Monday, November 22, 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?
Introductions of visitors.
Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Speaker, I have the Yukon Development Corporation 1998 annual report.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have for tabling mirror legislation entitled Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act, Waters Act, Placer Mining Act, Quartz Mining Act and Environmental Assessment Act.
Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. McRobb: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that
(1) all elected members of this Assembly have an obligation to their constituents to stimulate new economic activities by proposing solutions on the floor of this Legislature;
(2) all members should work together to improve our economy for the best interests of all Yukon people; and
(3) these efforts must continue to involve communities, First Nations, organizations, labour, business and the federal government.
Hon. Mr. Hardy: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the gross domestic product indicator measures only the level of market activity without reference to social and ecological causes and conditions;
THAT this House recognizes that Statistics Canada is responsible for compilation of the GDP in the Yukon and that Statistics Canada has begun a pilot project in Atlantic Canada using alternative measure of progress; and
THAT this House urges the federal government to abandon use of the outmoded and narrow GDP as a measure of progress and adopt instead the more inclusive and relevant genuine progress indicator for use in the Yukon and Canada as a whole.
Speaker: Are there any statements by ministers?
Devolution of the Northern Affairs program: update
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I want to take the opportunity today to provide an update to members of the House and the Yukon public on the status of devolution of the federal Northern Affairs program to the Yukon government. Recently in the Legislature, I identified a number of difficulties we had encountered with the federal government at the negotiating table in terms of trying to conclude an agreement according to the intent and spirit of the devolution accord signed in 1998, and according to the negotiators' agreement of February 1999.
An important element of the devolution agreement is legislation in the federal Parliament to amend the Yukon Act so that this government would have the authority to manage what are now federal land, water, forests and mineral resources.
On Saturday, I met with the federal Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, the hon. Bob Nault, to review the status of devolution. Yukoners may recall that soon after receiving his newest cabinet assignment, the minister made a clear commitment to following through on this initiative and concluding devolution.
He remains committed and reiterated that commitment at our meeting. However, he also indicated that his government is not able to meet the April 1 deadline anticipated for passage of the Yukon Act amendments and the significant, consequential amendments to other federal laws to the House of Commons and Senate.
Without those amendments, the transfer cannot take place at that time. The reason provided is that the federal government is simply not able to develop the legislation, go through internal approval processes, introduce debate, and pass the Yukon Act and related amendments in Parliament by the spring.
Minister Nault stated that he is now committed to introducing the necessary legislation for devolution in the House of Commons at the beginning of next fall's sitting.
Mr. Speaker, this is a disappointment for the people of the territory who see the pressing need for the Yukon to control its own affairs. We only have to look at the frustrations around resource management experienced by many industries in the territory to see examples of how beneficial and how appropriate it would be for the Yukon Legislative Assembly and the Government of Yukon to be responsible for the decisions that affect the future of the people, the economy and our territory.
In the meantime, we are committed to working at finalizing the transfer agreement with all parties. There are, in fact, very few issues remaining, and our belief is that these can be concluded in the near term.
The focus will then shift to transition issues, to ensure the smoothest possible transfer, with an emphasis on ensuring services to the public continue in an uninterrupted and seamless fashion.
Mr. Speaker, while it is disappointing that Canada is unable to deliver on the timeline for devolution that it had earlier targeted, it is our belief and our policy that this project represents a very important step for Yukon people in their constitutional, political and social evolution. We believe this project is significant and should be continued for the benefit of people here today and for generations to come.
As an indication of the work that has been undertaken, today I have filed with the Clerk copies of devolution-related bills that we were scheduled to debate in the House this fall. These bills are the "mirror legislation" required for the Yukon Legislature to authorize this government to manage resources at the time the federal government leaves the field. These laws are required to ensure a seamless transfer of responsibility over natural resource management from Canada to the Yukon. The bills are the Waters Act, the Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act, the Placer Mining Act, the Quartz Mining Act, and the Environmental Assessment Act.
As hon. members are aware, a special commission on the Yukon Act has concluded its work and will be reporting in the near future. Many Yukon people contributed a significant amount of time and attention to the discussion about many aspects of draft amendments to the Yukon Act that will be required before devolution.
I'm sure that all members look forward to receiving the report of the special commission. What the report has to say will help guide this government in discussions with Canada about the content of a revised Yukon Act. Those discussions can be expected to take place, along with the final devolution negotiations, in the near future.
It is our hope these matters can be concluded by the spring so the way is clear for the federal minister to table legislation in the House of Commons next fall.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, our thanks to the Government Leader for the status report on devolution.
I would like to restate at the outset that the Yukon Liberals are supportive of the government's and the negotiators' efforts to reach the best deal for Yukoners in terms of devolution.
Mr. Speaker, realizing that the timetable for devolution could not be met is disappointing for everyone. Certainly, the Yukon Liberals are disappointed. In searching for a silver lining in the statement made by the Government Leader today, it appears that the train is not off the rails entirely, but we are looking at a delayed arrival. The delayed arrival time is not going to be lost, according to the Government Leader. Rather, it will give the parties at the negotiating table an opportunity to provide for a seamless transition. It will also allow more time for finalizing the transfer agreement.
The minister has noted that the special commission on the Yukon Act has concluded its work, and I look forward to its final report.
When will the Yukon Legislature see the commission's report and the Yukon Act? Has the Government Leader received any feedback from the federal government on the proposed Yukon Act changes? The Government Leader might also wish to indicate whether or not he anticipates reviewing the mirror legislation tabled today in this session or in the spring session.
The Government Leader also indicated that the devolution legislation, the Yukon Act, will begin making its way through the House of Commons next fall. What is the new target date for devolution? Has a new workplan with timetables, i.e. signing the agreement in principle, been laid out?
There are three parties to the negotiations on devolution: the Government of Canada, the Government of the Yukon and First Nation governments. When do the three parties plan to meet again?
In addressing the questions I've asked, I would also like to restate, for everyone, our support for the devolution process and our disappointment with this delay.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Yukon Party, I rise to respond to the ministerial statement on the status of devolution of the Northern Affairs program to the Government of the Yukon. I want to thank the Government Leader for this update.
Even though the news is not unexpected, knowing of the slowness with which the federal system acts, and while this is certainly a disappointment to the people of the Yukon, who see the need for the Yukon to gain control of its own affairs, I believe we should not rush into an agreement if we're, in fact, not ready. Despite the federal Liberal government's inability to proceed with the transfer by next spring, I believe this may be the opportunity to address some of the fundamental issues that remain outstanding today.
As members are aware, our caucus has repeatedly expressed concerns with the proposed amendments to the Yukon Act; namely, that Yukon land and resources will remain under federal government ownership, and, unlike the new territory of Nunavut, or the Northwest Territories, there is no recognition of the Yukon's offshore northern boundary in the Beaufort Sea.
The issue of environmental liability is also an issue of grave concern to us. Without these critical amendments being concluded, what has been identified as the deal of the century could have very well turned out to be the sellout of the century.
In this regard, I look forward to receiving the report of the special commission and would like to thank the commissioners and all those who contributed a significant amount of work and time and attention to the discussions about the many aspects of the draft amendments.
The minister has stated that he has filed with the Clerk copies of mirror legislation that the members were supposed to debate this sitting. Mr. Speaker, as I understand this mirror legislation, it is supposed to be a near copy of existing legislation with the references to DIAND replaced with references to the Yukon government instead.
I'd like to ask the minister if, when he responds, he could advise us if that is still the case, or have there been other amendments incorporated into the mirror legislation?
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Well, Mr. Speaker, I'm sure most Yukoners would agree that devolution of resource management responsibilities to Yukon is an important step for this territory. I want to emphasize to all members that the Government of Yukon is ready, and has been ready, to see the transfers of April 1, 2000.
We have put a lot of energy into ensuring that the details are addressed, and that the project sees the transfer from one government to the other with as little a delay and as little trouble as possible.
Mr. Speaker, I meet with people every day in the forest industry, and in the communities at large, who want to see their Legislature and their government address the fundamental issues associated with forest management and environmental protection. They feel that they will get a full and fair hearing from this Legislature and from the government that they cannot receive from a government dealing with these issues at long distance.
It is no reflection on the character of federal employees and federal ministers over the many years who have been unable to properly manage Yukon's economy, but you cannot steer the economy a great distance without knowing the impact of what you're doing.
The transfer of resource management responsibilities is fundamentally important to the future of this territory, and we can see, from the work of the Minister of Economic Development in the oil and gas arena, that the management of oil and gas after devolution saw some progress, saw some sensitivity - in terms of the management regime - to addressing the broad range of interests in this territory, and saw, even last week, significant, new economic activity on that front. So we can see that local control makes a difference.
Mr. Speaker, the Yukon government is ready at any time to see that control transferred to Yukon people. I want to stress, Mr. Speaker, that the transfer - now that the Yukon Act is scheduled for the fall sitting for the year 2000 - will probably take place by the spring of 2001.
We have already made an agreement that we will not transfer resource management responsibilities mid-season, that we would wait until the placer season, the forestry season, the forest fire fighting season, et cetera, are concluded before the transfer takes place to ensure as little disruption in the management of the regimes as possible when the transfer happens.
Mr. Speaker, the commission reviewing the Yukon Act is going to be commenting on behalf of Yukoners who spoke to them on what they would like to see for a new Yukon Act and will address the variety of issues that have been put on the table not only by members of this House, but by people at large, and we will be looking forward to responding to their report.
Now, as I understand it, this is at the printers now so we'll have a chance to see it probably within this week.
Mr. Speaker, the Government of Yukon is prepared and willing to continue the discussions for finalizing the agreement in principle. We were to have a meeting last week, which was postponed by other parties. We are prepared and ready to continue the discussions to bring the details around. The details, of course, are important to all of us.
So, Mr. Speaker, while I share the disappointment of many that this has not come through as expected, we, in our government, remain absolutely committed to this project. We will see it through to completion, and we will ensure that the transfer, as much as humanly possible, is seamless and comfortable for all concerned.
I think this is important for the future of the territory and the Government of Yukon will not rest until it's done.
Speaker: This then bring us to Question Period.
Question re: Protected areas strategy, process
Ms. Duncan: My question is for the Minister of Economic Development, and it concerns remarks that he made this weekend at the Geoscience Forum.
The minister was talking about the protected areas strategy, and he said, "We think we've made some mistakes, frankly, in terms of a couple of the processes that we've had underway." Could the minister elaborate on what mistakes the NDP has made, and he has some time I understand.
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, the protected areas strategy is a very complex process. A lot of work has gone into it. We feel that, because they are such large, complex projects, with so many different parties, so many different interests, so many different objectives, that we can always do a better job. The two projects that we have out of the chute, first and foremost, the Tombstone and the Fishing Branch, we're extremely proud of. However, we think we can always improve in terms of the process, and we will be working with all stakeholders to try and tool up things and ensure that things happen in a very well-managed approach.
It was interesting, we had a speaker from Manitoba at the Geoscience, who spoke as well about some of the problems they had initially, as they tried to work through the complex issues surrounding protected areas in Manitoba. It was very interesting. The people who were at the Geoscience Forum were very interested in what the head of the chamber in Manitoba had to say, and about how they've learned from different things that have happened in the past to improve things in the future.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Speaker, the minister hasn't answered the question. The quote was, "We've made some mistakes." Now, it appears that one of the biggest mistakes that the government made was not to follow the process that stakeholders had agreed upon for establishing protected areas. It's the minister's comment, "We've made some mistakes."
Would he elaborate today in the House on what the mistakes are, in his view?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, I just said to the member that we have made some mistakes. I said to the Geoscience that we'd accelerated the process surrounding the Fishing Branch to accommodate the legitimate desires of the First Nation in Old Crow to make true a land claim commitment in the umbrella final agreement to have the Fishing Branch come into force, and we're extremely proud of that.
However, we have received some concerns from some of the stakeholders about that particular process. We did it, as well, to try and ensure that we could open up oil and gas industry in this territory, which we've done, and it has garnered some investment. So, we're going to go back to the stakeholders and talk to them more about the process into the future, and how we can improve it. We're completely committed to the Yukon protected areas strategy.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, the only thing they're committed to - completely committed to - is not giving us answers in Question Period.
The Minister of Economic Development went on to say in his remarks over the weekend regarding the protected areas strategy, "I think there's some need for a further look at it - maybe some adjustment."
What's the next step? The minister's department plays a big role in the protected areas strategy, with mineral assessments and so on. Another mistake the government made was not doing proper mineral assessments. How does the minister plan to fix the mistakes, and what adjustments are they planning to make?
Hon. Mr. Harding: It's interesting, Mr. Speaker. From the Liberal tone, it's quite clear that they believe that the fundamental result of our work on Fishing Branch is not to their liking. Well, we like the product at Fishing Branch ecological preserve. We're extremely proud of it, and we think it's going to be something that the people of Vuntut Gwitchin are going to have for many, many years to come, along with every citizen of this territory.
The member is reading out her questions but she's not listening to my answers. I told her there were some mistakes made; we've received some concerns about the acceleration of the process; and we're going to be talking to the stakeholders about ensuring - just like they did in Manitoba and the discussions we listened to there, about what happened in Manitoba, how they were going to grade a certain level of mineral assessment, and how that would be reflected in the discussions pertaining to the final creation of the area. We're going to be talking about all those things with the stakeholders.
What I said at the Geoscience Forum is exactly what this government is going to do. We're fundamentally committed to the Yukon protected areas strategy. We're fundamentally proud of the Fishing Branch ecological reserve - the protected area that we've created - and we're going to work with the stakeholders to make some changes to improve the process for the future.
Question re: Community justice program, restorative justice
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Minister of Justice on the restorative justice initiative.
Community justice initiatives have been around for quite some time now, particularly circle sentencing, but there has been little done on determining the effectiveness of these measures. The minister travelled around the territory this summer talking to the communities about restorative justice, and one of the comments that was reflected in the report that came out of the exercise was, "Two communities suggested that Yukon Justice" - that's the Justice department - "publicize statistics that compare the rates of success between restorative justice projects compared to the mainstream justice system."
Has the minister done anything in response to that comment? What is she doing to compare repeat-offender rates in the two systems?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Speaker, we're working quite actively with the community groups that are involved in community justice projects in a number of communities around the Yukon. The compilation of statistics is part of that work. I do want to acknowledge that crime prevention does require a community commitment. From my visits around the Yukon, people in Yukon communities are committed to that work and are putting their energy into working with community justice committees and other activities that promote reducing the level of crime in our communities.
Mr. Cable: I understand what the minister said a couple of weeks ago, that jail populations are dropping. This was in response to some questions from the Member for Riverdale North. And one possible explanation is that community-based initiatives such as restorative justice are keeping people out of jail. This is going to increase probation officer caseloads, and I understand that there are not enough hours in the day now for our probation officers. Some have caseloads of up to 100 clients. The community consultation report that came out of her community visits pointed out the need for offender supervision. What's the government doing in this area? Are the probation services going to be increased to make these restorative justice initiatives work?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that the member also needs to take into account that the level of violent crime is reducing and that, generally, crime statistics are going down. So that's an important thing to keep in mind. As I have indicated, the Department of Justice is working with other departments such as Health and Social Services, Education and the RCMP on restorative justice activities. We're supporting the work that the community groups do. We're working to support training for members of the community justice committees and to support the work of probation officers in the communities.
Mr. Cable: Let me ask the question this way: if we keep people out of jail, there's going to be a need for increased probation services, both for liaison and doing probation reports, advising judges and working with people after the fact. Is the minister aware of this, and is she going to increase the probation services to meet the increased demand?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, the member is making an assumption that I'm not necessarily going to accept without having the facts. We will take the facts into account. We recognize that it's important to have good support in the communities, and we're providing support for communities.
Question re: Community justice program, restorative justice
Mr. Phillips: My question is to the Minister of Justice on restorative justice as well. At the Women's Circumpolar Conference held on the weekend, once again the use of circle sentencing for domestic violence was an issue. The position of the Yukon Party caucus, both in government and in opposition, hasn't changed.
We believe that circle sentencing should not be used in a domestic violence situation because it revictimizes the victim.
Last March 31, the House debated a motion presented by the Member for Watson Lake on restorative justice, and I proposed a friendly amendment, which was voted on and accepted by all members of the House. It said: "including an evaluation of the use of circle sentencing for violent and non-violent crimes."
Mr. Speaker, I'd like to ask the minister if she would now table that evaluation that was done with respect to circle sentencing, or will the minister tell us if it's even been started?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, it's a priority not just of the government but of many sectors of the community to increase safety for women, and this is still the month of November, which is Women Assault Prevention Month. There are a number of activities taking part in the communities to draw attention to the fact that unfortunately crimes of violence against women are still committed.
The evaluation of the sentences that are done in courts is an activity that needs to be undertaken in conjunction with the Chief Judge. I've had a meeting or two with the Chief Judge, and he has indicated a willingness and an interest in looking at this further. I do not have a document on the subject that I can provide for the member for tabling.
Mr. Phillips: It seems like the minister's evaluation of circle sentencing is just talking to the judges. I thought it was going to encompass a lot more than that.
Mr. Speaker, women's groups and those involved in the system, such as social workers, have openly complained about the use of circle sentencing for domestic violence situations. Yet the Minister of Justice doesn't seem to appear to be listening, and I'd like to know why.
In the restorative justice consultations, can the minister advise the House if any one of the women's transition homes or women's groups advocated the use of circle sentencing for domestic violence situations?
I don't believe they did - maybe the minister has information that she'd like to share with us that some do.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Speaker, first of all, we are collecting statistics. We are doing the work to understand how many cases are going to the courts and what the outcomes of them are.
The member, however, still fails to understand that the judiciary are independent and they operate independent of government, and that the Minister of Justice does not tell the judge how to issue a sentence.
Mr. Phillips: Well, I'm sure that collecting statistics is little comfort - little comfort - to those women who are being revictimized and abused through the system.
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice may not be able to tell the judges what to do, but this has been going on far too long. All the groups that have spoken out - the women's groups have spoken out about using circle sentencing, and not using it for domestic violence.
Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the minister to help those women who are crying out for support and to get the evaluation done. And I'd like to ask the minister as well, will the minister declare a moratorium on using circle sentencing for domestic violence issues? Will she do that now?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, this government is working to increase safety for women. The Family Violence Prevention Act is just one example of providing additional tools for women who are in abusive situations.
And, Mr. Speaker, we are seeing people in communities recognizing the gravity of the problem and trying to deal with it. We're putting in our school curriculum, through the gender equity in the public schools policy, new activities and curriculum development to help prevent violence in relationships.
