Thursday, November 26, 1998 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Are there any tributes?
Introduction of visitors.
Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, I have for tabling two legislative returns.
Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
Are there any statements by ministers?
Elders in the schools: pilot program
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The goal of fostering healthy communities is fundamental to our government. Today, I am pleased to advise the House of a new policy initiative that advances that goal by strengthening the link between Yukon schools and the communities that they serve.
Members are aware that the foundation of the Yukon's Education Act includes the principles of partnership and respect for different cultures. In recognition of both these principles, a pilot program has been introduced in two Yukon schools this year to expand the role and prominence of First Nations culture in Yukon schools.
Earlier this year, Carcross, Tagish and Teslin Tlingit First Nations put forward a proposal for a resident elder in a school pilot program, in cooperation with school administrators. This fall, a pilot program will involve elders in the day-to-day operations of the Carcross Community School and the Teslin school.
We believe the experience and wisdom of First Nation elders can contribute to an atmosphere of respect and harmony in our schools. The presence of elders in our schools will also help ensure that school issues are dealt with promptly and appropriately from a First Nations cultural perspective.
At present, community education liaison coordinators are the front-line people responsible for dealing with school programs that require the close involvement of the First Nations community. The presence of elders in the schools reinforces the role of these workers by providing social and emotional support and guidance to First Nation students, improving understanding of and respect for school discipline policies, providing leadership and advice to students on healthy living practices, reinforcing the message that education has value; and, expanding community participation in First Nations cultural programs, such as language, arts and crafts, nature appreciation and story telling.
The resident elder will be an employee of the First Nation but will report directly to the school administration on day-to-day matters that are ongoing in the school. The Department of Education and the participating First Nations will share program costs.
Mr. Speaker, recently I informed the House of an initiative to involve the community of Old Crow directly in strategic educational planning. The purpose is to explore new educational directions to make the school experience more reflective of First Nations community values.
Like that initiative, the pilot program I am announcing today demonstrates another way in which the Yukon government supports the active inclusion of First Nations culture in Yukon schools, and is working to foster healthy communities throughout the territory.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Phillips: On behalf of the Yukon Party caucus, and office of the official opposition, I'm pleased to take this opportunity to respond to the minister's statement regarding resident elders in schools.
First Nation elders have played, and continue to play, a primary role in the interaction of the school and the First Nations' communities. Over the years, elder participation has proved to be an effective way of bridging the young and the old, in raising awareness and understanding of First Nation culture, developing positive self-esteem for First Nation students, and facilitating better relationships between the school and the school community and First Nations.
Currently, the Department of Education has in place a cultural support program that was created a few years ago to facilitate the inclusion of First Nation cultural activities for all students. As the minister is aware, the program is offered to all Yukon schools and has in the past funded activities such as a school-wide First Nations Cultural Awareness Day, including events such as bannock-making, stick-gambling, moose-hair tufting and beading.
The program also supported elders in schools, in which elders are invited to the school to demonstrate a particular skill, share stories and pass on their cultural knowledge. The program has seemed to work very well over the past years, and perhaps the minister could tell us today if this new program will fall under this program, or is this a separate funding arrangement?
I'd also like to know from the minister what the cost-sharing arrangements for the Carcross/Tagish First Nation and the Teslin First Nation are, how long the arrangement is for, and how the elder will be selected for the program.
As I mentioned earlier, Mr. Speaker, we are appreciative of First Nation elders and their roles in our schools. At the same time, however, recognition must also be given to the many parents who have offered their time and their efforts over the years, whether it's been helping out in fundraising, tutoring or serving breakfasts.
While we on this side of the House also appreciate these efforts, these individuals have not been compensated. Parents who have made the initiative to become involved in Yukon schools have done so out of their own time and their own merit. They have done so as part of their commitment to their community.
So, while I support the efforts of our First Nation elders and remain appreciative of their contributions to our schools, I have somewhat of a concern with this government's initiative to pay the individuals on a salary basis.
As is currently available through the cultural support program, First Nation elders are able to receive funding for the demonstration of a particular skill.
As I mentioned earlier, this has proven to work well, and I hope that the program continues to be offered. What I'm concerned about here, however, is that this new program appears to be paying individuals for efforts that have been formerly offered on a volunteer basis. What I see happening now is a fundamental change in the way we treat volunteers.
Mr. Speaker, this issue arose a few years ago, when I was the Minister of Education. I offered assurances that if elders approached various schools to participate at this level, and worked out an arrangement with the principal of the school, we would welcome their participation. It was suggested at that time, at a meeting we had at the Council of Yukon First Nations over in Riverdale, by some First Nations, that the elders wanted to be paid for their participation. It might be noted, Mr. Speaker, that a very respected Teslin elder spoke out against the payment, stating that if they felt it was most important for elders to pass on their knowledge to their children, they should do it out of their commitment to the community, not for the money.
Mr. Speaker, in any event, if the government is going to proceed with this initiative, perhaps the minister would entertain the suggestion to offer similar opportunities to all seniors in the territory. Elders and seniors, regardless of their race, have a wealth of information and valuable experience to draw from, that I believe would be an asset in any school.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise on behalf of the Yukon Liberal Party caucus to respond to this ministerial statement.
Mr. Speaker, the Yukon Liberal Party believes in community schools. Strong schools with parental and community involvement make for strong, healthy communities. Our caucus sees strong community schools everyday, strong community schools like Jack Hulland and Grey Mountain.
The pilot project announced by the minister today is really in addition to the community education liaison coordinators in the schools. Enhancing the resources in our schools is certainly something our caucus supports.
Our caucus has also, on many occasions, suggested the elders in our community, both First Nations and non-First Nations, are an under-utilized resource.
The Liberal caucus introduced a private member's bill on grandparents' rights this session. Grandparents have a great deal to offer young Yukoners and should be welcomed in our school system.
At present, each school is given a transfer of funds for special programs; namely, outdoor education and First Nations culture. This funding was reduced to almost nothing last year, so I am pleased that the minister is at least, in two schools, dedicating some resources to this type of programming.
The minister has stated today that the Department of Education and the participating First Nations will share program costs. Would the minister tell this House what the pilot project cost is and how it is cost-shared? And asking what a program costs is not a criticism of the program - for those sensitive souls opposite.
The government has also made the point on several occasions that they do not wish to enter into pilot projects - like televising the Assembly - without knowing the long-term budget implications or the source of the funds. What are the long-term plans for this pilot project? Is it anticipated that this pilot project will expand to all Yukon schools and will it continue to be cost-shared, or is it anticipated that, in future, it will be funded entirely from the Department of Education budget?
The minister has outlined that the resident elder will be an employee of the First Nation and will report directly to the school administration. As parents and grandparents, these elders will of course be welcome at school council meetings as partners in education.
Is the minister also considering asking these elders to serve along with the First Nation's appointed representative to the school councils, or where there are vacancies?
I would like to close, Mr. Speaker, by restating our caucus support for additional resources in Yukon schools and for the recognition by the NDP government of the valuable contribution elders make to the lives of our young Yukoners.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I would like to thank the opposition members for their support of the resident elders in the schools pilot program.
Mr. Speaker, in responding to this proposal, I think I should clarify for the members that we recognize First Nations self-government rights and we were happy to respond to the First Nation proposals for having a resident elder in a school program in addition to the community education liaison coordinator's work. The First Nation and the school administrators and the school communities will work collaboratively on what the elders are doing in the school. This is a way of supporting the need for First Nations cultural sensitivity and also for having understanding available to First Nation students who might encounter difficulties.
Of course we recognize and appreciate the work of all volunteers in our schools: parents, grandparents and others, of all races.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Fuel price inquiry
Mr. Jenkins: I have a question for the Minister responsible for Economic Development on the issue of Yukon's high gas prices.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the representatives from the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute for taking the time to help Yukoners understand some of the intricacies of petroleum pricing in Canada. Unfortunately, the mist that currently surrounds the issue of why Yukoners are paying such high prices at the pumps has not lifted. It has, in fact, thickened.
The basic, fundamental question of why Yukon gas prices follow the price of a barrel of oil when it goes up but do not follow the price of a barrel of oil when it goes down still hasn't been answered.
In view of the fact that fuel price data for Whitehorse hasn't been collected and other information is lacking, will the minister now agree to establish an independent fuel price inquiry to ensure that the proper information is gathered and Yukoners can finally receive some answers to these fundamental questions?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, Mr. Speaker, we did invite the CPPI up here to talk to Yukoners about issues pertaining to gasoline pricing. I attended a very well-attended session this morning with business community representatives and consumers from around the Yukon - particularly from the community of Whitehorse - representatives of different organizations and also representatives from the local retailers, who spoke on the issue.
What we did ascertain was that there is indeed quite a bit of information on the issue of fuel pricing in the Yukon that has been collected. There was an inquiry done a number of years ago on the same subject. Mr. Speaker, we have an agenda that we've implemented, part of which was bringing these people up to try to show Yukoners some of the complexities of the issue and to deal with some of those questions.
On the issue of the inventories of crude oil, the information I saw this morning was pretty clear in terms of the fact that it represents about 15 percent of the overall pump price.
Mr. Jenkins: What we did learn from the petroleum representatives is that prices in southern Canada do reflect world crude prices for a barrel of oil, and that their prices are lower because of the reduction in the number of gas stations, allowing greater volumes of sales for the remaining stations, plus the change in marketing where the stations now generate most of the revenue from other sources, like running convenience stores.
The trend is only at the beginning stage in the Yukon, but it still doesn't explain the price difference between the rack price from the distributor and the prices charged at the pump here in the Yukon. Somewhere in this price rack - the retail sales envelope - Yukoners are being overcharged, and a public inquiry would find this out. So, I'm asking the minister once again to set up an inquiry.
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, I think the member should read the Lilles inquiry. The information is all there. There was a public inquiry at pretty significant expense to the taxpayer, and Mr. Speaker, I would also say that there is an issue of perception and pricing in this territory. That's the reason we've undertaken the steps we've taken.
I've raised this with the federal minister responsible for the Competition Act. There was significant work done by the federal government and recently by the federal Liberal caucus on the issue of pricing, and the overwhelming problem was not just with regard to our local situation here, it was with regard to the Competition Act that was put forward.
The other issues that pertain to us locally here are related to competition and the fact that we have such low volumes. I don't necessarily see that calling another inquiry, when we already had one, and spending $100,000, or so, on that, would reveal any new information.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I guess it would come as no surprise if I disagree with the minister, Mr. Speaker, but most of the problem in determining the state of gas prices in the Yukon is the lack of statistical information or historical records of gas prices in the Yukon. In order to rectify this lack of information, will the minister have the Department of Economic Development or the Yukon Bureau of Statistics undertake to collect this information as best they can from the past records, and ensure in the future that this information is recorded?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, that's not a bad suggestion. We're already doing it, Mr. Speaker. We've engaged in a lot of work, and the department, as I announced in this House just a little while ago, has been collecting that information and making it available to people who have been asking about it. We intend to do it on a broader scale.
We have been working on the issue but, as the member can attest to, I'm sure, from his discussions this morning and the presentation I saw from the local retailers and from the CPPI, it's a pretty complex issue, and we're restricted by the limited competition and the transportation distance, and the lower volumes that we have in the territory.
So I take his suggestion; we're already doing it, and we think that that kind of information would be helpful. I don't think we necessarily need to have a full-blown inquiry, since we already had one a number of years ago, to recompute the same information.
Question re: Fuel price inquiry
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Speaker, the minister is absolutely incorrect about the information being available. We learned that today at our briefing.
Once again, I'm asking the Minister of Economic Development about the issue of his establishing an independent fuel price inquiry. There is a constant refrain about the previous Yukon Party - what they did; what they didn't do - but Yukoners currently pay the lowest fuel taxes in all of Canada. One would think that this would help to defray some of our high fuel cost to consumers, but it appears to have very little effect, Mr. Speaker.
Still, I refer to the price of a barrel of oil going up, gas prices in the Yukon go up. When the price of a barrel of oil goes down, our gas prices stay the same. They seldom go down.
Will the minister advise the House how he intends to go about solving this mystery, if he doesn't agree to hold an independent fuel price inquiry?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, Mr. Speaker, the Yukon Party - his colleagues - had four years in government. I didn't see them take any action on fuel pricing issues. Now, all of a sudden the Minister of Economic Development is supposed to - from what the member opposite - nationalize gasoline prices or bring in some form of competition regulation.
Mr. Speaker, I think that it's evident by the numbers that where the markets have been influenced by regulation in this way, the prices have actually increased. Prince Edward Island's a classic example of that, where caps on pricing have been put in effect. What people have done is price up to that cap. What P.E.I. has yielded is the third highest prices in Canada, next to the Northwest Territories and the Yukon.
So I don't understand why the Yukon Party, after not doing it when they were in government, would now want us to bring in some form of a regulation, to legislate price caps.
I think what we've got to do is what we're doing, which is try to show people what the factors are in the price, try to put consumer awareness and public pressure to bear on the prices. But at the end of the day, we are still somewhat limited by the fact we have low volumes and limited competition. The member will know that -
Speaker: The minister's time has expired.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, when the Yukon Party was in power, oil was $25, $26 a barrel. Today it is $11, $12 a barrel, Mr. Speaker.
One of the other contributing factors to Yukon's high price of fuel has to do with its sulphur content. Alaska has applied for, and received, a sulphur exemption - completely. And Alaska pumps out more sulphur emissions in two days than the entire Yukon - power generation, heating, highway travel, equipment use of diesel - does in a year. Yet Alaska has a total exemption; the Yukon does not.
