Whitehorse, Yukon

Tuesday, May 13, 1997 - 1:30 p.m.

Speaker: I will now call the House to order.

We will proceed with prayers at this time.



Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.

Are there any tributes?

Introduction of visitors?


Speaker: In the gallery, I have my wife Dorothy and my son Phillip, who just turned 16.


Speaker: Are there any returns or documents for tabling?


Mr. Livingston: I rise to table a statement on the progress the DAP Commission is making, as well as to table a legislative return on the development assessment process as it relates to municipal interests.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, I have for tabling an information package on the mobile-home strategy and the Yukon mobile-home study report.

Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?



Petition No. 3 - received

Clerk: Mr. Speaker and honourable members of the Assembly, I have had the honour to review a petition being Petition No. 3 of the First Session of the Twenty-Ninth Legislative Assembly as presented by the Hon. Leader of the Official Opposition on May 12th, 1997.

This petition meets the requirements as to form of the Standing Orders of the Yukon Legislative Assembly.

Speaker: Petition No. 3 is accordingly deemed to be read and received.

Petition response?

Petition No. 3 - response

Hon. Mr. Harding: It's indeed a pleasure to have the opportunity today to respond to the petition filed yesterday in this House by the Official Opposition regarding the issue of power rates.

I want to begin by thanking all of those who signed the petition and expressed their concerns about electricity rates and the application by the Energy Corporation currently before the Yukon Utilities Board proposing an interim refundable rate increase.

This petition demonstrates a genuine concern about energy issues, just as the petition we tabled in this House last December did. Indeed the petition of 1993 that led to the creation of the Utilities Consumers Group also demonstrated that same concern.

Mr. Speaker, our government understands that concern and shares it. We agree that Yukon people need more certainty and more stability in energy supply and energy costs. That's why we made the commitment in the last election campaign to work toward long-term strategies to meet our energy requirements in a stable and affordable manner.

Mr. Speaker, that's why we established the Yukon Energy Commission, to address the development of a long-term, comprehensive energy policy for this territory and to explore in detail the options that are available for Yukoners with Yukoners. And that is why in December we made a clear commitment to rate relief by ensuring the same rate of relief would go to all consumers, and by introducing energy conservation incentives.

Before commenting in detail on our government's action to reduce the impact of the YEC's current rate increase application on electricity consumers, I want to comment on the misinformation contained in the preamble of the petition under discussion this afternoon.

Mr. Speaker, the 5.5 percent temporary rate rider was a direct result of the decision made by the previous Yukon Party government not to intervene with the Crown utility and allow Yukon Energy Corporation to initiate a court action in 1993 for the recovery of costs. The petition by the Yukon Supreme Court was made before our government assumed office.

The petition also mentions lower rate relief, but the previous administration refused to extend the program. In December, our government fulfilled their election commitment to continue rate relief to benefit residential consumers and revised the program to ensure that all electrical consumers received the same rate of bill relief and implemented a ceiling of 1,500 kilowatt hours to encourage energy conservation.

It is also incorrectly stated in the preamble orchestrated by the Official Opposition that a 20-percent increase has occurred and resulted in a total increase of 30 percent in electrical rates in the last four months.

As members are aware, the Yukon Energy Corporation has filed an application to the Yukon Utilities Board proposing an interim refundable rate increase. This means that, when the Anvil Range mine reopens, the rate increase will be removed. The Yukon Utilities Board has not yet decided on an increase or even if it should be allowed. Hearings are currently underway - this afternoon as we speak, as a matter of fact - and interveners, the public, who have many concerns, are having an opportunity to present their views to the Yukon Utilities Board.

The petition asks that no rate increases be allowed for the duration of the current government's mandate and alleges that this was an election commitment. This request is based on incorrect information. In our election platform, it is clearly stated that we will work toward stabilizing electricity rates to keep them affordable. It does not promise a freeze or a decrease in power rates. This would not be prudent or possible given that the YEC is a publicly owned utility, self-financed only by electrical ratepayers and not by government through tax dollars.

Electricity rates are not set by the Yukon government, but by the Yukon Utilities Board, an independent, quasi-judicial body made up of members from the public.

The Yukon Energy Corporation is a stand-alone entity, a public utility that is financed by ratepayers and required by law to remain solvent and ensure a certain debt-to-equity ratio. As a result of purchasing infrastructure for producing power from NCPC - Northern Canadian Power Commission - the Yukon Energy Corporation has certain fixed costs that must be paid regardless if the Faro mine is operating. The impact of these fixed costs on consumers is less when Anvil Range is operating, as the company consumes about 40 percent of YEC's capacity or output. In other words, they help pay the mortgage.

Prior to the problem with the fluctuation of electricity rates is that so little was done by the previous administration to address this long-standing situation. It is a situation this government is working to resolve, and already much has been accomplished in the last seven months.

The sudden closure of the Anvil mine has made the situation more difficult, but our government will continue to seek long-term solutions. The Energy Commission and long-term policy development and the revitalization and the changed direction from the previous Yukon Party government of killing bill relief was another initiative this government undertook to stabilize rates in the territory.

Despite the information contained in the petition, we believe that all possible actions by government should be taken to keep electricity rates affordable and that government has a role to reduce the impact of increases on ratepayers. We moved quickly to do that and fulfill our election commitment on the rate relief program, and stated repeatedly in this Legislature and to the public through the media and in direct correspondence that we were prepared to act once the Yukon Utilities Board makes a decision on the Yukon Energy Corporation's proposed interim refundable rate increase.

We will take whatever action we can within the confines of the Energy Corporation and the financial situation that's entailed there to ensure that the utility's long-term health is protected and that Yukoners rates are kept as low as possible. We want to ensure the long-term viability of the publicly owned utility that's owned by each and every Yukoner, but we want to ensure that, where we can, energy profits are used to help with long-term direction changes, but also are there to offset rate increases, as much as can possibly be undertaken.

We will base our response on principles of affordability and conservation, and we will be able to take some mitigative measures. We are still considering these options, and there are a number of them proposed that, I think, Yukon electrical rate consumers will be quite satisfied with once the Yukon Utilities Board makes their decision, and we have an opportunity to consider it, as a government, and to make some suggestions to the Energy Corporation on how to deal with it in the best interests, both in the short term and the long term of Yukon electrical ratepayers and consumers.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and once again I want to thank the people who took the time to sign the petition.

Speaker: Are there any new petitions to be presented?

Are there any bills to be introduced?

Are there any notices of motion?

Are there any statements by ministers?


Mobile-home strategy

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Consistent with our government's belief that there should always be an adequate supply of affordable housing and land available to Yukon people, I am pleased to announce the adoption of a mobile-home strategy as part of a broader commitment to affordable housing.

The mobile-home strategy addresses the range of problems faced by people who find themselves living in sub-standard mobile-home housing units they cannot afford to repair, or stuck in a mobile-home park with no alternatives for relocating.

The strategy has been designed by the Yukon Housing Corporation, in partnership with the Departments of Justice and Community and Transportation Services, as well as the City of Whitehorse.

The past and present members of this House have frequently debated the serious health and safety conditions in some of the mobile-home parks and in older, sub-standard mobile homes. The problem has been studied extensively; now it's time for action.

In 1995, a task force of government officials and affected interests studied the issues facing mobile-home residents. In 1996, the Yukon mobile-home study report surveyed mobile-home residents and park owners, and researched technical and legal issues.

At the heart of the matter are the health and safety issues affecting mobile homes and parks. There is serious overcrowding in some mobile-home parks. The safety of park residents would be threatened in the event of fire.

Over 200 of approximately 1,200 mobile homes in the Yukon are beyond reasonable repair, plagued with health and safety hazards, and clearly are not economical to upgrade or relocate. More are deteriorating to that state.

Our government has analyzed the situation and is prepared to deal with the four problem areas - land, financing, regulations and public information. Through the mobile-home strategy, we are prepared to take decisive action on each.

First, we must deal with the lack of land options for the location of mobile homes. Older mobile homes in good shape that could be upgraded to meet building codes are often stuck in mobile-home parks because no appropriately zoned land is available.

To develop land options, we will work with Community and Transportation Services, municipal and First Nations governments and the private sector to support co-op or condominium land developments and possible conversions of existing mobile-home parks to co-op or condominium title.

Government is also reconsidering pricing policies for its land developments and will work to provide lower-priced lots in new subdivisions.

Second, financing options are extremely limited to owners of mobile homes not located on titled lots. We recognize this difficulty and will respond through loan programs.

1. First, owners of mobile-home housing that is beyond repair need help to identify and finance replacement housing. We are prepared to launch an equity replacement program to permit the scrapping of sub-standard units that cannot be upgraded. Through the home ownership program, Yukon Housing will be able to provide what would amount to a second mortgage for people with acceptable credit ratings who may be unable to assume immediately the full cost of a mortgage.

2. People unable to leave sub-standard mobile units that have outlived their economic life may need to finance emergency repairs to deal with threatening health and safety deficiencies. An emergency repair component will be added to the home repair program to allow mobile-home residents to make the minimum repair to their home to make it safe and habitable.

3. Home repair program limits on loans for homes in rental parks will be raised to allow residents to upgrade older homes.

4. Mobile-home owners wanting to relocate may need financing assistance to meet the actual costs associated with relocation when land becomes available. We are prepared to offer one-time loans to offset the costs of moving a mobile home to a titled lot.

Mr. Speaker, the third area to be addressed is appropriate regulation. The present regulations and bylaws affecting mobile homes and mobile-home parks have limited positive effect.

Our partner in this strategy, the City of Whitehorse, is reviewing its zoning policies to identify ways to provide more flexibility for relocating older mobile homes provided they can be upgraded to meet applicable codes and neighbourhood standards.

The Department of Justice is also committed to reviewing the Landlord and Tenant Act within the next year to identify better ways to protect the rights and outline responsibilities of tenants and landlords in mobile-home parks.

The department is also developing information brochures to advise mobile-home residents of their legal rights under the current act.

This brings me to the final point, Mr. Speaker, which is the need for good public information on housing alternatives.

Occupants of mobile homes in mobile-home parks often face a situation they did not anticipate. The costs of financing a mobile home may seem more affordable compared to the cost of a mortgage for housing on titled land, but mobile housing can prove to be an expensive option when the additional costs of pad rental or the high heating and maintenance costs for older sub-standard units are taken into account.

Our analysis suggests that many people who enter the housing market through the purchase of a mobile home in a rental park could, in fact, finance a mobile home or conventional home on a titled lot.

People require good information to make good decisions. The Yukon Housing Corporation is dedicated to providing sound information and advice to people who want to explore their housing options. It is also committed to working with the housing industry to provide honest, user-friendly information on housing alternatives.

Mr. Speaker, while some aspects of this comprehensive strategy will be of particular benefit to the people living in mobile-home parks, others will have a wider application throughout the territory. I urge mobile-home residents to discuss their needs and concerns with Yukon Housing.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I believe that our government's aggressive and comprehensive approach to this problems facing mobile-home owners will do a great deal to improve their quality of life. I also expect that the emphasis this strategy places on the programs of the corporation will encourage public interest in affordable housing and housing alternatives.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, I'm extremely pleased to learn that the government is acting upon the recommendations made by the Yukon Party to resolve the problems affecting owners of older mobile home in the Whitehorse area. It was the Yukon Party government that arranged for a study to be done on the problems with older mobile homes and I see that the majority of the initiatives outlined in this ministerial statement are the same solutions proposed by the Yukon Party.

Mr. Speaker, the Yukon Party government announced that it would implement a low-interest loan, mobile-home repair program, and would explore the development of a condominium concept for mobile-home parks, where mobile-home owners would own their own land and common facilities and infrastructure.

The low-interest loan program was to be geared to family income and was to have a flexible amortization period which would help mobile-home owners upgrade their homes. The mobile home repair program was to be used to improve mobile home safety through the upgrading of electrical systems which no longer met codes and to implement other building code measures.

Our government also announced that in addition to the upgrade of mobile homes we would improve the quality of life in mobile-home parks through the provision of better facilities and infrastructures, such as playgrounds for children. The condominium concept could be used for developing new parks or for converting existing parks.

Our party also planned to make these new initiatives territory-wide so that mobile-home owners all around the territory would be given the opportunity to upgrade their homes.

Mr. Speaker, I note that the ministerial statement recognizes the need for land to complete the mobile-home strategy, and I would reiterate my previous question in this Legislature and that is: how will the government develop lots at a lower cost to make them affordable for mobile-home owners?

Would the minister in his rebuttal, Mr. Speaker, provide the House with his assurances that this mobile-home strategy would be offered territory-wide and not just within Whitehorse, or is this government going to continue with its current policy of developing two Yukons: Whitehorse and TROY?

Mrs. Edelman: Our caucus is very appreciative of the action that this government has taken, in conjunction with the City of Whitehorse, to finally address some of the issues around mobile homes in the Yukon. With those sentiments in mind, can the minister please answer a few friendly questions?

Firstly, in point number one of the strategy, the Yukon Housing Corporation is going to provide what amounts to a second mortgage for people with acceptable credit ratings.

Mr. Speaker, I have a real concern that the government is going to be putting people into a debt position where they cannot possibly afford to live beyond their mortgage payments. What percentage of applicants' gross income is going to be used to determine payments of this so-called second mortgage?

My second friendly question, Mr. Speaker, is in regard to the development of the strategy. The statement speaks to the involvement of the City of Whitehorse, but what about the involvement of other Yukon municipalities? Also, Mr. Speaker, there is a comment at the end of the ministerial statement urging mobile-home residents to discuss their needs and concerns with Yukon Housing, but I do not see any reference to tenants' involvement in the development of the mobile-home strategy. Was there direct involvement in this process from the people that are most affected by the strategy?

Finally, I see little or no input from the private sector in this initiative. Was the private sector, in the form of mobile-park home owners or the housing industry, ever brought into the development stage of this strategy?

Mr. Speaker, I hope that the minister can enlighten us with his response.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The problems in mobile homes have been building for many years, as we all have known. It's a very serious situation that we have here and it's been festering to the point of it exploding. If we don't act now, we're going to be faced with this situation year after year after year.

Mr. Speaker, we have said that we've taken into account the study, which has looked at the number of problems facing mobile-home owners in trying to get out of mobile homes into decent housing. The problems are the supply of land and, also, the financing options that are available to them. We've addressed all of these within the strategy, and we hope that, with the work of the rest of our departments - with the Departments of Justice and Community and Transportation Services - that the strategy will come together and be very effective.

We need to do some amendments to the Landlord and Tenant Act and also work on land issues, along with the City of Whitehorse.

This mobile-home strategy is not just for Whitehorse residents; it applies throughout the Yukon. A majority, I would say, of the mobile homes are in Whitehorse and it would apply mostly to Whitehorse, but it is available throughout Yukon.

This has been brought to the attention of the government since 1994, when three mobile homes were evicted from a park. We will be addressing all the issues that have come forward from them - the health and safety issues in particular - that don't just affect the Housing Corporation, but also many of the departments within government. It's not something we can hide away from and not deal with. We're taking action right now, dealing with the health and safety issues. Hopefully, this program, throughout the years, will become more and more popular and used more and more. We do have cooperation from the City of Whitehorse, which is a key component to this and we feel that the housing situation in the Yukon and in the mobile-home area will be greatly improved over the next few years. We don't feel that it will affect the marketplace in any negative way. We do feel that it's a good opportunity for home builders and suppliers and so on and there are a lot of benefits that would come from this strategy.

There have been some questions asked with regard to second mortgages and what percentages you need for those. I will get back to the member with appropriate answers, and thank you very much for recognizing our government's commitment to do something in the housing industry.

Information highway: communications upgrade

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Our government has a policy of using new technology to improve services to all Yukon people. Consistent with this, the government is continuing the task of updating its communication links to Yukon communities.

New high-speed lines have been installed in 10 communities to date: Haines Junction, Dawson, Watson Lake, Carcross, Faro, Mayo, Carmacks, Teslin, Ross River and Old Crow.

As well as serving government needs, the new lines are being shared by other users - schools, libraries, private sector organizations and individuals - to provide direct access to the Internet at an affordable price. The Department of Education has undertaken a project to provide Internet access to schools and libraries throughout the territory.

This communication upgrading has been achieved with a modest investment of Yukon government funds by sharing costs and technical expertise with federal government agencies and the private sector - Northwestel and YukonNet Operating Society.

Internet access offers rural communities new opportunities to overcome the barriers of distance that have limited community and personal development in the past. Internet service has been established in all of the communities that have the new high speed lines.

The partnerships formed to carry out this upgrading initiatives will not end with the completion of the project. Rather, the partners will continue to work together well into the future to keep the Yukon in step with the rapidly changing world-wide communications network.

Mr. Jenkins: I'd like to join the minister today in commending the Government of Yukon upon the task of continuing the expansion of our communication links to Yukon communities.

Members of this House may recall that it was the former Yukon Party government who first entered into new partnership agreements with the YukonNet Operating Society and Northwestel to provide Yukoners with access to the information highway through Internet.

In August 1994, a memorandum of understanding between the Government of Yukon and the YukonNet Operating Society was completed that set the stage for the management of infrastructure that links Yukon to the Internet, and to the global information highway.

In just two years from the time that Haines Junction first came online, Yukon has come a long way along the global information highway. It is great to see all Yukon communities online, as having access to the Internet presents endless possibilities and opportunities for students, educators, businesses and legislators such as us.

We are talking about the opportunity to enter a library without walls, and the ability to share and exchange information among Yukon communities where distances are far and people few between.

While I commend the government for continuing to expand these services to Yukon communities, our caucus has some concerns, one being that there is not much more room for improvements in the service delivery - Northwestel does not have the appropriate equipment in place that would enable faster and expanded access to the global information highway.

As a leader in providing access to this highway, I would encourage the Government of Yukon to demand that Northwestel invest in the worthy infrastructure that will benefit Yukon communities. Should Northwestel fail to do so, I would encourage the Government of Yukon to get involved with other Internet service providers and explore other alternate routes such as Internet access via satellite.

Our telephone company, Northwestel, is the major impediment to meeting Yukoners' existing and expanding communications needs, and I would ask the minister, in his rebuttal, what steps he will be taking with Northwestel to have this firm address their monopoly in a cost-effective and beneficial manner for all Yukoners.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: It's not going to take Deep Blue to contend with that. This reminds me of the days in the '50s when the Soviet government would announce, "We invented the internal combustion engine and, gosh, we invented jazz and a few other things," so I guess he's taking a page from Nikita Khrushchev.

Just on this, there are a couple of things the member did bring forward and raised with regard to capacity on the Net and high-speed lines and things of that nature. I have met with Northwestel earlier this year - with the president and a marketing individual from Northwestel - and some of the concerns I raised had to do basically with information technology and the ability to provide that. I indicated to Northwestel that I would be interested in meeting them further to discuss our information technology needs.

At the same time, I also expressed some concerns, which I think had to do with the keeping of Northwestel's management capability here in the territory, and I was also seeking some guarantees that Northwestel would continue to maintain service and staff in this territory.

Those are not the least of our concerns with regard to Northwestel, but I can tell the member opposite that we will be continuing our discussions with Northwestel. We are always pursuing other interesting options in technology and I hope to have more developments in this regard in the near future.

Thank you.

Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.


Question re: Yukon Energy Corporation, management agreement with YECL

Mr. Ostashek: My question is for the minister responsible for the Yukon Energy Corporation.

Mr. Speaker, the member is making up new terms now: "interim refundable." I suggest that he get a dictionary.

Mr. Speaker, for the minister responsible for the Energy Corporation, on May 1st in this House, the minister gave a ministerial statement concerning the new operating agreement between Yukon Energy Corporation and Alberta Power. Negotiators were unable to complete a formal comprehensive agreement by April 30th, and the Yukon Energy Corporation authorized the negotiators to table a take-it-or-leave-it offer. The operating agreement was supposed to be approved by the board of directors of Alberta Power on May 9th and deliver it to Yukon Energy Corporation on May 10th.

Mr. Speaker, it's now May 13th, so I'd like to ask the minister to update the House on what has transpired.

Hon. Mr. Harding: My understanding is that the APL board has approved the agreement in principle. It's now set on Friday to go before the Yukon Energy Corporation board. It's taken longer than anticipated for them to arrange a meeting.

Mr. Ostashek: I thank the minister for that.

Mr. Speaker, the operating agreement also included provisions relating to what they called "the rationalization of assets," which effectively meant to sell out $4 million worth of YEC assets to southern interests, something the NDP government said they would never do.

I would like to ask the minister: is this still part of the deal?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, I have to respond to the bootlegged comments in the preamble of the question. There is an element in the arrangement, as has been discussed many, many times in this House, and approved by the board that was appointed by the former Government Leader - now Leader of the Official Opposition - with the exception of the CYFN representatives.

There is a provision with regard to rationalization. We, as the New Democratic Party, have always been opposed to the wholesale sellout to southern interests of Yukoners' Energy Corporation. We've maintained that position consistently.

The rationalization of assets is far from that. It's a movement within the same asset base. It's a redistribution of assets from distribution to generation and transmission, and the monies that will be collected from that rationalization will be reinvested into targeted energy infrastructure, and I think there are additional cost-savings as well in the agreement in principle for Yukon ratepayers of some $2 million over the life of the agreement, which will be reinvested back into rates.

So, Mr. Speaker, I would just say that the agreement in principle is still as it was contained in the initial proposed agreement in principle, and there is also a buy-back provision at the end of the agreement at book value if the Energy Corporation and Yukoners would like to do that. However, I don't believe they would, because once they see what good investments can be made in asset infrastructure for power generation helping to stabilize rates, I don't think that will be something that the Yukon public wants to do.

Mr. Ostashek: Well, Mr. Speaker, we saw the consistency of this government and the positions they took prior to the election and the flip-flop they've done on every major issue that they campaigned on now that they are in government.

Mr. Speaker, the operating agreement, if it is not approved by one of the parties - I understand there is still a substantial amount of negotiations to go on until the June 30th deadline with regards to franchising, which Alberta Power says if they don't get, they'll walk away from the agreement.

That only leaves about seven and a half months until January 1st, 1998, so I'd like to ask the minister to outline for the House what contingency plans are in place if something should happen and this negotiated agreement should fall through.

Hon. Mr. Harding: The member is wrong. This government has been completely consistent. His accusation that we have not been is incorrect. There have been no flip-flops. We have a litany of promises made, promises kept. If you look to our election commitments, Mr. Speaker, almost to the letter, we have been working on that agenda that we put forward to the Yukon public.

The members opposite could spin it any way they want, I suppose. That's their job. That doesn't make it any more true.

With regard to contingency, one of the things that the board required of the Energy Corporation - and also the government - is that the option of direct management be fully investigated and that a lot of work be done in preparation to ensure that there was a good position at the negotiating table to ensure that the option was fully investigated. That's what allowed us to get the good deal that was put before us, Mr. Speaker.

So, the contingency plan is there. If the franchising agreement is not successful in conclusion by June the 30th and APL decides to walk away - because we will be protecting Yukoners' interest at the table - then that will be their choice and we will be ready to assume direct management.

Question re: Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board, appointment of chair

Mr. Jenkins: My question today is for the minister responsible for the Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board.

The minister and his Liberal friends in this House are turning the Compensation Board into a political play toy, especially in relation to the appointment of a new chair. I suspect the minister is now regretting his earlier political intervention in removing the previous chair now that he has a former NDP candidate who defected to the Liberals being proposed to fill this important position.

There are still a few defeated NDP candidates or former NDP MLAs who haven't received a job with this government - a very few, I might add. Can the minister advise the House which one is being considered for this extremely important appointment?

Hon. Mr. Harding: You talk about leading with your chin from this member. I know he wasn't in the House before, but the member should look to his right and have a discussion with his colleagues who appointed, with no consultation with labour, a chair of the board who was on the party's executive and actually ran conventions for them at the time that he was the chair of the Workers' Compensation Board - totally ignoring labour stakeholders.

What this government has done is made the correct move, as we said we would do to the electorate of this territory, and work toward finding a neutral chair for this particular board. I asked the Opposition parties and the stakeholders for names. The Liberal Party put forth names; the Yukon Party put forth the same name: a former member of their executive, party president, activist.

Mr. Speaker, that's not the way that we want to go. We were prepared to accept the nomination of the Liberal Party, knowing full well that the person they were proposing was a partisan. That's fine. What we want is a good system for injured workers and for business that works well and supports the stakeholders. We're trying to build some consensus surrounding the chair's appointment. Mr. Speaker, I'm very encouraged to say that there has been some support identified by both labour and business with regard to the selection of the chair. I'll be continuing to work in that fashion to try and build consensus and make the appointment as quickly as possible.

In the interim, there's an alternate chair that's quite capable of running the operations of the board with the two labour and two employer reps on the board. As a matter of fact, the board ran for some 16 years with only one chair, Mr. Speaker.

So I look forward to being able to make some announcements in the near future.

Mr. Jenkins: I'd like to thank the minister for his very non-political response but, Mr. Speaker, what did Tim, Art and Doug do to not warrant a job with this government? Can the minister advise the House when he hopes to have a new chair in place for this board?

Hon. Mr. Harding: I find it amazing, when I think about all the people who passed through the Yukon Party Cabinet offices over the last four years, the Allen Hallmans of the world, the Dale Drowns, the Socreds. I watched, with fondness, the Alberta election results as Mr. Allen Hallman returned to Alberta, to Klein country, and shook hands with Mr. Klein on the night of his recent electoral victory. Unfortunately, this wasn't Klein country up here in the Yukon, and he had to go back home to Alberta.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say to the member opposite that partisanship is something that this government has not considered when addressing important positions, such as chair of the Workers' Compensation Board. I think, by our very actions of considering a suggestion put forward by the Liberal Party, indicates that that is indeed true. What we've been doing is working with the key stakeholders to try and develop some consensus surrounding the chair. It's a difficult task. There are many different interests involved with these types of issues, but certainly, Mr. Speaker, I indicated that I would try and build consensus, and I'm trying, and I hope to make an announcement in the very near future.

Mr. Jenkins: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, but the committee that was struck by this Legislature to review appointments is at an impasse, because of the position advanced by the members opposite. It is not working in the way that it was supposed to work. I don't want to be critical of the minister but, on occasion, he's living in a time warp. When he stated that a workers' advocate would be appointed immediately, it meant seven and a half months. Is this the same time frame for the appointment of a new chair, Mr. Speaker?

Hon. Mr. Harding: I don't do things like the Yukon Party did, which is just to make decisions without talking to anybody and appoint people to boards and committees with a very strong partisan persuasion, particularly when they are people who are in charge of a board that belongs to both business and labour stakeholders.

I think it is an important principle, when you're looking at very high profile boards, committees and chair positions, that the parties - and I plead with the Yukon Party to drop their move toward such blatant partisanship and their continuing with that policy. The boards and committees process that was underway through meetings is at an impasse simply because of the amount of partisanship that the Yukon Party wants to bring to those discussions. I think what we should be doing is trying to encourage all Yukoners to have a say in the process, rather than their attempts to try and bring more partisanship on behalf of the Yukon Party into the process.

With regard to the workers' advocate, again, we struck an advisory committee of labour to advise on the position for the Public Service Commission. We've been working through that process. There was an offer made as the result of a certification granted by the PSC and the advisory committee to an individual for the advocate. That was turned down. Other options are being investigated by the Department of Justice in the interim, while we evaluate the options that may involve sending a contract to someone to provide some extended advocacy work on our behalf. With regard to the time frame, it's a lot quicker -

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

Point of order

Speaker: Point of order has been called.

Mr. Phillips: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, there are only 30 minutes of Question Period. The minister should try and shorten his answers.

Speaker: Would the member please answer the question.

Hon. Mr. Harding: With regard to the workers' advocate and the time frame, it will be a lot quicker than the four years it took the Yukon Party to deal with the question.