The member knows that the judiciary have the ability to determine whether they want to seek the advice of a community circle when they prepare their sentence. I'm aware of this issue; I'm working with the women's community. We've had strong advocates from the women's community, as well as from the legal community and from First Nations, and from all the Yukon communities involved in the restorative justice discussions and in moving forward to a change, to better take into account the needs of victims in the justice system.
Question re: Timmers inquiry
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Speaker, the minister's not listening, because all those groups are telling the minister to quit using circle sentencing for domestic violence. The minister should get the message.
Mr. Speaker, my question, again, is to the Minister of Justice on the Timmers inquiry. Last week, it was revealed that the Timmers inquest cost a record $475,000, and it appears that $150,000 of that cost went to the Council of Yukon First Nations, effectively as legal aid, while the remaining $325,000 was used to pay for legal counsel for the coroner's office, expert witnesses, travel for the judge who came up from Saskatchewan and basic court expenses. $475,000 for an inquest is a lot of money, and I'd like to know if this is the final bill and to confirm for the record that the $150,000 legal aid to CYFN is part of the $475,000 and not over and above that figure - because I asked the question last week and the minister didn't answer it.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: As is the practice with that member of the House, when he's given an answer, he doesn't hear it. Let me repeat for the record that the $475,000 for the inquest includes the $150,000 that we're providing to the Council of Yukon First Nations. We believe it's very important that, when a death occurs, there be a full and fair inquest; these are the provisions of the Coroners Act. It is in the public interest to ensure that all parties are represented and to ensure that the inquest examines all the questions that are essential to consider.
Mr. Phillips: The minister should read Hansard of last Thursday. She didn't say that last Thursday; she said it today, but that's the first time she said it. The minister, in her response last Thursday, also stated that the $475,000 cost was for government expenses only, and she stated as well that the $150,000 for CYFN was not CYFN's total cost, because she said the bills were not all in. Can the minister advise the House who paid for the legal counsel of the RCMP and its cost, and is the $475,000 just the cost to the Yukon government alone? Are there any other costs associated with this that we're not aware of that the minister could make us aware of now?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, as the member should know, the Yukon government has contract services provided by the RCMP, and we provide them with an annual budget to meet their expenditures. The coroner's office covers the expenses of a coroner's inquest, and that includes the expert witnesses, the legal counsel and the travel costs.
In the case of the Timmers inquest, the budget amount also covers the $150,000 that we agreed to provide to the Council of Yukon First Nations to ensure that they were represented at the inquest. We think it's essential that everybody respects the outcome and that all participants be heard. CYFN will have to find their own sources of funding for costs above the $150,000.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Speaker, maybe the minister could check the record, because I believe last spring when this issue came up, she informed us that some of the RCMP's costs were paid by the Solicitor-General's office. Now she says, today, that it's a contract with the Government of the Yukon.
So, is the minister saying that the roughly $9 million or $10 million that we transferred to the RCMP is where the costs of the RCMP came out of, and not from the Solicitor-General? And if the Solicitor-General paid anything for this, could the minister bring that figure to the House so that the Yukon people can have a true reflection of what the cost of the Timmers inquiry was?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, let me be clear for the member opposite. The Yukon government has a policing contract with the RCMP, whereby they provide us policing services on an annual basis. We provide them with the funding and they provide us with the policing services.
With that money, they may have covered some of the inquest costs. I will request information on what amount of funding the Solicitor-General's office may have provided for the Timmers inquest and bring that back for the member.
Question re: Local hire
Ms. Buckway: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Government Services about local hire policies.
The unemployment rate last month, according to the Yukon Bureau of Statistics, was 10.9 percent, the highest in six years. Many, many Yukoners are not working. The Yukon Liberal caucus supports the use of local companies and businesses when contracting for services for the Yukon government. Hiring Yukoners first was a major plank in the NDP government's election platform.
They do hire Yukon labour on most construction projects, but in other areas Yukoners are overlooked time and again by the government. Could the minister please tell us which government departments he has exempted from his local hire policy? Which departments has he told that they're free to hire outside consultants and individuals before attempting to employ Yukoners?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, first of all, the only areas that would be exempt, as the member has indicated, would be such things as some of the corporations. In general, we feel that the implementation of Yukon hire has been proceeding on schedule. We have about 83 percent of the recommendations, which is 33 of the recommendations received, implemented.
Ms. Buckway: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Government Services likes to tell Yukoners that he has a Yukon-first hiring policy, but it's here in black and white that he doesn't live by it. What I have here, Mr. Speaker, are a number of staff development training newsletters. They're issued on a quarterly basis. They outline training and workshops put on by the Public Service Commission for Yukon government employees. They describe workshops employees can take, and they also give a short biography of the people hired to deliver them. There are a number of courses taught by outside consultants on a sole-source basis, which means local people did not have a chance to bid on them. I'd like to ask the Minister of Government Services if the staff development branch of the Public Service Commission is exempt from this government's local hire policies.
Hon. Mr. Harding: The Public Service Commission does occasionally use help from outside. I think whenever that occurs, they are to conform to the policies of the government pertaining to local hire. I think the minister mentioned quite a staggering figure when he talked about the fact that when we took over government the total value of business contracts that were going to local Yukon businesses was 59 percent. Under the direction of the Minister of Government Services and the local hire work done by the Member for Whitehorse Centre, it's now between 84 and 89 percent. So it's a very large increase in the amount of business that's going to local contracts and local businesses. I think that's quite an achievement.
Ms. Buckway: Mr. Speaker, I'm not going to list all the outside consultants who have been hired by the Public Service Commission to deliver workshops, because there are too many. One of them had a sole-sourced contract in April and May of this year for $27,450. I had understood that was above the figure for sole-sourced contracts.
I believe most of these workshops could have been delivered locally. Yukoners who are unemployed could have done this work. The government has spent tens of thousands of dollars on outside consultants.
Mr. Speaker, there are over 30 Yukon companies that provide human resource consulting, and almost 70 Yukon companies that provide consulting on administration, organization and policy. Most of them say they deliver this type of workshop.
Did the minister ensure that each and every one of these local people were offered these jobs before going outside to hire consultants?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, Mr. Speaker, the member's talking about something that clearly comes under the purview of the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission, with regard to the staff development branch. With regard to any contracts that go outside, they have to go through the appropriate procedures for local hire.
Some of the services that the government utilizes in this respect are very specialized. For example, our negotiators for the collective bargaining with the Yukon Teachers Association and the Public Service Alliance of Canada and Yukon Employees Union are from the outside. They're experts in the field, and one of the nice things is that occasionally the topics that they table become quite terse, and it's a difficult situation. Bargaining can, at the best of times, have tensions rise. These people then are not in the territory as tempers cool again, and people go back on with their jobs after the contracts have been finalized, and I think that that's a helpful procedure to undertake.
As I say, the most important statistic, though, is the massive increase in the number of dollars of Yukon businesses that are actually getting the contracts from this government. It's up from the Yukon Party days, from 59 percent to 84 percent to 89 percent. That's quite an increase.
Question re: Carmacks sewage plant replacement
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, and it's about sewage treatment in Carmacks.
Now, during the last two months, the Village of Carmacks has done some additional work to the line so there's less infiltration of water into the system, and less water means that the system is slightly more efficient. Nevertheless, this sewage plant does have to be replaced within the next two years.
What planning exercises are underway with the Village of Carmacks to start the process for replacing the mechanical sewage plant?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I think I spoke last week to this issue. I have met personally with the mayor and council of Carmacks. They know it's an issue with the department: that we have to come together to do something for the community. As I said last week again, the community has prioritized between a treatment centre for the community on sewage, and a rec centre. They say that the rec centre is their first priority.
I've asked the department to keep in touch with the technical people at the community level in Carmacks to ensure that the sewage dispensing systems are safe, are usable and that, when we are ordered to be putting in new systems, that we will be proactive and be a step ahead to be able to do that.
So what we are trying to accomplish here is a twofold initiative.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, I was privileged to be a part of the sewage treatment plan for the City of Whitehorse. That process took us over 10 years.
We're only two years down the way from when we have to replace the plant in Carmacks. May I suggest to the minister that we need to get working.
Now, part of what happens with sewage plants is that there's usually a cost sharing between the government and the municipality. There's a new infrastructure plan that's going to be coming out from the federal government, and it will probably come into place about a year and a half from now. With that plan, a third is paid by the federal government, a third is paid by the municipality, and a third is paid by the provincial or territorial government.
The problem is that Carmacks can't wait two or three years for the money to come through. What financial commitments has this government made to the people of Carmacks to help build a new sewage plant in that town?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, I take offence at the member saying to get working. I certainly realize the length of time that it takes to implement these initiatives, and we have been. I have been working personally since I've been a minister, for three years now, and the department has been working before that and has carried on under my ministry, and we will ensure that we will continue to work with the people.
Within the formula financing arrangements, there are processes that are stated there - if it's extraordinary costs, and by what amount if it is extraordinary costs, and it shows what amount of monies the government would be putting in. So, certainly, it is very much a cost-sharing arrangement with the municipality and the territorial government.
As for the infrastructure plan, I certainly welcome the news from the member opposite that there is going to be an infrastructure plan. I know that this government, through the Finance minister and my department, have been working toward these types of ends. Is it certain for fact? I do not believe so. I believe that the federal government has not made that initiative known yet, but I certainly hope that they do.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, the comment about the infrastructure program was mentioned in the federal throne speech and I hope that, when the minister is out talking to the people in Carmacks, he's also talking to the local First Nation.
The last time I asked the minister about this issue, which is the sewage plant in Carmacks, the minister said that he was working with the people of Carmacks to do improvements to the sewage lagoon. There is no sewage lagoon in Carmacks. It's a mechanical plant, and it's the only mechanical plant in the Yukon.
Has the minister decided that a mechanical sewage plant in Carmacks is going to be replaced by a sewage lagoon system?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, Mr. Speaker. If that is what I said, that is certainly - they do have a mechanical plant. We're going to look at options for sewage within the community. We're looking at the - the options that we do come up with will be serving the community at large, so we'll continue to work with municipalities to make things better, as we have through rural roads and other initiatives that this government has brought forward.
Question re: Retail sales figures, Bureau of Statistics
Mr. Ostashek: My question is to the Government Leader on the Bureau of Statistics. According to the latest figures released by the Bureau of Stats, there is no current downturn in the Yukon economy, despite the number of businesses that have been closing their doors. Retail sales figures from September 1998 to September 1999, as reported in the media this morning, show an increase of over nine percent, which is the highest it has been in any month since September 1996. Does the Government Leader not agree that these latest retail sales figures are creating a false security because the increase is due to the sale of motor vehicles and recreational vehicles to the State of Alaska as a consequence of the free trade agreement, and effectively means no new employment in the territory?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No, I don't agree with the member at all. I don't agree with his assessment. I find it fascinating that he's using retail sales trade, because when he was Government Leader that was the only stat that he clung to with his fingernails all through the period that the Anvil Range mine in Faro was down.
Mr. Speaker, the retail sales involve sales of lumber, doors and windows, and the many things that people are selling to Alaska and around the world resulting from the Yukon's trade strategy. These are all contributing to improved retail sales in the territory. People are purchasing things in this territory because they have confidence that is not shared by the member opposite.
Mr. Ostashek: The retail sales figures that are given by the minister's stats branch are separated out. Supermarkets and grocery stores are basically flat. Other semi-durable goods are also basically flat, yet the big increase is in recreational and motor vehicles. That's where the increase is shown in the stats that have been coming out so far. It is stated that retail figures are an important indicator to economic activity, but they also can be misleading, as the current stats are. I want to ask the Government Leader if he can explain how the Bureau of Stats produced September retail sales figures? When the information gives rise to a large increase, the recreational and motor vehicle section surprisingly has no figures at all for 1999. They've all been left off, yet they've been given for every other year. Can the minister explain why?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Speaker, maybe this can help the member: building permits are up. If one just walks out the front door of the government building in Whitehorse, walks down the street and sees lots of construction activity, which he will see if he wants to do that, then he will see that there's activity out there. These people are buying materials in order to build buildings, because they have confidence in the economy that the member of the Yukon Party does not.
Retail sales are up, Mr. Speaker. There are all kinds of reasons why the retail sales are up. People are buying more in the stores, people are spending more, because they have confidence in the economy - confidence that's not shared by the Yukon Party.
Mr. Speaker, there are signs that things are clearly improving, and these are things that members in the opposition should take into account.
I don't know what the member's question is all about. Is he suggesting that the government manipulated the stats bureau? Is he casting aspersions on the statisticians in that branch?
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Speaker, I didn't say that at all. I asked the minister a question, which he didn't answer - which he didn't answer.
All of a sudden, after years of keeping track of retail sales figures - recreational and motor vehicles, for every other year, for every other quarter, are listed. This one, surprisingly different from the one last month, has absolutely nothing listed for all four quarters of 1999. I asked the minister why.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I know the member hurts when he sees that building permits are up, when he hears that exports are up, when he hears that retail sales are up, and when he hears that the labour force has increased. It hurts, because his gloom-and-doom attitude toward the economy is not shared by a lot of people in this territory who are working very hard to improve the economic fortune of this territory, and to do a variety of things to improve our economic fortunes.
I know the member is smarting about that, but the economy is turning around, things are starting to improve, and, thankfully, people don't share the Yukon Party's gloom-and-doom attitude.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We'll proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Do members wish to recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Fifteen minutes.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Committee is dealing with the supplementary estimates. We are on the Department of Renewable Resources.
Bill No. 19 - Third Appropriation Act, 1999-2000 - continued
Department of Renewable Resources - continued
Chair: Is there further general debate?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough:I will be brief. I would like to respond to some of the comments and discussions that took place last week and, hopefully, bring some answers to the members opposite.
I just want to make a clarification, I guess. I don't know if I was clear enough to the members opposite. We spoke a lot about campgrounds, and campground maintenance, and campground tables, along with stoves and some of the kitchen facilities, and the day-use areas in remote areas.
I told the member that we have some tables that were brought in this year. We have approximately six of them that we do use for lending out to different organizations and so on, and we keep those in our compound here.
We also have a large number of tables that we have in our compound for getting rid of - either selling them off, because the best thing for us to do is to build new ones and make sure that they are safe in the campgrounds.
One of the reports on CBC talked about the fact that it may be unsafe with the materials we use with pressure-treated wood. We have thought that using pressure-treated wood for building campground tables - the surface having 2x6 planks on it - and the seats also would last a bit longer. But there have been a large number of concerns from travellers out there - that the surfaces were rough, both the seats and the table top surfaces, and that they were hard to clean. So, over the next few years, including this year - we have replaced approximately 80 tables this year - we will be replacing the table tops and painting them with enamel paint so that they are easier to clean and, I guess, a bit more comfortable for those who are using the campground facilities we have throughout the Yukon.
The Member for Porter Creek North had asked me a few questions on bears and grizzly bears, and one of his questions was, "Once again, we have had his department destroy valuable grizzly bears that have been coming into Whitehorse. How many of these bears have been destroyed?"
And I can read out to the member later, back to 1990, how many have been destroyed in the Whitehorse area, and this past year, in 1999, so far we've destroyed three grizzly bears and three black bears.
There was another question on what is the government doing from having to destroy bears that are coming into the settlement area of Whitehorse - I've answered that, I guess a couple of times in this discussion. I said that we have been proactive; we've done ads on both CBC and NEDAA on how to keep bears out of your backyard, and those have worked fairly well. I think it generated a lot of discussion. Having the electric fence around the landfill in Whitehorse has created a lot of discussion among families who are going out camping on how best to put away their garbage and keep animals away from their camping area. So we've been doing that. We're making strong efforts in education to prevent these human/bear conflicts.
Not only that, but we've had communities take it upon themselves, like Haines Junction and Faro, and other communities are coming forward to our government for assistance to have electric fences put around landfills. I think that more attention has been paid to try to keep bears away and not have them destroyed for the simple reason of them wanting to feed off of human garbage.
So we've done a lot of that. I can, with all the questions I was asked by the member opposite, bring forward a more detailed legislative return. Our plan all along for Whitehorse was to work with the city to put a fence around the landfill. It was through a two-year project that this took place.
And just for information's sake, I guess, in 1990 around the Whitehorse area, we had 24 occurrences of bears, and the department, because of safety reasons, again, in destroying these bears, destroyed one grizzly bear and eight black bears. We had little occurrence in 1991, and we didn't destroy any bears in that year. In 1992, there was approximately the same thing, or close to the same thing, as 1990. We had 21 occurrences, and three black bears were destroyed.
In 1993, there were 12 occurrences and three black bears destroyed. In 1994, we had 99 occurrences, and one grizzly bear and 12 black bears were destroyed, and I think it was around this point that we were having black bears in the landfill in Whitehorse, and the grizzly bears were taking over there and moving them out. In 1995, it was one of each that was destroyed. In 1996, there were three grizzly bears and two black bears. In 1997, there were 12 grizzly bears; that was the big year. In 1996, we had an electric fence around a portion - a small portion - of the landfill in Whitehorse...
Chair: Order please. The member has one minute to conclude.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: ...and we had the fence extended around the entire landfill in 1997. Last year, we had one grizzly bear destroyed, and, of course, this year was three and three.
Mr. Chair, we had concerns in regard to YPAS, the Fishing Branch and protected areas. I will be giving the members opposite a legislative return on protected areas. I can tell the member, though, that the percentage that we came up with - 96 percent - was to do with the national parks, territorial parks and the ecological reserves, which added up to 7.6 percent of Yukon - which are goal 1 areas, and the study area and Tombstone -
Chair: Order please. The member's time has expired.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I'd just like to follow up on the statement by the minister with respect to - he indicated that there would be a legislative return forwarded to opposition parties regarding the protected areas strategy.
Now, on the weekend, of course, another minister of the government has suggested that there have been some mistakes made and that there would be some adjustments made to the protected areas strategy. Is it the minister's intention to recall the committee that worked to develop the protected areas strategy, to make these adjustments that the government feels are required to the process?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, the question the member had was the same one as last week, or a similar one. I told the member that we had sped up the process in the Fishing Branch area for what we thought were good reasons, and I know that the people in Old Crow are quite happy with what has resulted from this process.
What we can do is improve the implementation portion of the process and look more, I guess - next planning teams that are set up, for example with the Eagle Plains area, which is the next one on the list for us to work on, would follow the process, making sure that there is ample time for everybody to review all the information that has come forward to them and ample time for information to be gathered.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, when I asked those questions last week, it was before the Minister of Economic Development had stood up and said there were mistakes made and that there would be adjustments to the process. The problem I have with the minister's answer is that there was a committee gathered, they worked long and hard, it was a very large committee, to try and get everyone to agree on a process. The process was not followed. Now there are problems, and the government is talking about adjustments.
