Whitehorse, Yukon

Wednesday, February 24, 1999 - 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?


Tribute to Team Yukon at Canada Winter Games

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise in the House today to pay tribute to the 120 members of Team Yukon who are participating in the 1999 Canada Winter Games in Cornerbrook, Newfoundland. We have an outstanding team of athletes, coaches, cultural representatives and mission staff who really represent the spirit of the Yukon.

Team Yukon members are competing in 13 different sports, with teams from every province and territory from across Canada. In all, over 3,200 athletes and members of cultural contingents are being hosted by the good people of Cornerbrook during the two weeks of the games.

The Canada Games, Mr. Speaker, represent one of the most important national sporting and cultural events in the country. These games showcase the best young athletes and artists from every province and territory. Many of the young people participating in the Canada Games go on to represent our country at international games, the Olympics and in professional sport. It is truly the opportunity of a lifetime for any young person to be involved in such a prestigious event.

Yukon athletes have been focusing on and training for this opportunity. Their volunteer coaches and support staff have devoted countless hours to preparing the team members for this important competition. Our own Member for Whitehorse Centre is at the games as a coach and on behalf of this government.

I know I speak for all Yukoners when I say how proud we are of each and every one of our team members. By participating in the Canada Games, we are investing in Yukon's youth. As a result of their participation, our athletes, coaches and cultural members are learning the importance of fair play and respect for each other.

They will have also shared their own special values and uniqueness of representing the Yukon Territory with fellow participants from across Canada.

Mr. Speaker, in the year 2000, Yukon and the City of Whitehorse will have the opportunity to develop and submit our own bid to host the 2007 Canada Winter Games. Recent studies have indicated that hosting the Canada Winter Games could inject over $30 million into our Yukon economy and create employment of over 400 person years. This is in addition to the obvious legacies that accrue to the personal development and growth of our people, volunteer sport, recreation, organizations and communities.

I know that all members of this House join me in wishing this year's Team Yukon a rewarding and memorable time at the 1999 Canada Winter Games.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Jenkins: On behalf of the Yukon Party caucus and office of the official opposition, I'm pleased to take this opportunity to join with others in this House to pay tribute to our Yukon athletes who are competing in the Canada Winter Games at Cornerbrook, Newfoundland.

The Canada Winter Games is a tremendous opportunity for young Canadians to come together to compete, to learn from each other, and to share in the friendship that makes participation in these games such a unique and special experience.

Here at home, our Yukon athletes and their coaches have been training very hard over many years to give their best to proudly represent Yukon. The Yukon contingent has 80 athletes, as well as coaches, officials and mission staff. The team has strong Yukon representations with athletes from many of our rural communities participating in the games. There are three hockey players from my home town of Dawson.

Over the next while, thousands of spectators and viewers from across Canada will be watching these young people in their pursuit of excellence. Be assured that Yukon will also be watching with great enthusiasm and will be cheering on our teams in the days ahead.

The Yukon also has an opportunity to host the Canada Winter Games in 2007 right here in Whitehorse, and I would urge this minister and his government to make every effort to see this event staged here.

Again, best wishes and congratulations to our Yukon athletes for a rewarding and successful games.

Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of the Yukon Liberal caucus to pay tribute to the Canada Winter Games and to the over 100 Yukon athletes who are competing in Cornerbrook, Newfoundland this week. The Canada Winter Games are a wonderful opportunity for athletic competition and also for experiencing Canada and other Canadians.

When Nathan Doering carried the Yukon flag at the opening ceremonies, I know he carried the hopes and dreams of all Yukoners for our teams to have the best experience possible at the 1999 Canada Games.

Back in 1979, the Yukon contingent at the games won the Centennial Cup, which is awarded to the province or territory showing the greatest improvement in its final standings. My colleague, the Member from Porter Creek South, was a member of that delegation.

We know that our Yukon contingent is deserving of the Centennial Cup every time the games are held. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Introduction of visitors.

Are there any returns or documents for tabling?

tabling returns and documents

Hon. Mr. Sloan: It's my pleasure today to table Growing Older in the Yukon, a draft strategy, a Yukon seniors strategy.

Thank you.

Ms. Duncan: I have for tabling for the information of members the John Cabot 1997 500th Anniversary Corporation Review of Expenditures, by Elizabeth Marshall, CA, Auditor General of Newfoundland.

Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?

Are there any petitions?

Are there any bills to be introduced?

Are there any notices of motion?


Mr. Ostashek: I give notice of the following motion:

THAT it is the opinion of this House that there is an urgent need to review the electoral boundaries in the Yukon due to:

(1) significant population changes of electoral districts such as Whitehorse West and Faro; and

(2) several electoral districts in the Yukon no longer meet the population requirements ensuring voter parity and, thereby, leaving the territory open to legal challenges to elections held in these electoral districts; and

(3) the electoral district boundaries in the Yukon not having been reviewed since 1991 when the practice in many other Canadian jurisdictions is to conduct such a review after every second general election;


THAT this House urges the government to introduce legislation during the 1999 spring sitting establishing an electoral district boundaries commission.

Speaker: Are there any statements by ministers?

This, then, brings us to Question Period.


Question re: Devolution

Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Government Leader once again on devolution.

The issue of ownership of Yukon land and resources is of critical importance to the future of the Yukon, and if the Yukon government accepts the Liberal line that ownership transfer requires a constitutional amendment rather than just an amendment to the Yukon Act, it is more than likely that Yukon will never obtain ownership to its land and resources.

My question to the Government Leader: can he advise the House if his NDP government has obtained its own legal opinion on the Crown issue and, if not, would he do so?

Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Speaker, the question of ownership versus management of the resources is, in my view, a legal question; it is a constitutional question. It is not a matter of being a Liberal line. It is a legal perspective, and I am persuaded that what the member is asking requires a constitutional amendment.

If the member is asking me whether I'll seek yet another legal opinion, I will, because he asked.

Mr. Ostashek: I thank the Government Leader for that, because I believe it's a very important issue.

My first supplementary, Mr. Speaker, is if, in fact, the Yukon government was able to achieve ownership of its land and resources through an amendment to the Yukon Act alone, then indeed it would be a deal of the century. To proceed in devolution with the ultimate question of ownership not being answered would be foolhardy.

Does the Government Leader believe that it is prudent and fair to Yukoners to accept the potential environmental liability of all future mines and resource development in the Yukon, post-devolution, while the federal government continues to own the land and resources?

Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Speaker, what we're proposing to do, which will have a real, practical impact for Yukoners throughout the territory, is transfer the management of resources to this Legislature, to the government. This will have a real, practical impact on people who are seeking to establish a resource-based project, people who want to use the land for any purpose, people who want to purchase land. This will have an enormous impact on the real life of this territory. That is the purpose of the arrangement that the Government of Yukon is negotiating with the federal government.

It is my view, Mr. Speaker, that if we make decisions about those lands and resources, we must take the consequences of those actions. It is necessary to break the umbilical cord all the way. You can't cut it partially. If we want to be masters of our own futures, we must take the good with the bad. And that is a fundamental element of any reasonable, responsible transfer of management from the federal government to the Yukon.

Mr. Ostashek: Well, Mr. Speaker, I would agree with the Government Leader to the extent that it is a large step forward but, ultimately, without the ability to own the land and resources, it's not enough. It's just simply not enough.

The Government Leader is aware that wars have been fought over land ownership. I'm not suggesting that we go to war with the federal government, but I am suggesting, Mr. Speaker, that we know exactly what we're getting into before we sign on the dotted line.

And so I would ask the Government Leader, once he's sought his legal opinion, will he seek reference from the court of appeal, pursuant to the Constitutional Questions Act, and ask the court to determine several things: first, to determine if the Crown right in the Yukon already exists and, if not, can the transfer of Yukon lands and resources be achieved by amending the Yukon Act without requiring a constitutional amendment, before he signs the devolution document? I know it would give me a lot more comfort, and it would give a lot of Yukoners more comfort. Would he do that?

Hon. Mr. McDonald: Well, Mr. Speaker, first of all, I plead with the member not to advocate war with the federal government. We haven't got even a territorial field force, let alone an army. I would make the obvious point to the member that we don't need to do something that we're already achieving through negotiation and through our evolution of our relationship with, not only the federal government, but the rest of Canada.

This is truly ground-breaking. I'm hoping the member is not saying to us that if we don't achieve legal certainty, from his perspective, on something that may ultimately be a constitutional question, that we should deny the transfer of the management of these resources to the Yukon and thereby perpetuate the paternal relationship that we have with the federal government, where decisions about resource management and our lands, our waters - our future - are made by people living thousands of miles away. I hope he's not saying that.

In terms of the direct answer to the question, I will take notice of the question. He's obviously had a lawyer draft it for him, or somebody who thinks they're a lawyer, and I will give it due consideration and perhaps have discussions with him, either on the floor of the House or outside of it.

Question re: Taylor Highway

Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, I have a question today for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. As the minister well knows, the health of Yukon tourism is often dependent on the state and conditions of Yukon highways. For the Klondike region, the Top of the World Highway is very, very important. Is the minister aware that due to budget cuts, the State of Alaska will not be opening the Taylor Highway, which connects with the Top of the World Highway until June 1, at the earliest, this year. This could spell disaster for the beginning of our tourism season in Dawson this summer. Is the minister aware of this situation, and what has he done about it?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I'm very aware of the situation that he's asking about. As a matter of fact, I've fired off a letter to the Commissioner, Mr. Joseph Perkins, regarding Taylor Highway, encouraging him to please work with us on this most important initiative to get the road open on time and as per schedule.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, in the past, the George Black Ferry has been in operation by May 15. The highway has been open by May 15. Visitor traffic and tour operators anticipate that opening and schedule their departures for the earliest opening of May 15. What assurances does the minister have from Commissioner Perkins that the highway will be opened by May 15 of this year?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, the letter has not been answered yet at this time but, certainly, at the ministerial level and at the bureaucratic level, we are looking for an answer from Mr. Perkins. We do know that, if we are respectful in our submissions, we can go very much further in our deliberation with our Alaska partner, as we have proved with the Shakwak.

Mr. Jenkins: I'd like to know when the minister wrote this letter and if he's followed it up with a telephone call, because this is much more serious than just writing a letter. I have a copy of a memorandum from Commissioner Perkins to various officials, and the Taylor Highway is the longest highway in the whole system. They're saving us $316,000. They say that they're going to let the natural thaw occur before they will open that road.

Now, what does the minister anticipate? Will we get a favourable response from Commissioner Perkins and has he gone, or is he considering going right to the governor with this issue?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well certainly, Mr. Speaker, the Member for Klondike is very well-aware that the Government Leader has signed a protocol arrangement with Alaska, and we'll be working within the confines of that protocol arrangement. As I've said already, I'm on to it; I'm working with it and I'll continue to work with it for the betterment of the Yukon Territory. That is what this government is elected to do and this is what the government will deliver.

Now, I cannot answer for the Alaskan government. I cannot do that, but I can certainly continue to work with our good neighbours to the west of us and continue to work with them in that manner. And I sent a letter on February 22, as soon as I was notified of the situation.

Thank you very much.

Question re: Stewart Crossing grader station fuel tanks

Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. Now it's my understanding that the minister's department is planning to install its own fuel tanks at the grader station at Stewart Crossing. Currently, YTG purchases fuel for its vehicles from a private sector station located in that area. Can the minister confirm that, effective April Fool's Day, 1999, that the government will be pumping its own gas from its own tanks into government vehicles at Stewart Crossing grader station? In other words, not from the private sector?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, we are looking to be pumping our own fuel on April 1 of this year. Yes, we are.

Mrs. Edelman: The single service station in Stewart Crossing is presently open year-round. The bulk of its gas business is from September to April. Two-thirds of its business is fueling government vehicles.

The government is proposing to take the business away. One full-time job will be lost; one family will face an uncertain future. The part-time employees who traditionally work there in the summer also face an uncertain future. The travelling public will be inconvenienced from September to April. That service station cannot remain open if most of its business is gone.

It is supposed to be the government here that is creating one job at a time. This service station creates jobs in an area with high unemployment. Why is the NDP government putting this gas station out of business, and this family out of work?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Speaker, I must say that I resent the tone, because we are not putting the family out of business; we are not doing that at all. What we are doing is being very fiscally responsible, and that is what this government is to do, and we'll continue to be fiscally responsible.

What we are doing here, by moving to our own tanks, is that we estimate a savings of $23,000 per year. Those are the numbers that we're working on. We should be able to save 16.5 cents per litre on gasoline, and 21 cents per litre on diesel. So certainly that is what we're going to do, and where we're going with this.

Are we putting anybody out of business? No. What we are doing here is giving the ability to be fiscally responsible, and those folks will have the ability to bid on that service.

Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, I guess I'm not clear. There hasn't been a bid process on this particular service.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the NDP is going out of its way to put these people out of work. These people and this business pay taxes and they contribute to our economy. The company that currently supplies the fuel for Stewart Crossing received no indication that YTG planned to make these changes. So much for cooperating with the private sector.

Is the minister going to fix this problem, or is the Yukon going to lose another five jobs, one job at a time?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Speaker, as I've said, we're not taking away the ability to bid on that. The company will have the opportunity and ability to bid on the fuel supply.

What we are doing is saving money on behalf of and for the government of the territory. That's what we're doing. We're saving a significant amount of dollars. We're going to make it very competitive, and that's where it should be. It's right into there.

So there is the ability to bid, and I certainly encourage them to bid on it.

Question re: Whitehorse Correctional Centre

Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Minister of Justice, on the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. The budget speech talks about the setting aside of $3.2 million over the next three years toward the cost of replacing the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. And yesterday in the House, the minister told us that there's $210,000 in this year's budget for planning, and that the other $3 million is budgeted over the next two years for actual design and preparation work.

Could the minister enlarge on these statements? How are we setting aside, to use the term in the budget speech, this $3 million of future money and what's the total cost going to be?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The member knows the answer to his question, since these were discussed at the budget briefings that were held before we came in to introduce the budget. Let me elaborate for his benefit.

There is indeed $210,000 in this year's budget for planning work toward replacing the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. What I indicated when I introduced the restorative justice paper in this Legislature last fall is that we want to conduct a meaningful discussion with the public about correctional reform.

It's very important to do planning and design work before construction takes place. We have tabled a three-year budget projection for some capital projects that show the future years' expenditures.

Mr. Cable: The minister very carefully avoided answering the part of the question that relates to the total cost.

Let me ask the minister this question about the site. I understand that one of the options being considered is the conversion of the present jail to a remand centre and the movement of the centre proper, that's the jail proper, to Faro. Could the minister confirm that this is one of the options being considered?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, what I can confirm for the member is that we are going to do some planning and we're going to have discussions with the public before we make a final decision on what happens in the future. People are interested in accommodating real alternatives to the existing system. People are interested in supporting correctional reform. We can maintain public safety and also examine alternatives, such as community sentences.

Mr. Speaker, we're not going to design a facility before we've had that discussion with the public. The future costs cannot be determined until we know what we're going to design. There are a lot of options.

Mr. Cable: We have set aside $3.2 million on a notion. So, if I can repeat back to the minister what I think she has said and what her Government Leader has said, and what has been said publicly, we don't know where this jail is going to be built, we don't know what the final cost is going to be, we don't know what the facility is going to look like when it's finished, but there is some talk about notionally setting aside $3 million worth of tomorrow's money. Now the minister is talking about site preparation in the year 2000. This facility won't be built until well into the next decade.

Could the minister stand up and 'fess up that she is just really buying time on dealing with this issue - she is putting it off to the future, and she has no intention of really solidifying her thinking until well into the next millennium?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, this government is being responsible, and this government is making a commitment to replace the Whitehorse Correctional Centre facility, which we know needs to be replaced. We've also made a responsible decision to do it carefully. We are going to be consulting with Yukoners who want to have a say about correctional reform. We're going to be looking at various alternatives, such as he's mentioned with a remand centre with supporting community infrastructures.

The budget shows a long-term commitment. There is planning money this year. There is $1 million for next year to do some design work, and in the following year there is money that can be used to complete design and start site preparation.

I am sure the member opposite will take full advantage of his opportunity to be involved and contribute some positive ideas about what we need for the future for correctional facilities.

Question re: Tourism, European marketing campaign

Mr. Phillips: My question is to the Minister of Tourism. On December 17, 1998, I received a response from the minister to my letter expressing some concerns about our European marketing campaign. I expressed concerns at that time, Mr. Speaker, that the anniversaries promotion was over and that there were some concerns that I heard from Europe that we were losing momentum in the European marketplace, and we now have two charter airlines, Condor Air and Canada 3000, that are committed to flying charter flights with connections to Whitehorse for this upcoming season.

What I'm concerned about, Mr. Speaker, is that my understanding is that bookings for these flights aren't meeting the expectations or the hopes.

My question to the minister is: last year, when AirTransat was here, the government worked with CTC and other partners to promote the AirTransat flights to Whitehorse, and they were relatively successful. I'd like to ask the minister: did we put the same effort, in dollars and energy, into the new carriers, Condor Air and Canada 3000, to ensure that we would at least maintain, or enhance, our travel from Europe in this upcoming season?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I can say "absolutely" to that. While I was in Toronto, I believe it was - when all the snow was in Toronto; that was sometime in January - I took the time to meet with the president of Canada 3000, and it was an excellent meeting. We had a good exchange of ideas, we talked about where we could go, and he was very, very enthusiastic about where the Yukon Territory is going to be and how we are going to be working with them as a carrier. We do have portions of marketing dollars set aside to work with Condor, to work with Canadian, and to continue to do the good work with Canada 3000.

Mr. Phillips: Well, it all sounds nice, Mr. Speaker, but I guess we'll have to wait and see how many people actually climb off the airplanes in Whitehorse. My concern is that what I've been hearing from the industry is that last year, when we had AirTransat here, with our partners, AirTransat, the CTC and our marketing leverage dollars, we spent in the neighbourhood of between $600,000 and $700,000 in marketing those flights to Whitehorse. My understanding now is that with Condor Air and Canada 3000, we spent less than $300,000 marketing with those companies, because we haven't partnered as well as we did before. And there is a concern about whether we're going to fill the flights as well as we did last year.

I'd like to ask the minister if he could provide for the House numbers that reflect what we spent in trying to attract AirTransat here and what we spent in Europe with respect to Canada 3000 and Condor Air.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Speaker, I can let the member know that we'll continue to work with the airlines. We've put $200,000 extra this year into the budget for marketing. A significant portion of that is going to go into the airlines. Two hundred thousand dollars, as read into the budget through the budget speech - what could be more significant than that? We will continue to work. We're going on a reputation now. We are a world-class destination and we'll continue to work toward that to excel on the reputation that we have.

The figures that we are going to be announcing, and have announced in the past, are significant, very significant. There have been more German tourists getting off the airplanes this year in the Yukon than in any other year. When there has been decreasing visitation across Canada, the Yukon is growing. To me, myself, and to my colleagues and to the Yukon at large and to the industry, we find that quite significant and quite meaningful and we'll continue to move in that direction.

Mr. Phillips: Well, the Minister of Tourism has been there long enough to know, Mr. Speaker, that although $200,000 is welcomed by the tourism industry as extra funds in tourism marketing, it is very small with respect to the type of leverage you can get out of it. The television program that we're doing in southern Canada is $200,000 alone - one program. One program.

Mr. Speaker, I'd like to ask the minister - I understand the minister's off to Europe for a week or 10 days at the end of the month to market the Yukon. Since the minister is going to Europe next week, he must have in his hand, or readily available, the 1999-2000 European marketing plan. I'd like to ask the minister to come to the House tomorrow and table that plan so that we can all see what our initiatives are in Europe and how much we're spending there next year and whether or not we are spending the amount of money that we've spent in the past to achieve the results that we've had in the past.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, $200,000 for an enhanced marketing budget; $750,000 in a tourism marketing fund; $175,000 in the film incentive fund - I think this government has put their money where their mouth is in the direction that we're going to go, and we'll continue to do that fine work on behalf of the Yukon industry and the people of the Yukon Territory.

We see tourism, as it has been said, as the glowing star here, but we don't see it as diminishing; we see it as continuing to glow. As other industries catch up, it will continue to be focused on tourism and other industry development of the Yukon. So, yes, we'll continue to work with tourism and the ability to enhance tourism.

Question re: Continuing care facility

Mrs. Edelman: My question is for the Minister of Health and Social Services. Mr. Speaker, this government has allocated $2 million this year toward the construction of a continuing care facility for Whitehorse.

In the spring of 1997, the Town of Watson Lake sent a letter to the minister stating that their number-one priority for that town was a continuing care facility. In informal discussions with the people of Watson Lake at the time, I was given to understand that the number of people in the area who needed either continuing car, residential care or respite care was somewhere around 30 to 50 individuals.

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing in the budget to address this pressing need. Can the minister confirm that this NDP government has no plans to start construction on a project that will address the present and future continuing care needs of the people of Watson Lake?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, I'd just refer the member to the document I tabled today, Growing Older in the Yukon, which does make reference to the needs in Watson Lake.

I was down in Watson Lake on February 9. I met with the Signpost Seniors at that time. They brought forward a proposal for a facility. I have a sense that the proposal is regrettably short on details, regrettably short on financing, and really, I think, needs a tremendous amount of development.

Our research in that area indicates that the needs, really, in terms of seniors, lie in the area of seniors housing. We have had some preliminary discussions on modifications we could make with the hospital to meet some of the respite needs. I can tell the member that currently there is no one on the list for extended care needs from Watson Lake.

Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, this is a remarkably different conversation from what we had about a year ago, when last I asked the minister about this continuing care facility and the need in Watson Lake. At that point, the minister said he would be glad to get going on the continuing care facility for Watson Lake, if only he had those dollars from the federal Liberals.