Can the minister explain why he doesn't even bother applying for this sulphur exemption, which could help to lower the price of fuel here in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, the member's recollections of oil prices from 1992-96 aren't entirely accurate.
But, Mr. Speaker, I would say that the issue that he raises about the sulphur exemption, as it pertains to Alaska, is like comparing apples and grapefruits. Alaska deals with U.S. law; Canadian territories and provinces deal with Canadian law.
Canadian law doesn't allow us, at this point, to get this exemption. The member makes a good point. He's right. There's only one place right now in Canada that gets it: northern Quebec. We want it. We're trying to get it and, Mr. Speaker, we don't even understand why the federal government allowed northern Quebec to get the exemption. But it's something that we want to get for Yukoners because we think it would provide some easement and some comfort for the future, particularly if sulphur regulations are expected to be changed by the federal government.
So, we would like to get the same status as northern Quebec - absolutely.
Mr. Jenkins: All of these emission standards track back to the convention in Kyoto, and Canada is a signatory to that, as is the United States, but there are provisions for exemption. Quebec has one, and I believe there's a similar exemption -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Jenkins: Northern Quebec has an exemption. That's a fact. And a similar exemption for the Northwest Territories is pending. Yukon doesn't even have a clue. I guess it's because we're calling the minister "a gas"; he doesn't even understand it.
In order to find out what is going on in relation to Yukon's high fuel prices and in order to determine who is gouging whom, will the minister agree to come back to this House with the answers or start an inquiry? Which way do you want to proceed?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite can read out all the pre-written insults he wants on the floor of the Legislature, but the fact is that there's only one area of Canada, and it's a select part of northern Quebec, that has this exemption. We'd like to get it here. The Northwest Territories doesn't have this exemption either.
We would like to get it, absolutely, for Yukoners but, Mr. Speaker, ...
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Speaker: Order please.
Hon. Mr. Harding: ... there's no formal application form. We've been working on this particular issue, and the Northwest Territories doesn't have it either. And the Northwest Territories is seeking the same exemption status that the Yukon is.
We do believe that it's something we would like to have for the benefit of Yukon consumers. So, Mr. Speaker, I don't know what the member is on about. I'm telling him it's something we want to get, but it's in the control of the federal government to approve it or not. They've approved it in one small area of northern Quebec. We are arguing that we should get that exemption.
Question re: Human resource information system
Ms. Duncan: My question is for the Minister of Government Services and it concerns the highest priced payroll system in Canada: the human resource information system, or HRIS.
Mr. Speaker, I've asked the minister repeatedly about the cost of this system and he has replied, "There are additional costs," and "the costs are greater," but he failed to put those additional costs on the record. I have heard $3 million. I have also heard as high as $6 million.
Would the minister take the speculation out of this and tell Yukoners how much we're on the hook for this new payroll system?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, first of all, I need to correct the member's misapprehension again. She keeps repeating this topic of the payroll system. Once again, she is a victim of her own illusion here because it is not simply a payroll system; it's, in fact, a human resource information system. I presume that she took me up on the offer to see the system in place. If she had, she would certainly be aware that it is much more than a payroll system.
As for the $6 million, I think once again that - what can we say? - she is searching for the Governor General's Award in fiction. It is not $6 million. In fact, a couple of the -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Sloan: No, no, I mean I said I thought she was aspiring for something there.
The government has spent about an additional $400,000 in consultants for skills and about $100,000 more in software upgrades. I told the member that I would provide a breakdown in figures. I can tell her that it is not $6 million. So, I'm afraid I have to disabuse her of that notion.
Ms. Duncan: I understand that the decision to proceed with this project was made by another government so the minister doesn't have to use that line in his next answer.
We're now looking after a number of delays at a go-live date in January of next year. This project has gone on and on and on, and there are a number of reasons for the delays. One of the most important reasons has been the decision to burden people who are working on the system with two jobs: their regular job and implementing this new system.
In the Northwest Territories, for example, staff for their project have worked full time on this project alone. It's going to be completed in 15 months. Mr. Speaker, my question speaks to the way the NDP government manages resources, including the most important resource, its people.
Will the minister dedicate the resources required to get this job done and quit trying to ask people to complete a multi-million dollar project in addition to their regular jobs?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I'm not really sure where the member is coming from. Perhaps she's not aware of the fact that the team that initially launched this project and was working on it - certainly in the implementation phase - was, in fact, a separate team. They were drawn from all areas of government, not merely Government Services - from Finance and PSC - to make this project go. Additional consultants were brought in. As a matter of fact, for a number of months, they had a separate facility, or a separate headquarters. They were not located in this building.
A good deal of that work has been done. Now we're at a point of going live, as I said in January. The project, from what I've seen, looks good. It's certainly an improvement over the legacy system, and when I take a look at the former capabilities of human resources information, this, I think, will pay off in many ways, not only in terms of -
Speaker: The minister's time has expired.
Ms. Duncan: Let me clarify for the minister, so that he fully understands exactly what we want to have put on the record. Number one, how much is this project costing Yukoners and, number two, will the minister dedicate the resources so that we can get the project done? It's been done on a piecemeal, ad hoc basis for too long, and it has caused delays. This business of not focusing the resources, getting the job done, has caused delays. We're hopeful the system will work in January 1999. Let's be certain. Let's tell Yukoners how much it costs, and let's assure them that the project will be done.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I can tell the member that she's launching into the kingdom of absurdities here. The fact is that the project has been delayed by a variety of things, not only such things as getting -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, I mean, there's been a considerable problem with regard to the year 2000. That had to be brought in. There were also issues around new collective agreements - a whole variety of things. The original project was, I believe, underfunded. I believe the other factor in it was that there wasn't the realization of the scope of the project.
We inherited the project. We have made the commitment that since the money was spent, we would follow it through. That's what we've done. It's ready to go live in January.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Sloan: The member says that it can't be done. I challenge her to go take a look at the project. She's afraid to do it because she's afraid of what she would find. She hasn't taken a look at it. She doesn't realize what it will do. She cannot -
Speaker: The minister's time has expired.
Question re: Young Offenders Act
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Minister of Justice on the Young Offenders Act.
The minister was at a federal-provincial Justice ministers conference last month, and one of the issues discussed was the reform of the Young Offenders Act - I can wait until we can figure out who is going to answer this question.
I gather that the Justice ministers couldn't reach consensus. Now, what are the issues that could not be agreed upon by the Justice ministers? That's the federal and the provincial Justice ministers. What are the issues where consensus couldn't be reached?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: That's a very interesting question that the member is asking, because one of the reasons the question didn't really go anywhere on the Young Offenders Act is that after years of discussion on the subject, provincial and territorial ministers of Justice were expecting that the federal minister would be bringing forward the amendments that she had in mind to the Young Offenders Act for us to comment on. In the absence of the federal proposal for the amendments to the federal legislation, there wasn't a clear focus on what all was being considered.
Mr. Cable: Well, I guess that's a witness of a new democracy. Maybe the minister was expecting the suggestions to come from the bottom, not from the top.
Now, I understand that some of the provinces want a general overhaul of the Young Offenders Act, but I gather from this Justice minister's public comments that the minister feels that the emphasis should be on rehabilitation of young offenders. If I understand what the minister is saying, it's that the administration of the act, the aftercare, is what requires the tune-up, not the act itself.
Is that a fair estimation of what this minister is saying and what the government's position is?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, there was discussion about rehabilitation for young offenders, just as many of the justice ministers support the principles of restorative justice and put a focus on rehabilitation for all offenders, whether young offenders or adult. There was also a lot of support for the diversion programs that are often used for young offenders.
Mr. Cable: Perhaps the minister could read Hansard tomorrow and give me some real answers by way of letter.
Let me read to the justice minister what the federal justice minister had to say after the conference. This is what she says: "I think key principles that emerge from our discussion are the necessity for flexibility, the necessity for balance, the necessity for additional resources, and the necessity for consultation." Does this minister agree with that summation of the conference?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Speaker, that seems to be a fair summary of what was discussed. There was also a lot of discussion about the fact that the Young Offenders Act is a federal statute and that provinces and territories are expected to administer it.
The federal government cut the budgets to provinces and territories by 3.5 percent at the same time as they were increasing the program expectations for ministers, whether in the Yukon or any of the other provinces or territories, to deliver services. This is a real concern to all of us. We want to make sure that any new program expectations that come out of amendments to the federal act are going to be covered by the federal budget.
Question re: Highway maintenance, equipment operator layoffs
Mr. Jenkins: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services.
The minister will recall that, on November 19, I raised the issue of equipment operator layoffs at the Whitehorse grader station. The minister denied at that time that there were any layoffs, and today I want to give him the opportunity to correct the record. I have spoken personally to the three operators and they, in fact, have been laid off.
Will the minister now stand and correct the record?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: The Member for Klondike is wrong, Mr. Speaker. If that's the way he interprets it, he's absolutely wrong, again.
What I did say at that time was that, yes, I am not involved in personnel decisions; these are a matter to be handled within the department.
Mr. Jenkins: The employees in question have been working for the government as auxiliaries for 16, 17 and 18 years, respectively, and who, on an average, work for seven or eight months of the year. Now, they've been reclassified as seasonal auxiliaries and will only work between a minimum of three months and a maximum of six months per year.
While they're being laid off, the department will be hiring new employees to do the work these employees have been doing, as well as to replace other workers who are off. The department is seeking operators with a higher HEO2 job classification, rather than an HEO1 classification, which these operators currently hold.
Will the minister explain why the department appears to be more willing to hire new operators, rather than to offer upgrading training to these long-serving operators?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly I appreciate the words for the personnel. The territorial government's personnel are very valuable to the government and to the citizens of the territory, especially the folks who are working on the highway crews and maintaining safety for the highway crews and the citizens at large.
Mr. Speaker, again, I reiterate that this is a personnel matter, that things are being worked as per the collective agreement, and that the employees are covered by the collective agreement and have met with union representatives. Certainly we're following the agreement, and we'll continue to do so.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, training was offered to these employees, but only up on the Dempster Highway. I'd like the minister to explain why these operators were only offered training in rural Yukon, which is inconvenient for not only them, but their families, as well as to explain why HEO1 operators in rural communities are allowed as grader operators but, in Whitehorse, they have to acquire the HEO2 classification. Why does this double standard exist - one for Whitehorse, one for rural Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Again, Mr. Speaker, the member is wrong - there are no double standards. The member is well aware that Yukon is a vast and wide territory. It's made up of much more than just a capital city. Certainly members are representative of all areas of the Yukon. There are not two standards, Mr. Speaker; there's only one standard.
The standards are covered within the collective agreement. All of the HEOs are to have received some type of heavy equipment training, because we do believe in training our people, although not all have received that grader training, or have specifically taken the opportunity.
Question re: Gravel quarry, Stevens subdivision
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, I, too, have questions for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, and they're about the Stevens subdivision.
In 1994, the Yukon Party planned to develop a quarry and subdivision in the Ibex Valley area. At that time, the NDP - particularly the member's colleague, the Member for Mount Lorne - opposed putting residential homes next to a quarry.
This summer, the project was revived. Can the minister tell the House why the NDP now support putting residential homes next to a quarry, and what happened in the last three years to cause this complete turnaround?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, the member's absolutely wrong. This territorial government is working with the city - and will continue to work with the city and others, and listen to people, in consultation with people, and work within those realms.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, earlier this year, an official from the minister's department said that this project had been revived because of a request from the City of Whitehorse. Now, in an article in a local paper this summer, the Mayor of Whitehorse said that that wasn't exactly true, and a city planner had said the same thing.
Now, Mr. Speaker, we seem to have a serious difference of opinion here. Can the minister tell this House who revived the project - the city, or the Government of Yukon?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Exactly that, Mr. Speaker - nobody has revived the project. I know that the city has a position that we have ideas that - most importantly, the people have ideas, Mr. Speaker, and we're going to continue to work with all players and all partners that are affected, so that we might be able to have meaningful land development within the Yukon.
Mrs. Edelman: Well, Mr. Speaker, there has been some initial consultations going on out in that area about the development of this particular subdivision. Are we going to be developing a subdivision in this area or are we going to be developing a quarry in this area or are we going to be developing both?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Speaker, we do believe - maybe much to the chagrin of the opposition parties - in consulting and talking with people, and we'll continue to do so, so that we can continue to build partnerships in municipal development in the Yukon Territory.
Question re: Farm improvement financing
Mr. Jenkins: I have a question for the Minister of Renewable Resources.
Mr. Speaker, this government has made statement after statement about how it is expanding and diversifying the Yukon economy while Yukoners continue to leave the territory by the hundreds.
It's come to our attention that farmers are caught in a catch-22. Farmland under agreement for sale must have improvements done on it in order to obtain title. That's on the one hand. In order to obtain bank financing, the farmer must have title to the land to pledge.
In early October, the Yukon Agricultural Association forwarded a proposal to the minister to help overcome these problems. Is the minister prepared to consider the Agricultural Association's proposal for a ministerial guarantee wherein the government would back the farmer in obtaining a loan from the bank?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, there has been much discussion over the past year in regard to agricultural lands and the way the applicants have been treated in the past. I have said that we would be going out and doing an agricultural and grazing lease policy review. Presently, that is taking place and hopefully we could have some of these issues cleared up.
I know a lot of the issues relating to land and how it's acquired and what it's used for will be a part of this discussion.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, it's not the land. It's how to finance the improvements, how to finance the farming program without the title to that land.
