Monday, December 11, 2000 - 1:00 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
In recognition of International Human Rights Day
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to International Human Rights Day. The official recognition was yesterday, December 10, in commemoration of the 1948 signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The theme this year is human rights education, a contribution to a culture of peace.
In Canada, we tend to take our human rights for granted. International Human Rights Day is an opportunity for us to remember that the concept of human rights is still foreign in much of the world. We are aware that human rights are often lost in countries with dictatorships, but we may be less quick to recognize the danger to the rights of minorities in our own country and territory when majority rule is carried to extremes.
While we all believe human rights are a worthy ideal, they are in fact a practical every day challenge. Economic stress and conflict situations can diminish the willingness of people to remember the equal rights of others.
International Human Rights Day is an opportunity to recognize the value and fragility of human rights, because the first step to losing our rights and our freedoms is to take them for granted.
The Yukon Human Rights Commission set up an information display at Whitehorse General Hospital and one at the Elijah Smith Building to commemorate International Human Rights Day. These displays illustrate the theme of human rights education and include plain language copies of the UN declaration.
Every December 10, we have the opportunity, as individuals, to take a moment to consider what contribution we each can make to achieve universal respect for human rights. It is my hope that more and more people will come to understand the rights recognized in the UN declaration and take responsibility for ensuring human rights are a reality, not just an ideal. Demonstrating the value we place on human rights is a contribution each of us can make to a culture of peace.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Ms. Netro: Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of the official opposition to pay tribute to International Human Rights Day, celebrated on December 10. December 10, 1948, was the day that the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This declaration lays out both an individual's rights and responsibilities. It recognizes that all people should be able to access adequate shelter, food, education, medical services, as well as the right to dignity that will enable them to live in a world that values peace, freedom and justice.
Unfortunately, we still live in a world where access to basic necessities, such as education, health care and clean water are often denied. Access to work or services, free of discrimination on the basis of political affiliation, level of income, sexual orientation, gender, race, disability or illness is not guaranteed throughout the world or in the Yukon.
In Yukon, access to many medical services are impacted by an ability to pay. Dental care, physiotherapy, optical care and medical travel are not universally available. Access to special services in the education system is wait-listed and inadequate. Adequate housing is a problem for those with low or unstable income.
There are things that each of us can do to highlight the importance of the Declaration of Human Rights. Read the declaration and be aware of your rights and your responsibility to respect the rights of others. Recognize that we are all individuals with unique abilities and needs. Avoid using or promoting stereotypes. Speak out against discriminatory actions and language. Be fair in our daily lives.
Mr. Jenkins: On behalf of the Yukon Party, I rise to also pay tribute to International Human Rights Day as an opportunity to recognize and renew our commitment to ensuring equality for all and the right to freedom.
Each year, December 10 marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly. The declaration not only marks our responsibility to take care of each other, but serves as a reminder of the continuing need to educate ourselves about the importance of human rights and to raise awareness about the need to protect basic fundamental rights throughout the world.
Here at home we have much to be thankful for. As Yukoners and Canadians, we enjoy a full range of human rights that provides for respect and dignity for each individual, regardless of our sex, colour or religion.
Having said this, there is still a long way to go before basic human rights are enjoyed by every citizen of this world.
Again, I am pleased to offer our support to International Human Rights Day and observe it as an opportunity to celebrate the rights and freedoms we as Canadians enjoy today and an opportunity to join together in making the world a better place to live.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Are there any further tributes?
In recognition of Dave Calnan
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Legislature, I rise to pay tribute to Dave Calnan, a constituent of mine. Mr. Calnan recently received the Governor General's award for bravery after rescuing a young woman from a bear attack in west Dawson.
Mr. Calnan's work took him to west Dawson when he came upon a campsite where this young lady was residing, and a bear had started an attack on the woman. Without regard for his personal safety, he went at the bear and beat it off, thus saving the young lady's life.
This selfless act of courage by Mr. Calnan makes us all proud to be Yukoners.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Introduction of visitors.
Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Speaker, I have a legislative return to answer a question by the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes.
Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Fentie: It is with grave concern that I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that:
(1) throughout the first seven months of this Liberal government's term of office, the Premier and Minister of Economic Development has failed to create a positive climate for economic growth in the territory, as promised; and
(2) as Minister of Economic Development, she has abandoned programs that created badly needed jobs for Yukon people, she has dropped the options on waterfront land in Haines and Skagway, Alaska, that would have guaranteed Yukon businesses ongoing access to tidewater and she has neglected the aggressive Trade and Investment Strategy initiated by the previous NDP government; and
(3) in spite of inheriting a huge accumulated surplus of $64 million, as Minister of Finance, she tabled a supplementary budget containing no provisions for winter works this year; and
(4) as Premier and Minister of Economic Development, she has repeatedly given answers in this House with respect to the agreement with the City of Whitehorse and Argus Properties Ltd. that are inconsistent with answers provided outside this House by members of her political staff; and
THAT this House has lost confidence in the Premier's ability to discharge her duties as Minister of Economic Development in a credible and effective manner and urges her to assign the Economic Development portfolio to another member of her caucus without delay.
Speaker: Are there any statements by ministers?
Prairie Northern FAS Partnership Conference
Hon. Mr. Roberts: I rise today to speak about the Prairie Northern FAS Conference. Today, Mr. Speaker, I think it's one of those good occasions, again, for the Yukon that when ministers go outside or staff go outside, we come back with issues and presentations and development for the future here in the Yukon.
As some of you know, I was in Edmonton last week to meet with the other prairie and northern ministers on the issue of fetal alcohol syndrome.
Because of the hard work of department officials and the will of this government and the Yukon's offer to host the 2002 Prairie Northern Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Partnership Conference, it has been accepted by the other two territorial and three provincial partners.
This conference will take place in May 2002. The Yukon will be the lead for this conference, and the Northwest Territories has offered to assist us as needed. The Northwest Territories will host a symposium later that year. This will be the first time this conference has been held in the north, and we look forward to bringing our Yukon perspectives to this 2002 conference. This is all about working together, Mr. Speaker.
As we prepare for this conference, this government will be working with Yukoners to identify their needs regarding issues on FAS. Although the prairie northern FAS partnership will be an integral part of our work over the next 18 months, as they lend their useful knowledge to the planning of the conference, we have already begun to determine who our Yukon partners will be in this endeavour. We cannot do something of this magnitude and importance without involving the knowledge of all Yukon people. I anticipate this work will begin in early January.
Although we have many challenges ahead of us in the Yukon, we can be proud to know that we are setting the pace for dealing with many of the FAS issues.
Our prevention and promotion initiatives are used by other jurisdictions across the country; the alcohol and the unborn baby kit prepared by alcohol and drug services is requested on a regular basis by other health care addictions workers. And we are the first jurisdiction to introduce legislation requiring the reporting of FAS. We bring much to this table, Mr. Speaker.
I believe this conference will continue to give FAS the profile that it deserves in the Yukon and give Yukon a profile in the area of FAS leadership.
Together, Yukoners and concerned Canadians have the opportunity to tackle some of the hard questions on the issue of FAS. It is this government's policy to work with stakeholders and to promote strong relationships so that together we will achieve the best Yukon results. Fetal alcohol syndrome is no different. This government will have the opportunity at the conference to exchange information and to support other jurisdictions, which are less advanced in the FAS and FAE solutions, to come up to our speed.
It is this government's policy to do our research - something that this conference will facilitate. And, Mr. Speaker, the economic spinoffs are many, as I am sure our Minister of Tourism will agree. More people in the Yukon mean not only a one-time visit, but potentially repeated visits as well. When the conference was held in Calgary and Winnipeg, between 700 and 1,200 people participated in the forum.
When this government travels outside the Yukon, we do so in the best interest of Yukoners. We are fiscally responsible and we come back with results.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Keenan: I rise today in response to this ministerial statement. I would like to thank the minister for doing his homework, for homework truly is knowledge. I guess that travel is knowledge too, for it took travel outside to get this minister to understand that the legislation and the tools that he is speaking of so proudly were developed by the former government and led by the hon. minister of the day, Mr. Dave Sloan. So, it is thanks to the New Democratic government that we are on the cutting edge.
Now the rest of the statement is actually a press release. It's a press release for an upcoming conference. And while the Yukon is doing better than many jurisdictions in recognizing and acting on the needs of those with fetal alcohol syndrome and those who live and work with them, it is very important to also recognize our limitations. Like many jurisdictions, we have a long way to go in providing for FAS children and adults in an adequate way that recognizes their limitations and also their abilities.
This statement also recognizes and mentions the many economic spinoffs that this conference will generate, including potential repeat visitors. Well, it's sounding more like a Tourism ministerial statement than a Health ministerial statement - a very poor disguise.
While these potential repeat visitors are welcome, we had better see them getting here first for a truly memorial and memorable conference.
Mr. Jenkins: I welcome the news of the Yukon hosting the 2002 Prairie Northern Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Partnership Conference, as the conference will help focus attention on this preventable disease.