The minister has just received a plane load of federal dollars for health; however, the budget tabled yesterday outlines a long-term capital plan for the next three years, and there is no mention of a new facility for Watson Lake. What happened to that NDP promise? When does the construction of a new continuing care facility for Watson Lake begin?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, the so-called plane load, I think, is more aptly described as a Piper Cub. The manna did not rain down from heaven, as the member has characterized. The $11.5 billion the federal government announced, with much hoopla - albeit appreciated - translated to the munificent sum of $2 million for the Yukon. As one can imagine, that's slightly less than the $20 million that they took from us. But I'm not unappreciative; I like the money.

However, if the member would take some time to look through this, which I think would be very instructive to her, she would see that the real driving needs that we've ascertained have been in the area of level 3, 4 and 5 care, which is the real need in this territory, and that's where we're going to focus our energies.

I asked at the time when I met seniors in the Yukon, for them to give me an example of what kind of facility they were talking about. It's very clear that what they're really talking about is something on the level 1, 2 or lower, and the proposal that they brought forward really had nothing there. It was also premised, I thought, perhaps somewhat regrettably, on there being a huge financial -

Speaker: The minister's time has expired.

Mrs. Edelman: Now, Mr. Speaker, finally. The Town of Watson Lake is five and a half hours away, if you drive the speed limit.

Now, the City of Dawson's only a little farther away. You can drive safely in six hours. But Dawson has a continuing care facility - McDonald Lodge. Whitehorse will soon have three.

Mr. Speaker, is it the minister's intention to deal with continuing care needs of the people of Watson Lake by sending them almost six hours away from their family and friends into the new continuing care facility or the existing continuing care facilities here in Whitehorse?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Speaker, the member seems somewhat confused when she talks about "continuing care".

What we're building is a continuing care facility, yes, but it's a high-level continuing care. In other words, what we're building, is we're trying to address some of the needs that have been ascertained for high level care - in other words, people in the level 3, 4, 5, which is a growing segment of our population.

The member makes reference to Dawson City, and to McDonald Lodge. Yes, McDonald Lodge does exist. It is currently reaching the end of its useful life. We're going to have to look at health care facilities in Dawson sometime in the near future.

But Watson Lake is well served. It has a fine cottage hospital. It has some capacity there for modification. It certainly is well served in terms of its home care nursing and seniors' programs -

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Sloan: - thanks to this government, thank you - and I would say that we are always cognizant of the needs of seniors in Watson Lake and we will continue to be so.

Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day.

orders of the day

government private members' business

motions other than government motions

Clerk: Motion No. 102, standing in the name of Mr. Fentie.

Motion No. 102

Speaker: It is moved by the Member for Watson Lake

THAT this House recognizes that:

  1. the federal government provides economic assistance programs in other Canadian regions such as Western Diversification Canada and Atlantic Opportunities Canada;
  2. the Yukon has not received direct help from the federal government in this area since the termination of the Economic Development Assistance (EDA) programs; and
  3. the 1998-99 federal budget has committed to work with northern governments on economic development and diversification;

THAT it is the opinion of this House that an economic assistance initiative could play a helpful role in diversifying the Yukon economy, creating jobs and developing new economic opportunities; and

THAT this House urges the federal government to cooperate with the Yukon government to enter immediately into negotiations to create new economic development and diversification initiatives for the Yukon.

Mr. Fentie: Well, let me begin, Mr. Speaker, by saying to the opposition that they can sheathe their swords now that Question Period is over, and I think today we have a motion that all members in this House can certainly find common ground on, and I'm sure that, as we debate this motion this afternoon, many, many options will rise to the surface on what the federal government could actually do to help the economic situation here in this territory.

The motion is also, in my estimation, a timely motion, given our severe economic downturn and the fact that devolution is now upon this territory.

Mr. Speaker, the whole point of the motion is premised around the fact that the economy in the Yukon Territory is not solely the problem or the responsibility of the Yukon government, the Yukon people. The federal government also has a major role to play in this regard.

In other jurisdictions, the federal government has many types of initiatives in addressing economic concerns and addressing problems in the economies of other jurisdictions than this territory, and in coming up with not just an input of cash dollars but coming up with other initiatives to alleviate some of those problems.

This government has recently, given the 1998-99 budget of the federal Liberal government, stated clearly that there were monies set aside in that budget to address economic situations in the north. To date, Mr. Speaker, the Yukon Territory has not been a recipient of anything like money or input from the federal government toward economic initiatives.

We have sent to them options in writing that we see as possibilities with regard to infrastructure, one of them being telecommunications - a possible initiative and option for the federal government to involve themselves in in this territory, but that's an option. We also, on this side of the House, believe that it's not just money that the federal government could help this economic situation in the territory with, and I will endeavour to get into some of those options today during this debate.

Now, the outlook across Canada, as regards our economic situation, is not as severe obviously as the Yukon Territory's. Therefore, the federal government must recognize and must involve themselves here in the north.

In the spring of 1998, Minister Stewart was in our fine territory and, subsequent to the announcement of the federal government and their budget on monies available for northern economic initiatives, the minister at that time said there would be no financial help. She also said, "I can fully appreciate the importance of creating employment opportunities wherever we can, but I've also got the responsibility of the issue of liability."

Now, that statement, quite frankly, colleagues of mine in this Legislature, is the problem we face today with the federal government. Yes, they do have responsibility for liability, such as environment, but they seem to have abrogated their economic responsibility for this territory.

I want to be clear that this motion is by no means a fed-bashing motion. This motion is by no means an attack on the federal government. This motion is what I believe this House could unanimously pass, and request the involvement of the federal government in this difficult time in our economy here in the Yukon.

One of the areas where I see - and I'm sure many Yukoners see - today that the federal government could assist in in helping this economic situation now, and into the long term, is forestry. The federal government has the responsibility of managing the resource, of addressing the environmental responsibilities and liabilities, but they seem not to be able to grasp the other side of this equation: the need to access the resource. We do not promote the access of that resource in any way, shape or form, other than in a sustainable manner.

However, it is a fact that the federal government could do something today.

Now, I'd like to expand on that somewhat. We have, today, at this point in time in the territory, significant investment in the forest sector, especially in the southeast Yukon. In the community of Watson Lake, a group of Yukoners, individuals from outside the territory, have come together and put approximately a $12 million investment on the ground. This investment is, in the context of developing a forest industry in this territory, the missing component. It is the piece of the puzzle that, for decades in forestry here, because - I want to point out that our forest resource, for decades, has been accessed. It's always been a cut-and-run cycle, with no long term, no foundation, no basis.

Today, in the southeast Yukon, we have that missing component. We have a plant, a facility, that can form the foundation, the basis, for a manufacturing sector in this territory.

This investment has come at a time when overall, throughout the country, throughout the world, in the forest sector there has been a major downturn in market prices. Yet, the investment was raised, the sawmill was constructed, and today they are purchasing saw logs, purchasing fibre, from commercial timber permit holders in the southeast Yukon.

However, that's not the vehicle that is needed here to actually develop this industry. What we need to achieve, as laid out in the Yukon forest strategy, is stable, secure access. We need to create the management process here that will be environmentally sustainable, economically viable and socially acceptable.

In the community of Watson Lake, there is no doubt that what has been constructed and put on the ground there today can be economically viable. There is absolutely no question that the community, and the people in it, are solidly behind this project, this attempt to develop a forest industry in the southeast Yukon. It will be socially acceptable.

The question is: what are we going to do about the sustainability side? Therein lies the problem. There's where the federal government of the day could rapidly move to assist this situation. We need the federal government to now put forward the resources, the manpower and the effort into addressing that question.

We want to do this based on a common approach. We're not making a demand. We're merely saying to them that, given what we have in place today - we have the Yukon forest strategy, we have devolution agreement; devolution is upon us - we are prepared to take down this resource and manage it locally here in this territory.

We need them now to move toward addressing the long term. We can do it in a manner, Mr. Speaker, that allows us to bridge that lack of knowledge in the scientific area and in the inventory area. We can do that -

Mr. Ostashek: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Point of order

Speaker: Member for Porter Creek North, on a point of order.

Mr. Ostashek: I don't want to interrupt the member opposite, but I thought we were discussing a motion on the EDA programs, not on forestry and not on forestry infrastructure. I don't know how this ties into the motion that we have in front of us today.

Speaker: The Member for Faro, on the point of order.

Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Speaker, with respect to the member opposite and his point of order, the motion is quite broad ranging. It speaks to economic partnerships. What the member is discussing right now is partnerships that are needed in terms of dealing with the economic situation as it pertains to forestry and the development of the forestry industry and employing people in the southeast Yukon and the rest of the Yukon Territory.

This is completely within the context of this motion, and the member will be elaborating on this point and many others as to how we can work with the federal government and talk about the commitments that they have made in the federal budget.

I should not think that this would be considered outside of the confines of this particular, very broad ranging motion about federal, territorial, municipal and Yukon partnerships on the economy.

Mr. Ostashek: I want to go just a little bit further, Mr. Speaker. I know we have broad ranging discussions on motions, but the member has spoken nothing about EDA assistance. He spoke about the industry being self-sustaining, self-sufficient, being able to fund itself, and he's been going on and on about that and he hasn't talked about the EDA program at all.

Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order, I don't want to spoil the Member for Porter Creek North's day, but if he read the motion, he'd see clearly that since the termination of the EDA, that's no longer a reality. So, I would submit that the member is out of order, not myself.

Speaker's ruling

Speaker: Order please. This motion has a broad range of questions, so each member will speak on that broad range.

The member will continue, please.

Mr. Fentie:Getting back to where I was, let me say that we have an example already on the ground in the Yukon Territory where firstly this Legislature unanimously debated and passed a motion around fire suppression and the ability of Yukoners to not only go out and lessen, to some degree, fire risk around their communities but at the same time create employment - albeit in the short term, it does create jobs. We did this firstly by debating it in this Legislature, by agreeing, then by sitting down with the federal government, the managers of the resource, and saying, "Look, how can we help out in this situation?"

Through it all, it resulted in this very important fact. The federal government has committed to and continues to do today an overall engineering plan around every community in this territory to address this very important issue of wildfire and how we can best manage and live within those realities of living in a boreal forest. Secondly, the Yukon government stepped up to the pump, put $500,000 on the table, and began the process within communities, within close proximity of communities and buildings and structures, to lessen fire risk, and at the same time create jobs.

As we speak, there are a number of these projects ongoing today in the Yukon Territory. I suspect there are dozens of jobs that have been created here.

And it was done through the spirit and the theme of a motion before us today.

All we are saying on this side of the House is, "Federal government, you do have a responsibility. You must step in." And we are saying, "We are willing to work with you in that regard." The budget just recently tabled in this Legislature is our economic tool. It's what we are using in this territory to help the economic situation. The federal government as yet has not provided any sort of support whatsoever.

There are many other options out there, and I'm sure that some of the members here today will bring those forward, outside of just transferring cold, hard cash to this territory. I bring forestry to this debate, because it's there. It's before us. We can do it. Investments on the ground, the will of the Yukon government, the will of the Yukon people is to make it happen. The missing piece is the federal government's will to proceed in that manner, and it does not take an exorbitant amount of taxpayers' money to do this. It takes merely the will.

And what I'm saying through this motion to the minister, to Jane Stewart, is, "You must direct your officials to move toward developing the necessary tools we need now to allow this to move ahead today and for long into the future, because our economy in the Yukon Territory will be, in the future, built not only from forestry and mining and tourism and small business and government." Our economy will be that chain, and every one of those links are the links that we must work with. Today is a great day to begin that process with the federal government.

We can manage it now. We can make that happen now. We can address a great deal, to a great degree, of our economic problems and our need for jobs, by simply putting our heads together and making a move toward good, sound forest management and practices. I believe that this House, today, should unanimously support a request for the federal government to address their responsibilities now and move rapidly to assist the Yukon Territory in a significant manner with its economy and its unacceptable unemployment rate.

I look to the members and my colleagues to address this motion in the same spirit. We're not fed bashing - no way at all. We are saying to the federal government, "You can help, and we are willing to help you find those ways that you can assist us in this territory."

Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Speaker, the motion in front of us today is not hard to support, not at all, but I guess I'm a little amazed and wonder why it came forward at this time. The motion's been on the Order Paper for some time, and I'm somewhat amazed it came forward from this government, when in fact we just heard the Government Leader say in the House yesterday that it's time to cut the umbilical cord with Ottawa. Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, when the Government Leader and his colleagues were in opposition, they chastised the Yukon Party at every opportunity they got about going to Ottawa for more money.

When we negotiated the strategic highway program - a $10-million injection from Ottawa - the NDP criticized it and said that all we wanted was more money from Ottawa.

Now, we have this government doing the same. I had a report the other day, where some investors were meeting with the Minister of Economic Development, and they said he was fixated on how much more money he could get from Ottawa. They were sort of disappointed in the meeting they had with him, because that's all he could talk about: how much more money he could get from Ottawa.

I don't have any difficulty in supporting the motion, none whatsoever. But I again say to the members opposite, this is the way they confuse the public. They send out mixed signals. One time they say, "No, you shouldn't take any more money from Ottawa." Next, they want more money from Ottawa.

The Member for Watson Lake had his comments pertaining to forestry, and I still don't see how he tied it into the EDA program, as I knew it. The EDA program as I knew it was to assist individual businesses -

Quorum count

Some Hon. Member: Point of order.

Speaker: Point of order.

Mr. Cable: Do we have a quorum, Mr. Speaker?

Speaker: Order please. According to Standing Order 3.2, "If at any time during the sitting of the Assembly, the Speaker's attention is drawn to the fact that there does not appear to be a quorum, the Speaker will cause the bell to ring for four minutes, and then do a count."


Speaker: I have shut off the bells, and I will do a count.

I have 11 members present - a quorum present. We will now continue debate.

Mr. Ostashek: I'll try not to drive them all out of the Legislature again.

Mr. Speaker, the motion today, I believe, is somewhat suspect because, as I said, it's been on the Order Paper for some time now and, in fact, clause 3 of the motion says, "1998-99 federal budget had committed to work with northern governments on economic development and diversification." That's what the clause of the motion says. My understanding is that that work is ongoing. My further understanding is that there's an agreement pending. So, it's suspect whether the Member for Watson Lake is just looking for some political mileage here. The agreement is going to be signed in a few weeks, and he's going to stand up and say, "I did it." Is that what's going to happen?

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Ostashek: The member says I'm being critical. I'm not. I support the motion - I said that. I support the motion. I just want to know why it came forward at this time. Maybe in his wrap-up he can tell us.

But, Mr. Speaker, also in his speaking to the motion - the EDA program - he was not speaking to an EDA program in the context that I knew EDA programs because the issues that he spoke about I do not believe would have been covered by EDA. My understanding of EDA - in the form it was in its last life - was to assist small businesses to expand, to create employment, or new businesses to start up. It wasn't for governments to dip into, for pet projects of their own. Nevertheless, this is not a hard motion to support, and I'm not going to speak on it forever today. I do want to get in a couple of comments pertaining to the program.

My preference, Mr. Speaker, and my party's preference, would be that we negotiate strongly with the federal government to be part of the western diversification program because there's a large pool of money there.

There is a large pool of money and a broad range of areas that it covers, and I believe it would be far more beneficial for the Yukon to be part of the western diversification program. I know, in my time and my tenure as Government Leader and Minister of Economic Development, we had numerous discussions on the issue of being part of western diversification. And there was no real opposition to it. I'm just not certain why it never did get completed - whether it was one of those things that got caught up in the bureaucratic red tape and the slowness of bureaucracies.

When I raised it at several conferences, there was no opposition to the north being included. They said they would have to change some of the guidelines or some of the regulations pertaining to western diversification, but I believe there's a large pool of money there that has a fairly solid foundation and would not be cut very easily, whereas an EDA program - we could get another one; it would be a five-year program with a limited amount of dollars in it - we don't know if it's going to last after that five years or not.

So, I think it would be far more beneficial for the Yukon to participate in a program that already has a track record and has done a lot of good things.

Now, I know there's a bit of a downside to that. We don't get to handle the projects ourselves; we don't get to make the decisions ourselves here to the same extent as we would if we had an economic development assistance program similar to the one that we had before, but I believe we'd have to weigh that against the large pool of money that's available in the western diversification program.

I hope that, when the Economic Development minister gets up to speak, he will say what he has done to try to be included in the western diversification program.

Or, maybe this government's not interested in participating in the western diversification program. I know we were when we were in office.

Having said that, we could support an EDA program, and I believe it's time that the federal government did make some financial assistance available to Yukoners who wish to expand their businesses or to create new businesses. It would be useful to have another pool of money to draw from. I would hope that they would see that, and that they will come through with some money, because, as I said earlier, this was in the 1998-99 budget. The 1999-2000 budget has already been tabled in Ottawa, so this has been around for about a year and, from what I understand, there have been some talks going on already about a new EDA program for the Yukon.

So having said that, I don't have much more to add to this, because it's motherhood - a program anybody could support. The Yukon Party does support urging the federal government to enter into immediate negotiations. That part catches me a little bit, because I was under the understanding that there were negotiations already going on. I hope that some of the members on the government side, when they get up to speak, will enlighten us and tell us at what stage those negotiations are, Mr. Speaker.

Hon. Mr. Harding: I just want to begin my speech with a few rebuttal comments to the leader of the official opposition. He asked the question, why bring it forward at this time? Why bring this motion forward?

Well, I guess in the first instance, unfortunately, he's misread the point of the motion, and I'll try and explain it to him in a little bit more detail.

First of all, this motion is a broad-based motion to talk about working on the Yukon economy, and secondly, the federal government making good on their budgetary commitment over a year old in terms of the economic development funding for the Yukon Territory. It's not specifically related to an EDA-funding arrangement. That is not the essence of the motion. The essence of the motion is that there is some responsibility, given the fact that the federal government contributes to the economic well-being of western Canada through the western diversification fund, and to Atlantic Canada through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and through many other programs, to the north. That's the whole point.

Yes, the umbilical cord to the federal government must be cut, and that's exactly what we're doing with devolution in terms of taking responsibility for the management of the resources of this territory. But we're not saying to throw the baby out with the bath water in terms of economic initiatives, because, Mr. Speaker, I will tell the members opposite that when they give economic development funding to western Canada and to the wealthy provinces like Alberta and Manitoba, and they give money to the provinces in Atlantic Canada, then why would we not want those same programs over and above the funding that we presently receive from the federal government? We'd have to be stupid not to expect that that should flow.

They are two different streams that we're talking about here. One is the management of our resources and being self-determining in how those resources will be used. Another involves economic development programs that other jurisdictions across the country are funded for by the federal government. Surely anybody can see that distinction.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, the offer has been made by the federal government. They read in their budget speech - I'll read the quote. This is the budget plan for 1998, February 24. So, it's the anniversary. This commitment is a year old. The quote was, "The government is committed to working with territorial governments and other northern partners to develop a modern economic development strategy that recognizes the dynamics of the north and the need to establish more diversified economies." Well, Mr. Speaker, that commitment has not been lived up to after numerous requests.

So, Mr. Speaker, we've directed our energies as a government on what we can do. If you look at the budget and the 50 new initiatives in the budget, many of them initiatives that have never before been initiated by Yukon governments, whether it is the immigrant investment fund, the small business tax credit, the labour-sponsored venture capital, the mineral exploration tax credit - on and on and on - the technology innovation centre, the rate stabilization fund, freezing energy rates until 2002. I want to say to the members opposite -

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Harding: I hear the Member for Riverdale North who, when the Yukon Party was in government, brought in a rate application for a 58-percent increase to electrical rates.

Mr. Phillips: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Point of order

Speaker: Member for Riverdale North, on a point of order.

Mr. Phillips: I never brought in a rate application. He said the Member for Riverdale North brought in a rate application. I ask him to withdraw that. I never brought in a rate application.

Hon. Mr. Harding: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Member for Faro, on the point of order.

Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Speaker, the Member for Riverdale North and the Yukon Party brought in a rate application for some 58 percent to charge to Yukoners, to ram down their throats, to increase their bills, and they're very jealous of the rate stabilization fund - a $10-million investment in lowering electrical rates.

Speaker: Order.

Speaker's ruling

Speaker: There is no point of order. Would the member continue.

Hon. Mr. Harding: The member opposite for Riverdale North says I ought to get my facts straight. Coming from him, that's the pot calling the kettle black. Let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, he says whatever it takes to survive the moment in this Legislature; it doesn't matter what it is. He's notorious for that. He's the most notorious member of the House for doing that, in my short seven years in this Legislature.

Mr. Speaker, let me tell the members opposite that this is a timely motion for other reasons as well. The blue book process that the federal minister committed to undertaking to revise and improve the federal permitting and regulatory processes has not moved as fast as we would have liked. It has caused, I think, further delays and has hurt our economy.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, look at the situation in southeast Yukon with the Southeast Yukon Forest Corporation and the problems they've had recently in terms of accessing a secure timber supply. Is that not a reason to talk about improving the partnership, the regulatory regime and working on ways where we can access some federal funding that they committed to providing and that they provide to other jurisdictions? Part and parcel of taking the next step is taking control of those resources.

Mr. Speaker, that is the only sane position that could be taken by any legislator in this Yukon Legislature. Unless, of course, they're blinded by partisanship.

This motion is intended as a friendly motion, where we can think that we would have unanimity. Now, the Yukon Party, with a little bit of a strange twist, has criticized it on one hand, and then supported it on the other. So I can't quite understand what their logic is, or lack thereof.

