minister tell us when that will take place and when it will go back out? Can the Minister give the Members of the Opposition a copy of it?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: As soon as it goes out, I will give them a copy. My understanding is that it should be here shortly - in the next week or two. I would think that, within the next couple of weeks or so, there will be meetings set up in the communities. I will see if I can get a copy for the Member as soon as possible.
Operations in the amount of $1,130,000 agreed to
Arts in the amount of $1,130,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $7,297,000 agreed to
Chair: Is there any general debate?
On General Administration Support
On Office Accommodation, Furniture, Equipment and Systems
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is $900,000 for the tourism business centre; $100,000 to begin planning and design work for the Beringia Interpretive Centre and Yukon Historic Resources Centre; $500,000 for the palaeontology database, phase 2; $5,000 for the visitor exit survey design program; $2,000 for software for the library system; $5,000 for an arts evaluation visual-imaging system; $10,000 to replace one computer and one printer; $3,000 for miscellaneous software and firm upgrade; and $20,000 for furniture.
Mr. McDonald: I am a little concerned about the Minister's projections for the Beringia Centre. I realize he drew one, first-class headline yesterday on the Beringia Centre and how we are talking of 125,000 people attending the centre and paying the $5 fee. I am really skeptical about this 125,000 figure. Frankly, I have been personally criticized for letting the Minister off the hook so easily, and for making it seem that this is something we can just take for granted in some way. That number represents half of last year's border crossings going through one facility and paying $5 apiece. What was the rationale for 125,000? Why not 100,000, 75,000 or 150,000? Why 125,000?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: As I told the Member earlier, those are just rough estimates. They are guesstimates of the number of people who will travel to, or through, Whitehorse and the number of people we could attract to stop and see the centre. Many of those people will be bus tour people, who are very interested in the centre.
I hope we are not going to go over the whole debate again. We have gone over it in Question Period, we went over it the other day, and appear to be starting to go over it again.
The figures are just estimates. I cannot do much more for the Member, other than to give him rough estimates. The visitor exit survey numbers, which we obtained the figure from, are visitor exit survey numbers of people who come through Whitehorse. They are border crossing statistics, so it is the number of people we know will come through this area. We have taken what we think are conservative estimates, and have not built into that any increase for the upcoming anniversaries. I think it is quite conservative overall.
The Member has to realize that we will be doing some extensive marketing on the facility. The marketing will include encouraging bus companies and others to include the Beringia Centre as part of their packages. We hope that will bring the numbers up.
Mr. McDonald: I will point out to the Minister that Question Period did not deal with the specifics of the Beringia Centre project at all. The Minister convinced us all to wait for the estimates debate, which we did. We acceded to his suggestion. When we got to Committee debate, the Minister basically gave the same answer now - that these are conservative estimates and that marketing can do wonders.
I would not refer to these as conservative estimates at all. I would say excessively liberal estimates would be more appropriate. In checking the attendance at the Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, it appears that a couple of years ago they had 600,000 visitors and, when they increased attendance fees, the visitorship dropped by 100,000 people. Obviously these kinds of exhibits are price sensitive, and we know that because the SS Klondike sternwheeler is also a site whose visitorship drops when one starts charging a fee. I am really quite surprised that the Minister would assume that 125,000 people - half the people who come through the territory - are going to actually come to this facility and pay the fee.
The MacBride Museum has a paid attendance of 21,000 and it is pretty well marketed as far as territorial facilities go. It has a lot of interesting artifacts and interesting things to see and do.
The suggestion that this new Beringia Centre, which, as the Minister explained, is not a museum but simply an interpretive centre that typically is not a huge draw to the public - certainly not like museums - is going to outstrip the MacBride Museum by six times in just a few years seems wildly fantastic.
The Minister did not indicate why this guesstimate was 125,000 and not 150,000. Quite frankly, my suspicions are that the Minister wanted to show that the place makes a profit so he just stuck in an amount that, with a $5 fee, would lead to a profit, so that he could justify that it made a profit. If that is the case, then I would regard it as a dishonest approach to selling the centre.
To say that the facility, through a brilliant marketing campaign, would see 125,000 visitors is like saying that the SS Klondike sternwheeler, with brilliant marketing, could also increase its visitorship from what we understand it to be now by six times.
If the Minister can increase our comfort factor, I would really appreciate it. Otherwise, it sure sounds like puffery to me, and it sure sounds like a huge attempt to justify the centre and try to make the claim that it is going to make enormous profits or whatever it was that the Minister originally said would happen, and get the headline that he presumably calculated he would get, and did get.
It is my duty to try and see if we can tie it down a bit.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I do not really know where to start. I know that the Member opposite has never been really supportive of this particular project from day one. He has indicated that publicly, and he says so in the House. I am disappointed by that. I would like to see the Member supporting it; many others are. He mentioned that the SS Klondike numbers are low.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Maybe the Member for Faro also wants to get in on this. I suppose he will.
The Member mentioned the SS Klondike. Part of the problem with the SS Klondike was marketing. I know the side opposite has never been big on marketing. It has never supported any marketing initiative that we have done - ever. It has never voted for our tourism budgets - ever. It is simply not supportive of our marketing, and we know that. When it comes to pairing for marketing, it is not supportive. When it comes to initiatives, it is not supportive.
I know some Members on the other side admit privately that they think we are doing a great deal of marketing, but when it comes to the public perception, they are rather shy about being honest with everybody and speaking their mind. That is unfortunate.
In the case of the SS Klondike, it was announced in April that the prices were to be raised starting in May. The bus companies just quit coming. These companies plan a year or two years in advance when they are selling and marketing their initiatives, and you have to get to them in advance. With respect to the numbers at MacBride Museum, I do not think that the museum has too many bus companies going there. Many of their visitors are individual tourists. There are not a lot of big bus company tours going through MacBride.
I am hoping that, by keeping people like Princess Tours and Holland America here another day, they will consider looking at and visiting other attractions. If we market properly, and put the prices together, it will be attractive enough that they will spend more time and money. I am hopeful that will happen. I do not know how much more I can tell the Member other than the fact that we have made some rough projections. We are going to market this initiative; we are going to work at it. He has seen the type of marketing initiatives we have made already with the anniversaries enhancement program. It is a very innovative marketing idea. People will be working on other ones for Beringia in the future. I am sure we will come up with some innovative ideas for Beringia, and for tying in other attractions in Whitehorse in order to make it a destination.
I have an article here. The article is from a magazine called Touring America, from April 1995. It is called "Cruise and Drive to Alaska".
If one reads the article, it is all about driving through Alaska. There are pages and pages about driving through Alaska. When the reader comes to the area that tells about the Yukon there are a few paragraphs that talk about going another 70 miles to Dawson City after crossing the Yukon on a free ferry operated by the province. It says that 100 years ago the streets of Dawson were paved with gold and now they are not paved at all and that many of the buildings dating to the Klondike Gold Rush have been restored and rebuilt. It says that the town is a living, thriving testament to the stampede and the Yukon lifestyle.
The article goes on and on talking about Robert Service, the Jack London cabin, the interpretative centre, the dry docked steamer, Keno, the Palace Grande Theatre, Diamond Tooth Gertie's, and says that without fail visitors owe themselves the drive to the top of the Midnight Dome.
There are paragraphs and paragraphs about Dawson. It says that outside of town visitors can follow Bonanza Creek to Dredge No. 4. It says, "The road between Dawson and Whitehorse parallels the Yukon River for 300 miles. On the way you will pass historic Five Finger Rapids and Lake Laberge before coming into Whitehorse proper."
The article goes on to talk about Whitehorse. It says, "Whitehorse is just a city, no better or no worse than others, with full recreational vehicle facilities, accommodations and supplies as needed. One stop worth your while is the Frantic Follies, a vaudeville-like show at the Westmark Whitehorse Hotel. It is one of the best entertainment stages that you will find in the Great White North."
That is it, that is all it says. From Whitehorse it says that visitors can travel to Skagway toward the gold fields. That is the problem. People will stop and spend time in Dawson City, but they will not stop and spend time in Whitehorse. We need more attractions in Whitehorse, like Canyon City, the Beringia Centre, the visitor reception centre and more attractions like the Whitehorse waterfront to make visitors stay longer.
It appears that the Members opposite are against more attractions for Whitehorse. I am disappointed in that.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The Leader of the Official Opposition says that they are against the government's badly thought out ideas. I think it goes a little deeper than that. I think it goes right to the heart of the matter that the Leader of the Official Opposition is quite embarrassed about the mess his government left up on the hill. The Leader of the Official Opposition sees this as a rather good idea and he is rather upset about someone else getting a better idea and getting support from the community. The Minister's nose is out of joint and I am sorry about that, but we know that that Member's nose gets out of joint quite often.
I think that the Beringia Centre is a good idea. I think proper marketing will increase the tourism traffic to Whitehorse, and I think that it will make the Yukon a better destination in the future. Yukon businesses, the MacBride Museum, the SS Klondike and others will see great benefits in the future from tourists spending an extra day or two in the Whitehorse area. I do not think that is a bad, long-range goal. I think it is a good, long-range goal and that is why we are proceeding with this particular project.
Mr. McDonald: I am going to contain myself, because I think there is not much point in getting really angry or excited with this Minister. The Minister does not listen. There is no point in trying to convince the Minister. There is no advantage in trying to convince the Minister at this point that he is using his desire, and I think a common desire, to see people come to Whitehorse and stay here as a simple justification for his particular project. There does not seem to be a lot of point in that. We have made our points in the past and we will probably continue to make them.
The Minister indicates that the NDP is against more attractions. That is simply a childish statement. It has no foundation. No one believes it other than the Minister, in his fantasyland, the one he lives in. There is not really any point to challenging that statement. The Minister's description of the visitor reception centre on the highway as being "a mess on the hill" is without foundation, but he has referred to it as being a monstrosity. I cannot see that. People have not told me that it is a monstrosity. Some people have said that they do not like the design, but have not called it a monstrosity. That is just the typical hyperbole of the person who is trying childishly to make a political case, and making it poorly. In fact, the visitors who have signed the little guest book, and the people whom we all claim to care about, who have come to visit the centre, claim that it is a wonderful place. They like it and they like the design. I invite the Minister to read the book, but then presumably he does not think that their opinions are important, or has dismissed them in some way, maybe because they already have been to the territory - I do not know what his reason is.
The Minister indicates that he does not think that the NDP supports any of the marketing ventures that he has taken. That is a nonsensical, childish statement. It is without foundation. Apart from the fact that, from time to time, people may criticize the secretive nature of one of his own personal trips and the way he came back and explained it and criticized the B.C. Premier for having gone -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McDonald: The Minister says that he has explained his position to me. The Minister is trying to understand why we took the public position that we did, criticizing the secretive nature of his marketing trip to Europe. I told him the reason for it.
The Minister indicates that we do not support any of the marketing that he has done. I have not said that we do not support any of the marketing that he has ever done.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McDonald: The Minister says that we voted against all the budgets. Yes, we voted against the budgets because they involved tax increases, cut public servants' wages when the government is clearly going forward with -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Deputy Chair: Order please. Mr. McDonald has the floor.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister said something about how we refused to pair. I will ask him to stand up and explain that in a moment. I want to talk about the pairing policy, if he is going to raise the issue. We can talk about the comparison between the NDP in this Legislature and the Yukon Party Conservatives, and how they wanted us to drag someone who was virtually in a hospital bed into the Legislature in order to defend the budget.
We have been doing nothing but pairing for this government on all kinds of different things. On virtually anything that has to do with government business, this Opposition has agreed to pair. I invite the Minister to stand up and make his case.
With respect to the budget, there are all kinds of good reasons to vote against this budget. There are all kinds of good reasons to want to defeat both it and the government in power. However, to say that we do not agree with $30,000 for Montague House because we voted against the budget is clear, patent nonsense and stupidity.
I am not trying to convince the Minister; I am long past trying to do that.
There is no point in making that case. I would much prefer to make my case to the public, with whom it is, incidentally, receiving good reviews.
With respect to the issue at hand, which is the Beringia Centre, the Minister has still been unable to identify why this ball-park figure is being used and not another one. The only thing I can think of is that this ball-park figure for this particular project - the Minister says that I do not support the project, and I do not. I have made that case on a couple of occasions. The Minister has given one example with which I agree.
As the Minister has described, designed and justified this project, he has not made a good case. He is full of hyperbole and marketing rhetoric about how good marketing can defend and support anything. I am sure that the operators of MacBride Museum also feel that if the government were to put in even one fraction in terms of resources toward marketing that facility, it would do a lot better. Certainly, if the government were to put into the MacBride Museum even a fraction of what it is putting toward the Beringia Centre alone, it could expect better attendance at the museum.
The government's guesstimate of 125,000 people is patently ridiculous - unless the Minister can provide some clear indication as to how the government came up with that figure. So far, he has been unable to do so. The only conclusion that people in our position can draw is that the Minister wanted to show a profit, so he just projects one into the future. He says, "Okay, in three years we will start off with, say, 65,000. That is three times the attendance at MacBride Museum; we will increase it by three times, and we will increase the attendance at MacBride Museum by three times. With good marketing, we will probably make it. Of course, that does not really put us into the black, so we will show that with increasingly good marketing, we will have well over 100,000 people - 125,000 people. That is the way we can show a $200,000 profit."
Why 125,000? Why could the Minister not have shown a little support for the Beringia Centre and shown it at 175,000? He has as much justification for 125,000 as he would for 175,000. If everyone who comes to the territory knew what was offered at the Beringia Centre, they would all want to come. Why not include them all?
Why not go for the expected increase as a result of the anniversaries and include those people too. Then we could have truly enormous profits. But there has not been a justification for 250,000 visitors and there has not been a justification for 125,000 visitors, other than just the projection, just the guesstimate. Unless the Minister can provide some tougher information or some clearer analysis, the only conclusion that can be reliably drawn is that there has to be some reason for 125,000, and the only reason I can conclude is that the Minister wanted to show he could make a profit. That is all. That is it.
The Minister has what he wants - he has his headline - but somebody is going to have to live with the consequences at some point. Based on the messages I am getting from the general public, it will not be the Minister of Tourism.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I am absolutely convinced, as maybe the Member is convinced, that I am not going to move on this. I am convinced that it would not matter what number I gave the Member, he would find some reason to try to discredit the number because his whole job here has been non-supportive of these kinds of attractions. That is unfortunate, because the industry, the businesses - everybody except the MacBride Museum people and some individuals in the museums community - are pleased. Perhaps the Member should take some time and go to some of the tourism meetings, because he is the critic. Perhaps he should ask some of the people at the meetings if they are pleased about new attractions being created. People are supportive of that.
