Wednesday, March 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?
Introduction of visitors?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Speaker: Under tabling of returns and documents, I have for tabling the Auditor General's Annual Report on Other Matters for the year ending March 31, 1997.
Are there any further returns or documents for tabling?
Hon. Mr. Harding: I have for tabling the spotlight and diversity survey of selected Yukon government employees summary report.
Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
Are there any statements by ministers?
Spotlight on Diversity survey release regarding YTG workplace
Hon. Mr. Harding: As a demonstration of our government's commitment to a policy of fair and equitable employment practices, I'm pleased to advise members of the results of the Spotlight on Diversity survey, which is being released today.
The Public Service Commission conducted this survey between February and June of 1997, so that aboriginal employees could tell us about their employment experiences with the Yukon government. Almost 600 employees were asked to provide information about their experiences as a means to identify potential supports and barriers in the workplace. All aboriginal employees in the government were surveyed, as were non-aboriginal employees in similar positions.
Both aboriginal and non-aboriginal employees who participated in the survey reported similar experiences in recruitment, training, and development opportunities in the work environment. Among other findings, the survey responses indicated that supports, such as access to training, alternative work arrangements and leaves of absences, were equally useful to both groups.
On the other side of the coin, both groups cited similar barriers, such as limited access to training outside of Whitehorse, and a perception that the interview process is sometimes intimidating.
This survey has provided valuable information that the Public Service Commission can use in the future to address the needs of a changing public service.
The commission has reviewed and analyzed the results of the survey, and I have directed that various ways to help address the barriers and issues raised by employees be responded to. Some of these actions and issues include more formal opportunities for members of the public and employees to find out about the government recruitment process; provisions in the new collective agreement of the Public Service Alliance of Canada allowing for deferred salary leave for bargaining-unit employees to support access to formal education programs; the hiring of a workplace harassment-prevention coordinator to conduct investigations or provide mediation for workplace harassment complaints; and beginning the process to implement changes in the staffing process which were recommended in the final report of the staffing project in 1995.
Where appropriate, this will be done in consultation with employee bargaining units. These activities will all benefit government employees.
The Public Service Commission is undertaking a consultation process on the survey results with employee unions, the Council of Yukon First Nations, and departmental human resource personnel.
A newsletter outlining the results of the survey is being distributed to all Yukon government employees. In addition, copies of the survey report are available from the planning and research branch at the Public Service Commission.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank all the employees who participated in the Spotlight on Diversity survey, and the people in the Public Service Commission who did all the hard work of pulling this together. Their input has been invaluable in helping us identify ways to make sure that the Yukon government hiring practices are fair and free of restrictions.
Mr. Phillips: On behalf of the Yukon Party caucus, and the office of the official opposition, I'm pleased to take the opportunity to respond to the minister's statement here today.
Without having much time to review the results and recommendations of the survey, I do have a few comments that I would like to relay to the minister.
In late 1993, a similar survey of all employees was conducted by a group of students enrolled in the master of public administration program, offered by the University of Alaska Southeast, in co-operation with Yukon College and the previous Yukon Party government.
The purpose of the survey - like the one that was just completed - was to identify barriers to the delivery of better public services, and to learn what might be done to assist employees in doing their jobs.
The results from the survey, coupled with the Auditor General's report on human resource management, were used in the development of good government initiatives, including the creation of the Bureau of Management Improvement and the service improvement program, both of which have helped improve the delivery of service to the public and have enhanced relationships within the government.
While I recognize the need to update our information, I'm concerned that there remain a number of studies and surveys out there that all contain a great deal of worthy data. Given the results of this survey and surveys conducted in previous years and now other surveys that may be launched in the future, it's my hope that the information will actually be put to use.
I'm also a bit concerned as to the length of time it's taken the government to complete and respond to the survey. The survey was conducted, I believe, in the week of February 10, 1997, and that's been over two years since then. Perhaps the minister could elaborate on why it has taken so long to respond to the survey. I'd also like the minister to provide us with the cost of the survey.
I believe the information that has been compiled over the years will be of great benefit to the government in identifying the challenges and problems that exist within our public service and will, in turn, lend itself to the better delivery of services to Yukon people. I look forward, Mr. Speaker, to reading the results at greater length and I'm looking forward, more so, to hearing and seeing further changes to the public service that will help address the issues that all employees may face in recruitment, development and advancement.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Ms. Duncan: I rise on behalf of the Yukon Liberal caucus to respond to the minister's statement today.
First of all, Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank the participants who took their time to contribute to the survey. I know often it's very time-consuming, and as individuals we don't always like to spend our time this way, and I would like to express heartfelt thanks to those who participated and assure them that the results the minister has provided today will be reviewed in some detail by our caucus. We have just received them today and, as a result, I will not be commenting in detail.
I would, however, like to ask the minister to just address a couple of points in his response, if he would.
The minister indicated in his statement that the survey was conducted between February and June 1997, and it has taken quite some time to tabulate the results of the survey and provide them to us. Perhaps the minister could address why there was such a lengthy time in tabulating results.
Also, the survey has provided information, according to the minister, that the Public Service Commission can use in the future to address needs. I would stress, Mr. Speaker, that we must address how we intend to use the survey results, in some detail - not to simply mouth the words but to actually express what the government's firm commitment is.
I'd also like to remind the minister of a conversation we had in this House in May 1997. At that time, I asked the minister, with specific respect to this survey, if there was any tracking or efforts toward contacting people who had not been successful through the interview process to find out their comments. As the minister will recall, the interview process was identified as a specific difficulty for some people, and, at the time, the minister indicated that the suggestion had merit, but it seems to have fallen by the way, Mr. Speaker.
Perhaps the minister could address those issues in his response?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, I thank the members for their comments. I want to point out that this particular initiative, although it is significant, is but one of a number of initiatives that we are working on through the Public Service Commission to try and improve the stead of our employees. Part and parcel of that includes our activities in the collective bargaining process, a lot of the work that we do on joint employer-employee committees pertaining to issues such as pension benefits, the patriation of the benefits package. All these initiatives are in keeping with our desire to create a good working relationship and work environment for the employees of the Government of the Yukon, both through the Yukon Employees Union and the Yukon Teachers Association.
The work we've done ancillary to this includes a lot of work on the representative public service plan, which is a commitment in the umbrella final agreement, and we viewed this document as being very important, in terms of corroborating what we were finding, in terms of the perceptions of how, in particular, aboriginal employees who work for the government were already feeling about their employment.
So, we've been doing a lot of work in that area. As well, we've undertaken an extensive land claims training initiative with many, many government employees - hundreds of them - to try and ensure that all of the corporate culture, or the government culture, understands the commitments as best as possible in the umbrella final agreement, and how they will fundamentally change the landscape of this territory in the coming months and years and decades.
That information, I think, and that work, is very important. We were pleased to accept an award from the Baha'i Institute last week for that land claims training, and we were very pleased that people in the public, as we perceive it, are feeling quite good about it, as is the vast majority of employees.
The reason the information is taking some time to work through is that a lot of the information is anecdotal. There are not hard numbers in terms of being able to count how many people felt about a certain thing.
It's very open-ended, so to tabulate and to work through it took some time. The other reason that we have taken our time in terms of trying to respond appropriately is because, when the members have a chance to look through it, they will see that the document is heavy on the action statements - where do we go from here?
We didn't want to be able to just present a what-we-heard document. We wanted to be able to present a document that said, "This is what we heard, and here's where we're going." And I think that's what has taken some extra time, along with the fact that we're working on this particular initiative in conjunction with a large number of other initiatives in the government to try and make a more open work environment to try and ensure that employees are respectful of our commitments in the umbrella final agreement and are knowledgeable of them, and that that helps to create an open work environment so that we can have that good working relationship with our employees as well as ensure that they feel good about the work they do on behalf of the public of the Yukon.
Once again, I'd just like to thank the people in the Public Service Commission who worked on this, as well as the employees who participated.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Shipyards residents, compensation formula
Mr. Jenkins: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services on his now infamous squatter relocation plan.
On March 22, the minister received a letter from the owners of property in the Mary Lake subdivision who are about to have a new neighbour, courtesy of this minister's squatter-relocation plan. One of the reasons why these residents purchased their property was because it was surrounded by parkland. When they asked to purchase the adjacent land, they were told in no uncertain terms that this land is parkland and that it is simply not for sale. These residents then paid a premium for their property because the surrounding land would remain parkland, on the assurances of this government. Now they are asking the minister why the Shipyards residents are being given special opportunities to acquire that land when no other Yukoners could.
What answer has the minister given these Mary Lake residents, and why is the minister so overprotective of the interests of squatters while ignoring the rights and interests of other Yukoners?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, before I answer the question - and yes, I do know that I will answer the question; the people across the floor can be assured I'll answer the question.
But I would like to put to rest some of the statements made by the Member for Klondike, as to the untruthfulness of them. At no point in time did the territorial government give assurances to anybody that there would be nobody -
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker: On a point of order.
Mr. Phillips: Point of order, Mr. Speaker. I think it's unparliamentary language to talk about untruthfulness of a member.
Speaker: On the point of order.
Hon. Mr. Harding: All the member was saying is that the member opposite - he is clarifying the statements that the member opposite made. He said that they were untruthful in nature.
Speaker: I would ask the member to withdraw that word. "Untruthful" is unparliamentary.
Withdrawal of remark
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It will give me great pleasure indeed to withdraw that remark, and to classify it another way, just to maybe set the record straight, to correct the facts, certainly. Because the member opposite is giving unfactual information as truth - and which is certainly not the case. At no point in time did the territorial government assure these people that nobody would be there, and did they pay a higher price.
I checked into that this morning. I've asked, because one thing that I do want to do is work with the people of the Yukon Territory to create one community for the Yukon Territory, where we can all work and get along. Is that overprotective of the residents of the waterfront? Is it overprotective of the people that we worked with when we clarified some of the mine land claim issues in the Klondike area?
Absolutely not. What I'm very protective of, and very desirous of, is having a good Yukon for all Yukon people. That is what we are about to do.
So, Mr. Speaker, I do believe therein lies the answer to the question for the Member for Klondike.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, that's not what this letter from the owners of property says, Mr. Speaker, and the minister has a copy of it.
The minister constantly speaks of fairness and respect for the Shipyards residents, but the minister misses the point and that is to show respect and fairness equally to all Yukoners. Many Yukoners have had to wait years and years to acquire rural land. Now we find the Shipyards squatters have moved to the front of that line. This government is bending over backwards to give the squatters land. Why has this minister created a double standard, Mr. Speaker?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Again, Mr. Speaker, this government has not created a double standard. I would encourage the Member for Klondike to open his eyes and look at the big picture, to create a vision within that mind of his - that mindset. Obviously, that might be the impossible dream, but certainly that's what this government does.
This government is working for the better good of all Yukon people. We're tackling issues that the previous administration would not. Why? Because we want to bring certainty to the economics of the territory and we want to bring certainty to all people within the Yukon Territory.
I am here for one and not the other? Absolute gobbledegook. I am not here for any but all - the collective whole. Will we work with people? Yes, indeed, Mr. Speaker, we'll be more than happy to work with people in Mary Lake subdivision and to take into consideration their thoughts.
Just this morning, I was talking with the department officials, asking them again to look and see if there is another way or a better way of doing it because we do want to work and are very desirous to continue and develop a good relationship with the people of the Yukon Territory.
Mr. Jenkins: What we have is this government and this minister creating a whole new squatter relocation policy with principles that were developed specifically for the Whitehorse waterfront. I would like to ask the minister if these new terms and conditions are going to apply to squatters elsewhere in the Yukon on the same basis, Mr. Speaker?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, we are concentrating on working with the waterfront residents in conjunction with the city so that we might be able to clean up the problem and move on with meaningful development on a government-to-government basis with the city.
That's exactly what we're doing, Mr. Speaker, and we'll continue to do this good work for and on behalf of the people of the Yukon Territory.
Question re: Shipyards residents, compensation formula
Mr. Jenkins: Well, let's ask the Government Leader. Now, the Government Leader has had a personal hand in his government's initiative to relocate the Whitehorse Shipyards residents. One of the local papers reported that the Government Leader had tea with one of the residents and, after that, she received a cheque for some $99,800 to cover the cost of her structure and her relocation.
Now, in view of the fact that the Shipyards residents are constituents of the Government Leader, can he advise the House if the compensation pricing principles this government has put in place for the Whitehorse Shipyards squatters will apply to other squatter situations in the Yukon, or are they being limited in their application only to the Government Leader's own riding?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I think, Mr. Speaker, that the Member for Klondike knows that the question could be going to me. This is a question that is not specific to one particular person's riding. This is a question that is specific to the people of the Yukon Territory.
We are looking to work with the people in conjunction with the people of the Yukon Territory, including the waterfront residents, in a meaningful way so that we might be able to proceed with meaningful development of the waterfront.
Those are the principles; that's the application that we're using and will continue to use.
Mr. Jenkins: Once again, to the Government Leader, Mr. Speaker, can the Government Leader advise the House if his government gravy train with respect to squatters will be heading up the Klondike River Valley? I'm receiving calls from constituents who live in my area. They want to know if they can get the same treatment and be relocated and receive land on the same basis.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Again, Mr. Speaker, I'd like to point out for the Member for Klondike that we are working with the waterfront residents to clean up the land. We will be looking at all areas. As you know, the squatters policy, which was enacted in 1988, is now coming to a fruitful conclusion. We're looking to have certainty for lands for all people, for government. That is why we embarked on this process and will continue until this process is cleaned up.
Mr. Jenkins: This is 1999 - 1988, and we're just concluding things? That doesn't make sense.
When the government gives out large sums of money - buys out people in situations like this, and I'm directing it, once again, to the Government Leader - it would normally deduct any outstanding monies that were due to the government. In the Shipyards residents situation, I understand that those who had paid their taxes are having their taxes rebated by the City of Whitehorse.
Can the Government Leader advise the House if the Shipyards residents had any other amounts outstanding to YTG forgiven in their buyout package?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Well, Mr. Speaker, I would loved to have answered all the questions, frankly, because the member opposite has tried to make the case - he first of all made the case last year that I wasn't paying enough attention to my constituents, that I should have been more attentive to their individual needs. The moment that I provided any kind of attention to the constituents in my riding, as any good MLA would do, the member opposite changes his mind and criticizes the effort.
The difference between the Whitehorse waterfront relocation - which is something that the member willfully is not accepting - is that we are, in this case, seeking to force the residents to relocate from their current location. That differs from the squatter policy, Mr. Speaker, which I am intimately involved with and aware of - the old squatter policy - which thought to allow people to remain in the location that they had squatted in.
That was the difference between the old squatter policy and this squatter policy. This is the squatter-relocation policy. We are asking people who have, in some cases, lived on the waterfront for upwards of 10, 20, 30 or 40 years to leave the place that they have been living. In normal terms, Mr. Speaker, under the old squatter policy, we would have allowed those people to stay for a life-lease, and we are not allowing that as an option.
Question re: Shipyards residents, compensation formula
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, and it concerns the minister's decision to give parcels of land to former Shipyards residents - land that no one else has been allowed to access.
Mr. Speaker, this government is going out of its way to rezone land for squatters to move to, and there is another alternative. The 1996 Auditor General's report said that the Government of the Yukon had too many unsold lots and, as a result, the Government of the Yukon was losing about $1 million a year because of excessive holding costs.
Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Yukon still has a large number of unsold lots. The solution would be to allow squatters to purchase one of these lots instead of creating new ones. Why is the government out creating new lots and new zoning on the Hot Springs Road and in other areas when it has a bunch of existing lots that it can't sell?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: For one thing, Mr. Speaker, we are not going out, in the case of the hot springs, and creating new zoning. We are living within the existing zoning. I explained that to the Member for Riverdale South previously in the House this week, or maybe it was last week or the week before, but certainly we are not creating new zoning in the case of the hot springs. We are going to use the existing zoning there. It's agricultural zoning. That is what it is being used for - full stop.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, that wasn't the question. It was a fair answer, but just not for the right question.
Now, the Auditor General said that the Government of the Yukon has too much land. It costs taxpayers $1 million a year to hold on to this excess land. In December of 1997, I asked the minister what he was doing to reduce the land inventory, and the Government Leader responded, and he said, "I personally agree with the Auditor General that there is a problem."
We have a situation here where the government could get rid of some of this excess land, and instead they're out spot zoning in certain areas, and telling people in Mary Lake "Poof! Your park's gone."
Why isn't this government using this opportunity to solve an existing problem, instead of creating a new one? Why is the government out dividing Yukoners - Yukoners against Yukoners - instead of just selling the existing lots that we have?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, if I lived in Never-Never Land, it would be so easy to pick and choose. Certainly I don't live in that land.
I did say at this point in time, Mr. Speaker, that we're working with the Auditor General's report; we understand the implications. The Member for Riverdale South knows very well the work that this department is doing in other areas of the Yukon - not just specifically one area, but in all areas of the Yukon - to consolidate and to look at how you might create a more meaningful land presence for the people that surround them. Are they going to be able to get extensions - all those things are taken in conjunction with this report - so yes, on one hand we are working with the recommendations to see how we can continue to work with the recommendations in the Auditor General's report.
But you make it sound so cozy, and so easy - just to take from here, and do it to there. That is not the way this government does things. This government does things with consultation and with talking with people, and will continue to do so.
So it's not a chess game, or anything like as such. We're dealing with people, and we'll continue to deal with people in a very respectful way. Unfortunately, the solution that the Member for Riverdale South alludes to - or states - is just simply not an easy solution and not a good solution.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, that side of the House is concerned about the excessive cost of holding on to excessive inventory in our land stocks. Now, we in the Yukon Liberal caucus are also very concerned about the fact that taxpayer dollars are being spent holding on to this land.
In Whitehorse alone, there are 232 lots that can't be sold. Why couldn't we have used one of those lots for these people who need - apparently, under this agreement - to have land, some of it within the boundaries of the City of Whitehorse? Why couldn't we have used any of those 232 lots?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Obviously, Mr. Speaker, the Liberal game is just to take. That's not the way this government works. We do things on both sides. We work with the waterfront residents in the relocation program and we'll continue to work with the people in Granger and other areas. So, we're working with the people - Yukoners. We're working to bring Yukoners together - not divide but to bring together. That's exactly what we'll continue to do. We're not just going to force somebody into a parcel if they don't want it.
We're going to continue to work with people so that we can find a good, productive solution to this problem.
Question re: Bridge conditions
Ms. Duncan: My question is for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services about the government's lack of a plan to deal with bridge painting.
Mr. Speaker, the minister's department has conducted a partial survey of Yukon bridges to determine which of these structures may or may not need paint, and to determine where the paint is flaking. This flaking paint contains chemicals we do not want in our waterways: chemicals like lead and zinc. We like to mine these chemicals, not drink them.
Almost 18 months ago, the government was presented with a long-term solution to this problem. That solution was to inspect the bridges and come up with a schedule for dealing with any potential problems. We're partway there. The department has inspected some of the bridges and, in reviewing their report, our caucus has identified a number of potential hazards.
When is the government going to come up with an action plan to deal with this specific issue?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, I think that action plan started last year. For four years, there was a gap in bridge painting in the Yukon Territory. I think we all know we can thank the previous Yukon Party administration for that.
We, as a New Democrat government, have started a bridge painting program. We started last year with the Lewes River bridge. Again this year we're working on other bridges in the territory and the Campbell, and we will continue to work toward preserving the integrity of the environment and we will continue to paint bridges as the budget allows.
I would like to point out, though, that if we continue with the spending habits that the Liberals are suggesting, we will be broke in a minute.
Ms. Duncan: Another non-answer from the Minister of Community and Transportation Services.
Yesterday, I asked the minister if the department was testing the paint that's flaking, and the minister didn't answer because they're not testing the flaking paint. It's no wonder the NDP environment committee has resigned.
The Tatchun Creek bridge was last painted in 1959, with lead-based paint. It's identified in this report as having flaking paint. Tatchun Creek is also, as the minister and the minister's colleagues well know, a key salmon-spawning and sport-fishing area in the Yukon. The Fisheries Act says thou shalt not put any deleterious substance into the water. Every placer miner, every Yukoner involved with industry knows that section off by heart. Paint qualified as a deleterious substance.
Mr. Speaker, the principles in the Yukon's Environment Act state, "The Government of Yukon must ensure that public policy reflects its responsibility for the protection of the environment." Mr. Speaker, it says, "must".
Will the government come up with a long-term plan to deal with this issue, as they are required to do under both the Fisheries Act and their own environmental legislation?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Obviously, if I give an answer, they don't listen. So, I would encourage them to listen. I tabled a report - and shared it quite knowingly and willingly with the critic - so that we might be able to have the information out there.
What we are doing is we've started the bridge painting program. We started that last year with Lewes Lake. This government has shown commitment to the waterways and to the bridges of this territory. We've also gone out and studied the problem. I've tabled the report with the Cabinet and the Cabinet has looked at the report. It is a part of our planning process and will continue to be an integral part of our planning process for the highway system, the transportation system - and yes, we do take it in conjunction.
Now, maybe the member opposite is not reading the report correctly or is misinterpreting the report in other ways, but I would suggest that one flaking piece of paint on a bridge that has two or three spans does not put into a catastrophe. These are the types of things that the engineers look at and monitor, and we bring that back and we put those into the system and work with the information that we have.
So, yes, I'm very proud of the work that we're doing and the work that we've done as a New Democratic government and hopefully we'll continue to do within the budgetary process, and that includes painting bridges.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I read the report. I reviewed the report. I've listened very carefully to what the minister has said. The minister has not outlined a plan.
Mr. Speaker, the White River bridge on the Alaska Highway was removed last year. The contract required the private sector to ensure that no paint - no paint - flaked into the White River during the removal of the bridge. The government can require the private sector, when doing bridge repair, to live up to the Environment Act and the Fisheries Act, yet the government is standing by, letting the Tatchun Creek bridge flake, according to the minister's own report.
Mr. Speaker, any reasonable Yukoner has to ask why there is a double standard. Why are industry, placer miners and contractors asked to live up to the Fisheries Act and the Yukon Environment Act, and the government is allowed to ignore suggestions from officials to live up to these pieces of legislation? Why isn't the government living up to the principles of the Environment Act? Why won't the minister table a long-term plan to deal with the Yukon bridges?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, we are painting bridges. We started our bridge painting program last year. I've pointed out what we are doing.
What I'd like to say to the member opposite is that we're doing it - we are doing it. We're out there actually doing it at this point in time. We've got bridge painting in our budget; we've gotten reports; and we'll continue to live up to those reports.
We are working within the program. We are not working outside the program. We're not doing anything that we'd consider other people not to do. We are living up to our own expectations and will continue to do so, and that is shown through the bridge painting program and through the studies that we have done.
Now, obviously the Liberals, with their wealth and all of their money, where they can just grab money and put it to anything because they want to win elections so badly, are not quite thinking in the right manner. I do not think, if you had one scratch on your brand new car, does that make it right to go out and get it painted? I would suggest not. I would suggest that it does not make it any less appealing, and I would also suggest that it doesn't make it any less safe for yourself, the driver, or the environment around you.
It's the same case in the bridges. So I hope that the member - the Liberal leader - will endeavour to let that soak in.