However, Mr. Speaker, I want to say to them, that we are a party that believes in self-sufficiency. We do not support their notion that government must provide all the jobs in the territory, and that government spending should be the main economic stimulator; that a $21 million current-year deficit and saving down the bank account isn't good enough for the Yukon Party. Mr. Speaker, they were the tax-and-spend champions -the $10 million in tax increases they foisted upon Yukoners, the fact that they wanted to tax Yukoners to put more into capital, because they believed that the government, only through direct expenditures, can create wealth.

Mr. Speaker, we don't believe that. We believe in self-sufficiency. That's why we've taken a monumental plunge into negotiating a pre-eminent devolution agreement, far superior to anything the Yukon Party could ever achieve.

Mr. Speaker, we not only got First Nations governments -

Some Hon. Member: Point of order.

Point of order

Speaker: Member for Riverdale North, on a point of order.

Mr. Phillips: Point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Member for Watson Lake should jump into this debate, because I think the Yukon Party's going to support this motion. It appears the Member for Faro is trying to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

We're supporting the motion, so he should tell his member to settle...

Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)

Speaker: Order please. Order.

Mr. Phillips: ...down, Mr. Speaker, and speak to the merits of the motion.

Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)

Speaker: Order please. Order.

Speaker's ruling

Speaker: There is no point of order. Member, please continue.

Hon. Mr. Harding: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

You can always tell when you're really getting under the skin of the Member for Riverdale North; he bounces up and down like a jack-in-the-box. "Point of order, point of order, point of order."

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Speaker: Order please. Order.

Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Speaker, I know it's difficult for the members opposite to hear the truth, but when they want to raise issues of concern...

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Speaker: Order please.

Hon. Mr. Harding: ...when they want to make statements that are inaccurate, then, Mr. Speaker, they will be called on them.

The former Government Leader said in this House that there was a meeting with a group of investors that he'd just had, who said that I only discussed how much we could get out of the federal government. Well, that's completely false. I challenge him to tell me who these investors were, because I'll have to clarify that with them. I doubt very much that that's what they told him but, unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, he's going to stand up and say that anyway. He should tell me who they were because I'd love to have a further discussion with them about his comments that he just made in the Legislature.

Mr. Speaker, we believe that there are many benefits that can arise from working productively with the feds. We believe that it's important for the territory's economic development and diversification to have that kind of partnership. We've seen examples where that can work. I know the forestry commissioner has been doing a lot of good work with the federal government on the interim tenure for wood producers in the Yukon. We've seen it with the Yukon geology program, with extensive cooperation on geological mapping and work in the Yukon. We've seen it in work that we've done with the federal Government of Canada/Yukon Business Service Centre.

All of these are solid initiatives that we've done in partnership with the federal government, and this motion is about enhancing that partnership and trying to find solutions cooperatively, pre-devolution, to these issues. And post-devolution because, as I said, there is still economic funding being divvied out to western Canada and to Atlantic Canada over and above existing funding arrangements, that we believe the north, including the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, should be eligible for, and there was a commitment made to that effect.

So, Mr. Speaker, I also want to say that we've appreciated the federal government working with us on the federal approval of the immigrant investment fund. We found their officials quite helpful in terms of trying to overcome some of the barriers in the development of the Yukon gold fund that we're now marketing, and that's another area of partnership where things have worked well. I know it works very well in tourism, with the CTC, and there are lots of areas of cooperation there.

These are the types of things that we are discussing in this motion.

I know that the member opposite, the leader of the official opposition, will be happy that the western diversification fund has been raised numerous times by myself. The Government Leader has received approval from all of the other premiers, in support for the Yukon into the western diversification fund.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Harding: If the Member for Riverdale North wants to vote against the motion, he can vote against the motion. If he wants to amend it, he can amend it.

Speaker: Order please. Continue debate.

Hon. Mr. Harding: That's his prerogative.

Mr. Speaker, the other thing I want to say is that when we've raised the western diversification initiative, we've always gotten support. Just recently, in Regina, the western Economic Development ministers supported our call to be included in the western diversification fund and, Mr. Speaker, they supported our desire to get the federal funding that was committed. Now, we did this jointly with the Northwest Territories, and we did it because the commitment was made in the federal 1998 budget - just like western Canada, just like the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

So, it's a two-part economic improvement we need here, Mr. Speaker. We need to complete the devolution - which we are going to do - for the management of our resources. And secondly, Mr. Speaker, we need to have the same economic development funding arrangements that are provided to western and Atlantic Canada, along with the north - and that includes Nunavut, Yukon and Northwest Territories. We're all in agreement on that particular point, as jurisdictions.

So, Mr. Speaker, we also believe that the Yukon has a lot of potential opportunity for cooperation on the technology innovation centre. We think that's a first step for technological innovations in the territory, for a focus. For the people who are familiar with applications technology, who are familiar with developing new infrastructure ability for Yukoners, this is an area that I think will demand, and will work very well for federal and territorial cooperation.

Mr. Speaker, I'm happy to say that Industry Canada and DIAND have just recently joined the trade and investment diversification strategy partnership, along with many other players from business and labour, Yukon College and the Council of Yukon First Nations across this territory.

So, again, there's another area where enhanced federal-territorial cooperation can make things better economically.

That's what this motion is about. It's not about an EDA per se, as the leader of the official opposition implied. It's not about getting anything other than was committed to us and what is being given to the rest of the country.

So, Mr. Speaker, yes, we need to cut the umbilical cord on the management of our resources by people very, very far away. But, Mr. Speaker, Yukoners shouldn't settle for less on the economic development funding side than is given to other jurisdictions, over and above the transfers that have been worked out through extensive negotiations.

I think there are so many areas where we believe it's important to work on, to enhance, and to develop that partnership. We have seen good examples of working with federal colleagues at the political level, and also at the bureaucratic level, that have yielded good things for Yukoners, and I've referenced some of them. But, there's more that could be done; there's more that should be done.

As the Member for Watson Lake said, the economy of the Yukon is not just about the Yukon government. The economy of the Yukon is about the Yukon people. It's about Yukon business; it's about Yukon labour; it's about First Nation governments; it's about the federal government; it's about municipal governments; and it's important that the only way we will be able to fully realize our goals is through comprehensively working together to overcome challenging and difficult issues for Yukoners economically. No one particular party has the answer.

The people of the Yukon have many ideas and suggestions and, happily, I've been hearing, time and time again, aside from the - as one person over lunch told me, who is non-partisan, "disgusting behaviour of the opposition". She felt, certainly, that we have been listening to Yukoners and putting forward the ideas that have come from Yukoners.

Mr. Speaker, no attacks by the pack dogs opposite are going to steer this government away from our ultimate agenda, which is to try and provide good government to try and work in cohort with our federal colleagues, yielding important agreements like we have on oil and gas devolution, like we have on the overall devolution of our resource.

I think, Mr. Speaker, that's an important point, and that is how we strive to deliver on the agenda. Numerous meetings were held - over 50 by the Government Leader himself - to derive, for example, the seven new tax innovations in the budget, which were as a result of wanting to hear what Yukoners said. And I don't know how many times I've been told in the last couple of days that "We said what we'd like to see, we talked to you about it." Some of them have even added that they thought it was all a ruse, that it wasn't going to happen and didn't mean anything, but they're actually seeing and believing.

Municipal governments have said that some of the things that we've done for municipal governments - allowing them to spend their capital and O&M in different ways - is going to help them phenomenally. It's a ground-breaking thing to do in this country. We've also been told that the first increase to the block transfer, since 1991, is a start. It's not a big increase, but it's an increase. All across the country, other governments at senior levels are slashing municipal governments, and that's a fact. This government has taken the other approach, which is to hold the line, try to keep things tough, as we got cut $20 million from Ottawa when we got our formula cut, and that's on an annual basis. But, Mr. Speaker, what we've told them is that we are listening, we do understand their difficulties, too, and that's one of the reasons we changed the O&M and capital. It's because we believe that they are responsible as well. So, municipal governments have a role to play in this partnership as well.

So, Mr. Speaker, let me just tell the members opposite, who are supporting this motion thus far, that we do enjoy their support thus far. We do hope that they recognize that this motion, or the basis of it, is one that we hope we can all agree on at the end of the day, aside from the critique of the government and of the Minister of Economic Development by the leader of the official opposition, which I responded to vociferously and will always do.

However, the base of the motion and the rationale behind it is sound.

Mr. Speaker, when one looks at some of the things that we're doing in energy - for example, $3 million to a green power fund, $1 million toward energy efficiency, $10 million toward rate stabilization, $2 million toward a wind generator, which will be installed on Haeckel Hill this fall and powering over 100 homes in Whitehorse - that's unique.

Speaker: The minister has two minutes.

Hon. Mr. Harding: It's scoffed at by the Liberal leader opposite, but Mr. Speaker, I think that's a commitment to conservation; it's a commitment to green power; it's a commitment to advancing the electrical system in the territory, and we'll be working with our federal counterparts on dealing with some of the issues that pertain to making sure that we continue to develop alternative energy sources in the territory and do them in the most environmentally friendly way possible.

So, Mr. Speaker, the point of this motion - and I thank the Member for Watson Lake for bringing it forward - is to get a better understanding of each others' concerns and limitations on a government-to-government basis to try to ensure that we work together with the federal government, that they recognize that the territory should be funded as they fund other programs, like western diversification and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, that there are opportunities to work together on real, on-the-ground initiatives, like devolution, which we're doing, like forestry, which we're doing, like mining, which we're doing. We need to work on more issues such as those in the blue book. That's the point of this motion and we hope this Legislature can all agree that that's necessary.

Thank you.

Ms. Duncan: I rise today on behalf of the Yukon Liberal Party caucus to address the motion of the Member for Watson Lake.

Mr. Speaker, this is, quite frankly, one of the better motions we've seen before this Legislature. Like the motion on fire suppression which was noted earlier, it came also from the Member for Watson Lake and we'd like to express our compliments to the member for the motion.

Mr. Speaker, point one of the motion says that the Government of Canada provides economic assistance programs in other Canadian regions. Absolute fact. The effectiveness of these funds could easily be very well debated in a forum like this or a forum like the business summit, which was held recently in the Yukon, or in another type of round-table discussion. Unfortunately, the format of our Legislature doesn't lend itself well to a real discussion of how effective these funds or, more importantly, how a Yukon fund should be structured to make sure that we get the most benefit from such a fund.

It is unfortunate that our Legislature doesn't lend itself to a discussion like that, because many of us wish it were different.

The economic development agreements that existed in the Yukon in the past were fully and independently evaluated. It would be useful - I hope, not novel - if we took the time to read those reports and learn from them to structure a new Yukon economic development forward-thinking agreement that worked even better than the previous ones.

The second point of the motion - that the Yukon has not received direct help from the federal government in this area since the termination of the economic development assistance programs - is that the Yukon hasn't received direct help, like in EDA, since the last one ended. True. We haven't received another EDA, although there have been some interesting, innovative economic funding in the Yukon from the federal government.

The CARD fund immediately sprang to mind. The CARD fund, for those who weren't familiar with it, was first announced in August 1997. It was a total of $125,000, and the CARD is the Canadian adaptation and rural development fund. Yukon received $125,000 in 1997, and an additional $125,000 in 1998. The fund was administered by the Yukon Agricultural Association committee, which was made up of industry, as well as the federal and territorial governments. These funds were used to heighten the entrepreneurial expertise, to expand market share, encourage the development of innovative technologies, and promote self-sufficiency in the territory's agriculture and agri-food industry. The object of the fund at the time was that considerable emphasis would be placed on the marketing of Yukon agricultural and food products.

Lest anyone in this House, or the listening public, believe that this isn't an economic initiative, I'd remind all members of the value of the agricultural industry to Yukon. Agricultural sales were $3.5 million in 1996, and in that year alone, Yukoners - people - invested almost $45 million in agriculture.

Another funding arrangement Yukon benefited from - again, the agricultural minister announced it - is the first project in the Canadian rural partnership pilot project. It was called "Yukon On Line". And this was a partnership, again with the territorial government - Yukon College and the Department of Government Services, and the Canada/Yukon Business Service Centre - where $242,000 was used to improve access to the Internet in a number of different Yukon communities.

Now, before anyone leaps up and accuses me of defending the federal Liberals - or some other point of something - those are simply facts. There have been economic funding initiatives, in partnership with the Yukon.

The Member from Watson Lake, however, is absolutely correct in his motion stating that the funds were not an economic development agreement.

The third point in the motion notes the commitment by the federal Finance minister to northern economies. The commitment is from the budget plan 1998, "Building Canada for the 21st Century". And the Minister of Economic Development has already read the quote; I won't re-read it for listeners, and take up valuable House time.

I do note - as I noted yesterday, however - that the federal government has adopted what I referred to as a negative - bad - lesson of announcing money that you're going to spend over a period of years all at once, because it sounds like a whole lot more. My concern is that there's an announcement made, and we haven't seen the funds.

What we agree on is that there's a clear commitment - I believe my colleague from Riverside would say that in contract law we've got offer and we've got acceptance.

Really, what we're having today in this House, and in this Legislature, are again what my colleague would state is a "vigorous agreement".

Those are briefly what I noted were the basic points of the motion. They were the supporting argument - the premise of the argument, if you will - made by the Member for Watson Lake. We agree with them. We agree with all the points that have been made. They are statements of fact. There is no dispute.

It follows in the motion that it is the opinion of the House that we could play a helpful role. You bet we could.

One member of the Yukon's business community said to me, I believe it was a year ago, and I quote - this is a direct quote, so I believe it is correct in its form - "You know, it's time you and Trevor drop the gloves and work together in bringing an EDA home to the Yukon." I sent that note to the Minister of Economic Development. I said, "How can I help?"

This was about a year ago. Unfortunately, nothing happened in terms of any working together until we got an opportunity to debate this motion today and express our support for it.

Really, if you think about it, maybe what we should be having today is a debate about how to work together in this Legislature, because that's what Yukoners want. That's what that leading member of the Yukon business community expressed to me, and that's what Yukoners express to me every day, but then it wouldn't be politics if we worked that way, would it?

How unfortunate, because I still believe - now, I've only been here almost three years, so perhaps that's not long enough to become as jaded as some others and not long enough to have developed the attitudes of some others. The point is that I believe and our party believes that what we should be doing here and what we should be motivated by is making the right decisions for Yukoners.

The motion, as it is written and as it is presented to us, is the right decision for all Yukoners. It's a good motion. It's a helpful motion.

I'm not bringing forward an amendment. I would respectfully suggest that perhaps the next time the Member for Watson Lake wants to bring forward a motion like this, he cooperate with not just the Yukon government, but with all Yukoners, through the Yukon Legislative Assembly; that might perhaps be helpful. That is one suggestion I would make.

Our caucus supports this motion. We are prepared, as I have expressed privately and publicly, to work with the Yukon government and the federal government to enter into negotiations, to enter into real work, real effort, to bringing a new economic development and diversification initiative for the Yukon. It's a good idea; it should be done; our caucus supports it.

Mr. Livingston: I rise this afternoon to urge the federal government to enter into negotiations to create new economic development and diversification initiatives in the Yukon through the formation of either an economic development agreement with the Yukon or some other tool, such as the western diversification fund.

Clearly, these economic assistance initiatives can help to diversify our economy, create jobs, and to develop new economic opportunities.

Now, Mr. Speaker, despite the practical measures contained in our Yukon budget that were recently announced to create jobs and stimulate the economy - things like the tax measures, the tax incentives for businesses, and the venture capital pool that's a part of that, the various construction projects that have been announced, and the variety of other measures that have been announced - clearly some type of economic development agreement or economic development fund would help to create new opportunities and build on these initiatives undertaken by our government.

In particular, Mr. Speaker, to meet the challenges that we will be facing in the Yukon over the next decade, this type of a fund would help us to continue to develop value-added and high-tech manufacturing in the Yukon, create opportunities for specialized niche markets, emphasizing our national advantages, and to address the issues of transportation, particularly as they relate to movement of people, trucking, and the movement of commodities and other value-added products.

In the area of telecommunications, which is one of the high-tech areas that's been referenced, and indeed -

Quorum count

Some Hon. Member: Point of order.

Speaker: Point of order.

Mr. Cable: Do we still have our quorum?

Speaker: Order please. According to Standing Order 3(2), if, at any time during a sitting of the Assembly, the Speaker's attention is drawn to the fact that there does not appear to be a quorum, the Speaker will cause the bells to ring for four minutes.


Speaker: There are 12 members present. A quorum is present. We will now continue debate.

Mr. Livingston: Now that we have an audience again here.

Telecommunications has been an important area for Canadians generally, and particularly for Yukoners. Canada, being a vast country with a small population, has played a leadership role in telecommunications, basically in the last century, beginning with Alexander Graham Bell a hundred years ago, and the Anik satellites were some of the first communication satellites ever sent into orbit.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Livingston: Indeed, we're going to get to that.

The Yukon, with its smaller population and its even more remote locations, telecommunications is even more critical and more vital. Our government has taken some laudable initiatives, such as the recent telecommunications, or the ability to transfer medical information over the airwaves from Old Crow to here and back again. Those are positive steps and more can certainly be done in those areas. As one of the members opposite points out, even more fundamental to the people in my riding, is the extension of low-cost, reliable and affordable telephone service that 80 percent of Yukoners already take for granted.

When these people have emergencies that might occur - maybe a baby is being born or an accident occurs, or they want to keep in touch with family, whether it's grandma some distance away, or making arrangements for their son to get to a soccer game, whether it's for business purposes, or whether it's to access Internet services that can be used in business, education or a variety of other uses, a lot of people in the rural parts of my riding don't have these opportunities.

Rural Yukoners have had a lot of experience with quite a variety of telephone systems. They've used Novatel, they've used Ruraltel, they've used radiophones. We've even had upgrades to Ruraltel 400. We now have Ruraltel 800.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Livingston: Well, as the member opposite points out, this is an insufficient change; it doesn't bring us up to the kinds of standards that most Canadians and most Yukoners come to take for granted and come to expect.

The time has come, as we enter the new millennium, for people in all parts of the Yukon to have quality and affordable telephone service.

Now as we know, telephone telecommunications in this country is governed by a federal agency, the CRTC, and there have been, in fact, as recently as January 29, final arguments provided by our government to the CRTC on high-cost serving areas, making a number of different arguments.

To quote from the document, "Communications were, in fact, once a luxury. Communications are now the cornerstone of all contemporary enterprise."

There are two things contained in the Canadian Telecommunications Act, in section 7 that talk about the quality of service, the consistency of service provided across this country. First, to render reliable and affordable communication services of high quality accessible to Canadians in both urban and rural areas in all regions of Canada and secondly, to foster increased reliance on market forces for the provision of telecommunication services and to ensure that regulation, where required, is efficient and effective.

Now, in some cases and in some senses, these two different provisions in the Telecommunications Act may be seen to be working counter to each other, but the key element here is that we have an infrastructure need here in the Yukon that -

Mr. Phillips: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Point of order

Speaker: Member for Riverdale North, on a point of order.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Speaker, I must have a wrong connection, because the member is talking about telephones and I thought we were talking about EDAs. Maybe the member could, if he is talking about the motion, tell us what he means. Does he mean that he thinks the EDA should pay for a new telephone service in the territory? Maybe he could tie it in so we'd have an idea that we're still on the same topic.

Hon. Mr. Harding: On the point of order.

Speaker: The Member for Faro, on the point of order.

Hon. Mr. Harding: On the point of order, the motion is about partnerships with the federal government, not specifically EDAs. One other request to the federal government to put on the federal budget commitment was a proposal on telecommunications infrastructure. It's completely relevant to the topic, and it's just a distraction to continuously raise these points of order.

Speaker's ruling

Speaker: Order please. I would ask all members to speak to the motion, because some are getting off track here. So please speak to the motion. The member can continue.

Mr. Livingston: Well, telecommunications in the north, I believe, is a part of building infrastructure, and is certainly a worthy and a laudable element that could be addressed through some type of economic development agreement or other type of technological support that could be provided through some type of a national pool or an agreement between the federal government and the Government of the Yukon.

Mr. Speaker, before I was so rudely interrupted, the whole issue of telecommunications is one that is near and dear to the people in my riding, and that's certainly why this is getting under the skin of the official opposition. They don't want to hear about this or they don't want to be beaten to the punch, or something. This is just political gamesmanship, Mr. Speaker.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Livingston: Well, building infrastructure in the Yukon is a part of economic development in the Yukon. I don't think an argument can be made that good, quality phone service isn't a part of being competitive, being connected, and being part of today's economy.

Mr. Speaker, whether support for this kind of initiative comes through an order of the CRTC for a national pool that supports the high-cost serving areas or whether infrastructure support occurs through some type of economic development agreement with the federal government really is a moot point. I think the bottom line is that Yukoners, particularly rural Yukoners, are looking for this kind of service.

Mr. Speaker, I'm not advocating some type of corporate welfare here. I believe that, in a private economy such as we have in the Yukon, private companies such as Northwestel have to be expected to put their fair share into a capital investment that will ultimately be part of their equity.

But, Mr. Speaker, programs like the western diversification fund could be applied and make some sense for further economic development here in the Yukon.

One of the members opposite talked briefly about the CARD fund and I would agree that that has been a useful influx of dollars into our economy. It is another form of rural development in the Yukon. The fact of the matter is, though, that it's exclusively focused on research and development. I think that, when we look at agricultural businesses, we need to ensure that programs like the Canada Farm Credit Corporation, which have been difficult, if not impossible, for individual businesses to access, are more accessible and that this is another type of economic support program that we need to reach some accommodations with the federal government on.

Mr. Speaker, to summarize, I think that we need to take a look at economic development agreements, whether they be in the form of the western diversification fund or the Atlantic opportunities fund that will help us to further diversify our economy, create jobs and develop new economic opportunities.