He talks about pairing and examples of pairing. The side opposite has not paired for any of our marketing initiatives and I have asked them to pair for many of them. One that comes to mind is the one last May when I went to Rendezvous Canada - a very important marketing initiative for the Yukon. In fact, out of that particular marketing initiative we achieved the beginning of a very significant marketing program, which I am going to be talking about next week.
It was that particular time that the Member opposite said, "Sorry, we pair for ministerial programs, we do not pair for these kinds of things." Yet, as the Tourism critic, he knew that it was an important meeting. He knew that was an extremely useful trip for the government.
The Member is not being fair or honest when he says that the previous government never refused pairing, because it did. The Member raises the red herring about when he was in government and we were on the other side and did not pair for a Member who was sick, but the Member has got it all wrong. At that particular time, they had a majority government. When one has a majority government, one does not have to pair. It is all numbers; one pairs only when one has a minority government. The Member has been here long enough to know that. That Member could have been away for any reason and it would not have made an ounce of difference in the House when it came to a vote.
Deputy Chair: Order please. Just a friendly reminder that we are on the line item of general administrative support, office accommodation, furniture, equipment and systems. Members should keep their remarks limited to that line item.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Thank you, Mr. Deputy Chair. I think that I have made my point, and I will end by saying that I do not think the Member and I are going to agree on the Beringia Centre at all.
It will be interesting to see, in the next election, if the Member, as the Leader of the New Democratic Party, is going to run on the platform of killing the Beringia Centre idea. That would be an interesting platform for the Member to run on, and I would certainly go head-to-head with him on that issue - I would be more than happy to do so.
I think the Beringia Centre is a good idea. I think it will be a good attraction for the City of Whitehorse and a good overall attraction for the Yukon. We have thousands of tourists who come up here every year on their way to Alaska and this government is trying to do everything it can to get tourists to stop in Whitehorse.
We know from visitor exit surveys and all of the marketing that we do that these are the kinds of things that people want to see. People want to see authentic attractions from First Nations and other historical eras. There is hardly any other place in the world that has as much Beringia history as the Yukon. We have an opportunity to capitalize on that era and provide something special for visitors that come here. At the same time, there are spinoffs that will circulate through the whole community. I would think that the Tourism critic, who is from the City of Whitehorse - or was in the last election - would support this, because it is going to benefit the Member's constituents. It will benefit Yukoners throughout the territory when the Yukon becomes a more attractive place to visit.
I know that the Member is not going to agree with this. I am not going to give the Member a bunch of other numbers, because he is going to twist and turn the numbers. It does not matter what number I give him, he will not be happy with it. I guess we just have to agree to disagree on this. In my view, it is a good project. We will proceed with it. I do not have much more to say about it.
Mr. McDonald: I have never heard such hypocrisy in my life. This government has had as much a majority in this Legislature as we ever had when we were in Opposition. This Opposition has paired over and over again with that government. If the Minister is saying that there is no change, perhaps the pairing should end, since they now have a majority. Perhaps we should just end it. I will take that up with my caucus tomorrow, if that is what the Minister is advocating. He is advocating this, so I thank him for providing the stimulus to call it quits. I have never heard anything so hypocritical in my life.
With respect to pairing marketing initiatives, where was this Member when the NDP government wanted to go for anything, let alone marketing initiatives? What did the Yukon Party want to do in those days? They wanted to talk about our duty to this Legislature as being of prime importance. We were lectured over and over again by that same Member about our duty in the Legislature - the duty to be here. That is our prime duty. We should not go to anything. Then he has the gall to be talking now about going off to ministerial conferences and protesting how that is appropriate and even suggest that marketing initiatives, for which he plays a peripheral part, should be included in that list, as well. Where is the fine rhetoric about duty to this Legislature? It is not convenient to argue that any more. What hypocrisy.
Deputy Chair: Order please. I would like to remind the Member that "hypocrisy" is an unparliamentary term, and I would appreciate it if the Member would not use it any more.
Mr. McDonald: There is no objection to exhibiting Beringia artifacts. Who said that? There is no objection to constructing and creating more sites, giving people more things to see and do in Whitehorse. Where is the objection to that? There is no objection to more sites and more things for people to do, if there can be proper justification in any community, including downtown Destruction Bay. There is no objection to any convincing argument that will hold people in the territory if there is economic value to it. There would be no objection to those being constructed, but the Minister, without consultation with anyone, to my knowledge, made the announcement. I invite the Minister to tell me one organization that was well aware of the Beringia Centre before the announcement. When the Minister comes forward and, in justifying it, talks about it making enormous profits and that it is going to be a world-class facility, it is my duty in this Legislature, as the critic, to test what the Minister is saying. Is it real? It is a bunch of marketing hype to market a political concept? What is it? If the Minister had said, "Well, last year MacBride had so many thousand visitors, the visitor reception centre had 26,000 visitors and, with some marketing, we think we can get conservatively 35,000 visitors in the first year, or maybe 40,000 visitors," I think that might be somewhat believable. To bump up the figures to 125,000 in a couple of years - where does that come from?
Any time any of us on this side ask the simple question, such as "Can you please explain these numbers a little bit so that we can get a sense of whether or not you are speaking sense, whether or not there is actual justification for it," the Minister says, "You do not believe in marketing. You do not believe in more sites in Whitehorse. You do not believe in the basic need to draw people in for another day. You are consequently a nay-sayer and there is no point in carrying on."
That is the response. So what are we supposed to say - "Oh, Mr. Minister, please believe us. We believe in more sites and we are sorry for even asking about the basic numbers. Jeepers. As long as there is no verdict from you, Mr. Minister, that we do not believe in marketing or that we do not believe in world-class facilities or that we do not have faith in the tourism industry as a whole, then we will not ask any more of these questions. We will just simply accept enormous profits and everybody being extremely excited that there is going to be a world-class facility up the hill."
We go out in the street and the people who are supportive are saying, "Gee, okay, that sounds good. Let us do that." Other people are saying, "Wait a second, what about the museums policy. Wait a second, we have never heard about this." People are saying, "Why not something else? Why not a waterfront project or some of the interesting ideas that have come up as a result of the call for the centennial anniversaries projects funding? Why not some of those things? They all help keep people in an extra day and some of them are in the $3 million range, too. Why not some of those?"
Then, in order to sell this project, we are told that it is going to be making a profit. Then, only a couple of phone calls later, we find out that it will not make a profit. The Tyrrell Museum, which was the documented example of how these things make profits, was the one that told us, "Forget it. We are the most aggressive marketers going in our field. We have the natural advantage of literally hundreds of thousands of people who pass through the Drumheller area every year. We have had scientists who have been working the sites in those hills for 100 years. We are not making a profit and we expect the government to still show a commitment," - and the government in Alberta does show a commitment.
We were going to be making a profit. Not only were we going to be making a profit, but the Minister was prepared to say that, in three years, the Beringia Centre, through this aggressive marketing campaign - it would be superior to the one in Tyrrell - would not only make back the marketing costs, but would make back the capital costs, as well, in three years. What might have been a good project in terms of exposure of the Beringia exhibits turns out to be something that, upon initial examination, may be based on pure speculation and hype. That is all that we have so far.
We waited for the Committee estimates, and we get into discussion, and the very first time the Minister feels that he cannot provide a justification for why it is not 150,000 visitors instead of 100,000, his immediate response is to say, "You do not care about the Beringia period. You do not care about marketing. You do not care about more sites in Whitehorse. You do not care about tourism." All of that is patent nonsense. If the Minister does not know where to take it from here, I do not know where to take this debate, either. All I see is that the Minister has gotten away with some free publicity without actually doing the homework. He has not done the homework. He has not even explained how he is going to be paying back the capital cost in three years. He was saying that he was going to come back with the hard information during Committee estimates. He said not to bother asking for details during Question Period, because they were going to come back with the hard information during Committee estimates, as if it was too difficult to communicate that they thought they were going to have 125,000 visitors, and they were all going to pay $5. He could have said that in Question Period.
Generally speaking, Committee estimates are the times when we actually dig into the subject a little bit and test the assumptions. The Minister will say that I will discredit any number that he provides. If he uses the existing visitor numbers at existing museums and visitor reception centres, and even adds 10, 15 or 20 percent to that, and explain it away with marketing gusto, then I think he probably has a pretty reasonable case. However, to increase the visitor numbers of the MacBride Museum by 500 percent in a couple of years and explain that away through marketing gusto does not make any sense. That would mean that half the people coming to this territory would be going through the Beringia Centre.
I agree with the Minister on one point - there is probably no point in trying to justify the 125,000 number because I do not think there is any justification for it, other than the government drew a number out of the air, tacked on a $5 fee, and decided that that is how it is going to be justified in financial terms.
Ironically, if the Minister had said that there would be 35,000, perhaps 40,000, visitors and a $5 fee, and there will be an operating subsidy of $150,000 or $200,000 per year to make up the difference, then all that would be left would be a discussion - not about the financial viability of the facility, because those kinds of projections may be realistic. All we are trying to do through the Beringia Centre debate is to decide if this is all about building government office space.
We have found out that two-thirds of the tourism business centre is all about providing new digs for the Department of Tourism. The Historic Resources Centre is about finding new digs for the Department of Tourism. There is the desire to have a better visitor reception centre, with proper parking, than what currently is being offered by the Chamber of Commerce. However, all of this has left a bit of collateral damage; for instance, there is a need to fill a vacant building on the hill.
Someone came along and said, "Why do we not have a museum to display artifacts and information from the Beringia era." Because that would be a convenient way to fill a building, it was accepted.
That is what ultimately would have evolved if we had not become bogged down in these wild projections about the visitorship to this centre. We would have then talked about whether or not the Department of Tourism would be better housed in private accommodation and whether or not the government really needed to purpose-build something that could have been provided by the private sector, who, incidentally, have available office space on the market and would be looking for clients. We could talk about the cost effectiveness of doing that versus a purpose-built building for the department. We could talk about whether or not the government really needs to build a fancier visitor reception centre in the downtown area.
There are probably good, convincing arguments that there should be both, as there has been both in the past. There was a visitor reception centre located near the Alaska Highway and there has been a visitor reception centre downtown. Maybe the one downtown needs to be upgraded and maybe the Minister could make a convincing argument that it should be.
A lot of the debate has been determined entirely by the Minister's wild rhetoric. We have been chasing after it, trying to find its roots and we have been having a lot of difficulty doing it.
Deputy Chair: Is there any further general debate on the line item?
Office Accommodation, Furniture, Equipment and Systems in the amount of $1,050,000 agreed to
Administration in the amount of $1,050,000 agreed to
Deputy Chair: Is there any debate on the heritage program?
On Museums Assistance
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Funds provided assistance to Yukon museums to enable them to develop and upgrade infrastructure and programs. These funds provide for the implementation of the Yukon museums policy and enable the museums to prepare for the upcoming gold rush anniversaries. There is $130,000 allotted for small capital contributions. The museums have an annual application process for equipment, research, planning, marketing initiatives, artifact collection and management. Major capital contributions is $200,000, and that is for the sprinkler system for the MacBride Museum.
Mr. McDonald: Is the MacBride Museum sprinkler system project going to be conducted this summer, or is it projected at some later date? Who is going to be operating the project, the MacBride Museum, or government?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It will be a contribution agreement with the MacBride Museum, which will manage the project. I suspect that most of the work will probably be done after the tourism season, because the work involves installing sprinklers. We did it in Dawson last year and I think most of the work was done in the off-season.
Museums Assistance in the amount of $330,000 agreed to
On Exhibits Assistance
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The amount this year is $200,000. The funds provide assistance to museums to enable them to develop and upgrade temporary, permanent and travelling exhibits. The funds for the implementation of the Yukon museums policy enable museums to provide for more visitors.
Mr. McDonald: What are the major projects here? Typically, there are some specific projects that are identified in a year. What are they this year?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: They are as follows: $75,000 for the MacBride Museum for the gold rush legacy travelling display; the Dawson City Museum gold rush discovery exhibit, $25,000 for maintenance and refurbishing; Transportation Museum, for a gold rush anniversary focus, $50,000; the Kluane Museum of Natural History, $50,000 for fish and insect exhibits.
Exhibits Assistance in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Artifact Inventory and Cataloguing
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The contribution agreement to community museums for artifact cataloguing registration is $20,000, and the balance of funds is for salary, materials and supplies.
Artifact Inventory and Cataloguing in the amount of $83,000 agreed to
On Conservation and Security
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is the same as last year. These are contributions to museums and stabilizing of large artifacts, $15,000; specialized project $5,000; materials, supplies and travel, $20,000; for a total of $40,000.
Conservation and Security in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
On Historic Sites
On Historic Sites Maintenance
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This comprises of salaries, $77,300; contracts, $15,000; travel, rentals and materials, $17,700; and historic properties assistance contribution program, $40,000.
Mr. McDonald: What are the priority projects for the department in the coming year?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Preservation and maintenance of numerous historic structures throughout the Yukon that are not identified in specific capital programs, such as Rampart House, Robinson Roadhouse, Dalton Post, Fortymile, Millen House, Yukon Sawmill and Thirty Mile River. Those are possible projects that could be undertaken by us.
Mr. McDonald: I understand that those are among the candidates for consideration, but are there any projects at which the government is targeting its efforts? Is it trying to target projects for which there may be some potential value in terms of historic sites - things for people to actually see and do on the main travel routes - or are they choosing those sites that are simply facing the most deterioration? What is the criteria for determining priorities?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Most of this budget is for numerous maintenance items that are needed on those sites that I talked about - upgrading, protecting and preserving. The major projects are identified as we go further down - Canyon City, Herschel Island, and those kinds of things, are identified there. This is mainly for upkeep and maintenance of some of the sites that I mentioned earlier.
Historic Sites Maintenance in the amount of $150,000 agreed to
On Historic Sites Inventory
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This provides for inventory and assessment of historic resources in the Yukon, including evaluation and priorization of future historic sites preservation. The funds are used to continue field documentation in unrecorded historic sites, and to upgrade specific information as required for future designation and public education. Emphasis will be placed on the Klondike gold fields in the Yukon River gold rush corridor, in support of the upcoming anniversaries.
Mr. McDonald: There are a couple of people in the territory, most notably the Administrator of the Yukon, who are really promoting the historic park from Seattle through to Dawson, and looking for everything from interpretive signage to some official acknowledgment of the existence of the park. What is the government's position on that?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: At this time, we are not looking at the corridor that they have been talking about - the gold rush corridor. What we are looking at is certain signage along the Yukon River from near Bennett to Dawson City at certain historic sites, identifying the historic site so that, when people raft, boat or canoe down the river, they can stop at these sites and there will be a bit of signage there to identify the history of the area - old camps where they used to cut logs, and various things, from Bennett all the way to Dawson City. However, we are not exactly looking at the plan that the Administrator is talking about.