Question re: Shipyards residents, compensation formula
Mr. Phillips: My question is for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services as well, regarding the Whitehorse waterfront squatter relocation. This government, Mr. Speaker, likes to pride itself in the way it consults with people with respect to many issues, and last year, there was a group struck in the Golden Horn subdivision called the Golden Horn Steering Committee. This group was struck to deal with issues surrounding local government control and land use in the area.
I'd like to ask the minister here today why his government relocated one of the waterfront squatters to the Carcross Road area, gave the squatter priority on the land selected without any consultation whatsoever with the Golden Horn Steering Committee that was set up to discuss land use issues in the riding. Why wasn't there some discussion with that committee before the decision was made?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Speaker, I'd say that the Member for Riverdale North is absolutely wrong. I've spoken to the folks of Golden Horn, and they have no problem with what is happening there - absolutely not. I would suggest that the member is wrong.
Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Speaker, that's going to be really interesting when they read Hansard, because I think the minister is going to hear from them.
Mr. Speaker, the minister said in the House here the other day that: "I would say that 99.9 percent of Yukoners are in favour of what we are doing. We shall have success," he said.
Mr. Speaker, I'd like to ask the minister here today: will he give a commitment on the floor of this House that he will go to the hot springs area, he will personally go to the Mount Lorne area, and he will go to the Mary Lake area, conduct a public meeting to hear from the 99.9 percent of the people that he says support what he's doing? Mr. Speaker, I hear exactly the opposite, that the majority of the people out there are very upset with what this government is doing. I'd like to ask the minister - if he's so sure that he's right, I'll challenge that minister to go and hold a public meeting in those three areas. Will he do that?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Speaker, this government does not need to be challenged, especially by the likes of the Yukon Party. This government goes out and does things without being challenged. It's called having a vision, it's called having an action plan, and following that vision and that action plan for the benefit of all Yukoners. We'll continue to be that way.
Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am personally involved with the team that I work with. I do take it as a personal initiative that, when I have to do my role and not other people's roles, I will do that role, and I do do that role, and I will continue to do that role.
So, Mr. Speaker, if the member is suggesting that he'd like to challenge me to go out and talk to people, I suggest that I do go out and talk to people, and I don't have to do it without being challenged.
Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Speaker, that isn't a commitment. What I want from the minister is a clear commitment today, on the floor of this House, that he will go out to the hot springs area, to the Mount Lorne area and to the Mary Lake area, and hold a public meeting. Announce it publicly and go out to those areas and talk to the people in the areas and explain to them why this government is taking squatters from Whitehorse and giving them priority over land selection, and has changed the status of certain lands in their areas to give priority to certain people.
Will that minister do that - go out to the areas and explain to the residents in the areas, who legitimately in the past have applied for some of this land, have gone through the lottery system, and didn't just go out and squat? Will he go out and do that for those people - go out and hold those public meetings, or give us that assurance?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, I've given that assurance to the people. I've gone out and talked to people and, Mr. Speaker, I will continue to do so. I do not need to be challenged. That does not invoke me to do one thing or the other. I will continue to do the fine work. I will continue to reach out to people and to work with people so that we might have meaningful land development.
One thing I must point out here, though, which is absolutely ridiculous, is that this gentleman, who has been around the Yukon for so terribly long, is still continuing the pranks of separating people when this government is continuing to do the good work to reach out to bring people together for the community good, the collective community good, the Yukon community good. And if it takes me going to meetings anywhere in the Yukon Territory, as a minister, as an MLA, I'm very committed to doing such on behalf of my government.
Question re: Whitehorse Correctional Centre, staffing
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Minister of Justice, on the staffing at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre.
The government recently hired a new superintendent for the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, and that new superintendent was hired for a one-year term. Now, the jail has had several superintendents over the last decade, and the government's own report on the jail stated that, "The first, and most important, recommendation is to immediately install effective leadership."
Why would the minister appoint someone to this critical job on a one-year term, someone who could be gone in 12 months, when the organization is crying out for stability?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, first of all I need to advise the member that Whitehorse Correctional Centre does have a full-time director of community corrections who's been working full-time for the department for some time now, and that's an indeterminate position.
As the member is also aware, we are consulting with the public about the shape of change to the justice system. We are looking at possibilities for correctional reform. We have indicated that we recognize the need to replace Whitehorse Correctional Centre. That facility will not remain open forever. We cannot staff on a full-time indeterminate basis, when we know that that facility will not be there for a long time to come.
Mr. Cable: The minister said she's going to replace the facility. Here's what the government's report had to say: "In the past few years, employees at Whitehorse Correctional Centre have experienced some radical differences in management style and focus." And a little later on in the report, it goes on to say, "Staff does not have a sense of overall direction. Out of 35 questionnaires, only three employees agreed with the statement: "As an organization we are clear on where we are going, and are we going to get there".
Why would the minister introduce more instability into this problem situation? Is she saying that one of the options she's looking at is the elimination of a superintendent position for the jail when, in the next breath, she's talking about replacing the jail?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, the member likes to stand up and speculate, but his speculations are inaccurate and not the least bit helpful. The staff at Whitehorse Correctional Centre are working with management. They have a cooperative working relationship that is an ongoing effort on both sides, and I want to commend them for that.
We think that change for the better comes with good planning, and with the involvement of staff, and that is the approach that we're taking.
Mr. Cable: The minister could end the speculation by answering the question.
Here's what the employment opportunity ad for the superintendent had to say: "Yukon Corrections is looking for a highly motivated and visionary manager to provide leadership in the overall management of the main adult correctional centre in the Yukon. The successful candidate will find excitement and challenge in being part of the community and correctional services management team."
And it goes on for a lengthy list of qualifications. Then it says, by the way, this competition is for a one-year term from the date of hire.
How many applicants did the minister get who had the full and necessary qualifications for this high-priced job on a one-year term?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, first of all, I have to remind the member, it doesn't seem to matter to them how many times we repeat this, they don't seem to understand that there is not political interference on the part of ministers of this government in the hiring process. I do not know how many applications were received for the position nor what the qualifications of the candidates were. I can take that question as notice and see if I can provide the member opposite with an answer, but I don't think there's a single member of the public who wants to see what they're implying we should have: political interference in hiring decisions.
There are lots of challenges for management at Whitehorse Correctional Centre. There is also a lot of stability in the management team in the Department of Justice. They are continuing to work to improve a working relationship between the staff at the centre and the management group.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Opposition Private Members' Business
Motions other than government motions
Clerk: Motion No. 152, standing in the name of Mr. Ostashek.
Motion No. 152
Speaker: It is moved by the leader of the official opposition
THAT it is the opinion of this House that there is an urgent need to review the electoral boundaries in the Yukon due to:
THAT this House urges the government to introduce legislation during the 1999 spring sitting establishing an electoral district boundaries commission.
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to this motion, which I believe is of an urgent and pressing nature.
The reason for the motion, why we felt it was necessary in the Yukon Party caucus to put this motion on the Order Paper and to debate it today, is that we haven't heard a response from the government on a report by the Chief Electoral Officer of the Yukon on Elections of Members to the Legislative Assembly and Other Related Matters, which was tabled in the Legislature, I believe, in December of 1997.
Mr. Speaker, the mandate of this government is winding down. They have about 18 months left in this mandate. When we look at past practices of electoral boundary reviews, we see that it takes a period of about one year to complete one, as was the case in 1991 when the bill was introduced in the spring session of 1991 and the report was tabled in the spring session of 1992, some four or five months prior to the election.
Why I believe it's important, Mr. Speaker, is because court rulings across this land have said that not only is every citizen entitled to a vote but that their vote should of parity, of equal value with other voters. We believe that in the Yukon, since the last electoral boundary commission, there has been quite a dramatic shift in population in several ridings, which could leave an election in the Yukon open to court challenges.
I believe it's our responsibility as legislators to do everything in our power to see that when an election is held that we haven't left the door open to challenges and then leave it up to the courts to make a decision as to whether or not an election should be overthrown.
I'm somewhat disappointed that the government hasn't addressed the report by the Chief Electoral Officer that was tabled in December 1997 because, if they had addressed the report, this motion would probably would not be necessary today.
Mr. Speaker, in speaking to the motion today, I'm going to refer extensively to that report and see if we can ferret out the government's position on it. I also want to go back and review some of the comments in the Lysyk report on electoral districts in the boundary commission report of 1991.
I want to close, Mr. Speaker, by speaking to the Supreme Court decision of the Northwest Territories, which just came down a few weeks ago in regard to changes in their electoral boundaries.
Mr. Speaker, in the report by the Chief Electoral Officer that was tabled in December of 1997 - and I will say for the record that this report, from my understanding, was compiled by the Chief Electoral Officer seeking input from all three political parties in the Yukon, listening to their concerns and then coming forward and making recommendations to the Legislature. Those recommendations, I believe, would go a long way to putting in place a process for electoral boundary reviews that need not come up on the floor of this Legislature.
When we look at the report, it addresses many issues, but let's first start with the frequency and authority for the electoral district boundary commission. The report states that there is no standing legislation for establishing a commission to review the boundaries of electoral districts. It goes on to say the commissions were established in 1976, in 1984 and then again in 1991.
So, if we look at that, Mr. Speaker, what we have is eight years between 1976 and 1984, and we have seven years between 1984 and 1991. Now it is 1999. Eight years have passed since the last electoral boundary review, and we have an election coming up in 2000.
The report goes on to say that, while there is no set time within which electoral districts must be reviewed, the Chief Electoral Officer does point out, though, that the last two commissions had been appointed after approximately the same period of time. I believe that, if precedent was to have anything to do with this, we should have legislation introduced this spring to set out an electoral boundary commission to review the boundaries prior to the next election, reporting back to the Legislature next spring, or possibly this fall. I don't know. But it appears that the last two have taken a year to do, by the time we consult with the public and get all the input and a report is written.
So, Mr. Speaker, the recommendation of the Chief Electoral Officer on the issue of frequency of electoral district boundaries commissions was as follows: "That there be standing legislation for the establishment of an electoral district boundaries commission, to review the area boundaries, and the name of each of the existing electoral districts, and to make recommendations respecting any way in which they should be altered."
It doesn't say they need to alter them, but it does say that they will make a report.
And this is only a recommendation, Mr. Speaker. It goes on to say, "The electoral district boundaries shall be reviewed following every two general elections, or following a third general election, if two general elections have taken place in less than six years."
Well, we are now at a point in time in the mandate of this government where we are past two general elections, and we are certainly past having two elections within a period of six years. So, I believe it's timely for an electoral boundary review to be held.
Mr. Speaker, the report goes on to set out some procedures as to how and when the committee should meet, and report back to the Legislature. But I think the key to this is that, had this report been addressed, and had the government followed through on the recommendation to establish the commission, there would be no need for such a debate in our Legislature today - or in the future. This would just automatically happen, without us, as politicians, getting up on the floor and debating this issue.
Mr. Speaker, the report makes other recommendations in here, such as standing legislation should provide ongoing direction for the work of the commission, including the permitted deviation from a quotient obtained by dividing the number of electors and the number of electoral districts.
It also goes on to say the legislation should state whether the number of electors, or the general population figures, should be used when we're establishing that medium number of votes.
The Lysyk commission, which I'll be referring to in detail a little later, Mr. Speaker, in 1991 decided that voters - rather than population, with the result that greater representation could be given to the voters in electoral districts when they count on the voters, rather than the general population. But these are precedents that could have been set out in legislation.
The recommendations also go on to state that the number of electoral districts should remain the same, unless the Legislature directs, in legislation, that they be changed. It was not the prerogative of the commission to make more or fewer ridings. That would be left to the Legislature.
So, Mr. Speaker, I believe that these were good recommendations that we should have acted on by now - and haven't yet.
There's also in here the recommendation that there shall be a deviation permitted from the quotient of not more or less than 25 percent, except when the Legislature has directed in legislation that there be special electoral districts established outside of that natural medium.
These are areas of great concern to us, and we believe they are areas that need to be addressed quickly if we are going to be able to have anything in place for the next election that will give us a level of comfort that if a court challenge was mounted by anyone, it would have very little chance of success.
Mr. Speaker, I want to just go back and refer a little bit to some of the comments made in the Lysyk report of 1991, which talks basically about the courts being involved because the Charter of Rights and Freedoms says that everybody is entitled to voter parity, which means not only one-person-one vote, but that the votes carry the same weight in electing the members of Parliament and members of legislative assemblies. Justice Lysyk pointed out in his report that the norm across Canada appears to be plus or minus 25 percent, except in Saskatchewan, which has legislation that in two northern districts, because of extenuating circumstances, they allow a deviation of up to 50 percent.
While the courts that have ruled on any of these challenges have not said what deviation is allowable, they have said that voter parity must be maintained, and it appears that they are accepting plus or minus 25 percent.
Mr. Lysyk pointed out also that there was substantial deviation from voter parity and that it had been a character of Yukon electoral districts for at least two decades. And he included a table, referring to 1989, showing the range of differences extending from minus 83 percent to plus 122 percent, which would suggest to me - an arrangement like that - would leave an election open to challenges.
Mr. Speaker, we have in the Yukon right now - in my opinion and in the opinion of the Yukon Party caucus - several ridings that could be opened to court challenge. One is Whitehorse West, which has had a tremendous influx of people. I believe even in the 1996 election it was far beyond the 25 percent deviation from the norm, and we've had more and more people move into that riding. We have the Electoral District of Faro, where the mine has closed down and we've had people move out of that riding, and the numbers are small there. I will speak a little more about Faro and what Mr. Lysyk said about Faro in his 1991 report.
But we also have another riding that I believe should cause some concern to us in this Legislature, and that's the riding of Ross River-Southern Lakes, with an influx of people into the Marsh Lake area - the Mount Lorne area, I'm sorry - because Marsh Lake has a lot of people who have moved into it.
So, there's been a dramatic shift in populations.
In the 1991 report, Mr. Speaker, in regard to Faro, this is what Mr. Lysyk said, "The future of Faro depends very much upon world market prices for the mine's ore. The commission was informed that the ore body..." - and this is 1991 - "...reserves of the mine has an expected life of about 20 years, but its continued viability is subject to the demands of the market. If ore prices were to fall significantly and the mine were to close again, the Electoral District Boundaries Act could be amended to eliminate the district of Faro." And he comments, "...as was done in the Northwest Territories after the closure of the Pine Point mine."
Now, Mr. Speaker, if we were to have an electoral boundaries review, it would be their recommendations as to what the viability of the future of Faro is, whether it should be retained as a riding or whether it should not. It's not up to us in this Legislature. It's up to the electoral district boundary commission to do that.
Again, what we have here is one riding where the number of voters has decreased quite dramatically. We have several ridings that have increased quite dramatically and this has thrown out of balance - as has been ruled by the courts - what is an acceptable deviation from the average number of voters in each constituency that would be upheld by the courts.
I don't think that we can rest comfortably, saying, "Oh well, it's probably not going to be challenged by anyone in the public through the court process." There have been several successful challenges to elections in the past and one very recently in Yellowknife with the realignment of electoral districts and the formation of the new parliament in Nunavut.
This judgment came out not long ago, Mr. Speaker, and I would like to refer to it for the record and for the members in this House. It starts out by stating the reasons for the judgment. "Contrary to the unanimous recommendation of the Northwest Territories Electoral Boundaries Commission in 1998, established by the Legislative Assembly, these territories, under the Electoral Boundaries Commission Act, S.N.W.T., 1989(1), c.2, the Assembly declined (by a vote of seven to six, three abstaining) to add two additional electoral districts to the 14, which remain after the new Nunavut territory comes into being..."
Basically, the reasoning of the judgment states that, even though the electoral boundaries commission that was established by the Legislative Assembly didn't accept that there should be two additional ridings, the court looked at that and said, "The recommended additional districts were to have provided voters at Yellowknife with two additional members to represent them in a new Legislature for the remaining Northwest Territories after Nunavut comes into being, so as to bring that Legislature's membership then to a total of 16."
Mr. Speaker, the application was opposed by the respondent, the commissioner of the Northwest Territories, representing the Attorney General, along with some native organizations, which constituted the aboriginal summit. They believed that they should go along with what the electoral boundaries commission reviewed.
What the judgment says is that, that section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms reads as follows: "Every citizen of Canada has a right to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons or of a Legislative Assembly and to be qualified for membership therein." That's what it says in this judgment, Mr. Speaker. That's what it says the charter says.
Then it also goes on to say, "The meaning of the right to vote." And in the conclusion of this judge, he says, "... the right to vote enshrined in s. 3 of the Charter is not equality of voting power per se, but the right to 'effective representation'. Ours is a representative democracy. Each citizen is entitled to be represented in government. Representation comprehends the idea of having a voice in the deliberations of government, as well as the idea of the right to bring one's grievances and concerns to the attention of one's government representative ..., elected representatives function in two roles - legislative and what has been termed the 'ombudsman role'."
It goes on to say: "What are the conditions of effective representation? The first is relative parity of voting power. A system which dilutes one citizen's vote unduly as compared with another citizen's vote runs the risk of providing inadequate representation to the citizen whose vote is diluted. The legislative power of the citizen whose vote is diluted will be reduced, as may be access to and assistance from his or her representative. The result will be uneven and unfair representation."
This is in the recent court judgment in the Northwest Territories.
It goes on to say - it's a very long judgment, Mr. Speaker, and I'm not going to read the whole judgment in here, but there are clauses that I think are very important to what we're discussing here right now. It goes on to say in here, "Given that the right to vote is the core of the very essence of a free and democratic society, it is difficult to imagine that undue dilution of that right by legislative action, or inaction, can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society, though prescribed by law."
What that leads me to believe, in the opinion of this judge, anyhow, that if we fail to act in an electoral boundary review, we could be just as guilty as not acting in the proper manner, and would leave an election open to a legal challenge.
The evidence before the court establishes that such undue dilution has occurred in electoral districts of Yellowknife South and in the other electoral districts in the Northwest Territories, in which the percentage variants of the average district population is greater than plus 25 percent. So, based on the fact that, even though an electoral boundaries commission recommended to the Legislature that they not change the number of electoral districts, a challenge was mounted by citizens in those districts - citizens who were voters in the Northwest Territories - and they were successful in that court challenge. They now have 16 ridings instead of 14.
I believe that a person in Whitehorse West could make a very strong case in front of a judge, if there are no changes to the electoral boundaries prior to the next election, that their vote didn't have the same power as voters in other ridings.
That's what this is all about, and why I think it's so important to the Yukon is because we know, Mr. Speaker, that governments here can be formed on the decision of one electoral district. We have a very small Legislature. Elections can be very close here, and a court challenge to overturn one seat may in fact overturn a government. I don't believe that's the court's role, and I believe that we, as legislators, if at all possible, should take every precaution we can so that when we go to the people as a government looking for a new mandate, or as an opposition party looking to be the government, we can have confidence that the election results will not be overturned by a court of law.
I believe it's time for an electoral boundary review. It would be consistent with what's happened in the past in the Yukon, and I believe that there is ample evidence, without doing in-depth research, that suggests that there is a discrepancy between electoral districts in the Yukon today that would be far outside the bounds of the rules that have been established through court challenges - and successful court challenges, such as the one in the Northwest Territories.
Mr. Speaker, I urge the government to support the motion and to move forward with the establishment of an electoral boundaries commission in this session so that there would be time for them to do their work and report to the Legislature prior to the next election.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I won't be very long, Mr. Speaker, but I will put a few points on the record that I think are relevant and appropriate to the discussion that has been raised by the leader of the official opposition.
First of all, Mr. Speaker, I'm surprised at the timing of the motion being brought forward. The member not only has tabled the motion but has raised the matter in Question Period. He has asked the government's position on the matter. The government responded by saying that the government was going to be seeking a legal opinion as to whether or not there was sufficient justification for an electoral boundaries commission to be established, that we needed to do a review of the demographics of the territory to determine, in the first instance, whether or not there had been - as the member has simply stated but not proven - a dramatic shift in population, and whether or not this would then justify a reordering of boundaries.
Well, Mr. Speaker, the member has only made the assertion that there is a dramatic shift in population and has only made the assertion that this dramatic shift in population is sufficient to warrant a boundary commission review.
I have indicated, in what I believe to be a more responsible course of action, that we would be seeking a legal review of the matter and, in fact, the member responded at the time saying that he would like us to get the advice as soon as possible so that we could get together, along with the Liberal Party, to see if there should be an electoral boundary review, and then went on to say that then we wouldn't have to debate the motion.
Well, Mr. Speaker, there are five weeks left in this legislative sitting. We have not yet got the legal opinion. I've had no conversation with the member opposite on this subject since the Question Period when the item was discussed on the record. He has not asked whether or not we've sought the legal opinion or whether or not there's anything holding it up. In fact, he's just proceeded to continue on with the motion.
So, that makes me suspicious, Mr. Speaker, if the truth be told - suspicious that this is, in fact, a thinly veiled, partisan attempt to do something in the Legislature, and through an electoral boundary commission, that the member opposite could not do in an election campaign, and that was to get elected.
The member has made mention, on a couple of occasions, that he thinks that two NDP-held seats are worthy of review. He's cast his net out a little further today and suggested that maybe three or four NDP seats are in need of review - and provided no justification, other than what he thinks are anecdotal information about growth or reductions of population. But there's been nothing, Mr. Speaker, on the record, and nothing that has come to my attention, that would justify the claim that he's making.
Mr. Speaker, I'm not suggesting that the claim can't be made with evidence. I'm not suggesting that there may not be evidence. I'm just suggesting that the evidence has not been put before us, and I'm also suggesting that there has been no legal analysis done whatsoever - unless the member has been brought to the bar - that suggests that the case can be made.
The member cites a number of recent events - the election in Nunavut, the Nunavut Territorial Assembly and the recent court decision in Yellowknife, which commanded that there be more seats added to Yellowknife, Hay River and Inuvik.
Mr. Speaker, the situation in that particular circumstance - the situation pertaining to the N.W.T. court case - is, in fact, substantially different in many substantive respects. The situation in the Northwest Territories is much different than that in the Yukon. In the Northwest Territories, the concern has been that there is a large majority of the population in Yellowknife and a minority of the population in the rural areas of the N.W.T. while, at the same time, there is a minority of seats for Yellowknife residents in the territorial assembly and a majority of rural seats in the N.W.T. Assembly.
That is not a concern in this territory. The majority of the population is in Whitehorse. The majority of the seats are Whitehorse-based. The minority of the population is in rural Yukon. The minority of seats are in rural Yukon.
Even if one compares the 1996 election to today, one can see roughly the same proportion of rural voters to rural seats, and urban voters to urban seats, is still there. So, to draw a simple comparison between the Northwest Territories court judgment, and the situation that we are facing today, is not as simple as the member makes out.
Now, the member makes a point about Faro - and I suspect this motion is a lot about Faro, and very little about other seats. He makes the point that Faro has faced a decrease in population. This should therefore command the territorial Legislature to act immediately, and quickly, to determine whether or not this seat can be essentially removed or, at a minimum of course, amalgamated with another seat in rural Yukon.
Well, Mr. Speaker, I point to history. In the last 15 years, the population of Faro has gone up and down with the opening and closure of the Faro mine; has consistently had a seat throughout that period; and in fact has had a population base that is lower than exists today.