We've got some market niches out there. We've already begun to look at the export market, and there is certainly more that we need to be doing there, and we want to diversify in that regard as well. We want to have a variety of export markets - not one or two export markets, but a number of export markets so that, as the world economies rise and fall, we're not dependent on one source.

Mr. Speaker, this is a good motion, and I'm fully in support of it.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Speaker, I hadn't initially intended to speak to the motion that's before us here today. I had read the motion as presented by the Member for Watson Lake and, in fact, was in full support of the motion that was presented by the Member for Watson Lake. In consultation and discussion with other members of the House, I found that there was relatively unanimous consent to the motion that we have before us.

But that all was interrupted by the speech given by one of the members of the House, the Member for Faro -

Some Hon. Member: Point of order.

Point of order

Speaker: The Member for Watson Lake, on a point of order.

Mr. Fentie: At this time, Mr. Speaker, I would urge the Member for Riverdale North to set aside his personal differences and, if he wants to speak to the motion, let's do it in the manner and in the spirit that began here this afternoon. And it was all about this Legislature standing together, unified on an issue that's important to all Yukoners. It's a well-known fact that the federal government has abrogated its responsibility -

Speaker's ruling

Speaker: Order. Order please. There is no point of order. The member can please continue.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, I hadn't intended to rise and to speak to this motion until the Member for Faro rose in his place and put his two cents' worth into the debate.

Part of what the Member for Faro said was reasonable and made sense, and was in the spirit of cooperation that most of us in this House are trying to achieve. Unfortunately, about 90 percent of the Member for Faro's speech was - like most of the Member for Faro's speeches - political. Trying to make some political points.

And you know, the unfortunate thing here, Mr. Speaker, is that it was at the expense of his own member. I couldn't believe it - his own member brings a reasonable motion into this House, he wants all of us members to cooperate and work together, in an amiable and cooperative fashion, to pass a motion. And then the Member for Faro stabs his own member in the back by -

Some Hon. Member: Point of order.

Point of order

Speaker: The Member for Lake Laberge, on a point of order.

Mr. Livingston: Mr. Speaker, if the member opposite could speak to the motion, please - to the substance of the motion.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Speaker, I'm speaking to the motion. The Member for Faro spoke; I'm speaking about what he spoke about.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Speaker: Order please.

Mr. Phillips:He was in order, so certainly I must be in order.

Speaker's ruling

Speaker: There's no point of order. Please continue.

Mr. Phillips: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Well, Mr. Speaker, obviously the Member for Faro is embarrassed about what he did to his own member. And he should be. And he should be embarrassed for what he did here in this House today.

Mr. Speaker, I was very angry and upset that the Member for Faro decided again - as he does many times in this House - to try and drag this Legislature down into the gutter, and try and score political points on whatever motion put forward.

Now, normally he does that, Mr. Speaker, with the motions that come from this side of the House. But today he decided to destroy his own member's motion, which is unfortunate.

Mr. Speaker, I was so angry at the approach the Member for Faro took, I drafted an amendment to the motion, which I believe could add to the motion, but I know will create some more of the animosity and the type of discussions that took place here earlier, from the Member for Faro.

The Member for Watson Lake tabled his motion today, in all sincerity, hoping that all members would agree and support it. It was his own member who destroyed the cooperation that was going to be in this House. But you know, Mr. Speaker, the Member for Watson Lake called me off to the side when the Member for Faro was speaking and apologized for his member's actions, and asked me, in the spirit of cooperation in this House, in working together, to not raise the level of acrimony in the House the way the Member for Faro has. Mr. Speaker, I've thought about that. I've thought about it long and hard.

The position that I'm going to take here today, Mr. Speaker, is one that I believe we should all be trying to take in the future. The Member for Watson Lake was right. The Member for Faro was wrong. I'm not going to table this amendment, and I am going to support this motion that's before us, put forward by the Member for Watson Lake, in the spirit of cooperation, because it's a good motion. And it's a motion that could go to the federal government showing that all members of this House, except one, believe it's a motion that we shouldn't try to play petty politics with.

The Member for Faro has a mouth that he uses quite freely, and it gets him in trouble consistently.

Mr. Speaker, I will be supporting the motion. I believe the EDAs were good - they weren't perfect. And we have to make sure the departments don't use them just adding on to their budgets, but that they involve the business sector and others.

I would hope that the federal government would listen to the motion today. I want to thank the Member for Watson Lake for bringing the motion into the House, and I want to thank all the other members who spoke in a positive manner about this motion - except the Member for Faro.

He used it for pure crass political gain at the expense of his own member, but we're not going to play his game. No one else in this House is.

Mr. Speaker, we'll be supporting this good motion that has been put forward by the Member for Watson Lake because it is a good motion that will help Yukon people and will get our economy moving. That's saying a lot more than what the Member for Faro is doing with our economy right now, Mr. Speaker. We'll hope that it will work.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Motion No. 102 agreed to


Bill No. 14: Second Reading - previously adjourned

Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 14, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. McDonald; adjourned debate, Mr. Jenkins.

Speaker: We will continue with debate of Bill No. 14 where we left off yesterday.

Quorum count

Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, it would appear that there is not a quorum in the House at this point.

Speaker: Order please. According to Standing Order 3(2), if at any time during the sitting of the Assembly, the Speaker's attention is drawn to the fact that there does not appear to be a quorum, the Speaker will cause the bell to ring for four minutes and then do a count.


Speaker: I have shut off the bells and I will do a count. With 12 members present, a quorum is present. We will now continue debate.

Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, when I left yesterday evening, I was commenting on the provision of funds in this budget to continue the runway expansion at the Whitehorse International Airport, and our party supported that initiative and agreed with the expenditure of those funds.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Jenkins: We did, Mr. Speaker. But at the time this budget was tabled, there remained a number of other airport initiatives around the Yukon Territory that are not being addressed by this government. I speak of the second-busiest airport in the Yukon, the one with the second-highest amount of movements, and probably the worst airport in all of Yukon operated by the Government of Yukon, and that is specifically the Dawson airport. Now, there is an initiative underway but there isn't anything in this budget to address that area.

That is a detriment to our visitor industry. It's a detriment to building the economy of Yukon.

The same holds true if we look at this budget. What we have is a whole series of promises from this government and long-term-type spendings coming out in this budget. In fact, Mr. Speaker, this budget is not so much a budget but is more of a throne speech, given the extent of the promises being made in this presentation that will commit the government for many, many years to come.

I'd like to spend a few moments with respect to the health care needs of our territory. The announcement to open the empty beds at the Thomson Centre, given the shortage of beds that we've been experiencing there in the past number of years, is more than welcome, and while a new continuing care facility would appear to be a positive initiative, as it will help to address the future needs of our aging population, there are still quite a number of questions that remain outstanding.

Where are we going to locate the facility? Will it be in association with the Thomson Centre and the Whitehorse General Hospital, or are we going to go off and build another one somewhere else? The O&M costs: if we are just now able to open the remaining beds in the existing extended care facility, how are we going to be able to maintain another 74 beds?

Now, how was this decision arrived at? Now, what consultation took place? And where was rural Yukon in this consultation? We're looking for extended care facilities in both Watson Lake and Dawson. Where are they in this whole picture?

The minister will recall that I raised a number of questions almost two years ago regarding the health care facilities and the provision of continuing care in the Yukon. The minister stated that the department was in the process of doing an assessment of seniors services in the territory. The minister explained that the review would look at existing facilities, what facilities required upgrades, and what additional facilities will be needed to address the future health care needs of our fast-aging population. This was all to be addressed in a seniors strategy.

When I asked the minister where the strategy was last fall, the minister stated that it was near completion and that yet another review was to be taken in the near future to assess the whole issue of continuing care and continuing care needs in the various communities.

Another study. Nowhere in this budget does it recognize the need to address the long-term health care needs of our seniors outside of Whitehorse. Seniors residing in rural communities who require extended care have no choice but to leave their homes, leave their communities, their families, their friends, move to Whitehorse -

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Speaker: Order please.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Speaker: Order. The member can continue.

Mr. Jenkins: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Nowhere in this budget does it recognize the need to address the long-term health care needs of our seniors outside of Whitehorse. Seniors residing in our rural communities who require extended health care have no choice but to leave their homes, their communities, their families, their friends and move to Whitehorse to receive the appropriate level of care they need.

For most Yukoners who have spent their entire lives in the outlying communities, this is not acceptable and is simply not an option. The fact that the proposal to construct a multi-level health care facility in Watson Lake, and the need for continuing care services in Dawson, has not been addressed in this budget, is but another disappointment that will do little to ease the minds of rural Yukoners, who are still waiting to hear some good words from this minister in this regard.

We'll look at another issue in rural Yukon, Mr. Speaker. It's been rearing its ugly head for a long time, and that is the need to develop a policy to attract and retain rural health care professionals to our respective communities. As we have seen over the last year, many of our communities have been coping with a shortage of nurse practitioners as a result of this government's failure to address the needs of Yukon's nursing community.

Similarly, rural doctors have been calling upon this government to negotiate on-call availability fees to provide after hour and weekend coverage. Yet, that is to no avail.

Government has ignored this issue. While efforts have recently begun to recruit nurse practitioners and talks have begun to discuss on-call fees, I can't help but wonder why nothing was done two years ago, when these problems were first brought to the government's attention. They can find money for everything else to enhance their image, but when it comes to the basic health care needs of Yukoners in rural Yukon -

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Jenkins: I'm told to "read it and weep". Mr. Speaker, this issue is far from over, and I will continue to urge this government to develop a policy to attract and retain health care professionals in rural Yukon until such time as our needs are addressed.

Now, obviously, Mr. Speaker, I've gotten under the skin of the Minister of Health and Social Services, because he hasn't been addressing his responsibilities and he's very sheepishly hounding the House here today.

We look at the alcohol and drug services, Mr. Speaker, and what this government has done over the last while. The decision to kill the 26-year-old, proven Crossroads Treatment Centre and replace it with a 28-day treatment program and a 14-day, part-time program has done virtually nothing, as of yet, to improve alcohol and drug treatment services in Yukon, particularly in rural Yukon. In reality, what we have seen is actually a reduction of treatment services in the territory.

When this government killed the Crossroads Treatment Centre because of First Nations' concerns and stated that the new alcohol and drug program was going to meet community needs, many First Nations actually took this minister's word and believed him. In reality, alcohol and drug services in communities such as Ross River, Liard and Watson Lake, have been cut back. Shame on this government.

This government's failure to come to grips with Yukon's serious FAS/FAE problem, by not making available the number of people who suffer from this affliction, is but yet another example of this government's unwillingness to tackle the real problem - skirt the issue, don't call it what it is, don't identify it, just go merrily on, and hide behind the doors of his office. That's what the minister is capable of doing.

But in essence, Mr. Speaker, when we look at this budget, it spreads a lot of money over a lot of areas. When we look at the communities themselves, it does increase the municipal block funding, it does give some funding to the Association of Yukon Communities. But when you look at the downloading that is coming from this government to the municipal governments, all you see is a need for the various municipal governments around the Yukon to probably raise taxes to meet the service needs that the people have come to expect from their municipal governments.

And this is a consequence of block funding not keeping pace and other issues that the Government of Yukon has downloaded into the municipal domain.

Ultimately, we have a lot of promises in this budget; we have a lot of promises for future capital spending, but today how many more unemployed Yukoners will be going to work tomorrow or the next day as a consequence of this budget? Very few, Mr. Speaker.

We have a shrinking economy here in the Yukon, a declining labour force. Yukoners are looking for optimism, and better yet, jobs - jobs that will put Yukoners back to work.

What we need is a budget that will instill confidence in Yukon, a budget that will instill confidence in the investment community to invest in Yukon, policies from this government that will instill confidence in the mining, the oil and gas, the forestry to invest in this area. That has not been forthcoming.

The latest policy, and about the only policies that we see coming - let's call them ZAP, because they're zapping virtually any initiative to invest in Yukon.

I'm extremely disappointed that this government has taken the tack to commit to long, long-term spending in the hopes that people will not see through the fašade that has been presented by this government, not see the fašade that they have presented surrounding the expenditures, and not see the tremendous increase in government that we're witnessing under an NDP government. NDP stands for bigger government, more regulations, fewer opportunities, less employment and no incentive to invest in a region that is controlled by an NDP government.

Speaker: The member has two minutes.

Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, this was a budget, but it was more of a throne speech than a budget because of the promises made and the promises set out by the Minister of Finance.

I'm very disappointed that their savings account, which was being saved for a rainy day, is not being spent. One only has to look at the tremendous storm clouds that exist over our financial situation here in the Yukon. The economic climate has the biggest rain cloud and the biggest storm overshadowing it that we've ever seen here in Yukon. It's time to put some of the money in our savings account to work for the betterment and enhancement of all Yukoners.

Mr. Speaker, I cannot support this budget.

Thank you very much.

Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of this budget, the budget for the fiscal year 1999-2000. In fact, I am quite proud of this budget and the content in it. This is certainly an innovative, progressive, proactive, balanced, well-thought-out, targeted budget.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Fentie: The Member for Klondike asked me if I understand the big words. I can inform and assure him that I do. I understand them very well. It's obvious, though, that he does not understand the budget that was put before him, because if he would read it and endeavour to understand it, he'd have no choice but to support it.

Mr. Speaker, this budget of innovation is the result of good leadership of a very diverse team, a caucus, a well-balanced caucus, people who can sit together, envision, plan and actually implement those visions and plans, and the result is this budget for 1999-2000.

I'd just like to talk briefly about the economy and the comments I've been hearing from the Yukon Party when it comes to the economy. The Yukon Party, when in government for four long years in this territory, did absolutely nothing to diversify, to enhance, to create in any way a better economy for the Yukon Territory. They seem to forget that out in the communities there was no economy. The Yukon Party were virtually co-conspirators in job loss outside of Whitehorse, such as in forestry.

Communities like Watson Lake have been in an economic downturn since 1986. It was 13 years ago when the economy of that community began its downhill slide. The closure of the Canada Tungsten and Cassiar mines had a devastating impact on that community and its fortunes. The Yukon Party did nothing at all to try to rectify that, and when people in Watson Lake chose to try their hand in forestry and create jobs and invest in a resource sector of our economy, such as forestry, the Yukon Party - when Yukoners came to them, to ask their government to help them with the forestry issues in this territory and work with them and the federal government to make it work - they said there's nothing they can do; it's a federal problem.

Now, I'd like to do some comparisons here today, Mr. Speaker, in that regard. Yukoners came to the Yukon Party government on forest matters, and the Yukon Party informs them that there is nothing they can do; it's a federal problem. It's quite the contrary on this side of the House.

This government, upon taking office, found the federal building - the Elijah Smith Building on Main Street - surrounded by equipment and protestors from the logging and the forest industry. When they came to us, we did not tell them, "There's nothing we can do; it's a federal problem." We immediately went to work. We helped to facilitate a drop in stumpage of 50 percent with the federal government.

The Yukon Party's answer to the stumpage regime in the territory was a million dollar subsidy - a million dollars of taxpayers' money spent to subsidize stumpage rates.

The NDP government negotiated and facilitated an agreement with the federal government that saw stumpage fees lowered by 50 percent. We didn't tell people again there was nothing we could do. We went to work. We developed a commission, a focused team, to target a very difficult issue and address it.

Through that whole process, we developed the Yukon forest strategy, which today is going to play a very significant role in the Yukon's economy. It's going to play a significant role, Mr. Speaker, because we had the vision, we were astute enough to realize that the data, the science, all the tools necessary to effectively manage our forests were not in place in this territory, and we built in the interim steps to make sure, consistent with our commitment to the Yukon people, that we would work with the feds, the First Nations and all Yukon people to get workers back in the bush and help the Yukon economy through the forest sector.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Fentie: Well, the Member for Klondike makes reference to the walk in the woods tour, which, by the way, was an extremely successful education process. It was spawned from the recommendations of the Council on the Economy and the Environment that we endeavour to educate the public on forest matters, and that's what the walk in the woods tour was all about and that's what it did accomplish. A great degree was learned through that initiative, and it helped us in the development of the Yukon forest strategy as we see it today - a made-in-Yukon strategy, Mr. Speaker.

We're also, instead of doing nothing, as the Yukon Party government did - or as the Liberals would do: wait to see which side was going to be the winning side, and then jump off the fence - we've also triggered an initiative with our neighbours to the south in British Columbia on a reciprocity fibre flow agreement, which also will help the economy of the Yukon Territory through the flow of fibre out of northern B.C. into southeast Yukon plants.

We've also supported the sawmill in Watson Lake, recently constructed, through some training trust funds. Again, I want to reiterate, as I did earlier on in the motion debate, that the sawmill that has been constructed in Watson Lake is a missing component in the development of a manufacturing sector for the southeast Yukon.

I will give you the reasons why: it's a plant, and its equipment focus on 11-inch-minus tree size. That is the bulk of the resource in the Yukon Territory. Only six percent of our productive forest lands house large white spruce. The balance is in upland mixed stands of lodgepole pine, balsam and spruce. If we're ever to develop a manufacturing sector in forestry, this is the kind of manufacturing plant that's needed in this territory. Because they can utilize the small wood, this plant can also help make existing regulations in this territory today work. The federal government, in developing the timber regulation changes, put in a restriction that 60 percent manufacture of harvested forest must take place in the Yukon Territory. That plant in the southeast Yukon has the ability to take on that 60 percent, which then furthers our ability to earn revenue dollars from the forest resource, because now the 40 percent of the equation, the oversize, can be pre-cut to the length of high-value peeler stock.

So, again, I say, through the great efforts of Yukon investors, and through individuals in my community, such as Brian Kerr, and the involvement and dedication of outside investors, headed up by his brother, Alan Kerr, we have achieved a great deal down there, in the way of developing a forest industry for the southeast Yukon, and I applaud them. That's exactly what this budget is all about. This budget is a government using its means to try and create an environment that brings in investment to this territory. The proof is there - $12 million-plus on the ground today in Watson Lake.

It seems to me that those investors are quite comfortable with the budgeting process of this government, with its policies and with its work ethic. Hence, the investment is there.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to talk a little bit about tourism, which is obviously a bright spot in this territory. Tourism, though, has been a mainstay in our industry in the Yukon Territory for a long, long time. However, through this budget, through the marketing dollars, through those expenditures, we are trying to enhance that industry to make the Yukon an even better destination point for tourists from all over the world - not just the Americans passing through on their way to Alaska, but tourists from Germany and Europe and Asia.

Thanks to the great efforts of people in the community of Watson Lake, we've managed in an off-season to establish tourism out of Taiwan. Though it may be small in numbers, it certainly adds to the long, hard winter months with an injection of dollars into the community, and even down the highway as they fly into Whitehorse and are bused down, stopping in Teslin, Swift River and all along the way into Watson Lake. Rancheria is closed. The Member for Porter Creek herself mentions Rancheria but my constituents, Bev and Art Denning, have chosen to close their establishment for the winter and they are off somewhere on holidays.

I'd like to talk about this for a moment. The Liberal leader has said it's economic times, but I can tell you this. Having spent 18 years driving a truck on the Alaska Highway - the old Alaska Highway - as we've improved our highways between town and community, the lodges in between those communities and towns have become less and less used because the distance and time between our destinations has become less and less. Therefore, the frequent stops at these lodges no longer occur as they used to.

A lot of it has to do with the improvement of our highways. So tourism, of course, is a mainstay.

Now, the opposition has pooh-poohed the oil and gas initiative of this government. Well -

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Fentie: Speaking of lots of gas, Mr. Speaker, the Member for Klondike could probably service quite a well. He would be a big producer, and we should try to harness some of that, I'm sure, and I think we have the legislation to do it. We'll begin drilling shortly.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Fentie: Yes, again, as this budget is very innovative, our oil and gas legislation, our accord with the First Nations, our abilities to plan and put together and implement initiatives that will work are again proof positive.

The oil and gas industry in the Yukon Territory is an evolving one. We have today two producing wells in the southeast - in the Kotaneelee - and I am very confident that we will have an increase in that area in the very near future. My colleague, the Minister of Economic Development, has been actively putting together the necessary arrangements that will hopefully bring us land sales before summer.

The oil and gas industry is going to be an important part of our economic times in this territory in the future, and it's one in which we've seen the need for training. Hence, we have targeted more training dollars in that area. The oil and gas industry, which is highly specialized and has a very tight margin because you are paid by the foot to drill wells, needs a trained workforce. They need specialized equipment, and we in the Yukon Territory have begun the process to build that capacity through our efforts in budgeting and training dollars.

Now the mining industry - the only economic component that the Yukon Party seems to be able to bring forward is mining, and there is no mining. And I'm wondering, sitting here listening to their comments on the budget, where they've been over the last 20 years when it comes to mining in this territory. One by one, the mines have been closing. Clinton Creek, Elsa, mines outside of our territory that were serviced by Yukon - Cantung and Cassiar - Faro, Sa Dena Hes. Somehow they seem to think that because the NDP government sits in power today for three years now, that has created a complete shutdown of the mining industry.

That, Mr. Speaker, is completely false. We have, today, two mines established, sitting with mills and ore bodies waiting for one thing, and one thing only - an economic price in zinc. A profitable price in zinc.

At today's prices of 44 and 47 cents, zinc mines like Faro and Sa Dena Hes in the Yukon Territory cannot economically operate. They will not be profitable. But Cominco, the company that owns the Sa Dena Hes mine, is very confident that in a short period of time prices should begin to rebound, and the minute they reach a stage where there is some degree of profitability, they have committed to this government that they'd be opening the mine like Sa Dena Hes. They also want to proceed with their Kudz Ze Kayah property, and the development of that property.

