Whitehorse, Yukon

Monday, December 15, 1997 - 1:30 p.m.

Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with prayers.



Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.

Are there any tributes?

Introduction of visitors.


Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Speaker, I have the privilege today of introducing the grade 8 experiential learning class from Porter Creek Secondary School, under the direction of their teacher, Linda Lamers, assisted today by Donna Letang. I would like to welcome them to the House.


Speaker: Are there any returns or documents for tabling?


Hon. Mr. Sloan: I have today for tabling the vital statistics - a look at statistics on births, deaths, and marriages in Yukon from 1986 through 1995.

Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?

Are there any petitions?

Are there any bills to be introduced?

Are there any notices of motions?

Are there any statements by ministers?

This then brings us to Question Period.


Question re: Economic picture

Mr. Ostashek: It must be getting close to the end of the session.

Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Economic Development on the state of the Yukon economy.

Every day, Yukoners are getting more and more bad economic news. Yukoners learned on Friday that the Sa Dena Hes mine will not be going back into production as scheduled, and as related by the minister on the floor of this House.

Mr. Speaker, Anvil Range Mining, by the minister's own admission, is on very shaky financial ground, and with no better lead zinc prices in sight.

Can the minister advise this House what he and his government are going to do to keep the Yukon economy from going completely into the tank?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, Mr. Speaker, I would say to the member, to give a bit of a historical context to my answer, that the last time in the last few years we had a similar comparison on month-to-month unemployment statistics was 1993, when the Faro mine was down, and that was under his administration. Actually, then the unemployment rate was higher after a similar length of time of having the mine down.

I expect that we will have some improvement in the economy. Obviously, the Asian markets are having an influence on metal prices. The metals market hasn't recovered from Bre-X yet, particularly the junior mining companies, and thankfully, with companies like Viceroy and BYG, they have some sold-ahead positions on gold to deal with the fact that gold prices have deteriorated to the extent that they have.

It's very difficult, Mr. Speaker, when you have an economy that's based so much on mining, to control those external factors. We've been working very hard on trade and export initiatives to try and help diversify the economy. The Minister of Renewable Resources just announced an abattoir that seemed to be extensively criticized by the members opposite but I think it was an initiative to diversify the economy. We are approving community development funding projects which will create some work in the communities through the winter.

Mr. Speaker, we have also had a good fiscal climate, with pay-as-you-go budgets and no tax increases. We do not intend to drive the territory into a deficit position to try and spend our way out of this, nor do we intend to raise obscene taxes like the member opposite did when he was in government.

Mr. Ostashek: Well, Mr. Speaker, we've heard that rhetoric since the day that this session started, or it may even go back to when this government took office. But the fact remains that this minister and this government have done absolutely nothing to kickstart the economy - absolutely nothing - and Yukoners are getting very demoralized by this minister's and this government's lack of action on job creation.

Mr. Speaker, the placer mining industry has long been the backbone of the economy of the Yukon, but we know that with the low metal prices, low gold prices, many placer miners are going to have a tough time going back into operation in the spring.

Can this minister tell this House today if he has an estimate of how many placer mining operations will not be at work in the new year compared to what was working this year?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, Mr. Speaker, I suppose that next I'll be blamed for El Niño.

Mr. Speaker, I want to tell the member opposite that the severe low price in the gold markets is not my doing. The problems of the lead and zinc on the London Metal Exchange and their pricing is not my doing. We are trying to conduct ourselves in a way that creates jobs in this territory without driving this territory into deficit and trying to spend our way, as the member opposite tried, with the biggest tax and spending in Yukon government history, of the Yukon Party, to so-called kickstart the economy. However, what we ended up with was an economy very heavily dependent on government spending.

And when the Shakwak funding and the hospital funding dried up and we lost the Faro mine three weeks after coming into office, we saw just how precarious the economy was that the member opposite presided over, so we've been working to pull ourselves out of that, and I think we've made some very good strides.

Just this session alone, we passed the Oil and Gas Act that the member opposite left on the Order Paper, completely devoid of any chance of ever coming to fruition.

So I think we've been working very hard to create jobs without raising taxes and living within our means and paying as we go.

Mr. Ostashek: I will not the blame the minister opposite for El Niño, but I will say that he's probably adding a few degrees to the temperature with all the hot air that is coming from him and his colleagues.

The minister goes on and on and on about initiatives that government should be doing on a day-to-day basis, that is going to do absolutely nothing to put Yukoners to work this winter. The community development fund has failed miserably in putting Yukoners to work. Oil and gas isn't going to put anybody to work in my riding or in the minister's riding this winter or next spring. It is a long way away.

The minister did not answer my question as to how many placer miners are going to be operating. I don't think he even knows or cares, to be truthful with you. I would like to know when this minister and this government are going to admit that there's a serious economic problem facing Yukoners, and when is this government going to start doing something about it?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, Mr. Speaker, I'm surprised to see a self-professed conservative espousing this socialist dogma on the floor of the Legislature, that the government is all-responsible for the economy and that government spending is the way to go - raw government spending injected into the economy is the only way to create jobs.

Mr. Speaker, we're living within our means, keeping our commitment to not raise tax rates. We're paying as we go so we don't run deficits. We've passed the Oil and Gas Act. We're creating community work with the community development fund. We're working hard on trade investment to try and improve our ability to attract investment and to create export opportunities for Yukon business to create jobs in this territory. We've invested millions and millions in capital expenditures to help people in the private sector in construction and in road work to keep their jobs.

We're dealing with tough policy questions that have a direct impact on the economy, like the development assessment process, like forestry policy. So, Mr. Speaker, I think we're doing everything we responsibly can without taxing and spending like the Yukon Party.

Question re: Economic picture

Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Speaker, the member ought to look back and see what they are doing. They're running a large deficit. They're not running a balanced budget by any means. And he expects Yukoners to believe him when he gets up and makes statements like that on the floor of the Legislature.

Mr. Speaker, this minister was very quick to blame the federal government last week in debate for their abandonment of job creation. Well, this government hasn't even started on job creation.

Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Economic Development. As the minister knows, many Yukon businesses are dependent on mining, highway construction, forestry and other industries for their survival. Truck drivers, heavy equipment operators and geologists, lab technicians - a whole different bunch of workers - are all dependent on private industry in the Yukon and they are hard hit when these industries decline.

My question to the minister is this: is this minister aware that there are several local companies that are planning on pulling up stakes and leaving the Yukon? Is the minister aware of that and is he concerned about it?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, again, Mr. Speaker, the leader of the official opposition is professing and proposing on the floor of this Legislature that the government spend direct capital and direct expenditures in the economy that they don't have to create artificial jobs in this territory, based solely on government expenditure. Perhaps if he were the Minister of Finance, he would again bring in massive tax rate increases, so that he could extract that money from the pockets of Yukoners and so-called inject it back into the economy and put them to work. That's not our strategy.

I will tell the member opposite that, in terms of the current year deficit projected for this year, it is smaller than what the member opposite projected in the election year, in his run-up to defeat in the election of the previous year.

Mr. Speaker, we are trying to work within our means. We have, as I have listed several times - many, many times - in this legislative session, a number of initiatives that are paying dividends. Unfortunately, we are dealing, in the mining industry, with a situation of Asian markets, the Bre-X fallout and the low gold prices. This is a very difficult environment in every jurisdiction in this country.

But, I will say to the member opposite that we are not leaving it there. We are working on many other diversification initiatives, as I alluded to earlier. We don't intend to tax and spend and try and spend money that we just do not have.

Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Speaker, this minister is doing absolutely nothing. This government is doing absolutely nothing. They are sticking their heads in the sand and not looking at the realities of what's facing Yukoners.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to know from this minister and this government what contingency plans they have, if any? Does this minister have any contingency plans in place to meet the Yukon's economic situation, or does he not believe that such a plan is necessary to encourage Yukon companies to remain in the Yukon and not pull up stakes and leave?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Speaker, I don't know what companies the member is talking about. The government cannot spend money that it does not have to artificially create jobs. They can't build roads they don't need or can't pay for to artificially create jobs.

We said we were going to pay as we go. We are paying as we go. We said we weren't going to raise tax rates. We're not raising tax rates.

The member says we're doing nothing on the economy. I just mentioned the oil and gas bill we passed this session and we brought back to life.

I told the member we'd been taking action on trade and investment that has been very well supported by the local business community. We're investing hundreds of thousands and millions in training so we have a good, skilled, educated workforce here for jobs in this territory. We're investing in the community and community development fund.

And, Mr. Speaker, we're dealing with tough policy questions like the development assessment process, like forestry in this territory, and we're making good progress.

These are the fundamentals of an economy and, Mr. Speaker, if we work to continue to diversify this economy, if we work to rebound from the downturn - and it will rebound in the metals markets - we will be in good shape, but we will not get there if we raise tax rates like the Yukon Party did and if we run this territory into a deficit position. We will not do that.

Mr. Ostashek: Well, Mr. Speaker, the minister can sit there and spout that political rhetoric all he wants, but what the Yukon Party did was put Yukoners to work, and that's what this minister can't do. He's proven that in the year he's been in office.

Mr. Speaker, the reason that he doesn't know what companies are leaving is because they've given up on this government. They're totally demoralized by this government not creating a climate for investment in the Yukon, and it's time this minister and this government rolled up their sleeves and stabilized the Yukon economy until such time as our mines can get back to work and create jobs.

My question to the minister: is this government, in their new budget preparation, giving a priority to job creation so that jobs for Yukoners are finally in the cards? Is this government going to do that?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is a bit of a historical revisionist. The reality is that when the Faro mine was lost in 1993, the unemployment rate under his administration was higher than over a comparative period under our administration. That is 700 jobs in this economy. We took action that the members opposite criticized to help get that mine back into production and stripping, which is actually providing work in this territory now. We also took action to get power rates down, which makes us a more competitive jurisdiction.

So, Mr. Speaker, that 20 percent came off the bills because of the direct action by this government, and those jobs that are in Faro and the spinoffs throughout the entire Yukon - those ore-truck drivers that you see on the road - are as a result of action by this government.

Mr. Speaker, I've listed time and time again in this response to this exchange just a few - just a smidgen - of the initiatives that this government has undertaken, but I want to be clear with the member that, no matter how many times he asks me, we will not drive this territory into a deficit position because he wants us to artificially inject government money, which we don't have, into the economy to create jobs.

Mr. Speaker, we've also not raised tax rates as he did, because we said that we would not do it. We are not like the tax and spend Yukon Party -

Speaker: Would the minister please conclude his answer?

Hon. Mr. Harding: We are going to do what we can to create jobs.

Speaker: Order please.

Question re: Finlayson Lake caribou herd, management

Ms. Duncan: My question is for the Minister of Renewable Resources. I had thought about asking the minister about his journey to Kyoto. I noticed that he has briefed the media instead of this House; however, I would like to address my question to the minister regarding the Finlayson Lake caribou herd.

The population of the herd has declined from around 6,000 in 1990 to approximately 4,500 in 1996. In July of this year, correspondence circulated in the Department of Renewable Resources recommended that hunting Finlayson caribou this year is not sustainable. The correspondence also urged the department to consider an immediate hunting closure for the fall of 1997.

Is a hunting ban part of the future management of the Finlayson Lake caribou herd?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: This is an issue that the department has been on and has continued to monitor. We've had fairly good communications with the First Nations, the Ross River Dena Council. And, we are working with them to develop a plan in regard to the Finlayson herd. As it stands right now, they are working on a draft plan, and we're hoping that recommendations do come back to us and to the Fish and Wildlife Management Board.

We have been proactive on this and have given recommendations to the Fish and Wildlife Management Board to deal with it in this winter's public consultation - stemming from what will come out of the draft management plan that the committee has put together.

So we are working on this. We understand that it is an issue to the public in regard to the herd itself. We don't believe that the herd is declining to the point of it being critical. The concern that we do have right now is the calf/cow ratio that showed up in numbers this year.

Ms. Duncan: The NDP government made a big promise during the election campaign; they made a number of big promises. They were going to end the wolf kill. A short time after the election, the moratorium was lifted and the fifth year of the wolf kill went ahead as planned.

NDP credibility on this issue is low, to say the least.

The minister just addressed my question regarding the Finlayson caribou herd indicating that there was a management plan in progress. Is a wolf kill part of that management plan for the Finlayson lake caribou herd?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: I won't know the results until I get the draft management plan. But, it is not our intention, as government, to have a wolf kill program for the Finlayson herd or any other herd at this time. That was something that was said during our election, and we continue to act in that manner. And, we look more at management of our wildlife and our resources and working with the local people. And, that's the way we continue to work in this department.

Ms. Duncan: As the minister has noted, the Yukon government is not the player involved in this decision-making process. Under the UFA, the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board and local renewable resources councils are the primary instruments of fish and wildlife management. If the recommendation comes back from these groups, in this management plan, as spoken about by the minister, is to undertake some kind of a wolf kill, is the minister prepared to do that?

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We've been working with the First Nations on this and it is a concern to them. What they have indicated to us so far is that they wanted to do things in a different way. They want to have more management, more local control and did not want to see a wolf hunt, or wolf kill, on this herd.

What they've expressed to us is an interest in the trapper training program and the new techniques that we have for snaring wolves. They would like to have more management in regard to trapping and would like to approach it in that manner. They've also looked at restricting themselves from hunting in this herd and looking at other herds that could be used for means of food for their people.

So, I believe that we don't need to be going in to this area at all. There are other ways of doing and managing wolves: kicking in the wolf management plan, for example, which has been around now for a number of years. We would like to work with that as closely as possible, when it comes to the management of wildlife and caribou in areas such as Ross River.

Question re: Contracts, legal services

Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Minister of Justice on the contract list. I've gone over the contract list, that the government graciously provided to us, to add up all the amounts that were spent on legal services. Now, for the period April 1 to November 26 of this year, all government departments let contracts for legal services for an amount exceeding $700,000. Now, if this keeps up, the government will have spent over $1 million on non-government lawyers by the end of this year.

Could the minister explain why this government feels it is necessary to spend over $1 million on legal services, when it has at least a dozen lawyers on the payroll?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, there's more than one reason why lawyers from outside of the Government of Yukon might be employed. As one example, in the area of contract administration and work in there, the expertise might be outside the Yukon and there might be a contract that's not within the government's legal services branch. As well, if the government is a party to a lawsuit, then the lawyer on the case can't be someone from within the Department of Justice. There may be cases where there would be conflict of interest. Those are some of the reasons why a lawyer from the Department of Justice isn't necessarily working where there is a dispute that the government is involved in.

Mr. Cable: Of the $700,000 worth of contracts, about $492,000 is for non-resident lawyers, over two-thirds of the amount spent on non-government lawyers. Going through the list, it is difficult to believe that a good part of this work, if it's going to be put to non-government counsel, can't be done locally. What, if anything, is being done by the minister's department to see if more of this money can't be spent in the Yukon? Is she working with the local hire commissioner, for example? Is he giving her advice? Just what is she doing?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, the member is asking a good question. As a matter of fact, I have met with the local bar to talk about ways that the Yukon government can ensure that when the legal community within the Yukon is able to provide services to the government, we do, in fact, do that.

The hiring of lawyers from outside the Yukon government and from outside the territory is something that has happened in other years and occurs when there is, for example, a conflict of interest. As well, insurance companies, who are sometimes involved in cases, will make a decision to hire their own lawyers. So, there are different reasons for it, but I certainly support employing as many local law firms as we can. We are attempting to do that.

Mr. Cable: I would think from the government's election platform that local hire would be something she would spend a lot of time on with our local hire commissioner. He's sitting back there and I'm sure he has a lot to say.

Can the minister stand here today and tell us that no one in the Yukon can provide advice to the tune of $40,000 to the Yukon Temporary Medical Council for an inquiry; $20,000 worth of advice on the Total Reporting contract; or $2,000 to the Dental Inquiry Board? I would think that all of those things could've been done locally.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, first of all, I'll respond to the point that the member made in the preamble to his question. While it may seem difficult for him to fathom it, it is possible to have a large caucus and to still talk to all members of that caucus. I can assure the member opposite that I have talked with the local hire commissioner, that we're working within government to do as much as we can to improve local hire.

The member asked some questions in relation to two or three specific contracts and a couple of them were professionals to do with medical and dental inquiries. It is consistent with past practice where there is a complaint against a member of the profession within the territory to have people from outside of the territory to come in and look at that inquiry. I can, however, make the commitment to look at those specific questions when I review Hansard and come back to the member with a written answer to follow up.

Question re: Contract registry, opposition access to

Mr. Jenkins: My question is for the Minister of Government Services. Last Friday, December 12, after weeks and weeks of delay, the minister finally agreed to provide a complete copy of the interim contract registry to members of the opposition. The minister purposely withheld the registry, breaching a 15-year tradition established by the House to provide the registry upon demand.

The minister's also guilty of breaching the memorandum of understanding signed on February 12, 1996, which governs the number of sitting days of this Legislature for failing to provide detailed financial information as required by the agreement.

I'd like the minister to make the commitment here today that he will provide opposition members with an up-to-date copy of the contract registry one week in advance of the spring sitting of this House. Will the minister make that commitment?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, first of all, Mr. Speaker, the member is completely wrong. I've gone through this and I don't see any reference to the statement that the member has made there. It's just totally absurd.

As I indicated to the member earlier, we're doing everything we can to try and make this available on a more timely basis and, as I indicated earlier, it's our plan to put this on the web to try and make it accessible - and not only accessible, but also readily updatable.

Since we're talking about what is reasonable, I received a request today at 11 o'clock for 117 contracts. I have some question as to whether that is reasonable.

Mr. Jenkins: As the minister knows, the contract registry was provided last Friday. We had the weekend to peruse the contract registry, that interim contract registry, and I can now understand where the minister is coming from. We requested 117 contracts - 117 of those contracts out of 2,000 - which is a very small percentage, Mr. Speaker.

The minister is caught with his pants down. He's too embarrassed by what he knew the contract registry contained. Virtually all of these are sole-sourced contracts - very expensive consulting contracts for the commissions, and other friends of the NDP government.

Will the minister advise the House how many of these 117 contracts we can expect to receive before the House rises?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Speaker, I'm always happy to comply with reasonable requests. This is not a reasonable request. You do not turn in a request at 11 o'clock and expect the 117 contracts, all of which - if this member had even a modicum of understanding of how this works, he would realize that Government Services does not have responsibility for all contracts. They have to be requested from individual departments.

So, that's where he falls short in that particular area.

It's very clear that the member also has a rather abysmal understanding of contracts because, in the 20-some odd that he requested - or 19, excuse me, he requested of Health - 18 were for specific individual children attending wilderness camps. Now, if he even had a modicum of understanding, he would understand that, even from a cursory review of the contract list.

So, as I said, we're always happy to respond to reasonable requests, not an unreasonable request.

Mr. Jenkins: As I said earlier, Mr. Speaker, these are all sole-sourced contracts in the area that the minister is focusing on - this some $200,000 worth of sole-sourced contracts - so it does give rise to an explanation.

The request for these contracts was made six weeks ago. Six weeks ago, we requested the contract registry. The minister postponed giving it and postponed again and procrastinated until the sitting is almost complete.

We recognize that there's going to be a lot of strain on his department, and I think the minister should offer an apology to his department staff in Government Services for unnecessarily putting them in the centre of this feud. Will he give the House that offer of an apology to the staff in his department?

And also the minister hasn't answered the initial question: will he undertake to provide the contract registry one week in advance of the spring sitting of the House?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Speaker, if anyone should be conveying an apology, it should be the member opposite for such absurd requests.

With regard to the 117 contracts, he knows perfectly well that those come from individual departments; they do not come from Government Services. Exactly one was requested from Government Services - exactly one. He is requesting 116 from other departments. He knows that that is not possible. He is merely causing mischief. He is merely grandstanding, and I refuse to rise to his bait.

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



Clerk: Motion No. 79, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Harding.

Motion No. 79

Speaker: It is moved by the acting Government Leader

THAT the membership of the Members' Services Board, as established by Motion No. 4 of the First Session of the Twenty-Ninth Legislature, be amended:

1) by rescinding the appointment of Jack Cable, Member for Riverside; and

2) by appointing Pat Duncan, Member for Porter Creek South.

Hon. Mr. Harding: This is a motion that is quite consistent. When there are changes in the membership of the different committees in this House, in between the last time the composition of this committee was struck and now, we've had an election, there's been some change in the personnel. This is not a motion that I expect any concern from the opposition over. I think it's certainly something that is germane to any time that there is a change on either side of the Legislature.

I would say that it is good to have new people involved in new tasks in this Legislature and certainly I would welcome the fresh visions and fresh approach of the new Liberal leader. This motion, I guess, has sat on the Order Paper for some time, so I would say that it should be moved in fairly due course and that we accomplish the task that we've set out to do some time ago, when I put this motion forward at the beginning of the session - I believe on the first day of a 25-day sitting. Today is the last day of the sitting, and I think it's important that we make this move and accomplish this task.

Motion No. 79 agreed to

Motion to sit beyond normal hour of adjournment

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, I move

THAT Committee of the Whole and the Assembly be empowered to sit beyond 9:30 p.m., if necessary, for the purpose of completing consideration of Bill No. 8, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 1997-98, in Committee; for permitting the House to consider third reading of Bill No. 8; and for receiving the Commissioner to grant assent to Bill No. 8.

Speaker: It has been moved by the acting government House leader

THAT Committee of the Whole and the Assembly be empowered to sit beyond 9:30 p.m., if necessary, for the purpose of completing consideration of Bill No. 8, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 1997-98, in Committee; for permitting the House to consider third reading of Bill No. 8; and for receiving the Commissioner to grant assent to Bill No. 8.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I intend to speak briefly to this motion before us. Mr. Speaker, I believe that 25 days is a reasonable length for a fall sitting. Indeed, I believe as well that Piers McDonald, John Ostashek and Jack Cable signed the memorandum of understanding, which is appended to our Standing Orders for the Yukon Legislative Assembly because they did agree that 25 days was a reasonable period of time for a fall session.

This agreement also provides that the government House leader or designate may move a motion to sit beyond normal hours to complete the business and that's the motion that's before us.

This morning, I had the impression that House leaders were in agreement that we all - and our caucuses - would strive to be productive today.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Speaker, the official opposition is disputing that, but I believe that there was a willingness that we would strive to be productive today. Our ministers continue to be prepared for the debate on their supplementary budgets. We would like to move the motion...

Some Hon. Member: Point of order.

Point of order

Speaker: A point of order has been called.

Mr. Phillips: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, the member is misrepresenting the facts. When I first spoke to the minister this morning in the House leaders meeting, and she said, "Are we going to extend hours today?", my very words were we would consider it at ten to five today. There was a lot of work to be done, a lot of departments to deal with and, to say that I was in agreement that we would finish today is patently false, and I told the minister that in the initial issue and I've also told the minister that -

Speaker: Order please.

Mr. Phillips: I also told the minister that, Mr. Speaker with respect -

Speaker: Order please. A point of order on this matter. Would the minister please continue her debate.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, I would implore the member opposite who raised the point of order to listen to what I actually said and not to jump to conclusions and put words in my mouth. When he reviews the Hansard he will see that...

Speaker: Will the minister get to the debate?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: ...I indicated, as I believe to be the case, that as House leaders, we were prepared to see some productivity today and to work hard at coming to conclusion today.

Today is the twenty-fifth day of the sitting. I would like to support the motion. We are here to do the public's business and I think it's incumbent on all of us to do that with some dignity. I think it's important to move the motion early in the day and provide notice to the Hansard staff that we do intend to sit beyond the normal adjournment hours of 9:30 and to hopefully complete the debate with, in the spirit of the season, some goodwill.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Ostashek: Well, Mr. Speaker, the members opposite may have moved this motion earlier in the day, but what they've done is wasted the day debating this motion rather than getting down to the business of this House.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to say that this points out the arrogance of this government, the total arrogance. This is a government that has stonewalled this Legislature for 25 days - ministers not doing their job, not prepared to answer questions on their department, not having the information that they should have in this House, the contract registry not being forthcoming like it was supposed to be.

Mr. Speaker, I find it just totally unacceptable that this government is going to use their majority and bring closure to this Legislature, something that has never before been done in the history of this Legislature. This is the first time that closure has been used in this Legislature, Mr. Speaker, and it's because this government is tired of being on the hot seat and their ministers aren't competent enough to answer the questions that are put to them.

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite said that there was an agreement. Yes, there was an agreement. There still is an agreement, but that agreement was made after much deliberation among three parties in this Legislature, and an agreement, I must say, that was broken by the members opposite. In the first session of the Legislature after the agreement took place, this Legislature sat for 36 days.

So, for the member opposite to accuse the opposition now of breaking the agreement is utter nonsense. They couldn't even get through the first session of the Legislature when information was given to them in a timely manner. And now they want to bring closure to this Legislature because they can't stand being cross-examined by the opposition in this House.

If the ministers would pay a little more attention to their portfolios and not spend so much time spending taxpayers' dollars travelling all over the world, maybe they would have been prepared for this session of the Legislature and able to answer the questions.

Mr. Speaker, I know that my caucus would have been able to be done in the 25 days with no problem at all, had the information been forthcoming.

Now we are hearing the arrogance of the Minister of Government Services, who stonewalls this Legislature by not presenting the registry contract list until noon Friday, and then thinks it is an unreasonable request when our caucus wants 117 contracts, after having to spend the entire weekend going through the list because they weren't prepared to present it when they were supposed to present it.

Getting back to the contract that was drawn up among the three political parties, that was after much debate, much back and forth between all three parties, and the contract was premised - a gentlemen's contract, by the way, Mr. Speaker; it is not a legal contract, it is a gentlemen's contract - on the fact that government would provide information in a timely manner, that ministers would be prepared to answer questions for their departments, that the opposition wouldn't have to wait for information that they requested.

A lot of these demands were made by the now-Government Leader, who was leader of the official opposition at the time, who was the one who said that unless we can get this information in a timely manner then we can't have this arrangement.

And, yet we have watched this government refuse information to this House. Ministers sit down and refuse to answer questions in Committee, and they want to be out in 25 days. I think there is a lot of incompetency on the front benches over there.

My suggestion to the members is that they ought to be prepared for the session when they come in here and they ought to be prepared to be scrutinized. That's what this Legislature is all about. We have a job to do here and a role to play and we intend to do it.

If the members opposite want to show there arrogance by bringing in a closure motion because they have a majority in this House, and know that they are going to get their motion passed so that they can escape and not be scrutinized until the spring session, well I guess that is the way it will be, Mr. Speaker, but the Yukon public will know how arrogant this government is and how ill-prepared they were for this session.

Mr. Speaker, we only need to look at the legislation. Most of it is Yukon Party legislation. The minister from Faro is laughing. He doesn't spend enough time in the office even to be fully prepared for the debate. The bill had to go back for many amendments and re-entered. What he calls the keystone of their legislative session, the Oil and Gas Act, was drafted by the Yukon Party government.

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt in anyone's mind that this government is not doing a good job of governing. We've pointed out time and time again that the Yukon economy is having serious problems, and this government is doing nothing to deal with it. Now they want to escape the Legislature because they can't stand the heat of the questions.

Well, Mr. Speaker, this is a sad day for Yukoners. This is a sad day for a democratic society, something that the NDP prides themselves on - the fundamental right of people to voice their opinions and fundamental right of them being represented in this Legislature - and now they are bringing in closure for the first time in the history of the Yukon. That is how afraid they are of being cross-examined for their actions.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Speaker, the member says "all night." He better be prepared for three or four days.

Mr. Speaker, we were handed a contract registry on Friday of some 2,000 contracts.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Speaker, I'm speaking. I'd ask the Member for Faro to await his turn.

Now, they want us to just say, "Okay, it's the 25th day. It's over with. We'll forget about it. We've made our point. We've got the contract registry." Well, Mr. Speaker, we weren't making a point of getting the contract registry. That's information that we were entitled to, and it's our job to examine that contract registry. It's our job to request the contracts that we want to question, and it's the government's responsibility to provide them to us.

Now, if the Minister of Government Services thinks that he has fulfilled his side of the agreement by tabling the contract registry - not even tabling the contract registry, Mr. Speaker, and not even delivering it. We had to go and get it, and he didn't even advise the department that we were entitled to it.

My researcher sat there for an hour and a half, waiting for them to contact the minister to get permission to release the contract registry. Then the minister tries to stand in this House and say he's doing his job. Well, it's a pretty sorry job that he's doing - a pretty sorry job.

Then he sits there in his arrogant manner and gets up and tries to pretend that he's smarter than everyone else. Well, I think the Yukon public can see through that pretty quickly, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we have a right to ask questions. Those members opposite have a responsibility to try to answer them. I have ever seen such arrogance in any government as what's being demonstration by the members opposite.

Let's look at how much respect they have for this Legislature. I would like one of them to stand up, when they get their turn to speak, and tell us where the Government Leader is who went to a ministerial conference last week that was over on Friday. I don't see him sitting in the Legislature today, Mr. Speaker. Does he have no respect for this Legislature?

Mr. Speaker, I want to know why that government wants to be so arrogant and what they are trying to hide from the Yukon public.

There are 2,987 contracts in the registry. We asked for 117 contracts. The Minister of Government Services said it was an unreasonable request. Well, yes, it's a lot of work for the department.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Ostashek: Departments. He's right. But, he brought this on himself, Mr. Speaker. I wrote a letter to the Government Leader requesting the contract registry before this House came into session, so that we could do our job in a timely manner, so that we could try and live up to the agreement of 25 sitting days in this Legislature. But it wasn't forthcoming.

The government, in their large majority, is very arrogant. The Government Leader himself stood on the floor of this Legislature and said, "No, you're not getting it," without any valid reason as to why we couldn't have it. He just said, "No, you're not getting it, because we don't want you to have it."

And, Mr. Speaker, when we looked at some of the contracts that were issued by the Executive Council Office, we know why he didn't want us to have it before we were debating his department. We know why he didn't want that.

We see a contract to a past president of the NDP for, I believe, $15,000 for national unity consulting fees. We see another contract to the same past president of the NDP for advice to the local hire commission. We see other NDP faithfuls that have consulting contracts here. We see numerous, numerous, numerous consulting contracts to these so-called reasonably priced commissions that are developing policy on behalf of the NDP government.

It's quite clear to us why they didn't want us to have this contract registry before we were debating Executive Council Office - quite clear.

We see in excess of $100,000 in here in contracts for consultants to write job descriptions.

Mr. Speaker, all of these that I'm speaking of are sole-sourced contracts.

We've got 3,000 government employees and we're spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting fees writing job descriptions.

What is this government doing? What kind of direction are they giving to the departments? I don't think they're giving any, because it doesn't seem like they're very serious about their jobs as ministers.

They certainly aren't serious about asking questions on what's happening in their department. Either they're not serious about answering or they don't know what's happening in their department and they can't answer the questions, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I just say this is a sorry day for Yukoners when we have a majority government, an NDP government that prides themselves on consultation, prides themselves on letting everybody have their chance to speak, prides themselves on having a democratic society and a democratic system, and then they use their majority to bring closure into this Legislature.

Mr. Speaker, we hammered out an agreement of 25 days for this fall sitting and we said 35 days for the spring sitting. That was after much debate and we felt that it would be a timely manner in which to expedite the government's business. But again, Mr. Speaker, I just want to say that that was based on the opposition being able to get the information they needed in a timely manner.

Mr. Speaker, we even agreed to have departmental briefings so that members could have a lot of the technical questions answered before they came into the House. That was something new that was added in there. But unless we have a timely distribution of the information to the opposition benches, it's impossible for the opposition to fill their role in a responsible manner. We could have expedited the supplementary budget debate, although I don't believe we spent that much time on the supplementary budget debate. That's another issue that we need to discuss right now.

The supplementary budget wasn't tabled until three weeks into the session, and even that was after much emphasis put on by the opposition members that we needed it tabled. They wanted to table it at a later date yet. I think the first date given to us was December 1, then it was November 24, then it kept moving back. Mr. Speaker, that supplementary budget should have been tabled the first couple of days of this fall sitting. That would be like them coming into the spring session of the Legislature, calling the session in on March 1 and not tabling the budget until April 1.

The Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes says, "There's an idea." They probably thought of it already. The Member for Faro says it's called the legislative session. He's right, but they didn't have any legislation. They were really prepared for this session. Whether it's a legislative session or not, the government has a responsibility to present a supplementary budget at their first opportunity to this Legislature.

We didn't ask for that budget to start being debated the first day of the fall sitting, but we wanted to have the supplementary budget so that we could analyze it, get our questions lined up and probably expedite the debate in the Legislature by not having to continually ask the ministers for answers that we may have been able to get through technical briefings and by other ways, had they been more forthcoming with their information.

But it certainly would help, Mr. Speaker, if the ministers knew a little more about their departments.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Speaker: Order please. I think all members should remember that this motion is dealing with sitting tonight after 9:30, so speak to the motion, and you can continue.

Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate your ruling, but I am speaking of why this motion is inappropriate at this time. I am speaking to the motion, Mr. Speaker, and about all of the reasons why we cannot support the motion. We cannot support the motion for the reasons that I'm laying out. The fact is that the information hasn't been forthcoming from this government.

Mr. Speaker, you may call me out of order, and I will listen to that, but I believe that I am sticking to the motion.

Mr. Speaker, there was absolutely no reason that we had to get to this position where we're at the 25th day of sitting in this Legislature and the government happened to bring in a closure motion because they're not prepared to answer questions. And that's the whole rationale behind this motion. They are not prepared to sit here and answer questions for their departments. They are not prepared to be examined by the opposition.

In fact, they figure that we don't have any right to examine them, because ministers sit in their chairs in Committee debate and don't even get up to answer questions. We saw that in this session of this Legislature, and we'll probably see more of it, too. And these are supposed to be ministers of the Crown that are supposed to be competent in dealing with their departments and knowledgeable in what's happening in their departments.

Mr. Speaker, the Yukon Party caucus will not be supporting this motion, and I want to say for the record once more that this is a sad day for Yukoners. It's the first time in the history of this Legislature that a closure motion has been debated on the floor of this Legislature, and I'm sure that Yukoners will remember it when they go to the polls two and a half years from now.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Ms. Duncan: The issues in this motion before us are as follows: there is an agreement negotiated. It is a memorandum of understanding and it's Addendum No. 2 in our House Rules, that said that there shall be 25 sitting days. The government feels that they've fulfilled that; that they've been in the House long enough.

The commitments described in the memorandum of understanding must be respected and met. There was an understanding and intent to provide information in a timely and appropriate manner. My colleagues to the right are saying that that part of the memorandum of understanding has not been met, and they are quite correct. The government has not been terribly forthcoming with information. Getting the interim contract registry and all references to donkeys aside, has been as scarce as hen's teeth.

The hon. Member for Porter Creek North isn't kidding when he said that our researchers went down Friday afternoon and were kept waiting for hours and hours.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Ms. Duncan: No, it wasn't 45 minutes. The minister is saying 45 minutes; it wasn't. I'm not going to get into that argument. I'm not going to perpetuate that discussion.

It is appropriate to make a determination on whether or not hours should be extended. It's very appropriate to make a determination like that. And, it's equally appropriate to make the determination early. For example, the banks let us know when they're going to be closed Good Friday. People, who listen enthralled to this debate in their offices, have lives, too. The people who record our work should be extended the courtesy in making a decision early.

That being said, it didn't need to be this early in the day. It could easily have been done at 5:00 p.m., which would have given people plenty of time, or, worst case scenario, it could also have been done at 9:00 p.m. However, the issue was raised with various House leaders this morning. It should be stated clearly for the record that, at no time, were all three House leaders in the same room together.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Ms. Duncan: Not for lack of trying.

Our caucus commitment was to make best efforts for a constructive debate today.

Ultimately, every one of us must ask ourselves, "What is the best service by the taxpayers of the Yukon? What is the right decision by Yukoners for Yukoners?" And that right decision, I believe firmly, is constructive, thoughtful debate. And that means two things: that means asking constructive, appropriate questions and that means offering thoughtful, deliberative, truthful, complete answers.

What is left to be done on the debate on Bill No. 8, the supplementary estimates? What is left to be done? There are five departments. On some of them we have done the general debate and we are into the line-by-line. Could that have been accomplished on the scheduled five and half hours for today? Probably not. It was clear to everyone that we needed at least a little more time.

Well, Mr. Speaker, we have just wasted some of it.

I would emplore both sides, all of us, to stop and really think about this. Let's not perpetuate this, "Well, he said, she said" business. Is that really appropriate? Is that what the 1,200 voters in my riding want me to do? I don't think so. I think the 1,200 voters in Porter Creek South are saying, "Get on with it; do some constructive thoughtful debate."

And, whether the Yukon Oil and Gas Act was sloppy, whether they were old bills or new bills, her bills or his bills - well, the ultimate judge in all of that is going to be the Yukon voter. And they will make that choice. They will also ultimately be the judge of whether we have used this time constructively, or not, to ask questions and whether the side opposite has answered those questions appropriately, or not.

I would urge all members to get on with Bill No. 8.

Our caucus will support this motion to extend sitting hours, and I realize that we cannot offer our support conditionally in this House. However, I would remind members - and I don't know how more eloquently I could put it, unless I borrowed the Oxford dictionary there and reminded members, "Read your voters list; stop and ask them; do a phone poll, something." The point is we are here to debate Bill No. 8, we're here to do a good job of it, let's ask the constructive questions and get some good answers on it.

That's the right decision, and I would urge members to get on with the debate on Bill No. 8.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure now who's more eager to get out of the House, whether it's the New Democratic Party or the Liberal Party that is more interested in getting involved in the Christmas spirit than doing their job here in the Legislature, as they were elected to do.

Mr. Speaker, I know the Liberal Party has been anxious for weeks now to extend hours, but I think that the motion we have before us today is a bit premature. As you know, with our rules, Mr. Speaker, the motion is not required before 9 p.m. this evening. It's a motion that we normally debate from time to time the last day of the sitting when there is unanimous agreement amongst the parties. In this case, there isn't unanimous agreement amongst the parties.

At the House leaders meeting this morning, I was asked by the acting government House leader whether or not we wanted to bring this motion forward, and I said we had lots of time today; let's discuss the budget that's on the table in front of us, and before we finish today, in the allotted time that we have for this motion, we can bring it forward, and if there's a sense that we had responses from the ministers to the questions we asked and we were far enough along through the budget, then we could possibly agree.

Now, let's look at the history of this issue. Mr. Speaker, we were called into session at the end of October, and at that time we had already had a request in the books with the Minister of Government Services for copies of the contract registry, and we were already starting to get stonewalled by that minister, who wasn't interested in providing the information that one needs to do one's job here in the Legislature.

So, that's where it kind of started. And then it progressed to the intent of the agreement. The intent of the agreement that we have, Mr. Speaker, is that information be provided in a timely manner. Now, we went from, I think, a record sitting of 76 days where the New Democrats felt they had all kinds of questions to ask, all kinds of things to debate. They used to do their tag-team debating where one would ask a bunch of questions of a minister in a department and then a replacement would stroll into the House and that member that asked questions would get up and stroll out, and then the other member would start asking the very same questions that the previous member had asked.

Mr. Speaker, it went on 76 days. Now that I saw as a bit of a waste of time. This particular government has sort of considered the House as an afterthought or a second thought, and is not really much interested in the House, and it's evident by the number of ministers who are continually travelling when we are in session, which didn't happen much in the past unless there were significant events taking place. There are some individuals on the side opposite who have been absent from the House merely for personal reasons, from time to time, and have not taken their job as seriously as they should.

Mr. Speaker, ministers have spent a great deal of their time travelling outside of the territory. They have spent a great deal of their time camping, fishing and carrying on and taking summer holidays and not paying a lot of attention to their jobs, and it's been reflected in this session.

When we've asked ministers questions with respect to their departments, they're supposed to know. It's been a year now, a year and, I believe, almost three months that these ministers have been in their place and they're supposed to have a reasonable grasp of their department.

I can remember the Member for Faro, the Minister of Economic Development and the Minister of Justice, berating our ministers on that side three weeks after a Cabinet shuffle - three weeks after a Cabinet shuffle when we were in the House - and telling us that our ministers have been there for three weeks now and they should know their job. That's what they said on the side opposite, that they should know their job. The reason the debate is going to be prolonged is because the ministers didn't know their job and they always had to lean next door to their official and get the answers from their official.

Well, guess what? We've just watched 25 days of these ministers leaning next door to their official and getting virtually every single answer from those officials because they don't know their departments - the simplest of questions, they're not even technical questions; they're policy questions and they don't even know their own policy in many of their departments. Why? Because they're not there long enough to learn them. That's why.

The absentee ministers are probably all sitting there worried that we might sit a day or two longer, and it might mess up their Christmas holidays somewhere in Mexico, or some other warm hot spot. Maybe that's what they're worried about.

The government came in rather ill-prepared for this particular sitting. Right from the beginning, the Member for Faro and the Minister of Community and Transportation Services talked about a light legislative session. In fact, I'll quote from the Member of Community and Transportation Services. He said, "So, let's get together on this. Let's work it through. Let's make an understanding. Simply because we do not have a heavy sitting of the Legislature - we have a light sitting - is that a reason to delay this?"

From the words of their own ministers, "We have a light sitting." Re-hashed legislation, Mr. Speaker; housekeeping legislation. They had a couple of bills that I think are significant, such as the Oil and Gas Act.

The Minister of Economic Development has been consistent when he introduced his bills in the House. I think on the first bill that he introduced he had the wrong title on the title page. It was all messed up and he had to make amendments to it before he brought it into the House. He wasn't paying much attention to what he was doing then. Then he brought in the Oil and Gas Act, which is the most significant piece of legislation that he feels that we've seen in a long time. It was about 85 percent of the same act that was tabled for discussion by the Yukon Party, but he came in with a few changes - I will give the minister credit for the few changes.

Mr. Speaker, they were so rushed - so rushed - in knowing that they had to meet the deadline to get in by a certain date and get out by a certain date for the 25 days, and they said, "We don't have anything. There's nothing with any meat, nothing with any meat here. We just have a legislative session that doesn't really do a lot. They are going to accuse us of sitting on our hands all year and not doing anything." So, he said, "Get me that Oil and Gas Act, and get it quick."

Well, they did do it quick. We had the minister standing up - and it almost became a daily or weekly event - and the minister would stand up in the House and table amendments to it.

Now, usually that happens with the opposition when they bring amendments forward, and it's not a common practice. The minister does hold a record, and it's probably the record for the most number of amendments brought in by a government member with a bill that he introduced. So, I guess that maybe he wanted to put his signature on it, Mr. Speaker. Maybe he wanted to say, "I'm Trevor Harding, and I did this," and so he wanted to get his name on the record half a dozen or a dozen more times, so he brought in amendments every time the bill wandered through this House. But, Mr. Speaker, he didn't impress those of us who know the process those bills go through before they get here. The minister just rushed the bill and put a lot of pressure on his department to rush the bill in the House. And they probably told them that they wouldn't quite be ready, and he said, "I need it. We haven't got anything else. We have to deal with it. Get it ready or else." And so, there it was, and then the minister ends up being a little red-faced because he is two for two. That's two shoddy displays of this minister bringing legislation into this House.

Mr. Speaker, we still have a lot of work to do. I was looking at the work that we have before us here today. We have the Health department, which is the largest overexpenditure of any department in this particular budget, and we're in the middle of debate on that. We have the Department of Tourism, which I'd like to ask the Minister of Tourism some questions about. I've been trying to ask him questions from time to time in this session about tourism, and it's been like - I don't know, Mr. Speaker. Have you ever been to a midway where you put a quarter in the slot, and they give you a little rubber mallet, and these gophers pop up all over the place, and you have to hit the gopher that pops up? Well, asking questions of these ministers is like trying to hit the right gopher, because you ask a question of one minister and another one jumps up who has nothing to do with the department and answers the questions. You ask another minister, and you get the one you wanted the first time jumping up to answer a question, and none of them have given answers, Mr. Speaker, to the questions.

Mr. Speaker, it has been rather frustrating to try to get answers from ministers who have been there well over a year now and should understand what their job and their role is. You know, we had a display here the other night that I don't know if I've witnessed in this House in the 12 and a half years that I've been here. And that's when the Minister of Community and Transportation Services was asked a few questions about his department, and at about 8:45 that evening, the minister decided that he's had enough of this.

And he refused to stand on his feet, Mr. Speaker, and answer the questions.

Mr. Speaker, this minister was responsible for that money in the budget. This was the budget that we were dealing with. But this minister, because he didn't know anything about it, refused to answer questions in the House. We wasted half an hour, almost 45 minutes of time that we could be using to debate the budget, because the minister wouldn't give a simple answer to the question, "What was the rationale for doing it this way?" The minister couldn't answer the question, and he stonewalled this Legislature and refused to answer.

Mr. Speaker, these ministers have not been accountable. The Government Leader does not take this House seriously, although he was the one that ranted and raved about a single session and said, "We're going to go to two sessions a year and we're going to be accountable to the public."

But when it comes to accountability, the place where you are accountable in this House, we can't get any answers from these ministers because they don't know their departments, they don't know what they're talking about, and they make it up - or they refuse to answer.

Mr. Speaker, we're talking about 25 days of the sitting. There were a couple of times before they tabled the supplementary, which I'll get to in a few minutes, when these ministers, this government, ran out of things to do in this House. We adjourned early. We went home early. We wasted a couple or three hours because, earlier in the session, we ran completely out of things to do and they said, "Oh, my God, what are we going to do now," and they moved that the House adjourn, because they had no more work on the Order Paper, because they weren't prepared.

They hadn't been in their offices long enough to prepare for the session, and we already know that we're going to go back into the session next February, but we also already know that the Minister of Economic Development is going to probably go to South America on a trade mission.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Phillips: He is going. The minister is going. That's probably not a bad idea, but at the same time, this minister wants Yukoners to be able to trade their goods and services to everyone else, they don't want to let anyone trade any services back in the Yukon, and that's inconsistent from that Minister of Economic Development.

And, I must say Mr. Speaker, with respect to that Minister of Economic Development, the economy in the Yukon has suffered more under that Minister of Economic Development than any previous minister in the history of the Yukon Territory.

And, now he can say he's first in one thing: he's first in driving the economy to where it is today. He has done a lousy job in that portfolio.

But hopefully they won't move him too far, because he could mess up a few others real quick if he got the ability to do so. And I know that there are a lot of people in other areas that are pretty concerned that that minister doesn't move into their area.

The agreement was struck among the three parties. And the agreement talks about the government providing information to government members. Regardless of what the members on the side opposite will say, I know that it was their own Government Leader, who was then the leader of the opposition, who was very concerned about information being made available in a limited or shorter session. It was that member that was one of the persons that argued that information be made in a timely manner.

So what happened?

Well, Mr. Speaker, things changed. And now that member, who was then opposition leader, who wanted things in a timely manner, became the new Government Leader and all of a sudden timely information wasn't as important any more. In fact, it wasn't important at all.

When it came time to tabling the supplementary budget in a timely manner, although it was a legislative session, the budget was usually tabled ahead of time so members could have a look at it. We waited two and a half weeks - almost three weeks - before we got the budget tabled.

And you know what, Mr. Speaker, if I, as the Yukon Party House leader, and the Liberal House leader hadn't badgered the Minister of Economic Development, the government House leader, we probably would have got the supplementary budget the same time we got the contract list.

Because they didn't want to give it to us. They aren't interested in relevant information now that they're in government. They'd rather hide all the big bucks they're spending on their defeated NDP candidates and their friends. They'd rather hide it all and not have it come up in debate so they have to answer questions.

I don't have problems with extending hours of our Legislature to deal with legislative business when we get to that point, but we're not there. We're not there yet. We have four departments left to go through in this budget. I'm not going anywhere for Christmas. I'll stay here and do my job. You know, the Liberal leader said she's got 1,200 voters in her riding who want her to get out of the House. Well, I think I have 1,200 voters in my riding and I think they think I should be here doing my job. This is my job. This is my job to be here in this House. This is the only opportunity that I have to question these members. To rush through the last quarter of the budget is irresponsible. It's irresponsible.

The ministers may stand up today and give us answers to questions that we need. I rather doubt it. I don't think after 24 days, there's going to be a major flip-flop with these ministers.

Speaker: The member has two minutes.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Speaker, I think the government has come into this House with little or no legislation, with little or no plans, with ministers who have been away from their office so much that they don't know what's going on in their departments. They haven't got a clue. Every time you ask them a question, it's somebody else's fault. It's a board's fault or a committee's fault or someone else's fault, but it's never their fault.

They have really short memories. They used to stand up in this House time and time again and say, "You're responsible for your department and you're responsible for the actions of your department and there are no excuses."

They did that for 76 days. Now, it's the gopher game. When you ask this minister a question, that minister pops up. When you ask this minister a question, that one pops up. Mr. Speaker, you never know who's going to answer your question. And, they use, as a defence, that they're possibly ignorant. You know what, Mr. Speaker, they might be accurate, because it's not the right minister - not the relevant minister - that stands up and answers the question.

It's time to be accountable. It's time to spend some time in this House dealing with the business that the people elect us to do. We've got several million dollars left to deal with in this budget. It's not time to think about rushing out and getting on with our Christmas holidays. If we're ready at 9:00 p.m. tonight, we can look at it. We shouldn't be bound. The agreement itself has provision for that, that in no way limits us going any further; that if members -

Speaker: Your time has elapsed.

Mr. Phillips: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Speaker, I cannot believe what I just heard from that member opposite. He has attacked a member of our caucus who is from Watson Lake whose mother is gravely ill. For him to stand on the floor of this Legislature and to attack the Member for Watson Lake for being away for personal reasons, I think is an outrage. The member has sunk to all-time lows in debate in this Legislature.

Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Speaker, I would say that that member -

Speaker: Point of order has been called.

Point of order

Mr. Phillips: The minister should withdraw that. I said nothing about the Member for Watson Lake whatsoever. I appreciate what the Member for Watson Lake is doing for his family and that is not what I was talking about, Mr. Speaker, so the member should withdraw those comments.

Hon. Mr. Harding: The member opposite has no point of order. It's simply a disagreement between members. The member opposite clearly stated and criticized the government caucus for being away for personal reasons. Mr. Speaker, he has spoken to a very serious subject, and it is an outrage.

Speaker's ruling

Speaker: There is no point of order, and we will get on with the debate.

Hon. Mr. Harding: As I was saying, before I was interrupted by the member opposite, he has sunk to all-time lows for criticizing the Member for Watson Lake, a member of our caucus, who is with his mother who is gravely ill, and I think, Mr. Speaker, that that is an outrage. I don't have to say it any more. I just think that it is indicative of the type of debate that the Yukon Party has brought to this House and I will say no more. I will leave it to the opposition House leader, to our government House leader, to explain the reasons for the continuation-of-the-debate motion. It is not a closure motion.

But I wanted to say, Mr. Speaker, if I've said one thing in this debate: what the Member for Riverdale North said is an outrage.

Mr. Jenkins: Before us, we're asked to vote on extending the hours of this sitting, Mr. Speaker, and go in to an evening session beyond 9:30 p.m. When one looks at the amount of work that we are left with, I can't envision how long we're expected to sit this evening, or are we going to go into a marathon session for several days? We still have all of the Department of Tourism to deal with, all of the Department of Government Services to deal with, and we're part way through the Department of Health and Community and Transportation Services. We still have the Public Service Commission, which isn't a great amount of time, but the two major areas where we have considerable time to spend are still yet to be brought forward for debate.