The Yukon Party, both in government and in opposition, has always placed a top priority on FAS/FAE. On April 6, 1995, the Yukon Party Minister of Health and Social Services gave a ministerial statement concerning an FAS/FAE prevention plan in conjunction with an alcohol and drug strategy implementation plan. Action taken at that time included the following: prevention programs and information sessions for school-age children; assistance with accommodation for pregnant women who wished to avoid alcohol during pregnancy; establishing a family support worker's position to provide support to high-risk women in avoiding alcohol during pregnancy; improved coordination of prenatal nutrition, health care and counselling for women at risk of having an FAS/FAE child; parental training and alcohol counselling; continuing involvement with other agencies, such as the Child Development Centre, early childhood nutritional programs, and Health Canada's public health offices.
If the Yukon government is perceived by other governments as a leader in addressing FAS/FAE, it's largely because of the actions taken by the Yukon Party governance of five years ago.
While important steps were made back then, much more work remains to be done. During the April territorial election campaign, the Yukon Party proposed the implementation of a five-step FAS/FAE action plan to include the following: prevention programs to eliminate or reduce alcohol consumption of high-risk parents in order to foster the birth of healthy babies; early diagnosis of FAS/FAE before the age of six; supporting people and families with FAS/FAE through a wide range of services, such as professional counselling and foster homes, in order to provide a stable, nurturing environment for those afflicted with FAS/FAE; a team of professionals trained in psychology, personal counselling, social work and health to be formed to provide services to Yukon schools in order to provide support for FAS/FAE students and their families; investigating the feasibility of establishing special group homes for adults with FAS/FAE.
These were concrete steps and they should be taken, Mr. Speaker. Some progress has been made in some of these areas, but much more work remains to be done. I would ask the minister to give serious consideration to each of these initiatives that I have outlined and be proactive instead of reactive.
Hon. Mr. Roberts: I am overwhelmed by the Christmas spirit of the opposition in supporting this great initiative. I am really overwhelmed.
Yes, I would agree that the NDP, as the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes just said, is on the cutting edge. So much so that they're just about cut off the political map in Canada right now, so I am not sure what cutting edge they're on.
Mr. Speaker, Yukoners deserve to know that it was the Liberal members of this House who had to repeat over and over again that something needed to be done in this area. I remember sitting in the gallery, time after time, and there was a denial by the former Health minister that there was even a problem in this area. I can remember my colleague, Mrs. Edelman, constantly berating the government of the day about recognizing that more had to be done.
I appreciate what I've heard from the Member for Klondike, laying out some concerns and issues. I really appreciate that. I think these are the kinds of developments we need. We need some ideas, thoughts and direction, so I appreciate the Member for Klondike coming forward with those ideas.
As I said, the previous NDP government did not even publicly admit that there was a FAS problem in the Yukon until finally they had to relent because there was so much pressure.
The ministerial statement I just read demonstrates that this government is following through on the commitment to Yukoners. We have already established a connection with FASSY, the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Society of Yukon. We have had a meeting and a caucus meeting. This group did a presentation to our caucus. We are looking forward to building on this good relationship. Together, we are building a strong foundation for tackling this plague - this very tough issue.
Yukoners are concerned. They are interested and they are affected by FAS; all Yukoners are. Even if you don't have the affliction, we are all affected.
We must call upon all of us to work together to make this conference a success. The efforts will be tremendous and heartfelt. Yukoners have a lot to offer to the Canadian public about where we are at with FAS. Our position on FAS is strong. We are advocates for the prevention of FAS. The people of the Yukon can be proud to know that we are leaders in the area. We have a lot to learn still. We don't have all the answers, and we want more answers and more dedication and commitment. We will continue to lead the way as we prepare to host this conference.
And, Mr. Speaker, this government gets results when we stay in the Yukon. And this government gets results when we have to travel outside of the Yukon. Every time we leave, we come back with results. And here again is another example of how this Liberal government works.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Argus Properties, government agreement with
Mr. Fentie: My question today is for the minister acting on behalf of the Minister of Economic Development.
Again last week, on Thursday in this House, we witnessed another shameful display by the Premier in answering questions regarding Argus, and we find out the true facts, the real issues and the real facts through the news media. Upon questioning the Premier on what precipitated the expenditure of the money toward Argus, the Premier refused to answer; however, the news media found out that the Yukon government has waived six contractual obligations under the agreement.
Can the acting minister now confirm that those six conditions or contractual obligations that were waived are the section 6.1(a) through (f)? Can the minister confirm that?
Hon. Mrs. Edelman: What I do want to bring across to the side opposite is that we don't want this issue to end up in court. We don't want another Taga Ku that cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
As for the details on the agreement, I will forward that information to the side opposite when we are able.
Mr. Fentie: It's quite evident that the Liberal government here in the territory didn't want to go to court because they forked over $700,000 to keep themselves out of court.
The city didn't think those obligations under the agreement were met. The city refused and did not want to forward this money. They were ordered to by the Yukon government.
On July 31, a letter was sent from the city to then deputy minister, Mr. Albert, of the Department of Economic Development, asking whether the government thought Argus had fulfilled all its obligations under the terms and conditions of the agreement.
Will the minister then table a copy of that letter this week?
Hon. Mrs. Edelman: The side opposite already has the letter. Why do they want another copy of it? I'm a little unclear here. I really don't understand this, Mr. Speaker. Obviously, the side opposite never asks a question unless they know the answer. They obviously had the letter as well. If they want to have us copy their letter, then we would be more than happy to do that.
Mr. Fentie: Well, there's absolutely no need to be condescending on this matter. This is a serious matter. This government, this Premier, has a serious credibility problem - not only with this Legislative Assembly, but with the Yukon public. They have constantly evaded and deflected answers in this House when it comes to Argus, and this acting minister continues that trend. That's simply unacceptable. This is the same member who stood on her feet in this Legislature and said that all private businesses should stand on their own feet. Does this minister now say that giving Argus $700,000 for on-site property improvements is a Liberal government example of private business standing on its own two feet? Can the minister confirm that?
Hon. Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, on principle, our government is very proud of what the private sector does - how it supports our economy, how it strengthens our economy - so we do believe philosophically that the private sector has an important role to play within the economy of the Yukon. We also believe that government should not interfere in those natural processes.
Question re: Argus Properties, government agreement with
Mr. Fentie: Let's try and clear up the confusion, then. The member has just stood on her feet and said that the Liberal government does not interfere with natural processes. Then why - why, against a lot of opposition from the city, the municipal government, which the same government across the way said was responsible, along with the former NDP government, for this agreement - did this administration, this Liberal government, bully the city into paying $700,000 to Argus Properties for work that was not intended to be paid for? Will she answer that?
Hon. Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, to be clear, this government does not bully the city. That doesn't happen.
And those are not parliamentary terms, I might point out as well.
The member talks endlessly about this agreement that he seems to be familiar with. The articles that were waived were waived because those articles - those things had been done. The positions had been met.
There is no definition of on-site infrastructure, either. Perhaps the side opposite should read the agreement.
We are waiting for the other parties to agree - for tabling the letter that he referred to in his past question - and when we get agreement from those other parties, we will table the letter that perhaps the side opposite already has.
Mr. Fentie: Well, Mr. Speaker, let me help the acting minister out.
The definition of what municipal infrastructure is is in the agreement, under section 2.3, and it lists it as: roads, signage, water mains, sanitary storm sewer, force main, sewer lift station, controlled intersection, utilities. That's what defines municipal infrastructure on public lands.
This expenditure is for property improvements on private property. How, then, can this same minister, representing the Liberal government, stand on her feet in this House and make claim that we on this side don't understand the agreement? I would put forth, Mr. Speaker, that it's the members opposite who don't understand this agreement and have simply misspent $700,000 of taxpayers' money.
Does the member agree that, under the agreement as defined, the expenditure that this government okayed with regard to Argus Properties is not, in fact, municipal improvement on public lands? Will she agree to that?
Hon. Mrs. Edelman: The side opposite is confusing on-site versus off-site infrastructure. Quite clearly, there is no definition for "on-site infrastructure" within the agreement. To be absolutely clear, this side of the House did not negotiate and sign the agreement with Argus. That was done by the previous NDP government. Trying to distance themselves at this point is, to say the least, a little difficult for the public to understand because, clearly, the side opposite signed the agreement. We are fulfilling the terms of that agreement and we are standing up for signed documents that were done by the NDP government previous to our taking office. And we are doing that because we don't want another Taga Ku; we don't want taxpayers to pay millions of dollars.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker: Leader of the official opposition, on a point of order.
Mr. Fairclough: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will only mention this once and I hope that the Liberal government takes this to heart too. In regard to Taga Ku, there was an agreement with the First Nation and the government to put that to bed and not to mention it again. And time and time again, this Liberal government has brought it up over and over again. Mr. Speaker, it has been put to bed and I ask that the Liberal government respect that.
Speaker: There is no point of order here. I find that there is a dispute between members. I have nothing to suggest to me that it is an actual point of order. We can continue then. Is the Acting Minister of Economic Development finished her answer to the final supplementary?