Now, the Government of Yukon, of course, is doing what it can realistically to see a reopening of the Faro mine and, in fact, is preparing the mine - inasmuch as it can through court proceedings for a reopening, as soon as metal prices rebound. And, Mr. Speaker, I am certain that they will rebound.
So, what the member advocates - and I think what the member secretly hopes - is that, somehow, the Faro riding will be subsumed into another riding, which will ultimately solve the electoral problem the Yukon Party has faced, given that they had difficulty even finding a candidate for that riding.
But more importantly, Mr. Speaker, they will see, perhaps - in their view - some immediate improvement of their general overall electoral fortunes, as a result.
Well, Mr. Speaker, if one were to follow that line of thinking, imagine what would happen if history continued, as it has in the past, with a reopening of the Faro mine - a burgeoning of population, and a situation where a community with a large population weighs heavily in the new riding in which it now finds itself. Imagine what would happen to the communities of Ross River or Carmacks that may be part of that new riding.
And, Mr. Speaker, this is not a fantasy. Four times in the last 15 years, this mine has dropped down to a very low population and has climbed once again to a population that easily rivals those in the Whitehorse area, in terms of population numbers, and a riding bigger, in fact, than the member's own riding. So, to act precipitously may not be the wisest course of action. I think we should give ourselves the time to think that through, and I don't think we should rush to judgment, as the member wants us to this afternoon.
Mr. Speaker, the member has said a number of things in the last few weeks - since the time that he tabled this motion - which are not accurate. I refer specifically to his interpretation of the Chief Electoral Officer's report, and he has at times said that the recommendations in the report were supported by all parties, that there was some kind of all-party consensus, that the numbers of times that there should be a review of electoral boundaries should be done every two terms, and that this has already received all-party support. That's not true. That's just simply not true.
The Chief Electoral Officer, in that report, has qualified the report by saying that the recommendations are the responsibility of the Chief Electoral Officer alone, and not all parties.
The member has also said - at least, I thought he said this afternoon - that no superior court has ruled on the matter with respect to the permissible variation of riding sizes, above or below the population average for ridings in a particular jurisdiction. I've got a Supreme Court reference here, right in front of me, which speaks to the very question - a reference that the member hasn't even quoted and which does speak to the permissible variations and makes reference to the Charter of Rights and how the Charter provisions should be interpreted with respect to the right-to-vote clause and how that should be interpreted when it comes to the size of ridings and the one-person/one-vote issue.
Mr. Speaker, when the member brought forward the motion, I was of two minds this afternoon. I was going to listen to the member's motion, first of all, and perhaps consider the notion that if the member put some evidence on the table, seek to either have it amended to give us the time to consider the actual information the member provided, and then perhaps make a decision, perhaps in an all-party fashion, following that point. What has happened this afternoon is that the member has added no new information to this Legislature on this subject - no information with respect to the demographic changes at all.
In fact, Mr. Speaker, I think that some of the analysis that the member has made, with respect to the interpretation of legal opinions, is highly suspect.
So, I am now inclined to believe that the original action that we were anticipating taking in this Legislature, which was to seek a legal opinion, get the advice, do a proper review and then attempt - even though the member has obviously raised this as a partisan matter - to get an all-party agreement with respect to the course of action at that time, I am now persuaded, Mr. Speaker, based on the member's own comments, that it would be best for us to adjourn debate on the motion and seek an adjournment and allow the work to continue, so that we can put real information on the table. I think that would probably be more responsible, rather than rushing to judgment without additional information.
Motion to adjourn debate
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Consequently, Mr. Speaker, I would move that the debate be adjourned.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Government Leader that debate be now adjourned. Are you prepared for the question?
Some Hon. Members: Division.
Speaker: Division has been called. Mr. Clerk, would you poll the House.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Harding: Agree.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Agree.
Mr. McRobb: Agree.
Mr. Fentie: Agree.
Mr. Hardy: Agree.
Mr. Livingston: Agree.
Mr. Ostashek: Disagree.
Mr. Phillips: Disagree.
Mr. Jenkins: Disagree.
Ms. Duncan: Disagree.
Mr. Cable: Disagree.
Mrs. Edelman: Disagree.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 10 yea, six nay.
Speaker: The yeas have it. I declare the motion carried.
Motion to adjourn debate on Motion No. 152 agreed to
Mr. Ostashek: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Point of order
Speaker: Member for Porter Creek North, on a point of order.
Mr. Ostashek: Since division is now over, I would really like to speak to what has just transpired in this Legislature.
Speaker: Order please. If the leader of the official opposition has a point of order, he should raise it. However, he is not allowed to simply make a statement on what has happened.
Mr. Ostashek: I want to make a point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Point of order
Speaker: Leader of the official opposition, on a point of order.
Mr. Ostashek: On a point of order, today is opposition motion day. And I would like to know what section of our Standing Orders allows the government to adjourn debate on an opposition motion. I'm not speaking about what transpired to the motion. I'm talking about any time. What section of our Standing Orders allows the government to adjourn debate on an opposition motion?
Speaker: Order please.
Speaker:A motion to adjourn debate is always in order during any debate.
Clerk: Motion No. 159, standing in the name of Ms. Duncan.
Motion No. 159
Speaker: It has been moved by the leader of the third party
THAT this House recognizes that the Lord Study, a comprehensive plan for Yukon museums offering a blueprint for preservation of Yukon's history and culture, is now 14 years old and requires evaluation and updating in light of progress achieved to date;
THAT this House recognizes that Yukon's history is part of our cultural heritage and our tourism future; and
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to revisit the Lord Study, in a comprehensive manner, to set new directions for Yukon museums.
Ms. Duncan: It is a pleasure to speak in this House on an issue of particular importance to many Yukoners.
Many members are new to this House since this particular study was commissioned and reported, and were not familiar when I raised the motion of a revisitation to the Lord Study. The study was actually commissioned by an NDP Minister of Tourism, Mr. Porter, the Member for Watson Lake at the time. The purpose of the study, Mr. Speaker, was to formulate a long-term development plan for Yukon's present and future museums and to formulate a draft Yukon museums policy.
The reason the study is referred to as the Lord study is that Lord Cultural Resources Planning and Management were the group that performed the study, and I might say, Mr. Speaker, that they did perform this study after being selected in a competitive bidding process, and they performed this study in conjunction with and using local resources - a very important point: long before the days of legislated attempts at local hire, small business people were using local resources.
They were also utilizing the direct participation of many Yukoners in the development of the report.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: The Member for Watson Lake, on a point of order.
Mr. Fentie: 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 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 stopped the bells, and I will do a count. There are nine members present. A quorum is present. We will now continue debate.
Ms. Duncan: It is such a pleasure, as I said, to be able to speak to this motion and to be able to speak in this House period on issues of concern to Yukoners.
What I was speaking about was a review of the Lord study. I had outlined for the House who had performed the study, and I was beginning to speak about the participation by Yukoners in this study. The direct participation by many Yukoners was evident to the individuals performing this consultation that was requested by the then-NDP Minister of Tourism.
The findings of the report were based on consultation with existing and planned community museums and meetings with and discussions with their boards - all the relevant territorial organizations, and that would mean organizations like the Yukon Historical Museums Association and others - and with a large number of representative individuals, including Yukon First Nations. In total, 262 people participated, and there was an itinerary of visits from Old Crow to Watson Lake and from Mayo to Burwash Landing. There was extensive consultation with Yukoners.
Mr. Speaker, there was also comparative analysis done with museum systems in Alaska and the Northwest Territories. It's very important that we do look at these other jurisdictions. We frequently do when we're reviewing our own legislation and our own actions. We look at what happens in our neighbouring jurisdictions. The leader of the official opposition referenced a situation that occurred in the Northwest Territories earlier in this debate in this Legislature.
The Lord study looked at four options for Yukon museums and the options that were considered ...
Mr. Speaker, I would like to digress for a moment so that I could list the correct reference of this report. Lord Cultural Resources Planning and Management Incorporated is the name of the company, and the report we're referencing is the Yukon Museums Policy and System Plan. The date on the report is 1986.
The options that were considered by the management team in looking at Yukon museums were that we, at the time, keep the status quo. Now, Mr. Speaker, the status quo at the time did not include such important Yukon institutions - or, if you will, Yukon facts of our daily life in 1986 - as the George Johnston Museum in Teslin or the fully developed Transportation Museum that we have today or such facilities as the Beringia Centre.
So, there was no support for the status quo in this report. The community very clearly wanted to see the development of museums and of the preservation of our heritage through museums.
Another proposal was a territorial museum model, with a Yukon museum comparable to the Yukon Archives, and it was also compared to the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre in Yellowknife. The cost, at the time, was over $6 million for such a centre, and that, Mr. Speaker, does not include annual operating costs. And a territorial museum model wouldn't take into account the unique features of each of our Yukon communities.
This particular suggestion wasn't accepted. Neither was a totally, and completely, decentralized model, Mr. Speaker.
The museum service centre model provided support for the community museums, with the necessary facilities to carry on their work. "Necessary facilities", Mr. Speaker, refers to such things as conservation laboratories, documentation, exhibit and production workshops - this sort of support for communities.
The report advanced a general operating principle: that the heritage branch would endeavour to assist the provision of decentralized access to Yukon's heritage, wherever consistent with cost effectiveness. That general operating principle, Mr. Speaker, is very similar to the motions we see presented sometimes in this House, in that they endeavor to address needs expressed by a great many Yukoners and take into account the individual nature of our communities.
The study also recommended that museums would be encouraged and aided to develop policy documents to meet their needs. And, Mr. Speaker, it's very important that this recommendation was to be completed over a five- to 10-year period. That would take it to 1996 - three years ago.
And this development of our community museums was to include things like building plans, security and conservation documents, collection management policies, and policies and manuals relating to public programming.
This gradual commitment allowed and suggested that communities build their museums in their way, meeting their needs, preserving the history and the artifacts within their communities.
New museums, it was suggested, would fill a mandate not already being met, and this was due to the specialization or regional character of some of these museums, and to show tangible evidence of community support.
The report also talked about training policies, Mr. Speaker. Training policies is something that this government likes to talk a great deal about.
The recommended priorities for the renovation or extension of existing museums at that time were the completion of work now underway, in 1986, at Dawson and Teslin, preservation of the transportation heritage. And, Mr. Speaker, it's very interesting that there was a recommendation that the Yukon Transportation Museum be actually divided into three - be realized at three sites, to quote correctly: aviation in Whitehorse, rail and river transport at Carcross, and road transportation at Watson Lake.
The report also recommended assistance to the MacBride Museum to complete its renovation and expansion so that it could realize its mandate to present what was then and is now the only comprehensive exhibit of the natural and cultural history of the territory as a whole.
And, Mr. Speaker, the report recommended to facilitate the renovation of the old church as a museum at Old Crow while the First Nation restored the store as a historic site.
Now, Mr. Speaker, that report is now some years old - 1986.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: It's in a museum somewhere, as the Member for Watson Lake has stated.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: No, Mr. Speaker, I don't require another suggestion that members are not hanging on my every word. I'm sure they are.
My point in bringing forward this study, which is some years old, is that the study was well supported in the Yukon at the time it was presented. It was supported by a NDP government, commissioned by a NDP government, and there are many Yukoners who appreciate the work and continue the work that is outlined in the report.
Mr. Speaker, I'm speaking of the volunteers who serve on the boards for the Transportation Museum, the MacBride Museum, the YHMA, and who work with the Dawson City Museum and the George Johnston Museum, as well as the museums in Keno City and Burwash.
The report was very well done. It has been followed to some degree, and, Mr. Speaker, it's time we look at it again. It was a good document then; it's a good document now.
Mr. Speaker, our history is incredibly important - our heritage. We speak many times in this House about our respect for our heritage and for our history and, speaking as a Yukoner, as all of us do in this House, it's refreshing to me to visit communities like Keno City and to go through the museum there and see the incredible work of a very small but dedicated group of individuals. In particular, Mr. Mancini has made a tremendous effort at the collection, and that collection, Mr. Speaker, is not just of individuals who have lived in this territory and passed on, or who have lived in this territory and relocated; it's people who are still living in this territory. You see people who have donated - current residents of Mayo - the artifacts they've collected over the years.
There are items we all have in our own possessions that we don't necessarily realize are artifacts that belong in places like Keno City museum. I'm thinking in particular of many curlers who have curled throughout this territory - things like the Clinton Creek curling club pin, or the Keno City, which was quite a thriving bonspiel area, for lack of a better word. Things like that belong so that future generations can go into places like this, look at them and realize what life was like for these people who lived in that community, who traveled from Watson Lake and Whitehorse and Faro to curl in Keno City, who have made life-long friends there, whose children are now in this territory.
You can go back to Keno City museum and you can take pictures, on the front steps, of three generations of Yukoners.
That museum is there because of efforts and because of policies outlined in this report that I've referenced today.
The Dawson City Museum has been in existence forever, as my colleague says and members, ourselves, went back in history this past year for a special sitting there.
My visit to the George Johnston Museum in Teslin is some years ago now. I certainly appreciated the fact that there was a unique collection of photographs there at the time. As well, it was particularly interesting that some of these collections have appeal to different audiences.
Each one of these unique museums makes special effort to appeal in different ways to not just the visiting public, but to Yukoners themselves. These museums are an incredible part of our cultural heritage and very important to us. We lose our heritage when we don't take the time to place artifacts with these museums, to record our seniors' stories, to listen to them, to ensure that their memories are put down in memory books, not just for our families, but for our future, Mr. Speaker. This records what life in communities is like and what it can be.
I'm sure the Member for Whitehorse West will come up with the correct quote about it, that those who do not know their history are destined to repeat it - something along those lines. He'll get his chance to quote me correctly when he gets to speak on this issue this afternoon.
I've stated that recognizing Yukon's history is part of our cultural heritage. I'd like to speak about it as part of not just our tourism future but part of our economic future, as well.
Many, many times - in reading tourism documents, and reviewing tourism strategic plans - people talk about the need to have people stay longer; to come to appreciate us; to know us better; to learn more about us. The museums in our communities offer that. They offer an opportunity for our visitors to spend at least an extra day. It takes some time to properly appreciate and enjoy the information, the exhibits and the efforts of the individuals contained in these museums. And I use the word "contained" loosely - they're not all contained. We have artifacts that are out of doors in several locations.
Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss if I didn't recognize at this time the loss we incur as a society when we lose some of these artifacts. Every Yukoner that I've spoken with can remember where they were when they heard that we lost the two ships on the waterfront in Whitehorse, and where they were and what they were doing when the Tutshi burned.
These losses were incredible losses to our community, Mr. Speaker, and they eloquently speak volumes of the need to preserve our heritage.
Very recently, we lost a great deal with the last of the hangars burning down in Whitehorse.
Many Yukoners were deeply saddened, and there goes another part of our history. It wasn't just a building to people. There were incredible memories that came out of hockey games in that hangar, of some of the celebrations that had occurred in that particular facility, and every single community in the Yukon has stories like this, Mr. Speaker, of things we've lost because we haven't preserved them, we haven't recognized their value while they were with us.
My motion today asks the House to recognize this report, to recognize its value, to look at it again, to say, "We had a blueprint. That blueprint is 14 years old. It needs to be updated." We need to ask: what progress have we achieved to date? Mr. Speaker, we have achieved substantial progress in many areas. We've also taken a step backward in some areas.
Mr. Speaker, we've achieved process. We now have facilities like the Beringia Centre. The Beringia Centre isn't contemplated in this report. It's new to Yukoners and yet it's an integral part of the preservation of our history and our resources. It is a visitor attraction. It is unique in that, in some respects it is, if I could use the word, more open in terms of an airy facility than some of the others, and the outdoor nature of the exhibits has been, to use a term, kid-friendly. The woolly mammoths are something I know that any child who regularly rides that particular route appreciates.
The Minister of Tourism and I had quite a discussion about the woolly mammoths and what an attraction they are. Again, I commend the individuals involved in them.
So, we had this blueprint in 1986. We've had it and followed it to some degree, and now the minister may stand on his feet and say, "Well, we followed it, we completed it all, we revisited it and we don't need another one." Well, Mr. Speaker, I do think we need another study, as comprehensive, and another look at this. I think we should use this report like a report card.
What have we achieved? What haven't we achieved? Are the goals still realistic? Do they still match with what Yukoners themselves are talking about when we say we want to preserve our history, and we want to be an integral part of Yukon's bright light, the tourism industry - to be part of Yukon's tourism future.
The motion urges the Government of Yukon to revisit this particular study in a comprehensive manner, Mr. Speaker - to look at this, and go back and see what we have accomplished, not in a cursory fashion with an individual commissioned to simply go through the report and do a check list, but to really look at it, to really examine what we've accomplished and where we're going with Yukon's museums.
In particular, Mr. Speaker, when I revisit this study, I think about the recommendations with respect to the MacBride Museum. The recommendations with respect to the MacBride Museum talked about the future of the museum and talked about assistance to complete its renovation and expansion so that it may realize its mandate.
Now, the MacBride Museum board, whom I've had the opportunity of visiting with on a couple of occasions - and individually - have looked at the future of their museum and developed a comprehensive plan for the future, and have sought some support for this. I believe - and I've expressed in this House the belief - that this museum, as all the museums that I've mentioned, are integral to the Yukon's future, and MacBride's future visioning and future work shouldn't be realized, standing alone.
The other museums have visions as well. Perhaps they are not as laid out or as well developed at this point, but they have visions for the future as well.
We've said over and over in this House that plans and planning exercises are useful tools. They also allow us, Mr. Speaker, when we have a series of plans on the table, to use our resources wisely. They enable us to look at the plans presented and say, "Where does this fit overall with the direction we're going? Where do the MacBride's plans fit with what they want to do in terms of what Dawson wants to do, in terms of what Keno is doing, in terms of what George Johnston is doing, in terms of what's going on with the signpost forest in Watson Lake, and what's happening in Burwash? Where does this all fit?"
The way to address these discussions is to have a look at where we've been, what we've achieved and where we're going. What I'm really asking the government to do in this motion is to look at the future of Yukon's museums, Mr. Speaker.
It's deeply disturbing to me and many others that, however the members of government stand on their feet and say that they've done this and they're doing that, the facts, when we get to debate the Tourism budget, will speak for themselves in terms of the preservation of Yukon's heritage.
We will be discussing, at length, the decimation of the heritage budget in the budget debate. I do not want to be called, Mr. Speaker, to return to a discussion of my motion so I'll leave that discussion of the heritage budget to the budget debate. Suffice it to say, this is part of it in that we have to have a future direction, a future plan for the Yukon's museums and it needs to include the plans that have been outlined by the MacBride Museum and others. That future plan needs to recognize the value of what we have done, needs to recognize the progress under this report and it needs to acknowledge that this was a good planning document.
In all the years that I've discussed this document with people and been associated with it and, in the many years since I first reviewed it, no one has ever given me real criticism of the report itself, nor said, "No, that's not a direction that we wanted to go." I haven't heard that, Mr. Speaker.
When we do exercises like commission reports like this one, it's incumbent upon us to come back, Mr. Speaker, and look at them again. It's the same as the discussion around legislation that we've had in other situations. There are many jurisdictions that put a sunset clause into legislation, if you will, Mr. Speaker, that requires governments to go back and revisit the necessity of particular legislation. We should have the same thing in reports like this one in planning documents. We should have a requirement and a commitment that we'll go back and look at these.
Well, Mr. Speaker, it's time we went back and looked at this one - long past time. We need to revisit this because of the importance of Yukon's museums not just to the preservation of our cultural heritage but to our tourism and economic future.
In reviewing this report and looking at it again, it would also provide the government with an opportunity - an opportunity to recognize the work that's been done in communities throughout the Yukon, in the preservation of our heritage. And often it's been done by a unique number of individuals - a unique, small number of individuals.
It's an opportunity to hear from these people and to say "thanks" to them, to appreciate the work they've done. It's an opportunity, also, Mr. Speaker, to renew our interest as Yukoners in taking the time to visit these facilities, these attractions, these exhibits in our communities.
In revisiting this study, I believe there is an incredible opportunity for Yukoners. And however the government like to suggest - or may like to suggest when they stand on their feet and respond to the motion - that, "Oh, it's been done, we did it, we did it", I don't see evidence that's it's been done, Mr. Speaker. I don't see where we have a new blueprint like this, and I don't see where we have the resources for a new blueprint like this.
The existing blueprint doesn't take into account what's happening in heritage in this territory, it doesn't take into account the progress we've made, and it doesn't take into account the vision of volunteer groups who spearhead these organizations. And I'd like to challenge the government to support the motion to revisit this study in a comprehensive manner and to set new directions.
Now, the minister has noted that the word "challenge" has been used a lot in the Legislature - today in particular - and I hope he and the government will accept the challenge to revisit this particular report. Yukon's museums are important to all of us - very important. They are part of our future, Mr. Speaker, and I am looking forward to hearing the minister address this motion - I believe he's the next speaker. I commend the motion to him to support and I would urge the government to give this motion very serious consideration.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, it does give me great pleasure to be able to stand here on my feet today and to be able to address this issue.
I'd like firstly to start with my expression that museums, history and culture are very much a part of this government's agenda - very, very much a part of it. The Lord report, when it was commissioned, as was stated by the leader of the third party, was commissioned by a New Democratic government. The government of the day had a vision. They had a vision for tourism, which included the museums, and therein was the commission of the Lord report.
I'd like to take the time now to thank the people of that day who had that vision of including the history and the values of the past to move forward into the future. That was a very bold and challenging aspiration that they had had of the day, and today as we look around at the museums and see where we've gone, the challenge has been met. It certainly has.
Now, as I thank the previous members for their wisdom in bringing forth the Lord report and commissioning the Lord report and what was contained in there, I'd like to speak just a little bit about what this government is doing and why we're doing it in terms of tourism development.
What we're doing is many, many things. And why are we doing it? We're doing it because it is reflective of our values. There are many people in this room who are born and raised Yukoners, who have been here for many, many years - 40, 50 years, a long, long time, many of us. Some were born here. Others migrated here from maybe all parts of the world and Canada, and recognize that the Yukon is a good place.
And why? Well, I think it's due a lot to our history, and where is that history categorized and put on show? Through our museums.
Without our history, we wouldn't be here today - not at all - because throughout history, we've managed to keep the values and to bring those values forth. A lot of those values are reflected in the museums at this point in time.
As you look, as I have said, you have people of First Nations ancestry in the room today. You have many nationalities exhibited in this Legislature, and I think it's a true reflection. Certainly, maybe some should be in the museum, because I think that their dinosauric approach to politics is very worthy of museums, but, of course, the people I speak of are not here.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker: On a point of order, the Member for Porter Creek South.
Ms. Duncan: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I don't believe it's appropriate to make reference to individuals who are not here, no matter what we think of them.
Speaker: There is a point of order. No member should refer to the presence or absence of another member.
Will the member please continue.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Speaker, it wasn't in reference to who was absent or who was not absent in the House at this point in time, but I stand corrected, and thank you.
I would like to continue on, and to be able to speak to what we're doing, and for why we're doing it. We know why we're doing it. If you look around at the studies we've commissioned since I've come into government as the Tourism minister, it was always a challenge to say what it holds for the future, what do we have for the future within Tourism?