Question re: Local hire

Ms. Duncan: Yesterday, I politely asked the Minister of Community and Transportation Services if he had an answer yet as to why an Edmonton-based firm was specifically invited to submit a proposal for the provision of engineering services for the Copper Ridge subdivision.

The minister told me I was wrong and the Minister of Government Services heckled across the way that I hadn't done my homework.

I'd like to ask the Minister of Government Services if this is the request for proposals: April 16th, 1997, the request for proposals, sent out to four companies, includes the terms of reference, and says your proposal should be submitted to the offices of contract services by 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May the 7th, and it included two submission envelopes, the green one for the technical proposal and the white one for the price proposal. The ad for the request for proposals was placed in the Star on Friday, April 18th. When any firm who read the ad called contract services and asked for a request for proposal they got this document, which has submission envelopes - the green one and the white one - and it says, "Your proposal shall be submitted to the offices of contract services by 4:00 o'clock on Wednesday, the 7th of May."

Will the Minister of Government Services agree that this is the same request for proposal?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: My understanding is that it is. I don't have the details, but my colleague, the Community and Transportation Services minister, has, and in his absence I will have to assume that it is.

I do know that it was a request for proposals and not an invitational tender, as was previously inferred. I do know that it was restricted, in terms of advertising, to the Yukon and I believe that there were three dates - I don't have the document that my colleague did with the dates of publication. I can find that out for the minister and get back to her on it.

Ms. Duncan: In the request for proposal, four firms were invited to submit proposals. They include three firms that have offices in Whitehorse and one firm that does not. The one firm that does not, I took the opportunity to look them up in the phone book - the phone number rings in Edmonton, Alberta. Their web-site page lists their head offices as Alberta; the alternate is in Calgary.

The letter that I received from them today has a return office address of Edmonton, Alberta. The company is UMA Engineering, and in the request for proposals it lists copies of request for proposals that were sent to the following consultants: Lorimer and Associates, Stanley and Associates, UMA Engineering and Yukon Engineering Services. Will the minister agree that this proposal was sent to an Edmonton-based company?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Once again, I can only assume that it was sent to that company. Once again, I can assume that everyone has an opportunity to request proposals. I believe the legal principle is that information is like air - it cannot be restricted. Therefore, this would be readily available on Internet access and I assume that someone from UMA contacted them to request it.

Ms. Duncan: It was sent to this company and, indeed, information is like air and companies from outside the Yukon picked up copies of the Whitehorse Star and submitted bids. My question to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services last Wednesday - my question for the Minister of Government Services - why, on the list of four companies sent proposals, was an Edmonton-based company listed? Why were they sent a proposal?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I assume that, if a company requests a proposal or requests the document, it can be sent. I might assume that that company was one of the ones that perhaps Community and Transportation Services had identified. I'm not sure of that. I don't have the information that my colleague does, but I can certainly check it out.

Once again, I just want to reiterate that this is not an invitational tender, as was inferred earlier. This is a request for proposals and, in that regard, the guidelines for such requests for proposals are done in consultation with consulting engineers of the Yukon, and in that it lays out such things as Yukon content, the services in the Yukon that would be employed, and the number of people on the team. So I'm assuming that that was done in conjunction with consulting engineers and that there's probably a reasonable explanation for it.

The member has me at a disadvantage with regard to this so I will check it out for her.

Question re: Local hire

Ms. Duncan: The invitation that was sent out on this contract - the minister accused me yesterday of not doing my homework - I think he will agree that, yes, I indeed have done my homework and that this was sent out. And, no, I was not wrong -

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, if the minister had chosen to answer that this company had done work before and that's the reason they were sent the request for proposal, I would have been quite content with that, but I have not been supplied with an adequate answer.

I'd like to ask the Minister of Government Services this: will future engineering contracts for the Government of Yukon require that there be a resident professional engineer based in the Yukon?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Again, I reiterate my previous answer to the member. These are done in consultation with the consulting engineers of the Yukon. I think it's only fair to point out that many companies here have links with larger firms outside, and whether or not they choose to exercise those links is a matter up to them. But I can only assume that if it's done in consultation with the consulting engineers of the Yukon, they must have some input into how this is accomplished. They do lay out how many people form the Yukon team. They do lay out the amount of Yukon content in this. So, my assumption would be that in this regard it was done in consultation with the engineers here.

Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I am not getting an answer to my question. Will the minister confirm that future contracts tendered by the Government of Yukon for engineering services will require that there be a resident professional engineer?

I have a specific reason for asking this. This contract is spread over four years. If we have a question in the middle of this contract in the middle of November, let's not be phoning to Alberta. Let's be phoning the local engineer.

Will he require that there be a resident, profession engineer in the contract?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, Mr. Speaker, I've explored this actual issue with regard to some other professions as well, including architecture. There are advantages to having a resident person here. My assumption would be that on a major job that would be one of the criteria - that there would be someone on site to follow through on inspections and follow through on such matters as deficiencies as is generally required with regard to an architectural contract.

As to whether we can impose the criterion of having a resident engineer on a project, I would have to check that out in further detail to see if we can put on such restrictions. I'm not sure at this point. I can follow through with my department.

Ms. Duncan: Would the minister also follow through with his department and indicate whether or not they can require that the half-dozen jobs that this particular tender is going to generate will go to Yukoners? Can he also investigate that with his department?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Speaker, I have already said that these projects and these specifications are generally done in conjunction with the consulting engineers of the Yukon, so my assumption would be that there are criteria there in terms of the amount of Yukon content, probably the subcontracts required, and the number of individuals in terms of the Yukon team.

I can tell the member that in contracts that I have seen in the last while there is a concerted effort by companies that come in to at least establish an office, to establish the number of people working on a project. Very often - and I'm just thinking in terms of the recent film contract for the Visitor Reception Centre - there were training opportunities in there for Yukoners. So, my assumption would be that in any future contracts, those are the kinds of criteria that would be built in.

Question re: National unity

Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Speaker, my question's for the Government Leader. I don't want him to feel slighted by not being asked questions, and I don't want him for one minute to think the Official Opposition thinks he's an insignificant part of that government over there.

Mr. Speaker, everyone is aware the federal election campaign is on and, as a consequence of the leaders' debate last night, national unity is emerging as the major issue. As the House will soon be rising for the summer, I think it's important that we get this government's position on record.

So, I would like to ask the Government Leader to make the position of his government known to Yukoners and to our fellow Canadians on this very important issue. Can the Government Leader advise the House if his government is in favour of special status for Quebec?

Hon. Mr. McDonald: I thank the member for his special attention, and I appreciate that he does not think of me as being an insignificant player on the government side of the House. I also would like to thank him for allowing me to stand up, as I have a bad back and it's a wonderful opportunity to actually relieve it.

The question is whether or not we support, essentially, a distinct society for Quebec. The New Democrats have always taken the position that Quebec is a distinct society. We've taken that position consistently in constitutional discussions in the past, and that submission was supported by members of this House on both sides of the Legislature.

So if the member is asking me whether or not we support the concept of a distinct society, the answer is yes. How that's defined is to be defined, and it would be the subject of constitutional discussions, presumably in the future, and court interpretations. The position we've always taken is that, indeed, Quebec is, in reality, a distinct society.

Mr. Ostashek: I thank the Government Leader for that. He is right. This party also believes that Quebec is a distinct society, but we do not believe that because they are a distinct society they should be granted any powers that aren't available to other provinces. That's what I'm trying to clarify with the member opposite: if he believes that the recognition of Quebec as a distinct society should grant them extraordinary powers that aren't available to other provinces.

Hon. Mr. McDonald: I seem to be having some difficulty understanding the member's definition of "distinct society", Mr. Speaker. Whenever the discussion was raised at the Charlottetown Accord negotiations or discussions by members of his own party, when it was a Progressive Conservative Party, the assumption was always made that the notion of distinct society would allow Quebec to protect its culture and language, and that was an assumption which I thought was supported by members opposite when they were members of the Progressive Conservatives.

Now, that's certainly a notion that we embraced as well in the New Democratic Party. I understand from what the Prime Minister said last night, I would assume that the Liberal Party shares that view. So, if the member is asking me whether or not we support that notion of distinct society, meaning that Quebec should have the appropriate powers to protects its language and culture, the answer is yes, indeed.

We also believe, as a jurisdiction in this country, and the position that we have taken, as manifested through the devolution discussions, is that we also want to become masters of our own house and take the necessary tools so that we, a government that is very close to the people, can influence public affairs to the greatest advantage of Yukoners. So, we have taken actions as a government, like other jurisdictions and other provinces in this country, to promote local control of various programs and services.

Now, that, of course, has to be balanced with the need for national programs and national minimum standards that any Canadian anywhere in this country can enjoy. I suspect that that debate will continue for as long as I live and probably for as long as my children live - as long as this country survives. The balance between local control and national standards will probably continue.

Mr. Ostashek: I thank the Government Leader for that. The Government Leader alluded to Yukoners looking for some different arrangements within the federation, as well, and that leads me to my final supplementary.

Is the federal Liberal government, in devolution talks, taking the position that we would only be allowed to manage the land while Yukon First Nations, through their land claims, will have outright ownership of some lands, as do provinces and other Canadians? We Yukoners believe that we are also loyal Canadians, and does not the Government Leader believe that after devolution Yukoners should have the right to own the land and resources in the Yukon?

Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, Mr. Speaker, we have taken that position on a number of occasions, and I've been a member of previous governments that have taken a similar position.

The immediate step in the devolution talks, however, is to take over management of Yukon lands. That includes the right to dispose of Yukon lands to third party or private interests. We expect that right to be transferred in the devolution discussions.

Taking on full ownership and, ultimately, provincial-like status or provincial status under the Constitution, is a step yet to be determined. We are not pursuing that step in these devolution discussions. That would be a step that I would suspect would be very much of great interest to Yukoners, and Yukoners should have significant opportunity to speak out and express their views on the subject.

In the interim, we are proceeding with devolution, and if all goes well in the next year or year and a half, we should have - with the exception, or perhaps even with, the Attorney General function - all the powers and responsibilities of any province currently existing within Confederation, albeit under a federal act.

To change the constitutional status of the Yukon would be the final step.

Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed.

Notice of Government Private Members' Business

Hon. Mr. Harding: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(7), I would like to inform the House that the government private members do not wish to identify any items to be called Wednesday, May 14th, under the heading "government private members' business."

Speaker: We will proceed to Orders of the Day.


Hon. Mr. Harding: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.

Speaker: It has been moved by the 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


Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.

Is it members' wish to take a brief recess?

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Chair: Fifteen minutes.


Chair: I will call Committee of the Whole to order. We will continue with general debate on the Public Service Commission.

Bill No. 4 - First Appropriation Act, 1997-98 - continued

Public Service Commission - continued

Mrs. Edelman: Yesterday we were talking about issues of employment equity. One of the issues that comes up or that has been recognized recently is the issue around ageism. Now, ageism is the discrimination against persons by virtue of their age, particularly senior citizens, or those getting to be in the more mature age group.

I'm just wondering if there have been any initiatives in the new evaluation of the Public Service Commission dealing with issues around ageism?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Yes, the commission is looking at that. There is a concern. There's no requirement under the Superannuation Act to have people stop working as a result of age. So that's a positive thing that the government has to deal with that particular question.

Ms. Duncan: I'd just like to ask the minister a couple of questions about bonuses. It was recently brought to my attention that the City of Whitehorse had or has a policy whereby so many sick leave days are allotted in a month and if the individual doesn't use those sick leave days they're given a portion of their salary as a bonus. Has the Yukon government and the Public Service Commission examined this option?

Hon. Mr. Harding: After five years of service, the employees are paid out a percentage of their sick leave days, so there is a provision of some sort of that nature.

Ms. Duncan: My colleague, who is the critic for the Yukon Housing Corporation, has noted some items in previous Hansard referencing a Yukon Housing Corporation manager's bonus. Could the minister elaborate on that?

Hon. Mr. Harding: I have no idea what the member is pointing to, but I will try and get some information for her - and myself.

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

On Finance and Administration

Chair: On finance and administration, is there general debate? Clear.

On Activity

On Administration

Administration in the amount of $444,000 agreed to

Finance and Administration in the amount of $444,000 agreed to

On Corporate Human Resource Services

Chair: Is there general debate? Clear.

On Activities

On Staffing Administration

Staffing Administration in the amount of $833,000 agreed to

On Staffing Operations

Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, there has been a 26-percent decrease. Could we just have a line of explanation from the minister, please?

Hon. Mr. Harding: With regard to the personnel, they've decreased by six percent due to the conclusion of a temporary assignment for the federal government, and that's a significant amount of the personnel decrease. Other dollars that have decreased in this corporate human resource services is 14 percent, and that's from reductions to communications, advertising and removals. That's 21 percent.

Staffing Operations in the amount of $54,000 agreed to

On Employment Equity

Employment Equity in the amount of $358,000 agreed to

On Classification/Competition Appeals

Classification/Competition Appeals in the amount of $38,000 agreed to

Speaker: Are there questions on the statistics?

Ms. Duncan: Yes, Mr. Chair, I have a question with respect to the statistics for employment equity. On the number of target groups' clients counselled, the disabled figure has risen by 150 percent. Is this the addition of another counsellor?

Hon. Mr. Harding: No, it's not, but it's an area that we're going to work toward.

Corporate Human Resource Services in the amount of $1,283,000 agreed to

On Pay and Benefits Management

Chair: Is there general debate?

Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, could we just have a word of explanation from the minister about the increases, please?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Absolutely. That increase is reflected in personnel dollars. There is one position from the health transfer, and so it's a devolution initiative of $48,000.

Chair: Seeing no further general debate, we will go to O&M expenditures.

On Activity

On Administration

Administration in the amount of $890,000 agreed to

Chair: Are there questions on the statistics?

Pay and Benefits Management in the amount of $890,000 agreed to

On Staff Relations

Chair: Is there general debate? Seeing as there is no general debate, we will go to O&M expenditures, activities.

On Activities

On Administration

Administration in the amount of $548,000 agreed to

On Yukon Government Employees Union/Public Service Alliance of Canada

Ms. Duncan: This line and the next line have very significant increases. Could the minister explain those, please?

Hon. Mr. Harding: That's the cost of negotiations. It's a negotiating year, and there's always some increase there to conduct the negotiations for contract services costs associated with it.

Ms. Duncan: There's no estimated increase, though, on the basis of the outcome of those negotiations. It's strictly the cost of the negotiators.

Hon. Mr. Harding: Yes, certainly, that's the outcome. We might have some angry discussions but, no, that's just for the cost of negotiating.

Mr. Phillips: Is the amount that's budgeted in here the standard amount that would have been budgeted in other years for negotiations, or is it more than normal? What's average? What did we budget the last negotiations?

Hon. Mr. Harding: The Public Service Commissioner tells me it's very comparable. It the member wishes more detail, I could provide it to him at some future time.

No, he says fine, thanks.

Yukon Government Employees Union/Public Service Alliance of Canada in the amount of $192,000 agreed to

On Yukon Teachers Association

Yukon Teachers Association in the amount of $68,000 agreed to

On Managerial/Confidential Exclusion

Managerial/Confidential Exclusion in the amount of $5,000 agreed to

On Long Service Awards

Long Service Awards in the amount of $81,000 agreed to

On Indemnification

Indemnification in the amount of $1,000 agreed to

Chair: Questions on the statistics?

Staff Relations in the amount of $895,000 agreed to

On Workers' Compensation Fund

Chair: Is there general debate?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Just by way of explanation, there have been some questions about funding for increases. There have been a number of questions on potential power cost increases. This reflects the increase proposed by the Workers' Compensation Board and the government's share of that.

On Activity

On Workers' Compensation Payments

Workers' Compensation Payments in the amount of $1,764,000 agreed to

Workers' Compensation Fund in the amount of $1,764,000 agreed to

On Planning and Research

Chair: Is there any general debate? Seeing no general debate.

On Activity

On Administration

Administration in the amount of $307,000 agreed to

Planning and Research in the amount of $307,000 agreed to

On Employee Leave and Termination Benefits Adjustment

Chair: Is there general debate?

Ms. Duncan: Can I have an explanation from the minister, please?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Yes. The personnel dollars have decreased by 47 percent, as a result of a decision to maintain a maximum leave accrual liability of $30 million. The decrease in the program is $2,027,000. We've essentially put a cap on the leave liability accrual accounts, an issue that's been a concern to successive governments.

We believe that the amounts identified are significant and certainly are enough to cover off any liability.

Mr. Ostashek: The minister said they put a cap on leave accrual. That has been an issue of contention by past governments. My understanding is that the Auditor General would not be in favour of that. Was the Auditor General consulted before the decision was made to put the cap on the leave accrual fund?

Hon. Mr. Harding: I am not sure if Finance actually consulted. I can check for the member opposite on that. Certainly, in the decision, there were deliberations about the position of the Auditor General - the potential position he might take - so I would assume there was some discussion or at least some rationalization of their position. I can bring the member back a specific answer.

The PSC minister did not, but I think that the officials of the Department of Finance have had some discussions about it.

Mr. Ostashek: I appreciate that, but I didn't realize that when we were in the Finance debate the leave accrual fund was going to be capped. I don't think that indication was given to us. This is the first I've heard of it. I'm not saying that I'm against it by any means. I was looking to cap it at about $15 million, but we do know that the Auditor General is going to frown upon it and will probably note it in every budget that he audits after that.

I just wanted to know if there had been any correspondence with the Auditor General and had there been any resolution or any agreement as to how it would be handled. I would appreciate the information from the minister.

On Activity

On Employee Leave and Termination Benefits Adjustment

Employee Leave and Termination Benefits Adjustment in the amount of $2,265,000 agreed to

Employee Leave and Termination Benefits Adjustment in the amount of $2,265,000 agreed to

On Staff Development

Chair: Is there general debate? Clear.

On Activities

On Administration

Administration in the amount of $1,513,000 agreed to

On Employment Equity/Land Claims Training

Employment Equity/Land Claims Training in the amount of $250,000 agreed to

Chair: Are there questions on the statistics? Clear?

Staff Development in the amount of $1,763,000 agreed to

Chair: Are there questions on the recoveries? Clear.

Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Public Service Commission in the amount of $9,611,000 agreed to

On Capital Expenditures

Chair: We will go to capital expenditures. Is there general debate?

Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, could I just ask the minister for a note of explanation about this, please?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, the member is referring obviously to the reduction and it's a reduction because there were some upgrades that were done that have been completed and so that's why it's been cut back. We've cut back some 25 percent on all purchases of furniture, equipment and systems, much to the chagrin of some people in government, but I think necessarily. We would have liked to make more cutbacks, but some of the systems are phased in over two or three years and if you would have cancelled them all, it would have been a penny-wise, pound-foolish move because the investment previously made wouldn't have borne any fruit.

The specific items identified are computer workstations, two printers and a computer and a presentation unit. The office furniture is a desk, file cabinet, chairs. There is replacement of a fax machine, replacement of a photocopier and $10,000 for other miscellaneous assets, training videos and other small assets. So, that's the breakdown from $100,000.

The major reduction was with regard to the computer workstations. Last year there was $180,000 spent on computer workstations. This year there is approximately $25,000 that will be spent on those workstations.

On Finance and Administration

Chair: Finance and Administration, page 10-2. Is there general debate? Clear.

On Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space

Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space in the amount of $68,000 agreed to

Capital Expenditures for Public Service Commission in the amount of $68,000 agreed to

Public Service Commission agreed to

Chair: We will now go to Department of Renewable Resources.

Department of Renewable Resources

Chair: Is it the members' wish to take a brief recess?

Some Hon. Members: Disagree.

Chair: Is there general debate?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The proposed expenditures for the Department of Renewable Resources call for a marginal increase of less than one percent from our 1996-1997 forecast, and call for just over $15 million to be spent in the coming fiscal year.

Of this amount, $13.4 million will go toward operating and maintenance expenses and the remaining $1.6 million will go to capital programs.

At the same time, we will be adding an equivalent of 5.7 full-time positions to meet our expanded program delivery obligations in areas related to land claims implementation, habitat protection, wildlife management and environmental protection.

Mr. Chair, I would like to take a few minutes to look at the department's new or expanded initiatives, its public consultation and public participation initiatives and its evolving roles and responsibilities and partnerships. I'd like to touch briefly on where we have been and where we are going.

Many people today think of the department as the game branch and they have no reason to think that the game branch does anything more than issue hunting licences and go after the bad guys.

Today, though, the department is more than just the game branch, the sum of its parts touches virtually all Yukon people, places and things. If you have children in school they have probably learned about local wildlife through our school visits by conservation officers and biologists, the wildlife viewing program and Project Wild. We see a bright and promising future as we look to new and innovative ways of expanding wildlife viewing programs.

School children will also learn from visits by our agricultural branch staff, who provide information on gardening, composting and farm animals.

If you, your family and friends head out for the weekends, chances are you stayed at a campground maintained by the department or used a recreation trail developed by the department.

The future for special areas to visit and enjoy is also promising, as we move to a Yukon-wide protected areas strategy.

If you've looked at ways of recycling many of the items you use in your home, you know that you can go to your local recycling centre, helped in part and supported by the department. Today, we have helped more than 20 community groups establish recycling centres and receive funding from the Environment Act recycling fund.

I believe recycling has a positive future in the territory as we look to ways of expanding the current program. We have also coordinated a special waste removal program to help business and individuals safely dispose of home and workplace hazardous products. At the same time, the environmental protection branch is working with Raven Recycling and the City of Whitehorse to deliver a new education and awareness program to help people learn how they can reduce their volume of household hazardous waste entering the Yukon garbage dumps.

Developers and mining companies are aware of the department because of the recommendations we make regarding their proposals and the work of the habitat staff and biologists who recommend measures to protect wildlife and vegetation species as well as important habitat areas.

We believe that, working cooperatively with industry, we can help promote the use and adoption of environmentally safe practices while maintaining the territory's vital diversity and encouraging sustainable development.

We believe that the majority of Yukon people value the territory's wildlife, whether they depend on it for subsistence purposes, for hunting, or simply wish to experience the wonder of nature.

We see a very positive future in which all Yukon people have a direct say in the steps we need to take to ensure that wildlife resources are here for future generations.

A new approach to wildlife and habitat management - the manner and methods used by the department to deliver its wildlife management programs are also evolving. The days in which we relied on one person and one section of the branch to provide all the answers is no longer practical in the complex and ever-changing environment in which many factors will influence decision making and outcomes. The days in which we relied on a species-specific biologist to provide all the answers are giving way to a new team approach in which a network of regional biologists complement and support the work of the specialists, who are moving to a much broader team approach to wildlife and habitat management - an approach that combines scientific knowledge with local and traditional knowledge, and recognizes the wide range of values that people associate with the Yukon renewable resources.

We are working to develop effective working partnerships with renewable resource councils and the Fish and Wildlife Management Board.

In the months and years ahead, the department will be placing more emphasis on community-based ecosystem management and continuing work with the Kaska Dena people of Ross River to determine how we can best manage fish and wildlife resources on traditional lands is a case in point. The positive result of that initiative is now expected to lead to a similar process with Liard First Nation.

Internally, we have established an interdepartmental working group to deal with wildlife habitat protection measures. This group will deliver new strategies that deal with habitat protection in relation to land claims agreements, the development assessment process and federal jurisdictions.

The department has allocated new financial and staffing resources within its geographic information systems unit to meet the increased information demands for community-based habitat protection planning, land use planning, environmental assessment, resource planning, the development of protected areas and information required for land claims negotiations and implementation.

We are almost doubling our financial commitment to the wildlife viewing program, and we will be identifying new wildlife viewing and nature appreciation opportunities in Whitehorse and Yukon-wide.

Our ability to offer technical support to renewable resource councils and to facilitate community-based fish and wildlife management programs will be enhanced by the recruitment of a regional biologist for the southern lakes and Northern Tutchone areas. They will join the team of regional biologists presently working out of Watson Lake, Haines Junction and Dawson City.

We are enhancing our ability to assist the Fish and Wildlife Management Board and renewable resource councils by establishing a full-time position to assist these organizations.

New approaches to wildlife travel - the conservation officers of the field services branch will be increasing their presence on Yukon rivers and in remote areas in response to public concerns for the impact that the increased popularity of wilderness and river travel may be having on our environment. Our parks and field services branch will jointly undertake regular patrols down the more popular Yukon rivers this summer to monitor traffic, educate travellers and enforce the Wildlife Act.

The department is also continuing its involvement with Tourism Yukon in the development of a wilderness tourism licensing act. This proposed legislation requested by the wilderness operators will provide quality assurance to the wilderness tourism marketplace while helping to sustain the wilderness quality of Yukon lands and waters. The department has also published a new brochure to inform and educate visitors and wilderness travellers about our laws and expectations when out on the land. A German-language version is in production, and French will follow.

Developing the park system plan - this year, the department is doubling its financial commitment to the territorial parks system plan in support of our work on the protected-areas strategy. Our goal is ensuring protection for representative examples of all 23 Yukon ecoregions.

A keystone in the government's commitment to parks was our commitment to a 2,300 square kilometre study area at Tombstone Territorial Park. In addition, we are seeking an interim withdrawal of a total of 720 square kilometres from mineral staking in order to facilitate the establishment of proposed parks boundaries.

We are substantially increasing our budget for a comprehensive resource assessment process to provide land use decision makers with assessments of recreational, archaeological and natural valleys of potential park areas identified in the park system plan.

Our current year's budget provides increased resources for improvement and enhancement of territory-wide outdoor recreational facilities, in accordance with the outdoor system recreation plan, along with a strategic plan to develop a Yukon-wide system of natural trails.

Environmental protection rules - the Environment Act regulations continue to demand our attention, and we are adding an environmental engineer position to our resources to support effective enforcement of regulations dealing with spills, storage tanks and contaminated sites.

Draft emissions regulations will be released for public comments soon, and we will also be going to the public this year to determine if the beverage container regulations should be changed. Work continues on the proposed solid waste regulations schedule for the 1998-99 fiscal year. We anticipate an increased workload in environmental assessment programs because of federal changes to the Quartz Mining Act and Placer Mining Act, which will regulate land use practices on mining claims.

When the mining land use regulations come into effect, we expect to screen an additional 400 to 600 licence permits and approvals a year.

Agricultural changes - positive strides continue to be made in developing the Yukon's agricultural base and promoting the market of locally produced products. Work continues on discussions intended to lead to the establishment of a small scale abattoir service to make locally raised meats more available to Yukon consumers.

At the same time, a major review of the 1992 agricultural policy will be conducted this year. After five years of operation under the policy, it's time to assess how well the policy has worked, and whether or not agricultural land dispositions made under the policy have led to a corresponding increase in agricultural productivity. We want to hear from the public as part of that review.

Developing new partnerships: new partnerships are critical to the development and delivery of new initiatives. To that end, we have assigned staff and financial resources to assist the Development Assessment and Forest Commissions. Our staff also regularly works in partnership with the First Nations, RRCs, Fish and Wildlife Board, and non-government organizations to deliver programs and initiatives which are important to them; the department and the people in wildlife who benefit from them.

Very little of what the department does can be undertaken alone. From wildlife management planning to the review of the Greater Kluane land use plan, and from the development of wilderness tourism legislation to the delivery of trapper training, we rely on our partners.

Public consultation initiatives - we will also be embarking on a multitude of initiatives in which we will seek the views and advice of a cross-section of the Yukon public. These initiatives will range from developing solid waste regulations to government and management of garbage dumps to consultation with stakeholders and First Nations on wildlife and fishery issues related to mining and land use permits. We will be consulting with the agricultural industry and the public as we proceed on phase 2 of the evaluation of the current agricultural policy during this fiscal year. We will be developing Yukon-wide guidelines in consultation with First Nations, the Fish and Wildlife Management Board, renewable resource councils and users to develop a consistent approach to wildlife harvest management decisions and equitable access to wildlife resources for harvesters and non-consumptive users.