Is the minister considering a farm development loan program, as proposed by the Yukon Agricultural Association?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, in many of the issues that have been discussed with regard to agricultural land and the problems with the policy review and the grazing lease policy review, many financial questions are being raised and we can take a lot of that discussion and work with it once we have a final review of the policies.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, we're not getting very far at all, Mr. Speaker. I was wondering if the association had also proposed a farm development loan program in cooperation with the federal Farm Credit Corporation. That program already exists federally. This is in order to obtain both short and longer-term loans, so that they can buy land and do the development.
Can the minister advise the House whether he is supportive of these proposals, or is he going to hide behind this big study that's underway?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The member is belittling the process of doing the review of the agricultural policy. I think it's a very big one and it's a very big concern out there, and I don't think he should be running it down at this point. There are a lot of concerns in regard to agricultural land, and I don't think we should be taking it lightly with regard to grazing lands and so on. We're trying to do this in conjunction with one another and work with the affected people out there, not just with the agricultural industry but all those who are affected by the lands that have been selected for agricultural land.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will now proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Speaker: Government bills.
Bill No. 52: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 52, standing in the name of the hon. Ms. Moorcroft.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I move that Bill No. 52, entitled Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act (1998), be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 52, entitled Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act (1998), be now read a second time.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act (1998) includes five clauses. There is a schedule being added to the Consumers Protection Act, a clause in relation to the enduring power of attorney, to make the power of attorney simplified. There are, as well, clauses for the French text of the Historic Resources Act. There is a clause to clarify the Mechanics Lien Act and the Builders Lien Act names, and to change the name, finally and fifthly, of the Nursing Assistants Registration Act to the Licensed Practical Nurses Act, to reflect the fact that the people who do this job in the Yukon are now known as licensed practical nurses, and not as nursing assistants.
Mr. Phillips: We'll be supporting the Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act (1998), as all the amendments put forward by the minister are very minor amendments, just to correct shortcomings in some of the bills.
Mr. Cable: The Liberal caucus will also be supporting the bill. I have a couple of questions, which we can deal with in Committee.
Speaker: If the member now speaks, she will close debate.
Some Hon. Members: Question.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 52 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Harding: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and 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 members' wish to take a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Fifteen minutes.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Bill No. 69 - Municipal Act - continued
Clause 22 - continued
On amendment - continued
Chair: We were on the proposed amendment to clause 22. Is there further debate?
Mr. Jenkins: Well, last night we had the fill-in Minister of Community and Transportation Services, and I'm pleased to see that the actual Minister of Community and Transportation Services is healthy and here with us today.
I'd like to continue with the amendment that I had before the House last night, Mr. Chair, with respect to timelines on when the minister had to render a decision with respect to a Municipal Board issue.
By way of a bit of background, there appears to be a rapid response on issues arising out of Whitehorse, but issues arising out of rural Yukon take a longer time frame to resolve or for the minister to render his decision.
And what I'm looking at is some firm timelines to understand where the minister is going to take that community, to remove the measure of uncertainty that exists around - let's say, for example, boundary expansions, or boundary reductions. We have two cases pending before the Municipal Board that I am aware of - Carmacks and Dawson City - and there could be another one in rural Yukon - Mayo. And I know the Municipal Board has rendered a decision in two of these cases, and I know in the case - these have been outstanding issues - of Carmacks, since February of this year, I believe.
We're going back a considerable length of time, and unless all these decisions come right at the end of the year, Mr. Chair - the boundary expansions - it's impractical from a taxation standpoint to implement them on a date other than January 1.
So there has to be some forethought given to the process. So I'm asking the minister to consider including a timeline on that section.
There are two ways we can do it. We can do it by adding a section (6), which I proposed, or we could alternatively just go into 22(1) and add the word "forthwith", which would more than imply the necessity to have a decision rather quickly, Mr. Chair.
I was just hoping the minister could give consideration to that, and would accept the friendly amendment for the purpose that it's intended.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I certainly appreciate the words expressed by the Member for Klondike. It's good to be back and I appreciate that the House would consider my health was not good, so I certainly appreciate their thoughts and whatnot.
But first of all, before I get into answering any of the questions that have been brought, I've got some things that I have to read into the record.
For the record, I would like to note that these proposed amendments, which were distributed to the opposition critics yesterday for their reference, will be moved when we reach the appropriate section of the act in the clause-by-clause review.
Mrs. Edelman asked a question on the proposal to form, resolve or alter boundaries of municipalities and talked about 30 percent of the persons. The 30 percent was selected by the MARC drafting committee and they felt that that was a reasonable percentage of the electors, and they did this with research, as was required. So, certainly I hope that answers where the 30 percent came from.
Now, to get specifically and more to the point that's been raised - and I do believe supported also by the Liberal critic - in clause 22. Yes, there are three that are outstanding at this point in time. I can read the timelines into the record for the member, if she would like.
I will include, though, the Dawson time line. This has already been done and approved. With Dawson, the third reading of the bylaw was done in December 1991. The Yukon Municipal Board received a report received by the minister in May 1992, and it was approved by Cabinet in the previous administration in November 1993 with an effective date of January 1, 1994.
So, I guess in there is an 18-month time frame.
In the case of Carmacks, the third reading of the bylaw was in June 1997. I received the report by March 1998, and the status is still pending. In Dawson, the third reading was done in September 1997. Again, I received the report by the Municipal Board in March 1998, and again, the status is pending. In Mayo, the third reading of the bylaw was done in February 1998. Again, I received the report by the Yukon Municipal Board in July 1998, and again, the status is pending.
So, certainly, regarding the 18-month time frame in the case of Dawson, I'm not in a position to speak to the length of the time frame. I just don't know.
In the situation of Carmacks, I say that the status is pending, but I can assure the members that the decision will be rendered before the end of this year, hopefully. It's a Cabinet process, and we'll follow the Cabinet process. So, we will hopefully have something by the end of this year.
Now, that works for Carmacks and for Dawson. Now, just to explain, because I do believe that the - and I must thank my colleague, the Minister of Justice, for backing me up last evening for two hours. I certainly appreciate that.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Keenan: One hour.
So, I certainly appreciate that and it certainly shows as a team strength. Thank you very much. It's much appreciated. And I did believe that she said, at that time, that the issues are complex issues, that each one is a uniquely different issue.
So, in the situation with Mayo, Mayo has had some unfortunate happenings with their leadership, and God bless the chief. I really hope he is feeling well. That's something we cannot do. In lack of capacity within communities, leadership capacities, and I'm not meaning this in a harmful or a hurtful way, but there is a lack of capacity and leadership in communities.
The village council, and now I'm talking about the Nacho Nyak Dun village council of Mayo, is reluctant to move into this support because they have not got the capacity so that they might be able to participate, but they don't want to hold it up and they're doing it with the current mayor up there. They're working with the current mayor, so that they can come to some type of a compromise so that they can do the best thing for the village. So, certainly, it's two villages coming together to make a better government situation. It would be very harmful for me to interfere and to say, "Do it this way," because certainly the whole purpose of this act is to enable communities to grow and to foster.
So, certainly, in the situation of Mayo, it makes it a difficult situation, very difficult, so I'm hoping that this explanation on the three that are pending now, and the one that was just approved - by gosh, it's almost four years now, it is four years, more than four years - will show that there are different complexities that are within it.
I certainly understand where the - pardon me, one moment; thank you - I understand where the Member for Klondike is coming from. The Member for Klondike, I know, has many years of political municipal experience, and I certainly take that experience as, well, as experience, because I know that you've worked hard for the community in your duties as a mayor.
I also understand the position of councillor - with the Member for Riverdale South and her experiences as a counsellor with the City of Whitehorse - and I have great respect for the words that you are saying. I'm not saying that they're right or they are wrong, at this point in time.
I had a chance to talk to the Mayor of Whitehorse, and I had a chance to talk to the president of the Association of Yukon Communities - the Mayor of Dawson City. One was 30,000 in the air above Lethbridge, Alberta, and the other was just opposite in a budget meeting in Whitehorse here, but we did get together and have a chat.
I expressed that I would like to do what's right, and do the right thing. The government, in their wisdom, a few years ago - looking to build consensus with communities - embarked on a rather new and exciting trail, if I can say so, of actually involving people in the development of legislation that affects them, so that we might be able to have meaningful involvement and good involvement, and get something in a bill that actually would portray what they feel. It's been done twice now, in terms of the Wilderness Tourism Licensing Act and also in conjunction with this act that I'm speaking of now - the Municipal Act. We know that this is a good way of doing things - a better way of doing things, if I can add that in - because it just involves the partners that are most applicable.
They spent - in the Municipal Act - two and a half years and many hours of good work to build a consensus. They talked of many issues. Now, I wasn't personally involved in any of those discussions, or any of those talks - but certainly my staff was, as were the executive director, the two co-chairs - there were many people involved. They looked at every angle which was here, and we came to a consensus that this is the way they want to move.
Now, I've already sat down and proposed with the members, in a consensus fashion, again, that we would be able to march forth with this new, enabling document.
Now I know that, over time, that legislation must be changed. It's got to be changed to reflect the situation at hand. I have great respect for the legislators in this building. The legislators in this building are here to work for the people and to represent their constituents' concerns, so I have great respect for their input.
So I'm caught in a situation where I have great respect and an understanding for what you have to say, as a past mayor and as a past councillor, yet I have very great respect for the processes, even if they are newly fashioned processes that we have established. It just seems to be a good way of doing things. It's not meant to take away from the legislators' ability. It's not meant to do that at all. It's meant, I do believe in fact, to enhance the legislators' ability, so that we might be able to have meaningful legislation.
That is what I wish to carry on. I wish to carry on that type of process.
So I'm caught in this sticky wicket of a situation, if I may say it in that way. I have talked now with the mayor and the co-chair of the MARC. I've talked with the association president. This document - and folks here know - speaks to one issue. There are other issues that affect this document and this legislation.
I had told - and I will just take a sip of water until people are listening.
What I had suggested is that there are other things as we evolve with meaningful government and good government, meaningful community development within rural Yukon and, of course, the City of Whitehorse being a municipality and a city. We're looking for the development, but things have to change in an evolution. They have to continue to flow and to grow.
I'm certainly more than willing - and I've expressed this to the respective parties - to sit down with them in the soonest, in early winter, and look at what could be and should be changed for the following year. I'm certainly asking that you would take that into consideration, because this would be one of the things, and then I could sit with the people who are involved and continue to build that community type of consensus.
So, what I'm saying is that I would not like to support the amendment to the bill at this time, but I would like to notate that it is something that I should take back to the Association of Yukon Communities with other things. I will tell you now that I have stated to them that I would look, in the springtime, during the budget legislative sitting, to enable them with more powers or more spending authority between the difference of capital and O&M types of spending.
My Government Leader committed to that during his budget tours, and I committed to that during the Association of Yukon Communities' general meeting in Dawson City last spring, after the fact. So, the next closest time that I can do these types of things is in the spring sitting of the budget.
I would like to, as we go through this process now, continue to critique it the way we have, because you're doing the job of legislators, and I'd like to continue that job as legislators, and I will continue to notate, and then I will take, with my department and with the Association of Yukon Communities, these notations back, so that we might be able to find a way and a process to come to a consensus on them, a meaningful understanding, and get an understanding of the situation of what would a timeline do. It would constrict the development of a community in the Mayo situation.
I'm not in a position where I want to restrict any development, so I would like the respective members from the Yukon Party and the Liberal Party of the Yukon Territory to please take that into consideration.
Mr. Jenkins: I'd like to thank the minister for his open and frank debate on this issue. I believe it's a very important issue and we looked at the example that the minister brought forward, and we looked at Carmacks, we looked at Mayo, we looked at Dawson.
If we look at the issues surrounding Mayo and Carmacks - let's take Carmacks. The minister has indicated that he's going to be bringing in a decision sometime this fall. Well, that would mean the boundary expansion would come into force, for all practical purposes, on January 1, 1999. The municipality, unless they have some forewarning as to what they have to do about what is coming down the pipe at them on January 1, will have to go through a whole series of exercises. They have to go through the amendment to their official community plan. They have to go through their zoning for that area. And then, if it's known to be coming, the other issue that is not even being considered or addressed here, which has been very, very costly for both the territorial government and the federal government, is the issue of mining claims being staked and used for the purpose of residency and adjacent to the boundaries of some of our major municipalities. Unless the Government of Yukon is successful in getting a withdrawal from staking order from the federal minister, which they're not prepared to grant very often or quite readily, Mr. Chair, we will see a rush of staking in those areas surrounding municipal boundaries, in areas where there is some growth and development.
I don't want to see any community having to deal with such a scenario again. Mining claims are staked for the purpose of mining.
There are cases where these mining claims have been abused, and they have subsequently been allowed to continue, and they've been the cause of great anguish.
So if we look at what's happening in Mayo, if the minister knows that it's eventually going to occur, that the boundaries are going to be expanded, and there will be a coming together of the Nacho Nyak Dun and the Village of Mayo - or now the Town of Mayo - then perhaps it's prudent to say that, within six months of the time frame that the Municipal Board has rendered its decision, the minister can say it'll come into force January 1, 2000, and that'll give you an opportunity to put in place the necessary arrangements between your respective governments, to ensure that the interests of the citizens of that area are best served.
Because really what we're talking about is the delivery of basic services: water, sewer, garbage, fire protection. Basic services are what we're addressing here, especially in rural Yukon. That's why communities were organized into villages, or towns, or cities. It was to provide for that basic service, and it's best done through one body. There's not enough population base to support all these separate entities.
So that's a way that that issue could be addressed. Six months from the time the Municipal Board renders the decision, the minister will have a decision saying, "Fine, Mayo will become a municipal government in the year January 1, 2000, because we know we have, in Mayo, a whole bunch of areas that we have to address between the respective parties, and that's a legitimate concern."