The minister has said perhaps there will be adjustments made to the implementation process. Does the minister not think it's appropriate to re-gather the committee, if he's going to change the process that they agreed on?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, what we've done is that we have resulted in a product right now. We're very close to having recommendations come back from the planning team on something significant to Yukon, and it's going to be recognized worldwide.
We have a process that the general public put together - YPAS - and we used that on our very first project, the Fishing Branch, in which had a number of concerns come forward from the general public, and what we have said is that we would try to address those concerns. A lot of them talk about implementing the process itself, and we'd like to focus on that. We are looking at ways of trying to do some improvements in how we go about having local planning teams set up, and the information that they do have to review and take into account in making decisions and recommendations to us. That's where we're coming from.
We know that the general public out there does have concerns, and we would like to try to address some of the concerns that they do have.
The Government Leader has met with the Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Mines, and talked about the protected areas strategy. The member knows from some communications with us that we have had comments from both organizations, and at this point it seems like the Chamber of Mines doesn't want to support the strategy as it is. They do have concerns, and I think we can address them.
If we steer people back to the protected areas strategy and show that industry - the mining industry, oil and gas industry - and the environmental organizations and communities all have an opportunity to decide what needs to be protected in the ecoregion and be part of the local planning team.
There is ample time for everybody to make comments in meetings and workshops that the local planning teams have in their communities and to steer how they would like this protected area to unfold.
And I can tell the member opposite that industry was represented on the local planning team in regard to Fishing Branch, and there was a large consensus on a huge percentage of the issues. There was one where there was no consensus, and we made comments back to the local planning team on that particular one.
So, I thought that it went fairly well with the local planning, but what could be improved, like I said, is to stick closer to the protected areas strategy process and to make sure that ample time is given for all the members on the local planning team to deal with information put forward and research.
Ms. Duncan: I mean no disrespect to the minister, but he hasn't answered the question.
The problem I have is that the minister himself said that the general public put it together - those were his words. The general public put the Yukon protected areas strategy together, used that process in Fishing Branch, and now there are concerns. The Yukon public has raised concerns. Now the minister is saying, "We're going to address those concerns the next time." The problem I have is that what I'm asking the minister is: will the government go back to step 1 with the committee and say, "All right, we used the process you all agreed upon, and it didn't work. There were problems. You've clearly raised that." Will he go back to the committee and say, "These were the problems we encountered. Here's how we suggest it can be fixed," or "Here's how they agree it can be fixed."
The problem is, Mr. Chair, that nobody is happy right now - nobody - and there is a loss of faith in the Yukon protected areas strategy process. Will the minister re-summon the members of the committee and perhaps use the expertise that has been made available during the Geoscience Forum - this gentleman from Manitoba. Will he use that expertise, re-summon the stakeholders and figure out with them how to fix the protected areas strategy process so that it will work, and so that after the next area is designated, you won't find continual dissatisfaction with this process.
Clearly, there are problems with it. Will the minister re-summon the committee?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, I'm glad that the Liberal Party is stating their position on this. It doesn't work, they said. Tell that to the people in Old Crow, that it didn't work. They're satisfied with the result of the protected areas strategy coming forward and steering this whole thing. They like it. It is something that they've been looking at for so many years, and they're quite satisfied with what took place to this point.
The member could go and say that it didn't work to the people in Old Crow. They would say that something significant resulted from that process, and it's significant to Yukon people.
But I am glad that she put her position forward on that, because it's been a long time since she put forward their positions on this particular protected areas strategy. One time they say they're in favour of it, and another time they say it doesn't work and it shouldn't happen.
What we're saying is that Fishing Branch was our first project that we had through YPAS. A lot of work with the First Nation that had taken place before YPAS was even introduced. Approximately four years they had been working on it, before we were in government even, when the Yukon Party was in -approximately 27 years of wanting to have Fishing Branch protected in some way or the other. Taking into that account, and where other communities are wanting to go with areas to be protected, we said that we were going to go and develop a strategy that is made in the Yukon, a how-to book, and we did just that.
We gave it a try. Some people were concerned about the way things have gone. We, ourselves, thought that improvements could be made. We've never said that the strategy was the way it's going to be for the next 10 years. We didn't say that. We always said that it could be improved, that it could be refined in some way. We're going to take under consideration the concerns that have been expressed by people out there, the environmental groups, the industry, Chamber of Mines, and the Chamber of Commerce. It's not as if we can't make improvements to the process and how we do things together among the different groups and government.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the comment I made to the minister is that the general public is saying there are problems with the process. The general public is saying is that it didn't work, and the reason it didn't work is because the government didn't follow the process. Now we're asking the minister, what is the government going to do to try and fix the process? The minister is absolutely steadfast in his refusal to resummon the committee.
It's not just industry, or just the environmental groups, or just some First Nation people who are saying that this doesn't work. The general public has real concerns and the minister is saying, "We have a process; we're not going to listen to what anybody has to say.
All I'm asking the minister to do is what a good number of reasonable individuals are asking the minister to do, which is, will you resummon the committee, point out where the process doesn't work, and fix it? That's what I'm asking. That's what I'm hearing from people in the general public. That suggestion is coming from them.
There's always room for improvement, and the minister has said that it could be improved. The Minister of Economic Development has said, "We've made mistakes." Maybe there will be some adjustments. All I'm asking the minister is, is he prepared to go back to the original committee to look at the adjustments?
It's not about Fishing Branch, Tombstone or the next area. It's about the process itself. Is the minister prepared to go back to the original committee to deal with these proposed adjustments that only the government seems to be aware of?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We're not considering bringing back the committee at this point. But I've said to the member opposite - and I'll say it again, and if she asks me again, I'll say it again at that point - we have had concerns from a number of different organizations, and we've said we'll be responding to them and we'll be seeking their input into this process. We are stating why we did what we did to speed up the process, and it was not for a bad reason at all. We had talked with the First Nation and talked about their desire to have things happen - a long-waiting, outstanding issue for them. We had talked to the industry - oil and gas industry - and they were interested again in having things sped up because of where we were going with oil and gas, and we've done just that.
The member knows that if we were to have delay in that area, we wouldn't have gotten the interest in exploration work, as we did that was announced last week, of $20 million that would be spent up in the northern part of the Yukon.
So, we're not thinking of bringing back this group. We think that we have to nail down where people would like to see improvements and how they would like to do things. I told the member that we are working on standards for mineral assessments, and environmental assessments, and cultural assessments, and so on. And we're working. That's one improvement that we could make, and that we will be making.
So, Mr. Chair, we will be working with the concerns that have come forward to us and taking them into consideration.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the minister has said we're going to nail down where people would like the process changed, and we're going to take their concerns and going to make the changes. How is that going to happen? Is the minister going to take diverging views? For example, there are some groups saying this is how it should be changed, and there are others saying this is how the process should be changed.
How does the minister intend to make changes to the process? How is he going to reach agreement with the groups? And most importantly, the minister has said that we didn't follow the process in this particular case for very good reasons - I believe the quote was - and we've explained that.
How does the minister intend to restore the public's faith in this process?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, I believe that the public has faith in the protected areas strategy. Most recently, a couple of weeks ago, there was a little bit of a celebration in the foyer of this building, and presented to the Government Leader was a charter with, I think, approximately 1,300 names signed to that, supporting protected areas in the Yukon. So where the member's coming from, I don't know. At one time she says she supports protected areas and the strategy, and now she wants to chop it up, redo the whole thing, delay everything for what, another 10 years or so? We don't take that attitude.
The Yukon Party wanted to have protected areas in the Yukon by year 2000. We took a more thoughtful approach to the whole thing in having the involvement of communities and industry and environmental groups, and did it in a more, I guess, thoughtful fashion.
We think that we can accomplish Tombstone - even though this is a result of claims pushing the process to a different scenario in every one of them - and Fishing Branch this year. We think we can do it. We can say that they are the boundaries that have been agreed to, and they will be a protected area, whether Fishing Branch has goal 1 or goal 2 - and then the team can go on putting together a management plan in place.
Now I know the member opposite may want to see everything done upfront at once, but he can't do it. I mean, a management plan could take up to a year to two years to put into place, and a lot of those concerns that have come forward from the general public could be answered in a management plan. So we think that we have a lot of support for protected areas. We don't have the support from the Yukon Liberal Party.
Ms. Duncan: What the Yukon Liberal Party and Yukon Liberals want to see and what we believe Yukoners want to see, upfront, is a government that sets out a process and lives by a process. That's what people want.
Now the minister won't answer how the improvements and mistakes outlined by the Minister of Economic Development are going to be dealt with. The Tombstone recommendations include areas outside the study area. Would the minister indicate, perhaps by legislative return, how the authority works for that recommendation, and any further information he has on that?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I'll just ask the member to clarify a little bit what she meant by that.
Ms. Duncan: I'm assuming that the minister is asking with reference to Tombstone. The recommendations that I have seen - the most recent documents - are outside the original study area. They've gone beyond what has been suggested, and I would just like a legislative return from the minister explaining in greater detail how that took place.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The member knows that by looking at the maps and where they've gone inside and outside the line. What we said is that they should be concentrating within the study area. They did take it back to the general public and will be making a response to us.
If the member wants more detail on that, I can send her the details on that.
Ms. Duncan: I'd appreciate the further details from the minister on that.
I just have one final question in general debate with respect to another issue that - pardon me, there are two questions I have left. There was recently a sustainable development workshop in the Yukon sponsored by a number of federal departments and attended by a number of First Nation representatives. The Yukon government was noticeably absent from that conference on sustainable development. Does the minister have an explanation as to why?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I was not aware of the fact that we did not have a person there until that day, and I can ask the department to get back to her on this. I don't have a good explanation at this point. I need to know why, because what we have been doing is basically telling people that that, along with the protected areas, is the approach we'd like to take with the ecosystem approaches and sustainable development.
I can get back to the member on this. I would have thought that we would have had a person there.
Ms. Duncan: I'd appreciate the response from the minister on that.
The issue that the minister's department and I have been working closely on is in regard to the American fishing licence fees charged to Canadians. The last response that I have heard is that there is an amendment drafted by Senator Phillips. It's awaiting a bill to be attached to. In American politics, it's attached to a piece of legislation, and they pass it through their House in that fashion. That's my latest understanding.
Does the minister have any other information or additional information? For example, Mr. Chair, the minister's office was asked to provide some information, I believe, on reciprocal fees. Was that information provided, and is there anything new on that issue?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: There is nothing new that has come forward yet. From the information we've gathered, they're still trying to find a bill to attach it to, and we'll be following up with them on the whole issue.
Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Chair, I just have a couple more questions on the protected areas strategy, in light of the comments made by the Minister of Economic Development.
The minister will recall, in debate last week, that I asked him numerous questions on the process, and the minister assured me the process was being followed. The Government Leader said the process was being followed. Today, we have the minister saying the process wasn't followed. We have the Minister of Economic Development saying that they made mistakes.
Who is right? Was the process followed or was it not followed?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, what I told the member opposite was the fact that we sped up the process.
Mr. Ostashek: Therefore, the process was not followed and the criticism that's being levied by the chambers is legitimate, that the process was not followed.
The problem is not with the process, Mr. Chair. The criticism is not of the process. In fact, the chamber said in their letters to the Government Leader that they believed the process could work. What they were upset about is the government themselves never honoured the process. They never followed the process. They sped it up. They didn't do mineral assessments. They didn't listen to the concerns of industry. So, therefore, there is nothing wrong with the process. What we need is a government that's going to follow the process.
The minister said that the Government Leader has met with the chambers in regard to their letters. I'd like to ask the minister if he can tell me, is the government prepared to address the concerns that have been raised by the chambers in regard to land quantum, and is the government now prepared to take a look as to whether they ought not to give a total cumulative figure as to what's going to be protected after the protected areas strategy is completed? That's one of the questions that was posed by one of the chambers.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, what I said to the members is that the environmental groups and interests have expressed concerns to us. The Chamber of Commerce and Chamber of Mines have expressed concerns and interest to us. I said to the members opposite that we would be following up, and that's basically exactly what we're doing.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, the minister says he's following up, but there were some specific questions that were asked by the chambers in their letters of severe criticism of this government's handling of Fishing Branch. One of the questions was asking the government to consider revisiting Fishing Branch, because the process was not followed. The chambers do not believe that all stakeholders' interests were taken into account.
Is the government prepared to go along with that request and revisit the Fishing Branch?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, what we're doing right now is waiting for recommendations from the local planning team, and we'll be making a decision on the boundaries of Fishing Branch.
Mr. Ostashek: That's not what the chambers asked for, Mr. Chair. It's not what the chambers asked for. The chambers don't believe that they had a fair hearing in the process. They've asked the government to go back to the drawing board on it before they accept the final boundaries, and to look at what happened, and to correct it by going back and revisiting the Fishing Branch and the Fishing Branch process. There were specific recommendations made to this government.
It's not good enough for the government to say we didn't follow the process that time and we'll do better the next time. That isn't going to build any credibility for the system.
So, Mr. Chair, I take it from the minister then that the government is not going to bow to the request from the chambers to revisit the Fishing Branch boundaries.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, Mr. Chair, the member's right. We have done a lot of work there. I've told the member how much work has gone on in the past four years, in the past 27 years of interest, wanting to have this area protected. We're going to carry on with the process that has been laid out, and continue on with Fishing Branch.
I know the member would love for us to go and redraft the strategy and put a hold on protected areas for the next 10 years or so. It's not what Yukoners want, and it's not the direction that they gave to us. We're going to carry on.
Mr. Ostashek:Well, Mr. Chair, the member's wrong. He doesn't know what I want at all. I just got finished telling the minister that even the people who are criticizing this government's actions believe the strategy can work. What they need is some commitment from a government that they're not going to impose political will on the strategy, as happened in the Fishing Branch - and not follow the process that they themselves set out. That's what they look for.
Another request was made that the government conduct an independent review of the Fishing Branch process as part of the plan to rectify the problems. Is the government going to do that?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, what I told the member is that we sped up the process. He doesn't seem to get that. We're going to continue on with the process that was laid out by the local planning team, and timelines and so on. That is what we're sticking to. We're not going beyond that. The concerns raised by the Chamber of Mines and Chamber of Commerce, we'll deal with. We're not going to go back and shut down the Fishing Branch. We think that this is significant to Yukon. It's a huge win, I guess, for the people in Old Crow. It's something they've been looking at for many years, and we're not about to destroy that.
We're going to carry on. We've got this - Fishing Branch and Tombstone - and we think that we can accomplish them this year, and we can work on others in the years to come and look at ways of improving the process and improving the way we do things with other groups - the Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber of Mines, environmentalists and government.
Mr. Ostashek: The chambers were very, very critical of this minister and his handling of the Fishing Branch process. The Minister of Economic Development has admitted mistakes were made, but yet it doesn't appear that anything's going to be done to correct the mistakes, to build confidence in the system again. They won't agree to an independent review; they're going to do some tinkering with it when key stakeholders believe that it needs more than just tinkering. They believe it needs an independent review to put it back on track. I don't believe what this minister has offered to people is going to satisfy the stakeholders at all in that respect.
I have one final question in general debate. The minister stated last week in reply to the $1.00 line item for outfitter compensation that they were negotiating with an outfitter for compensation in regard to land claims. Is the negotiation taking place in the context of the $2 million that has been allocated by the federal government for compensation to outfitters? Is that still the figure that the minister's working with, and are there any other outfitters who are going to be entering into negotiation with the government for compensation due to land claims settlements?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough:We haven't had any additional claims filed at this point. We've been dealing with one, and negotiations are underway. What we are responsible for, through the agreements, is that the Yukon government is responsible for half of the first $2 million - up to a million dollars - so this has been the first one, of course. We don't know what the dollar amount is and that's why it's reflected in the supplementary as a dollar amount.
Mr. Ostashek: I don't have any difficulty with the amount being reflected as $1.00. That's no concern to me at this point. I fully understand that. What I want to know, if the minister can tell me, is the formula for compensation for the outfitters they're negotiating with, the YTG formula that was put together in the early 1980s? Is that the formula that's being used?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I don't know what the formula is. I have to get back to the member on how they're determining what is being compensated for. I don't get involved with those at all. It's through negotiations at this point. I can tell the member, though, in going back to YPAS, the Government Leader right now is speaking over at the Geoscience Forum, talking about conversations he's had with the Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber of Mines, and reassuring them that we're going to be taking concerns and dealing with them, trying to make improvements, assuring them again that the strategy that is being set up is involving their input and their interests. Right at this moment, he's over there dealing with this particular issue. We're not sitting back with it at all. We're trying to be proactive with the different concerns that come forward to us.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, I'll be anxiously awaiting to hear what type of response the Government Leader gets, because it hasn't been so favourable over the weekend. I can assure the minister of that.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Ostashek: It must be really touchy for the Minister of Economic Development. I know it is. He had to eat crow, and that minister certainly doesn't like that.
I want to get on with the outfitter compensation. I know the minister is not involved in it directly, but there was a formula that was established by the territorial government back in the early 1980s, when they were in the process of negotiating for an outfitting concession in the southern Yukon.
After that process was over, they came out with a formula that was based on the previous two years' tax returns, and I want to know from the minister if that is the formula for the basis of negotiation. Is that the formula the government is using now in their negotiations with the outfitter? And if it isn't, I would like to know what the formula is.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I'll have to get back to the member opposite on this. I can tell the member, though, that it's basically as a result of our obligations as contained in the UFA. And the compensation agreement between Canada and Yukon, basically, came into effect in March 1997, and it was also developed with the input from the Yukon Outfitters Association and reviewed by that association's legal counsel.
Mr. Ostashek: I would ask if the minister could get me a copy of that agreement, and if the agreement lays out the terms and conditions for the negotiation. If not, I would like to know on what basis the government is negotiating. I understand it comes under the land claims. I want to know how they are negotiating. Is it on the basis of a loss of square kilometres of area? Is it based on a reduction in the number of animals the outfitter can take? What are the principles that the government is using to come up with a figure they believe is acceptable for compensation? That's all I'm asking. What is the process?
I don't have any hidden agenda here. I just want to know what basis the minister is negotiating on. Because the last official negotiating position that I know of was one that was put out by the territorial government in the early 1980s, and it was based on the previous two years' income tax returns.
I want to know if that's the same process the government is following today, or if there's a different criteria. That's all I want, and if the minister gets back to me in a timely manner, I would appreciate it.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, I'm not the one who's doing the negotiating. I can't bring the members back what information we have on the process.
Mr. Jenkins: I have some questions of the minister about special-waste regulations that have been adopted and are now in force.