We'll be consulting with First Nations boards and councils as well as off-road recreational users and dealers to develop and manage guidelines, which consider the impact of off-road recreational vehicles on wildlife and habitat.

We will be seeking the public's view on the proposed heritage river status for the Yukon portion of the Tatshenshini River and have put the management plan, which has been developed for the Bonnet Plume River, out for public review.

In cooperation with the Fish and Wildlife Management Board, and in consultation with stakeholders and interest groups, we will be developing an endangered species management strategy. One of the most significant and major undertakings for this department in the coming months will be the work to develop a Yukon protected areas strategy.

Protected area strategies are not new. One is being developed in the Northwest Territories, and the Provinces of Alberta and British Columbia have protected area strategies, which are now being implemented. We see the public participation in the Yukon protected area strategy process as a major initiative requiring the active involvement of a number of partners.

Key among these are the Government of Canada and First Nation governments with whom we are working on a government-to-government basis.

The Renewable Resources department is currently working with many other organizations to facilitate and develop the strategy. Staff are working with intergovernmental and interdepartmental committees as well as with a wide range of non-government organizations to ensure a high level of public participation in the process.

The goal of the strategy is to provide a coordinated and effective approach in establishing protected areas, and to gain support from both conservation organizations and industry groups for the guidelines established.

We believe that protected areas are essential to the survival of Yukon's diverse ecological regions and can provide improved certainty for mining, tourism and the forest industry.

These are exciting times for the department. Staff are working hard with a real sense of purpose and I look forward to briefing all members about the excellent work carried out by the department and its employees as we go through this year's estimates.

Mr. Ostashek: I thank the minister for his statement. It does give rise to many questions that we'll need to pursue and explore so we have a better understanding of where the department's going.

The member, in his speech to the Legislature, laid out a bureaucratic process of so many boards and committees and consultation groups and interdepartmental groups that I'm afraid the poor salmon won't know whether it's swimming upstream or downstream or whether it requires a permit to do it. The minister is going to have to be very vigilant in how we move through this process so that we don't put a process in place that's going to have a detrimental effect on the Yukon as we move forward into the new millennium.

While this party supports a protected area strategy, I would just caution the minister that he doesn't put too much faith in the one that was put together in British Columbia, because it drove almost all industry out of British Columbia by doing it. The lumber industry is in dire straits, as is the mining industry, and it has done nothing for the economy of British Columbia except to pull it downhill. There is a way to do this and there is a way to do it where it won't have that type of an impact on economic expansion in the Yukon, which I don't need to tell the minister the Yukon dearly needs at this time if we're going to maintain the lifestyle that Yukoners are accustomed to.

The minister spoke of a number of new positions that have been created within the department, and that causes me some concern. Rather than my standing here and giving a big speech, I think it would be better if I explore these issues one at a time so that we can get a better understanding.

I want to start with the new positions that have been created in the department. Have they been filled from within or are they new positions? Have we increased the number of staff in the Department of Renewable Resources? Could the minister inform the House as to how many new positions have been created and whether this was new staff that was hired to the department?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: First of all, in regard to the process of using all the different boards and councils, many of these are reflected through the land claims agreements. We will honour them in the way we do things. I do feel that it is a very good way of having information flow from communities to government.

In regard to the positions that I said we were creating, 5.7 are new positions, and at this point none have been filled.

Mr. Ostashek: What's the total complement of staff at Renewable Resources now?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I believe that it's close to 147 people, but I can bring more accurate figures for the member.

Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Chair, even if we round it off at 150, with five, almost six, new positions, this is a substantial increase in staff in one budget. Are these positions all permanent positions, or are some of them going to disappear as we progress? Could the minister give me a breakdown on that?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, the 5.7 positions are all permanent positions, except in habitat management. That is a half-time position.

Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Chair, I'm concerned that we have that type of growth in the department in one budget year. These are new positions that are being filled. That means there is additional payroll. There is ongoing cost to the department every year. It's not a one-time cost. The operation and maintenance of this department is going to continue to grow and grow.

While I appreciate that the department is doing more things now, when I look back over my time in the Yukon, and I look back at the number of people in the department in 1980, when we had a larger population in the Yukon than it is today, I think that we're going to have to take a serious look at how government does business. There's a tremendous cost involved if we have expansion and growth in the department at that rate.

The minister spoke of regional biologists, and I agree with the philosophy and the concept of having regional biologists that are responsible for all of the wildlife in an area and live in the area and can talk to residents in the area on an ongoing basis, but I need a clarification from the minister. Are we going to continue this process with regional biologists in all regions of the Yukon, and is this going to be offset by a reduction in biologists in Whitehorse where they are not required?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Certainly with the demands out there in the public for new initiatives, this department definitely needs to grow, and that's why some of these new positions are reflected in here. For example, in protected areas we will be using a lot of our internal staff to work on this, although we would need a person working on the geographic information system.

I would also like to let the member know that in regard to the biologists, these are two new positions that now cover all of the Yukon, and there won't be any reduction in the biologists in the Whitehorse area.

Mr. Ostashek: Well, I'm concerned about that, Mr. Chair, because we just heard the minister stand up and give us a big speech that we're going to move away from specialists in the field of biology and we're going to have more consultation and more community input into how we look after wildlife in the Yukon, and I fully agree with that. But I really don't understand why we need a whole building full of biologists in the City of Whitehorse and then hire more biologists out in the communities. I think that's overkill, and I don't know what it's going to do for wildlife management in the Yukon.

We should be listening more - and I agree with the member - to the First Nations and the input that they have to put in there. The people that make their livelihood in the bush can give the biological branch a lot of information and something that hasn't been paid much attention to over the years, but I really have difficulty when we're going to be hiring more biologists and still have a bunch of biologists sitting in Whitehorse here to manage our wildlife.

I just think that's overkill, and I just put that on the record for the minister to consider as he moves forward, because if I felt there was a need for it, I would be very supportive of the minister doing this, but I believe that we have more than enough biologists on staff now.

What we need is a reallocation of those biologists to different areas of the Yukon, and not all operating out of the City of Whitehorse. That has been one of my pet peeves with the Department of Renewable Resources for many, many years.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Ostashek: Well, I hear the Member for Whitehorse West laughing, but it would be like having 100 teachers in Beaver Creek commuting to Whitehorse to do their job, and that's what we have with the biologists. So, I just put it on the public record that this party is not very supportive of that.

I'd like to move on to the protected area strategy. I believe the minister said there are 23 ecoregions in the Yukon. I believe six now have some protection. Is it the intention of this government to protect the representation of all 23 ecoregions in the Yukon?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, we do want to have representation of all 23 ecoregions. It's not by ourselves. It's with the help of the Northwest Territories and B.C.

In regard to the overkill which the member had brought up, as you know, we're moving along through the land claims agreements. There is a tremendous amount of demand for biologists out there right now. We're trying to correct this in the Mayo area. We do have a biologist that does work on the North Slope, who has done a lot of work in Mayo and doesn't really have the time to do that. We want to try and ensure that the technical work can be done in these areas.

Mr. Ostashek: I just want the minister to know that I'm very supportive of him putting biologists out in the regions. I don't have any difficulty with that at all, but I can assure the minister that when he comes back with his next budget after these positions are filled, I'm going to be asking him to justify the biologist he has in Whitehorse, as well, because I believe that this is a duplication of what we're doing now. I have no difficulty with the biologists being out in the regions. That's the way it's done in every other jurisdiction in Canada, almost, that they have regional biologists that are responsible for all wildlife.

We not only have biologists. Now we're putting more biologists out there. We have the regional resource councils, which are responsible for wildlife in the area, as well, and they need the coordination of biologists working with them. I'm very supportive of the minister putting them out into the areas. I'm not supportive of having an equal number sitting in the Renewable Resources building in Whitehorse. That's where I have the difference of opinion with the minister on that move.

On the protected area strategy, what is the total percentage of the Yukon? What's the policy of this new NDP government? What percentage of the Yukon do they see protected after the protected area strategy is completed?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Our government is not going to be putting on a percentage like some of the provinces have. We feel that we would like to work on the broader base of ecosystem management - ecoregion management - and, we do feel that the 23 ecoregions should be covered off and not have it tied to a number, because I do feel that in the regions the percentages could change from one region to another.

Mr. Ostashek: I'm not asking about the size of each one, I'm asking about the total percentage that's going to be in protected areas. What's the policy of this government?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I did say that we are not putting a percentage to it. Other provinces have held to 12 percent and we feel that we shouldn't be bound to that, and we're not going to work on that basis.

Mr. Ostashek: I'm sure that's going to make investors in the Yukon very, very happy to hear that. We could end up with 12 percent, we could end up with 20 percent, or we could end up with 50 percent of the Yukon in protected areas. I think it's incumbent upon this minister and this government to let Yukoners know what their target is - what they want to see at the end of the protected area strategy to be in a protected area.

What percentage of the Yukon is going to be granted park protection?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: In regard to protected areas, we're looking at different kinds of protection. Some may allow development and, certainly with that, I do believe that if we were held - like the Province of B.C. - to 12 percent, we would be hurting ourselves by doing that.

They are now at nine percent and they've only got the southern part of B.C. covered and I don't want to be held with that position. Maybe we will go to 13 percent or 15 percent. I don't believe that we're going to have anything close to 50 percent.

Mr. Ostashek: Is the minister saying then that they are looking at the concept of multi-use parks?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We will have territorial parks that don't have development on them. We will have other areas such as habitat protection and so on that could possibly have some sort of development on them - things like heritage rivers and so on that may allow logging and forestry and so on.

Mr. Ostashek: I'm trying to get it clear from the minister here on policy on protected area strategy. Is the minister saying to me today that the protected area strategy will include heritage rivers, game sanctuaries, areas that have limited protection, McArthur Game Sanctuary, Kluane Game Sanctuary - are all of these areas going to be included in the total package of the protected area strategy, or are we talking about a 12-percent target in the Yukon over and above the areas that have, in some areas, quite a bit of protection now.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, we will be including most of those. In the percentage, also, will be those that have gone through the land claims process as special management areas.

Mr. Ostashek: I thank the member for that. While I'm still on the subject of protected areas, Kluane National Park takes up 8,000 square miles of the Yukon and we also have a national park in the northern Yukon that takes up a substantial land mass. Are these being included in the total protected area strategy or is the protected area strategy going to be a percentage of the Yukon over and above those national parks?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We feel that these national parks are a form of protected areas that are similar to what we want and they will be part of the overall percentages.

Mr. Ostashek: Well, I'm pleased to hear that, because that certainly wasn't the position of the NDP when they were in Opposition on this side of the House.

The Member for Faro says it's not true. On April 24th, 1996, Trevor Harding made the following comment, "Anyway, it's always possible to improve on the D or F grade. One just has to start designating parks and saying that we will not treat all kinds of multi-use parks that do not qualify under the definition of Endangered Spaces 2000."

Mr. Chair, yes, absolutely. Well, it doesn't surprise me from that member on the flip-flops that he can take responsibility for since before the election and now, but at least this is one in the right direction, where we may be able to have some development in the Yukon.

Mr. Chair, I want to move on. Is the workplan complete for the protected areas strategy? I'm not sure if the minister has tabled one yet or not, or is he going to be tabling one?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We will be continuing to put a plan in place to develop this strategy. We do have a major workshop scheduled for the end of May which resource councils, industry and all the affected people will be attending.

Mr. Ostashek: But the department is not working on a workplan that is going to give us dates, time lines and some targets. Can we get a copy of that workplan?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: What we have done within the department is put together a draft workplan that would be discussed at the workshop, and hopefully some direction will be coming out of that so that in a year's time we do have the strategy put in place.

Mr. Ostashek: Is the minister saying we're going to have the protected areas strategy in place in a year or we're going to have the workplan in place in a year?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The strategy certainly will be completed by this time next year, although we would not have identified all of the protected areas that we feel are necessary. Some of this would go on for a bit longer.

Mr. Ostashek: I thank the minister for that, and I appreciate that, but could I get a copy of the workplan, when you have the workplan, for what you're going to have completed in the next year? That's what I'm looking for. Can the minister give me that commitment?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: As I said earlier, we do have a draft workplan that's going to be coming forward to this meeting that we're having at the end of this month and, at that point, we can give the member that draft workplan to look at.

Mr. Ostashek: That's what I was looking for. The member said he was going to be discussing it at the end of the month, and I would appreciate receiving a copy after that so we can monitor his department and see how they are progressing with their workplan.

I have a couple more questions right now, then I'll let some of my colleagues jump in. I'll have more later.

Does the minister have someone designated in the Department of Renewable Resources to coordinate the work between his department and the commissions - the DAP Commission and the Forest Commission? Is there a person within the Department of Renewable Resources who has been delegated that responsibility?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We have one person that has been assigned over to the Forest Commission and another who spends approximately 60 percent of their time in the DAP Commission. We also have our ADM that spends a bit of time with them, along with the director of policy.

Mr. Ostashek: I appreciate that. I know you have people that have been seconded to the commissions and you have people working in the commissions. I want to know if there is anybody in the department that's responsible for the coordination of the work within the department in conjunction with the Forest Commission and the DAP Commission. Is there a certain person, and who is that person?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Like I said, we do have people working with the commissions but we don't have a person directly involved in coordinating these commissions.

Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I'd like to begin my questions in general debate by thanking the departmental officials for the briefing they provided. The technical briefing and the follow-up that the department has sent me have answered a great many of my questions and I appreciate their attention to detail, so I'd just like to thank the department officials, through the minister, for that.

I do have a few questions. A number of them are simply requests for information that the minister can indicate he'll send me at a later date.

First of all, just a general comment. In the budget highlights, under finance and administration, there seems to be a bit of a delay with this department. For example, in financial services it says the department will be implementing direct entry into accounts payable in order to speed up processing of invoices. This strikes me as pretty basic accounting and catching up with some of the human resources unit and so on. The department seems to be a little bit far behind and I'm curious. Perhaps the minister could respond to that. I think there has been a long-held view that Renewable Resources, not through any malicious intent, seems to be a bit of a neglected department.

Would the minister just respond as to the catch-up that's required in this area?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Over the past couple of years, the department has been trying to catch up with this technology, and because of the department being spread out, it makes it a bit difficult. We're trying to integrate and link up with the government-wide computers.

Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I'd like to move into the personnel area, if I could, a little bit, and the Member for Porter Creek North has touched on this a little bit, as did the minister in his opening remarks.

There is an indication that there are two additional positions in the regional fish and wildlife biologists positions. I'm not clear exactly where those positions are going to be stationed. Where will the biologists actually be?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The one biologist for the southern lakes will be based out of Whitehorse, although they will be spending most of their time in Carcross and Teslin. The other one could possibly go to Mayo. We're not quite sure yet on that. It could be between one of the three communities.

Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I'd just like to talk about some of the positions in Renewable Resources for a moment.

They are much sought after positions - the conservation officers and biologist positions. People seem to become ensconced in these positions. They are in Teslin; they are in Teslin; they are in Teslin for so many years and on and on and on. Could the minister just enlighten me as to the policy in terms of the rotation of conservation officers and biologists throughout the Yukon, please?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: In regard to the rotation, we don't have a policy in place for that, although I do think that is something that we need to think about.

Ms. Duncan: I would appreciate it if the minister would give it some thought in terms of staffing. I think it's a useful policy and it bodes well for the administration of the department.

There's a note in the briefing notes that there's a Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development position that's being seconded to deal with the contaminated sites and spills regulations. I appreciate the Yukon government borrowing the expertise; however, I'm concerned that once a position is actually established that we're going to be in a position of having an individual competing for a job and an untenable personnel situation. What safeguards have we put in place with respect to this issue?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, we will hopefully be filling that position. We have asked for this expertise to come over and deal with the regulations that we have passed for now. It may not be that person who fills that position.

Ms. Duncan: That's exactly my point, that we've seconded a position from DIAND and we may then place this person in the untenable person of competing for the job that they've been filling and other people competing with the person who's been doing the job for six months to try and get the job. I'm just concerned about that - that we're presenting a level playing field for the future. Could the minister address that concern, please?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Certainly, there's going to be, once this position does come back up, a level playing field.

Right now, I guess one of the reasons for this is that we haven't really been able to identify a person in Yukon to fill this position.

Ms. Duncan: Also in the technical briefing, we were advised that there was a reduction in casuals and a reduction in the auxiliaries that are being hired by department this year. There's also a reduction in contract services. Could the minister elaborate on that? I'm particularly interested in the reduction of casual and auxiliary employees.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Certainly I can come back to the member on the casuals and auxiliaries. In regard to contracts, it's just a matter of priority, and we wanted to concentrate most of our efforts in protected areas.

Ms. Duncan: There was some controversy this fall - and some criticism of the department - that too much money was being spent on big game, like caribou and moose, and not enough time on the smaller animals, the birds and rabbits. There are two additional biologists being hired by the department. I just wonder if the minister could use this opportunity to address that criticism.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, that has come to us. What we would like to do is try and change some of the focus that has been with the department and look at a broader approach to ecosystem management. Having biologists deal with the renewable resource councils and having them take into account First Nations and traditional knowledge would, hopefully, aid in this.

Ms. Duncan: I'd like to explore those closer links with renewable resource councils, management boards and the traditional information a little bit further with the minister. The Porcupine Caribou Management Board was looking at different rules with respect to addressing issues like habitat preservation, hunting and how the aboriginal cultures tied in to the herd.

Have the departmental officials heard from the Porcupine Caribou Management Board, and are they working with them in this respect?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: As the member knows, the renewable resources councils, developed through the land claims processes, are a primary instrument, I guess, for us to use. And the way it's supposed to work, I guess, is that information flows through them to the Fish and Wildlife Management Board, and also with the Porcupine Caribou Management Board. A lot of their direction is flowed through the Fish and Wildlife Management Board and recommendations come back to our department.

Ms. Duncan: The minister prefaced his remarks by saying, "as the member knows". The member is learning about these processes.

I wonder if the minister could provide me with the time frame. For example, the reports about the Porcupine Caribou Management Board indicated that they were looking at closing the Dempster Highway for a week each year. What's the time frame for that sort of information? How much lag is there between their recommendations to government, changes to regulations as they're required or legislative changes? What is the time frame?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Normally, I guess what happens is that the recommendations would go into the Fish and Wildlife Management Board and then, at that point, would go into public consultation. If it is approved, it's reflected in the hunting regulations.

Ms. Duncan: What I'm understanding the minister to say is that there could be quite a time lag between the recommendations and the actual changes to regulations.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes. There is a fairly long, I guess, wait, in that regard. It could take up to six or eight months to do.

Ms. Duncan: I'm going through all these news reports, and there's just a tremendous amount of these issues. There's talk about changing the hunting season for wolves, there's talk about the sports fishing regulations that went before the Alsek Renewable Resources Council and any number of these.

What steps is the department taking or could it take to speed this process up? Six to eight months is quite a lengthy time frame for recommendations to be turned into regulations. What could they do to speed this up?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I guess it depends on what the issue is. The department, I guess, will have to weigh how fast they would like to see the change. We can make recommendations to the Fish and Wildlife Management Board to deal with it right away. They are backlogged quite a long way back with a number of different issues, but it depends, I guess, on the importance and the severity of the issue. Government can put interim measures in place - interim protection or whatnot. Again, not everybody would know the regulations to that and that's why we like to see it reflected through brochures and licences and that.

Ms. Duncan: So, Mr. Chair, just one example and then I'd like to leave this issue. The tourism groups, wilderness tourism businesses and the Yukon Fish and Game Association wanted the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board to adopt and implement tough rules for tourist hunting. What I hear the minister saying is that it's unlikely that that request would happen in time for this year's tourist season; it's likely going to be next year's.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, Mr. Chair, the member is right, although we would be doing this through education and through brochures and all that, but I must say that not all of the tourism business is in agreement with that.

Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I'd like to address a few questions about campgrounds to the minister and about the cost of the campgrounds. We have identified in the budget briefing $215,000 in revenue and I don't see the costs separated out anywhere, and perhaps I've missed this. What is the cost of maintaining Yukon campgrounds - and I'm excluding capital costs that we do each year in terms of ongoing repairs - the actual cost of people collecting fees, firewood, et cetera?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We couldn't find the numbers here. I'll have to get back to the member on that.

Ms. Duncan: That's fine and, with some of these other requests, if the minister wants to get back to me, that's fine on those as well.

Could I ask that perhaps, when the minister does respond, in terms of the costs, could he also indicate if the department is exploring better methods for the collection of campground fees? There seems to be a lot of slippage and I'd like to know if there's any exploration of better collection methods.

I'd also like to ask the minister - and I'm going to assume this will require quite a technical response, but perhaps he may be aware of it - I've been asked by one of my constituents to ask why our campgrounds are so far from the lakes? The best example that comes to my mind is Kathleen Lake, and I know that's not a Government of Yukon campground. Quiet Lake - the campground site there is actually quite far from the body of water. Why is that?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We do, I guess, have a fair number of campgrounds that are right close to the lake; for example, Fox Lake. One of the reasons might be that it's for sanitation purposes.

Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, fair enough. That answer will, I'm sure, satisfy the constituent that asked.

There was an issue with respect to security of our campgrounds after last summer's unfortunate incident, and there was some call for increased security in Yukon campgrounds. Has the department examined this issue, and what are they doing?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Certainly this is more of an issue in regard to campgrounds that are close to town. There are several things that have been tried and basically failed in the past, but we will have our conservation officers increase their presence in campgrounds.

Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, only 13 of our 50-some-odd campgrounds have what's known as Big Toy equipment. It's a type of playground equipment, and this type of playground equipment has to be used because it's the only one that carries liability insurance, so we can't even make a local-hire project out of it.

Could the minister advise if there is a game plan to ensure that, ultimately, 90 percent of Yukon campgrounds would have Big Toy equipment?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: It won't be in this year's budget, but this has come up to us in the past, and I guess it's something that we could look at. It's all going to come down to dollars and cents in the end, and if you notice that even in our budget this year in campgrounds, there is a dramatic cutback.

Ms. Duncan: Yes, I did notice that, and as a user of Yukon campgrounds, I was somewhat disappointed. Speaking of using them, can the minister provide an opening date for the campgrounds?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I do believe that most of them are opening now. I notice that the one in Carmacks, for example, is open, and they have a supply of wood and so on there.

Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, then anyone specifically planning for the long weekend should contact the department to find out if their specific campground is open as of yet. There is not a date set that says that they will all be open by - or there is; I see some nodding. Will they all be open by this weekend? Yes. Thank you.

I'd like to ask the minister a little bit about the territorial protected areas strategy and the parks.

I note that $96,000 was identified in support of the protected areas strategy. Could the minister provide me with details on how that money is being spent? Are we talking about personnel? Are we talking about production of documents? If we're talking about buying coffee and doughnuts for public meetings, that's a lot of doughnuts.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: As I have said earlier, much of this strategy is going to be having our staff in the department focus their energies on this. There is some money for consultation and the other one is the $80,000 for the GIS and one person being hired for that.

Ms. Duncan: I thank the minister for that response.

I noted that the department is assigning conservation officers to patrol Yukon rivers this summer, and I noted that the minister addressed this point as well.

There was some talk that the money that the Department of Community and Transportation Services budgets for highway clean-up be allocated for river clean-up, in terms of the riversides. This suggestion was made in the media and I'm not sure if anyone ever followed up with departmental officials.

Could the minister advise if Renewable Resources has thought of this or is following up on it?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Our department will not be doing that, but I do believe that C&TS will be doing some clean-up in May, and then again in September, on some of the major rivers - I think the Yukon and Big Salmon; I'm not quite sure about that.

In regard to a conservation officer, a term conservation officer is going to be showing their presence on the Big Salmon, Yukon River and Teslin River, basically to ensure that river travelers are acting within the laws that are out there and to get a sense of how travelers are traveling, whether they're going with guides and so on, and to take a bit of a survey as to what is out there.

One of the approaches that we may be taking, and we're going to be explaining this a bit, is to have something similar to the Tatshenshini River, where river travelers are registered so that we do know what's on the river and who's on the river at all times.

Ms. Duncan: This would sound like it's an enhancement of the program where traditionally, at the visitor information centres, we would always recommend to visitors that are planning to travel the river that they check in with the RCMP when they decide to leave and when they arrive. It sounds like an enhancement and more taken over by the Government of Yukon.

We are, of course, working in cooperation with the RCMP on this? Thank you. The minister has indicated yes.

The minister touched on the use of traditional knowledge in terms of Renewable Resources policy. I'd just like to ask - I did ask in Question Period but haven't received an answer - about the study of contaminants in country foods. Has that study been completed, and is it available?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I'll have to get back to the member about whether this study is completed. I'm not exactly sure who's doing it. I think it's the federal government that's doing it. I'm not sure.

Ms. Duncan: I'll send the minister over this news report, so he knows what I'm talking about, and if he could just advise on the status of that.

Could I have an update on the status of the game farming policy? It was an item of discussion under the previous administration. Does the current government have a position on game farming? Are they amending the policy, or what is their direction in this respect?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Basically, we're not making any changes this year. It's going to remain status quo.

Ms. Duncan: Just as a last point, could I ask the minister to go over what he had said about the agriculture policy developments? I missed that point in his preamble.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Presently, we have gone through phase 1 of the policy, and phase 2, which I'm trying to find here, should be completed this year. We have and will be involving the industry and the affected people in regard to agriculture involvement in the review. The department feels they will be finished this by the end of this year.

Ms. Duncan: I did have a couple of other questions, and I will be brief.

In the briefing notes, it indicates that over 400 to 600 new mining land use permits are issued, and all federal CEAA screenings are referred to Renewable Resources. I'm concerned. Can the minister assure me that we have dedicated the resources in Renewable Resources to deal with this sort of level of activity?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Part of the time the environmental engineer, which is a new position, will be dealing with these additional permits and so on and we will have additional training in regards to conservation officers and that, which will help out in this area.

Ms. Duncan: Can the minister provide me, by legislative return, an update on where we are with habitat protection for M'Clintock Bay?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, we will do that.

Ms. Duncan: There are a number of contributions made by this department to various non-government organizations. There are some contributions that are required under the UFA.

Could I have the minister's assurance that these non-government organizations are being linked in with the NGO funding policy being developed by this government?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes. All of these NGOs that we are presently funding right now would be tied in with this new policy.

Mr. Phillips: I have a couple of questions for the minister. Just to go back to game farming for a minute, can the minister tell me if there have been any escapes or health problems with the game farm animals in the territory that he's aware of?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: From the time we've been in government, and probably over the last little while, we are not aware of any breakouts, diseases or escapes of animals.

Mr. Phillips: Thank you, Mr. Chair. When the member's party was in Opposition, they were extremely critical of game farming. The critic's greatest concern was the issue of escapes and health problems. I know that there were no major escapes or health problems for the four years we were in government, and it appears, by the minister's answer, that there are none today.

The minister mentioned about no planned changes for the next year. Is the minister aware of the importance of the game farming industry to the Yukon economy at the present time?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Certainly I do recognize that it is an industry that's out there wanting to grow. I do recognize that there is some importance to this. Our position is not to be abolishing game farming. There are concerns that have come up with First Nations in regard to animals that are planted here taking over. One of the concerns is with the elk and so on. I haven't got deep enough into this to give proper answers to them, but I certainly want to be able to find out more on game farming. I realize that the elk are basically let loose right now, and so are the buffalo, but there is increasing demand to continue game farming and it is important. There are a lot of people who want to do it, and we haven't said that we'd be changing anything in that regard this year.

Mr. Phillips: I hope the minister is aware that all of the Yukon game farmers are Yukon residents and that it's probably the healthiest segment of our agricultural industry in the territory at the present time. Of exportable materials, other than mining, it's probably one of the largest exports the Yukon has at the present time. There are hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions of dollars, of animals being shipped to other jurisdictions from our game farmers on an annual basis. Not only are the owners of the game farms local but my understanding is that they hire all local people. So it is really a Yukon industry.