Mr. McDonald: Can the Minister give us the reasons for that? I would suspect that it would probably confuse the people doing the marketing about what it is the Yukon is trying to sell, if we started talking about the whole park. What is the reason for not pursuing this project and trying to sell the Klondike corridor more aggressively?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We do sell the Klondike corridor aggressively. But I think the plan that was thought of then needed cooperation from federal and territorial governments and others. I know it has been in the works - I think it was brought out eight or nine years ago, or something.
I know I made my presentation to the City of Whitehorse regarding the Whitehorse waterfront. I know Mrs. Whyard raised it there again. I think it is a reasonably good idea for the future. What we are going to be doing now will not conflict with that. It will probably add to it, rather than take away from it. We are going to be identifying historic sites along the river, and we are already working in places, such as Fort Selkirk and other areas, to refurbish them.
Mr. McDonald: I understand that. I am just trying to ask the direct question: why not the park now? What is the reason for it not being done now?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I do not have a reason. We have not really looked at that. We have had other priorities to deal with, with respect to the funds available, and we have been dealing with those at the present time. We are working on things like Canyon City and others that would probably all be part of that trip eventually. So, in a roundabout way, we are developing the corridor. I know there are proposals for the Whitehorse waterfront, which will develop another attraction again along that corridor. So, there is no real reason why or why not, other than the priority has been that we have worked on more specific projects than the overall plan from Seattle all the way to Dawson City.
Historic Sites Inventory in the amount of $80,000 agreed to
On Ft. Selkirk
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is a yearly contribution of $115,000 to the band for preservation and stabilization. The initial implementation of the Fort Selkirk interpretative planincluded guided tours, research and production of exhibits, literature and signage. I think that the Members all have a copy of the nice booklet that we produced, which is part of the ongoing project at Fort Selkirk.
Mr. McDonald: The booklet is a good-looking booklet. What is the capital commitment to Fort Selkirk? Is there an expected completion date or is it open ended?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It is pretty well open ended. The restoration has been ongoing for many years. Many buildings have been stabilized and I believe there are more plans to fix up buildings in the future. I expect this will go on for a few years to come.
Mr. Joe: I would like to say a few things about Fort Selkirk. I think I mentioned this to the Minister last year that there was an artifact taken from Fort Selkirk. Fort Selkirk is big enough that sooner or later we are going to have start talking about a museum. Artifacts are scattered around the site.
When I was the chief I used to go out to Ottawa. I visited a museum there and just happened to find an artifact from Fort Selkirk. We do not have anything here in the Yukon to show tourists. I think that is a shame.
Sometime in 1960, Fort Selkirk was really being ruined. Every house was broken open. People helped themselves. When I was the chief at the time, I started getting involved with the government and discussed how there was no one at Selkirk. There was just one person living there in his house. A few canoes went there. At that time, I got involved with the government to try to set something up. I wanted to do something with Fort Selkirk to manage it.
I believe that was in 1974. Before that, everyone just helped themselves. Everyone walked around there, since there was no one looking after it. That is why we started joint management with the government.
One can see how the joint management works there. There are houses, the grass is short. It is well-maintained and pretty well managed.
There is a problem with artifacts. A place like Fort Selkirk needs something to show tourists, instead of just buildings. Every year, we lose more things from there. Someone will have to manage to look after things better.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I share some of the concerns the Member opposite has, as well. I was in Fort Selkirk last summer. I went with Pat Van Bibber and we spent a day there. I was very impressed with the work that the Selkirk First Nation was doing and the cleanliness of the place and how they were building and working on new projects. I was very impressed with that.
I did look at the one building in behind that has many of the artifacts stored in it. It would be nice in the future to be able to bring them out and show them in a way that they would be protected, but I share the concern the Member has about some of our artifacts from that area having gone south. Once we get a proper display set up there, I think we should, in the future, work to repatriate some of the artifacts if we can, or at least borrow them or get them back into the community where they once belonged. I would work toward doing that. That is a worthwhile endeavour. Some of them disappeared years ago when no one seemed to care much about them. Now it seems a very valuable part of our past and we should try and bring back what we can back to the Yukon.
Ft. Selkirk in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Herschel Island - IFA
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is the second of five years of an annual $6,300 federal support through IFA for monitoring the maintenance of historic structures. The preservation work at Pauline Cove settlement has been completed with the funding from the federal Inuvialuit agreement. Implementation and potential future funding is devoted to ongoing maintenance and interpretation requirements.
Mr. McDonald: That explains why there would be a $6,300 figure here. It does not explain why there is a $1.00 figure.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I understand the $6,300 is in the Renewable Resources budget.
Mr. McDonald: What is the $1.00 for? Why is the vote authority required? What is the point of this?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There is $1.00 for years and years. Most of the money goes through Renewable Resources for the management of the park. I do not know why it is in there.
Herschel Island - IFA in the amount of $1.00 agreed to
On Historic Sites Planning
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This project prepares for the preservation, reconstruction and restoration of significant Yukon historic sites. In 1995-96, this will include research and recording at Fortymile Yukon sawmill and selected areas of Thirtymile. A design drawing will be prepared for Montague Roadhouse facilities and Rampart House building stabiliation. Land claims planning requirements include Dalton Post, Lansing Post, Rampart House and Lapierre House.
Historic Sites Planning in the amount of $105,000 agreed to
On Canyon City Tramway
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This archaeological research program continues with excavation of former Northwest Mounted Police post buildings. The management plan will be written to establish goals and guide the development of heritage and tourism attractions. Engineering and architectural design work will be done for reconstructions, interpretive program facilities and visitor services facilities.
Mr. McDonald: What is the total project estimate for Canyon City? Has the department worked out a schedule of expenditure or a plan of precisely what it wants to do? Is there a limit to the amount of money that is going to be spent here, or will it be similar to Fort Selkirk, which seems to be open-ended? How is it structured?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It is a bit open-ended at the present time. The management plan will decide if it will be worked on and the Kwanlin Dun will decide where we go from here. I would hope that we will have possibly two or three interpretive buildings at the site: one depicting Canyon City, one First Nation and one Northwest Mounted Police activity. There will be a parking lot and access for visitors. The dock will be rebuilt. In front, there will be a recreation of the actual tram, with a fake horse pulling the tram and a boat on it, as if it is going to be hauled along. I think the Member has probably seen those kinds of displays. It looks real, but we do not have to feed the horse. It will be something that will be there for years to come.
I hope it will an attraction that the bus companies and tour companies will want to take their people to. With the dock being located there, it will provide an opportunity in the future for boat companies that are going through the canyon to actually recreate the trip and take people back and forth from Canyon City through the loop, which would create quite an interesting tour for someone if they were interested in it. There has been some indication from the person who owns the MV Schwatka that there is interest in those kinds of initiatives.
Right now, the department is developing the plan with the Kwanlin Dun First Nation. It is really at the planning stage still.
Canyon City Tramway in the amount of $150,000 agreed to
On Interpretation and Signage
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This line item represents ongoing repair, removal and replacement of existing point-of-interest signage, as well as upgrading, maintenance, highway pull-outs, recording work plans, replacement of "Welcome to Yukon" signs at highway border crossings, production of brochures and guides to historic sites and other points of interest along the Yukon River, production of new interpretive signage at points of interest along Yukon highways and waterways according to the point-of-interest interpretive strategy.
Mr. McDonald: Can the Minister explain the increased activity here? Obviously, we are going to be doing a lot more than was done before.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The main reason for the increase is because of the upcoming anniversaries. We are going to increase our activities with respect to gold rush signage, in addition to having taken on a new area, which is signage on the Yukon River. The combination of those two is the reason for the increase.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister will know that the Department of Community and Transportation Services is undertaking a review of signage on the highway for private business. The Minister will also remember that the signage that is allowed in Prince Edward Island is for fairly tasteful, small, almost generic signs for virtually every tourism-related business near Charlottetown, and presumably across the province.
When we witnessed that, it proved to me, at least, that virtually every business can be identified. People know by the nature or character of the sign that it invites visitors to come, so it is not simply there for the generic public. It is also and particularly there for the purpose of attracting or enticing tourists. Consequently, the tourists feel welcome.
Given that there is a growing concern about the increase in the number of signs on our highways - which is presumably the genesis of the desire to review the sign regulations now - I would like to ask the Minister what the government's plans are with respect to signage for private business and what it would advocate be permitted for private business to allow them the opportunity to attract tourists off the highway and do so in a tasteful and unobtrusive way.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I was in P.E.I. a year ago, I believe, and I saw the kind of signage they had there. In fact, we stayed at three bed and breakfasts in P.E.I. and were directed to them by signage that everyone who has a business has. It is done in a rather tasteful manner. There were an awful lot of signs there though, but they are quite directive. There is no problem in really getting lost, once one is on the right highway after having found the sign. It is something to look at. What we are doing here will be more with respect to historic sites, interpretive sites and pull-offs. That is the kind of thing we are dealing with here. We are not into the business side of it.
I think the Member has a good point and, when we are looking at the signs, it is an issue that should be raised. I will raise it with the Minister responsible for highways with respect to what P.E.I. does. It might be an idea that we might throw out for the various businesses to look at.
Interpretation and Signage in the amount of $300,000 agreed to
On Yukon Archaeology
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This $165,000 amount is for two salaries, a summer student, travel, rentals, radio-carbon dating materials, supplies, contracts, postage, et cetera.
Mr. McDonald: Can the Minister tell us what the priority sites are for the work in the coming year?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Funds include support to plan a joint project with the Ta'an Kwach'an First Nation; support to Canyon City and the tramway historic site development project and a second year of a joint archaeology project with the Kwanlin Dun First Nation.
Yukon Archaeology in the amount of $165,000 agreed to
On Heritage Studies
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is for oral history research of traditional life of Yukon First Nations and the pioneer experience of Yukon elders.
Heritage Studies in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
Heritage in the amount of $1,853,000 agreed to
On Industry Services
On Industry and Regional Services
On Industry Research and Strategic Planning
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is for a secondary analysis of visitor exit survey data; to establish tourism product inventory on computer; to conduct tourism economic impact survey, visitor exit survey, report production and prepare a new Watson Lake tourism plan.
Industry Research and Strategic Planning in the amount of $130,000 agreed to
On Product and Resource Assessment
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is the draft legislation and public consultation for licensing and permitting of wilderness operators and to complete the initial environmental evaluation of the Alsek Pass project.
Mr. McDonald: Could the Minister tell us what the plans are for the licensing project? What are the time lines for conducting the discussions and coming forward with some conclusions?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It is my understanding that the wilderness operators are working with the department and hope to have a draft by the fall. I do not know if there is going to be enough time to implement the plans for this next year. There may be some reason to give more notice to some operators about the new regulations. It is my understanding that they are working to have the first draft by fall.
Product and Resource Assessment in the amount of $75,000 agreed to
On Special Projects
On Regional Plan Implementation
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is for consultation and design work on the Alsek day-use area activity orientation note on the Alaska Highway.
Regional Plan Implementation in the amount of $60,000 agreed to
On Federal/Territorial Contribution Agreement
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is the last year of the economic development agreement and it is a $1.00 item in the budget.
Mr. McDonald: Those darned Liberals. They cut us back to 75 cents already, which is presumably three-quarters of this $1.00.
What is it that the department does not know about the economic development agreement itself, when it is set here at $1.00? Can the Minister explain that?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I believe it has always been $1.00 in the budget. It depends on the applications and the amount of the applications. Our contribution depends on the amount of applications, so it is just a $1.00 item to indicate that there will be an expenditure.
Mr. McDonald: Is the funding initially received through the Department of Economic Development and then transferred to this department? Is that the case?
Can the Minister also tell us whether or not the amount of funding set for Tourism has already been established, or would be established prior to the beginning of the fiscal year?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: My understanding is that Tourism spends the money and then journal vouchers it to Economic Development.
I will have to get back to the Member on the amount.
Federal/Territorial Contribution Agreement in the amount of $1.00 agreed to
Industry Services in the amount of $265,000 agreed to
Chair: Is it the wish of the Members to take a brief recess at this time?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will take a brief recess.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Is there any general debate on marketing?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: Before we get into the program marketing, I have some information for the Member. He asked me about the historic sites inventory. The department went ahead and started printing these; we have a really slow printer. They printed 50 pages of over 2,000 pages of stuff we have on inventory. I do not want them to have to go to the trouble of printing the rest of it. I will give the Member 50 pages. If he wants to look at the rest of them, we will make some arrangements to look at them somehow. There is also an inventory of heritage resources sorted by community. The Member can have both of those for his information.
Are we on general debate in marketing, or are we on line-by-line debate?
Chair: We are on general debate on marketing.
On Visitor Reception Centres
On Low Frequency Radio Transmitters
Low Frequency Radio Transmitters in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
On Television, Audio-Visual and Other Equipment
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This project provides funding for purchase of laser disc players, television and the production of new laser discs to hold the updated information. New keypads will have to be purchased this year. The discs will be totally updated to cover the anniversaries for the next few years.
Television, Audio-Visual and Other Equipment in the amount of $30,000 agreed to
On VRC Capital Maintenance
VRC Capital Maintenance in the amount of $18,000 agreed to
On Travel Marketing Equipment, Displays and Productions
On Purchase and Maintenance of Displays
Hon. Mr. Phillips: These are the pop-up displays that we use and purchase every year. They are portable displays and cost approximately $6,000 each.
Purchase and Maintenance of Displays in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
On Production, Distribution and Versioning of Vignettes
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is to develop foreign-language versions and vignettes of the new Yukon video.
Production, Distribution and Versioning of Vignettes in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On Production, Distribution and Versioning of Films and Audio-Visual Shows
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The 1995-96 funds are required to allow for the final production costs, including editing, voice-over and script, to produce the final video product.
Production, Distribution and Versioning of Films and Audio-Visual Shows in the amount of $80,000 agreed to
Marketing in the amount of $218,000 agreed to
On Visual Arts
On Visual Arts Acquisition
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is an increase in the contribution to the Friends of the Gallery.
Visual Arts Acquisition in the amount of $8,000 agreed to
On Arts Acquisition Endowment Fund
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is the implementation of the Yukon government art bank policy through allocation of one percent for capital costs for government-owned or leased projects.
Mr. McDonald: The obvious question is what is going to happen? Is it policy that one percent of capital projects will be donated to this fund? What is the plan?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No. Basically, this amount is kept on the books until the economy turns around. It is hoped that it will be something that can be brought into place later, but it is not policy at this time.