One of the things that mining is well-noted for in this territory - one of the parts of it, or components of it - is exploration. Now, in the past, exploration in this territory - and we can go back a century now, given the gold rush in 1898 - one of the main components of exploration in our modern times in the Yukon Territory was the result of a federal government initiative.

And that initiative, Mr. Speaker, was flow-through shares. Anybody who has ever been involved in the mining game or the mining industry - especially around the exploration side - well knows that those dollars come from the stock market. The high degree of exploration in the Yukon Territory a decade ago and up into the mid 1980s was the result of the federal government's 120-percent tax break on flow-through shares for dollars spent on exploration.

When the federal government cancelled that program - that initiative of flow-through shares - the mining exploration in the north dropped accordingly. We've endeavoured to do our part - given our limitations in this territory as a government - through such initiatives as a 22-percent tax rebate program, which my colleague, the Member for Laberge, worked on with the Yukon public, with the chambers of commerce and with many other agencies and groups that said this would be a good start; this would be something that could very well help on the exploration side.

I'm sure, at the end of the day, there will be some increased activity - given all the other problems in the mining industry worldwide today - here in the territory, which will result in jobs for local people.

That tax round table also produced a small business tax incentive program, and one of the things that generates the economy is small business. They are a very important part of our economy. In helping them in this way, we are confident that small businesses will partake in this tax incentive regime and, in doing so, invest dollars that will result in jobs for Yukoners. I want to thank the Member for Laberge for his dedicated work on these tax issues, and I'm sure that they will bear fruit in the very near future.

Mr. Speaker, I wonder, time and time again, having gone through four years of Yukon Party government and their view of the economy in this territory, where we'd be today without such initiatives created by the NDP government as the community development fund, the fire suppression program and the rural roads program. We wouldn't have any of those. The Yukon Party completely opposed those initiatives. Those three initiatives that I just spoke of are creating dozens upon dozens of jobs for Yukoners in the short term. We are doing a great deal to help the situation in this territory that we find ourselves in today.

The community development fund alone, in Watson Lake, my community, has put $100,000 into the ski hill, which created local employment; funds into the Signpost Seniors; funds into the Health and Hope Society. Funds through the rural roads program and the fire suppression program have created a significant number of jobs for Watson Lake people in the short term. And we, in this budget - we - are even enhancing those programs for the fiscal year 1999-2000 to create more jobs.

One of the very important facets of this government, this group of people on this side of the House, was our ability to make a budget flexible enough so we could target expenditures. In the past, budgets in the territory brought down by the government were all housed by line items, the money was locked in - that was it. If we missed an opportunity, a possibility, to target government expenditures to help create jobs, in the past, you could not do it.

This government has done that. This government has taken a bold step into making budgeting flexible enough so that the expenditures are targeted in a manner that, for instance, in communities the jobs are created there, not from outside. The CDF, the fire suppression and the rural roads program are very much about targeted expenditures to create jobs in the community that the work is happening in. And I think that's a very important point to be made.

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals and the Yukon Party have touched somewhat on the seniors issue, and I can tell you that that's an issue that's a very difficult one. We know that the age of our population is increasing yearly. People now are staying in this territory and there's a need, not only though for seniors extended care but for extended care across the spectrum. There are people in need everywhere, not necessarily seniors.

We have done much in the way of addressing that issue - the issue of seniors in this territory and taking care of them. And I, for one, am well-experienced in that regard, having watched my mother die one click at a time in my house. I understand what these people are going through. The seniors in this territory are scared and frightened about what the future holds for them.

There is a significant amount of expenditure in this budget that targets the seniors in this territory, and I want to congratulate the Minister of Health and Social Services on having taken a stand. I have personally witnessed correspondence and traffic that goes back for 13 years to successive Yukon governments around the issue of the seniors in Watson Lake and the southeast Yukon with nothing ever done.

Today, we can say that we have made a giant step toward taking care of our seniors. Now, not only does this budget focus on an extended care facility in Whitehorse - it's not just entirely for seniors people - but also it's extended care that ranges across the spectrum of care and needs. We have ensured that the communities are going to be taken care of.

In Watson Lake, for example, through monies and funds made available by this government, we have an extremely efficient, well-rounded home care program for the seniors in my community. The Signpost Seniors Society does a great deal in that community on its own, with help from us in funding, as they go about raising money through bake sales and all the wonderful things they do in that community, and they disburse it among the seniors and the residents there.

We are also looking at not so much building buildings but improving health care for our seniors. In Watson Lake, for example, housing is an issue. We are looking at steps to address that.

We have a fine facility in the Watson Lake hospital. We are taking steps in regard to renovation and looking at staffing and coming up with ways that we can better utilize what we have in place today, and improve health care.

When you look at the whole aspect of building an extended care facility, the easy part is building the building. The difficult issue is finding and recruiting staff, a professional staff needed to provide that care, retaining that staff to provide that care. This government doesn't run around, ad hoc, crisis by crisis, in trying to deal with them. We have a plan. It's called the seniors strategy, and I'm confident that this plan will go a long way to improving the future of our seniors and, in fact, their lives today.

Mr. Speaker, this budget, as I said earlier on, I think is a very innovative, positive step for the Yukon Territory. It's a balanced budget, and its fulcrum, the fulcrum of its balance, is the economy - the economic side. And if anybody can't see that throughout the pages of this budget, I'm not quite sure what it would take to make them realize it.

But I'm sure, Mr. Speaker, that the members opposite, as they go through the budget, department by department, line by line, I'm sure they will see that it is extremely well thought out and well planned.

Now, we know the Yukon Party just cannot grasp it. There's no question the Yukon Party has no concept of economy, of building an economy, of managing an economy. Their leadership as government was very suspect. Yukoners know that, and that's why Yukoners voted them out of office in September of 1996, resoundingly, especially from the communities.

Mr. Speaker, I will debate with the leader of the official opposition - the Member for Porter Creek North, the former Government Leader. I will debate with him the Yukon economy any time, any place, it doesn't matter. I'll debate the Yukon economy with him at his house. Move in, live there, debate the man every day, and I will win that debate because I am armed with vision, I am armed with work ethics and I am armed with the facts. The Yukon Party just will not look at the facts because of partisan politics.

This budget, Mr. Speaker, is the type of budget needed for the times we are in, and I will be supporting this budget wholeheartedly with a great deal of pride.

Thank you very much.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Speaker: Question? Are you ready for the question?

Quorum count

Mr. Phillips: Point of order.

Speaker: Point of order.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Speaker, I believe we don't have a quorum in the House.

Speaker: Order please. According to Standing Order 3(2), if, at any time during a sitting of the Assembly, the Speaker's attention is drawn to the fact that there does not appear to be a quorum, the Speaker will cause the bells to ring for four minutes.


Speaker: With 10 members present, there is a quorum. We will now continue debate.

Some Hon. Member: Point of order.

Point of order

Speaker: The Member for Riverdale North, on a point of order.

Mr. Phillips: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, House leaders yesterday agreed on a speaking order for the House. The speaking order was printed up, passed around to all members in the House and agreed upon. No one said anything about it yesterday, and now the Member for Kluane is due to speak, Mr. Speaker, and he should speak in the order that was agreed upon by House leaders yesterday. That's all we're asking.

Once we agree upon things, let's stick to them.

Hon. Mr. Harding: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker, I think everybody in here should just calm down a little bit, first of all. Second of all -

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Harding: - it's nice to be a calming influence in here, for a change.

Everybody here should realize that there appears to be a dispute about the speaking order. It's my belief that the debate should go back and forth, as per the practice of this House, from the opposition side, to the government side; the opposition side to the government's side.

That's the way that we debate things in this Legislature, so that the government and the opposition get the chance to one-off in terms of rebuttal.

Mr. Phillips: I would agree with that if the numbers warrant that, but they don't. There are more NDP numbers, and there is a point in the debate where there has to be at least two government members speaking in a row. That was agreed to yesterday by House leaders. And the House leader speaking now against it, agreed to it yesterday. It was passed up to his officials, it was passed around to everybody, and now they want to change the rules.

Mr. Speaker, it's causing confusion in the House; it's causing delays in the House, and we should just go according to what he agreed to yesterday - the government House leader agreed to yesterday. It was on his desk somewhere, if he just takes the time to read it.

Mr. Speaker, he should do what we agreed to. What's the point of the House leaders' meeting if we're just going to throw this away and make the rules as we go?

Speaker: On the point of order.

Hon. Mr. Harding: The debate should go back and forth across the House. Yes, we have more members, and that will require that, at the end of the exchanges, the government caucus side will have speakers in a row, but we're not going to let the opposition - we shouldn't let the opposition - have two speakers in a row without rebuttal from the government.

Speaker: Member for Riverdale South on the point of order.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Speaker: Order. Order please. Member for Riverdale South on the point of order.

Mrs. Edelman: I'm not too sure there is a point of order, but on the issue - certainly, I was present at the House leaders' meeting. We did talk about going back and forth. That's the way it is going. We also agreed to this speaking order, and simple mathematics says that there's no way that we could possibly go back and forth, back and forth every time. Sooner or later, we're going to speak two in a row, and there's precedent in the House for that. Now, obviously, there's a problem right now, but I think we can solve it easily by following the speaking order that's already been set out. The Member for Kluane seems to be fully prepared to do that.

Speaker: On the point of order.

Hon. Mr. Harding: I'm checking. The speakers list they're referring to is their speakers list. Our speakers list is our speakers list. Our speakers list says their side of the House is now due to speak.

Speaker: On the point of order.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Speaker, I don't know what trick the Member for Faro has up his sleeve about the House leaders' meetings, but the rule is that, from time to time, the opposition party makes up the list and, from time to time, the government makes up the list. We all agree on the list. We have been using this list all day yesterday, and we started using the list again today. The list that was taken around, this list -

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Phillips: Yeah, the minister says he has his own list. Well, Mr. Speaker, this is news to the opposition parties, because the list that was taken around, it was our responsibility yesterday, in the official opposition, to make the list. We made the list. In fact, we took it up personally to the minister's assistant and gave it to the minister's assistant. We stood up and spoke about it, and there was no issue yesterday about the speaking order. No one questioned it. It was fine. This morning, at the House leaders' meeting, it wasn't even raised. In fact, the House leaders said, "When we get to it today, we'll just continue on with the speaking order."

Well, the speaking order that everyone's been going by is right here, and it's the one that was drafted and given to the - maybe the member should go back to his assistant and talk to his assistant. This was given to his assistant.

Speaker's ruling

Speaker: Order please. Order. On the point of order, the Chair does not rule on disputes between the House leaders as to the arrangement of business of the House. The Chair is now going to ask if the House is prepared for the question. However, if a member should rise to speak, the Chair will recognize him or her.

Are you prepared for the question?

Mrs. Edelman: Well, Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to speak to the budget. Obviously other people are not.

Don't worry, be happy and vote for me.

When you look at this budget in any detail, the message becomes crystal clear. The government is spending almost half a billion tax dollars on Yukoners. The 17 MLAs in this room are going to be responsible for almost half a billion dollars' worth of expenditures on 30,000. We live in a fantasy world here in the Yukon and we are beyond fortunate.

Some of the initiatives announced in the budget are good ones. Our caucus has been calling for the opening of the seven continuing care beds in the Thomson Centre for quite some time. After all, right now, nine to 12 beds a month at Whitehorse General are being taken up by extended care patients. That's 20 percent of the beds at our acute-care hospital being utilized inappropriately. It's nine to 12 people a month being cared for inappropriately.

The time to do something about that abysmal situation is definitely now, if for no other reason than blatant self-interest. We are, after all, growing older.

A new continuing care facility will help to address the year-and-a-half waiting list to get into the extended care facilities that we have now. A new facility will hopefully start to deal with the ever increasing number of Yukon seniors and those who need continuing care here in Whitehorse.

It's strange though. The need for this facility was clearly identified some time ago. The need for a continuing care facility and two new schools has been known for years, and I wonder why it has taken this long to get this project on the books.

But wait. I remember. Next year is a territorial election. Could there be a connection?

What's strange, though, is what's missing in this budget. Where is the continuing care facility for Watson Lake? We have a multi-year capital budget in health, yet this project is missing. The number of seniors and persons requiring continuing care in Watson Lake is not going to go down. That number will only increase.

The minister said that if we only had some federal health dollars, he would build that continuing care facility. And, as a matter of fact, I was so struck by the minister's commitment the day that he made that statement, that I had the distinct feeling and a very clear feeling that the minister would go down to Watson Lake and build that facility by himself if he had to. He was so committed to the continuing care needs of this rural community. But things have changed in only one year.

And what about fetal alcohol syndrome? The Minister of Health says that he is willing to support the Yukon medical officer in making fetal alcohol syndrome a reportable disability. Well, so what? By making this a reportable disability, we have taken this one step closer to identifying the true scope of the numbers of people in the Yukon who are born with fetal alcohol syndrome. But there is no commitment toward programming dollars from the minister.

He has done the right thing by finally funding the outreach teams at the Child Development Centre. Sure, but the Child Development Centre does not only deal with children with fetal alcohol syndrome. Now, personally, I took my daughter there because she wasn't walking at 18 months. It turned out to be a problem with her foot.

Many parents take their children to the Children Development Centre to see if they are ready for kindergarten. Five hundred families in the Yukon deal with the Child Development Centre every year because of a host of very well-delivered early intervention services that the centre offers to Yukon children.

Funding the Child Development Centre properly does not abrogate the minister's responsibility toward dealing properly with the biggest disability in the Yukon and the most preventable - fetal alcohol syndrome. Where are those services for adults with fetal alcohol syndrome? What about coordinating the services around FAS? How about using our resources wisely? We have third-generation Yukoners now who have fetal alcohol syndrome. The problem is not going away.

The problem with FAS is that it costs money to deal with early and it costs money to prevent but, in the long run, that approach is what will save us money and, more importantly, save the quality of life for so many future Yukoners who will be born healthy.

We will save in education costs. We will save in justice costs. We will save on health and social services costs. But we have to make a decision to deal with the issue, not throw a bit of money at one agency and then think that the issue is completely dealt with, because it is not.

There are other things in the budget that we have asked about repeatedly. There is a minor increase in funding for Yukon towns and cities, and it's a beginning. Let's not forget that the O&M budgets for YTG have more than doubled since 1985 when the block funding formula came into effect for Yukon communities. Costs of doing business have gone up, and these costs have also gone up for Yukon towns. There has not been a reciprocal raise in funding for Yukon towns in 15 years, except for a very small blip in 1991. The minimal increase this year has not gone far enough. Yukon towns are working with very lean numbers of administrative staff. The municipal staff across this territory work long hours for their communities, and they have not been treated to significant raises in over 15 years, although the cost of living certainly has gone up over this period.

The private sector hasn't exactly enjoyed huge increases in salary either. Last summer, retail business in the Yukon did not do well and the reason for that was quite simple. YTG employees thought that they might be going on strike and they were not willing to make big retail purchases. They couldn't take the chance because of the uncertainty around the possible strike.

This government thinks that government employees are going to forget that they didn't receive the promised two percent as soon as this NDP government took office. Personally, I thought that that two percent that the Yukon Party had rolled back, YTG employees were going to be reinstated just moments after the NDP were sworn in.

I was expecting a press release to that effect the very day of the swearing in. And it didn't happen.

This NDP government thinks its civil servants are going to forget that because - and I'll speculate that this will be a favourable contract just before the next election. Perhaps the surplus is going to go to - well, maybe it's going to go to the YTG employees, who will hopefully forget, apparently, the two percent. I have no doubt that this is just the beginning of the pre-election largesse.

We suffered through the last two Prozac budgets because, after all, you only have to bring out the big guns in the election year, and there'll be lots of winter works projects this coming winter, and then the election - just before the miners come back.

That's right, just before the miners come back from South America and Alaska and the Northwest Territories, where they have gone to find work, like so many Yukoners have gone to find work elsewhere.

Look at the mass exodus to Alberta. The unemployment rate is climbing in the Yukon. There'll be some seasonal upswing in April and May, when the tourism season starts, but we're in big trouble now.

This is the worst it's ever been. We are witnessing the death of the Yukon economy, and this NDP government is the pallbearer.

I have friends who have never been out of work, and they can't find jobs now. They are thinking about moving to Alberta. I have other friends who have lost their businesses, other friends are precariously perched on the brink of bankruptcy, and everyone in this House knows someone who cannot find work.

This big, glitzy budget, announcing things that won't happen until this NDP government is re-elected, is not going to get things going. We have a long, long way to go.

So, sure, this government should be proud of some of the projects that they have announced. The new alcohol and drug treatment programs for women are a step in the right direction, but the money for the affordable mobile home lots up on Range Road, well, that's a bit of an oxymoron, isn't it? How could a $35,000 lot for a mobile home worth virtually nothing on the real estate market today make sense to anyone? And, thank goodness for that American Shakwak money. It's going to help a lot of Yukoners out this summer, but then there's next winter.

I note that there's nothing in the long-term capital plans for the reconstruction of Grey Mountain Primary School again. I guess the current government has given up on those three Riverdale ridings.

As MLAs, the 17 of us have to think of what's not only good for our ridings, but what's good for the Yukon. We serve all Yukoners.

We know that there are a lot of people out there without work, and this budget does very little to change that.

Our caucus does not have confidence in this government to lead us over the very grim economic climate. Other resource-based economies have survived Bre-X and low metal prices. We only have to look to Alaska for that example. We have not done well these past two and a half years, and the short-term economic outlook paints a very bleak picture as well.

We should be starting a process of recovery, and we're not there yet. There is a lot of money in the budget though, almost half a billion dollars to spend on only 30,000 people. That's about $15,000 apiece, and there are only 17 of us in this House responsible for that absolutely phenomenal amount of money, and there is also a lot of responsibility. With half a billion dollars to spend on 31,000 people, we are indeed fortunate.

Mr. McRobb: I am pleased to speak today in support of our government's budget for the 1999-2000 fiscal year. In this budget reply, I would like to inform my constituents about what they can expect in the way of government spending and direction for our economy, social agenda and environment. I would also like to review and compare how we reacted to suggestions made during the pre-budget consultation tour throughout the communities in the Kluane riding. But first, I want to respond to some of the spurious comments made by members opposite.

First, let me deal with the leader of the third party, who I recall was saved by the bell from my response to her criticisms in the fall sitting. Again, the Liberal leader criticized the energy commission but failed to provide any evidence to support her views - no evidence, Mr. Speaker, just slander. She expects Yukoners to simply believe what she says and not let them think for themselves. According to her, the energy commission was some kind of a failure. According to her, it achieved nothing. Well, Mr. Speaker, how soon some of us forget.

Has she forgotten about the $16-million worth of energy announcements made in response to the recommendations of the energy commission's work? Has she forgotten about stabilization of electricity bills for residential and business customers across the territory? Has she forgotten about the $3-million investment in green power initiatives? Has she forgotten about the $2-million investment in a commercial-sized wind turbine that will be installed on top of Haeckel Hill next fall? Has she forgotten about all of the other innovative initiatives that will also benefit Yukoners?

Moreover, Mr. Speaker, has the Liberal leader forgotten about all those Yukoners who contributed to the commission's consultation process, which visited every community in the territory?

In all, Mr. Speaker, more than 1,000 Yukon citizens helped shape the commission's final product. That is a remarkable achievement and is something to be proud of.

And once more, Mr. Speaker, the Liberal leader seems to have dismissed the praise given me by the colleague to her right, her energy critic, when the final product was unveiled last fall. What possible reason could there be for all of this forgetfulness, Mr. Speaker - for pure political gain; all for one more opportunity to slander those of us, including the public, who worked hard in the public interest to ensure the product of our government's priority work was successful.

That's as far as I will go on this occasion, Mr. Speaker, in giving the Liberal leader a reality check, but I want to leave her with a question that she may wish to answer at some point in this session. Are her actions now consistent with her leadership campaign promises to work together constructively and in a non-confrontational manner for the good of all Yukoners? I'll let her answer that one, Mr. Speaker.

Let's now turn to the Member for Klondike and the latest example of his inability to comprehend change.

Yesterday, he mocked us for not stabilizing power rates or making power affordable. Has he forgotten that we stabilized power bills for at least four years? Has he forgotten that the Energy Corporation is undertaking several initiatives as part of the rate stabilization initiative?

If the member had particular concerns, Mr. Speaker, why did he not raise them in this House last fall when the president and chair of YEC appeared before us for two hours? And if the Member for Klondike really wanted to understand the basics of electricity pricing, why did he not appear at any of the dozens of meetings and workshops held by the energy commission?

Finally, with respect to this member, Mr. Speaker, I find his repeated use of bathroom-type references rather distasteful language for this House, and would ask him to try to disprove the Peter Principle, and graduate beyond acting out his rendition of the Tidy Bowl Man.

Despite the dismal performance of these members, Mr. Speaker, they can still look down and see stooped the leader of the official opposition.

In his budget analysis, he chose to focus away from the real budget issues and divert instead to topics that are very questionable in relation to this budget. Once again, his hunt for political red meat has overridden any chance for sensible analysis and comment from this member.

Let us look at his reality-and-fantasy analogy spewed upon us this week. His version of reality is apparently based on the report just tabled, the Yukon Short-term Economic Outlook 1999. Certainly the report predicts a further slight decline in our economy, but that is due to the fact that all figures used are annual averages, and 1999 is assumed to be the first full year of the Anvil shutdown.

So what else is new, Mr. Speaker? This is no surprise to Yukoners. And certainly, there is no basis upon which to use it as a building block for his theory of economics.

The leader of the official opposition goes on to paint a terrible picture of doom and gloom for our economy and accuses us of having no economic leadership.