I would like to try and get from the minister a little more than a 12-month commitment. I know there are a lot of game farmers out there who are very concerned about what was said in this house before by other members who are now ministers in that government, and those people have a very extensive investment, a very large investment, in their game farming and want to know that there's a little more security than 12 months.

Can the minister tell us that he feels game farming and existing game farmers that are here are here to stay and that he has no plans whatsoever, this year or in this term, of changing any of that?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I guess it's difficult for me right now to make any kind of a commitment as to where government is going to sit in regard to game farming. I can say that what we have right now more than likely would remain here, but we will continue to be monitoring this, and we would like to get more information and feedback from the rest of Yukoners on this, and maybe, over the next year, this would become more of an issue that we can spend time on.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I don't want to take up a lot of time of the House, but I do want to get more of a commitment from the minister to the game-farming industry than a comment of "more than likely" they'll be around after the next year.

I think the game farmers deserve more than that. There are a lot of people employed in the game farming industry in the territory, from veterinarians to handlers to other people to shippers to truckers, who are all Yukoners. I just want to get assurances from the minister that the game farming industry and the existing game farmers will be supported, totally, by this government in their term of office.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: At this point in time, we have no plans to make changes in getting rid of them or whatnot. I do believe that they will be here. I can't say, I guess, too much more than the fact that we have no plans to make major changes to get rid of them at this point in time.

Mr. Phillips: Well, "more than likely" and "at this point in time" aren't very comforting words for someone who has hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in an industry. I think what they would like to hear from the minister is that the minister would give them an absolute guarantee that he contemplates they will be making no changes in their status in his term of office. I'm not asking the minister to be granting other licences or other things. I'm talking about the existing licences that are out there now and that this minister will be making no changes whatsoever in their term to the existing operators in the game farming industry.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Like I said earlier, we have no plans in making these changes, and I can't say that we would in two years. I don't believe that we are going to be putting people out of work. It's not part of our game plan at all. We still would like to see those that are successful out there that are willing to try to do something for themselves to continue to do that. We have not planned to make any changes at all.

Mr. Phillips: Now, we are making progress - not likely, and now we've got it down to two years. What I want from the minister is a four-year commitment - the mandate - that in this mandate, the minister will not be making any changes which will affect in a negative way the existing game farmers. That's all I'm asking. This isn't a real strong commitment. There were some strong statements on the other side about how terrible game farming was for the territory, and the game farmers are concerned about their future. All they want to know is that this government will not be making any changes which will affect their future as existing game farmers.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: It is an important issue to the member opposite, as it is to many, many Yukoners. We have not been given a big mandate, even through the election, to make changes, and at this time I can say to the member that we won't be making any changes.

If, for example, this is raised as a major issue among Yukoners in the next year, and there's an outbreak of some type of disease that really demands that our department look closely at this, then we'd have to do some sort of review and look at it a bit more closely. But in comfort to the people out there, we're not changing anything.

This is a year's budget and we haven't looked at this problem - or area, I guess - closely enough to say that there are going to be major changes over the four years. We haven't said that and it's not in our plans at this time.

Mr. Phillips: The reason that I wanted to get it on the record is, in Opposition, they were very critical of game farming, and as we all know by actions of our closest neighbour in British Columbia, NDP governments are prone to say one thing and do another.

So, I wanted to make sure that I got it on the record that this minister supports the existing game farms that are there and plans to do nothing for the next four years which will affect those game farms.

I fully expect the minister to react to disease and problems that might arise; that's part of the minister's job. I'm talking about what's been happening for the past four or five years, or seven or eight years actually, in game farming in the territory, and how it has created a lot of Yukon jobs. They're all Yukon families. They ship their animals south and they spend their money back here in the Yukon afterwards. They hire Yukoners and it's good for our economy.

I just want a commitment from the minister that he supports that type of economic development.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Certainly, Mr. Chair, we do support anybody who's going out there and creating employment for themselves. This is one area that has grown fairly big over the past years. Right now, I can say that we can and will consult with industry on this. Maybe there are changes they would like to see. We don't know that yet. We won't be doing it this year, though. We don't want to be handcuffing ourselves on policy, and we may even have a different question from the member across the way in a year or two. I don't know.

I don't think that we should be putting ourselves in that position at this time.

Chair: As it's 4:30 p.m., is it the wish of the members to take a short recess?

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Chair: Ten minutes.


Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.

Motion to extend sitting hours

Hon. Mr. Harding: I move

THAT Committee of the Whole and the Assembly be empowered to sit beyond 5:30 p.m. today for the purpose of completing consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bill No. 4, First Appropriation Act, 1997-98; for permitting the House to consider third reading of the same bill; and for receiving the Commissioner to give assent to the same bill.

Chair: Are you agreed?

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Motion agreed to

Chair: Is there any further general debate?

Mr. Cable: On the issue of game farming, which was addressed just before the break, the minister indicated that he had no present intention of reducing the policy. Does he have any intention of extending the policy? The policy relates now to muskox, elk and bison. Does he have any intention of extending the policy to include other indigenous animals like goats and sheep?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: This year we have no intention of doing that. What we did say earlier was that we would consult with the industry and affected people to see how they would like this to continue and how government should approach this.

Mr. Cable: Then I take it that one of the areas of consultation will involve the extension of the ambit of policy to possibly include other animals.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, that's true.

Mr. Cable: Now, I gather there were three or four game farms licensed under the act at the present time, but that it's difficult, if not impossible, for someone else to get a licence. What is the minister's policy on the extension of licensing of game farms?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We don't have any of the briefing notes here with us on that. I will have to get back to the member on that.

Mr. Cable: I gather those people who are opposed to game farming rest their case on two areas: one is disease and the other is genetic pollution. In that the animals, I believe, that are in captivity here in the Yukon are from wild sources, is there any problem with genetic pollution?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: At this time, I cannot give the member an answer. I haven't heard of or been aware of any.

Mr. Cable: Perhaps the minister, if he would, could give me a written answer to that question. The question, to be more precise: does the minister see that there is any problem with genetic pollution in relation to the wild animals now in captivity?

The minister answered a few questions during Question Period on the abattoir. He had indicated that he was looking at putting the abattoir out for a proposal call, but he hadn't made his mind up on that, as yet. Can he advise us today whether he has, in fact, made his mind up to put the project out for proposals?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, I did answer that question previously. I did say that it has gone through Management Board and that we had given direction to the department to look at these submissions in detail. That's where it's at now.

Mr. Cable: I had the feeling that the minister perhaps wasn't appreciating what I was asking him. Originally, the project was put out for expressions of interest. Then, when the expressions of interest came in, I gather the minister was going to make a decision as to whether the project would be put out for proposal calls. I gather it's that latter decision and that latter step that has not, as yet, been taken.

The question I'm asking him is this: has he, as yet, reached a conclusion as to whether it will be put out for proposal calls?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, we will be. It will then come back to Management Board for review before it goes out again.

Mr. Cable: Just to take us back to game farming for a moment, then, will the use of the abattoir for game animals - the bison, elk or muskox - be part of the considerations that are to be thought about by the minister for the abattoir proposal - the use of the abattoir to butcher those animals for the meat market?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We would, I guess, ask the successful person who would be building - or could be building - this abattoir to see if they could include these animals.

Mr. Cable: One last question on game farming. I gather that the use of the horns has become a very lucrative by-product with respect to game farming operations.

Has the minister any idea of what the size of this market is in round numbers, as to whether - the reason I'm asking is because it would seem to lend itself to the diversification strategy that this government has been pushing, if it has some financial or monetary significance to it.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, I don't know how big of an industry the sale of horns and antlers are, although I can try to pull some information together for him and bring it back in writing.

Mr. Ostashek: I'm concerned about some of the answers that the minister has given the House on game farming and I want to pursue that a little further, because I believe that there are many opportunities to expand our agricultural business through the avenue of game farming, and there are many Yukoners out there who believe the same thing.

I know that there are those who are against it, but I think it's important that Yukoners know what the policy of this government is pertaining to game farming. Could the minister tell us what the policy is of this government?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: One of the things that we have always said throughout our campaign is that we would have consultation with the public on any major changes that we are looking at.

With this one, I know that there are concerns out there and there are concerns with First Nations in regard to game farming. I realize that it is an industry that is very much working out there right now. I did say that we would go back and consult with people and see where they would like to see changes made; that is, not just the industry itself, but it has to involve all of the people in Yukon.

There are a lot of people who are not involved in the industry who certainly have a lot of concern about this and there are a lot of people out there that support this industry.

Mr. Ostashek: Well, I appreciate everything the minister has said and I don't disagree with him at all. What I want to know is this: does this NDP government have a policy on game farming? What is their policy today? If they don't have one, are they going to be developing one? That's what I want to know.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: What I have said is that we would not be changing anything this year. I did say that we would be looking into the matter and consulting with people on this to see where they want to see changes made or where they would like to see this industry go. Until that time, I don't think that we should be letting part of the Yukon public not be involved in what could be a major issue.

Mr. Ostashek: Maybe the minister isn't understanding what I'm saying. I'm not for one minute saying that the Yukon public ought not to be involved. The NDP had policies on a lot of various issues going into the election. They had policies on local hire and policies on forestry they were going to develop. They set out plans. They had policies on energy. I'm asking what their policy on game farming is. If they don't have a policy, just say so. That's all I'm asking.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I did say that we would not be making any changes this year. I can say that over the next three years we will be looking at amendments to the Wildlife Act, and I think it will give us a good opportunity to have this as part of that review.

Mr. Ostashek: Let me ask the minister this then: if some constituent asked me what the government policy is on game farming, I can tell him that there is no policy on game farming. Am I correct?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I did say that we will not be making any changes. The status quo is the way it is, and that is how we will be carrying it out for the next year, although we will be doing some consultation with the industry out there and with those that are affected by this industry.

Mr. Ostashek: So, Mr. Chair, what I can say is that the NDP, for now, is following the policy of the Yukon Party government, but what I want to know is, is the minister saying, then, that this is up for review and they're going to be developing a new game farming policy? Is that what he's telling me?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that we're not making any changes right now. We will be looking at doing amendments to the Wildlife Act over the next few years. We also have the agricultural policies that are in the second phase, and this certainly could be an issue that's part of this policy review.

Mr. Ostashek: I thank the minister for that. I appreciate the agricultural policy's in its second phase. Is the agricultural policy going to address game farming? I'm just trying to find out where this government is going.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I would say that it certainly can, and more than likely will. If he wants assurance, I can say that, yes, I will be looking at and reviewing this policy.

Mr. Ostashek: That's all I wanted from the minister -to know whether they were reviewing the policy or not. I thank the minister for that. It wasn't a difficult question.

I want to get back to the protected areas strategy. There has been a process going on that has been doing a complete inventory of ecoregions in the Yukon and identifying areas of interest.

I would like to ask the minister if he could provide for this House a complete list of the inventories of areas of interest that the department has identified which will be then be further fleshed out before we get into protected areas. I appreciate that. I would just like to know if the minister could make a list of those areas that are now identified available to this House.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, I certainly can have that information given to the members across the way. With all the work that the department has done over the years, and there's been a lot in the different ecoregions, and with regard to the identification of new areas, certainly this will involve all levels of people, right down to the mining industry and forestry industry, to develop a protected areas strategy from the ground up.

Mr. Ostashek: I appreciate that. I'm not asking for the complete list of protected areas. I'm asking for the list of areas that the department feels there's an area of interest in, that are going to be further explored as to whether they will be made into protected area spaces or not. All I want is a list of the eco-regions that are identified now, so that I would be able to have a better understanding of what's still outstanding, and I thank the minister for making that list available to me.

I want to move on now, while we're still on parks, to the Bonnet Plume heritage river plan, of which I understand the third draft has been completed and is out to the stakeholders for public review. A number of changes have been made to the plan that would make it quite different from the nomination document that was first put forward some four or five years ago. My understanding is that, if there are significant differences between the nomination document that was first proposed and the heritage river plan itself, it would require an amendment to the nomination document or an addendum to be filed with the Canadian Heritage Rivers Board that oversees heritage rivers.

The fact that there have been three draft documents leads me to believe that there have been significant changes to the nomination document that was first put forward. Could the minister tell me, with that in mind, will there be amendments made to the nomination document or will there be an addendum filed with the nomination document? If he could do that, could he just outline what the major changes are in it?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, the Bonnet Plume nomination as a heritage river is in its third review. Like the member said, it's in the public right now. Once it does come back, that's when the addendum is filed, and it should be sometime in 1998.

Mr. Ostashek: Could the minister just give us an overview of what the major differences are between the third draft of this document and the nomination document itself?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: It's not information that we have with us right now. We certainly can pull this information together for the member and have it sent over to him.

Mr. Ostashek: I thank the minister for that, and I would appreciate getting a letter from the minister outlining the differences between the nomination document and the third draft that's out for public consultation now.

The minister said 1998 for a decision, but can he be more specific? When does he believe the consultation will be completed, and what is set for a target date for finalizing the nomination document and submitting it to the Heritage Rivers Board?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The document is out for public consultation right now, for a 60-day consultation, so the remaining days, a bit less than two months is what is remaining, and it should be in place in January of 1998.

Mr. Ostashek: I thank the minister for that.

I want to move on to another area now and I may have to come back, I'm not sure, some other question may come to mind, but I think I've covered most of it off.

There was an initiative that was first started by the Yukon Party in 1993-94. A legislative review was undertaken which summarized legislation and policies for wilderness tourism licensing. That information was gathered from various jurisdictions. Can the minister tell me what stage his department is at with legislation to govern wilderness tourism licensing and will he be bringing forward legislation in this fall's sitting?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The development of the wilderness tourism licensing act is in draft form right now and will be prepared by the end of May. It will then come forward to Cabinet and it will then be introduced in the fall session.

Mr. Ostashek: Is it the intention of the minister to do a second reading and then send it back out to public consultation before the Legislature finalizes the act, or has the minister decided what route he's going to take with this?

It's sometimes good to go back to the public with a new act such as this that's entering a whole new area of licensing to have it critiqued, not only by the operators, but by the public in general who are clients of these wilderness outfitters.

So, is it the intention of the minister, once the act has passed all of the official interdepartmental hoops and had Cabinet approval and is tabled in the Legislature, to go back out to public consultation before final passage of the act in the Legislature?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The draft act will be released to the public before it comes back to us. I guess it's something we need to think about: whether to release it back to the public after first reading.

Mr. Ostashek: Well, if the minister is putting a draft back out to the public, it may not be necessary to go back out to the public. I was just wondering if there was going to be some step in the process where the public would have an opportunity to view the act and to make recommendations to the minister.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, that's the way it will be handled.

Mr. Ostashek: Without getting into great details of what's in the act, could the minister give us an overview of what areas they're going to be covering, such as the requirement of liability insurance, first aid certificates, river rescue certification, legal entities and differences in fees for resident and non-resident outfitters?

Could he give me just a quick overview? I don't want or expect the minister to go into great detail on it, but I'd just like to know what areas this act is going to be covering and too, what they believe is necessary to be able to have an act in place that will give some comfort to non-residents who are coming to the Yukon that the outfitters who are engaged in wilderness outfitting are competent and able to provide the services that they are advertising.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, the member listed a number of things that will be in it. There is an area for the business licensing system, I guess, to have operators required to have a registered legal entity, registered with the Workers' Compensation, and also to have proof of reasonable liability insurance and to ensure that guides have their mandatory wilderness first aid certificates and also a mandatory river rescue certification where appropriate.

Mr. Ostashek: I thank the minister for that. I guess another question I have - and it's been a while since I've been in the outfitting business; it's been a few years since I got out of it - is it a requirement of the hunting outfitters now to carry liability insurance and to have valid first aid certificates? Could the minister tell me that?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I'm not sure on that. I will have to get back to the member on it.

Mr. Ostashek: Well, I would appreciate that. It's something that the minister ought to consider when he's bringing this new act in, so that there's some consistency between the wilderness tourism guides outfitters act and the Wildlife Act, which governs the hunting outfitters in the territory. Unless there have been some changes made since 1990 to the act or the regulations, it never was a requirement for an outfitter to carry liability insurance, and I'm not even certain if it was a requirement to have a first aid certificate, although it was certainly desirable.

I would appreciate that information from the minister, and he may want to make a note of that for his department when they're producing the legislation so there are no glaring inconsistencies.

I also understand that the department was working on a river rescue standards policy or regulation. Could the minister bring me up to date as to where that's at?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: That is something that I'm not aware of. I will have to get back to the member on whether it's going through this department or through C&TS.

Mr. Ostashek: I appreciate that. I'm not critical of the minister because he doesn't have that, but it's my understanding that one of the wilderness guides has been lobbying the territorial government to put in place some river rescue standards, so I was just wondering where the department was with it. I would appreciate that information.

Another area of concern is the revisions to the Yukon conservation strategy. There was a discussion paper, I believe, that was distributed for public review on March the 6th, 1996. It was anticipated that the final revisions, which would take the form of a companion document to the conservation strategy - it must be to the economic development strategy - would be completed by the fall of 1996.

Can the minister tell me where the department's at with that?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The 1996 review of the Yukon conservation strategy has been initiated and a report is expected to be tabled in the fall session.

Mr. Ostashek: It seems like that's about a year later than what was planned, but that's fine. I don't have much more on that. While we're talking about licensing and before we get away from licensing too far, while in Opposition, the Member for Faro was very critical of foreign participation of investors in outfitting areas in the Yukon in our renewable resources. Now in government, he has been promoting the investment by foreign investors in non-renewable resources.

I believe that a previous Minister of Renewable Resources was having the Wildlife Management Board look at non-resident investment, or foreign investment, into our outfitting areas. I believe he asked him for recommendations. Can the minister bring me up to date if those recommendations have been forthcoming to the department? I'll start from there.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We had asked for the board to continue to work on this. They're having a bit of a problem with it and asked that more time be given for them to respond to us.

Mr. Ostashek: Can the minister tell me what kind of problems they're having? I understood that they held community hearings almost a year ago now. I could be wrong in that, but I thought they had travelled the Yukon to get input into that. Can the minister tell me what is wrong and when he expects a report?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, the board has done the review and identified some legal review that should be conducted to determine if some of the preliminary recommendations could, in fact, be implemented.

Mr. Ostashek: What the minister is telling me, then, is that they have submitted some recommendations to the minister already?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: There are a number of complexities associated with qualification issues - residency, corporate liability, accountability - and, because of these complexities, there was agreement among the board and our departmental representatives that the legal analysis from justice was essential in determining whether the primary recommendations can actually be implemented.

Mr. Ostashek: I'm having difficulty following what the legal difficulties are. It's no secret that our administration and the previous NDP administration both had legal opinions on foreign ownership of outfitting areas. I'm not talking about outfitters' licences; I'm talking about foreign ownership of outfitting areas. Both of those legal opinions were that it was a very difficult thing to stop and could be challenged under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms if it was a non-resident Canadian that was participating in the ownership of an outfitting area.

Can the minister elaborate at all on what legal advice they are seeking at this time, and pertaining to what?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The board's intent for outfitting concessions was to basically detail as follows: full disclosure, openness and ownership; accountability of outfitters or corporate directors for management of overall compliance; designation of operations manager or field manager responsible for day-to-day operations; guide hiring; liaison with communities; quota committee; and outfitter corporation to take into consideration public interests, community concerns; and also that no side agreements significantly result in influencing the decisions and/or compromising the owner's or director's ability to freely exercise management authority over the outfitting business.

Mr. Ostashek: In what areas is the board or the department seeking legal advice? That's my question to the minister?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The board is seeking advice on residency, corporate liability and accountability. Those are, I guess, the three main areas that they have been dealing with.

Mr. Phillips: I'd just like to ask some general questions in this area.

Where does the minister, in his view, draw the line on foreign investment? In some jurisdictions - other provinces and territories across the country - foreign investment is welcome, even by NDP governments in British Columbia.

Many of the heli-tour operators, heli-hiking wilderness tour operators, are foreign investors. What it does is provide jobs for people in British Columbia and the money flows through the system in British Columbiaand is good for the economy, so I just want to know from the minister what kind of foreign investment the minister is opposed to? Is it foreign investors, or does he believe people have to be Canadian citizens or that they have to be landed immigrants to own, operate or have a share in a company in the Yukon to operate as a wilderness tour operator?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Right now, the way it is, 51 percent is in the Wildlife Act. In order to change that we have to make amendments to the Wildlife Act.

Mr. Phillips: Does the minister contemplate it being the same for wilderness operators, as his department will be responsible for licensing wilderness operators?

I know right now that there are some concerns with some people who just come in, operate and leave and we hardly ever know they're here, but there are other wilderness operators who do not live here, but for years have come up and operated out of the Yukon as a base and take people down rivers, canoeing, hiking, backpacking or whatever, and operate for the summer and leave again.

They may not be residents of the territory, they may be people who are not even Canadian citizens but operate businesses, so maybe the minister can tell us whether or not he supports that kind of activity, and if he foresees putting in legislation governing those kinds of activities so that they'd be similar to the outfitters, where 51 percent has to be locally owned.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: At this point in time, we're not anticipating a problem with that. We're not looking at applying this to the wilderness licensing act. Although it is something, I believe, that we should be looking into, there are a lot of outfitters who would like to run businesses and get away from the outfitting business and looking more at an ecosystem tourism - from those that I've talked to, anyway.

Mr. Phillips: I don't think the minister is understanding what I'm getting at. What I'm getting at is that there appears to be two separate rules developing for people who are in similar businesses. Do we accept foreign investment and foreign ownership of sawmills, mines, outfitting areas, tourism wilderness businesses, stores - anything? Do we accept foreign ownership? Is the policy of this government that foreign ownership is welcomed?

I know that the Minister of Economic Development put some money in his budget to travel around the country to attract other investment. I just wonder if there're some areas in the government, like maybe the outfitting industry and the tourism industry, that are exempt; that in those two areas, they don't want to see any foreign investment.

I'm not sure what the policy is of the government. The messages that one gets are mixed. In the outfitting industry, the member, when in Opposition, said they didn't think there should be anybody from outside of the Yukon owning an outfitting industry, so I just think there's a mixed signal going out there.

What I kind of want to get from the minister is: What is their policy? Do they want to see more foreign investment, or do they not want to see it? In which industries do they want to see foreign investment?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Certainly, the wilderness businesses are totally different from outfitting, in that one is harvesting of animals, moreso, and the other is more or less enjoying what we have out there. If anything, I would like to see Yukoners own and operate these businesses. That's our position as government. It certainly is the feedback that we've been getting on it.

As you know, this is relatively new and more of a demanding business right now. It is certainly an area that we can put some concentration on. I believe it's going to be a fairly big industry in the Yukon, and we need to get clear who the people are that are benefiting from this business. Up until now, we have always said that the resources that we do have here should benefit the people and not be exploited like we've had with other non-renewable resources, and so on.

If you can get an answer out of that.

Mr. Phillips: If the minister was asking me if I got an answer out of that, the answer is no, I didn't. Mr. Chair, I guess the problem I have with it is that - let's examine the outfitting industry. It's owned by an individual who may or may not be in the base camp. Most of the people who are employed in the industry are Yukoners. The groceries are all bought, as far as I know, locally. The flying in and flying out of the hunters, or whatever, is usually done by local aircraft. I don't see any German aircraft flying people in and out of the outfitting areas.

I don't know what the minister has got against it. There's a Wildlife Act that really protects the wildlife in the area. It's based on sustainable harvest and the minister's department sets the quotas, or the number of animals that one can harvest in an area. Mr. Chair, it just seems to me that, because one of their members was a little overexuberant in his opposition to an individual or to some individuals' presence in the territory, he has sort of slammed the door on foreign investment. It's kind of a -

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Chair: Order. Order.

Mr. Phillips: Boy, these guys are sensitive, Mr. Chair. Looks like we've got an open wound on this one. They're all whining and moaning on the other side over there. So, this is a good reason to keep it up.

Mr. Chair, what bothers me about it is I haven't heard a valid explanation from the minister of the difference between investment in Renewable Resources or in a manufacturing plant of some kind in Whitehorse of any other tourism-related business - a hotel. I don't understand the difference if the individuals bring their money into the territory and develop it.

I mean the minister is running all over the country. The Minister of Economic Development is going to run all over the country saying that the Yukon is a great place to invest, but you can't put any money into the outfitting industry, or now maybe the tourism wilderness industry, or maybe there are a couple of other industries that the minister wanted to get into when he was in the private sector that he couldn't get into at the time and he's smarting about that, too.

So, I don't know. I really don't know what the difference is and I don't think the government and the minister on the side opposite are on very firm ground here. In fact, I think he's up to his neck in quicksand because you can't go out in the investment world - and I hope the Minister of Economic Development is listening - with mixed messages, because the investment world is much smarter than that. A lot of the investment world doesn't trust New Democratic Party governments in the first place, so you have to go out there with a clear message when you're going out there to tell them what you're going to do.

So, I'd like to get an answer from the minister on how he explains - and I want a clear answer - the difference between foreign investments. What is the difference between foreign investment in a renewable resource, such as outfitting, tourism wilderness hiking or guiding - because there is foreign investment in some of our tourism wilderness hiking guiding in the territory right now? What is the difference between foreign investments? In my view, they both create jobs, they both purchase goods and services in the territory, they both bring in monies from outside the territory. What is the difference, other than the whining of the Member for Faro, who was just upset about the issue and tried to make it an issue when he was in Opposition?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Certainly I would think that the wildlife and the wilderness that we have out in the Yukon can sell itself. It doesn't need any political influence to do that. We do have people coming up here just to see that. I would think that, if we can create - and I know it's becoming bigger - an industry here that brings people in, regardless of who runs it, we should concentrate on trying to have Yukoners capitalize on this industry. I think that should be our priority, and I think that's a priority that we've been going on.

Mr. Phillips: I'm extremely concerned about the statement the minister just made, that he feels that a wilderness industry can sell itself. He should have a conversation with his Minister of Tourism, because his own Minister of Tourism, as we speak, is in Vancouver promoting the wilderness tourism industry. So, he can't have it both ways. He can't say that it can sell itself and then send his minister off on a $60,000 promotional thing, trying to sell it. I agree with the minister being in Edmonton or in Vancouver, promoting the tourism industry, but one of the areas that we need investment in in this territory is in product and in infrastructure.

The Minister of Tourism knows this because he was just in Europe and just spoke to a company called Fulda, who are coming to the Yukon and bringing investment to the Yukon with respect to marketing and involvement in the Yukon Quest.

That's going to benefit Yukoners. And some of the people from that particular country, Germany, may come over here and want to get involved in wilderness tours and ventures and help other Yukoners. But this government is against that.

The minister -

Hon. Mr. Harding: Point of order.

Point of order

Chair: Mr. Harding, on a point of order.

Hon. Mr. Harding: That's a ridiculous statement. That's not what was said in this Legislature.

Chair: Mr. Phillips, on the point of order.

Mr. Phillips: There's no point of order at all.

Chair's ruling

Chair: I see no point of order, just a dispute between members.

Mr. Phillips: Just another interruption by the Member for Faro who doesn't know anything about tourism, Mr. Chair.

The minister just spoke and said that tourism wilderness doesn't need any foreign investment, doesn't need any support. I think it does. I think it needs to be promoted. I think it does need foreign investment. There are a lot of Yukoners out there - in fact, Mr. Chair, there was a local hotel purchased in town here this spring, owned primarily by a Yukoner but supported by some foreign investment. I think that's a good deal. That hotel is owned by Yukoners. They're going to do a lot of work to the hotel and improve the hotel, but you either are for foreign investment or you are against it. You can't rule it out in different sectors.

You either want foreign investment in your mining sector, your forestry sector, your tourism sector or other sectors -

Hon. Mr. Harding: Point of order, Mr. Chair.