Government Services is responsible for the care and control of spending a great deal of the taxpayers' money. When one looks at the department, its overall responsibility is to keep a contract registry and ensure that contracts are let in a timely fashion.

We have before us, Mr. Speaker, a government that campaigned on a platform of open and accountable government. You try and get the least bit of information from this government - just go ahead and try. The media can get more information more readily than we can. We have to sit on the doorsteps of the ministers' departments and virtually ask them to phone the minister, and we have to bring Hansard with us, show them what the Government Leader said - that we're entitled to this, and we should be able to get it - and still, there's a constant stonewalling. One gets very, very upset when one is charged with the responsibility, as we are in opposition, to keep this government accountable. They are not accountable, Mr. Speaker.

I think back to my background in municipal government and the time that I spent - the 14-odd years - virtually as a volunteer for a great deal of that time, and the amount of time that one spends at meetings with government officials, who, by and large, I hold in the highest regard. But when it comes to the overall responsibility for the department, that is vested in the minister, and of all the ministers that I've had dealings with over the past some 20-odd years, I can categorically state, Mr. Speaker, that the ministers that I am dealing with in government today are the least prepared, least knowledgeable, least understanding and the least cooperative of any of the ministers that I've ever had occasion to deal with for some 20-odd years. I don't know what they're hiding. I didn't know what they had to hide until we received a copy of the contract registry.

Of the some-2,987 contracts, one has to just go through them, Mr. Speaker, and identify the sole-sourced contracts - some way in excess of approval procedures - that are sole sourced for some millions of dollars in total. This gives rise to some concern as to who has been paying off whom, and for what reason.

Then one identifies the number of ex-NDP players who are in the consulting business today who are being given contracts by this government for some considerable sums of money. This was supposed to be a light sitting of the Legislature. That's what the government of the day and the ministers of this government said. That is what they said and yet they are probably the most ill-prepared group of ministers that has sat in this Legislature since the evolution of this House into party politics.

Community and Transportation Services - it's very, very interesting that when one looks at the Order Paper, since the minister stonewalled some weeks ago and refused to stand up, refused to answer questions, I'm sure his party put his department at the end of the list hoping that he wouldn't have to deal with it. The Order Paper has clearly identified Community and Transportation Services at the end of the list of what we have to deal with.

Health and Social Services, one of the largest increases of any of the departments of government - their spending is up dramatically and yet, the minister who's also the minister responsible for Government Services of whom I requested copies of contracts, the interim contracts -

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Jenkins: Well, the minister has a very interesting view of reality. One just asks the question about the sole-sourced contracts, which is what I did and what I have asked for -

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Jenkins: As I understand it, Mr. Speaker, I have the floor. I don't know what the heckling is all about over here.

Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)

Speaker: Order please.

Mr. Jenkins: What we have is a minister who is hiding a great deal of information from this House.

Some Hon. Member: Point of order.

Speaker: Point of order has been called.

Point of order

Hon. Mr. Sloan: The member has made an accusation. I would suggest that, in this case, he had better back it up with some evidence. He suggested that, in the contracts that he asked for clarification from us, there were 19 contracts, 18 of which were for individual young people, some of whom are in individual drug and alcohol treatment programs; some are referred by Young Offenders to wilderness camps. Eighteen of 19 of those contracts were reference of children to Young Offenders or alcohol or drug treatment. He knows it. He knows that we cannot reveal the identity of those children. He asked for those contracts.

Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)

Speaker's ruling

Speaker: I would like to rule that when you make your remarks, do not tell somebody else that they're hiding or they're lying, and that you use parliamentary language and abstain from that. Please continue.

Mr. Jenkins: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Well, Mr. Speaker, this minister has refused to provide the contract registry - the interim contract registry that was requested before this House sat this fall.

It was like pulling hens' teeth to obtain the contract registry, and the minister didn't even provide it. Our research people had to go over and sit and wait on Friday to get a copy.

There are 2,987 contracts listed in the contract registry - there might be more; I don't know - and of those, our caucus requested 117 contracts. That's four percent of the total contracts, and all of these contracts, despite what the minister would lead you to believe, were sole-sourced. That was the reason for picking those 117 contracts out.

The minister's delay in not providing the opposition with this contract registry is one of the major reasons why we are here this late in the sitting, coupled with the minister's inability to answer questions about the respective departments.

The supps were tabled late in the sitting and if we're going to have any degree of cooperation, Mr. Speaker, in this House, it would be appreciated if the memorandum of understanding were adhered to by the government of the day, and that includes a timely conveyance of the information to this side of the House in order that we can do our homework, raise our questions of the ministers and provide for logical and analytical debate on the various areas of the departments that these ministers are responsible for.

This information has not been forthcoming, and has not been forthcoming for quite some time. It gives rise to a lot of concerns, when one looks at the length of sitting days that we have allocated.

Unlike the ministers, we don't mind doing our homework when we have the information here in the opposition. We don't mind spending the time analyzing contracts. We don't mind spending the time reviewing policies and looking for a way to conduct business here that is going to be better all Yukoners.

This government of the day seems to just have one focus, and that focus, Mr. Speaker, is the next election. To pay off their friends, pay off their former colleagues that didn't win elections, to regroup all their former colleagues from British Columbia, repatriate them back to the Yukon, and they are growing in alarming numbers. One just has to look at the sole-sourced contracts to consultants and the number of new business licenses that have been taken out in the Yukon by consultants who have known NDP backgrounds and leanings. When one adds them all up, there is a tidy sum of taxpayers' money heading in this direction.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Jenkins: As usual, the Member for Faro is in the House just laughing away, laughing away about all of these -

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Jenkins: Laughing away as the economy of the Yukon is going down and down and down, and the light at the end of the tunnel about what is there for Yukoners down the road as far as a way to earn a living, a way for suitable employment, is growing dimmer and dimmer and dimmer. And, it's not just in spite of the high cost of electricity here in the Yukon, it is because there is no economic plan from this government. There is no forward thought given to anything other than the next election.

I'm sure that, in a couple of years' time, we will certainly be in a catastrophic financial position if the level of expenditures of this government continues at the same pace that it is currently at.

We are living on the largess of the federal government. That's the Liberal Party in Ottawa today that we constantly criticize. I guess we are biting the hand that feeds us, in some respects, but they really don't do everything right all the time.

And they're open to a great deal of constructive criticism, but the north has never ever been forgotten in the budgets of the federal Government of Canada, irrespective of which federal party is in power.

I guess we're fortunate that the federal NDP has never come to power in Canada or that might change. That might've changed considerably, Mr. Speaker.

So, let's just focus on the issue before us. We are here. We are looking at prolonging the sitting of this session for a number of reasons, and all of those reasons directly relate back to this government's inability to do its job.

Number one, they were late tabling the supp. Number two, they've refused to provide the contract registry - the contract registry from which flows a great deal of information - and they've refused requests for further information. And, number three, these ministers who have been in their positions for over a year have no understanding whatsoever of their departments, their responsibilities or a lot of the policies that they are blessed with.

In fact, they spent most of the summer off fishing or travelling, and I don't know what. I don't know too many governments or industry where the person in charge can take a couple of months off in the summer. It's virtually unheard of. It's virtually unheard of, Mr. Speaker. Months, two months of summer holidays is the norm for this government, and yet we get to focus on what we are here for.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Jenkins:

We are here to focus on our responsibility, and that is to ensure that this government here is kept accountable. They are kept accountable, and it's very, very hard to keep accountable a group of individuals who are proving to be as irresponsible as what we have demonstrated clearly before us in the last series of debates by these ministers on various aspects of their departments.

In fact, I'd like to thank the minister from Ross River-Southern Lakes, who has probably added more to the debate in heckling here this afternoon than when he was there standing up to answer for his department. He refused to stand, Mr. Speaker, and answer questions about his department. He went on and on and on just sitting there.

Well, that led us to where we are today in this House looking at extending hours, which I'm sure will eventually end in a closure motion being brought forward by this government to close debate.

Speaker: The member has two minutes.

Mr. Jenkins: It will close debate on all of these issues.

I'd remind the ministers that they have taken an oath of office, and I guess they can stand back and they can look at that oath and they can look at their departments, and the easiest way to keep everything above board is to do nothing - don't answer any questions; don't give out any information; go fishing.

And I guess what flows from that is, do not make any decisions. And what flows from that is the economic plight of the Yukon today. The Yukon is now in very serious economic condition, thanks to the inactivity of this government - the minister of non-development, who is constantly laughing in the House.

So, in conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I would urge this government to table information in a timely manner on the supps and on the contract registry, and, when they're asked a question, to answer the question. Answer the question in a straightforward, sincere and honest manner. I'm not going to add, "to the best of their ability," or we wouldn't get an answer.

Speaker: Time has expired.

Mr. Cable: I'm told, Mr. Speaker, that there are a number of public servants that listen to these debates as part of their job. I must say that it's probably cruel and unusual punishment for all of them.

Let me go over what I've heard this afternoon. I've heard that the supplementaries were not tabled on time, and that's right. They weren't tabled on time; they could have been tabled sooner. I've heard that the contract list was not provided in a timely fashion and we've all witnessed that absurd game that went on in the last few weeks. In a sense, the government is the author of their own misfortune. That's what we've heard this afternoon, and that's accurate.

We've also heard that the ink was barely dry on the agreement that was signed during the last mandate, when the NDP was trying to go through mental gymnastics to break it. And that's also true.

We've also heard that it's usual to wait until later in the day to see if an extension is needed, and that's accurate, and that it's more appropriate to wait until later in the day, and that's accurate.

But, having said all of that and having knowledge of all of those things that were brought forward and those arguments that were made, we do have the motion in front of us. We, in the Liberal caucus, don't have the luxury of determining the agenda and we don't have the luxury of determining what questions are asked and whether or not the answers are given, so we are going to make our best efforts to adhere to the agreement. That was what was agreed to and that's what we inherited in this mandate.

Now, it's clear that we're not going to finish by 9:30 p.m. That's clear at this time. There are five departments yet to go. We have to finish Health and Social Services, we have to do Government Services, we have to do the Public Service Commission, we have to do Tourism and we have to finish off Community and Transportation Services. So, it's clear at this time that we are going to need a motion to extend if we are going to live up to the agreement. It's also clear from the way we're going that we're going to have to have breakfast at about 3:30 a.m. in the morning, so it's good for us to get on with the business.

We are going to support the motion, not because we think it's appropriate at this time, but because it's before us and we want to live up to the agreement.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: If the member now speaks, she will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, I suppose I should have anticipated the tone of this debate. I think that whether we were having this debate at 2:30 when we started out or whether we would have been having this debate at a quarter to five or at nine o'clock, we probably would have heard very much the same rhetoric and very much the same comments from members opposite.

The Yukon Party is alleging that the government is not doing its job, and they are in opposition and that's what they consider to be their responsibility and they're doing that. But, Mr. Speaker, I want -

Some Hon. Member: (I naudible)

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: But that is not the truth. Mr. Speaker, the ministers of this government are working very hard and the public knows that they are working hard.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the leader of the opposition stood up and indicated that this was a closure motion and how tragic that was. This is not a closure motion. We are debating a motion to sit until we conclude on Bill No. 8. We are not limiting debate on the motion, and I would just like to draw the members' attention to some of the statements that they made when this agreement was brought into place.

In the Whitehorse Star, April 15, 1996, Ostashek said in an interview, "He expects the opposition to live up to the agreement." Asked if he would extend it beyond the agreed date, in this case a 25-day sitting agreed date of December 15, that member who is now sitting opposite replied, "Absolutely not. It's the opposition's responsibility to manage their time. They are asking questions not related to policy in Committee. If they don't leave time to debate, that's their fault."

Now, Mr. Speaker, we have a 25-day sitting and we have a responsibility to debate the business of this Legislature. Let me turn to what the leader of the -

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The Liberal member, who is a signatory to this agreement - Mr. Cable said that the agreement was a good start in bringing House business into line. There's nothing wrong to working to a deadline.

Now, Mr. Speaker, it is the responsibility of the opposition to manage their time. They can determine whether they want to spend two weeks in Community and Transportation Services, leaving only two hours for Tourism or whether they want to spread that time out. It can be a hard thing to do, but the members can do it.

The members also alleged that they have not been receiving information, according to the agreement. Well, I've read this agreement. I read it out earlier on. We have provided the information to the members opposite.

The contract registry is public information. The members opposite have a considerable research budget. If they wanted the contracts, they had to go down to contract registry, take a look through, ask for what they wanted, take that information and do their job - ask questions based on that.

Now, I know that that was working, because for both the Department of Education and for the Department of Justice, the opposition members went to contract registry, they got lists of contracts, they had questions in general debate, they had questions in Question Period, they asked them and I attempted to answer them to the best of my ability.

What we have done in this session, in providing contract registry information to the members opposite, is completely consistent with past practice. And again, consistent with past practice, we will be publishing the annual contracts list through to March 31, 1998, the end of the fiscal year, for the members opposite and the interim information remains available to them.

Members also raised the question about this being a light legislative agenda, according to the government. Well, that's the members opposite's position, but that is not the position of the government and never has been. Mr. Speaker, we put out a press release prior to coming into the Legislature about the issues that we would be debating and about the bills that we would be bringing forward.

We have a Yukon Oil and Gas Act. The Yukon Party claims it's their bill. Well, except their bill never did pass the House, never was debated. The present bill that passed in this session achieved consensus with First Nations, with industry and with government, and there was all-party support on that motion.

The member said that there was nothing with any substance. Mr. Speaker, the amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act, bringing in penalties for impaired drivers and people driving without insurance or while suspended, are amendments that have been needed for some time and were not brought forward under the previous government.

We're happy to be improving public safety. We're happy to be bringing forward amendments. The Yukon has been lagging behind the rest of the country. We now have legislation dealing with impaired drivers that is responsible and that makes our highways safer, and we're proud of that.

I've also brought forward bills dealing with crime prevention, a victims services trust fund and the Family Violence Prevention Act. Those are important issues that many members of the public care about, Mr. Speaker. This has been a serious legislative agenda, and we have done good work, and I'm proud of the work that we've done.

Now, the members indicated that the supplementary budget was introduced late, and the leader of the official opposition did not write to the Government Leader and request a contract list. He wrote and requested travel information, which he was provided with.

On the supplementary budget, we agreed to delay second reading debate on the request of the opposition. We were ready to debate it as soon as it was introduced on November 12.

So, Mr. Speaker, we've been here. That's perfectly consistent with past practice. We've been willing to debate the supplementary budget before us. Our ministers have been in the House. They've done their work. They're prepared to answer questions.

Mr. Speaker, I'm going to end this debate because we are wanting to move forward with the supplementary budget.

I would encourage members opposite - and I would encourage all members of this House - to put this motion behind us. We are going to sit extended hours, which is completely consistent with the past practice. It's completely consistent with the agreement and with the sheaf of media articles that I have showing the position of members opposite in completing the session.

I think, Mr. Speaker, that what we've seen today is further evidence of the need for an agreement. Tensions do tend to rise and to run high at the end of a sitting. That's probably one good reason why we place a limit on the sitting.

I look forward to some constructive debate. I know ministers are prepared to answer the members' questions responsibly, and I would encourage the members opposite to put their questions forward and listen to the responses and proceed with clearing the debate on the supplementary budget.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?

Some Hon. Members: Division.


Speaker: Division has been called.

Mr. Clerk, would you kindly poll the House.

Hon. Mr. Harding: Agree.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Agree.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Agree.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Agree.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Agree.

Mr. McRobb: Agree.

Mr. Hardy: Agree.

Mr. Livingston: Agree.

Mr. Ostashek: Disagree.

Mr. Phillips: Disagree.

Mr. Jenkins: Disagree.

Ms. Duncan: Agree.

Mr. Cable: Agree.

Mrs. Edelman: Agree.

Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 11 yea, three nay.

Speaker: The ayes have it.

Motion to sit beyond normal hour of adjournment agreed to

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, 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 hon. acting 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 the wish of the Committee to take a brief recess?

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Chair: We will take a brief 15-minute recess.


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

Bill No. 8 - Second Appropriation Act, 1997-98 - continued

Chair: Committee is dealing with Bill No. 8, Second Appropriation Act, 1997-98, and we are dealing with the O&M expenditures of Health and Social Services, policy planning and administration, reduction of $158,000.

Department of Health and Social Services - continued

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

On Policy, Planning and Administration

Hon. Mr. Sloan: This decrease results from two internal transfers. A $199,000 decrease reflects a transfer from the DM's budget of two positions in Health which report directly to the ADM of Health, namely the medical officer of health and the health advisor. The $41,000 increase represents the transfer from other programs to the central budget for their share of the MAN-WAN charges from information services branch based on a proportionate share of the underlying telecom savings that were reinvested by Government Services in the Y-net infrastructure.

Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister provide the rationale for the transfer of these positions, please?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Basically, it was just a change to reflect a better continuum, I suppose, of reporting - that the medical officer of health and the health advisor should report to the ADM of Health.

Mr. Cable: I had asked the minister some questions on bankruptcy, and I suppose that the question is best done under policy.

I had asked him two questions. One was what sort of counselling is done for people who are having debt problems? This is before the bankruptcy. And I asked him also what sort of help is given to people who can't afford to go bankrupt because they can't afford the trustee. I gather that it costs quite a few dollars to get the nearest trustee, who I think is located in Prince George.

I was wondering if he has had any chance to take advice on both of those questions.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I do have a legislative return in that regard for the member.

Mr. Cable: Well, I'll have a look at that, and there may be some questions when we get further on down.

I should indicate to the minister that there were extensive questions asked of the Finance minister on funding, and I've taken two or three briefings from the Deputy Minister of Finance. What I'll do is wait until the spring session to discuss that. I think it's more appropriate that the Finance minister be here at the same time as the minister.

Policy, Planning and Administration in the amount of an underexpenditure of $158,000 agreed to

On Family and Children Services

Hon. Mr. Sloan: This increase results in the following changes: $880,000 resulting from increased child care subsidies client volumes, partially offset by a $19,000 decrease in day care operating grants, and $1,000 decrease in forecasted youth allowance payments.

Just for a point of interest, a cap exists on the number of operators eligible for the day care operating grants. The budget is based on continuous operation at capacity, as sometimes occurs. When seats are empty or a change occurs that yields a gap between the funding of the departing operator and the funding of the newly eligible operator, we realize a budget variance, as it was in the case this year.

Mrs. Edelman: I have a series of questions, Mr. Chair. The first one is, has there been any additional cost for increased inspection for day care facilities?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I am advised no.

Mrs. Edelman: It's interesting, Mr. Chair, considering the press that inspections for day care facilities and day home facilities has gotten in the past year.

One of the other issues - and I suppose to go back to that then - what about legal costs? Is that part of the O&M expenditure or is that covered off somewhere else?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: To date, we haven't incurred any legal costs in that regard. It's all been handled through Justice.

Mrs. Edelman: So, am I to understand, Mr. Chair, that this is being dealt with in house? The minister is saying yes.

Mr. Chair, the direct operating grant and other subsidies - capital and operational facility subsidies - need to have a review every few years. Is there any opportunity for review of the direct operating grant in the next year?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: As the member is probably aware, there have been a number of pressures in the whole field of child care facility responsibilities or, rather, child care costs - certainly, child care containment - child care costs is one of the - well, the member looks somewhat speculative. I have to say that if it were not for certain communities where - no, that's unfair.

No, what I have done is I have met with the Child Care Board and I've discussed the whole question of child care, child care cost, the rising costs, the issues around subsidy, the issues around the, I guess for lack of a better term, the DOG grant, and I have asked the chair of the Child Care Board to raise that with her members and to discuss it and to come back to me with some areas of suggestions, some perhaps advice, to give us a measure of what the child care community is feeling in this regard, so that we can make some, I suppose, better informed decisions.

Mrs. Edelman: The last time the NDP were in power they came up with some really interesting legislation and some of the most advanced, probably, in Canada, and it was all to do with child care regulations. The reviews of the direct operating grant and the other regulations to do with child care hav been looked at by the Child Care Association board. It was last year when, in their report, they suggested that there be reviews. Is this going to be a review that you're asking the board to do or are you going to have the department do it?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, I think I have ongoing meetings with the Child Care Board, and certainly I've discussed with them a whole variety of issues around child care. I meet with the chair of that board on a fairly regular basis, as I do with other advisory boards. The whole question of volume increases, subsidies, levels of subsidies - all of those things have come up in the past.

And at our most recent meeting, which I believe was in November, I brought some of these concerns - these very concerns that we are raising here - to her attention, and I said, "I would like you to go back, talk with some of your members, see what you see as the pressures, come back, give me some areas of suggestion that we can go to. Should we be reviewing these? Should we be reviewing other issues surrounding child care?" So, I've asked her to give me some feedback that we can then take a look at and see what we have to do in the way of necessary reviews or necessary considerations.

Mrs. Edelman: So, when you say, "We would review," Mr. Chair, are we talking about the department?

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mrs. Edelman: Okay.

One of the other issues in child care is, of course, the fact that child care needs are changing. Although the vast majority of the population has regular nine-to-five jobs, there are a number of areas where there are some real shortages in day care spaces. For example, for people who work shiftwork - particularly people who work right around the clock - there doesn't seem to be an awful lot available. I'm wondering what the department is looking at as far as meeting some of those needs.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, that is one of the things that the Child Care Board is looking at - that whole question of whether or not we are delivering the right kind of day care. The member has raised the point that we have a number of people who have nine-to-five jobs, but there are also other variances. And I think, when I was discussing, in general debate, we have a very high percentage of women in the out-of-the-home workforce, and that is higher than, perhaps, other parts of Canada. As well, we have an additional factor in the fact that because so many of our families are transplants from elsewhere, perhaps some of the family supports that a family might have - as well as just a very high proportion of women in the out-of-home workforce - reduces some of the possibilities for informal kinds of child care, the kind of child care that might take place with a relative or a grandmother or even a neighbour, because there are so many individuals out in the workforce.

So, we are looking at a whole variety of things. I've asked the Child Care Board to take a look at some of these.

Mrs. Edelman: Two of the things I'm wondering if the department is at least giving some consideration to are the thought of having in-house child care facilities. For example, how many people work for the government? Having one run by a private operator, perhaps within the building. There are a lot of studies that say that if there are in-house facilities, then you have greater quality workforce. You have people who can spend more time with their children and are therefore more productive when they go to work. I'm wondering if that's one of the things that the government is looking at.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, the member is probably referring to the folks we had taking a look at the Yukon Party offices next door with the idea of expanding them and putting in the jungle gym. Is that what the member means? Since we do have the Liberal Party, who have a higher proportion of younger children, we would have to address their needs first.

No, I'm afraid that I'm not aware of us looking at that, but the Member for Klondike has very generously offered to give up his office, so that's where we'll be moving the Big Toy into.

At this point, no, we haven't taken a look at in house - I presume the member is talking about government facilities. We haven't taken a look at that as yet.

Mrs. Edelman: Sometimes it makes more sense to start in the home. If you are going to have a policy about taking care of children, you need to start looking at yourself first.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mrs. Edelman:

Nothing personal.

The other issue - an issue that's related to day care - is the issue of the tax credit or some other incentive for people who do stay at home and work in the home taking care of their children and sometimes, in other cases, relatives' children. In some ways, if there was a financial incentive for people to stay home, there might not be the tremendous strain that there is on the system now. For many, many people - and I have to include myself in that group - it's a really thin line where it becomes profitable to leave the home. You have to pay for the cost of lunches, clothing, transportation, extra costs for having ready-made food all the time, instead of the stuff you make yourself.

Certainly if there was some sort of incentive for people who wanted to stay home - not everybody does - with their children and take care of them, I think that might relieve some of that pressure on the system and that, in the long run, I think, would benefit all of us. I'm wondering - it's certainly something we did in the past. There was a lot of recognition in our society and credit given to people who stayed home with their children. For some reason, in this generation and the past generation, that's gone. I'm wondering what the department is looking at in that area.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, certainly some of these would probably overlap in federal tax situations. I suppose there would be some opportunity for us to see how that could be accomplished. What I can do - and I have to be frank, it isn't something that I've been giving a great deal of thought to - is I can bring it forward to the Child Care Board and see what their feelings are on it, review it with some other sort of relevant groups and perhaps pass it on to the appropriate people in Finance for some consideration.

Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, this is not a new idea. This has been around for a number of years, and, certainly, going to the Child Care Board I think would be interesting, although you do speak a bit of a conflict of interest there. So perhaps if you went to some other groups, that might be a better idea.

Anyway, I'm quite interested to hear how the minister is going to follow up on this, and I would hope to be updated on that as it occurs.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: It's certainly something that, as I said, I'd have to probably raise with the Finance folks to see how this fits into tax structures and things like that. I'm not as familiar with issues in that regard, but I can also run it by the Health and Social Services Council and see what their feelings are on it.

The member has a point, that sometimes it does, particularly for people who have lower incomes, particularly people who are working at minimum wages, people who are working at - sometimes single parents - it really does reach almost a counterproductive point.

I talked with a woman very recently who had what I thought was a rather good income. She had three children in child care and, when she told me how much she was paying, her only rationale in staying in her job at this point was not economic; it was rather to maintain her qualifications at that level because, if she chose to leave, she would then have to retrain at a higher level.

So, when I asked her and she told me how much money she was spending on child care, I was, quite frankly, surprised. She had a good income so she didn't qualify perhaps for some of the subsidies, but she said it really was very counterproductive when you figure getting the kids into the car, bundling them up and the whole thing.

But it is an issue and it's certainly something that I will bring forward to the Health and Social Services Council.

Mr. Cable: I'd just like to go over the legislative return that the minister provided on the bankruptcy question that had been asked earlier in the House. There is a mention of a contract with Lynn Ogden of Ogden Feledichuk, providing financial budgeting assistance to social assistance clients. Would the minister provide the two opposition parties with a copy of that contract by way of letter? Would he do that?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: By all means, and we'll try to endeavour to get that to the members, as I said, by letter as soon as possible.

Mr. Cable: Now there is a curious comment in the first paragraph of the response, if I could refer the minister to that. It says, "Most social assistance clients do not have a business or assets that will allow them to declare bankruptcy." And of course, the reason you declare bankruptcy is that you have liabilities; you don't have assets. So, I'm just curious as to what that was meant to mean.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, one of the things about individuals on social assistance is that most people who reach the point of social assistance have, in fact, disposed of a lot of those assets that they have and I'm advised that this is not an issue that's really ever come up with social assistance recipients because many of them have disposed of pretty much all of their assets to avoid going into social assistance, so it isn't an issue that has arisen with us.

Mr. Cable: I think the context where a bankruptcy would arise is where there are liabilities that the applicant for social assistance feels that he or she can't handle. The financial strains that you have because you can't handle your debts make for difficulties in personal relationships and they also get carried off over into job performance. So, the inability to handle debts on sort of a chronic basis is much like alcohol addiction, it wears you down in all your life situations.

Could I invite the minister to look at that sort of assistance as an investment or return on investment because I think an investment will come back to assist the department.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I will take that to the department and ask them to take a look into it. We do try to provide individuals who often are on social assistance with assistance in just budgeting. We occasionally, for example, with individuals who come to us with large amounts of debt or who may not be able to get electrical hookups or things of that nature will advance the money for those sorts of things, but we do try to provide counselling. And, I can take a look at this and refer it on to the department to see if there is anything more in this that we can do.

Mr. Cable: There was some back and forth discussion in the House that gave rise to fireworks on one of the social assistance applicant's financing, and whether the Social Assistance Appeal Board properly granted money to pay taxes. I'm sure the minister will remember that interchange.

I think what the minister had said in response, at one time, was that he is going to review the regulations to see if that payment should have been made or should have been properly contemplated by the appeal board. I wonder if I can encourage him also, when he reviews the regulations, to look at those situations where people may need social assistance to declare bankruptcy and sort of get this financial monkey off their back and restore themselves to society.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, we can endeavour to do that. As I said, we're taking a look at the interpretation of section 27. We have some concerns in that regard as to whether the decision that was made was indeed appropriate, and we'll likely be taking action to try and prevent incidents of that kind recurring in the future. But, I can certainly bring forward the member's concerns on the individuals and providing assistance to avoiding bankruptcies.

Mr. Jenkins: Family and social services - the minister indicated that the major increase in that department was the increase in child care costs. When one looks at the statistical review of the Yukon, looks at the size of the workforce, looks at the number of females and males in the category that would benefit access to this program, there is not much change from the last year or the year prior to that.

Now, what is given rise to this increase in this area? Has it been a change in policy for access to this program, or what is the major reason for the change and the increase in the amount that is paid out on to this program?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: It's primarily a volume-driven increase. We have, as I indicated earlier, a high 80-percent labour force participation for women in the Yukon. We've also had an increase in child population. In addition, we've also had an expansion of First Nation child care programs. We've added several First Nation day cares, and that, in turn, means more children in day care, more qualification for subsidy, and so on. So, we're up about $880,000 in that area.

Mr. Jenkins: So, there has been a change in the policy and the way it's delivered. It's been extended to include a lot of First Nations. Is that a separate agreement with the federal government or is this just done by Government of Yukon initiative, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: No, it wasn't a change in policy. What happened was that federal money became available for First Nations to open day cares - so, in other words, the capital expenses to start these up.

Once they are open, the individuals themselves become eligible for child care subsidies if they're working or going to school, the same way that other individuals are. So, the establishment, because of more available federal money, has, in turn, created a demand for more subsidies.

Mr. Jenkins: Thank you, Mr. Chair, but if you look back through the statistical review of Yukon for the population, it includes First Nations and it includes the workforce encompassing First Nations, so all of those individuals have been included in prior periods. So, we've initiated new day care centres, and we must have broadened the scope of the program, because the same number of individuals - actually, there are fewer individuals in a number of categories - working today than a year ago. What has given rise to the increase? I don't think we can necessarily attribute it all to new day care centres.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: There hasn't been a change in policy, but what has happened has been that yes, the labour force may have remained the same, and yes, there may be the same whatever, but what we haven't had is day cares being established in those communities. And when that happens, it becomes, in a sense, an opportunity for - I suppose that I'll characterize it as young mothers taking educational opportunities to take, perhaps, training opportunities to take positions that were not available to them before. So, that is a factor.

And also, just between 1995 and 1997, the school-age population in the territory has increased from 2,700 to 3,200, and so there has also been a corresponding increase in the number of school-aged children, particularly, accessing after-school programs and things of that nature during this period. So, that has been one of the issues.

As well, the previous government brought in some changes to social assistance regarding single parents, and the impact of that change in social assistance policy has added about 150 children to the approved child care subsidy program. So, there has been an impact in that regard as well.

Mr. Jenkins: Thank you, but there must be something else that's driving these costs up, because we're over $750,000, and when one looks at the normal subsidy of some $400 a month for 12 months of the year, that's in excess of 150 children. I just can't fathom how the ongoing numbers are rising while the workforce is remaining the same and yet decreasing. So, number one, we must have broadened the programs; and number two, could the minister advise us about the monitoring of individuals gaining access to this program, because I'm aware of a number of individuals who have changed employment three or four times? They've actually been unemployed and yet still continue to receive the day care subsidy. How is the ongoing monitoring of an individual undertaken by the department, or is there any after the initial application is made and approved?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: There is monitoring, and with regard to individuals changing jobs, part of our goal with day care is to permit people to be able to work, and in some case subsidies are also provided for people who are involved in job searches and also involved in educational programs. If we do find individuals whose circumstances have changed, those individuals' subsidies would be adjusted accordingly. But, in general, our goal is to provide the opportunities for people to be able to work.

We have had increases, as I said, in certain areas of child care. Some are driven by First Nation day cares. Some are driven as well just by the increase in the child population.

Mr. Jenkins: Could I ask the minister, Mr. Chair, to be specific as to how this monitoring works? Let's assume we have an individual that makes an initial application and, say, after six months they either become unemployed or become a single parent, which is not uncommon here in Yukon. Is there a requirement of that recipient of the subsidy to report back to anyone and advise of the change of status? And, if so, how does this work and how is the monitoring proceeded with from that juncture?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: The individuals are required at the time of receiving the subsidy to sign a legal document indicating that they will report to the respective day care any changes in their own circumstances - and ultimately to the department. Most subsidy approvals are made for a six-month period. The only exceptions to this time frame are the two- to three-month approvals of applications from parents who are looking for work. So, in other words, they would be granted so many hours of day care per week as part of their job search. Now, after a period of about two to three months, we would follow up on that. "You've been receiving this. Are you still involved in active job search? Have you changed your status? What's the deal?"

So, we do follow up on it and, as I said, all subsidies are based on a six-month approval.

Mr. Jenkins: But the minister did indicate that the onus is on the receiver of the benefit program to advise of any change of status. So other than that, is there a routine monitoring other than a cursory overview?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, when the individuals come up to the end of their approval and for a new approval, they're asked if anything has changed in their circumstances and they're asked if their job or educational circumstances have changed. So, essentially an individual who wanted to do that would, I suppose, if they didn't want to be truthful, have to lie at that point.

If we became aware of any changes, then obviously we would take action to either remove that person if they didn't qualify or recover funds that were improperly paid or whatever, but we do try to work with individuals on this. We don't think it should be an onerous kind of thing. There's an element of trust here. We believe that day care is meant to be used and not abused. As a matter of fact, my experience has been that most people who use day care subsidies do so for very, very legitimate reasons and I would be surprised if individuals were using them improperly.

Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, how much time is spent scrutinizing the applicants and specifically, the wage and benefit program that that individual would receive from the employer? Is there followup done in this area before the approval is granted, or do they rely totally on the applicant?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, there is a fairly elaborate kind of scale that people receive, based upon family income, what the monthly income is, and so on. So, we would follow up with the individuals at the time - what their income is, the number of children in the family, net approximate monthly or yearly gross income, and things of that nature. If we became aware or suspected that an individual was not disclosing, perhaps, either their income or what their circumstances are, we would certainly follow up on that with the employer, to get an idea of how much the individual was actually making, and if, in fact, this was truthful or not.

Just with regard to this, this is not the kind of program that people remain on forever and ever. The median time that families remain on subsidy in 1996-97 was 11 months. The average length of time that families remained on subsidy was 9.3 months.

This is something that I think that people access for a period of time and then either the child will become of school age or perhaps they will no longer qualify for it because of changed financial circumstances, or whatever.

So, we have a profile of what these individuals are and the kind of children that we're paying for, in terms of what the family circumstances are. We believe that, in most cases, individuals are being truthful.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, I'm not suggesting that anyone is not being truthful. What I am trying to explore, Mr. Chair, with the minister is the reality that in this area of his department the costs are rising at a disproportionate rate to the actual workforce that we have in place, and rising at a rate far greater than one would deem necessary, given the downturn in the unemployment levels, the number of employed individuals and the number of people in a category that would receive child care benefits.

So, at what point do we examine this and examine the program itself, because we cannot continue to pay this kind of an increase on an annual basis when in fact the workforce in that category is going down.

That is where I am leading. What checks and balances are ultimately in place to examine this program to maintain it to its original intent?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I think that we have already begun that, in terms of taking a look and asking the Child Care Board to give us some suggestions.

We are concerned, as well, about the growth factor in this, although I think if we tie it solely to the employment rate that may not be as accurate as we want. If we just consider, for example, that between 1995-97 we have added approximately 500 children, just in the school age population. We found that the social assistance policy, for example, has added an additional 150 children who would come under child care subsidies; 49 new child care spaces were created in three First Nations child care centres in 1996-97. So, I think the main drivers are more of a population factor than anything else.

We are monitoring this. It is an area of concern. As I have said, I have asked the Child Care Board to give me a sense of what they see as being principal drivers here. I've asked, "Do you think that the subsidy grant is being applied appropriately? Do you think that the levels of subsidies or the family income levels are appropriate?" and we are hoping to get back some suggestions in that regard so we can take a look at some areas of cost containment.

Mr. Jenkins: The minister mentioned there is funding coming from Indian Affairs for the First Nations. Could the minister give us some indication of the level of funding and how long it is going to be continuing?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: That funding was from the federal government to assist First Nations in starting up child care centres. But, of course, once they're started up, then the individuals involved qualify for the Yukon subsidy. So, the federal government - certainly, well-meaning - tried to provide opportunities because, for many of the First Nations, this is an economic, and sometimes educational, opportunity. Three have started up in 1996-97, as I said, adding 49 spaces. We don't know what the state of that program is. Right now, we're not aware of whether or not there will be other First Nations trying to access it or even, indeed, if there are additional funds in that regard.

Mr. Jenkins: When one looks, Mr. Chair, at the expenditure in this area, the minister also mentioned that there's been a reduction in the amount of funds paid out to the day care centres themselves. Did I understand that correctly? The increase was $880,000 in child care subsidies, but there was a corresponding decrease in the amount paid out to day cares themselves. Now, did I misunderstand that? Could the minister kindly elaborate on that area, please?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Sorry, Mr. Chair. I appear to be somewhat premature.

The direct operating grant, sometimes referred to as the DOG grant, is a grant that is brought in to assist day cares with ongoing expenses. Now, that grant has been capped. It was fixed previously. There is a limit on that, and as one day care operator leaves - goes out of business, or perhaps they just leave the field - that grant becomes available for another person. There is a waiting list for that DOG grant. Sometimes, there is a gap, as in this case - a $19,000 gap - between when one went off and another one came on. So, we actually did sort of save money in that interim.

Mr. Jenkins: That doesn't preclude the federal government funding directly other First Nations to open their own day care centres. How many more examples of additional day care centres is the minister aware of - that other First Nations are going to be looking at? I know it's an issue in the First Nations community. And what is going to be the impact on this line item for the minister, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: We know of three. Teslin added a day care facility; the Carmacks-Little Salmon First Nation added a day care facility; the Kluane First Nation added a day care facility. We're not aware, at this time, of any more that are coming onstream, but it's a little hard to predict. It would really depend first upon the community size - if a community was to access this and the number of children coming on - and how many of those children would receive subsidies. So, we're not aware of any right now, but, of course, there would be a multiplier effect if other First Nations got into the day care business.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, one of the areas that this party has advanced is the child tax credit, and I know the minister has had the opportunity to explore this child tax credit with the federal government for some time. Has his department done an analysis of the net benefit that a child tax credit would have on the individual, vis-à-vis a direct subsidy? Has this model been entertained within the department, and if not, why not, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: No, we haven't explored the concept of a tax credit vis-à-vis a direct subsidy. One of the factors that would probably impact on that would be the fact that we would have a lot of people who have very minimal incomes, and they might find themselves excluded in that regard.

No, we haven't.

Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, why not?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Most of our involvement has been on the question of subsidies. We think that a good deal of our discussions with the federal government, particularly toward the national child benefit, have been around trying to deliver direct programs, and that certainly seems to be the inclination of the federal government and that's where we seem to be going in a variety of programming.

We haven't actually assessed what the impact would be on families to give them a tax credit as opposed to a direct subsidy, but if one takes a look just in examining the rate of subsidy - and if the member could just bear with me for a moment here - if we take a look at the amount of subsidy that an individual might get, I would suggest that probably there would be considerably more realized in terms of the direct subsidy than the tax credit. The tax credit would have to be a great deal.

We have, for example, some 200 single-parent families in Whitehorse. Many of them have a net monthly income of just below $1,481 so there would have to be a very, very substantial subsidy when we realize that, in most cases, the average amount of day care is often $500 to $560, or more. So, for example, for an infant of, say, 18 months with an average fee charged at $560, the maximum subsidy payable would be $500, and if we extrapolate to cover 12 months, we'd be looking at almost a $6,000 tax credit.

Similarly, in other areas, if we want to replace the subsidy with some kind of tax credit, it would have to be a very, very substantial amount.

Mr. Jenkins: I'm not suggesting that one offset the other; I'm just raising alarm bells that this line item has gone up by just in excess of three-quarters of a million dollars in this fiscal period alone and that would raise my concern as to what we can do to cap it or to find a way to alleviate some of the costs and perhaps offset them to our federal government.

Now, certainly the minister, in his responsibilities, has two choices: he can continue to come back to this Legislature and ask for another three-quarters of a million dollars every budget and supplementary budget and address these increasing costs, or he can do an in-depth analysis of the program to see if there's a way whereby, with a combination of tax credits and other programs, we can get a handle on these rising costs because they appear to be disproportionate to the size of the workforce and to the number of the employable individuals in that area, even given that the educational side of it has been fairly constant in the number of people attending who would be accessing day care, which would be for a lesser period of time.

So, I'm sure the minister must have some concerns with those kinds of increasing costs and it's just an exercise that would be standard within the department. We just can't hide behind the board and say we're going to let the board examine it.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: No, we have no intention of doing that at all, but what we have done is we've taken a look at this whole issue and we've taken a very detailed look at the different categories and some of the ways of cost-containing options. We have quite an extensive list. Some may involve such things as changes to eligibility criteria. Some may be changing regulations on such things as work, on the number of hours, et cetera. But I don't want to rush into these right now.

I've asked the Child Care Board to give me some opinions on some of these. Our goal, I think, if I could characterize it, would be to make sure that the subsidy goes to people who need it the most. As I said, we have a whole variety of options. We will look at them in detail. We have some figures on what we can be containing, along with a variety of these options, but I would like to get a sense from the board what they think would be probably some of the more appropriate ways and those we will factor in, along with, as the Member for Riverdale South has indicated, perhaps another relevant group, being the Health and Social Services Council. We'll bounce some of those ideas back and forth.

The reason that I'm interested, I suppose, in having it done by the Child Care Board is because they have a very widespread membership. They represent communities, day cares, they represent urban day cares. They have a very good sense of who accesses their services, who needs it the most, and so on. As well, they also have something that I think is valuable, and that is a national perspective - a national view of where things are going in this whole field.

So, we do have some ideas. We've worked out some figures. We have a sense of what we can do to contain it, but, as I said, before we take the kind of action, I would like to sit down with the Child Care Board and have them give me some feedback - as well as some other relevant groups.

Mr. Jenkins: I guess that gives rise to how much additional cost is the minister prepared to accept for this area before he does get involved and does an in-depth analysis. Is it open-ended?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Good heavens no, Mr. Chair. We've already begun a very extensive analysis. The department has done it. The department has different sorts of savings amounts, depending on the kind of scenario that we use.

As I said, we have these in mind. We know we have to contain these costs. We are not willing to continue to do these. The worst possible thing that might be is, if figures keep rising and rising, one would have to, at some point, take precipitous action.

I'm not interested in doing that. I'm interested in saying, "Can we change these to make them more targeted, to contain the costs, to direct the costs more to people who need them?" I'm seeking some assistance in that regard from people who work in that field.

Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, it's interesting, because we talk about a number of different ways of providing care for children. Probably one of the most interesting things is that we're talking about a population bulge right now that started in 1990. I know that, because that's the year that my daughter was born. Resources are being pulled to the max for that particular grade going through right now. Those children are now seven. They're in grade 1, so they're requiring full-time day care and that's putting an awful lot of strain on the system.

The minister talked earlier about giving people an opportunity to work. What about an opportunity for people to stay at home? Under the NDP, in the previous regime, there was a regulation or a policy that if you had a child that was five years or under, you wouldn't be asked to do a job search and you would get full social assistance until that child reached the age of five. Then, when the Yukon Party took over, they changed that and dropped the age to two.

There wasn't any particular reason why it was two, it was just two.

The minister earlier, in the last sitting I believe, said that he was interested in reviewing that, and to give people the opportunity to maybe stay at home and cut down on some of that subsidy money for day cares, which is also one of the issues here. And, I'm wondering - I know that this was actually a subject that was quite dear to his heart - whether the minister has undertaken that review?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: It is one of those things that is being looked at in our review. As I indicated earlier in my comments, we added almost 150 children because of that particular policy change, and I guess one sort of has to look at, did that offset any saving that there might be in social assistance? That would be one of those things that is being looked at as part of our review.

Family and Children's Services in the amount of $846,000 agreed to

On Social Services

Hon. Mr. Sloan: This increase results from the following changes: a $1,650,000 increase as a result of increased social assistance caseloads in Whitehorse, partially offset by a $45,000 decrease in the strategic initiatives fund that is expected to be used this year; $11,000 decrease in the MAN-WAN transfer noted in policy planning and administration; and a $5,000 decrease from reduced travel.

Mr. Jenkins: We just asked the ministers to have a look at this $1.5 million increase in social assistance payout in Whitehorse. It has been pretty static throughout the Yukon Territory. I know the caseloads in the majority of the communities have been either static or up and down just slightly.

Why a major increase in Whitehorse? Has it been a change in the way the program is being delivered? Is it being opened up and more readily available?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: There haven't been changes in that regard. What the change has been is that the caseloads have increased by an average of 70 a month. From August 1995 to September 1996, the average monthly expenditures in that same period have risen from $522,000 to $615,000.

It is primarily driven by economic and demographic factors. From June 1996 to June 1997, the Yukon population grew by 683 people.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Sloan: No, not all of them on welfare, as the member has noted. But if we take that and apply the guideline, which is about 4.3 percent of the population aged 19 and older that would receive social assistance in a given month, that adds an additional 30 individuals in a given month, just driven by population. If we factor in such things as the unemployment rate, we also have to look at it having risen from an average of 9.4 to 12.2 percent.

As well, there have been a couple of other drivers, one of which has been the shelter costs assumed by the department for two DIA clients with extreme disabilities. That's approximately $15,000 a month, and we will, of course, be trying to cover those from our federal counterparts. We've also had some increases in utility costs. If we just take a look - I think in March we had an additional $13,000 for utility costs above maximum.

The case for composition and duration - who makes up social assistance and the length of time they stay on - has remained largely unchanged for the past three years. What we're getting, we believe, are factors in terms of population growth and employment issues.

Mr. Jenkins: I'm aware of a number of instances where people couldn't qualify for social assistance in Dawson City and have come to Whitehorse and have had no problem whatsoever. So, there has to be a difference in the way these programs are being interpreted. I'm sure this kind of instance doesn't come to the minister's doorstep on a regular basis, but there doesn't appear to be a consistent delivery of the program. That might have driven a lot of the costs here in Whitehorse.

One would expect, with the unemployment rate in Watson Lake and Dawson being what it is, that SA in those two areas would increase alarmingly. But that is not the case, Mr. Chair. Could the minister explain those areas and those discrepancies?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Chair, I think that first of all, I would ask the member if he has personal knowledge of individuals who perhaps did not qualify in their home community and came to Whitehorse and qualified for it, and if he suspects that there is something, perhaps, improper that he would refer them on to the department, it would be appreciated.

I think what often does occur is that individuals may move from, as the member has said, perhaps Watson Lake to Whitehorse, and when they arrive here, their circumstances may change. They may come here with the expectation of finding employment, but, very often in a home community, they may have a support network there - they may be living in a family home or they may have a variety of formal and informal support networks - and then, coming to a new community, they may find themselves in very changed circumstances. For example, a young couple that might be living in the parental home in Watson Lake may come to Whitehorse expecting to find work. The work doesn't materialize. They come to SA and need assistance with shelter, utilities and things like that. People's circumstances often change when they come.

As well, I think we have to recognize that most people who come to the territory on probably a more permanent basis do sort of locate in Whitehorse, and that would just create a greater driver in Whitehorse. But, as I said, if the member has personal knowledge of some of these and he can pass those on to the department, we would appreciate it.

Mr. Jenkins: Yes, I have personal knowledge, and I did follow up with a number of these individuals, and according to the rules, they have done nothing wrong. They wanted to get away from mommy and daddy in their home, and they came to Whitehorse. The word is out. SA is readily available and easily available in Whitehorse rather than in the communities, because the communities tend to have more of an understanding of who's who, and basically just kick them in the butt and say, "Go back to mom," or "Go back to school," or "Go get a job."

So, that's an alarming trend, Mr. Chair. I'm sure that it wouldn't take much for the department to examine the home town of a number of these individuals that are receiving benefits right now.

Is there a breakdown of SA payouts according to age groups? And has there been quite a substantive increase in the lower age group - say the late teens or early twenties? Has there been a major increase in that area, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Yes, Mr. Chair, we do have profiles of individuals and there has not been a substantive increase in, I suppose, younger SA recipients.

If we take a look at what is being forecast in Whitehorse caseloads, it's largely by employment status. For example, we have 279 in Whitehorse who may be employed. We have people - about 375, and these are forecasts - who are not employed but available for work. Then we have about 133 who are not employed, unavailable or unsuitable for work, and then we are projecting about 12 in a training program, and then we have client participation in the Head Start program, which is about 83.

So, we do have a sense of employment and we also have a sense in terms of age and, as I said, we haven't noticed a major spike-up in this group.

Mr. Jenkins: So, given the increase that we're looking at all across the minister's department, how is he going to get a handle on it? How is he going to get a handle on these areas that are increasing? This area of the department is increasing in cost at an alarming rate. What initiative is his department taking to address the responsibilities in these two specific areas that we've just discussed, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I have to indicate to the member that we do find that there are fluctuations in the SA population, depending on what's happening in the economic market, depending on what the demographics are. Are we experiencing a population increase or are people leaving the territory?

If one takes a look back, say, even to April 1994, we see drops, we see increases, we see decreases again, we see increases, and so on and so forth. So, many of these things are driven by just the economics and we do try to contain, we do try to take a look at eligibility factors and things of that nature. We attempt to keep a handle on who is actually permitted to get this, and so on and so forth. But these are statutory programs. We have a requirement to provide assistance to individuals who may find themselves in circumstances that are sometimes beyond their own control.

I think we have to recognize that social assistance is not something that people want to make a career of. It's not the kind of thing that people would stay on, I think, if there were other opportunities because, certainly, while it may provide a certain standard of living, it doesn't provide the kind of standard of living I think most people aspire to.

I think one of the most interesting things about social assistance is the group that spend the least amount of time on social assistance and are probably the most motivated tend to be young mothers and I think that's not surprising. They have a desire to improve their family's circumstances. They're motivated by a desire probably to provide a better standard of life for their children. So, I don't think that's surprising. I don't think it's a lifestyle that most people would aspire to.

Mr. Jenkins: The minister has to recognize that there is an element out there who do live on this social assistance merry-go-round.

It's interesting to watch trends, how they peak and recede and, contrary to what the minister has suggested in the House that the government really can't do much with respect to pay outs, there are statutory programs under various acts. One just has to look at history and under the previous NDP government, Yukon had the highest employment. It has also, at that same time, the highest payout of social assistance.

A handle was gotten on the programs by the previous government and by the department, but now the purse strings seem to be wide open and it seems that there's a void right at the top and that's your seat, Mr. Minister, where these programs are just paying out at an alarming rate, way beyond what it appears that the market should have flowing through it to the program.

So, if trends reoccur, I would suggest to the minister that a year from now, we'll probably see super-high unemployment and astronomical payouts of social assistance and I don't want to see that. I see us being quite a few years away from getting back on an even keel in the Yukon's economy, especially with the depressed price of both base metals and precious metals.

So, I believe the minister, unless he changes portfolios, is going to reside over one of the fastest growing departments in the Yukon and I'm sure the minister can comment either pro or con, but I don't think he'll be able to dispute that in a year's time.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Chair, I would just suggest that we are going to try and contain costs wherever we can. We haven't changed our policies dramatically from the previous administration, so it's not a policy-driven initiative, but I'm presuming that the member is not asking that we do some kind of radical surgery on the social assistance side. We may save some costs there in cash, but I often wonder what we would do, just in human terms, and I suppose I would prefer not to be remembered as the person who took the knife to programs that people need.