Mr. McDonald: I do not quite know how to reconcile the Minister's explanation for this line and his comment just now. If the government does not plan to proceed with the one percent of capital construction projects, does it plan to find another way to provide money to fund the fund?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No, we are not prepared to fund the fund at this time. It is something that we may consider in the future, but we left the line item in so that we could do it.
Mr. McDonald: The Minister initially said that the arts acquisition endowment fund will be funded by one percent of the capital budget. Then he says that that is not the policy of the government at this time. Then, we discussed the $1.00 fund, and the Minister indicated that it will not be funded. Is there a future? Has the Cabinet made any decisions about the endowment fund itself? Is there a future for the endowment fund? Has Cabinet just not thought about it yet, and will be at some point, and figure out what to do about it in due course - or what is the plan?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: At this time, it is not priority and the Cabinet has not considered it.
Arts Acquisition Endowment Fund in the amount of $1.00 agreed to
On Facility Development
On Living Cultural Centre
Living Cultural Centre in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
Arts in the amount of $58,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $1,989,000 agreed to
Department of Tourism in the amount of $9,286,000 agreed to
Chair: We will now go to Women's Directorate, Bill No. 4 in O&M.
Bill No. 4 - First Appropriation Act, 1995-96 - continued
Chair: Is there any general debate on the Women's Directorate?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The 1995-96 maintenance budget for the Women's Directorate represents a total of $404,000, to enable the Yukon government to achieve its commitment to the economic, legal and social equality of women in the Yukon, through policy development and review, program coordination, consultation and public education.
The O&M expenditures of the Women's Directorate fall under one program heading: policy and program development. The amount of $240,000 for personnel reflects three and one-half full year equivalent positions, being the director, the office administrator and a one-year extension of the position seconded to the Yukon Indian Women's Association and new half-time communications coordinator position.
I would like to make special mention of the ongoing cooperative efforts that have been made by many departments to assist the director in carrying out the mandate of the Women's Directorate, despite the reduced level of staffing over the past year. The Department of Education seconded an employee to the Women's Directorate for six months, on a cost shared basis. The Public Service Commission sponsored a one-year native training corps position, which runs until the end of June 1995, and which is currently being considered for a three-month extension. Health and Social Services, Justice and the Yukon Bureau of Statistics have provided policy expertise to the directorate on a project-by-project basis. I would like to take this opportunity to thank these departments and again express my appreciation of the collaborative efforts being made to ensure that the important work of the director is not diminished by the secondment out of the department.
The other $137,000 reflects the funding for the directorate to carry out its mandate.
In the area of policy and program development, the directorate continues to review policy, legislation and programs to address concerns identified by Yukon women, and it continues to network with women's groups in the community.
The directorate has begun discussions with the Public Service Commission and Yukon College to develop training workshops for women in leadership roles. The directorate is also working on a training workshop for policy analysts in government that will provide a checklist of questions that must be considered to determine the impact of policies on Yukon women. This training package will be based on some of the concerns and priorities identified by Yukon women in the directorate's territory-wide survey.
To improve the directorate's ongoing dialogue with Yukon women to accurately reflect their changing concerns and priorities, eight women have been appointed to the Yukon Advisory Council on Women's Issues to provide advice to the Minister. The new council held its first meeting, a board orientation, and its second meeting is scheduled for April 23. Funding of $18,000 has been allocated to ensure that the newly appointed council has sufficient funds to hold quarterly meetings and send a representative to one national meeting.
In addition, if the council wishes to carry out research on a specific issue, funding will be available on a project-by-project basis.
In response to concerns raised by Yukon women during the directorate's territory-wide survey in 1993 and by Yukon government employees, the Women in Government Committee and the directorate will be co-sponsoring a symposium for private and public sectors on balancing work and family responsibilities during National Family Week in October.
During the survey, Yukon women throughout the territory placed the prevention of violence against women and children as one of their highest priority items. They emphasized the importance of public education and the need to work with youth.
The Women's Directorate continues to work closely with many community groups and organizations in the prevention of violence against women and children and to implement the government's public awareness strategy on violence against women and children.
Over the past year, the directorate's strategy has focused on three areas in its public awareness campaigns: the wellness and empowerment of youth to create healthy attitudes and relationships, reducing women's vulnerability to violence and beginning the healing process. Because of the successes of these campaigns and increasing demands on personnel and resources, the directorate has created a half-time position dedicated specifically to public education to prevent violence against women and children.
By having a position that concentrates on public education, the directorate can continue to enhance the important work it has begun through more school-based workshops, role modelling, violence prevention activities and workshops that empower women and encourage healthier relationships.
There is $40,000 that has been allocated for workshops, radio spots, print ads, and program materials. The workshops include goal-setting for teens, parenting skills, self defence, building self-esteem, participatory theatre, creating healthy relationships for young women and men and for adults, and talking and healing circles, outdoor experiences, conflict management and communications skills for teen parents.
May is sexual assault prevention month, and the directorate is working collaboratively with many community groups on a number of public awareness activities. Azimuith Theatre is returning to Whitehorse with the play, "Running through the Devil's Club", a drama about survivors of sexual assault. The stories of five women survivors of sexual abuse and assault, each in a separate stage of healing, are told through a powerful mix of monologue, music and dance.
Other activities planned for the month of May are self defence for women by women, a suicide first-aid course, a print ad and radio spot campaign, and a brown-bag lunch series on a variety of issues. The director continues to work closely with the Department of Education on women's training issues. A community-based committee is working from two departments to draft recommendations for training initiatives that will benefit women.
Although the directorate operates with a small contingent of indeterminate staff, it provides training opportunities for women whenever possible. This year, the directorate provided on-the-job training for six weeks to a woman through the college skills training program. Because of the success of this program, the incumbent continues to work intermittently with the directorate on a casual basis, replacing employees on leave.
The directorate will also hire a summer student for three months beginning in May. With the release of the A Cappella North document last month, the directorate, in conjunction with the Yukon Teachers Association and the Department of Education, has provided briefings to teachers, parents, school councils and students on the findings of the study.
As we discussed at some length in the Legislative Assembly, the Women's Directorate and others in the Department of Education continue to work together on initiatives to improve the quality of life and to ensure the equitable learning environment for all young students.
Currently, the directorate, the Yukon Teachers Association and the Department of Education are contacting other partners, such as the First Nations Education Commission and school councils, to work on the gender-equity policy and guidelines for implementation.
In addition, the directorate and Education have begun an audit on the curriculum materials for gender bias and discrimination. At present, the director is a co-sponsor and an active inter-agency committee member on the Yukon equity project. This project involves two half-day training sessions at the Baha'i Centre for approximately 40 adults - women and men - which is taking place from April 18 to April 20.
Michael Kaufman, one of the founders of the white ribbon campaign, and Myra Novogrodsky, from the Toronto Equity Centre, are providing the training for this session on gender equity issues.
In the fall, there will be a four-day retreat for approximately 40 youth: 20 young women and 20 young men. The women will spend three days with female facilitators discussing their issues, while the young men will spend three days with male facilitators. On the fourth day the two groups will come together and share what they have learned.
This program has been very successful for a number of years in Ontario and it resulted in many spinoff equity projects that are often started by the youth themselves when they return to their home schools.
In addition, the director will again sponsor an awards banquet in October to celebrate Yukon women's contributions to Yukon society. The amount of $5,000 has been set aside for this purpose.
In the category of transfer payments, a total of $22,000 is allocated. Of this amount, a grant of $5,000 will be provided to the Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre. Last year, the Women's Directorate and the Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre co-sponsored a conference for young women in sexual assault prevention month that took place in May. This conference featured workshops on empowerment, self-esteem, goal-setting and self-defence. There were 15 young women who attended this conference and, from reading their evaluations, it is evident that they found the workshops quite inspiring.
Funding was provided to the Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre for this conference. The budget allocates an additional $5,000 in contribution dollars to enable the Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre to enter a similar arrangement. An additional $5,000 is allocated to the centre under contract dollars to be provided on a project-by-project basis.
In the area of family violence prevention, $6,000 has been allocated for community groups or organizations to carry out public awareness activities. In the past, these funds have primarily been used by rural communities for healing conferences or workshops. This summer, an event is being held in Tagish that will bring approximately 1,000 individuals from around the world to join together for individual and group healing support. It is a living demonstration of traditional native spiritual principles of sharing, tolerance, honour and respect.
An additional funding of $11,000 has been allocated to provide grants for events such as Imagine, which is a conference for young women, the annual Math and Science Experiential Conference for Girls, the annual Women's Conference, a journal writing workshop for women and other special activities.
Currently, the directorate is part of a inter-agency committee that includes the Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre, the Whitehorse Health Centre, Dene Nets'edet'an, the Department of Health and Social Services and others in the assessment of women's health needs and the feasibility of a wellness centre. The funding for this project was solicited from Health Promotion, Health Canada.
The capital budget consists of two items totalling $10,000. There is $8,000 allocated for new workstations to replace the computer and two printers that are outdated and no longer have the ability to meet the directorate's needs or the ability to link to other departments.
This concludes the breakdown of the Women's Directorate for the 1995-96 budget.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Women's Directorate acts as a central policy advisor on women's issues within this government. I think it is important that the Minister recognize that women have not achieved equality. Despite years of struggle for employment and pay equity, the figures show that women still have a long way to go to achieve equality. Women's earnings still only average 72 percent of men's. More women than men are poor. Twice as many women as men over the age of 65 have incomes below the poverty line. Sixty percent of single-parent families, which are headed by a woman, are poor, as opposed to 30 percent of single-parent families headed by a man.
Close to half of single women are poor, as opposed to just over one-third of single men. Even though women account for 45 percent of the total paid labour force, our jobs still tend to be in traditional occupations, such as teaching, nursing and administrative work. These are occupations in which women are vulnerable, as governments slash spending on post-secondary education and health care.
Seventy percent of part-time workers are women. What do we see when we look at women in the economy? Like other industrial nations, Canada is in the midst of a shift from a goods producing economy to services. The shift to the service sector has favoured the employment of women, but it has also meant that many of the jobs available are of lower quality, lower wages, fewer benefits and fewer opportunities for training and advancement.
Debt and deficit reduction has become the obsession of governments around the world. We see global competition to see who can produce the lowest cost goods and services. We see a shift to the service sector and a polarization of jobs. There are fewer full-time full year jobs and more jobs that are part-time contract or term work with no stability, no benefits and certainly no union protection.
Many public sector workers have paid maternity leave in their collective agreements - as high as 72 percent - but in the private sector only 11 percent of those workers have paid maternity leave. Forty-three percent of public sector workers are covered for paid family illness leave compared to only seven percent of private sector workers, and 56 percent of public sector workers are protected by sexual harassment provisions compared to only 20 percent in the private sector. These kinds of benefits are not the only target of opposition. For the corporate free marketers who espouse the new economy, a country's social security system is an employment barrier. They do not connect the growing inequality in our society to government policies or to our unequal tax structure. They say this inequity is the fault of Canadians themselves. They say we must become more flexible so that we can respond more quickly to the economic changes.
The new economy ignores women's reality. Women pay a high price trying to achieve this flexibility. Workplace discrimination is still a reality. Women are still responsible for unpaid work in the home and for child and elder care. We are not able to work rotating or split shifts and variable hours. We are less financially secure and therefore more dependent upon the social programs that governments insist are no longer affordable.
In the new economy, going to work is not a choice for most women; it is a necessity. The National Council on Welfare recently reported that the number of dual-income families below the poverty line in 1992 would have doubled to over one million families, if the women had not been working outside the home.
We have to recognize that spending on schools, child care and health care, where many women are employed, is also an investment in the future. The Minister should be aware that women will bear the burden of reduced transfer payments for education and health care. Women are the primary care givers in our society and are expected to pick up the slack when hospitals discharge patients still very much in need of care.
I would like to know what this government thinks its responsibilities are. There is a personal toll on the women who serve as unpaid volunteers. The Minister of Education stated yesterday in Question Period that volunteers are okay and that we need to be encouraging the participation of volunteers, but we have to recognize the toll that takes on them.
What is the Minister doing to stand up for the interests of Yukon women? What is the government doing to spend new money on programs in schools and in health promotion?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: In my opening remarks, I laid out many of the initiatives that are being done in the schools. As well, a couple of weeks ago we spoke to a motion that the Member brought forward - the A Cappella North motion - and, again, we talked about the various initiatives there that we are carrying out in the schools for young women.
I share some of the concerns that the Member has about what is happening, but it is the Liberal government in Ottawa that is reducing many of these programs. I think it is a very dangerous practice for this government to jump right in and pick up where the federal government backs off, because there is not just one program, there are literally hundreds of programs and millions of dollars at stake. No government in this country can step in.
I know that our government, as well as other provincial and territorial governments, are expressing concerns to the federal government about the way it is cutting funding. We all realize that we have to get the deficit under control, but we are concerned about the approach the federal government is taking.
In the meantime, we are following up on the A Cappella North and the focus study we have done with Yukon women, and we believe we are implementing measures in the Yukon that are going to improve opportunities for Yukon women in the workplace and give Yukon women a better opportunity to be equal in society.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister has just stated that he shares some of my concerns and that his government is putting forward those concerns to the federal government. That is exactly what I asked the Minister of Education in Question Period and was told, "No, we have not written to the federal Minister about cutting the Innovators in the Schools program. Maybe the Member opposite should do that." I think that is an irresponsible attitude. I also think that the Minister has to recognize this government's responsibility, particularly in the field of education, for encouraging girls, specifically, to improve their participation in science and technology.
In his introductory statements, the Minister did say some things about an equitable learning environment and about the curriculum work that is currently underway.
I wanted to go back to a couple of points from the A Cappella North debate. The Minister stated that he supported continuing to address gender equality principles and that equity for young women and men should be integrated into the core curriculum of the Yukon education system. I think it would be helpful if the Minister could describe how that has been integrated into the core curriculum now. I am certainly aware of the workshops. I do not need the Minister to stand up and give me a list again of the special projects and the workshops they are doing. I would like to know how gender equality principles are being integrated into the core curriculum and how he is going to measure improvement and success in that area.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: In my opening statements, I mentioned that we are developing the gender equity policy. There are guidelines for implementation. That is being developed right now. It will go a long way toward implementing that kind of thing into the core curriculum of our schools. It is in its very early stages. I cannot give the Member the whole outline of the program yet, because it is just being worked on now.