We've just come through a very successful decade of anniversaries again, which was started by a New Democrat Tourism minister, and a New Democratic government, again showing the vision that has been portrayed through their governance.
Well, we know that the decade of anniversaries - a decade is a decade. You can't stretch it any longer than it is. It has served its purpose and has brought many, many people here to the Yukon Territory.
Upon taking office, we reflected on where we are going and what the future holds for us in tourism and what the challenge is. We thought about that. We talked to people about that. We did studies through focus test groups, et cetera.
One of those studies was commissioned in the United States of America, predominantly for the rubber-tire market, if I may use it as such, because that is our largest market, as the folks opposite realize. What we found out from that study was that there are things that people want to see here, within the Yukon Territory. They turned out to be transpired into four pillars.
First of all, people wanted to see the Yukon scenery - what the Yukon has to offer. If I could just speak about the Yukon scenery, the Yukon is such a diverse place, such a beautiful place. The indigenous peoples, the First Nations people that live on this land, have different names. They have different ways of treating and respecting the land.
The land was there to be used - to harvest, but in the same sense, to put back something. That is why we have the Yukon scenery as it is today - because the people looked after it, the people preserved it, and it was able to pass on. Then, as it is now, the land is very much the life blood of the First Nation peoples and the very many people who come to enjoy the Yukon Territory with the First Nations people.
The First Nations people did not look at mountains as strictly being monuments to be named after an explorer, surveyor, or something like as such. No, they named the mountains after different things that were harvestable. If I can say, in one instance, which will show the true meaning of that unique culture in history that is portrayed in museums, there are mountains named after women, after persons - after person's body parts, actually, if I can say it in that way. And why was it named in such a way? Because you could always go there - and I'd be more than willing to sit and talk with you about this time - because the land would survive you and it would help to preserve you.
And that's much what in our cultures - in our Tlingit cultures - what a woman and a mother was for. That's the respect that the people had for the land - because you could always go there to live and to enjoy health. That's what it was named after.
That's how, when I look at, and see that people now want to come to the Yukon for the Yukon scenery, I look at it. I don't look at it as Mount Keenan, but I look at it as [Member spoke in native language. Translation not available] and what that means. And how it translates into people, and how the people persevered, and went on. That is the first pillar: Yukon scenery, which we're building around at this point in time.
The second pillar that folks like to come and see, from all over the world - and I've travelled in many parts of the world now, and talked about the Yukon, and the beauty of the Yukon, I've talked about the scenery - but talk about the people, the unique mosaic of people who live here.
Mr. Jim Robb, a local and very prominent artist who came here from, I believe, Montreal in Quebec, many years ago, fell in love with the land, has his own way of working with it, with the people, and the elders of the community, for many years. He recognizes that; he deems the people as the colourful five percent of Canada.
That is a statement that I use in many, many speeches. People ask, "What do you mean by the colourful five percent?" Well, I tell them that we have the Yukon Territory - and I like to depict where we live up in the Yukon Territory, here in the north - and that we live behind the spruce curtain. And people have heard me say that. It's this great huge forest, the boreal forest, made up of predominantly spruce trees and others, but I call it the spruce curtain. And hiding behind that spruce curtain is the world's best kept secret, which we're breaking open, and showing in a sustainable way that is not such a secret, because it has the people. It has people from, I would say, every ancestry, every nation in the world, who practically flood here and come here to the Yukon Territory.
We have our unique ways of dressing and talking. We have our own dialects, our own Yukon dialects within the Canadian context. We are just who we are - the First Nations peoples and others.
People come to see it, to see you preserved in that spectacular way. They come to see it and they come to see so many.
So, what do we have here? We have the scenery, we have the land that is preserved in pictures through many museums, we have the people, we have the way they were hundreds of years ago, the way they were thousands of years ago, through the Beringia Centre, et cetera, right up to what we are today as a modern contemporary group of Yukoners from every walk of life.
The third pillar is the ancient history. When I speak of the ancient history, I don't mean simply the long-ago people, the ancient peoples, the first peoples, the First Nations peoples. I talk about the land of Beringia. I talk about the mammoths as they walk around. I talk about the many unique animals that were here in this land every spring in the land of Beringia, as I like to call it now, which is the focal point predominantly around the Old Crow area but which stretched right from Kluane Park over into Russia and right out into different parts of the Yukon - northern, southern, eastern, western - it stretched around. And every year, as the land cleans itself and replenishes itself through the flushing of the rivers and the dissipation of the snow, evidence of that ancient history comes up, whether it's in the form of ivory or the preservation of mammals, animals - however it is, that ancient history unfolds. And it is encumbent upon us, it's very encumbent upon us, to be able to listen and to watch and to observe what that history does for us, because they are truly there as the land cleans itself and brings forth ancient evidence of occupation.
It's incumbent upon us - the contemporary generation, the generation of the day - to take those historic values from the past and incorporate them into the future. I don't mean to incorporate them strictly into a museum so that, once a year, you can feel good about gathering the kids up, putting them into the station wagon and going off to the museum in the station wagon. No, you can take evidence of the ancient history of peoples that should be and is, in many parts, in museums, but incorporate it into our daily lives. That's what museums mean to me. I take the opportunity to stop in, if and when I can and where I can, to enjoy the wealth of knowledge that is portrayed in many of these museums, and there truly is a wealth of knowledge as protected through the museums.
Myself, I am very much a person who is very strongly interested - in my personal life and my professional life - in the meaningful development of museums.
One of the other pillars that we speak of when we talk and when we do our planning initiatives as a government - a thoughtful, considerate, consultative government, I might add - is the gold rush, the contemporary history of the Yukon Territory. Just over 100 years ago, there was a great big yahoo yelled out at Rabbit Creek, which quickly changed its name to another creek of discovery, and the world opened up, and people came here from every area of the world once more. They came by ship, they came by bicycle and by foot. They trekked over formidable country. They came through Skagway, and if you were interested, I could talk to you about the meaning of Skagway and what Skagway means and where it came from, because it comes from a Tlingit word.
It shows again the rigours of the land and the people and where we have to go and what we have to do. With that, it brought many modern people, I guess, of the day 100 years ago, and they came to the Yukon. Their evidence still lies across the Yukon Territory, predominantly in the Klondike Valley. It still lies there. People come; people want to see it. They're very desirous of seeing what the gold rush was and what it meant.
Today, as you go into Dawson City, especially in the summer but uniquely at any time of the year, you'll see that colourful lifestyle still being lived, still being generated by new people, people who are new to the north but are desirous of that Klondike experience.
What have we done? Well, that's what we've done, Mr. Speaker. We went out and we commissioned studies because we're a thoughtful government and we like to proceed in a thoughtful manner because we, too, have a vision of which, very much, the museums are a part. As I've said before, you have to preserve the past and the values of the past and bring them forward in order to go on into the future.
So, that was the challenge. We knew it was a challenge. We put our thoughts to it. Now, what has this government done? Well, right here in this budget that we are debating in this spring session, and I certainly expect support from the leader of the third party and her two colleagues - one to the right and one to the left, if I might say it in that way - to support this budget because, as you look in this budget, you see the work and thoughtfulness and the integrity of a vision that is portrayed in this budget. It is very much there.
So, as I listen to the leader of the third party so elegantly speaking with passion about a museum and the Lord document... I mean, a lot of folks would have trouble rising to the passion that the leader of the third party can come to show for this Lord report.
It's incredible that you could show that much passion and enthusiasm for this. So it shows you - it shows me personally, that there is hope for the Liberal Party, and the Liberal Party will come forth and support our budget, because it's such a thoughtful budget. I do think that life could be good for all.
So, we've put dollars - and I'll talk about the dollars. I won't wait so long for the Tourism debate. I've very much looked forward to the Tourism debate in the future, but I think right now's a good, opportune time to do some collective lobbying on the opposition parties, so that they might see the light at the end of this month, and vote in support of this budget that so much portrays the heritage of the Yukon Territory.
So I look forward to that debate and I look forward to the unanimous consent of the budget.
Now, what are we doing? I do not look at tourism as Wally-world Mentality, Walt Disney. No, no, no. Tourism means so much more than a roller-coaster ride, bumper cars, speed skating, anything like as such - roller derby. Tourism is not those things. Tourism is what people want to see as depicted through the four pillars. Tourism is the people, the land, and what they want to see.
As I've said, as we embark on our tourism strategy, our biggest challenge of the day is to preserve and protect the prosperity of today, the enjoyment that we have, through the bright light of tourism, of which museums are a part, but to protect that and preserve that integrity, that prosperity, that wealth, that we enjoy from tourism development, and to take that as a challenge and to move into the future, so that we might be able to enhance it.
So, we're going to go out and we're going to talk to Yukon people, and we're going to continue to talk to Yukon people until we have heard all who want to speak and we will listen.
And we will listen with sharp ears because this is going to be, fundamentally, the start of a new millennium for us and it is going to be based a lot, in part, on what we do through the strategy.
So, I want to hear people. I want to hear the unique and the colourful five percent of the Yukon Territory, to hear what they have to offer. Because, as I've travelled the world and listened to people - and I have stated now what people want to see. They want to see scenery, they want to see people, they want to hear about the history, they want to hear about the gold rush. We have that to offer. We have it. The person who feels that they are not affected by tourism in the Yukon Territory, we have to listen and we have to work with those people and let them know that, yes, your unique lifestyle which you enjoy here is something that, if you wish to share, you may share. And can you do it with the people and for the people to accumulate personal wealth, to accumulate collective wealth, to enjoy a good quality of life? Yes, they can. Yes, we can - we, the Yukon people.
We're going out and we're going to be talking to people about the different ideas that they have and we're going to be listening, in my case with some very deaf ears but it makes me listen harder and I'm going to listen very, very hard because I want to hear what the people have to say and I want to encourage them to come forth with their statements so that we, as a thoughtful government, might be able to go forth and allocate resources in a very meaningful way for the preservation of the Yukon Territory's tourism industry, of which museums are very much a collective part. They are a part of the collective whole.
What do we have for attractions? Well, the leader of the third party has spoken about some of the museums that she has visited through her tenure here in the Yukon, because I know that it was not just simply a quick drive by the highway saying, "We have to do this, and we have to do that." No, it's got to be so much more and I could tell that by the way she spoke.
Within that museum is George Johnston's car - the one that used to be white.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Keenan: That was the Model T, the old Ford. I can talk about that because George Johnston was from my community, and that is now portrayed within the museum.
I would just like to take this time right now to thank the folks of Teslin, Burwash, Dawson, Whitehorse, and all the other places that have communities for their input and their integrity in their desire to preserve the past so that they might move to the future.
Teslin is such a living example of what tourism is all about and what heritage is all about because, within there, they have the car that George Johnston bought from Whitehorse here, from Taylor and Drury's, and took by boat all the way down the river to Thirty Mile, and up from the Hootalinqua to Johnson's Crossing, and on through. I've talked to many people who have participated with that experience, one of them being my mother who did drive in the car. Certainly, I was just too young to - well, maybe not much too young, but certainly younger than the Member for Riverside, so I don't have that knowledge of the car. But that is preserved in a museum.
And as I take the time when my friends and family who live in different parts of Canada and the world come to visit me here in this beautiful little spot we call Yukon, and my little chunk of the lake down in Teslin, one of the things we do is go to the museum and show the museum. Once they witness the photographs that were taken by George himself and witnessed the car and witnessed the houses that are depicted, and how people have lived, it brings a sense of hope to them.
And I can say it in that way, because as you look into the museums, you can feel hope. You can feel a strong desire that if that's where people come from, the conditions that they lived in, and this is where I am today, then do I not owe it to myself to be stronger in the future, based on the principles of the past, that I might have a culture and a heritage value to pass on. Yes, that is what it is for. That is what I feel in a museum. I see it, and I feel it. Now, that is just simply the Teslin museum. The Teslin museum depicts that unique culture of the Tlingit people of Teslin.
As the Member for Porter Creek South has spoken about her visit to Keno, well, now, there is just one of the nicest doggone communities I have ever been in. It is just absolutely one of the most fabulous museums I have ever been in. It is something that shows the value of mining, the usage of the land, the tools, the implements, the headlights, the work boots, the backpacks, everything - the jackhammers that they had used - and it is all put together in that museum, and it is such a wonderful showcase, because certainly as people drive, and they take their colourful passport along and get it stamped in the different museums, they have that ability and desire to go to the Keno museum and to look at it, and it draws people to that portion of the country. It draws them. So, along with, of course, the Yukon scenery, the people and the history of the gold rush, singularly, museums are very important to us, as depicted through the Keno museum, the Teslin museum. And if you stop in Burwash and in Dawson and in all the other wonderful museums, you see those unique characteristics of the different regions of the Yukon Territory.
You see them. You see the pride in the walk that the people have in their history. And yes, I feel very strongly about museums and working with museums and continuing to do the good work that we are doing with museums.
The Member for Porter Creek South spoke about the visions of some, she spoke about the visions of the MacBride Museum. I myself, personally, have been many times to visit the museum, and to speak to the curators and to the different folk who work within the museum. And they do, they have a vision for the MacBride Museum that is, bar none, one of the nicest visions that I've ever had the opportunity to listen to.
For as I sat there and listened to the curators and the people who sit on the board at the museum, they speak with such elegance as to what a museum means to them. Not one of them spoke about being there simply for a paycheque, "Because just the best doggone job is to work with the museum, and I make a good buck"? No - that was never the intent, never the intent at all. They speak with enthusiasm.
I've spoken to volunteer board members, who sit on these boards, in some cases for many, many years - over a decade - who speak with passion about their vision, speak with passion about what they've done on the board in their tenure as a volunteer board member.
And I can see, as I look at them, fatigue. Yet if you look beyond the fatigue, you see the heart and desire and the fabric of the Yukon Territory, because they're people who believe in preservation and the direction where museums could take them into the future.
Well, this government is a part of that vision. And I say this not lightly. I say this not in jest - joke. I say this because we are working with them.
We funded the Yukon Historical Museums Association through the CDF. So, not only as a government do we work through the tourism branch, the cultural branch and the heritage branch, but we work as a collective whole through the CDF and other funds, through Government Services programs, so that we might be able to, as a government and a collective government, enhance the museums and the social fabric of the Yukon Territory.
We host annual meetings of the Canadian Museums Association. We funded the Yukon hosting of the Canadian Association of Professional Conservators. We maintain consistent O&M funding to community museums since obtaining the office. We funded Heritage Day programs through the collection of posters and education. We funded the MacBride Museum canoe carving exhibit that was such a success last summer and which drew so many people to the Yukon Territory.
I say that because a person who knew my mother was reading the Yukon News, and within the newspaper it spoke of the canoe carving exhibit. Well, that person took the opportunity to come and visit my mother because of something that she wanted to see. They traveled all the way from Ontario to come and spend time in Teslin at our beautiful museum there and then to partake and participate in the carving of that canoe. They did that as a tourist attraction because she believed that much in the fabric of Canadian society.
So, those are little bits that we, as a government, do collectively, not only portraying what we have in museums, but do the collective whole and show that there is a social fabric that all Canadians can enjoy through the character and enhancement of museums no matter where you might be.
We've provided dollars to the Dawson City Museum to upgrade the train exhibit shelter and to improve the exhibit so that - and my colleague from Whitehorse West here certainly endorses it, and I'm sure gets to ride in the train as often as he can when he's in the museum there.
We continue to maintain funding to the expanded Yukon museum gold explorers passport program. I just want to talk a little bit about that exciting program, because that is a fundamentally exciting program. What does it do? When people come into the Yukon Territory - and with the good work we've done in tourism and with the expansion of airports; but I'll save that; we'll talk about that a little later - they go to the visitor reception centres and they get their passport program. And then, with excitement and glee in their hearts and their minds, off they go. And they go and they see the museums, and they look at the museums and they get a stamp because, somewhere at the end of that lucky rainbow, is a prize for them as they turn it in. But I've seen that a lot of people don't do it just to get the prize. They do it so that they can open their eyes and continue to enjoy the beauty of the Yukon Territory, which we are here for.
What else have we done? Well, this government has gone out, recognizing the value of artifacts and art and culture and museums. We went out and put on an art exhibit in Zurich, Switzerland. Why did we do this? Because we have a vision. We knew that the more we talk about what people want to see, as I've already said, through the four pillars, and I can reiterate it if you like, but likely not. What do they want to see? And they want to see it from everywhere. So we took a small portion of dollars - well, a significant portion of dollars, I should say, actually; a very significant portion of dollars - and we put it into an exhibit in Switzerland, and 100,000 people came through that exhibit to see people, to see what the history of the Yukon Territory is about.
Now, we have our arts department over there now, looking at how we expand and this type of thing. My staff is full of excitement about the success that's been generated by this exhibit, and are now looking to share that wealth of Yukon experience with others in the world.
Not only did we showcase art pieces, but we showcased artists who went over and did traditional weavings and carvings - so many things. They showed an experience with the Swiss people and the French people, when they came to the art exhibit in Switzerland, to see what we did, how we did it, and why we did it, because art work, in that sense, is not simply for the sake of splashing paint on the wall or "I've had a vision and this is the way it works." No. It depicts history. That's what it does. It is the history of the people, and it is portrayed through that, and that is what we had to share.
Have we stopped there? No, we have not stopped there, Mr. Speaker. We funded lure brochures for the Yukon Historical and Museum Association, we funded Transportation Museum exhibit development projects, we've gone ahead and worked with Robin Armour and the Hamacher photo exhibit. We've funded machine shed projects at Keno Museum. Again, why do we do that? Because we know that there's a desire to see people.
We've also funded computer acquisitions from MacBride and Dawson Transportation Museums to keep them up to speed, if I could, with the new generation of computers. We funded digital camera acquisitions for collections registrations at MacBride and within Dawson and at the Old Log Church Museums. In order to preserve, because we know that nothing is here forever, unless you protect it, we've gone ahead and we've looked at the installation of sprinkler systems in the Old Log Church Museum, something that's very near and dear and important to the people.
We've looked to installing concrete floors in the Transportation Museum, all funded through this government. We funded the repatriation process of the Anglican Church artifacts to the Council for Yukon First Nations, and it was curated by the MacBride Museum. We funded the Dawson Museum library development project. We provided marketing dollars so that the Keno City Mining Museum would be able to go out and to show and to flaunt and to get more people to Keno, and would the people then who go to Keno simply just spend $2.50 in the admission to the Keno museum? No, they stop and they explore the wealth of the land. They buy fuel from the service stations. What else do they do? They stop for McDonald's hamburgers. Then, when they're in that area, they think, "Why should we not carry on to Dawson and other areas?" So, just that little bit of marketing dollars to Keno sprinkles throughout the Yukon Territory, much like what we're doing with the waterfront residents and moving them. It's for the collective good of the Yukon Territory. That is what we are doing, and by simply providing marketing dollars to the Keno museum, it helps to sprinkle through and invigorate the debate.
We've looked to funding artifact and conservation work at the MacBride Museum. We're doing new geology exhibits at the Dawson City Museum. We funded boat construction at the George Johnston Museum. We funded textile artifact conservation at the Dawson City Museum. We're doing upgrading at the Kluane museum. We've funded the directors at Dawson, the Transportation Museum, plus the MacBride Museum, staff training at the annual Canadian Museums Association conferences. I mean, the list goes on and on.
What is this government doing? We are doing plenty. We are working with the people of the Yukon, and we're working with the museums so that we might be able to continue to enhance and do good work with them.
So, I can go on and on and on about what we're doing, and I think that I should at times, because it seems to be the only way, through constant repetition. But this isn't constant repetition. These are singularly new, individual projects that we are doing for every museum across the territory that requests it.
We're assisting the Carcross-Tagish First Nation. And why are we doing that? We're developing concept and plans. We're bringing the federal government into it for a community museums projects work.
There's a whole new mosaic and needs and desires of the people of the Yukon Territory. They're characterized through land claims agreements, because not only do we have an obligation, as the territorial government, but First Nation governments have obligations as portrayed, and they are desirous of having those obligations implemented and forwarded so that they might be able to, in their unique corners of their geography in the Yukon, explain to the masses what it means to them through a museum.
So, this is work and guidelines that we're doing throughout the land claims agreements. The federal government assists us in some small ways to continue to work.
So, it's an obligation of partnerships - to continue to work with partnerships and work with due diligence to implement those partnerships. Those partnerships are for the betterment of the Yukon people, and will continue to be for the betterment, and depicted through museums.
We've gone out and we funded video projects. We've done the video projects for the interpretive centre in Pelly Crossing with the Selkirk First Nation. We're working with the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation in the training of a heritage officer, which includes museums training, and we're doing that by accessing native training corps dollars for a two-year internship in the heritage branch.
Now, as I said, this list goes on and on, but I think that this gives a bit of the flavour and some of the support that we as a government are putting toward the museums of the Yukon Territory.
I'd just like to point out that, within our museums policy, Yukon tourism - Yukon 2000, right here -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Keenan: What is our policy? What is our mandate? What is our mission, through the Yukon museum policy? Well, the policy says that the Yukon government is committed to the integrity of strong, independent, community museums, operated by local, non-profit volunteer boards.
So, what are we saying when we say that? We're saying that we're committed. We want to see the integrity of the past brought forward, and it has to be done in a manner of strong people - local people - so that they might be able to characterize what they want to see in the museums and to enjoy the wealth that would come from this unique tourism concept to their local area. And we want it to be done certainly through the boards and the local people.
So that's what this government is doing. That's exactly what this government is doing.
Throughout the land claims process, things have changed. The political landscape - as I guess I've heard other people say - has changed in the past few years here. So what do we do as a government? We're part of that change. We're not sitting back to say, "There goes the train." No, no, no - we're on that train, and we're driving that train. And how are we driving that train?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Keenan: So we're on the train. The political landscape has changed since the Lord report was done here, but what do we have now? We have a land claims agreement that, in many cases, as depicted throughout the umbrella final agreement, the board - I want to talk about that - the Heritage board. It came into effect - I believe it was 1995.
What does the heritage board do? Well again, it's local people making local decisions and people who're doing it through the development of their own heritage resource policies. We have, Mr. Speaker, boards that are put together under the final agreement. We have heritage boards. We have place-name boards that are characterized within the heritage board. And what do these folks do? Well, they sit down and they capture what the land means to the indigenous people and then they bring that forth and they make decisions on behalf of government and they make recommendations to the minister on what they would like to see.
Well, this government believes very strongly in the original place names. We see it as an opportunity to express the values of the past through signage, through audio-visuals, or however, so that we might be able to bring that forth to show what the modern days are so that you can take the values of the past and bring the contemporary aspirations of the future and what we have today and meld them together and that characterizes itself into a very, very, very strong tourism economy of which, of course, the museums are absolutely a part of.
What else is the responsibility of the heritage board? They have the management of non-documented heritage resources. They have the aspiration to incorporate the traditional knowledge of Yukon elders and the Yukon Indian people into certain heritage resources. They have the desire to protect the traditional languages, to preserve and to record them. They're going to make reviews and approvals and amendments and look at the appeal of laws and make recommendations to me, as the minister, for the betterment of museum and heritage resources within the Yukon Territory.