Mr. Jenkins: Before we leave this line item, the Member for Riverside questioned the minister on the whereabouts of his favourite constituent that received a considerable sum of money to pay his back taxes. Could the minister tell the House if his department has located Mr. Bemis, and probably a brief outline of what they're going to do to recover these funds at this juncture, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: First of all, Mr. Chair, the member is aware that I can't discuss the circumstances of an individual case, but I can tell him that it is an issue that we are following up on.

Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, to go back to some of what we were talking about recently about people being on social assistance and not wanting to be there, certainly that's been the case for the people that I know who have been on social assistance. That's the last place they want to be and that's the last place they ever thought they would be, and that's where they end up.

One of the reasons that they end up there is because they end up in situations where they have young children, they have had to leave their husband, there is no money for them to get lawyers and they sit there in limbo with no child support. One of the problems is that they can't go to legal aid to get the money to fight for child support.

Is the minister doing anything about that?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I'm being advised here by our Justice minister.

I'm aware that legal aid has a board that can provide assistance in that area. Is that -

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Sloan: If it determines the policy in that regard. Apparently, it is shared 50/50, both territorially and federally, and they determine who gets it. I would suggest that perhaps they might want to revisit this to try and provide some support for, as the member said, women who do find themselves in circumstances.

One of the things that I think we would try to do is encourage individuals who are having difficulty in that regard to access what they can from their errant spouses.

Mrs. Edelman: It's quite interesting that now it's the board's fault that people are not being helped, and I hear from the members opposite that the problem is the federal government; that it's not the responsibility of the people in the territory.

I think that it's absolutely frightening that this particular group of people in the Yukon, particularly these women who have absolutely no resources, are getting nothing. If there's any way to help this situation at all, I suggest the minister do something.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: We do assist women who have left their husbands and are on social assistance. We do, through our counterparts in Justice, follow up on support orders. However, I have to suggest that one of the problems is that in this territory we tend to focus a lot on criminal cases rather than civil cases, particularly with regard to legal aid in that regard.

We do attempt to support women in that. For example, if a woman were to come to us and be concerned about, say, a contact with a spouse, we would not press the issue if that woman had some kind of fear. But we do try to work through Justice to make sure that people do pay what is expected of them.

Mrs. Edelman: This is flogging a dead horse.

The problem is getting the spouses to pay, but the even greater problem is getting the orders so that they have to pay, and that costs money. And that's just not happening, and there a lot of people out there who are in very dire circumstances and they are staying in situations that are extremely dangerous for them because they have no choice. Obviously, it's either the federal government's fault or it's a board's fault. That is what I hear continuously, not just about this issue, but every other issue, as well. It's really concerning to me.

One of the things that we talked about earlier is the demographics of the people that are on social assistance. It's interesting, because there has been some additional or added funding for programs that help people who have been chronically on SA. We're talking about the median or the largest number of people who have been on for about 11 months; that's median, not the average. What I am wondering about is what you'll have is people going on social assistance, going back and doing something else, getting into the workforce and then coming back to social assistance, and they go back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, until there is some sort of intervention program.

What I am wondering is - the trend has been, so far, to increase the funding on programs that intervene in that cycle, which is quite sad in a lot of ways.

I'm wondering if the minister is going to increase funding to help us bring some of these numbers down now, which have reached an absolutely outrageous level?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: We do have the strategic initiatives and had set a program, but as the member can appreciate, when one has a variance in this regard with this amount, it is very difficult to consider putting more dollars in there.

One of the things that we think will be an advantage to individuals will be the NCB, because the NCB will, in a sense, provide some support to families who are sort of on that margin between employment and SA. What we think will happen with this program is that it will offer incentive to families, particularly, I suppose, working poor families, to remain in the workforce and hopefully better their circumstances, because the amount that will be given them will certainly be commensurate with what they would receive on SA, and they won't be at an economic disadvantage. T

hat is where we have gone with this program and that is certainly the objective of the federal government in all future programs.

Mrs. Edelman: Just for interest sake, the funding for this program does come from the federal government, then.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: With regard to the NCB, yes. What will happen will be that the funds will be allocated by the federal government, and that will go toward this NCB. Funds that are saved - if you want to think about it in those terms - by the jurisdictions of provinces or territories won't be saved in terms of, "We'll go out and build roads with it," or anything like that. We have had to make a commitment that any funds that we save, or savings that we realize, we will redirect into programs that are geared toward children.

Of course, given our size, the amount that we will realize is much less than, say, a provincial jurisdiction, where it could be literally tens of millions or more. The commitment has been made that we would take any funds that we save and reinvest them in programs directed toward children.

Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, has the minister promised any of this money from the national child benefit? Is some of that going toward the Child Development Centre? Is any of it going toward CATS, or are there any particular promises that the minister has already made for that money yet to come?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Not outside of the programs that we're bringing in - opticals and drugs for children. Depending on what we realize from this - and the federal government has indicated that they are looking at investing yet more money - the greater the amount that they invest in it, the greater the amount that we would have available for programs.

For example, if we were to realize a major recovery on this, certainly we could look at funding programs that we think would be a real asset to territorial children. You know, the members made reference to CDC. There are programs there, I think, that we would certainly like to support and certainly like to expand - the nutrition program, if additional funds were to come in.

My idea, quite frankly, on that one would be to increase that very substantially, because there has been a good uptake on it. It's well-appreciated at the school level.

I have received a comment that I should probably keep my answers somewhat shorter.

Mr. Jenkins: I was wondering if the minister could hopefully enlighten me. Under this line item, Mr. Chair, there's an amount of - I'm referring to the contract registry for the operation of the wilderness camps. There are some 17 contracts issued, sole sourced, amount to some $200,000-odd. I'm not looking for the name of the individuals that were covered by this. What I'm looking for is an answer to why this program was all sole sourced.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I think earlier I indicated that we had put out general tenders for programs of these kinds. I hope I'm not doing a disservice to the Speaker by trying to pronounce this, but the Chuu Ttha youth healing camp - these have been for youth and teenagers, mostly with alcohol and substance abuse programs, and if one takes a look at the contracts, they are all for varying amounts and varying sizes. Those are made up on an individual basis, depending how long that individual would be out there, depending on the nature of the problem.

If we take a look at the Wind River Wilderness Camp, these contracts are also for placement of youth and these are mostly children who are on probation or in custody. Once again, they are individual contracts drawn up for each child attending that camp.

This one, in particular, operates in the summer, and they did have one wilderness camp. They are very specialized sorts of placements, so we did seek from groups what kinds of services they could offer and we access those as needed, depending upon the individual.

Mr. Jenkins: So, could the minister advise us who operates these camps and where they're located - or where this one is located, the youth healing camp? Perhaps it would be best if I spelled it out - Chuu Ttha - and then I don't have to get into the exact pronunciation, which I'm sure I wouldn't do justice to, Mr. Chair.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: That is operated by Mabel and Randy Tetlichi in Old Crow. The Wind River Wilderness Camp is operated by Jack Smith. A good deal of the staff are hired for this camp from within the Nacho Nyak Dun First Nation, and that one's operated out of Mayo.

Mr. Jenkins: So, they're all for rehabilitation programs for First Nations individuals. The one in Old Crow covering 17 different individuals - is that what it covers?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: No, they're not all necessarily First Nations children. There are some who are and some who aren't. It's more based on the nature of the problem that the child has. If it's alcohol and substance abuse, generally the Old Crow camp is the preferred location. I know, for example, because of my work in education, several non-First Nations children who did attend that, and similarly with the Wind River Camp.

Mr. Phillips: I wonder if the minister could bring back for us a copy of the guidelines or criteria that these camps use. They must have a program that they deliver. Could the minister provide that program? That is my first question, Mr. Chair. While I'm on camps, I brought to the minister's attention the other day an individual who was in my office, Miss Beatty, who wanted to talk to the minister and arrange a meeting on camps. Could the minister just update us on whether or not he's met with Miss Beatty and her friend, who was assisting her with the camp that they ran last summer?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, on the first one, yes, we can provide the guidelines for those camps and how they're administered. With respect to the meeting on the Wheaton River camp, I have a meeting with the two individuals tomorrow. I'm hoping to find out more about their camp. It's my understanding that their camp is primarily geared to young women who are experiencing problems with the law or with other kinds of difficulties. We would certainly be interested in that.

Many of the children who go through camps are predominantly young men, so, certainly, if there are other opportunities, we are always interested in exploring those.

Mr. Ostashek: I have a couple of questions on this youth healing camp. I believe the minister said it was in Old Crow and that there are some 17 or 18 sole-sourced contracts on it. I'm concerned about this, and we need more information on it, because the total amount is in excess of $200,000. We'd like to know what we're getting for that $200,000, what the qualifications of the counsellors working at this camp are, what services are being provided for $200,000 - or is it just a place to put people where there's no alcohol? That seems like a very expensive program to do something like that.

What is there for qualified people working at the camp to provide direction to these people to limit the number of repeat offenders we have? What qualified counselling services are being provided at this camp?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I can bring back some information on that, but I should caution, on the Old Crow camp, that the focus there tends to be alcohol/substance abuse. The Wind River camp tends to work with young offenders. I can certainly get the member some information on qualifications, recidivism, and things of that nature.

I know that I have spoken with, for example, the gentleman who runs the Wind River camp, and he has given me a couple of indications on areas he feels they could work effectively with kids and some of the things he's seen, just from his own experience, in terms of young people managing to do a bit of a turnaround.

We can provide some information for the member.

Mr. Ostashek: Well, Mr. Speaker, I'm aware of the Wind River camp. It has been going for quite a number of years, and I know that there have been contracts there.

I wonder, when the minister comes back to the House, could he provide us with what was spent in the Old Crow camp in the previous fiscal year?

It just seems to me that we're spending a lot of money there that wasn't spent at that camp before. It seems to me that there has been a dramatic increase, and I would like to know that.

And I'm really interested in what kind of counselling services are being provided, and I also wonder if the minister could explain to me why this is sole sourced to Old Crow. It seems to me that there are even other First Nations that have wilderness camps, and I don't recall a tender for it.

I could be wrong on that. It certainly leads to a lot of questions from us in opposition, Mr. Chair, because of the number - not so much the number of clients, but the amount of money that is in excess of $200,000, by quick calculations.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, these camps came about as a result of seeking expressions of interest. And the camps were checked out and it was determined if that was the type of program that we in fact needed, and because of the specialized nature is why these individual contracts were sole sourced.

I should point out that these camps have been operating for a number of years and we have been referring for at least two or three years to most of these camps.

Mr. Ostashek: I'm aware that the camps have been operated. I was not aware that there was so much money going to one camp in Old Crow - that was being sole sourced to that camp. That's what I'm looking for some answers about.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, we can certainly provide a year-to-year comparison, if that's what the member is seeking. Sometimes it would depend on the fluctuations of how many young people - for example, if we're talking about young offenders - might be referred by the courts to settings of this kind. It may be that a number of referrals are being made through ADS and other services. So, we can bring forward some comparative figures.

Mr. Ostashek: I just want to be on the record that this is a large sum of taxpayers' dollars. It is somewhere close to $200,000, if it's not in excess of $200,000.

I'm concerned that this is being sole sourced. I'm concerned about the quality of counselling that's being provided in these camps for that kind of money. I think that the public deserves some answers. That is a lot of money if we are just sending people for a wilderness experience. If we don't have good -

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Chair, in a quick calculation, it's in excess of a quarter of a million dollars to one camp.

I'm concerned of the quality of rehabilitation services that are being provided in that camp and other wilderness camps of that type, and I hope that the minister will be forthcoming with the information, and in great detail, with some rationale as to why we are not going out to a tender, asking for a list of services, and picking the most qualified place to rehabilitate these people. It's a substantial amount of taxpayers' dollars.

I think it's a legitimate request and I just ask the minister that he be very generous in the amount of information and explanations that he gives us on this specific instance.

I also would like to know from the minister if it's their intention to continue sole sourcing or are they, in fact, going to be looking at a tender?

I know this is on an individual basis, on a person-by-person basis, but the fact remains, when we have a contract of over a quarter of a million dollars that's being sole sourced in bits and pieces - I think some of them are in excess of the sole-source limit of $25,000; I know one is, anyhow; one is $26,000 and some - I think that this is the type of contract that should legitimately go to public tender.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: We can provide information there for the member. Generally, however, the amount that we would pay here would be very comparable to what we would spend if we sent a child outside to a similar kind of experience. I can tell the member that, routinely, I sign off amounts for children who go to very specialized facilities outside at rather substantial cost. I think that what we're dealing with here are some very specialized needs and very specialized requirements.

We can provide the member with some detail on that. We can provide the member with some year-by-year figures and we can provide that in the form of a letter with some detail in terms of what these programs do and what our expectations are.

Mr. Ostashek: Well, the minister is right when he says these are very specialized cases and I'm concerned, regardless of the cost of going outside or the cost of going up to Old Crow or to any other wilderness camp here, about the quality of the service and the rehabilitation that these people are getting.

I'm not convinced, from my knowledge of the Old Crow camp, that they have the qualified counsellors there to do justice to these individuals at a cost of $250,000 to the taxpayers of the Yukon. That is my point. It is a very specialized field, and it takes some very well-trained counsellors to justify that type of an expenditure. Unless something has happened there that I'm not aware of, I don't know that those counsellors were in place before. If they are now, then fine, but I'm very, very concerned about this expenditure and the manner in which it's being expended.

The minister didn't reply to my question as to whether they were even considering going to a public tender for these types of services.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I'm advised that we do this on a periodic basis. We put them out to tender once again to see if there are either new people who are interested in getting into that field, or perhaps there are people who can offer a different service.

The Member for Riverdale North brought to my attention a program that has just begun, and I'm interested in following up with the individuals in question.

We can certainly bring forward the guidelines. We can bring forward issues of how much it is costing, and I can also at the time find out when we are proposing to bring forward some tenders or expressions of interest, or whatever, in this regard again to see if there are other people who are out there.

I have had, for example, some people come to me suggesting programs to me that they would like to begin, and certainly we are always interested in programs that can do other services for children and that we feel are valid.

Chair: The time being 5:30 p.m., Committee will recess until 7:30 p.m.


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

Mr. Ostashek: I was hoping that maybe the minister would have had some information for us after the supper break on the Old Crow wilderness camp. Does the minister have any information for us?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: No, regrettably, I wasn't able to raise anyone over there to get further information, but we can provide as soon as possible to the member opposite.

Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Chair, I am not going to belabour it forever but there are a few things that I am apt to get on the record in regard to this expenditure.

Let's just look at what's happened here. We have Randall Tetlichi who operates a camp, a past candidate to the NDP party in a by-election in Old Crow, issued 17 sole-sourced contracts totalling more than $262,000. One of the contracts, at least, exceeded the sole-source limit of $25,000.

Mr. Chair, that doesn't smell too good to me.

And the minister is not very forthcoming with answers. I have great difficulty about the manner in which these contracts have been issued under a sole sourcing. It's not the proper procedure for this type of a contract. I would have thought that, for this large of an expenditure of taxpayers' dollars, the department would have gone out to public tender to whoever wanted to bid on it, whether it was the Old Crow camp - I can't pronounce the name, Mr. Chair, so I won't even try - or Crossroads or an outside firm, to where they could get the best counselling services.

Mr. Chair, $262,000 is a substantial amount of money to be paying out for 17 clients. If this is nothing more than a glorified camping trip, then there's no justification for this type of expenditure.

I want to put the minister on notice now. Although we haven't found out about this until the last hours of this sitting, he can rest assured that this matter will not go away. We will be raising it again in the spring sitting, and we will until we get satisfactory answers.

I would like from the minister, when he comes back to me at some point over the next days or weeks ahead, to know why the contract wasn't publicly tendered. They knew that there was going to be more than one client going somewhere; there always has been in the past.

I want to know why they were all sole sourced to this one camp and what the rationale behind it was.

Mr. Chair, from what I know about this camp, I don't believe that there is the proper type of counselling services available there for people who are in a substance-abuse program. Now, it certainly gets them away from the substance abuse. There's no doubt about that. Old Crow is a dry community, and they're in a camp that's a couple of miles from Old Crow. But I don't believe, for one minute, that the type of money that's been paid out here to that facility can provide all of the services that are required for people who are in that facility because of their problems with drugs and alcohol. So, when the minister comes back, I would like all of those questions answered.

I asked the minister earlier, but I'll repeat it again for the record: I want to know the qualifications of the counsellors at that camp, how many counsellors there are, what the length of stay of these clients was and what benchmarks the department is using to be able to justify this expenditure, especially on a sole-sourced basis.

I know that I would feel better, and the public would feel a lot better, if this were a public tender where there were some terms of reference set out as to what the facility was expected to provide on behalf of clients of this government. It's little wonder that the cost in Social Services is up so dramatically if we're going to see these kinds of expenditures.

And I'm disappointed that the minister can't give us more information in debate on his budget, but that was one of the reasons that we asked for this contract registry at an early date - so that we could have given the minister some notice that we would be pursuing these areas, and he could have been prepared for them on the floor of this Legislature, because that's what this Legislature is for. It's to ask questions about the minister's budget, and we should be getting them here and not having the minister stand up and say, "I'll have to reply to you by letter."

Can I get that commitment from the minister that he will do that for us? I also want him to seriously look at going to a public tender in the next budget rather than continuing in this way, because if he does, well, we're going to have a lot of questions.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Just for a point of record, this particular camp has been in existence since about 1990, and nothing has changed in terms of our references of young people there and from the previous government, so I'm surprised that this is something that this member has discovered now, since it was being used under his administration. However, what we will do is we will take dutiful notes here. We will attempt to get all these to the member at the earliest convenience.

We did try over the supper break; however, the individuals who were responsible for this were not available and we couldn't get more detailed information. But we can get that to the member, I would expect, by tomorrow - at least some comparative figures for over the years - and we'll provide further details.

Mr. Ostashek: Well, I thank the member for that and I will be interested in seeing the comparative figures because I don't believe that we were utilizing the camp to the extent that this administration is, but the figures will be there. We will look back through last year's contract registry, too, to see what we can find, but I'm not aware of us using the camp to that extent.

Nevertheless, if in fact governments in the past were doing it, that doesn't mean it's right.

That is a large expenditure, and if we were doing it and the opposition were on the ball, they would have been questioning us about it. So, I thank the minister for that.

Mr. Cable: I have some followup questions, not on the specific contracts relating to the Old Crow work camp but on recidivism in various ways that young offenders are treated. Under the Young Offenders Act, young offenders can be sentenced to community work, or personal work, I suppose, for the victim, or to probation or to fines or to jail or to these work camps that were just discussed.

Now, I had asked questions previously of this administration as to whether the recidivism rates were calculated for these various types of remedies that are used for the young offenders. I gather, from what's been said today, there has been some attempt to calculate recidivism rates, at least for work camps. Have recidivism rates been calculated or are they being calculated for the various other sentencing options?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, we do have such rates and we can provide further information. I guess one of the things that I often refer to is the alternative measures that we have for young offenders.

I think it's significant that, particularly with such things as diversion, the rate of young people never showing up in the justice system again is quite good. My concern, primarily, is with regard to those children who often do not have the same kind of support network that allows some of our young people to stay out of the official court system. I think if we can provide more alternatives, particularly in terms of juvenile diversion, we have a good chance of steering some of these young people away from an ongoing pattern of crime in the future.

Mr. Cable: The minister will recollect that there was a group formed sort of spontaneously earlier this year after the number of break-ins and acts of vandalism. There were a number of remedies that came forward from people, such as compulsory military service and public shaming on Main Street. Those, I don't think, are available at the present time, but it would be useful to find out just what sort of an effect on us the various present sentencing options have. Could the minister tell us just exactly what sort of statistics are collected with respect to the sentencing options under the Young Offenders Act?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, once again I will make reference to the fact that we have about 85 percent of our young people that go through diversion never showing up again in the courts. That being said, we have also some pretty interesting statistics in terms of how many young people we actually do incarcerate.

We are one of those jurisdictions that does incarcerate at a much higher rate. For example, going through some of the most recent data, family and children's services now has two years of data for the young offenders alternative measures and one year of data for the youth achievement centre. The date in both programs compares fairly favourably.

The Young Offenders Act alternative measures reports a 20-percent recidivism rate since 1996. When we compare this with 21 percent in PEI and 22 percent in Nova Scotia study, the youth achievement centre reports an 18-percent rate for 1997 participants. When we compare this to an Ontario study of youth committed to custody, they found a 40-percent rate for open custody and a 64-percent rate for secure custody over a two year period.

So, I think we are doing relatively well with those programs. However, that being said, we do have one of the highest rates of reported crimes and one of the highest charging rates in the country.

Interestingly enough, we share this distinction with two other very small jurisdictions, population wise: the NWT and PEI. And, that may be just a reflection of our communities, the fact that we often know -

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I see the Member for Porter Creek South is encouraging me to provide yet more information - oh, I took that circular sort of gesture as wanting me to continue more in this vein.

So, we do have some information in that regard.

Mr. Cable: The minister indicated that in Ontario the jail option yielded 40 percent recidivism for open custody and 64 for secure. What I am after, and the minister can provide a letter later, is just what sentencing options here in this jurisdiction have been run through the recidivism analysis mill and how they compare with the national stats?

I think it appears, from what the minister has just said, that there are part way through the analysis - that there were two options that the minister has some statistics on. I would in particular like to get statistics on the community service: the community work options and the personal work options. Are the minister and I on the same wavelength?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Yes. As I was indicating before, we have quite a good rate on, I suppose, such things as community service and, I guess, juvenile diversion kinds of programs and such. I think this reflects well the idea that if we can keep young people out of the formalized court system, if we can intervene earlier, I think we have some real opportunities to maybe keep them from going into something of a cycle as far as crime goes. So, I would like to continue to emphasize alternative measures and other ways to deal with young people.

I think an excellent thing that's begun is the family group conferencing. At least anecdotally, we're getting some very positive results back on that. People who have gone through it have said that they feel it has done a great deal in terms of making young people gain a sense of the impact of their actions on the community at large, their family and everyone else.

Mr. Phillips: I'd like to take the minister back for a minute to discuss the incident with the minister's favourite constituent, Mr. Bemis. I'd like to ask the minister who was investigating this particular issue. Is it the fraud investigator who is carrying out this investigation?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: The member knows that I can't get into specifics, but what I can tell him is that we've asked for some assistance from Justice in that regard.

Mr. Phillips: We had a fraud investigator before who was working for the department. I would think that if there has been an individual who is alleged to not be in the territory any longer when he's supposed to be here, or at least, notify us if he's left, do we normally turn that over to the RCMP first or do we use the fraud investigator? What's the proper procedure for checking out these kinds of allegations?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, as I said, we have gone to Justice to get a sense of how we should be proceeding in that regard, and they'll no doubt advise us of what we should be doing or how we should be proceeding.

Mr. Phillips: So, the minister is telling us that there really isn't an investigation going on now. He just asked Justice for an opinion on how they should carry out the investigation. Is the minister not worried that, you know, the possible winter holiday might be over, and summer might be back and so might Mr. Bemis by the time they get around to even checking out whether or not he had left the territory?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, you know, we all work on this kind of cycle of seasons, and what we've actually done with regard to Justice is that we have some concerns, as I indicated earlier, about how this, I suppose, decision that we were directed on there was arrived at. We have gone to Justice to see what kinds of actions are available to us. When we receive their opinion, we'll know exactly how we should proceed on this.

Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Chair, I'm quite surprised that they haven't - I was under the understanding, from what the minister had said earlier, that they were actually out trying to find out whether Mr. Bemis was in the territory or not. It sounds more now like Justice is just looking into the whole set of events that took place that led up to the decision that was made. Am I correct there? Has no one really checked whether Mr. Bemis is here or not here? We're still just in the realm of finding out whether or not we carried out the proper procedure or followed our regulations.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I am somewhat limited in what I can say on this matter, but suffice it to say that we are pursuing a variety of options, both within our department and also with the assistance of the Justice department.

Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Chair, this is quite an episode that's upset a lot of Yukon taxpayers. When social assistance came riding into the rescue and helped Mr. Bemis out with a loan, a lot of taxpayers were kind of upset with that because they've made some personal sacrifices to make sure they could pay their taxes every year.

This is the fellow who fought it, not because he couldn't pay, because he paid $5,000, the minister said, in legal fees, but he said he fought it because he didn't believe in the principle of paying taxes, that squatters shouldn't pay taxes. Then the unfortunate thing happened, and I believe that the government broke its own regulations when it used a clause in the social assistance regulations to provide funding for Mr. Bemis. In fact, it did so, in my view, illegally.

Is the minister telling us that he's actually checking with the Department of Justice to see whether or not either the department or the social assistance committee broke the law when it used this clause to award Mr. Bemis the loan for his back taxes?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, we're investigating on a variety of fronts. Certainly I've expressed to the member opposite and in this House that we have some concerns with, I suppose, the authority of the Social Assistance Appeal Board in this case.

That's one factor, but we're also pursuing following up on this case in terms of what legal avenues we have and, as well, we're also following up on trying to determine the particulars of the case. So we're pursuing it on a variety of fronts and we'll take the necessary action when we have all the sufficient facts and all the proper things to go on.

Mr. Phillips: I hate to suggest this for fear of giving Mr. Bemis an idea, but I have this fear that we may not be able to recover any of this money and Mr. Bemis' argument will be that we shouldn't have given him the money in the first place because the government erred in giving him the money under the wrong section of the act, so he really doesn't have to pay it back. We'll go through another thousands of dollars worth of court cases to try to recover it all, and then hopefully this time if we do that, there won't be another department of government that will jump in to bail him out again.

So, I would hope that we don't get into that kind of vicious circle.

Mr. Chair, maybe the minister can tell me what the process is. On this case or any case, when an issue like this comes up, would the Department of Health and Social Services, the officials at the meeting with the Health and Social Services Council, say, "This is the clause which allows you to do this, or this is the clause that prevents you from doing this." Was there that kind of advice given from the department, and who would give that kind of advice to that council?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: As the member has indicated, the individual in this case applied under section 24, I believe it is, and what really happened in this particular instance was that the individual applied for - oh, I'm sorry, section 27 - the individual applied for this under section 27 of the regulations, and the initial reaction of the department was to decline this. What he then did was appeal to the Social Assistance Appeal Committee. They felt that they could grant him assistance under section 27. We then, being the department, appealed to the appeal board and they upheld the decision made by the appeal committee. From there, we have challenged - well, I don't know if "challenged" is the right word, but we feel that this had gone outside the rules of section 27. We felt that they had exceeded their authority in this case. The only avenue open there is a judicial review.

The funds were done as a loan, secured by the property, and the property is attached. We have questions about this and we are also questioning the nature of how this loan can be handled, if in fact the individual is not satisfying the criteria that were laid out.

Mr. Phillips: Well, section 27(b), I believe, is the section that says that the individual must own and reside on the said land. It's clear from Mr. Bemis, clear from the judge, clear from the minister himself and others that Mr. Bemis didn't own the land.

I thought that when we had regulations in place that these boards and committees weren't allowed to bypass or ignore them. That's the reason for the regulations. We lay out guidelines and regulations and say, "These are the rules by which you will grant social assistance money."

Isn't there some kind of protection for the minister to veto a decision when, in fact, the Health and Social Services committee breaks the regulations or, in fact, in this case, breaks the law? Isn't there a point at which the minister can step in and say, "I'm sorry, the regulations say this and you're not qualified under this section and the answer is no." Why wasn't that done?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: No, I don't have the veto power. I suppose if I had that it would sort of abrogate the ability of the board to be an appeal, I suppose, of final redress.

What we believe is that, in this case, the interpretation of the section was not right. That's our belief. We also believe that we are going to have to change the regulations to provide clarity and firmer direction on matters like this. It is our intention to do so, so that we don't get into another situation where we feel that the board, in a sense, has exceeded its authority.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I'm puzzled by part of the minister's answer. He said that they want to change the regulations to provide more clarity. Well, I've read thousands of regulations and laws that we've developed in this Legislature over the past twelve and a half years, and this is one of them that, in my view, is about as clear as you can get. It says you have to "own and reside." He did not own the property, according to a Yukon Supreme Court judge, according to the minister and according to Mr. Bemis.

So, I don't understand. Who would it be, Mr. Chair, that - do we provide, sort of, legal advice or technical advice to the committee in the meeting that would say, "He applied under this section of the act"? What I'm getting at is that surely we don't just turn the committee loose with the regulations and they just make a decision. We must have somebody there who can help them interpret the laws, or at least assist them in where to look or how to deal with a certain situation. Did we have that in this case? Who would be the official who would be at the meeting with the Health and Social Services Appeal Board who would give them the advice on what section 27(b) really said?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: We do have an individual in place. That is the supervisor from our social assistance areas. Once again, they provide advice. The board, in this case, chose not to follow that advice. Because of that, we're going to have to change the regulations to define much more closely the kinds of things that can be funded or the kind of assistance that can be provided in matters such as this.

Mr. Phillips: I don't know what you change the regulations to read, then, I guess, because if the advice was given under this section because the individual did not qualify, and the board chose to say, "To heck with you. We're going to do it anyway," what are we going to write into the regulations in the future to prevent the board from doing that - that if they do that it's 30 days in jail for all the members of the board? I mean, how do you write something in the regulations?

I just thought it was understood, Mr. Chair, that they had to follow the regulations, that the board couldn't - maybe that's the clause you need: that the board can't make any decision other than what the regulations and the law say, under any circumstances, that it has to follow the law. I thought that's the way it was supposed to be. I didn't think you had to say that any law in the territory can be bent and twisted any way they want, just because it doesn't say somewhere in the act that these laws will be followed or else.

I don't understand where the minister is going to come from on this one, because I would have thought that the Health and Social Services Appeal Board would use the act and regulations as their bible.

And that's what they would fall back on when they made a decision. They would say, "Well, the reason we said 'yes' or the reason we said 'no' was because of a certain section." The minister stood in the House when we first brought this issue up and said that the reason they said "yes" was because of section 27(b). Since that date, the minister has stood up in the House and told us that Mr. Bemis doesn't qualify.

So, I'm getting kind of a mixed message from the minister. First he argued that that was the section, and now he's saying that he's having it all checked out by Justice because in fact the board did its own thing and didn't follow section 27(b).

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, this is the first time that they've used section 27(b) for this particular kind of problem. They've obviously interpreted it, and they've interpreted the agreement to repay as probably giving them a measure of security, I suppose, in this case.

My issue with Justice is not so much about this. We're looking at changing the regulation. It wasn't our regulation change, but perhaps the question of back-taxes should be removed entirely or something of that nature, given the kind of problem, or, as the member suggests, maybe there should be something just basically saying that this is all you can do and these are the only circumstances that you can follow.

But, with regard to what I've asked Justice to do, in this specific case, we are looking at whether the individual in this case violated the criteria for receiving assistance in this regard, and that's what we're pursuing on a specific-case basis. We feel that the regulations need to be changed. We're going to be doing those.

Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Chair, in my view, the regulations may need some reworking with respect to back-taxes, but in this case, they didn't need to be changed. They just need to be followed, and the board needs to follow the regulations that the government sets out. I mean, there's no point in us sitting in here making laws and the government going back and making regulations, and then the boards just doing whatever they want. We might as well just cut them loose in the first place and not make any regulations. But my view is that there were all kinds of laws and regulations in place to say "no," and they should have said "no."

Mr. Phillips: The minister is not quite clear about whether or not we are actively pursuing or investigating the issue of whether the individual is still in the territory. Is that over in Justice or are we actively pursuing that?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I think I indicated earlier that we are pursuing this in a couple of fronts - on one front by our own department trying to determine the circumstances, the particulars of this particular individual and their particular case.

On the other front, we are pursuing with Justice what our legal remedies are if that individual is in violation of the agreement. So we are doing it on two fronts. And, I do have to be somewhat circumspect in this, because I don't want to find that we have actually prejudiced our case by revealing too much in this regard.

Mr. Phillips: Well, before I leave this the only thing I could say is that if - the minister has told us that they are at least investigating the whereabouts of the individual and whether or not he is still in the territory.

It is clear from what the minister has said that he didn't file the proper documents to actually leave the territory and it's pretty clear to me and the minister that he hasn't shown up at the minister's door in the last few weeks to say, "This is all false. I've been here all along. Check the tracks in the snow, and the smoke coming out of my chimney." So, obviously every time I raise Mr. Bemis' case, I would get threats from Mr. Bemis about suing me and I've been raising it a few times and I haven't heard anything.

So, it makes me believe that he is most likely not in the territory and is in violation, in fact, of the agreement that he has with the Government of the Yukon.

The minister said, Mr. Chair, that they secured this loan by the property. How can you do that when it's just squatter's property; it isn't owned by Mr. Bemis. He is a squatter on it. It hasn't been surveyed. It has no legal description that I am aware of. It seems to me that we have security on something that really, technically doesn't exist.

Can the minister tell us how we secured this loan by the property when it has no legal title? I mean, I can't secure a loan at the bank or secure a loan with the minister on a piece of land that I don't own. That's the first question that would come back from the bank: how can you use this for collateral when you have no interest in it? Maybe the minister can answer that for us.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, Justice did prepare the documents for this loan and they advised us that they did have recourse through lands branch on this. Now, clearly the individual has put some improvements on the property or the land and those would be the kinds of things that we would be seeking. We have to trust our lawyers, that they know what they're doing in this case and, since they did prepare the documents for the loan, they've given us advice that there is recourse through the lands branch for us.

Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Chair, I know that sometimes you can ask lawyers to draft certain things and they can draft them exactly the way you want them. Whether they stand up in court is another matter.

Maybe the minister could provide us, Mr. Chair, with a copy of Justice's rationale. I mean, I'm not clear how one can secure a loan from the government or anyone else and not have title to the land. It's not even a lease. It's a squatter. There's no legal description. You don't own it.

I hate to hear what the banker would tell me if I went into the bank and said I wanted to borrow a bunch of money but I don't really own the land, I'm just a squatter and, "Will you loan me money on it?" I think the banker would say, "I'm sorry, we want to register a caveat or a lien against this thing, and we want it to be a real thing. We can't just register it against "Maybe one day you might own this" - that kind of approach.

So, maybe the minister could come back to me by way of letter and let me know how they did this. I'm very interested in how this particular arrangement would work out.

And, Mr. Chair, I don't know if the minister can tell me this but maybe the minister can also outline for the House what arrangements will be made in case this individual defaults on his agreement, like we believe he has by not being in the territory. What recourse do we have to recover the money we loaned for the taxes? Can we whip into the Department of Justice or the lands branch and seize our money back? How can we attempt to recover any of this expense if, in this case, as it appears, the individual has violated the agreement because he's no longer in the territory and did not advise the department that he was leaving when he took off?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, once again, I have to advise the member that we're walking on to interesting ground here with regard to where this puts us with respect to our legal position. I'm somewhat reluctant to make a commitment in terms of providing too much detail in this regard. What I can do is I can speak with Justice and see what kinds of things we can provide, but we are discussing the specifics of a case and there are certain areas around confidentiality that I am bound by, so I don't want to get into too much detail - either detail in what our intentions are or details of the case - but I will ask Justice to give us a sense of what we can provide for the member.

Mr. Phillips: That's what I'd like. I mean I don't need specific details of when the individual left or how he left, or those kind of things, and what we're doing, but there must be a process that's in place when we have agreements such as this where, if in the case of a default, we can recover our investment or the contribution that we've made.

So, that's what I want to know. In cases such as this, not necessarily this case, what is the process by which the government would try and recover the money?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I'll speak with Justice and I'll see what we can provide for the member.

Mr. Phillips: This is probably the last question on this issue. The minister has told us that we have paid in the neighbourhood of $3,000 to $5,000 to the individual with respect to the back-taxes. Can the minister tell us if we contributed in any way the to individual's legal fees? I know that there was a question he asked the Department of Justice at one time and I'm just not sure whether or not - What I want to know is, what exactly did we contribute to? Was it just the back-taxes and nothing more, and is Mr. Bemis responsible for everything else himself?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Yes, Mr. Chair, it was the back-taxes exclusively. I think the figure is around $3,000 - sorry, it was $5,000, and it was exclusively for back-taxes.

Mr. Phillips: Initially, we were told that the back taxes were $3,300 or $3,400. How come we're up to $5,000? Was that the interest on the taxes? Maybe the minister could come back with the exact amount of what the back taxes were and how much money was loaned to the individual to pay the back taxes.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I will see what information I can provide for the member, once again, subject to any kind of legal restrictions that we have.

Mr. Jenkins: I would like to explore with the minister some of the other reasons in this line item that have driven up the costs, and just a review of the contract registry for the department indicates a large number of sole-sourced contracts, and the wilderness camp comes into focus.

Spectrum Learning Centre, for their wilderness camp, was sole sourced to the tune of some $89,000 and $553,000. Could the minister advise what this was all about, the rationale behind its sole sourcing and who operates this facility, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I will have to provide that information for the member. I do not have it in that detail with me at this point.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, further on, also, there is the Wind River Wilderness Camp. There is a whole series of contracts, all issued on the same day and all for virtually the same amount: 97/08/25, and all for $11,407 - eight contracts issued. The aggregate exceeds the $25,000 limit on sole sourcing. Could the minister explain the rationale behind this? Again, it's a wilderness camp - a high-risk youth is the notation beside it. Why was it not tendered? Is this standard operating procedure or is this a new thrust that the department is taking with respect to high-risk youth, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: No, it isn't. This individual has been offering services to the department since, I believe, 1990. Jack Smith, out of Mayo, assisted with a number of staff from Nacho Nyak Dun. Mr. Smith intends to run summer programs, and these are for young offenders. You will notice that all of them are for virtually the same amount. That would correspond to a particular amount of time, on a per diem basis, for an experience out in the wilderness.

The reason they would all be on the same date is that on these dates there would be an intake. As well, each of these contracts is for a separate individual. We cannot roll them into one. There has to be an individual contract for each person, much in the same way that we do specialized placements for individuals.

I made reference earlier to a specialized placement for DIA - severely disabled people who have come under our guidelines or, as I made reference to earlier, sometimes very specialized individuals who may be going out to a placement in British Columbia or Alberta.

Mr. Jenkins: I can understand what the minister is referring to with the outside placements. I'm just at a loss to explain a lot of these costs that are clearly identified in the contract registry and am seeking an explanation. There are a number that are for the maximum of $25,000 that could be attributable to that line item. There's an alarming amount within this department. Is this a new trend, Mr. Chair? Is this something that the minister is allowing?

The other issue is the number of contracts issued to the same firm. I'll cite the minister an example: Teegatha'a Oh Zheh, for the disability residents. That's probably somewhere in this O&M line. The total cost of the five contracts issued on the same day amount to some $332,160. Why would this have been sole sourced, and why would it be broken down into five different contracts, all with the same explanation, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, Teegatha'a Oh Zheh is a residential and day programming facility here in town that deals with individuals with some very acute disabilities. Each of these individuals is referred to Teegatha'a Oh Zheh. We draw up a contract for delivery of services that's based on a variety of factors - what kind of programming is going to be provided.

We don't do, with either one of our wilderness camps, for example, a core funding agreement. We pay them on a fee-for-service basis. We pay them for the kind of service that they are delivering for the individual. If one compares the Wind River camp to the Old Crow camp, one will notice that, first of all, just in terms of total volume, the Wind River camp is primarily a summer camp. The Old Crow camp is a year-round one. As well, they are all from variable periods of time that an individual is in one camp versus the other.

So, there is no change. There is absolutely no change in this regard. I've just taken a look back at 1996 - before our government came in - and we have the same sort of pattern: individuals referred to wilderness camps for various sundry amounts. This is just a continuation of an established policy.

Mr. Jenkins: I did take the time to look backwards and see if it was a continuation of a trend. That's not correct in all cases. There has been an extension of a number of these programs, cost-wise - cost-wise, vis-à-vis previous years - which would lead one to conclude that there are more people in the program. What is the background as to how an individual gets into one of these programs - not the disability program, Mr. Chair, but the wilderness camp programs? Is it a justice sentencing that initiates the request?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, the Old Crow camp is for children in care who have been referred for specific substance or alcohol abuse problems. The Wind River camp is for young offenders and is often a referral by a court as this is an alternative form of treatment or alternative form of sentencing by the youth court, I suppose, if one wants to look at it that way.

Mr. Jenkins: If I could ask the minister, Mr. Chair, what determines who would go to the camp in Old Crow and why that camp? Would there not be some other program better than sending 17 Old Crow youths to that camp specifically? It appears to be just for individuals from Old Crow. Now perhaps there are other facilities that would lend themselves to a better rehabilitation program. Has that area been explored?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, first of all, they're not all children from Old Crow. They're children from all over the territory. I've known individual children, as a matter of fact, from Whitehorse, who have often been referred there. And, as a matter of fact, we have, in some cases, had requests from families sometimes for a placement there as a way of dealing with children with difficulties.

We do make reference outside for children sometimes with much more acute problems than what we're capable of dealing with here. So there's a whole variety of problems that we do find and we treat them in a variety of ways. This happens to be one. We try, if possible, to keep the children in the territory if their needs dictate it, but in some cases we're unable to do that.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, given the responsibility of the federal Department of Indian Affairs to look after individuals in this category, are any of these costs being recovered from the federal government for these programs?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: These are some of the funds that we bill back to the federal government. For status First Nations, we bill back to the department and these claims are part of the child welfare claims that are not in dispute - that the federal government has agreed to. It just requires us providing the necessary information and some of these funds will be paid then.

Mr. Jenkins: With respect to the federal government, is there an age listing of the accounts receivable on this category?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: These date from 1993-94, and there's very little outstanding for that year. So it's the subsequent years of 1994, 1995 and 1996 that we're now in the process of providing information for so we can collect the monies that are outstanding to us.

Mr. Jenkins: Would the minister give some idea as to what is outstanding in this category, let's say going back to 1993-94? Are we looking at a considerable sum? The minister did indicate that this is above and beyond the other funds due to his department from Indian and Northern Affairs, so this looks like another pool of money that's not been totally recovered.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: This is part of the same funds that we were talking about earlier. These costs are represented in some of the child welfare money that's still outstanding. This is not a new amount; this is wrapped into that earlier amount.

I'm very quickly seeing what we have here in terms of child welfare. I did have it broken down and I can find that for the member. I just have to refer to other notes. Outstanding, we have, I believe, about $13 million that we've agreed are non-disputed and that will be flowing to us when we provide the necessary information.

Mr. Jenkins: That was the total amount that was due. I was referring specifically to this program as to what was recoverable and what was outstanding in his area.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I can find the amount that's outstanding for child welfare. How much of this these wilderness camps represent, I would have to find out in greater detail. I do have the number here some place in terms of what is still outstanding. If I can find the appropriate pages - if I can find the amount -

Yes, the largest share of the DIA bill was for child welfare and that represented just $21.2 million for the past four years. Now I would have to break out of that what this represents in terms of that proportion. So, it will be a matter of going back and pulling them out individually.

But, we are attempting to recover all money that is outstanding, and invoices for programs like this will represent part of the recoveries that we make from the DIA.

Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister attend to providing, by way of legislative return, a breakdown of all of these costs in this area with an age listing summarizing the receivables due from Indian and Northern Affairs? It is, again, a tremendous amount of dollars, and I imagine the continuance of this government, based on its current financial position and its ability to incur increasingly large deficits is going to be contingent on its recovery of these kinds of outstanding costs.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, I think I indicated earlier in general debate that, essentially, we book these costs. The recovery of the money basically will improve our cashflow position, but it isn't going to affect our overall financial picture, because we have already booked these.

Social Services in the amount of $1,589,000 agreed to

On Health Services

Hon. Mr. Sloan: The increases of $3,033,000 represents the following: a $979,000 increase in funding for the Yukon Hospital Corporation, a one-time adjustment resulting from a recent facility review and a $2,213,000 increase in insured health expenditures as follows: $663,000 increase in physician fees, due to increased volume from 1997 negotiated fee increase; $952,000 increase in out-of-territory hospital claims, due to increased volume; $150,000 increase in out-of-territory medical travel; $345,000 increase in chronic disease, Pharmacare, extended care programs, due to increased volume; $199,000 increase in staff transfers from the DM budget, denoted under policy planning and administration; $16,000 decrease in the MAN-WAN transfer noted under policy planning; $80,000 decrease from staff vacancies and reduced health planning costs; $283,000 increase, reflecting transfer to the Yukon of the TB program - this is offset by a corresponding increase in recoveries from the federal government; $90,000 decrease in community health due to a vacant ambulance position and reductions in some contract and health promotion activities; $300,000 decrease in community nursing, due to vacancies, reduced travel, training and reduced supply and maintenance expenditures; $52,000 decrease in mental health, due to recruitment delays and reduced review board activity.

Mrs. Edelman: It's interesting that we're now talking about health planning. One of the documents that's most useful for health planning, of course, is the stats that we received today - and were to have received on Thursday; that is certainly the impression we were given. I just wanted to confirm with the minister that he would give us an opportunity to ask just a couple of questions about the trends, particularly the health trends, in the vital stats report. He did indicate earlier that that would be the case.

It's interesting because it talks about two groups that have very high mortality rates. First of all, middle-aged men, or men over the age of 40, who are married. Actually, that fits the minister's profile, in some ways. The other part of that profile is people who live in Dawson City, for some reason, who are going to have a very high birth rate in the coming year and, for some reason, seem to die more often than Yukoners in other communities. I'm wondering if there are any particular reasons that the minister has noted for that.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: With respect to middle-aged, married men dying, I can't really think of a particular correlation between one's marital status and one's life expectancy. I always thought that it was married individuals who actually lived longer. I mean, that's what I'm hoping.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I was almost going to suggest that perhaps the member was going to suggest that they didn't die any sooner, it just seemed that their life was somewhat longer, but I don't know.

With regard to the individuals in Dawson, I'm afraid that I can't make any suggestions. The only thing that I can say is that there was a rather startling figure that was done somewhat earlier about the tobacco consumption rates in Dawson. I don't know if that, perhaps, has anything to do with the figures, in terms of death rates in Dawson.

Mrs. Edelman: It's interesting that the minister should mention that because, indeed, the number one cause of death in the Yukon, like everywhere else in Canada, is heart and stroke. After that, here, comes cancer, and then accident.

Heart and stroke - and we were talking about smoking earlier, particularly in general debate. I wanted to confirm with the minister his position that there would be continued support for the tobacco reduction strategy, which speaks to bringing down consumption of smoking. One way that you can prevent death is by quitting smoking - prevent death for awhile anyway, of course, because we're all going to die - some of us, perhaps, even in this very locale.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, I can tell the member that we are still committed to reducing smoking and, in particular, one of the things we're going to be working on this spring is more stringent enforcement of some of the existing tobacco regulations, particularly with regards to sales to young people.

While I think this is common across North America, we have to enforce the laws that we have and enforce the rules that we have with regards to tobacco sales to young people. As well, we have to still continue the work in just general tobacco reduction education.

We have been dealt kind of a body-blow by the federal government stepping away from this and we are hoping that they will see fit to get back into this.

I know the whole question of tobacco reduction and the question around advertising - all these have been very hot button items and I think we have to be able to prevent our young people from smoking and try to just generally improve one's health.

Mrs. Edelman: It's interesting, because certainly every other jurisdiction in Canada has taken over that responsibility and, indeed, initiated tobacco reduction strategies.

The second cause of death in the Yukon is cancer and, as the health minister is very much aware, there are very many different types of cancers - hundreds of types of cancers. Is there any particular type of cancer that is more prevalent here in the Yukon?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, I think if we take a look at just neoplasms in general, we see that there has been a general upward trend, with some variations. But this may also be a reflection of the fact that people are living longer and cancers, in particular, do tend to materialize as people are living longer since they don't die from other things.

In particular, I know that, with regards to incidents of breast cancer, there is a direct correlation with age in terms that the greater the length of a woman's life, the greater the probability of her developing some form of breast cancer.

So, I think this is just generally a reflection of what is going on nationally in this whole area.

Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, my question was never actually answered, and I wonder if the minister does have the information on the types of cancer. If he could forward that - I don't want to know who has it, although I unfortunately know quite a few, but what I wouldn't mind knowing if there is one type that is a bit more prevalent than others. And the minister should note that it's also men that suffer from breast cancer and that the largest factor in developing breast cancer, of course, is heredity.

And the last issue is the issues around accidents, and I wonder if there is a breakdown somewhere in the vital statistics cupboards, or something, on what type of accidents these are. Are these accidents drunk-driving accidents? Are these electric shock accidents? Are people being hit by lightning? Is there some sort of indication of what sort of accidents is taking Yukoners?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: With regard to the form of cancer, we can endeavor to provide that. Unfortunately, they are not always reported by the nature of the cancer and, as well, we're somewhat limited in how far back we can go in that regard.

I can see what kind of information we can provide on specifics, but very often, the natures of the cancers aren't clearly identified. We ran into this problem, if the member recalls, with the Carcross contamination. We could get the number of individuals who had developed cancer, but we could not get the sort of specifics in terms of whether they were liver cancers or whatever.

We can endeavour to find out if we have a finer breakdown on this.

With regard to accidents, one of the major problems that we have up here is boating accidents. I think that would probably show a disproportionate number of, probably, drownings, just due to our conditions here - the nature of, sometimes, our lakes and rivers, with the difficulty of hypothermia. We can also find out if there are any more specifics in terms of the kinds of injuries undergo.

We do have one group - and it tends to be young males - that is more frequently involved in accidental death, tragic as it is. But that tends to be the group that has, unfortunately, the biggest number of accident victims.

Mrs. Edelman: That certainly is true across Canada. Once again, boys in particular, from the ages of 15 to 24, are more likely to die by accident.

To go back to the types of cancer, I know that when you register for the chronic disease list and if you're on any type of chemo - you have to be on something, usually steroids or something - you do have to specify what type of cancer you have. I'm wondering if that might be a good source to find that type of information.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: That may be a source. I think if we're looking at mortality and cancer, that might be somewhat more difficult, but we can take a look and see if we have further detail on this and we can get back to the member with some further information.

Mrs. Edelman: I hope that that information helps us with our planning for health strategies because if indeed we find out that the large majority of the cancers are lung cancers, for example, then maybe it makes sense to spend some more money on the tobacco reduction strategy, whether that's funded by the federal government or not. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, given the very large increase in this line item, and the majority of it, $979,000, attributable to costs associated with the operation of the Whitehorse hospital, can the minister give us some indication, so that we don't have any surprises as to how much more additional costs we're going to incur there? I know we touched briefly in the general debate on the increased costs, but what are we looking at? There's all sorts of speculation out there in the public domain on the item itself. What are the additional costs that the government is going to incur in the operation and maintenance of the Whitehorse hospital above and beyond this $979,000?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: There's been a fair amount of discussion around costs or deficits, one would say, still outstanding. It's discussed in a realm of around $600,000.

We've talked it over with the hospital. We still continue to talk with them. They're looking at getting some cost containment. They're looking at some ways of bringing their budget in line with what they had projected.

I think it's safe to say that while we don't know what the final figure will come out at, in future years we're going to have to look at a more realistic budgeting figure.

I think $979,000. I think we may be somewhere in that ball park. I don't want to prejudge, because I have to see what the hospital comes back with in terms of programming, and gives us an indication of what kinds of gains they intend to make in terms of budgeting and what kinds of pressures they feel. For example, right now, they're going through some negotiations with their professional association - the PIPS - what impact that will have and so on.

So, it's very difficult to predict at this point.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, the numbers are pretty well hard and fast. There has been another almost $1 million transferred to the Whitehorse hospital and there's another $600,000 that appears to be required to bring it up to not be in a deficit position. So, there's $1.5 million right there, above and beyond the current budgeting level of the hospital.