In Carmacks, they're still sitting on the fence, and they have been sitting on the fence for quite some time, since the time they were originally asked to not consider an expansion. I believe that's back quite some time ago, but now the recommendations have gone from the Municipal Board to the minister as to what their suggestions and recommendations are.
The minister said he is going to render a decision before the end of the year. The end of the year is just a month away.
When you look at what Carmacks will have to do as soon as their boundaries are expanded, commencing January 1, it's quite a lot of work for that municipal government. Unless they recognize the cost associated with it and recognize the involvement of all parties that have to be involved in the process, it could be all-consuming, and yet they won't know that decision until some time later, Mr. Chair. So, that's why I'm urging the minister to give some consideration to a timeline.
I think that we could sort this out very, very quickly. I know the minister has spent the time to speak with the president of AYC today, to speak with the executive director. Perhaps it would be one of those things that, on Friday, can just go back to MARC and they can come forward with a recommendation, which I would be prepared to accept.
You know, we've got enough work here today. I don't think we're going to clear this act today. Could I ask the minister to stand this line aside and not listen to the Minister of Justice and not listen to the Member for Faro, and go to MARC tomorrow and use his own good judgment and common sense, and if MARC comes up with a recommendation that, you know, we'd really appreciate something in there, I'd be prepared to accept it, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Chair, I'd like to take the time to thank the Member for Klondike for some very practical solutions. That's exactly the type of solutions and the type of think-tanking that we have to have so that we might be able to move forward with this enabling legislation, so that we can improve the quality of life, or the decision-making factors, for the leadership of the communities.
So I thank the member for that very frank discussion and possible solutions, and I'm sure that Mrs. Edelman is listening very carefully - I can see her nodding her head.
This is one of likely many issues. There are 326 - and more - clauses in here, and so what I would ask the honourable members of the House is for their consideration to the process that I've laid out.
I'd like to notate that, with the possible solutions, and then at the passage of this, I would like to take those notations, and I will, before - oh, I can't say things that will get me into trouble. But I will, in a very timely fashion - and I give my word, as a legislator and a gentleman - that I will go to the MARC and to people who are interested, and put forth some of the solutions that the members have brought forward.
But I know that there might be more than this one, so I would ask for the concurrence of the members to allow me to proceed with the passage of this very important act, and to establish the process of notation that I'm talking about, so that we might be able to move forward on this bill.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, I think that I need to get on the record here: some of the timelines for the ministerial comments about what's going to happen, as far as boundary disputes or boundary expansions, et cetera - four years is an absolutely unacceptable, too long period of time.
Eighteen months is also too long, and I don't think I know of any other system in the Yukon, because we have the joy of being in a small jurisdiction, where you would have to wait that long for anything, especially a quasi-judicial decision.
Bearing that in mind, and that's certainly the way our caucus presents on this particular issue, I have no problem with the minister notating this section - and I know there will be others because I've notated some already - and going back to the Association of Yukon Communities, if the minister can assure us, perhaps, that he will be examining these issues with our partners, the Association of Yukon Communities, and have something come back, some sort of report, if not amendments, for the next legislative sitting of this Legislature, in the fall of 1999.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I will be able to work within the realms of that reality, and I certainly will. I think that's certainly possible, and the different notations, as laid out, I think that concurs with what I'm proposing, so I thank you.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, based on the assurances of the minister, Mr. Chair, that he's going to be meeting with MARC and coming back with recommended changes on this section in the fall session of 1999, I could live with withdrawing this proposed amendment at this time. I require unanimous consent, I believe.
Chair: Will members give unanimous consent.
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Unanimous consent has been granted.
Clause 22 agreed to
On Clause 23
Clause 23 agreed to
On Clause 24
Clause 24 agreed to
On Clause 25
Clause 25 agreed to
On Clause 26
Clause 26 agreed to
On Clause 27
Clause 27 agreed to
On Clause 28
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, this is a brand-new section. It allows for a regional structure for government in the Yukon on the municipal level, and I think it's a long time coming. It's something that I'm pleased to see here in the act.
Now, on this type of regional government, can we go over again with the minister what sort of consultation has taken place with First Nations about this particular type of governance?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I certainly appreciate the concurrence of the Chair and the members for allowing me to take a quick health break. Thank you very much for that.
Yes, this has been a long time coming, hasn't it? This is just a wonderful piece of this act. Maybe I sound a bit too exuberant about it, but certainly this is something that I envisioned when I was a First Nation chief. Well, I'm still a First Nations person and a chief no longer, but still, it doesn't matter. This is what we envisioned when we put this into our self-government talks. I can remember sitting down with the Chief of the Nacho Nyak Dun and talking about how to do things in a better and meaningful way. That's just a bit of the history of it. We have gone out and done consultation with all communities, mayors and councils, chiefs and councils, from Ross River to Beaver Creek, et cetera, and have given people every opportunity to have input to see how these types of structures could, should and would work.
Mr. Jenkins: I really don't have any quarrel with the concept of regional governments. What I do have concerns with is, again, more and more this government hiding behind regulations and it's not spelling out in the act how this is going to work and who is going to be responsible for the financing of these undertakings.
I, again, would urge the minister to consider putting into legislation the rules under which these are going to operate.
I have the utmost respect for bureaucrats, in most cases, but there are occasions when they tend to want to drive the entire bus. Now, I don't mind if they're driving it from the front, but when they're driving it from the back, I really have a problem, and this is just a back-door driver coming in to deal with legislation that should, for all intents and purposes, be dealt with on the floor of this House.
So, I just want to be on the record as expressing my serious reservations about allowing this to occur and I would urge the minister to go back to MARC and bring forth, in legislation, how this process is going to be spelled out and how it's going to work. Can the minister put that in his little book and swirl it around?
I'm sure the minister has an awful lot of thoughts on this subject matter, because he's been one who has been a proponent of it. I've been on the peripherals for a number of years in these types of situations. I've watched them work and not work in other areas. So, as far as I'm concerned, it all depends on who is involved in it and how much of a determination they have to make it work, whether it will succeed or not.
I think we owe it to our citizens, here in the Yukon, to make sure that we enact good legislation and we enact legislation that's carefully thought out to ensure that all our citizens are looked after.
Could the minister consider bringing this back in the fall amendments with actual, spelled-out sections as to how it's to work, rather than burying it in the regulations. Regulations can be changed at the whim of any bureaucrat really, Mr. Chair. They just have to convince the minister it's the right way to go and they usually rush in with a bunch of these amendments and say, "Here, here, here." And it's easily done. I'm not sure that, in all cases, the downstream calculations have been done effectively, but those of us who have spent time in municipal governments and have had to constantly achieve consensus with all people in our areas know we want the effective role clearly spelled out. We don't want to have to deal with something that's changed on an ongoing basis.
Now, I know in the preamble it says, "in consultation with the participating governments."
But that's something that might or might not work, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: As the driver of this particular bus, up front, shifting gears, still going ahead, I take mild offence to the member's comments.
You see, I wasn't feeling well yesterday, and folks know that, but I'm such a die-hard to make sure that the Yukon goes and runs, that I laid in my sickbed and in a bathtub yesterday, trying to soak my bones, listening to the radio, and I listened to my Government Leader speaking. Some key words that my Government Leader brought out were "new Yukon." I listened to that, and I thought, it's so nice to hear those words, because we are entering into a new Yukon. There are many challenges for Yukon citizens, and many of those challenges are put on to the shoulders of government. Many of those challenges are brought forth and implemented and thought out and researched and consulted upon by the bureaucrats. So certainly, the bureaucrats and the staff that have worked on this and will continue to work with government, I have every faith in them, as the Government Leader and as this government does.
I hear what the Member for Klondike says about putting the rules into the legislation, and to make sure that they are there, because you can change at a whim. Well, certainly, that's not the case. Regulations within this administration do not change just on the whim of an administrative person or a political person. They are done in a consultative way.
Now, what we're going to do with the regulations, regarding the provisions of accountability, representation, financing and any other thing that affects a regional structure, is going to be done through a consultation process. We're going to look at talking with all folks, and then, and only then, can it be done and changed through a Cabinet decision, a Cabinet order. Those are done in a very thoughtful, methodical, planned type of way, because we, too, do recognize the potential, but we also recognize negativism, but we also recognize and dwell on the potential of going forth into the new realm of Yukon - the new Yukon, based on citizens' advice, and enshrining that advice and that consultation within regulation.
It will work, and it can work. We have other examples of different government structures throughout and we know that we can learn from some of those past mistakes, from whatever part of Canada or, for that matter, North America or the world. We can learn from these different situations and, of course, what we do learn is to not repeat past mistakes. We're here to provide good government and we're here to do it through a meaningful process.
So, I thank the member opposite for the comments.
Mr. Jenkins: I look over the one big municipality that could be formed under the auspices of this section, and it would be a municipality set all over the City of Whitehorse that would encompass all of the - let's call them bedroom communities. A lot of residents live there - Mount Lorne, as far south as Marsh Lake, Ibex, Mendenhall. A lot of people who reside in those areas work and earn their livelihoods in Whitehorse, Mr. Chair.
If this kind of an overseeing government were put in place by regulations after consultation, the minister could say that to fund that level of government that encompasses the two First Nations in this area, the City of Whitehorse and everything, we're going to reduce your municipal block funding by such an amount for this level of government, I think it would receive objections. But if we're going to establish another level of government - and this government is always saying we don't have any money - how is it going to be funded, just taking the example I have given the minister, Mr. Chair? Because the more government we create, the more costs we incur.
Now, how does the minister envision funding such a level of government? Is there going to be additional block funding provided? Are there going to be additional monies in the municipal pie - in municipal affairs - to divvy up? A second municipal block funding for these types of regional governments?
How are they going to be funded, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Chair, the example that the member uses is at the extreme end, absolutely - it certainly is: from Mount Lorne to Marsh Lake, with the First Nations, Deep Creek to Mendenhall, including Whitehorse. The example is very complex, but certainly that's one example. There might be other examples that are cared for within here. As we go through the consultation process, one of the things that we're going to be doing is an analysis of the financial needs of what it would take.
So, it's not like picking up the Sears catalogue - the Christmas catalogue - and saying, "This is a wish list," and you just mail away for it. No, no, no, no, no - that's absolutely not the way this process would work.
This process would work with involvement of people, in trying to get down to the nitty-gritty. We've gone out and done rural consultation. There's times in rural consultation where some guy says, "I want this, and this is what I want because I pay this mill rate," and then you go right to his next-door neighbour and he says, "Just stay out of my life, man; I don't want to see you around here. And don't ever come back to my door until election time comes, 'cause that's when I want to vote for you."
So, you have two extremes in that situation, so it's not a wish list where you can just go out. So as we go out and talk to people, and we will try to attempt to find solutions.
I can tell the member here that I'm not trying to take from Paul to pay Peter or to pay Larry.
I'm not here to do that type of thing. What I'm here for is to work my way through, and to find meaningful ways to provide good government, and that's exactly what we're going to do.
Now I know the Member for Klondike is excited to get up and rebut my statement, but certainly that is the process that has been established.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, what the Member for Klondike is concerned with is not the fact so much that we're creating another level of government. It's the fact that there's a cost associated with creating that additional level of government, and how are those costs going to be met, Mr. Chair? That's what I'd like to know.
If we're going to get into regional governments that are all-encompassing, where is the money going to come from? The minister has a number of choices. He can take from existing funding within the department, or he can add to the pot and create, let's say, another level of municipal block funding for regional governments.
Can the minister answer the question directly as to where the money is going to come from to fund this additional level of government?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly I do believe I heard two questions from the Member for Klondike. The first - and correct me, please, if I'm wrong - was about the cost of the administration of Community and Transportation Services going out talking to people?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, that was not the question at all. Okay. I'll just scratch that one from the list of notations. So done.
The next portion of the question was regarding the cost of developing a regional structure. Well, the purpose of a regional structure could be many things.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, it could be. Absolutely it could be. It could be many things. It's another level of government, but that level of government could absolutely deliver different types of services.
So, if the member will just calm down, listen to the answer, then I will provide the answer for him.
As we go through the process, one of the factors that would be enabled through this process is cost efficiency, savings efficiency - those types of issues. As you look at the different, unique situations that could arise here in the Yukon Territory, wherever in the Yukon Territory, each will be uniquely different.
So, if the member is getting me to say, "Well, you're just going to do more O&M costs and it's just bigger government and on and on," that's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is categorically we're here to provide and enable people within those areas - I want to trigger it - the ability for better services, cost efficiency, with the principles of good government, and nobody wants their taxes raised.
This government said we weren't going to raise taxes this term, and we're not going to raise taxes this term. So, we're going to continue to find meaningful ways of funding this, and it's not going to be to take from Peter to give to Paul for Paul to pay Mary.
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you, Mr. Chair, but the minister still hasn't answered the question: how is this new level of government going to be funded? Is the minister going to take from within existing programs to fund this new level of government, or is he going to be adding more money into the equation to address this new level of government? How are these levels of government going to be funded?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well certainly, Mr. Chair, the Member for Klondike is possibly correct on both. That's how it would be. I guess I'll reiterate here that this is certainly not the act that portrays or signifies the funding provisions. That is going to come up for debate in the springtime, hopefully, if we can get a consensus to move forward and as to how we can move forward.