They're looking at the development of strategic planning for heritage preservation and management of different sites in the Yukon Territory - Lapierre House and different places around the Yukon Territory. These are some of the things that the heritage board does and will continue to do for the betterment of all Yukon people. Not only First Nations people but all Yukon people get to enjoy the wealth that comes from the heritage board's resources.
Mr. Speaker, I've spoken a little, I think, about the importance of museums and what they mean to us, but I do want to way that the challenge of the future of tourism is going to be brought forth through the process of consultation. As I said, we're going to be listening and I want to talk to everybody who wants to talk. I want to listen to what they have to say. I want them to understand the importance of where we're going, because we are not going to go just knee-jerkily into the future. We're going to go through a planned, conscientious statement of fact that this is where we want to go and this is how we're going to do it.
And why? We're doing it for the collective wealth of all Yukon people, to preserve the integrity of the day and to move it into the future, to keep and preserve it, because that's the preservation of the future. Now, that might seem ludicrous in itself there, but it's not. Only by keeping the past in place and preserving it can you protect the future of our young people, and my grandson, and move forward into the future with it. That's what it means to me. That's the importance of it.
Are the museums a part of that? Absolutely the museums are a part of that.
The visions of the different boards that are in place - absolutely those visions are in place. So, I admire and I love to work with people. In the Yukon here now, we're just speaking about preserving heritage, but no, this is more than simple preservation of heritage and putting it into, say, a $200,000 building or whatever the cost of that building might be. This is speaking about economics. This is speaking about people pulling together, working together and knowing that we can make dollars on the past, and we can make dollars off who we are. As I look around - at myself, and sometimes I look around to the back of me, and I look to the front of me - I see people that are lifestyle conscious. People in this very room with me have this lifestyle that they want today, and they want to preserve it, they want to protect it, and that's what they do. And why? Because it's their lifestyle. They can take it out and do it, and we can preserve the wealth of the Yukon Territory if we can capture that through our tourism strategy and bring it out. That's what each and every individual in the Yukon Territory has to offer to our new tourism strategy.
So, I would encourage people to come out and talk, to send letters, to fax, to send smoke-signals, to find any which way they can to talk to us and to let us know, because this is a government that will listen and then act upon the recommendations that come from that strategy, because not only the future of museums, but the future of tourism is so very dear and important to everyone in the Yukon Territory. Tourism is the bread-and-butter industry of the Yukon Territory, and if we are smart in implementing our vision, it will continue to be the mainstay of the Yukon Territory's economy into the future.
Now, do I say that in jest? Do I say that in boast? Well, no, I don't say it in jest, and I don't say it in boast. I say it because we have a responsibility to my past elders, to the long-ago peoples, and I have a responsibility to generations in front of me who are not even here to be able to pass it on. Is it a blueprint? No, it just means that we have to be so very careful in what we do today, so that we might have a future tomorrow.
This government is very conscientious of that fact and will continue to be conscientious of that, and we will look at it. And we will continue to re-look at the documentation to get the juice of it and to bring forward that juice so that it might be able to flow throughout the economy and the people can see what that simple juice of life, the sap from the trees, can use to bring forth.
That's the blueprint. That's what I mean when I say, "Do we simply go back and re-look at it?" No, no, no, no, no, no, no. It is not simply a matter of just going back and re-looking at it and saying, "Yes, it's good," or "No, it's not good." It's to take those fundamental, basic values and incorporate them into the strategy of where we're going.
I want to talk a little bit. I've travelled. I've been the Tourism minister for almost three years. It's certainly been one of the highlights of my life. It's something that I have been very much enjoying. Why have I been enjoying it? Because it's my personal vision. I've just gotten back from a European trip, where I'd stopped in at Spotlight Canada in the United Kingdom, in London. I stayed opposite Hyde Park. It was very nice. It was beautiful.
The spring was coming, the buds were coming, and as I took the time to talk to people and to listen to people - as I walked around and talked to people, you know as you introduce yourself, they'd say, "You're from the Yukon? Well, mate, what's it like in the Yukon? Bloody nice, man. Let me hear about it." So I sat and I spent time with people. I didn't go on one sightseeing tour when I was there. I had an opportunity to look out from a cab and to see Big Ben as I went by, and I thought, "Wow, there's Big Ben. That's great." And then the cab driver started talking to me, "Where are you from, bloke?" I said I was from the Yukon. "Wow, man, my mother-in-law was in the Yukon Territory," and then he started talking about his dream of wanting to be in the Yukon Territory.
The previous tourism ministers have had experiences in their travels throughout the world, and they say the same things. They'd had those same opportunities in conversations with people.
I've gone into my very first tuxedo affair. My very first, and it was terribly scary because, two minutes before it started, I didn't know how to put the doggone tie on. So there I was. I had it on backwards and upside-down, but, hey, it's the colourful five percent. That's what they expect. That's what I gave them. And as I sat there - I sat at a table of media people, some from the British Broadcasting Corporation, some from ITV, which is the Scottish Broadcasting Corporation, and they were so enthusiastic because they were up for prizes. They had travel media writers sitting at different tables, but do you know who won? The people who wrote about the Yukon Territory. So, are they the winners? No. They're the winners of what they put together to put into a show, they're the winners of what was put together in documentation, through magazine articles, et cetera, but the real winners are the people of the Yukon Territory knowing full well that there are people throughout the world who want to come to the Yukon and see it.
So we have an opportunity to create a world-class destination - a world-class destination here in the Yukon. And, Mr. Speaker, that's what I'm hoping that the people of the Yukon Territory will tell me when I embark on our strategy.
The United Kingdom is Canada's largest overseas market - 800,000 people come from the United Kingdom to Canada every year. It is my personal vision, my professional vision, our collective vision as a government, that we will bring more of those people to the Yukon Territory to incorporate and increase our share of that 800,000.
And, Mr. Speaker, with the work that we are doing - and we'll continue to do the good work that the Tourism department is doing - every aspect will only enhance that vision. It will only enhance the vision that we see and we have in a collective vision of tourism.
So, Mr. Speaker, I feel very comfortable in the fact that we are going to get there; we're going to preserve the tourism that we have today and enhance it into a very lucrative lifestyle for the people of the Yukon Territory.
Now, that was what was taking place in England. We put resources together to hire an agent in England, who would look not only at how do we do more fam tours, how do we bring operators over, how do we bring more media people over - nah - they look at everything.
And we're working on different issues with that person for incentive tours to bring people over in the shoulder seasons. Just seed work at this point in time - but from this seed will flourish the wonderful tree of tourism, and through that wonderful tree of tourism will spread its comfort and its umbrella over many cultures, over many vast geography terrains in the Yukon Territory, and it will enfold us and encompass us always. That's what we feel with tourism.
Mr. Speaker, I have many times participated in the ITB, the International Tourism Bureau in Berlin, and every time I go I'm absolutely astonished with what tourism means, and not only what tourism means, but museums and the history of the different cultures and the people in this global marketplace as we come together. They show me what it means, and it means truly that people can get along.
I've seen countries at war in the same building. They're at war on a military front, yet in a tourism economic front, they're together and they're depicting their history. They're depicting what they want and, in part, that is what the museums treasure and hold for us. That's what I have seen and experienced there.
I've talked to many airlines - Condor, Canada 3000, Canadian, British Airways - and every one of those airlines is enthusiastic, they're ecstatic, about what we're doing as a government to enhance the tourism industry and, in part, through the preservation and the integrity of our museums. They're just ecstatic about it. People are coming through these sold-out airlines. They're looking at more airlines coming to the Yukon Territory.
So, the strategy that we're going out to embark upon is not a strategy of how much, but how can we, as the collective we, the people of the Yukon, the community of the Yukon, preserve and steer this wonderful ship of tourism.
Mr. Speaker, I've got to say I'm absolutely excited about the prospects of tourism in the future for each geographical area of the Yukon Territory - absolutely ecstatic about it, because I know that we can and that we will get there at some point in time. That time will be in the future - and not the distant future, but the early future, Mr. Speaker - because we are going out on a tourism strategy that will enhance and preserve the past and will take us into the future and that is going to happen now. Why? Because we're a thoughtful government.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk a little bit here now about what we're doing. Is this government doing anything for tourism? Well, we're going to have that debate, but I want to say right now that yes, this government is doing lots for tourism.
Now, let me put a new twist on it, okay? We're building schools. We're building a school in Ross River. One of the first and foremost fundamental points that the people in Ross River told me when building that school is they need an area in that school that would look after their cultural desires and whatnot. So, we as a government put that in there so that they might be able to have those cultural rooms, or needs, and why? So that they could enhance their culture, they could practise their culture, they could develop their culture and pass it on to their youth. That's a tourism product. That is an absolute tourism product, because as you get to know your culture and you get to know your future, you can only do it on your past history, and that's what people want to see. And I'd just love to go back to the four pillars again, because that is the first pillar - the culture of the people of the Yukon Territory. So we're doing it, even through the allocation and the letting of schools in the rural communities. That is how that ties in. It's fantastic.
It's happening in the recreational facilities, because as we go and help and support the communities in their desires, whether it's in Whitehorse or whether it's in Dawson City or whether it's in Watson Lake, those recreational facilities are in part going to be using traditional games. And you know what the traditional games mean to the people of the north. The Arctic Winter Games, which are going to be hosted here next year, of which this government is putting significant resources toward, is a part of that cultural fabric and makeup, through the museums to the tourism strategy.
We put $750,000 into the tourism marketing fund. We put $200,000 into tourism marketing to enhance the Yukon Territory.
We put $3.4 million into the expansion of the Whitehorse Airport this year, and it will be done on time, on budget, to bring visitors to the Yukon Territory to experience not only what tourism has to offer but also the museums.
We're going to do $315,000 worth of work on a visitor exit survey to find out and to feel what the people want to see and to allocate the resources to. I've spoken about our tourism strategy. We're going to do millennium funding - again, a part of the tourism strategy we are going to do.
I want to talk a little bit about the Yukon area protected strategy, and what we're doing. I want to talk about the park strategy, because these are all part of the tourism strategy. They all file into the same resource of tourism.
We've put $500,000 into historic site maintenance, interpretation and signage for the coming year - in total, over $460,000 in assistance for museums and exhibits. That's not inclusive of the ones I read out from the CDF and the other funds - not inclusive of that. That figure goes up from there. That's why this government is putting our money where our mouth is.
In 1999-2000, $166,000 for the Yukon archeological program, $115,000 for the paleontology program, and $30,000 for heritage studies - I finally said "paleontology" correctly; I amazed myself.
I've spoken a little bit about the other final agreements, but contained within the final agreements are special management areas, such as the Tatshenshini Heritage River, and I know that everybody here is enthusiastic about the Tlingit culture, and they're just desirous of knowing what Skagway means and what Tatshenshini means. I would be glad to share that with you any time after this speech that I'm making here.
But that's what we're doing - the Tatshenshini Heritage River, the Tombstone territorial park. We're also working and providing the development assessment process, and the development process factors into the tourism industry process.
Why? Because it is a meaningful process and it involves the Yukon people - that's why.
So, Mr. Speaker, these are just some of the small things that we are doing. They are some of the small things we'll continue to do in partnership with the Yukon people. We want to do it, and we'll continue to do it.
So, I'd like to just take the time to thank the people for listening and for them to understand what the importance of tourism means to me, personally and professionally, and that's what it means to this government, as a collective whole. So, is the Lord study important to us? Yes, Mr. Speaker, the Lord study is a comprehensive report that was commissioned in 1986. Again, it was by a New Democratic government, and again, it had the vision and wisdom to incorporate it. We expect that it will be a part of it.
Mr. Speaker, I would just like to thank the people for listening today and for sharing my experiences with me. Thank you very much.
Speaker: If the member now speaks, the member will close debate. Does any other member wish to speak?
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, there have been a number of reports that have been done over the years on tourism. The Lord report is a really good indication of where we needed to go a number of years ago, as far as protecting our museums. It was a good blueprint for the future at that time.
Protecting our heritage means a number of different things to a number of different people, but basically, what it means to us right now, in a time of a very poor economy - protecting our heritage means developing tourism and giving people what they want to watch, helping us all.
My first connection with tourism in the Yukon was at my very first job in the Yukon, and that was at the Old Log Church here in Whitehorse, when I was 13 years old and probably working under age at the time. That was with Mrs. Garside - and it was a couple of years ago.
At that job, I had the real honour of listening to the tales of many of the people who came into the Old Log Church and telling of their lives when they used to attend that church a number of years ago and how their family had been part of that church and of the Anglican mission at that time.
Later in life, I was pleased to work at the seniors information centre, and heard even more of those stories related to me on a daily basis from a number of the seniors in town.
It's always been important to me to have those stories recorded, and a lot of those seniors have, indeed, put quite a bit into the culture and tourism aspects of the museums here in the Yukon. Some of those people would be Mrs. Whyard, a former MLA and also a former mayor in the Yukon who did an awful lot with the Transportation Museum. Some other people who have done quite a bit are Laurent Cyr, for example, who has donated very generously to the archives here in the Yukon, particularly in Whitehorse, and Ted Harrison, who has done much to depict northern life in a really interesting way.
Ted Harrison is a friend of our family, he was my sister's art teacher, and he's always been able to look at not just the buildings and the people but at some of the humour of what it's like to live in these small communities, and that's what he's done very, very well.
Diane Paton Peel - today, I know that I've had to save quite a few dollars over a long period of time in order to buy some of her works, and she certainly shows something of the Yukon the way it is now. A lot of her work has been done mainly around the horticulture in the Yukon, but we are very, very rich with the guilds and the artists and the people who think that tourism and history in the Yukon are important to us.
Now, we brought this motion forward to encourage a new vision for Yukon's museums. Our caucus had hoped that the government could see the wisdom of having some constructive debate around this motion.
One of the other things that we have had here in the Yukon that has enriched our lives and needs to be preserved would be the tapestry - the tapestry right here in this very building, right here in this room - that shows people the way things are, and the tapestries in the members' lounge, that speak about women in the Yukon, and their lives, and their history.
Joyce Hayden, another former MLA who sat in this House, has done an awful lot in developing the Girl Guide history for the Yukon over the past 100 years, and that book, as a matter of fact, sells at the museum here in Whitehorse.
The White Pass and Yukon Route - some of us in this room may remember the Santa train that used to go in and out of Whitehorse. As children, we would go in the Santa train, and that was always sponsored by Rolf Hougen, and that is another part of our history.
We've been very, very fortunate in the city now. There's been a concerted effort - again with Mr. Hougen - to look at developing busts around the park. That is another tourist attraction - those busts are of historical figures in the Yukon. There are four of them now; there's more coming.
That does a lot for us. Number one, it has artists employed developing these depictions of our past. It helps us with tourism - people come down to the park. And it shows every day to our children who play in that park that there's an awful lot of history, and that there is more to it than this.
The thing that's happened recently, though, is the depiction of our history in photographs. Now, that's a relatively recent phenomenon. You can see quite a bit of it up in the Transportation Museum. Probably one of the most interesting photographs of the Yukon is the old church at Bennett, and I know there are people here who've seen that particular photograph - it's quite well-known. It's really interesting, because it looks like it's a wonderful church, but in fact all it is is the roof and the spire, because the rest of it was never constructed. But it looks like there's this wonderful old log church right over Lake Bennett. And we have been really, really fortunate to have photographers over the years.
Jim Robb is one of our premier photographers here in the Yukon. Robin Armour has done quite a bit here, and he's, of course, working with us here in the government.
The priorities for the renovations or extensions of the existing museums that were brought forward in the Lord report are still relevant today. You can't just build a museum, put in a couple of collections and hope that things are going to work out well.
Over the years, I have spent some time speaking with people at the museum here in Whitehorse, and there is always something going on. They were worried at one point that it was going to flood. Actually that was almost a yearly issue, that it was going to flood. Other times we were worried that it was going to burn down, then we were worried about the roof, then we were worried about the liability issues on the outdoor display, then we were worried about the fire hall around the corner expanding and taking up the land that the museum now stands on.
There have always been concerns around museums. It's an ever-changing and ever-increasing labour of love for a number of people, and it's also a very expensive process, and that's something that you have to accept with heritage issues. They don't come cheap. You have to have perfectly conditioned rooms in order to preserve the artifacts. You have to pay people well to be curators. If you have artists who are going to be depicting those issues or, for example, if you have photographers - who are in their own way artists of course - then you have to give them the supplies and give them the latitude to show what they feel is the history of an area, and that costs money too. And preserving those photographs has turned out to be one large expense in the Yukon.
Now, the government has shown some commitment toward the renovations on the waterfront, and that is something that we, as all Yukoners - particularly those of us in Whitehorse - are proud of. That old building that is now red, the old fire hall, looks quite attractive, and I would imagine that there are going to be an awful lot of tourists this summer taking pictures in front of it, much like pictures have always been taken in front of the White Pass Building.
What we do need to do is constantly revisit. We can't just be developing one building or protecting one building without looking at all the other ones that have needs. There are needs in all the communities. It seems to be easier in some ways for people who are in a small town to look at what they've got and to collect those things and make a concerted effort to represent or to show those things to the public than it is in a larger community.
In a larger community, a lot of those things get lost over time. People forget. They don't realize that what they have is important. There is a sense in some of the larger communities, particularly in Whitehorse, that somebody else is doing it and, in a lot of cases, nobody else is doing it, and so we have lost a number of things over the years.
There are fires. This is the Yukon and we have fires constantly. If we don't have forest fires, then we've got chimney fires, and we lose things very easily here. There are floods. Go to Dawson; go to Carcross. We have floods constantly in the Yukon communities. It's just a fact of life here and we lose a lot of those documents and a lot of those artifacts in that process.
Having a plan about what we're going to do in the future with our museums and what we're going to do with our historical artifacts is really, really important so that we can go to those sources of information, those sources of artifacts, and get everything we can.
I suppose that one of the points that my caucus colleague has brought up - and something that was also reiterated by the Minister of Tourism today - is that we need to give people recognition for the good work that they do preserving our heritage in the Yukon, and it's something we don't do often enough. We have awards for a number of different things but what we don't do is celebrate those of us who have worked very, very hard to preserve our past.
I'm sure that we'll hear this quote from the Member for Whitehorse West, who has a seemingly endless list of quotes from a number of different sources, that if we don't preserve our past and pay attention to our past, then we are destined to make the same mistakes. That is something that I'm sure he will quote in a much better way than I have, but it's something that we need to pay attention to because, if we don't realize the big mistakes that we made in the past - where the waters have flooded, where the fires come in - then we are going to be in a lot of trouble, and it's something we have to pay attention to.
We've got to make it fun. As a young person, I went to school in Europe for a year, and I did a tour of the museums of Europe, in seven different countries, and I did it in three and a half days.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mrs. Edelman: I had other priorities at the time, I'll have to admit. But I got very, very little out of it. I think that if I had maybe gone to the Louvre and maybe had it explained to me that there were some interesting stories about this, and that maybe it came during World War II, it was taken by the Nazis, or that there were some interesting things that relate to my life today, then I probably would have paid just a tad bit more attention, instead of being very interested in getting to the next stop. Actually, I did the Louvre in 22 minutes.
I think that's the thing. We have to find some way of making sure that our young people are interested in this, because if they're not interested, then they're not going to protect or save our history and the history that we're making today. There are a lot of fun ways to do that. We've talked about the Beringia Centre. The Beringia Centre is a perfect example. Every time we drive by there, our dog barks, and our kids get excited, and we go in. Indeed, we've been to Beringia nine times now, and each time I've always found something new there. There's a lot of "hands on", and there's a lot of really interesting things to do. Most of the teachers in the Whitehorse area know that it's a possibility for education for the kids, and they've made every effort that they can to bring kids there. And that's what we need to do. We do need to make it interesting, not just for young children, but for everybody.
There is something to be said, for example, at the information centre. There's a map, and where you press a button, a light bulb comes on. Say, if you press the Faro button, or for Dawson City, or for Carmacks, or wherever.
Those are the sort of interactive things that maybe we need to think about doing, because just having people coming to a musty, dusty old facility to look at a bunch of old stuff - that may appeal to some people, perhaps even the Member for Whitehorse West, but it doesn't appeal to everybody. I think, when we're developing a plan, it's really, really important that we integrate that aspect of it. People want hands-on; they want to have fun, and planning and using that information is what's going to help us in the long run.
This is part of our economy. It is part of what's important to us as Yukoners because it's our only future right now, as regards jobs, and the growing workforce in the world right now is within the service industries.
It's really important to look at what we've done in the past, but it's important to develop our own blueprints as well. A perfect example: kids who leave sports. They leave sports not because it's too tough for them but they leave sports because they're bored, because it's not fun any more. And that's something in a world where we have constant messages coming at us from the television every 20 seconds. The people want something fast, they want it now, and they want to be entertained, and that's something that we have to constantly look at when we're developing museums and when we're planning for the future. It's perhaps heritage techno-speak, but it's something that we have to do if we want to realize the way the world is right now.
We talked in the past about legislation - for example, what we do here, which I find very, very interesting on a daily basis - developing laws, and we have laws that reflect a particular time in history, but those laws don't mean as much 10 years down the line. That's something that we have to do more about as we're planning for heritage and we're planning for history. We have to realize that what we're doing now may not be the audience or may not be the market that we're going to be looking at 10 years from now. It's sort of forward planning but we do have to be aware of the trends and what's out there.
Socially, of course, it's really important for us. It's the message of our ancestors, and the ancestors whom we celebrate are those who came up during the gold rush, and there have, of course, been people in the Yukon long, long, long before that. We have to realize that that is part of the culture and the fabric that we have here in Whitehorse today. Maybe there should be some recognition of that.
People who lived here 100 years ago - for example, the Cyr's family, about four or five years ago, we named a building up in Granger after the Cyr family and called it Cyr Place. It would have been the Yukon Housing Corporation that did that. At the time, I was the chair of the Whitehorse Housing Authority, and I thought it was a very, very appropriate naming. Those are the sorts of things that we've lost.
Now, in Whitehorse, for example, each one of the subdivisions is named after a certain group. We have some that are named after minerals. We've got some that are named after rivers. We have some that are named after trees. Maybe we need to start going back and looking at our history again, not only in Whitehorse, but in other areas. I know other communities have made a real concerted effort to name all sorts of different things after people who have been in that area over a period of time or who have given to that community.
That's something that maybe we need to think about, because we have third and fourth generation people here from the gold rush, and we had far more generations of that from people who were here previous to the gold rush, and it would be interesting for those families, those kids, to say, "That was named after my grandma," or, "That was named after my grandfather," or whatever. That's something that we need to think about doing in the future as well.
All of these things are very, very small issues, but if you get a plan together and if you make an effort to say that these are some of the things that we're aiming toward, like you do with any corporation or any department - these are some of the things that we want to have part of our mandate. We want it to be fun. We want it to last longer than 10 years. We want to be reviewing whatever we've done in the past. We want to have measures of our success or performance. Then, I think, we can move forward working with heritage in our community.