Given the trends in the cost of the doctors now in the Yukon, up another $663,000 as a consequence of their settlement, is that all directly attributable to settlement or is a lot of that volume driven, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: No, Mr. Chair. The primary driver in that is volume. The settlement, if the member recalls, is actually very moderate. It was a .5/.5. We have indicated to the physicians that a real cause of concern for us is the increase in volume. I think we're the only jurisdiction that doesn't have some sort of global cap on physician fees. We have resisted that up until now. I think what we're seeking is some cooperation and some assistance from the medical community in trying to contain physician fees.

We have some provisos built into our arrangement that, if the volume rises over a certain amount, we can take certain necessary steps. The primary driver here is volume - people going for treatments, increases in population. As I said, we've picked up, I believe, 643 individuals over the space of one year. Those people access physician services and physician fees go up. The primary driver is one of volume.

Mr. Jenkins: Has there been a spreadsheet done as to the number of people attending at a physician and the cost incurred, say, last year and then the breakdown provided this year; the number of people attending at a physician and the cost for each visit? Is there a trend that we're visiting our physicians more frequently, or are we maintaining the status quo here, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: With regard to the amount of $663,000 that we've identified here, about $149,000 of that is attributable to the agreement. So, the rest of it is just in terms of utilization. We have a two-percent rise in the number of registrants, and only about a 1.2-percent increase in the number of services being provided. This is partially due to - there's an interesting term - several practices having been sold to younger and more aggressive practitioners - whatever an aggressive practitioner is. The rising average cost per service indicates a trend toward providing more higher cost services. As I said, we have the reopener, if the rate of growth in the 1997-98 versus 1996-97 is more than three percent over the population growth. So, there are a few drivers there.

I think one of the things that we experience here is that as people are becoming more aware of the kinds of services available, people often expect more. They expect that their physicians will investigate a whole variety of things that may be afflicting them - perhaps that reflects more tests, and things of that nature.

As I said, of this $663,000, about $150,000 is actually attributable to the actual increase itself. The rest is purely volume driven.

Mr. Jenkins: It's no secret that the cost of purchasing a practice from a retiring physician here in Whitehorse or one moving on is getting up there. It's getting into numbers that are very, very significant. It appears to be a trend in Yukon, just attributable to a practice in Whitehorse. It doesn't apply in rural Yukon.

Has the minister or his department looked at this area and done any analysis of the bottom-line impact on the budget? Because ultimately, if someone pays X number of dollars for the practice, they're going to have to recover that cost somewhere, and virtually the only area that they can is through their billing, Mr. Chair.

Has the minister's department looked at this area and the effect it's having on the department?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Not that particular driver, specifically. I am sure the member is aware that one of the drivers, particularly outside, that we have heard so much about recently has been the cost of malpractice insurance. We cover that for our physicians here, as well as a variety of other issues.

In terms of the cost of a practice, no, we haven't taken a look at that as a driver.

What we have said, however, is that we are concerned about this. Other jurisdictions have resorted to caps or rostering or things of that nature. We'd like to avoid those if possible. We'd like to work cooperatively with our physicians and we've asked for their assistance in restraining volume costs.

Mr. Jenkins: While we're on the subject of cap, when did the department initiate a cap on the number of billing numbers that they would issue in rural Yukon to physicians? There is a cap and only so many issued and so many medical practitioners are allowed to practice in a given community, irrespective of the ratio of the number of physicians to the population. Is this something that's peculiar to rural Yukon, because it doesn't seem to apply in Whitehorse, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: This has been in place for several years. We do have a Physicians Resource Planning Council, which we work cooperatively with, and that does control the number of physicians practising. It does set out some guidelines on how practices are disposed of, who can enter, what the billing arrangements are for practices with new physicians coming in.

So, this has been in place for several years and we've continued on with the practice and we're hoping to continue to enjoy a positive relationship with our physicians here.

Mr. Jenkins: A positive relationship - it sounds like a positive relationship and the qualifier is "at any cost", because the costs are rising and there's going to have to be ways clearly identified by the government to address these increasing costs. What course of action does the minister anticipate taking in this regard?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I would hope that we wouldn't reach that point. As I have indicated, we have an agreement that if physician fees rise three percent over the population growth during the life of the contract, we will reopen the contract. Presumably, at that point, we are going to have to do some very, very hard bargaining on where we plan on going and whether or not we would impose, for example, a cap or something of the like.

We did discuss with the physicians at the time of negotiations the possibility of a cap. They, in turn, modified their position quite dramatically, to probably avoid the prospect of that.

Mr. Jenkins: I'd just take a few other questions dealing with the vacancies and the nursing, and I kind of gathered that there were nurse vacancies in rural Yukon more than in Whitehorse. If there is a $300,000 savings in vacancies, that would equate out to pretty well six full-time positions. Is that the case?

And, if we can get by with six vacancies, what's wrong with the picture? How are we managing to cope with that few nurses? Is it being covered with overtime?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Actually, what that refers to with regard to community nursing is primarily bringing people in to cover off for periods of vacation and when nurses are away. Because, if one takes a look at it, there are questions of reduced travel and training included in this. We have our community nurses that often serve for a period of time and then they will go off for either holidays, or sometimes they will work on a part-time basis. We bring people in to cover that off.

Actually, it is rather a notable cost that we have in bringing people in, in this regard, because you are dealing with a group of nurses that really do have some specialized training and they're a pretty unique breed.

They're out there, and they're often off there on their own, sometimes dealing in very difficult situations. So, this generally refers to the coverage that we have for vacations and things of that nature.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, I do share with the minister his observation with respect to the nurses being a very unique group of nurses and having to be probably qualified to a greater extent and having to work independently. That's not the issue.

The issue is: how are we managing to realize that much of a savings over what we budgeted? I would be of the opinion that when we inherited this system from the federal government, we took over a staffing level that was commensurate with what they had in place. I'm referring to rural Yukon, Mr. Chair.

Now, how have we managed to realize that much of a savings - some $300,000? Certainly all of these positions had to be filled and taken over and taken care of.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Most of these are rotating positions and not permanent. As a matter of fact, I'm advised that the federal government had a very large amount in this area, so this money came over. We've managed to, however, realize about a $300,000 decrease in it.

We haven't reduced community nursing at all, and certainly in my tours around the territory, the level of nursing hasn't been reduced. Some of the personnel have changed as people have moved on. We did experience some individuals who chose, when the transfer came - well, for a variety of factors - to leave, but it hasn't been a significant number, and we've been fortunate in recruiting good people to come in and fill their places.

Mr. Jenkins: I share that with the minister, because in my travels around the Yukon, the staffing levels have been consistent, and there has been no reduction. But when I see a reduction of that magnitude, it gives rise to the question of why. How did you achieve it?

And the same question - and the explanation is acceptable, Mr. Chair - I take on the question of the ambulance. There is a savings there of some $90,000. How was this achieved? This has been in the domain of YTG for quite some time, and I don't want to get into four-wheel drive emergency vehicles for fishing trips.

Hon. Mr. Slogan: Incidentally, the member's questions on that very subject did pique my interest and we do have two four-wheel drive ambulances, both in rural communities, incidentally. So, we do have them. They are there.

With regard to this, this refers to a vacant ambulance position and, as well, the reduction in some contract and health promotion activities.

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


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

We will continue with health services.

Mrs. Edelman: What I'm wondering about now is whether there has ever been any comparison done with the increases in the Whitehorse hospital to the Watson Lake hospital. Have there been similar increases in the operating costs in Watson Lake?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, I think one has to recognize that they are very different institutions. The Watson Lake hospital has been there for a number of years. It's also a cottage hospital, which is considerably different from an acute care facility of the nature of the Whitehorse hospital.

I don't think we have probably tracked the figures, likely to the same degree, as we have with this particular institution. As well, we also have to recognize that the Watson Lake hospital only became ours in April, so that's a bit of a change and we will no doubt be tracking the usage, and so on.

We do have a sense, however, of what kinds of usages we have at the Watson Lake hospital. That's given us some sense of where we need to go in that regard.

Mrs. Edelman: One of the reasons that I was wondering if a comparison was being made is that the comment from Dr. de la Mare here at the Hospital Corporation's last board meeting was that there was some babysitting going on. There was essentially extended care work being done by an acute-care hospital.

I know that that is also the case in Watson Lake and I'm wondering if there's any tracking done of those particular expenses, particularly in view of the fact that they're looking at developing some sort of extended care service in Watson Lake.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: We do have some figures in regard to Watson Lake and in regard to the usage there. The Assistant Deputy Minister of Health has just recently been down to Watson Lake and has taken a look at the usage, has taken a look at what is available and how they're currently delivering services.

So that will probably form some decisions as to - well, there'll be some input into some decisions when we come to them on the whole question of what we're going to be doing with that facility down there, where we're going to be developing and so on.

I think the usage of Watson Lake, like all small community hospitals, probably fluctuates wildly, depending on what's going on. I know from personal experience that there have been some times there when that hospital is under very heavy demand - for example, when there's a highway accident or some kind of accident within the community. We've been very fortunate to have that kind of medical services down there. And then at other times, it can be used somewhat less.

When my son was born, my wife had the luxury of being the only patient for several days and she didn't mind it at all. It was great, but it does have some wide fluctuations in usage.

Mrs. Edelman: I suppose that that is interesting because in Watson Lake, like in Whitehorse, the population is ageing. The only place you can really get decent figures, or any sort of indication of the cost of extended care or the perceived need for the extended care of any particular age is going to be through the hospital.

And, what I am wondering about then - I think I need to have it a little bit clearer from the minister - is whether any sort of cost figures are being gathered now to be used in the planning process for extended care in Watson Lake?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Yes, we are.

Mr. Jenkins: While we are on that topic, Mr. Chair, could the minister indicate if there are any plans to change the status of the cottage hospital in Watson Lake, either to a lower standard like a nursing station like all other communities in Yukon have are we going to be levelling the playing field and upping the status of some of the nursing stations to conform to what exists in Watson Lake?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Of course, we would always aspire to raise the standards, rather than decrease them. But, no, I don't think it is being anticipated, in terms of Watson Lake, to diminish the status. What I think is being discussed with regard to Watson Lake is, perhaps, a more appropriate use of the facility, and perhaps modification of it to do some kind of extended care - to utilize some of the space that they have and some of the facilities that they have.

Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister advise when the nursing station in Dawson will become a cottage hospital?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: No, Mr. Speaker, that I can't advise at this time. I can assure the member that we always keep Dawson in mind. The capital of the Klondike is very near and dear to us all.

Mrs. Edelman: I'm sorry, but I did forget one item when I was speaking earlier about the Watson Lake hospital, and that's in planning for extended care services. Is planning for respite care also part of that planning process?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Yes, that would be part of the process.

Health Services in the amount of $3,033,000 agreed to

On Regional Services

Hon. Mr. Sloan: The $330,000 increase in regional services results in the following changes: $480,000 increase from increased social assistance caseloads in communities, partially offset by a $4,000 decrease in child benefit payments; a $146,000 decrease in service contracts for children in care.

Mrs. Edelman: It was my understanding when we had the briefing - that probably came from health services - that there was an increase in the number of children in care. I guess I'm not clear about what the minister just said.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: There may be an increase in children in care overall, but this represents children in care in the community situation, if I understand that correctly.

Mrs. Edelman: So, is there an effort being made then to increase community services for children in care?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: To increase? I just missed that, I'm sorry.

Mrs. Edelman: I suppose that if there are more children that are from the communities, there would be more of a focus on developing those care systems within the communities, which I know has always been a problem.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, what we've got here is an increase in SA costs, and it's been partially offset by a decrease in costs in the service contracts for children in care or the kinds of group home placements and things of that nature. And that's just a function of what's going on at any given time.

Regional Services in the amount of $330,000 agreed to

Chair: Before we clear the total, are there any questions on O&M recoveries?

Mrs. Edelman: In the Thomson Centre, there was a settlement, I believe, for an out-of-country person who had been at the Thomson Centre. I wonder if we can get some sort of detail on that, and whether that's a regular occurrence.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: No, Mr. Chair, fortunately it isn't a regular occurrence. I guess I can just say it. It was a rather tragic sort of situation where an individual found themselves here. They were in the Thomson Centre. The family would not pay the necessary amount. We made all kinds of efforts. The family was in Oregon. We made all kinds of efforts to recover the money, and we finally came to a settlement. It was largely, I think, a question over the estate. The money was there. It was a question of sort of getting it from the family who were reluctant to expend this money. We kept the individual because we felt an obligation, and this person's health actually declined substantially. We did get a settlement on this. We managed to recover the best we could in this regard.

Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, am I to understand that there was no family from the Yukon? What was this person doing here?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: The person came up here and suffered a heart attack, went into the hospital and subsequently declined and went into the Thomson Centre. There was family here; however, there was family in the United States and there was money available, but it became sort of a struggle between expending this money and how much the costs were, and so on and so forth. We ended up doing a settlement on the total bill, but fortunately it wasn't the kind of thing that goes on very often. It just happened to be a rather tragic circumstance in this case and it was very regrettable.

Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, the double billing that went on, apparently, between CMHC and DIAND - was this also at the Thomson Centre?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: With regard to the $137,000 decrease, this represents an adjustment to the DIA-Thomson Centre recovery estimate that carves out the CMHC shelter component that's recovered through the Yukon Housing Corporation, and this is a similar adjustment that was made in previous years in the year-end statements for 1996-97. It's just a carving-out of that one component.

Mrs. Edelman: That's very interesting, Mr. Chair, because certainly in the briefing that the minister was kind enough to provide, it sounded like this was sort of a one-time deal that wouldn't be occurring again.

On to the issue of the tuberculosis program, it's my understanding that Mr. McDonald negotiated at the end of the phase 2 health transfer the extension of the TB program. He got an awful lot of money for that program, and he's to be commended for that. What I'm wondering about is what is the extent of the problem in the Yukon, is there a comparison to the Northwest Territories, and what sort of services are being offered out in the rural communities?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I can provide the member with further details on this whole question. We have some real concerns, however, because tuberculosis is still rather persistent among our First Nations community, and we were very concerned that this program might end. I can provide the member with some detail, in terms of stats of how many active cases, and so on, that we're dealing with in this regard. I'll have to get it from Health.

Mrs. Edelman: If I could get a breakdown of how some services are being offered in the rural communities, I would appreciate that, as well.

Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $5,640,000 agreed to

On Capital Expenditures

On Policy, Planning and Administration

On Office Furniture and Operational Equipment

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Under policy and planning, we have a $40,000 decrease in office furniture and office equipment as follows: $10,000 increase in transfer from Health of computer funds budgeted in community nursing by Health Canada prior to the health transfer. All computers are centrally budgeted in Health and Social Services. There is a $50,000 decrease reflecting the deferral of some computer workstation items; and, a $470,000 increase in systems development representing funds revoted from outstanding contractual commitments.

Mrs. Edelman: I guess I don't have enough detail on where the purchase of computers was deferred from. Is this from Whitehorse, the outer areas or from a particular project?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I would have to get a sense of where that is, but it represents the deferral of some computer workstation items. That can include installation, software, printers and things of that nature. I'm not quite sure which specific areas it is.

I do know that, in my tours of community stations, a number of them have received new equipment, and we've been able to hook them into Whitehorse. There's been a tremendous amount of satisfaction in that regard. Most recently, in Old Crow, when I visited the nursing station there, they were very pleased with the new equipment that they had and the exchange of information. So, I've noticed a lot of new computer equipment in the communities.

Office Furniture and Operational Equipment in the amount of an underexpenditure of $40,000 agreed to

On Systems Development

Mrs. Edelman: The $470,000 - part of that was for a new case management system that's being developed and it's going to be started with seniors; that's my understanding. You know, it's a word processing system that theoretically is going to use less paper. I've got to see this to believe this, I have to point out, Mr. Chair.

What I'm wondering about is that if this is successful, when does he expect to expand that particular management system and is it going to be used by the other departments, for example, Justice?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, we're just trying to, I suppose, move in a whole variety of ways toward a paperless society and we've committed also in our agreement with the physicians some $50,000 was in that for bringing them on line, being able for them to be able to access the hospital record system, and so on. So, we're interested in trying to get all kinds of things hooked up in terms of our health billing and things of that nature.

When I can anticipate doing it, I couldn't predict there, but what I could say is that if it proves successful, we will try to expand it.

Mr. Jenkins: Where we're headed is to a central data storage area to be accessed from all areas and by all doctors in the Yukon. Could the minister give us a time frame? There's a lot of duplication of systems. The doctors maintain a set of records. The nursing stations maintain a set of records. I know there is a thrust in that direction.

Could the minister give us some sort of a timetable for the full implementation of this kind of program?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: As far as a full timetable, no I couldn't. We've begun with our physicians right now with this sort of first introduction, first commitment of money toward that. We do have a fairly sophisticated system that's coming on line at the hospital, and what we're hoping to do is that eventually physicians will be able to access the records of an individual at the hospital to be able to say, okay, they've received these kinds of treatments, they've received these kinds of procedures and they'll be able to exchange information back and forth.

Systems development is very, very hard to predict in terms of what kind of pace, but it is something that we're interested in committing to. As well, we're also interested in tying our health insurance system into this because we feel that there would be some opportunities there for some savings.

As well, I suppose if I had also something that I'd like to see in mind, we'd be able to make billing for such things as Pharmacare - things of that nature - a lot more automatic, so an individual might have a card that would go in and they would be able to get all the necessary adjustments made.

But that's something that is still a ways off. We are exploring it. We've taken a look at some technology in other parts of Canada. Some places are working with this and we'd like to get a sense of how it works and what kinds of savings we can bring about.

Mr. Jenkins: While we are on that, there is a reluctance in the medical community to get away from the paper end of things and to get more into the computer area. How is this area being addressed?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: As I indicated, we have committed $50,000 to explore some areas that we can do. I suppose one thing that we also do as well is professional development work with our physicians and that may be an area that perhaps the physicians themselves may want to explore.

So, I think that there are a number of opportunities where we can get into this. We have looked, for example, at some opportunities and what some of the possibilities are, what some of the costs are of tele-medicine kinds of technologies, and those are certainly things that we would like to take a look at in the future.

Mrs. Edelman: Of course, I would like to hear it very clearly from the minister that a protocol for information access is also being developed at the same so that only certain people can get access to a certain level, and say that there are five or six levels, is that also being worked on?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Absolutely, with information of this kind, you have to go through all kinds of firewalls because this is, in some cases, very highly confidential information, and we would have to build in safeguards there so that only certain people would get access to certain kinds of information.

Systems Development in the amount of $470,000 agreed to

On Family and Children's Services

On Child Care Services Development

Child Care Services Development in the underexpenditure of $28,000 agreed to

On Young Offenders Facilities - Renovations and Equipment

Mr. Jenkins: Could I just have an overview, Mr. Chair, as to how that savings was achieved?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I am advised that this is just a deferral of some regular sort of upkeep, primarily cosmetic, such as painting, carpeting and things of that nature.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, deferrals of just improvements or cosmetics.

Young Offender Facilities - Renovations and Equipment in the amount of an underexpenditure of $39,000 agreed to

On Child Welfare Facilities - Renovations and Equipment

Child Welfare Facilities - Renovations and Equipment in the amount of an underexpenditure of $28,000 agreed to

On Social Services

On Social Services Operational Equipment and Renovations

Social Services Operational Equipment and Renovations in the amount of $20,000 agreed to

On Alcohol and Drug Services - Renovations and Equipment

Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, I just wanted to confirm. Is this because the department decided not to fix the roof at Crossroads because it wasn't leaking yet?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Yes, it's primarily the cancellation of the Crossroads roof project and deferral of other planned expenditures. The roof, while it was recommended by PMA, was not felt to be necessary yet. The tenders came in far in excess of what the budget was.

Alcohol and Drug Services - Renovations and Equipment in the amount of an underexpenditure of $115,000 agreed to

On Thomson Centre - Renovations

Mr. Jenkins: Could we just ask the minister for a brief overview of how that saving was achieved, please?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: This is an amount that came about because of the lateness of the hospital moving out of their spaces. As well, the deferral of the First Nations healing centre, which would have necessitated some modifications to the Thomson in terms of accesses, doorways, removal of some spaces and creation of other spaces as that project came onstream.

I'm not sure if people are aware that that particular centre is due to be between the hospital and the cafeteria, so there would have been some access issues there around Thomson. We believe that that may actually be removed. That is something that we would discuss with the First Nations. Perhaps we don't need that access.

Thomson Centre - Renovations in the amount of an underexpenditure of $110,000 agreed to

On Thomson Centre - Equipment

Thomson Centre - Equipment in the amount of $15,000 agreed to

On Macaulay Lodge - Renovations

Mr. Jenkins: Could we have a brief breakdown of that $100,000 increase, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: This was the upgrade of the elevator facility and also some fire safety issues that we had to address.

Macaulay Lodge - Renovations in the amount of $100,000 agreed to

On McDonald Lodge - Renovations and Equipment

Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, one of the things that's interesting is that, as it happens, the Member for Klondike and I were also the critics for Community and Transportation Services, and one of the interesting things at McDonald Lodge was a very unique system for dealing with the shifting ground, and this is a similar problem as at the firehall in Burwash. And I'm wondering if they were looking at the technology used at McDonald Lodge in the Burwash case, as well.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, I can't speak for Community and Transportation Services to say if they are looking at this, but this is a type of piling attachment to facilitate the levelling of the building. It appears to be successful at this point, and I would suggest that if it is successful, perhaps Community and Transportation Services might want to take a look at how this could be adapted for another facility. It appears to be working for now.

McDonald Lodge - Renovations and Equipment in the amount of $14,000 agreed to

On Health Services

On Whitehorse Hospital Construction

Mr. Jenkins: An explanation from the minister, please, Mr. Chair.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: This is essentially a revote for the hospital construction work that was carried forward from the prior year, and the overall cost remains unchanged.

Whitehorse Hospital Construction in the amount of $4,826,000 agreed to

On Community Health Programs

Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, part of this line item is that the nursing station design is moving quite slowly. I wonder if we can have an update from the minister as to why it's moving so slowly and when we can expect, with glacial speed, that this will finally finish?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I presume the member is talking about the Teslin facility? Well, the Teslin facility is a particularly unique sort of situation. The original agreement by Health Canada for where this facility was located was a piece of land that the Catholic Church sold to Health Canada. However, I have met with the Teslin Tlingit First Nation. They have taken some very serious exception to that particular transfer. They feel that the land itself was not the church's to give, but that the land had been given by the Teslin Tlingit First Nation for the church and we're into a real dispute over the right of the church to have transferred that land. That is the major delay at this point.

I've met with the Teslin Tlingit First Nation. They are still committed to moving ahead, we're still committed to working with them on this design, but it really has come down to a very serious disagreement over the land itself.

Mrs. Edelman: Has the department looked at alternative sites?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Yes, we have, Mr. Chair, without a great deal of success. There are some reasons why we have sort of identified that one part where we'd like to be. We have looked, for example, at sites that might be close to the highway and things of that nature but, in my conversations with the Teslin Tlingit First Nation, they have clearly identified where they would like to see this facility but there is some serious, serious question as to the right of the Catholic Church in this case to have made that transfer.

Mrs. Edelman: At what point is the department going to decide to go ahead anyway, in some form or another?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Very clearly, we're hoping to resolve this as best we can. I've met with the Teslin Tlingit First Nation. We're still continuing to meet with them and try to identify an alternative site. Hopefully, if we can identify an appropriate alternative site - I believe there's one or two places that may be acceptable to both parties. Then again, it's also going to require some assistance from the municipality in that regard. So, we're having to work through kind of a tripartite agreement. We've identified a couple of areas where we think we might be able to locate, of sufficient size, and we're still continuing to pursue that.

Mrs. Edelman: By the way, municipalities would be very willing to help out, particularly if you increased their block funding.

We understand that the planning will go ahead within the next budget year, which will be 1998-99.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: That is our goal. This was in the works. We were prepared to go ahead, and then we ran into this jurisdictional land issue, which the Teslin Tlingit First Nation feels very strongly about.

Community Health Programs in the amount of an underexpenditure of $230,000 agreed to

On Hearing Equipment

Mrs. Edelman: In view of the fact that there seem to be some line-ups to get hearing services, I wonder if the minister could be a little bit clearer about why this item has been deferred.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I'm advised that it's just a deferral. The actual difficulties are with regard to the wait list. I did have a very extensive note, which I could share with the member on this whole subject of the hearing services wait list.

It's largely due to personnel, and I see the Member for Porter Creek South is deeply interested in this and has encouraged me to go on and give a little background on the whole question of the current waiting list.

This is selective deafness on her part. Does the Member for Riverdale South wish me to inflict this on her at this time?

Mrs. Edelman: As much as I enjoy being tortured once again by the Minister of Health and Social Services in his rather extensive answers, I wonder if it's possible that it could be given to me in written form. I would appreciate receiving that information.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: By all means.

Hearing Equipment in the amount of an underexpenditure of $15,000 agreed to

On Ambulance Station Renovations

Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, it's my understanding that there's a policy that two ambulances a year are replaced. Has there been any change in this policy?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: It hasn't been a policy, per se, but we have attempted to replace ambulances as they need replacement. I believe that there is a seven-year capitalization on ambulances. One of the things that we try to do just to recover - particularly in terms of rural ambulances because we don't get the same sort of usage out of rural ambulances that we may in Whitehorse - is that there is usually an attempt to try to gain the maximum number of miles that we can initially on an ambulance here in town prior to sending it out to the outside areas to try and maximize the amount of usage.

Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, one of the issues around ambulance station renovations is, of course, the classic emergency spot where the ambulances arrive at the Watson Lake hospital. This is a very intriguing exercise in poor planning. The ambulance arrives at one end of the hospital, goes up the only ramp into the hospital - and if they are using it, of course, no one else can use it - they go through - and this is in the middle of the night - and wake up everybody in the hospital in order to get to the emergency quarters at the far end of the hospital, and if the person is able to, they have to get off the stretcher in order to get the stretcher around the corner, and if not, you have to be moved into the closet after you move all the equipment over, open the door, and then you move the stretcher into the closet, and finally, the person arrives at emergency in maybe worse shape than how they arrived at the hospital. And my concern, of course, is that this is absolutely idiotic.

What is the minister doing to look at renovations, particularly for the Watson Lake Hospital ambulance entrance?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, I regret that I can't take credit for the idiocy of federal planners, and not only that, it's also very difficult for kids who are doing skateboarding on that ramp. It's another area of difficulty that I experienced as a principal.

We will certainly be taking issues like that into consideration when we're taking a look at how we're proceeding with the Watson Lake hospital. As I have said, this came under our area of governance on April 1, and we'll be looking at all kinds of issues surrounding facilities of this kind, as well as other health facilities in the future.

Ambulance Station Renovations in the amount of an underexpenditure of $10,000 agreed to

Chair: Are there any questions on the capital recoveries?

Capital Expenditures in the amount of $4,830,000 agreed to

Department of Health and Social Services agreed to

Department of Tourism

Chair: Is there any general debate?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: The Department of Tourism is requesting funding of $159,000 in operation and maintenance and $833,000 in capital. The O&M budget increase consists of two activities: firstly, the marketing branch is requesting $285,000 to enter into a marketing cooperative agreement with Air Transat, and that's to respond to changes in air access from Europe to Yukon; secondly, the arts grants anticipates an increased recovery of $40,000 from the Yukon Lottery Commission. The branch administers this funding program with payments to artists and arts groups.

The capital budget revotes total $815,000 for projects continued in this fiscal year. In addition, the heritage branch has received $18,000 from Heritage Canada to be used for an artifact inventory and cataloguing database.

Thank you very much, and I'll be pleased to elaborate on these initiatives.

Mr. Phillips: I have a series of questions tonight on tourism. Mr. Chair, to start off I would like to ask the minister about the agency contract. What is the status at this time of the agency contract?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, we are up and working right now in cooperation with the tourism industry and Government Services to develop the terms of reference to begin the tendering process. We are looking for a full-service agency and to be able to tender in January.

It is anticipated that the contract will be, of course, in place no later than February 1998.

Mr. Phillips: The minister actually anticipated my second question. It was was it going to be a full-service agency that we are going for, and yes it is. And, I'm pleased to see the minister is going to do that.

Does the minister have any figures - in a document that I have received historically, even with the agency we have spent about a $100,000 a year annually with suppliers in the territory - is the minister anticipating any changes to the full-service contract which would change that figure in any way? And, what parts of the contract, if the minister is going to change, is he considering changing?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, certainly not too many changes. We are certainly looking to put in as a condition for our agency to purchase certainly as much local product and service as possible in the fulfillment of their contract.

Mr. Phillips: Does the minister have a figure about what we spent last year, locally? Maybe the minister could get back to us on that if he doesn't have the figure, but I would like to get a rough idea of what we spent last year, and I'll move on to that.

I certainly have to tell the minister that I do support a full-service agency. Have we done a recent conversion rate of the dollars for the full-service agency? I know it was about two and one half dollars for every dollar that we put in, in the three or four years that I was involved as the Minister of Tourism.

What happened this last year? I know we haven't done quite as many promotions as we have in other years because we were winding down. Most of it was gold rush related. But, what are we doing now? Are we in those kind of promotions now? Maybe the minister could outline some of the promotions that we are dealing with at the present time.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, just in answer to some of the preamble to the member opposite, certainly, I would be very much more than pleased to provide a figure from last year and to get that to the member and to both opposition parties.

From the conversion rate, as it's been explained to me here, it is three to one and it's up to eight to one in some instances, and one of the examples is of people's jewelry.

Mr. Phillips: I'm going to make a suggestion to the minister - and I know the Minister of Justice has already done this, but I'll recommend it to other ministers - next year, 1998, is the 100th birthday of the Yukon as a territory, so I know we're going to Dawson City to do our little bit there to talk about history and leave a few dollars there as we normally do, but the suggestion I want to make to the minister is that we've used the Klondike Gold Rush and the highway centennial and other celebrations as lures to attract people to the territory.

As government ministers, it would be a great year to try to get most of the inter-provincial/territorial conferences to come to the Yukon Territory. I know the Justice minister has the Justice ministers conference. I don't know whether they're planning one, but in the four years I was involved as the Minister of Tourism, we couldn't seem to get the Tourism ministers together to hold a conference and this might be a good time in the next year to try to get them to come north, because they bring with them an entourage of people. They get an opportunity to see our product and to go home and tell many of their friends about us and they seem to drop a lot of dollars in town at these kind of conferences, so they're pretty welcome visitors from all points of view.

So, I suggest to the minister that this government make it a priority in the 100th birthday of the Yukon, as a legitimate government, that they invite their colleagues from the other provinces and territories to come here and share a bit of our history with us. I might suggest to the minister that they try to pick the shoulder seasons to hold most of the conferences because they might have trouble getting a room this summer, I hope. It would certainly help boost our visitor numbers in the shoulder season. So, I'd suggest that to the minister as a friendly suggestion.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I thank the member opposite for the suggestion and I would just like to let the member opposite know that I have started some work on that suggestion since I've been in the portfolio and have been massaging people to come here. We're working with the Canadian Tourism Commission, the CTC, to bring tourism people here to the Yukon and we're looking at holding it sometime in early spring, before the advent of the main tourist season. Certainly, I will keep both opposition departments apprised of the situation if and when it does happen. Certainly, I'm quite excited about making something like that happen.

Mr. Phillips: Another area, Mr. Chair, that I'd like to suggest the minister have a good look at is the Province of Newfoundland, which was very, very effective at promoting the 500th anniversary of the landing of Cabot in Newfoundland. They did it, not only worldwide but they concentrated extensively in Canada, talking to Canadians about their history and their heritage. We never have had a very large Canadian program. We've done some co-op marketing but we've never done anything really significant, and I would think that this would be a great year to do that, to encourage Yukoners to invite their friends and relatives to come up, to encourage other Canadians to partake in the history of the Klondike Gold Rush in this year. It's a good opportunity to do some joint marketing, I would think, with Canada 3000 and Royal - if they're going to come back - and any other airline - Canadian Airlines and others - in a Yukon promotion to encourage more and more Canadians to come to this part of Canada.

Alaska does a great job of painting Alaska as America's last frontier and a must-see for all Americans, and I've yet to talk to a Canadian at conferences I've gone to or meetings or anywhere else who hasn't said, "Yes, one day I want to go to the Yukon. I've heard a lot about it and it's a great place." I think that maybe we should try and use the gold rush era and the fact that we have other airlines coming in here to do a much more extensive cross-Canada promotion.

We brought Canada AM up here one year and maybe we could think of doing something like that again. They didn't make it to Dawson and they did want to come back and they did fall in love with the Yukon and, I'm sure, with a little bit of encouragement, we could get them back up here in the centennial year.

So, I just throw that out to the minister as a suggestion. There are an awful lot of Canadians that want to come here. We just have to pique their interest and let them know, more than anything, that it's affordable. I don't think we can just let Canada 3000 and Royal go out there and do their own thing. It's a good opportunity to do some joint marketing with them and get the message out there that, for $400 or $500, you can come to the Yukon, return trip from the west coast, or for $600 or $700 from the east coast - the fares that were here last year were quite attractive. I just don't think a lot of Canadians were aware of it, and maybe it's time to do a more extensive promotion and some co-op marketing with these airlines to try and encourage Canadians to come up here.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I can agree with the member opposite on all that he has said, especially the Newfoundland experience and the landing of Cabot are things that all Canadians are certainly very much aware of. The suggestions to be working with other airlines, et cetera, would be something that, I think, would be very much a good thing.

I can say, though, that we are joint marketing with the airlines. As my deputy minister says, we're certainly working and excited to do that, and we're going to be doing it through the anniversary enhancement program. Certainly, I can remember when Ms. Pringle, I believe it is, of Canada AM, came up. There was much, much Canadian hype about Yukon at that time. I thank the member opposite for the suggestion, and we will certainly put them into the workings.

Mr. Phillips: You wouldn't get any argument against this, and you'd sure get a lot of support from this side of the House if the minister argued strongly and vehemently in Management Board that he needed a few extra dollars to put into Tourism. When you're leveraging dollars in a ratio of 3:1 or 8:1, as some of the dollars the minister mentioned, we're getting a good return for our dollar.

The minister has produced a document that I believe was started when we were government and completed while the minister was in the office about the economic impact of tourism. It's significant. It affects a lot of jobs. We've got a lot of high unemployment in this territory, but we've got a great tourism future. The difficulty we have is that it's a big world out there, and there are an awful lot of people who haven't even heard of us yet.

The competition is getting steeper all the time. More and more provinces and territories, other countries, and even Third World countries, are spending millions of dollars more than we are in promotion. It's a pretty sophisticated marketing world out there, and we do a great job with the very small budget we have. But I think there's an opportunity here in Canada to market Yukon to Canadians, and we shouldn't lose the opportunity. I think the Gold Rush Centennial would offer us a foot in the door because we could offer some great and interesting programs to our visitors with the co-op marketing of the airlines.

But I don't think that just doing what we're doing now is enough. I think we have to look at, in this next budget, doing some more. I know the pre-planning can be done now, so that when these airlines are doing their marketing this spring and summer, that we could be working with them, doing some pretty massive promotions across the country to encourage people to come here. I think it would be appreciated by a lot of Yukoners and it would put a lot of Yukoners to work.

The minister mentioned in his opening remarks the Air Transat deal. Does the minister have a better idea now? I believe it was going to be 16 flights of Air Transat, once a week for 16 weeks. Do we have numbers of people that we expect to see off that? Does the minister have an idea of how it's selling in the marketplace? Is it there yet? I think it probably is more starting in January and February, but what are we expecting as far as numbers with that program?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair. Again I can take the member opposite's ideas and put them into the thinking system. Certainly tourism is very, very much a valued revenue to the Yukon.

As for Air Transat, yes, there are going to be 15 rotations - 15 flights - and the member is quite correct when he says that. The last I heard, and it was just a couple of days ago, is that they're selling very, very well and the marketplace there is very excited about the opportunity to be able to come into the Yukon. They are quite ecstatic and selling very, very well over there at this point in time.

So, I'm sure that the member opposite, with his experience in Tourism, can appreciate that if they're selling at this point in time, it should be nothing but escalating. I hope for nothing but good out of this deal.

Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Chair, I think Air Transat was a very good move and I commend the marketing branch in the Department of Tourism and the individuals in the branch who put in a lot of air hours and time in negotiating the deal. I also commend and thank the minister for supporting the department in getting the money for it and pushing ahead with it.

Mr. Chair, even though we have Air Transat, would it be fair to say that Air Transat won't compensate completely for the number of people we had coming in from Canadian Airlines? I think Canadian Airlines were running about six or seven days a week. The 8:30 p.m. flight was coming in and it was about 75-percent full of the same type of customers - Europeans?

What would be the ratio? Would Air Transat probably pick up about 50 percent of what Canadian was doing at that time, or 30 percent or 80 percent? What kind of a figure do we have for that?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, certainly, that is a good question from the member opposite, and yes, we are looking and expect that we will have approximately 4,000 to 5,000 people that will be coming on Air Transat from, hopefully, all over Europe.

As far as the fulfillment of the whole from Canadian Airlines, even if it was a 75-percent occupancy, that's a good question. I'll certainly have to crunch those numbers and get back to the member with it. I've just asked the department, and they don't have the exact, precise figures, but I'll certainly make best efforts and get the information back to the member opposite.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, Canadian Airlines is still continuing to fly, of course, to the Yukon. Are they doing anything special, or are we doing anything special with Canadian Airlines this winter in a marketing program? I think that they are partnered now with British Airways. Are we doing anything with them to encourage - the minister says we had 45,000 expected to come from Air Transat. Probably we had in the neighbourhood of 65,000 or 75,000 from Canadian, because there were a lot more flights. I'm just guessing at these numbers now. They might not be accurate, but the demand may exceed the number of seats available with Air Transat. Is Canadian Airlines doing any kind of promotion, or is Air Canada doing any kind of promotion, or is any other airline? Are we looking at any kind of airline doing a promotion as well as Air Transat?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, just in the last couple of weeks my director of marketing and my deputy minister had to go to Yellowknife for a meeting, and on the way back I sent my director of marketing to the United States, to Dallas, Texas, I believe, to sit down to have a preliminary meeting with American Airlines.

Certainly, the negotiations are taking place at this point in time and will continue to take place over the next couple of weeks and possibly after the Christmas season and into the new year. That is being done in partnership with Canadian Airlines. Certainly, I will keep both sides apprised of the situation and the negotiations.

Mr. Phillips: Well, good luck with that one. You probably have one of the best people in the business down there talking to them, so hopefully we'll see some positive results. If anybody can do it, I know that that marketing department can.

Mr. Chair, one area that I'm concerned about - and again it goes back to marketing - is, over the four years that I was the minister and I know under the new minister, the marketing branch's staffing has remained rather stagnant. It hasn't changed a lot. Well, it has changed a little bit. One individual was seconded to Economic Development and I think there was a full year. I don't know if that position is filled yet. Maybe the minister could bring us up to date on where we're at in the marketing branch with staffing.

My concern is that we're going in about 16 different directions and we're still using the same four or five people to do all the work, and burn out is an extremely high possibility and if we lost anyone - I know these people's responsibilities are divided into various areas and if we lost one or two or three of these individuals, we'd be in a pretty sad state pretty quick. I know that when the minister, in the budget, brought forth this budget initially, there were a couple of positions in the budget in the marketing branch and I don't know if they've been staffed yet.

Have they been staffed and where are we at with staffing in the marketing branch?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, certainly I can elaborate on that. We are working in cooperation with the Tourism Industry Association with the players of the Yukon Territory who make up the tourism industry and we're looking to bring a gentleman over from the Northwest Territories who was instrumental in refining and defining the tourism market within Newfoundland.

He is, at this point in time, being negotiated with and we're looking to bring to the Yukon, with the blessings of the industry, this gentleman to help alleviate the problems of keeping up the marketing as it is, because certainly the member opposite is right. If we lost two or three, that would be our whole marketing department and certainly I'm not wanting to do that.

What we are doing is we have a native training position, a training position that is going to be on hold until we do have that manager in place, and then certainly things will be going well. So, we're trying to do it in very thoughtful way, if I may, that will enhance and keep up the forward movement of the industry in the Yukon.

Mr. Phillips: Is the minister saying that the native training position is not filled right now, or is filled? Is it on hold? I wasn't quite sure what the minister said there.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, it is on hold at this point in time until we can get our ducks in order, if I may say that? The first duck that we want to have in order is to fill that very, very important position of manager to work within the marketing, and then certainly a training position will be brought in. So, it is on hold at this point in time. I guess I can say it that quickly.

Mr. Phillips: Pardon the pun, but I see a little quack in the plan, you know.

Mr. Chair, what I am concerned about is that we passed the budget last April - it was tabled in April. The minister told us then that he needed positions filled fairly quickly. We had this very same discussion about burn out and concern for people in the department.

We're nine months past and I haven't even seen an advertisement for the position. I mean, I'm really concerned. It's going to be too late if one of people in marketing gets ill or one of our people just gets fed up with the time they are spending away from home. I mean, I know these individuals are travelling all the time. And, we're going to be in a much more serious position if we lose the continuity of one of the good people we have now because we waited so long to fill the position. So, what I am urging the minister to do is to get on with it.

I would have hoped that, within a couple or three months, if the department needed the positions that badly, the job descriptions would have been almost ready to go when the budget was there and, once they were approved, we could have people in for this marketing season. I know we need them this marketing season, and so that is my only concern, that we are putting an enormous burden on the existing staff we have.

I know the minister has got some hopes from this individual from the Northwest Territories, but we might be needing more than one individual if we don't get somebody here fairly quickly. We are burning people out and I'm concerned about that.

The individual from the Northwest Territories is that a secondment? I know the Northwest Territories has virtually shut down their Tourism department. Was that individual working for them in that Tourism department and he is coming over to us as a secondment? Are we paying for it? Is the N.W.T. paying for it? Is CTC paying for it? Who is paying the shot for this new individual coming over?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, I'll start with the last question, Mr. Chair. Yes, the territorial government have been in negotiation with the Northwest Territories government and we are going to be paying to bring this gentleman to work with the department.

To go back to the member's very first point, I can certainly agree with the member opposite. We are working with the industry, keeping the industry up to speed and, quite frankly, the industry is giving us direction as to what they would like to see on this. Certainly, as the member says, we are running out of time and the department goes through very high stress, especially at this point in time right now.

Certainly I feel that we are in control of the situation and will continue to be. We are looking to have the manager staffed in early January and, as the member opposite says and always gives certain credit, which I greatly appreciate, to the marketing Department of Tourism. They feel comfortable and, certainly, when they feel comfortable I feel much more comfortable.

But I also stress to them that it's hard to see the trees when you're standing in the forest, so they certainly understand where I'm coming from and I understand where they are. But to bring comfort, we're looking to have the manager position being staffed in early January and then the hiring procedure will take place shortly after.

Thank you very much for your concern.

Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Chair, I'd urge the minister to keep on that one and don't let it drag on any longer because we are going to pay for it if we don't deal with it right away.

Mr. Chair, another area of staffing that I'm concerned about, and this is actually something that happened as a result of the new visitor centre, was the new industry services room that was created at the visitor centre.

My understanding is that industry is arriving in fairly large numbers and using those services that we're providing quite extensively. It was sort of a new addition and it was put in there without extra staff.

How is the workload of the staff in industry services? How are they coping with the new increases in demands on their time because of the new information centre that we've developed for industry?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, as the member opposite has said on the industry service, yes, it is putting a bit of stress in. It is stretching the people just a bit further than I would like to see. We can always use more resources, I would say, to keep the forward movement of the industry.

Mr. Phillips: Well, that was the minister, I guess, sort of telling me that he is concerned and that people are overworked in that department now or that the workload has increased dramatically.

What I would like to know from the minister is if his concern is going to be reflected in more staff for that branch of the department. What are they going to do about the workload that these people are experiencing? As we take on more responsibility and build our industry up and more businesses establish themselves, the workload is going to become more and more for that particular branch.

I have to say, Mr. Chair, I have heard nothing but good things from individuals who are going there. I think that the type of data that the branch has compiled there and the assistance they give the industry has been invaluable to many people who are thinking about and have thought about starting or even improving the tourism businesses. My hat's off to the existing staff that's there, but, again, I've got a concern about the workload of the staff. What is the minister going to do about that?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: As the member opposite knows, we are going into our budget cycle at this point in time and working with the department to ensure that we do carry on with the forward movement that the industry has.

Yes, the department has gone out and done an economic value of Yukon's tourism industry to the Yukon and it certainly shows how many jobs are affected, what tourism is worth, how many businesses participate within it and how many businesses are touched. Certainly that cannot be done any other way than to get into it, and to be triggered by the industry services in part.

As we go through the budgeting cycle, certainly, I had first and foremost in my mind, as I did last year, to proceed with full-time equivalents. Certainly I am going to be taking that same frame of mind into the Management Board meetings, so that we can continue with the growth of the industry and to have the people to be able to keep up with the growth of the industry.

Thank you.

Mr. Phillips: For the minister's benefit, I would just remind him that, I believe, for the past four years, we've seen about a 10- or 12-percent growth in tourism in the territory overall. We certainly haven't seen that kind of growth - and I don't know if we should see it, at exactly 12 percent - reflected in some of the departments that have been asked to take on and do a lot more, yet their workload is becoming increasingly heavier, simply because we are getting our message out and people are responding and the industry is growing, so there is a greater need. I am just concerned that we're not moving as fast as we should be moving with respect to the right number of people doing those kinds of jobs and doing them justice.

As the minister knows, in the tourism industry, if you can't serve the industry in a timely manner, you're behind the eight-ball already. The whole thing about tourism and tourism marketing is to be there at the right time and the right place with the right message. If we can't get the people there, or if they can't be at two conferences or two shows at once, or they can't deal with this, or we have to send somebody that maybe doesn't have the background and expertise that someone else has, it can sometimes hamper our efforts to get our message out. Those are some concerns I have there.

I have another marketing concern. I attended the last Tourism Marketing Council meeting that was held in Whitehorse. One issue that came up at the Tourism Marketing Council meeting was winter tourism. It initially was started off by the department doing the winter tourism marketing and then, I believe, it was transferred over to the Chamber of Commerce. After a year or so, an evaluation was done by TIA, and TIA made some recommendations to the minister. The concerns I heard expressed at the Tourism Marketing Council meeting, which was just held about three weeks or a month ago now, was that we really didn't have a winter tourism marketing plan in place for this winter, which is kind of surprising, considering we have the Yukon Quest and the Gold Rush Centennial and all the other things happening, that we didn't get our plan put together in time and get it out into the marketplace.

Can the minister tell me - there were some discussions with TIA and the president of TIA to work quickly on it, fast-track something and get something going. Did we get anything going, and what exactly are we doing with respect to winter tourism this winter?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, yes, we definitely want to work in cooperation with the Tourism Marketing Council, and the member certainly is very well-aware of that with his previous experiences.

At this point in time, I cannot answer the member's question. I'll have to get into the department to find out just a bit more about what's going on. Certainly, it was just three weeks ago or whatever it was, but certainly I can say that winter tour packages are something that are very near and dear to us. As I've said previously, we like to think of the Yukon Quest as the cornerstone of winter tourism and to continue to break off of that so, hopefully, a shoulder season will be non-existent. We have four seasons - well, if there are four seasons in the Yukon. Maybe there are only two seasons, but we'll certainly have an all-season approach to tourism.

So, to answer the member's questions specifically as to the winter marketing plan, I will certainly have to get back to the member opposite on that.

Mr. Phillips: The reason I asked the question was that the president of TIA asked that whatever they do could it be fast-tracked and that something be put in place, and in fact, if we didn't get anything in place by now and know what we're going to do, we would probably miss this winter season because it would be too late.

Mr. Chair, one thing that I would mention to the minister that was done in the past and was very successful was the marketing of not only the Yukon Quest, but the Sourdough Rendezvous. I think the minister will recall that I was involved at one time about 15 or 20 years ago as a director of the Sourdough Rendezvous, as was the deputy clerk of the House. I can recall that there used to be one to three Canadian Airlines charters coming in here from Vancouver and Edmonton to take part in the Sourdough Rendezvous, and they were special planes that were put on and marketed outside, and 110 or 105 people, or whatever the capacity was at that time, would come whipping in here. There used to be two or three flights, and that's when we didn't know that tourists would even want to come up to the Yukon in the winter, but they were wandering around the streets all bundled up in their parkas. They were from Vancouver or other places, and some even took part in some of the events.

So, that might be another area that they can look at if we're really stuck for a long-range winter plan because it's almost too late to do that.

Mr. Chair, one of the other areas that I wanted to ask the minister about was a visitor exit survey. We do them every three or four years, and I think 1987 was the last visitor exit survey and we're due for another one. Is this minister planning to do one this summer, or when is the next extensive visitor exit survey planned for?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, certainly, Mr. Chair, we're planning for a Yukon visitor exit survey to be commenced in 1999 and we're working certainly on the planning process for that now, and it'll begin in 1997-98.

Mr. Phillips: So, not this year, but next year is the plan for the visitor exit survey.

Another area that I wanted to talk about was the visitor statistics that we have. We have had some difficulty in the past counting our visitors at the airport. Have we solved that problem with getting a more accurate count at the airport? Is there any way that we can get even confidential information from the one airline so that we can keep accurate statistics?

I mean, it's all about planning and knowing whether your marketing is working, and if we can't keep accurate statistics of one of the major entry and exit points in the territory, it makes it rather difficult to have accurate information reflecting tourism in the whole territory.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, the department is working with the local travel agents and with the airline industry, looking to find a formula that would be able to distinguish between the local Yukoner going out for a hockey game or a weekend or whatever to Vancouver and returning. That work is ongoing but there is no agreement on a process to the formula, but certainly the work is ongoing and hopefully they will be able to come up with a formula that will distinguish between the two.

Mr. Phillips: Well, I hope they do work something out because it's important to get those numbers.

Mr. Chair, I asked the department to send me over some numbers for the visitor centre that was up the hill - the old visitors centre - and the visitor centre now that is downtown, because I wanted to do some comparisons. Just for the record, it appears that in Whitehorse, in 1996 when the visitors centre was up the hill, there were 29,974 visitors who visited that centre, but when it was moved downtown this past year, in a year where tourism stayed about the same in the rest of the territory, there were 47,159. So, almost 20,000 more visitors went through the visitor centre when it was put downtown.

Would the minister agree now that that appears to be a positive move with respect to the location of the visitor centre?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: I would certainly agree that anything that we can do as a government to get people to the Yukon and to all locales of the Yukon would be certainly a good move.

Mr. Phillips: Well, no Mr. Chair, I agree with that, as well. But, I was just asking the minister: if we had 29,000 at the old location and 47,000 at the new location, does that indicate to the minister that that was a positive move when we almost doubled the numbers, and would the minister not agree that it was a positive move to move the visitors centre downtown?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: The member is not going to get me to go backwards on this. I will just say once more that when we can get 47,000 people and we can get people to all areas of the Yukon, it is certainly a good move.

Mr. Phillips: If it's not a good move, then is the minister saying that it was a bad move to move the visitors centre downtown? That getting 20,000 extra visitors to go through our visitor centre and get information about all other parts of the territory was a bad move? Is that what the minister was saying?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: I ask the member opposite to read the Hansard in the morning. I did not say anything about a bad move. I said any move that would bring people to the Yukon like that, and in that case would be a good move - is what I exactly said.

Mr. Phillips: I'm pleased to see that the minister does agree that it was a good idea to move the visitor centre downtown, because more visitors are in fact visiting it there.