Ms. Moorcroft: Do they have a time frame for its completion?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We are hoping that by September we will have something completed.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister referred to the healing conference that is going to be held in Tagish. I would like to know what financial contribution is being made toward that particular event on the part of the Yukon government.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I believe that the Women's Directorate's contribution to the conference is $1,500.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister referred to the Advisory Council on Women's Issues, which has had one meeting. I expressed some concerns in the House about the fact that the Yukon Status of Women Council, which has been a women's group active in the territory promoting women's equality for 20 years, does not have a representative on the advisory council. Can the Minister tell me if the council has worked with the Status of Women Council, or if they have brought forward any recommendations to government?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I understand that the chair of the council at least, will be meeting with the Status of Women Council. However, one of the members, Dorothy Reso-Hickman, is a member of the Status of Women Council, and has been an active worker for the council for many years. She is on the board. I think it is unfair to say that they do not have anybody involved in that association who is on the board.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would certainly agree that she is a very competent woman to sit on the board; however, the Minister does not seem to understand the difference between a representative who has been nominated by an organization and someone who may be a member of an organization. Has the Minister named one Status of Women representative to any board or committee? Is there any board or committee in this government that has appointed someone who has been nominated by the Status of Women Council?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I do not know whether I have or not, but I can tell the Member that I have named dozens of Yukon women to boards or committees. I do not think they have to be a member of any group or organization to be appointed to boards or committees. They have to be competent to be on the board or committee, and that is why I have appointed them, but I have appointed dozens of them.
Ms. Moorcroft: It is really unfortunate that the Minister, who is responsible for the status of women in the territory cannot understand what I have said many times to him in the past. The fact is that there is a difference between someone who is an advocate for women's equality and someone who is not.
I would like to ask the Minister a specific question. I do not want to get into that debate. I do not see any point in it. Can the Minister tell me whether the Advisory Council on Women's Issues has made any recommendations to government about how government can further the status of women in the territory?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: They have had only one meeting and that first meeting was mainly for board orientation. They did discuss the A Cappella report but they have not made any recommendations to me as yet. I understand they have another meeting coming up very shortly - this weekend I believe - and some recommendations may come out of that meeting.
Ms. Moorcroft: Did the Minister seek input from the advisory council on the issue of amendments to the Maintenance and Custody Orders Enforcement Act to provide for administrative sanctions against parents who were not paying their maintenance?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: They were not assembled when that came about, but I can tell the Member that I met with all of the stakeholders at a meeting here in Whitehorse about a month ago with respect to maintenance enforcement, at which time we unveiled details of the federal funding we received and the two- or three-year plan. At that time, I raised the issue with that group of about 20 individuals - women and men; mostly women but some men were there as well - and ran by them what the maintenance enforcement changes would do. They were extremely supportive of the changes, and encouraged us to make them. I hope to introduce the bill here early next week.
Ms. Moorcroft: Can the Minister tell me how many full-time staff are employed at the Women's Directorate?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: There are three and one-half, with one of the positions seconded to the Dene Nets' edet'an. As well, we have a native training corps position in the department at the present time.
Ms. Moorcroft: That would be a total of 4.5 full-time positions. How many part-time, casual and contract positions are there?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: One of the full-time positions is a job-share position and the individuals work about six months at a time, I believe. We did have a student from Yukon College working for us, but the only other casual auxiliary would be on call when people were ill, or on holidays, or whatever - we would call them in. We have been calling in the student whom we brought in from Yukon College.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to know - because there is a line item for computer workstations for $8,000 - how many workstations there are now and how many more the directorate plans to purchase.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We have four now. We are replacing one that is obsolete and we are replacing two printers with one printer that will do all the printing for the department.
Ms. Moorcroft: Will they only be replacing one computer for $8,000?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: One.
Ms. Moorcroft: Okay. Have they considered donating the old computers to women's groups, or will the computers be discarded because they are so obsolete?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The computers will be surplus computers, but I believe there is a program in Government Services under which non-profit groups can apply for surplus furniture and other items from the government. I am not quite sure how the program works, but I can find out for the Member and certainly make that information available to the Status of Women and other groups.
Ms. Moorcroft: When the Minister was giving the breakdown of the staffing at the directorate, he indicated that there was one position on secondment. Has the government considered seconding a salaried person to the Women's Centre?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No, we have not.
Ms. Moorcroft: Could I ask if the government would be prepared to consider it? Why has it not considered it?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: To date, we have not been asked to do it, and I do not think it is something that the government would consider at this time.
Ms. Moorcroft: Why not?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We have a very small staff as it is, with a very heavy workload. This particular secondment was for a First Nations organization on a specific task. It was only supposed to be for one year, but because of some difficulties in the startup year, they asked for one more year to train an individual. We gave them one more year, but it is not something we wanted to see become a habit.
Ms. Moorcroft: Perhaps the Minister could tell me when he expects it will be completed and what the task is that is underway.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The secondment is to be completed in January 1996.
The task was to get Dene Nets' edet'an operational and to set up the process for First Nations women's organizations. Actually, there was some training that was supposed to occur in the first year and did not. It happened at the end of the first year. It is now continuing. There is a First Nations trainee who will take over that position and we will no longer fund it. Bobbi Smith, who was the former director, will come back to the directorate.
Ms. Moorcroft: The Minister is aware that the Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre, which has been active in the community for some 20 years now, is undergoing financial problems. Can the Minister tell me why he would not be prepared to consider helping it to re-establish itself as an active group in the community? Perhaps he can say something about what the government is doing to support it.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: As I said before, we have a very small staff and we do not want to get into a secondment, because the workload is increasing at the Women's Directorate with the many other programs it is taking on.
As far as helping the Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre, I think this government has been very helpful. We initiated the discussions with the Yukon Housing Corporation on finding the centre a new home. We have worked with the Yukon Housing Corporation and offered the centre some temporary space, which it did not accept. There were various reasons for that. We have also worked with the Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre on women's wellness and helped them put together a project, which gave it some extra funding from the federal government.
My understanding is that there is a fairly good working relationship right now between the Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre and the Women's Directorate. There are strong lines of communication and they are working with each other.
Mrs. Firth: In the time of the secondment that is in its second year, has the Women's Directorate hired part-time staff to help with the workload at all?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: No. In my opening statements, I mentioned that we had secondments from other departments - Education for six months, I think, and Public Service Commission for one year. We have filled in the gaps by having individuals from other departments come in and pick up the workload.
Mrs. Firth: The other departments' budgets picked up the cost of those secondments. There was no additional money for personnel taken from the budget to pay for that. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The Public Service Commission paid for the full person year for the year that they were there, and we paid $20,000 for the Education secondment for six months.
Mrs. Firth: There is a bit of concern on my part about the large amount of the budget that goes toward staff salaries and benefits, and so on, versus the actual public education, violence prevention, and program delivery. The $20,000 for the secondments - for the salaries - is $20,000 less for program delivery. What is the status now, until January of 1996 when Bobbi Smith returns? What is the staffing situation in the Women's Directorate? Is there someone there who is presently on secondment from another department, or are they at their staff complement without a secondment?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: We have asked for a three-month extension to the native training corps position. We have a summer student coming in, as we did last year, and the government feels that it can get by with that for this year.
Mrs. Firth: Where does the money come from for that position? Does any of the money come from the Women's Directorate budget?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I believe we cost share the summer student position, which is approximately $5,000, with the Department of Education.
Mrs. Firth: Where is that identified? Is that money for the summer student in the program delivery line?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: It is under personnel.
Mrs. Firth: I see the personnel costs are reflecting a six-percent decrease. Why is that?
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The decrease of six percent results from the following: a six-month cost-shared coordinator of policy and programs position and a five-month acting project coordinator position for 1994-95 were combined in 1995-96 to create one permanent half-time position. This resulted in a decrease in personnel dollars of six percent, from $255,000 to $240,000.
On Policy and Program Development
On Program Delivery
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The decrease of two percent is the result of the following: a six-month cost-shared coordinator of policy and programs position and a five-month acting project coordinator position for 1994-95 were combined to create one half-time position.
Program Delivery in the amount of $282,000 agreed to
On Public Education
Hon. Mr. Phillips: The contract dollars have been reduced from $30,000 to $27,000 because of the new half-time communications coordinator position. The summer student Yukon College trainee will perform some of the tasks that had previously been contracted out. The program materials and advertising budget has been increased as Yukon women identified a need for more public education. Interest to women and the reinstatement of eight members of the Yukon Advisory Council has increased costs for travel, as the previous costs have been pro-rated for six members rather than eight.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us when we are going to have a report from the Advisory Council? Previously it did annual reports. I have not seen one for a long, long time.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I would expect that probably a year after it has been in operation. The first meeting was in February, so probably about this time next year we would get an annual report, or some kind of a report.
Public Education in the amount of $76,000 agreed to
On Violence Prevention
Violence Prevention in the amount of $46,000 agreed to
Policy and Program Development in the amount of $404,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $404,000 agreed to
Chair: We will turn to capital estimates.
On Policy and Program Development
On Computer Workstations
Hon. Mr. Phillips: This is for replacement of a computer and a printer, which replaces two obsolete printers and one computer.
Computer Workstations in the amount of $8,000 agreed to
On Computer Systems Development
Computer Systems Development in the amount of $2,000 agreed to
Policy and Program Development in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
Women's Directorate in the amount of $414,000 agreed to
Chair: The time being close to 5:30 p.m., we will break until 7:30 p.m.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Bill No. 4 - First Appropriation Act, 1995-96 - continued
Yukon Development Corporation
Chair: We are dealing with Bill No. 4, Yukon Development Corporation. Is there any general debate?
On Operation and Maintenance
Hon. Mr. Ostashek: This is a $1.00 line item in the budget. We did have the president and the chair of the Yukon Development Corporation here to answer questions put to them by Members of the Legislature. I do not have anything to add at this time.
On Gross Advances
Gross Advances in the amount of $1.00 agreed to
On Less Internal Recovery
Less Internal Recovery in the amount of $1.00 agreed to
Yukon Development Corporation in the amount of $1.00 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Mr. Chair, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 4.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 3 - Third Appropriation Act, 1994-95 - continued
Yukon Housing Corporation
Chair: We are dealing with Bill No. 3, Yukon Housing Corporation. Is there any general debate?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: The main increases in the supplementaries are due to additional work undertaken on staff and non-profit housing over this winter, upgrading existing stock, and renovations to existing housing in various communities.
Mr. Harding: Does the Minister have introductory remarks or program statements, or does he just want to go into the debate?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: No, the programs have essentially not changed within the Yukon Housing Corporation. It is business as usual. The home repair, home ownership, rental suites and joint venture programs have not changed. Essentially, we are carrying on as we have in the past, and the budgets are essentially the same as last year - both the supplementaries and capital and O&M for 1995-96.
Mr. Harding: I have a number of issues that I want to discuss with the Minister. Does the Minister have an official here this evening, or is he going to?
He said he does; I see him nodding. That is good. Some of the questions I have will probably require a bit of administrative knowledge.
The first issue I would like to ask him about is the Faro Real Estate situation. The Minister promised me a copy of the resolution of the board meeting of last weekend after the break this afternoon. I did not get it. I had a call this afternoon from Mr. Stehelin, who had received his copy of the board's resolution. He did not want to send me a copy at that time; he suggested that I get one from the Minister.
He did not indicate much of a response other than to make some comments about some misinformation that was being circulated, and comments to that effect. I was somewhat taken aback by this, since the information I have comes from constituents who have received notices of rental increases. I do not know precisely what he was getting at. I have not seen the resolution yet, so it is not possible for me to comment in a substantive way on any dialogue that I had with him.
He did say to me that 10730 Yukon Ltd., the offshoot of Faro Real Estate, which had some unusual, creative arrangements, as the president of the Yukon Housing Corporation, the Minister and I have discussed in the past, has given notice, as Mr. Stehelin told me, to three people. They of course got three months' notice. The rental increase was 37 percent. I asked him if he was not going to be raising the rent for the other people once their year was up. He did not want to comment on that and immediately started to ask me how much power had gone up. I get the distinct impression that, once the Landlord and Tenant Act provisions are removed, the other people will be facing the same level of increase.
The fact that only three constituents are involved is not relevant to me. Three people are three people to me. If I have one constituent who is getting what I believe is a tough time as a result of an exorbitant rental increase from a company that was created through a loan from Curragh that was extended by the taxpayers, I believe it creates an opening for what some might consider to be intervention by legislators.
I certainly think that this company and some of the arrangements that were struck through the original contract call for a significant amount of regulation to ensure that the public who are benefiting from this loan of taxpayers' money get reasonable terms of rental accommodation that are acceptable to YTG, Curragh and, of course, Faro Real Estate Ltd., and the Faro Management Corporation that manages the property.
Having said that, I still feel that there are some fairly substantial problems. In our contract with Faro Real Estate Ltd. - with Curragh out of the way - we do not have a ton of leverage, but we do have some. It gets to be a bit of a sticky wicket dealing with FREL sometimes. They certainly know how to negotiate, and they play hard ball. The evidence of that was the rental freeze that was recently in effect in Faro, where they refused to rent units to Anvil Range, which struck up a few veins in the forehead and neck at the top levels of Anvil Range. That was all part of the process of getting a subsidy from Anvil Range to help pay for the costs of the FREL.
I have some difficulty getting to the costs; it is kind of a moving target with Mr. Stehelin. I do not know anybody who has seen his books. I think that the last time his books were available to anybody was in 1987, if I remember the contract correctly. I think it was in 1987 or 1989, and there was some cutoff date after which the books no longer had to be made available to the general public - and even to the government, for that matter.
We are dealing with a question mark here. Sure, power has gone up, but I still do not know how 10730 Yukon Ltd. got created from Faro Real Estate, and how 10730 Yukon Ltd. no longer has to live by the CPI indexed governor that was negotiated in the initial agreement.
I do not know why the housing prices have taken off to this degree from the initial prices that were being charged for the rental-purchase agreements, other than the fact that there is probably a lot of money to be made for a few people in Faro Real Estate Ltd. from the rental business over the long run. Even if the mine were to go down, I do not know what losses would be incurred by Faro Real Estate Ltd.. If they forfeited the loan, it would be no big deal. The government would seize the houses and Faro Real Estate Ltd. and Faro Management Corporation, which ran the company, took management fees and negotiated a deal with Anvil Range just recently that had Anvil Range pay for the repairs to the housing - some several hundred thousand dollars, according to Mr. Forgaard, although he would not go into all of the details.
Really, it has been a win-win-win deal for FREL. It has had some benefit, as well, for the tenants. The operations have been fairly well run, and certainly the manager has some support in the community. He has done some good things for people there, but it remains a big issue in the community. It is getting bigger again. It is building. When I first got elected in 1992, the door-to-door issue was housing, housing, housing, and that was all I ever heard. Of course, with the shutdown, I did not hear too much about housing, because there was quite a bit available.
Faro Real Estate was pretty good about collection. Of course, it did not pay the government any money on its mortgage either. Really, it could afford to be fairly lenient in the collection procedure. At some point, the government decided it was going to have to foreclose. It was hoping to get back some of the $1.7 million.