Mr. Fentie: Well, again, this Liberal government tries to hide behind the former government, as they have with the budget and anything else that is working for them. They are hiding behind what the former NDP government did in this territory. The facts are that the Liberal government across the floor has broken the agreement and thrown it out the window, along with $700,000 of taxpayers' money - even against the city's objections - and told the city that they must pay the money. Well, the member points out the agreement was negotiated by the former government. And under the terms and conditions of that agreement, all work was supposed to be completed by October 31 of this year. Does the member not agree that there is no work completed and that this Liberal government has made a serious error in judgment in expending taxpayers' money? And will this member get on her feet, correct the record, clear the record for the Yukon public and try and establish some shred of credibility and trust with the Yukon public again? Will she do so?
Hon. Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, talk about a shred of credibility. This is the NDP government that, when they were in government, negotiated this agreement. They were the ones who signed it. We are fulfilling the terms of that negotiation. When it comes to credibility, Mr. Speaker, the side opposite has a lot to learn.
Question re: Circle sentencing for sexual or violent crimes
Mr. Jenkins: I have a question for the Minister of Justice.
On November 22 of this year, I asked the Minister of Justice about the use of circle sentencing and restorative justice for sexual and violent crimes. Back in July, the minister indicated for the first time that the Liberals did not support its use and stated, furthermore, that she was sending guidelines for its use to the federal government. The minister said she would get back to me. In fact, she repeated and repeated again that she would get back to me, she would get back to me, she would get back to me. The minister said that she was going to table that correspondence. Here we are, some 18 days later, and I have yet to receive anything from this minister.
Will the minister table, tomorrow, that correspondence, if in fact it exists?
Hon. Ms. Buckway:I will check with the department on the status of that material.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Speaker, just what is the policy? Back in July, she was sending a letter off to the federal minister. Here we are, at just about the end of this year, and nothing has happened.
In the Yukon, women's groups are becoming increasingly angry about the light sentences being handed out to those who kill or sexually abuse women and children. So, I would like the minister to explain why she hasn't given a higher priority to dealing with this most pressing issue, which is undermining public confidence in our judicial system. Why is the minister failing to take this issue seriously and deal with it?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: As the Member for Klondike knows, circle sentencing is one particular sentencing alternative. It is the rightful place of the judiciary, however, to weigh the merits of each case within the guidelines set by the courts - guidelines which speak to the fundamental independence and impartiality that judges must have.
In the present circumstances, the judiciary has the final decision on whether a particular offence is appropriate for circle sentencing and also the mechanics of selecting the crime and the role of the victim.
Mr. Jenkins: Violence against women and children is an unfortunate fact of life in Yukon today, made even worse by our devastated economy.
So I would like the minister to finally recognize the plight of the victims and indicate clearly to her federal Liberal counterparts in Ottawa that the current light sentences for criminals who kill or sexually abuse women and children are simply unacceptable. Will she do that or is she going to hide behind some veil of judicial whatever she wants to refer to it as, Mr. Speaker?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Judicial independence is one of the main points of our court system in Canada. I am surprised that the member opposite refers to it as judicial "whatever".
The Criminal Code of Canada sets out the parameters for judicial sentencing and judges have the discretion to take action as they see fit within those parameters. I do take the concerns of women's groups, and other groups that have made representation, very seriously.
If the Yukon government had responsibility for the criminal prosecution function, a general policy might be formulated that could be advanced in open court. Since that is not the case, we deal with our federal counterparts.
Question re: CT scanner
Mr. Keenan: I have a question for the Minister of Health and Social Services today.
He got on his feet previously and said that every time he comes back, he comes back with results. I would like to say, Mr. Speaker, that every time I asked a question of the acting Health minister, I got answers, which is a very refreshing change.
Now that the minister has had time to reflect, I would like to see if his answers will be consistent - homework if you will - with the answers that the acting minister gave last week.
Can the minister confirm that the Yukon Hospital Corporation intends to purchase this CT scan unit this fiscal year?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: For the member opposite, we, as government, do not interfere with decisions made by boards. That's an arm's distance from our governance. The board operates independently, as the member opposite well knows and that decision, I'm sure, will be made by the hospital board and their staff, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Keenan: Wrong, wrong, Mr. Speaker. I didn't ask the minister for interference, and he said that they don't interfere. I'd also like to say that the minister doesn't even facilitate, and that's part of the job of a minister.
Last week, the acting minister admitted that the hospital intended to buy the scanner but said that the issue of O&M costs was not resolved. The hospital officials also said that the scanner they plan to buy will cost more than originally planned in the budget.
Is the minister prepared to underwrite the full cost of this unit, including the O&M, or just part of that unit, because he has admitted that it is in the budget?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Once again, Mr. Speaker, this is an example of how the former government operated - this knee-jerk reaction. Somebody suggests something and, before you know it, it's in the budget, but no homework is done.
Mr. Speaker, the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes always talks about doing homework. It's obvious that when they were government there was very little homework done on this issue. Otherwise, all the resources and all the issues would have been resolved.
All I can say at this point is that we don't interfere with corporations that are arm's distance from the government. We encourage, we build, we try to support. If that request comes our way, obviously we'll have to look at it, Mr. Speaker, but the homework has to be done. To underline the expression that the member opposite always uses, the homework has to be done. It's not up to me to do the homework. That's up to the corporation, and that's what they're doing at this point.
Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, again I have to say that I'm absolutely appalled.
The minister always talks about his previous career in implementing and doing the curriculum, I guess. Well, Mr. Speaker, leadership is about much more than just implementing curricula. It's about developing it, and I do wish that the minister would get on with it.
The fact is that the minister has repeatedly referred to this as knee-jerk, as political and without consultation. Wrong. The minister gets a failing grade.
Now that the minister has had a chance to do some of his homework on his own, he won't need to fall back on that unconvincing spin. The fact is, Mr. Speaker, that the previous government did consult with the Hospital Corporation, we did talk to the CEO, and we did it on more than one occasion before we put this item into the 2000-01 budget cycle. So, the minister's assertion is wrong, and I think the minister should stand on his feet and apologize to the CEO and to the Hospital Corporation for his wrongful assertions.
Will the minister now admit that a CT scanner is considered a standard of care? Will he admit that it is in the budget although it wasn't his idea? The minister won't get any political brownie points from this one, but will he meet the capital and O&M objectives, and will the minister implement this lifesaving device for all members of the Yukon? Will the minister do that, or are we going to get lost in homework?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Mr. Speaker, I can't help but laugh. On the one hand, we don't do the homework and now we're doing the homework. What is it? Do we do it or do we not do it? Just buy it - is that a knee-jerk reaction? I think it is, Mr. Speaker.
Yes, I agree that the technological advancement of our hospital would be very well-served by having such a piece of equipment. But, if the homework had been done under their watch, to coin a favourite expression, it would have been purchased. Unfortunately, the homework wasn't done under their watch, otherwise the money would have been in the budget to buy the complete CAT scan and not just part of it.
That is what homework is all about. It means doing what they have to do to ensure that we get the right piece of equipment, so that we, in the future, will not be turning around in a year's time and buying another one because we didn't buy the right one the first time.
So, I would have to agree. Homework is very important. It takes time. That's why we put in place a technical review committee for the members opposite, so that no longer can we do a knee-jerk reaction. It will be looked at in a totally professional way, with all the resources, to ensure that we make the right decisions for Yukoners.
If we are looking a $1 million today, and then suddenly two or three months later, it's $2 million, does that mean the homework has been done? I would think that the Yukon taxpayer would start to say, "That's funny math; it must be NDP math."
Question re: Hamilton Boulevard, cost overrun
Mr. McRobb: Well, let's just see how consistent this Liberal government really is. My question is for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services.
Earlier this fall, the minister said that a cost overrun of almost $500,000 on the Hamilton Boulevard twinning project was just the cost of doing business today. On November 8, the minister told this House that the cost for this project, "...stem from land development and, as such, are 100-percent recoverable through the sale of lots." Is that still the minister's position on these project costs?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: As I had explained to the member previously, there were a couple of key factors that contributed to the difference in project costs. One was the requirement for an additional intersection because the city decided to locate the new swimming pool complex off Hamilton Boulevard - that was about $350,000. And the recent increase in fuel costs has had a significant impact on road projects using asphalt. And the costs for the twinning project stem from land development and, as such, are 100-percent recoverable.
Mr. McRobb: Now, back on July 4, the minister was talking about land development in Copper Ridge. What she said at the time was that - and again, I quote - "re-evaluation of the current trend of lot sales does not warrant proceeding with the development." Does that statement still reflect the minister's position on lot inventory?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Further lot development in Copper Ridge is being reviewed in the context of the two-year supply policy. In addition to lots currently available for sale, a further 40 lots in a section of Copper Ridge are being held until demand warrants their release.
Mr. McRobb: Thank you for that briefing note, Mr. Speaker. Let's see if we can get the minister's response, and not the department's response.