Firstly, Mr. Speaker, let us acknowledge that his perception of reality is based upon his belief that the current economic downturn is unique to the territory. His proposition is meritless, totally without merit. In the report itself, it indicates the major driving forces behind the downturn are, and I quote, "low metal prices, the continuing global economic crisis, and difficulties faced by companies in raising money for mining projects."

The report goes on to say, and I quote, "However, a Yukon refundable tax credit of 22 percent for mineral exploration expenditures is expected to encourage exploration spending in 1999." That, Mr. Speaker, is only one of the 50 new economic initiatives contained in this budget, and that is economic leadership.

I guess some people just don't know leadership even when it hits them on the head, Mr. Speaker.

Before moving on to discuss topics of greater interest, I want to respond to one more comment made by the leader of the official opposition. It is in regard to his criticism of our government for not spending the surplus this year.

Unfortunately, he chose not to inform Yukoners of the downside to that option. Depleting the territory's financial reserve would put all Yukoners at risk and throw the territory back into a state of uncertainty and risk, similar to the experience under the reign of the previous government.

The member opposite knows full well that it is against the law of this territory to deplete its surplus and go into debt.

The member knows full well that spending the surplus this year would return the territory to boom-and-bust spending, which is neither sustainable nor desirable to Yukoners. The member knows full well that, under such circumstances, a territorial government would be forced to seriously consider imposing tax increases on Yukon people and businesses. That might be where the Yukon Party would be headed, Mr. Speaker, but we will take a much more responsible course, one that avoids such temptation.

Let me now turn to matters that are of more relevance to what the budget will bring for my constituents in the Kluane riding. As part of our government's budget process, the Government Leader attended meetings in each Yukon community in order to collect input from Yukoners on what they wanted to see in our budget. In the Kluane riding, there were seven such meetings, and I was pleased to be a part of each of them.

In my humble opinion, it is very important for government to keep in touch with people in Yukon communities, and these pre-budget, consultation meetings are an excellent way of staying in touch in a timely, effective manner. Did we listen? You bet we listened, Mr. Speaker. Unlike the Liberal Party, I won't expect you to simply believe me. Instead, I will respect your intelligence, and the intelligence of Yukoners, by giving you the information so that you can think for yourself and develop your own opinion.

I have assembled a 15-point list to compare what we heard from constituents in the Kluane riding with what the budget will provide them.

(1) In Haines Junction, we heard about a care facility for our elderly. This budget will see the construction of a 74-bed continuing care facility, completed within two years. Although this facility will not be located in Haines Junction, it will be available to serve the needs of that community, as well as others.

Did we listen, Mr. Speaker? You bet we listened.

(2) Also in Haines Junction, we heard about the need to upgrade rural roads. This budget will expand the rural road upgrade program to $1 million both this year and next. Did we listen? You bet we listened.

(3) Also in Haines Junction, we heard about the need for a wilderness institute. This budget provides about $3 million in funds to the community development fund. An application that would create a process in which the community could develop this proposal is currently being assessed. Did we listen? You bet we listened, Mr. Speaker.

(4) Also in Haines Junction, we heard about the need for additional telecommunications infrastructure for nearby communities. This budget continues the rural electrification and telephone program with $920,000 in funding. In addition, this budget provides $75,000 toward a technology innovation centre, which will identify ways that Yukoners can use telephone lines for financial transactions and create new market opportunities for local products and services. Did we listen? You bet we listened, Mr. Speaker.

(5) Also in Haines Junction, we heard about the need for continued Shakwak funding and local employment opportunities. This budget provides more than $19 million in Shakwak funding, which results from our government's extensive lobbying efforts with the United States. In addition, we have created training programs to help workers get jobs on the Shakwak. One example is the heavy-equipment operators training course, which trained 10 workers, all of whom were hired by the contractor - an amazing success. Did we listen? You bet we listened, Mr. Speaker.

(6) Also in Haines Junction, we heard about the need for treatment facilities to provide alcohol and drug treatment programs. This budget will triple the amount invested in community treatment centres, bringing the total to $300,000. Did we listen? You bet we listened, Mr. Speaker.

(7) Also in Haines Junction, we heard about the need to improve the Kluane land use plan in order to bring more certainty in the use of land for economic development in accordance with the values of the community. This budget will provide for the funds to conduct whatever further process is necessary in consultation with the community. Did we listen? Again, Mr. Speaker, you bet we did.

(8) One more suggestion we heard in Haines Junction was the need to examine the potential for energy efficiency and the use of wood chips for district heating. This budget provides $50,000 toward a study of a district heating system in the community. Did we listen? You bet we listened, Mr. Speaker.

(9) In Destruction Bay, we heard about the need for a new sewage lagoon located away from the community. This budget provides $350,000 over three years for a new sewage lagoon in the area. Did we listen? Again, Mr. Speaker, you bet we did.

(10) Also in Destruction Bay, we heard about the need for community fire protection. This budget continues on the program introduced last fall by providing $500,000 more to the fire smart communities program. Did we listen? You bet we listened.

(11) Also in Destruction Bay, we heard about the need for Internet access. Mr. Speaker, this budget delivers the Internet to Destruction Bay, as well as other communities. Did we listen? Again, yes, we did.

(12) In Burwash Landing, we also heard about the need for a sewage lagoon, as mentioned already. A new facility will be constructed to meet the needs of this community, as well as Destruction Bay.

(13) Also in Burwash Landing, we heard about the need for an alternate energy source other than the diesel generators located in Destruction Bay. From what I understand, Mr. Speaker, this budget will also provide funding toward a study to assess alternate energy sources in the area. Again, Mr. Speaker, we listened.

(14) In Beaver Creek, we heard about the need for a training trust fund with which to train workers for jobs available in the area. This budget provides a further $1.5 million in funds in the next fiscal year for training trust funds. Again, Mr. Speaker, we listened.

(15) Also in Beaver Creek, we heard about the community's priority of a new recreational facility for curling events. In addition to an application currently being considered by the community development fund, this budget provides $200,000 from the Department of Community and Transportation Services toward the construction of this new facility. Again, Mr. Speaker, we listened.

That concludes my comparison between what we heard and what we did in the budget. Do Yukoners think we listened? Or do they believe the members opposite who say we don't?

What do Yukoners think? Well, judging from the reaction to the budget thus far, they know we've not only listened, but have acted responsibly in bringing their will through the government system.

In addition to the budget items listed above, there are many other initiatives that will benefit constituents in my riding, and I'd like to review now what some of them are.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. McRobb: The Tidy Bowl Man, Mr. Speaker, can't seem to graduate above the Peter Principle -

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Point of order

Speaker: Member for Riverdale North, on a point of order.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Speaker, the member should not be name-calling in the House. He knows better, and he should rise above the level that some other members in the House are stooping to, and just carry on with his debate in a reasonable manner. I believe that calling somebody names like that is out of order in this House.

Hon. Mr. Harding: On the point of order.

Speaker: On the point of order.

Hon. Mr. Harding: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The member opposite is obviously very bitter. The comment made was, I think, just a joking comment. He's the member who used the word "stupidity" in this House to describe the government the other day, which is completely out of order - name-calling - so he should not be one to piously decry the virtues that he himself does not show in this House, in terms of decorum.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Speaker: Order please. Order.

Unparliamentary language

Withdrawal of remark

Mr. McRobb: Mr. Speaker, I'll save you the trouble of looking through the rules. I'll withdraw the remark, and also apologize for the Member for Riverdale North, because it's hard to tell when exactly he is stooping.

Speaker: The member has withdrawn the remark.

We will continue.

Mr. McRobb: Thank you. Now, where was I before I was so rudely interrupted?

I want to review some of the budget initiatives, Mr. Speaker, that will benefit constituents in the riding and that apply generally across the territory.

For the Village of Haines Junction, an increase of municipal block funding, the first such increase since 1991; $150,000 in energy conservation retrofits to the James Smith Administration Building, which houses the liquor store and public library; $200,000 to develop more lots in the Willow Acres subdivision next to Haines Junction; a share in the $900,000 Yukon millennium fund; the LIFT credit program, which, as we heard in the budget speech, is the low income family tax credit, which will provide up to $300 a year for people with a net income of less than $25,000.

There's $500,000 for a Yukon child benefit for families with children where net family income is less than $22,000. There's also seven extended-care beds at the Thomson Centre, at a cost of $645,000, and I know there are several constituents who are looking forward to the opening of those beds. As well, for health workers, there is the professional development fund.

There's money for more support for children at risk, through the healthy family initiative. There is also $200,000 more for the Child Development Centre's outreach work in rural Yukon, especially for children with fetal alcohol syndrome. There's $140,000 for hospital-to-home service linkages for patients discharged from hospital. There's $108,000 for an outpatient day program at Thomson Centre for people with severe mental and physical infirmities, including dementia. There's an additional $98,000 for diabetes programs, and $131,000 to increase ambulance backup support. In addition, there will be an opportunity to participate in a health summit with the Health minister to discuss future directions for Yukon health services. There is also a new seniors property tax deferral, which will apply to seniors with homes outside of municipal boundaries who live in their own homes. There's also $200,000 more for youth recreational programs, which brings the total to $400,000 a year.

There is $270,000 for a Yukon Housing residential energy management program, or REMP, and CEMP programs to encourage energy-efficient heating methods.

There are also a number of economic initiatives, Mr. Speaker, that I'm sure constituents will look forward to. There is a small business investment tax credit of 25 percent designed to encourage local investment in Yukon businesses. There is also the mineral exploration tax credit of 22 percent to promote exploration and development. There is also the $750,000 trade and investment fund. Likewise, there is $750,000 for a tourism marketing fund, and I know that there are several Kluane constituents interested in participating in that program, as they will be interested that there is $200,000 more for tourism marketing. There is $175,000 this year for the Yukon film location incentive fund. There is the $3.4 million to complete the runway expansion at the Whitehorse Airport, which, of course, will continue to bring visitors to the territory and benefit all there is in the Yukon, but particularly the Kluane area, as it is a favourite of many visitors to the territory.

The immigrant investor fund will also encourage investment in our economy.

There are also a number of other initiatives, Mr. Speaker, too numerous to mention - initiatives like the Kluane regional tourism plan, which will be developed in consultation with the public in the Kluane region this year. There's also the Yukon protected areas strategy, $2.3 million in ongoing funding to implement the strategy; and resource assessments and park system planning, $1.4 million for that over the next three years. Part of the YPAS is a $520,000 allocation for mineral resource assessments.

Other initiatives like the Yukon-wide visitor exit survey, Mr. Speaker, will also provide valuable information to businesses and other residents in the Kluane area, and one more particular area is the Technology Innovation Centre, which I mentioned previously. There is also a $200,000 fund to support research on innovations in information technology, or IT, as it is commonly referred to.

Mr. Speaker, I'll invite constituents, if they would like any more information on these initiatives or programs, to contact me. I'd be more than pleased to get the information to them.

So, with that, I want to conclude my reply, Mr. Speaker, and once again speak in favour of the budget. I think it's a good budget. Based on what we've heard from Yukoners, it is a good budget and I certainly look forward to getting out in the community and discussing this budget with the people.

Thank you.

Speaker's ruling

Speaker: Order please. Before proceeding, the Member for Kluane used the word "slander" at least twice in his speech. This word has been ruled unparliamentary in the past and the Chair would inform the Member for Kluane that the word "slander" should not be used in the future.

For the future direction in this matter, the Chair would refer members to the ruling of the Chair made on December 9, 1998.

Are you prepared for the question?

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Speaker, I have a few comments I would like to make about the budget that is before us here today. When the budget was tabled, I listened intently to the Finance minister's statement and took some time to go through the budget to see what goodies, so to speak, were there for Yukoners over the next fiscal year, and I guess I set a couple of priorities when I looked at the budget.

The first priority I set was an immediate priority and that was about the many constituents of mine who are currently unemployed and the many constituents of mine who have left the territory because their husbands or wives have had to leave their spouse and go to other jurisdictions to find a job.

What I was hoping to see in the budget was some kind of an indication that the government was making some moves fairly quickly to address the concerns that are out there in the economy at the present time. What is rather odd is that the day the budget was tabled, the Minister of Economic Development tabled a short-term economic outlook for 1999.

He sort of just stood up in the middle of all the hubbub of the budget and said, "I have a document for tabling," dropped it on the table and just hoped that it would go away, and that it might be shrouded in the spinning that was being done on the things in the budget.

What is even more significant when you take the time to read the budget, and then take the time to read the economic outlook, it is obvious that the people who did the economic outlook certainly have a different vision from the Government Leader, or the Finance minister, about where the Yukon is going over the next year. In fact, they are on opposite ends of the spectrum. It now appears to me that the reason we ended up getting this economic outlook from the Minister of Economic Development - who, I might add, has seen the largest downturn in the Yukon economy, I think, in the Yukon's history. There have been more people unemployed, more people leaving the Yukon, more businesses closing, and more bankruptcies under his tenure, I believe, than ever before- three short years as the Minister of Economic Development, and he's still running around the world huffing and puffing about the great things he's doing. While he's travelling about the world, so are many of his and my constituents. They're travelling to other jurisdictions to find a job.

It angers me, and it angers my constituents for that minister to stand up and criticize anybody else - any previous government - for what they did about economic development. Mr. Speaker, he can't stand up, with his record, to anyone in the past - anyone.

Every single member of this House has lost good friends - people who have been in this country for 20 years, 30 years - who have had to leave the territory this year, in the past 10 months, because of the lack of economic development.

Now, some of the things the government is doing are good. Some of the things they're doing in the long range are good. Unfortunately it took them three years to move in that direction, after many of the people that we're going to need - the skilled people that we're going to need to take these jobs in the future - have left.

Mr. Speaker, it's unfortunate that the Minister of Economic Development and the Finance Minister survived on nothing but rhetoric for three years.

You know, I listened today to the Member for Watson Lake talk about the economy in Watson Lake. And he said the economy in Watson Lake has been depressed since 1986. Well, guess what. The NDP has been in power for about 11 or 12 of those years since 1986 - the party he sits with now.

Mr. Speaker, they should be known as the New Depressed Party. The previous NDP government tried their hand at sawmills, and the only thing that benefited from the Watson Lake sawmill were the bugs that ate the logs in the parking lot, as they rotted, and then were sold as firewood.

The $15 million or $16 million that a Yukon Party government and others had to try and come up with after it failed, Mr. Speaker, put a burden on the rest of the taxpayers of the Yukon. I was surprised when I heard the Member for Watson Lake - who used to be a right-wing thinker - state that the Yukon Party relies on mining, and all that mines have done in the territory is close down.

So now we have the Member for Kluane, who was worried about exploration in his riding because they might find a mine, you know - heaven forbid - and a mine may create jobs. It might be a terrible occurrence if that happened. We now have the Member for Watson Lake saying, "All mines do is close down. Don't bother with the mining community. All they do is close down."

Meanwhile, Mr. Speaker, we have the Minister of Economic Development - or, as some had said "economic devastation" - travelling around Asia like Tinkerbell, flitting from place to place in their holiday season, trying to find somebody in their office, checking everybody out, seeing who is home and trying to raise some investment in an area where, every time I turn on the news, they talk about an economically depressed economy. Only the NDP would try to raise money in Russia and in China. That's good.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the problem I have with this budget is that I'm not sure - in fact, I'll rephrase that. I am sure that there isn't one thing in this budget that's going to take my unemployed constituents and those members' unemployed constituents today and put them to work tomorrow - nothing in this budget. In fact, the real forecast is in the short-term economic outlook. I'm sure if the Minister of Economic Development could have slid it across the floor to the Clerk without mentioning it, he would have done it the other day.

Unfortunately, we have rules in this House, which sometimes he obeys - he had to table it so that people could actually read it.

I heard the Member for Kluane today, and the Member for Faro did the same thing, talking again about the reason we have problems, folks, is because of Bre-X, metal prices and all the other things they've been saying forever and ever and ever. This is what they've been saying is the problem, and yet what are they doing about it? What are they doing about it? That's a problem, it's a long-range problem, and it's going to take some time for us to get out of the problem. So what are they doing about jobs for tomorrow, jobs between now and June or July or August or September, or the end of this year, before we lose all of our qualified people in the territory who have made their homes here and raised their families here? What are they doing about that?

What do they do? They tried the old Liberal trick, where what you do is announce multi-millions of dollars' worth of projects and hope that people don't realize that you're really going to spend the money way down the road.

I was going through the budget and I looked at some of the investments. "Investing in our communities", they say. The new Ross River school - $7.3 million is in the budget highlight, but in the budget itself it's $5.1 million. In Mayo, they've got $7.3 in the highlight. This is something new for Mayo, but guess what? You know who's going to get work in Mayo over this school this year in this budget? You know who's going to get work in Mayo? Nobody. Not one constituent of that member is going to have a job in Mayo this winter through this budget, over the Mayo school, because there's $100,000 and that's in planning, and it'll be eaten up over in the Department of Education. That's what will happen. It will be eaten up over there. Not one single job in a $7.3 million announcement in this budget.

And yet, the people in the Member for Mayo-Tatchun's riding are crying out now for work - not a year from now. They might not even be here a year from now because they can't survive. They'll move on to Alberta or somewhere else.

The correctional facility - $3.2 million was allocated for that. I think there is just about a few hundred thousand dollars to do something there. Again, it's planning. You know what we're going to do with this budget? We're going to put an awful lot of architects and planners to work. But you know what, Mr. Speaker? Not all of them will be local because most of the architects and planners have had to leave because there is no work.

So now I suppose what we could do is we could get their forwarding address from the post office and write them a letter and say, "Look, if you come back, we're going to do some planning now." There might be some work in the future and we can invite them back after they've closed their offices, laid off their people and their people have moved to other jurisdictions for jobs and relocated their families. Too little, too late.

Mr. Speaker, they talk about $2 million for a multi-year commitment to the Whitehorse recreational facility. There will $4 million by April to begin work on a swimming pool this year. I don't know, but I was listening to the news on Tuesday and I heard the city council disputing whether it was going to go up the hill or downtown, and it seems to me that that particular project may not turn a shovel full of dirt until late fall, maybe not even this year - maybe not even this year.

So, what is that going to do for the residents for Whitehorse West who need a job tomorrow? They're not going to get any work. That's not for them.

They talked about a $9-million expenditure in Dawson City. Again, throw the big numbers out. Tell everybody you're doing all these things. They've got $1 million in the budget. I don't disagree with the way they're doing that - setting money aside. What I have a problem with is trying to sell people that all these projects are going. You heard some of the media the other day saying, "New jail and new extended care facility for people."

Well, yeah, if you live long enough - down the road. The other problem I have with the way they're doing some of this is that the NDP came into power almost three years ago and said, "You have to plan for the future, and we're going to do some long-term capital planning." Right on. So, what do they do? They wait until year two and a half of their mandate. They're almost toast - everybody that I'm talking to is saying to me, "Doug, when's the next election? How are we going to get rid of these guys?" So, what they do is make commitments for other governments to honour in the future.

The residents of Tagish have been asking for quite some time -

Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)

Speaker: Order please. Continue.

Mr. Phillips: I think I've hit a nerve, Mr. Speaker.

The residents of Tagish asked for some improvements to the road, and the government said, "Right on. We're going to fix that road up." So, a $950,000 announcement, but there's $150,000 in the budget. Now, people think the road is going to be fixed immediately. It's not. It's going to take some time, and you have to start somewhere. But again, it's the old smoke and mirrors, where you look like you're doing $60, $70, $80, $100 or $200 million worth of projects, and you're spreading them, not only into your mandate, but into everybody else's mandate in the future, too, so everyone else has to live with the decisions you've made.

You know, you look at what this government has done in the territory, and what they have done - what people know they have done - is they have driven the economy into the ground. At the same time, they've stuck their heads in the sand, with respect to the Yukoners who are working here today.

They may be looking at what might come in the future, but the economy today is flat. The economy today is declining, and there's nothing in this budget, and nothing in this last budget, that will keep these Yukoners here - obviously, because they're leaving in droves.

The Member for Watson Lake is giving me a sign that's a spiral dive, diving down, and he's right on. The NDP are on a spiral dive, right down.

You know, you talk about leadership, you talk about leadership. They came into this House, and they spoke about the DAP, and how great it was, and they were going to establish this commission. The commissioner who can no longer be found because he doesn't have a phone, and they removed him from his office, or whatever they've done to him. Heaven knows what he's doing. Nobody knows what he does any more. He's now in charge of tax reform or something - or telephones or something. I don't know what he was talking about today.

Anyway, the DAP commission - what has it done in three years? Three years - they were going to fix it immediately. Three years - you know what? We had a ministerial statement yesterday in the House after three years, and the member said, "We've got a problem".

We've got a problem. DAP isn't working like we thought it would. We're going to go back to the drawing board and talk to everybody. In the meantime, I'm getting my phone disconnected because I don't want anybody to call me.

So, they got the DAP commissioner out of the phone book even before they got the deputy commissioner out, who actually left the employment of the Yukon. The deputy commissioner is still left in there as if he's here, and the DAP commissioner is hiding under his desk on his way to Arkansas.

Mr. Speaker, on land claims, what have we got in land claims? Oh wait, there are announcements coming next month, next week, next month. I thought we heard two and a half years ago that it's going to be settled immediately because the Yukon Party did nothing, but they are going to settle it. Well, we'll see. I guess we'll just wait and see.

On leadership, where is the government on leadership? On FAS/FAE, the opposition parties had to beat the heck out of the government to get them to move on it. The Minister of Health kept standing up saying, "We're doing everything right. We're doing everything right. Everything is fine. It's all taken care of. Everything is fine." Finally, the Teachers Association came out and said, "It isn't fine. It's a problem. You've got to help us here. It's a problem. It's affecting every child in school, not just these kids." The Minister of Health said, "Ignore them. It doesn't matter. They don't know what they're talking about. We're doing great things."