In the meantime, 10730 Yukon Ltd. has sprung up, and I think it owns the studios and the apartments. That was, according to the discussions that I have had with the Minister in the Housing Corporation, a unique arrangement that developed in that relationship. I hope to have a chance to discuss this with Mr. Stehelin in the next couple of days. I am sure that after he reads Hansard he will want to talk to me about our debate tonight.
I would like to find out about the resolution that was passed by the Housing Corporation Board and I would like to find out just what the Minister is prepared to do to answer some of the concerns that my constituents have raised and that I have raised with the Minister on numerous occasions in the last few weeks and months.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I do not take issue with anything at all that the Member for Faro has said. In fact, with Faro Real Estate it seems that nothing is clear, and to describe Faro Real Estate as a moving target is probably fairly accurate. My understanding is that the president also talked to Mel Stehelin and there were allegations of misinformation - in that case, the misinformation being spread by the Member for Faro, so we are all taking a hit in that regard.
With respect to the board resolution, I will get the Member a copy. I am sorry I do not have it available for him. Essentially it says that the board is prepared to allow Faro Real Estate to increase rents by 10 percent, subject to several conditions, the first being that the 10-percent increase also extends to the units owned by 10730 Yukon Ltd.; the second condition is that there be no further increase until the end of 1996 and that includes the foregoing of any consumer price index increases between now and January 1, 1997. The last condition is that it is subject to confirmation that Anvil Range Mining has agreed with the 10-percent increase, because we have only heard that from Faro Real Estate and had a verbal confirmation from Anvil Range, but we do not know what the agreement is between Anvil Range and FREL. The board wants to confirm that agreement before it consents to the 10-percent increase.
Mr. Harding: They should speak to the Minister and to Faro Real Estate Ltd. on this question. I certainly have not spread any information. The information I have comes from constituents. One of them, Mr. Meisner, called me and read straight out the increase he was to pay for the studios. It was somewhere in the vicinity of $160, or a 37-percent increase. I guess Mr. Stehelin is saying today that there are only three people who are getting that increase.
The Landlord and Tenant Act says that new tenants who move in have the protection of a freeze at a certain rate for a year. From my understanding, it is clear that 10730 Yukon Ltd. is going to raise the rents on the anniversary date for the apartments and the studios. As soon as I asked that question, Mr. Stehelin got on to the cost of power increases. It is obvious to me that what is going to happen here is that the rent is not going to be raised for three tenants now, but when the anniversary dates roll around for the new tenants who have moved in, I do not think it is illogical that he would try to raise the rents for them.
I cannot even begin to talk about power costs with Faro Real Estate Ltd. when I have not even seen the books. I do not know what the company makes or what the cost of its operation is. I do not think it is losing money, if that is what he wants to know. My heart is not bleeding; I am sorry. Maybe I could be shown the books. Maybe the government has more knowledge than I do.
Does the government have much knowledge about the financial picture of 10730 Yukon Ltd. and Faro Real Estate Ltd.?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: No, it really does not and there is very little with respect to 10730 Yukon Ltd. The Yukon Housing Corporation received a guarantee of $1 million from 10730 Yukon Ltd. toward the Faro Real Estate mortgage. Other than that, we do not have very much knowledge about the financial situation of Faro Real Estate or 10730 Yukon Ltd. I am sure that there is some knowledge within the corporation about the time that Yukon Housing Corporation acted as the receiver of rents but, other than that, we do not know the profit margin of either company.
Mr. Harding: Certainly the Minister would agree that that would have an impact on all of these considerations of rental increases. This never was a free-market affair. The $3.4 million that was loaned was all taxpayers' money. That is why I believe there is some room for intervention here. I think that there has been some of that undertaken and that is the reason that the provisions were negotiated in the initial agreement.
Since the president of the corporation is here, perhaps he can clarify for me, through the Minister, what the status of the legal requirement is for the production of financial records. It was my recollection that the onus to produce financial records ended sometime in the late 1980s?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: There was a time when Yukon Housing had some access to Faro Real Estate Ltd. books. That was during a period of what we called an interest payment holiday. In order to maintain the interest rate holiday, FREL had to show its profit margin in the books, but that is over. It is paying interest on the mortgage now, so Yukon Housing Corporation does not have access to the books that it had during the shutdown period.
Mr. Harding: What amount of payment was made by Faro Real Estate during the mine shutdown? Was there much at all?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: No, there were no payments. That is what prompted the action just recently that finally brought FREL up to date.
Mr. Harding: Prompting an angry response from the Mayor of Faro, I remember.
So there was some rent being collected during that period. What happened to all of the rent that was collected prior to the foreclosure action?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: It went to the credit of Faro Real Estate. I would guess that that was part of the money that was used to bring the arrears up to date.
Mr. Harding: When did 10730 Yukon Ltd. start acquiring assets? Has it been a gradual acquisition of assets, or was it done more as a lump purchase?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: To go back to the previous question, my understanding is that the cash excess during the time that Faro Real Estate was not paying Yukon Housing Corporation was paid to the Town of Faro for taxes. The Yukon Housing Corporation never saw any of that.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Yes, the Member for Faro is saying that they owed taxes. It was not enough to cover the full tax bill.
With respect to 10730 Yukon Ltd., my understanding from the president is that 10730 Yukon Ltd. acquired all of the apartments in one, lump-sum transfer. The other units were gradually acquired on an ongoing basis. I do not know if it is important to the Member to know the exact dates, but I am sure that we could get them. The apartments were one transfer from Faro Real Estate to 10730 Yukon Ltd. That is what the Yukon Housing Corporation was concerned about, and the corporation was prepared to take action against Faro Real Estate for alienating those assets from the mortgage.
Mr. Harding: What knowledge does the Minister have of the financing arrangements for the purchase of the 10730 Yukon Ltd. assets and units?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: As the Member for Faro probably suspects, it was not a simple arrangement. It was a bit complicated, from what I know. 10730 Yukon Ltd. purchased the units from FREL with a mortgage back at zero percent in interest. 10730 Yukon Ltd. never paid FREL anything on the mortgage, so FREL did not have the money from the purchase of the units.
Mr. Harding: Has FREL ever received monies for the purchase of the units?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: No, we do not know. The thing that we were able to obtain was the $1 million guarantee from 10730 Yukon Ltd. to protect our interests, so we never did find out the internal dealings between 10730 Yukon Ltd. and FREL.
Mr. Harding: Would the Minister not agree that a zero-percent mortgage is a pretty good deal?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I sure would, and an even better deal when no principal payments were made.
Mr. Harding: I look forward to a discussion tomorrow with the owner of FREL about the increases in costs of power in the units of 10730 Yukon Ltd.
In the foreclosure court case that was initiated by the government, was no disclosure of financial documents ordered by the court, or a motion put forward by Yukon Housing Corporation?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: No, there were not, because the action was settled by agreement between the parties.
Mr. Harding: Essentially, then, just going back to 10730 Yukon Ltd., all of the revenue that would be generated from the units owned by 10730 Yukon Ltd. - the apartments and studios, the handful of houses, I think there are probably about eight - would go directly into 10730 Yukon Ltd., owned by Mr. Stehelin, but there is no debt of which the Minister is aware, so all of that revenue would be going directly to 10730 Yukon Ltd, which would not bear the cost of any debt servicing. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: We are not sure because we do not know exactly how 10730 Yukon Ltd. was financed. As far as we know, 10730 Yukon Ltd. keeps that money. As long as FREL is making the payments on the Yukon Housing Corporation mortgage, we are not in a position to ask if the payments are coming solely from FREL units or if 10730 Yukon Ltd. is contributing. As long as we receive the payments under the mortgage, that is satisfactory.
Mr. Harding: I have been told by some new people coming into the community that they have already had a rent increase over the amount that was charged prior to the shutdown, which is over and above the CPI increase. In my estimation, this is contrary to the agreement. I would like to know what the corporation is going to do about it, because I think these people have been charged the increase in a manner similar to the cart before the horse. The board has not even given Faro Real Estate approval yet, but it has reached an agreement with Anvil Range. We do not know the terms of the agreement, but nonetheless, the appropriate approvals have not been given by Yukon Housing Corporation. What is the government going to do about that?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: The Member is correct, and I expect that those issues will be settled along with the issue of the 10-percent increase. There will have to be something done retroactively to settle that issue. The 10-percent increase is outstanding and it will not be settled independent of the concerns the Member has raised.
Mr. Harding: We had a situation that I raised with the Minister and Yukon Housing Corporation, where some new people came into Faro at the time of stripping in November and people have been coming in ever since. There was a housing freeze put into effect and a deal was negotiated with Anvil Range. All of a sudden, notices came out to the tenants that their rent would be increased.
The tenants received a one-month notice saying that their month-to-month lease was terminated. They were told that should they wish to renew their tenancy relationship with Faro Real Estate, it could be arranged, but the price tenants would pay is a 10-percent increase.
I objected to it on the grounds of the Landlord and Tenant Act. The act states that once a tenant has locked in to an agreement, under any circumstances, the landlord is required to give one year's notice of an increase to the initial rent. It is my understanding that the Yukon Housing Corporation intervened in a cooperative fashion on that issue.
I know that for a few people, whom I mentioned to the Minister and the Yukon Housing Corporation, the matter has been resolved, but is the government certain this situation has been resolved so that the rents will not increase until the anniversary date arrives? Does the Minister know if this matter has been resolved for all tenants?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I do not know if we are exactly sure of what is happening with it. We at the Housing Corporation believe that it has been resolved. I think it was an attempt by Faro Real Estate Ltd. to circumvent the Landlord and Tenant Act, and we gave them notice that they were in breach. As far as I know, that issue has been resolved. If any tenants are having problems, I am sure the Member will bring it to my attention, and we will intervene to try and straighten the issue out.
Mr. Harding: As I am sure the Minister is aware, one of the problems here is confusion. There are only a few people playing who have a fairly strong grasp of the rules of tenancy. When, for example, a tenant goes down to the office and they are told there is going to be a $200 increase, they do not know if that can be done or not. They might assume that it is a given. Someone who has never been to the Yukon would not have any knowledge that it was not right to have their rent bumped up 10 percent because the agreement says that rents in Faro are going to be protected by a governor, as long as Faro Real Estate owes the government money. It is difficult for me, as it is for many people in this situation, to keep a handle on precisely what is going on.
As far as I am aware, it is a situation that has been resolved. I am looking for a commitment from the Minister that he will resolve the issue of the people who have already had their rent bumped up by Faro Real Estate without approval. I think that is an issue. I think the government has to make sure they uphold the integrity of the agreement that they have with Faro Real Estate. I did not think it was appropriate for them to assume the 10-percent rental increase, especially with these ancillary issues that may seem trivial to some, but are very serious to my constituents and to the people living in the homes. Believe me, I hear about them a lot.
The next issue I would like to raise is about the nuts and bolts of the resolution. It is my understanding, based on the brief conversation I had with Mr. Stehelin today, that Faro Real Estate Ltd. has not formally responded to the resolution of the board. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: To deal with the first issue of the rental increases and Faro Real Estate taking advantage of people moving to Faro, I agree with the Member. I have no problem in monitoring that situation and trying to correct it as it arises.
With respect to the response, Mel Stehelin of Faro Real Estate has spoken to the president of Yukon Housing Corporation briefly by telephone. We have not received a response in writing. Apparently, Faro Real Estate Ltd. is seeking a legal opinion at this time.
Mr. Harding: I cannot say that that is a surprise. I half expected it.
It is funny that everyone else gets accused of spreading misinformation, but it is a situation that I guess I will have to discuss with Mr. Stehelin. I am not prepared to accept that it is misinformation only because three tenants have had their rent jacked up 37 percent. That is simply not misinformation. I will deal with it on that basis.
I thank the Minister, the Yukon Housing Corporation and Justice for their cooperation in dealing with the sometimes very confusing and difficult circumstances surrounding the rental issues in Faro. I know that it is only as a result of the loan extension that the government is so deeply involved with it. It is probably seen as quite a problem and likely takes up a lot of the corporation's time. However, I think it is important that we protect the integrity of those agreements.
The loan was given to Curragh and then extended to Faro Real Estate Ltd. with the clear intention of providing reasonably priced housing in reasonable condition for people in Faro. We have to make sure that these goals stay firmly implanted in our minds. While there is some room for profit-taking by the managers, I would suggest that, given my cursory knowledge of the situation, it has been a good deal all around for the owners of Faro Real Estate.
It has been a pretty good deal for the tenants, too, and I think it should stay that way.
How will the requirement be written up that 10730 Yukon Ltd. not increase the rent by 37 percent, but that it only increase it across the board? Will there be a legal provision written in that the governor or the covenant that applies to Faro Real Estate Ltd. will also apply to 10730 Yukon Ltd.? Is there some danger that there could just be a transfer from 10730 Yukon Ltd. into 10731 Yukon Ltd. and then we would lose it?
I just want to make sure that this is nailed down, because I do not want to see the people who have just moved into the studios, apartments or units of 10730 Yukon Ltd. get hit with a large rental increase in a year because we did not work the covenant into the agreements strongly enough.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: My understanding is that it would be a separate agreement entered into between the Housing Corporation and 10730 Yukon Ltd. with respect to the 10-percent increase. Because we have the $1 million guarantee from 10730 Yukon Ltd. to the Housing Corporation, 10730 Yukon Ltd. cannot dispose of those assets without Yukon Housing's consent.
Mr. Harding: The resolution just speaks to the basic principle. There would be a legal agreement drawn up to try to ensure that there is a clear, concise and strong agreement to protect the people ensuring that the intent of the extension of the 10-percent limit is solid - can the Minister confirm that?
Can he also tell me that there will be some consideration given to what will happen to the 10-percent limit when the covenant comes to an end in 1996?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: To the first part, yes, that is correct.
With respect to what will happen at the end of 1996 or beginning of 1997, I do not know what the situation will be. I do not believe that we have thought that far ahead. The important thing is to get clear agreements in place right away that will take us through until then.
Mr. Harding: I understand the Minister's point, but my only concern is that there is a fairly significant opportunity here for aligning 10730 Yukon Ltd. with Faro Real Estate under the governor for all time. I do not want to see a situation in two years' time where this clause dissipates and then we go through the same thing again. I think 10730 Yukon Ltd. should be governed by the same rules. Would that not be possible, as part of the agreement to be worked out?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: We expect that the mortgage with Faro Real Estate and the guarantee that 10730 Yukon Ltd. has provided us with will give us some leverage at the end of that time so that 10730 Yukon Ltd. cannot simply go off on its own.