So, on the one hand, the minister is saying that twinning Hamilton Boulevard will be paid for through lot development in Copper Ridge. But on the other hand, she is saying that there isn't going to be any lot development in Copper Ridge. Given the apparent contradictions, can the minister tell us how she plans to pay for this project? And will there be a separate development fee tacked on to existing lot inventory to recover the costs?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: It is not expected that there will be an extra cost tacked on to the lot price to recover the cost for this overrun.
Question re: J.V. Clark School, government commitments
Mr. Fairclough: I have a question for the Minister of Education.
On November 10, the minister and the Premier met with the people of Mayo to discuss the completion of the new J.V. Clark School replacement. The joint councils of Nacho Nyak Dun and the Village of Mayo have sent a letter listing nine items that were agreed to at that meeting. Does the minister agree with that list, and will he make sure that all of those commitments will be met?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Yes, Mr. Speaker. We were in Mayo and we did talk to the joint councils. There was a list that was prepared. The Premier indicated that we would follow through on commitments.
Yes, we have seen the letter and we are just waiting for the final consultation with the contractors before we proceed in responding to that letter. As the Premier indicated, we will keep in direct contact with the joint councils up there and the school board. We are just putting the final plans on that. It was most definitely one of the commitments that we were honouring.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, I would like to table the letter that was sent to the members opposite.
The first three commitments on that list are (1) that construction will be retendered by the end of this calendar year; (2) that construction would begin at the end of March, even if the project comes in overbudget; and (3) that the footprint of the school will not be changed. There are many more.
Last week, the government officials went to Mayo to discuss possible changes for the new school, but the village and the First Nation declined to meet with them. Can the minister give his assurance that the November 10 commitments are still on track and that there will be no further delays or significant changes to the original plan?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: We are committed to the construction start-up, as we had committed to the folks up in Mayo. We are holding fast to that and it will be a start on the date that we had indicated - toward the end of March.
There were a number of other commitments. We are awaiting the final discussions with the contractors, because we are anticipating in the neighbourhood of four contractors bidding on this tender. I have already indicated to the folks up there that I will be getting back to them with respect to that letter, just as soon as I get that information.
Mr. Fairclough: Given recent history, it's not surprising that the joint council may not be eager to meet with a government that has broken its promise earlier.
The government also agreed to arrange for projects, so that there were no interruptions or delays in the carpentry training apprentice program. In speaking to some of the members in Mayo, there are people who have taken the course, have not completed it and are not on the project that has been identified by this government. Can the minister tell us if this is indeed taking place? Has all of the training that is involved with the project been put forward? And do all the people who took the carpenter training now have jobs in Mayo?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I do believe that the Premier has signed a joint letter with the Chief of the Nacho Nyak Dun to, as we had committed, find work for five individuals. We have done that and entered into an agreement with them.
Question re: Agricultural multi-year development plan
Mr. McRobb: In a press release last week, the Minister of Renewable Resources released a so-called multi-year development plan for the Yukon's agricultural industry. At first glance it appeared that the plan was sanctioned by the minister; however, later in the press release, the minister washes his hands of the plan saying that he is not ready to accept these recommendations. Can the minister tell us if this is a multi-year development plan or is this a consultant's report?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I do thank the member opposite for the question. As we had indicated in the agricultural policy and the grazing lease policy evaluations that went out for public consultation - public comment - it's the same exercise that we are doing here with the multi-year development plan.
Mr. McRobb: Well, Mr. Speaker, if the minister is not willing to support the recommendations in this report, it's hard to see how this could be a plan for the industry. Furthermore, Yukoners have yet to hear from this minister on recommendations from another stakeholder report on a new Yukon government agricultural and grazing policy. It is obvious that the minister is paying lip service to the agricultural industry. Why is the minister not prepared to accept these recommendations now?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: As the member has just stated, and as I stated in my earlier answer, these reports are out for consultation. We don't want to presuppose how the industry or the stakeholders are going to the respond to them. We want to work with them, as opposed to what the members opposite did in previous years. We have also stood up in the House to say that the agricultural industry here in the territory warrants consideration by this government as they produce $4 million annually to the income in the territory.
Mr. McRobb: Well, Mr. Speaker, this government uses political consultation as a pawn in the chess game of politics. We know that.
Now, the Yukon economy is suffering and the agricultural industry is suffering along with it. Yukoners are still waiting for something to come from this Liberal government that shows they care about improving and diversifying the economy.
Will the minister be using this report as a basis for widespread consultation on agriculture, and will he table a timeline of that consultation and a list of whom he will be consulting with?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Speaker, I think what the members opposite should be studying - as my colleague, the Minister of Health and Social Services, often says, "They should be doing their homework." It's a continual flip-flop. First, we're not consulting enough. Now we're not consulting at all.
I don't understand what the members opposite are looking for by way of commitment. We have committed to consult with Yukoners. That's exactly what we're doing on all three policies. We're looking for constructive feedback and will then sit down and work with these folks, rather than dictate to them what they should be doing.
The flip-flops continue. First there's too much money in the supplementary, then there isn't enough money in the supplementary. And I'm really quite mystified as to exactly what position the members opposite themselves are taking on these issues, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed.
We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Ms. Tucker: 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 government House leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: Good afternoon, everybody. I now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Do members wish to take a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will take a 15-minute recess.
Chair: I now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will continue on line-by-line debate on Bill No. 3, Third Appropriation Act, 2000-01.
Bill No. 3 - Third Appropriation Act, 2000-01 - continued
Department of Community and Transportation Services - continued
On Capital Expenditures - continued
On Aviation/Yukon Airports - continued
On Airports - continued
Chair: I believe Mr. Jenkins had the floor.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, when we left the general debate last Thursday, we were dealing with airports. I had some specific concerns dealing with airports and where we are heading in the Yukon overall with respect to devolution.
The responsibility for airports has been transferred from the federal government to the Government of the Yukon, Mr. Chair. And the rules for airport operations are still controlled by the federal government. They really have not changed since the airports were operated by the federal government. And now they are operated by the Government of the Yukon. So there has been no change in federal regulations.
The feds have continued with the enforcement side of it. And what we have seen with respect to the Whitehorse Airport is that the Whitehorse Airport did not conform to the amount of water required for firefighting. Now, that condition existed when the federal government owned and operated the airport and now that the Government of the Yukon owns and operates it.
But now the federal government is demanding that we have adequate fire-fighting flows there to meet the potential for fire.
With respect to the airport in Dawson City, Mr. Chair, we have a graver situation in that the airport did not conform to the regulations under the federal government when it was owned and operated by the federal government. It was transferred to the Government of Yukon and now the Government of Yukon really hasn't changed the way it has operated the airport. In fact, it has improved upon it in some respects, Mr. Chair. But the federal government flies up from Edmonton and the big arm of the federal government says, "We are the enforcement. This is wrong. You are going to lose your airport certification. We're going to shut this airport down and you will no longer be certified unless you bring it into conformity." And what that means, Mr. Chair, is all of the brush surrounding the airport - virtually the highway - is in the airport right-of-way. The Klondike Highway has to be moved. They drew a line parallel to the runway. They said anything from there to the centre line of the runway has to be void of any parked aircraft, anything whatsoever, but if you project that line, it actually intersects the Klondike Highway, Mr. Chair.
This should be very much of a warning bell as to what's happening with devolution. Although airport transfers were negotiated by the Government of Yukon, it was done in good faith but, at the end of the day, we missed the boat. We missed the boat because we now have to go back and find all sorts of money. In the case of Dawson, we were given to understand that, just to make the airport conform to existing regulations, a $4.5-million expenditure is going to be necessary. And that doesn't even mean paving the runway surface or bringing it up to better standards, which the industry demands today.
The tripod on which an economy is built is three-fold - transportation, communications and energy. Well, the airport cannot be used as a tool of economic development in Dawson City because it doesn't conform to the existing rules and regulations. It's strictly a day VFR airport. The hills surrounding the airport render it useless for night flying - even for night VFR, let alone IFR. The minimum descent altitude is very, very high. If we just have a wisp of clouds there, you can't even get into Dawson City.
So, if what's happening in just this one area of airport transfers is an example of how the federal government is treating Yukon, Mr. Chair, I have some grave concerns.
We're supposed to have bought in, and Yukon has indeed bought in to this wonderful relationship between the Yukon Liberals and the federal Liberals - this wonderful, cosy, lovey-dovey relationship.
But I point out, Mr. Chair, that at the end of the day, Yukon is going backwards. We're incurring more and more costs to operate facilities that have been transferred to us, just to bring them into conformity with the rules that existed even when the feds operated it. Can you imagine what's going to happen in a few years, under devolution, when total authority for all of the areas is transferred to the Yukon? Just take mining, and if the federal government determines that the Yukon is conflicting with the federal regulations, can you imagine how many individuals with bullet-proof vests and big firearms on their sides are going to be approaching the Yukon to correct the situation up here? It's just going to be a lawyers' delight.
Mr. Chair, I have some serious concerns as to what this government is going to do, other than just keep paying the bills.
I know the minister indicated she has gone back to the federal government to find $4.5 million to bring the airport in Dawson City into conformity. We know that it's going to cost the Government of Yukon almost three-quarters of a million dollars to get adequate water to the Whitehorse Airport to meet fire protection rules. What are we going to do to bring the airports ahead beyond that, Mr. Chair, specifically Dawson City?