The Lord report was done quite a few years ago, and I think it makes an awful lot of sense at this point to revisit that effort, and certainly I think, and the Yukon Liberal caucus thinks, that our heritage is worth it.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Actually, the quote is: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it", and it's actually not by an historian, interestingly enough, it's by the philosopher George Santayana, in his book The Life of Reason, published in 1905. I believe it was in volume one, chapter 12.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I regret I haven't had a chance to look up the page reference. However, I digress. Actually, to be quite honest, I've never been particularly fond of that quote. I have always thought that the purpose of history is more to teach us who we are, to give us a sense of where we've come from, and to identify a little bit for us how we arrived at this point.
I know that when I come into this Chamber every day - two and a half years or a bit longer into this job - I always get a slight frisson; a slight feeling that I am entering history. The symbols in here do remind me. I hope, in all the time I'm in this Chamber, I never lose the idea that this is an historical place. This comes from a tradition of democracy, a tradition of parliamentary evolution that I think we would all do well to remember every day.
I guess one of the things I was taken a little bit aback by was the ringing endorsement of the Lord report, which was actually an NDP document.
Now, considering that this report is now - they've only taken 13 years to getting around to recognizing it. So, by my calculation, sometime in 2012, the Liberal leader will get around to endorsing Yukon hire, the 1999 budget, the tourism marketing fund, et cetera, et cetera.
I'd just like to talk a little bit about the importance of how I see heritage, because I do think that heritage is something that we need to remember and we need to continue to remember. As a teacher, one of the things I always enjoyed doing was taking my high school classes out and doing the walking tour that we would do along the waterfront and using resources, such as the booklets put out by the Yukon Historical and Museum Association and useful I found them.
I've had a rare privilege - and I do consider it a privilege - to have been able, by some of the actions of this government, to be part of what I consider to be the preservation of Yukon's heritage for future generations.
I think one of the significant events that has occurred has been the passing of the Historic Resources Act. I think that has done a tremendous amount in guarding our heritage resources for the future.
I have a strong sense of pride that I have been involved, along with my colleague, the Minister of Tourism, in the acquisition and preservation and, indeed, the enhancement of the Taylor House. It was one of those buildings where there was a good deal of condemnation for purchasing but I feel that, as we've evolved there, it's become a real showpiece. It's become a real symbol of pride. I was very pleased to be part of the ceremony opening the Taylor House being used for the Arctic Winter Games. When the Arctic Winter Games are completed, the house will become the new home of the Heritage Resources Board.
I feel very proud of that. I think it's an excellent mix.
The small buildings on the waterfront here, close to the government building, the small railway houses - they're small buildings but I think they're extremely attractive. I think they add something to the value of our waterfront. Those are buildings that, when I would take my students around, we would talk about the role of the White Pass in the development and opening up of this territory.
I've always thought it has been a bit of a shame that we haven't acknowledged those buildings. One of the things we should be actually doing is trying to not only preserve buildings like that but perhaps do some historical signage to identify the role of the buildings.
There's another small building just down at the very corner of this lot. It is a casey house, a casey being the small sort of pump-handled cars that would go up and down and inspect the railway tracks. That small building there was used to house that, and that's another building I think we should be preserving.
What we've done with those buildings is that we've taken them and tried to restore them into as good a state as we can. One of the buildings, however, regrettably has an unsound foundation. It's not particularly fit for occupancy, so what we've done is tried to do some cosmetic maintenance on it to preserve it so that people can see it. We've put up a small fence, re-nailed the roof and painted the exterior.
The other small building is in better shape and has been upgraded and renovated. It's now being occupied by the Tourism Industry Association as temporary headquarters while we do the renovations of the White Pass depot, and I think, if you haven't had the chance to get over there, you really should because it's been made very pleasant and attractive.
This little house will be leased to the Miles Canyon Historical Railway Society for use during the summer months, and hopefully we're going to get them in there about June when TIA returns to the White Pass depot.
And just while I'm on the Miles Canyon Historical Railway Society, I think that's an example of a marvellous community enterprise that's going to try to not only preserve an element of our heritage but, I think, become a real advantage. I think it will be a marvellous tourism initiative.
I don't know if people have actually had a chance to take a look. There's a small exhibit out in the front foyer that shows the route of it and some of the future expansion. I think it's going to be a marvellous opportunity. It's my understanding that the Miles Canyon group is going to be looking at using that small building there as not only their headquarters, but they'll also be selling tickets and organizing tours when they get the railway up and going. So, presumably, they'll be taking passengers from down here, up to where they will be running the railway.
If we move north along the waterfront, the Member for Riverdale South has identified the old fire hall building. Now, notice that the contractors are still on site. We're doing electrical and structural upgrades. This building has been leased to the City of Whitehorse for two years. The historical society of the Whitehorse Fire Department will use it to restore old fire trucks and firefighting equipment, and kind of give a bit of a heritage aspect to that area. I think it's going to be yet another asset for this town, and I believe it will be something very positive for our visitors to come and see. I think we sometimes forget because we live cheek by jowl with historical buildings - sometimes we pass them every day, sometimes we don't even recognize their historical value, we fail to understand that, in other parts of North America particularly, people have lost a good deal of that heritage. It's been mowed under by suburban development, and a good deal of that has ceased to exist in other parts of the continent.
There are some notable examples. I think cities like Charleston, South Carolina, have taken a very active stance in historical preservation. New York City has one of the best tax structures for heritage buildings in North America.
Delaware also has a good heritage policy. I can get the member more details on that one if he wishes.
And, of course, as we talk about the historic buildings in this territory, my favourite building - and a building that I feel very keenly about in us having to preserve - is, of course, the White Pass Building. This probably makes our Main Street, I think, really unique and very distinct among cities throughout Canada. I think there is nothing more unique than looking down that main street and seeing that building, particularly when the sign is lit up. And we only have to take a look at the kind of attraction that that building has for our visitors to realize that that's a building that some of us probably go by every day without even acknowledging, and I can say that I for one am very proud to have been involved in the preservation of that building.
The lobby, the ticket office and the building exterior are going to be restored to maintain their original character, and the remainder of the building's interior will be renovated to provide general office space at an upgraded standard to meet current building codes.
I think one of the things that's really been a tragedy is that we haven't been able to utilize that building as we might have. It's just marvelous office space. I think it's just a tremendous location, and I'm very pleased to see that we are developing it there.
I guess that, for me, the fact was driven home a bit more than a year ago when I was just walking down by the waterfront and I noticed the veranda on the train station and how badly it was sagging and in danger of collapse. I found that quite alarming, because here's a building that I think has been a real centrepiece of Whitehorse history unfortunately not being preserved.
So, as I said, we're doing a lot of restoration to the interior of the lobby, the ticket office, to the original character. Some of the features we're putting in there include the windows, which will be wood frame, so the look is the same as the original, both inside and out. The doors will also be wooden. There is new trim in the heritage area that will match the existing trim. The exterior will be given a new shake roof and a new coat of paint. There will be a new heating and ventilation system, and electrical and sprinkler systems will be installed to comply with current building codes - I was very concerned about the lack of adequate sprinklers in that building because it really was quite worrisome. There will be two new stairways constructed to the second floor.
The Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon, the Yukon First Nations Tourism Association and Yukon Quest all lease office space in the building. We're hoping to have this project completed by the end of June.
We think there are many things that we can be doing to preserve the heritage of this territory, and we've actually invested in that. We've invested over half a million dollars in historic sites maintenance, interpretation and signage. We've invested over $460,000 in assistance for museums and exhibits. The heritage branch alone will spend $166,000 this year for the Yukon archeology program, $115,000 for the paleontology program and $30,000 for heritage studies.
One of the things, I think, that has been most significant by this government has been the introduction of the heritage property tax exemption for owners of heritage buildings within our taxing authority. I think this is going to provide an incentive for people who are interested in maintaining their buildings, to develop their buildings and to add to their value.
So, I think we're doing many, many things in that regard. I'd just like to take a look at some of my personal favourites that come out of the CDF, and when I look at them, one of my favourites - and, I think, probably a favourite of the Member for Riverdale South - was the Dawson City Museum and Historical Association receiving $118,000 to improve the locomotive shelter.
That is a building that, if you had an opportunity to see some of the rolling stock up at Dawson, you realize the value of it. I had no idea, for example, of some of the uniqueness of some of those locomotives, until I had a chance to go up there and talk with the director.
And I think improving the locomotive shelter by enclosing it, controlling some of the climactic conditions, will be a real asset in preserving those artifacts.
The Dawson City Museum and Historical Association also received $97,880 to develop a storage facility. The member has mentioned before that the Keno Community Club and Mining Museum received $17,654 for a shelter to preserve artifacts; the Binet House in Mayo - $21,000 to upgrade the exhibit and the photo display.
There are some things, I think, that we have also added in terms of preserving some of our First Nation heritage: the idea of supporting the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation for the Moosehide gathering, and such things as with the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, to record the historical and current use of land.
These are the kinds of things that recognize the fact that we are all part of the fabric of the territory, and that the First Nations heritage which, in many years, has for so long been an oral culture, with the passing of so many elders, there is really a need to preserve the culture, preserve the language, and I'm pleased that we, as a government, are working on this.
I've had the pleasure this past year of being part of some of the historical events in this territory. I've had the opportunity, for example, to be at the carving of the Tlingit canoe that my colleague referred to, and actually, they even gave me an axe to take a first cut. It was a little dangerous, but I didn't cut off any fingers, but just being part of that, I think, was a thrilling experience.
One of the, I guess, most personally significant moments for myself was the opportunity to attend at the rededication of the Jewish cemetery in Dawson. When I say it's personally significant, I think, was because a good friend of mine was involved in and tried to trace the history of the Jewish community in Dawson during the early gold rush years.
And it was always one of his dreams to find that cemetery and see it restored, and thanks to the efforts of the -
Speaker: The minister has two minutes.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Thanks to the efforts of the Jewish community here, particularly people like Arthur Mitchell, Howard Kushner, Rick Karp, those folks, having the dedication to go up and find and locate the cemetery and go through the rededication of it, I think, gave voice to a part of our community whose contribution we sometimes don't always remember.
Heritage belongs to us all. Heritage is part of that that makes us who we are. I believe that we have a commitment to the heritage. I'm pleased that I'm part of the government that has seen the value of heritage and has seen the value of preserving our heritage buildings, our historic sites, and has made that commitment to preserving the heritage of this territory for future generations.
Long after I have left this Chamber, I'll be able to look at buildings, be able to look around this territory and feel an element of pride that yes, indeed, the Taylor House is perhaps there and is being used, partially through my efforts, that the White Pass is still preserved, that it's still intact, partially because of my efforts and the efforts of my colleagues.
I believe that we all have efforts to make in this regard. I've just touched on some highlights of the importance of heritage to this territory. I realize it wasn't quite as frenetic a tour of the heritage sites that perhaps my colleague from Riverdale South related as to her youthful foray around the museums of -
Speaker: The minister's time has expired.
Hon. Mr. Harding: I'm surprised that the Liberals didn't follow the speaking order. I had assumed that they would respond, but this gives me an opportunity to talk about a subject that's near and dear to me, the issue of museums and how important they are to Yukoners - but before I get into that I must comment, Mr. Speaker, that I've just got a copy of a Yukon Liberal caucus media release, in which they say that the NDP isn't interested in hearing what people have to say on issues on opposition day. We've just spent two or three hours listening to what members of the opposition have to say about issues, so I'm befuddled by the aggressive and confrontational tone of their press release - something that they said they wouldn't be.
They also talked about the NDP putting forward silly amendments. I don't know about any amendments today. I thought we were listening very carefully to what the Liberal caucus had to say about this important issue of museums policy, and the Minister of Tourism waxed eloquently on about what the government did to try and improve the stead of museums in this territory and the whole issue of heritage. And then, of course, he was followed by an impassioned speech by the Minister of Health and Social Services on the subject of his passion for the White Pass train station building and all the work that was done to save the Taylor House from the wrecking ball.
I know not of what these silly amendments are that the Liberal caucus put in their press release, because that would be an inaccurate statement. And, of course, we will have to point that out in due course.
Mr. Speaker, I also want to say that it was interesting that the Liberals have now joined in, even without a legal opinion, to say that they feel that the riding of Faro should be eliminated - their little, thinly veiled attempt to attack the political voice of the people of Faro and lump them in with other ridings has now come out as a result of this media release. So, I'm pleased we've smoked them out of the weeds.
But let's get back to the subject of museums and what this government believes is the important way that we, as a New Democratic Party government, believe that the development of a new tourism strategy will set new directions for Yukon tourism. They'll be doing that across this territory. They'll be doing it in the community of Faro, even though the Liberal caucus doesn't believe a community exists there. I can tell the member opposite that the Minister of Tourism will be going to talk to the people of Faro. Whether they like it or not, there will be a community there that wants to be consulted about tourism strategy, about museums policy, and about where they want to go in terms of direction in the future of the Yukon and how we will respond to the important issues surrounding tourism.
So we worked very, very hard - I know the Minister of Tourism has - to try and ensure that it's a long-standing and major commitment, that we provide major funding to museums, which is something that they've asked for, for a long time.
Of course, Mr. Speaker, there are always increases, but I want to say to the members opposite that it is a comfort to know that you can count on long-term budgeting commitments from the Government of the Yukon, to help ensure that they can plan ahead, with their important work that they do on behalf of Yukoners.
Of course -
Speaker: Member, please. The time being 5:30 p.m. the Speaker will now leave the Chair, until 7:30 p.m. tonight.
Debate on Motion No. 159 accordingly adjourned
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
Hon. Mr. Harding: I move that the Speaker now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Bill No. 14 - First Appropriation Act, 1999-2000 - continued
Department of Health and Social Services - continued
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Committee is on the Department of Health and Social Services. Is there further general debate?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Chair, there were a few questions on points of clarification that I wanted to provide for the members.
In response to a question from Mr. Jenkins regarding the dental space in Dawson City, the City of Dawson entered into a three-year agreement from June 1, 1998, to May 31, 2001, with the Department of Health to use the space in the Parks Canada building for the purpose of providing a dental suite for community service.
The department recovers only $2,200 of our annual $5,280 lease costs from the City of Dawson as a way of assisting Dawson to recruit and retain a community dentist. Dawson City also pays the Department of Health and Social Services $500 annually for the rental of a dental X-ray machine. The Department of Health and Social Services provides maintenance of the unit at no cost.
The City of Dawson has requested a commitment to extend their agreement for a period of an additional two years, from June 1, 2000, to May 31, 2003. Earlier this week, the Department of Health and Social Services confirmed to the city that such an extension would be offered, assuming that Parks Canada continued to make the space available.
The City of Dawson has leased this space to Dr. Helmut Schoener. The Department of Health and Social Services is not party to this lease. Our role has been to offer the space at a modest rental charge and to assist the city with the provision of dental equipment. Any lease concerns are a matter between the city and Dr. Schoener.
I have the original letter between ourselves, dated June 2, 1998, outlining the conditions of the agreement. I have a further letter sent earlier this year from Mr. Jim Kincaid, I believe it is, the city manager, asking us to extend the lease, and I have a copy of the letter that was responded to earlier this week by our director of health programs, basically outlining, "In response to your letter, I've amended the letter of agreement between the City of Dawson and Health and Social Services concerning space in the Parks Canada building for use as a dental clinic."
"Should the space still be available at the end of the current letter of agreement, i.e. May 31, 2001, the territorial government has the option of entering into a new three-year agreement with the City of Dawson under the same terms as the existing agreement and subject to the condition that the city would make the space available to a practising dentist."
So essentially, the lease agreement was between Dr. Schoener and the city. Our role in this matter has been to lease the space from Parks Canada and to support the city in that regard.
There was some question as to the numbers of medevacs and the cost of medevacs. The largest part of the medevac costs are fixed as a result of our contract with Alkan to have an aircraft continuously available. The additional cost of a medevac flight is approximately $1,700. Last year, there were 44 medevac flights to Dawson. It's estimated that this may increase by five to 10 flights in the absence of physicians on call.
Based on past experience, 70 percent of medevacs to Dawson were staffed by emergency medical technicians and flight nurses only. Thirty percent of the time, a physician is included in the flight. The cost of this is $800 per physician flight.
Most medevac flights have no additional staff costs because the crews are available through ambulance services. If an additional staff member is called in, the cost would be $150 to $250, depending on time.
So, in other words, if 10 additional medevac flights were required, costs would be approximately $20,400. At $17,000 for the cost of the flights; presuming that on 30 percent of them, a physician may be called in, that would be three flights at $2,400, and additional staffing, assuming four call-ins, for $1,000 - that would bring a total of $20,400.
In response to a query to the manager of ambulance services, Dawson medevac stats for 24 hours in 1998 - for the periods 8:00 a.m. to 12 noon, there were nine; from the period 12 noon to 6:00 p.m., there were 16; from the period 6:00 p.m. to midnight, there were seven; from the period midnight to 8:00 a.m. there were 12. The original figure of 19 medivac flights was premised on after-hours, because I assumed that was the area we were discussing.
In terms of seasonal distribution, between January and April there were 14 flights, between May and August there were 21, and between September and December there were nine.
With respect to a query from Mrs. Edelman, with regard to recruitment retention, I have some updates here. In terms of retention, some of the initiatives that I did not mention last night were support for professional development and training. There are two nurses on community health upgrading at the University of Victoria. There were four nurses sent to clinical training in March of this year at the University of Manitoba. Dr. Fast has a contract for workshops with nurses that was renewed for 1999-2000.
As I mentioned before, the rents have been frozen at the present level. There has been recognition of the job responsibility through reclassification and, consequently, an increase in salary, the ability to bank compensatory time for most staff, more availability of relief staff for leave requests and an increased flexibility to job share.
As well, we are also proceeding with the installation of satellite dishes for those who do not have cable access.
As I noted under recruitment, a database has been developed for keeping track of serious inquiries and potential future employees. This database is used to maintain our regular contact with those people who have indicated interest in employment at a future date. A recruitment video was developed to raise awareness across the country of the nursing opportunities in the Yukon. A copy of this video is circulating throughout the communities for viewing.
A relief pool has been developed, consisting of a number of nurses who have been interested in supplying relief at various times through the year. Three float positions that, when fully staffed, are available to help support staffing requirements where needed. A short-term contract position will be staffed to provide assistance in all these recruitment activities.
Just some other notes of interest - Judy Corley, who was responsible for the development of this document, A Report on the Retention and Recruitment of Nurses, which I'll get to in just a moment -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Don't worry. I'm not going to read it. I'll just read some highlights from it.
She has assisted community nursing by facilitating the hiring process due to phone inquiries, reference checks, coordinating of documentation for new nurses.
To maintain the momentum that Ms. Corley developed, an administrative assistant has been placed on this particular desk to cover off the issues of recruitment and so on.
So, to respond to the issue that the member asked in terms of issues that had to do with nurses - their retention, their recruitment, et cetera - I could just make a bit of a reference here to some of the issues that nurses did identify. There were some very common threads in terms of why people chose to come here and why they chose to work in the Yukon.
Many of them like the idea of autonomy, independence, the responsibility that the work affords them, and, in particular, the challenge of an expanded role, the ability to do other things in nurse practice that might not be available in, say for example, a city hospital, and other things such as the natural beauty of the Yukon, the lifestyle.
In terms of unappealing aspects of the work, things that might make them want to leave, there was also a common thread. The aspect that I mentioned before about being attached to the job, being continually on demand, was the least-liked aspect of community nursing.
There was also some concern about the idea of abuse of the privilege of having a nurse on-call at hours in the evening and night. Some people noted that sometimes in communities themselves there may have been an unreasonable expectation upon the nurses in this case.
There are issues around accommodation, although the major aspect of difficulties with accommodation had to do with the idea of the accommodation being in proximity to the nursing station or, in some cases attached, or in some cases above. And they felt that, in some communities, there was a disregard of the idea that nurses had a life after work and, if they were home, they were, in a sense, available at the beck and call of the community.
Other issues were around the idea of not being informed on the transfer process; the idea of the change being stressful; there were issues, as well, on - just some common points that the nurses agreed on when they were asked for advice on terms of recruitment and retention.
Some of their suggestions included that the qualifications for employment should not be compromised - the responsibility and workload that's encountered in nursing stations requires a high degree of personal and professional competence, confidence and discipline.
So, in other words, most nurse practitioners were not of the opinion that we should be modifying the requirements to work in communities. They felt that the nature of nurse practitioners did require a fairly high level.
They felt that we should be promoting the beauty of the Yukon, accessibility to communities and outdoor activities. They felt that we should be trying to sell the job by promoting the idea of an expanded role - the autonomy, the responsibility, and independence - that we should be using that as actually a selling point.
That we should be selling the idea that there are knowledgeable people to respond to questions promptly; we should be improving communications, and creating a closer team environment.
We should have sufficient relief to allow regeneration on a regular schedule, which is something that we've been aspiring to do.
Examine staffing the stations through a rotational pool, with three months on and three months off - that's one of the things that they raise. Ensure that information provided to recruits is accurate and comprehensive - that's been part of our issue around developing such things as the video, and so on and so forth.
Re-examining issues around accommodations is something we've done.
Providing ongoing opportunities for training and development - that goes to the heart of the idea of us trying to develop a professional development fund, and so on.
The final question dealt with advertising to achieve results. The majority of the respondents said that they looked for job ads in The Canadian Nurse and other professional publications, and they also suggested that personal networking is another popular job-search method. Some suggested various newspapers and the Internet, which we've gone to as well. So, I hope that's of some assistance.
Mr. Jenkins: I'd like to thank the minister for the information and I'd like to thank him for clarifying a few issues, but there remains some of the most important ones that still the minister has either failed to address or can't address or doesn't know how to address or is not prepared to address. I don't know what the answer is.
I'm most concerned with the number of doctors in Dawson who share in the $460,000 a year in annual billing. The minister has failed to respond to that question, Mr. Chair, but let's leave that alone for the time being. I'm sure we'll dwell on that a little later.
Let's go back to the dentist. The reason that the dentist in Dawson has not signed the agreement is because the initial agreement was for a five-year term and, when everything came back through the hoops, the period of time that the contract was for between the Government of Yukon and the city was for three years and that wasn't the agreement that was in place at the onset.
Now, in Government Services we had a case where there was an open-ended lease. This one is a three-year lease. The terms and conditions were altered by the Government of Yukon after they were negotiated. Could the minister explain why?
The reason that they didn't know that the Old Territorial Administration Building would or would not be available is not a reason. They knew fully well that the federal government will continue to make that building available, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I need to remind the member that the lease agreement is between the City of Dawson and Dr. Schoener. Our commitment to the City of Dawson has been to lease the space and provide it to the city.
Initially, that agreement was signed on June 2, 1998, and there must have been a measure of acceptance because I have a signature from the mayor on June 2, 1998, in that regard, and we also have a cheque payable to the Yukon Territorial Government for the amount agreed on. Now, subsequent to that, the city has written to us and asked us if we can extend that, and we have made that effort, premised of course on the availability of the Parks Canada building.
So, the agreement is between Dr. Schoener and the city. Our role has been to provide the space and to provide some rental equipment.
Mr. Jenkins: I'm fully aware as to who the agreements are with and the reasons for them, but all the original negotiations between the city and between YTG were for a five-year lease, and the city, perhaps in haste, signed the agreement that was sent to them and then it was only after the fact, when the lease was subsequently sent over to the dentist, that he said, "Hey, wait a minute, this is not what we negotiated with the city and YTG."