Mr. Harding: I accept that, and I guess we can certainly monitor the situation as it unfolds. Of course, we have not resolved this situation yet. The lawyers are probably being phoned as we speak.
It is my understanding that Faro Real Estate has already argued that it is not bound as a party to this agreement, including the rental governor, because Curragh is not involved in the contract any more. Has that been argued in court?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: My understanding of the situation now is that it is Faro Real Estate's position that the Yukon Housing Corporation has already agreed to a 10-percent increase across the board if Anvil Range agreed with it. If Faro Real Estate could reach an agreement with Anvil Range, then the Yukon Housing Corporation's agreement was automatic or taken for granted. It is our position that that was not the case. I think that is the legal issue that Faro Real Estate is looking at now.
Mr. Harding: I would request that the Housing Corporation have some contact with Anvil Range regarding this issue, just to cover that end. I have had some communications with Anvil Range on this issue and they do not want to see 10730 raise rents by 37 percent either. It is also concerned about that. A lot of the people who live in those units are employees or people it wants to bring back. To have a 37-percent rent increase is, to the best of my understanding, something that it does not want in the units controlled by 10730.
It is clear that that is Faro Real Estate's position. If they agree to a 10-percent increase, the deal is done. As far as Yukon Housing using leverage to prevent the 10730 increase is concerned, I am sure that it might be prepared to be somewhat involved in this discussion.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Yes, that is a concern of the Yukon Housing Corporation, as well. Part of the board's resolution was that before any agreement is reached with Faro Real Estate Ltd., the staff of the Housing Corporation contact Anvil Range to get either a copy of their agreement with FREL or a letter from Anvil Range outlining the agreement, so that there is no misunderstanding as to what Anvil Range's position is on the rental increase.
Mr. Harding: It is good that that communication has taken place.
Just to move to another issue, I am pretty satisfied that that is going to resolve itself after another legal battle, but nonetheless, I think the government has taken the appropriate action in the best interest the people of Faro, which is what I want it to do. I appreciate that.
The landlord relationship in Faro is unique with Faro Real Estate. I have asked the Minister, in Question Period and through discussions, to look at the option of re-establishing the rental-purchase agreement at more reasonable price levels. As I know, that has not formed the body of this resolution, as the Minister read it to me. It is not one of the principles, so I want to get into that. That is something that is really important to a lot of people in the community.
Initially, the houses were priced at a certain level. There was a calculation done so that there would be enough to cover the mortgage. It was my understanding at that time from Curragh and in discussing this with the Leader of the Opposition, who negotiated with Mr. Frame and the Curragh group, that people in Faro who wanted to buy their own homes through the rental-purchase agreements, had them designed so that the prices were very reasonable, but it would not end up costing Faro Real Estate or Curragh any money. We used to end up getting these rental-purchase options between the $25,000 to $30,000 range. As the units filled up in the community, Faro Real Estate saw the opportunity to, as Mr. Stehelin put it, claim the market value for the houses.
I have argued that there is no such thing as a free market for housing in Faro because the whole thing was created on a loan from YTG to begin with, so it was not private sector capital, it was taxpayers' money that allowed Faro Real Estate to take ownership of the houses in the first place. While there is some room for a little bit of flexibility in the price, the intent was clear to have reasonably affordable housing available for purchase so that the people in Faro could become home owners. Some took advantage of this early on and pretty well had their homes paid off at the initial levels. For a long time now, the rental-purchase option has been deceased. It no longer exists at Faro Real Estate and that is a concern to a lot of people who want to buy housing there.
A constituent of mine was offered a deal something like $18,000 down - keeping in mind these people have just been out of work for two years, have two kids and it is not easy to come up with $18,000 - and then the rest would be paid off over something like five years, and the housing price would be about $55,000. That is far over and above the original intent of the agreement. The rental option has gone.
I have to admit, the initial rental option had some problems, as Faro Real Estate argued quite convincingly. It was a little too flexible and created a lot of problems for them, but we certainly never met in the middle of the road on this one to resolve the problems. We have just seen the option being pulled and some very inaccessible options for the purchasing of housing created.
The Minister should also be aware that the banks have been very reluctant to lend in Faro as CMHC will not be involved in mortgages in Faro. This is something that causes me a lot of concern, but it will not get involved in it. People who want to buy housing do occasionally get personal loans to purchase a house, with a significant amount down.
I thought this was a perfect opportunity for Yukon Housing to help my constituents to negotiate some more acceptable terms and get a clear, concise contract re-established about how the rental-purchase option would work in the community.
I would ask the Minister why that does not look like it is taking place.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I am not sure about the original intent of the rental-purchase agreement. Apparently, there was a "secret" agreement between Curragh and Faro Real Estate over that issue. I think the Member for Faro may get far more information about the original intent and what was happening at the time if he talks to his colleagues, the Member for Whitehorse West and the Member for McIntyre-Takhini.
I recognize that it is an issue of concern. It was discussed at the board meeting of the Yukon Housing Corporation, and it is the subject of a separate resolution. I will get a copy of that resolution for the Member for Faro. Essentially, the board took the position that it did not want to intervene in the pricing of houses in Faro. The mortgage agreements or any agreements that are now in place do not deal with that issue. It is my sense that the board felt that, by controlling the rents through the mortgage, the government could ensure that housing was affordable and people could afford to live and work in Faro with that protection. If Faro Real Estate were asking too much for the houses, the people of Faro simply would not buy them and would continue renting them.
Mr. Harding: I am a little disappointed with that. The intent was clear. All one has to do is have the president of the Yukon Housing Corporation have a discussion with the president and chief executive officer of Anvil Range. He will say what the details of that agreement between Faro Real Estate Ltd. and Curragh were, because he was the president of Curragh at the time - perhaps he was the vice president. I believe he was living in Faro and was heavily involved in the entire operation from the start.
That intent, to me, is as clear as the day is long. That is why there were all sorts of provisions for a buy-back. It was designed to make people in Faro home owners at a reasonable cost. I do not think we should get into a dispute about that, although it does not seem to be consistent to say that we will be involved in the determination of rental levels - we will draw the line there - and that we will not be involved in the pricing of housing, as that operates under some sort of a Faro free-market principle. I do not think those are consistent concepts in nature.
When we talk about rental or the rental-purchase option, where parallel provisions were part of the initial intent, the Minister is correct. One forms the basis of an agreement with the Yukon government and one forms an agreement between Faro Real Estate and Curragh. I believe that it would not be walking on thin ice to speculate about what the initial intent was.
The sad reality is that Faro Real Estate is not forced to sell the houses at reasonable prices and people will not become home owners. It is not in Faro Real Estate's best interests to not sell the houses at a fairly high level. They will just continue to rent them. While I appreciate the board's efforts in discussing this and taking the time to look at it, I would have hoped that there could have been some resolution of this issue. It is a big issue - I am not kidding the Minister - and I am hearing about it more and more. If we do not settle it at this time, we will not have much leverage later.
A lot of people in Faro do not seem to be able to meet the provisions as they stand right now. I would love to see us come up with an agreement. When I was first elected, there was some discussion between Mr. Stehelin and me about developing a rental-purchase option at a bit higher market price, with a few changes in the agreements. I was certainly amenable to that. However, when the mine shut down a couple of months later, that all went away.
This is a good opportunity to get to work on it. I would like to see the Minister, perhaps irrespective of what the board has said, talk about ministerial direction to see if we cannot get the situation resolved. I think it would be of great benefit. Ultimately, I am sure that the Minister wants to see people own their own homes in Faro. To me, it is a fundamental cornerstone in building the long-term viability of the community. It is difficult to see, with a small economic base. However, we do hope to see it grow, and are making some efforts in areas like tourism to see that happen.
I had some great news today about a Rotary club in the States that wants to advertise heavily in the Campbell region, because they were here last year. One tourism operator in Faro has had 12 overseas calls already this year. There is some interest. We do want to be a long-term community, and affordable home ownership is one of those areas.
I feel kind of funny asking the government about this, but I have to keep coming back to the fact that this was a deal that was put together by the Government of Yukon and Curragh. I do believe strongly that we have a right to set some terms with Faro Real Estate about rental pricing levels and rental purchase options.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I have no difficulty with the Member's contention that the original intent was, generally speaking, to allow people to purchase homes and to give people ownership and a sense of permanency to the Town of Faro itself. I agree that that is fundamental, and a cornerstone to a viable community is to give people ownership in part of the town, and that was the intent.
The present situation is that the board does not see a legal means to get involved or to interfere in the price of the homes for rental purchase. However, if the prices are too high, and people are not able to purchase homes in Faro, then I am certain the issue will come up again. I, as the Minister - and I am sure the board, too - will take another look at discussing that issue with Faro Real Estate and using whatever leverage we can to influence fair and reasonable housing prices.
Mr. Harding: Can I ask the Minister to give me a commitment that he will have the Yukon Housing Corporation have some discussions with Faro Real Estate about the sale options they are now offering to people in the community and the ranges of them, and then compare them to what the rental- purchase options used to be? Perhaps some very enlightening information might be shed on this subject from that, and it might help the Minister and the board get a stronger sense that perhaps they should be putting more of a priority behind dealing with this issue, as it now stands. Could the Minister commit to me to do that?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Yes, I will make that commitment. I have no problem asking the Yukon Housing Corporation staff to discuss, or attempt to discuss, the issue with FREL and to get information from it on the housing prices and what it proposes for rental purchase, and if it seems unreasonable, to bring it back to board and to me for discussion.
Mr. Harding: I would ask that he do that as quickly as possible, before getting an agreement on the 10-percent increase, because I think that is probably the only window of opportunity we will have.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I will do that, because we will be discussing the rental increase. I am sure that there will be no problem in bringing up that issue. I will not guarantee the Member a quick resolution of it, but we will certainly bring it up. If it does not seem fair or reasonable, I will then ask that it be brought back to the board.
Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to try to get at least one question in before the break.
Despite repeated requests, our office has been unable to obtain a copy of the current Whitehorse Housing Authority policies. I would like to ask the Minister if he might have a copy of those with him tonight, or if he might be able to find them for us over the break or at least let us know why we have been unable to get them.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I am not aware of exactly what the Member for Mount Lorne is after, but if she tells me which policies of the Whitehorse Housing Authority she wishes, I am sure that we can get them for her or I will ask that they be provided to her.
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. We are dealing with Bill No. 3. Is there further general debate on Yukon Housing Corporation?
Mrs. Firth: I have some questions for the Minister about the low-interest loan programs that the Yukon Housing Corporation participates in. I received information from the Minister about the home repair program detailing the different kinds of work that is being done.
The information reflected commitments as of November 30, 1994. In the home repair category there were 43 clients, for a total of $1,675,999. Could the Minister tell me if these figures are up to date? Are there still 43 clients or has this number increased?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I am not sure what numbers the Member has. For 1993-94, I have 143 for the total number approved, and for 1994-95, 99 home ownership applications were approved.
Mrs. Firth: This is a letter I received in December of 1994 from the Minister. It lists the programs - home repair, number of clients 43 - and the total commitment almost $1.2 million, so I gather there has been quite a change. Maybe the Minister could just give me an update of the total number of clients and total amount of money that has been spent up to this date, as close as he can get.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I am not sure. We are looking to see if it was a typo, or if, of the 143 applications in 1993-94, there were still 43 on which monies have not been disbursed.
Mrs. Firth: While the Minister's official is checking, can the Minister tell us this: is it still a four-percent, low-interest loan? What is the maximum amount a borrower can borrow?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: The maximum amount is $35,000 and I believe the interest rate now is about 4.5 percent. I think it is one-half of the going rate for mortgages.
Mrs. Firth: Does the Minister have the other information about the number of clients yet?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: As far as we can see, the total number of clients approved in 1993-94 was 143. For 1994-95, it is 99. What we can do is get the Member an updated figure for the monies disbursed into the program as of this date.
Mrs. Firth: Does the Minister not have the figures on how much money has been disbursed overall?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: The disbursements under the home repair program are expected to be $3,235,400 for this year. That is as opposed to the 1994-95 forecast, which is in the supplementary at $4 million; it will be closer to $3.2 million. That was as of February 28, 1995.
Mrs. Firth: We must be just about running out of people to apply for this program if we have been spending $4 million a year - one of the Opposition Members just said that she had not applied yet.
I would like to ask the Minister if it is his plan to carry on this program. Is there any chance of the program coming to an end?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Just before the Member sat down, she said "ever". Yes, I expect that there will be a reduction when the housing stock in the territory has improved. There is a lot of housing stock in the Yukon that is in need of repair. I do not know if there will be a decrease in the next year or two, but we expect that there will be a decrease in the next few years. We will be reviewing what to do with the program and the amount that will be budgeted at that time.
Mrs. Firth: My concern is that there are a lot of people taking advantage of the program who could be borrowing money from the bank, because there is no criteria with respect to this program. I know that there are houses that could be repaired, but those people are not applying for this money. I would like to ask the Minister to take a look at the program, because I think that it is being used by people who do not necessarily need to use it. I thought that the purpose of the program is to do things based on need and to get housing up to standard so that people are living in houses that someone feels are more suitable than the persons themselves. I do not know who sets the standards, but I would like to ask the Minister to have a look at it, particularly in light of the fact that we could be spending the money in other areas.
I would like to ask the Minister what the repayment arrangements are. Do people have an option to pay it back over 10, 20 or 30 years? Is everyone paying it back? Are there any people delinquent in paying back their loans?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: There are very few, if any, delinquent loans. The repayment is based on disposable income, so that different people borrowing the same amount may be paying different amounts on a monthly basis. The only arrears that we have at the present time are two accounts under the home repair program. I believe the minimum payment is $25 per month; there are very few of them. There are a considerable number of people paying more than that a month, and with the interest, it sustains the program.
Mrs. Firth: I know the Minister is going to work diligently to recoup that money from the two individuals who are in arrears. I want to ask the Minister this question: who sets the repayment schedule, because this program does not have any eligibility criteria attached to it. There is no income level attached to it; anyone is eligible for this money. Is there some kind of schedule? Who makes the decision as to how much the repayments are going to be?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: There is an eligibility requirement. There are people who are not eligible. There is a basis for that. The Housing Corporation sets the repayment schedule based on a formula of gross income, the debts that the borrower has to service, and their ability to pay on a monthly basis.