Can the minister tell me how many visitors visited the Beringia Interpretive Centre this last season?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: There were 33,689.

Mr. Phillips: Does the minister have the figures for other Whitehorse attractions like the SS Klondike and maybe the MacBride museum? Des the minister have those figures? And, could he give them to us in the House?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, I do not have the information here at my fingertips, but if the member opposite is asking if there have been more visitors to Beringia than there have been to the SS Klondike, I would be pleased to answer that question.

Mr. Phillips: Well, the SS Klondike is a paid attraction, as the Beringia Centre is, and the SS Klondike, even being a paid attraction, is probably the most visited attraction in Whitehorse. It has been for years.

What are the numbers for the Beringia Centre versus the SS Klondike? Did we exceed, in our first year, the numbers of the SS Klondike?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: I can get the exact visitation, but, yes, I can say that the Beringia visitation exceeded the SS Klondike.

Mr. Phillips: Well, it appears that, although Beringia didn't meet the expected numbers that we wanted in the first year, in its very first year of operation it was the most sought after attraction in the City of Whitehorse. The visitors certainly liked it. Would the minister agree with that statement?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, I would say that whatever we can do to enhance the Yukon Territory, whether it be with prehistoric cultures, whether it be with First Nations cultures, whether it be with the gold mining culture or whether it be with the culture of the day, which is the colourful five percent culture - whatever - it would be a good thing for the Yukon Territory. Yes, I can say that.

Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Chair, the point I'm trying to make is that I have had some difficulty from some of the members' colleagues in accepting the Beringia Centre as a significant attraction in the Yukon. And I know, when the minister attended the opening - I was there as well - the minister talked about it being a fantastic facility depicting the First Nations history, the history of Beringia; it told an untold story that has never been told in the territory before. He said a lot of great things about it and I'm not hearing that from his colleagues. In fact, I'm hearing, "We're going to make it work. Even if it doesn't work, we're going to try and make it work." And that wasn't what I heard from the minister.

So, it appears that the minister and I agree that it is a significant attraction and it's good for the Yukon as a whole, as an addition to what we have, but that also 33,000 visitors, more than visited any other attraction in Whitehorse, agreed that it's a valuable asset to our Yukon community.

So, I'm pleased to see that the minister would support that, and I can tell the minister that I'll work very long and hard with him in working to enhance Beringia and at least maintain it, despite the wishes of some of his colleagues that it will fail.

Unfortunately, Beringia ends up being the political football with a you-did-it-we-don't-like-it attitude, and we can't let that override the real issue, that is that it's a very valuable attraction to the territory, it's a very valuable educational tool to our children, and it's something that will bring visitors here for years and years to come and provide enjoyment for those visitors.

So, Mr. Chair, I'll leave that with the minister as a concern that I have that, in fact, in the last year that the move of the visitor centre downtown has been a good move for tourism overall in the Yukon, and the development of the Beringia Centre has been a good move for the City of Whitehorse to attract more people to the city.

Mr. Chair, the question I asked about Beringia last year was about working with - and I'm still hearing the rumblings - the other attractions in the City of Whitehorse, like the MacBride Museum and like others out there, with respect to a joint ticket or a joint pass that might allow people to see one or more attractions in the City of Whitehorse and having the Department of Tourism, with Beringia, do some joint marketing with these other attractions.

Have we developed anything with respect to that?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Firstly, Mr. Chair, let me answer the last question. Certainly, we're always looking at newer, more innovative ways to make things better - certainly, to be within a better way - there's a pun, I guess - which would include family passes, et cetera, and things that the member opposite has just spoken about.

I must take a tiny exception, though, to the negative spin that is being put on to my colleagues. I have been told that it was not in that manner, and I guess I don't want to argue the point too much here, but it was said that it would bring visitors here. In a sense, Beringia will bring visitors here, but not in isolation. It has to be within the Destination Yukon concept that the government is working very, very hard to do, and of which it is certainly an important part, but not the sole part, of the whole.

Is it a story that's never been told? I've been told that that Beringia story has been a part of MacBride Museum now - if I remember correctly off the top of my head - for the last 12 to 15 years. So, that is what the directors have told me, and I certainly have no reason to argue with the directors of the MacBride Museum because they certainly do a very good job and will continue to bring in visitors here.

So, is it a story that's never been told? No, the story has been told. Is it a story that should be told? Absolutely, it should be told. Can it be a learning program? Absolutely. Is it something that schoolchildren should get to and be able to understand and be part of a living culture? Absolutely.

So, I will wind up again with saying, yes, we are looking at all sorts of ways to keep the facility open and to be able to enhance the facility, as it will certainly trigger tourism here in the Yukon Territory.

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

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Chair: It is an understanding - and it could be disagreed with - that we would take a break about every hour and a half. Is it the member opposite who does not wish to continue?

We will have a short break of 10 minutes.

Ms. Duncan: If we're going to take five-minute breaks every hour and a half, can we ask that members respect that five-minute time limit then, please.

Chair: It's a 10-minute break.


Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We are dealing with the Department of Tourism, general debate.

Mr. Phillips: When we left off, Mr. Chair, the minister said that he wanted to make the Yukon a destination. That was the primary reason for our government's injection of $9 million into the CAP program, and the CAP program was a program to build infrastructure and tourism attractions throughout the territory.

What I'd like to ask the minister, Mr. Chair, is how we have plugged in marketing of the attractions that are on stream, like the Watson Lake Northern Lights Centre, the various new CAP projects in Faro, Pelly, Carmacks, Dawson City and Mayo. Many of them are on stream now - Haines Junction. How are we plugging them into our marketing, and how are we now letting people know that there are new attractions in these communities and that there are more things to see and do in the Yukon?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, certainly, Mr. Chair, the majority of that has been up and ready within this year's vacation guide and we will continue to have them. We have also, as I've mentioned to the member, I believe, last spring, put our marketing department on notice to lend assistance to any of the attractions that would need advice from our very professional marketing department and we would provide that advice to them as to how best they might market their projects.

Mr. Phillips: Well, I'm pleased that the department is doing that. Have they been taken up on the offer by any of the communities with respect to marketing? Which ones are they working with at the present time?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, certainly, Mr. Chair, the only operator at this time that has taken us up on this is the Northern Lights Centre in Watson Lake.

Mr. Phillips: Well, I'm sure that others will be knocking at the door as well.

Back to the Beringia Centre for a moment. Part of the plans of the Beringia Centre was that it would be open in the tourism season and staffed with a regular complement of staff. I've had some requests come through my office in the last week or two from friends and family that are home for Christmas, people that may be coming up here for Sourdough Rendezvous, the Quest, significant events. And the other request I've had is people who are organizing conventions are looking at having things for people to see and do, and maybe putting together a convention package of things to see and do.

In the past, many of these attractions were shut down on the shoulder seasons or shut down in the winter, and no one was able to see them primarily because of a numbers game at the time. But, we do have to heat that building up there. The displays are all there. There may be an opportunity for some calling in of people on a part-time basis or something to open it up. Are there any plans to do that this winter? And, what is the case with respect to conventions, as well.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, certainly, Mr. Chair. We are opening on Thursdays and Sundays now during the winter, and will be open for any conventions that might arise. We'll be open for school facilities. You know, on weekends, children come in. Two weekends ago. they came from all areas of rural Yukon to play volleyball in the town, in the main centre, so it was open for those types of things. It will be open for very special events, such as the Yukon Quest coming, with the Fulda people coming. It will be open for the Sourdough Rendezvous, et cetera. So we're certainly making it accessible to people, especially at this time of the year.

Mr. Phillips: Did the minister say they were playing volleyball in the Beringia Centre, or that they were here to play volleyball but went to visit the Beringia Centre as a result? I hope that's what they're doing. I hope they're not using the big mastodon in there as the net or something.

So, Mr. Chair, the opening on Thursdays and Sundays - is that what the minister said? Is that advertised, because I haven't seen any promotion toward that, and I think it would be a good idea to do a more active promotion, especially through the holidays, if people are looking to do various things. We should be promoting it locally, as many Yukoners are going to have a lot of friends and relatives coming here this year to visit us during our anniversary.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, it is going to be advertised very shortly and we're looking at having a plan.

Mr. Phillips: I think that's a great idea. I think it's not only a tourism facility, but it's a community and educational facility that we can utilize - and we may be able to have the odd volleyball tournament there, as well.

But, I commend the minister for taking that initiative. It was always the intent that students and Yukoners would have a chance to see it in the off-season, as well. So, I think that's a good idea.

One of the keys to the Beringia Centre was the historic resources centre. It was going to be the home of the heritage branch, and the palaeontologists and others were going to be attached to the building. We were going to have a warehouse there. I will remind the minister of a debate that took place in Haines, Alaska. The Liberal Member for Porter Creek South took part in the debate, as did I. The Member for Whitehorse West at the time was the Tourism critic.

On video tape in front of all the tourism industry, all three of us were asked a question. The question was, would you commit, in your first term of office, to continuing the building of the Beringia Centre and start the construction of the historic resources centre? That was a question that was asked by the group.

My answer was yes, that we would. The Liberal answer was yes, that they would and the Member for Whitehorse West, of the New Democratic Party's answer, was yes, they would. Is it still the plan of the government to start the construction of the historic resources centre before the end of their first term?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, the project, which the member opposite is asking about, is going to be subject to the budget allocations, and it certainly is within the lines at this point in time.

Mr. Phillips: Well, I don't think I'm going to let the minister get away with that. A commitment was made prior to the budget that within the first term they would build the historic resources centre. Can the minister tell us that that commitment has not changed, that within their first term of government they will start the construction of the historic resources centre as the Member for Whitehorse West promised they would on video tape at a Tourism Industry Association meeting? Is that still the commitment of this government?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, the commitment of this government is to respect all items and to continue to go forth with it. This is certainly not a solitary decision. It would be easier if it was. This is a collective decision. It will be done collectively by the caucus and the Cabinet, and it will be done subject to a budget allocation. I cannot crystal ball and forecast that.

Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Chair, this was a commitment. It was a commitment, like the local hire commitment. It was a commitment like other commitments that this government has made, like collective bargaining. They said that they would restore collective bargaining, that they would do the other issues that I talked about, and they also said that they would start the construction of the historic resources centre in the first term.

Mr. Chair, will they? Are they still willing to honour that commitment, or have they changed their mind and decided to look at other priorities rather than the historic resources centre? I'm just asking the minister if they are going to break the campaign promise that they made in the election campaign or just prior to the election campaign.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, as I read A Better Way, I cannot see where it is in A Better Way.

Now, as far as making and breaking election commitments, we are going to continue to make things a better way. We are going to live up to the document A Better Way, and we're certainly going to be looking at all priorities as they are.

As I said, the historic resources centre is still in the works. It's a collective priority, and we will have to get a collective decision to determine it as a priority, and you can look at things such as the school in Old Crow, which has certainly affected this year's budget and will continue to for some years. So I would hope that the member opposite would take comfort in the fact that it is on the books, and we will be continuing to look at it.

As far as breaking a commitment, I do not consider it to be a commitment broken. I certainly say that we're living up to things as in A Better Way.

Mr. Phillips: Well, I read the NDP's policies with respect to tourism, and I would hope that the minister wouldn't use that as his bible, because it doesn't say anything. There're a few broad, general statements about tourism there, but there isn't anything there that says anything specific about anything.

What I'm referring to is a direct question that was asked all three of us - all three political parties - by the executive of TIA. The question was, clearly, "In your first mandate, would you commit to continuing the construction of the Beringia Centre and the beginning of the construction of the historic resources centre?" We all said yes, including the New Democratic Party Tourism critic at the time.

I'm not asking the minister to put aside a bunch of other projects and do it immediately. I'm just asking if they are going to still honour that commitment and start the construction or the planning for the historic resources centre in their first term? Are they going to do that?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: I cannot see where it is within A Better Way. I know the document fairly well and I certainly understand the how and why we were elected to be government. As far as the commitment that the member is asking for, no, I cannot give the member opposite a commitment as to yes or as to no.

I know that the member opposite wants me to stand up and say that this government is going to break a commitment that was publicly made by the official critic of the Tourism department and that's what it is. Certainly it is not that. I cannot say yes and I cannot say no. I can say that it is going to be considered and will be considered. There are other priorities and there are major priorities.

Certainly, as this government has committed to adding resources to the Tourism budget within its first term, I think that is a very positive sign.

Mr. Phillips: The minister keeps saying, "It's not in A Better Way, so we don't have to do it." Is the minister saying to us that the Member for Whitehorse West was lying to the tourism industry when he said, "We will build it in our first term"? Was it just a political statement he made, and really had no grounds, and he didn't have the authority to do it? Is that what he is telling us that this member was saying?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: I must take exception to the way that was focused because, Mr. Chair, I have said neither yea, nor have I said nay. I have consistently taken the high ground with this member, and I will continue to do so. This is going to be a collective decision, and it will certainly be made because this government is not afraid to make decisions and will continue to make decisions for the betterment of the Yukon people.

Let me go on to say that O&M and marketing were not to be a part of CAP projects, yet the member opposite is now asking me to include - this is in Hansard from last year - that we would do these things. Now, I'm asking the member opposite, was he lying that time when he said that they were not going to include O&M and marketing for capital projects? Was the member opposite lying at that time? Now that the member opposite is a critic for this department, he's asking for marketing and O&M.

Chair's statement

Chair: I would ask members to be more mindful of the rules of the House when wording their questions and answers.

Mr. Phillips: I guess we're going to be here a long time because I take exception to what that minister just said. Mr. Chair, the minister shouldn't be making obscene gestures in the House, and I'd ask him to withdraw that - right now.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: I'll scratch my nose when it is itchy any way I want to scratch my nose.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, the minister is not telling the truth. He wasn't scratching his nose. He made an obscene gesture. And, I'll ask the minister to withdraw it right now, and quit playing silly games.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: I have nothing to withdraw, thank you.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, you saw the gesture as I saw the gesture. I ask the minister to withdraw it.

Chair: Mr. Phillips, I did not see a gesture. You are making a false statement by saying I saw a gesture, and I ask you to withdraw it.

Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Chair, if you didn't see it, you should have.

You should be doing your job.

Chair: Mr. Phillips, I'm doing my job quite adequately, thank you. And, I think you are going beyond the envelope of your job by accusing me of certain things. I was speaking to the Clerk. I was not watching the member.

Mr. Phillips: I would like to ask the member -

Point of order

Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Chair, I've been listening to the debate and I think that given the attack that was just levied on the Chair that there should be an apology or a withdrawal of the attack on the Chair by the member opposite. I also heard the member opposite accuse the minister of lying, which is unparliamentary, and I would ask that he withdraw that.

Chair's ruling

Chair: The Chair notes that it is getting late at night and tensions are rising and both sides have used the word in question, and I would like to remind us all to let's get back to the supplementary budget and deal with the line items and put these petty attacks behind us.

Does the line item clear?

Mr. Phillips: I'd like to ask the Minister of Tourism, Mr. Chair, when he just finished answering a question of mine, did he not make an obscene gesture to me across the floor? I'd like the minister to stand on his feet and tell us the truth, Mr. Chair.

Point of order

Chair: Order.

Hon. Mr. Harding: I would submit that that question is completely out of order. We're in debate on the Tourism supplementary budget.

Mr. Phillips: On the point of order, Mr. Chair. You say you didn't see it, Mr. Chair. I clearly saw it. The minister knows he did it. The minister should act like a man and stand up and tell the truth about what he did and withdraw it. You can't play silly games in this House.

Chair's ruling

Chair: If the minister feels that there is something to apologize for, then that's fine. If not, we will continue on with general debate.

Is there further general debate?

Mr. Phillips: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Well, we all know where this minister's coming from, don't we.

Mr. Chair, the minister has said that he's not saying yes and he's not saying no with the historic resources centre, but his colleague, the Member for Whitehorse West, did say yes and said that it was a campaign promise of the NDP that, yes, they would build it.

So, is the minister telling this House today that a yes has just changed to a maybe?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: What I am saying, Mr. Chair, is that it's a caucus decision; that it is a decision that will be made by this government. Certainly, we'll continue to look at all priorities and it is not a solitary decision, as I have said before, and the decision will be made as to whether it is a yes decision or a no decision; I certainly cannot crystal ball that.

Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Chair, I can remember taking quite a beating from the side opposite about not caring much about heritage when I was the minister and yet, it's this government, the NDP government, that is now putting heritage on a lower priority and a maybe, rather than a commitment of yes, which they said during the election campaign, but it is just one of dozens of promises that this particular government has broken with respect to the issue.

Chair: Is there further general debate?

Mr. Phillips: Yes, there is, Mr. Chair. I wasn't sure whether the Chair was still here or not.

Chair: Mr. Phillips, I've had just about enough of your criticisms of me tonight. If you have anything else to say, keep it to the budget, please.

Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Chair, I deserve some respect, as other members do, that when we're dealing with matters, I'm not always facing the Chair's back if the Chair does his job as other chairs do.

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

Point of order

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

Mr. Livingston: It's very clear parliamentary procedure - very clearly stated in both Beauchesne's as well as our own Legislature's rules of order - that it's incumbent on members of this House to provide both the Speaker and the Chair with reasonable degrees of respect and I would expect all members, including the member who has just spoken, to do that.

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

Chair: Excuse me. I would like to remind all members to not speak before they are introduced, and to be mindful of the rules of decorum of this Legislature.

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

Mr. Chair, I do respect the Chair, but for us to have respect for the Chair, the Chair also has to show respect for others.

Chair's statement

Chair: For the record, I'd like to point out that the Chair is not in a position to defend himself.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I'd like to go on to another area, and that is Canyon City. There has been a lot of archaeological work that has been going on in the last several years with respect to Canyon City, and there was a project that was going to start at one time with the re-building of Canyon City as an interpretive site. It was put on hold, primarily because of the question of land claims and the Kwanlin Dun land claim. Has there been any resolution to that site? Are there any plans for any changes there in the near future?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, Mr. Chair, things have not changed significantly since then. The land claim situation of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation is still in the same state that it was, and they have not completed their land claim. So, no, the plans for Canyon City are, at this point in time, still on hold.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I'd like to turn now to the visitor centres and talk a little bit about some of the visitor centres. There was a new film that was going to be produced for the Whitehorse VRC. Can the minister tell me what the status is of that film and when we expect to début the film in the new VRC? Will it be ready for this tourism season?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, I look forward to the day in January that I might be able to introduce the film and invite all members of the House for the preview of the film. I expect that to be in January; so I've been told. I've seen the rough cut. It certainly looks quite fine.

Mr. Phillips: Can the minister tell us who got the contract? What was the amount of the contract?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes. The approximate cost is $150,000. I will have to get the exact figures back to the member opposite. It was $150,000, I believe. It was done by Brand Works, out of Toronto.

Mr. Phillips: Were there any local bidders on the project? I wonder if the minister could provide for us a breakdown of who bid the project. I don't need that right now. I don't know if it's handy for the minister, but I would appreciate getting that information.

Mr. Chair, what is happening with the passport program? What is the status of that at the present time? I know it's not in this year's visitor guide as an advertisement as it normally has been, and they were making some changes to it. Have they made the changes and what's happening to it this summer?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes. As far as the local bidders, Mr. Chair, on the Brand Works film, I will certainly get the information back to the member opposite.

As for the passport program, it is being reviewed at this point in time. The museums had a meeting and we're looking at getting input from the other key stakeholders. Of course, the dollars remain in the department's O&M budget for the 1997-98 fiscal year for this. We're looking to keep the passport program to ensure that it remains market driven and meets all of its stated objectives. Of course, we're doing that through the consultation process with the stakeholders and the museums.

Mr. Phillips: Is there any move to remove the passport stamps or the program from the visitor centres, or are we going to keep them in the other visitor centres, like Watson Lake, Dawson City, Whitehorse, as they are now? Is that the plan?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: That is certainly one of the issues that has been discussed and, certainly, when we're finished with the review and the input from all of the stakeholders, that will certainly become apparent. Although it is one of the things that has been discussed, I'm not here to direct but to work with them.

Mr. Phillips: Maybe I don't follow the minister. It's been discussed that they're removing it or that they're keeping it there; that they're going to keep it in the visitor centres?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: That is one of the items that has been discussed - yes, Mr. Chair, absolutely.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I haven't got it clear yet. They're just discussing it one way or the other, or does the minister feel that it's going to stay in the visitor centres or it's not going to be in the visitor centres? Which is it - one or the other?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: The topic is a topic of discussion for the stakeholders and, certainly, I hope that brings comfort to the member opposite. It is being discussed. A decision has not been made on it but, certainly, it has not been forgotten either. It is going to be continued to be discussed and we're going to be having further consultation on this.

Mr. Phillips: What's the position of the department with respect to whether or not the passport program stays in the visitor centres?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: The department really doesn't have a position, per se. Certainly, we will be continuing to work with the stakeholders and the museums to ensure that our thoughts are interjected, so that we do have a very successful program.

Mr. Phillips: Surely, the department knows how well it's worked in the visitor centre. Didn't the department make a recommendation one way or the other? I mean, you just can't be silent on it. You're the people who have run the program. You must have an opinion on how well it worked. What was the recommendation the department made to the stakeholders with respect to the passport program? Should it stay, or should it go? What was the recommendation?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: We are suggesting that the stakeholders consider that we keep the stamps and the passports within the reception centres, but not to let them be stamped as a visit, so that we might be able to open up and look at other areas that might be more dynamic for the industry, whether it be the Northern Lights Centre or the dig.

I hope the member opposite is getting the drift of things. If we can get people in, they can pick up their stamps, and they can pick up their passports. With consultation with the key stakeholders and consultation with the museum, et cetera, we'd be looking to enliven the program as it is, so that we might be able to open up to other centres, such as the Northern Lights Centre in Watson Lake. All those are being discussed right now with the stakeholders.

Mr. Phillips: I'm still not clear whether or not, as a visitor, I could pull into the Watson Lake visitor centre, and the minister's department's recommendation is - do I just pick up my passport there? Do I get it stamped there? So, it looks like what's going to happen is that I'll just pick up the book there, get information there, and then I'll go to other attractions, where the stamps will actually be put in the book. Is that what the minister is saying?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, I am saying that you may go to the reception centres, you may pick up your documents there, but they will not be stamped there. And, what we are doing with the stakeholders is look at how we can make it better. So, as to the scenario created and painted by the member opposite, in Watson Lake, they would be able pick up their passport, not to be stamped, but to get the understanding that if they do want to get it stamped that the closest one would be just up the street and on the left, and that would be the Northern Lights Centre. Now, that has worked and is ongoing at this point in time and will continue to be. But, we're expecting a decision soon, I believe in the new year.

Mr. Phillips: Would the visitors be able to pick up a passport at any of the attractions, as well, or would they be limited to just picking up the passports at the visitor centres?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: The passport would be able to be picked up at the visitor reception centre and at the museums.

Mr. Phillips: You can't get it stamped at the visitor centres but you can pick up a passport there. But, you can also pick up a passport and get stamped at any of the attractions in the passport program.

Is the government intending to open it up to any commercial attractions or is it going to be limited primarily to non-profit museums, - SS Klondike, I guess, would be non-profit. I guess the fellow operating it wants to make a profit but it's not really, I suppose, planned that way.

Mr. Chair, what is the strategy here with respect to the how it is going to operate?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: It will continue to be focused on museums.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I want to go back for a moment to the Beringia Centre. There was a contract in the list of contracts that we got that I would want some information about, and that's the Keith Wolf Smarch sculpture. I believe it was the sculpture of, I think, the crow that was going to go in the centre of the Beringia Centre outside, just in the little area there. I'm just wondering - I didn't recall seeing it there last fall and maybe the minister could just bring us up to date on where we're at with the commissioned carvings and when we can expect the rest of the exhibits in the Beringia Centre to be complete.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, if the member wants the contract and the figures, I can certainly provide him with them. I understand that was one of the questions that he wanted. I will be able to provide the member opposite with that.

We're looking to have the Keith Wolf Smarch statue installed in time for next year's visitor season.

Mr. Phillips: Well, it would sure be nice if it was in place for the Yukon Quest, with all our European visitors who are going to be here, because that's something that they are, as the minister knows, quite thrilled about - that kind of Yukon native heritage. So, it's too bad that it's not going to be there. Maybe it will. If it is, the minister can let me know.

I don't really need the contract and the numbers. The numbers are here. What I was trying to find out is, where's the sculpture? Is there a final date set?

Maybe the minister could provide me with the contract because it must say when the sculpture has to be delivered. So, I'd like to know what the deadlines are. Have we met the deadlines or have we exceeded the deadlines? Have we extended them? Is it costing us more than we thought it would or is everything fine? Maybe the minister could bring that information back and let us know where we're at with it.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: It would be my pleasure.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, there was some discussion here a couple of months ago about the Wilderness Tourism Association and the regulations. Maybe the minister can tell us if there have been any changes since the recent announcements and where we're at with the wilderness tourism regulations.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, the member opposite is correct. We are doing a review with the Wilderness Tourism Association, licensing, et cetera. It is ongoing at this point in time. We're doing this in concert with Renewable Resources and Tourism, and certainly Renewable Resources has the lead, but I can get a time frame for the member opposite and provide a time frame. I believe that is what the member opposite is looking for.

Mr. Phillips: Yes, if the minister could just provide me with a more recent update of where we're at and what the time lines are.

The minister wrote me a letter on December 10 with respect to a question that I asked in the House about the real map. The minister, in the letter, responded that 20,000 copies were produced at $1.20 per copy, and various mistakes were identified by the department officials, and reproduction is currently being negotiated. Who are we negotiating reproduction with?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, the people that we would be negotiating with would be the printer. Those are the people that the mistake was discovered with. As to the name of the printer, I will certainly have to get the name of the printer and the time frames for the member opposite.

Mr. Phillips: Well, this government has been very vigorous in talking about local hire, local purchase, local contracts. Were these 20,000 copies printed in the Yukon by a local person?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, off the top of my head I don't know. I'll have to provide the information to the member opposite.

Mr. Phillips: My understanding, Mr. Chair, is that it wasn't a local printer, so if the minister could get back to me on that, I would appreciate it, because, if that's the case, it sort of flies in the face of the local purchase policy that this government has adopted.

Mr. Chair, who made the mistake? They say, "We're negotiating with the printer." Did the printer print the maps wrong or did we not sign the final proof or did we approve them with the mistakes on them and they printed them? What exactly happened here?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: First of all, the error was - well, let me just read right from the briefing document here. The error was not caught by either Mr. Hyde Design or the marketing branch before the publication went out to print.

Now, I would question that myself, because if we look at what the map is intended to be, it is not intended to be a road map or a river map. It is intended to be a stylized map and to depict things as they were and as they are. Now, certainly, the member opposite can say, "Well, the road was never on that side of the lake, and the road will never be on that side of the lake," but, as we look at the intent and the marketing tool that it is, I think that the member opposite will agree that it is a very, very good tool that can be used and will be used to enhance tourism for the Yukon Territory.

I guess I can further say that that is the objective of all of us here, to bring people here, and it will continue to be the First Nation map, very closely related to a gentleman by the name of Kohklux, and I can go on about Kohklux for many hours, but in a very short version, Kohklux was a Chief of the Tlingit people who opened up this country for the non-native people to see. And he showed to them very much a map that was of the same style. The same stylized procedures were used, and that is the map that, in essence, opened up this country for the non-native people to come in and to look at.

The member opposite can look into the archives and find that map and can look and see the comparison.

So, where does the ultimate fault lie? Well, in any department the ultimate fault lies with the minister. So, if the member opposite is looking for somebody to lay the blame on, then I guess that would be the minister.

Mr. Phillips: I'm always puzzled when ministers rise on their feet and rather than say that a mistake was made and this is what it is going to cost us, it isn't anything we like, but a mistake was made and we're going to deal with it, but instead, Mr. Chair, ministers rise on their feet and make excuses that don't make any sense. I don't have any dispute at all with the First Nation territories that are marked out on the map, according to the individual the minister just spoke about. I don't have any problem with that.

What I have a problem with is that this map is going to be in our visitor centres. The map is going to be sitting in the visitor rack, and it says on the front of the map, "The Real Map." I'm just a visitor. If the individual working in the visitor centre is tied up with a visitor at the time, I might just grab the map off the thing, take it to my RV or my car and drive off down the road. And they'll think they got the real map when, in fact, the map is grossly inaccurate in several areas.

I mean, I can see some stylizing of the rivers and that kind of thing, but to put the minister's community on the wrong side of the lake, along with the highway on the wrong side of the lake, would be somewhat confusing to a visitor who might have two maps in their vehicle and would wonder which one is the real, or more accurate, map.

My concern here is that we shouldn't make excuses. The minister should just come clean and tell us what it's going to cost us. I also asked the minister in the same letter - I said, "Department officials estimate the only additional cost to be approximately $800 for plate changes." Well, Mr. Chair, these things are $1.20 a copy, for 20,000 copies. They're on glossy paper, and the folder that they're in is inaccurate. It has mistakes in it.

If we're partly at fault, how come it's only going to cost us $800 to reprint about $20,000 worth of stuff? Are we asking Mr. Hyde to pick up that $18,000 or $19,000? He's got a pretty good argument not to. We can't pull $18,000 out of the air to reprint these things, if we're going to reprint them. We have to come up with the money for the paper, the money for the new plates and the time and energy it's going to take to print them - and that's not $800.

Maybe the minister can tell me if he has given us assurances today that there will be no more than $800 cost to the Department of Tourism for this error that took place - there won't be one cent more than $800.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: I can certainly say that the costs are within the letter, as I've put to the member opposite, and the additional costs will be approximately $800 for the plate changes. The marketing department has told me this. I must say that this is the same marketing department that the member opposite puts, as I do, so very much faith in.

So, when the member questions that and asks if I can absolutely say that, well, certainly I think I can, because I have great faith in them. I can double-check the figures and get back, but I certainly would endorse what the marketing department has done with this, and said that it would be approximately $800.

Mr. Phillips: Well, I hope the minister can understand why I'm asking the question, because his own words are that, "Various mistakes were identified by department officials and reproduction is currently being negotiated." It means they haven't decided on who's doing it and who's paying for it. "Department officials estimate that the only additional cost would be $800 for plate changes."

So, is the minister telling the House that the cost of the paper and the printing will all be borne by the printer or Mr. Hyde or others? Who would those others be if someone else was going to pick up the cost of reprinting this particular document?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, that is what the department has told me and I certainly have no reason to mistrust the department in this. As I say, I will certainly double-check the figures and the statement and will provide that information to the member opposite.

Mr. Phillips: Well, the minister did not answer my question.

If the minister and I had a tourism company, Mr. Chair, and we produced a brochure and there was a mistake in it, we could go out and pay $800 for a new plate, but someone's got to pay for the paper and the printing.

Is the minister telling us that that is the position of the government, that it is the responsibility of the printer or Mr. Hyde - the design company? That's who's going to pay any extra costs over and above the $800?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I rise to say that I will double-check the figures that the department has provided me with, but I have trust in the department and the marketing branch to say that they are usually bang on, and I'd hate to think that they are not bang on, but everybody certainly can make mistakes.

What more can I say? Mistakes are made and corrected. They say that it is going to cost $800 for plate changes, and that is the only cost. Is that a mandate to go up and duke it out with somebody else? No, certainly it is not. It is just a simple statement saying approximately $800, but I will double-check and get back to the member opposite.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I'll take the minister's word for the $800 for the plate changes. That's probably what it costs to change a plate. The minister is missing the drift of my question.

I'm asking the minister, who is paying for the reprinting, and who is paying for the paper? Is that the responsibility of the contractor, Mr. Hyde, or the printer themselves? Who is paying those extra costs? You don't get this stuff for nothing. It's not free, so somebody is coming up with 20,000 more sheets of glossy paper in several colours to print this on and the time to print it. Who is doing that, and who is paying for that?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: We'll certainly have to check and forward the information to the member opposite.

Mr. Phillips: I would have thought that the minister would have had that answer, but I would appreciate getting that fairly quickly. This is an issue that, since I called it to the minister's attention, Mr. Chair, the minister would have known who is paying the extra costs, because, like I said, the letter that I received leaves a whole bunch of unanswered questions.

I mean, unless the Department of Tourism had a pile of paper somewhere and a bunch of people with a bunch of spare time on their hands that could run a press, somebody is going to have to pay for that. I would have thought the minister would have known that as a result of the questions that we asked, and so I don't know why he doesn't understand that or know it, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Chair, going through the Tourism contracts, there is a contract here to Flash Enterprises, Overland Inventory, Carmacks and Flash Enterprises, Inventory Clift in Coal or Load Out under Tourism. Do you know why those are in there? What are they for?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, I have been told that there are heritage projects and, certainly, I can bring back all pertinent information for the member opposite.

Mr. Phillips: I would appreciate it if the minister could do that. When you first read it, it doesn't sound like it is a tourism-related project; it sounds like it is more of a C&TS or an Economic Development project. That is why I asked the minister the question.

Mr. Chair, we are with the interpretive plan and the Silver Trail interpretive plan? What's the status of that at the present time? I believe about $31,000 was expended this past year on those plans.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, the tourism plan is in its final stages of being completed right now.

Mr. Phillips: What does that mean in real terms? Does that mean that the plan will be issued this spring to the Silver Trail Association? Have we gotten the final draft that we have been discussing with them? Where are we at with it exactly?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, it will be ready for next tourist season.

Mr. Phillips: That's just the plan, though. That's not any action on the plan. That's just sort of a blueprint of what they are going to do. So, the tourist won't see anything really new this year; it will be people working on it in the future years - and the minister is nodding his head in the affirmative.

Where are we at, then, with tourism plans, regional plans?

When I was involved with the Department of Tourism, there were a couple completed before we got into government and I think we completed two or three more when we were there. Where are we at now, and are we getting to the stage where we are starting to go around to the other plans that were activated and seeing what action has been taken and where we are at with them?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I've asked the department to prioritize their plans because certainly now everybody wants to get into the tourism business and the tourism scenario. Right now we are going to be working with the Kluane regional tourism plan. We're looking at the Old Crow area to see how we can stimulate, through chapter 22, the economic opportunities chapter that the member opposite is very well-aware of and knowledgeable of what has to be done and it is a very important tourism component of that. We are looking to do that in conjunction with them. Then others that have been asked to be brought on stream are the Teslin area and the Ross River and Faro areas. So, it is ongoing as people are starting to see the goodness of tourism and the economic benefits of tourism. Thank you.

Mr. Phillips: Earlier tonight, Mr. Chair, I made the point about the workload of industry services and the people involved in that and the minister tonight just kind of laid a whole platter of work on the floor of the House that that department does, along with the industry services room that we have and other things they're doing. So, I think one can see that we're asking a lot more of the same people. So, it is an issue that we talked about earlier that I'm glad to see the minister is going to address.

Mr. Chair, the department used to do all the familiarization tours themselves in the past and I see in this particular list of contracts, Beringia Tours is now listed here as doing familiarization tours, transportation fam tours tours, tour arrangements familiarization. I wonder if the minister could provide me with copies of those contracts and then, as well, advise me if we've changed the policy whereby we're now contracting out fam tours.

We used to contract out interpreters, and that kind of thing, before, but I believe that there were some individuals in the department who used to go out and travel around with these fam tours.

I have to tell the minister that I'm one who doesn't have a problem with the department contracting out some of these fam tours, because I think it would free up some time of some of the marketing people who could probably deal more with the marketing issues rather than travelling around the territory. There are some very highly capable people in the territory who could conduct fam tours, so I'll just get the minister's thoughts on what we're doing here. Have we made a change in policy and will we be seeing possibly future tenders in the paper for providing fam tours for the Department of Tourism?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: First of all, let me say that, no, there has been no change in our practices or policy.

Regarding the contracts to Beringia Tours, they received three separate contracts for familiarization tours, or fam tours, as we know them. The Fulda fam tour in August of this year was for $2,600, and Beringia Tours was contracted by Fulda to conduct all of their land arrangements during the 1997-98 Quest. The TUI - which I'm sure the member opposite knows very much about; it's Europe's largest wholesaler, very good people also - fam tour was in April of this year and it was, again, for $3,500 and it was contracted at the request of TUI as a product-tester tour for future tour development. And in May of this year a post-Rendezvous Canada familiarization tour, again for $2,850, and Premier Pacific Coachlines also was utilized for this fam tour, for which Beringia Tours is their general sales agent in the Yukon.

Mr. Phillips: We haven't been contracting out fam tours in the past - at least that I'm aware of. Maybe if we have, the minister can bring back that information on what fam tours we did contract out. But do we automatically now - if a group called the minister's office and said, "We want to do a fam tour in the Yukon and we want to use only Rainbow Tours," will we now go directly to Rainbow Tours without going to any contract, or how do we do that?

It sounds like the minister was telling us that these three companies requested Beringia and that's why they used Beringia, but does the minister feel that that is a fair way to contract out future fam tours in the territory?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, the questions asked from the members opposite - certainly, I've been told by my folks here that there is no change in the policy from the previous government. Yes, Mr. Chair, Fulda, the TUI, the post-Rendezvous Canada fam tour all did include requests from the people for the Beringia tour. I felt it right to be commodious to the request.

Now, I would also like to point out that we would like to be, and will continue to be, working in fairness with the other operators.

Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Chair, I'm not questioning at all Beringia's ability to do the fam tours. I think it's a very good idea and I understand they do a very good job. So, I'm not questioning that. What I'm concerned about is when we go to the marketplace and the Tourism department, we promote all businesses of this territory. My concern is that if there is more than one business that offers fam tours in the territory - we're making it a policy now to contract out the fam tours - we should be either going to tender or inviting proposals or whatever. We should be sharing the business, because we can get criticized very quickly. I think there, in fact, was a possible lawsuit that was around at one time, criticizing us for favouring one over the other in some manner.

So, my concern is that we get criticized all the time if you favour one person over another, and I know there are several people in this territory that could operate fam tours and do a good job. Rob Toohey, who does the film site locations, is one that comes to mind who could probably spin off and do that kind of work quite easily. There are others out there that may be able to do the same thing - maybe Rainbow Tours could offer that service. Maybe some others could.

My only caution to the minister is that I don't have any problem whatsoever with what the government has done with Beringia. What I have a problem and a concern with is that if we're going to move more into this area, that we do it in a fair way.

Every company that's out there that delivers this kind of service is aware that the government is requesting this kind of service and has an opportunity to participate. Otherwise, the minister is going to get severely criticized if there's an impression that the government is not being fair about the way it deals with this contract. I'll just leave it at that. The minister knows where I'm coming from, and we'll go from there.

Mr. Chair, there's another contract here - Canada 3000 - co-op marketing contribution of some $20,000, but they've only expended about $4,000 in the current year. In the contract that I've got, they say there's a current balance of about $20,000 that hasn't been expended.

What are we planning to do with Canada 3000? Are we doing anything this spring? This particular budget runs out March 31, and Canada 3000 doesn't start flying here again until next June, I guess - May or June. Does the minister plan to lapse this money, or roll it back in again, or what are we going to do with it? It would be pretty difficult to spend it before year-end, unless we develop a marketing plan that will be activated next year.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: To start with, regarding the member's first points about the fam tours and to do it in a fair way - point taken very well, and thank you very much for the caution. I greatly appreciate it.

On the second point on Canada 3000, certainly I'll have to get the information and get it back to the member opposite as to the expenditures.

Mr. Phillips: There's another contract, Mr. Chair - this printing was so slow, and it's so long since I've read this stuff, it's hard to pick out - for Midnight Arts, structural history report, WH waterfront. It must mean Whitehorse waterfront.

Can the minister provide that contract for us? It was a $10,000 contract, $5,000 has been expended, and $5,000 is the balance. What are we doing with that particular contract? If I could get the information on that, and maybe just a copy of the contract, that would help.

And I asked the minister questions about Keith Wolf Smarch.

Mr. Chair, I have some more questions in general debate, but what I'll do now is turn it over to my Liberal colleague so she can enter into debate for a couple of hours, and then I can come back and continue on with the minister.

Ms. Duncan: It's a pleasure to be allowed into this debate. I will not re-plough already tilled ground. I'll try to stick to additional questions and to some of the questions that have been raised. Some of them I had intended to raise and have already been outlined for the minister. I'll just stick to requests for additional information to keep this to the point as much as possible.

First of all, I would like to ask the minister about the wilderness adventure marketing that has been undertaken in the past by his department. Would the minister provide information as to how much money was spent and how many operators bought into this program? And I understand that his market is very small, so it should be relatively easy to track. I would like to know how many visitors that translated into as well. Does the minister have a sense of this program at his fingertips? Does he wish to respond? No. The minister is indicating no, and he has written down my questions, so I'd appreciate that information. How much money? How many operators? How many visitors?

The Member for Riverdale North began his remarks by talking about the contract that I had raised with the minister, but I understand that the contract for a full-service agency is to be tendered in January. The minister is nodding.

The minister spent a great deal of time in his response, and there was energy expended by the other member with respect to leverage. There was a lot of talk about the dollars that we spent leveraging other dollars. Would the minister indicate at what point we stepped back from that and say how many actual visitors this translates into?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, I can share the leveraging or the conversion figures with the member opposite. We do have that but not at my fingertips.

Ms. Duncan: Thank you, I look forward to reviewing that information.

The minister referenced the statistical study that was undertaken in cooperation with various departments and TIA, and I would like to commend the minister and the government on that study. I think it was well done and very useful.

However, I do have an issue with it. It neglects to cover the intra-territorial travel. For example, we have no sense of how many people from Old Crow, Watson Lake, Mayo or Dawson visit Whitehorse on a regular basis, or vice versa. That type of travel was not included in the economic study.

I understand that it's difficult to measure. However, in the Whitehorse area tourism plan in particular, it was a very real recognition that individuals from outside of Whitehorse are visitors as well and need to be treated with the same deference and courtesy that is accorded to visitors. That's very important.

I can recall situations where, as an individual organizing trips out of Whitehorse, we had individuals who were born and raised in the Yukon, had grown up here and never been to Watson Lake. I think it's very important that we consider that point in terms of that economic study.

The member raised the issue of the visitor exit survey and I notice that there are two contracts in the contract registry. One is for initial work on the visitor exit survey and the minister has indicated that the next survey will be done in 1999. The last time this visitor exit survey was developed, some of the bodies interested in tourism - for example the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce tourism committee - were asked what questions they would like asked on the visitor exit survey.

Has that sort of consultation work been undertaken at this point in time, on the visitor exit survey?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, that type of information is going to be looked at and garnered into. And the intra-territorial travel is something that we're working on for the formula but it is kind of a toughie. But certainly we will find that and, yes, we will be asking chambers for their questions and comments also.

Ms. Duncan: The issue of the relocation of the visitor reception centre was discussed, and I couldn't let that slide without stating some information for the record. The minister will bear with me on this.

The minister stated that there were 29,000-plus visitors when the centre was located up the hill and 47,000 when the visitor reception centre had moved. That was stated by the minister.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Ms. Duncan: Okay, the opposition said it. The members to the far right said that. I would just like to emphasize for the record that, in the meantime, the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce visitor information centre was closed and that is a very, very important factor in that discussion.

I staffed that centre for four years when I managed the chamber and I staffed it for a year when I was the secretary, and I can't tell you how many times I stood up and answered visitors' inquiries.

So, the difference in figures - I certainly agree that they're quite likely, that the Member for Riverdale North is probably quite right in this issue, but there's one factor that he neglected to mention and I think that's a very important factor and the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce could confirm it. It should be on the record.

I'd like to discuss Beringia with the minister, if I could. The minister stated that the visitors at Beringia numbered 33,689. In his correspondence with me, he said that there were 5,000 prepaid Holland America Westours tickets and another 10,000 visitors committed. Were all 5,000 prepaid tickets used or were any refunded? And, of the 10,000 committed, were any or all of those 10,000 actually used?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: I can say that none of the tickets have been refunded, but as to the actual expenditures, I'll have to get the figures back to the member opposite.

Ms. Duncan: Does the minister have any sense that of the 33,000-plus visitors, how many were complimentary visits and how many were return visits; for example, my colleague from Riverdale South was at the centre nine different times this summer with various school groups and visitors and so on. Is there any sense how many of these 33,000 are repeat visitors? Was there any effort made to gather any more data on them; for example, are they repeat; are they Yukoners?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, and my congratulations to your member on the left for being, I think, our biggest customer there. It's greatly appreciated, because the business plan, as it was developed, spoke to having two repeat visitors per eligible Yukoner, as I remember, who could visit. How are return or repeat? I have absolutely no idea. I will just ask the department if they have an idea. If they don't have an idea, I don't have an idea.

Certainly, it is something we will have to bring in to reality, so that we can get a very firm handle on who does show up. As I've said before previously this evening in the House, or yesterday in this House, we do want to encourage interaction among attractions and we're looking at having family passes brought in so that we can make it more open and accessible.

Thank you very much for the direction. I will get that incorporated.

Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Chair, I am pleased that the member has advised me that I'm a statistic, because I was only there twice.

What kind of customer satisfaction survey was done with the visitors to Beringia? Do we have any sense of what these 33,689 people thought of the Beringia Centre?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: I'm going to say right off the top of my head that customer satisfaction seems to be very, very high there and how that was brought about was from the guest book that was signed. There seemed to be a feeling, if I may, that people were satisfied with what they had to see.

Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Chair, I did a quick total of some of the contracts that I could pick out throughout the contract registry related to Beringia. I came up with a total of $838,806. Now, only $750,000 has been voted to date. I'm wondering if these are contracts that are subject to approval of the supplementary budget, or are they contracts that may have appeared elsewhere, for example, in a capital line item that I've missed. What is the minister's sense of that?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: I'm sorry to the member opposite that I will have to provide the information. I guess I'm not sorry - I will have to provide the information to the member opposite.

Ms. Duncan: That's fine, Mr. Chair. I look forward to receiving it. My point is just that I'm trying to determine - of the contracts I could locate from the contract registry - I just want to impress upon the minister the point that we aren't contracting in advance of having approved the supplementary.

He's shaking his head - no, that they wouldn't do that.

The point is that in the revenues for Beringia there's a $175,000 shortfall from the prediction. How could this prediction have been so far out, with all of the expertise located in the department?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: That's a good question. The Beringia was built with great expectations, and it is proving to live up to them. Certainly, it is not something that you could just snap a finger, wave a magic wand or touch it, and it became this reality. When I came in, I asked the department what these expectations were based upon. To tell you the God-fearing truth, they said it was based on best estimates, by desire, that type of thing.

What I asked the department to do at that point in time was to develop a business plan that would provide a basis for these numbers. I do believe that I can provide the business plan to the member opposite, so the member opposite can see it. But the business plan was built to reflect the Beringia. The Beringia wasn't built upon a business plan.

Ms. Duncan: I'm delighted that this minister has led us down this path of discussion with respect to Beringia. This has been a huge, costly investment, and it's one of those projects started by one government and completed by another government.

Beringia is a vision, and it's a dream, and it's not going to be achieved in one summer season, in one visitor season or overnight. I respect the facility. I've toured the facility. I have a great deal of respect for the individuals who are inspired to do this.

I also have a lot of concern for the seven other museums in the Yukon. Nobody has given MacBride Museum $111,000 for facility maintenance. Nobody has given Keno City, the George Johnston Museum, the Yukon Historical and Museum Association or Binet House or any of these other locations this money. Yes, they've had support from the government; however, the resources and expertise that have been poured at Beringia are enormous.

I need - and I think all Yukoners need - to hear what the minister's vision is for that centre. Where is it going? Where are we going with it?

Now, the minister has mentioned a business plan. Is he prepared to provide that business plan, and can he elaborate on any more details at this point? Is it a five-year plan or a three-year plan? What sort of a plan is it?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Do I have a vision? God, I love it when people ask me those words, because I wouldn't be in politics if I didn't have a vision. Certainly, I have a vision, and Beringia is certainly a part of that vision, but it is not the mainstay of that vision. I do believe that it is a component of tourism, and I believe very, very strongly in tourism. I believe that tourism can reflect people's cultures, and it touches everybody, as this economic value paper has stated. So, I will leave my visionary statement to that.

I do want to make it work and will give it my very best efforts to make it work. I think - I'm not sure how you say it but I think the proof is in the pudding, and maybe the pudding at this point in time is the business plan. Yes, I will table the business plan for the member opposite.

As to just the finer details of it, off the top of my head, I cannot quite remember them, but I do know, if I can say my best guesstimates, that we are expecting to lose approximately $100,000 this year and maybe $30,000 next year, I believe, and then it is going to escalate into a thriving business. This is what the plan should be.

In fairness to the Beringia Centre, it was not a good year for flights into the Yukon. As you know, we have an approximate shortfall of 6,000 seats, and incorporated into the business plan of Beringia was a portion of those 6,000 seats.

I can provide it for you. I cannot remember off the top of my head the exact length of time that it was for, but I will certainly provide the business plan and an explanation therein.

Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Chair, I appreciate the minister sharing, to some degree, his vision of Beringia, but I would like some clarification. It's still a little fuzzy around the edges.

The community taxpayers are saying that they paid for that building once. They paid for the renovations, and they're not paying $6.00 now to go see it. I personally don't share that view and nor does my party. What I'm expressing is the views of the taxpayers. Not everybody shares in the vision of Beringia. Not everybody supports it. And, I think we have to listen to the criticism and I think we have to learn from it.

And, I'd like an expression from the minister as to how far down the road are we going with Beringia? Is the minister, at any point in time, prepared to look at other options?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, let me say that I wouldn't be standing here unless my parents had a vision for me and, certainly, I took them along a long and rocky road at one point in time in their lives and yet I like to think that, with a little bit of effort, that I lived up somewhat to their vision. Now, I'm not saying that Beringia is my son, or child or anything like as such, but what I am saying is that I want to make it work. At a cost? No, not at a great cost to the taxpayer. That's not what it was conceived to be, I don't believe, and that is not what it is going to be at this point in time. But, I want to make it work; hence the business plan. I will provide that for the member opposite to see what it does. Are there other options out there? Certainly, there are other options out there. And, can we look at some of those other options? I'm more than willing to look at any option to be able to bring to fruition the Beringia Centre so that it will become an active part of the community. That is very much what I am willing to do. At any cost of dollars? No. But, to look at lateral moves or at however we can do it, and brainstorm, absolutely, I am very willing and much desirous to do that.

Ms. Duncan: I understand that one of the ideas that's been pitched to the minister is having the same volunteer board of directors that currently operates the MacBride Museum, which has been in operation for 50 years in Whitehorse and is an integral part of the Whitehorse area tourism plan, to take over Beringia and has pitched this idea to the minister, and pitched this idea of working together with, for example, the Transportation Museum board of directors.

I can't think of anyone who doesn't realize the number of volunteer hours that are put in by these various boards, and the need to work cooperatively, particularly in the face of diminished resources, which have been talked about by all the ministers of this government at one point or another, and diminished volunteers. They burn out after awhile.

Now, there's been the idea, or a trial balloon if you will, that has been floated of Friends of Beringia, which would be yet a third board, in addition to - let's see, there's a board running the old Log Church, there's the board of the YHMA, there's the board of the MacBride Museum, there's the board of the Transportation Museum, and then we'd have the Friends of Beringia. Six boards. At 12 people a board, that's 48 people, all doing the same things, reviewing the same correspondence.

At some point in time, is the minister going to entertain seriously -

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Ms. Duncan: What? Seventy-two? Pardon me, I've been corrected. Let's not talk about the Glen Clark school of economics tonight.

My question to the minister is this: is he seriously entertaining this idea and striking the task force, internally reviewing it, requesting a Cabinet submission? What is he seriously doing to entertain this idea?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Absolutely nothing at this point in time; absolutely nothing. I do want to make Beringia work and I want it to happen.