I'm concerned with who bears the resulting costs of these special-waste regulations. I'm referring specifically to the drums of fluid of one type or another that are disposed of in our various landfill sites throughout the Yukon. When the landfill is operated by one of our municipal governments, the costs that they incur are significant.
When the municipal government places limits on the amount of special waste they will receive, there is a process whereby individuals or firms can contact Renewable Resources, and they will make arrangements to take delivery of that special waste.
Could the minister advise us as to just how extensive this process is, and how it's working, and what cost Renewable is incurring in dealing with this special waste?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, I wouldn't have that type of number in front of me as to cost and so on. The member knows that this regulation has been in place for a number of years now - since 1995 - and I haven't heard of any major concerns coming from any of the municipalities out there about having big costs to them in handling these special wastes, whether it's oil or that type of thing.
We do have a place in Whitehorse where the special waste can be taken, and the municipalities are fully aware of that.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, either the minister isn't reading his correspondence or isn't in direct dialogue with the respective municipal governments, because growing and alarming costs have been downloaded to quite a number of municipalities around the Yukon Territory.
What I'm also concerned with is the analysis that has to take place on the contents of a drum, and what steps the minister is envisioning within his department to reduce this cost. It is currently $200 to conduct an analysis, whether it be one drum or to a maximum of seven 45-gallon drums. Is there any move afoot within the department to reduce this cost or to have a mobile lab go around the Yukon to deal with the special wastes, because usually it's accumulated over a period of time, and then, after a significant amount is assembled, the analysis is conducted, and then it's disposed of accordingly, whether it can be burned in a certified waste-oil burning appliance or whether it has to be shipped out of the territory for disposal.
Is there any move by the government to put in place some sort of a lab - a mobile lab - that can deal with this area?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, we have not. At this point, we are not going to be putting in a mobile lab. The member knows that those companies that are producing special waste are responsible for them, and if municipalities want to accept these into their landfills, then they end up responsible for those disposal costs. But municipalities are not obligated to accept waste oil at their landfill centre garbage dumps.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, that gives rise to the concern that I have that more and more municipal governments are refusing to accept anything more than 20 litres of waste oil, and it's up to the individuals to dispose of this waste oil.
Now, I know the minister's going to stand up and say they can't do this, they can't do that, there are regulations. And there are regulations, but most of this waste oil comes from crankcases. These are either diesel- or gasoline-burning internal combustion engines, and there is not a clear line as to who was responsible for what. Whoever owns the oil is supposed to be responsible for its disposal, yes. But all that Renewable Resources has done, Mr. Chair, is to put in place special-waste regulations. The municipal governments have tried to deal with these special-waste regulations. They've found the costs insurmountable and rising at an alarming rate, so they're stockpiling tremendous quantities of 45-gallon drums of contaminated product.
Has the minister noticed any trend throughout the Yukon of these stockpiles being created and not being burned because they're contaminated?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Is the member referring to municipalities and landfills as to whether or not there is a trend here? I don't know if there is. I haven't heard of one. I know the member has brought this to the floor, and I can tell the member that if the increased cost is a concern to municipalities, then they should not be accepting them, because by accepting the waste oil and whatnot, they're taking on the responsibility of disposal costs.
Mr. Jenkins: Has the minister got any idea where this product is eventually ending up now, currently, because given the amount that's shipped out of the Yukon, given the amount that's created, both extremes do not meet. There's a whole quantity in there that is going somewhere. Where is it going, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I know that there is a place in Whitehorse here, but I have to get back to the member opposite to see what quantities are leaving and what is staying in the Yukon.
Mr. Jenkins: When the analysis is done on the waste oil, they check for a number of contaminants in that oil. The biggest cause of concern is lead, lead in the crankcase oil coming from the leaded gasoline that is being burned in the Yukon. Has the minister looked at that area and analyzed what can be done to address it?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I know the member is concentrating on one specific one. There are a number of different things that are in these waste products. I don't know if the member wants to go through the whole thing, or I can get back to the member opposite in regard to lead.
Mr. Jenkins: The specifics that are tested for are arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, organic halogens and PCBs. Those are the ones that are tested for. The one that gives rise to contaminating the most oil is lead. The lead is derived from gasoline. It's added to gasoline to be burned in internal combustion engines.
Now, has the minister looked at that one specific area? Because that is what is contaminating the most - crankcase oil.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I know the member opposite has a concern with the number of drums that are in Dawson City. I can tell the member that we've tested some of these drums, and all that he has listed has been found in these drums, and we haven't tested them all.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, that's not the information I've received from the city, Mr. Chair. The information I received from the city is that they have twenty-one 45-gallon drums of waste oil. They took an analysis for contaminants. The cost was $200 for each set of seven; 14 of the drums failed the tests, and the contaminant was lead. That lead comes from contaminated crankcase oil from internal combustion engines that burn leaded gasoline.
Now, has the minister looked at that one area?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: As I said to the member earlier, we haven't tested all of these drums. There are approximately 64 drums that are not tested. Once we do that, we would know more of what the cost for the rest of these drums would be.
Mr. Jenkins:But that's simply not the case. That was the last test batch. There are currently eighty-five 45-gallon drums in Dawson, and by and large they are virtually all contaminated with lead. The cost of disposing of each 45-gallon drum is $500 per barrel. That does not include the transportation costs from Dawson City to Alberta, where the disposal site is.
Now, what I'm getting at, Mr. Chair, is that we have imposed special-waste regulations. I don't have any quarrel with those special-waste regulations, but we've got to streamline the process to bring the cost in line with reality, and we've got to have some faster method of conducting and undertaking an analysis. Does the minister not agree? Or, just because the cost has been downloaded to some other agency or some other form of government, I guess the minister believes it's not his problem. Is that the case?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: It is $485 that was identified by Renewable for those barrels, and I can tell the member that our department does pay for the transportation costs of special waste.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, we've recognized the cost associated with shipping the special waste. Now what about the cost of disposing of the special waste? Isn't there some way we can achieve a saw-off? It's usually a user-pay type situation, and the major contaminant in this oil is lead. The lead comes from gasoline being burned in internal combustion engines. Now, if the user-pay scenario were in place, would it not be reasonable to assume that that area assumes the responsibility for disposing of this special waste or this contaminated oil, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: You would think that it would not have been in this waste oil because of gasoline - I mean, where we're going today with cleaner gas, and so on. I can tell the member opposite that, in regard to lead in particular, I can get back to the member opposite on that.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, it's obvious, Mr. Chair, that the minister hasn't done his homework and they haven't spent any time analyzing this area. The gasoline that's burned in automotive engines is lead-free. The gasoline that's burned in the aviation industry contains a large amount of lead, still to this day. That's where most of the contaminants are derived from.
Now, I'm not suggesting we single out the aviation industry for an extra tax, but there is a problem there with low-lead 100 gasoline contaminating crankcase oil and it having to be disposed of.
Now, can't the minister make some sort of a program to collect that special waste, pool it all together, and pass on the resulting savings, rather than each municipal government having to deal with the government, and shipping it all down to Whitehorse, and then the Government of the Yukon collecting it and assembling it in Whitehorse, then shipping it down to Swan Hills in Alberta. There has got to be a better way of addressing this, Mr. Chair, than what we are currently doing. The costs are being downloaded to municipal governments - downloaded significantly to the point that they're refusing to accept this product. Now, this product is still being used in the public domain. We still have a resulting amount of this product being created that must be disposed of.
Now, this is in the minister's bailiwick. Would it not stand the test of reasonableness for the Department of Renewable Resources to address this area and address it head on? Is the minister prepared to undertake to do so?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, the Department of Renewable Resources has been working with the City of Dawson. They've had discussions with Brewery Creek mine about incinerating the waste oil and waste-oil burners. The department has offered to the City of Dawson to participate in annual special-waste collection to look at how we can work together, where Dawson would pay for the disposal costs and we'd pay for the transportation costs.
At this point, Dawson has refused and declined to participate.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Dawson has refused to participate because of the cost - it can't afford it. It's another $40-odd thousand of expenses that's totally unbudgeted, that they will be incurring to dispose of this waste oil.
That's why the City of Whitehorse is no longer accepting this product. That's why Dawson is only accepting it up to 20 litres, and that's why all the other municipal governments are getting out of the business of accepting this waste product.
The minister is correct - Brewery Creek does burn this type of oil, but only after it has been tested and certified for being burned in this type of device. And the majority of this oil is contaminated with lead, and Brewery Creek - the mine site at Viceroy - will not accept it for burning. There are other approved oil-burning devices in Dawson City that can burn that type of oil, but only after it has been tested, Mr. Chair.
So we've got two problems: one, there's not a readily available, quick test that the minister's department could implement, could have on line; and number two, there's a high cost of disposal.
The minister just cites that they pay the transportation costs. Well, maybe let's reverse it. Let the municipality pay the transportation costs - because we're talking back haul to Alberta - and the government pays the cost of disposal. What's wrong with that scenario, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, the municipalities know the special-waste regulations. If they were to accept special waste, they know that they're accepting the disposal costs. They don't have to accept them, and that's where it's at.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, they're not accepting it; they won't accept it in large quantities; it has to be disposed of somewhere. Now, if the minister checks his records, it's not being disposed of through the method that was just outlined, Mr. Chair, but that special waste is still being created. Where's it going?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, what I said to the member opposite a couple of times already is that the producers of these special wastes are responsible for the disposal costs, and if the municipalities are accepting them, they're accepting the costs of the disposal. Many know these regulations and could put it back on the companies or the producers of special waste to make sure that, beforehand, they have the dollars or the means, the process and transportation, to dispose of these special wastes.
Mr. Jenkins: Most of the municipalities that I've spoken with are in favour of a fully funded recycling program. Why is there no initiative by this government in this area, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, in regard to special wastes, there are regulations in place.
Mr. Jenkins: Yes, Mr. Chair, there are regulations in place as to what has to happen to that special waste, but the refunding of that program is what I'm referring to. Now, why is there not a method of funding the special-waste program? The minister saw his way clear to bring in a tax on Tetra Paks for the kids' juices, but we can't charge another five cents a litre or something for oil for its disposal. I don't know where the headspace is on this.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I know the member opposite has never supported recycling to its fullest. The member knows there is a cost to recycling, and whether it's pop bottles or beer bottles or Tetra Paks, those are being recycled. It's about less garbage going into landfills and materials that we use in our everyday life being recycled into something else that we can use. What is the member asking us to do? Put a fee on this so that industry itself could be upset with this whole thing? What we're doing is putting the responsibility back on those who are producing special wastes. They are responsible for the disposal costs.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, that's admirable, Mr. Chair, but what has happened is that the charges have been downloaded to the municipal governments in all cases. In virtually all cases, municipal governments are assuming the responsibility for this special waste. There's a small administration and collection charge that the Government of the Yukon is assuming, but by and large, the brunt of these special-waste regulations are being borne by municipalities. And that is not fair, and that is not reasonable. Then we start extrapolating what is being proposed under the solid-waste regulations. The minister just made a statement; we're supposed to be reducing the amount of material going into our landfill sites.
And yet, one of the proposals is to stop burning in our dumps. I'm given to understand that 50 to 60 percent of the volume of material currently going into landfill sites is cardboard. There isn't a recycling program for cardboard. What is the problem with a fully-funded recycling program in this area? The minister can do it for Tetra Paks - tax the kids' juices - but no, we're not going to burn in our garbage dumps. On the other hand, now we have a policy for if a forest fire starts, immaterial of whether it's caused by lightning or is man-made - if it's in certain area we do not fight that forest fire, we don't go out and put that fire out. Then, on the other hand, because of emissions from our garbage dumps, we're going to stop burning in our garbage dumps. It's some comparison. The amount of burning that would take place in a decade in all of our garbage dumps wouldn't match the emissions in one major forest fire in the Yukon in one summer, and we usually have several of them, currently.
So who is thinking through these processes? The exercise is to reduce the amount of material going into our landfill sites. How are these new proposed special-waste regulations going to do that, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The Yukon Party had cut employees' wages back, they increased taxes, and now they want us to tax cardboard. They complained about taxing the recycling costs on Tetra Paks, but they want us to tax cardboard. Mr. Chair, the member opposite says that this is downloading. From what I can read in these regulations, it is not downloading to municipalities.
The new regulations are regulations that have been brought in by the Yukon Party. Now, obviously, you're right. Maybe they're not clearly thought out and maybe we do have to make another correction to some of the actions the Yukon Party did put forward to Yukoners again. Maybe we can do some things to help municipalities in landfills. I'm working with the Minister of Community and Transportation Services in regard to special-waste regulations. We think that we can work with municipalities to give them opportunities to think more about recycling, and recycle more in their communities. That's what we're going to be doing.
Mr. Jenkins: There are quite a number of landfill sites operated by the Government of the Yukon throughout the Yukon, Mr. Chair, and I make a point of doing an annual inspection of garbage dumps throughout the Yukon just to see their conditions. The minister might laugh, but it's a serious concern; it's a serious environmental concern, and Whitehorse and virtually all the municipalities run a neat, tidy operation, sorting and recycling usually to the best of their abilities. The only areas that are in disarray - and there appears to be no time or effort spent on the sites - are the sites operated by the Government of the Yukon. Now, I know that comes under the purview of the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, but their budget has been reduced in this area, and it's been reduced significantly the last few years.
Is Renewable Resources taking on the responsibility for more and more of the recycling programs and the special wastes from these dumps, Mr. Chair? What's happening? I can't understand. On one hand, Community and Transportation Services are reducing their costs for maintaining their dumps. For all the other dumps that are operated by municipal governments, the costs are going up and up and up. Something has to be doing something somewhere to absorb that cost. Where is that cost being absorbed? Is it in Renewable Resources?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, it's not with our department. C&TS has been responsible for a number of landfills across the Yukon. They are not exempt from the regulations. They have to abide by the solid-waste regulations that will be coming forward, and the cost to them - whatever the result is - would be absorbed by municipalities and the government itself responsible for landfills.
Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister just advise the House how he expects to reduce the amount of material going into landfills when we're going to stop burning?
I'm given to understand, Mr. Chair, that between 50 and 60 percent of the volume now going into our landfill sites is cardboard and packaging material. That is usually burned. Now, we're going to stop that.
How are we going to reduce the amount going into our landfill sites by stopping burning? That's the first question.
Perhaps the minister could also advise the House as to how much in the way of emissions are created by these landfill sites that are burned on a regular basis.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We are trying to address some of the issues that have been raised by the municipalities. I'm sure that the Minister of C&TS can say the same thing. In the regulations, we try to work with a long-term management plan, to have that in place with municipalities to deal with all aspects, whether or not they go to trench-and-bury, and to improve their recycling areas. We would like to work with the municipalities on this.
Mr. Jenkins: The minister could go much further working with the municipalities than what he is currently doing, because all he has is a big set of rules and he hangs them over this head and does nothing. We'll truck it out for you, and that's it. You pay, you pay, you pay.
The other area that's of major concern in rural Yukon is the amount of animal carcasses that are going into the dumps. Currently, they're disposed of by burning. If they're going to be buried, the requirement is that they be buried at a specific depth. Now, if we're not going to burn, how does the minister suggest that these carcasses be disposed of?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The Member for Watson Lake has a suggestion.
We're working with municipalities on a number of different things for that. I'm sure this one will be addressed too.
Mr. Jenkins: It's my understanding that nothing has materialized. Could the minister apprise the House as to what methods are being explored in this area?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I don't know where the member is going with this particular one. We do have animals that are put down in the smaller communities - dogs, cats and that type of thing. The owners many times are taking them off and doing burials on their own. It's not a big concern in the smaller municipalities. We have other things like - in Whitehorse, of course, dealing with a larger number of animals being taken care of. That is something I would have to get back to the member on. I'm not up to speed where any discussions have taken place with this. I wasn't even aware that this was a huge issue with smaller municipalities around the Yukon.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, it is an issue, and it's an issue that has got to be addressed, and it's not just animals that are being destroyed, like pets - dogs and cats. A lot of people in our area are hunters. They'll bag the moose, and that's cleaned out, and the carcass is usually disposed of in the garbage dump, as are the carcasses from quite a number of caribou.
So there are a lot of carcasses going into the dumps and, historically, Mr. Chair, they have been disposed of rather quickly - before the ravens get in there - by burning. I know our community, historically, has had to put down in the magnitude of about 100 dogs in the course of a year. That in itself could constitute a health hazard if they're not disposed of properly.
And the minister says, "Bury them." Well, I would welcome him to visit any Yukon community, starting this month through until about next May, and give him that opportunity and privilege to dig the grave for the burial process, because it's not an easy task. In fact, it's a very expensive one, Mr. Chair. So, except for a few months of the year, that scenario's out the window.
I go back to the original question on this no-burn policy. Has anyone done any analysis of the emissions created from the various landfill sites in the Yukon Territory?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: What I was referring to was basically pets that are in the communities, and so on. People do take care of those on their own. There are times that, of course, they do take them to the landfill.
Mr. Chair, we have been working - the two departments, C&TS and Renewable - to work on solid-waste regulations. What is going to be offered to the municipalities is an option of whether or not they want to go with this no burn. There will be encouragement from the Department of Community and Transportation Services to have municipalities buy into this.
Hopefully, they do accept it and put together a long-term, 10-year solid waste management plan.
Mr. Jenkins: So, is the minister now saying that the solid waste regulations will include a proviso that it's a municipal option as to whether they burn or not burn? Is that what I'm hearing the minister say?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, that's correct.
Mr. Jenkins: That's quite a nice change, Mr. Chair, and I thank the minister for providing us with that information. There are only two situations that give rise to concern with burning in the waste dumps, that concern the greatest majority of Yukoners. One is with the prevailing winds, when they blow right through your window, and the aromas are there, and we get annoyed. And the second situation is when we start a fire in a landfill site and don't know how to contain it, such as what happened out in Burwash. That is alarming also. But, by and large, what I want to know is: has the minister's department conducted any studies on what emissions and what quantities are coming out with the normal routine burning at the various landfill sites in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I can tell the member that what is going to be required is that if there is any burning that does take place, conditions would be put on it - of course, weather is one of them, whether it is hot and windy, and whether or not there is an inversion taking place - so that people are not constantly having to smell the landfills burning.
I don't have any numbers on whether or not - I don't believe that the department has put any numbers together with regard to how much emissions are being produced by regular burning of landfills. I can ask them, and if there is a number, I can bring it forward to the member opposite.
Mr. Jenkins: No, I'm not asking the minister if he can assemble any numbers as to what type of emissions. We all know what type of emissions come out of the various landfill sites.