Point of order

Chair: Mr. Harding, on a point of order.

Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Chair, I am raising a valid point of order on the question of the debate. We're now debating wilderness tourism on the floor of this Legislature and investment around wilderness tourism. Now, that's a tourism issue. This is renewable resources that we're talking about here and debating. The member had all kinds of opportunity in the Tourism debate, which has already gone on in this Legislature, to discuss Fulda and the international investment around wilderness tourism. I think this is being repetitive and unproductive, and I think it's out of order.

Chair: On the point of order, Mr. Phillips.

Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Chair, here's another example of the Member for Faro knowing nothing about what he speaks - nothing. He knows nothing about tourism, because if he'd have paid any attention at all to his Tourism minister when he was in the House the other day, he said that the licensing of wilderness operators is in the budget of the minister responsible for Renewable Resources. Licensing covers such things as who can operate in the territory and who can't. Investment is one of the things that is being discussed by that group. Unfortunately, the Member for Faro doesn't know that, because he doesn't know anything about tourism.

He's anti-tourism, and he's always been anti-tourism, and so, like I said before, you know, where that member should be is in Faro, Mr. Chair, or in Vancouver learning a little bit more about the industry -

Chair's ruling

Chair: Order please. I see nothing in the rules prohibiting discussion on wilderness tourism in this department, but I would like to remind members to keep their comments relevant to the department being discussed, which is Renewable Resources.

Mr. Phillips: - which is responsible for wilderness tourism licensing, and that's why I'm talking about tourism and licensing, and part of the regulations that the department has developed in the past is regulations for outfitters and who should own them, and so I have a concern about any licensing that might happen with tourism operators and whether they are going to put restrictions on who should own those as well.

That's why I asked the question. There is a relevance, totally, completely relevant, and I just want an answer from the minister: where does he see a difference? I don't see a difference.

I can see in the near future, or somewhere down the road, partnerships with other Yukoners, with First Nations, with other people - foreign investment coming in here and working in partnership with those people to develop Yukon jobs, not only in the outfitting industry, and not only in the tourism industry, but in all kinds of industries.

It's happening right now. We have major international companies working in the mining industry - foreign investment, providing jobs and economic development for First Nations and others in the territory. You are either for it or against it, and that's all I want from the minister.

You can't have your cake and eat it too, as the Member for Faro wants. I know he had a bone in his mouth a few months ago and he chewed on it for a while, but it was a personal vendetta against a couple of individuals and that's over with, but now they're in government and they have to deal with the issue of who's going to invest in the territory or not, and I just want to know from this minister whether he supports foreign investment in the Yukon.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Certainly, the people in the Yukon here are interested in having people come over to the Yukon and have businesses over here.

One thing I guess that differs between our feelings with regard to the wilderness is that we want to see it around for a long time and we want to see Yukoners benefit from this. I think that Yukoners would have a tough time to know that a German tire company is running wilderness tourism in Yukon.

What we are saying is that we want to have Yukoners first. That is not to say that we are ruling out anybody else from investing in the Yukon in that business. That is happening already, but we would like to see that this industry, which is relatively new to Yukon, benefit Yukon to the maximum and have Yukon people run these businesses the best that they can and fill these positions. I would think that we should put Yukon people first and not foreign people first.

Mr. Phillips: I'm not suggesting that at all. This is a minister in a government that has 15.5-percent unemployment. He's got Yukoners first - they're the first on the unemployment line.

What I'm suggesting to the minister is that he crawl out of his New Democratic economic vision of the world and look at what happens in other jurisdictions. Look at where other provinces and territories have attracted major companies and corporations to invest in their area, from car manufacturing companies to mining companies to forestry development companies to others. Those people happen to hire the local people in the area.

In the outfitting industry, they hire Yukoners. They buy their groceries locally. They buy their supplies in and out. In the wilderness tourism industry, it happens that way.

All I am suggesting to the minister is that you can't have it both ways. You can't have one specific sector where you rule out foreign investment and all the rest you include. All I'm suggesting to the minister is that he get out of his shell and looks at what is going on in the real world.

If we're going to develop our industry - I'm not suggesting that we exploit our industry at all, as the minister said. What I'm saying to the minister is that you have regulations to control that. We're talking about people investing in the territory, about people who have dollars to invest, and those kinds of dollars will create jobs in the territory for Yukoners.

I'm just making sure that the minister does not slam the door to that investment, because there are opportunities for the minister and me, my son and daughter, and his family, as well. At the same time, we can protect the Yukon environment with the regulations we have.

The minister should give strong consideration, or second thought, to this before he decides to close the door on foreign investment.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I did not say that we were closing the door on any foreign investment. I said that we would look at having Yukoners benefit from this opportunity first, and I do think that we should be careful in how we deal with this issue. I don't believe that, in previous years, in developing an outfitting concession, that this was given careful thought to how the Yukoners could really cash in on this industry. It's relatively new. We do have people from outside that do run businesses right now. It's very much real, and there's very much of a concern that we have.

There are so many things that are happening, without proper business licences, and without any type of a business setup. From what we're gathering, people want to make sure that what we have out there is protected. We're looking at that in so many different ways. We want to maintain the beauty that we do have here in the Yukon, and we want to see Yukoners benefit from this, not to say that there will be no foreign investment. I've never said that. We do have people right now that are in the business of outfitting that are from elsewhere, and we do have a lot of input and direction that do come down from the local communities. More and more, they're getting involved with this. I think we need to take that direction from them and apply it to this type of new industry.

Mr. Ostashek: I'm not going to pursue that issue forever. I think my colleague has done a pretty good job on it. What I do want to say to the minister opposite is that he had better take off the blindfold - the blinkers - and start broadening his vision if he wants to help to reduce unemployment in the Yukon, or pretty soon it'll be at 30 percent, not 15 percent.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Chair, that's what we're trying to do. It's too bad the NDP government can't get with the program.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Ostashek: Yes. Both since the NDP government came to power.

Mr. Chair, I want to just change gears here for a few minutes and go on another pursuit.

What is the opening date for the territorial campgrounds? Did you ask that? I'm sorry. I missed the answer. Was it the 15th of May?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Some campgrounds are open right now and all the campgrounds would be open before the long weekend.

Mr. Ostashek: I'm sorry I missed that answer before, Mr. Chair. What's going to happen next year with the anniversaries, 1998? Is there a plan being developed to open them earlier and keep them open longer in the fall?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, we will be considering opening the campgrounds early. I think it's just a matter of will on everybody's side to accommodate the things that are happening in the Yukon.

Mr. Ostashek: Could the minister tell me what date they're planning on opening them and what date they're planning on closing them in 1998?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: This will depend entirely, I guess, on the weather and whether or not we can get services in and out of the campgrounds. We can open it up as soon as the weather breaks so we can get vehicles in there to haul wood in and service the outhouses and so on, and do a clean up. It's all depending on the weather at that time.

Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Chair, the government, I believe, are still the owners of a camp on Rose Lake that they bought quite a few years back. Am I correct in stating that the government still owns that camp on Rose Lake?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, we are still owners.

Mr. Ostashek: Can the minister tell me what they are doing with that camp, or what is the proposal for it?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: This cabin on this lake is used by our department for patrols. It is used by the Fish and Game Association, off and on, and also can be used by the general public when requested.

Mr. Ostashek: It has come to my attention that the camp has deteriorated quite substantially over the years. Is it the department's intention to spend any money to keep the camp upgraded or are we just going to let it deteriorate - use it as long as we can and not put any money into it? What is the plan for it?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: It's not our intent to do any improvements on it this year, although we can go in and do an assessment and, in future times, look at it. It is our intent to keep it up, so that's where it sits right now.

Mr. Ostashek: I just have a few more questions in general debate and then I'm prepared to move on to line by line.

There's $100,000 in this budget for the abattoir, and I know my colleagues asked some questions on the abattoir, and I know the expression of interest has gone out. Has anybody been selected yet on the expression of interest?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No. We have given direction to the department to go back and look at these in more detail. Once that happens, it comes back to Cabinet and we do a selection on it.

Mr. Ostashek: I know there's $100,000 in the budget, but I believe in the technical briefing that we got, they said there was a $150,000 available. Am I correct on that?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, there is $150,000. There is $100,000 budgeted for this year and we would have to do a revote of $50,000 from the previous year.

Mr. Ostashek: So, the $50,000 - I just can't understand why we only budgeted $100,000 this year if it was our intention to spend $150,000 on the abattoir. Why did we not just put a new figure of $150,000 in, since this wasn't a project that had been started? There was absolutely no reason why they couldn't just lapse the funds and budget $150,000, rather than going to a revote for $50,000. Can the minister tell me why?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The reason, I guess, for the $100,000 was that some proposals came in for less than $150,000. It was direction from Management Board that we allow for some of this movement, and do a revote if necessary, on selection of the application submission.

Mr. Ostashek: I thank the member for that and I'm not going to belabour it. I just thought it was a peculiar way of budgeting for a line item in the budget, but it's not a major issue.

But, what I am concerned about, and I think what the public has a right to know, is how much money is going to be invested in an abattoir in the Yukon and how it's going to be invested.

Now, we did get some information out of the technical briefing, but I think it's important that we get the government's position on the public record here in this Legislature.

What I interpreted from the briefing was that this abattoir would be built on private land and the land and the building would be the contribution of whomever was the successful applicant, and that the government would provide up to $150,000 for equipment. Am I correct?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, the amount of $150,000 is to be directed for purchasing of equipment. The only additional cost, I guess, over the next years to come would be for that of meat inspection.

Mr. Ostashek: I realize that the meat inspectors are going to be extra to that. This is going to be an outright grant to whoever is accepted - $150,000 of an outright grant. What restrictions are being put on the selected applicant?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: This amount of up to $150,000, which can be used for equipment, is going to be over a five-year period, and once the five-year period is up and the business is successful and so on, the equipment will be signed over to the owners. Although over the five years, a percentage of this $150,000 will be written off in that way. So, yes, it is a grant and over five years it would be written off.

Mr. Ostashek: Okay, so what the minister is telling me is that they are prepared to put $150,000 in for equipment. They are going to take a chattel mortgage on the equipment for a period of five years, and at that time, the assets would revert to the successful applicant for the abattoir. Am I correct?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, the member is correct.

Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Chair, could the minister give the position of the government on this question: if, after investing $150,000 of taxpayers' money, and prior to the five-year period expiring, this facility gets into financial difficulties, what position is the government going to take at that point?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I guess there are several things that we can do, but I would say at that point in time we would have to deal with the situation. As it is right now, we have the grant for $150,000 in equipment to go toward this business.

If the business fails after a couple of years, or so on, I guess one of the things we could do is seize the equipment, but we have no intentions at this time. We do believe that if we put our faith into it, this business will be successful.

Mr. Ostashek: I thank the minister for that, Mr. Chair. I'm not concerned about whether the government seizes the equipment or not. I want to know if the government is going to put more money into this thing. One of the difficulties with government getting involved in these kinds of operations is that we've gone out for proposals.

We've received four proposals, I believe. The government is going to pick one. Everybody hopes that it is going to be successful, but the track record in the past in the Yukon has not been all that great when it has come to grants or government help in efforts that weren't able to stand on their own economic legs.

So, I want to know: is the government prepared to commit more money to this if this gets into financial difficulty? That's what I want to know.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: It's not this government's intention to put more money into the business right now. We will be looking at the plan that the successful applicant has and act upon that if it looks good for the five years and it looks like it's going to make it. That's how we would have to work on it. We're not going to say to anybody out there that we're going to be putting money into this. It is not where we're coming from. If the business fails, then it fails, and the government won't be putting any more money into it.

Mr. Ostashek: I thank the minister for that. I have just a couple more questions on the abattoir, just for my clarification and for clarification for the general public.

The last proposal that was put before our government was for about $1.5 million for an abattoir. Now, we're down to $150,000, and if I am correct in my assumptions from what I got in the briefing and what the minister has told me, this is a dollar-for-dollar match with whomever the successful applicant is. So, we're talking about a facility of about $300,000 that includes the land cost, the building, the equipment and everything else.

Could the minister just sort of give us a sketch as to what type of an abattoir we're talking about? What will this thing do? I'm having great difficulty getting my head wrapped around how a down-scaled abattoir - that's down scaled to this level - is going to fulfill the expectations of the Agricultural Association in the Yukon.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We're not expecting a big operation here. We expect a small one to be in place, one that suits the Yukon. It could be one that's stationary or one that's a mobile unit. We've got several ways of doing it, and the one that looks like it can be the most successful would be the one we use.

Some of the ones look at being able to handle things like five head of cattle or 10 pigs per day, and they would have a cooler capacity of 30 head of cattle for 15 days of curing. So, it's not a big operation. I don't think a big operation is needed in the Yukon. We're looking at more of a smaller scale operation.

Mr. Ostashek: Well, I certainly agree with the minister on that, that we need a smaller operation. The minister's being very vague on what the proposals were that came in. If we're going to have a stationary abattoir that's that small, we have an agricultural community that's scattered over a great many miles in the Yukon - Dawson City into the Whitehorse area, and some down the south highway, even, and maybe even to Watson Lake; I'm not sure. For a central abattoir, located in Whitehorse, I don't know how this is going to serve the agricultural community, and I guess my concern is that we invest in something that's not going to meet the expectations of the agricultural community.

Now, if we were talking about a portable facility that was going to go around and do farm-gate slaughter, that's one thing, but I just heard the minister say we're talking about a cooler capacity to hold 30 head of cattle for a period of 15 days. We're certainly not going to be moving that all over the territory.

So I'd just like the minister's thoughts on that.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I guess what it is going to come down to is the cost. From some of the submissions that we have now - the four we do have - the one that is less expensive is the stationary one. For example, one submission is quite expensive, up around $500,000, but this unit could process up to 10 cattle, 75 sheep, 25 elk or 250 poultry per day. It is, I guess, of interest to Yukoners. If the price could come down, I think, in my mind, that would be a more useful way of dealing with those that are further away from Whitehorse, like people on the Pelly Farm and so on.

The way it looks right now, the better submissions that we do have are stationary, here in Whitehorse.

Mr. Ostashek: I thank the minister for that and I'm not going to pursue it more. I will put my comments on the record for now that I think that I have some difficulty with that and I know that the agricultural community is going to have some difficulty with that.

If we're going to subsidize an operation in one part of the Yukon and the rest of the people in the agricultural business are going to be left to their own means of having their product slaughtered and prepared for market, I would just put it on the public record for now and may come back to it at some other time.

I don't have any further questions in general debate. If my colleagues don't, I'm prepared to go line by line.

Mr. Phillips: I have just got a couple of questions. The first two items, the minister can just provide me the information on. The wild elk - the Tutshi herd, as well there's a herd at Braeburn - what I would like to know from the minister is, we were monitoring them for some time. There's also a group, I think, by the Alaska Highway, by what used to be called the old Stevens Farm. What I would like to know from the minister - I don't need to know it now, but if he could provide me with the numbers that are within each of these herds - the estimated numbers - when was the last time we did a counting of those? When are we planning to do another counting of them?

I know there were some on the road last weekend right at Braeburn. In fact, they were right in the parking lot at Braeburn. I think they were having coffee and a cinnamon bun, or something. They were at Braeburn, right in around all the people and buildings, the other day.

Another issue is the bison. I would like to get a more recent tally on the bison, how many bison are in the territory now, if we still have any in that enclosure and how many are out there in the wild since we introduced the herd here.

I'd like to ask the minister a question, and if he doesn't have the answer he can provide it later as well. The elk were brought in, I think, in the '50s by the Yukon Fish and Game Association, and the purpose at that time was, after they'd established themselves in the territory, to have a limited entry hunt on the elk, possibly by lottery. I just wonder if the minister foresees that happening in the future? I know they've brought in several animals in the past and released some from the local game farms here that were brought in by the game branch. I just want to know what the plans are for that.

There was also a discussion recently on a limited-entry bison hunt, and I want the minister to bring us up to date on that.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I certainly can bring the information on the elk back to the members but, in regard to the bison, we have approximately 300 in the herd. Thirty-six of those are in captivity at the LaPrairie Ranch and the Fish and Wildlife Management Board have been dealing with the possibility of a bison hunt up to possibly five bison this year, but they have not given us a firm answer on that yet.

Mr. Phillips: I believe they held a meeting in Haines Junction to discuss that with people in the area, and I know the bison are in that area, but I would suggest to the minister that, for any limited-entry lottery-type hunt that would be held, all Yukoners from all over the territory would be able to submit or purchase a lottery ticket, or however they're going to do it. It should be fair for everyone. There would be no special permits given to any one group or individual and everyone would apply and be on the same basis, because that was the premise on which they were brought in initially and that was the premise on which the Yukon Fish and Game Association contributed several thousand dollars to the fencing for the initial enclosure. I know that was the promise that was made at the time they brought the bison in, that it would be done fairly and everyone in the Yukon would have an equal opportunity to apply for any limited-entry bison hunts.

I'd just like assurances from the minister that the promise that was made several years ago will be kept by this government.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, we have been talking about the way in which these permit hunts are given out. We would like to try and improve it so that all Yukoners have the ability to access these or be informed about it. One of the big problems we've had in the past is getting the information out to the people so that they can go out and apply.

One of the issues, though, that has come up with the bison in regards to the First Nations is that there are a lot of nuisance bison out there that are knocking down fences, and so on, and these are the ones that could possibly be targeted for permits.

Chair: There being no further debate, we will go to O&M expenditures.

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

On Administration

On Activities

On General Management

General Management in the amount of $265,000 agreed to

On Finance and Administration

Finance and Administration in the amount of $1,265,000 agreed to

Chair: Are there questions on the statistics? Clear.

Administration in the amount of $1,530,000 agreed to

On Policy and Planning

Chair: Is there general debate? Not seeing any...

On Activities

On Director

Director in the amount of $207,000 agreed to

On Policy Analysis

Policy Analysis in the amount of $341,000 agreed to

Mr. Ostashek: You went by the first line so quickly I didn't catch it. The director in the amount of $207,000, what does that $207,000 entail for the director?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The $207,000 is a 32-percent decrease from the previous year. The amount of $129,000 is for personnel and $78,000 is in other, for a decrease of $99,000. The $90,000 is in reduced contract services, one time from the supplementary one of last fall. The $6,000 decrease in personnel costs is due to an estimated vacancy of $7,000, offset by a slight increase in merit and fringe benefits of $1,000. Reduced travel out of territory for $1,000 and a $2,000 reduction for other contracts.

On Planning and Resource Policy

Mr. Ostashek: Is this all included under the line item, director? We have a line item there of director - that seems to me like a position - which says $207,000. I want to know what's involved in that $207,000. Are the numbers that the minister just read off all involved in that $207,000, or is there something else?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: This activity coordinates policy development and departmental input into land claims and support for DAP and the Forest Commission, as well as the Forest Advisory Committee.

Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Chair, I understand that, and you know, I guess I'm having some difficulty with why the travel - that I think the minister read off on something else there for some other services - isn't just charged to the department rather than directly to the director. Is the $207,000 in funding available only to the director?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The $207,000 is directed to the director's office.

Planning and Resource Policy in the amount of $158,000 agreed to

On GIS/Remote Sensing

GIS/Remote Sensing in the amount of $259,000 agreed to

Chair: Are there questions on the statistics? Clear.

Policy and Planning in the amount of $965,000 agreed to

On Environment, Parks and Field Services

Chair: Is there general debate?

Mr. Phillips: I have one question. Last year before the election, we were working on transboundary fishing licences for Yukon/B.C. waters. Will a person be able to buy a transboundary fishing licence this spring and, if so, what would the cost be?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: In having discussions with the B.C. government, we did put in place a way in which we can handle one licence for both sides, although it was too late in the year to have this registered in the regulations and licensing guides and so on, so we won't be able to do it this year.

Mr. Phillips: The lakes aren't quite open yet. Why couldn't the minister put out an addendum notification through the Fish and Game Association and through others, notices in the paper, so that, as Yukoners, we don't have to spend $10 in the Yukon and $20 in B.C. to get a licence. We could spend maybe $15 or $25, whatever they agreed to, and that one licence would be for both waters. It would save a lot of Yukoners a lot of trouble. We still have a couple of weeks, I think, before the ice goes out on the lakes, so we could do a promotion. I'm sure it would be appreciated if we reached an agreement.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: One of the reasons - the biggest reason - we have for not being able to do this is that we haven't got, in writing, a confirmation from the B.C. government on this.

Mr. Phillips: I wonder if the minister could provide me, then, with a letter, letting me know what is in the agreement, as the minister understands it. I know that there was some discussion about the B.C. regulations versus the Yukon regulations, and I know the Fish and Game Association and others were concerned that the department is going to take the toughest regulations on either side, and those were going to be the new regulations. In the Yukon, you can catch two lake trout. In B.C., you can catch three, so we were all going to go to two. In the Yukon, you could use herring as bait; in B.C. you can't, so we're not going to be able to use herring on either side.

I want to know whether we took the toughest stand on both sides, and we're going to get one licence, but we're going to get more severe restrictions on everybody for fishing.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I certainly can get that information to the member. I guess the main reason for these licences is to not over-fish the lakes. Like I said, you can go from one side to the other and have two separate licences and double your bag catch. That and the live bait is certainly a part of the agreement between B.C. and the Yukon.

On Activities

On Field Services

Field Services in the amount of $2,391,000 agreed to

On Parks and Outdoor Recreation

Parks and Outdoor Recreation in the amount of $1,727,000 agreed to

On Environmental Protection and Assessment

Environmental Protection and Assessment in the amount of $937,000 agreed to

Chair: Any questions on the statistics?

Environment, Parks and Field Services in the amount of $5,055,000 agreed to

On Resource Management

Chair: We are in Resource Management, page 11-15. Is there general debate? Clear.

On Activities

On Fish and Wildlife

Fish and Wildlife in the amount of $4,030,000 agreed to

On Agriculture

Agriculture in the amount of $568,000 agreed to

Chair: Are there questions on the statistics? Clear.

Resource Management in the amount of $4,598,000 agreed to

On Land Claims

Chair: We are in land claims on page 11-18. Is there general debate?

Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Chair, I was looking at the organization chart for the department in the front of the operation and maintenance budget, and I was looking at the land claims positions there. The only question I have here is that there seems to be several bodies involved there. Does the department get this money back from the Land Claims Secretariat? Do they pay for it, or is this out of the departmental budget?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I believe that this is not recoverable and that we pay for it.

Chair: Clear.

On Activities

On Land Claims Administration

Land Claims Administration in the amount of $234,000 agreed to

On Yukon First Nations Comprehensive Claim

Yukon First Nations Comprehensive Claim in the amount of $289,000 agreed to

On Inuvialuit Final Agreement (IFA)

Inuvialuit Final Agreement (IFA) in the amount of $718,000 agreed to

Land Claims in the amount of $1,241,000 agreed to

Chair: Are there questions on the recoveries and revenue? Clear.

Are there any questions on the transfer payments? Clear.

Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Department of Renewable Resources in the amount of $13,389,000 agreed to

On Capital Expenditures

Chair: Is there general debate?

Mr. Ostashek: I don't recall hearing the minister, in his opening comments, giving us a breakdown on the capital. If he did, I don't want to ask him to repeat it, but I don't recall him doing it. Can he just give us a breakdown and an overview of the capital budget?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: In the opening remarks I had on this, a lot of this was reflected in the opening speech with regard to capital.

On Administration

On Equipment and Furniture

On Departmental Equipment

Department Equipment in the amount of $60,000 agreed to

On Office Furniture and Equipment

Office Furniture and Equipment in the amount of $10,000 agreed to

On Information Systems

On Computer Equipment

Computer Equipment in the amount of $50,000 agreed to

On Information Systems

Information Systems in the amount of $12,000 agreed to

On Local Area Network - Phase III

Local Area Network - Phase III in the amount of $38,000 agreed to

On Lands and Facilities

On Office Accommodation and Improvements

Office Accommodation and Improvements in the amount of $10,000 agreed to

Administration in the amount of $180,000 agreed to

On Policy and Planning

Chair: Is there general debate?

Mr. Ostashek: I have one question that I missed in general debate. I see a line item on the capital side, "Greater Kluane land use plan". Is this government now going to be implementing a Kluane land use plan?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: What we will be doing is a review of the Greater Kluane land use plan. There are a number of different First Nations that have not signed on to this. It is an area that, I think, that the plan has already had a lot of work done on it, and we just want to be able to have another look at it, dust it off and review it.

Mr. Ostashek: That's exactly why I asked the question of the minister; because there have been several of the bands that have been very negative on the plan. I can sympathize with him, because there are other people in the area who are negative on the plan, as well.

If the minister is going to do a review of it, I hope he does a fairly intensive review, not just a window dressing for the object of doing the review. I think the plan, if it's going to be of any use to the government, needs to have a thorough review and probably some major amendments made to it to satisfy all parties.

On Resources and Land Information Systems

Resources and Land Information Systems in the amount of $81,000 agreed to

On State of the Environment Report

State of the Environment Report in the amount of $10,000 agreed to

On Greater Kluane Land Use Plan

Greater Kluane Land Use Plan in the amount of $50,000 agreed to

Policy and Planning in the amount of $141,000 agreed to

On Environment, Parks and Field Services

Chair: Is there general debate?

On Lands and Facilities

On Capital Maintenance Upgrades

Capital Maintenance Upgrades in the amount of $60,000 agreed to

On Special Waste Collection

Special Waste Collection in the amount of $60,000 agreed to

On Territorial Parks

On Park System Plan

Park System Plan in the amount of $176,000 agreed to

On Resource Assessment

Resource Assessment in the amount of $169,000 agreed to

On Kusawa Lake Management Plan

Kusawa Lake Management Plan in the amount of one dollar agreed to

On Coal River Springs

Coal River Springs in the amount of $10,000 agreed to

On Territorial Campgrounds and Day Use Areas

On Capital Works - Campground Facilities

Capital Works - Campground Facilities in the amount of $250,000 agreed to

On Outdoor Recreation Sites and Corridors

On Outdoor Recreation System Plan

Outdoor Recreation System Plan in the amount of $102,000 agreed to

On Heritage Rivers

On Yukon River (30 mile section)

Yukon River (30 mile section) in the amount of $15,000 agreed to

On Bonnet Plume River

Bonnet Plume River in the amount of $20,000 agreed to

On Tatshenshini River

Tatshenshini River in the amount of $15,000 agreed to

Environment, Parks and Field Services in the amount of $877,000 agreed to

On Resource Management

Chair: Is there general debate?

On Special Projects

On Wildlife Viewing Infrastructure

Mr. Phillips: Could the minister tell us what projects this involves?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: This project provides for a $102,000 for continued development of the wildlife infrastructure necessary to capitalize on wildlife interpretation throughout the Yukon Territory; the nature of the working groups feasibility studies for developing wildlife viewing potential and producing interpretative material, which will enhance wildlife viewing and satisfaction throughout the Yukon.

The current year plans include analysis of a wetland fauna and flora appreciation potential in the Whitehorse area, a strategic plan for a nature trail development in Yukon, development of interpretive panels, wildlife viewing brochures and the hiring of a wildlife viewing technician to assist in coordinating the delivery of this project. That's a half-time position.

Mr. Phillips: A lot of this money is going to planning, but I just would remind the minister that, in the visitor exit survey that was filled out in 1989, and in recent focus group studies that we had, one of the main areas of issues where the visitors wanted to see and do things was wildlife viewing, so I urge the minister to get over the planning stage and start developing some areas where people can stop and look at the wildlife, because it will slow them down. They will stay here a little longer.

I hope we can get quickly through the planning stage with some of these projects and move on more to the actual development of the viewing sites.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: It is our intention to have additional viewing areas and, with this, brochures and so on that incorporate all that we have out there right now. Also, we're developing the panels that go with them.