Now, I know where the member is coming from, and let me explain, please.

I was quoted in the newspaper, and I must say misquoted. Certainly, I was phoned up and they asked, "This isn't working. Can you make it work?" And I said, "Calm down. We've done business plans. I want to make it work. These are the projections." And they said, "Would one of the ideas be that you could take this board and do that?" I said, "There's an idea. That's certainly an idea." And then they ran with it.

So, no, I want to make it work and if it can't work on private enterprise, and if we see in three or four years from now, or whatever, that it's not working, well then, certainly we have to become very innovative and find a way of making it work, and that would be the one.

But to have a 72-member board, that will never happen. I will never combine a board of directors and a board of directors and a board of directors, all being volunteers, to make this work. It would be done in a very thoughtful way and it would be done in a consultative way with the stakeholders to see that we could make it work.

I hope the answer there will satisfy the member.

Ms. Duncan: I would like to make myself clear. First of all, the minister has said that he would like the Beringia Centre to work as private enterprise. It's not private enterprise right now; it's a government-funded interpretation centre. It's a government-funded facility. It's competing with a number of other museums for funding from the government.

The Member for Riverdale North is correcting me that it doesn't compete with other museums for government money. Yes, it does compete for government money. There are X amounts of dollars to go around in our community.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Ms. Duncan: Excuse me, Mr. Chair. I just appreciate the courtesy of being allowed to ask these questions.

I think that at some point in time, when we have other organizations that are competing for volunteers as well, that the minister should consider this idea. I'm not floating it and it's not being floated as a misquote of the minister in the paper. It's being floated by people involved. They want to see this centre succeed as much as the minister. So, it's not private enterprise that is evaluating a business plan. It's a government-funded centre - a government-funded interpretive centre.

There are six or seven other facilities that are crying for money. They have exhibits that are outdoors and have been outdoors for years, unprotected from the elements, that we're going to lose.

It is a serious question, and I think it merits a serious look. If nothing else, a half-day facilitated session with some of the chairs of these boards and some of the members, to see what they think, and I would appreciate the minister's undertaking that he would give his a more serious consideration than he has given it today.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Thank you very much to the member for pointing that out.

Yes, if I alluded to the fact that it was private enterprise, that was exactly what I didn't mean to say, but it was certainly built upon the concept that it has to be self-sufficient. Therein became the reason why I brought that business plan into effect, so that we might make it work as a business, so that it might become self-sustaining, if I can say it in that way.

Now, if that does not happen, and I do believe, if I can remember off the top of my head, that it was given until the third year to make money. And, if it is not, then we certainly have to look at it.

If it's not I who floated the idea and not a blurb in the newspaper, but was a combination of that, with the taxpayer saying that it is not going to work. Yes, I do believe that it's incumbent upon government to look at it and to look at it very seriously. I certainly will be looking at it very seriously and monitoring it.

Now, that doesn't mean that I'm going to be throwing a bunch more cash at it, because that's not what I'm going to do at all. It's got to work within the confines of what it has at this point in time. That's how I want to make it work. I do want to make it work. If we can't make it work and it's in conflict with others, then I will sit down and have discussions with all stakeholders and the citizens on this very important subject matter.

Chair: We'll take a 10-minute break.


Chair: I call Committee of the Whole to order. We're on general debate.

Ms. Duncan: I'm not certain if the minister was in the middle of his response or if I was in the middle of a question. I'd like to just revisit this issue of options for the Beringia Centre. The other members were trying to indicate to me that there is no competition among the various facilities for money, for staff, for resources. I've been in the position of staffing a non-profit organization, just exactly as the Transportation Museum, the Old Log Church, the MacBride Museum are hiring summer students only to have them persuaded, see the lure of working for the government at double the wages - or almost double the wages. It's very difficult trying to run something like one of these three facilities - four, if you include YHMA's walking tours - in competition with Beringia, which is government funded.

And I ask the minister again: is he prepared to look at other options for this centre, prior to the expiry of the three-year business plan? Will he look at them in the next six months, within a year? Will he look at these other options?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, Mr. Chair. I cannot give that commitment, and the reason why I say that - and I say it quite thoughtfully also - is that it has just been not even quite a year that it's been open. I really want to make this work if it can work at all, and I really feel that it should have the very best effort. I'm going to give it the very best effort.

Now, if this was in the second year and it was still in this situation, I might think differently on this, but as I can recall, the business plan said that in the third year it should be making money, and if it's not getting close to living up to those expectations, then we're certainly going to be looking at it in a new light. But we will give it the best effort to make it work at this time.

Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Chair, I appreciate that the minister did think about that prior to responding. I do appreciate that.

In the Whitehorse facilities - and there are others that are competing for government resources - I also understand that one of the museum curator positions within the Department of Tourism is now spending half time managing the Beringia Centre, or spending half their time on the Beringia Centre. Would the minister confirm that, please?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: It's confirmed.

Ms. Duncan: I believe the minister wants to add to that comment.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Just a quick followup to make sure that his time does not impact on the museums.

Ms. Duncan: I understand the minister to say that although this individual is spending half his time on Beringia, there have been best efforts to ensure that that does not impact on Kluane, George Johnston, Keno, Dawson, MacBride, Old Log Church, Transportation Museum and the YHMA. Is that correct?

The minister is nodding.

I'd like to just state - so that there can be no misconceptions and no misinterpretations of Hansard and mis-faxes that are redirected - that our caucus does support Beringia. I support it myself, personally, and have been several times, although my daughter keeps asking me when the woolly mammoths are going to move.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, there has been an endeavour to make it work. We are looking at just simple things like that that would keep children happy. They ask when are the mammoths going to move, and we're looking at things like putting footsteps in certain spots so that it will give the illusion that they're moving and how to get in, so we're trying our best efforts to make it work and make it very appealing, especially for - I take it that your daughter's quite young.

Ms. Duncan: Thank you, I appreciate that.

One of the other points that was raised earlier was the historic resources centre, and I would like to also at this time go on record and express our support for that. The minister has indicated that that was at this point still a line item but subject to budget negotiations at Cabinet, and I wish him luck with those.

The passport program - the minister indicated that this was under discussion, that the money was still in the budget for it, and that then there was a variety of details hashed out about the actual passport program. I did not hear the minister mention working with the Yukon Anniversaries Commission and their Nissan sponsorship, and I didn't hear a deadline in his discussion of the passport program. When does he anticipate consultations being finalized and the program ready to go to the printer?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Regarding the passport program, first, we are looking at it right now to ensure that the two programs do not conflict. Because, certainly, they both say "passports". So, we are looking at it at this point in time to make sure that they do not conflict in their endeavour.

Now, the other part of the question is the deadline. I would suspect that it would be sometime in February that we would be able to have something. I do believe that they are right now putting together some recommendations for me.

Ms. Duncan: The minister said that their every effort would be expended to ensure that there is no conflict with the other program. Is someone also examining this to ensure that wherever there is an opportunity for the programs to mesh, that we are seizing upon that opportunity?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Through our consultation with the museums and ongoing consultations, of course, we will always look to see that we're not doing two things at the same time. I'm not sure what the word is. Double-dipping, or whatever.

As to it meshing, well, the passport program certainly was originated on behalf of the museums and will continue to be so. That is basically my answer to that.

Ms. Duncan: I neglected to ask one question when we were in the Beringia discussion and talking about the other museums in the Yukon. Is the minister or the department anticipating, at some point in time, doing an update of the Lord study? There was a study of Yukon museums done in 1985. It was done by Lord and his partner. Yes, that was their last name. Was there, at any point in time, an anticipation to do an update of that?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, Mr. Chair, at this point in time there has not been anything near for an update of the Lord study, but I'll certainly take it upon myself and the department to look into it and, just as careful and considerate planning for the future, I think it would be a standard that we would do that as well. Thank you for the direction.

Ms. Duncan: The minister mentioned, in response to questions, about the wilderness tourism act. Some of the discussion that I have heard from industry is a concern regarding the registrar, the inspector, if you will, and I'd like to put forward for the minister's consideration a suggestion at this time, if I might.

The way that the Yukon Law Society works is that in order to be a practicing lawyer, you have to go through the Law Society. You pay a fee to the Law Society and they keep the registrar of companies. By paying your fee, the society is self-funding and they manage their assets.

I mentioned this to one of the wilderness tourism operators and they thought it could fit in quite well with the wilderness tourism act and work as a good model. So, I'd like to put forward that suggestion for the minister and his staff that they consider that idea.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, we will consider it.

Ms. Duncan: The tourism plans were mentioned and - sorry, I apologize to the minister - I didn't hear his answer. Could he just outline which - and perhaps he'd like to do this in writing - communities, which areas of the Yukon are lacking tourism plans? Where are they in the updates of the communities that have already done them? For example, the Whitehorse area tourism plan was finished in 1994. So at what point is that being reviewed? It should be 1999, I would think. Can the minister advise me if the departmental officials are still using the same model for developing a tourism plan?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: As I answered earlier, yes, we're looking to do the Kluane plan; we're looking at working with Old Crow through their chapter 22 initiatives, and I do believe I said that the Teslin Tlingit and that traditional territory are looking right now to prioritize that situation to see who's been ready and when to move. As for the rest, where is it lacking a plan, or for an update of a plan, and is there still a model? I can and will get that for the member.

Ms. Duncan: I just have a couple of questions left in general debate.

The throne speech goes back to December 4, 1996 - just a year and a bit ago. The Government Leader said, "Strategic planning in the tourism sector will also recognize the economic potential of wildlife viewing and other wilderness tourism. Like the goose and the golden egg, however, it is essential to protect the source of that economic potential by encouraging activities that will not compromise the environment."

What guidelines are put, or established, for film companies using remote locations in the Yukon to ensure that they - at the risk of quoting Girl Guide law to the minister - leave their campsite cleaner than they found it? What restrictions or requests, what guidelines, are placed upon film companies using remote locations in the Yukon?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, the question from the member opposite is very pertinent, and it is one that I will have to provide guidelines for the film companies to use. But, certainly, it should be no impact.

Ms. Duncan: I would just put the minister on notice that I have had concerns raised to me that there have been impacts - on wildlife, in particular. I would appreciate the minister's investigation into that.

My last question. The minister has had representations from a Yukoner regarding establishing riverboat tours in the Yukon this summer - specifically the Canadian Yukon Riverboat Company - and they seem to be having some concern with respect to the department and the ability of the department to work with the private sector in this particular venture. Would the minister undertake to get back to me in this regard in that particular briefing note, as opposed to in the House, on that?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, I certainly will, but I must caution the member right now at this point in time that the last communiqué that I had with that gentleman approximately three weeks ago was one that he was leaving the country and that he is suing us, so if it's in that case - but I will research that.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I will now proceed with the other half of my general debate in Tourism with a few more questions for the minister.

Mr. Chair, the minister mentioned a few minutes ago "film site locations." We haven't heard a lot lately about commercials or films that are shot in the Yukon. Have we not had very many in the last few months, because we used to hear about them, well, every two or three months when there was an announcement of something happening? Is there something going on in the industry that has had a slow-down? I know that there was some talk in British Columbia about union problems they were having in B.C., and I just wonder if there is any particular reason the minister can give us why there hasn't been as much activity in the last year as there has been in the previous three or four years.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, as far I know, there has been no one, singular problem, but certainly, I can get back as to the activity that has been taking place in the last while.

Mr. Phillips: It just seems kind of odd, because I know that it's the type of thing where there can be several irons in the fire and nothing happening, and then all of a sudden, two or three things can happen overnight. Do we have any irons in the fire, so to speak, with some hot, potential things that are happening? I don't want the minister to divulge them. I know that it's kept pretty close to everyone's chest in the industry because we are competing with other jurisdictions. Is the minister confident that it's going to pick up again? It has been pretty slow over the last year, and we spent a few dollars in training people for the industry and getting them more aware and providing better services to the industry and, ever since we did that, we haven't seen anything happening. I just wonder whether or not we've seen the last of it, or whether we hope to see more in the near future.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Please allow me to say that we will provide information to the member opposite but, yes, we are very confident that things will look up. Certainly, by way of letter, we will inform the member opposite as to exactly what's happening.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, it's not as if nothing is really happening, because I have to tell the minister that the Discovery Channel has been running the Tombstone frisbee jeep commercial time and time and time again, and also the Sorel commercial with Art Johns and some of the other First Nations people, as well as other Yukoners.

The Sorel commercial has been running pretty steady on the satellite television channels that I receive, so we are getting coverage. Each time I see it, I just wish there was a way that we could put a little disclaimer on the bottom saying, "This is the Yukon, come and visit us," because a lot of people don't understand that when they see it. But the shots are certainly impressive in both those commercials and I think they're both effective commercials because the companies are continuing to run them.

Mr. Chair, back to the Beringia Centre for a few moments. One of the reasons the Beringia Centre was established in Whitehorse was the theory that another attraction does not become a competitor of existing attractions but, in fact, enhances the overall product and encourages people to spend more time in an area. That's why Beringia was created and that's why the CAP project was created in other communities.

Does the minister have any way of tracking whether or not that, in fact, is happening, and has the minister thought of setting up a tracking system, maybe even a questionnaire, amongst our visitors at the various sites around there - sort of a brochure that says, "Have you visited MacBride? Have you visited the SS Klondike? Have you visited Canyon City?" Just kind of a things-to-do-in-Whitehorse sort of questionnaire to find out whether or not people just go to one and then drive on or whether we're actually encouraging them to stay a little longer?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, Mr. Chair, we do not have a tracking questionnaire, but, certainly, we can take that into consideration as we are always trying to improve and get information. It sounds like a good consideration.

Mr. Phillips: We might develop something now on a smaller scale, but I certainly would think that, because the visitor exit survey in 1999 will be Yukon-wide, it might be part and parcel of the visitor exit survey and try and figure out ways to keep the people here a little longer.

One of the discussions that we had in government before we built the Beringia Centre was with the CEOs and managers of Holland America Line-Westours and Princess Tours. We floated the idea by them and they were both very interested in the project as another attraction to add to the list of things that they wanted to show people on their tour.

Have we been successful in attracting Holland America, Princess or other bus companies or tour companies to put Beringia on their schedule and, more important than that, because the reason for Beringia was to keep people here longer, are these companies thinking of extending their visit? For example, would Princess and Holland America consider spending an extra day in Whitehorse or adding a tour that spent an extra day in Whitehorse rather than arriving late in the afternoon and evening and taking off first thing in the morning? Because I know that is a concern that we have had for quite some time in the Whitehorse area. They weren't spending enough time and thus weren't spending enough money in Whitehorse.

So, have we been successful in encouraging them to take a little more time here, and what is going to happen in this next year?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, as we get into line by line, I can explain that. But, let me just say that, within the heritage portion, yes, we have two major companies that are committed to coming here, and certainly several smaller ones have committed to include the centre in their tour packages. We have two majors doing it, and those two majors are Holland America who have bought passes for 1997, and Princess Tours, both southbound and northbound. So, yes it is happening.

The second part of the question was to hold it over a day longer, I believe, that has not really been said by them as of yet, but certainly that is a part of the discussion. Thank you.

Mr. Phillips: I wouldn't criticize the department for encouraging them to stay a few hours longer. I think it's a first step.

What we have to be careful of is that they don't just drop other attractions in the City of Whitehorse and just stop at Beringia and then leave. That wasn't the purpose of it. The purpose of it was that, with Beringia and with other attractions that were going to be built in Whitehorse eventually - Canyon City and others - Whitehorse, like Dawson City, would become more of a destination, the same as the minister's riding - Teslin.

As we develop more in Teslin, people would say that the Yukon itself is a destination and they can spend a day in Watson Lake at the Northern Lights Centre, a day in Teslin, a day in Whitehorse and a day or two in Dawson. Eventually, the Yukon would become as much of a destination as our neighbour in Alaska is for Americans.

Many of them are passing through and it would be nice to be able to stall a few of them and get some of those rich American dollars in our coffers.

That was the intent of it, and I applaud the fact that they appear to be successful in two major companies. I encourage them to work on more and to work on extending the stay, so that they get possibly a couple of hours at Beringia but then are brought back downtown and given two or three hours to either visit other attractions downtown or buy a ticket that would get them into more than one, or maybe two, three or four of the other attractions - something like a city tour that would get them to see all the various attractions we have here in the City of Whitehorse.

Mr. Chair, a few last questions here with our VRCs again - going back to our visitor centres. Parks Canada has reduced its budget in the Yukon over the past few years. One area that has affected us is in some of our visitor reception centres; namely, Haines Junction and Dawson City. My concern is that we are entering into a year that, we hope, could be a very significant year for tourism in the territory. It is the Gold Rush Centennial. The heart of the gold rush is, of course, Dawson City, and Parks Canada is going to be reducing its staff there.

What are we going to do with respect to that reduction, because I mean I prefer that the federal Liberal government would see merit in keeping its staff on in this year, because it's a significant year.

I mean, sometimes you just wonder who's making decisions, because for years and years and years leading up to the Gold Rush Centennial, we have a full complement of staff and as soon as we go into the Gold Rush Centennial year, they cut back. It just defies logic to think that you would cut back in the year when you're expecting the most visitors that you have had in the last 100 years, aside from the gold rush.

So, has the minister been meeting with the federal officials and discussing this with them and has he had any success whatsoever in coming up with an arrangement so that we'll have the extra needed staff in our visitor centres, and particularly the ones that Parks Canada is withdrawing from?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, Mr. Chair, I have not been having any success even in getting my letters answered. I was just chatting with my staff today, suggesting that it will be time to send another letter to Minister Copps, advising her that this is very, very serious, especially in light of, as the member opposite says, the 1998 season at this point in time.

So, yes, we are working. Well, I guess I've got to be fair to Minister Copps, with the mail strike being in fact a part of maybe the problem, but still it is a very, very serious problem. We certainly feel that we do not have the resources to take this on and that it is their responsibility - it certainly does belong to Parks, but definitely we have to find a way and means to get over this hurdle.

So, I will be following it up with another letter to the minister asking for a clearly defined time frame and asking for assistance in making this not a problem. So, at this point in time, it is a problem, but we're certainly hoping that it won't be a problem and that we'll get serious. So, I am going to be taking it upon myself to put a call through to her, as we discussed yesterday in our discussions and we'll see where it comes out, but it is a very serious problem.

Mr. Phillips: Let me make a constructive suggestion to the minister about this. It's important that the minister write Minister Copps and ask her to reconsider the decision to cut back. But would the minister be interested in drafting a letter, talking about the importance of the gold rush and the Gold Rush Centennial and the heritage with respect to the Yukon and getting all three parties in this House to sign the letter? As a strong lobby with the minister, I think maybe with the Liberals' signatures on that letter, along with our signature, it would send a pretty strong message to the minister that we think it's significant, important, and we would be more than happy to - speaking from our party's standpoint -

I mean, it's a little too late, Mr. Chair. I would have suggested a motion on the floor of the House, but it's too late to deal with that. But that aside, a joint letter signed by all three parties, saying it's a feeling that all three of us share - that this is a poor time to consider cutting back Parks Canada staff at the visitor centres in Dawson City and Haines Junction might be effective.

I know we're prepared to do it. I can't speak for my Liberal colleagues, but I would be surprised if they would not want to sign it. So, I would hope that they would join with us in urging Ms. Copps to reconsider. Maybe I'll ask the minister if he would think about that.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, I will give some thought to it. Of course, as I give thought to it, and to quote my member opposite, the critic for Community and Transportation Services, "That gives rise to who is going to draft it, though". So, maybe what I could do is I could take a crack at drafting a letter and seeing how it works. Certainly, I'm not sure how everybody would work into it, but I think there might be a willingness on behalf of all the parties of this House to do just such a thing, so I'll take it upon myself to cut a draft and to get it across for some type of a start. Would that suffice?

Mr. Phillips: Yes, that will be fine with us. I think the gist of the letter basically should be a little bit of the history of what's happening next year, a little bit of what's happening with Parks Canada, and just urging the minister to reconsider, and not in a nasty tone, but in a very positive tone. Then, if they don't do it, then the minister and I can beat the heck out of them in the spring sitting.

Well, I think that it is an opportunity, in all seriousness, Mr. Chair, to send a joint message from our House with respect to what's happening in the Yukon this next year.

Mr. Chair, just to remind the minister that Parks Canada has been to Dawson City and basically just told the people in Dawson City that there won't be the staff next year. So, they've made a pretty strong statement that it won't happen, but I don't think we should give up that easily. I'm sure that we're going to see the minister responsible for Heritage, Ms. Copps, coming to the Yukon in 1998, and I don't think the minister would want to be embarrassed by the fact that if she wanted to visit sites around Dawson, she couldn't get the proper information if she went to the visitor centre, because there wasn't enough staff. So, I'm sure the minister wouldn't want to be embarrassed by her own cutbacks. I think we could put something together which would raise those concerns.

Mr. Chair, there are rumours out there that are persisting in Watson Lake about the visitor centre and the future of the visitor centre. What is the future of the visitor centre in Watson Lake? Is it the intent of the government to make no changes to the visitor centre; that it will remain in the building that it's in and operate as the gateway centre or the key centre to the territory, or are they looking at making some changes in the Watson Lake situation?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: At this point in time, there are no changes anticipated to the Watson Lake visitor reception centre, although there is a move afoot down there to look at the big picture of tourism and to try and draw into the big picture of tourism an overall scenario for that area. I certainly can endorse something like that, but that will just have to be done in a very deliberate and thoughtful manner, not just saying, "Here you go, and here's something for you."

So, we're going to be working with the Town of Watson Lake over the next few years to achieve the greater vision, but certainly at this point in time, I can say that the visitor reception centre will be exactly where it is.

Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I just had one point that I neglected to make in the discussion of tourism plans.

The minister indicated that there were a couple of areas in particular - Vuntut Gwitchin was one and the other one was Kluane - where the department was looking at tourism plans. Could I make the very strong recommendation to the minister that one of the things that came out of the Whitehorse area tourism plan is we keep track of the volunteer hours committed to that plan by individuals. That was very useful in terms of future planning.

The other point that I neglected to put on the record, Mr. Chair, if I could just have your indulgence, is that I'd like to express thanks to the staff who have attended tonight in this debate and others.

Mr. Phillips: I want to take the minister back to Dawson City again for a brief moment.

In the likelihood that the federal government doesn't kick in with the extra staff for Dawson City, we're going to have a very busy year in Dawson City. They had a reasonably busy year last year but it's expected to be far busier this year.

What's the contingency plan for the visitors centre? Are we going to be hiring auxiliary staff or extra staff for next summer to handle it? And what's the deadline the minister would set for himself to enact a contingency plan?

I'm sure we can't wait until the very last minute. We're going to have to do training and that kind of thing, and what's happening with that?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I think that we can have something in place and should have something in place for a February time frame because, certainly, I have no desire to impede. I'm certainly here to work with them to ensure that tourism continues to grow and that we do make the celebration of 1998 a bang-up celebration, because just that in itself will cast a very large shadow on the hospitality of the Yukon and how the Yukon reacts to its visitors.

This way, if we do something in February - and again you must understand that I do have colleagues that I have to go through but my colleagues are very, very serious about this situation - and I think that if we continue with the endeavour that we have, a good idea to have the three parties in the House, write a letter to Minister Copp and let her know that this is very unfortunate to be happening at this point in time - a friendly, strong letter, as has been suggested - and then to look at February for getting an answer and having something in place.

Again, just to be mindful, I do believe that the training for the reception centres takes place some time in April so I would expect to have answers in place in time for that type of training.

So, I'm encouraged by the fact that we can work together on these types of issues and will do so.

Mr. Phillips: I'm pleased to see that the minister is preparing for the worst if it happens.

One last suggestion on the letter - not to downplay the role of the Minister of Tourism, but we may want to get the leaders of our parties to sign that letter. I don't think the critic for Tourism packs a lot of weight in Ottawa, but maybe the leaders of the three parties might pack some weight - more weight than our signatures will. But, that's just a suggestion for that, Mr. Chair.

The minister mentioned the training of the VRC staff. We've moved that around in the past years, I think, to Faro and Watson Lake and a few others. Where's it going next year?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: To the best of my knowledge, that setting has not been made yet. It will be made as we get closer. As to the suggestion - I'm sorry, I never answered the question, as I look back to the Liberal leader, critic of Tourism, on the volunteer hours. Certainly, something like that can be incorporated in.

As to the other suggestion, yes, I have answered it and it has not yet been set. It certainly will be set. As to the signing of the letter, I want to make it work and I want to have clout on it. Certainly, I will take that into consideration with my Government Leader.

Chair: Are there any more questions in general debate?

Seeing none, I will move to operation and maintenance expenditures, page 12-2.

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

On Corporate Services

Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, could we just ask the minister, as a matter of course, to give the line explanations as opposed to them being requested on each line?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly. There's a $11,000 reduction in vacant positions and out-of-territory travel.

Corporate Services in the amount of an underexpenditure of $11,000 agreed to

On Heritage

Hon. Mr. Keenan: It's out-of-territory travel and it's reduced by $5,000.

Heritage in the amount of an underexpenditure of $5,000 agreed to

On Industry Services

Hon. Mr. Keenan: The reduction is due to a reduced number of workshops and out-of-territory travel and the delayed resource centre data base development, all for an inclusion of $25,000.

Industry Services in the amount of an underexpenditure of $25,000 agreed to

On Marketing

Hon. Mr. Keenan: It's an increase of cooperative marketing program with Air Transat to promote the new service.

Marketing in the amount of $170,000 agreed to

On Arts

Hon. Mr. Keenan: It's an anticipated recovery from the Lottery Commission and it's allowing for an increased funding to the arts groups.

Mr. Phillips: We haven't talked a lot about the arts in this particular budget. The department was working on a Yukon Party initiative, the arts policy. Where is the arts policy at the present time?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, I'll be pleased to provide a copy of the arts policy that's been approved by Cabinet to the member.

Mr. Phillips: What's the next stage then? It's been approved by Cabinet. Is it in place now, then? What funding is associated with it? I haven't seen the final draft of it. I saw the sort of 95-percent-finished draft. I don't think there have been a lot of changes since then, but maybe the minister can tell us what exactly is involved with respect to the changes from the Yukon Party draft, the last draft we saw about a year ago?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: I would be more than pleased to provide the answers to the member opposite, as he wants. It is out in draft and I will do the critique for the member.

Mr. Phillips: I do want to commend the arts branch. I listen fairly religiously Friday morning to Laurel Parry's colourful comments on the arts. And, I know that a lot of other Yukoners who appreciate that. I can tell the minister that when that idea came up, I was a bit apprehensive, as was the department, on the reaction, but Laurel does such a good job with the way she presents the arts that I think a lot of the artists and the people involved in the arts in this community are grateful for that particular promotion.

And, thanks to CBC for giving the arts community that opportunity to let everyone know what is going on. We have a very alive and vibrant arts community in this territory.

As well, I would like to comment on the "Buy Yukon" and snowflake emblem. In my last couple of weeks of Christmas browsing and getting ready, seeing these little symbols all over the place, I think that it is a good idea. It's something that takes a little while to catch on, but Yukoners are looking for the symbol now. It's a big large symbol so it is easy to identify with and I think it will help sell Yukon products in the future.

We did some work in the past with the artists on how to market their products. Is there any more work planned on that with workshops and that kind of thing with respect to artists and how to get their products to market? Can the minister outline for us what is coming up in the near future with respect to that?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair. And, I thank the member opposite for the endorsements for the department. I know that the staff within the department, right from the arts group to all of us in Tourism, are certainly very appreciative of the words of commendation that the members have brought forth for them and I certainly endorse that.

Yes, now the work is ongoing and it is a continuous workshop and will continue to be so, so that we can keep working it through - keep making people aware of what they have and their product and how to market it.

Mr. Phillips: The minister doesn't have to provide this now, but I wonder if the minister would provide us with a more recent update of the Arts Centre board, the length of terms of their appointments, when they expire, if there are any vacancies at the present time, who is on the board - just a general list of the kinds and expirations of their appointments, and that kind of thing. If the minister could provide that, I'd appreciate it.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, I will, Mr. Chair.

Arts in the amount of $30,000 agreed to

Chair: Before we do the totals, are there any questions on the operation and maintenance recovery and the revenue?

Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $159,000 agreed to

On Capital Expenditures

On Corporate Services

On General Corporate Support

On Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space

Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I'd like an explanation from the minister. Also, in reviewing the contract registry, I noticed that we spent, I think it was $2,800, renovating seven toilets in the tourism centre. This is a brand-new building. Would the minister explain what that was all about, please?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Let me say, Mr. Chair, there are two questions.

The first one is to upgrade computer memory for the compatibility with the human resource information centre and compatibility with the ad agency Internet inquiry links. That is what that vote is for.

As to the contract for the building in question, that was to change the toilets from a low flush to a full flush because the toilets take such a beating.

Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space in the amount of $8,000 agreed to

On Tourism Business Centre/Visitor Reception Centre

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, this is the complete and final construction items, for $50,000, and I can provide a list, but let me tell you that a long variety of items is contained within it.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, one of the things that we hadn't completed in the visitor centre when it opened was the computerized system - the touch computers - and I understand that they are functioning now. One of the concerns that I heard last summer is that since the centre was much more popular than when it was on the hill, there were a lot more people in the centre and there was a bit of a crowd around the computers. Some people said that we may need some more computers. Are there some plans to put in some more touch computers because of the increased traffic in the centre?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: I have been informed no, not at this time, but it is certainly something that can be looked at and monitored over the years.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I just suggest to the minister to keep an eye on that, because I think that it's a grand idea when people can interact with them, because they are small and when one person is at it, it kind of eliminates others behind them. So, we may need other terminals that are linked to the main terminal down the road.

I don't think it's a major expense, but I think it should be monitored, and maybe the best people to monitor it are the staff that are there that are watching it on an ongoing basis. They could just report whether they feel that it is necessary or not.

It may be possible to - I don't know if we can do this, but people lease computers, and maybe there is a way that just for the period of time that we need more - in July and August, when it's the busiest time, we might put a couple more in for the month or two, for a couple of months, and use the terminals for that, if that was possible to do. So, I just leave that suggestion with the minister.

And the minister said that there was a long list of things that were itemized here. I don't expect the minister to read them out, but maybe the minister could just provide the list to us by way of note.

Tourism Business Centre/Visitor Reception Centre in the amount of $50,000 agreed to

On Heritage

On Historic Resources

On Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre - Development

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, this is for completion of the building construction and exhibit implementation.

Mr. Phillips: Two questions: this, I guess, is the final for Beringia as far as the existing development. Is that correct?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, that is correct.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, the historic resources centre that we talked about earlier, part of the initial plan of Beringia Centre was that the historic resources centre, when built, would be adjoining the Beringia Centre. It was critical to the training of the people that are so talented up there that can recreate the artifacts and that kind of thing. They were going to attach it to that building and the staff would be there. They could keep it open longer hours. It was critical to the survival of it.

Is it still the intention of this government, if and when or maybe they build the historic resources centre, that it will be attached to the Beringia Centre? Is that still the plan?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, that is still part of the plan. It has just not been moved geographically.

Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, could I just ask the minister, by way of written response, to provide us with the details of what work is going to be carried out for this $358,000. And in the minister's written response, could he also give an indication of when the contracts for this work are anticipated to be tendered?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, certainly I can do that.

Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre - Development in the amount of $358,000 agreed to

On Museums

On Artifact Inventory and Cataloguing

Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, could the minister, by way of written response, indicate where that $18,000 is being spent?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: The artifact inventory and cataloguing is a registry of artifacts on database, but certainly if that's not enough I can provide more.

That is fine? Thank you.

Artifact Inventory and Cataloguing in the amount of $18,000 agreed to

On Historic Sites

On Historic Sites Maintenance

Historic Sites Maintenance in the amount of $10,000 agreed to

On Ft. Selkirk

Ft. Selkirk in the amount of $15,000 agreed to

On Historic Sites Planning

Historic Sites Planning in the amount of $5,000 agreed to

On Canyon City Tramway

Mr. Phillips: This has been a very successful program at Canyon City. Where is it at now?

I've been there at least once a year for the last three years. Is it planned to go on for another year after this? Are we going to continue with it? Where are we at with the archaeological digs? What's going to happen there?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, Mr. Chair, at this point in time I have no plans but to continue, as the member opposite says, with the successful project. The $7,000 is for publications of papers that pertain to the whole scenario surrounding Canyon City.

Mr. Phillips: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Did the minister say that he has no plans to continue this successful project? That's what I thought he said.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: I said no to the idea that you thought I was going to stop it. No, this is alive and well and quite vibrant.

Mr. Phillips: This project has been very successful. I know there's been another one with the Kwanlin Dun First Nation on the Fish Lake Road years ago. Are there any other plans to develop these types of interpretive sites this year or the year after in areas that are accessible to our visitors? It seems to be something that people are fascinated by. If we do have sites that are close by, it is an interesting way to excavate the sites and it's also an educational and a tourism attraction to individuals who want to see and learn a little more about the First Nations history and other history.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Thank you very much, and yes to the endorsement across on the Fish Lake Road site. It has been done and has been completed. There are no other sites that are up and running that jump right out and stare at you at this point in time. Certainly, as a process, to proceed along, we will bring them on stream, because, as the member has said, it is very much an attraction and a unique inquiry into First Nations history.

Canyon City Tramway in the amount of $7,000 agreed to

On Interpretation and Signage

Mr. Phillips: Can the minister give us an update on where this program is? We moved the signage a few years ago into heritage and they were doing a great job in developing heritage signage. What are they working on now? I believe we're going to see some new stuff in Dawson this summer, but are they working on any other areas with respect to the heritage signage?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: I will take it upon myself to beat everybody to my feet. The interpretation and signage is for Robinson Road House and Montague Road House. And yes, it has turned out to be quite successful since that time.

Mr. Phillips: One of the things I've been noticing in driving around the territory is there are a lot of signs that may not all be in Tourism. Some of them are in the campground side of it and they're getting very weathered and very bleached out by the sun, so to speak. I just wonder if there is any plan to do a repaint of a whole bunch of these signs before this spring in either Renewable Resources for the campgrounds or tourist facilities or in Tourism, because we're expecting better than most years. I notice some of them are getting quite faded and looking quite weathered. It is maybe time to do a ride-around on the signs, other than heritage signs, and improve them on the highways.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, I have noticed and I can say especially with Renewable Resources signs do, in some locations, need work. I have a particular casework coming to them and certainly we'll take that into consideration.

Ms. Duncan: I'd just like to ask the minister a couple of questions. One is that one of my constituents raised the issue with me of signage on the Dempster Highway that is interpretive and it's a new type of signage. It's three-cornered and he was particularly pleased with it and thought it was very appropriate. Is there some kind of a move to standardize this sort of signage? Now that particular interpretive panel may have been a Renewable Resources sign. I see the minister's staff nodding yes. Is there some kind of effort to standardize the signage with Renewable Resources and to do some kind of a concerted program on this?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, at this point in time, I don't think there is. But with the number of departments that are involved with signage and the impact that signage has, I certainly think that the suggestion from the member of the Liberal Party opposite is definitely one that I'll have to take into consideration.

Ms. Duncan: This same constituent happened to travel the Yukon River again this summer, from Whitehorse to Dawson. He expressed grave concern to me that the historic artifacts along the river in the last 10 years have badly, badly deteriorated and that there is little or no signage. In particular, there is no marking, in terms of mileposts, riverposts, kilometerposts. He raised that as an issue and felt that the department should be looking at it.

I know that there was a similar recommendation in the Yukon Heritage Resources Board that there be signage along the Yukon River, particularly in light of the anniversaries. Now, is this something that is being examined for the spring budget?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: No. As I recall, that is not included in the spring budget, although I must say I have been having conversations with the Geographical Place Names Board to talk about how best to recognize the importance of river travel, of highway travel, of travel anywhere within the Yukon Territory. Certainly it is something that could be, and should be, done at some point in time.

The member also had a question about historic artifacts not being properly cared for. I would definitely appreciate more detail, if the member opposite could give me more detail, so I could treat this as a casework or as a specific point.

Mr. Jenkins: While we are on the topic of signage, I know in the Klondike region there was an extensive amount of signs that - usually through vandalism or the posts holding them up, they rotted off - are in bad need of replacement. But, I know some of these signs are slated to be replaced this year. Just how many of the total component signs will be replaced in the Klondike region?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, the deputy has told me that we will have to bring a list. I thought that by the way we were talking that she had an idea of how many there were, but certainly we do not, and we will have to bring a list because we don't have it off the top of our heads. But certainly in light of the 1998 celebration we want it to be spiffy.

Mr. Jenkins: The Arctic Circle on the Dempster Highway - who is responsible for that little kiosk interpretive centre there? Is that under heritage? Is that under Tourism, or is it under Renewable Resources?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, its not within the heritage mandate and I will have to check to see whose mandate it is.

Mr. Jenkins: It is interesting when one has an opportunity to travel the haul road up to Deadhorse, north of Fairbanks, and to see the interpretive centre that exists on the Arctic Circle at that point and compare it to what we have on the Dempster Highway. It would probably be a very worthwhile exercise, given the number of visitors that we have now traveling the Dempster, to present a program very similar to what the State of Alaska has in that area.

But again, it would appear that we have a very splintered set of responsibilities with respect to signage, some falling under the Minister of Tourism's department, some under Renewable Resources, and some under I don't know where, they just appear.

Is there any way we can bring them under one fold and have one department responsible for them? Because, virtually all of them - I'm not talking about traffic signs, I'm talking about interpretive signage and I'm talking about historical signage and I'm talking about signage, i.e. where you cross the Arctic Circle, right at that point.

The Member for Faro wants them all in one place now, which makes an abundant amount of sense like he usually does. But other than the Member for Faro's suggestion, it would probably make a lot of sense to put them under one department and have a uniform sign developed for all of these areas. Is the minister prepared to undertake such a review?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I believe that this government will work to find just such a review so that we can make it more expeditious, more controlled and more coordinated, if I can say it in that manner. So, certainly, we'll look at something like that idea.

Mr. Jenkins: The new heritage signs that are going up will require maintenance from time to time. How is that going to be addressed, because sometimes, due to vandalism, they need immediate attention? It doesn't appear that the Tourism department has anyone out there on a regular basis, whereas Renewable Resources has individuals travelling quite extensively with the campground maintenance programs. Who is going to be looking after the ongoing O&M of these signs, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, each department is responsible for their O&M on their signs, and it is an ongoing thing, but that will be one of the issues that would have to be looked at under the review that the member is suggesting.

Interpretation and Signage in the amount of $7,000 agreed to

On Palaeontology

Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I would like the explanation on the line items from the minister, please.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: On palaeontology, it's ongoing cataloguing and inputting of the collection into the database.

Palaeontology in the amount of $9,000 agreed to

On Industry Services

On Industry and Regional Services

On Industry Research and Strategic Planning

Hon. Mr. Keenan: This is to complete the product inventory database and a tourism plan to bring to completion for the Silver Trail.

Industry Research and Strategic Planning in the amount of $43,000 agreed to

On Marketing

On Visitor Reception Centres

On Multi-media Equipment

Hon. Mr. Keenan: This is for a touch-screen based computerized point of information display system for the VRC in Whitehorse.

Multi-media Equipment in the amount of $67,000 agreed to

On VRC Capital Maintenance

Hon. Mr. Keenan: This $26,000 is to complete the roof replacement at the visitor reception centre in Watson Lake.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, any word on what's happening with the Beaver Creek visitor reception centre? What's the status with that?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Regarding the Beaver Creek visitor reception centre, it was in the budget last year for planning dollars and, certainly, it's in the budget to be considered for this coming budget consideration. So, it's into the next phase now.

Mr. Phillips: There was some money. I believe there was a contract, or something in the contracts, with respect to planning the Beaver Creek centre. Is the plan complete? Could we have a look at it? I don't need the whole detailed plans. I'd just like to see the drawings of the centre and what it looks like. Could we get a look at that? I'll return the plans to the minister. They don't need to make an extra copy for me. I'll just borrow one for a day or two and return it.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: It will be my pleasure.

VRC Capital Maintenance in the amount of $26,000 agreed to

On Travel Equipment, Displays and Productions

On Production, Distribution and Versioning of Films and Audio-Visual Shows

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair. This is the film that we were speaking of just recently, or more recently this evening. It's for the completion of the film for the Yukon visitor reception centre in Whitehorse. And, as I said, it is very close to a screening and I'm going to be inviting all members for a screening.

Production, Distribution and Versioning of Films and Audio-Visual Shows in the amount of $210,000 agreed to

Chair: Are there any questions on the capital recoveries?

Mr. Phillips: Just one last question, Mr. Chair. There were some questions raised at the Tourism Marketing Council with respect to the future of the Department of Tourism. Maybe we could hear the minister's views with respect to that. There were rumours flying around that the Tourism department was going to be rolled in with Economic Development or small business or the status was going to be changed from what it is now - an independent, stand-alone department.

Is the minister aware of any plans that way and what are the minister's views on changing the current stand-alone status of the Department of Tourism?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: I like things just the way they are, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Phillips: Is the minister then giving us assurances that there won't be any changes in this mandate with respect to the stand-alone status of the Department of Tourism?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: I do believe my Government Leader answered this question quite adequately, but certainly those are my feelings. If it has to be done, it will not be done in a haphazard manner; it will be done in a very thoughtful and deliberate manner. But, that's if it has to be done. I don't expect that it has to be done. I do believe that, for the term of this mandate, it will be stand-alone.

Mr. Phillips: I wish I had a lot of faith in "I do believe." I would like to hear the minister say that it won't change in this mandate and that there will be discussions with the industry and others before there's any contemplated changes of rolling this department into any other department or making any major changes to the department.

There always are minor changes that come within the branch, but as far as changing the status of the branch or the priority of the branch as now, as one of the major industries of this territory, I see it staying where it is.

Is the minister comfortable that that's the line he's going to take in Cabinet and try and ensure that it will stay as a stand-alone department, as it is now?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Absolutely.

Capital Expenditures for the Department of Tourism in the amount of $833,000 agreed to

Department of Tourism agreed to

Public Service Commission

Chair: Is there any general debate?

Hon. Mr. Harding: I'm going to limit my comments to the revisions to the budget, of which there are few. There is a decrease in this budget's O&M, and that results from vacancies in the reduction of funding required this year for negotiations with the federal government on the patriation of the superannuation and benefit plans. I'll answer any questions.

Mr. Phillips: Can the minister tell me what the current status of the human resource inventory study is at the present time?

Hon. Mr. Harding: They're going to go live at the beginning of the New Year.

Mr. Phillips: What is the total cost of that particular project now that we're going live at the beginning of the year? What efficiencies and improvements does the minister hope to see when we go live?

Hon. Mr. Harding: We probably want to achieve some of the same things the members opposite did when they made the decision to start on this project - more information, more readily available at your fingertips, in a quicker and much more productive and less time-consuming fashion.

Mr. Phillips: So, what the minister means by that is the next time we ask for this information, it will be here overnight. There will be no problem because we provided some money in our budget to make the information readily available, and the minister followed through to make sure it would be. Hopefully, we can expedite the business of the House next time when we ask the minister for reports, and we'll be able to get it at the stroke of a mouse, I guess - hopefully, Mr. Chair.

I'd like to ask the minister where we're at with the YGEU with respect to negotiations. When are the new contract negotiations slated to begin? I know that we're just finishing the old ones, but I know we're going to be in talks fairly quickly with our teachers, as well, and I suppose it will be the same with the YGEU.

Hon. Mr. Harding: I'm not clear on the member's question. I assume he knows we were looking for dates in December, but we didn't get them, so we're bargaining again in January. Is he asking when the next round is as well with the YGEU? Well, we hope for a settlement in January, the next time we meet. With regard to the teachers, that's a spring date to recommence bargaining.

Mr. Phillips: Can the minister enlighten us a bit on how far apart we are with the YGEU? Have we settled most of the issues and it's just monetary or is it fringe benefits and other things we're looking at? Where are we apart and where are we sort of agreed upon?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, I'll try and be cooperative, but I can't go very far into it. As the member knows, we have had some discussions on language. There haven't been any monetary discussions as of this point and we hope to get into some substantive discussions in January.

Mr. Phillips: Okay, Mr. Chair, I guess we'll just wait until January until we can receive that. I wrote the minister a letter with respect to Yukon residency and the minister replied to the letter. In fact in the answer to the letter, the minister basically said that you're a Yukon resident moments after you arrive and rent or buy a house, I guess - or rent or buy an apartment. In fact, in the letter, the minister said that the Department of Justice said that, because this individual - and we're talking about Mr. Travill, who was the workers' advocate I believe at the time. Since he left the Province of Alberta, he'd established residency in the Yukon just by leaving the Province of Alberta and driving up here, I guess. And in the broader question of PSC's definition of a Yukon resident, it is a person who resides in the Yukon. So, is the minister saying by this letter that if someone moves from Alberta tomorrow and takes up residency in the Yukon, rents an apartment or whatever, that they are immediately considered a Yukon resident when they apply for a Yukon government job?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Everything is a policy from when the member was the minister.

Mr. Phillips: That's fine. I'll accept that argument, but it was his government, Mr. Chair, that argued vehemently that there was too much outside hire with respect to the hospital and with respect to other jobs, and in fact, under the policy that his government said they were going to change, everyone who worked at that hospital would have been considered a resident if they stayed here and rented a place. That would have created a problem for the Member for Whitehorse Centre, who argued that they weren't residents, because this government in fact considered them residents.

Can the minister tell me then, since he says that the policy was in place before, why haven't they changed it in a year if they were so adamant that a Yukon resident had to be here, Mr. Chair, and in fact - I'll find a note that I have here. The Member for Whitehorse Centre said, "When the NDP talks about Yukon hire, we're talking about people who make the commitment to live in the Yukon to pay their taxes here, people who are setting down their roots, raising their families and want to live here."

But in the letter that I received from the minister, he stated that the Public Service Commission's definition of a Yukon resident is any person who just resides in the Yukon. So, voilà, the minute you arrive and rent an apartment, you are a Yukoner.

I guess my question to the minister is this: since the minister now knows what the definition of a Yukon resident is, when are they going to change it to accommodate the statement that was made by the Member for Whitehorse Centre, who said that they should at least set down their roots, raise their families, want to live here, pay taxes and that kind of thing? After a year and three months after they've been in power, they haven't made any changes to a policy that they opposed when they were in opposition.

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, the member obviously wants to engage in a political debate, so I'll tell him that, first of all, we haven't changed the policy from when he was the minister. We are going to change the policy, and when the local hire commission brings forward its recommendations, I'm sure that there will be some strong recommendations on the definition of what a Yukon resident is. At that time, we'll make the changes to the policy. It will be consistent with what we said in the election campaign as much as we can be.

Mr. Phillips: In order to vote in the Yukon, a person has to reside here for a year. The holder of a health care card has to have three months' residency. A person who qualifies for the home owners grant has to reside in the Yukon for 183 days. But the Public Service Commission, at the present time, states if you arrive tomorrow, within hours, you're a bona fide Yukon resident.

Mr. Chair, what kind of residency is the minister looking at with respect to the criteria that they're going to be putting in place for somebody to qualify as a resident? Does the minister think that it should be a year or six months, and are we going to standardize Yukon residency for all of these other issues I mentioned? There seems to be quite an inconsistency from one to the other as to what a Yukon resident is and it might lead to a challenge down the road. If you could qualify, for instance, for three months for a Yukon health care card, you might be able to argue in a court of law that you're an instant resident, or vice versa, whatever.

So, I just ask the minister for his thoughts on what he sees. What does the minister think would constitute a bona fide resident of the territory for the purposes of Yukon hire?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, I'm not going to prejudge the good work that the commission has been charged to do, which is to evaluate all of the comments of Yukoners regarding their definition or their recommendations to the commission on how we should consider Yukon residency. I must say that I do have some concerns with the policy that I inherited from the previous government with regard to the situation that was alluded to, and probably the member opposite, when he was minister, inherited it from the previous government before him.

So, I would expect that this local hire recommendation - they're certainly cognizant of this particular situation and I'm sure they'll be reflecting that in their recommendations.

I obviously believe that Yukon residency is important in terms of consideration for preference on jobs. I personally am not worried about a Charter challenge on the issue. I think I'd like to see some clarity on that particular issue, but I don't want to prejudge what the local hire commission might do.

Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Chair, I wish you well - or the local hire commission well - on coming up with a definition. But, I can tell you from experience that is an extremely complicated issue.

When we first get into this game and start talking about local hire, it seems like it is pretty straightforward, you just have to be a Yukoner. And, then when you start looking at what the definition of what a Yukoner is, you'll find about 16 different definitions in almost every act we have.

There is probably going to be all kinds of room, no matter what we do, for a constitutional challenge to this particular section. So, it will be interesting to see after all the consultations whether we end up with something similar to what we already have now or whether we're going to make some major changes, so I guess we will have to just wait and see.

The local hire commission that was going to have something in place within three months of being elected is what is going to come up after about a year and a half or two years of being elected - it will be interesting to see what they come up with. So, we'll look forward with great anticipation to the recommendations.

Mr. Chair, I noticed in the contracts that we received all kinds of contracts in Public Service Commission for the writing of job descriptions. We seem to be contracting quite a bit of that out. Could the minister come back with a total cost of what that cost us in government for contracting out the writing of job descriptions?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Contracts aren't exactly in Public Service Commission. The contracts are in other departments, client departments of the Public Service Commission. It is consistent with past practice. However, I will provide that information for the member.

Mr. Phillips: We have a lot of very competent people in the Public Service Commission whose job it is to write job descriptions. I just wonder if we are overworked in there right now or what's the situation?

Initially I thought the Public Service Commission was going to be writing most of the job descriptions themselves but we seem to be contracting out quite a bit of this. I'm just wondering why we are taking this approach if we have people in the department who are actually, in their job descriptions, paid to do that very job.

Hon. Mr. Harding: It's my understanding that the policy has not changed from when the member was minister. The Public Service Commission does the classification. The client departments do the job descriptions.

Mr. Phillips: Well, I thought I saw some job descriptions in the Public Service Commission that talked about their drawing up some job descriptions as being part of their job. It was part of their job to write job descriptions. Maybe the minister could get back to me on that.

We were doing a lot of reclassifications in the past, at the request of the departments. Maybe the minister could give us an idea of where we're at with that. Are we caught up now with reclassifications? How far behind are we?

I know the union wasn't very happy about it for awhile, because we were quite a way behind in reclassifications. I know that we had actually hired some other help to speed up the reclassifications. Some were as much as a year behind at the time.

So, I would just like to know from the minister how many we have to do and when he anticipates us catching up.

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, we're making some gains. We tried to staff a contract person to make an even bigger dent, but unfortunately we couldn't get the type of person with the skills necessary to do the job, although there was a serious attempt at it. We are worried that devolution may increase pressures on us.

I can tell the member that I can try and come back with some firmer numbers for him and get them to him; however, I would like to say that we haven't made the progress we would have liked in this area.

Mr. Phillips: If the minister could provide us with a date as to when he expects to have this project completed down the road - when he expects to catch up - if he could give us some kind of an idea with the staff he has now and with the workload they have in front of them.

Mr. Chair, on the land claims implementation, the minister made an announcement in the House about a representative public service plan. What involvement does the union have in that plan? The minister, at the time, I think, talked about providing a copy of the draft plan that's been given to First Nations. Could we get a copy of that plan? I think the minister gave an indication in the ministerial statement that he would provide us with that. I don't recall seeing that plan as yet. How is the minister going to ensure fairness and equity for other employees in implementing such a plan?