I want to know if the department has substantiated any of these decisions of no burning by doing actual tests on the emissions from landfill sites in and around the Yukon Territory. Have actual tests been conducted, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, I can get that information. I can tell the member opposite that this has been driven largely by communities and people wanting to get away from this. There have been tests - I know that there have been tests done elsewhere. Any of that information, if the member wants, I can try to get the department to bring it forth to him.
Mr. Jenkins: I would like a simple yes or no, Mr. Chair. Has the Yukon Department of Renewable Resources done any tests on emissions from sanitary landfill sites burning in and around the Yukon Territory?
I know tests have been conducted in other areas of the country. I've seen some of the results. I want to know if the Government of the Yukon - specifically that minister's department - has done any tests.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I can bring an answer back to the member opposite. I have not heard that we have done any of these tests. Maybe they have been in previous years. The department does go out and look at - and has been working with municipalities on landfills. I know that the Department of Health and Social Services has looked at some of the - has had a lot of concerns with regard to the possibilities of burning landfills on children and schools and so on.
Mr. Jenkins: It seems, Mr. Chair, that all we're doing is downloading a lot of this responsibility to the respective governments. As long as somebody else pays, the minister is happy, and that seems to be the case in this area. I look forward to the department working a lot more extensively with the various municipal governments to find more cost-effective ways of shouldering the responsibility for special-waste disposal and also to come up with a set of regulations that are, at least, workable and protect our environment. But they have to be workable here in the Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: It's not downloading to municipalities. I told the member opposite that they are options.
Mr. Cable: I'd like some clarification on some comments that the minister made with respect to the picnic tables that had been withdrawn. On Thursday, he was asked this question: was it the problem that the tops of the tables were considered to be toxic to people so that was why we were replacing them? That's the question that was put to the minister by the Member for Riverdale North, and the minister said, "No, that's not the reason why we're replacing the tops of the tables. That concern had come up previously."
He explained, in part, what he meant by that today, but I'd like some further explanation. Have there ever been any complaints from people about the chemical treatment that the PWF wood gets before it's put into the picnic tables, and if so, were they raised from inside or outside the department?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: That has been raised as a concern by those, I guess, who don't know what's in it and, more or less, out there in the general public. We had some discussions. Our departments do have discussions on this. The pressure treated wood that is used in these picnic tables has the same wood preservative that is in things like playground equipment and Big Toys, so I'm sure there has been a lot of work done in making sure that these products are safe.
Mr. Cable: What is the preservative? Is it zinc or pentachloropheno?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I'll have to get back to the member on that.
Mr. Cable: I'd appreciate a legislative return on that. The reason I ask is that if it's the same sort of treatment that's used in wood basements, I can see why people would be complaining about having their food in contact with the wood that was preserved with that chemical. Have the picnic tables been withdrawn because of the chemical treatment or because of the small grooves that go into the wood in the process of the chemical treatment?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: It's for the simple reason of having a better surface to work on, to keep clean. If the member notices, as he goes through the campground, some of the tables that are used a lot more than others always appear to look dirty, and are a lot more difficult to clean. What we're going to be doing is having, as we did before - I'm not sure if it's a different paint, but it's enameled paint that we are using on these plywood surfaces and also on the seat to make sure that the surfaces are smooth and you're not getting any slivers as you sit. Also, we did use plywood in the past and changed over to two-by-sixes or that type of surface. There were a lot of complaints about having gaps between them and utensils not being able to stay on the tables and that type of thing. So, in taking care of all that, we're going back to putting on plywood surfaces and painting them.
Mr. Cable: The minister is assuring the House then that the picnic tables that have been treated with the PWF treatment raise no health concerns with people that put food on them? Is that what he is saying?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: From what I gather from the department, yes. That is not the reason.
Mr. Cable: Now, the picnic tables that are lent out or given away to service clubs, do they have the same concern for sliver formation, or whatever it was that caused the withdrawal that the minister just expressed a few moments ago? The reason I'm asking this question is because I heard that the tables had been withdrawn for some reason, because somebody complained about slivers or whatever, and then they were turned around and pawned off on service clubs. Is that the case, or have I misunderstood what's going on?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, Mr. Chair, we do regular maintenance on the tables, and every year we do bring in tables and fix them up so that they're not falling apart and so on, and we do have extras that we do have in the yard. We have six of them that we normally give out or lend out, and it's more appreciation for having access to these tables than complaints that come forward. We do have a large number of tables that we are going to dispose of that are in our compound now.
Mr. Cable: Is the department going to dispose of them, like get rid of them, or give them to service clubs?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I'll have to find out what shape they are in, but I believe that they would be going up in an auction.
Mr. Cable: I have just a couple questions on waste-oil combustion. I was listening to the debate between the Member for Klondike and the minister. What is the volume of crankcase oil that's unsuitable for burning up wherever - Viceroy, I gather - that's shipped out for combustion outside at waste disposal facilities?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I'm not sure what they are. The amount we have been dealing with at the City of Dawson is approximately 85 barrels.
Mr. Cable: Is the minister saying that his department doesn't control the shipping out of all the remaining oil that's collected in the territory?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough:The producers of these special wastes are responsible for the disposal and the disposal cost.
Mr. Cable: Does the minister have any idea what the volume is and what the approximate amount in total is that's involved in shipping waste oil outside the territory?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I can see what the department has for numbers and bring them back to the member opposite.
Mr. Cable: I know the Minister of Economic Development is sort of desperate for some job creation here. Has this minister's department ever looked at the economics of combustion of this waste oil here in the territory?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I'm not exactly sure what the member means by this. We do have several places in the Yukon that do take this waste oil and can burn it through their units. Is he talking about something different?
Mr. Cable: I take it that the contaminated oil can't be burned here in the territory. I gather from the debate that some of the aircraft engine oil has to be shipped out for combustion outside.
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, is the member opposite asking whether or not we're looking at a place and putting together an incinerator?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, we have not considered that.
Chair: Committee will now turn to page 10-2, operations and maintenance expenditures.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Corporate Services
Corporate Services in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On Policy and Planning
Policy and Planning in the amount of $18,000 agreed to
On Resource Management
Resource Management in the amount of $121,000 agreed to
On Land Claims
Land Claims in the amount of $42,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on the recoveries?
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Department of Renewable Resources in the amount of $231,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
Chair: Is there general debate?
On Corporate Services
On Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space
Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space in the amount of $16,000 agreed to
On Policy and Planning
On State of the Environment Reporting
State of the Environment Reporting in the amount of $9,000 agreed to
On Kluane Land Use Plan
Kluane Land Use Plan in the amount of $46,000 agreed to
On Resource Management
On Lands and Facilities
On Energy Management Project
Energy Management Project in the amount of $5,000 agreed to
On Protected Areas
On Park System Plan
Park System Plan in the amount of $49,000 agreed to
On Resource Assessment
Resource Assessment in the amount of $29,000 agreed to
On Coal River Springs
Coal River Springs in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
On Environmental Protection and Assessment
On Global Warming/Climate Change Analysis
Global Warming/Climate Change Analysis in the amount of $165,000 agreed to
On Territorial Campgrounds and Day Use Areas
On Capital Works - Campground Facilities
Capital Works - Campground Facilities in the amount of $33,000 agreed to
On Outdoor Recreation Sites and Corridors
On Outdoor Recreation System Plan
Outdoor Recreation System Plan in the amount of $12,000 agreed to
On Heritage Rivers
On Yukon River (30 mile section)
Yukon River (30 mile section) in the amount of $13,000 agreed to
On Tatshenshini River
Tatshenshini River in the amount of $16,000 agreed to
On Special Projects
On Bear Management
Bear Management in the amount of $30,000 agreed to
Fire alarm sounded
Chair: Committee will now recess.
Extended recess due to fire alarm
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Committee is dealing with the supplementary estimates, Department of Renewable Resources, line item fish and wildlife management planning.
On Fish and Wildlife Management Planning
Fish and Wildlife Management Planning in the amount of an underexpenditure of $7,000 agreed to
On Infrastructure Facilities (Abattoir)
Infrastructure Facilities (Abattoir) in the amount of $5,000 agreed to
On Agricultural Land Development
Agricultural Land Development in the amount of $105,000 agreed to
On Land Claims
On Outfitter Compensation
Outfitter Compensation in the amount of one dollar agreed to
Chair: Any questions on the recoveries?
Capital Expenditures for the Department of Renewable Resources in the amount of $551,000 agreed to
Department of Renewable Resources agreed to
Chair: Committee will now turn to the Department of Education.
Department of Education
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The Department of Education is requesting approval of operations and maintenance supplementary funding of $1,528,000 for the operation and maintenance expenditures. The single largest request is for a wage increase for the Yukon Teachers Association that is a result of the collective agreement. This applies to all 615.38 positions that are covered by the Yukon Teachers Association, including teachers, education assistants, native language instructors, and tutors.
There is additional funding for Conversations in Education. These are projects to get the Yukon public thinking and talking about how we can offer the best education possible for our students. People are keen to share their vision for the Yukon education system, and there has been good turnout for the events that have taken place to date.
There are also revotes for the reading recovery programs at Ross River and Pelly Crossing schools.
The capital supplementary funding request is for $3,316,000. The majority of this request is also for revotes. The revotes cover school-based information technology, the Ross River School replacement, the school-initiated renovations, and the largest amount is for the Old Crow school replacement funding requesting a revote of $1,501,000 for that project. There are also two requests for new funding for purchasing land in Carmacks for a school addition and additional funding for training trust funds in the amount of $400,000. There was also a revote of $32,000 in training trust funds.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Ms. Duncan: I have a number of questions for the minister.
Recently, our education system has been called into question, if you will - or our checks and balances in the system. On April 8, 1998 there was an editorial in a Whitehorse newspaper. The headline was "Judge Lilles' candor is right on the money." The editorial writer wrote, "There was no evidence of any effective intervention by family, community, school system..." and it refers to the educators who are instructing them.
On Friday, the same judge issued a judgment in another case and the judge said, "And when a similar situation arises a year or two from now, we can all (again) express our shock and horror, pause, but only for a moment, and ignore the fact that this and other similar instances could have been prevented had we only taken the time to learn from earlier tragedies, of which this is one." And in the same judgment, the judge goes on and says, "[This individual] has had extensive involvement with the youth justice system. She has also been involved with children's services and social services. No doubt there is also a considerable amount of information about [this individual] on file with the Department of Education. One of the principal failings in this case relates to the lack of sharing of information."
Now, Mr. Chair, this has been going on for some time - certainly since I have been in this particular place. The minister and I have discussed early intervention strategies, communication between the department, the intervention model. The minister has responsibilities for both Education and Justice. Clearly the justice system has been saying for some time that the Department of Education needs to talk and needs to work with other departments on behalf of our children.
How does the minister intend to address the issues that have been raised in this most recent judgment, and have been raised before?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, to begin, there is a protocol for sharing information among the departments of Health and Social Services and Justice and Education and the RCMP. I would like the member to be aware that teachers are good role models for students in the communities, and that teachers do work hard to expand their duties beyond actual classroom instruction. We find that teachers are volunteers for community events that occur after school hours. We are expanding the curriculum to deal with some of the requests that are brought forward for teachers to take on a broader role in the lives of their students.
For example, we have workshops as part of the Yukon Teachers Association three-day conference that was held this fall on the subject of fetal alcohol syndrome. We're also supporting early intervention in a number of ways. My colleague, the Minister of Health and Social Services, who's responsible for youth justice, does work quite cooperatively with me, and our departments work cooperatively together.
The member referred to early intervention. There's a five-stage intervention model that has been piloted at Jack Hulland Elementary School, which is having some success. It involves significant sharing of resources between Health and Social Services and Education.
We're supporting the reading recovery program as another early intervention model.
So, Mr. Chair, we believe that it is important for teachers to play that good role in the community in a broader sense, and we recognize that they're doing it and are working at improving curriculum and supporting teachers in that role.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I fully understand the role that teachers play in our community, and just how valuable they are. I have had - as have my colleagues - many discussions with the Minister of Health and Social Services about early intervention strategies.
The minister and I have discussed in the past the five-stage intervention model. One of the key elements of that five-stage intervention model is the communication between departments. The minister has mentioned a protocol. That protocol has been in place for some time. It's the system, or that protocol, pointing out weaknesses that I believe is what the judge is pointing out - instances where that protocol, that exchange of information, isn't working.
How is the minister's department responding to points that were made by Judge Lilles in 1998 and restated last Friday? How are the minister and the minister's department responding to that? Are they going through the judgment? Does the minister have a task force reviewing the protocol? Is the minister doing anything about this?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I have asked my officials in the department to review the judgment and to discuss it with their colleagues. The deputy ministers do meet regularly and review items as needed. There is increased cooperation among departments, I believe, in this administration. We have given that direction to our departments. As an example, there is increased cooperation among Health and Social Services and schools on tobacco and substance abuse. There is access to schools for alcohol workers and support for programs at schools.
I've indicated to the member that we have instructed our officials to look at how we can ensure that the protocol is being followed and that we are meeting the needs.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, was there a time frame attached to this task assigned by the minister? For example, did the minister ask her departmental officials to review it and get back to her in January on an assessment of the protocol? Was there a time frame and a series of specific questions given to departmental officials? She may wish to advise by legislative return on that.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, although this particular judgment that the member refers to was issued on Thursday or Friday, the instruction for the departments to review and work on that particular judgment, I anticipate would occur within the next couple of months.
Ms. Duncan: The minister's answer would be acceptable is this had been the first time this judgment had come out, but it's not; in April 1998, a similar judgment was issued. I had understood from the earlier answer that the minister has instructed departmental officials to review it.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: She says she has instructed departmental officials to review this judgment. Perhaps the minister could provide us with a copy of the letter or instructions to the department, and she anticipates that that will take a couple of months. Is she anticipating a specific list of recommendations as to how the use of the protocol might be improved and how are we reviewing the protocol? Is it anecdotal, saying it worked in this instance - or is it as a result of the protocol? "This number of individuals were assisted." What sort of basis is she using for the department assessment of the protocol's function?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: It's not a question that can be answered individually by the Education department exclusively. This is something that needs to be looked at by Education, Justice, Health and Social Services. We've asked our officials to consider whether there are changes or improvements needed to the protocol on the exchange of information. I can assure the member that there are improvements being made, that there is increased cooperation between Health and Social Services and the school system, that we want to see our youth better served in all aspects of their lives. Another example of that would be the work to support constructive activities for youth in communities such as the youth recreation and leadership projects and the additional funding that we've put into providing for recreational opportunities for young people. It's a broad picture.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I appreciate that it's a major undertaking to review programming we're offering for youth and that it does cross departmental lines.
Are there any specific resources that have been allocated to departments? The minister's department has a role to play in this review. Have there been any specific resources allocated to it? For example, has there been someone assigned in the Department of Education to work with an interdepartmental task force to review these recommendations? Is there any budget money allocated to it, or are we just going to do an in-house informal examination?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, I expect to hear back from my officials and look at whether we might need to allocate more resources, but I can respond to the member that we've put huge new resources into supporting constructive activities for youth.
One example would be the kids' recreation fund that the Minister of Health and Social Services has supported. The work of our entire youth strategy is about involving youth in the decision making. We have been working with the Bringing Youth Toward Equality and the Youth Shaping the Future council to hear directly from youth what their recommendations are on the kinds of programs that we offer.
We're supporting the youth conference, and the youth in Whitehorse and the communities are actively involved in planning for a youth plan to take over the world conference to occur early in the new year. We have put additional resources into youth recreation programming.
The actual review of the protocol in relation to one specific judgment would not require an additional person to be assigned to that task within the Department of Education.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, it's the minister's opinion that it wouldn't require one individual person, but this is almost word for word the judgment from a year previous to that. The minister is not alone and this government is not alone in this criticism. The unfortunate events in Toronto recently - the same question is being asked: where is the system failing these children? An integral part of that system is the Department of Education. Educators, principals and schools are a major part of our children's lives, and there is a protocol established in the Yukon. We should be doing an assessment of how that protocol is working. We should be spending some time and effort in asking specific individuals and tasking them with this issue. It's that important.
I'm not arguing about the amount of resources at this point dedicated to children. I'm saying that there should be resources dedicated to the specific task of reviewing the protocol in place, seeing where it works and where it doesn't work. That's my point to the minister.
The Education Act review - the minister said there are additional resources in the supplementary budget for the edu-chats and the Conversations in Education. She neglected to say, or I did not hear, the exact amount of that line item, and could I have the details on how it is being spent?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, the budget amount of $219,000 for the Conversations in Education is to engage the public in a dialogue about education. There are a number of projects that will be part of that over the next little while. There are main events as well as a Web site that's been developed and edu-chats. The first event that was held was on October 15 and 16. There was a panel discussion on the Saturday morning with a number of resource people from across Canada who presented some provocative views on education and lifelong learning.
Those panel members included Desmond Morton, Eleanor Doctor, Louise Profeit-Leblanc, Lionel Orlikow and David Coulter. The moderator was Beverly LeMoine of the University of Alberta.
In addition, Dr. Japp Tuinman, who was the president and CEO of the Open Learning Agency, was here in Whitehorse early in November. He spoke about curriculum development and educational reform and new communications technologies.
The next major event that has been planned is on Web and media awareness, with a focus on protecting your children. We have a speaker from the Media Awareness Network, who will be at the Whitehorse Elementary School gym on Saturday, December 4, from 10:30 to 12:30. The Media Awareness Network promotes safe Internet use for children through workshops and a Web site.
Future speakers include John Abbott, who is the president of 21st Century Learning Institute, Susan Annis, who is a coordinator of the McConnell Foundation on ArtsSmarts programs, on the role of arts in the education system. We're also planning an event that deals with culture and hope that Bill Demmert might be attending for that.
In addition, there have been a number of edu-chats that have been sponsored, which are informal small groups, and there are a number of speakers, mainly local people who have a particular interest, and those discussions have ranged from 10 to 30 people who have a conversation on a particular subject that's of interest to the guest speaker and, obviously, the people who attend.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, is the $219,000 being spent on honorariums and hall rental? Is there specific staff seconded? Is that part of the resources for this $219,000, or could she break that down further?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: It's a variety of costs, Mr. Chair, which include a minor amount for administration, but it also covers the costs of travel and minimal honoraria.
Ms. Duncan: The Conversations in Education that I've seen advertised so far on the edu-chats are largely in Whitehorse. Are there any planned for any other communities?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, we do plan to hold some events in other communities, and I would be happy to come back with a complete schedule for the member opposite.