Wildlife Viewing Infrastructure in the amount of $102,000 agreed to

On Aishihik Caribou Evaluation

Aishihik Caribou Evaluation in the amount of $165,000 agreed to

On Fish and Wildlife Management Planning

Mr. Ostashek: What are we doing for the $75,000?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: To continue the development of regional fish and wildlife management plans with input from the affected First Nations, the renewable resource councils, the Fish and Wildlife Management Board and local resource users. These regional plans are urgently required to guide long-term conservation of wise use of key species.

Mr. Ostashek: Can the minister tell me why that's included in capital and not included in O&M? We're not getting anything for it. We're developing a plan. Why is it in the capital budget and not in the O&M budget?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I guess it's simply because this is a project and not something that's going to be going on and on.

Fish and Wildlife Management Planning in the amount of $75,000 agreed to

On Agriculture

On Infrastructure Facilities (Abattoir)

Infrastructure Facilities (Abattoir) in the amount of $100,000 agreed to

Resource Management in the amount of $442,000 agreed to

Chair: Are there any questions on recoveries or transfer payments?

Capital Expenditures for the Department of Renewable Resources in the amount of $1,640,000 agreed to

Department of Renewable Resources agreed to

Chair: We will now go to the Women's Directorate.

Women's Directorate

Chair: Is it the members' wish to take a brief recess?

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Chair: Ten minutes.


Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Is there general debate?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The 1997-98 operations and maintenance budget for the Women's Directorate represents a total of $416,000 to enable the Yukon government to achieve its commitment to the economic, legal and social equality of women in the Yukon through policy development and review, program coordination, consultation and public education.

The O&M expenditures of the Women's Directorate fall under one program heading, policy and program development. The allotments are, for personnel, $250,000, which reflects 3.8 full-year equivalent positions. As in previous years, the directorate will provide summer employment to a student through the Department of Education's STEP program.

The Directorate has an important role to work with government departments to ensure that we are open to wider points of view. The Directorate continues to review policy, legislation and programs to address concerns identified by Yukon women.

In order to recognize the principle of equality for women and men in the Yukon, we must incorporate gender analysis into the policy program development cycle. Our government will include gender analysis in government planning and policy development. The Directorate is working with the Executive Council Office to ensure that the public participation guide includes input from Yukon women during all consultative phases.

An amount of $16,000 has been allocated this year to ensure that the Yukon Advisory Council on Women's Issues has funds to hold quarterly meetings. New appointments to the council continue to reflect a balanced representation of urban, rural, First Nation and non-Aboriginal women of all ages. I'm looking forward to the important work that the Yukon Advisory Council on Women's Issues will be doing to advise this government on women's equality concerns.

In response to issues raised by young women in the A Cappella North report, the Directorate continues to focus on initiatives that promote equality for young women in our society. The Directorate is working with the Department of Education to ensure a safe and equitable learning environment for all Yukon students through implementation of the gender-equity policy for public schools.

At a workshop in March, teachers, administrators and department officials received copies of the Yukon curriculum review on gender bias. This document has also been distributed through the Yukon Teachers Association.

Violence against women remains a grave concern for many Yukon people. Earlier this month, I gave a tribute to the inter-agency steering committee members who organized activities for sexual assault prevention month. The speaker's roster of local resource people, which was a new feature this year, has been very well received by the community groups who have hosted presentations on freedom from violence, dating violence, sex offenders, services to victims and healing from sexual assault.

The Directorate has also encouraged school-based violence prevention programs, which are now being initiated in many Yukon schools. Forty-six thousand dollars has again been allocated in the area of violence prevention.

In the category of transfer payments, a total of $32,000 is allocated. Of this, a contribution of $20,000 will be provided to the Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre to help them in their operation.

By consolidating previous annual funding allocations into one lump sum and adding $5,000, our government is helping the Women's Centre in carrying out its valuable services to women.

I look forward to general debate on this department.

Mr. Phillips: I thank the minister for her opening comments.

I think - I hope, anyway - that when I was in the position the minister is in, responsible for the Women's Directorate, the critic was sometimes quite critical of what we were doing as "a bunch of men," I think she said a few times, with respect to women's issues.

I hope that now the minister has had a chance to look from the inside at the very good programs that the Women's Directorate were carrying out with all the various departments of the government, she now maybe has a different opinion about the fact that there were some good things being done. I can see by this budget and by the minister's opening statements that most of the things the minister talked about today were initiatives that were being worked on; some were near completion and some were near implementation. I think a lot of positive things were being done.

I am pleased to see that the minister has put aside any political differences with respect to the programs and the work that has been done and has chosen to put some money into some of the areas that were of concern in the A Cappella North report and in other reports - the focus group studies on women.

I do have a couple of questions. On gender analysis - just a comment on that. I know that that was not only a topic in our government, but also a topic of ministers responsible for the status of women across the country.

It was an initiative we were working with. I spoke on it quite extensively at the last Status of Women ministers' meeting, to Hedy Fry and the members at the meeting, and I think the comments we made were pretty well received. I'd be interested to hear how much further we've moved on that. I know we were making recommendations to the federal government on a gender analysis for initiatives that the federal government was undertaking, but I'm not sure where it's gone from there. Maybe the minister could let me know where that's at.

I'm pleased to see that the minister has chosen to continue with the advisory council to the minister. I know there was some criticism when we struck the council initially but the council is a great sounding board for ideas and suggestions and for looking at existing programs that the government is running.

I want to personally thank the advisory council, the previous chair, Sandra Pearson, and all of the members of the advisory council who were such a valuable resource to myself and to the department. The department used them quite often in discussions in developing our plans.

I also want to take the opportunity to publicly thank the department and the director of the department, Elda Ward, and the staff in there. Sometimes I thought there were 20 people working in there because of the amount of work they did and all of the deals that they seemed to be able to work out with other departments. They had an awful lot of people working for the Women's Directorate in getting our views injected into the other departments.

Believe me, I think the new minister will find that sometimes that is a bit difficult. The Women's Directorate is a very small department but has become very effective at getting the message out.

So, I want to thank the staff of the department for their very hard work over the last four years. I know they're absolutely, totally dedicated to what they do, and they do an excellent job.

With respect to the staff, at one time we had some job-share. Are we doing that any more, or do we just have the staff that are there now pretty well full time? How is that working out?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The first issue that the member spoke about was the gender analysis and he had some questions related to what policy work was being done in the federal plan, by the federal government.

The work that the federal government was doing is part of a plan that they now have in place. As well, recently, our government has brought Mary Fedorchuk, the executive director of policy and evaluation for the B.C. Ministry of Women's Equality to the Yukon to make presentations about how to ensure gender inclusive policy and program development.

I think that the message that we want to integrate women's equality concerns into the work of government has been one that departments have taken note of. Certainly, as the member said, the Women's Directorate plays a role in working with all government departments on that.

We have, as a government, also changed the form that's used for Cabinet submissions, to once again include the effect on women and First Nations as a policy concern that needs to be addressed when departments are preparing Cabinet submissions.

The member's question related to staffing. I can tell him that there still are flexible work arrangements available and that there are part-time positions at the Women's Directorate.

Mr. Phillips: I'd like another update as well; one of the initiatives that we worked on in government is the Creating Safer Communities initiative. Out of that developed an all department committee - it wasn't all department, I guess there were about five departments involved and the Women's Directorate was involved in that.

I have to tell the minister that I felt that that was a very effective way of getting the issues respecting women on to the agenda of some of the other departments, and I wonder if the minister plans to continue that work.

I know the Creating Safer Communities initiative was what it sort of came out of, but much of it revolved around the time of violence in schools and the A Cappella North report and that kind of thing.

I just want to get assurances from the minister that the Women's Directorate is still there and still has a very strong voice with respect to the much larger departments and we're still there as an equal voice at the table.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, the Women's Directorate is still participating in a number of interdepartmental and intergovernmental committees. That includes the Creating Safer Communities work that is ongoing.

Mr. Phillips: I don't have a lot of other questions.

The Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre is an issue. The minister has sort of rolled the various contributions into one and added another $5,000 to that, but I would like to talk just a little bit about the status of the accommodation of the Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre. We heard about it the other day in the House, and I just wonder if the minister has anything more that she can offer us on whether or not they do have more permanent accommodation. Have they reached an agreement, and where do they think they are going with this?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I received a letter from the Women's Centre last week, in which they acknowledged that our government had set aside funding through the community projects initiatives to help them. At the time that the proposal was approved, it was to help them purchase a home that was later taken off the market. We have indicated to the Women's Centre that they will be able to access that money, if and when they find another home to purchase. They are still actively looking, and I believe they viewed a couple of houses on the weekend.

Mr. Phillips: Just a couple of final comments, Mr. Chair. I have to tell the minister that, out of all the portfolios I ever had when I was a minister in government, I think the Women's Directorate was probably the most interesting, and I say that sincerely. This is no slight to the minister, but I was a little bit disappointed when they appointed that member as the minister. I only say that because I think it would be a useful exercise, not just in our government, but in all governments, somewhere down the road, to appoint men into the portfolio. I'll tell you, I learned an awful lot. I thought I understood women's issues and women's concerns. It was a very enlightening experience to be involved in it.

If governments can't do that, one of the other things I would suggest they might want to do is maybe the minister would want to take one or two of her colleagues, one time or another, to the Status of Women meetings and sit in on the meetings and listen to some of the discussions that take place. It certainly gives you a different perspective on how women feel about some of the issues and what their solutions are. It certainly helped me in carrying out my duties as a man in a portfolio dealing primarily with women.

I just make that as a constructive suggestion. I think that it would be a useful thing to do. I don't know how we could ever do it, but it certainly was useful in my case, and I think it would be useful, and it might change a lot of things out there for women if more men were made more aware of the issues that women face on a day-to-day basis.

So I just leave that with the minister.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I certainly appreciate the member's support, both of the Women's Directorate staff and for the existence of this particular portfolio. I'm glad that he enjoyed his work in it. I think that it would probably change things if men, in their positions of leadership, were to listen to the concerns that women bring forward and it would certainly be a useful exercise to have all members and ministers acting to improve equality for women in their work. I am always happy to share my views on equality concerns with other ministers and I know they're happy to act on them. I'm glad that the member opposite found some joy in his work as minister responsible for the Women's Directorate.

Mrs. Edelman: Well, Mr. Chair, my dream in this is that there would be so many women in government that you would have to choose which woman got the Women's Directorate.

I was lucky enough to attend the Women in Middle Years conference in the fall, and at that conference we talked about a number of issues to do with more mature women, and some of those equality concerns were issues around housing, pensions and personal safety. Now, how are we going to be following through on those issues that were brought forward at the conference?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The Women in Middle Years symposium was a very well-attended and, I think, popular event for the many women who were there in November. There have been some actions taken as a result of the Middle Years symposium. A list of interested people was compiled and a menopause support group has started.

The Yukon College health and safety branch women's health worker provided some funding for the facilitator of the menopause support group, and they've set up a series of meetings. In addition, there have been some brown bag lunches planned on the topic of women and specific health issues that were raised at the conference. There's a series of evening lectures on women studies issues, and women and finances was addressed. That was one of the hot topics at the symposium. So, those are some of the actions that have come about as a result of women coming together at the Middle Years symposium.

Mrs. Edelman: One of the things that the minister just alluded to was the brown bag lunches that came out of it. There was one particular series that went through and talked about a number of issues surrounding menopause and pre-menopause. They were very poorly attended.

I think that I went to the largest lunch and there were four of us there. That's kind of sad, because there are so many people for whom this is a very, very large issue, particularly now that baby-boomers are coming up into that age group.

What I'm wondering about is if there are going to be any further efforts to contact people on those issues.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I believe that women who may not have attended the brown bag lunch on the subject have been coming into the Women's Directorate and requesting information that is available in their library related to menopause and ageing.

One of the reasons that we developed a speakers roster this year during Sexual Assault Prevention Month was to, instead of having the onus for people to show up at a meeting and come and attend something because they might be interested in a lecture, have speakers going and attending service clubs or community group meetings and making a presentation there. We found that that was really quite successful. There were some presentations that related to health promotion and ageing, with the speakers roster, so t

hat is another way of accomplishing the same goals that we can try again in the future.

Mrs. Edelman: One of the things that I've always found amazing is that I have attended the Yukon Council on Ageing AGM since there were Yukon Council on Aging AGMs. I have yet to hear a speaker from the Women's Directorate or any of the women's groups come to that particular group. The membership for the Yukon Council on Ageing - I was at the one this year. What I'm hoping is that there's going to be something that follows through there.

There was a newsletter that goes out to almost 4,000 seniors in the Yukon and they are always desperate for articles - believe me, they are desperate for articles. Is there any hope that there is going to be some follow through with this newsletter? It is one of the greatest communication tools in the Yukon for seniors. If there is any move in that direction, it would be very positive.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I appreciate the member's suggestion, and we can certainly see if it's possible to have some newsletter articles available for the Yukon Council on Ageing. I know that, when the speaker came in May, there was a request for similar presentations, so we're working on that.

Mrs. Edelman: There's another organization that has quite a few seniors in it, and that's the Golden Age Society, and I don't think they should be ignored either. Quite frankly, the Royal Canadian Legion has quite a few seniors in it as well, and I'm wondering if those two groups could also be considered.

What I'm concerned about is, for First Nation elders and women in particular, is there any program to try to contact First Nation elders where they live as opposed to them coming to meetings, because that doesn't seem to work very well?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The Women's Directorate has worked with the Yukon Indian Women's Association in the past on projects such as that. They do not have an active executive at the moment.

In response to the member's first comments, we can certainly look at adding the groups that she mentioned next year to a speakers roster and to events that are scheduled in the future.

Mrs. Edelman: There are regular gatherings of each of the Yukon bands and I'm wondering if there could be some work in the direction of getting some sort of conversation or dialogue started at one of those gatherings in relation to the Women's Directorate and some of the work that they do in the Yukon, particularly around women's and seniors' issues.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: In the opening remarks, I spoke briefly about the Yukon Advisory Council on Women's Issues. There are aboriginal women on that council. There are also seniors and elders on that council. It's important that we don't come in, as non-aboriginal people, to be presenting and telling them what we think they should do or how they should do it.

So, with the role of the advisory council and the participation of aboriginal women on that council, I hope that some work can be done as the member is suggesting.

The Women's Directorate also participated in a day long senior's policy circle this week.

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

On Policy and Program Development

On Activities

On Program Delivery

Program Delivery in the amount of $308,000 agreed to

On Public Education

Public Education in the amount of $62,000 agreed to

On Violence Prevention

Violence Prevention in the amount of $46,000 agreed to

Policy and Program Development in the amount of $416,000 agreed to

Chair: Are there any questions on the recoveries?

Mrs. Edelman: Just for a point of interest, any time there's something that has to be catered or that has to be serviced in some way by the service industry, is there an effort made to deal with women's small business that offer that service?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, we do attempt to do that. However, there's also an attempt to ensure that business is spread around so that it doesn't always go to the same businesses. But, certainly, we do use women catering services where available.

Mrs. Edelman: The Women's Business Network offers a directory of all of the businesses that women offer and I'm glad to hear that the minister is using that.

Mr. Phillips: Before we clear this, I would just like the list again of the awards that we give to women annually, the various categories. Could the minister give me that information?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The categories of recognizing women for the awards in October, in recognition of Person's Day, are community, educator, activist, entrepreneur, and arts and culture. Those are the five, and then there is a sixth award presented to a young woman.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, did we - I can't recall how we did it last year - include the young women awards at the same level as the other ones? I think we did last year, I believe for the first time. Okay. I can recall last year - a bit of it was a blur.

The evening went by rather quickly for me.

As you know, I took part in the festivities that evening. I rode a bicycle, and I happened to get on the back seat of a bicycle built for two, and the Member for Whitehorse West was driving, which was a scary thought. There were two problems with that. The first problem was typical of a New Democrat. He didn't have very good balance. Secondly, he kept turning to the left, and the only good thing about turning to the left is that meant we stayed on the stage, so turning to the right wouldn't have been a good idea at that event, believe me.

That was a very interesting event that night, and we had an opportunity to see some of the most talented people of the Yukon - women - showcase their talents, and at the same time recognize Yukon women for their efforts. So, I think it was a good event last year. It was a change from other years where it was a banquet, and I think it was a nice change, and I don't know whether we're planning to go back to that again or whether we are planning something different. From the people I talked to that night, it was sort of a gala evening for women, and it really was something special, and I encourage the minister to do it one more time before we try something a little different the next time.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, I'm glad that the member enjoyed himself riding the bicycle built for two with my colleague, the Member for Whitehorse West. I enjoyed watching them circle around to the left on the stage as well.

We do plan to have the Yukon women awards night again this year with a similar event to last year.

Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Women's Directorate in the amount of $416,000 agreed to

Women's Directorate agreed to

Yukon Development Corporation

Chair: Is there any general debate?

Mr. Ostashek: The minister's getting depressed already because I stood on my feet. I just want to inform the minister that I don't have a whole lot of - he is now, he wasn't a few seconds ago. I don't have a whole lot of questions on this as far as the Energy Corporation, which is a subsidiary of the Development Corporation. We've been through that. The minister's quite clear on our position on that, but I do have one question I would like the minister to answer for me, if he would be so charitable tonight.

Could he tell this House what is an interim refundable rate application?

Hon. Mr. Harding: An interim refundable rate application, as I understand it, is one that bridges a gap in the less-than-anticipated revenue projections. In the case of the Faro mine being a major customer, as it was and as it will be if and when it goes back on stream, is lost to the system, then there is an interim problem. The rate application that is being proposed for the 20-percent increase is spanned over an 18-month period. It's an interim rate increase. It is refundable if there are portions that are recouped, if and when that customer comes back on the system.

For example, with demand charges, the major industrial customer, Anvil Range, owes, even though they're not on the grid, somewhere in the vicinity of $450,000 a month, unless they remain off the grid for six months. Then they qualify for site maintenance rate. However, they chose to go off the grid in entirety, as opposed to just hanging on, paying the demand charges and reverting to a site maintenance rate.

So, an interim refundable rate application is a bridging application. It's refundable in the sense that if more monies are obtained than are anticipated, it's refundable to the customer.

Mr. Ostashek: That may be so, but the minister is as cognizant of it as I am. The company didn't go off the grid with the intentions of paying the demand charge when they come back on the grid. They have no intentions of doing that, and I don't believe the Energy Corporation has any intentions of collecting from them.

What we have in front of the Utilities Board today is an application for an interim rate, and the only benefit that I see coming back to the ratepayers after that is, if the mine comes back in to production, that rate that's been applicable between now and when the mine comes back into production will be lowered back down to what it was prior to the mine shutting down.

But I don't believe for one minute, and I don't think the minister does either, that the ratepayers are going to get any of the increase that may be awarded by the Utilities Board between now and when the mine starts operating. I don't believe that the minister for one minute believes that the consumers are going to get any of that back.

Hon. Mr. Harding: That's the basis of the application. There is a lot of technical information as it pertains to rates, as I have been told. I'm no expert on Yukon Energy Corporation details as it pertains to rates. The member knows that there is a lot in terms of what goes into the rates and it depends often on the times of year even that the mine might be on the system or might be off.

The member may be correct; I don't know. That's not what I've been told. I would love it if it were so that there would be a refund to consumers.

With regard to the demand charges, though, the Energy Corporation is, as I understand it, completely interested in obtaining demand charges and is actually seeking an opinion from the Utilities Board at this particular application for clarification of their ruling that they would have to pay those demand charges for the months they've been off the grid. So, they seem to be very serious about it.

Mr. Ostashek: Well, I don't doubt the minister for one minute that the Energy Corporation is serious about it, but the reality of the situation is that there is going to be negotiations between either the Energy Corporation or the government with Anvil Range Mining pertaining to energy rates. This seems to be - from what the company is telling Yukoners - one of the obstacles in putting the mine back into production.

So I, for one, don't believe that we would ever collect any demand charges between now and when the mine starts up, or the mine isn't going to start up for six months. It's as simple as that and then they won't have to pay it.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Ostashek:

Well, the minister says it could be as long as a year, but I think the reality of the situation is much clearer than that.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Ostashek: Well, the minister says 60-cent zinc, and that may well be the case, but if the minister wants to look at the combined price of lead and zinc, there is not much change: even though zinc has gone up, lead is down to 28 cents a pound. It was up at almost 40 cents a pound when zinc was at 46 cents. So, if we combined the price of zinc and lead, the combined price is not much different than what it was a year ago. So, there are still some major obstacles for the company to overcome.

I just don't believe that we ought to be holding out any hope for consumers that they are going to get a refund from this interim rate application if it's approved by the Utilities Board. I suspect that that will be paid for by us consumers and the best we could hope for is that the rate does come back down when the mine opens.

Hon. Mr. Harding: That would certainly be a small victory in and of itself.

The issue of the demand charge is one that is perplexing to me. The member opposite has indicated that the company will just simply stay down for six months to convert to - I don't believe site maintenance rate then, but if they go off the grid, they are not even eligible for that, so they have to pay the demand charges anyway.

I guess what I should say to the member is that we haven't had negotiations with them about power rates. It has not even advanced that far. A 20-percent power rate cut for the company, Anvil Range, would mean something in the vicinity of eight to 10 percent for our other classes of customers.

We have talked about energy options and energy issues. We've talked a bit about demand charges but, at this point, the Energy Corporation has very firmly focused on recouping their demand charges and the company has a big equation there to make.

I know what the weighted average price is. It's still very good. The member is correct on that with regard to the lead prices. It is still very good. They can make money at this particular price. If you look at the levels and the predictions we were pulling off the Net from the London Metal Exchange, I mean, it's phenomenal. They're talking about another rise like the one they had when Mr. Frame was here, from 1985-89, where they hit 85-cent zinc.

By mid- next year.

They say the fundamentals are good now. What we have now with the market is not hocus-pocus, but that can change. We have all seen how metals markets can change.

However, the demand charges are an issue, obviously, for the company. They are also an issue for the Energy Corporation and other customers on the system. As of this point, they have an equation to make. If there are profits to be made there, they have to weigh whether they wouldn't start up on the basis of $800,000 or $1 million in demand charges versus the potential profits that they could make by operating the mine.

We will obviously be discussing this further, as will the Energy Corporation, with Anvil Range, but I don't think that's enough of an impediment to prevent a very profitable organization from starting up if things are good on the markets.

I would be interested, if the member is willing, to hear what he's got to say about demand charges - whether he thinks they should be paid or if he thinks it's a fair system. I would be interested in his views on it.

Mr. Ostashek: I have great difficulty with the whole policy of how we provide power in the Yukon. It needs a major overhaul. As long as we're going to ask the consumers to pay for all of the capital costs that we put in, and to have these huge demand charges to pay for capital costs that it costs us to provide the service, even though we're providing it over a period of many, many years, I have some great difficulty with that. I don't think there's another jurisdiction in Canada, or maybe the United States, that doesn't have a policy on grid expansions that's paid for by taxpayers and then rebated by their utilities over a period of time. It's something we have to seriously look at. It's something that we were going to look at. Call it a rural electrification policy or what you want, but any time we have a mine like Western Copper that was talking about hooking up to the grid, and then was faced with the costs of paying for that grid from Carmacks up to their property - not just from the grid in to their property but the whole grid expansion from Carmacks - we're discouraging, especially industrial customers, from ever hooking up to the grid.

There needs to be a complete overhaul of how we assess costs to people. We ought to be in a policy of selling power to the customers, not selling them the capital infrastructure, so that they could then pay a premium for the power that they buy from us. Until we get that issue resolved, and it's not an easy issue to resolve, it's something that seriously has to be looked at.

I know of a private individual in Teslin who wanted to put in a pellet plant, and the costs of hooking up to the grid started out at some $65,000 and ended up getting down to $35,000. He was basically going to pay for all of the cost of hooking up to it, just for the right to buy very expensive power from, in that case, Yukon Electrical, I guess, who distributes the power. At any rate, that is an issue that needs to be resolved.

I would just say to the minister, on this issue of Faro and the demand charges, if we make the nut too large for the company to crack, I don't have any doubts that they will seriously consider putting in their own generation to operate the mine, and I think that would be a travesty. It would be a tremendous blow to the Energy Corporation and to all ratepayers in the Yukon if, in fact, the company chose to put in their own facility.

My concern, as the minister responsible for the Energy Corporation when I was in power, is that we were going to have major customers looking at that. Even with Western Copper, who I had some close knowledge of because of dealing with them, when they looked at the costs of extending the grid for the privilege of buying power from us, it was cheaper for them to put in their own plants and take the heat recovery to use in their operation. If we can't be competitive, and we're getting to the point where I don't think we are going to be competitive, this is what's going to happen and we'll never be able to develop our utility.

Could the minister just tell me what are the demand charges that are going to be assessed against Anvil Range on a monthly basis during the shut-down? Does the member have that figure?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well the same demand charges that were set at the last cost of service hearing. They are in the range of $400,000 to $450,000 a month, so they're pretty extensive. The company wanted to apply for a site maintenance rate right off the get-go, when they shut down the milling operation on March 31st. However, YEC, being a regulated utility, having had the Yukon Utilities Board rule that they weren't eligible without another Utilities Board ruling couldn't agree to a site maintenance rate for them, so they pulled the plug on the grid and the member is quite right, I don't think they want to pay those demand charges.

There's an interesting, differing view among many of the interveners with regard to Anvil.

The member says that we don't know where we are going beyond the point where we're not competitive. I would just say to him though, that he knows full well, all politics aside, that we're dealing with two rate riders and we're dealing with - with regard to power rate increases - rate riders, not full-time rate increases, and we're dealing with a 20-percent interim increase that's related to Anvil.

The member knows that if things work as they should with regard to the application, there should be a reduction upon Anvil if they do - and I hope they do - re-enter the use of the grid.

Mr. Ostashek: Well, I think the minister is maybe simplifying it a little. I think one of the biggest stumbling blocks that we have is the hidden subsidy of governments being 145 percent of the cost of service. Until we get down to a formula that's closer to user-pay, it's going to be difficult to expand our utilities.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Ostashek: Well, the petition was not in response so much as to what the Energy Corporation did, as a response to promises made by the NDP before they were elected to government; that is what the petition is in response to.

The situation here is - I can just relate to the minister, I'm not going to use up a lot of time, because we are running overtime anyhow.

With the hospital construction over there - with the consultants that we hired, with the project manager - he was adamant that he was going to put his own power into there because of the cost of hooking up to the grid.

If he could have convinced the politicians to do it, he would have, but it was something that wasn't politically acceptable and we couldn't do it, but he showed us on paper a tremendous savings to the operation and maintenance to the hospital over a period of years, because they need some stand-by generators anyhow, and he was just prepared to throw one more in and produce their own power, have the heat recovery, and he could have done it a lot cheaper than the hospital being subjected to 145 percent of the cost of service, so I think that's another issue that we have to deal with.

I don't have any further questions. Maybe my colleagues do, I don't know.

Mr. Cable: The financial statements are taken off for the Development Corporation and the Energy Corporation on a consolidated basis as at the end of December of each year. Are the statements available in rough form for the year ending December 31st, 1996?

Hon. Mr. Harding: I'm not entirely sure at this point. I believe that they may be, and I will check for the member and find out and try to get them to him, if they are available, as soon as humanly possible.

Mr. Cable: I think it has been the practice previously of tabling the statements in the House, and of course that will be some months hence, so I look forward to the -

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Cable: As soon as the sub-debate is over here.

I look forward to receiving the statements as soon as they are available.

Does the minister have any idea whether the rough draft of the statements is finished?

Hon. Mr. Harding: There was some discussion among the huge myriad of issues we've been discussing in energy. It hasn't been a priority of mine at this point to see those statements. We've had many discussions about the finances. I have asked more specific questions as it relates to the solvency of the corporation, but I believe that they would be in rough draft, and I'll try to get whatever information I can for the member. I believe he did have some discussion with the president when he was testifying as a witness before the House on that subject.