How much more money is it going to take? Or are we just wasting our money on an existing airport and would it be better to relocate it? These airports have to be used as a tool of economic development, especially in rural Yukon. And the next step is to hard-surface the airport runway. You can't chipseal an airport runway. That's the usual method of treating our highways. It has to be either concrete or asphalt, because chipseal will not stand up to stop-and-go traffic or a heavy load impacting it at one time or forward directional movement, so it's not a good surfacing material. When you look what you have to do to bring the base up to standards - especially in Dawson - you're probably looking at an expenditure of an additional $2 million or $3 million.
So at the end of the day in Dawson, we've got an airport that the government is going to ask the federal government for $4.5 million dollars just to make it conform. Then after that, how much more is it going to take just to hard-surface the runway? We are probably looking at an expenditure of another couple of million dollars. And then what do we have, Mr. Chair? We have an airport that may or may not work in that location. So just where is the minister and the department taking us with respect to airports? Does she recognize the seriousness of this situation as to the way the federal government is treating the Government of the Yukon in this one area alone? Let's just deal with that area alone. And what are we going to do? What is the game plan? Has the Government of the Yukon developed a policy in this regard, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The member raised a number of questions on Thursday relating to airports. I hear what the Member for Klondike is saying, especially about the Dawson Airport. The people of Dawson made a decision that the airport would remain where it is, and that does mean there are some constraints on what can happen there. It would be an additional cost of another several million dollars for hard-surfacing that airport. At this point, I don't see any way around the fact that it is a daytime-only VFR airport. There are some hills in the way.
The member asked on Thursday about the added requirements of Customs at the Whitehorse and Dawson airports, what changes are going to be made to the terminals, what changes have been made and at what cost to accommodate the influx of passengers.
At the Whitehorse Airport, airport management, through discussion with Canada Customs, have made a few minor changes to the layout of the Customs check-in area to create less congestion and to speed up clearance. This includes the construction of two wickets, a podium and added signage at a cost of around $1,000. Airport management is continuing to work with the airlines to provide a spread in flight arrivals to alleviate congestion.
The department removed the Dawson City Customs trailer to facilitate the apron expansion and extended the main floor of the air terminal building in order to provide office space to Canada Customs for primary searches at a cost of $12,300. The department undertook renovations to provide Customs space for secondary searches in the basement of the air terminal building, and that cost was approximately $12,000.
On the Whitehorse Airport water system, the airport capital assistance program, ACAP, only applies to airport infrastructure that is directly related to scheduled passenger service. The four priorities in the ACAP program are safety-related air-side projects, like the rehabilitation of runways, taxiways lighting and the purchase of airport firefighting vehicles; heavy air-side safety-related mobile equipment; air terminal building ground-side safety related issues, such as sprinkler systems or asbestos removal; and asset protection, such as refurbishing of air terminal or ground-side access.
The water main, for the most part, follows the highway right-of-way and is off airport property, so it is unlikely that the department can make a case to the federal government for a contribution.
The Member for Klondike had asked about Nav Canada service changes, if the department has rejected the proposal by Nav Canada to reduce their contract with itinerant aircraft and how long ago this communication was sent to Nav Canada.
In August 2000, Nav Canada circulated an initial draft that included proposed changes to CARS, duties and procedures. The government responded with concerns to the initial draft on August 23. Nav Canada withdrew the proposed changes that affected CARS personnel and the dispensing of aircraft traffic information.
In mid-October, Nav Canada reintroduced the proposal to change the procedures and duties with respect to CARS dispensing the aircraft traffic information. On October 31, the Yukon government asked the CARS personnel to discuss this issue with local aircraft operators, using their facilities.
On November 10, the Yukon government presented Nav Canada with the concerns of the medevac carrier. Nav Canada will continue into next year with their consultation process. I understand that changes will not be implemented until this process is complete.
Mr. Jenkins: Let's go through these one at a time, Mr. Chair. One of the famous Liberal initiatives in Canada is this wonderful gun control bill, C-68. What is going to be the impact on our airports in dealing with Customs and Customs clearance of gun registration that comes into effect January 1 of this year? If we have any aircraft passing through, or if this is their port of entry, Customs is going to have to deal with it. There is going to be a whole series of paperwork that will have to flow. I am told that it could be up to two hours per aircraft to process the applicable forms necessary. How are we going to deal with a group of aircraft inbound - small aircraft, itinerant aircraft, the Cessna Flying Club or the Piper Club, or some other club originating from Alaska, such as the 99ers - where there are 20 or 30 aircraft inbound at the same time. How is Customs going to cope with this wonderful Liberal initiative, Bill C-68?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: My department will be writing a letter to Customs to ask just that question.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, we had better get busy with that letter if the same applies to the time frame that it takes this minister to get a letter to Canada Customs as it does to get one to the federal Justice department. These rules come into force on January 1, and I might remind the minister that we are just about halfway through December. We have a small window of opportunity in which we have to address this initiative, because D-Day is January 1. After that, gun registration under Bill C-68 is required of all itinerant aircraft originating out of the U.S., where they must carry a firearm in their survival equipment.
Now, is that all the minister is saying? She's just going to write a letter to Canada Customs? Isn't there a meeting at a high level or some level to deal with this initiative, Mr. Chair? Or is this the way the Liberals treat guests in Canada? How is the Minister of Tourism going to do her job, to go out and attract itinerant aircraft, attract visitors to the Yukon? And they are a great source of visitors to our area. The nicest thing about them is they usually come with a comb, a toothbrush and a credit card, so they spend money. They're the type of individual we want to see here and whom we want to welcome to the Yukon. But as soon as they arrive, they're told, "Fill out all these forms, register your firearm, pay your $50 and wait two hours to be allowed to get into Canada."
We have to have something in place better than what we currently have, Mr. Chair. All the minister says to the Legislature is that they're going to write a letter to Canada Customs. I would urge the Minister of Community and Transportation Services to consult with her colleague, the Minister of Tourism, because it's going to impact our economy.
And if you don't think that our economy can get any worse, just let us leave the people in charge of it who are currently in charge of it, and watch, Mr. Chair. Under the Liberal watch in Ottawa, and now in the Yukon, we have virtually destroyed the mining industry here in the Yukon; we have destroyed any semblance of oil and gas exploration or activity; we are now taking up the challenge and attempting to destroy the visitor industry, or parts of it. Now why would the minister want to do that? Isn't there an initiative more than just writing a letter to Canada Customs to deal with this? And if so, why not?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Well, under the line-by-line item of airports in the Community and Transportation Services department, aside from writing a letter, there isn't much else that I can do under this particular line in this budget.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, what an excuse, Mr. Chair - what a feeble excuse from this minister. What we have and what we are discussing in line-by-line is aviation/Yukon airports - airports. Now, how can the minister make that interpretation? Because it does impact on the economy of the Yukon; it does impact on airports and how we receive visitors. We have really three airports that are port of entries into Canada. We have Beaver Creek, Dawson City and we have Whitehorse. They are recognized ports of entry where aircraft can land to clear Customs. And the minister only has to check, Mr. Chair, to see the number of itinerant aircraft that arrive and clear Customs at these ports of entry. In the summer months, it is quite significant. At other times of the year, it goes up and down but, during the summer months, they contribute significantly to our visitor industry, Mr. Chair.
Why is this minister making it harder for the Minister of Tourism to attract visitors arriving via itinerant aircraft, Mr. Chair? Because it is an area that the visitor industry has worked on, developed, and it's paying dividends. Without some initiative on the part of this Minister of Tourism, who also, I might point out, is the Minister of Justice - and I recognize we're not into Justice debate. But this is an area that requires attention. Why isn't the minister giving this area the attention it deserves?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Last time I looked, I wasn't the Minister of Tourism, as the member mentioned. I am the Minister of Justice. I'm also the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. I'm not the Minister of Tourism.
Canada Customs is a federal agency and, aside from asking them to streamline the process for itinerant American aircraft, there is not much else that will do any good.
I point out that this is the airport section of the capital budget, and the items in question are paint for the Burwash air terminal building, the Whitehorse Airport water supply system, and a legal survey for the Dawson City Airport. So Canada Customs isn't covered in these line items, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Jenkins: But while we're dealing with airports and aviation, it's completely applicable that it be dealt with in this area.
If we just switch gears here, with respect to airports, have the minister's officials costed out what kind of money we're going to be requiring to meet the new regulations, or the new proposed regulations, for fire protection at Yukon airports, specifically Dawson, Old Crow, Whitehorse, Watson Lake - any of the major airports, Mr. Chair, that have scheduled service into them?
This is another wonderful federal government initiative. Under the Liberals, they reduced the amount of firefighting protection at all of our major airports down to a minimum. In some cases, it's non-existent, Mr. Chair.