Hon. Mr. Harding: I guess the first principle we're going to work under is honouring our commitments in the umbrella final agreement. That's the paramount principle we're going to respect, and we would expect that all other employees would recognize those commitments, appreciate them, and work with us on them.

Secondly, with regard to the union, they are being consulted. I don't know if it is always to the extent that they would agree with, but they are being consulted.

With regard to giving the member opposite a copy of the document he requested, it hasn't gone to Cabinet yet. As I said in my ministerial statement response, we'd need to ensure that we had some concurrence from the other party to the UFA that we've been working on this with, which is ultimately First Nation governments. I have no problem, once I satisfy those two requirements, providing it to the member opposite.

Mr. Phillips: The First Nations already have a copy of the draft plan - is that correct?

Hon. Mr. Harding: They are developing it jointly with us.

Mr. Phillips: I think, because it is going to affect all employees of the Government of Yukon, not just First Nation employees, that we'd like to get a copy of that as soon as we could. So, I'd appreciate if the minister could seek the approval of the First Nations and see whether we can get a copy as soon as possible.

Hon. Mr. Harding: As soon as I possibly can.

Mr. Phillips: Shared training of YTG employees with other governments - can the minister bring us up to speed on where we're at? Maybe, Mr. Chair, rather than have the minister try and answer this on his feet, because I think it's probably a pretty long answer, if the minister could, by way of letter, give us a breakdown of the shared training with First Nations, the federal and municipal governments, NGOs, the private sector employees, and how many for each category if we're doing shared training - just a breakdown. I know that the minister probably wouldn't have that information in the House tonight, but if we could get that in the next couple or three weeks or so, I'd appreciate it.

Hon. Mr. Harding: It's not that long an answer. I can provide the member with a list, but the reason for that is we're still negotiating the protocol. There was just a meeting last week with First Nations, and I think we are getting quite close to satisfying the protocol. Some arrangements, for example, in Justice are further along already in advance of the protocol, or they've been negotiating them at the same time. But we'd like to formalize a formal protocol.

As I said, a meeting was held last week. I'll try to give the member some more concrete numbers, although I don't expect they're high, considering we haven't reached agreement on that.

Mr. Phillips: That'll be fine when the minister reaches the protocol and maybe if the minister has targets for each sector, too, if they could provide us with that.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Phillips: Reached a protocol, not breached the protocol. Did I say "breach"? Words are running together here tonight, Mr. Chair, at this early hour of our twenty-sixth day. Mr. Chair, if the minister could provide that for us, I'd appreciate that.

Where are we with repatriation of the superannuation, the other work that's going on with respect to that? I know we had to get those other guys in Ottawa to agree with some of the things we were doing and I just wonder where we're at with that? Have we been able to pry any of the real dollars out of the Liberals in Ottawa for the repatriation of the superannuation?

Hon. Mr. Harding: The answer is no. It's still at the Treasury Board. The Government Leader just made a pitch a few weeks ago to Paul Martin on the subject and we're hoping for some concurrence; we're praying for some concurrence, but we don't know what's going to happen.

Mr. Phillips: Does the minister know whether Paul Martin swung at the pitch or did he let it go by as a pass ball?

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I hope it wasn't one of those Liberal lob-balls that we've seen from time to time that has been thrown as a pitch.

One of the issues that's come to light is the time it takes for jobs to be actually posted from the time the department hears about it from a client department, for example, maybe the Department of Tourism or the Department of Justice. They say, "We need this." There seems to be a concern about a fairly long delay before it gets out of the Public Service Commission process. Is there a time frame that we put on that kind of thing and have we got it down to a certain number of days from the time we receive it from a client department?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, Mr. Chair, we don't have a set time frame. There has been a lot more delegating done from the Public Service Commission to the departments to try and make some improvements. I don't believe that we are where we want to be in that respect, but there are obvious concerns, such as administrative costs. If you want to improve the system much more, you have to put more people on it, and so those are parameters that we have to work within.

However, there have been some improvements made because of the delegating of those responsibilities to the departments.

Mr. Phillips: With that new computer system that the minister is going to get on the run here in January, this will really speed things up, and we can expect that we'll see immediate results from this minister in posting jobs.

Mr. Chair, my last question is really about the teachers and the agreement that we've reached with the teachers. Where are we at with that now? Has it all been settled now? Are we at the final stages? Have they received their increase in wages? Have they received any retroactive pay that they were due and any benefits that they were due, and what's the schedule for that if they haven't received it yet?

Hon. Mr. Harding: We are proceeding with the schedule that was consistent with the arbitrator's award. Hopefully, in the next few weeks, they will be paid out, consistent with the award, and it's a done deal, and we just have to make the payments. It has been budgeted for in this supplementary.

Mr. Phillips: Just so that the member can refresh my memory, what will the final amount be after all the t's are crossed and the i's are dotted?

Hon. Mr. Harding: I think the offer we had on the table was worth about $760,000 for an increase, and the arbitrator's award was for about $50,000 more than that.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, does the minister feel that the settlement that was reached at Yukon College is going to have an impact on the YGEU workers with respect to their demands at the bargaining table?

Hon. Mr. Harding: I again am leery to make comments about precedents because it can have an impact on the relationship at the table. The member obviously knows that both parties, I am sure, will be using any precedent they can possibly use to try and influence the negotiations, and he can certainly draw his own conclusions from there.

Ms. Duncan: Could the minister elaborate? I understand it's taking up to a year for third-level grievances to be heard in the Public Service Commission. Could the minister indicate what the delay is - why these grievances are taking so long?

Hon. Mr. Harding: The third level is a bit slower because, once you reach that point, the person who hears the grievance from the Public Service Commission - and this is something that's bargained in the collective agreement - is the commissioner herself, and she meets one day a week on these issues, every day throughout the year, which is a fairly lengthy period of time for third-level grievances.

Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I'm sorry, I misunderstood the minister. Is he saying that this is taking, in his estimation, a long time or is he saying that this is quite normal for this level of grievance to take so long?

Hon. Mr. Harding: No. What I'm saying is that there is only one person to hear third-level grievances and that one person, which is the top person in the department, and is consistent with the collective agreement, is the Public Service Commissioner. And, given their extremely busy schedule and all the other demands, the fact that one day per week for third-level grievances is given up does indicate that it is a priority for the Public Service Commission. However, third-level grievances, depending on the volumes and the constraints of only having one person to hear them one day per week, is the bottleneck and I don't know quite what the answer to that might be.

Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, is the minister looking at other answers or does he feel this is simply a situation that we must live with?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, at the bargaining table, there could be some reconsideration, but the member has to understand that that's the jointly bargained position that the Public Service Commissioner would hear at third level. I'm sure that the union would want that - that they would want the top person to hear that advanced stage of grievance. There's a possibility, I suppose - well, actually, I don't think there is, because I know how busy my deputy is - but in extreme circumstances, perhaps.

Ms. Duncan: We seem to keep going around and around this issue of negotiations. I would just like to clarify some of the backdrop. Last year, we were dealing with the wage restraint and the restoration of collective bargaining for the public service. When did the government and the union actually sit down and start their negotiations?

Hon. Mr. Harding: On April 3, 1997, proposals were exchanged. They bargained. They had some sessions in May and in July and in July again and in August and in October.

Ms. Duncan: And I would take it from the minister's explanation that there's been nothing in November or December.

Now, the minister, I'm sure, has never in his life been called shy, but he's been quite shy about telling us anything about these negotiations. I understand that it's a negotiation process.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Ms. Duncan: Amazingly enough, yes, this minister has been shy on details.

For example, in my own question to the minister on December 9, I asked about these negotiations and didn't get much of an answer or answers. Could the minister even elaborate on what the non-monetary issues are on the table, in general terms?

Hon. Mr. Harding: As much as I would like to be cooperative, I know how small comments about the bargaining and small comments about the issues on the table can inflame a situation very quickly for the negotiators on both sides, so having some experience with that in the past, I am very leery to start talking about even the issues. I invite the member, if she would like to contact the other party to the table or read one of their newsletters, she would certainly glean more, but I'm not going to be responsible for inciting any inflamed discussions at the table. The bargaining is done between the two parties at the table and, should a dispute arise or there be an arbitration process, then at that point it becomes very public.

Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Chair, I want to go on the record with the minister. I think the public has a right to know. I've talked with the union office and I'm told if I'm a union member, you bet I can have a copy of their position. We knew exactly what the issues were in news media every night with the postal dispute - or an interpretation.

I read the YTA position and I would remind the minister that the private sector's waiting to see this settlement and they're anxious to know what's being discussed. Even to say it's a non-monetary issue is probably helpful to them. I mean there are people who will go to their employer once this is settled and ask for the same increase, if there's an increase, or ask for whatever.

I just would like to ask the minister - I appreciate his position, but I would also like to go on the record as stating that the public has a right to know something from this minister.

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, I think the member's comments show a lack of respect for the collective bargaining process and bargaining in good faith. The public will know the details and the cost of the settlement and they will be hotly debated. There will be a full and extensive debate, as there was around the YTA negotiations when the arbitrator's award came down.

With regard to the postal dispute, the positions were laid out through various propaganda on both sides, through the media to the public, once the talks had broken down. If our talks break down, then there is the potential for a similar situation to occur here, and that was even apparent in the teachers' negotiations. However, in those negotiations, we chose not to respond on certain issues.

Ms. Duncan: The Member for Riverdale North has raised the issue of job descriptions. If the minister takes the time to go through the contract registry, he'll note that throughout the various government departments there are sole-source contracts issued to a company named Clarity Job Analysis for writing job descriptions.

I would ask that the minister review these contracts and, by way of letter, indicate why this particular trend has occurred. Is there something there? Why cannot existing staff perform this work? Why, for example, has it been sole sourced by various departments to one particular company?

Hon. Mr. Harding: I can provide a more detailed response for the member, but I'll just say on my feet that there aren't very many companies in Whitehorse that actually do this. I don't say that by sole way of an explanation. I will also say that this is usually handled by the client departments, and not the Public Service Commission. But I will undertake, given the member's representation, to provide her with an explanation and invite further discussion if it doesn't give her or me the comfort we want with regard to the answer she's seeking.

Ms. Duncan: I would just like to ask the minister if he could elaborate on the benefits legislation that was discussed in this House and has passed this House. It has since come to my attention that there were meetings between the Public Service Commission and the Yukon Employees Union discussing that benefits legislation. Would the minister confirm that?

Hon. Mr. Harding: If the member is asking me if there was consultation with the Public Service Alliance of Canada on the benefits repatriation, yes there was.

Ms. Duncan: Was that consultation held in private with one union, and did other groups get the same meetings?

Hon. Mr. Harding: We had consultations with the bargaining agent that requested to see the legislation. I assume, from the member's questions, that one of the executive members of our party has provided her with a copy of correspondence I recently received. But I will say to her that the answer is that the bargaining agent that asked for the consultation did receive it.

Ms. Duncan: Was the offer made to other groups?

Hon. Mr. Harding: We had extensive consultation with both bargaining agents throughout the process. One of the unions, the PSAC specifically, requested consultation on the bill. Was there an offer made to both? No, the deliberations around the bill with PSAC came as a result of a direct request.

Chair: Seeing no more general debate, we'll move to operation and maintenance expenditures.

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

On Corporate Human Resource Services

Hon. Mr. Harding: All of these line items are very similar. This is a vacancy in the First Nation training corps. The voted budget today was based on a forecast of six positions being staffed for the full year. We currently have one position for the full year, one assignment that was completed in September, two positions which were staffed in June and will continue for the balance of the year, and one position projected to begin in November.

Mr. Phillips: Did it begin in November?

Hon. Mr. Harding: My advice is that we're reasonably sure, but we'll have to check it and get back to the member.

Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, could I just ask the minister to give a sense as to why the participation in this program seems so low?

Hon. Mr. Harding: It isn't low on the up-take. We do it as positions occur, so it's done on a cyclical basis. This is pretty consistent.

Corporate Human Resource Services in the amount of an underexpenditure of $74,000 agreed to

On Pay and Benefits Management

Hon. Mr. Harding: This is just a similar matter of delays in the superannuation discussions and negotiations with the feds around the patriation of the pensions.

Pay and Benefits Management in the amount of an underexpenditure of $26,000 agreed to

On Staff Development

Hon. Mr. Harding: This is just a position that was transferred out to another department and not back-filled.

Staff Development in the amount of an underexpenditure of $44,000 agreed to

Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for Public Service Commission in the amount of an underexpenditure of $144,000 agreed to

Public Service Commission agreed to

Chair: It is time for another break. We will take a 10-minute break.


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

Department of Government Services

Chair: We are dealing with Government Services. Is there general debate?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Good morning, Mr. Chair. Combined operation and maintenance and capital supplementary funding for Government Services in the 1997-98 fiscal year will total $1,789,000. Of this total, $729,000 will be offset by additional recoveries. The net result of $1,060,000 consists of revotes to complete projects started in 1996-97.

O&M funding has decreased by $296,000. All of the decrease is the result of position vacancies or delays in recruiting for vacant positions. Delays in recruiting are particularly problematic for the information services branch, where they are competing for a limited and highly in-demand pool of skilled resources for systems positions.

A decrease in systems support required by Crown corporations has reduced the O&M recoveries by $5,000.

A $1,095,000 revote of the 1996-97 funding is required to complete capital projects that were started last year. Revote funding will be used to complete the following projects: $222,000 for repairs and maintenance on the main administration building, $75,000 for repairs and maintenance to the Law Centre, $798,000 for information systems common to all government departments.

New funding requests total $990,000. This is needed for the construction of the school in Old Crow, to be used this winter, to transport materials for the building of the new school. This funding request will be offset by insurance proceeds totalling $769,000. The insurer has been informed of YTG's intent to rebuild and the settlement of the claim is expected in the near future. And I can add to that that we have received an initial amount.

As for other capital recoveries, the sale of surplus equipment is expected to decrease by $35,000. More used assets are being recycled and used longer. This trend has decreased the collections through government auctions.

These are the highlights of the supplemental request, and I'm pleased to answer any questions at this time.

Mr. Jenkins: Perhaps we could start with the tendering area, Mr. Chair. The government publishes a tendering forecast on a month-to-month basis. It kind of gives an indication of the trends and where the government anticipates going. We certainly would like to be put on the list and receive a copy of the tendering forecasts for the month, as soon as it is available, Mr. Chair. I would like to request tendering forecasts for the months of November and December this year and subsequent months. Can I ask the minister to provide these tendering forecasts?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, we can ensure that. I presume that the third party would like the same - certainly.

Mr. Jenkins: One of the other areas with policy and procedure for bidding is what is called selected bidding, rather than to a sole source or to an open bidding. They're an invitational type of bidding.

How does a government determine who is in on these invitational bids? It's been an area that's been brought to my attention in the general contracting business on the smaller type contracts in my area where I reside, Mr. Chair. Some individuals seem to be invited to tender on a regular basis, where others are kind of on an irregular basis. So, what determines how this works, and where is it determined?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, with regard to invitational tenders, anyone who had a particular expertise or a particular ability to be bidding within a particular realm could express their interest to the department to be put on an invitational tender list, presuming that they had the expertise and the background in that. There are also source lists for smaller projects and we are continually updating those source lists. We are trying to follow up with those people who are on the source list to find out if they are still current, if the company does continue to exist and that people haven't moved out of the territory. And, we're continually trying to update those source lists on a regular basis.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, I'm aware, Mr. Chair, that there is an open source list and from that list, is there a rotating system used by the contracting authorities to issue invitational tenders to contractors? How are they actually selected from that open source list? They qualify, they have all the background, they are kept current, they are registered, they constantly go in and ask, yet, they are not invited to tender.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I can't speak for other departments, but I do know that Government Services does try to revolve their source list. With regard to invitational tenders, however, for sort of major projects, we try to determine how many companies would have the expertise on that, how many companies have expressed an interest in projects of that kind, and we do try to express to them our desire to keep our list as current and as updated as is possible, and we invite individuals and companies to make their interests known to Government Services or to the respective department.

Mr. Jenkins: How is that done? There is a great deal of uncertainty as to the methodology employed by Government Services to assemble this source list. Some of the contractors have gone in. They've filled out and pre-qualified on contracts of $50,000 down, and yet when it comes time, they're not even made aware of it in a lot of cases. It seems to be called invitational, but yet it's sole sourced in a lot of cases.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, as I said, I can't speak for all departments, but I do know that Government Services does, in the invitation tenders they do, try to get as wide a group of prospective contractors as possible.

One of the things that they do, as well, is hold evening sessions for contractors to come forward, and they let them know about some of the major projects coming up in that department during the course of the year. I've been to a couple of these, where the department sort of gives an overview of the kinds of areas that they're looking at working in that particular year, and it gives people a chance to bring forward their interest and to express their interest.

As well, there are opportunities - and I know from experience that particular companies who want to explain their products to me or to the departments can often make appointments with the deputy minister to outline what projects they are doing and to outline what their area of expertise is. The deputy minister has proved quite receptive and has met with a number of companies, including some companies that have new technologies or new products coming on the market, just so that we can ensure that these people are kept current and kept part of the loop.

Mr. Jenkins: Perhaps we could start by just doing an analysis of what has transpired to date. Could the minister make available a list to our caucus showing the contractors that have been invited to submit bids for each invitational tender issued? Let's go back to March 31 of this year and let's just look at the rural communities of - let's go both ends - Dawson City and Watson Lake because there are concerns arising in both communities in this area. I guess the way to address this is to first do a review of what has transpired and then we can get into further discussions this spring. Can the minister provide that information, please?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Certainly we'll try to provide what information we can. I'm presuming that the member is seeking who bid on invitational tenders from March 31 on. Now is he asking only for the communities of Dawson and Watson Lake, on projects respective to those communities? Okay, thank you.

Mr. Jenkins: If I could take the minister to Watson Lake. The requirement for office space in that community as a result of a disastrous fire some time ago. The Town of Watson Lake has done a feasibility study on the issue and I'm given to understand that the Government of Yukon has now done a further feasibility study on the same area, the same space requirements, but the Government of Yukon has included the Liard First Nation. Could the minister advise the House where we are on this project?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Yes, we did. We provided some money to the community of Watson Lake to bring forward an outline of their needs and what they thought could be done. Subsequent to that, I believe, there's been a second request for a more detailed sort of feasibility/economic study of the project. Quite frankly, I don't have any money in my bailiwick to be able to fund something like that, so I would assume that they'll have to seek another source of funding.

This one is being requested to explore the feasibility of a joint Liard First Nation-town-type complex. We have always indicated to the proponents there that we would have an interest in becoming part of a project like that on a lease basis, for a couple of reasons. One is that I think there are some advantages of having all three levels of government based in one area; two is that there is also some advantage for us to give some economic certainty or some guarantees to a project which, quite frankly, would be a very expensive project, and I think a large portion of that would be capitalized by both the Liard First Nation and the town, and we've always indicated that we're willing to look at arrangements of that kind.

Now, failing that, we've also looked at some other opportunities there, including some exploration with proponents in the private sector. We've had a couple of people come forward who have said that, you know, if this doesn't go forward and if this project doesn't happen, they are willing to look at build to suit and things of that nature. So, we're exploring a variety of options down there.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, what are the time lines for a decision to be made in this area? And, you know, there are various ways of proceeding, but we've been wandering around in the land of consult and research for just about two years now. So, when is D-day? When are we going to make this major decision?

I recognize that it would probably have to be made in concert with the Town of Watson Lake and perhaps the Liard First Nation, but there is a requirement for government space in that community. The way that it's being addressed currently by converting staff housing units from Yukon Housing Corporation for office space is probably not the best work environment, and the level of productivity is probably not what it should be.

So, given all of these negative aspects of the situation in Watson Lake, certainly the government must have some time lines as to when they are going to make a decision and proceed on their own or proceed in concert with the town and/or the Liard First Nation.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Actually, earlier this year, we were prepared to move ahead with bringing forward a capital project. At the time, we were looking at probably a replacement building, somewhere in the neighbourhood of about $2.7 million. That was to basically cover off the space that government departments had been occupying.

Subsequent to that, the town made a representation to us that involved a building that would escalate considerably in price because it included all the town's needs, for some $4.6 million.

That was simply beyond our scope. As well, some other options came forward, in terms of alternative energy. There were questions on location, and so on. We had a site identified. However, the town has its own sort of view of what that land should be.

Subsequent to some of our discussions, the proponents of a joint project came forward. They asked for some funds to do a study of this, and we funded them. They came forward with the study in the spring. And now, subsequent to that, they've come forward with something even more elaborate, in terms of, I guess, a more full-blown feasibility/economic study, and we'll have to see where they go with it.

Quite clearly, we're going to have to reach a point at some time in the forthcoming year where we're going to have to make a decision, whether we go as a participant in this project, which may or may not come to fruition, or do we have to look at another - I am endeavouring to keep my answers short.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Sloan: More detail. Okay.

Where was I? Oh, I'll have to start at the beginning - no.

We will have to make some decisions as to whether we go for some kind of build to suit, or whatever, but we would expect in the forthcoming year.

Mr. Jenkins: When - in the forthcoming year? We've been wandering around in this land of research and consulting now, as I said, for some two years. When is the government going to make a decision? Next year has 12 months in it and, even if the decision is made next year sometime, for the project to begin and be designed, we're looking at two or three years before anything happens.

So, to put some certainty on this project, when is the decision date for the government? Or do you want to make a decision?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: By all means we'd like to make a decision. We're not happy with this. However, we have a group that's made a proposal. They're making the proposal partly premised on the government becoming a principal tenant in this, and we understand that they're moving ahead trying to line up financing. Certainly, if something doesn't happen early on in the year, we would need to reconsider our options. I've said we've already had some consideration of other options.

But, once again, we don't want to cut this whole thing short. We don't want to truncate the discussion in this regard.

Mr. Jenkins: The minister briefly touched on the Old Crow school and the payout for the insurance, and I just noted in the contract registry the contract to Marsh McLennan, insurance broker, Government Services. Could the minister advise what the $111,000 insurance program covers, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: In detail, no. I would have to get some further detail as to which specific insurances that covers, and I can provide that for the member. I thought the member was going to ask me on the Old Crow insurance.

Mr. Jenkins: Just in the Government Services contract registry, this one really sticks out as being exceptional: Marsh McLennan, insurance broker, Government Services, for insurance for some $111,000, so I thought the minister might have that on the tip of his tongue, but could the minister please provide a copy of the contract that this covers?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Yes, I will get that information for the member.

Mr. Jenkins: The insurance on the Old Crow school - could the minister give the House an indication of the extent of the coverage, the deductible, what the initial payment has been and what the terms of the payments are?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: This one actually is a bit of an update, because subsequent to the budget being published just last week, we did receive an initial payment of $2 million. That leaves $1.7 million outstanding, and what we are required to do is complete construction to the amount of $4.7 million, at which time we will receive the additional $1.7 million.

The original payout was $1.2 million. There was an additional $500,000 for other expenses that will go toward such things as expenses incurred in revamping the temporary classrooms, accommodations for the teachers and those sorts of things - necessary changes that we have to make in that regard.

Mr. Jenkins: So, the building was insured for $4.7 million. There's a $1 million deductible on the program and we'll eventually receive $3.7 million, which means there's a rebuild clause in it that says we have to rebuild on the site before we get paid in full. Am I correct in those assumptions, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: That's precisely right. We received $2 million late last week. When we spend the amount of $4.7 million, we will claim the $1.7 million from the insurance company.

Mr. Jenkins: Given that the construction of the Old Crow school is going to have to take place this next year and building materials are going to have to be moved to the site and a decision is going to have to be made, knowing a number of individuals in Fairbanks, the scuttlebutt or street talk there is that everything has been arranged and the government's preference is to fly everything in, and it looks like it's fait accompli.

Could the minister confirm the intentions of the government with respect to how the material is going to arrive in Old Crow for the construction of the new school?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: It's not a fait accompli at the moment. We are planning, on Thursday, to put out the tender for the construction of the road. However, we would be less than prudent if we did not have escape clauses in there. In the advertisements for the tender, it will clearly state that the construction of this road will be subject to a couple of factors - not the least of which is permitting. There is also an additional factor and that is the weather. The tender documents themselves will contain clauses there which will essentially free us from an obligation if the conditions don't materialize.

We will not be making the decision about whether or not we can go ahead with this road. It will actually be DIAND water resources, who, by the second week in January, will determine if there is sufficient snow cover for us to proceed. We are required to have 10 centimeters of compact snow. And, that translates to a fairly substantial snowfall that can be compacted down. Right now, we're somewhat short of the 10 centimetres required. That's going to be a major requirement and a major concern for us. Because, if we don't have the snow, we will not get approval from DIAND and we will essentially lose our opportunity to build that road and we will be obliged to look at an air option.

Even the road option does have a certain amount of air freight that will be necessitated.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, the discussion in the street is that there are 50 Super B loads or a 100 truckloads of material to go in. I have some familiarity with the area, and the amount of snowpack is going to be very, very hard to accumulate in a lot of that area that blows clear. So, my understanding is that water resources are pretty hard to find at any given time, let alone to go up and examine the snowfall there, Mr. Chair.

So, is there a specific requirement that that 10 centimetres of snow be just in the valley where the road runs, or is that completely through the whole course, because it is impossible to obtain that sort of snow coverage in most of that area, Mr. Chair.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Yes, I believe it works out to about four feet, something like that. Anyhow, it has to be compacted to 10 centimetres, and basically what they do is they take it from the side and they pile it and compact it and pile it and compact it until they have the snow removed at the side or the sufficient base. I imagine they'll do it at strategic points. We've already had a crew going through there. Well, we sent some people out on the land to flag it and also to do exactly that, to take the snow from the side, compact it and see what kind of depth we had, and it wasn't encouraging.

Mr. Jenkins: So that leads us to the air route, with virtually all of this material going to Fairbanks because that is the least costly. Can the minister confirm that that would be the preferred air route in the event that the material is flown into Old Crow?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: No, I can't confirm that because we've had expressions of interest from one of our local air carriers who has contacted us with the suggestion that they feel that they could handle this. The costs between air and a land route are almost the same; they're extremely close, in the neighbourhood of about $1.3 million. There is a slight differential in favour of the road, but once again we don't have any real certainty on the road in terms of contingencies. We've built in a contingency amount, but we don't know if that's sufficient, or whatever. But no, it hasn't been decided.

If we went for an air option, I guess we would tender that out. The only thing about the air route is I think it would provide a certain amount of certainty and it would allow us to stage the project in a different way.

The problem that we have with the road option is that essentially you've got such a narrow window, basically a month-long window, that if climatic conditions aren't favourable, you could find yourself with a real difficulty and end up having to fly the material in regardless.

But no, there hasn't been any determination about which companies would be involved and, as I said, one of our local air carriers here has certainly expressed an interest and has suggested that they could be competitive.

Mr. Jenkins: Given the trend that's already been established, Mr. Chair, and the material that has just been moved into Old Crow from Fairbanks this last week for the construction of the teacherage and the upgrade of some of the buildings - and there were two swing-tailed DC6B loads that went in, and they were sitting on the tarmac clearly marked "Old Crow," as was the re-supply of the fuel.

It's quite interesting what one finds out when one visits Fairbanks and Anchorage on a regular basis. And they are geared up in anticipation of this contract coming their way, so somebody from this government has certainly been spending a lot of time discussing this issue with the three contractors. I guess the main one would be Lynden Air Transport, which operates a couple of the Super Hercules.

So, I recognize that the minister is not going to be committed on it, but I'd urge the minister to give every consideration to the land route through Yukon, and not just because of the re-supply, but for the advantage it would give to the people of Old Crow in getting in a lot of their own personal furniture, belongings, vehicles and snow machines that are very, very high cost items to transport in an aircraft.

It would also give the government an opportunity to change out some of the vehicles that they have in there, and it's not very often that the Canadian Armed Forces are going to come to the rescue and fly in our school buses, or whatever pieces of equipment we need, to Old Crow.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Jenkins: Yes, and you need some good PR.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Jenkins: The Armed Forces. I thought maybe the government opposite needed some good PR, and they could achieve that by opening the road.

The department itself is most adamant that they prefer the air route. Is that information emanating right from the top or are the options still being explored at the ministerial level?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: If we had not made a commitment to the community of Old Crow, which we did, to explore their desire to have a road for precisely the reasons the member has suggested, we wouldn't even be considering putting out the tender for the road, which we are doing on Thursday. We're committed to looking at the road. We've spent time in researching the road, we've flagged out the route, and we've done considerable work in mapping out a route. There's been a considerable amount of interest. We've held meetings with the community. The Government Leader has been to the community and certainly heard from the leadership there that the road is the preferred option.

We're interested in pursuing that, but I think we also have to be realistic and prepare for contingencies. In this case, the contingency that we may have to go with is air, if there is not sufficient snow cover to make this possible.

Mr. Jenkins: Given that the contract has not been put out to tender for the construction of the school, is it the government's plan to assemble all the building materials, purchase them in advance and move that to site? When are the tenders going to be coming out for the building material, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: We've already begun to look at those particular situations. I just received a note today on how they would suggest doing this. I'm just seeing if I have this in here. I may have just received it as a matter of interest from Supply Services.

The idea of probably, initially, tendering most of the materials that we can determine with the architect as being necessary - the lumber, the insulation, materials like that. Mechanical systems, and things of that nature, would have to be ordered later, when the more advanced technical drawings would be available. But that is the anticipation - that we would purchase the materials, assemble them, and move them to a site where they could then be transported.

That's the plan right now and that's how we will be proceeding, but of course so much of that will be driven by what the option is. We're following that, presuming that the road will be built.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, there is the issue of the foundation and the drill necessary to put the pilings in and the request to cut up a drill and put it in an aircraft, which seems ludicrous, as it could go in by the winter road.

Could I just explore with the minister the technical part of the school? Could the minister advise us they are going to be reinstalling a wood-fired boiler to heat the school?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: The desire of the community, interestingly enough on this one, was that they are interested in going for a liquid-fuel-type system for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that wood, particularly useable wood, is becoming more and more scarce in that area. That's a concern of the community because the school would consume quite a bit.

Mr. Jenkins: Now, this is the third school, Mr. Chair, in Old Crow that I'm aware of that has burnt down. What provisions for fire protection are we going to have in this new design?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: You can be assured that one of the things we'll be paying particular attention to is sprinkler systems and things of that nature.

As the member has said, this is sort of a repeat again of an incident. As a matter of fact, largely because of particularly negative experiences, that's why the community was very desirous to relocate the school to another space rather than its original site where it seems to have a propensity for burning down.

Mr. Jenkins: Just a bit more on the technical aspect of fire protection, the minister indicated that they're going to sprinkle the rink. How are they going to provide that water? What kind of reservoir? I don't want the minister to suggest that we look at the BP scenario that's up at the North Slope, where they have a swimming pool for the employees that acts as a reservoir.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, there are schools that have water delivery systems that also act as the charging system for the school sprinkler system.

The one that comes to mind immediately is Hidden Valley School, which has a water delivery system and large tanks in the space below the school that also act as the charging for the sprinkler system.

I may be anticipating what the architect will actually suggest there, but that's not in their area of technical expertise.

Mr. Jenkins: But water reservoirs and holding tanks require more space inside the building than is normally anticipated and the requirement for water would determine the insurance rates as to how much water is available.

I can recall the one incident in Old Crow, just after the modulars were moved in, where they tested the sprinkler system they had there when the fire pump cut in and the lights went off in town, because the pump itself was too large a capacity and it drew too much energy. Have these areas been explored with the Yukon Energy Commission or am I getting into too much detail for the minister?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, specifically with regard to the sprinkler system, that is a matter of some technical detail that I don't have a great deal of familiarity with. I have, however, spoken with the Yukon Energy Corporation on the possibility of using waste energy, particularly from the diesels there, as a source of heat. The difficulty that appears in that case is the distance that the school will be from the diesel generators.

Had we rebuilt in the same site, that would've been a very, very feasible source of energy. However, with the distance, what we essentially have to build would be a utilador, snaking right through the community and it really doesn't become very feasible. It's quite a distance to the new school site.

Mr. Jenkins: The one suggestion that I have heard and I have seen in other areas is a totally enclosed energy system where their own generators are installed in the school and they recover all the surplus heat for heating purposes. Has this avenue been explored, because in this kind of an application it certainly would be cost-effective.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, I'm sure that those are factors that the architect will be taking into consideration. We've certainly given an indication that we're interested in having any sorts of energy savings, any kinds of energy utilization in this building that we can get because that is a major cost in the community.

I'm sure that the architect will be exploring a variety of options, but at this point I can't provide any more technical detail.

Mr. Jenkins: The last time I looked at the rates for Old Crow, it was some 45 cents a kilowatt hour. All of the fuel is flown in and you'd need fuel for both heating and power generating. It would lend itself to the project, but it's not an area that's normally explored by architects unless they're given specific instructions to analyze that area. What I'm looking at is the most cost-effective way of dealing with the delivery of a school into Old Crow that is going to have some life to it.

Could the minister undertake to instruct the department to look at a total energy recovery system, which means installing their own generators in the school, recovering the waste heat? Could the minister undertake to explore that avenue, please?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: That is certainly a suggestion I'll pass on and ask the department to relay that on to the architect in this case.

Mr. Jenkins: I have a few questions, Mr. Chair, about the contract listing for Government Services, and I was noting a large number of sole-sourced contracts to, one, IBM, and to Xerox Business Services - all sole sourced for some considerable sums of funds.

Could the minister provide an explanation as to the sole sourcing to IBM for four different contracts and then the sole sourcing to Xerox Business Services for, well, the one is $269,000 but the other one is only $54,000? Never mind the numbered company from Nova Scotia. Are these all directly related to each other, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, the IBM contracts are related to the operation of our mainframe. As the member can appreciate, we are committed to an IBM technology, a very expensive technology. So, those are driven by that.

With regard to the Xerox Business Services, that is essentially a contract for the lease of DocuTech. It's a seven-year lease with payments in 1997-1998 totalling $46,359. So, it is a seven-year lease for the DocuTech.

Mr. Jenkins: So, if it was originally a bid project, which I assume it was, why would the contracts for Xerox indicate that they are sole sourced, or is that just the nature of the beast in the department, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, Mr. Chair, this one has a somewhat chequered history, and as we are committed to the Xerox Business Services, these are individual contracts that follow on the heels of that decision to go on a seven-year lease for this machine and the technology.

Mr. Jenkins: With respect to our nice numbered company from Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Limited, for that wonderful system that we sole sourced down there, could the minister advise how the monitoring of this project is going to work? And, who has the overall responsibility to hopefully ensure its success?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: As the member is aware and I think we've gone into this in some detail, this is a partnership between ourselves and a variety of federal and territorial agents.

Government Services, because of our involvement with information services, does have a lead role in this, but we are not the only partner in this. We are simply the people that, I guess, have taken the lead in this whole option.

We will be monitoring and following up, at particular points in this contract, as we follow through on the whole project.

Mr. Jenkins: So, am I given to understand that the minister's department has the lead role and is ultimately responsible for the overall success for this program?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: When I said the lead role, we are the people that are sort of the point people on this because of our involvement in information technology.

However, I should point out that as far as participants go, we have four participants from YTG. Our role has been because we are government, we have information services. The four participants that will benefit directly from this include Community and Transportation Services, Economic Development, Justice, Renewable Resources. From the federal side we have, under DIAND, mineral resources, land resources. As well, we have from Natural Resources Canada the legal surveys division.

Mr. Jenkins: Could I just explore with the minister one of the other areas that kind of twigged my attention, and that's dealing with the engineering firms that are contracted with on an ongoing basis. Very few of them are bid and very few of them are invitational bid. Virtually all of them are sole sourced and, looking through the whole gamut of contracts, EBA Engineering seems to come to the surface more often than not. Is there some reason why sole sourcing to this company is the preferred route for this government to take?

I've gone through the contract registry for a couple of other years and there doesn't seem to be any pattern, but under this government this firm has come to the top of the pile as far as being awarded sole-sourced contracts on a more frequent basis than any of the other engineering firms.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: No, there isn't any specific reason. I would imagine that, within the department, there are probably reasons why various projects would lend themselves to EBA. I can find out some details on some of the contracts and perhaps some of the rationale behind it, but I would have to follow through on the individual contracts themselves to determine what the rationale was there on sole sourcing.

Mr. Jenkins: There is one other contract under Government Services, project management services to MacKay and Partners for some $23,000. I don't know if that rings any bells with the minister as to what it pertained to. If it doesn't, would he please provide a copy of the contract?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I'll certainly try to provide information. MacKay and Partners generally does accounting and auditing. I imagine it's something in that regard and I'll try to get the information back for the members as soon as I can.

Mr. Jenkins: In the opening information provided by the minister, he mentioned some sums of money for O&M in this building and in the Law Centre. Could the minister be specific. We're talking some considerable sums of money, the $220,000. Is this just the custodial service in the buildings or is this upgrading and maintenance of various sundry items within this building, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: No, the costs that we are talking about, in terms of the amounts specific to this building, are primarily for the issues around the air handling and the ventilation system. With regard to the $75,000 for repairs and maintenance to the Law Centre, that's primarily for repairs to the aggregate surface outside, as well as for the installation of electronic security systems. As a matter of fact, there are also some electronic security systems within this building, as well.

Mr. Jenkins: Given the effect that the air conditioning systems and the use of certain types of gas have on depleting the ozone layer, has there been some direction given with respect to the widespread use of freon 12 in the government buildings, primarily here in Whitehorse, for air conditioning purposes - as to their replacement with another suitable refrigerant?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I believe there has been some thought given to trying to replace ozone-depleting coolants with less harmful agents. I recall a note on that in the spring session, but I just don't have the details with me. I believe that was with regard to some of the energy-saving options. I would have to follow up, but I do recall something of that nature. As I said, it was in the spring session.

Mr. Jenkins: The largest user of freon in the Yukon is the Government of Yukon, and it's primarily for air conditioning purposes, Mr. Chair. Even some of the newly constructed buildings - Yukon College and the Arts Centre - I'm led to believe are still using freon 12. That refrigerant is one of the major causes of the depletion of the ozone layer. I would ask the minister to undertake a review of this area and to report back to the House as to just where the government is at with the replacement of this type of refrigerant gas with the alternatives.

I know that in some cases it's going to necessitate the replacement of the major compressors, which are a very, very high-cost item. I was wondering if the minister could just explore the expected life of some of these major components and at what juncture it would be most economical to replace them.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, I can certainly follow up with the department and the technical folks there to see what kinds of thought they're giving in this regard and what the options are.

Ms. Duncan: I have a few questions for the Minister of Government Services. The first question relates to the minister's department's mandate with respect to information services. When I went through the contract registry, there were number of contracts to different departments for the ORCS file system. Now, I don't expect the minister to have this at his fingertips. Could he just find out and get back to me?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, I can certainly return information on the ORCS system. I will make a note of it.

Ms. Duncan: The minister and I, during the discussion on Health and Social Services and sole-sourcing contracts, got into quite a discussion about at what point in time the officials in Government Services flag for the minister that there's been a great deal of money allocated to one individual or one company.

We have had a lengthy discussion about Health and Social Services and exceptional circumstances there, but I would like to outline a couple of instances for the minister and ask his opinion. The minister reminds us continually in private conversations that the role of Government Services is to spend money.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Ms. Duncan: Spend other people's money - I stand corrected - and spend it wisely. So, what I'm asking in this question is what advice his officials give departments in this respect. Let me give him an example. In the Community and Transportation Services section, Blue Sky Aviation Observer at the Faro airport - the contract was for $238,000 and $216,000. Raptor Aviation, for what I believe is the Beaver Creek airport; that contract's $157,680. Ronnigan Observer and Communications Services has the only three-year contract, and that's for $639,000. The CARS at the Burwash airport is $287,168.

There is quite a variance between the amounts. There is quite a variance in terms of the contracts. One is three years and the other two appear to be individual years. Some of that, certainly, could be attributed to the number of flights and so on. Can the minister tell me, when Community and Transportation Services comes to Government Services and contracts this out, at what point does Government Services ask them for explanations or why there's a wide variance or ask them for reasons for this sort of contracting?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, these are individual contracts by other departments. Our job is basically just to follow through to see that the contracts are being fulfilled. With regard to sort of ringing bells and alerting, Government Services does periodically make note to certain departments that they may want to look at how they handle certain kinds of contracts, in terms of staging them and things of that nature. But, basically, we have our own contracts, which we sort of fulfill, and Education has theirs, Justice has theirs and Renewable Resources has theirs.

What we're hoping to do, I think, is, as the department that will be responsible for implementing some of the changes that come about as the result of the Yukon hire, we're presuming that there'll be some suggestions there in terms of contracts, in terms of perhaps different levels of expenditures, and things like that. Our role there would be to communicate those kinds of things to departments along with how we would see this working and provide some expertise on how contracts could be developed and written.

I would say one of the things that we could do - and I could see us doing this very clearly - would be in terms of contracting regulations. I think one of the things that we could see ourselves doing would be perhaps an element of education for perhaps middle management and individuals in government in various departments who may have responsibility for contracts.

I can see us doing that and also to convey what the overall governmental direction is in terms of setting levels and things of that nature.

Ms. Duncan: From that explanation from the minister, I was left with the sense that the Department of Government Services deals with the paperwork but doesn't offer an opinion, so let me give the minister another example. The highway camps or the contracts for catering are all very, very close in cost. Does the minister see it as the role of the Department of Government Services, when a department has been able to achieve, for example, a situation where costs are very much in line and clearly they have gotten the best deal they can get? When there are five different businesses and the contracts are within thousands of each other, the government doesn't say, "Hey, good job to that department," or "You've worked well within the contract regulations," or "How did you achieve that with business?"

The reason I'm asking the minister this is that the property management agency has a reputation for achieving the best costs from the realtors in town. So, here I'm asking if Government Services, in terms of the rest of the contracting by the government, intends, at some point, not just to teach everybody to live within the regulations, but to teach everybody how to get the best bang for their buck, so to speak?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, yes, I mean I would certainly make the good offices of Government Services available in that regard. The member has made reference to property management. They realize that this is a very competitive market, and they are willing to - I probably shouldn't say "squeeze," but they are willing to try and get the best deal that they can for the government, and they see themselves as doing that.

Ms. Duncan: It's a fascinating debate. I just don't understand why the Minister of Education isn't enthralled with it.

The minister, in the brief technical briefing for the minister's department in the spring budget, indicated that there was a contract regulations review committee. In fact, there was $37,000 budgeted for the distribution of tender documents. Maybe we could squeeze out a little bit of money to distribute the contract registry. And there is the printing of the source list and support costs and per diem.

How far along is the contract regulations review committee?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: We are currently making some suggestions in that regard.

She says with horror, "He has a briefing note." Well, yes, I do.

We are honouring our commitment to review the contracting policy. We are also working with the Yukon hire commission and they're currently engaged in consultations in this regard. We will be waiting for the final recommendations prior to determining what kind of consultations we will need to do and what kinds of changes we'll need to bring about in terms of the contracting policy.

So, we're expecting great things from our Yukon hire commission almost momentarily, and we will take those into consideration.

Ms. Duncan: I understand that the Yukon hire commission is to report and go through Cabinet and the various processes this month.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Yes.

Ms. Duncan: So, when is the contract regulations review expected to report and when are those changes expected to come to Cabinet?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: That would certainly be within the next budget year. We would be looking for the Yukon hire commission delivering to us probably a list of things that we could do on a fairly expedient basis and then, no doubt, there'll be some that will require greater consultation and greater refinement.

Ms. Duncan: I'd like to return the minister, if I could for a moment, to the property management. The minister will recall there was a great deal of discussion around the whole issue of heat tape.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Yes, and I'm glad you asked me that because I have a wonderful note about heat tape.

Ms. Duncan: I don't want the minister to answer with his wonderful note about heat tape.

I have another question.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: (Inaudible)

Ms. Duncan: Mr. Minister, let me elaborate. There was a contract for the installation of drain heat tape issued in August for the Red Feather, and I assume that's the historic building in Dawson. I thought we were getting away from heat tape in Government of Yukon buildings. Could he explain why this was done this summer?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Heat tape is generally used in northern climates to prevent water and sewer lines from freezing and we generally consider heat tape to be safe, if they're installed according to the manufacturer's instruction. However, we have found that in some cases it hasn't been.

What we undertook was a review of all heat tape currently involved in government buildings, including some facilities for the Yukon Liquor Corporation - one being the Red Feather, which is the building up in Dawson, and this project was completed in March 1997. We are continuing to follow up on any changes that we have in heat tape in terms of regulations and specifications. We can provide additional information if the member would prefer.

Ms. Duncan: I think I'm familiar with the information he's already sent to me. Just with that particular contract, I thought there was another method.

I have a series of questions about different contracts, and I do not want to bog the House in minutia and I wonder if the minister can recommend an approach to getting answers to these. I'm interested in why we paid $25,000 for a banquet for a former Government of Yukon employee, by the looks of things and, in Education, why there has been an excessive per diem issued, and, who else was invited on various contracts in Executive Council Office and Finance policy about inserting pay documents into envelopes and the price paid.

Now, would the Minister of Government Services recommend the best method for getting information on that?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: In terms of information like that, I think what would be best would be if the questions were in written form to the respective department. They can provide the information for the member .

That would be my suggestion. I would redirect them to the respective department through the minister.

Ms. Duncan: One of those contracts was a fleet vehicle agency audit that was issued to Thorne Little. Could I ask the minister to have the information in that audit forwarded to our caucus? Could I also ask whether it's a matter of routine for this information to be forwarded to members of the Public Accounts Committee of this House?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: No, generally, in terms of information, such as audits, those are generally for the department. What we are required to do, and what we do - if I can just find them here for a moment - is release to the House such things as the fleet vehicle agency and property management reports, Queen's Printer reports, once a year, in terms of what the report is financially, that it's an audited statement, et cetera. That's generally the form we convey it to the House in.

Ms. Duncan: It's wise to assume that there's no additional information to be gained, then. I see the minister shaking his head.

I couldn't leave the discussion of Government Services without asking the minister some questions about NovaLIS. I have reviewed the letter the minister sent to a representative of the half a dozen companies that met with the minister in response to their concerns. I must indicate to the minister that it's a fine, fine example of government doublespeak. It is as clear as mud.

Nowhere in the letter does the minister indicate where the balance of the work scheduled for this year in the LIMS project and GIS technology is whether it will be tendered, and when it will be tendered.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: There is a fair amount of information on this particular project. If we just take a look and we follow the project through - and it is a project that follows through to 1999 - we're expecting that there will be approximately, in the 1997-98 revote, $292,000 for data conversion and maps and other, some $277,000.

Then we're projecting in 1998-99 an additional $95,000. What we're projecting overall is, I suppose, in work other than the NovaLIS project itself, some $443,000 we would see in terms of data conversion and maps, and other work for some $588,000. Some of this consists primarily of equipment, some in administrative costs, including some of the prior year's consulting work with Monenco Agra is also contained in that.

Ms. Duncan: I understood the minister to state then that there was, overall, $443,000 for data conversion and maps, and $588,000 in other equipment and work and administration costs. Now some of that is for the 1997-98 fiscal year and some it's for the 1998-99 year.

Does the minister anticipate that all of this work would be at least able to be bid on by Yukon companies or Yukon-based companies?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, certainly with the data conversion, we would really hope that that would be the case. Some of the work will be to convert such things as paper documents and maps to electronic form, so we'll have to buy some existing maps from Natural Resources Canada for this, but we're anticipating remaining contracts that would be available for the local community, somewhere in the range of $300,000 to $400,000 - in that area - because we will have to purchase some material from Natural Resources Canada.

Ms. Duncan: I'm sure the Member for Riverdale North will be pleased to know that you're not buying maps from Tourism.

When does the minister anticipate that these tenders might be let?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: That would be in 1997-98. I can't really sort of pin down when that would be, but we are anticipating 1997-98. Then again, there would be some that we are projecting into 1998-99 - about $95,000 would be in 1998-99, so we would be looking at beginning this year with some $292,000 and then following through with $95,000 in 1998-99.

Ms. Duncan: These are fairly lean times for the engineering world in the Yukon. There aren't a great deal of subdivisions being created. I would urge the minister to proceed, as soon as he is legislatively able, on that project.

In terms of the NovaLIS projects, there was some lengthy discussion in this House as to whether or not these projects were tendered within the spirit, intent and letter of the contract regulations. The minister has assured me that, yes, they are, and there are others who have called it into question. Has the minister asked anyone with knowledge of the contract process, but outside of this particular instance, to review this contracting?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: No, we have not. We have sought some assistance on this from Justice in terms of a legal position, but that's about all.

Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Chair, one doesn't go to a lawyer and ask for an opinion unless they think they need one. I'm concerned as to why an opinion was sought from Justice and inquiring minds would like to know what that opinion was.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: We were assured that we were working within the framework. Just because one consults with a lawyer, I hope that isn't a reflection of guilt - perhaps more of prudence.

We do like to make sure that we do things in a prudent manner, but outside of that we haven't sought an outside opinion.

Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, did the Department of Justice lawyer examine this particular issuance of contracts within the Financial Administration Act, as well?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: No, we simply sought to see if we had worked within what the framework allowed. We were operating within the guidelines - the current regulations that we have - from a legal point of view.

Mr. Cable: I have some questions on the business incentive policy.

I have an older version, dated 1992, and it carries a requirement for an annual evaluation. Is that still being done by the committee that was struck to do that under the original policy?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Yes, Mr. Chair, it is being done.

Mr. Cable: Can the minister provide our caucus with the most recent annual evaluation by way of a letter? It's obviously too late to table it.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I presume by that that the member is seeking what the up-take has been on that - the amount that has been given out and that kind of thing. Yes, we can.

Mr. Cable: That's the detailed listing of all the rebates that were made by categories.

With respect to a particular contract, I notice from the newspapers that there was a public tender put out for the court reporting/recording services contract, and it was to close on November 27, 1997. Does the minister know offhand whether that contract has been awarded yet?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: No, as much as I've tried to convey this, I am not the minister of all contracts, but I will try to find out about the court reporting, and perhaps my colleague, the Minister of Justice, can give me some information from her department.

Mr. Cable: The reason that I am asking the question is that the tender call says that the Yukon business incentive policy will not apply to this project, and I'm wondering why. I appreciate that the minister sitting there doesn't know this, but if he would find that out, I am interested to know. If the superficial answer is that it's not in the rebate schedule, then I'd like to know why it's not in the rebate schedule. Could the minister arrange for that?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I can follow up on that, but generally BIP has been applied to construction-type contracts. There has been interest, I should say, from other industries about having BIP become part of other industries.

Mr. Cable: There are two policy directives: one that relates to goods and services, and one that relates to construction. That's as I understand it, anyway. That's what it was back in 1992. Likely, if the court reporting and recording services were to be extended, the advantages of the business incentive policy would be under the goods and services policy.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: If the member can just bear with me for a second. Under the business incentive policy, we pay rebates to encourage companies working on government contracts to employ Yukon residents. Under construction contracts, Yukon labour and manufactured materials rebates are available to contractors. When the award price is at least $100,000, contractors are eligible for rebates if 80 percent or more of the project wages are paid to Yukon residents.

Under goods and services, goods rebates are available to the suppliers of products manufactured in the Yukon whose products are sold to the government. Goods rebates are available for individual products with a purchase price of $5,000 minimum and are listed in the schedule.

Service rebates are not available at this time because the incentive rebate schedule has not been developed, and these are some of the things that we would be bringing forward, possibly with some assistance from our friends in the Yukon hire commission.