Mr. Cable: The last statements that we have are December 31st, 1995, and the consolidated statements show liquid assets in the amount of $11.5 million. From the footnotes, it appears that $7.7 million of that is located in the Development Corporation. Is the minister aware whether the financial position of the Development Corporation has changed materially from that figure of $7.7 million with respect to liquid or current assets - that's cash and short-term investments?

Hon. Mr. Harding: The only substantial draw-down on the YDC would have been with regard to the protection of the bottom two feet of water in Aishihik Lake.

Mr. Cable: How much was drawn down, approximately, for that purpose - that's out of the Development Corporation back to the Energy Corporation?

Hon. Mr. Harding: That figure is between $4 million and $4.5 million, and the final numbers aren't calculated yet.

Mr. Cable: Has the minister a rough idea of what there is remaining in the Development Corporation at the present time in the way of current assets as cash and short-term investments?

Hon. Mr. Harding: My understanding is it would be roughly $3 million to $4 million. We had accumulated somewhere in the fund around $8 million or $9 million. As I said, that was the only draw-down.

Mr. Cable: What's this government's intentions with respect to that $3 million? Is that money going to remain there or is it going to be put back in the Energy Corporation for rate relief? Just what are we going to do with it?

Hon. Mr. Harding: It's a tough question to answer on the floor of the House. There are many different options. You could roll it into rate relief. The debate would be about whether that was a short-term stopgap. It could be reinvested in some asset infrastructure. It could be used in a number of ways, actually. We haven't made a decision as to where we should utilize that money. Perhaps a Haines Junction sawmill or something like that.

Mr. Cable: You just heard 30,000 Yukoners shudder.

The Energy Corporation is going to get $4 million from its rationalization deal with the Yukon Electrical Company Limited. One of the things that I find curious is there seems to be some compulsion to run out and spend that money to improve the size of the rate base, I think the phraseology was used. This is a corporation that's crying out for liquidity and cash reserves.

Could the minister tell us what's behind this compulsion to go out and buy assets with that $4 million?

Hon. Mr. Harding: It's all about keeping our election commitments on the asset base of the Yukon Energy Corporation. We committed that the asset base wouldn't materially change in terms of the value. It also affects, obviously, the rates, if it's not reinvested in assets, as the member also knows. That decision wouldn't be made for reinvestment until next year - some time in 1998.

So, the compulsion is, number one, as we always do, to live up to our commitments and, number two, to invest it and target it at infrastructure. I think it would have a benefit to Yukon ratepayers.

Mr. Cable: I'll say to the minister that retention of liquidity in this corporation is much more important than going out and buying assets that may or may not be necessary, and that it's much simpler to change the rules that govern the rate hearings than it is to dispense with, or do away with, this very handy liquidity. Could I suggest to the minister that he contemplate, anyway, changing the OIC that governs the operations of the Utilities Board or the operations of the Development Corporation to permit the retention of that money if, in fact, the board of that corporation thinks it's necessary for liquidity purposes?

Hon. Mr. Harding: I'd be happy to look at it. However, it would be difficult, but I'd be happy to look at it and take the member's representation under advisement.

Mr. Cable: The previous administration had issued a directive to the Development Corporation restricting the Development Corporation's activities, if I remember the verbiage correctly, to energy-related projects. Where does this government sit on that directive? Are they going to leave it in place, or are they going to remove it?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, Mr. Chair, we have no intention of removing it. Our policy has been to utilize that money for the foreseeable future, anyway, and to continue to utilize that money for energy-related matters and issues.

Mr. Cable: This question may be partly answered by the last question, but what does the minister see as the future of the Development Corporation? It has much wider terms of reference in the statute than it does by virtue of the limitation given to it by the directive. Does the minister see at some time that this Development Corporation will do some developing?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, I'm very concerned about the power situation in the territory. I think that there's a lot of investment that's got to be made. There's got to be a lot of work done in the area of alternative energy sources. I think we have to deal with the fundamental questions that have been identified over and over and over again by all the political parties. Whether it's cost of service or supply options, or whether it's the operation of the system, I think there's a lot of investment that's got to be made, and we have more than our hands full in terms of investing YDC monies in our electrical system to try and get the cost of power down in the territory and to try not to destroy our environment along the way.

Mr. Cable: On another topic, the diesel contingency fund - it's my understanding that the utilities do not think that that's available to stabilize rates for other than the originally contemplated diesel usage, that it is not usable for the Anvil Range situation.

I understand that that view is not shared by this government, because the AYC board, I gather, passed a resolution saying the diesel contingency fund should not be used for rate stabilization and one of the government's members vigorously disagreed with that contention in Watson Lake.

What is this minister's view on the use of the diesel contingency fund? Is he prepared to authorize its use for stabilizing rates?

Hon. Mr. Harding: It's interesting, and I don't quite have a handle on the position of AYC. They had been very supportive, as had the City of Whitehorse and the member, when the discussion about how the appeal court decision, stemming back to 1993 - how those monies should be recouped. There was pretty wide consensus among a number of the usual interveners, with the exception of UCG, and one Whitehorse city council member was very vocal with regard to utilization of that diesel contingency fund.

With the Anvil Range mine down, it does pose some interesting questions about whether or not there are good, valid reasons for maintaining it for the purpose of diesel contingency or whether it should be used for other purposes such as offsetting to some degree 20-percent rate hikes. I think that we have to seriously consider that option, given the situation we're in, and at this point I'm hopeful that AYC will see it that way.

It's interesting to note that UCG has quite dramatically, at least the last time I looked and read, changed its position with regard to the use of that diesel contingency fund.

Mr. Cable: In view of the posture, I believe, taken by the utilities, and I suspect agreed with by the Utilities Board, it would probably be necessary, in my view, to strike an order-in-council to authorize its extended use.

Is the minister of that view that the diesel contingency fund should, in fact, be used to offset the Anvil Range generated rate hikes and, if so, is he prepared to do what is necessary to authorize its usage?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Cabinet is looking at that presently, and we haven't made a determination yet. I haven't taken it to my colleagues.

Mr. Ostashek: I have a few more questions that I need cleared up now that have arisen out of the for debate with the Member for Riverside.

When the president for the corporation was in here - when we had him in here as a witness in the Legislature - it was my understanding that there was close to $10 million in the Yukon Development Corporation and that the $4.5 million for the diesel costs of the Aishihik decision were funded out of the cashflow of the Energy Corporation. Am I wrong in that assumption? Was the money from the Development Corporation used to pay for the diesel on the Aishihik decision?

Hon. Mr. Harding: The government and the Energy Corporation have been completely consistent on that point, right from the day that we announced the decision that it was going to be funded.

Any difference between what the Energy Corporation would have used or requested, had they used the bottom two feet, versus what was the cost of producing power, given not using the two feet, would be offset by using Yukon Development Corporation funds, not cashflow - cash reserves, not cashflow. That's the debate that I redirected when the member was questioning the president when he was here, because I wanted to make it crystal clear that that was indeed the case.

With regard to the monies, they did come out of the Yukon Development Corporation and not cashflow. With regard to the diesel contingency fund, it's my understanding that there is a balance of about $2.5 million.

With regard to the reserves of Yukon Development Corporation, my understanding has always been that it's never been $10 million, but rather $8 million or $9 million.

Mr. Ostashek: Nevertheless, it was my understanding that, with what would have been accumulated there this year, it would have been close to $10 million.

What the minister is telling us tonight then is that he is pretty boxed-in, with room to move, when it comes to rate subsidization, because if the reserves are down in the $3 million range, like he just said a few minutes ago in debate, and the diesel contingency fund is at $2.5 million, I don't think the minister has much room to move.

Hon. Mr. Harding: Am I correct? Well, there's always more than one way to skin a cat and we've still got a little bit of room. Not as much as I'd like, but there's still some room.

Mr. Cable: Just out of curiosity, where is that room? I think the Government Leader has told us that he's not going to be using taxpayers' money. Has that view changed, or did I misunderstand him?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, we have some very interesting options that will be going to Cabinet, but again, I haven't taken them to my colleagues yet. But I can assure the members opposite that it will be in their best interests and the best interests of their constituents.

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

On Gross Advances

Gross Advances in the amount of one dollar agreed to

Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for Yukon Development Corporation in the amount of one dollar agreed to

Yukon Development Corporation agreed to

Yukon Housing Corporation

Chair: Is there general debate?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: It is with pleasure that I rise today to present the budget for Yukon Housing Corporation.

Before I do that, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the members of the corporation's board of directors and the local housing advisory boards. Throughout the year, they work to identify solutions to the housing problems facing Yukon people.

Mr. Chair, during the past election, we promised Yukoners that we would offer affordable housing options, a comprehensive solution to long-standing issues involving owners of mobile homes on rental pads, and lending programs to address needed home repairs. This budget delivers on those commitments.

The mission to Yukon Housing Corporation, as identified by the board of directors is: to resolve the housing needs of Yukoners by helping the marketplace to work better; to further the self-sufficiency of communities and industries and individuals; and to assist people where needed.

In order to fulfill its mission, the corporation's board of directors has been developing a strategic plan to provide it with a clear framework within which to deliver its initiatives and programs.

This strategic plan will be reviewed by government and, when it is approved, it will become a measuring stick against which the board, the government and the public will be able to judge the corporation's effectiveness.

As the minister responsible for Yukon Housing, I will be working with the board to encourage the involvement of interested members of the public and industry in the development and adoption of new, effective approaches in housing issues facing the Yukon.

In the coming year, I would like to see the board and the corporation actively involved in the housing issues facing seniors and in meeting the specific needs of Yukon communities.

As many members will know, the Yukon Council on Ageing is currently working to identify housing issues facing seniors in the territory. When this needs analysis is completed, I anticipate that the corporation will be working closely with the council and the public to identify solutions to the identified problems.

As the legislative representative of a large rural riding, I recognize that each of our communities has its own personality and its own distinct housing needs. Programs developed for the whole Yukon may have some applications to communities but, inevitably, some problems fall through the cracks. To assist with the identification of rural housing issues, the corporation will encourage and support community-driven analyses of housing needs and the development of community housing plans to help shape the programming of the corporation.

Local development such as a new or proposed mine can have dramatic impacts on the local housing market. Local housing plans, updated regularly, can help the corporation and government anticipate what might be needed to prepare the community housing sector for the impacts.

Development of lots, infrastructure, potential new home construction or rental accommodation might be necessary and it is important to hear from communities what they feel they need, what they are capable of supplying and where they need help.

Government looks forward to an opportunity to respond to creative community-driven proposals to deal with the real housing problems.

Mr. Chair, this government believes that the Housing Corporation has a role to play in the housing market. According to Stats Canada, housing in the Yukon is in poor condition when compared to the rest of the country. The goal of this government is to offer affordable housing options for Yukon people and, in doing so, to improve housing stock. It is important to remember that one of the corporation's key roles in this is to provide financial tools that are not available from the banks. Most of the real work toward this goal is done by dozens of contractors, carpenters and trades people who work within the housing industry.

Their work leads to business opportunities for suppliers, realtors and the financial community. Of course, the corporation also manages the Yukon supply of social housing and does a great deal to inform the public about housing options.

The home repair program will continue this year to make a significant contribution to the improvement of housing in the territory through low-interest of up to $35,000 to bring homes up to code.

The budget for this program is to remain unchanged at $4 million, although I should note that some elements of the mobile-home strategy will be funded through this program. As in the past, home owners may qualify for a subsidy for this program based on their income and family size. The home ownership program also continues this year.

Although this budget has been reduced by $500,000 in recognition of market changes, which have led to the availability of more entry-level housing, this program helps Yukoners who can afford home ownership but are unable to secure significant mortgage financing from the private sector.

In this program, as in others, the corporation operates as a lender of last resort. To increase access to home ownership, the corporation will continue to work directly with the financial community to remove financing barriers.

This year, the Housing Corporation is formally adding a home completion program for owners of incomplete homes in rural Yukon to its list of affordable housing initiatives. As many rural residents know, banks are often reluctant to lend for this purpose because of the limited housing markets in smaller communities.

The pilot project home completion program offered last year enjoyed an enthusiastic takeup, despite a late start and limited promotion. The government is convinced that there is a need for it and has accepted the board's recommendation that it be continued. We expect the program to do much to improve the housing situation in rural Yukon.

Approved clients will be eligible for mortgage at a five-year market rate. Funds for the programs will come from the home ownership program budget.

Mr. Chair, the owner-build program, which recognizes that many Yukoners have both the ability and the desire to construct their own homes, has a budget this year of $600,000. The program provides bridge financing to people who want to build but will not be able to complete construction within the six month time frame called for by conventional financing.

If the house is complete, the client can obtain a conventional mortgage from their bank and all funds owing to the corporation be paid out in full.

A rental suite program also continues this year. It is designed to provide home owners with loans to upgrade or build suites.

Funding to this program is conditional. Before the application is approved, market conditions are reviewed to determine the impact that this unit may have on the marketplace. If the current vacancy rate is in excess of three percent, the home owner must first confirm occupancy of the suite, before the corporation can consider the loan.

A partnership campaign program to the accessory suite initiative will also be offered to December 31st, 1997, in conjunction with the City of Whitehorse.

The Yukon Housing Corporation will once again offer loans to qualified home owners who want to upgrade their suites to meet minimum health and safety requirements. This initiative has increased the rental suite program budget by $25,000.

The joint venture program can provide private sector developers with loans to help them leverage financing to proceed with affordable housing initiatives. These projects could be rental units, entry level homes for resale or even senior housing.

This year's budget of $500,000 is a reduction from last year. It reflects the anticipated demands for loan assistance under the program. I should note that the demand can be highly variable.

In recognition of the diversity of projects which might be conceived, each application under the joint venture program is reviewed on its own merits by the board of directors. The non-profit housing program provides suitable housing to Yukoners who cannot afford the cost of market rent.

The $598,000 budgeted here represents the investment we plan to make in the maintenance and energy efficiency of these social housing units.

An increase of $198,000 over last year should help spur some action into the small and medium-sized contracting community. The corporation, wherever possible, structures tenders to make it possible for community contractors to bid.

The staff housing program, which provides rental accommodations to YTG employees and teachers who reside in communities other than Whitehorse, shows a dramatic increase to $1,408,000 this year. This is largely explained by two extraordinary events.

The first is $700,000 that is required to construct new staff housing in Old Crow to replace units destroyed in a recent fire. The second concerns 27 staff housing units transferred to the corporation through the recent phase 2 health transfer. As part of the transfer agreement, the federal government will provide $583,000 in this fiscal year to address the necessary upgrades to the units.

Mr. Chair, the extended mortgage guarantee program is designed to provide mortgage insurance for new homes constructed in rural Yukon. Additional mortgage insurance offered through the corporation offers the bank the security they need to complement CMHC mortgage insurance based on market values. With the help from the corporation, home owners can finance the real cost of construction.

The $1.00 amount budgeted for this program would enable the corporation board of directors to respond in the event of a loan default.

The central services expenditures from the corporation will be $91,000 in the current year, a reduction of $115,000. These funds will pay for capital improvements to the central services required by the corporation.

Mr. Chair, many of the components of the mobile-home strategy announced earlier today did not appear in this budget, so I will not speak to them now, although they will show up as a capital expenditure in future supplementaries.

The corporation's prime role is to respond to housing needs, but it also plays a significant and growing part in the research and development of new housing technologies. The corporation has been actively involved in working with Yukon people and business on the Energy Commission to develop and implement an energy rating system for residential home owners. We believe that the program has the potential to make home owners and prospective buyers much more aware of the energy cost associated with different housing types and will lead to an increasingly energy-efficient Yukon housing stock.

The corporation will also continue to host the industrial research assistance program, which provides technical assistance to small and medium-sized Canadian companies that already have technological capabilities and wish to strengthen them.

One of the ways IRAP can help client companies is through finance for research and development, or R and D activities that both the firm and IRAP believe will improve the company's performance.

Generally, these cost-shared projects fall into two categories: technology and enhancement projects, which are on a smaller scale and often of a preliminary nature; and research and development adaptation projects, which involve larger, more complex R and D activities carried out over longer periods of time.

Mr. Chair, the Yukon Housing Corporation also partners with other governments or government departments and NGOs to resolve long outstanding issues.

The mobile-home strategy, developed in partnership with the City of Whitehorse and the Department of Justice and Community and Transportation Services, is a good example. Another is the work we are doing with the Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre and Saint Joe's to address their housing needs. We also anticipate working with First Nations and municipal governments on the development of local housing strategies and will continue to work with the private sector developers who have ideas which can address the housing needs of Yukoners.

Thank you for providing me with the opportunity to present a brief overview of some of the major activities, programs and initiatives of the Yukon Housing Corporation for the 1997-98 fiscal year. I look forward to responding to questions.

Mr. Jenkins: If I could just explore with the minister some of the policies that the corporation has that flow from the corporate objectives, and if I could deal with staff housing. One of the corporate objectives is to provide adequate and suitable accommodations to the employees of the Government of the Yukon living in rural communities outside of Whitehorse.

Would the minister advise how the policy is determined as to the number and type of various structures that the corporation maintains in the various communities in this area? How do you determine how many apartments you need, specifically in the community that I reside in. I'm aiming at the teachers that we presently have and the impediment in their way as to what is available, Mr. Chair.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: What we try to do in the communities, if we cannot find accommodations for staff in the private sector, is to try to provide housing for them.

Mr. Jenkins: So, if a new teacher was relocated to Dawson City and a one-bedroom or two-bedroom apartment wasn't available and you had to accommodate them in a duplex or a single family unit, you'd be prepared to provide that unit to him at the one-bedroom or two-bedroom housing price.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, that is correct.

Mr. Jenkins: If I could just explore with the minister whether the Housing Corporation has a policy with respect to how energy efficient the housing units are, how much energy a standard unit should consume for normal routine heating and electrical consumption during the course of the year. Are there any guidelines that the corporation has in this area, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: What the corporation has been doing in some of the communities, and particularly in Dawson, is monitoring the costs of heating the units. We will be doing testing this year, and one of the things that we wanted to do was bring in a CHEERS, Canadian home energy efficiency rating system, for a pilot project.

Mr. Jenkins: Does the corporation have a maintenance policy as to the standards that they maintain the staff housing units to, and how is that determined and who determines it, at what juncture?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, we do. These standards are determined by the local housing boards.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, in the event that a tenant has a dispute with the corporation over the amount of energy that a housing unit consumes and subsequent repairs because of a malfunction of a piece of equipment, does the Housing Corporation have a dispute mechanism or policy, or do they, as in most cases, just arbitrarily send the individual a bill and tell them that if they don't pay it, this is it? How are situations of that nature treated?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Any of the disputes that do come up are dealt with by the board of directors.

Mr. Jenkins: Let's get down to the nitty-gritty. If we had a schoolteacher occupying one of these housing units and he was there for a three- or four-month period and his heating bill for propane went to about $2,000 for a four-month period and his electrical bill was way out of line as a consequence of having to supply heat to a propane tank and the propane furnace was constantly breaking down and freezing up the place and he takes off for a short vacation and comes back and everything is frozen solid, as it occurred during the course of the day, the only way that the bill is going to be resolved is through the board of directors? Is that what the minister is saying, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: When that type of situation does come up, usually there is an investigation that the department does to check out whether or not it was due to mechanical failure or if it is done through negligence or whatnot. I know of some of the situations in Dawson this year. There are problems with the propane units. There hasn't been a person in Dawson that was able to deal with the situation. Most of the time, they had to come to Whitehorse to get a person to do maintenance work on the units.

Mr. Jenkins: What I'm looking at is a firm policy for dispute resolution in the event that an occurrence of this nature arises, because what the outcome of this unfortunate occurrence has been is there's really no policy in place, Mr. Chair. It's left to the discretion of the local housing manager and, if the bill is not paid, the wages of the individual are attached, especially when they are a Government of Yukon employee.

The turnover of teachers is a consequence of these policies. These ineptitudes on the part of the Housing Corporation to address their responsibility to provide adequate housing that's energy efficient is not doing justice, and they're not addressing the corporation that you're responsible for, Mr. Minister, or not addressing their responsibilities, and we're not able to attract and retain teachers that are a very integral and important part of our community.

So, I would ask the minister to address this issue and to bring forward policies that are consistent, fair and reasonable in light of this information. He seems to be aware of a number of these discrepancies, but obviously nothing has been done, Mr. Chair.

Does the minister have a response at this juncture, or does he wish to bring back and table legislative returns on these policies, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The way the corporation works when these types of situations do come up is that they do an investigation on it and, if it's the fault of the unit, then, certainly, the corporation can deal with that. If there are problems like this, the corporation would like people to come forward with them, especially when it becomes a high cost to the members.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, to the best of my understanding of this situation, Mr. Chair, this issue was addressed. He took it up the ladder, and he subsequently ended up moving out of the duplex. It's a two-bedroom duplex, just over 1,000 square feet. It's propane heated, which has proven to be very unreliable and very costly in our area. The department has done nothing to address the amount outstanding, and he still has a bill that the Housing Corporation considers due. There are no policies in this area as to dispute resolution with the corporation, and I would urge the minister to consider implementing such a policy in this area, so that people of this nature are not treated in the way this individual and previous individuals that have occupied this same dwelling unit over the years.

It's been an ongoing detriment to attracting and retaining school teachers, Mr. Chair. The other area that the minister should be exploring and should have his Housing Corporation have in place are policies on greeting new tenants, showing them through the dwelling units and outlining the various areas that they are responsible for. It's a very wishy-washy process as it presently stands.

When you have somebody moving to the north from the south who has never occupied a housing unit before, and you try to explain to them a bleeder or a heat tape, it's a new world that their into and something that they're not cognizant of, and if we are going to attract and retain a very highly trained level of individuals, I would urge the minister to have the Housing Corporation develop these policies, or enhance the minimum policies that they currently have in place, to encompass the full range of these areas, because it is certainly the lack of these policies that are acting as a detriment in many, many areas.

Can I ask the minister to intervene in this individual case with respect to a dispute resolution on behalf of this school teacher?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The corporation has not heard about this. I am quite surprised in this particular situation. We will look into it and have this issue dealt with.

In regards to new tenants coming in from down south, it is a policy that the local manager take them through the unit and show them how the unit should be run, and so on. If this isn't being done then they are not doing their jobs.

Mr. Jenkins: That might be the policy, but it certainly is not occurring in the number of cases that I'm aware of, and its led to a rash of difficulties in these areas.

One of the other impediments in rural Yukon is actual ownership of housing units in the housing stock. There's always a need for social housing units, but there's also a need to get people directly into their own homes and to instill in them a pride of ownership.

Could you just briefly outline what steps you're taking to encourage ownership by individuals who are currently in social housing units that have the wherewithal - it's a rent to income - and there's been no efforts made despite a number of gatherings and conferences in this area, and there's been no effort made to encourage ownership of housing units.

People tend to get into social housing and remain in social housing, despite 30 percent of their income going to the total O&M. We have the disparity of people employed seasonally where, in the summer months they'd be paying $1,200, $1,500 to $2,000 per month rent and the wintertime it would slide back to 30 percent of their unemployment insurance cheque.

So, there has to be some effort made by the Housing Corporation to ensure pride of ownership. Could the minister briefly outline what steps he's going to ask the corporation to undertake to involve us in this area?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I know it has been brought up many times, over and over, on how people can eventually own their units rather than rent them all their lives. Right now, we cannot do anything in that area until such time as the federal portion of it is turned over to us, and that could happen this year some time.

Mr. Jenkins: When that occurs, Mr. Chair, is the minister prepared to explore the area as to how to get the ownership transferred to individuals that are in these programs?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I guess one of the ways we really can address these types of issues and problems that do come up is through communities initiatives. This is one of the areas we'd like to concentrate on over the next few years. I know it takes a long time to do a community, and to do them all at once is a very big task. We wanted to concentrate on a couple of communities, and Carmacks and Dawson are the two communities, so far, that we've identified to try and bring this program to.

Mr. Jenkins: The other concerns that I have, Mr. Chair, that have been raised in my constituency and a number of others that I'm familiar with, is the amount and the determination of the maintenance and the standards to which the maintenance on these units is completed. We have now a series of homes that are on their fourth foundation in Dawson City. The latest ones are space frames. Due to a lack of inspection by the Housing Corporation or their agent when these were installed, we have to go back and do a whole bunch of additional repairs.

We've gone through two-storey buildings where they've designed the heating to be in the ceiling of the ground floor, and there's a whole rash of freeze-ups. Yet, the latest two buildings that were constructed and are occupied by Yukon Electrical have the same problems. We seem to want to reinvent the wheel. The floors on the ground floor are freezing cold. There's no heat there. The first rule that one learns in physics is that heat rises, yet the Housing Corporation doesn't believe in physics. They put the heat in the ceiling and try to blow it down. They've learned over the years that it doesn't work.

What are we going to do in these areas to apply common sense to the construction of housing units, Mr. Chair. These are just two areas, Mr. Chair, that are not being addressed, and they're coming back to haunt us with retrofits and high O&M costs, and all those things of that nature.

We seem to be falling on deaf ears, Mr. Chair.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Jenkins: You'll get your turn in Opposition next time. Don't worry about it.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: One of the things that the Yukon Housing Corporation wants to do is explore new technologies, and the two units that were built in Dawson on space frames were one of them. These do need constant adjustments. They will keep the house level without shifting and so on. In regard to the heating problems that are within one of these apartments, it is an area that the corporation is investigating.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, most of these areas that we have explored, Mr. Chair, are not new areas. There have been ongoing problems in these areas for at least a decade - probably as far back as 20 years - and there has been very little progress made. I was very, very hopeful that someone would make some progress somewhere.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Jenkins: Yes, very, very hopeful that you might be successful where your predecessors from previous NDP governments and the previous Yukon Party governments have not been successful. It's a department that's off in its own little domain and has a tremendous amount of responsibility, but there are a series of problems that are not being addressed. I would hope that the minister can get a handle on these and address these issues head on and intervene where necessary, Mr. Chair.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: It's certainly an area that we will be looking at. We do want to improve units as best we can. We'll be working with industry to find new ways of doing things, and we cannot just stop and ignore the different problems in the communities. Every one is unique in its own ways and many of them have different areas of technology that could be used and not used in other communities.

In regard to having just the basics work well in homes, I mean that should basically go without saying, except where buildings are being built. The main problem in some communities is the shifting of buildings.

Mrs. Edelman: I just wanted to echo the minister's congratulations to the corporation on dealing with the issues around the Women's Centre. I know that, in my conversations with the women in that group, they were very appreciative particularly of the work that Ms. Romanczak had done.

There was a consultation process that started in 1992 and ended in 1993 that identified a number of seniors' issues, as well as some recommended approaches to their solutions. Out of those recommendations, not one was actioned. It's my hope, Mr. Minister, that you can get up there and tell me that at least something comes out of this next consultation with the Yukon Council on Ageing, because the Yukon Council on Ageing was well-represented at the first consultation, that those recommendations, coming out of that consultation process, will be listened to and, hopefully, some will be actioned.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I'm glad that the member has concerns in this area. It's certainly an area that the corporation would like to do more in and wants to do more in. We cannot ignore seniors that we have here. There's going to be a continual demand for seniors housing. We recognize that and want to work toward it.

Mrs. Edelman: The minister is quite correct that the demand is only going to increase, and not just for seniors' social housing, but also for seniors developments within the territory. One of the mandates of the Yukon Housing Corporation is to work with the private sector to help to identify those needs. One of the things that the Housing Corporation has access to is a great deal of information on seniors developments elsewhere in Canada and in the world. If the private sector had even a quarter of that information, I'm sure that they would be able to better plan for any developments that they might want to do in a joint venture with the Housing Corporation.