After they transfer the airports to municipal or provincial governments, then they step back in as the enforcement agency and say, "Well, hold the phone here. You need a whole bunch of new firefighting equipment and a firefighting force, if you're going to be flying into these airports on a scheduled basis." Now, what is it going to cost Yukoners to meet these new proposed regulations?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The cost for the Dawson City Airport would be approximately $400,000 in capital, with annual O&M costs of $150,000. The Old Crow Airport would be eligible for an exemption, but if there were a small increase in traffic, it would trigger a need for service, costing about $350,000 in capital costs and annual O&M costs of $100,000.
The emergency response service provided at the Whitehorse Airport exceeds the proposed requirements.
We are very concerned with the proposed CARS 308 regulations as they are currently written. The Yukon government believes that aircraft emergency intervention services should only be implemented where it can be justified on a cost-benefit basis, taking safety into consideration.
We wrote to David Collenette, the Minister of Transport Canada, in August and again expressed strong objections to the AEIS proposal at meetings with the minister in meetings in October 2000. We are continuing to work with our provincial and territorial counterparts to seek amendments to the federal proposal, and we will again be following up with the federal government shortly.
Mr. Jenkins: I thank the minister for the information, but this is just another example of the federal government having care and control for these kinds of responsibilities previously, reducing them to zero, and then reimposing a new set of criteria on the industry. And Yukon is expected to pay the bill. When you start looking at where we're heading, it becomes more and more evident across so many different boundaries, Mr. Chair, that one should have the alarm bells ringing if one is in a government like this one.
Let's look at the CARS situation, and I take the minister back to her response with respect to the change in regulations in that area. Nav Canada has proposed the changes twice. It's my information that they'll be proposing them again and they will be coming down the pipe and they'll be implemented very, very soon, Mr. Chair. Just how much of an initiative is this government taking with respect to opposing these changes in CARS regulations?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: As I said to the member earlier, Nav Canada is in a consultation process that will continue into the new year, and it's my understanding that changes won't be implemented until the process is complete. We have been passing on our concerns to Nav Canada and will continue to do so as long as the proposals are unacceptable to us.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, it's my understanding that Nav Canada only has to go out to the industry, consult, and it can then change the regulations. If the Government of the Yukon raises an objection, Nav Canada has to go to the minister for a waiver - if you want to call it that - in order to impose these changes. I have been given to understand that they are right there at this juncture, and it would appear that these changes are going to be brought to bear on the industry early in this forthcoming year.
I want to know specifically what steps the department and this minister are taking to oppose these regulations. Because what it means, effectively, is that any of the CARS operators cannot talk to the aircraft unless it is an emergency.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I have already outlined for the member the steps we have taken so far. I am advised that the consultation process will continue into the new year and that they will not be implementing changes until the process is complete, so that gives us more time to continue to register our concerns.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, it looks like what the federal government wants to do is virtually shut down the aviation industry here in the Yukon and, indeed, in northern Canada. If you look at what the federal government initiatives are, they are basically demanding and ensuring that all of the airports conform to federal regulations. And now they are either ensuring that existing regulations are enforced or making changes to the CARS rules and regulations through Nav Canada, which are going to have an impact on the industry. So at the end of the day, the only safe way to fly up here is not to fly because everything will be too costly or so highly regulated that we can't afford to conform.
Now, let's go back to the Dawson City Airport. The minister indicated that they have gone to the federal government to seek $4.5 million to make that airport conform to the existing regulations. What happens if the federal government turns down that request? Where are we at? Is Nav Canada going to pull the certification on the airport in Dawson City like they have threatened?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: That's a speculative question.
Mr. Jenkins: What is the game plan for the government? What's the contingency plan if the Government of the Yukon doesn't receive the $4.5 million from the federal government to upgrade the Dawson City Airport?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, that is a speculative question.
Mr. Jenkins: It's not a speculative question. It's a direct question, Mr. Chair. It deals with a specific area.
What is the contingency plan? What's the backup plan? What is the game plan that this government has? You can't always be assured that they're going to receive the money necessary to bring this airport into conformity. What happens if they say it's only worth $1.5 million or $500,000? What is the government going to do? What is the Government of Yukon going to do to ensure that the Dawson City Airport conforms to the existing federal regulations? Or are they just going to abandon it and allow its certification to lapse?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I'm not going to indulge in guessing games about what might happen "if". We are awaiting a response from Transport Canada.
Mr. Jenkins: I'll ask the minister to table the letters from Transport Canada spelling out the areas where the Dawson City Airport does not conform to the existing regulations, and the response from the Government of Yukon to the federal Department of Transport on that same issue. Can the minister table all of the correspondence that has transpired in, let's say, going back to when they attended at Dawson this summer and clearly indicated that this airport doesn't conform and that, if they didn't immediately make it conform, they were going to pull the certification?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I can ask the department to look at what can be made available.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, I'm not asking the minister to look at what can be made available. I am asking the minister for a commitment to table the correspondence received from Transport Canada dealing with the Dawson City Airport - all correspondence - and the department's responses. Will the minister do so?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, I will consult with the department and see if it can all be tabled, subject, of course, to confidentiality requirements.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, what could be confidential in this kind of information? Basically, Transport Canada has told the Government of Yukon that the airport in Dawson City does not conform to the existing regulations. I am sure they outlined a whole series of areas where it does not conform. Is the minister going to be withholding this information and why? What would be the reason for withholding this information? What is confidential about any of this information?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I won't withhold anything that I'm allowed to table. The Member for Klondike may note that I always say, "subject to confidentiality requirements", so that I don't wind up committing myself to tabling something I am not able to table.
Mr. Jenkins: Has the minister been advised of any components in this correspondence that are confidential?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I haven't discussed the correspondence in detail with the department.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, we have some serious problems with the airport in Dawson, and I would urge the minister to give it the attention it requires, because it's not something that is going to go away, and if the regulations with respect to fire protection are imposed on Yukon with respect to Old Crow, we could have some serious cost implications for the Government of the Yukon.
I would suggest to the minister that her indication of $350,000 in capital costs and an additional $100,000 a year in O&M costs is probably very much on the light side, Mr. Chair, seeing the requirement for ongoing and continuous training of individuals to handle fire protection. It's an area that the department should be very concerned with. It could very much escalate way out of control. If there's no one there concerned with it, all of us suffer.
But the airport into Old Crow is, really, only a lifeline for much of the year. We've occasionally opened a winter road, and the water course has been used in the past but it's not currently in use for the movement of freight, Mr. Chair. So, the scheduled services at the airport in Old Crow are very, very highly dependent on its airport certification. Without that, it acts as a detriment to that community, and I don't want to see that happen, Mr. Chair.
The same holds true for Dawson's airport and its airport certification. Its certification could be easily lost or revoked by Transport Canada, especially in light of the requirements that currently are underway to bring it up to standards that have existed for a considerable period of time.
So we are not going to get very many more answers from this minister on this front. I would urge her to have a thorough and comprehensive briefing on it. And I would urge the minister to consult with the Minister of Tourism and see if we can get some movement from the federal government on how we can conform to Bill C-68 with respect to itinerant aircraft arriving in Yukon as their initial port of entry into Canada.
Chair: Is there any further debate on airports? We will proceed with the line then, Aviation/Yukon Airports.
Airports in the amount of $193,000 agreed to
On Municipal and Community Affairs Division
On Public Safety
On Fire Protection
Mr. Jenkins: Previously we had some recoveries from Canada in this area of public safety for the evacuation of Old Crow during a recent forest fire threat, the evacuation of Pelly Crossing for a fire threat, and also Burwash Landing. Just where is the Government of the Yukon at with respect to the recovery of this outstanding amount that the Government of the Yukon incurred by evacuating these communities, and when can we expect to receive funds from DIAND?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Those recoveries are under EMO, which, I believe, we have already completed, but I am told they are coming along quite well.
This $54,000 increase for fire protection includes an $18,000 revote request for a high volume hose and pump for Ross River, $38,000 in revote money to carry out geotechnical work and a technical study and to complete the plans and specs for the construction of the Mayo Road fire hall, and a decrease of $2,000 for savings out of firefighting equipment purchases.
Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister be more specific with respect to recovery of funds from DIAND, other than it's coming along quite well?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I have indicated that it isn't under this line.
Mr. Jenkins: We're dealing with public safety, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, as I indicated, this is under the Emergency Measures Organization.
Mr. Jenkins: It's still an issue surrounding public safety. It can be dealt with in this line. Could the minister please respond?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Going back to EMO, there's an audit going on of the amount claimed on Burwash, which the department is taking as a sign that things are proceeding well. For the last several months there has been a lot of correspondence with DIAND and federal emergency preparedness on Old Crow. I believe the Pelly amount was a smaller amount, but I understand that that's also proceeding.
Mr. McRobb: I have just a couple of questions, and I think they can probably fit in here, too.
On the Burwash fire, I understand there's a report and a budget. Would the minister be able to provide us with copies of those, please?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Could the Member for Kluane be a little more specific about which report and which budget he is referring to?
Mr. McRobb: The report, I understand, was submitted maybe about a month ago. It covered the reclamation and so on to do with the fire. Does the minister now know which report it is?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: We will certainly check into it and get back to the member.