Mr. Jenkins: I just have a couple of questions of the minister. Dealing with the contract and the contract registry, I notice there is an alarming trend in the sole sourcing to go over the limits. Could the minister advise what alarm bells this rings and how the approval process works when it goes over the $25,000 limit for sole sourcing?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: With regard to the alarm bells, a lot of the things that we have discussed is the whole question of sole-sourced limits. I've had some discussion with different aspects of industry and, as a matter of fact, certain elements, particularly in the engineering field, have suggested that the limits should be higher because of the amount of cost that they incur in developing just the proposals.

There is ministerial provision to go over certain limits. I'm not sure exactly what areas of concern the member has or if there are particular departments the member has concerns about, and we can certainly follow up on them and see if this is indeed a trend and what has necessitated it.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, it's probably a very time-consuming exercise for the minister to go through the entire contract registry of some 2,900 contracts. One sees an alarming trend of a whole series of contracts dated the same day, issued to the same firm, some for in excess of the $25,000 limit and perhaps a whole series of them for a set amount. Looking back into prior years, that trend appears to be escalating.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I'm not sure which particular departments, but I do know that it has been a measure of concern in some areas, particularly with some departments who may have a tendency to break up a project into more manageable pieces so that they actually fall under sole-source limits or very close to it.

Then, of course, there are some times when, given the nature of the types of contracts that are being handed out, there may be a very legitimate rationale for that and I think I gave examples earlier, for example in the Health and Social Services field, for a specific contract for very specialized treatment. Sometimes those contracts can be quite staggering but, because of either legal requirements or whatever, they can be very high. I would have to know the nature of the sole-sourced contracts and I'd have to know some more details so that we could track them.

So, if the member has some specific areas of concern, I would suggest he direct them to the respective department and perhaps they can give him a more legitimate explanation for these.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, I hope I have more success in obtaining those answers than I did in obtaining the contract registry. That was quite a prolonged, procrastinated exercise, Mr. Chair.

When there is a breach of the contract regulations identified - and surely from time to time this must occur - what are the repercussions?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, I would imagine if there was something done outside of the contract regulations within the department, the appropriate staff would take the necessary action in terms of a disciplinary action on the employee.

If, for example, a contractor felt that they had been wronged, felt that there was some kind of impropriety or they hadn't been given an adequate chance, they do have the bid challenge committee to come to. That's an independent body that reviews it and reviews the actions of the committee and makes some decisions. In some cases, costs are awarded for people who have suffered damages. We've had examples of that in the past in various departments that have erred on contracts and the bid challenge committee has awarded damages. So there is an avenue there for people to follow through.

Mr. Jenkins: I'm referring more to the case where a contract is broken up into smaller components and sole sourced just to fit under the wire, or that kind of an approach. This is happening, and I was just wondering what steps are taken and who monitored this area?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: We in Government Services have been aware of certain departments where that may have occurred and we have certainly conveyed the concerns to the respective minister that this is perhaps a practice that they might want to take a look at and they may want to reconsider how this is being done.

I don't like to characterize, and I won't characterize, particular departments as being offenders in this regard, but there have been some cases in some departments where this has been the practice. We're aware of it and we've conveyed it on to the minister in that case that this is something they might want to look at.

Chair: It's time for another 10-minute break.


Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We're dealing with Government Services. Is there further general debate?

Mr. Jenkins: We were dealing with contract regulations and the respective limits on the spending authority. I'd like to explore with the minister what course of action the government is going to take if we look at NovaLIS and it doesn't perform to expectations. What recourse does the government have on this contract?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: One of the things about the NovaLIS contract was that, as I said earlier, we had staged it so that there were a number of control points in that contract, and if certain aspects of the contract were not followed through, then we had ways to go back and require compliance or to redirect efforts. But the information that we're getting right now is that it seems to be performing as was required. We're not anticipating any problems in that regard.

Mr. Jenkins: Let's explore the negative side of that. We're not anticipating any problems, but with large-scale computerization programs, it's common knowledge in the industry that there are problems, and there could be problems. In this case, there probably will be problems, given the past track record of this organization in other areas of Canada. Just what contingency plan does the minister have with respect to this contract in the event that it doesn't perform to the expectations of the department?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: As I said earlier, we brought this in in a series of stages, and it is typical that you have control points at which it can be altered or terminated if there are unexpected conditions arising or the group fails to perform.

The indications are that things seem to be going fairly well there. We haven't identified any concerns at this point, nor hopefully will we identify any in the future. So, we are hoping things will go through and we will achieve our objectives.

Mr. Jenkins: Is the NovaLIS on target? Is it on the projected path? Have we achieved any of the goals that the minister has outlined? Have we got to those points and have we done our due diligence at that juncture?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Yes, Mr. Chair. The indications are that I've had the most recent followup; that we are on track with this contract and that everything seems to be unfolding as it should.

Mr. Jenkins: One of the other contracts is for software for the minister's own Department of Health and Social Services. There is a new program going in there.

Could the minister advise us if the firm that has this contract is on time with the delivery of its program?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I don't have the contract registry in front of me, so could the member identify the name of the company?

Mr. Jenkins: I do not have it with me. I just have my notes and I overlooked putting down the name of the company. I just have in my notes that it's a contract for the provision of computer services to the Department of Health and Social Services. I imagine it's an all-encompassing program, because it was quite costly.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I can perhaps speculate that that may be arising out of the HRIS, the human resources information system. That particular project is proceeding - if I can just refer to my note here. On the HRIS, that's a common information system across the government. It's primarily a PSC-sort of initiative. It is being led by a team that is being spearheaded by some of our staff in information systems.

The HRIS process has been in progress since 1994. We purchased new software and we commenced implementation in late 1995. We were looking at an implementation phase, originally planned on a 10-month schedule, from March to December 1996. That did not follow through.

It's a corporate system. That means it will be used by all organizational departments within the government and we are looking at the so-called "go live" in 1997. We've had some delays in this, but we are looking at this covering such things as position management, position classification, activities related to payroll, time recording, benefits management and leave management. It will all be integrated in this new system.

The primary tool in this regard is the Peoplesoft software, which is out of the United States.

The HRIS project team is basically a secondment of specific people from various departments.

Mr. Jenkins: So, the minister did indicate that there are delays. Just where are we at budget-wise and implementation-wise? How far are we back from the dates that we had targeted as to when we would be implementing this new program? Could the minister also advise what kind of penalty clauses this contract has in it for non-delivery of the services in a timely manner?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, in terms of the activities that flow out of this, it's largely not a function of the software itself, but a function of our own ability to be able to implement this system. Phase 1 is the turn-key HRIS system payroll benefits, which we have begun. There are further functions that will be flowing out of that. There is a variance - a supplemental budget - that was approved in 1996-97 to cover additional costs with customizing the product. We are looking at getting this completely across the government in the forthcoming year.

Likely, all of phase 1 and phase 2 will be implemented in probably, I believe, 1998-99. I would have to get some further details on this project, as to where it is. We are a bit behind, but not overly. It's certainly not a function of the software itself, just our own ability to be able to absorb this into government.

Mr. Jenkins: When we don't achieve our targeted time for the implementation of a new system, we end up operating parallel systems, which increase the cost to all the respective and affected departments. What would be the additional cost the government is going to incur in all the departments by the delays resulting from the untimely implementation of this program? What kinds of additional costs are we looking at?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I would have to find out exactly where we are, how far back we are on this project, and what kinds of additional costs we have incurred.

This is a huge project. This is a major undertaking, and we've had a very good cross-departmental working group. As I said, in all major activities, things have gone fairly well, and we're looking at bringing in sort of the final testing and implementation of this - well, until, I think, February or March 1998 is our target. Then there will be further things, such as upgraded versions and project planning of time and labour module in 1998 and so on. So, I can get a further update on this and possible costs that we may have incurred.

Mr. Jenkins: Rather than prolong the debate on this area, Mr. Chair, I would ask the minister to provide, by way of legislative return, a status report on the implementation of this project. I'd like the minister to be specific and identify any additional costs that the various departments are going to incur as a consequence of the delays in implementation of this program and if there are indeed any penalty clauses in the agreement with the software provider for late supplying of the software, Mr. Chair.

Can the minister undertake to give his assurance?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Chair, as I indicated earlier, I don't think the provision of the software is late at all. I think the major difficulty is us being able to incorporate it into our own systems and just our own ability to absorb that kind of change, but I can supply that information for the member.

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

On Corporate Services

Hon. Mr. Sloan: This was a decrease of $7,000 due to position vacancies. Essentially it was a .5 business analyst in policy and planning. This was offset by an increase of $12,000 consisting of $23,000 in departmental training due to tuition and workshop costs, less $11,000 in savings in communication and honorarium program materials in contract services.

Corporate Services in the amount of $5,000 agreed to

On Information Services

Hon. Mr. Sloan: This is primarily, as I referred to before, due to decreases in personnel costs. This is a decrease of $173,000 in personnel costs due to delays in the recruiting of vacant positions and then there was an increase of $76,000 consisting of $54,000 in interview and relocation costs, primarily for the director of the ISB and the systems specialist; $34,000 in a line rental due to bringing in additional communities on to the community network, primarily Pelly Crossing; and a $12,000 savings in the purchase of supplies and program materials.

Mr. Jenkins: In the supply of the information services, the minister noted a reduction for provision of service to Pelly Crossing. Is that because of the non-installation of the tower there as part of the MDMRS system?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: It wasn't a reduction. It was a $34,000 increase in line rental due to the additional communities being added to the computer network, and this was for Pelly Crossing.

Information Services in the amount of an underexpenditure of $97,000 agreed to

On Supply Services

Hon. Mr. Sloan: This was an increase in personnel, for $25,000, including a $25,000 amount for a stores clerk that had not been budgeted. This was largely forced growth that came about as the addition of the increase in health services with the transfer. This was offset by a decrease of $30,000 due to a $26,000 savings in communications programs, materials and supplies, and a $4,000 reduction in vehicle rental costs.

Supply Services in the amount of an underexpenditure of $5,000 agreed to

On Property Management

Hon. Mr. Sloan: This was primarily due to $211,000 due to delays in recruiting of vacant positions, $84,000 in terms of custodial positions - there were two - $60,000 in terms of industrial mechanic, and $67,000 with regard to the director of regional services.

Mr. Jenkins: Can the minister give us an indication where these positions were located in government?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, the industrial mechanic would be within our own property management branch - the director of regional resources.

With regard to the two custodial positions, one was Old Crow, and the other one was Ross River.

Mr. Jenkins: The Ross River situation was broken into two contracts. Is this on a contract basis or is it on an hourly-paid basis now in Ross River, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: This was a regular custodial position that was vacant and was not filled.

Mr. Jenkins: I wrote a letter to the minister requesting some more information earlier this summer about the custodial position in Ross River. It was on a contract basis and then it was transferred to a position basis. What was the rationale for that? I understand now that the costs of having a person on staff are almost twice what it used to be under the original contract basis.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I would have to follow up on that for the member. My information just indicates that we've got a vacancy in Ross River that was not filled, and of course the Old Crow position, which was not filled. An individual left the community and came to Whitehorse to take a position here.

Property Management in the amount of an underexpenditure of $211,000 agreed to

On Central Stores Write-off

Hon. Mr. Sloan: This $12,000 was primarily due to paper supplies due to products being obsolete; in other words, outdated logos, outdated addresses, fax changes, et cetera, et cetera.

Mr. Jenkins: Would the minister have any idea what the costs to the government of the change in the area code, the 867 from the 403, has been across all of the departments?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I would suspect that we're not even bothering changing that. I know I haven't changed my own cards, or anything of that nature, but as new supplies come on I'm sure that they will reflect the new area code.

This does not relate to the area code so much as to changes in logos, changes in addresses, changes in personnel, and just changes in fax numbers - things of that nature. But as we get into the new area code, that will be reflected in the future, yes. As supplies are expended, then the new material will reflect that.

Ms. Duncan: Does this write-off include all of the recent moves that are taking place? I think they were supposed to be completed by December, and I don't have the cheat sheet the minister gave me with all of this information. But does it include all of those moves?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: We would just be adjusting it as we go along. This was primarily due to outmoded material and it doesn't reflect any of the address changes. We would still use the general address of the government, Box 2703, and so on.

Chair: Are there any questions on recoveries?

Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of an underexpenditure of $296,000 agreed to

On Capital Expenditures

On Information Services

On Corporate Computer Equipment and Systems

Hon. Mr. Sloan: This is in the corporate computer equipment and systems revotes in the amount of $793,000, with $143,000 to complete the report customization and design and to prepare a user system manual for the HRIS system; $630,000 to implement infrastructure for the LAND interest management system; $6,000 to connect the PC maintenance support contractor to the network to speed up response time for clients requiring system support and $19,000 to complete the implementation of the data warehouse hardware and software.

Corporate Computer Equipment and Systems in the amount of $798,000 agreed to

On Property Management

On Capital Maintenance and Upgrade

Hon. Mr. Sloan: The revote of $297,000 is required to complete the following projects: $200,000 to upgrade the heating ventilation and air conditioning system in the main administration building to meet current standards; $7,000 to complete the security cards system at the main administration building and the Law Centre; $50,000 to make repairs to the exterior of the Law Centre. This was the aggregate that I referred to earlier; $15,000 report to re-carpet a portion of the main administration building and $25,000 to rebalance the heating, ventilation and air conditioning in the Law Centre. And, it also includes, in the total of property management, an increase of $990,00, which is being earmarked to build a winter road into Old Crow to transport materials. And, that involves $800,000 road construction, $100,000 administration and maintenance, and $90,000 contingency.

Mr. Jenkins: Earlier in debate, the minister identified $220,000 as the O&M cost payable to this building here. Then, when we got into the capital side of it, there was another $200,000 identified as capital. It looks like we're crossing the lines as to what is a capital expenditure and what is an O&M expenditure. I was wondering if the minister could just spell out clearly what the $200,000 for this building was, because he virtually mentioned the same thing on the O&M side of the ledger earlier for the same building.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I will have to get back to the member on that particular matter, as to what this actually breaks down to. Some of it may have been in terms of some of the contracts that we had with people to deliver particular services. Some may actually be the actual cost of materials and things of that nature. I can get some of the specifics for the member.

Mr. Jenkins: I know that when you're in the private sector, it's very, very specific when you deal with a capital item - an item to be capitalized - and an item which you can expense as O&M. Yet, here, we're clearly identifying rebalancing the air handling system at the law courts as a capital item.

I'm amazed that that would occur, Mr. Chair. Why would he capitalize such an expenditure?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Excuse me, Mr. Chair. Just with reference to that, I assume that the member was referring to my opening comments. I identified $220,000 for repairs and maintenance to the main administration building, and I identified that as a revote of funding required to complete capital projects. I'm sorry, given the lateness of the hour, I probably haven't been tuning in quite as studiously as I should have been. Basically, that is included under capital - $200,000 for the upgrading of the heating and ventilation - and the further we look down, there are some issues with regard to carpeting. I would have to find out about the balance which, I believe, in that area would come in at $7,000. I can find out what the balance is on the other capital funds for that building. Perhaps it shows up some place else in the capital.

That was identified in the opening comments as capital.

Mr. Jenkins: So, I'm given to understand that carpet replacement is capitalized? That seems very unusual. I noticed that in Community and Transportation Services, if we examine a bridge to see if it needs repairs, that's also capitalized. If we paint the bridge it's capitalized, and some painting is capitalized, others are an expense. Where is this spelled out as to which way one goes with respect to whether it be capitalized or expensed?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I can get back to the member on how that's handled.

Ms. Duncan: The minister indicated in his property management, the capital maintenance and upgrade, that there's some $200,000 being spent upgrading this building and the air handling system. I'd just like to also flag for the minister in this line item of debate that there are a number of other areas in this building that are in sad need of repair and I find particularly unsafe - sidewalks and the dark entrances, in particular.

This is one of those could-the-minister-make-the-trains-run-on-time questions. Could the minister kindly make sure that the clocks in this building get adjusted at some point in time?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I do have a response to that.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, I have to blame YEC because we've been advised that the power fluctuations in that regard do cause our clocks to speed up. As a matter of fact, according to my watch, it's really only a quarter after twelve, so the time seems to have flown by that clock. We actually have considerably more time.

Ms. Duncan: I appreciate the minister's levity in light of the early hour. However, I do believe that that's a serious point - that this building should, at a minimum, have a safety audit and that there should be some examination - it's 20-plus years since I was at the opening of this building, I believe, so I'm wondering if the minister could provide me by way of written response the plans for this building, in terms of upgrade and maintenance.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, I can certainly convey to the member what some of our immediate plans are. As the member is aware, we're going to be making some changes having to do with other departments moving in, and so on, so we will be making some changes.

This building, as the member has indicated, has undergone a tremendous change over the years. One of the difficulties that we have with the air-handling system was that this building was originally designed as a very open concept, and since then, we've put up partitions and all kinds of things, so we've had to adjust it.

I can get the member some of the future plans, and I've identified three areas that she has as particular concerns, and I will relay them on to property management.

Mr. Jenkins: While we are examining the various upgrades and repairs necessary to a number of the government buildings in the domain of the minister responsible for Government Services, perhaps it would be an appropriate time to request an overview of the movements this year - where everybody went, where they came from and what the plans are for the future and what we're looking at for costs, Mr. Chair.

Can the minister provide that information, either by legislative return or, if he can do it, standing on his feet right now; that would probably be great.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Chair, I probably can if only I can find my notes some place in this plethora of material. Probably the most expedient way is for me to make reference to the document.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Sloan: It won't take me very long. If I can just find the thing, we can get on. Oh, and I have it here, Mr. Chair. If I can send this over to the member, this is called, "Some News to Get You Moving." It was published by our Government Services folks, and it gives a schedule of how everyone is going to go in this great flow.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Sloan: We have all kinds of wonderful things going on, and the approximate costs will be $140,000, one time.

Mr. Jenkins: We're aware of this information sheet, and I've had a chance to look at it in terms of where everyone's gone, but that's kind of old news. What are our plans from here, at this juncture, and what's the timing for it, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Could the member be somewhat more specific in terms of future moves or future development, or is he referring to such things as devolution of departments, such as federal departments, things of that nature?

Mr. Jenkins: Obviously, given the devolution process that's underway, this is not the final move and this is not the final plan, so what are the government's plans from here for the moving around of departments and dovetailing them in? What's the game plan?

The minister can provide it by way of written return, Mr. Chair.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: We can provide that but, of course, that's very, very dependent on how devolution will unfold and what kinds of decisions are being made in that regard and what kinds of buildings come over to us, and so on and so forth. I can just give the member an example: the weather centre, which I was coveting greatly - not to be opportunistic - I had been seeking to get that. It's a very nice building.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Sloan: We do want to control the weather.

No, if that building was coming on to the government's stocks, since obviously the weather centre is moving out, we thought there might be an opportunity for us to secure it. However, apparently the RCMP have spoken for it as a highway patrol station.

Mrs. Edelman: I'm not too clear, but I think that we're down to the Old Crow Road - by the way, Merry Christmas. I want some detail at this point because this is where we are in the line by line on the Old Crow Road.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Chair: No. Excuse me. We are on capital maintenance and upgrade.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Capital Maintenance and Upgrade in the amount of $297,000 agreed to

On Old Crow Road

Hon. Mr. Sloan: This is an increase of $990,000 required to build the winter road into Old Crow to transport materials needed for the building of the new school. This is made up of $800,000 in road construction and $100,000 in administration and maintenance, and $90,000 contingency.

Mrs. Edelman: Now it's appropriate to ask for the details on this particular line and indeed, I have some questions.

I'm referring to a newscast on CHON-FM on December 11. That was only a few days ago. In the newscast they referred to a questionnaire that was given out to the people of Old Crow. I wonder if it is possible to get a copy of that questionnaire and an indication of the results?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, I have a sense of the questionnaire. I don't have it with me, but this was one that was being distributed and apparently being taken around by the Vuntut Gwitchin Renewable Resource Council.

They were focusing on a number of issues having to do with the building of the road, including, I suppose, socio-economic impact and trying to determine if indeed this was the preference. From what I understand, there was a fairly limited sample in terms of the number of people who were being solicited, and I'm not sure at this point what the reaction is by the leadership.

We have yet to hear what the overall results are and what the reaction of the leadership will be on this, but I suppose it would be somewhat evident from the tone of the questions or the tenor of the questions that the distributors of this survey were not particularly enamoured with the road concept.

I think that would be a fair interpretation.

Mrs. Edelman: That's exactly why I would like to see a copy of the questionnaire. It's a very small sample; that's true, but you are only sending out 53 questionnaires. It's a very small community, so it's all representative of a very small community and a very small sample.

The other issue that's come up is that in the newscast they speak about how the cost to ship the materials is about the same as flying them - about $1.3 million. Yet, in the supplemental budget here, we have a $990,000 line item. I'm wondering why we keep referring to the $1.3 million and the $990,000. Which one is the more accurate of the figures?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, I think that if we take a look at the actual cost of building and then we take a look at the cost of the actual physical shipping, the two will come in very close. This refers to the actual building, maintenance and administration of the road. It doesn't refer to the actual shipping costs of the materials. What we've sought here is the money to actually build the road and, from that, there will be additional costs in shipping.

I can provide some more exact figures, but our indications are - if I can find the particular line here, I can get a more exact figure - on the basis of costs alone, the options are approximately equal at $1.3 million, so what we would have is the building of the road and then we would have the transportation.

Each one has advantages and each has disadvantages, but they both come in at approximately the same amount.

Mrs. Edelman: As we pass the supplemental budget for $990,000, we should actually be thinking in terms of $1.3 million. Okay, the minister is nodding his head.

Also in the same newscast, Mr. Minister, the council says it seems silly to build a road without a design. Where are we sitting on the design and exact time frames on that?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: The exact time frames - we're still looking at late January. We have put on an extra, I suppose, onerous task on the architect by asking them to prepare as detailed a list of supplies as they can. So, that wasn't something that they had originally factored in. Now, because of the arrangement of the schedule, if we do build the road, we have to get the supplies and start assembling the materials. If we go with the road option, we've got a very narrow window. That's another task that we put upon the architect - to prepare as detailed a supply list as is necessary.

I indicated to the Member for Klondike that some of the mechanical systems will have to wait for more detailed specifications, but we have asked the architect to see what they can do in terms of providing us with some supplies. But we are still targeting toward the end of January.

Mrs. Edelman: Also in the same newscast, it says, "Meanwhile, YTG is expecting to hear Monday whether it will get two land use permits. :

That was yesterday. It's hard to believe, but we are still here, and it's Tuesday. Am I to understand from the minister that we haven't received those land use permits?

The minister is indicating that, no, we have not received those permits. Is there some holdup? Are we to expect those some time this week?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I would certainly hope that we'd receive them this week since we are planning that Thursday would be the date that we got out the tender for the road.

The member has raised the additional issue of the Vuntut Gwitchin Renewable Resource Council. Their intervention in this may cause some further difficulty if the results of this survey come in and the results are negative, as may be suggested by the questionnaire itself. I can't anticipate what those results might be, but that might have a further complicating factor on this.

So, we do have yet an additional issue in there. I suppose for the Vuntut Gwitchin themselves, they're going to have to sort of sort out what their reaction is going to be, what their leadership's reaction is going to be, and so on.

Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, perhaps it's the early hour, but it seems pretty clear to me now that we're heading toward the air option, and I wonder if the minister has spoken to more than the one company in the Yukon about bringing in supplies for the school by air.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, when we began looking at sort of back-up options, the department did sort of sound out a couple of companies about approximate costs - how many trips, you know, what kind of capacity an aircraft would have, and so on and so forth. We have got a sense of how much we're really looking at, and if we were to take a look at air freight, the approximate amount is between 45 and 55 cents a pound, depending on the staging area.

You know, if we stage from Inuvik or if we staged from Dawson City, we are looking at what the comparative costs are. So, we have sort of sounded out different costs, but once again, if it comes to the air option - and that hasn't been determined - then we'll have to go with a tender on that particular option and just get what we can.

Old Crow Road in the amount of $990,000 agreed to

Chair: Are there any questions on the recoveries?

Capital Expenditures in the amount of $2,085,000 agreed to

Department of Government Services agreed to

Chair: We'll just allow a minute here for the transition.

We will now proceed to Community and Transportation Services, capital expenditures, line item airports.

Department of Community and Transportation Services - continued

On Capital Expenditures - continued

On Airports - revisited - continued

Hon. Mr. Keenan: As I recall, Mr. Chair, we left off at solid waste. We just about cleared it, but didn't.

Chair: My information is that we're on airports. It hasn't cleared yet.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Chair: We were in solid waste, then we returned to airports, and airports has not cleared. Once airports does clear, we will return to solid waste.

Mr. Jenkins: We were on airports and we just happened to obtain, after lengthy, lengthy requests, a copy of the contract registry. I refer the minister to a contract let to North of 60 Petroleum Ltd. to install an airport refuelling key lock, sole sourced for some $9,500. Could the minister give an indication as to which airport this system was installed in, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, no, I do not have that information at my fingertips. I will have to get the information for the member opposite.

Mr. Jenkins: When we left airports, we were in extensive debate as to the justification for the refueling installation in Haines Junction, Mr. Chair. I was hoping that the minister has had the opportunity to review Hansard. I would like to know if the minister has anything to add to the rationale behind the installation of that system in that location.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: I have nothing to say further to that.

Mr. Jenkins: Would the minister advise if he has any sort of a progress report on the collection of data and aircraft movements that were part of the contract let to Sifton Air. They were to report aircraft movements and refueling on a monthly basis. It was a contract for some period in excess of 12 months. Would the minister provide any data that he has received to date from this contractor, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, I can provide to the member opposite the latest information that I have.

Mr. Jenkins: Could we have some time lines as to when we could have that information supplied, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, we will be able to get that to the member within the next couple of days or so.

Airports in the amount of $131, 000 agreed to

On Public Health/Roads and Streets - continued

On Solid Waste - continued

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, certainly it would be my pleasure to provide an overview of each line. An amount of $97,000 is for the solid waste disposal study at Marsh Lake to carry out study of options for solid waste disposal in the Southern Lakes area; $30,000 required for dump sewage pit relocation at Carcross for minor completion and decommissioning of the old dump and $5,000 for the solid waste disposal consisting of $15,000 required for the Mount Lorne facility improvement, which is offset by $10,000 in reductions in funding for miscellaneous garbage dump improvements.

Mrs. Edelman: The issue of the Mount Lorne solid waste disposal site, for lack of a better term, because it's sort of halfway in between everything - one of the projects that has been undertaken in the relatively recent past was the installation of a type of stack so that there could be incineration of garbage at that point. Is this the wave of the future, or have we completely abandoned the idea of making that into a transfer point to go to the Whitehorse landfill site?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, we haven't completely done away with that whole scenario. We're certainly looking to find a concrete method for disposal and that is what is contained within the study.

Mrs. Edelman: Whether it's the disposal of waste at Mount Lorne, Carcross or even Marsh Lake, there is a continuing offloading of responsibility to municipalities or bodies that are similar to municipalities, and not always are there dollars associated with that offloading. In some communities or in jurisdictions in Canada there is legislation to protect municipalities from offloading. Is this government considering bringing in that sort of legislation?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, I do not believe that type of legislation has been thought about, but certainly, as I've said before, everything we do will be certainly on the up and up in working with the communities that are affected.

Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, I'm sure that there are always good intentions, but what happens is that those who have no voice tend to sort of lose out. In this case, in jurisdictions across Canada there is no problem with offloading, just as long as there is offloading with the associated dollars necessary to fulfill their responsibilities, and that seems like a very reasonable request.

I wonder if the minister could at least consider that or look at that type of legislation in other communities or other jurisdictions in Canada so that we can get an idea of how that might work in the Yukon, or if it would work in the Yukon.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: The Municipal Act review - the MARC committee are certainly looking at that but, certainly, I can say that I would look for that legislation and look into the detail of that type of legislation and what it is to provide.

Mrs. Edelman: In some ways offloading of responsibilities without associated dollars has been what prevented some areas from becoming municipalities or becoming organized bodies. And, I think that would be a wise item to include in the, particularly, rural services consultation, to say that this is one of the things that we may be looking at.

Now, concerning the Mount Lorne dump - and it is a dump, it is not a landfill site - there are going to be some meetings in early January. I am wondering who's going to be attending from the department and what's the scope of the conversation that is going to be taking place with the Mount Lorne council on that particular issue?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: There has been a meeting called for January 10, I believe. I know that they have invited the MLA from the area and I have written a letter saying that I would be interested in attending and working with Mount Lorne to see how we can get over this problem.

Mrs. Edelman: Am I to understand, Mr. Chair, that we are going to be looking at this in isolation of the rural services policy consultation? The last I heard was that that is how we were going to be dealing with this particular issue, or are we dealing with this before we go through the rural services consultation or are we going to be dealing with it when we bring forward the rural services consultation?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, there is the rural services; there's the air emission and there is the solid waste consultation. They all overlap one another and I think that is exactly what I want people to know and understand of the overlap and how they would work together. So I'm very keen and interested to hear what the folks at Mount Lorne have to say.

Mrs. Edelman: Am I to understand, then, that it looks like there will be no particular resolution of this issue until probably the fall of 1998?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, we're going to have ongoing dialogue, and I certainly don't expect to have a solution finished immediately, knowing that the problem of burning is certainly during the winter months. I can certainly say that next fall that, hopefully, they will have this problem solved.

Mr. Jenkins: When one looks at the contract registry and the number of engineering firms engaged to do work on a number of garbage dumps, dumpsites, waste sites and groundwater monitoring, and the like - all related to the waste facilities - one thing that does come to light initially is that virtually all of these contracts are sole sourced.

Is there some explanation as to why they'd be all sole sourced for these certain areas? The exception is on the maintenance side of it or the development of the dump. Usually, there is some sort of a contract - in some cases, but not all. At a lot of the dumps, the maintenance is sole sourced again. That is more or less in the remote areas, and it's justifiable, because there's really only one body in place in some of these communities. On the engineering side of it, can the minister offer an explanation as to why the engineering services are usually sole sourced and not to any one specific firm?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, the department believes that it is cheaper in the end to stay within the guidelines of the $25,000 limit and to see if we can move the work around among the different firms.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, there was one area that I will commend the minister's department for, and that's the $25,000 guideline on sole sourcing doesn't appear to have been exceeded in any of the contract registry items that I have looked at. I'm pleased to see that within Community and Transportation Services. It doesn't bode well for some of the other departments.

While we're on the subject of monitoring of the solid waste facilities, can the minister give some indication as to the groundwater migration results for the Quigley dump? It has been a concern of a number of my constituents. Has there been any indication as to any migration of contaminants in the study that the government has engaged the engineering firm to undertake to date, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I can say right now that there is no indication of groundwater migration, as the member opposite says, at the Quigley dump. Certainly, the department is going to continue monitoring it to ensure that.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, I have a two-page letter from a resident in that area who is very concerned, and I was wondering what the minister's timetable is to relocate that dump to another location, Mr. Chair.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: We are just in the process of putting the dump into place and I'd be very interested for the member opposite to share the information he has. Certainly, we can work together to ensure that that doesn't happen or, if it does happen, that it's brought to our attention so that we know what is happening. I'd appreciate that.

Mr. Jenkins: The understanding of a number of individuals in the Klondike Valley and in Dawson proper is that the Quigley dump location and use is a temporary measure and that other sites are being examined. Is this the case? Or perhaps we're waiting to relocate the dump on the west side of the Yukon River, which will require a small access development, Mr. Chair. Is that the case?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, Mr. Chair. We're going to certainly delve into this to find out, and I'll have to get back to the member opposite because I certainly have no information that this is a temporary measure. Certainly, we'll have to pull all the information together and get back to the member opposite.

Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister give an indication of the expected life of the Quigley dump, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair. I do not have that type of information with me but I can certainly provide a letter to the member opposite as to whether it was a temporary measure, the groundwater migration, et cetera. I can provide full detail to the member.

Mr. Jenkins: There are a number of other dumps located throughout the Yukon that are in close proximity to a watershed or a water reservoir - Marsh Lake; it's up on the hill. Has there been any testing of the groundwater migration to see if contaminants are seeping out of that dump and entering into the water table, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Regarding Marsh Lake, the department believes there is a contract in place but, again, it's not at the access of the fingertips. I certainly will have to get back to the member opposite as to the measuring of the groundwater.

Mr. Jenkins: This dump, like a lot of other dumps in the Yukon, started as just a small dump for the recreational lot owners in that area. It's developed in its use and has accelerated at a very rapid rate.

Has the department established a set of guidelines that they use to monitor dumps on a regular basis - not just for the esthetics, but for contaminant migration into the soil, subsoils and into the water table? Are there any policies in place that the department has that they follow with respect to all of the dumps they have in their care and control?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: The guidelines in the policy that are for the dumps at this point in time are more or less for the cosmetics of the dump and not for the downwater migration, as the member opposite is asking. Certainly, as we come through the solid waste guidelines and consultation, that is one of the items that will be brought forth in the policy.

Mr. Jenkins: Before we leave dumps - or sanitary landfills or whatever we want to refer to them as - does the minister not think it's appropriate to develop a rapport with one soils engineering firm rather than the multitude that they have spread across a broad spectrum for examining this area? I do have some concerns with the difference in dollar values for the various engineering firms that have been awarded the sole-sourced contracts - but then, I don't have the contracts, so I don't know the scope of the work involved. They do vary widely. I would be of the opinion that a set of consistent parameters could be established for work of this nature and then the only variable would be the travel time to the specific sites.

Does the minister not agree that this is a preferable way to go, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, it is always good to use different people and spread it around. That is certainly what we'll do.

But, then, the member opposite does make a case for the cost-effective situation for maybe using one. The department is always willing and more than desirous to look at how we could become more cost-effective.

Mr. Jenkins: Before we leave this topic, would the minister indicate if we're going to be able to achieve our target of reducing the material that goes into the landfills by 50 percent by the turn of the century? I believe that's the target and that's the target date. Is that an achievable goal in this day and age, Mr. Chair, or is this just some pie in the sky?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, in the Whitehorse area, that might be a target. In the communities, it might be a little bit harder to achieve, but certainly, it is a goal that we could strive to achieve with the recycling initiative, et cetera. Something certainly could be done on that.

Solid Waste in the amount of $132,000 agreed to

On Land Development

On Industrial

Hon. Mr. Keenan: It's a reduction in the Carmacks industrial as the development site has yet to be decided upon by the new village council. There is a $150,000 reduction on the Callison industrial in Dawson due to placer occupant issues yet to be resolved; a $50,000 reduction in Ross River industrial as the community has decided a greater need for residential lots, and a $50,000 reduction in the Whitehorse industrial as the City of Whitehorse wants an area development. Those are the reductions with an increase in Watson Lake industrial for design and a legal survey of $50,000.

Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister just repeat the reason for the reduction in the Callison subdivision? I didn't quite catch that, Mr. Chair.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, that was due to placer occupant issues that have yet to be resolved.

Industrial in the amount of an underexpenditure of $300,000 agreed to

On Commercial

Hon. Mr. Keenan: This increase is for the Haines Junction commercial block 6 in response to the village's request for development of lots for release in this current fiscal year.

Mr. Jenkins: With respect to commercial lots and lot development, there was a move afoot at the Dawson airport to create commercial lots adjacent to the airstrip. I believe they were going to be on the south side. Has there been any more move afoot in this direction, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, we believe that is part of the Dawson airport plan. We will have to check into that, though, and get back to the member opposite with further correct information if that is wrong.

Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, commercial land development out at Haines Junction - there's another land development that's taking place out at Haines Junction. Is that being done privately or is it being done through the municipality itself?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: If the members will bear with me, please, what I have here is a briefing note and it says that the Village of Haines Junction will identify location for development of 18 country residential lots with gravel road and overhead telephone and electrical. Planning and design will be done in 1996-97, with the legal survey and construction of phase 1 to be done in 1997-98, with construction of phase 2 planned for 1998-99. Just as some background on that, it goes on to say that there are no country residential lots in Haines Junction, and the community has identified a demand for that.

Mrs. Edelman: I suppose what I am trying to get at is, is there going to be any opportunity for private development of commercial land, either by the municipality or by the private sector?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly We are at this point in time considering how we work with municipalities, First Nations governments and private enterprise on doing that, and, yes, we're going to follow through with that.

Commercial in the amount of $100,000 agreed to

On Recreational

Hon. Mr. Keenan: This is an increase that is required to complete consultation regarding cottage lots guidelines.

Mr. Jenkins: I am not aware of that program. Could the minister please provide a copy of the report emanating from this study, and could the minister advise what area is being examined in this cottage lot study, and when did this study take place? Who was consulted during this process?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: This is looking at how and where we could develop additional cottage lots. Certainly, a lot of people wish to go into the Haines Junction area, and the other area is Little Salmon Lake - we are coming to completion on this.

The other was the people that are being consulted. What we are trying to do is work in other areas where there is some certainty as to the land claims being finished so that we can proceed with good recreational lot development.

Mr. Jenkins: I know there is a need for cottage lots. There's certainly a demand. What is the time frame that the department had visions for having these kinds of lots available and out on the market? There is a shortage. The price of those lots that are available have been driven up as a consequence of the government not providing new lots. It's inflated the price of lots that are available, Mr. Chair.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, we're shooting to have a completion time frame of next year.

Mr. Jenkins: Am I given to understand that the lots will be on the market and available in 1998? Or, will we just have completed this study, and then have to go into the development? What's 1998 tagged on to, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, we'd like to finish the study, but certainly, to be optimistic, we would like to work to have some cottage lots on the market.

Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, when?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: In 1998.

Recreational in the amount of $30,000 agreed to

On Agricultural

Hon. Mr. Keenan: The increase is to complete electrical, telephone service and road construction for the Hot Springs Road.

Mr. Jenkins: It's interesting to note that when one looks at the agricultural and the residential, and when one looks at the contract listing, all the electrical installation is undertaken by Yukon Electric - all sole sourced and all for some considerable sums of money. Has the government explored engaging a contractor for the provision of a lot of these services? Virtually all of them will end up being subcontracted to another subcontractor, Mr. Chair.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, the member absolutely does have a point, as I believe is where he is coming from. The folks at Yukon Electrical Company are certainly the ones that we look at and then they can subcontract off. But, certainly, what we look for is the long-term continuity. That can certainly be brought forth by the utility of Yukon Electrical.

Mr. Jenkins: The long-term continuity is the reason given for sole sourcing this kind of money to that company. Has any thought been given to examining dealing directly with, say, Arctic Power for the installation of the majority of this stuff, because that's who eventually does it, Mr. Chair. The equipment is usually purchased outright by Yukon Electrical or through Alberta Power, marked up the usual 15 percent, transferred to the other company and marked up again when it's installed.

We're paying a markup on a markup. We're paying the capital cost to install all this equipment. It goes into the asset base of the utility and then we pay them a rate of return on their asset base. The poor consumer gets it coming and then he gets it going and then he gets it again on every month's power bill. There has to be a way to look at reducing. This is an area in which costs can be reduced and there has to be a way of looking at it with an eye to reducing these costs.

Has the minister's department given any consideration to a review of this area, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, the member opposite has a very good point and it is something that we should look at and will look at.

Agricultural in the amount of $55,000 agreed to

On Residential

Hon. Mr. Keenan: That's a $100,000 reduction in Carmacks for urban residential lots because the new village council has requested that lots not be developed; a $200,000 reduction in Dawson country residential, the Cho subdivision because the City of Dawson has requested that that project not proceed beyond the planning stage; $50,000 reduction in Copper Ridge because mobile home lots were not completed due to the slow progress on the underground work; a $45,000 reduction in Whitehorse country residential planning because project was deferred pending the regulatory approval from the City of Whitehorse; increases of $10,000 for the Dawson country residential placer occupants to carry out appraisal; $10,000 for the Carcross country residential to complete phase 1; $49,000 for the Ross River country residential planning for development as requested by the community; $45,000 for the Whitehorse periphery rural residents for general land development; planning of $75,000, which again is offset by a $30,000 reduction to Mount Lorne rural residential planning and $1.00 for the Faro country residential marketing.

Mr. Jenkins: I have to ask the minister how we're progressing in the Klondike Valley, adjacent to Dawson with the legitimizing of the individuals on the placer claims who went through the government process to obtain title. Just where are we at on this? How many have opted in? How many are not opting in?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Twenty-three applications have been approved on the Commissioner's land and eight on the federal land; 16 were denied due to no-building on site or proof of claim ownership; and so far, 21 applicants on the Commissioner's land have accepted the terms of the final offer.

Mr. Jenkins: One of the concerns that was raised by a number of these individuals in the process is the value of the land, and that value, after discussions back and forth between the government and these individuals, seemed to change somewhat.

Can the minister give me an idea as to how these land values were set?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, the department had gone and done it, and there were alarms about it. So, we had agreed to do it through an independent appraiser, and the independent appraiser looked at it and valued the land just under the actual value of the land, and I think that is why things are starting to move in that area now.

Mr. Jenkins: In all other areas that the government has sold land, it's been for the development cost. In this area, the government has had very little, if any, development costs other than the block land transfer and the process involved in obtaining title.

So, how is the justification made on one hand that we sell land for development cost, and on the other hand, we just hire an appraiser for this chunk of land and just sell it for whatever the appraiser says is the value, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: It would be driven by the market value and, certainly, market value is one of the conditions that an independent appraiser would bring in, and the market value on all lots that government does is at the development cost.

Mr. Jenkins: One of the other areas that appears to be inconsistent throughout Yukon, Mr. Chair - and I was wanting to know how the minister is going to address it - is the issue of streetlights along rural highways, principal highways, through communities and in the subdivisions. It seems to be at the whim and wont of whoever does the development.

I noticed, travelling our Yukon highways, that through virtually every Yukon community there is a very elaborate set of streetlights along the highways until you come into Dawson City, where we must have a shortage of just about everything.

Is the minister prepared to apply the same set of rules and standards to the highway corridor coming into Dawson as to, say, Pelly Crossing and Carmacks, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: I'm not here to debate the makeup of Dawson City but certainly the policy will be applied equally.

Mr. Jenkins: It's not only for that area but virtually all of the subdivisions. There doesn't seem to be a lighting standard that is adhered to in the development of subdivisions throughout Yukon.

Is the minister prepared to adopt a standard, or are we just going to deal with it on the whim and wont?

There are standards developed; they seem to be applied specifically in Whitehorse but, as one moves out to the rural communities, the application of this standard is not consistent, Mr. Chair.

What's the minister prepared to do?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I believe that the standards will be applied equally and are equal, whether it's anywhere in the Yukon Territory, but I will endeavour to get the member opposite the standards on streetlights and the policy that applies to it. Certainly, I will do that.

Mrs. Edelman: Could the minister elaborate on the line he just spoke about with the development in the Whitehorse periphery?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Good morning, CBC.

Yes, that is for general and development, and it is planned in the Whitehorse periphery.

Mrs. Edelman: Perhaps a tad more detail would be useful. Is it north of the city, south of the city, are they residential lots?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I will have to get the member opposite the detailed breakdown that she requires.

Mr. Jenkins: Some of the residential land use that our community of Dawson has put on hold is as a consequence of lack of access to that area? What is the minister prepared to do to provide access, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, we will always encourage access to be done during the season where the natural river is frozen at this point in time. Things will work out very well, I am sure, Mr. Member.

Mr. Jenkins: But it's really not a laughing matter, Mr. Chair, when one looks at the confines that Dawson is in and the area where it can expand. There's just been a municipal board hearing held to address a shrinking of the municipal boundaries as a consequence of the lack of funds to provide the infrastructure necessary. One of the key areas that a shrunk boundary is going to open up is the right for people to go into that area and stake it for mining purposes.

One just has to look at the exercises that this government has been through in the Klondike Valley to deal with legitimizing individuals on placer claims. The book has not been written and closed yet, because there are still a lot of individuals in that area who are going to come back to haunt the government. I'm sure, at this juncture, the door appears to be closed, but it's going to have to be reopened down the road to legitimize more and more of these individuals. What is going to happen as a consequence of this government's failure in this area is that more people are going to choose a very inexpensive form of land tenure, and that is a placer claim. That's what's happened.

I urge the minister to give very, very careful consideration to providing the necessary infrastructure to this second largest community in the Yukon that requires that infrastructure to grow - and growing it is - but to grow in a manner that's going to benefit all Yukon, Mr. Chair.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: I will take into consideration the member's comments and thoughts, but certainly I will say again that we are talking about a $20-million bridge.

Residential in the amount of an underexpenditure of $280,000 agreed to

On Quarry Site Analysis and Development

Hon. Mr. Keenan: This is due to the zoning amendment being undertaken by the City of Whitehorse and a development cannot begin until the zoning process is completed.

Mr. Cable: What quarry are we talking about?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, we do not have that information available at our fingertips, but certainly it was at a request of the city, and I will assure the member opposite that I will get that information to the member.

Mr. Cable: During the last administration's tenure, there was a quarry mooted around for the west of McPherson subdivision, and it was eventually put on ice, I think. There was a lot of public discussion and a lot of negative reaction to that quarry.

What's the status of that quarry now? Is it still a potential development by the minister's department, or has it been put on ice permanently?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, I have been told that it is on ice, but again, keeping in mind that the city does want some type of a quarry, we'll have to certainly be working with the city on this. I will certainly get back to the member opposite with the information that I can get from the city ourselves.

Mr. Jenkins: Quarry operation is predominantly run by the Government of Yukon. Some of it is on federal Crown land; some of it is on areas set aside for quarrying purposes to the government. One of the highest and rising costs now to the various government departments - specifically the department of highways and a lot of us using building materials - is the basic cost of the material. Has the government undertaken a review in light of this cost now that has gone up astronomically from some 25 cents per cubic yard to, I believe, some $3 per cubic metre? Is the government undertaking a review to look at lowering the costs for the basic material, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, it has been brought to my attention. That is the reality at this point in time, but at this point in time, that certainly falls within the federal jurisdiction.

Mr. Jenkins: Has there been any representations made by the minister's department to the federal government with a view to reducing this cost because it has driven up the cost of highway construction considerably? It's only a natural progression to look at this material that everybody sees everywhere on either side of the highway and thinks you can just go and dig into the bank. You can't. Our hauling distances are growing longer and longer and the cost of the material is going through the roof, so we're on a collision course with very, very high-cost highway projects. It's one area that we can look at and it would considerably reduce the cost of any highway project in the Yukon. So, is the minister prepared to undertake a presentation to the federal government with a view to having these costs reduced?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, we will do that.

Mr. Jenkins: We might offer a further suggestion to the minister that they might even consider a two-tier charge, a specific charge for government use for highways, airports, access roads and major government projects and another higher priced tier for the private sector. You know, that wouldn't be an unusual concession, but the costs that one now presently incurs just to go in and stockpile material and crush it, screen it and leave it there stockpiled - we are tying up considerable sums of money. I think it would probably be a very useful exercise if the department brought back the total costs that we have in stockpiled material. I'm not referring to the crushing costs or the costs for screening, just the cost to acquire the material that we've used and leave it sitting on the side of the road. Can the minister give his assurances that he can bring us back those costs?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, the two-tiered system does work in other parts of the country and it can certainly work here, although I will take the member's comments to heart and work them into the process. The system that we're talking about - the federal government has not at this point in time been charging us, but certainly that is not going to last for ever. The two-tiered system certainly seems to be a reasonable request and a forward-moving request, and, yes, we can get the costs of what we have there for the member opposite.

Quarry Site Analysis and Development in the amount of an underexpenditure of $10,000 agreed to

On Land Central Services

Central Services - Recoverable

Hon. Mr. Keenan: This reduction is the result of a projected decrease in the number of legal surveys due to the winter conditions.

Mr. Jenkins: Due to the winter conditions? What winter conditions, Mr. Chair? Can you come up with a better excuse, please?

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, that is the reality of what we are facing at this point in time, although we are certainly coming in with a lot more hot air this fall than normal this winter, but certainly that is the reason.

Central Services - Recoverable in the amount of an underexpenditure of $10,000 agreed to

On Miscellaneous Projects Non-Recoverable

Hon. Mr. Keenan: This is a reduction due to a projected reduction in the number of non-recoverable surveys.

Miscellaneous Projects Non-Recoverable in the amount of an underexpenditure of $8,000 agreed to

Chair: Are there any questions on the recoveries?

Capital Expenditures agreed to

Department of Community and Transportation Services agreed to

Chair: We will now go to Bill No. 8.

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. Harding: I move that you report Bill No. 8 out of Committee without amendment.

Motion agreed to

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: 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, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 8, Second 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 report carried.


Bill No. 8: Third Reading

Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 8, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Harding.

Hon. Mr. Harding: I move that Bill No. 8, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 1997-98, be now read a third time and do pass.

Speaker: It has been moved by the acting Government Leader that Bill No. 8, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 1997-98, be now read a third time and do pass.

Mr. Ostashek: I know that time is late, but I have to speak to this bill. I just want to go on the public record that the Yukon Party will not be supporting this supplementary budget for the same reasons we didn't support the government's budget. There is no money in this budget for job creation.

Unemployed Yukoners and lack of economic activity are the biggest problems facing Yukoners today. This government is doing absolutely nothing to put Yukoners to work; therefore, we will not be supporting the supplementary budget.

Speaker: If the member now speaks, he will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, Mr. Speaker, unemployment in this territory, given difficult circumstances, has been down five out of the last seven months.

There is significant economic activity created by this budget. However, we are not committing our attempts at job creation solely to direct government expenditures.

We've taken a balanced approach to creating jobs in this territory. We have had much success, given the fact that we experienced the shutdown of the Faro mine. The mining sector has been decimated by world economic forces. However, Mr. Speaker, we are still persevering in terms of our agenda in many, many areas that I have alluded to in this legislative session.

So, it is unfortunate - the negativity of the Yukon Party - but we've come to expect it, and we didn't really think that they would ever really vote for any of our budgets or any of our initiatives. They prefer to talk about us doing absolutely nothing, which is completely not the case.

Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?

Some Hon. Members: Division.


Speaker: Division has been called.

Mr. Clerk, would you poll the House.

Hon. Mr. Harding: Agree.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Agree.

Hon. Mr. Keenan: Agree.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Agree.

Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Agree.

Mr. McRobb: Agree.

Mr. Hardy: Agree.

Mr. Livingston: Agree.

Mr. Ostashek: Disagree.

Mr. Phillips: Disagree.

Mr. Jenkins: Disagree.

Ms. Duncan: Disagree.

Mr. Cable: Disagree.

Mrs. Edelman: Disagree.

Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are eight yea, six nay.

Speaker: The yeas have it. I declare the motion carried and that Bill No. 8 has passed this House.

Motion for third reading of Bill No. 8 agreed to

Speaker: We are now prepared to receive the Commissioner, in her capacity as Lieutenant Governor, to grant assent to the bill which has passed this House.

Commissioner enters the Chamber, announced by the Sergeant-at-Arms


Commissioner: Please be seated.

Speaker: Madam Commissioner, the Assembly has, at its present session, passed a certain bill to which, in the name and on behalf of the Assembly, I respectfully request your assent.

Clerk: Second 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.

Special adjournment motion

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: 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 acting 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. Ms. Moorcroft: I move that the House do now adjourn.

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

Special adjournment motion agreed to

Speaker: This House now stands adjourned.

The House adjourned at 6:27 a.m., December 16, 1997

The following Sessional Paper was tabled December 15, 1997:


Vital Statistics 1986-1995: births, marriages and deaths in Yukon (dated October, 1997) (Sloan)