Then, the doctors came out. The local doctors said, "You've got to do something about FAS, and if you don't, we will." So, the doctors are doing something internally to identify FAS and, all of a sudden, guess what? Out of his hole pops the Minister of Health, and says, "We're in here, too. We're doing something, too, and we've got something in our budget and we're addressing the problem," after everybody's beaten him around for two and a half years and tried to finally get him motivated to do something.

The NDP talks about - what they like to do when they respond to their budget speech is that they like to talk about all the positive things they're doing and all the negative things that the Yukon Party did in the past that they didn't like. One issue that they address in this budget is taxation, and some of the initiatives in the budget with respect to taxation are positive, but they didn't go far enough with the child tax credit that we talked about before. They only went halfway.

But, you know, Mr. Speaker, the other thing that's kind of silent in this budget is that, for three years in this House, I've been hearing members from across that floor talk about the obscene tax increases of the Yukon Party government, to cover the $64-million debt that the NDP government left the incoming government.

They claim that these tax increases were terrible, that they were unnecessary, but guess what? Mr. Speaker, they've got $27 million in a surplus in the bank. But did they decide in this budget to return that so-called bad tax increase, when the Yukon Party was in? If it was that bad, if they can harp on it in the House day in and day out, then why don't they give it back?

It's that simple. They've got the money. They're not going to have to borrow to do it. They've got the money. Why don't they give it back to the people who supposedly need it? Because it doesn't help them. It's to their political advantage to criticize it, but not to their political advantage to give it back.

Let's talk about the other commissions we have. We have the forestry commission. Somebody said awhile ago that the forestry commissioner was lost in the woods. I guess that's why that's the only commission that hasn't been disbanded. We're still searching for the forestry commissioner. As soon as we find him, I understand what would happen -

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Phillips: Somebody said to me this summer, Mr. Speaker, that the forestry commissioner jumped into Wye Lake, and he's still there, because he's only got one arm, and he's just going around in a circle. He's only got his left arm, so he doesn't know where he's going, and he can't get out of the woods. He's stuck in the woods.

The energy commissioner said a few moments ago - he was talking about the great things he's doing in energy. Well, now, there's another great political trick. Get into government, on the basis that you're going to stabilize - now, the Oxford Canadian Dictionary describes "stable" as sort of stable, level, not moving. So, what do they do? They get into government, and their NDP interpretation of stable is to raise it up a little.

They jacked the power rates up. They jacked the power rates up. They get a windfall from those terrible Liberals they hate in Ottawa. They get a big windfall from them, and they take the money that should go into creating jobs in the territory, and they pump it back into the power rates, lower the power rates and say to the people, "Look what we did for you. We gave you stable power rates for the next four years, and we lowered them." What they don't tell the people is that if you look at what you were paying back in 1996, you are paying way more now - nine percent more for the same power.

Now they've got a $27-million surplus. They could have brought that down. They could have given that money back. They could have honoured their commitment in 1996 in the election and said, "The power rates will be stable. They won't go up." But they didn't do that.

I was looking in the budget about some of the other issues. Tourism is one. I see that the Minister of Tourism is paying attention here today. So, I'll talk about tourism for a moment, and I'll tell the Minister of Tourism that I'm generally pleased with what I see in the tourism budget, but I have some problems, and I guess where my problems come from is that tourism is probably one of our strongest economic engines in this economy at the present time.

I would have hoped - and I was hoping, and I know people in the industry were hoping - for a stronger commitment to tourism by the government. I appreciate the $750,000 fund that is going into product development - on that side. I think that we have to watch how we spend it. We have to be real careful how we spend it, and make sure we develop high quality product and something that the marketplace is looking for.

But where I am disappointed is that we saw an increase in the tourism marketing budget, but it's $200,000. The Minister of Tourism has been there long enough now to know that $200,000 is a drop in the bucket.

I believe that our one campaign in southern Canada - the television campaign we're doing this year - is probably going to run us around $200,000 when the smoke clears. One campaign, for a short series of television ads.

And I would have hoped that we would have seen a significant increase in the overall marketing budget of the Department of Tourism. Because if we're going to maintain our market share, we're going to have to do that.

What I don't see in the Tourism budget is allowances for the U.S. exchange - when we buy our product in the United States. Now, when we were in government, we made an allowance for that, and since then the exchange has changed dramatically again - against us, not in our favour - and I would have hoped the Minister of Tourism could have made strong arguments to his colleagues that we should not lose our buying power, because we're sliding backwards, with respect to buying promotion and ads in the United States.

Mr. Speaker, I'm very concerned that this particular budget is going to do very little for the Yukoner who needs a job in the next six months.

Speaker: Order please. The time being 5:30 p.m., the Speaker will now leave the Chair until 7:30 p.m. tonight.


Speaker: I will now call the House to order.

Mr. Phillips: Before I get back into my speech, Mr. Speaker, I want to make a special request of you. I was interrupted several times prior to dinner, and so what I'd ask you is if you could grant me 40 minutes. I won't go through everything I said before, but I do want to touch on some of the topics that I mentioned earlier and just remind some of the members who weren't listening as closely as they should have been earlier, and it would help them understand a little more why I have some problems with the budget. So, I would hope, Mr. Speaker, that you, being the good friend of mine that you are, would grant me 40 minutes to continue with my speech.

Mr. Speaker, one thing I want to talk about today is that one of the emphases that this government has put in this budget is on training, and although I am a strong supporter of training, I'm a stronger supporter of a job. What I'm hearing from Yukoners out there right now is that they don't need to be retrained; they just need to have some jobs in the fields that they're already trained in.

They're having a great deal of difficulty making ends meet. So, I would remind the members on the side opposite that although it is important to train people, it's equally or even more important to have jobs for them at the present time and have jobs for the ones who are trained in the future. Right now, there isn't a lot of optimism out there. In fact, the Yukoners who I've talked about are more pessimistic now than they've ever been in this territory because there appears to be no economic leadership at all.

Mr. Speaker, the Member for Faro, the Minister of Economic Development, quoted from several letters and documents that people supported his mining initiatives. Well, Mr. Speaker, I've seen letters in the paper and one of them says, "What is it with this government that as soon as they get into power, there is an exodus of most of the mining companies. Mr. Harding must remember a couple of years ago when the Yukon Party was in power how the mining industry was flourishing and spending millions in exploration. Is there a possibility that this government regards the junior mining companies as an unnecessary evil rather than not see them do business in the territory?"

So, there are others in the mining community - and that was a constituent of the Member for Watson Lake - who used to work in mining in the territory and are now having to go elsewhere to find jobs.

You know, Mr. Speaker, the other concern I have with the government and what they're doing in the budget is about some of the local hire issues that they're coming up with. I know that, in Old Crow, they trained some people to work on the school there and I think that's good. And I understand they're developing a program to train people in Ross River.

What I'm concerned about now, and what I'm hearing from some of the apprentices and some of the people in town who have already taken training in Whitehorse and in Watson Lake and in other communities, is, "Why are we training a whole bunch more people when I'm having to leave the territory to find a job to support my family?" There is a concern here that, if you live in Ross River, you can only work in Ross River, if you live in Whitehorse, you can only work in Whitehorse, and I hope we're not getting into that kind of local hire scenario, because we're not always going to be building schools in Ross River or doing jobs in Old Crow. The people from Old Crow, Mr. Speaker, the ones who were trained in Old Crow, should be able to go to Ross River and work on the school there, or come to Whitehorse and work here and move around the territory and be considered as good a Yukoner as anybody else from that community. The concern I have is that we seem to be getting into this local hire provision.

In fact, one jurisdiction that has brought in a local hire provision that's actually hurt the Yukon is the Northwest Territories. It was on the radio this morning that one Yukon company got a highway contract in the Northwest Territories and one of their local hire provisions is that 90 percent of the people on the job have to be from the Northwest Territories.

Well, here we have no jobs in the territory, all kinds of people are unemployed, and when the company that they've worked for for years goes to another jurisdiction because of local hire and protectionist provisions, these Yukoners can't move around. Now, if Alberta did that, all these Yukoners who have been out of work this winter would be on welfare in the Yukon. They wouldn't be able to go anywhere, if Alberta and British Columbia took the same protectionist attitude. These Yukoners would be considered second-class citizens anywhere else in this country and wouldn't be able to get jobs.

So, I think we have to be careful when we move into those areas. It's important to hire locally as much as we can, but it's difficult, Mr. Speaker, when you start bringing in these kind of protectionist measures. You know, there are a lot of people in Faro right now. The Member for Faro was chatting away about it, but a lot of his constituents don't have work in Faro and are working in other communities in the territory. What I'm concerned about is that they will be considered as second choice in those communities when there's work because they'll choose people from the community first, and then the unemployed people from Faro will be second, third or fourth choice, and may not have a job and may not be able to support their families. So, I think we have to be careful with those kinds of policies.

The government says this is the largest capital budget that they've tabled, and they're right, it is the largest one they've tabled. But they still, in the budget that they've tabled today, didn't create any immediate jobs for Yukoners, other than that there will be some immediate jobs in April for planners and people who draw up specifications, and that kind of thing - but many of them don't live here any more, as I said earlier. So we'll see how well we do with local hire with that particular issue.

But I'm concerned more about what's going to happen to the Yukon work force in the next six to eight months. When the Yukon Party was in power, we realized it was a problem back in early November, December of the year that Anvil shut down, and we moved some projects ahead. We put some people to work in the winter months. I don't think there's a member in the House that would disagree with what I'm going to say, that there were never as many people leaving the territory then as there are now - far more people leaving the territory now. Far more people leaving the territory now.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Phillips: The Member for Faro says his work force is bigger. I disagree completely with the figures that the member's producing. The member should get out on the street, the member should talk to the people who have lost friends and neighbours, who have left the territory -

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Phillips: - the Member for Faro laughs at it. I don't think it's a laughing matter, and it's odd that the Member for Faro will laugh about it, when he's the guy who's lost about 75 percent of his constituency, who have gone elsewhere -

Some Hon. Member: Point of order.

Point of order

Speaker: Member for Faro, on a point of order.

Hon. Mr. Harding: I'm laughing at the ridiculous nature of the member's comments and delivery.

Speaker: Order please. There is no point of order.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Speaker: Order. Order. There is no point of order. The member can continue.

Mr. Phillips: The Member for Faro is just such a sensitive guy, you know. Like I said, Tinkerbell came back from his trip in Asia, and now he's just a sensitive guy over there that wants everybody to think that he's doing a great job, and yet, under his stewardship, the Yukon has never seen such economic devastation, so he can be really proud of that record, and he can't deny it. It shows up the first Friday of every month in the unemployment statistics, and it shows up in the people who are renting U-hauls and trucks that are driving out of the territory and moving all their goods out of the territory to find jobs elsewhere. That's what this minister has done to this territory, Mr. Speaker, and it's shameful, and he shouldn't be speaking out at all on issues such as economic development. He has done a terrible job, and many Yukoners know that and are saying that.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, in looking at this budget overall, there are some things in the budget that I certainly do support, but I think that, overall, the budget doesn't solve the economic crisis in the territory that's here today.

It doesn't even attempt to look at solving the economic crisis that's here in the Yukon today.

Mr. Speaker, the Yukoner in my riding and in your riding who was unemployed a week ago will be unemployed on April 1 when this budget takes place, will probably be unemployed on June 1 and will more than likely be gone out of the territory by the end of September looking for a job to support his or her family.

Mr. Speaker, this budget does not do that. The government has played politics with all kinds of issues in the budget and, unfortunately, they may think they're buying votes, but I don't know whose vote they're buying because a lot of people are not going to be here to vote in the next election; they're going to move elsewhere.

I think this is the first time in a long time that we've seen the Yukon population decrease so dramatically. It's so ironic that we sit here and we hear on the news every day - I think yesterday, the chairs of the American banking system and the Canadian system both talked about how their economies were humming and how, in Canada, ...

Speaker: The member has two minutes.

Mr. Phillips: ...things were booming in the rest of the country. And here we are in the Yukon with an economy that is faltering under an NDP government that has done everything it possibly could to discourage future investment in the territory.

Mr. Speaker, the Member for Faro says that things are better than they were before. Well, his short-term economic outlook - despite all the people who are left today - that he tried to slip under the table on budget day so nobody would notice it, tells us that 700 more people are going to leave the Yukon in the next 12 months, and I think that's an underestimate. I think that the report is behind times already.

Mr. Speaker, I can't support this budget because it doesn't do anything for the residents of my riding in putting them back to work immediately. Unfortunately, this government doesn't have the vision to understand that people need jobs now, people need to go to work now, and for that reason, I will not be supporting this budget.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to be able to be here today to speak in response to this budget. This government has again worked very hard to build a budget that continues to reflect our commitments to the people of the Yukon. We have built this budget by involving people in the decisions that affect them and by living up to our commitments to long-term planning. This budget reflects one of the hallmarks of this and all good governments: consulting, listening and acting on the vision of the people we represent.

Through more than 50 pre-budget consultation meetings, from Old Crow to Ross River, from Watson Lake to Carcross, and from Tagish to Faro, and in fact in every community of the Yukon, we have consulted and listened to Yukoners.

This budget is a reflection of what Yukoners have said. It is more than a document of figures, line items and departmental allocations. This budget is a shared vision of a new Yukon for a new millennium, conceived by people throughout the Yukon. It's a document that every man, woman and child can take pride in, for it charts a course to where we, as Yukoners, would like to be, and it defines how we, as Yukoners, will get there.

This government has listened to the collective voice of Yukoners and will continue to listen to Yukoners. We'll continue to consult with Yukoners and we'll continue to act on what we hear from Yukoners.

For this government, consulting, listening and acting is not only the better way, it is the only way. Who else knows where the Yukon can go and how we want to get there but Yukoners themselves? We have good people in the Yukon and they expect, and we deliver, good government. What we have before us is a good budget, which reflects a Yukon vision.

We are all too familiar over recent years with the federal government's slashing of funds to the priorities of Yukoners, especially in the areas of health and social services.

In spite of these federal cuts, in spite of the economic cycle we're experiencing, in spite of the pressures from naysayers and fearmongerers, we made a promise to every Yukoner to continue to protect the programs and services that are most important to Yukoners, and they are health care and education.

Since the Yukon people gave this government the mandate to steer the course into the next millennium, we have held true to that promise. In our partnership with Yukon families and people of all ages, we have, and will continue, to protect such priorities of health and education.

Our record rings true to this commitment, Mr. Speaker, and this budget echoes this commitment to the people of the Yukon throughout the land. Some examples of this commitment in this budget include the following: $14.2 million committed to build a new 74-bed continuing care facility; $645,000 to open seven remaining beds at the Thomson Centre; $200,000 professional development fund for health workers; $228,000 to expand the healthy family initiative; $200,000 in new funds to the Child Development Centre for rural outreach and programs that address the special needs of children with fetal alcohol syndrome throughout the Yukon; $200,000 to support community alcohol and drug treatment centres; $140,000 to develop hospital-to-home service linkages for patients who need medical or social support after being discharged from hospital; $108,000 for outpatient day programming; an additional $98,000 toward support programs for people with diabetes; a commitment to establish a Yukon health summit, to get the views of Yukon people on future direction for health services, including home care and continuing care needs throughout the territory; the seniors property tax deferral option available to rural seniors outside of municipalities living in their own homes.

All of these are just some examples of this government's partnership with the people of the Yukon and our commitment to protect health and education. And the list of good initiatives to protect health care and education throughout the territory goes on, Mr. Speaker.

In my own riding of Ross River-Southern Lakes, I'm very proud to say that construction will start this year for a new school in Ross River. More than $5 million has been earmarked for this project, which I am also proud to say has been community-based in its design and with its implementation.

Teslin will receive $1.5 million to complete the new health centre - again a major capital project that has been community-driven and will mean important jobs, important infrastructure and an economic injection into the people of Teslin. These and other projects throughout the Yukon will further utilize the skills and resources of the Yukon and Yukoners.

Where skills are needed, this government has supported local initiatives to develop those local skills. In Ross River, for example, a pre-trades qualifier course was conducted this fall through assistance from this government to help prepare a skilled workforce needed for the employment opportunities throughout the major capital projects, such as the school. Apprenticeship training is the next step for local people to secure these local jobs. This government has been a stabilizing force in a very unstable period of time.

This is a budget that balances priorities to deliver a strong agenda for our economy, our environment and for our Yukon society. Yukon people who are struggling to make ends meet in tough economic times are helped by initiatives such as the new $500,000 low-income family tax credit.

This government is also investing $500,000 for a Yukon child benefit. This program will benefit families and children with a net income that is less than $22,000 per year.

These are just two initiatives where this government is putting their money in the pockets of Yukon families, especially those who need it most. Many of the moms and the dads and the children, especially throughout our rural communities, will have a little more to help them raise their families and increase their quality of life.

The government's commitment to protecting the Yukon environment is reflected in the $2.3 million in ongoing O&M funding for the Yukon protected areas strategy, which includes the British Richardson Mountains near Eagle Plains and North Ogilvie Mountain ecoregions in the North, and the Southern Lakes-Pelly Mountains ecoregion in the south.

Last year at this time, I spoke about some of the things that should be important to us as Yukoners and as legislators. I would like to remind us again that we should all be working toward those same goals.

What you see here is a budget for the future, a budget that focuses on Yukon people. This government has worked hard to create a balance for the Yukon, and in building this budget, we have listened to Yukoners and worked to balance the needs of communities and families, industry and workers.

As we all know, tourism in the Yukon continues to be a challenge and a bright star. This budget makes it clear that this government continues to be committed to tourism. We have provided $750,000 for the tourism marketing fund to support the efforts of Yukon people to find new opportunities for the territory.

We've committed $175,000 to the film location incentive fund. That's going to encourage film makers to work in the Yukon and to provide work to Yukoners.

We've provided an additional $200,000 in tourism marketing, which is very significant, Mr. Speaker.

The Government Leader, in the budget speech, touched on many of the commitments we made in tourism, including the visitor exit survey - the most comprehensive since 1994 - and the tourism strategy for 2000 and beyond.

With the territory-wide consultations that take place to develop our strategy, we are guaranteed to produce an exciting and unique strategy that truly reflects what Yukoners want and where they will go with tourism to the future.

Another exciting new initiative in this budget is the millennium fund. We have committed $900,000 over two years to encourage millennium events around the territory, and with Yukoners involved with the planning, we're sure to have a great party.

Once again, this government has looked at all of the territory when considering the needs of Yukoners. There are many positive items in this budget for people. Throughout my own riding of Ross River-Southern Lakes, throughout Carcross, Teslin, Ross River, and all points in-between, there are some very exciting, and new, ongoing initiatives.

In Carcross and Tagish, some of the highlights include hundreds of thousands of dollars targeted for such things as sewage treatment and disposal, capital maintenance and upgrades, tourism industry research and strategic planning, housing renovation and rehabilitation.

Three hundred thousand dollars has been targeted specifically for highway re-construction work. In Teslin, there are tourism and heritage assistance dollars for museums, exhibits and other tourism industry research and planning - $200,000 has been specifically earmarked this year for the new heritage centre.

There are also allocations for renovations, rehabilitation of housing, and of course, as I've mentioned, the $1.5 million being poured into the community health facility.

Some of the budget highlights for the community of Ross River and area includes almost a quarter of a million dollars this year toward a new swimming pool. There are hundreds of thousands of dollars for other items, such as community land use planning, road upgrades, housing renovation and rehabilitation. This is on top of more than $1 million in this year's budget for highway reconstruction around Grew Creek - that's on the Campbell Highway.

As I have mentioned, there is $5.1 million tabled in this year's budget for a new school, which will begin construction this year. In other areas, we've committed a further $3 million to the community development fund, including an additional $500,000 for the very successful fire smart community program.

Small contractors and workers in rural Yukon will continue to benefit from our commitment to improve secondary roads into the territory. We've doubled, Mr. Speaker, our financial commitment over last year's secondary road improvements and there are many men and women in the Yukon who have benefited from this successful initiative. A total of $1 million has been earmarked in this year's budget to this much needed program.

Mr. Speaker, we continue to listen to Yukoners and our government has been working to ensure there is an adequate supply of land available for Yukoners. There is a growing interest among First Nations and municipal government and private developers to develop land. The City of Whitehorse has heard from Yukoners and they too are looking at options for land development.

Right now, we have many country residential, commercial, mobile home and industrial lots available in 11 communities throughout the Yukon. In the next few months, we'll continue our discussions with Yukoners and develop more land, as promised.

This year's work on phase 2 of the Whitehorse Airport runway extension will be carried out at a cost of $3.4 million - including the lights. This initiative will benefit both Yukon travellers and visitors alike and will further bolster the success of our tourism industry and our reputation as a world-class destination because, Mr. Speaker, we are there. I said we'd get there and we are there; we are a world-class destination.

We have again successfully lobbied for and secured $19.1 million for the Shakwak project this year, to complete reconstruction. The Shakwak project continues to employ many people under an agreement signed by the last New Democrat government.

Mr. Speaker, I'm very, very pleased to have had the opportunity to share with this House some of the highlights of this budget and to assure the people of the Yukon that our government will continue to develop budgets that are fiscally responsible and reflect the need of the people of the Yukon at the end of this century and well into the next millennium.

I thank you for taking time, Mr. Speaker, in sharing my heartfelt thoughts.

Thank you.

Mr. Cable: Let me start on a positive note. The budget speech is a good piece of prose. It's a good piece of literature. It's well-written, and I have to give my compliments to the speechwriter. It's good for an A-plus in creative writing.