Mr. McRobb: Right.
I understand there is a budget with an accounting of what money was spent. I would also like to know if there is any incomplete work remaining. Also, I would like to know what other departments have contributed to the reclamation and beautification of the community.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: We can get back to the member on that.
Fire Protection in the amount of $54,000 agreed to
On Community Services
On Community Planning
Community Planning in the amount of $199,000 agreed to
On Public Health/Roads and Streets
On Planning and Pre-Engineering
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, on the engineering side of it, one of the initiatives that has taken place in other northern jurisdictions is with respect to highway signage. There is a coating that they put on highway signs - directional signs and the like - that stops the snow from sticking to the signs. Why hasn't the Yukon taken up this initiative, and why aren't we using that process here?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I assume the member is referring to something like the spray coating Pam. I will be glad to check with the department and see what can be available.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I knew we'd find a use for this minister, Mr. Chair; it's the spray coating, Pam. Maybe we can start there.
Signage in other jurisdictions is coated with a repellent that stops the snow from sticking to them. One only has to travel other northern jurisdictions to see this in effect. All you have to have is the snowplough go by and it just sprays snow up from the highway and it just globs on, as does blowing snow.
The minister stood up in the House a short time ago, Mr. Chair, and made a big announcement about safety on our highways. Well, I'd urge the minister to consider avenues where she could address the safety issue on our highways with very little expense.
I know the minister has a great drive to work every morning from her constituency to the office here in the Legislature. It's probably all of the distance one could throw a snowball, Mr. Chair, from the parking lot where she resides to the parking lot here. I know she is not going to encounter very many signs indicating the turns and the bends and the dips in the road, Mr. Chair, but for the rest of us from rural Yukon, I would urge the minister to investigate. I'm not suggesting non-stick Pam. I think it's more of a silicone coating or it's an actual sign material, which precludes the snow from sticking to it. I've raised it once before with the previous minister and I haven't seen any changes. I would very much like the minister to investigate it and report back to the Legislature. In fact, I'd even welcome, Mr. Chair, a ministerial statement on an initiative.
Now, I don't really want to get carried away, but this would be a very good safety initiative that the minister could implement with, I'm sure, very little cost. Perhaps when she's driving down the highway in the fall of the year with her brushcutter, she could have somebody in the sidecar of her Harley Davidson spraying these signs with this non-slip material, Mr. Chair. It would probably be a very worthwhile undertaking, and we will have a use for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services.
So, could the minister investigate this initiative and report back to the House on it?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I thank the Member for Klondike for bringing this to my attention. I'll have the department look into it and report back.
Mr. Jenkins: On sewage treatment, could the minister give us an indication of where we're going to spend $271,000?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The increase consists of the following: a $39,000 revote request for a study of sewage disposal alternatives and to implement recommended options for the Tagish sewage treatment project; a $142,000 revote request to complete detailed design work and begin the preliminary phases of construction for the Carcross sewage treatment disposal project; a $46,000 revote request to complete construction of the new sewage system for Destruction Bay; and a $44,000 revote request to complete geotechnical investigations and environmental assessment for the Burwash sewage lagoon. These were all revotes, Mr. Chair.
Planning and Pre-Engineering in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On Sewage Treatment and Disposal
Sewage Treatment and Disposal in the amount of $271,000 agreed to
On Land Development
Mr. Jenkins: Can the minister advise when the lots in the new subdivisions in and around Dawson will be going on sale?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I believe they will be on sale early next spring.
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you, Mr. Chair, but we've heard that story once before. What's the impediment? They were supposed to go on sale last year, then it was this spring and still nothing is happening. They have been sitting there vacant for a year. There was a demand. Why aren't they currently on the market?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: There were some issues around making sure that the lots were sold with telephone service. That has been resolved, so they will be on sale in the spring.
Mr. Jenkins: What was the final cost of telephone service to these lots? Does the minister have that? I have heard numbers all over the wall. Actually, the power poles were installed by the utility and all the power was provided, so it was just a matter of attaching a cable. Northwestel came in with an inordinate request for money. What was the final resolution of that issue?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I don't have the figure with me, but I can get it for the member.
Industrial in the amount of $213,000 agreed to
Mr. Jenkins: What are we not doing in recreational? That is probably the only area where we are seeing an increase in demand - it is for recreational lots. What are we decreasing there?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The decrease is from the cancellation of a planned land purchase in Keno. The feasibility study and purchase of land from United Keno Hill Mines Ltd. for development purposes won't proceed at this time due to legal issues surrounding land ownership.
Recreational in the amount of an underexpenditure of $200,000 agreed to
Residential in the amount of an underexpenditure of $1,460,000 agreed to
On Land Central Services
On Rural Electrification and Telephone
Rural Electrification and Telephone in the amount of $339,000 agreed to
On Miscellaneous Projects Non-Recoverable
Mr. Jenkins: Can we just have an overview of that expenditure, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: There was a $5,000 revote request to survey a roadway at Deep Creek; $249,000 revote request to complete the purchase of outstanding Whitehorse waterfront resident parcels and a $12,000 revote request to complete rehabilitation of unauthorized land use projects started in the previous year.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, we're going to be spending about a million and a quarter on the Whitehorse waterfront recovering all the lands from the individuals resident there. What's the intended purpose for that land after we have recovered it all?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, as I'm sure the member knows, the government is working closely with the City of Whitehorse, and there is lots of planning going on for the future of the waterfront lands.
Mr. Jenkins: I know that the City of Whitehorse is working closely with YTG, but what's the intended purpose? We're spending over a million dollars recovering all this land, moving the residents there out of that area, paying them to relocate - what are we going to be doing with that land after we have clear title? I might point out to the minister that we currently do have clear title to all but one parcel that has been selected under a land claim agreement, but what are we going to be doing with it, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: What we are going to get is vacant land that can be incorporated into the city plan as the City of Whitehorse chooses. The Member for Klondike is chuckling, so he's having a little joke here.
Mr. Jenkins: No, Mr. Chair, the Member for Klondike is not chuckling; he is just amazed at how evasive the Minister of Community and Transportation Services is with her answers. I just have some concerns, especially given the tremendous amount of money that the Government of the Yukon is pumping into Whitehorse for land and land development. It just begs the question, and it begs an answer: what is the game plan and the intended purpose for this land? Now, is it going to be put out to a public auction or is it just going to be transferred? Is the Government of the Yukon going to be the lead developer of it or is the City of Whitehorse? Who is going to be doing what with this land? Or is it another initiative that is all confidential? Or are we going to call this land development "Argus II"?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I have already answered the member that we will be working with the City of Whitehorse in order to incorporate that land into the Whitehorse official community plan.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, in case the minister doesn't know, Whitehorse already has an official community plan and that area is already zoned in the official community plan. Now, what is that area going to be used for, Mr. Chair?
Chair: Is there any further debate?
Mr. Jenkins: It becomes brutally evident, Mr. Chair, that the minister either doesn't know or doesn't want to share with the House her knowledge of this area, so she's refusing to stand up and answer a direct question on the floor of the House. So we'll give her the benefit of the doubt at this juncture and say that she doesn't know and she probably, like the Premier of the Yukon, hasn't been briefed on it, and we'll let it go. I'm sure it can't be confidential.
But just for the record, Mr. Chair, Whitehorse does have an official community plan, and the area is currently zoned. So the land must be developed under existing zoning and regulations, so the Government of the Yukon must have an idea as to where they're headed with this parcel of land. Otherwise they wouldn't spend such a vast sum of money. Well, maybe, Mr. Chair, they would, because at the end of the day, by the time the land is cleared and everyone is bought out, it's going to be a parcel of land worth many, many millions of dollars.
I would hope that the minister can share her insight into that parcel of land as to what the Government of Yukon is going to be doing with it. Very, very secretive, I guess, Mr. Chair.
At the end of the day, Mr. Chair, I was hoping that the minister could share the information with the House. When will she be in a position to share this information with the House as to what's going to occur with this parcel of land?
Chair: Is there any further debate?
Mr. Jenkins: Well, just before we leave this one, Mr. Chair, it can't go unnoticed that the minister has refused to answer the question and refused to provide an insight into what this government-held and government-owned land will be used for. It is quite disconcerting, because, at the end of the day, this Legislature is being asked to approve the expenditure of over $1 million to purchase the assets of individuals who reside there and to relocate those individuals.
We are incurring a great expense without knowing what the land is being cleared for and what we are going to do with that parcel of land. Obviously, there must be a game plan somewhere.
Does the Government of Yukon have a policy with respect to this parcel of land, and what is that policy?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Our policy is to work with the City of Whitehorse, in conjunction with their official community plan. As there are still a couple of people in residence on the waterfront, I am not going to discuss it further at this time.
Mr. Jenkins:So it's now a confidential issue. We don't want to discuss it because there are still some people resident there. I guess we can rename this parcel of land "Argus II". Would that be appropriate, Mr. Chair? Yes or no?
Miscellaneous Projects Non-Recoverable in the amount of $266,000 agreed to
Chair: Are there any questions on capital recoveries?