Certainly, again, the principles are cost efficiency. There are going to be savings associated with those types of things, and again I might have to be seeking new monies now. And I qualify that with, "I might have to." But certainly, as we evolve through the process, the principles will be better efficiency in services and representation for people, no matter where they live. These issues will be put to bed.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, this particular section, which speaks to regulation respecting regional structures, says that, "In consultation with the participating governments, the Commissioner in Executive Council may make regulations respecting the establishment and operation of regional structures under this act." Just to set the record straight and perhaps to raise a little interest here, has there been an actual request for a regional government in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: In a very formal manner, no. In an informal manner, certainly. There have been overtures, I believe, from the Village of Teslin and the Teslin Tlingit Council, and from the Nacho Nyak Dun, along with the mayor and council of Mayo. There might be others but there are certainly two that I can think of, and the Carcross-Tagish First Nation also put forth some - well, it's been in the paper, as I know members are aware. They can see Marsh Lake talking. So, they're coming together, but in a formal sense? No, not really. There's a trigger within the self-government agreements that could trigger this on the First Nation jurisdictional side - but there really wasn't anything on the municipal side.
So, certainly, this allows them to get together to talk about those things. The principle that I would again reiterate is that of talking about cost efficiency and better services for people. The Member for Klondike is absolutely right. The fire prevention, water, sewer, those typeS of things, are in such a narrow field now, yet with the different subdivisions that are coming about and being made available, I guess, through self-government initiatives, et cetera, are sporadic.
So, we have to have a new way of looking at things and certainly this is the way of looking at things here.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, can I assure the minister that regional government has been on the minds of many over a long period of time, particularly for the sharing of services, although mutual aid agreements often take care of a lot of those issues now, although I must note here that I do remember being a city councillor and hearing just horrible tales from city firefighters, who were almost in tears at the border of Whitehorse, because they couldn't go and put out a fire only a few feet away.
Now, if there is going to be the development of regulations for regional structures, what would be the consultation process for the development of these regulations?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, first of all, we'll be going out and we'll be notifying people. We'll be doing it through radio, and we'll be doing it through newspaper advertisements, et cetera, to talk to folks, and then - what's the word? - coffee klatches, coffee meetings, community hall meetings - just any way we can get out there and do it. What we do is take this very seriously, and we want to hear everybody, because there are some very diverse views in these areas. Some want, some don't want, some are older, some are younger, some come here, some are born here, and so I want to hear those folks. I want to hear those folks, and then make decisions based on what these folks say. I think a good example of that is when the Government Leader goes out on his tours and talks to folks about budget stuff. People do come out with honesty and then expectations, and certainly, I'm hear to listen to those folks when we go out, as the department, and to work with their expectations.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, I'm sure that we're all pleasantly pleased and often surprised when people actually do come out to these meetings and give us their points of view.
I suppose that what I'm wondering about, though, is that the MARC group, or the committee that put together this act, took three years, and it was consensus-style decision making on what was going to go in or not go into this act. Can we envision this same sort of process for the development of regulations for regional governments? Can we say that there will be, perhaps, some service structures similar to the one that we used for this act?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, certainly within the geographical area we will want to have all the leadership present, whether it's First Nations leadership, municipal leadership. I'm absolutely sure - I shouldn't say "absolutely sure" - but I'm certainly comfortable ...
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Keenan: ... confident - I'm certainly confident and I'm very optimistic that my thesaurus is here - no, I'm very optimistic that the Association of Yukon Communities - because what we're doing here is unique to one special area of Yukon, wherever it may be - but it likely would have implications for other areas, in terms of just basics, I guess.
So, certainly I could envision that players would be involved. I'm not so sure, though, if - who can I pick on? If the chief from the Teslin Tlingit Council - I can pick on him; well, this is not a pick-on, this is an example - was desirous of being in the formation of the Beaver Creek district government concept, well, that's certainly something that he would have to talk about with them.
I could see where it would have its positiveness; I couldn't see a negativeness to it. But I, as a department, would not go and speak to the chief of the Teslin Tlingit Council, when it's in direct relation to another geographical area - whether it's Beaver Creek, or Dawson, wherever it might be.
But certainly, we will call meaningful meetings, we'll have both sets of the leadership there, and we will have many meetings with the citizens at large, so that we might be able to come up with the very best process.
Now, I'm hoping that these types of processes would not take the time frame of the MARC - two and a half to three years or whatever it might be - but I certainly can't - well, I can't polish off my crystal ball because I don't know how to read a crystal ball. So I can't look into the future to say, "This is the time frame," because I don't know what the time frame would be, but certainly with best efforts and communication and a good process that we will hear all folks and make proper decisions.
Mr. Jenkins: Let's go back to the issue at hand, Mr. Chair, and the issue is that we are creating a new level of government, and the minister hasn't spelled out how this new level of government will be funded. Does the minister envision that this new level of government will be funded from within existing budgets within his department? Does he envision that the pie will be sliced up differently to provide funding to this new level of government?
The minister also suggested earlier in the debate that he could go back and ask for additional funds, or he qualified that by saying that he may go back and ask for additional funds. But for all levels of government that we have, Mr. Chair, we have a process spelled out, clearly defined in this act as to their taxing rights, authority and to their responsibility.
Now we come along and we established this entire new level of government, and all the rules that oversee and govern it will be made by the Executive Council member. I really don't see that as being fair. I really don't see that as being reasonable. But, let's say I subscribed to this concept of regional government. How is it going to finance itself or be financed? That's the question. Where's the money going to come from?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, I will explain this in a couple of fashions. Certainly, there is going to be a cost saving associated with this simple efficiency of delivery of services so that we might be able to garner savings there. I'm sort of hoping that that is going to be a reality.
We're going to go into a consultation process that's involving the municipalities, the First Nations, the residents, again maintaining, Mr. Chair, that this is triggered by them, by the folks who want the service. This is not triggered by Keenan or by the minister or whomever the minister of the day might be. It's not triggered by those folks. It's triggered by these folks and this legislation enables that trigger to happen. Then we will work with these folks because we want peace, order and good government. Those are principles that we want everywhere in Canada. So, that's the principle that we'll be working from.
So, we're going to talk to folks. Folks who are desirous of having additional duties have ideas of how they're going to come up with funding these additional duties. And I certainly say that, in the case of Teslin, which I'm slightly familiar with - not totally familiar with where it's at at this point in time - as Mrs. Edelman said, when the firetrucks had to stop, that broke their hearts. Well, situations like that arise within the communities. They don't want to see that happen, so they want to expand services and the best way to expand some of these services is to create a regional government. Not only do First Nations people live outside municipalities but non-First Nations people live outside municipalities and most folk use these different types of services. So, we'll go through them and we'll talk with them and we'll come up with the very best.
What I think's happening here is that the Member for Klondike is trying to get me to say that the approximately $11,500,000 or $12 million that we put into municipal funding is now going to be divided, plus one or two more. But that's not what I'm going to say. You're not going to trap me into saying that type of thing, because I won't say it. Because that's not the purpose or the reality of what is happening here. That is an entirely different piece of legislation.
This is an entirely different piece of legislation. This legislation enables folks to come and do those types of things. Now, there has got to be a basic level of service. We know that. Folks wouldn't be triggering these types of agreements if they didn't desire a basic level of service, and what are the things that we're talking about? We're talking about water, sewer, fire, plowing roads in winter, sanding the roads - those types of things. Part of the discussion is going to be how these structures will run.
Now, if the Member for Klondike wants me to say, "Well, I'm just going to divide this by 14 instead of by 13 at this point in time," I can't say that. No, I can't honestly say that. I can't say that I'm going to do it. I can't say that I'm not going to do it, but I can tell you one thing. This is not to be to the detriment of the communities. This provision is here to provide better services and enable the local citizens to make these decisions with the territorial government's involvement to help foster.
The territorial government, I pledge right now, will work very hard, with due diligence, so that we might be able to provide these types of better services and discussions, so it's off to a new, brave world, to go where no municipalities have gone before in the Yukon Territory. I know that we will be able to do this as Yukoners, and continue to do so.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, we still haven't found out from the minister how this new level of government is going to be funded, Mr. Chair.
Now, municipal governments and regional governments are not new. Regional governments have been in existence in western Canada for quite some time. Is the minister going to be using the B.C. model for the financing of regional governments, or the Alberta model?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, no, there are no models that we would use at this point in time. Again, I say that we're going where no one has gone before within this Yukon Territory, and we're going to look at all the models. As a part of the process, I'm sure that they'll be doing certain research, but most importantly the funding of this will be one of the principles of consultation. I know I've gone out to different community meetings where folks have said to me personally, along with my staff, "If we can have this, and because we want it as a Yukon people, we're willing to pay extra for it." So, people are more than willing to look at what they want.
Now, please do not twist the words that I have said and say that there's going to be a fee increase or a tax increase, because that's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is that there is a willingness on behalf of the Yukon people that I have talked to, to go forth with this to provide better services. And one of the principles that they're going to be addressing is the funding principle.
Now, I might have to add more dollars to the pie. I'm not sure. That might have to happen. I might have to look at unique and new ways. There's going to be cost-savings efficiency. So, certainly, that is what I am here to do, and I will continue to be there.
It's going to be a very unique relationship within the Yukon, and I'm certainly looking for the members' support so that we can go forth with this to provide good government and good services to all of the people who are affected.
Mr. Jenkins: I see we haven't got anywhere today. What we have, Mr. Chair, is an issue before us and this government, time and time again, says we cannot do that because we do not know where the funding is going to come from or we can't commit beyond that point because we only have funding in the budget for this period of time.
Now we're embarking on a new journey, as the minister describes it. We're creating a whole new level of government. Where is the funding going to come from to pay for this new level of government that is being established or could be established under these new provisions in this new act?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Chair, I do believe I certainly answered the question. Mr. Chair. What can I say? In the member's own words, this is an enabling document. It enables communities to approach their neighbours - whatever government structure their neighbours may be - to find a new way of providing services. Why should one group be providing the services to one and then no other group providing the very same service for another group? That's not the intent in communities.
Mayors and councils, First Nations chiefs and councils recognize that, and they recognize that they do need the ability to move forward and to provide a better service. Are they willing to put their money on the line? Well certainly, that's what I have heard.
Are we willing to work with them? Well, certainly, that's what I've reiterated here this afternoon. We're going to talk to folks; we're going to look at a lot of different options. There's no particular model - absolutely not - but certainly something will evolve, and the paying for the regional government will be one of those principles.
So, this new act does not require a regional government; it sets out one option for one. It's absolutely an enabling document.
I guess that one of the fundamental principles is not really governance, but it's more of administrating and managing resources. I guess that's what I've been trying to say.
I know that when I was involved with the First Nation end of things, it wasn't to create new government and to have more government bureaucracy and whatnot. It was certainly a neighbourly thing to do, a good thing to do, because my old Uncle Ralph and I might come from two different cultures, but certainly we come from the same purpose.
That's what's so unique to Yukoners: that we want to be able to work together and enjoy this land together. So, it's about neighbours. It's about partners, and we're all getting together to share these services and define what services are required within this geographical area that we're talking about. That's what it's about.
The Member for Klondike should not be looking at it with the attitude of it being another level of government and we just don't need another level of government, because that's not the concept here at all. It's not to create a government to tax or to have more government. It's not like that at all.
Again, it's just a couple of neighbours getting together to work together, to follow the same basic roads to do whatever they want to share and do - for example, shared administrative services. Certainly, the solid waste, water, sewer, fire and recreational types of authorities are examples of where communities can come together to provide a better level of service. It can involve any of these types of issues.
So, certainly I would encourage the Member for Klondike to look at it in that light and to understand that government will come through to work with these people so that we can provide a better administrative service to the people who are requiring it.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Jenkins: But how are we going to pay for this level of government?
All of the other sections of this act, Mr. Chair, where we have created a level of government - whether it be a town or a city - they have ways of raising revenue. Now we are creating, or allowing to permit to be created, regional governments. In British Columbia, regional governments have been in existence for quite some time. Their method of being funded is quite specific.
Now obviously this government, or this minister, hasn't thought through the process as to how he envisions this type of government being funded, or he's hiding something. Now, all I'm looking for is an explanation. I recognize the purpose of it. In some cases, regional governments have a very good and capable function, but there isn't anywhere in this act that we have before us, Mr. Chair, spelled out how this new type of government is going to be funded. And it is not simply a case of a couple of people getting together and joining forces, and calling themselves a regional government. It's much more involved than that.
Then when you look at how it's going to operate, virtually everything in that area is done by regulations. So we've created another level of government here in the Yukon, Mr. Chair, and we're going to run it by regulations. Does the minister not have some concerns with that scenario, given that we don't even know how this new level of government is going to be financed?
If he could tell me how we're going to finance these levels of government, we can move on.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: What can I say, Mr. Chair? [Member spoke in native language. Translation not available.] I guess that's what I can say. [Member spoke in native language. Translation not available.]
Mr. Chair, I guess I'm speaking to myself here, because I'm saying, "Calm down, show the member respect, and just do the best job that you certainly can," so I translate for the Hansard folks as I go through.
Mr. Chair, these things - well, for one thing, the member's absolutely wrong, wrong again. I will explain it one more time. This is folks getting together within communities, whether they're aboriginal, represented by aboriginal governments, whether they're non-aboriginal, represented by non-aboriginal governments, whether they fall under whatever other realm of government they might fall under. This, Mr. Chair, is an administrative resource management tool.
It is not even looked at as another level of government. It's folks taking existing regional programs, or existing programs, and sharing these programs so that they might be able to come up with a better way of providing these services to folks.
So, again Mr. Chair, it's neighbours coming together as partners, getting together so that they can share services. They can share their strengths, Mr. Chair, they can save money, they can be more efficient, they can spread it around, Mr. Chair.
It's going to be their business how this is best represented, who best speaks for them, who out of this new common administration system will speak for them. These are the types of issues that will be reflected - yes, through regulation - but based upon the consultation and the desires of the people involved.