Ms. Duncan:I understand these are to take place once a week from now until May, so I would appreciate a complete schedule if the minister could forward that to me. The Conversations in Education are one part of the entire Education Act review, and I have a number of questions for the minister. At the edu-chat that I attended on Wednesday or Thursday last week, there were some specific suggestions made with respect to the Education Act. They were with regard to timing and calendars and so on, and the school year. How are those specific suggestions being incorporated, is one question I have. The other problem I have is that the Conversations in Education are part of the process. The other part of the process is the minister's partners in education: school councils and Yukon Teachers Association.
The Yukon Teachers Association has two study groups that have gone through and have done some work already on the specific Education Act, gone through it clause by clause by clause and said, "Here's where there should be changes; here's where there shouldn't be changes." The school councils are not quite at that point, where they've gone through some clause by clause. They've established a working format. This entire process is now delaying any potential changes in that potential changes to the Education Act will not be ready for the fall of 2000. It looks more like fall 2001.
How is the minister encouraging participation in the Education Act review - the clause-by-clause review of the actual legislation - when it's going to be quite some time before we actually see any changes to the Education Act?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, there's a two-part question there, Mr. Chair. On the first part, for specific suggestions that are made at the edu-chats, there are departmental officials who are attending all of the Conversations in Education and taking notes and compiling recommendations for me. I have been able to attend most of them but unfortunately I just am not able to attend every event and, where I cannot attend, Education officials attend and keep notes.
In relation to the Education Act review, there are more than two partners involved. I have struck a steering committee with two representatives from Yukon First Nations, from Yukon Teachers Association, from school councils and from the Department of Education. The role of the steering committee is to develop an Education Act review process and bring forward those recommendations to me as the Minister of Education. Some of the partners - and the member used the Yukon Teachers Association as an example - are intimately familiar with the act, work with it every day and, for the most part, are ready to indicate what sections of the act they feel need changes and what sections of the act they are comfortable with and don't see any particular need for changes.
I have made a commitment that we will not proceed with changes for one group - and, as an example that the member uses, the Yukon Teachers Association may have a dozen, or two dozen or more clauses that they would like to see amended in some form - without the full participation of school councils and First Nations and a review process that allows the general public input.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, could the minister comment on my assessment that it would be, at the earliest, fall 2001 before legislative changes might be made to the Education Act.
By the time we finish the Conversations in Education and the steering committee is finished its work, and the clause by clause and then legislative drafts people get hold of it, we're looking at the fall of 2001. Is that correct?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I think that what's important is to get the process right. The Yukon public is used to being allowed an opportunity for input on major pieces of legislation, and I think that the Education Act review is no exception to that.
So we anticipate that it will take some time to have the review process designed, and then allow time for discussions with the communities and with the general public. So fall 2001 is a more realistic time frame.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the problem with 2001, of course, is that it's two years away, and there have been groups such as school councils who have asked for changes to the Education Act. On the surface, they're fairly minor changes, and the minister mentioned other groups that have asked for changes.
Now, the minister said earlier that she has made a commitment that she won't make any changes until the Education Act review is complete. Knowing that that Education Act review is two years away, is the minister standing by the position that there will be no changes whatsoever to the Education Act until 2001, or will she revisit that and look at minor changes or amendments to the act?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I'm not aware of potential amendments that are of an emergency nature with a critical response date that would be a problem. I think that changes that may need to be made to the Education Act could be made in a fall 2001 legislative session without a great deal of difficulty, and the member may want to make a representation to disagree with that, but I'll be pleased to hear it.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, may I make a representation then that there are some issues that haven't been dealt with that the Education Act needs to be amended on. The school calendar is one that I know of - there are some school councils that would rather not wait two years to have that section amended.
There are some other areas - temporary teachers is another area that the minister may know YTA may make representation on, the others may make representations on. I know I've had many representations from them - from temporary teachers on that issue, clarifying their role in the act.
What I hear the minister saying is that, if there are some representations on the Education Act, and amendments that could be dealt with fairly expeditiously by the House, and by legislative drafts people, and that there was substantial representation on, that the minister might be prepared to make those amendments before 2001.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I'm always open to hear representations for timelines to be faster or slower on a particular project.
Chair: Order please. The time being near 5:30, this Committee will recess until 7:30 p.m. tonight.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Committee is dealing with supplementary estimates. We're on the Department of Education. Is there further general debate?
Ms. Duncan: The minister and I had several discussions in the House regarding kindergarten programming in the past, and this year the Elijah Smith has an all-day kindergarten program going at the school. It's too early in terms of a full evaluation of that particular program, because it has only just started this year. What has been the preliminary reaction? What's the enrollment like?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: What I've heard in relation to the full-day kindergarten program that's being offered for students from the Elijah Smith attendance area is that there are 18 students in the program and that it is very popular. Parents, teachers and students are all enjoying this and see it as an effective, early intervention strategy, Mr. Chair.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I appreciate the minister piping down the peanut gallery.
We have great teachers throughout our system.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: Is there any thought to expanding the program this September, or are we just going to continue with the pilot at Elijah Smith?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, the program has been in effect for two months now, and we have not, at this stage, considered whether it might be further expanded.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, we would anticipate the decision, I would suspect, in the spring of this year when we're looking at the fall enrolments.
I noticed that as part of the early intervention conference, which isn't directly within Education, but there is, I guess, the speaker, Dr. Fraser Mustard. This would be the Dr. Mustard who did the report for Ontario. Is the Department of Education having any conversations with Dr. Mustard and what would the topic be?
In Ontario, I believe, one of Dr. Mustard's recommendations - although I'm not certain the report was ever made public - was that the Government of Ontario should be spending as much on early childhood programs as they are currently spending on the balance of the school system. For example, if they're spending $1 billion on grades 1 to 12, they should be spending that much money on early intervention programming. I understood that was one of Dr. Mustard's recommendations to Ontario.
Has the minister seen that report for Ontario, and what discussions are planned with the Department of Education and Dr. Mustard when he is in Whitehorse?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, the answers are yes, yes and yes. We're very pleased that Dr. Fraser Mustard is coming to Whitehorse. The community development fund, as well as Education, Health and Social Services and Justice are all in support of the "Raising Our Future: Early Intervention" conference that is being organized by the Yukon Child Care Association. So, we're pleased to support it. We're also trying to arrange for Dr. Mustard to participate in a Conversations in Education event. If he's unable to do so, we've nonetheless set up discussions with Education folks to meet with Dr. Mustard, and there will be some Education people at the early intervention conference.
Ms. Duncan: Is there opportunity for our current primary grade or kindergarten teachers to meet with Dr. Mustard or to hear him, other than by participating in the conference?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I can look into what is being arranged. I know that we're trying to make the best use of his time while he is here, and he has arranged other meetings with people, aside from the conference itself.
Ms. Duncan: If the minister's department has an available copy of the report from Ontario and wouldn't mind sharing it with me, I'd appreciate receiving that report at some point.
The psychologist's assessment procedure in schools has been the subject of discussion between the minister and me. A school-based team is the central focus for determining whether or not this assessment is to take place, and then there's a request from the school to the department to have this assessment done.
Are there any schools currently with a backlog of students awaiting assessment? And if there are, how big is that backlog?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I'll have to look into that and come back to the member.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, this has been the subject of previous discussions between the minister and me, and a number of school council minutes.
Does the minister have any sense of whether or not that is a concern, at this point in time, that there is a backlog?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I have notes on that general subject, and I don't have any indication of a backlog. I certainly am not in any receipt of any recent complaints or concerns, and that's why I indicated to the member that I would have to look into it, because I'm not aware of any difficulties.
Ms. Duncan: I appreciate that response from the minister. There were some questions last year around staffing in the department for our specialists. There was one specialist vacancy in the department. They were contracting. I'm not sure if it was the specialist dealing with hearing or vision impairment. We were contracting with assessments, as well. We didn't have a full-time position staffed. What is the current complement of staffing at the Department of Education in terms of specialists, or psychologists, hearing specialists, visions specialists? Do we have any vacancies? Are we filling them? Are we actively recruiting, or are we contracting out these services?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I don't have a current breakdown of all of the staff in the department, so I can't respond to that question at the moment. I do have a breakdown of a number of the positions falling under the special programs coordinator - psychologist, speech language pathologist, physiotherapist, and occupational therapist - but I would have to check and see what vacancies there might be. I don't have an organizational chart in front of me.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, a written response from the minister would be fine. There are two questions I was looking for a written response on. One is the number of staff currently in the department, and the second was in terms of the special programs - what positions were not filled. So, if I could get that written response, that would be fine.
There are a number of concerns that have been expressed publicly and in this Legislature with respect to an anticipated teacher shortage within the next number of years. I notice that there are a number of administrative vacancies, and by administrative, I'm referring to principals and vice-principals. We also are experiencing elsewhere in the country a reduction, if you will, in the number of teachers available.
What plans are in place by the department to deal with these shortages, in terms of administration and in terms of teachers?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, we have discussed this subject in the House previously, as the member indicated, and under our Yukon hire policy, local applicants with appropriate qualifications and experience for the posted vacant positions are considered first.
The majority of teachers who were hired to fill vacancies were Yukon teachers. At the present time, we have approximately 35 local-teacher applicants on our inventory list of qualified applicants who are maintained on an inventory pursuant to the local hire policy. In addition, although there may be a teacher shortage coming up, we are seeing declining enrollment. This is not only because of the lower population in the Yukon, but generally, the demographics are that families are having fewer children. And if you look at the population trends, there is not going to be as large a number of students in the system as there are at present.
Recently, Yukon College advertised for expressions of interest for adults who may want to go back to university to complete a teaching degree. There may be an education degree program that can be offered to candidates who already have a bachelor's degree, if there is sufficient interest in the Yukon. We also have the Yukon native teacher education program, as the member is aware, and we advertise for teacher recruitment.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the minister touched on a number of subjects in this area. I'd like to start with a question with respect to the administrative vacancies.
An edu-chat was held with respect to "Are teachers meeting expectations?" One of the very concrete suggestions that came forward was a mentoring program.
Now, we're anticipating a number of vacancies in the administrative area. We have a principal retiring at Golden Horn; there's currently a vacancy at Selkirk in terms of principalships, and that's just in Whitehorse. There are also other situations in other schools.
Is there any plan in place by the department to look at the retirements that are coming up - look at what those teachers or principals are doing, what sort of school they're in, and doing any kind of mentoring, any kind of professional development to assist teachers in fulfilling what we anticipate to be a future shortage?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, there are opportunities for local teachers to apply for administrative positions, both at the principal level and the vice-principal level. Working in a vice-principalship, a teacher can gain the experience to move toward an administrative position as a principal.
Also, Yukon teachers in general are very committed to professional development. Many of them take extra courses in the summertime, through extension or where the University of British Columbia offers courses at Yukon College, many teachers take those courses in order to further their professional development and be eligible to apply for administrative positions. We've seen a masters of public administration program offered through Yukon College in the past, which was brokered with the University of Alaska Southeast.
So there are a number of efforts underway to encourage teachers to move into administrator positions.
As I also indicated to the member in response to previous questions in the Education general debate, the officials in Education are taking notes of those kinds of suggestions that are made in the Conversations in Education events, and we'd be happy to follow up on them.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I recognize that a good many teachers are very committed to professional development. Has there been an increase in the funding allocated?
YTA has a professional development committee, and the government, I understand, contributes a portion to that. Has there been any increase in funding for that?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I don't have the precise figure in front of me, Mr. Chair. That's part of the collective agreement between the Government of Yukon and the Yukon Teachers Association.
Ms. Duncan: I'll leave that question for the moment.
When post-secondary students leave the Yukon and fill out their student financial assistance grant application, they always indicate what field they're studying in, and there's a lot of useful information in the records, I'm sure, of the advanced education branch that deals with the grants.
Has there been any tracking of these students? For example, I would like, by legislative return, the number of students who, say, in the last five years, have listed education as their area of study and how many are now employed in the Yukon, and I'd also like the same figure for nurses, if the minister could provide that.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I'm not certain that I would be able to provide that for the member opposite. One consideration is the personal information that's contained in those kinds of statistics. Although a student may indicate that they're studying geography or that they're studying education or any number of other areas, they may not return to the Yukon seeking employment, or they may not indicate whether they are going on to further education - they may be getting a graduation degree - or whether they are, in fact, returning to the Yukon to look for work.
I will undertake to come back to the member with an answer of some kind, but I'm not certain what I can provide in the way of information. If it would require an official to spend many hours looking through hundreds of forms that are filled out by the students who go off to post-secondary education, who may or may not be returning to the Yukon to seek work, it may not be an easy task.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Chair, I appreciate what the minister has said, but having worked in the Department of Education at one point in my life, I do know that the people there are, (a) very hard working, and (b) will likely know this information. It's not a privacy issue. I'm just asking for bulk numbers - like, were there 95 students studying geography? Were there five in education? I'm sure they keep those statistics. And if it's not too onerous a task, I'd appreciate the bulk numbers and how many are subsequently employed. This is useful information, not simply for me, in terms of looking at Yukon hire issues and Education debate, but it's also useful for the minister in the future, in terms of the Students Financial Assistance Act. My understanding is that it hasn't been changed - certainly, the rate hasn't been changed since the early 1980s. If we don't know that information, maybe that's something we should be looking at - how effective is this legislation and this act? I'm sure they'll have it, and I would appreciate it by legislative return.
The minister mentioned earlier the hiring protocol. The protocol indicates there is a series of steps, and it says that the first hires are YNTEP grads, Yukon school graduates, temporaries. The minister also made reference to YNTEP and the offering by Yukon College to those expressing an interest in pursuing an education degree. The education degree question, I am assuming, from the minister's response, is over and above YNTEP. It's an entirely separate program. We aren't looking at broadening YNTEP? Is there any suggestion that broadening YNTEP would be more cost effective than a separate education degree program, or is that not even on the table for discussion?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The advisory board that works with the Yukon native teacher education program has considered the feasibility of various possibilities in the past. I'm aware that they have discussed the subject. I don't believe that they've come up with a recommendation that the program be broadened at this time, but I know that they have considered it and may be willing to consider it in the future.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, in discussing this with her officials, I wonder if the minister could raise the suggestion of, say, once every four years the YNTEP, the Yukon native teacher education program, being opened to additional students who may be interested in pursuing an education degree. Perhaps the minister could raise that suggestion.
I'd like to follow up some recommendations that have been made to the minister from another one of her portfolios, the Women's Directorate. The Advisory Council on Women's Issues has recommended in the past - a recommendation from 1996-97 was that the Department of Education consider a pilot program of segregated classes for girls and boys in math and sciences. What happened to that recommendation? Was it considered by the department and rejected, or was it implemented?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, it was considered by the department, and I believe it has also been discussed with some of the school councils. However, no school has taken up the possibility of offering separate classes for girls and boys in math or science that I'm aware of.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, another recommendation - this one more recent - was the 1997-98 recommendation from the same council that anger management, peer mediation and conflict resolution be implemented in Yukon schools. The school I'm perhaps the most familiar with currently is Jack Hulland, and I notice that they have implemented a conflict resolution course. Is this throughout Yukon schools, and if so, is there an evaluation of that program?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: There has been some work done in providing curriculum on peer mediation and conflict resolution through the career and personal planning program, which is used in all schools. I'm aware that there has also been some activities at F.H. Collins in this regard.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I don't have an evaluation available for the member but I can undertake to follow up on this question.
Ms. Duncan:The minister mentioned, in her introduction, money allocated to training trust funds in the supplementary budget. In reviewing my files and information that the minister has previously sent, I note that there are audit reports, including funds spent on specific activities, submitted each fall. Has the summary of this financial information been submitted to the department for this past year on each of training trust funds, and could the minister make that available to the opposition?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I could provide a legislative return for the member on that subject. I have much of that information with me in the House, but it would take a lengthy amount of time to go through it and read it into the record.
Ms. Duncan: Yes, Mr. Chair, I thank the minister for that. I am looking for a legislative return that outlines each of the funds and the specific monies that were spent over the past year. Are these expenditures independently audited, or are they simply submitted to the department?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I could provide detailed information for the member when I bring forward a status report for her. The training trust funds are reconciled at the fiscal year-end. They are required to follow bylaws in accordance with their boards, which are registered with the registrar of societies and comply with the Yukon Societies Act.
Ms. Duncan: Earlier, when talking about Yukon hires, I had mentioned the students' financial assistance and noted that it had been some time since this had been reviewed. There was also a media release issued by the minister's department with respect to the millennium scholarship from the Government of Canada.
The financing of one's post-secondary education is certainly an issue of major concern to parents and to graduating students. Related to that, the Yukon's excellence awards have been the subject of much discussion in this House. What's the current status of the awards?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, the member covered a number of questions there. The Canadian Millennium Scholarship Foundation and the advanced education branch have signed an agreement as of June of this year to administer the Canadian millennium scholarship for Yukon students, and there are two types of awards there. There are approximately 105 general awards in the amount of $3,000 apiece that will be awarded to qualified Yukon students each year for the next 10 years.
In addition there are exceptional merit awards that will be provided to five high-school graduates, and they'll begin with students who graduate in June 2000 and who are attending a designated institution in September of 2000.
Now, when this bill was tabled in the federal Parliament, the universal response of Education ministers across Canada was that what we needed to see the Government of Canada doing was to restore the Canada health and social transfer in order to provide for post-secondary education funding and make it more accessible for all students, as opposed to scholarships that will be awarded, and while they will be very welcome for the students that receive them, they do not have universal application.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Chair, the minister has just said that that particular scholarship fund doesn't have universal application. I note that there are in excess of a hundred students in the Yukon who are going to be receiving this money, and I also note the criteria - although it wasn't spelled out in great detail in the media release - for those students who were applying for Canada student loans. The point is not to debate the merits of the federal program on the floor of this House. The point is to debate and to ask the minister the status of the excellence awards. This was the Yukon Party program that the NDP hated when they were in opposition and then did a review of them when they were in government, and there seems to be a lack of clarity as to whether it's going to continue or where that current program sits. It's certainly a question that I've been asked at the door.
I also note that in the uptake in the appropriation bill that was debated in this House, there was money that was not expended in the students financial assistance line. There wasn't that number of applicants that was budgeted, or there was some other reason that the Minister of Finance was getting back to me on. The point is that I'm curious if any of that is excellence awards money, who is applying for it now, and what the future of the program is.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, there was considerable debate on this subject in the mains in the spring budget session.
The total number of awards for the 1998-99 fiscal year was 329, for a total value of $131,900. The department drafted a student recognition options paper for consideration by major partners in education, which was released on May 2, 1997, and response was received from partners by June 1997. That was then compiled and analyzed, and the Yukon excellence program has been maintained.