Let me say also that there are many initiatives talked about in the budget speech which, if they come to pass - if they come to pass - are worthwhile. There's the Yukon small business investment tax credit. There's the low-income family tax credit. There's the Yukon mineral exploration tax credit, and many other initiatives. There is a firm commitment - not something we're talking about but a firm commitment - to the Child Development Centre to stabilize that centre's funding. There's an investment of $75,000 to set up a Yukon technology innovation centre. And there are many other initiatives which, by themselves, are worthy of support, but I have to say that the budget speech is like many of this government's statements. There is a kernel of substance buttressed by a lot of fluff.

And, as has been mentioned earlier today, it is to a large extent a speech from the throne. There are many tax initiatives that will require legislative changes. There are unfunded initiatives - the jail, for example. Talk about future spending for the jail, but there is no firm funding set up, as we have set up for the Dawson infrastructure or the Canada Winter Games - just some talk about future expenditures.

So, this isn't just a budget, and the budget speech was not just a budget speech. It's partly a lot of future-oriented prose that is basically a public relations exercise.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Cable: Boy, you learned well. The Member for Faro says he learned from Paul Martin. It's a good thing he learned something. A disease spreading across our fair country - political hot air.

Now, I have to say, to support this budget one would have to have confidence in this government's administration of the territory's affairs. That confidence is not out there on the street.

Let's look at the most recent stats out of the Bureau of Statistics - employment. In December, the number of employed Yukoners was 13,400, up 100 from the previous month, but down 400 from December 1997. The number of unemployed was 2,000, up 300 from November and up 400 from a year before.

In construction, the value of building permits during 1998 totalled $22.7 million, down 24.4 percent from 1997. Population is down, real estate sales have gone into the basket, rental rates are down - a sure indicator of apartments and whatnot emptying out.

Now, the Member for Faro - the man in perpetual motion - shrugs when he gets on the airplane, and he says, "Well, it's the Asian flu."

"It's zinc prices. Faro is down. It's the lunar New Year."

Let me suggest that there is something else. There is something more that's going on here in our fair territory. The NDP, for those who are political junkies, had a start in Regina in 1933, the old CCF, a far-left mixture of dogmatists and political evangelists with a strong anti-business bias. This carried through into the NDP when it took over the old CCF. While some of its leaders have had an inclusive approach to politics, many have not. Let's just think back to Bob Rae, with his anti-business intellectualism, who nearly drove the economy of Ontario into the ground. Then we have this guy to the south in British Columbia, Glen Clark, with his ability to alienate just about anybody in the private sector and many in the public sector.

There is a lingering fear and dislike of the NDP in the private sector. The so-called social democrats can't beat on business and insult the private sector when times are good, and expect the private sector to jump up and salute and create jobs and tax revenues when times are bad.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Cable: That's the headline. Read the whole article.

So, zinc prices might be down. The Asian flu might be hurting us. Faro closing might hurt us. But the biggest problem in this territory and the biggest roadblock to prosperity is the black cloud hovering over the territory - the NDP, sitting in the weeds, waiting to beat the class warfare drum again as soon as the economy revives.

To support this budget would be an endorsement of the black cloud on the far side of the Legislature. We in the Liberal caucus, Mr. Speaker, just can't do that.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: We've got off on a somewhat bellicose start today and I really think it had to do with the leader of the official opposition announcing that we were declaring war on the federal government. I think that set the tone and I think we all came out in a somewhat warlike manner. "Arma virumque cano" - "I sing of arms and man..."

Mr. Speaker, it does give me some pleasure to get up today and to speak in support of this budget.

I believe that this budget reflects the commitments of a government that has a social activist ethic and believes in embarking on partnerships with Yukon people. It shows our confidence in the people and it shows our ability to chart our future together. It's a budget that responds to immediate and future needs.

This budget is about investing in people. It's about investing in youth to help them achieve their potential. It's a budget that fulfills obligations to seniors. It's a budget that reflects this government's belief that people in our community who are most in need should be supported and not seen as a social drain. It is a budget that looks ahead and a budget that has a vision that enables people and business to plan and to achieve personal goals.

This is a budget that makes significant and real investments in Yukon people, with new spending in health care, in schools, recreation, community projects, training and environmental protection. This is a budget that will create public sector investments by building roads, schools and other infrastructure. It lays out our capital spending plans for the next three years. It also includes investments in parks, protected spaces, alternative energy and training.

Mr. Speaker, this is a budget that was formed through a series of ongoing consultations by the Government Leader, by us in the government caucus. I've taken at least two trips around the territory visiting communities, visiting with people in social services, people in health, community groups, as I go into each community. I've been speaking, as I do every weekend, when I go out in a different part of my riding, and I've talked with people in Granger, Logan, Arkell, Copper Ridge, Squatters Road, Paddlewheel Village - each part of my riding.

I go and I speak with people and what they've told me is the need for us to invest in community infrastructure and training of professional workers, especially nurses. They spoke of the rise in the number of older people retiring to our community and the need for care being available to them when they need it most.

They've also told us that people who are working on the front line in schools and day cares need support when dealing with children with special needs.

This is a budget that responds to these concerns. This is a budget that I believe fulfills our obligations to those who most need our help.

I find it difficult to see where the kinds of things that we've laid out here in this budget are somehow not seen as real; not seen as tangible. Mr. Speaker, in the mid 1800s in the United States, there was a political party called the Know Nothing Party. I would suggest in the 1990s in the Yukon, we have, on the other side, the "do-nothing party". That party...

Quorum count

Some Hon. Member: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: The hon. Member for Riverdale South, on a point of order.

Mrs. Edelman: I don't believe we have a quorum.

Speaker: Order please. According to Standing Order 3(2), if at any time during the sitting of the Assembly the Speaker's attention is drawn to the fact that there does not appear to be a quorum, the Speaker will cause the bells to ring for four minutes and then do a count.


Speaker: I have shut off the bells and I will do a count. There are 12 members present. There is a quorum. We will now continue debate.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: As I was saying, there was an interesting group in the 1800s in the United States called the Know Nothing Party. What we have over there is the "do-nothing party". This is the party that sat on, I would suggest, their hands - rather than on the other part of their anatomy - for four years.

What they did, really, was nothing. We didn't get any schools. There was no social development in this territory in terms of programming for people. There was nothing really done, with the exception of the completion of the hospital, in terms of health and yet, they beat their chests and they say, "Well, this is no way to do a school." The very fact that they had no experience in planning anything is understandable. We can understand that.

They never did anything, so they wouldn't know how it's done.

When we say that we're going to build projects, we're going to develop them - we are going to do them. The Member for Klondike there was ridiculing the idea of an extended care facility. He doesn't like it. Well, that's odd, Mr. Speaker, because I met today with a number of seniors groups who happen to like it and they happen to like it very much.

And when he said, "Well, there's only $2 million in there", I might remind the member that $2 million is for the planning and the development. If he would actually pay some attention to maybe some of the contracts that went out, he would notice that back in January the functional plan went out - incidentally won by a local architect, as were all five of the top competitors in this case local architects.

It was won by a local architect. The functional plan is being completed. And he said, "Well, we don't even have a location." As a matter of fact, we have identified a number of locations. There was a meeting today, to short list that group of locations down. The location will largely be driven by the functional plan. It is our intention - the next step is, early in March, there will be a tender let out for design. Given the nature of the project, it will likely involve some considerable thought to designing the project to meet program needs.

So I don't know what that really suggests - what they don't like about it. They don't like the idea of protecting our senior citizens, or they don't like the idea of - perhaps - us doing something that they couldn't do. Something that they wouldn't do.

The backlog in beds, and bed need, did not occur with this government. The backlog was here. What they can't admit is that they did nothing.

So once again the do-nothings did nothing about it. The do-nothings did nothing about the seven beds at the Thomson Centre. The beds were there -

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Sloan: - the beds were there. They made jim-dandy offices, but they weren't used for people, were they, Mr. Speaker.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, we have. So the do-nothings did nothing there. The do-nothings did nothing for the issue of child poverty. Oh, now, wait a minute, they thought about it. They thought about it, and they had this bright idea, "We're going to think about a credit for kids."

I can tell you how warm and fuzzy that must have made somebody feel to know that the Member for Klondike, that the Member for Riverdale North, or the Member for Porter Creek North were thinking about them. It must have warmed their hearts knowing that the thought was there. They didn't do anything, but the thought was there. They meant well.

One hundred and forty thousand for hospital-home linkages -

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Speaker: The member can continue. There is no point of order.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I appear to have been pre-empted by this singular event. Oh oh. There is going to be an arm-wrestle for - the leadership battle is on. Unite the right. The united alternative is here. Where will she go?

Speaker: Would the member continue debate.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I was continuing on here. We appear to have a political shell game. I can't see the difference. Even the suits are the same colour, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Would the member continue debate.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: This is becoming rather frightening.

One hundred and forty thousand dollars to develop hospital-to-home linkages. They build a hospital, which they underfunded to the tune of several million dollars, and they put no structure in there to make sure that the individuals who were discharged from the hospital were taken care of. They did nothing for mental health services, so what we did was actually go ahead and put in structures, put in programs that will assist people.

One hundred and eight thousand dollars at the Thomson Centre is for outpatient services for people with severe mental and physical disabilities. Is this something that's wrong? Is this something that's wrong?

Ninety-eight thousand dollars is for a support program for people with diabetes. Now, I understand that with the do-nothings, there was no diabetes. There were no health problems. There were no people with developmental problems at all. The do-nothings had no problems whatsoever. They had plenty of money for roads. They had plenty of money for their Ozymandias-like structures across the street, but they had nothing for people. This is about people.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Oh, he said people had jobs, but I guess people didn't have problems. People didn't have illnesses. People didn't have difficulties making ends meet.

So, what we've got here is the do-nothings. They sit there, they proclaim, they natter away, but they can't get away from the fact that they did nothing - no schools, nada, not one, nothing.

The problem with the do-nothings is that they have no way - I was asked for the correct pronunciation of the first line from Virgil's Aeneid, but I'll repeat it for them later on. Well, let me just say, if one doesn't have Latin, what can I do?

There have been a number of other programs that we brought in to assist people. We have, for example, $228,000 for the healthy family initiatives, including a support nurse for the Whitehorse Health Centre; $7.1 million for a school in Ross River and $7.3 million for a school in Mayo. We have been committed to fulfilling our obligations under chapter 22, with developing local employment programs that have worked very well in Old Crow. Incidentally, it must gall the opposition to know that that school is coming in on budget and on time, since they were so negative about the entire project.

We have an additional $200,000 in youth recreation programming, bringing it to a total of $400,000; an extra $200,000 for community drug and alcohol treatment centres, bringing it to $300,000; $200,000 for professional development for health care workers, and that complements a bursary we brought in earlier to encourage young people from this territory to go into health as a career.

And, of course, there was nothing done. There was no money for anything this year, Mr. Speaker. I guess the $1.5 million that's going into the Teslin Health Centre is nothing and the jobs that will be created down there will be merely fictitious. Of course, the do-nothings did nothing there, so it's hard for them to grasp the idea that you put money in, you develop a plan, and then you build it. They took money, set it aside, thought about it - thought warm and fuzzy thoughts - but they did nothing. They did absolutely nothing.

This government takes responsibility to provide social programs. To that end, we're working with a variety of community groups on the development of a new seniors strategy, which we announced today. Like the anti-poverty strategy and the youth strategy, this will be a rolling document that will be updated to meet changing needs.

In response to some things that we heard from communities, from people who are living in difficult circumstances, from our anti-poverty consultations, we developed two new programs to provide more disposable income available to families and individuals - $500,000 in a low-income family tax credit, or LIFT. This is aimed at people with net incomes under $25,000 a year, to a maximum benefit of $300.

Quorum count

Some Hon. Member: Point of order, Mr. Speaker. There doesn't appear to be a quorum.

Speaker: Order please. According to Standing Order 3(2) if, at any time during a sitting of the Assembly, the Speaker's attention is drawn to the fact that there does not appear to be a quorum, the Speaker will cause the bells to ring for four minutes and then do a count.


Speaker: I have shut off the bells and I will do a count.

There are 11 members present. A quorum is present. We will now continue debate.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: As I was saying, two of the programs that we developed in response to the anti-poverty discussions have been the low-income family tax credit, or LIFT. This is aimed at people with net incomes under $25,000, with a maximum benefit of $300.

The other is the Yukon child benefit aimed at families with children where the net family income is less than $22,000 a year, with a maximum benefit available at $15,000 or less.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet with a number of people from anti-poverty groups, people who had participated in these consultations, and they commented to me that here were things that they had suggested, here were things that they had raised in their discussions, and they were there. They noted that they had been listened to and that their concerns had been responded to, but the thing that startled me, Mr. Speaker, was the fact that one of the provisions of the child benefit is that it is not going to be calculated into social assistance payments, and likely it will be a non-taxable benefit, depending if Revenue Canada cooperates, but we believe it will be non-taxable.

The thing that surprised me was that this seemed to be the most surprising element for many of these people in the anti-poverty groups - the idea that we were not going to claw back, that we would not claw back this money. To me, if it was going to be of benefit it had to be a net benefit, and in this case it was, but people were deeply, deeply appreciative of that and even more deeply appreciative of the fact that we were committed to working with people, to following through on their concerns and their issues.

A third element that we've taken to assist is the seniors property tax deferral, which gives seniors living in their own homes outside Whitehorse the option to defer payment of property taxes until their homes change hands.

Although this deferral is for seniors living outside municipalities now, we are hoping to extend this to municipalities by leading the way, so hopefully other levels of government will follow our initiative.

Last summer I spoke with people in the Logan subdivision when fires came dangerously close to their homes. We've been in touch with the Hillcrest Community Association; we've had ongoing concerns about fires and how they can be spread quickly. Thirteen million dollars has gone to the community development fund, including an additional $500,000 to the fire smart communities initiative, to reduce fire risk within community boundaries, in addition to the $522,000 last year.

Mr. Speaker, this is a budget which I think has many, many innovations - not only the social innovations, not only the health innovations, but I think in other ways. We've committed to looking at issues related to the environment. This government's ongoing commitment to the environment can be seen in how we're implementing the 56 recommendations that came out of the Cabinet Commission on Energy - including the commercial-scale wind turbine on Haeckel Hill, which will be producing enough energy to meet the non-heating needs of...

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Sloan: ... a hundred families.

Last year, we contributed $3 million to the Yukon Development Corporation for a green power fund, to promote the use of alternative energy; and another $1 million for energy-efficient programs, with energy consumers.

Protecting the environment is a matter of utmost importance to this government, and that's why the cornerstone of our environmental agenda is the Yukon protected areas strategy. It was adopted last year after extensive consultations. It is now being implemented through some clearly defined public processes. It will lead to some form of protection for the representative areas of all 23 distinct Yukon ecoregions.

Local planning teams for each of these areas are being established with the goal of having a formal designation of two to three representative areas by the spring of the year 2000. We've committed $2.3 million in ongoing O&M for the Yukon protected areas strategy, and nearly $1.4 million over three years for resource assessments. In addition, $50,000 is being made available to community environmental groups to study impact of climate change on our northern environment, including the development of the Yukon climate exchange to gather information with circumpolar neighbours.

There is also $100,000 to extend lobbying efforts to protect critical calving habitat of the Porcupine caribou herd, and an additional $150,000 for a training trust fund with the Yukon Conservation Society and for people working in environmental advocacy.

There are people in my riding, Mr. Speaker, who are involved in labour organizations, business, industries -

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Sloan: There are times, Mr. Speaker, when I fear that this Legislature has indeed gone to the dogs.

Mr. Speaker, so far we've dealt with war, canine references, scatological humour, and we're only three days into it. This does not bode well.

If I may return to my scintillating speech here, I assume that that was merely a ruse on the part of some less-attentive members to get out and see people coming in with dogs.

Gosh, I've got to start right back at the beginning again.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, you can't.

People in my riding, Mr. Speaker, are involved with labour organizations, business and industry. In balance with our economic agenda, they've urged this government to take bold steps to help build a healthy and diverse economy that will see us beyond the roller-coaster boom and bust dependency on the resource sector. We are working closely with them, with our labour, business and industry partners as well as our First Nation and non-governmental organizations, to do just that.

We will introduce legislation this year to permit the establishment of an RRSP-eligible, labour-sponsored, venture capital corporation as proposed by the tax round table. This would mean jobs from new investments and small business start-ups and expansions. Investors would be able to claim a non-refundable tax credit of up to $1,500 a year with a share purchase in a corporation of 5,000.

As well, O&M increases in this budget reflect our commitment to fair wage settlements and collective bargaining with government employees.

Other ways we are working toward broadening the territory's economic base include, of course, the $750,000 for the trade and investment fund to help Yukon business people pursue new economic opportunities. The Yukon small business investment tax credit will provide a non-refundable tax credit of 25 percent on investments in eligible Yukon businesses up to $200,000 per business.

Incidentally, Mr. Speaker, this is something I've heard very frequently from small business people in my community.

The immigrant investor fund allows foreign investors who are eligible for landed immigrant status to make a five-year investment in the Yukon's economy, at $250,000 a share.

I appear to have musical accompaniment.

Initiatives such as these will not only respond to the needs of my constituents, who are conducting home-based tourism and information management and construction-related businesses, but also running transportation and communication businesses as well.

It will also help those artisans who have spoken with me about the need to support home-based pottery studios, blacksmithing operations and artistic ventures.

Mr. Speaker, this is a budget that I believe is for the Yukon's future and present needs. It's a budget for all people and for all Yukoners, for families, workers, business, seniors, industry and youth.

It's also a budget that I believe has a basis in a very human situation, with a very human face. It's a budget with a very human face.

Mr. Speaker, when we were talking about such things as the Yukon child benefit, this was not something that we concocted as a political tool. This was something that was developed through our discussions with anti-poverty groups.

I remember sitting with the group that came in to discuss the findings of the anti-poverty group, and I remember sitting - and a young woman who had two young children sitting there and saying how tough it was to get by on her SA. She had enough to get by with her food and her lodging, but it left so little for the other things in life - for the other things for her kids. She said how her son never thought that he was poor, but he just couldn't figure out why he couldn't sign up for the pizza on the Tuesdays or he couldn't figure out why, when the book fair came to the school, he couldn't get it. I was struck by that - poverty is more than merely hunger, merely accommodations, it's a grinding culture that wears people down, that can destroy their soul, and it can destroy the soul of those generations that follow them.

I spoke with the same woman after we had talked about the Yukon child benefit - when I unveiled it. She went on about how this was not going to be clawed back, and I felt almost apologetic. I said, "Well, we're trying to help out a bit here." She said, "The very fact that you're not taking it back - do you know what that means to me? Do you know what it means - the $50 or $60 extra - what it will mean to my child's life?" That's what this budget is about. This budget is about people who are struggling with an aging parent, who don't know where to turn, who worry about leaving them by themselves. Bringing in day programming for seniors, for frail people, is a way to help that family.

This is a budget about a person who is struggling with diabetes, a person who has found out they have a disease that is going to change their life. It's going to change the way they eat. It's going to change the way that they live their lives. It's going to bring forward a whole group of illnesses, everything from blindness to a whole range of other things that face people with diabetes with much greater assurance.

This is a budget that will help by providing good diabetes education, good nutritional education for individuals who are facing that problem.

This is a budget that has a human face. This is a budget that is going to give hope to people who have perhaps a relative who needs extended care; perhaps it will give them a hope that there will be a space in a future centre for them.

Budgets are not just about the here and now; they're about thinking into future. They're about thinking about people's lives farther out. It's a budget that I believe is going to provide support. It's going to provide, perhaps, some strength to First Nation people who are trying to heal their own communities, who are trying to move beyond the destructive cycle of alcohol abuse and are trying to find their own path in a very, very tough world. I believe the money that we're committing to community healing centres is one human face on that problem.

I believe that this budget has, at its soul, some fundamental principles: the principles of community, the principles of caring, because, quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, that's what this is about. At the bottom end, that is really what this budget is about; it's about people. It's about people in my riding; it's about people in Riverdale North; it's about people in Faro; it's about people in Mount Lorne, Teslin, all of our rural communities. It's about people who need help, people who need support. It's about families who need support and that's fundamentally why I believe in this budget, why I believe this is a helping budget, why I believe this is a supporting budget.

I can understand our friends in the Yukon Party not supporting it. It maybe goes against the grain. I would hope, however, that when they give it solid reflection, our friends in the Liberal Party, the heirs of the legacy of Paul Martin Sr., Mike Pearson, Pierre Trudeau - some people who were social activists, some people who were social, thoughtful individuals - perhaps our friends in the Liberal Party can shake off the chains of monetarism that have wrapped and strangled the present Liberal Party and can look at this budget as being fundamentally liberal, fundamentally good, fundamentally right, and I would hope that they can look beyond the narrow, perhaps right-wing mantle that has regrettably descended upon the Liberal Party, and they can shake off that mantle and they can join us in supporting a budget that goes to the heart of what people need in this territory. I would look at our friends in the Liberal Party as thinking, is this fundamentally what we are about? I think if they look at this budget, if they examine this budget, they will say yes, and they will join us.

Hon. Mr. Harding:I move that the House do now adjourn.

Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the House do now adjourn.

Motion agreed to

Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.

The House adjourned at 8:43 p.m.

The following Sessional Papers were tabled February 24, 1999:


Growing Older in the Yukon: a draft strategy (dated February 1999) (Sloan)


John Cabot (1997) 500th Anniversary Corporation: review of expenditures (Report of the Newfoundland Auditor General, dated February 1997) (Duncan)