Well, the Member for Klondike is misunderstanding what is being said here. It is not to tax; it is not to create that government. I say again, Mr. Chair, folks getting together, from whatever background - whatever jurisdictional umbrella encompasses them - to get together, to work together.
Examples that I have reiterated for the Member for Klondike are fire, solid waste, recreation, plowing roads - any one of those types of issues, Mr. Chair - and one of the fundamental principles as we go through here is how do you pay for it? How best do you pay for it?
Mr. Chair, I do believe I've answered the question here different ways, many times.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, I just want to go on the record as not being opposed to creating this additional level of government, but it is so sketchy in this act as to how it's going to operate. It's going to operate totally under regulations developed by the bureaucratic arm of the Department of Community and Transportation Services. And of more concern than that is that it's not specifically defined or clearly stated anywhere as to how this new form of government is going to be funded.
That I find alarming. That I find very alarming, because every time we see a new government formed - and I'm not disputing the necessity of forming these new governments in rural Yukon - the slices of the pie - municipal block funding - the slices become smaller for most areas.
After censuses there's a recalculation but, by and large, that total pie has not increased for some 15 years, Mr. Chair, and ultimately this new form of government has to have some funding coming from somewhere. Because, as the minister stated, it is an administrative type to serve the needs of the people. And that costs money. We're all aware of that.
So, we'll clear this item. I'm opposed to that section because it doesn't completely spell out what goes on, and I'm disappointed that the minister is not seeing his way clear to have more spelled out in this piece of legislation than what he does. Perhaps he's just been bamboozled by his officials, I don't know, but his explanation as to the financing of it is not very concrete, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, I thank the member for clearing the item. I do take offence, Mr. Chair, on behalf of the people of the Yukon Territory, the citizens who are affected here. I take strong offence - as they should.
As a matter of fact, I'm think I'm going to do a mail-out to folks so that they can get an understanding of what the member's saying because he's absolutely wrong, absolutely wrong again - from a litany of wrongness.
It's not developed by the bureaucratic arm of Community and Transportation Services. It's not developed by them. It is done in consultation with the people, the citizens, the people that the democratic government of this territory listens to, Mr. Chair. That's who it's developed by.
The bureaucratic arm, the member so chooses to say "bamboozled" me; I don't even know what that means, but it's such an ugly word that I can see it coming from that mouth. So, member, you're wrong. This is developed by and for the people and it will continue to be developed for and by the people if they so trigger it.
So, I thank you for taking the time and energy to listen to me speak to this.
Clause 28 agreed to
On Clause 29
Mrs. Edelman: I have a series of questions on this particular section. Now, in this section, we're talking about the formation of a new type of government structure in the Yukon, and that's the rural government structure.
Now, this is a type of government that's been put forward to some of the people out in the Marsh Lake area. It's one of the options if they do want to develop into some sort of structure. I know that, because I received one of the questionnaires, and I thought it was quite an interesting type of government.
Now, I need some clarification from the minister for the record. Not everybody in the Yukon has had an opportunity to have a briefing from the department, which was so well delivered, I might point out. Now, the rural government structure then, would that be something a little bit more than a hamlet, but a little less than a town? And what sort of abilities would they have as a rural government? Are we talking about the ability to tax, to zone, et cetera, or deliver services?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: This particular division here deals with the formation of rural government structures. The structures provide an intermediate step between a local advisory council and a full municipal status.
Certainly, Mr. Chair, the intent is to accommodate emerging municipalities in Yukon, such as the Marsh Lake area, as the member said when she received it. So to fulfill that wish to take on some decision-making responsibilities, it's sort of could be whatever they choose, I guess, through the consultative process.
Mrs. Edelman: Am I to understand, then, that the rural government would have the ability to take down municipal authorities but, in this case, they could take it down in sort of a slower fashion, so instead of becoming incorporated as a city, for example, they could slowly take down municipal authorities - for example, zoning or services? Is that the understanding of the minister?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, it is.
Mrs. Edelman: Would one of those authorities that a rural government could take on be the ability to tax?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, within their mandate, property tax, but it would be within their jurisdiction.
Mrs. Edelman: I've heard a series of concerns about this particular type of government, because it is new and nobody knows anything about it, basically, except for a handful of people in the Yukon. The concern that I've heard is that this would increase, say, the tax base, or what people pay to the Government of the Yukon, for example, if they decided to become a rural government. Can the minister talk a little bit more about that?
Now, I don't know if that's necessarily true at this point, and would the taxes be paid directly to the rural government, or would you continue to pay taxes to the department, and would those taxes necessarily increase?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: The last first - under this authority or this administration, they will not increase, but they won't have the authority to tax. That would be questionable at best, but certainly, that's not what we envision. Certainly, we envision that we would likely be the authority and give the rural government, probably, tax revenue. We'd transfer it to them as a part of it.
Mrs. Edelman: To clarify the minister's last remarks, because they do somewhat contradict his previous remarks, what I need to know from the minister is that the taxing authority would continue to be the department, and the tax revenues would be passed on to the rural government. Is that a correct assessment?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly that is a possibility. It could be a cumbersome possibility, but if that's what they wanted - because it could be what they want. Right? But that's certainly not what we envision, but it is a possibility, so I won't write it off as a possibility. I still think that folks just want, not a government structure, but simply an administrative, service, delivery structure. And I would think that we would certainly be willing, as a territorial government, to continue to be the authority and to provide a transfer based on that particular locale.
Mrs. Edelman: So my understanding then, Mr. Chair, is that there won't necessarily be an increase in taxes if an area decided to become a rural government.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: That's absolutely right.
Mrs. Edelman: When we go into the section under clause (1)(b), we get into one of these chicken and egg sort of things. It says that at least 30 percent of the persons who would be or who are electors of the area proposed to be formed would be the ones who would decide whether to put forth a request for formation to the minister.
Now, how do you decide what the area is, if you haven't - do you see what my problem is? Perhaps the minister can use ESP, because we've spent so much time together in this House we finally don't even have to talk. He can answer my question before I can actually get it out.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: It's triggered by citizens, Mr. Chair. The citizens' requirement is to bring forth a statement, like in paragraph (3), where it talks of the boundaries setting out what it is they want. It's up to them to say what they want to share and where they want to share it. It's not up to anybody else but them to trigger it. So, they would go out and say, "Hey, Joe, Dave, Larry, Mary. This is the area. Do you guys want to do something together? You know, provide better sewer, water, services, plowing of the roads, recreation, or whatever it is, or a combination of or none" - well, no, it wouldn't be none, because then they wouldn't be there, but a combination of. Well, then, certainly we would know that it's from the Fox Point subdivision that would take in the Fox Point subdivision and maybe parts of Smarchville. Well, those folks would trigger it, by saying, "This is what we want. This is the locale. Do we have 30 percent of the people here wanting to do this? By God, yes, we do. Let's do it."
So that would define the area. In short, that's the answer.
Mrs. Edelman: So then, if a request came forward to the minister, then they have to be very specific about the area that they would like to have governed and they would be presenting a number of different options to the minister, and that would have to be only one option for the area that was covered by at least 30 percent of the petitioners. Am I to understand it would have to be just one specific area that was brought forward under the request?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: That's absolutely correct.
Clause 29 agreed to
On Clause 30
Mrs. Edelman: Once again, in this section, we talk about "The minister shall publish a copy of the notice of the request to form a rural government structure in a local newspaper once for two successive weeks or by any other method appropriate in the particular area and post a copy of the notice of the request in three conspicuous places in the affected area."
Mr. Chair, at this point, I'd like to, once again, entreat the minister to look at the policies that they have for each one of the different areas and to regularly update the way things are done. For example, it's unlikely that,if you posted something at the Marsh Lake marina right now, a lot of people would pay attention, because it's burned down.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mrs. Edelman: As the Minister of Health points out, that is a problem.
I suppose that what I'm saying to the minister is that we need to have a policy in the department so that our message gets out to the people of the Yukon in the best way and, in rural communities in particular, that way often changes. For some reason, if you post it on a tree at the end of a driveway, it seems to get everybody, and then, three or four years later, nobody sees that particular notice. So it often changes, and it's a different way of communicating with people.
In the rural communities, in particular, there's a lot of trouble trying to get the message out for anything. Once again, I'd like the minister to think about developing a policy - almost a book, if you could say - about ways that we communicate with different communities, and those ways that are most effective, and to continue to go back to that book and make sure that that's still working.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I do believe that I told the Member for Riverdale South that I would consider that and I certainly will - in the other section, I said that, and I certainly will.
Mr. Jenkins: I have a concern with this section, given that usually this kind of a function is done by the Yukon Municipal Board in most other cases of boundaries, boundary expansions or changes. Now it appears that the minister is central to the process.
Now, is the minister looking at this function being carried out through the Municipal Board and recommendations being made to him? Why is there a change, because many, many sections use the Municipal Board and then make recommendations to the minister. And now, under this regional type of government, we're going directly to the minister. Why is that the case now?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, firstly, I would like to say congratulations to the municipalities for their growth over the last 15 years. Their capacity is building, both in leadership and in administration. This is very much a pat on the back to them for taking their community life seriously. I know every one of the mayors, and some on a very personal basis, and I have much admiration for folks who will come forth.
The whole purpose of this act, Mr. Chair, is to enable communities to do what the citizens say. That is very much the democratic way.
In this particular portion, there is not a role for the Yukon Municipal Board. It's not a municipality; it's people getting together to work toward the development of a rural government structure.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, if the minister would care to look at the broad-range definition of the Yukon Municipal Board and its powers and its responsibilities, he'll see that the minister does have the authority to ask the Municipal Board to undertake this kind of a review.
I'm just curious as to where in the political process it was decided that these kinds of entities - regional governments - could come about by just going to the minister, whereas in all other forms of government, there is a process through the Yukon Municipal Board, especially when it comes to all of the areas contained that they are looking at - boundaries and the like, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Firstly, Mr. Chair, it's not a regional government. It's a rural government that we're here discussing.
Yes, Mr. Chair, I can ask the Yukon Municipal Board for advice, and in many cases, I do believe that it might be useful. What else would happen here? Maybe the minister would be delegating decision-making authority. Now, that would have to be, of course, talked about and thought about and consulted on and talked about with folks, but I could maybe do that to rural governments.
So, certainly, Mr. Chair, there may be a role for the Municipal Board if we so think that it would be useful, but those types of issues will come out during the consultative process. We'll continue to work to provide the very best services and through different umbrellas, and this certainly could be the one.
Mr. Jenkins: So what we have created now, Mr. Chair, is a new form of government that can be established by just going directly to the minister; going through a process that could superimpose its jurisdiction over the likes of the City of Whitehorse - if you wanted to take it that drastically. It can superimpose its footprint over a vast area. Regional governments do that in the Lower Mainland, Mr. Chair.
We don't know how it's going to be financed. I don't know who's driving the bus, but we're certainly heading down a very difficult road if we don't pay attention.
Mr. Chair, if you look at the old Municipal Act, and you look at the lowest form of government - the formation of hamlets - it clearly spells out the powers of the minister with respect to what can be established: "... impose such taxes, licences, charges and fees to contribute to the cost of providing works and services as provided in this act for the benefit of the residents ..."
I think that's what we should be looking at in many sections here, and yet we're going to do all of that by regulation. I have serious concerns with that, Mr. Chair.
In the existing Municipal Act, for the lowest form of government, it is clearly defined as to what the minister can do and what the people in that area can do. And we're going to a broader form of government that can be established by just getting together with the Minister of Community and Transportation Services.
I really don't think the department and the minister have given all the consideration to the formation of this type of government that should have been given - especially the financial side of it.
Because there's only so much money in the pie. Now, the pies for the communities are quite specific. I guess the minister has two choices: increase the size of the pie, or cut up smaller slices in that pie. Now, where was the decision made to take this approach? And I don't believe it was totally at MARC. This appears to be more of a political initiative, Mr. Chair, than an initiative arising from MARC.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I'd just like to address the Member for Klondike who's sitting at the bus stop but imagining he's driving the bus. Certainly, Mr. Chair, this whole document - 327-some-odd clauses, 347 - is good work. It's excellent work, as a matter of fact. My kudos to the folks who put it together. My kudos to the folks for using their imagination. My kudos to the folks who would show vision for the territory, and that's the mayors and the councils and the people involved within the process, as defined by the MARC.
Clause 30 agreed to
On Clause 31
Clause 31 agreed to
On Clause 32
Clause 32 agreed to
On Clause 33
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, once again, this order forming a rural government structure, the regulations - who's going to be developing those regulations in this case? Is that the department then or is it back to the people?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Absolutely correct, Mr. Chair. It will be back to the people.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, clause 33(2) says that the rural government so formed under this act is a corporation and has for the exercise of its powers under this act all the rights and liabilities of a corporation. That's pretty broad sweeping for this low form of government. Can the minister give us an overview of how this is envisioned and translate it into lay person's language?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: First of all, I would like to again address the Member for Klondike, who is driving the bus from the bus stop, or envisions that he's driving the bus from the bus stop.
Mr. Chair, this is not the lowest form of government. There is no such thing as a higher form of government or a lower form of government. Every government has different aspirations, and certainly, Mr. Chair, this particular form of government is a form of government that is to be chosen by the citizens that are affected. So, it's not higher or lower. It's a choice of citizens.
Certainly, the rights of a corporation that this form of government would have are the rights to hold property, to own property, to enter into contracts, to hire and pay employees, provide and charge for goods and services, to make investments as is reflected further on, to even simply have a bank account. That is what is meant and expressed here.
Mr. Jenkins: The reference to various forms of government is set out elsewhere. I'm not repeating anything in a derogatory sense, but there are levels of municipal government, and he'll find that kind of term widely accepted as he expands his understanding of municipal affairs, Mr. Chair.