Mrs. Firth: The eligibility criteria are not attached to the income of the borrower, however. People are not turned away or refused because their income is $200,000 per year. I guess that just means that their repayment schedule may be more. I know there are people who have taken advantage of the program, who are paying as little as $100 a month over a long period of time to repay their loans, and are in a middle- to high-income bracket. How much they will pay back over how much time is kind of interesting. I just want to know if there is some formula, or if they just make it up based on each individual applicant.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: The Member is right. There is no income level that would prevent eligibility, so in that sense anyone is eligible. There is a formula for the repayment schedule, and I think the monthly payment is a function of the amount borrowed. We could probably work up an example for the Member and show the math. For example, in a household with an income of $50,000 a year, that already has payments of, say, $1,600 for a mortgage and other debts, we could probably calculate what the repayment schedule would be on a monthly basis to give the Member an illustration of exactly how it works. There is a standard formula to get to that figure. It is not really simple because it depends on things such as the number of children involved. There is an allowance for an expense for each child, which is taken off the gross income, to see what the family can afford to pay back, over and above those costs. I am prepared to set up an example for the Member, so that she can see exactly how the formula works for a couple of different family scenarios.
Mrs. Firth: If I could get the formula I could prepare my own examples. I appreciate the Minister's commitment to get that information for me, but I want to know if there is a formula in place and what it is. We should be able to apply it to a variety of circumstances ourselves. If the Minister will provide me with that formula, I would appreciate it - I see the Minister nodding his head yes, so I will wait to get that formula back from him.
I want to ask about the loans to the rental-suite program and the loans of $25,000 at 5.25% interest. How many applications have been received over the last year and what is the number for the current year? How much money has been committed under that program?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: To go back to the first request about the formula, I will provide that information to the Member and I thank her for saving us the trouble of going through a couple of examples. I think that the eligibility criteria contained in the formula is about a 30-page document, so I am prepared to make a copy and send it to the Member so that she can study it.
With respect to the rental-suite program, the first year that we have figures for is 1992-93 and there were 19 approvals; in 1993-94 there were 10 approvals; and in 1994-95 there were six approvals. Again, this is somewhat dependent on market conditions and we do not expect an increase because of the higher vacancy rate that we have in Whitehorse at the present time.
Mrs. Firth: How much money is committed? Did they all get $25,000?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I am not sure of the individual amounts. In 1992-93, the 19 approvals totalled $382,000. The 10 approvals in 1993-94 totalled $200,000. The six approvals in 1994-95 totalled $110,000.
Mrs. Firth: Are there no delinquent repayments on these, either?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: No.
Mrs. Firth: I want to move on to another couple of areas. Concerning the program the government puts on with respect to teaching people to be their own contractors, I want to know if the Minister or the president of the Housing Corporation have done an evaluation of the program and whether they have talked to anybody in the business community - say, bankers, or whoever - to get feedback about the program on whether or not it is being effective or whether it is creating problems within the community?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: It is being evaluated on an ongoing basis. There is quite an interest in it at the initial stages. A lot of people discover that it is not as simple as it sounds to build their own houses - not the graduates of the course, but the number of people who actually go out and build their own house are fewer in number than those who take the course. My understanding is that the banks have no objection and in fact like the program, because most of the people who actually build after they have taken the course finance through the bank.
Mrs. Firth: The concern that has been brought to my attention is that the course possibly gives people just enough information to get themselves into trouble.
They think they have all the answers and the ability to become mini general contractors. That is why I am asking about the evaluation.
It has been brought to my attention that some people have gotten themselves into some difficulties, both financially and in the contracting aspect. I think the government should evaluate projects like this fairly frequently to see that they are not causing people more grief than education. I recognize that some people may do well, learn a lot and quite successfully run their own construction project, but if we are creating more problems than solutions and benefits, I think the department has to take a look at the program to see whether or not it should be continued.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: My impression is quite the opposite. What I saw when I attended a couple of the classes and spoke to the people who had taken the course and the instructors was that it prevented a lot of people from getting into the trouble they might have experienced in building their own home without realizing the financial obligations and trouble it can be. Although the course may give a few people overconfidence and get them in trouble, I am sure it saved a number of people from having problems, as well.
Through taking the course, a lot of people realized that there was a lot more to it than simply going out, buying material and building a house. My understanding was that the program was supported by the Home Builders Association for just that reason - they often had to go in and bail people out of problems they had gotten into in trying to build their own home without appropriate information.
Mrs. Firth: I would just like to mention to the Minister that when they do their evaluation, I hope they are going to seek opinions from local bankers and get a broad input, because I think they may find that there is some rather diverse opinions about the program within the community. I hope it is done with an open mind. It is fine for the department to evaluate its own programs with the thought in mind of carrying on with those programs. I hope the evaluation is done in an objective fashion along with soliciting the opinions and input from a broad group of people as opposed to those with a specific interest.
I want to follow up on another issue. The Yukon Housing Corporation had a former employee who had been fired, I gather, and had re-entered the place of previous employment and I gather charges have been pressed. Can the Minister give us an up-to-date report on the status of that whole incident, just for our information?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Apparently he was to be in court today for election and plea, which means to elect the way he would be tried on the charge - whether by territorial court judge, supreme court judge or judge and jury - and enter a plea. We do not know the status of it, other than a charge of breaking and entering was laid against him and it is proceeding at this point.
Mrs. Firth: I gather that the department is prepared to follow through with this completely. Who is making the decisions about the process and the procedure of the case?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: It is out of our hands at this point. The incident was reported to the RCMP and charges were laid. The information was taken to the Crown prosecutors, and it really is in their hands as to what is done with it. It is not an offence against the Housing Corporation; it is an offence against the rules of society, so the Housing Corporation now has no say or control in what happens with the case, other than I expect to be called as a witness if it goes to trial.
Mrs. Firth: I am sure that the Minister will be following the case. I would like to ask him if he could report the outcome to us in writing if we are not in the House. I am sure we will probably hear about the outcome publicly as well. I would appreciate it if the Minister could report back to us with any information, once the final decision is made.
I want to ask the Minister some questions about practices within the Housing Corporation in regard to overtime hours. What is the yearly average of overtime hours worked by Yukon Housing Corporation employees?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: We will have to get back to the Member with those numbers. Obviously, the management personnel do not get overtime, but I am informed that there is a considerable amount of overtime paid to the inspectors during the summer season, when they are quite busy. I will get some detail from the Yukon Housing Corporation on the amount of overtime paid and will bring the information back for the Member.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell me this: has the Yukon Housing Corporation prepared an overtime report? I understood that a report on overtime was completed. It was brought to my attention that the hours were considerable over an eight-month period. It was, I guess, over the summer, from April to December. I would like to know if a report was made. When the Minister brings back the number of hours, could he also tell me what the cost was?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: My understanding is that monthly reports are completed on overtime. I can check to see if a report was done for that eight-month period and, if so, I will bring back the information that the Member has asked for.
Mrs. Firth: I will wait to get that information soon.
I would like to ask the Minister some questions about the process in the Yukon Housing Corporation for taking holidays. What is the procedure for employees when they want to take holidays and what is the procedure for managers when they want to take holidays? Can the Minister tell me how much holiday time is premitted? How does the Yukon Housing Corporation determine how many holiday days people are eligible to take?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I believe that it is the same regulation that applies to all government employees through the Public Service Commission, but I will check on that for the Member. If there is something specific about the procedure, or if the time allotted is different from the standard government procedure, I will report back to the Member.
Mrs. Firth: I will wait to hear from the Minister. Could the Minister tell me if the employees of the Yukon Housing Corporation have the option of taking holidays or taking pay in lieu of holidays?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: It is my understanding that is governed by the Public Service Commission. Those employees with more than eight weeks of holiday coming to them can request a pay out. That is only done with the approval of the president of the Yukon Housing Corporation and the Public Service Commission.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister tell me approximately how many employees in the Yukon Housing Corporation would have eight weeks of holiday annually?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Just to clarify this, the eight weeks I am talking about is possibly accumulated over several years. I do not know, and we do not have the information here on how many employees have that, but I will check it and bring it back.
Mrs. Firth: Perhaps the Minister could tell us what the average annual leave is. Is it four weeks, three weeks or two? What do most of the employees have in terms of holidays in the Housing Corporation?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Again, they have the standard holidays as provided through the government Public Service Commission.
Mrs. Firth: Do I understand the Minister correctly, then, when he says that people with an accumulated eight weeks of holiday can request a pay out? Is that the only time they can request it? If someone does not take their annual leave, can they, at the end of that year, request a pay out of their annual leave, even if it is three or four weeks?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: No, I do not believe that is right. My understanding is that they have to have accumulated eight weeks in the bank, so to speak, and then they can be paid out any holidays accumulated after that time.
I do not know about the issue of time off in lieu of overtime. That may be something worth checking on, too.
Mrs. Firth: What the Minister is saying is that people can take time off in lieu of overtime, or they can be paid for the overtime - is that correct? I see the Minister is nodding his head, yes.
I would like to know how it is monitored. If an employee takes time off, but does not submit a form for holidays, and then wants to be paid for those holidays or take time off, how does the corporation keep track of those kinds of personnel matters? Is someone designated to do it? Does the president keep track of it? Are all employee records in one file? How does that process work?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: My understanding is that the vacations are taken and reported through the Public Service Commission and that the supervisors keep track of each employee. If there is any more to the system than that, we will find out so that we can bring back specific detail with respect to each employee.
Mrs. Firth: Are the management staff and the president of the Yukon Housing Corporation included in the files with the rest of the employees of the corporation? The Minister must have to approve the holidays of the president of the Yukon Housing Corporation. I see some heads shaking, no. Perhaps the Minister can clarify that process.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Again, the holidays that would be taken by the president are those allowed for management by the Public Service Commission. The Minister does not approve the holidays. They go through the Public Service Commission.
Mrs. Firth: I understand from what the Minister was saying that everyone has to go through a supervisor, but the president does not have to. I would have assumed that the Minister would have been the supervisor. Does the president not have to go through a supervisor? Who monitors deputy minister's and the president's holidays?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I have not seen any requests for holidays from the president and senior management come across my desk, but I will check to see what the approval procedure is.
Mrs. Firth: I look forward to hearing of the approval procedure tomorrow.
I would like to give some of the other Members a chance to ask the Minister some questions. He promised to bring back some information for me. Can he tell me if I will have it tomorrow before we finish debate on the Housing Corporation? It would help if I could get the information by tomorrow to continue the debate in this particular area.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I know that there are Housing Corporation staff listening at this time. If the material is easily available, we will try to compile it tomorrow morning before we resume debate at 2:30 p.m. tomorrow afternoon. If there is information that the Member has asked for that we cannot provide for some reason, I will try to explain that when we recommence debate tomorrow.
Mrs. Firth: I will wait and see. I do not think that I asked for anything terribly onerous.
I want to ask one more question about the merit increases. We were provided with a legislative return that contained summary information about percentage increases to managers' base salaries, by the departments, as of January 1, 1995. I see the Yukon Housing Corporation received an average increase of 2.04 percent. This decision was made by the President of the Yukon Housing Corporation. Could the Minister tell me if the automatic merit increase of four percent also applied? Did it apply just to managers or to all employees?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I do not know what detail the Member has in front of her on the legislative return, but it is my information that the merit increases for management employees is the same as that approved through the Public Service Commission for all government employees. The Yukon Housing Corporation is bound by the provisions of the Public Service Commission.
Mrs. Firth: I think that applies to the automatic four-percent merit increase. In this legislative return, we were provided with the merit increases that every department received: the Legislative Assembly was not reported; the Executive Council Office received 2.17; the Department of Education received 2.88; the Public Service Commission received 3.38 and so on. I am trying to find out who set the amounts of the increase. I understood the increases were implemented by the deputy ministers and the presidents of the Yukon Housing Corporation.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: The president does the employee evaluations. The reason the percentage may not be consistent is that some employees would be at the top of their scale, so that they would not be eligible for the four-percent increase that someone in the middle of the scale would receive.
Mrs. Firth: I think it would be very helpful to me if the Minister could bring back this information for me tomorrow: after January 1, 1995, how did the employees' and managers' salaries change? If I could have that information, that might explain it.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: Yes, I will try to get that before we recommence debate tomorrow afternoon.
Mr. McDonald: I have some fairly predictable questions about trailers.
The Housing Corporation is the lead agency, as I understand it, of the Yukon government in discussing with the City of Whitehorse a number of issues facing mobile-home owners in Whitehorse. There are a whole series of issues that we have surveyed in the Legislature in the past couple of years, and I wonder if the Minister could give us an update on what is happening, please.
Hon. Mr. Nordling: There has been a mobile-home review report done. The board of directors of the Housing Corporation discussed different options at its meeting. My understanding is that a meeting is being arranged with officials of the Housing Corporation, the Department of Community and Transportation Services and the City of Whitehorse to discuss options. I think I even made the commitment to get the Member a copy of the mobile-home review; I will try and get it by tomorrow afternoon.
I have also asked the Housing Corporation to set up a meeting for me with - I asked for the mayor but she is in Japan at the present time -the acting mayor to discuss these issues at a political level so that we make sure that it does not get bogged down and we are not here two years from now discussing exactly the same issues and problems.
Mr. McDonald: I certainly do not want the latter scenario to happen, though I would not be surprised if it did happen. There are a number of issues facing mobile-home owners. What were the terms of reference of the study? What does the report itself encompass, in terms of suggested options? Do they deal exclusively with building standards? Are issues with respect to land development discussed? Are city bylaws with respect to the ability to move trailers in and out of rental parks discussed? Are any of the issues that could be identified in a new Landlord and Tenant Act discussed? What are the terms of reference, and what does the report say?
Hon. Mr. Nordling: I will get a copy for the Member. It deals mainly with the technical aspects and problems of the trailers in need of repairs, the standards that are required, fire safety, the issue of crowding in the trailer parks and with health and safety issues. The availability of low-cost land is an issue that is being discussed, as well as the possible expansion of existing trailer parks.
I think that it is fair to say that the terms of reference were not limited in any way. We started out with a fairly simple request, and we now seem to be dealing with every issue that concerns mobile homes, from the sheer number that we have in the Yukon, to the percentage of total housing stock, the age of them, the condition they are in, what is required to bring them up to code and what is required to make them safer than they are. We have bit off a huge chunk, but the issues have to be dealt with. That is what we hope to do by including both Community and Transportation Services and city officials at the political level.
Mr. McDonald: There are a lot of issues to address. The involvement of Community and Transportation Services is, I think, pretty essential. I will be more than happy to address the issues tomorrow afternoon, one by one. I will want to know a number of things about the number of meetings and the participants - that sort of thing - who is representing mobile-home owners and all those basic issues. I am sure the Minister is well aware of the kinds of questions I will ask, so I am sure he will be ready.
Mr. Chair, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 3.
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 has considered Bill No. 3, entitled Third Appropriation Act, 1994-95 and Bill No. 4, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1995-96, and directed me to report progress on them.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Phillips: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:30 p.m.
The following Document was filed April 19, 1995:
Tombstone Territorial Park (proposed) maps (Penikett)