In addition, we invited school councils to take a leadership role in involving the students and teachers and parents of their individual schools in a student recognition plan to consider how to motivate Yukon students to work hard in school and to recognize achievement other than by recognizing achieving over 80 percent on specific tests.
Ms. Duncan: What I understood the minister to have said is that the excellence awards will continue at the same level that they were for the 1998-99 school year for the 1999-2000 school year. Is that correct?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, during this present school year, we're implementing an assessment plan for the schools, which has been developed in consultation with the Yukon Teachers Association, the school administrators, the primary committee, the intermediate committee, the school councils, the francophone school board and Yukon First Nations through the First Nations Education Commission. The assessment plan includes two types of tests - those that are curriculum based and those that are expectation based. The curriculum-based tests are on what should have been taught and learned in the classroom. The expectation-based tests are based on what students of a certain age or grade should or are expected to know in a particular subject area. There are Yukon achievement tests in grades 3, 6 and 9 in the area of numeracy and literacy and, for grade 12, the British Columbia provincial exams are mandated.
So, that is the assessment plan that we're following, and there have been communications with the schools and the school councils on this comprehensive testing strategy.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the reason the minister has outlined the assessment strategy is because that's what the excellence awards were based on. She mentioned Yukon achievement tests in grades 3, 6 and 9, and, of course, grade 12 students write the departmentals. Well, grades 10 and 11 used to be eligible for excellence awards. So, if these students aren't writing these tests, how can they be considered eligible for the awards? In effect, has the minister cancelled the excellence awards for those grades?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, the grade 8 and 11 students participate in the school achievement indicators program and the language proficiency index, as well.
The Yukon excellence awards are available for students achieving excellence on all grade 9 Yukon achievement tests and for any grade 12 provincial examinations. For the 1999-2000 school year, the Yukon achievement tests include Math 9 and English 9. The member is correct that, as a result of our extensive consultative process regarding the new Yukon student assessment plan, the territorial exams were discontinued at the grade 11 level. They continue to apply to the grade 12 level.
Ms. Duncan: Just to be clear then, for those students eligible for Yukon excellence awards, it has gone from students in grades 8 through 12, to those students in grades 9 and 12 only.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes.
Ms. Duncan: The minister embarked upon a process called the Riverdale consolidation process. Where is that at?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, as the member may be aware, the student enrollment has declined across the Yukon and in particular in the Whitehorse area. We have looked at the physical capacity of the schools in Riverdale; however, there is a need to look at the Whitehorse attendance area across the board, and not strictly at Riverdale.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, what I understand from the minister's response then is that this study has gone from being focused in the Riverdale area to being a study of the attendance in the entire Whitehorse area, with an idea to future planning for schools. Is that correct?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: That's a fair summary of my remarks, Mr. Chair.
Ms. Duncan: Who has the mandate to do this study, and what is the outline of their task? What's the mandate, and what have they been asked to take into consideration?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, the Department of Education is responsible overall for managing the work of the department - the hiring of teachers, the administration of curriculum and responding to school councils.
We know from our ongoing discussions with school councils that, in some schools, enrollment is up, and in some schools enrollment is down. There hasn't been a mandate for a study; the department is aware that our population is decreasing, and that the demographics of families - as I was commenting to the member earlier - indicate that there are fewer students coming into the school system than we presently have. A bit of a bulge in the higher grades has been moving through the school system.
The department has a responsibility to be aware of the capacity of the system and of the enrollment in schools.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Chair, where does that leave us? We have Jack Hulland. It celebrated its 30th anniversary this year. It has been there 30 years, and Porter Creek has grown up around it. There has been Porter Creek C and the neighbourhood has changed, but the school has stayed there. We've added Holy Family and Hidden Valley in response to growing needs, and we've added Golden Horn to meet a growing need at that end of the city. Riverdale is a neighbourhood, and Grey Mountain Primary, whether the minister likes it or not, is a much-loved community school, and it has been neglected by successive governments. Everybody says the population is going down, we don't need Grey Mountain Primary, and it's just the little school that could. It just is there. It's much appreciated by parents. I have parents who have very young children. It will be five years before they're going to be in school. They live in Riverdale, because they grew up in Riverdale. They went to school in Riverdale, and they want to know what's happening with Grey Mountain Primary. When we asked what was happening with Grey Mountain Primary, we got, "Well, we're going to look at the capacity." And now it's all of Whitehorse, and the department is aware of capacity.
Where is the planning for Grey Mountain Primary School?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, the members opposite asked this question in the last session, and I certainly expected that they would ask the question in this session.
We have indicated to the residents of Riverdale and to the parents of students at Grey Mountain Primary School that we have no plan to close their school. The department has a responsibility to accommodate the programming choices that parents make and manage school facilities. When they began to look at the enrollment in Riverdale, the question of capacity in other schools was raised, and, as I've indicated to the member, there is a decline in enrollment across the schools, and we need to take a broader look at what the capacity is for all of our schools and what the demographics are as to enrollment patterns in the future.
Ms. Duncan: The minister said, "We have no plans immediately for Grey Mountain Primary." How long? Like, there are no plans for the life of this government? There are no plans for the next five years? There are no plans ever? What is Grey Mountain Primary's future? Is the minister just leaving that to the next government?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, as I believe I repeated at length in the previous session of this Legislature, I've made a commitment to ensure that the existing structure and programs will continue to be maintained for the term of this government. After that, we will have a chance to examine the full impact of grade reorganization and other factors that I've been speaking to the member about for the last 10 minutes or so and to make long-term decisions.
The member will be aware that the Catholic school grade alignment is not the same as the grade alignment that was brought into effect with the grade reorganization project that was initiated by the Yukon Party government. A number of capital projects were necessary in order to renovate both primary and secondary schools to accommodate the grade reorganization. We also have a number of pressures from rural schools. The rural schools facilities study was done, which indicates what the needs are in rural schools.
We're doing our best to respond to the needs across the entire Yukon. We've made a commitment to capital planning where we involve the school councils in decisions. We're constructing rural schools at this time to respond to some of those outstanding needs that are also very long-standing and that need to be met with the construction of schools in Old Crow, Ross River and Mayo.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the minister has mentioned long-standing needs, and I think that portables that are very, very old and long past their useful life is a long-standing need as well, and to finally answer the tough question on Grey Mountain Primary is a long-standing need.
There are two questions I want to pursue with the minister related to this. First of all, the sense of community schools - one of Grey Mountain Primary's strengths is that it's seen as a community school. It's one of Jack Hulland's strengths; it's the strength of schools like St. Elias in Haines Junction. They're seen as community schools. Hidden Valley and Golden Horn are also perfect examples of this - small community schools. Parents who may have options of other schools are choosing the schools in their neighbourhood because they are smaller schools, and they are community, in that they have the K-to-7 programming, they have that sense of being with older brothers and sisters as well as their neighbours, and they're smaller schools.
Perhaps I could suggest to the minister that that sense of community schools is also another option for one of these edu-chats, and I'm certain that there would be many parents from Grey Mountain Primary who would be interested in that.
The minister mentioned the capital planning in rural communities and the number of schools. She said Chief Zzeh Gittlit School was opened this fall, and my view of the school in the summer was that it was a very strong facility. I didn't have an opportunity to go in, as the school wasn't finished yet, but it indeed looked to be a beautiful facility and a wonderful addition to the community.
Ross River School is underway; there is money budgeted for Tantalus School, and the Mayo community school is also underway.
Now, school councils were asked to make these decisions when there was a conference a number of years ago. School councils put a priority on these rural school projects.
And they're well underway. I would like, first of all, an update from the minister on the Mayo community school planning. Where are we at in the planning for that?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, the planning process for the new school in Mayo has begun. The specifications for the requirements have been signed off by the building advisory committee. The tender for the architect was awarded to Maurer Kobayashi Architects of Whitehorse, and I believe at this stage that a functional design has been received.
Ms. Duncan: Has there been any addition or incorporation of recreational facilities or any other facilities along with the school, or is it solely a school? Have we added any recreational facilities that are needed in that community into the school design?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, early on, the joint council of the Village of Mayo and Nacho Nyak Dun First Nation approached me to indicate that they would like to see, since they were getting a new community school that would operate as a community centre, expanded facilities in the gymnasium. The community of Mayo will be providing $500,000 toward expansion of the gymnasium facility so that it can better serve the community's recreational needs outside of school activities.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, is the early sense of the design such that it would be relatively easy to add a swimming pool or any other recreational facilities that are desired by the community? Is the design such that these could be incorporated in the future?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I am not certain whether the design was set up to incorporate the potential of additions of that nature or not. I can check for the member.
Ms. Duncan: Can we also have a progress report on the Ross River School?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I am aware that the Ross River project is ahead of schedule at this time. Construction is underway. We anticipate that the building will be clad to the weather by freeze-up. The roof is currently being installed. There is an average of eight local workers employed on the project. The contractor continues to make an effort to hire locally. The Department of Government Services has hired a full-time, local, project liaison officer. The member would also remember that the new septic system was moved ahead so that we would not have the cost of repairing the old system, as well as putting in a new system. That project has been completed. The main construction contract is presently underway and ahead of schedule.
Ms. Duncan: Can the minister provide a date when students are anticipated to be in their new school? The minister has said that the project will be ahead of schedule. Will students be in class for the start of school in the year 2000? Will it be on budget?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, the construction completion schedule is for the summer of 2000. The anticipated date for the school to move into the facility is in September 2000, and the project budget is on target.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, could the minister just refresh my memory? What is the total cost of the Ross River School?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I don't have the multi-year cost here. The construction budget is $6.1 million, but I don't have the complete project budget costs. That's the construction budget cost. I can check into that for the member.
Ms. Duncan: Does the minister have the estimate for the construction cost for the new Mayo school?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: What I can tell the member is that for the Mayo community school, the supplementary budget contains a request for a revote for $197,000. The project budget is with the $500,000 contribution from the Village of Mayo and is approximately $8 million.
Ms. Duncan: When I asked about the Tantalus School in Question Period, the minister had not initiated negotiations with the current land holder. Has that process begun?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, the minister is still not negotiating with the property owner on that. The Community and Transportation Services lands section are undertaking the project on behalf of the Department of Education.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, as I understand it, this budget item is for the purchase of the land and this is for a school expansion. Is that correct?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, the community of Carmacks has, for several years, been lobbying for the purchase of the Sunset Motel property to remove the hotel from adjacent to the school and to have the site available for an expansion of the public school. The rural school facilities study also speaks to the needs of the school in Carmacks, and we presently have, in the supplementary budget, a request for funding to purchase the property.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, is there any sense from departmental officials of the cost of the expansion once the land has been purchased?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I don't believe that has gone to budget yet. When the rural school facilities study was undertaken, it indicated what the needs were, but that budget would not be current and we have not done any costing of the project at this stage.
That would be something that would be done for main estimates and not for a supplementary budget.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the rural school facilities study as I recall - I don't have the study in front of me - recommended that those three specific schools be at the top of the priority list: Mayo, Ross River and Tantalus School in Carmacks. Of course, the unfortunate fire at Chief Zzeh Gittlit in Old Crow necessitated that school being replaced.
That effectively deals with the rural schools and the current needs expressed by communities. At what point does the minister anticipate dealing with needs in Whitehorse?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, the replacement of the old wing at Tantalus School in Carmacks is one of the remaining major rural capital projects that the department has discussed with school councils at their November 1998 and spring 1999 conferences. I think that if the member were to tour the schools in rural Yukon, she would find that a number of those schools are in serious need of additions or upgrades.
The discussions with school councils and requests for their input on priorities for spending is part of an ongoing exercise that they deal with on an annual basis.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I'm aware of the needs as expressed by the school councils, and I am fully aware that school councils, when they met, recommended that Mayo, Ross River and Tantalus School be dealt with. I am trying to determine from the minister, following the budgeting required for Tantalus School, what's next? Where are we at with school capital project planning?
Mayo is underway. Ross River is underway. Tantalus School is underway. What school is after that in terms of capital planning?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, let me first say to the member that the multi-year cost of the Ross River School is $7.5 million.
I've also just responded to the member opposite that the replacement of old wing at Tantalus School in Carmacks is one of the remaining major rural capital projects that the department has discussed with school councils at both the 1998 and spring 1999 conferences.
We have laid out multi-year plans in our spring budget in our main estimates. At the present time, in dealing with the supplementary budget, the funds that we have requested for Carmacks is to purchase lots for a school addition that is needed to replace the old wing at Tantalus School. We do not have a finalized construction schedule for that project.
Ms. Duncan: The minister has said that it's preliminary planning. Is there any sort of a sense of a cost estimate at all for the replacement of the old wing at the Tantalus School?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: No, Mr. Chair. The answer is the same as when she asked the question 10 minutes ago. We do not have a cost, as of yet, for the replacement of the old wing of the Tantalus School. The scheduling of the project has not been finalized.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, it's not uncommon for this government to have two or three major school projects. There are four major school projects, in addition to the facility construction and maintenance. In addition to some of the other school projects, there are four major projects in this supplementary budget. There is the Chief Zzeh Gittlit School replacement, and I would like by legislative return the final cost of the school, if the minister would provide that. There is the planning for the Mayo school, the Ross River School and the initial costs in the Tantalus School.
Next year, presumably in the mains, we wouldn't see Chief Zzeh Gittlit. We would see the Mayo, Ross River, Tantalus and probably another school. What's next?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I am very pleased to note that the member is aware and recognizing the work that we're doing to construct schools in rural Yukon that have been sorely needed for quite some time. The member is probably also aware that some work has been done at F.H. Collins High School. We've seen expansion of Elijah Smith Elementary School and, of course, the Porter Creek Secondary School addition.
Chair: Is it the members' wish to recess?
Some Hon. Members:Agreed.
Chair: Ten minutes.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Committee is dealing with supplementary estimates for the Department of Education. Is there further general debate?
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the minister doesn't appear to want to tell me what the immediate future plans are for school capital construction. Is the future capital planning for education a subject for discussion at the November school council chairs conference?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I have already indicated to the member that we are continuing to work with school councils and to seek their input and their recommendations to help us make the decisions on the planning for long-term expenditures in the capital budget. As the member also knows, what we have undertaken to do as a government is to provide a plan in our main estimates in the spring budget. I am sure she is greatly looking forward to that in the new year.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I'd like to put on the record another legislative return that I would request from the minister. Could I also have the excellence awards spending in 1996, 1997 and 1998, and the anticipated spending in 1999? I'd appreciate that by legislative return.
The minister previously sent to me the program materials and school-based equipment allotments. In response to questions I have asked in the House - in follow-up after the sessions - she has sent me answers to questions I've asked. One of them was the amount of money that was allocated for program materials and school-based equipment, and the allotment varies. There's a rate for kindergarten students and rates for grades 1 to 7. What is the current rate for these expenditures? Has it increased in the last year?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Is the member referring to the school-initiated renovations and the budget that is provided directly to school councils for them to oversee the expenditures on?
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, in previous briefing materials the minister has sent me program materials and school-based equipment allotment expenditures. It's a rate for if the schools are provided for materials and for purchase of equipment. The rate in 1998-99 was $69 per student for grades 1 to 7. I'm curious if that rate has changed.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, we do have in this supplementary budget a request for $63,000, which is a revote. These funds are part of the Education Act site-based management allocation. The schools purchase school equipment and furnishing for various activities, and they have direct control of this fund.
The current-year voted amount covers what is based on a formula for school administrations, and it can cover things like school photocopier replacements, or library materials, or construction of cabinets and shelving and other minor renovations.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, that allocation is based upon a formula. What is the current formula?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The formula is determined by the Education Act and site-based management. I will see if I can provide further information for the member.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, has there been any increase in the number of home-schooled students in this year's registration of students?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: No, Mr. Chair, there hasn't been a significant increase.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the minister mentioned in the answer to the previous question that there is a site-based allocation and that there is a specific formula. Now the formula includes program materials and photocopying. Although home-schooled students are registered through a school, technically, so that they have access to books and so on, and are counted in that number, they have no way of accessing those funds. For example, if there is $69 per student for grades K to 7, you might have a home-schooled student registered in grade 1 where home schooling parents go to the school and ask for the books, but they have no way of accessing that funding.
Has the minister had any representations in this regard?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I have had meetings with the Home Educators Society, and the Department of Education is working with the Yukon Home Educators Society to ensure that we're providing a good service to them. The home schoolers, when they register their children in a program, are also assigned to a school, and depending on the family and depending on their interests and needs, they may have a student who was attending the school part-time. They use the library resources at the school. They often bring their children for special events, such as the artist-in-the-school program or a visiting theatrical program or musical program that may be coming to that school. The home educators do find that working with the school can be beneficial. They also often work with the department directly. We work hard at making sure that additional resources beyond the basic core curriculum can be provided. For example, the home educators have access to the Learning Resource Centre and the curriculum guides and additional materials that are available for the home educators through other departmental resources.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, just before I leave the debate for a moment, I'd just like to go back to the facility funds in the supplementary budget. The minister has a number of categories where a number of schools would be lumped in: site improvement and recreation development, various school facility alterations and school-initiated renovations. Now, those could deal with any number of schools.
I don't see a line item for the Vanier school gym. Is that included in these other categories?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, some minor renovations are being done to both gym floors in the Vanier school to accommodate the Arctic Winter Games, and there is no supplementary budget line item for replacing the gym floor.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, is that being considered for the spring budget? Is there money for a study in here or something, or is the minister just doing the patch-and-repair required for the Arctic Winter Games, with no major alterations intended at all?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, the research we have conducted to date indicates that synthetic floors are safe and do not pose unnecessary risks. The Vanier School Council has indicated that replacement of the synthetic gym floor is their first priority. We have indicated that we will be taking that into account when we prepare the main budgets.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the minister mentioned the training trust funds, and we dealt with that subject. What is the special investment fund line item?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: This request is for a revote for the upgrade of the student financial assistance information system to meet the special investment funds objective of developing common information systems and to be year 2000 compliant. This is the completion of a multi-phase project.
Mr. Phillips: I have a few questions in general debate. Mr. Chair, an issue that has been raised with me in the education area is the question of days off or in-service days. Last week was Remembrance Day, and Friday, I thought, was an in-service day, but I've been informed since then that it was just a day off and that there wasn't in-service, I guess, going on in most schools.
I'm not sure how many of those days there are in the year, or whether it was negotiated in the collective agreement, but I will point out to the minister that I've had quite a few calls from my constituents and other constituents in other ridings who are concerned about these types of days, which are not statutory holidays, and either single parents or even two parents are having to find daycare immediately for one day. It's very expensive for people. It's an extreme inconvenience to the parents, and we already are hearing nationally and internationally about the number of days our students go to school and how we should probably be going to school more rather than less.