Clause 33 agreed to
On Clause 34
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, I think I should have probably asked a bit more about this section when we were in the briefing but, you know, there are other people in the Yukon who wouldn't be as clear either. So, maybe if the minister could go over why - and this is a section that says it is a variation of an order forming a rural government structure. It says, " Subject to sections 29 to 32, the Commissioner in Executive Council may vary the order forming a rural government structure under section 33." Now, why would you need to vary the order, and can you give us an example of that?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, this allows the Cabinet to change, based on the future orders - for example, the example that is given to me here is that a community that wasn't ready, but now is ready to take on say, for example, fire protection or maybe recreation. So, it allows us to incrementally grow.
Clause 34 agreed to
On Clause 35
Mrs. Edelman: This says no further request - and this section says, "If a request for the formation of a rural government structure is rejected, another request cannot be made, and the Commissioner in Executive Council cannot make an order, with respect to substantially the same area until at least one year after the date the request was rejected."
Why the one-year period and why would you need to put this in?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: One year was felt by the committee to be adequate - not to go through the whole process again - certainly a cooling-off period or whatnot, and then if was re-formulated and new ideas had come in, then certainly after a year that would be sufficient time.
Mrs. Edelman: Am I to understand, then, that the request wouldn't be looked at unless there was some new information that was brought forward to the minister?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, not necessarily if it's new information, because it's triggered by those folks, and it's not new information that's coming through me, but maybe new aspirations for those folks. Maybe they all got together, and said, "Hey, well, we could do it this way or maybe we could do it this way," whatever. So it's certainly people driven.
Mrs. Edelman: So, theoretically, you can come back every year if a group wanted to request the formation. Is that perhaps once a year or every year, or would you be having to come back with a petition of 30 percent of the people in that area?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, it wouldn't be this year and every year, because certainly there is this period here. Certainly, the process would have to be followed over again.
Mrs. Edelman: So then, to be clear, there would be a new petition each year, and each time there would be questions?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, there would.
Clause 35 agreed to
On Clause 36
Clause 36 agreed to
On Clause 37
Clause 37 agreed to
Chair: Is it the members' wish to take a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Ten minutes.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Committee is dealing with clause 28.
Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)
Chair: Just teasing you. Clause 38.
On Clause 38
Clause 38 agreed to
On Clause 39
Clause 39 agreed to
On Clause 40
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, in clause 40(c), it's talking about the duties of the local advisory council, and it says that it shall be the duty of the local advisory council to advise this minister on any other matter of local concern. We've spoken earlier about just about everything else that would be an issue of local concern, so can the minister give us some examples of other issues of local concern that he can think of?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: If I may be so bold, I would categorize it as a basket clause so that nothing would be left out, but so that, if something were there that they wanted to reiterate, then this would be the process that they could use to capture our ear.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Keenan: It's going to Klondike for Christmas. Yahoo!
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, just to be clear, the House is not moving to the Klondike for our Christmas sitting? We will be through this act in good time.
Clause 40 agreed to
On Clause 41
Clause 41 agreed to
On Clause 42
Clause 42 agreed to
On Clause 43
Clause 43 agreed to
On Clause 44
Mrs. Edelman: This is the clause on the local advisory council operations and it says, "Where operational funding is provided to an advisory council, the local advisory council shall operate within its budget and provide financial statements as requested by the minister."
Why would operational funding not be provided to a local advisory council?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, I never actually looked on this section in that light. The section speaks to the requirements of good bookkeeping, et cetera, so that we might be able to continue to have good advice from the council. That's the way I look at it. I don't look at it in another light.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, when I looked at this, that was actually my first thought. Now, in particular, I was thinking about in the Tagish area. The advisory council out there has had problems because they have a lack of funding to do their photocopying work, pay for their phone bills, et cetera, and that has been a real concern - one of the problems with that particular council and one of the reasons that it's had problems operating and now no longer exists.
I suppose that what I'd rather have in here is that operational funding will be provided to the advisory council, and I don't think that that's an unusual request. I hope that the minister might consider noting this particular section and maybe taking that back to MARC.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Chair, the provision here is not to restrict any of the advisory councils. On the case that the member brought up from within my riding - the Tagish advisory committee - I've been advised that some administrative expenses have been provided for, but some have not. It might be in the range of $1,000 or so. Because there are new folks coming on at all times, we'll send out one of our community advisors to go over things with them, because certainly that's not the intent to restrict or anything. It's not so, but again, different people are at different stages, and certainly it's incumbent upon the department and government to lend advice and assistance, and we surely will do that.
Now, where you laid out the case of where operational funding is provided to an advisory council, you're wishing me to state in there that an advisory council will get money - you want it to be what? I can't see that, because this is language that is not restrictive. It's enabling those folks to be able to receive funding if they so choose to come together.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, when I read this - if you put in the word "if" instead of "where", to me it reads exactly the same. So, if it means one thing to me, and it means another thing to the minister, then might I suggest that it's perhaps not as clear as it could be? And could the minister notate this particular section - 44(1) - and consider bringing that forward to MARC, for their consideration, with that concern in mind?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, Mr. Chair, I'm quite aware now of what the Member for Riverdale South would like, and I could suggest, with a bit of experience in drafting, and this type of thing - but not being a lawyer, not a lawyer - there is a definitely legal meaning to these words, as they come.
So now, is there a difference between a legal meaning between "where" and "if"? I really don't know. It could be, because they both seem to state the same thing, but of course my capture of English is not so elegant at times, also.
What I will do, though - if we can clear this- I will certainly get an explanation and do the right thing on this. I can get an explanation - I'm sure some lawyers are listening at this point in time - to distinguish between the "where" and the "if", to clarify the issue.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, it's always frightening that, when we work from plain language to bringing in the lawyers, number one, lawyers never agree, ever. So, that's why I was hoping that, rather than coming back with some legal explanation from one lawyer who will probably have a different opinion than some other lawyer, maybe we could just take this back to MARC, who developed such fine clauses in the past, and have them examine it. Maybe I'm totally off base with this, but perhaps they would just take a look at it when they're looking at the other notated sections that we've brought forward in the House for the minister's attention.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, in listening to the member, yes, we could notate this and get an explanation. I agree that different lawyers will say different things, but we'll stick with the advice that we have been getting. If it's just a simple matter of English, then as long as we have an understanding, and especially if MARC has an understanding of what it means, then that's what it means. But certainly I can clarify that and I will.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, has the minister committed to taking this back to MARC? I'm not clear on that.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, I will provide an explanation through the process that I've laid out to get together with the municipalities again to talk about this, but I'm sure that there won't be much of a difference, but certainly we can get that clarified.
Clause 44 agreed to
On Clause 45
Clause 45 agreed to
On Clause 46
Clause 46 agreed to
On Clause 47
Clause 47 agreed to
On Clause 48
Mrs. Edelman: This whole section, or part 3, talks about elections on a municipal level, whatever type of government that is. Now, has this section been run by our Chief Electoral Officer or his assistant?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mrs. Edelman: Oh, I'm sorry. We have a great deal of expertise in our government. Now, I know that there are elections run by Community and Transportation Services, but we do have a Chief Electoral Officer in the Yukon, and we do have an assistant, who is available to offer advice. Has this section been run by either one of those individuals?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I've been assured, yes, it has been.
Mrs. Edelman: Can the minister give me an idea of when that would have occurred, because certainly in my conversations with those individuals, they had not seen this section or been asked for their advice.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I've just been informed that they might not have seen the final version, but certainly their input was sought.
Mrs. Edelman: As part of the review process for this act, can we take this back to these extremely qualified and very knowledgeable - the most knowledgeable - people in the Yukon in this particular area, and have them take a look at the final draft? Would that be acceptable with the minister?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, no, I'm loath to do that, but certainly, the whole section on elections is a pertinent section, as Mrs. Edelman is saying. Advice has been sought from the Chief Electoral Officer, maybe not in the final version, but certainly MARC, the Municipal Act Review Committee, has reviewed this portion, and I'm sure that it was done in conjunction with those folks. Certainly I don't feel that we have time at this point to do that. We're into Committee of the Whole, but certainly as a courtesy, I will speak to the Association of Yukon Communities president, and we'll find out the process on this, and I will get back to the member opposite on that process.
Mrs. Edelman: All I wanted to do was make sure that we had taken advantage, I guess you could say, of our most highly resourced individuals who have knowledge in this area.
Now, under this section, it was talking about the qualification of electors - this is section 48 - and it says: "Unless otherwise disqualified, every person is entitled to vote at an election in a municipality who..." and then it says a Canadian citizen, 18 years of age, and then, "is a resident of the municipality and has resided in the municipality for the period of one year immediately preceding the day on which the poll is taken."
One of the questions that has come up over and over and over and over again over the years, particularly in the City of Whitehorse, is giving business owners, who pay considerable taxes, the opportunity to vote in the municipal election. Many of them, for example, live just outside of the boundaries and don't get an opportunity to vote on issues that are pertinent to their businesses.
Was this looked at when we went through this section at MARC?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, it certainly was looked at as we've gone through the process. The Municipal Act Review Committee did not support that issue. They have based it on the premise of one person/one vote.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, I realize that one person/one vote is one of the cornerstones for any sort of democracy, but this person wouldn't be voting twice. The argument that I've heard from business owners who live on the periphery of the City of Whitehorse, for example, is that they may not live in the City of Whitehorse and they don't get an opportunity to vote on issues that are very much pertinent to their livelihood and they do pay tremendous amounts of taxes. Yet, they have no voice.
Did the committee go out and talk to the Chamber of Commerce, for example, on this particular issue?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, specific to the question of did they talk to the chambers, I have no idea. I will have to seek concurrence if they were a part of it. I could not say whether they were a part of it or not.
Yes, I did not mean to offend the member opposite, because I do know that, as a legislator, the member understands the cornerstone of democracy; she certainly does.
Within the act, there's a possibility - and I'll ask for an example to be brought forward - whereby folks who live on the periphery might have a chance to vote in a referendum if it's related to dollar issues for them.
Mr. Jenkins: The age of majority in the Yukon is 19. The age for voting in these types of elections has now been dropped to 18. Are all the provisions here, Mr. Chair, consistent with the voting in a territorial election or are we going to have two sets of rules?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, they are consistent.
Mr. Jenkins: The area that I'm looking at is the tremendous change in qualifications and residency of electors. There have been quite a number of changes in residency in voters, which is in clause 49. We can clear 48 and go on to 49, Mr. Chair.
Clause 48 agreed to
On Clause 49
Mr. Jenkins: The previous Municipal Act had quite a number of sections dealing with the residency of voters. The new Municipal Act has one less section and has quite a number of changes, Mr. Chair. Is this residency requirement here consistent with a territorial election?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair. As part of the research that was done regarding the one-year residency, it's been challenged in the courts and it's been upheld in the courts, so, certainly, it is applicable.
Clause 49 agreed to
On Clause 50
Clause 50 agreed to
On Clause 51
Mr. Jenkins: I looked at this earlier, Mr. Chair, but it's somewhat dissimilar to the one that the Government of Yukon has in place for their employees. Could the minister confirm that there's no intention that, after being elected to office, the position that the individual previously held will be held open for that individual - so that if they should be defeated or leave their position, they would automatically reassume their position within the workforce of that municipality?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, they leave upon nomination. If they're elected to the position, they must resign their job. If they're not elected, then they can go back to their old job.
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you. What I was looking at was after they served a period of time on council in some capacity - mayor, or as alderperson - and if they were to quit, there's no obligation on the part of that municipal government to keep a position open for them?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Absolutely. Correct.
Mr. Jenkins: The other section, Mr. Chair, that I do have some concerns with is section (3)(a) and (b) that when they're granted a leave, they can't "reveal any information that came to their knowledge solely by virtue of their employment by their municipality, or publicly criticize or oppose any municipal policy that they have been instrumental in formulating while an employee."
That's going to happen. How is it going to be enforced?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, we have no easy answers for that one on this side, but it's up to the municipality to work with that, and through that. I can probably agree, though - I don't know how. I mean, if somebody goes out and says things - I'd certainly hope that folks wouldn't do that, but the municipality will definitely have to grapple with that one, and I hope you pass it along.
Mr. Jenkins: So, if we have a section here dealing with employees who have been granted leave, we don't have any way of enforcing it and, from my personal knowledge and understanding of issues that have been raised in the past, and individuals who have left their responsibilities with the municipal government to run, this is going to arise.
Now, we have to have some mechanism in there to ensure that we don't encounter difficulties. If we're going into this much detail, Mr. Chair, with respect to legislating what can be done, there has to be some recourse if this occurs. Perhaps the same clause ... reasons for disqualification - I think it's 160-something ... perhaps we could make an offence, such as a voting offence. Clause 160 is about the voting offences and their reason for disqualification - fine, imprisonment and disqualification. Why don't we just look at setting this aside and adding this section also - (3)(a) and (3)(b) - into 164(2)?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Chair, this is a municipality that we're talking about. Municipalities will be able to enforce this if they so choose, Mr. Chair. They are still an employee of the municipality, and certainly the municipality could make that applicable in that sense. But certainly I'm reluctant to hold this over, and the member knows that I'm reluctant to hold this over. We're not going to be through here by 5:30 p.m. I don't see that happening, although miracles do happen, so it's just very difficult to see if we'll see that today.
But certainly I would suggest to the member that the person is still a municipal employee, and if that doesn't work I can certainly - well, I'm not meaning to say "if that doesn't work" because it's not a screen show here at all. I do believe that it's logical, that the employee of the municipality could put that down in writing and say "you shall not do this." They can do that, I'm sure, but certainly I'll seek advice on that.