The original arrangement that was supposed to be enshrined in the lease agreement was for a five-year period, not for a three-year period. That's the whole crux of this situation, and I would urge the minister to resolve the issue and put in place a five-year lease, so that things can get signed and we can continue with the program of delivering probably the best and lowest cost dental service to the community of Dawson.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Presumably, the folks in the City of Dawson - I don't think it was in haste. I mean, between June 2 and it is now January when they have raised the issue. So, I don't think it was in haste. They obviously agreed to it at the time. They've subsequently come back to us and asked us about this. We have said that we'd be willing to extend that, presumably, and premised on the idea that we can get the space available from Parks Canada at this point.
I think, if there is an agreement, the agreement between the City of Dawson - I would imagine the next step would be, premised on this, for the City of Dawson - now that they're in receipt of our letter, which I read and that had been sent earlier in response to the letter: "I've amended the letter of agreement between the City of Dawson and Health and Social Services concerning space in the Parks Canada building for use as a dental clinic. Should the space still be available at the end of the current letter of agreement, the territorial government has the option of entering into a three-year agreement." So, we've said that we're willing to do it. We're willing to go for, if you will, a six-year lease, presuming that the space is available. It would now follow that, if the city feels comfortable with that, they could then go to Dr. Schoener and modify their lease agreement with him. That seems perfectly simple to me. Our role in this one has been to try to lease space and try to cover off a good deal of the cost on this, as a way of assisting the City of Dawson and, as well, obtaining a dental X-ray machine and providing the maintenance on it.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, the information I have from the City of Dawson is that the negotiations that took place with Mr. Browne of your department were all very, very straightforward, and there was no problem there. I believe when it came back through the hoops, whoever drew up the lease agreement - and I don't believe it was the Department of Health; I believe it was another department of government, or an agency of government - it came back in the manner quite different from what was agreed to. The city didn't examine it in haste, and it was only after they took the agreement over to the dentist that the dentist said, "Hey, this is not what I agreed to or what we negotiated with YTG. It was for five years, not for three."
So, I'm just asking the minister in good faith in the hopes that we can put this together, get a lease arrangement with the dentist, and put this to bed, but it's going to take a five-year agreement between YTG and the city so that they can sub for five years to do that. That's all that's being asked for, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, Mr. Chair, I would say that the letter that I just read reflects that. I would say that now the issue is between Dr. Schoener and the City of Dawson - modify a lease to reflect the intention of the change of letter of agreement that we have signed. So, I would say at this point that it should be fairly simplistic for the city to merely modify that lease agreement.
And, of course, we're all subject to the whims of Parks Canada. We don't know, you know, if they have plans in the future, but we are presuming that they don't, and in this case, we've certainly made this subject to the availability of the building. But it's our intention that if the space is available, we would continue on the agreement for another three years. So, a lease agreement could be easily modified between the city and Dr. Schoener.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I'm very hopeful that that will meet with the agreement of all parties, because at the present time there is a contentious issue there, Mr. Chair.
If we could just move into the medevac flights, the minister quoted a figure for medevac flights, Mr. Chair, that does not correspond with the aircraft movements as recorded by flight services. Their aircraft movements differ. The number that I have is 51 movements into Dawson and out of Dawson.
The breakdown that the minister provided - it just goes a.m., p.m., 5:00 p.m. to midnight, and midnight to 8:00 a.m. The breakdown that I have is somewhat different, in that we've just broken it down as to the medevacs that took place during regular office hours, and the 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday, and in addition to that, kept track of all the medevacs that took place after 5:00 p.m. on weekends or on stat holidays, which would more truly reflect the additional overtime costs for a lot of the people involved.
I think that's a more accurate way of keeping the statistics than the format that the minister presented.
I'm also most interested in the breakdown of the costs, and for the additional flights that the minister came up with. He says this is only going to cost us $20,400 for this many more anticipated flights.
But aren't we factoring the basic cost of the whole program into that? Or are we just identifying the incremental cost?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: We have a fixed cost, which involves, basically, our contract whether or not the plane leaves the ground. We have an agreement with Alcan Air that basically contracts them to having aircraft dedicated for being on standby. These are what we consider to be the additional costs that we would incur for an estimated five to 10 flights. Working on 10, at $1,700 for additional costs for a medevac flight, is $1,700 above and beyond the contract that we already have.
We would have to pay the fixed costs anyhow, and this is the extra cost that we are expecting that we would incur.
Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister just confirm the price for the incremental cost for an additional flight, because the numbers I have - from the contract registry - is we have, with Alcan Air, a $1.5 million contract for three years. That's our base cost, our fixed cost.
And the aircraft and crew is $1,890 per flight into Dawson. And then there's an additional cost of $300 for the medevac team for each one of these flights.
So we're looking at $2,190, Mr. Chair. That's the number that I have, and yet the number that the minister comes up with is $1,700.
And if he could also explain the difference between the 51 medevacs that are recorded, and the number that he suggests - the 44 that occurred. Where's the difference, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, obviously the numbers - and I'm not sure where the member's getting his number - that have been provided to me have been provided by the Yukon ambulance service, and I'm presuming that they do keep statistics and I'm presuming that they do have an accurate sense of what the costs are. So, based on that, I would suggest that our figures are fairly accurate. We have a seasonal distribution. We have an hourly distribution.
So, if the member has figures from a different source, perhaps he could share them with me and we can investigate them, but these are the figures that are coming from the Yukon ambulance service.
Mr. Jenkins: Perhaps we could ask the minister to just go and check with the carrier and find out what they actually bill per flight.
Then there's the ambulance cost at each end. Is that not factored into the medevac cost? Because any time a medevac occurs, Mr. Chair, there's the ambulance on the Dawson end that takes the individual to the airport. There's a cost associated with that transfer. And on the Whitehorse end there's also an additional cost to pick up the individual and take him or her from the airport in Whitehorse to the Whitehorse General Hospital. Those costs aren't factored in, and the minister has made no mention of the costs for the medevac crew who accompanies every flight.
Now, all of these other costs are direct costs associated with the medevac and they are strangely omitted. Could the minister explain why, please?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: The member's inference is that there's some attempt to conceal some figures here, and I can assure the member that there is not. We asked for figures on medevac costs and these are what were provided.
I'm also intrigued by the member's numbers because he seems to not trust the ambulance service and, instead, prefers to trust something else. I would ask him to send me over those numbers and we can do a confirmation.
I should point out, however, that even if you extrapolate from this, we are a long way from what the additional cost that had been suggested by the physicians for on-call would be.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, we can't even get a handle on the number of medevacs out of Dawson. The number that I have, Mr. Chair, is 51 medevacs in the 1998 calendar year. I have it broken down, and these numbers are right from flight services in Dawson. Now, how do I get 51 from the number of aircraft movements of this dedicated aircraft and the minister only has 44 registered? Why is there a discrepancy in that number?
All I'm asking the minister to do is to go back to the carrier. Let's go a different route to assemble these figures, to Alkan Air, and ask them how many medevacs originate out of Dawson in the period of 1998. I think that'd be an easy exercise for the department.
Also, I'm looking for confirmation as to the total cost for the flight and for the ambulance crews on each end, as well as the medevac team. That information hasn't been forthcoming either, Mr. Chair, and that should be easy to assemble. Can the minister undertake to provide that?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: If the member would like to provide me with the figures for aircraft movements, we can take a look at those compared to the figures we've got and we'll do a double-check.
Mr. Jenkins: The number is 51, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: The member has used a different method to calculate or a different form of data to calculate the number of flights. If he could provide that to me, we could do a comparison here of how he's calculating, and we can check off each of the flights that he is attesting to, with the flights that we have recorded.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, the other way we can do it, Mr. Chair, is to go and look in the Alkan Air logbook for that aircraft. Perhaps what the minister should do is undertake that, because these numbers are cross-checked from two sources, so I'm stating here, categorically, that there were 51 medevacs handled by Alkan Air out of Dawson City in 1998, and the minister's information that there were 44 is incorrect information. Now, it's up to the minister to provide the correct information.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Since this seems to be such a matter of passion for the member, we will investigate yet again. He seems to be absolutely obsessed by these six flights from wherever that he claims were there. We will go back and we will check again. I'm telling him the figures that I have from our ambulance service. Now, maybe he doesn't have a lot of confidence in the ambulance service. They suggest that there are 44 flights.
Mr. Jenkins: Now, the other area, Mr. Chair, that I would like the minister to go back and reconfirm and to substantiate is the cost per medevac - the additional incremental cost. The minister said that it was $1,700. I'd like the minister to go back, add in the cost for the ambulance on each end, as well as the medevac team, and find out how much cost we incurred. And also, on several occasions, the doctor accompanied the medevac flight. So, it's another $1,000 cost on some occasions. Now, what I'm looking for is the total cost for a round trip for a medevac flight. That's all.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, I thought I had made that clear. With respect to the idea of the ambulance on each end, the ambulance crew is already paid, so it's available. So, that is part -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Sloan: It's a line item for ambulance costs.
With respect to the physicians, we have suggested that, on past experience, 70 percent of the medevac flights to Dawson are staffed by emergency medical technicians or flight nurses only. Thirty percent of the time a physician is included in the flight. The cost for the physician is $800 per flight.
When I gave the member the figure, I suggested that if we were looking at 10 flights, at $17,000, and if we assumed that of those 10 flights, there would be three that would have physicians, that translates to $2,400. We were also assuming that if additional staff were required, that would be anywhere from $150 to $250 additional time. Just presuming that we had four call-ins there, we presumed an additional $1,000. That was included in the figure that I gave the member.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, what I am obsessed with is the minister bringing inaccurate information into the House and not providing accurate information. He just mentioned the cost for the doctor was $800. The cost for a doctor is actually $814. Now, that's a minor sum, but it's still inaccurate information. The cost for the medevac crew is $300. This is the accurate information on those movements.
I'm just amazed that the minister cannot have this kind of information at his fingertips. He's running one of the largest departments here in the government, and it's contingent upon himself to practice prudent business management, which necessitates having a firm grip on the fundamentals of finance.
Now, I know it's the NDP way not to have an understanding of finance, to have a special calculator that adds things up any way they want it to come to, but the reality is that we have a responsibility - the minister has a responsibility. And it's a responsibility to know what the internal costs are in his department, and I'd ask him to exercise due caution and provide accurate information. That's what I'm obsessed with, Mr. Chair - the accuracy of the information the minister is providing here in the House.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: The obsession with $14 boggles the mind. Boggles the mind. When the member says he is obsessed, and I'm expecting him, in short order, to stand up and start rolling ball-bearings around in his hand and start muttering about strawberries. I mean this is absolutely absurd. Eight hundred and $814 - is this really where this debate is going, or is he merely trying to posture for the folks back home, trying desperately to justify a rather mediocre performance in this House? That's what I think this is about. He doesn't have the figures. He didn't have the accurate dental information. He was way off mark on that. He's off on other things, but he can't admit it. He can't admit it. He's so full of bombast, he gets hung up on $14.
Mr. Jenkins: Point of order, Mr. Chair.
Point of order
Chair: Mr. Jenkins on a point of order.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, there's a point of order. The language is unparliamentary there, and I would ask that you request the minister to withdraw the -
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Point of order, Mr. Chair.
Chair: Mr. Sloan, on the point of order.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: On the point of order, Mr. Chair, I suggest that the member's language over the last couple of days has bordered not only on the scatological but on the insulting and patronizing. He, unfortunately, can dish it out but he can't take it. If he wants to play his Captain Queeg imitation, go ahead.
Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)
Chair: Order please. I'd like to remind all members to refrain from making personal remarks, and that we are on the budget, Department of Health and Social Services. Now, is there further general debate?
Mr. Jenkins: We were just dealing with my mediocre ability in the House compared to the totally inappropriate and incapable direction that the minister is leading us in here tonight and most other times.
I'd just take the minister back and ask if he can just review the stats for medevacs as to the numbers of medevacs that took place outside of normal hours. Now, normal hours for Dawson, for the nursing station there, are Monday to Friday, nine to five. I'm looking for the stats outside of those hours, and I can probably go back to the aircraft movements and tell you when the aircraft departed Dawson, but that's a very time-consuming exercise, Mr. Chair.
It's not worth it, but the minister should have that information readily available at his fingertips, and it amazes me that he doesn't. And I would like an accurate and true reflection of the total cost of each one of these medevacs.
Can the minister undertake to provide that? He can bring it back in a legislative return.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: The only thing I find amazing is that this individual has the time to go sit out at the airport and count planes.
But what I will do is - I've made an undertaking to check those facts, and we will try to provide them in as complete information as possible.
Mr. Jenkins: Could I also ask the minister: when a medevac isn't for a Yukon resident, or a person covered by Yukon health care, or a First Nations, what are the costs that that individual would incur? How is it billed, and how is it collected?
We got into, in previous budgets, Mr. Chair, what they failed to collect, but the onus appears to be on the carrier, versus the government, to collect any outstanding amount there.
Just what kind of cost are they incurring?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I'll find that information for the member.
Mr. Jenkins: Perhaps it's easier, Mr. Chair, if we take another tack - or another approach - to this. Could the minister confirm that for a Canadian with health care, other than a Yukoner, it's $3,588, with no doctor? That's for the plane, pilot, and the medevac team. The medevac team is charged out at $500.
If he could go back and - I'm not looking for the answer here tonight, but I just want confirmation that we're on the same kind of cost centers for these services, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: We'll provide details for that.
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Now, let's get back into the main issue arising out of Dawson. It's one dealing with the issue of on-call reimbursement for rural doctors.
Now, the record from yesterday was a dismal one in that the minister failed to answer the basic question that I posed to him as to the $460,000 and how many doctors in Dawson shared that amount. The minister walked all around it, did some awful tap dance but failed to answer that question. Does the minister now have that number with him tonight as to the number of doctors in Dawson who shared in the billing in 1998, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: What we will do is - based on the questions asked the previous evening and based on the fact that I explained to the member that it's not quite as simplistic as taking a number and dividing it up among four, five or 10 or whatever, that, in reality, it reflects the nature of the practice and it reflects the number of weeks worked, and so on. We will provide that information at a future point.
Mr. Jenkins: I was hoping that the minister's future point could be tomorrow while we're still in debate on this department. Can the minister provide that undertaking?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: We'll provide the information as soon as possible.
Mr. Jenkins: Now, I would see it, Mr. Chair, as something simple for the minister to undertake. Why can't he do it for tomorrow or indeed, for today? It's amazing, but I would ask the minister to undertake it and provide that information tomorrow.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I gave the member an undertaking that we would try to get that to him as soon as possible. I did explain that it's based on number of weeks worked, number of clients seen, number of services provided, number of call-out fees, et cetera. So, we're trying to compile that information for him as soon as we can.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, let's go another way, Mr. Chair. Let's take the doctors in Dawson and state how many doctors shared in that amount. To quote the doctors there currently, what we have are the two full-time doctors and now, a third full-time doctor. Then, in addition to the three doctors, we have two locums who filled in on a part-time basis. So, we're talking basically five doctors who shared in the total amount of $460,000.
Could the minister just confirm those figures, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, I believe, first of all, that that's incorrect, and I also believe that the member's characterization of a third full-time doctor may be, in fact, inaccurate. There was not a third full-time doctor last year. It's our information that that third doctor has only been recruited very, very recently. From our information, that third full-time doctor is not there. As a matter of fact, as of April 1, both full-time doctors are off on holidays, and there will be a locum in Dawson.
I should also confirm - perhaps to disabuse the member of his contention that there is a tremendous amount of on-call. In fact, the on-call figures suggest that there have not been that many on-call services by the physicians in Dawson. I'm talking about the resident physicians in this case. I was informed that, since mid-May of 1998, one of the physicians in Dawson has only been available for 14 days of on-call so, to me, that hardly suggests that there is a massive demand for on-call services. As a matter of fact, this physician had informed the nursing station that their availability was only premised on the idea of there not being another physician available in the community. So, I think the argument that these physicians are continuing on-call is perhaps not quite as accurate as what the member might make it.
Mr. Jenkins: It's funny how the minister's opinion of a situation changes when he's sitting in Whitehorse and looking at a rural community. Now, if the minister would go back and think about the time that he spent in Watson Lake or in Pelly, and think about the issues from those communities versus thinking about it from Whitehorse, I'm sure that he'd have an entirely different slant on what he's saying here tonight, Mr. Chair.
The minister continues to dodge the main issue.
The main issue is out there. The minister has categorically stated that the $188,000 for rural physicians is the average cost. No physician in the history of Dawson City has earned even close to the pre-expense income that Mr. Sloan quotes is average for rural Yukon physicians. That's a fact, Mr. Chair, and I've spoken with quite a number of them. In fact -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Jenkins: I'm quoting from some of Gerard's - In fact, the full-time physicians in Dawson, earn 30 to 50 percent less than this amount. And I've gone and looked at their numbers, Mr. Chair. I can get the permission of the doctors in Dawson to table their income statements that the minister says are so secretive and they're bound to be - you just can't mention the number of doctors there; you can't just mention the income - but the image that the minister is putting out there in the public domain and the reality are two different things.
I guess the minister probably summed it up best when he was bringing back the information about the nurses and why they can't attract and retain nurses in rural communities. He said two areas - number one, continually on-call, or continually expected to be there on-call, and the other one was that they wanted to have a life after work. The same holds true for the doctors that have been recruited by the city and relocated to Dawson City. The same holds true. All they're looking for is to practise their profession, provide the services that are needed, and if they're expected to be on-call - and that expectation is out there - to be compensated for it.
Now, the last suggestion that was advanced by the city was to provide a mechanism to resolve this dispute, and that was mediation. Would the minister refer this situation to mediation so that we can come to some agreement with the doctors in Dawson on the on-call?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: There are a couple of interesting points that the member has raised, and I'm glad he's raised them, because he has beat his breast and said, "Oh, the doctors don't earn anywhere near that."
I would suggest that the doctors are, in this case - if he cares to take a look at the amount that the doctors actually practised and how many weeks they billed for last year, he might be surprised to find that it was not a full year. In fact, I believe in the previous year the doctors were away for some 28 weeks, and last year they were away for some 14 weeks. So I think that has to be factored in.
The other thing that's surprisingly absent in this entire discussion - I've raised it before and I'll raise it again - is that we took a look into this on a national picture. If one takes a look at the average in Canada for physician overhead, it can range anywhere from 30 to 40 percent. But nowhere in this entire discussion has the topic of the fact that the doctors' office space is provided gratis, as are their utilities - gratis - and until very, very recently their medical supplies - the normal office supplies - were supplied gratis. That seems to be surprisingly absent from any discussion on this entire matter.
As well, I think it's also worthwhile to note that regarding the entire issue of doctor time, doctor leave, et cetera - we had put forward to the physicians in Dawson a similar arrangement as with that in Faro.
If the issue is truly time - if the issue is truly time off, quality of life - we put forward a proposal that we'd give a guarantee similar to that in Faro.
I believe it's in the range of $160,000 a year - I believe it's for a 45-week year, with guaranteed locum time and things of that nature. If the actual issue is quality time - time off - we've made that offer. We've also made that offer premised on the idea of having three physicians - three full-time physicians.
I might note that the member has made reference to the three full-time physicians. In reality, there hasn't been a third full-time physician until just very recently, when the doctors recruited a third one, even though they were approved last April.
I might also note that that third full-time physician, in this case, apparently is absent now until some time in the summer. This is what we are informed - that we, in fact, had -
Oh, the member is waving his hand. He doesn't believe that. I can tell him that, as of April 1, we have a physician in there. That physician is a locum. Is he suggesting that the other physician is present? If he is suggesting that, I would beg to differ. That's not what our information is.
I would suggest that perhaps his facts are wrong. If he is telling me that the third physician is going to be there April 1, that the third physician is there now and will continue on in that period of absence, we would be more than happy. We would be delighted to know that we're going to have two physicians in that town. That's great; that's great. But the information we're suggesting is that that third physician is not going to be present year-round.
That's the information that we have and, as a matter of fact, that has been the practice in the past. So, where does he come up with this mythical third physician?
Incidentally, our offer of $160,000 was based on the idea that the physicians would be continuing to operate out of the clinic, that there would be guaranteed locum time, there would be guaranteed vacation time, there would be guaranteed PD time and that we would have three physicians based in the community who would reduce the call rota, so a physician would really only be on call, on that basis, one in three.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, again I have to say, Mr. Chair, that I am obsessed with the inaccurate information that the minister is putting forward in the House here tonight. Perhaps during the break, he can go to his telephone in his office and look up Dr. Parsons' residence phone number. He won't find Dr. Parsons or Dr. Crocker at that number, but he will find the third physician there, and she has been in Dawson for quite some time.
Now, if he wishes to contact Dr. Parsons and Dr. Crocker tonight, I don't know if they are back from Viceroy, but that's where they spent the day today, Mr. Chair.
So, currently, and for the last little while, the minister is wrong. His information is incorrect. It's wrong, Mr. Chair. There are three physicians in Dawson as I stand here. And I would urge him to make the phone call during the break to confirm that information.
But let's get back to the main issue. The main issue, Mr. Chair, is that the minister is advancing the proposal that the doctors work in salaried-type positions.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Jenkins: Contract. It's basically a salary. They've become a 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. - you know, they're there at the beck and call. The government dictates when they start, when they finish, how many hours they put in, like Dr. Fast in Faro. He works four 10-hour days. And then when you look at the per capita cost for the method that the minister is suggesting, and you look at the per capita cost for Dawson, which is considerably lower - and I read the figures into the record.
These are department's own figures as to what it costs to maintain medical services in rural Yukon, the department's own costs: total payments for medical services for Dawson City - worked out to $147.36 per person; for Faro, $191.00 per person. And I'd suggest to the minister that those costs have increased, given the decrease in the population. Watson Lake works out to $248.20 per person. Now, these are accurate reflections of the cost for total medical payments for the communities. Now, why would you want to go to a system that would cost the taxpayers more? We have something; it works. It works well, and I would urge the minister to review the proposal that has been put forward to him by the city that this matter be referred to mediation. Will the minister consider resolving this situation by mediation?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, the member is mixing up some things there. First of all, I believe the figures the member was working from was when Faro had two physicians. Faro now has one physician. Dr. Fast has a guaranteed period of time, as part of his agreement, where he is on call and guaranteed time off.
He makes the comparison to Watson Lake. Watson Lake is unique in this territory in the fact that it has a cottage hospital as opposed to a nursing station. A nursing station is staffed with nurse practitioners. Nurse practitioners, in reality, handle most of the primary kind of care.
Watson Lake does not. Watson Lake is staffed with registered nurses. Therefore, the practice in Watson Lake is that the physician sees most walk-ins, most of the people who come in. So naturally there is a difference in the mode of practice.
In the case of Dawson City, we have a very adept and very accomplished group of nurse practitioners who do, in fact, deal with many of the primary care issues, and we're very fortunate to have them.
Now, the member has suggested that we sit down and we work this out. Yet, he says, "Well, this is far too expensive." He is also suggesting that the doctors in Dawson, by his calculation, don't make anywhere near the figures that are being suggested.