Also, part of that process is coming up with a new needs assessment. Now, there hasn't been a needs assessment done for 10 years and, as the minister was just pointing out, demographics in the Yukon, particularly with the seniors population, are changing dramatically - not just the numbers of seniors, but their income level and their needs. Is there any move afoot to get a needs assessment done shortly?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We will be working along with Health and Social Services. They have been working on the needs assessment and we can incorporate that into the senior housing plan once we do get this up and going and more information comes back to us.

Mrs. Edelman: I'm glad to hear that and I hope that in that process you look not just at the social housing needs of seniors but also look at those seniors who have physical needs in their housing structures.

Earlier today, in response to a ministerial statement, I had a series of questions about the new mobile-home strategy. One of those was partially answered by the minister at the time. We were talking about the second mortgage type of financing for people who were trying to pay for improvements to their mobile homes. My concern was that there was going to be a very high debt or mortgage payment made by those people and that that was going to be too much for them.

Has the minister got any further information at this point on what sort of percentage of gross income is going to be used in determining the mortgage payments?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: What this is going to be based on mostly is affordability and the marketplace. We're not going to be putting people in jeopardy in their income. It is designed not to bring additional mortgages out to them. It's designed so that, with their income, they can handle one mortgage, and it could be over a longer period of time.

Mrs. Edelman: Can I assume, then, that the minister is speaking about a 30 percent or less percentage of gross income?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I'm hoping that it won't be any higher than that. We don't know what the percentage is right now. That will be set by the board of directors.

Mrs. Edelman: In the same discussion about the ministerial statement earlier in the day, there was some discussion about who was part of the development process of the strategy for mobile homes. I see that there were surveys sent out to the tenants and there were surveys sent out to the mobile-home park owners. What I'm wondering about is was there any consultation, such as that is, with municipalities other than the City of Whitehorse or with the real estate association?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, in the early stages of this there was consultation, although the only municipality that we've had consultation with on this is the City of Whitehorse.

Mrs. Edelman: May I strongly suggest that at some point in the year you speak to the rest of the municipalities, unincorporated and incorporated, within the rest of Yukon?

Now, I've had a series of discussions with some people at CYFN who used to be part of the housing committee, and they had some real concerns about homes on lands set aside and the quality of those homes, not only the ones that are being built, but the ones that need repairs.

Now, the Yukon Housing Corporation was to develop a home repair program for the Yukon First Nations through CYFN. Where are we on that?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: This home repair program that was talked about through CYFN has been stopped, basically, by the federal government, where they said that those dollars could not be spent on lands set aside - First Nations' land.

Mrs. Edelman: There is still a major concern with Yukon First Nations about the quality of those dwellings, and continually we hear from the other side that it's the federal government's fault, but people are getting sick of hearing that, you know. They are sick of hearing it because they know that the Yukon territorial government does have a certain responsibility.

What is the Yukon Housing Corporation doing to formalize its relationships with the Council of Yukon First Nations on housing issues?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: As you know, CYFN has been moving away from administering programs. More and more of it is moving to the communities where it should be, and most of the communities are wanting to take over these programs on their own and I think that is where it's at right now.

Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, that's certainly news to me. The tenants associations - where does the Yukon Housing Corporation sit as far as the tenants' associations in the various Yukon communities?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: What we have in the communities are the housing associations. We don't have any tenants association, although it would be nice to see them form.

Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, there have been tenants associations that have come and gone over the years and certainly I think that if you really are interested in getting first-hand information from the people who live in those dwellings and some very constructive advice, then that might be worth pursuing.

Now there's a program coming through Yukon Housing, which is part of Industry Canada and it's called CHEERS. It was organized by Natural Resources Canada. It's a program for energy efficiency. The report that we got said that there was going to be an estimated cost of $150 to $300 per household to have their home inspected for energy efficiency.

There are three pilot projects for Canada. One is in the Yukon, one is in Quebec and one is in Ontario. In addition to that, there is a private company in Vancouver which provides a similar service for $150 to $175 that's looking to expand into Alberta.

In the U.S. there have been a number of similar government-led programs; some of them are very expensive and have been dropped. Others have been successful. Now NRCan is very aware of these problems. So, what I'm wondering about from the minister is this: what will be the cost for Yukoners in the end? Are we talking about just recovery costs directly from the home owners or are we taking about additional administrative costs?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The CHEERS program is a pilot project that we have in the Yukon and, as I understand, I thought the Yukon was the first to run this program. We do see costs of about $150 to $200 to a client to do this, although once the pilot project is finished, we would like to see it turned over to the private sector.

Mrs. Edelman: There have been quite a few problems with this. There have been private people in Whitehorse who tried to offer this service and have not been terribly successful, and there have been a number of problems in the United States as well. Does the government have any information about the programs that are ongoing in Ontario and Quebec at this time? I don't think the minister was really aware of those programs, but if you do become aware of that information on those programs, is it possible that I could get that information?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We were told, I guess, that we were the first to run this program. I believe that the programs that they have are not similar to this, but certainly we can try to get the information and compare it to what we have here. Maybe it is the same one - we don't know - and we can learn from what problems they have.

Mrs. Edelman: Well, Mr. Chair, I'd be quite pleased to receive any information that the Housing Corporation had, not only on programs elsewhere in Canada, but on some of the programs that failed in the United States and succeeded in the United States as well.

The Venmar ventilation system potential safety hazard - I see that there was a public safety notice that was sent out by the government, and I think that's great. Are there going to be - now this is a ventilation system that has some real problems with it - any additional ads put in the papers about this particular ventilation system as a public awareness issue with the Housing Corporation?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I'm not aware of this, although if there is a demand for this information to be out, certainly I think we can have these ads run.

Mrs. Edelman: I thank the minister.

Chair: I see no further general debate.

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

On Operation and Maintenance

On Activities

On Administration

Administration in the amount of $3,771,000 agreed to

On Program Costs

Program Costs in the amount of $8,366,000 agreed to

Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $12,137,000 agreed to

Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $12,137,000 agreed to

On Capital Expenditures

Chair: Is there general debate?

Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, in general, one of the things that's most difficult about the way the budget system is set up is that the programs like the Yukon Liquor Corporation and the Yukon Housing Corporation, all the ones at the end don't get the proper debate that they require. What I'm hoping, and certainly our caucus has pointed this out on a number of occasions, is that maybe the order could be a little bit different next year so that we can truly examine, with a critical and constructive eye, this department and the other ones at the very end of the budgeting process.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Certainly, that has been discussed, even this round. We were going to move some of the ones in the back up front, and we can have that discussion again before our next sitting.

Mrs. Edelman: That's good to hear. The ministers are always here to answer questions and that's great, but quite often these are done late at night and it would be great if we could do this perhaps in daylight hours.

Chair: If there's no further general debate, we will go to capital expenditures, home repair, $4 million.

On Home Repair

Home Repair in the amount of $4,000,000 agreed to

On Home Ownership

Chair: Is there general debate?

Home Ownership in the amount of $2,500,000 agreed to

On Owner Build

Chair: Is there general debate? Clear.

Owner Build in the amount of $600,000 agreed to

On Rental Suites

Chair: Is there general debate? Clear.

On Rental Suites

Rental Suites in the amount of $250,000 agreed to

On Joint Venture

Chair: Is there general debate? Clear.

On Joint Venture

Joint Venture in the amount of $500,000 agreed to

On Non-Profit Housing

Chair: Is there general debate? Clear.

On Renovation and Rehabilitation Existing Stock

Renovation and Rehabilitation Existing Stock in the amount of $598,000 agreed to

Non-Profit Housing in the amount of $598,000 agreed to

On Staff Housing

Chair: General debate?

Ms. Duncan: Could I ask the minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation if we could have an update on the progress of the teacherage in Old Crow?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: It has recently gone to tender. We have a couple of small contracts that we did ask the First Nation to do. One was to get the gravel before the high water came, and they did that, and to put in the foundation so that we don't get behind in the project.

Ms. Duncan: Does the minister or his officials have any idea when teachers will be in their new facility?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We feel that the units will be ready for occupants by the end of August.

On Renovation and Rehabilitation Existing Stock

Renovation and Rehabilitation Existing Stock in the amount of $708,000 agreed to

On Construction/Acquisition

Construction/Acquisition in the amount of $700,000 agreed to

Staff Housing in the amount of $1,408,000 agreed to

On Extended Mortgage Guarantee

Chair: Is there general debate? Clear.

Extended Mortgage Guarantee in the amount of one dollar agreed to

On Central Services

Chair: Is there general debate?

Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister just provide a breakdown of the central services that we're going to be spending that $91,000 on?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Of the $91,000, $60,000 is for a program analyst - a term position - for a systems development-wide area network and command connection for Yukon Housing Corporation of $12,000, and miscellaneous construction equipment for $11,000, and office equipment for all Yukon Housing Corporation departments on an as-needed basis for $8,000, for a total of $91,000.

Mr. Jenkins: So, I heard the minister say that $60,000 was for a position, so we're capitalizing this work. What would lead us to capitalize the undertaking of this individual in the position?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: This is a term position that is specifically for the systems development.

On Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space

Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space in the amount of $91,000 agreed to

Central Services in the amount of $91,000 agreed to

Chair: Are there any questions on recoveries? Clear.

Capital Expenditures for the Yukon Housing Corporation in the amount of $9,947,000 agreed to

Yukon Housing Corporation agreed to

Chair: We will now go to the Yukon Liquor Corporation, O&M.

Yukon Liquor Corporation

Chair: Is there general debate?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, I just need a couple of minutes to run upstairs, if we can just wait for a couple of minutes.

Chair: Is it the members' wish to take a brief recess?

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Chair: Five minutes.


Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We are dealing with Yukon Liquor Corporation. Is there general debate?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The Yukon Liquor Corporation for the current year is anticipating comparable dollars and volume sales to that of the past year. In spite of a reduction in both the economic activity and population in Faro, there has been a marginal overall increase in liquor sales in the past year, attributable to the increasing population of tourist activity on a Yukon-wide basis.

At this time the budget includes a modest capital budget of an amount of $220,000 for facilities, systems and equipment replacement and upgrades. Much of this budget is established on a contingency basis and therefore will only be expended if necessary or in response to previously unforeseen circumstances.

The corporation will continue to refine its purchasing and inventory management practices in order to help offset the various costs. These refinements include progressive marketing and merchandising techniques, which provide for more optimum inventory levels, ensuring that adequate but not excessive stock is on hand to meet consumer demands.

Within the corporation's social responsibility budget of $40,000, the corporation will continue with various initiatives as well as undertaking new ones. This goal for the current year has been modified from the past to emphasize the role that the corporation has to encourage social responsibility in the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Some examples of the continuing initiatives are the public awareness radio program focusing on various facets of responsible drinking. Additionally, the corporation will continue to support poster and brochure campaigns endorsed by such organizations as the Canada Safety Council, the Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons and the Brewers Association of Canada, the Association of Canadian Drillers and the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

The bar is to be a responsible server program has been expanded to include those volunteer servers to work with various non-profit organizations who operate under a special occasion permits to raise revenue to support their community service initiatives.

Training in this area, along with the training of staff and management of various lounges, dining rooms and other licensed establishments will continue with cooperation with the assistance of the B.C./Yukon Hotel Association and the RCMP, and confirms the corporation's commitment to have a pro-active licensing enforcement approach.

On their licensing area, greater emphasis will be placed on the orientation of new licences to help them to ensure that they are fully aware of their ongoing obligations and responsibility in the sale of alcohol. Later in the year, public consultation will begin to discuss potential changes to the Liquor Act. The act now requires comprehensive review to ensure that it remains current in response to changing trends and public concerns.

Mr. Phillips: I have a few questions in general debate.

Mr. Chair, the minister pointed out that the projected increase was based on population numbers, and he sort of threw in the fact that Faro didn't matter much, but my understanding is that there was quite a bit of revenue from the Faro liquor store, and the population was dropping in the Faro area. And, as well, we have some concerns this year over projected tourism numbers in light of the airline cancellations.

So, I just wonder how accurate the minister feels his numbers really are. Fifteen-percent unemployment, a major mine has gone down and we've lost an airline. You know, the economy is enough to drive someone to drink, but I don't think there are enough of us around to consume that amount of alcohol, so I just want to feel a little more comfortable with the minister's figures - that he really does believe in his mind that they are going to see an increase this year.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, when the mine in Faro is going, we see sales of up to $1 million, and when it's down, it's around $500,000 to $600,000, and this year - since the mine has been closed - it's been slightly less than $1 million - in between the two figures at this point.

From the sales that we have to date, there has been a six-percent increase in sales so far over last year's estimates.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, has the minister had any representation made to him by the private sector with respect to privatizing part of the Liquor Corporation - primarily the wine and beer sales - as they do in British Columbia?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Yes, we have had one inquiry about this. It was a letter that we got from a person in Porter Creek who wanted to be an agent for us.

Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Chair, what is the government's response to that idea?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The issue is mostly on contracting out under the collective agreement.

Mr. Phillips: I'm sorry, Mr. Chair. I don't think I got that. I asked the minister: is his government considering, or have they considered, privatizing the wine and beer sales in the territory? I think it's a policy question. There are other problems associated with doing that, but I just want to know whether or not his government would ever consider doing that.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No. At this point in time we have not wanted to go in that direction. In the future, it depends on the public out there whether or not they would want to see this happen.

Mr. Phillips: I am sure there would have to be some public consultation before it happened.

Moving into another area, I've had some concern expressed to me by some residents in the Marsh Lake area about a liquor licence that was recently granted, or at least that a hearing was held. What are the rules or what is the standard? I understand there's a bed and breakfast in the Marsh Lake-M'Clintock Place area that applied for a liquor licence for extended hours. There are a lot of cottage lots around the area and people are concerned about that kind of activity.

Can the minister tell me what the process is and where we're going with that?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: These issues are normally handled by the board. The board has handled this one and has issued a licence to this person.

Mr. Phillips: Can the minister tell me how heavy the board weighs the concerns of residents in the area with respect to an application for a licence such as this?

I know I spoke to two or three residents of the area who have contacted me about it, who were quite concerned about possibly changing their lifestyles because of the granting of the licence and the changing of the usage, I suppose, of that particular area.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Certainly, the board takes those into consideration. The licence that has been granted to the person applies only to those who are staying in the lodge.

Mr. Phillips: It was my understanding that it was kind of expanded from a licence for the people staying in the lodge to a more open licence. Is that not correct?

I believe the lodge has six or eight rooms in it, so what kind of a liquor licence would it be? Could the minister explain the type of licence it will be and the restrictions that are placed on that licence?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: This licence is a special licence only to serve those that are staying overnight at the lodge. It is not for off-sales of any type.

Mr. Phillips: Does the liquor licence include those who may - I'm not even sure what services a particular lodge provides - my understanding initially was that it was just for guests that stayed in the lodge and, almost like a bed and breakfast, lived in the lodge for a certain period of time. Are the premises open to others who come by, probably just for dinner, and are served drinks just for dinner - that kind of thing? Does the licence allow for that kind of thing?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, this is only for those that are registered guests in the lodge.

Mr. Phillips: Thank you, Mr. Chair, that provides some clarification for the individuals who asked me questions about it. I have no further questions in general debate.

Ms. Duncan: I have a few questions in general debate.

First of all, my colleague has expressed concern about the fact that we're debating the Liquor Corporation last - or nearly last - and I share that concern. I'd also like to express concern that we don't have a lot of detail and there's quite a lack of information presented. This is really the only opportunity we have to debate the Liquor Corporation, unless of course, we were to ask questions in Question Period, and that has its limitations, as well.

In Question Period though, I had asked the minister about the review of the act. He did mention it briefly in his preamble. When I last asked him about this, he indicated that the government would like to look at the act internally before there was a larger public review undertaken. I'm wondering if the minister has a time frame for that internal review and a time frame for the more public review.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: What I said is that we would begin discussions in public with potential changes to the Liquor Act. At that point in time, it could come back to government for an internal review.

We want to carry this out throughout the year.

Ms. Duncan: I'm sorry, is the minister saying that there's an internal review ongoing this year of the Liquor Act?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No. What I said is that we would be having the public look at potential changes to the Liquor Act. At that time, it would come back to government for internal review so, basically, a public review of just the potential on changes to the Liquor Act.

Ms. Duncan: When and how is that public review taking place?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We will be beginning this at the end of the summer and going on a community-by-community basis.

Ms. Duncan: Will the communities have some kind of a discussion paper or document to facilitate these discussions, or is the minister and staff simply appearing in the community and asking people's opinions? Is there something facilitating this discussion?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We will be putting out an overall discussion paper for them, although I must say that we are getting increased demand from the community for the corporation and the department to look at the different matters and the situations that are out in the community and have already been in the community talking with community members on how we can improve services and situations that arise in the community.

Ms. Duncan: The minister mentioned concerns that had been raised in the communities. I'd like to get into that in a moment, but first, there was a personnel issue in January of this year with respect to tires being slashed at the Whitehorse Liquor Corporation store. I would like the minister's assurance. Have safety concerns of the staff in that facility been dealt with?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: As far as we know, there is no safety matter inside the store. The only problems that have occurred, and one as recent as last week, is in regard to the vandalism that took place.

Ms. Duncan: This vandalism and these concerns may be outside the store, but there are a number of, in particular, female employees at that store. Is anyone asking these individuals, or anyone that works at the store, if they have safety concerns, if there are issues they want addressed. In the news report, there was talk of a need for increased lighting at the back of the store, outside at the back. I'm very concerned that these safety issues be followed up on.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Last week's vandalism that took place happened between five and six in broad daylight, so the lighting issue was not raised at that point in time.

Ms. Duncan: The minister's not answering the question, and I believe that the staff that work there deserve an answer. Is someone sitting down with them, asking them what their safety concerns are, and is someone addressing those concerns?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We have a safety committee that is in each of the stores that we have, and any of the issues that do arise do go to management and are dealt with on that basis.

Ms. Duncan: I thank the minister for advising me that there is a safety committee in place in other liquor stores, as well, outside of Whitehorse.

There is a substantial amount of revenue generated by, in essence, the business of booze. Whether we like to admit it or not, there's close to $7.5 million in revenue and I think we need to talk about this, about operating the Liquor Corporation like a business. I'm concerned that what I'm hearing from the business community and from people who are directly involved with this is that the Liquor Corporation isn't operating like a business. I certainly don't mean this as an offence to any employees but I have heard a number of concerns expressed, and I wonder if it's simply that we need to get outside of what we're doing and take a look at it.

Some of these concerns I'd just like to outline, if I could, briefly for the minister. For example, in the tourism industry there are a number of our highway lodges that are European-owned and some of these owners have expressed concern to me that they would like to serve a particular wine in their establishment, but it's taking them six to eight months to persuade the Liquor Corporation to bring it in and to dance through all the hoops and red tape that are being put in front of them.

There are issues around licensing, that we have antiquated rules, and that will deal with the Liquor Act.

I raised the issue of the sale of de-alcoholized products and, to me, this is an opportunity for innovation and for a way to generate more revenue and, at the same time, to increase the sale of de-alcoholized products. If people are going to be in a bar in any event, why not offer them something other than a product containing alcohol? My suggestion was that there be some kind of an incentive program used for the sale of de-alcoholized products.

I'm concerned that the Liquor Corporation is, as I said, not behaving as a business. They are not taking a heads-up approach and stopping and saying, "Could we do this better?" - taking a step outside themselves and saying, "Is there some other way we could be doing this?"

I'd just like the minister to advise if there is any point at which the Liquor Corporation does a retreat or some kind of a step outside to look for initiative and innovation in the corporation.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Certainly it's news to me that the corporation is not acting like a business. It has done very well for government over the past years, and it has tried to satisfy its customers the best it can.

Now, in regard to the tourism industry and some of the people out there that are ordering wine, we don't carry all of the wine simply because a lot of them stay on the shelf and pass their shelf life. Though there are a lot of people that do do special orders, and we do carry out this service for them.

In regard to the non-alcoholic drinks that are out there, we do carry between 10 and 12 different products and try to promote them with a 10-percent lower mark-up on them, and we're constantly in the corporation trying to find new ways in dealing with customers and dealing with marketing and so on, and so there are always ongoing improvements that take place within the corporation.

Ms. Duncan: I appreciate what the minister is saying, and I understand that the Liquor Corporation is trying in this respect. I'm also asking him to hear what I'm saying. When you are in business, there is competition. That's not the case in this particular instance, so there is no real incentive to say, "Can we do this job better?" I just want to be on the record as saying that I think there are ways the Liquor Corporation could do the job better, and I hope that they will consider that as a constructive criticism.

It's not just a business and a revenue generation, it's also, of course, a huge social cost, and I noticed in our files that we have an old report from the previous Yukon Party government. It's a news report, actually, dated June 1st, 1993. Willard Phelps is quoted as saying, "Sixty percent of the revenue from the Liquor Corporation goes into health and social programming."

I understand that the revenue, this approximately $7.5 million from the Liquor Corporation, goes into general revenue. Obviously, Mr. Phelps felt that 60 percent of it was spent on health and social programs. Is that 60-percent figure the minister's opinion also, or is it greater now or lesser?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I would not have an idea at all what the percentage would be. The revenue that is made, goes into general funds with the rest of the dollars that are there.

Ms. Duncan: I guess that must have been a political statement by Mr. Phelps. Perhaps the minister could endeavour, at some point, to see if there is some method of following that. As I said, most Yukoners and I think all Yukoners would agree that liquor also - and some of the effects associated with liquor - has a tremendous social cost. Is there some way we can track what general revenue is directed towards health and social programs and Justice issues, as well.

The minister touched briefly on the $40,000 that the Liquor Corporation dedicates toward social responsibility and this public awareness and indicated that it was done in cooperation with other groups. Is there, again, any other innovative areas that are being examined for that $40,000? Is the sticker program warning pregnant women against the dangers of drinking part of the $40,000, or is it somewhere else?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The $40,000 is used mostly for advertising, along with the RCMP and Health and Social Services who also do kick in dollars to bring that total up and more awareness out there for people.

Ms. Duncan: In our discussion about the Liquor Act, I don't believe I asked the minister about regulations, and there's been some concern expressed to me, in particular about the permitting process. I understand that particular keg sales no longer require a permit because a person can go in and buy an equal amount in terms of cases of beer. The flip side of that is that there were concerns expressed about if someone stopped to fill out a permit for a keg, then it might slow down a little bit in terms of sales.

Two questions: are the regulations part of the review and, secondly, is there some other method for the public to express concern about some of the permitting and regulations processes?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: The regulations certainly will be part of the revisions of the act, and other methods of bringing issues and concerns forward can come either to the board or to me, as head of the department, or to the president. I guess there are a few different areas to go about doing this.

Ms. Duncan: The last question: is the minister or the corporation contemplating any increase in fees for permits?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: No, we haven't considered that this year.

Chair: Seeing no further general debate, we will go to the financial summary.

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

On Gross Advances

Gross Advances in the amount of one dollar agreed to

Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Yukon Liquor Corporation in the amount of one dollar agreed to

Yukon Liquor Corporation agreed to

Office of the Ombudsman

Chair: We

will go now to Office of the Ombudsman, O&M.

Chair: Is there general debate? Clear.

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

On Activities

On Ombudsman

Ombudsman in the amount of $166,000 agreed to

On Information and Privacy Commissioner

Information and Privacy Commissioner in the amount of $41,000 agreed to

Operations and Maintenance Expenditures for the Office of the Ombudsman in the amount of $207,000 agreed to

On Capital Expenditures

Chair: Is there general debate?

On Office of the Ombudsman

On Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space

Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space in the amount of $5,000 agreed to

Capital Expenditures for the Office of the Ombudsman in the amount of $5,000 agreed to

Office of the Ombudsman agreed to

On Schedule A

Schedule A agreed to

On Schedule B

Schedule B agreed to

On Schedule C

Schedule C agreed to

On Clause 1

Clause 1 agreed to

On Clause 2

Clause 2 agreed to

On Clause 3

Clause 3 agreed to

On Title

Title agreed to

Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Chair, I move that you report Bill No. 4 out of Committee without amendment.

Chair: Are you agreed?

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Motion agreed to

Hon. Mr. Harding: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.

Motion agreed to

Speaker resumes the Chair

Speaker: I will now call the House to order. May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?

Mr. McRobb: Mr. Speaker, at 4:43 p.m., Committee of the Whole passed the following motion pursuant to Standing Order 2(7):

THAT Committee of the Whole and the Assembly be empowered to sit beyond 5:30 p.m. today for the purpose of completing consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bill No. 4, First Appropriation Act, 1997-98, for permitting the House to consider third reading of the same bill, and for receiving the Commissioner to give assent to the same bill.

Further, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 4, First Appropriation Act, 1997-98, and directed me to report it without amendment.

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 motion carried.

Government bills.


Bill No. 4: Third Reading

Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 4, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. McDonald.

Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Bill No. 4, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1997-98, be now read a third time and do pass.

Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government Leader that Bill No. 4, entitled First Appropriation Act, 1997-98, be now read a third time and do pass.

Are you prepared for the question?

Some Hon. Member: Division.


Speaker: Mr. Clerk, would you poll the House?

Hon. Mr. McDonald: Agree.

Hon. Mr. Harding: Agree.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Agree.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Agree.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Agree.

Mr. McRobb: Agree.

Mr. Fentie: Agree.

Mr. Hardy: Agree.

Mr. Livingston: Agree.

Mr. Ostashek: Disagree.

Mr. Phillips: Disagree.

Mr. Jenkins: Disagree.

Mr. Cable: Disagree.

Ms. Duncan: Disagree.

Mrs. Edelman: Disagree.

Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are nine yea, six nay.

Speaker: The yeas have it. I declare the motion carried and that Bill No. 4 has passed this House.

Motion for third reading of Bill No. 4 agreed to

Speaker: We are now prepared to receive the Commissioner, acting in her capacity as Lieutenant Governor, to grant assent to the bill which has passed this House.

Commissioner Judy Gingell enters the Chamber announced by the Sergeant-at-Arms


Commissioner: Please be seated.

Speaker: Madame Commissioner, the Assembly has, at this present session, passed certain bills to which, in the name and on behalf of the Assembly, I respectfully request your assent.

Clerk: First Appropriation Act, 1997-98.

Commissioner: I hereby assent to the bill as enumerated by the Clerk.

Commissioner leaves the Chamber

Speaker: I will now call the House to order.

Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Speaker, I move

THAT the House, at its rising, do stand adjourned until it appears to the satisfaction of the Speaker, after consultation with the Government Leader, that the public interest requires that the House shall meet;

THAT the Speaker give notice that he is so satisfied, and thereupon the House shall meet at the time stated in such notice and shall transact its business as if it had been duly adjourned to that time; and

THAT, if the Speaker is unable to act owing to illness or other causes, the Deputy Speaker shall act in his stead for the purpose of this Order.

Speaker: It has been moved by the Government House Leader

THAT the House, at its rising, do stand adjourned until it appears to the satisfaction of the Speaker, after consultation with the Government Leader, that the public interest requires that the House shall meet;

THAT the Speaker give notice that he is so satisfied, and thereupon the House shall meet at the time stated in such notice and shall transact its business as if it had been duly adjourned to that time; and

THAT, if the Speaker is unable to act owing to illness or other causes, the Deputy Speaker shall act in his stead for the purpose of this Order.

Motion agreed to

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

Speaker: It has been moved by the Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.

Motion agreed to

Speaker: This House now stands adjourned.

The House adjourned at 9:41 p.m.

The following Sessional Papers were tabled May 13, 1997:


Cabinet Commission on the Development Assessment Process: progress report (dated May 13, 1997) (Livingston)


Yukon mobile-home study report (dated 1996) (Fairclough)


Yukon mobile-home strategy: information package (Fairclough)

The following Legislative Return was tabled May 13, 1997:


Development Assessment Process: addressing municipal interests (Livingston)

Oral, Hansard, p. 789