I'm wondering why this happens, why we can take a day off in the middle of the school year. There seems to be a lot of these types of days. I can recall that when I was going to school, there were very few - if any - in-service days, and now there seems to be all kinds of them, and there seems to be all kinds of these extra days tacked on before or just after a long weekend, or around a weekend to make a longer weekend. It's a great inconvenience sometimes to the parents who have to arrange for child care, and some people simply can't afford it, and, in some cases, we end up having latchkey kids who just go home and do whatever that day because the parents can't afford daycare for the one day.
I'm just wondering if - from the minister - this is something that's negotiated in the contract. How does this come about? Does the minister share the concern that I have? It seems to be more of a convenience to the students and the teachers as opposed to a convenience to the parents who have to make sure that they have adequate child care for their children if they're not in school.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, in the negotiations between the employer and the Yukon Teachers Association, there is a standard set for the number of teaching days in a year. The teaching year is longer than that to provide for some in-service days that do occur during the school year, rather than after school lets out in June.
I thank the member for his representation. I've had similar concerns raised by parents, and I can undertake to provide a fuller answer to the member about the days that are not covering in-service and professional development for teachers.
Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Chair, as the minister understands full well - I mean, she has a riding that's an urban-rural riding - both of the parents in many cases work, and so when you get a day like this, they've got to figure out a way to get their kids to daycare or have somebody take care of them. It's a real inconvenience, and it's probably not good, in some cases, for the children who may or may not be left alone. It certainly sometimes puts single mothers who are working in a very awkward position for daycare and affording the cost of daycare. So, I raise that representation with the minister.
The minister was asked a few questions by the Liberal leader. The Liberal leader asked if the minister could provide legislative returns, and I would like the minister to provide us with copies of those, but I would also like to get a commitment from the minister. I've written the minister a few letters over the last few months, and it seems to take a month or two or three to get an answer. I don't think we're going to be in this House much longer. I think we're going to be done before the December 15 day, at the rate we're going, and so I want a commitment from the minister that, if we don't get a legislative return, the minister will give us the information that has been requested in the House here today with the Education budget by the end of this year, the end of 1999 - not the fiscal year, but the calendar year. I'm dealing with letters that I'm getting from the minister now that are on a budget that we dealt with in the final supplementaries.
It's very difficult to ask questions about these issues when they are long gone. I would appreciate a more prompt response to our letters from the minister, or we will have to spend time on the floor of the House raising letter, after letter, after letter. I hope we don't have to do that. I am going to do that with one particular letter that I have got. We talked about training, and the minister has talked about training. I wrote the minister a letter well over a month ago on training for cobblers. I don't know where it has gone.
I have been asked by an individual who wants to form an apprenticeship program, hire another individual locally and train them. He met with advanced education people and didn't receive a very favourable response. I offered to take a crack at it and wrote a letter to the minister. I am in the same position as the individual was; I haven't received an answer from the minister. It has been well over a month. I just don't think that kind of question would take that long to answer. I just wonder if the minister has an answer here today that she could give me. Are we going to consider setting up an on-the-job training program, or something similar to that, for a very small locally based business who wants to train more people in a field where there will always be work in the territory.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: On the first question that the member has asked, we will endeavour to provide the information to the members as promptly as we can. Some of the information that the Liberal leader requested requires a great deal of detail that may take some time to get and other information may be more readily available. It is always our practice, in responding to questions from the opposition, that we provide a copy of the response to both opposition parties, and I will do that in this case.
In relation to the question the member has raised about the cobbler, I apologize if the member has not received his response. I believe I have signed off a response to the member.
The trade of cobbler is not recognized as an apprenticeable trade anywhere in Canada. Nonetheless, we do have, through the labour market development agreement, a good working relationship with Human Resources Development Canada. My officials and the Department of Education have requested HRDC to contact the individual the member wrote me the letter about to see if it might be possible for them, through one of their wage subsidy programs, to support his desire to have someone learn the trade while working for him in his shoe repair business. I will have my staff in the office check the correspondence file and forward a copy of that response to the member, because I know that I have signed it off.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I don't think we can throw this into the basket of the federal government and say we're waiting for them to respond favourably to this kind of training. The minister has got millions of dollars of training trust funds seemingly available at the drop of a hat for pet projects. She doesn't have to wait for the federal government to approve this one. This can be one where her people in advanced education could sit down with the individual. I mean, this is a business that has been in the territory for a long time. They want to train a local person. It's going to create some local employment. It's going to provide better service for people who want to get shoe repairs and leather repairs in the territory by having an extra person working in the field, and trained in the field, hopefully either staying here with that firm or one day taking over the firm or establishing their own firm somewhere down the road when the business warrants expansion.
It's something that the government can do. I know that there are training trust funds going out the door of this government in every which way, and I think that, if the federal government can't find the wherewithal to do this, the territorial government can. We're small enough. We're unique enough. We're close enough to the industry that we can appreciate the need for it, and we should try and make an effort to do it.
So, I'd urge the minister in the strongest terms to consider that, whether or not the federal Liberal government wants to help.
So, the minister can find all kinds of money for other projects, and I'm sure they can find some money for this particular project as well.
Mr. Chair, the minister also talked earlier tonight about the Mayo school, and that they're working with the Mayo community council with respect to building the school and having the school incorporate a community centre - having a combination school/community centre, which I think is a good and useful idea. Are they looking at doing in Mayo something similar to what was done in Old Crow? I think they did that in Old Crow. There was talk about the school being the school/community centre because of the size of the community. Are they doing the same kind of thing they did in Old Crow?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, the schools in Yukon - particularly in rural Yukon, but Whitehorse schools as well - are community centres. They do become used for a number of activities in the evenings and on weekends that accommodate the needs of the broader school, as well as of the school-aged population.
If the member asks us whether we're intending to build on the very successful model of the Old Crow school, where we offer training for residents of the community in apprenticeable trades - yes, we are. We've already begun that work. We have had the full involvement of the community of Mayo and the building advisory committee and have had representatives from the Village of Mayo and Nacho Nyak Dun through their joint council participating in the design of the project.
The Village of Mayo has offered to contribute $500,000 to the Mayo school construction project to increase the recreational component of the school. We have accepted this offer and will be using the funding to construct a larger gymnasium and a new fitness centre for the new school in Mayo.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, just so I get this right - so, is it fair to say, then, that when the Mayo school is complete, it's going to be a school as well as acting as part of the community, a community centre? And does that follow for Old Crow, too? Like, is the school in Old Crow acting as part of the community centre? Is that kind of the idea? I mean, I think it's a good idea, but I'm just trying to get it straight in my mind that that's what we've done with those two schools. Did we do that with the Ross River School, as well? Are all three of these new schools now going to be sort of the school/community centre combination kind of thing?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, Mr. Chair, I would hesitate to respond as to what the member has straight in his mind. I don't think I can answer that question.
But I can tell the member that the Mayo school will have additional recreation facilities and will function as a community resource place. The community campus of Yukon College will be located in the Mayo school. In addition, it will have the elementary and secondary classrooms that would be anticipated, as well as a science lab and a computer lab, a native language room, a multi-purpose room, which could include use for native culture, an art room, home ec and kitchen, industrial arts room, a learning assistance room, the library, gymnasium and fitness centre, as well as the college campus and administration area. So, the new Mayo school will serve as a facility that not only provides public schooling for the school-age population but has a community campus and recreation facilities so that for after-school hours and weekends, the new facility will be available for the use of the community at large.
Mr. Phillips: That's what I'm getting at. So, it can be a community centre, so if they want to hold a big community meeting, or a community function, community dance, community whatever, that's what it could be used for. That's what we're going to do in Mayo. That's what we've done in Old Crow. Is that what we did in Ross River as well? I mean, did we do that in Old Crow, and is that what we're doing in Ross River? I'm trying to find out if we have a system here, where we have some consistency in the type of uses we're doing with these buildings.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, Mr. Chair. The Old Crow school has a full-size gymnasium as part of the school. When I was in Old Crow for the opening of the school, there was a large attendance of most of the community, and many visitors who were in Old Crow for a justice conference that was held that day.
The school does have a lot of room and can accommodate most of the community. In addition, the home economics room is adjacent to the school, so there is a serving area between the home economics room and the gymnasium. This means that the facility can be easily used for a community feast.
There was a dance after the school opening, and there is no question that the new Chief Zzeh Gittlit School is a wonderful community facility that is serving the residents of Old Crow well.
The shop has snowmobile access and repair so that people can bring their snow machines and other equipment of that nature into the shop area for repair.
Mr. Phillips: I'm pleased to see that they're combining. I think it's a useful function to combine those in small communities, and I'm sure there's a cost saving achieved there rather than having to build duplicate facilities that all have O&M costs and that kind of thing. So, I'm pleased to see that, in Mayo, the new school will be a school/quasi-community centre; it will be able to be used for that. And in Old Crow, it'll be a school/quasi-community centre. Did we do that in Ross River as well? Is it the same idea in Ross River? We built the school and we're using it the same way? It's a community centre as well?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The Ross River School also has a community campus within the school facility. There is a community multi-purpose room and a combined school and public library as part of the Ross River School.
I'm glad that the member appreciates this work that we're doing to build good community facilities that offer both public education service, science and computer labs, libraries and multi-purpose rooms that can be used for general activity.
When the member says, "We're building them", yes, we the Yukon government are building them. I guess the next step would be for the member and the parties opposite to actually vote in support of these budgets that are building these wonderful new facilities for our rural communities so that they can have a combination of adult instruction and community campus, along with a public school and a gymnasium and community multi-purpose rooms available for the use by all residents of the community.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I said it was a good idea, but the minister shouldn't get carried away patting herself on the back, because she could damage herself if she continues to do that too vigorously.
Mr. Chair, I have a couple of more questions with respect to a teacher shortage that we talked about earlier. I have had representation made to me - and I raised it in Question Period - from Yukon parents and Yukon students who want to get into the teaching profession. They have read, and talked to their teachers, and heard that there is a shortage of teachers out there, and the concern that has been raised to me is that these students, upon graduation from Yukon high schools, have to leave the territory to attain a teaching certificate.
I know the minister talked a little while ago about the opportunity for someone who already has a degree to finish off a teaching degree possibly in the territory in the future, but that doesn't do much for the young people who want to graduate in the Yukon and then want to go to Yukon College, for example, and spend all of their years here. And, of course, as the minister knows, it's very expensive for the children to go outside to other institutions, such as Saskatchewan or British Columbia or Alberta or wherever to obtain these degrees. It's a hardship on the student, it's a hardship on the parents, and, in some cases, some people just can't afford to do it and the kids have to choose a different profession if they want to stay at home.
So, I'm wondering if the minister has any thoughts, in light of the teacher shortage that's happening, of looking at expanding her earlier thoughts on an advanced program and looking at doing something similar to YNTEP, and allowing the first, second and third year to all be taught in the Yukon, possibly at Yukon College.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I can give the member a little bit more of an update on a post-degree program. I've requested Yukon College to undertake a formal expression of interest to determine what the public demand might be for a post-degree bachelor of education program, and I've received inquiries from approximately 10 people who were interested in this kind of a course. Yukon College has had discussions with the University of Regina, the University of Alaska and the University of British Columbia on this topic.
It is presently considering whether there might be a business case, and sufficient interest on the part of Yukon students to contemplate offering this in the future.
The member also speaks about hiring graduates who have completed an education degree program outside of the Yukon. There were 70 individual new hires last year. Of those 70, 50 were local candidates. Seven of them were Yukon graduates, two were -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Seven. Fifty were local candidates; seven were Yukon graduates; two were Yukon native teacher education program graduates, and 11 were outside hire.
So we are hiring graduates of education programs who come back to the Yukon. They do have priority for hire, above people who are applying from outside of the Yukon. The member has made a representation that we may need to have a degree program for students who want to do an undergraduate degree and have a bachelor of education here in the Yukon. That may be something to consider in the future. We presently are offering a bachelor of social work program, and have seen a reasonable level of enrollment and interest in that program.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I hope that one day the minister gets put in the position that a lot of parents in the territory have been put in over the last four or five years, and that is where the minister's children - one of them, or both of them, or whatever - want to become a teacher. And the minister has to explain to her child that there's a program in Whitehorse at Yukon College, where the classroom is half empty, but her child has to go to Saskatchewan and stay in a dormitory, go to school, pay room and board and live thousands of miles away from their family to take the exact same program when there's a classroom here that's three-quarters empty.
My point to the minister is that there has got to be a way to sit down with the YNTEP board and come to some kind of agreement, whether it's every other year or, as I think the Liberal leader said, every four years, or whatever, that we can offer Yukon kids this opportunity to stay at home. That's the concern I have. We don't do that now, and maybe it will happen when the minister herself is faced with the problem of her own children wanting to take these kinds of programs that are taught here.
I hope the minister can see my frustration and the frustration of the parents out there who have called me and are wondering why their kids have to go thousands of miles away from home, when they've lived their whole life here - they were born and brought up here - and the program is available three kilometres away with the same instructors, the same program, everything that's available, and the kids have to buy a ticket, fly out of here and leave their families and get their education in some other province or territory. It just seems to me that somebody has got to understand that that isn't right.
And if we're offering the program here - I can understand the purpose of YNTEP to ensure that First Nation teachers are in our schools. But, as the minister said, we had 70 new hires this year. I mean, we had 70 new hires, and the YNTEP, I'm sure, probably turned out maybe half a dozen grads. I'm not sure how many grads they had last year. I know that not all of these hires would be entry level; some would. But there are a lot of Yukon kids who have decided not to go into the education program or have chosen a different career, simply because they didn't want to leave the territory, and they've gone to Yukon College and taken something at Yukon College.
I just think that we should be able to do more for them. I just don't understand what the problem is and why people can't overcome it. I know what the goal of the program is, but there has got to be a way that we can maintain the goal and, at the same time, satisfy the needs of other Yukoners who, after all, pay taxes and support Yukon College and help pay the minister's salary and everything else, so I think there is room for that.
The other critic asked for some statistics on YNTEP. I would like the minister to provide us with an updated list of the number of students in each year for the past five or six years. I would like a breakdown of the past graduates. I would like a breakdown of how many students are still teaching in the territory. I would like it broken down with respect to the number of First Nations people from outside the territory who are accepted in YNTEP and remain here, teach here or leave here. If they come here and take part in the program, do they actually stay here and teach in our schools or do they go back to Saskatchewan, Alberta, Ontario or whatever First Nation area they are from? I know that the purpose of the program in the Yukon was primarily to make sure that we train more First Nations teachers to teach in Yukon schools. I don't think our primary objective was to train more First Nations teachers to teach in other schools, in other parts of the country. We were trying to solve a problem we had, and that is why we committed a significant amount of money to try and increase the number of First Nations teachers in Yukon schools.
I'd like to know how successful the program is in general. Has there ever been any evaluation done with respect to the teachers who have passed the program? Do we do an evaluation? I know we do an evaluation of teachers periodically and I just wonder if there has ever been an overall evaluation of YNTEP vis-à-vis other programs. Has it been extremely successful, partly successful or is there more we can do?
I'd like to know what the current intake is. I was told by some people that there weren't as many students signing up as there had been in the past, and that's partly because there are a lot of other opportunities out there now, with the advent of land claims, for First Nations people who are going into other fields. They're in administration, accounting and those kinds of things. There're all kinds of jobs available out there for First Nation people now, so there are only so many First Nation people graduating and possibly that is one of the reasons why the intake isn't as high.
I'd like to know from the minister what exactly is the current intake of the program, and the minister maybe could tell us what the cost of the program is at the present time. That would be useful, too.
The minister talked earlier, as well, Mr. Chair, about a post-degree program. I certainly support the idea of a post-degree program. I think that that's one way to deal with it, but I don't think it helps - well, I know it doesn't help - those students who are undergraduates, who are going to university for the first time and want to get into a program. I'm just concerned that we're not serving those students well, and I do get quite a few calls about that.
Quite a few people are concerned about it, and I would think that, if the minister has asked for an expression of interest from post-degree students, maybe the minister should possibly ask for an expression of interest from undergraduates, from grade 12 students, and maybe do some kind of an analysis of the classes in grade 12 in the high schools throughout the territory to see whether there's an expression of interest there. It would be interesting to know how many entry-level teachers, for instance, we hired this year. If we hired seven new teachers, maybe 10 or 20 percent of those would be entry-level. That's the kind of level that our Yukon students, if they were trained here, could move into very quickly, and I think that would be a useful exercise.
There is a real shortage of teachers in southern Canada, and if these students have to leave the territory and travel outside to Regina or British Columbia or Alberta to obtain their teaching certificate - because there's such a recruitment going on right now for teachers in southern Canada - they're going to be scooped up by other jurisdictions, and it will be Yukon's loss, because I think having these kids, who grow up in the Yukon, in Yukon schools and in a multicultural environment, and who understand First Nation issues, lifestyles and the demographics of the territory, would be very valuable to us in our schools, teaching our Yukon history and teaching our Yukon students. We would really be missing the boat, especially since we know we need teachers, Mr. Chair.
We'd really be missing the boat if we didn't take the opportunity to encourage these kids to keep their education system here. The point that I made earlier is that the program is here. We don't have to bring anybody new in. It's all here. All we have to do is work with the YNTEP board and work with Yukon College. The last statistics that I had, Mr. Chair, was that the program was probably less than 50 percent subscribed. In some classes it was 20 percent subscribed, so you have an instructor at the front of the classroom, and there's all kinds of room in the classroom for other students.
It seems ludicrous that there's an imminent shortage of teachers, and kids are leaving the territory to get trained, and there are seats up at Yukon College. It seems to me that we have to work a little harder to come to some kind of a consensus. It would be better for all Yukoners if Yukon kids had the opportunity to attain their teaching certificate, from the beginning to the end, in Yukon schools. And I think that's paramount, and we should be concentrating on that, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, in light of the time, I move you report progress on Bill No. 19.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I believe I have the floor. I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. McRobb: Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 19, Third Appropriation Act, 1999-2000, and has directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried. The time being 9:30 p.m., this House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:30 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled November 22, 1999:
Yukon Development Corporation/Yukon Energy Corporation 1998 Annual Report (Harding)
Devolution-related mirror legislation: Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act (Bill No. 86) (McDonald)
Devolution-related mirror legislation: Waters Act (Bill No. 87) (McDonald)
Devolution-related mirror legislation: Placer Mining Act (Bill No. 88) (McDonald)
Devolution-related mirror legislation: Quartz Mining Act (Bill No. 89) (McDonald)
Devolution-related mirror legislation: Environmental Assessment Act (Bill No. 90) (McDonald)