So, let me get this straight, let me just try to do a bit of a calculation around this. We're suggesting that doctors get a guaranteed income of $160,000 plus other particular perks, such as time off, et cetera, et cetera, with no office charges or anything of that nature.
We're proposing that we do that for three doctors, so that works out to about $480,000. So we're saying, $480,000, that would be what we would propose there - plus we would have assorted other costs for bringing in locums for periods of time.
But in general what we would have, we would have physicians there probably most of the year - fulltime staff positions.
Now, that appears to be unacceptable. In other words, a guarantee of $160,000 plus other benefits seems unacceptable. But the doctors have just gotten through saying that they don't make anywhere near that.
So, what we're suggesting - correct me if I'm wrong - is we're saying, "We guarantee you this kind of an income; we would guarantee you these kinds of benefits." And that somehow is wrong?
I fail to understand the logic in this case. Is it that the doctors in Dawson are so concerned with medical costs that they would reject this and instead only accept a paltry $200,000 to $400,000 more to essentially provide no more medical service than what we're getting at this point? I'm having a little bit of difficulty with this.
So, perhaps the member could explain why the offer of $160,000 plus other guarantees is so odious. Now, we have made these offers - we've been trying to do some ongoing discussions with this but, quite frankly, the physicians there are only willing to consider this particular option - an option, which, I might say, quite frankly goes far beyond - far, far beyond - the national average for any kind of on-call stipend.
If the member was to take a look, the average on-call stipends range somewhere around $20,000 a year nationally in Canada, so I can't figure out what the difference is on this particular issue. What we've said is that, based on this, we think that probably the best place to resolve this is to take it to the YMA negotiations, which we are expecting to begin very soon - within the next two weeks. We have indicated to the YMA that this is our top priority in the negotiations - to resolve the issue of rural physician compensation.
Now, that being said, we feel that since we've been unable to resolve the issue in Dawson - and I might remind the member that this is not exclusively a Dawson issue. Whatever we deal with Dawson, we will also have to deal with in other rural communities. But, instead, what we have suggested is that we will put it to negotiations. That's where it belongs, thank you.
Chair: Do the members wish to recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Ten minutes.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We're on the Department of Health and Social Services. Is there further general debate?
Mr. Jenkins: Well, when I left, the minister and I were having a lively overview of what was going to make the doctors in Dawson happy, and the minister is of the opinion that turning them into salaried or contract employees - I'm not sure if that would be wise under the current legislation that the Department of Justice has for labour standards. We just want to make everyone employees of this government, Mr. Chair.
I guess what it's going to take is probably the doctors getting fed up and leaving Dawson, and we'll be faced, as we were once before, with the dilemma of being without doctors, without medical service, and they'd have to rotate them out of Whitehorse to serve the needs of the community - at quite an additional cost. Now, the numbers that this minister's department have assembled show that the per capita cost for medical services for Dawson is the lowest of the three rural Yukon communities. We want to help the minister keep it that way, but provide a measure of compensation that's fair and reasonable for the doctors.
Now, if the minister is of the opinion that his program is the best for the doctors, why can't it be referred to mediation to resolve it? Can the minister refer this whole matter to mediation? Now, he's suggested that it's going to negotiations, but the next step after negotiations is usually a form of forced mediation, or something of that nature. Why don't we come to the head of the line and resolve the issue - put it to mediation? Can the minister undertake to do that?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, we have concluded that we will instead take it to our negotiations with the YMA. That may be something that their bargaining team chooses to do or chooses to suggest, but we've suggested that this is probably the most appropriate venue at this point - to take it to the YMA negotiations. I should remind the member that one of the Dawson physicians is indeed on the YMA negotiating team, so I would imagine that she can argue very forcefully their point, and I'm sure that the YMA, ever mindful of the needs of their rural colleagues, will keep this first and foremost in their negotiations. They are, in fact, the regulating body for the medical profession in this territory, and I'm sure that they will see that as being a priority for them, as it is for us.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I hope the minister doesn't expect everybody to swallow what he's said, hook, line and sinker, because it's not going to fly that an issue like this will be resolved. It was attempted once before at the YMA, and it was attempted to be negotiated in that domain. Now, what is the downside of referring this to binding arbitration or to mediation? What's the downside of going that route?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, Mr. Chair, the fact is that we've been at this for awhile. We've made proposals, we've received counterproposals, and we feel, at this point, that this is an issue which has an impact on rural physicians throughout the territory and that we would be better to take it to the YMA at this point. They are indeed the negotiators.
I mean, there are obviously going to be some tradeoffs. YMA will come with a mandate. We will come with our own negotiating mandate, but we're confident that the YMA, in the negotiations, will realize the importance of issues surrounding rural physician compensation and modify their proposals accordingly.
We have a good deal of faith in the YMA as an organization. We're sure that they're cognizant of the needs of their rural members, as I mentioned previously. One of the Dawson physicians is even on the YMA team, so I would imagine that that would be first and foremost in their minds, as it is in ours.
The member made an interesting kind of comment when he said that contract employees - I should remind him that the idea of doctors on contract is not an unknown one in many parts of rural Canada. It's not that foreign a concept and, as a matter of fact, it is increasingly being looked as an option in underserved areas of Canada.
So it's not that radical a concept. All of the physicians, for example, in the N.W.T. are on contract - they're all contract physicians. So we don't think it's that startling. It seems to have worked quite well in Faro.
We think that the idea of a contract position with a strong nurse practitioner team is a very viable one. We believe that it's something that should at least be explored and, quite frankly, I guess I'm just a little bit taken aback that it has been rejected out of hand.
We have even offered to do it on a trial basis, and to see how we could do it, say, for a period of time, and then do a community review to see if there was any negative outcome from it. We've offered those kinds of things, but unfortunately they've been rejected.
So at this point we think probably going to the YMA negotiations is the appropriate level. Now, I think the member - I guess, in comparing it to, say, for example, labour negotiations - has suggested, "Why don't we just skip to the chase and just go right to mediation?"
But in reality, mediation is usually a recourse that follows the idea of failing to produce something at negotiation. We don't feel that we've done that as yet, because we haven't gone to negotiations with the YMA, and we think we'll go to YMA negotiations and hopefully be able to resolve this, at this point.
I'm not sure what the reluctance of the doctors in Dawson is to follow that route because - I guess I'm still somewhat puzzled as to their reluctance to entertain the concept of a contract type of arrangement, even on a trial basis.
I guess, when we look at this, what it has really done for me and for the department is it's made us look at the whole idea of rural health delivery. And I think probably we're going to be looking at that in even greater detail, because of this experience. As well, we're going to be looking at some other issues around the provision of medical services in rural communities.
So, it's had a positive effect in that regard.
I guess I am still at a bit of a loss to find out why the physicians in Dawson are so reluctant to consider what we consider to be another viable option.
Mr. Jenkins: I'm going to let my colleague get into the debate here and leave this for the minister to dwell over, but I would urge the minister to consider mediation.
The clock is ticking. The minister has been put on notice for a considerable period of time that, effective April 1, the doctors will not be available after hours. Is it going to take somebody to die in our community before the minister wakes up and does something about it and addresses his responsibilities?
This situation is a situation that has occurred in British Columbia in a lot of rural areas, and the only solution the minister is looking at is to make the doctors contract employees instead of fee-for-service employees.
What's the problem with fee-for-service? These doctors are independent, they set their own hours, but the NDP philosophy is to make everyone a widget: they have to fit into the whole program and be subservient to some official who tells them when they have to report to work, finish work - reduce everything to the lowest possible common denominator. It has nothing to do with providing health care service in a most cost-effective manner.
The minister deserves to learn something about the delivery of a business program and basic addition. There seems to be a lack of ability on the minister's part to understand numbers, which is the basis for most business decisions.
The exercise that we are engaged in here is to provide the highest, consistent level of service at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayers, and the minister's own departmental figures say that, of all the rural Yukon communities, Dawson has the lowest cost per capita for delivering that service.
We'd like to keep it that way. We'd like to maintain that service. But the way the minister is going, there is only one solution, and that is that these doctors go on contract, and I'm afraid that that's not acceptable. They are independent. They want to maintain their independence. They don't want to become widgets under this government or this minister who can't add.
Now, the offer is out there. It has been suggested by the city. The minister is out there suggesting that it be dealt with by the YMA. Why doesn't the minister refer it to mediation? That's the suggestion made by the City of Dawson, and I would urge the minister to refer it to mediation. I'm going to leave this issue now, let my colleague get in, and we'll take it up with the minister tomorrow.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: We're getting into some really interesting, fancy skating here. Apparently, $160,000 makes one into a widget. I don't think Dr. Fast is a widget. I think Dr. Fast is a superb physician who works very effectively with his nurse practitioners in Faro, and I've detected, in Faro, a tremendous level of satisfaction. We're offering what we consider to be a very generous settlement.
The member goes on and postures away about how Dawson is the lowest paid, the lowest cost. I would remind him that if we accepted the proposal that is being brought forward by the physicians in Dawson, it would add $220,000 to $400,000 on top of the existing fees right now. Now, that ceases to become the lowest cost medical delivery. What we have suggested is that if this is really about time, we can provide an arrangement that will provide that for physicians. We can provide physicians with a decent guaranteed income, decent time off, and so on.
Just by way of interest, with the level of compensation that is being proposed by the physicians in Dawson, if we extrapolate that to physician billings in rural Yukon, it would probably be pushing about $1 million extra for rural physician fees alone in this territory.
Now, that's very, very difficult for me or, I think, for any Health minister to accept. The proposal that is being put forward by the physicians in Dawson is by far in excess of anything that has been considered in other provincial jurisdictions, and he knows it.
Mrs. Edelman: I'd like to return to some of the comments the minister made earlier this evening. We were talking about the retention of nurses.
The previous conversations we've had have been around the rural nurses, in particular the nurse practitioners. One of the issues that came up last year was that the nursing conference had to be cancelled in the fall because of the lack of relief nurses. Is it the minister's contention at this point in the game that there are going to be enough relief nurses available so we can have that very vital nursing conference here in the Yukon this fall?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I thought I gave out some numbers in terms of relief. We are feeling very positive in terms of the number of relief nurses that we've been able to generate in the last little while. I'll dig out those figures again for how many -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Oh. If the member can just bear with me - but based on that, we're feeling positive that we've got enough coverage at this point. We'll have those numbers for you momentarily.
Perhaps, in the interim, what I'll do is re-read some of my points about some of the retention that we've had. The deputy minister seems to be urged on by the Member for Riverdale South, who appears, for some inexplicable reason, not to want me to go over my salient facts again. I'm deeply, deeply grieved.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Okay, well, the member has indicated that. It's in the record.
Suffice it to say that we are hopeful that the numbers that we've been getting will allow us to be able to continue this year with the nursing conference. We have been making, as I said, a very aggressive attempt to recruit nurses. As the member is probably aware, some jurisdictions, such as Ontario, have recently announced a major demand for nurses - some 10,000 nurses.
I was reading through the Ontario report on this, and one of the areas that they've identified very clearly as being an issue for them is also the collection of nurse practitioners, particularly in the rural communities up in northern and northwestern Ontario, especially in the Albany River, that area. So, they're struggling with this issue as well.
It was interesting to review some of the comments, I believe, of the assistant director of the school of nursing at the University of Toronto - I'm just trying to recall her name at this point. One of the things that she observed is that, unfortunately, professions like nursing are not like a tap you turn on and turn off. What has happened over the years is that so many young people have been discouraged from going into nursing; now it's going to become a major effort to convince them to go back into nursing. Even when you get people going into nursing, you put them into nursing one year and they don't come out of it the next year; it's a four-year process. It's not going to be a very immediate thing. So, I think we're all sort of struggling with that.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, one of the things that the minister has already talked about is the fact that we're not just talking about nurse practitioners and we are talking about a shortage of all nurses in the very, very near future. That truly concerns me because I think that we need to develop a strategy now on how we're going to deal with that. So, it's the nurses at Whitehorse General; it's the nurses at the Watson Lake cottage hospital; it's the nurses in private practice as well, and I have a real concern that we're not looking at that.
The Corley report is great. We have the basis, the factual information to work from. Now we need to develop a strategy and I think that that's something we can't do by ourselves. It can't just come from the department. I think it has to come from the YRNA. I think it also has to come from the hospital and the private employers, as well as the nurses who are not only out in the field but are also here in Whitehorse specialty nurses, pediatric nurses or OR nurses or ER nurses or whatever that we need to start talking about those areas as well because, especially with the specialty nurses, we will be really in bad straits here very, very shortly. We have two OR nurses and that's it. If we lose either one of them, we've lost 50 percent of our workforce in that area and we need them in that area.
So, all I'm trying to get from the minister at this point is an idea that we are going to be working toward that and we're going to be working with all the stakeholders in developing that strategy.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Yes, one of the things that we are part of is a national program to look into the whole question of the shortage of nurses and how to overcome that national shortage.
We have had some discussions, as well, with the college on paraprofessional programs. One of the reasons why we brought in the professional development fund is that we're also hoping to give nurses and other health professionals the opportunity to upgrade skills or to perhaps go into a different field. Perhaps a nurse who's been working in peds for awhile has an interest in maybe doing OR. With the PD fund they would have the ability to go out and take further courses.
We've also had some discussions with UNBC. They have indicated an interest in a couple of programs - one was the master of social work, the other was the master of community health, a program that they're interested in bringing up to the college on a similar basis as the University of Southeast Alaska's master of education program, and so on - doing it as a cohort group.
But we've also had some very preliminary discussions with them. They are seriously considering a nurse practitioner program at Prince George. It would be based in Prince George.
One of the things that would do would be to allow some of our people to go, perhaps not so far, to take courses, perhaps on a shorter-term basis, to upgrade skills.
It would also - if this were to come off - allow perhaps some of UNBC's folks to do, maybe, some practicums in our nursing stations - perhaps add a bit of interest there in people coming to work here.
So those are some of the discussions that we've had in that regard. We are working, as I've said, on the national front as well. We do have a representative on the national program.
I've had discussions with the YRNA about the whole question of a national nurse shortage, and we're very cognizant of the fact that - though I don't want to belabour the point - that it is an aging workforce, as other professions are - aging gracefully, of course, as we all are.
It is something we have to come to terms with, and we have to come to terms with the fact that this is a profession. Nursing, as a profession, is a profession that, for so long, with cutbacks, particularly in southern Canada, young people just simply didn't go into, so we didn't have that continual sort of replacement that we've experienced in other areas. So, we are very concerned about this and we are working on a variety of fronts with this.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, it's interesting that we are working on the national level because I think we need to have those discussions when we're talking with the YRNA, but I think we need to look at all the stakeholders here in Whitehorse and in the Yukon. The minister is indicating that he does seem to be working with them at this point and we are going to be developing a long-term strategy. He's indicating that that's the way it is.
We were talking about cohort groups, and one of those CNAs. Now, CNAs in the Yukon have a fascinating history. They've come and they've gone. Now they're in the gone stage again, but they're coming back. It's something that we don't really address, and the same things that are happening in nursing happened with our CNAs, and part of that was for exactly the same reasons - a lack of recognition for what they do, because the CNAs in the Yukon are not like the CNAs anywhere else in Canada. They had much more of an extended role here, particularly at Whitehorse General Hospital.
The other reason that they're similar to the nursing profession is because we've gone from training them and now we don't train them. What are we doing with CNAs? Are we going to bring back the training program? I know that the CNAs that were let go at the hospital and were sent out to the loading dock were out there for a matter of two or three months and now they've been working as CNAs and working overtime for the last two years. They are beyond busy, and we need more of them. What can we do about that?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I had discussions last year with the college on, perhaps not so much the issue of CNAs per se but the idea of a paraprofessional program, particularly in the sort of nursing home attendant-kind of realm. That's one of the areas where we feel there is going to be probably a fairly acute need in the next number of years.
The very fact that we're building an extended care facility, that we're looking at adding on more extended care beds, that we've got a rapidly aging population - I think that the real demand for paraprofessionals is going to be in the area of extended care. That's where I foresee there being a real need, and I've had some discussions with the college in this regard. I've also met with the CNAs on this and discussed this, and I've shared with them my feeling that that's really where the future of the paraprofessional programs is going to be, because I think that's going to be the hardest group to recruit.
We've already experienced difficulties in recruiting staff for replacement on extended care, and with the beds that we've opened up at the Thomson Centre, the delay isn't going to be in getting the linen on the beds. The delay is going to be in getting the staff.
That's unfortunately just what you have to deal with. Even in announcing that we're opening up the beds, we had the recruitment actions ready to go the day of the budget, and bang, they went out, but we were told at the time that between the time that you announce this and between the time that you can get people, you are looking at a two- or three-month lag, if you are lucky. And that's a reality that we have to deal with.
So, we feel that there is going to be a need, particularly on the extended care, and I've had discussions with the CNAs and the college in that regard.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, I think that it's important that we think about it in the long term and do a strategy around CNAs, much like we're hoping to do with nurses, and bring all the stakeholders in, because the private sector is going to be a big employer of CNAs at some point in the future, as well, for extended care and, of course, all of us very much have a vested interest in those discussions.
The other issue that has come up recently, and we've spoken about it in the House recently, was the issue around the direct operating grant for day homes. Now, I've had a number of inquiries, and I wonder if the minister could sort of give us a little bit more detail. When we're going to be distributing the direct operating grant - or the DOG, as I'll refer to it from now on - are we going to be using the same formula that we've been using in the past?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: In my discussions with the Yukon Child Care Association, I indicated to them that was my aspiration. The reality is that we've gone into the budget, we've shuffled things around, we've looked at where we can free up money. At this point, I have an amount of money that we feel we could put in and lift the moratorium.
However, to take it to the level, on the current arrangement, we would still need further funds. I've made a commitment to go back to search, to dig a bit more, to see if we can free up funds on that. Certainly, my goal would be to do it on the same basis. We are talking about adding on an additional 39 day homes, and it's not small change; it's a good chunk of money.
In dealing with the Yukon Child Care Association, I think they made a very eloquent argument that this is an inequity. I agree it's an inequity. It's something that the Yukon Child Care Board, as well, suggested should be priority one in dealing with some of the child care issues.
That's my goal, that's what I'm working towards. I'm not there yet, but we're still aspiring. I have made a commitment to lift the moratorium.
Unfortunately, I think the media report put perhaps more of a negative slant on it, because when I'd spoken with the reporter, I indicated that, yes, I had this amount of money, but we were looking for whatever else we could get, and I was hopeful in that regard. Unfortunately, they took it as being, "This is as much as we'll go, and drop off the edge of the planet."
I'm aspiring for this, and hopefully I can - I can't make any guarantees, but certainly, we're working in that regard.
Mrs. Edelman: Well, there's a real misperception out there, then. You're talking about less money, therefore the ones that are going to get it are already going to be getting less. But the minister has indicated earlier today that we are going to be sticking with the formula and that he's now looking for the money so that people will be treated fairly and for the ones who already have it, for example, they will continue to get funding on the same level they have in the past. Is that the understanding of the minister?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, I can't make that guarantee, but that is my aspiration.
Mrs. Edelman: Best efforts are best efforts, Mr. Chair, and I hope that the minister can be successful in that.
Now, the other thing, of course - and the practical aspect of that - is that people in the day homes are wondering when they're going to be receiving their first cheque. Are we talking about a month from now, two months from now, six months from now? People need some sort of time frame, because they're trying to make business decisions, based on that information.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: There are a couple of issues there. Presuming I can get a certain amount of money, and I take it back - I think we'd need a regulatory change, if I'm not mistaken, a regulation change coming in.
We would hope to do it within the next couple of months, and I'm not looking at this as sometime into next winter or something. I'm looking at trying to get it in place within the next couple of months.
But, once again, the issue of how much I can free up, and so on and so forth - it's a very real issue. And as I said, we managed to secure a certain amount now, enough that we are confident that we can lift the moratorium and provide a measure of assistance. But, as the member has indicated, there are certain principles we would like to work toward, and that's going to require us getting yet more money.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, that's a much clearer time frame, and I think the people will be very pleased with that.
The other issue, of course, is, does this apply to day cares as well as day homes?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: We believe all our day cares do receive the direct operating grant. What we're talking about are the family day homes at this point.
Mrs. Edelman: So, Mr. Chair, am I to presume then that if there is a new day care that is created it would become eligible for the direct operating grant and the minister is saying that that's possible, that it's probable?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: That's where I want to end up, but it's my understanding that most day cares do receive the direct operating grant. Of course, it varies based on the number of children and so on and so forth.
Mrs. Edelman: I think that that was just in the discussions, that we've always talked about the Day Home Association and some people haven't been clear that it's also referring to day cares as well.
The other issue that comes up consistently from the child care board and from even day homes across the Yukon is the issue of rural day cares and day homes. What is the department doing on working on developing rural day care in the communities?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Actually, to tell the member the truth, that has been the area that's really grown in terms of day cares. We've had a number of day cares open in rural Yukon, and that's really where the demand is; it's in rural Yukon. I believe - now, my figures may be slightly out, but - we've been running around 11 percent vacancy in day cares in Whitehorse, but in the rural areas, as soon as day cares are open, they're almost filled. I can tell the member if she goes down to Teslin, for example, which has an excellent day care, they have a very good population. I've been to Dawson City and they've two large day cares there.
The last time I was in Watson Lake, just maybe a month or so ago, visiting the day care, they're outgrowing their space. It seems like quite an adequate space but I was told that they're actually outgrowing their space. So, the whole issue of day cares in rural Yukon is less of an issue.
The real problem seems to be being able to meet the demands.
There also seems to be a bit of an issue around the consistency in certain rural communities where they have some difficulties in consistency of staff and sometimes consistency of facilities or whatever. But, overall, I think rural day cares in the Yukon are in pretty good shape.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, the last issue around day care in the Yukon was one that was brought up to me a couple of times already. There's a hot meal program in many of Yukon's schools and that's great for school kids, but I've had it pointed out to me that there are a lot of kids who arrive at day homes and day cares in the Yukon who have had gummy bears for breakfast, if they've had anything at all. Are there any plans to deal with the preschool group when it comes to any of the hot meal programs? Is that on the agenda anywhere?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Our efforts, actually, with the school nutrition program - and I think I've indicated that when the second stage of the national child benefits flow this summer, we've already committed to the idea of taking some of that money and upping the amount that we're currently putting into the school nutrition program. We're also looking at recreational programs for low-income children. As a way of doing some of the reinvestment of that money, we are planning on putting more money into the actual school nutrition program.
Now, I suppose we could look at the idea of seeing if the Child Care Association or a child care board could access that, or at least get some funds there to maybe lever some further funds. One of the things that has been most successful about the school nutrition programs, just beyond the obvious impact of providing nutrition for school children, has been some of the partnerships that some of these schools have made with some of our local businesses, and I've been just amazed at the generosity of some businesses in providing materials and food to school programs. Some businesses, actually, have sort of adopted a school.
Mr. Chair, I move you report progress.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Harding: I move that the Speaker now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. McRobb: Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 14, First Appropriation Act, 1999-2000, and has directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
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 9:29 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled March 22, 1999:
Auditor General: Annual Report on Other Matters, for the year ended March 31, 1997 (Speaker Bruce)
Spotlight on Diversity: summary report on supports and barriers in YTG workplace (dated December 1998) (Harding)