Mr. Jenkins: Perhaps, Mr. Chair, you just have to add a section (c), that the employee who has been granted leave under this section will swear an affidavit confirming that he will abide by these rules and regulations as part of his leave, and that will legally bind that employee on his leave of absence to an undertaking.
This could potentially become very ugly. I know of a number of cases where individuals who held a position within the city administration have left their role and run for political office, and what they used to obtain political office was their knowledge and understandings of political decisions that they were a part of forming - and that they were all wrong or incorrect. So I think we owe it to the people.
We're not going to get through this tonight, Mr. Chair, and I know the minister is reluctant to set it aside, but I would ask that he consider another section, (7), in this, and he could bring it back as an amendment to deal with an employee granted leave under this section who must swear an affidavit confirming that he will abide by these rules. Then it is binding upon him or her.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I can seek advice to find out if it is a problem, and if it can't be handled at the municipal level. I can certainly seek that advice, because the member does have a point. It's very difficult. I mean, not all politics are ugly, and should never be, but certainly I can understand what the Member for Klondike is saying, Mr. Chair.
I'm not so sure, though, if it would be fixed here or fixed in 160 - I believe it was - or if it could be adhered to at the municipal level. But I will consider that and try to find out, clarify it or seek a solution.
Mr. Jenkins: If we clear this, is the minister permitted to bring back an amendment to that section?
Chair: It is the understanding of the Chair that it would take unanimous consent to reopen it, but it is possible.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: What we would do in this situation because, fortunately, there's not going to be an election before the year 2000, so we do have time. So if we clear this, and it turns out that if the member has identified something that is clearly correct, then we can fix it up with a notation process, and I'd be more than willing to do that.
Clause 51 agreed to
On Clause 52
Clause 52 agreed to
On Clause 53
Clause 53 agreed to
On Clause 54
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, this is a provision for wards. Where did this idea come from? Was this an idea that came from the government or was this an idea that came from municipalities?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I do believe it's the municipalities that brought this idea of the wards forth. That is how this came about.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, when a municipality takes on a ward system, I think it was in 87 percent of the cases you get parties, you get political parties, you get partisan politics. That's an inevitable evolution of what happens when you get wards.
And, to be on the record at this point, I have always said that there is no room for partisan politics at the municipal level in the Yukon. We are a very, very, very small jurisdiction and we have very, very small municipalities and to pit people against each other by the area that they live in and to pit them again against each other by political parties, which inevitably follows the development of wards, is not right, is unnecessary and it doesn't go toward the good working of municipal government in the Yukon.
I'd like to keep that on the record. It's a position that I've taken in the past and I will continue to maintain it into the future.
Mr. Jenkins: It should be pointed out, Mr. Chair, that under the existing Municipal Act we weren't precluded as municipal governments to set up a ward system. So, it presently could be done. It's an option municipalities can have and I guess it's clearly defined now that if they so wish they can undertake to have a ward system.
Clause 54 agreed to
On Clause 55
Clause 55 agreed to
On Clause 56
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, this the commencement of election procedure. Under 56(1)(c), we're talking about "establish places that are reasonably accessible to electors who are physically incapacitated at which polls will be held if a poll is required and, subject to section 85, set hours during which polls shall be open."
Is this the section that refers to jails - pardon me, correctional facilities?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, that was a question that I'd asked also as we went through here, and it does - it applies to the correctional centres, to Macaulay Lodge, to hospitals, wherever folks might be.
Clause 56 agreed to
On Clause 57
Mr. Jenkins: Again, just for the record, would the minister confirm that this section has been vetted through our government people who are very familiar with elections, and that it conforms as much as possible to territorial legislation in this regard?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, I can confirm that. I will also, as I said, talk to the municipalities just to make sure what the process was. But yes, I can confirm that it has, and does, conform.
Clause 57 agreed to
On Clause 58
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, this is division 4, "Special Ballots, Qualifications and procedures", section 51(a), and it says "A person may be entitled to vote by special ballot if they are eligible to vote under this act and apply to the returning officer to vote by special ballot and are: (a) housebound".
How do we determine that someone is housebound? Does this person say that they are housebound? Is there some sort of criteria - a person doesn't want to go out? What's usually the criteria for "housebound"?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I can say that all these provisions here, and I can put to rest now some of the worries, I guess, if I could - are based on the 1997 recommendations of the Chief Electoral Officer, regarding the use of special ballots in the territorial election. Certainly, it's up to the returning officer to determine "housebound".
So, I can qualify now that these all went through the Chief Electoral Officer of the day in 1977.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, can the minister provide to me at some point in the future what the criteria is for housebound?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, I will endeavour to provide it in the future.
Clause 58 agreed to
On Clause 59
Clause 59 agreed to
On Clause 60
Clause 60 agreed to
On Clause 61
Clause 61 agreed to
On Clause 62
Clause 62 agreed to
On Clause 63
Clause 63 agreed to
On Clause 64
Clause 64 agreed to
On Clause 65
Clause 65 agreed to
On Clause 66
Clause 66 agreed to
On Clause 67
Clause 67 agreed to
On Clause 68
Clause 68 agreed to
On Clause 69
Clause 69 agreed to
On Clause 70
Clause 70 agreed to
On Clause 71
Clause 71 agreed to
On Clause 72
Clause 72 agreed to
On Clause 73
Clause 73 agreed to
On Clause 74
Clause 74 agreed to
On Clause 75
Clause 75 agreed to
On Clause 76
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, the amendment is, I think, to go under clause 77. Will the nomination requirements agree with the proposed amendment?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mrs. Edelman: Okay, I guess I'm not being clear. The minister has an amendment for clause 77. Now, will the amendment agree with clause 76 when it's brought in?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, it will.
Clause 76 agreed to
On Clause 77
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, I move
THAT Bill No. 69, entitled the Municipal Act, be amended in subclause 77(1) on page 51 by adding the following paragraph immediately after paragraph (e):
"(f) insofar as is consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Human Rights Act, a statement in the prescribed form signed by the person being nominated in which they disclose all their convictions within the preceding 10 years for indictable offences under the Criminal Code for which they have not received a pardon."
Amendment agreed to
Clause 77 agreed to, as amended
On Clause 78
Clause 78 agreed to
On Clause 79
Clause 79 agreed to
On Clause 80
Clause 80 agreed to
On Clause 81
Clause 81 agreed to
On Clause 82
Clause 82 agreed to
On Clause 83
Clause 83 agreed to
On Clause 84
Clause 84 agreed to
On Clause 85
Clause 85 agreed to
On Clause 86
Clause 86 agreed to
On Clause 87
Clause 87 agreed to
On Clause 88
Clause 88 agreed to
On Clause 89
Clause 89 agreed to
On Clause 90
Clause 90 agreed to
On Clause 91
Clause 91 agreed to
On Clause 92
Clause 92 agreed to
On Clause 93
Clause 93 agreed to
On Clause 94
Mrs. Edelman: This is just a suggestion. For example, we all know that if you're the first one up on a ballot then you are more likely to get more votes. Speaking as someone who's consistently been number one on the ballot and who has consistently gotten the most votes, I can say that, in my case in particular, it was true.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mrs. Edelman: The Member for Klondike points out that that was because I was the best, and I wish to thank the member for that comment, which I don't get much of, Mr. Chair.
What they do in Alberta is continually change the order on the ballot paper, and that's considered to be a fair way of doing it, so that no one gets the particular advantage or perceived advantage - and there actually are some studies to say there is an advantage - by having their name first on the ballot paper. It continually rotates.
Is that a possibility under here? Was that discussed at all at MARC?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: That's the intent.
Mrs. Edelman: So that's the intent. We're looking forward to seeing a rotating order on the ballot paper in our next municipal election.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: That is the intent, but it's certainly up to the municipality to do, but I know that, with the ears that we have here today, that's going to happen.
Clause 94 agreed to
On Clause 95
Clause 95 agreed to
On Clause 96
Clause 96 agreed to
On Clause 97
Clause 97 agreed to
On Clause 98
Clause 98 agreed to
On Clause 99
Clause 99 agreed to
On Clause 100
Clause 100 agreed to
On Clause 101
Clause 101 agreed to
On Clause 102
Clause 102 agreed to
On Clause 103
Clause 103 agreed to
On Clause 104
Clause 104 agreed to
On Clause 105
Clause 105 agreed to
On Clause 106
Clause 106 agreed to
On Clause 107
Clause 107 agreed to
On Clause 108
Clause 108 agreed to
On Clause 109
Clause 109 agreed to
On Clause 110
Mrs. Edelman: On section 110, it talks about time for employees to vote. In 110(2), it says if the hours of the employee's employment do not allow for three consecutive hours, the employee is entitled to the additional time off from work to provide the three consecutive hours, but the employer may schedule that time off so as to minimize disruption to the employer's business.
Speaking as a member of the private sector, this is wonderful. I don't know if this is a change from the old one, but this makes an awful lot of sense, and it's much appreciated by those of us who simply could not operate a business with having three hours consecutively gone for each one of their employees. You won't be able to stay open.
Mr. Jenkins: Why the three hours, Mr. Chair? In most of our municipalities, we can get to the polling station and back and do a million other things in an hour, let alone three hours.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Chair, that was the wish of the municipalities to have that time.
Clause 110 agreed to
On Clause 111
Clause 111 agreed to
On Clause 112
Clause 112 agreed to
On Clause 113
Clause 113 agreed to
On Clause 114
Clause 114 agreed to
On Clause 115
Clause 115 agreed to
On Clause 116
Clause 116 agreed to
On Clause 117
Clause 117 agreed to
On Clause 118
Clause 118 agreed to
On Clause 119
Clause 119 agreed to
On Clause 120
Clause 120 agreed to
On Clause 121
Clause 121 agreed to
On Clause 122
Clause 122 agreed to
On Clause 123
Clause 123 agreed to
On Clause 124
Clause 124 agreed to
On Clause 125
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I'm seeking unanimous consent to correct a typo, if I may, and I'll explain it.
In clause 125(1), in the third line, it says, "section 122" and it should read, "section 121".
I'd appreciate the concurrence of the House for a two-minute break.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I move that Bill No. 69, entitled the Municipal Act, be amended in clause 125(1) and (2) at page 70 by:
In clause 125(1), replacing the reference to "section 122" with "section 121"; and
clause 125(2), replacing the reference to "section 127" with "section 126".
Amendment agreed to
Clause 125 agreed to as amended
On Clause 126
Clause 126 agreed to
On Clause 127
Clause 127 agreed to
On Clause 128
Clause 128 agreed to
On Clause 129
Clause 129 agreed to
On Clause 130
Clause 130 agreed to
On Clause 131
Mrs. Edelman: This is division 13, or judicial recount, and it's talking about a time for judicial recount. In clause 131(1), it says: "Where, on the affidavit of a credible witness, it appears to the Supreme Court at any time within four days after the proclamation of the results of the election that the returning officer or deputy returning officer has, in counting the votes, incorrectly counted the number of votes cast or incorrectly accepted or rejected a ballot, the Supreme Court may, where the majority for a successful candidate is under 50 votes, immediately by order appoint a time for a judicial recount of the votes."
Well, Mr. Chair, sometimes it's difficult for the Supreme Court in the Yukon to get together on four days notice, particularly during the winter and in isolated communities if some of the members of the Supreme Court are in those isolated communities. This is a very, very short time period.
Have we always been able to do it within this time period? Did they look at other time periods? Where did this come from?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I have been informed by my colleague, the Minister of Justice, that this is certainly acceptable, and that there are different ways of doing it. They can do it by telephone so, yes, it is within credibility.
Clause 131 agreed to
On Clause 132
Clause 132 agreed to
On Clause 133
Clause 133 agreed to
On Clause 134
Clause 134 agreed to
On Clause 135
Clause 135 agreed to
On Clause 136
Clause 136 agreed to
On Clause 137
Clause 137 agreed to
On Clause 138
Clause 138 agreed to
On Clause 139
Clause 139 agreed to
On Clause 140
Clause 140 agreed to
On Clause 141
Clause 141 agreed to
On Clause 142
Clause 142 agreed to
On Clause 143
Clause 143 agreed to
On Clause 144
Clause 144 agreed to
On Clause 145
Clause 145 agreed to
On Clause 146
Clause 146 agreed to
On Clause 147
Clause 147 agreed to
On Clause 148
Clause 148 agreed to
On Clause 149
Clause 149 agreed to
On Clause 150
Clause 150 agreed to
On Clause 151
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, this is the section "Content of referendum and plebiscite bylaws", and it's 152(1). It says that "A plebiscite or referendum bylaw shall be for a distinct purpose and shall only be valid to the extent that it falls entirely within the jurisdiction of the municipality."
It goes on to (2) and says, "A plebiscite or referendum bylaw shall not group together two or more purposes, but may include purposes incidental to the main purpose."
Can the minister give an example of this particular subclause?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, I can get back to the member on that - I don't have an example on the top of my forehead.
Clause 151 agreed to
On Clause 152
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, I move that we report progress on Bill No. 69.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Harding: 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. McRobb: Committee has considered Bill No. 59, Municipal Act, and directed me to report progress on it.
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.
The time being 5:30 p.m., this House stands adjourned until Monday at 1:30 p.m.
The House adjourned at 5:30 p.m.
The following Legislative Returns were tabled November 26, 1998:
Tagish Planning Advisory Committee: future election (Keenan)
Oral, Hansard, p. 3357
Shipyard/Sleepy Hollow acquisitions: compensation pricing principles; payments (Keenan)
Oral, Hansard, p. 3666