Mr. McRobb: On the land development cost recovery, can the minister give a rundown on that one, please?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The $1,447,000 decrease in recovery reflects the net decrease in land development recoverable expenditures.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, where are we going to end up recovering all of this Hamilton Boulevard overexpenditure that we so ably approved and quickly spent, Mr. Chair? Is that going to be reflected somewhere here? I don't see any change in property evaluations as to the lots in the subdivision up there.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: There are still many, many stages up in the Copper Ridge area to be built. This first part of the Hamilton Boulevard twinning actually happened sooner than expected because of the city's desire to build the aquatic centre there.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I am pleased to see that the City of Whitehorse has more success with this Liberal government than the Village of Mayo does when it comes to building a school. I can't miss an opportunity to point out once again to this Liberal government that there appears to be one set of rules and one set of priorities for Whitehorse initiatives, and another set for rural Yukon.
Initiatives such as the construction of a badly needed new school in Mayo, overbudgeted to the same extent as the twinning of Hamilton Boulevard, were cancelled, whereas the money for the twinning is just a paper transaction; it's found immediately; the project goes ahead; another intersection is added, and it's going to be added on to land development down the road. It's easily lost track of, Mr. Chair, and very easily cast aside but it's a very good explanation on the floor of the Legislature, because it's extremely difficult to track. I was only hoping that, at the end of the day, this new Liberal government would see its way clear to treat rural Yukon the same way as it treats Whitehorse.
Chair: Are there any further questions on capital recoveries?
Capital Expenditures in the amount of $3,900,000 agreed to
Department of Community and Transportation Services agreed to
Department of Education
Chair: Is there any general debate on the Department of Education?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, I am pleased to give some brief opening comments regarding the Department of Education supplementary budget for the 2000-01 fiscal year.
The department is requesting approval for operations and maintenance supplementary funding of $5,506,000 and a capital request of $3,962,000, for a total request of $9,468,000.
Mr. Chair, this supplementary request is comprised of a number of items such as a revote for project funding from the previous year, new funds for personnel-related expenditures requirements, funds to cover actual expenditure forecasts in several areas not reflected in the original budget and new funds to address several key areas of our platform.
The single largest request is for new operations and maintenance funding for the adjustments of superannuation. Members have heard the same item in departments previously debated. This is as a result of transfers of responsibility from the federal government, and it is expected to be 100-percent recoverable.
The amount of $2,805,000 applies to all positions in the department, including the Yukon Employees Union, managers, confidential exclusions and all school-based staff.
This supplementary also includes $713,000 to cover forecast expenditures for student financial assistance and the Yukon excellence awards. The established grant program to post-secondary students is an area of expenditure that has not received new funding for several years. The rates paid to students for books and tuition fees were increased by 20 percent during the summer session. This was a priority of our platform and we took immediate action to help qualified post-secondary students for their fall 2000 studies.
The funding requests in this supplementary will address the inadequate funds budgeted for in the existing base rate and the increase in travel costs realized every year. Due to inadequate previous years' budgets for student financial assistance, the liability for future years' payments for Yukon excellence awards has never really been established. This one-time catch-up is reflected in this supplementary. Both of these allocations now provide the necessary funds to support Yukon students as they pursue their post-secondary studies.
There are two requests for funding of collective agreements, the first being the Yukon Employees Union in the amount of $499,000, and the second for Yukon College in the amount of $312,000.
There is also an increase of $400,000 to cover utilities increases in the schools. This is another area where force growth has occurred in recent years and funding levels have been left inadequate. This supplementary request offers remedy for that funding shortfall. If these increases were to be absorbed by the department, it would have a negative effect on programming in all our public schools. This supplementary includes a $250,000 revote request in O&M for two school-based programs. The first for accreditation is the amount approved in prior years for implementation of school improvement plans. The amount of $135,000 reflects the outstanding funding commitment for schools that have not completed their multi-year plans. The second, for site-based management in the amount of $115,000, is for all schools. This is used at the school level for purchases of materials for programming and administration.
In support of our ongoing commitment to teacher training on new curriculum materials and teacher involvement in project teams related to curriculum development and reporting improvement, an additional $200,000 has been provided for substitute-teacher expenses. Training on new curriculum is critical to successful instruction in the classroom and is only possible through the provision of an alternate teaching resource while the teacher is absent. Sick and special leave absences are also covered by these additional resources.
Student learning is often impacted directly by the extra assistance that is available during the school day. To support our students, an additional $119,000 has been provided to increase the number of educational assistants throughout our schools.
Also to support student learning, an additional $25,000 has been made available for conducting student assessments. Individual education plans identify specific learning needs for students and help teachers, parents and other schools address these needs.
In support of both government and First Nation archival record management, $31,000 has been provided to increase the resources assigned to the role of the government records archivist. This directly supports improving government initiatives, as this activity makes important Yukon material more available for elders, genealogists and researchers.
Also, to improve service to the public, additional resources have been provided to enhance the services at the Whitehorse Public Library. $31,000 has been allocated to provided greater public reference services on evenings and weekends, which are currently times of significant activity in our library. Library patrons have requested this additional support and we have responded. Lifelong learning is important, and this is one way to support learning for all Yukoners. Services to our communities will also be improved through faster turnaround on requests.
Other public service improvement initiatives are supported by $37,000 for additional research and administrative support to the ATIPP function provided by Yukon Archives. This will ensure that applicants' requests are handled within established time frames without serious negative impacts on other services provided by this territorial information and research centre.
Finally, in the operations and maintenance request is $84,000 in funds for several recoverable items.
In summary, 66 percent of the operation and maintenance request is for personnel-related expenses and the remainder is directly attributable to improve services to students and the public.
On the capital side, the total request is for $3,962,000. The majority of this - $3,165,000 - is approximately 80 percent and represents revote funds for projects approved in a prior year. The funds remaining for the EduNet project - $1,975,000 - have been transferred in this supplementary from Government Services to Education. This reflects the responsibility in Education for planning and implementation of the educational component of the Connect Yukon project. This is a large revote included in this supplementary.
$420,000 is provided for programs funded by other agencies. The Gates Foundation's gift to Yukon libraries is funded at $220,000 and is reflected by offsetting expenses and revenues. The contribution from the Government of Canada, through HRDC, for Canada's first older-workers project is included in this supplementary. This $200,000 contribution has ensured an early launching of this new project, which will benefit older workers in their skill development and job searches. There is also $20,000 provided to the Yukon Work InfoNet Web site, YuWin, an exciting project launched October 27 that supports our goal of life-long learning.
This supplementary budget also supports planning for future capital projects, including $10,000 to design a replacement roof section at Porter Creek Secondary School in the old wing of the school where major leaks are interfering directly with programming.
There is $200,000 for Catholic schools additions. Both CKES and Holy Family School need to prepare for grade reorganization and for the possibility of increased capacity needs. Grade reorganization would bring the Catholic system under the same two-tier system of grades that now exists in the rest of Whitehorse and Yukon schools. This design money will enable the department to be ready, when funds are available, for construction for the additional classrooms required to meet reorganization and expansion needs.
Mr. Chair, with these brief comments, I am prepared to proceed to line-by-line debate on this Education supplementary budget.
Ms. Netro: As we all know, education is one of the highest priorities for everyone involved in education, whether we're parents, teachers or people who are leaders in our communities. We are all concerned about our children within the education system. We are concerned about adult education in our communities and the accessibility of those programs for our communities, whether in a rural community or in our larger centre, Whitehorse.
Education is one of the highest priorities for our First Nation governments. I am sure you know as well as I do that our education system is sometimes lacking in services for our students in our communities.
One of the reasons that education is so important to our communities and our First Nation governments is that, for our self-government system, we would like to have it complete so that we can be self-sufficient. We would like our own people from our own communities to go out and achieve and complete their courses, whether at the colleges or universities, in Whitehorse or other cities across Canada, so that they can access the kind of programs they would like, to be able to come back to their community, such as Old Crow, to provide the services that we need, whether it be in business education, health services or social services.
So we try to offer as much support to our students as we can. We have a Yukon College campus in my community, and we are lucky to have some short, hands-on courses for our students there. There is a small-engines course that has been completed now. Those are the kinds of courses that we would like to see more of in our communities, the reasons being that some of the students just cannot or will not come to Whitehorse. When they do come down here, they face challenges that some of them are just not able to face for a long period of time. And for some of them, it is a big adjustment to make to go from small community living and to even come to a place like Whitehorse.
And we have to understand those challenges for our students. In order for us to achieve our goals from the communities and to have our students come out to Whitehorse, or to a place like Vancouver or Edmonton to complete those courses that they would like, we offer them support from our home base. Some of those areas that we see them face - some of the issues and concerns of today - we need to address those in our education system, so that we might have a better tomorrow or better future for our communities and for our First Nation governments.
Within the Education department, I had a look at some of the expenditures and I'm aware of the increases due to the collective agreements and the superannuation costs for YEU and YTA, and I just have a few questions, some of which are for clarification purposes. One of them is the $400,000 increase that is attributed to increased fuel costs.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I do thank the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin for addressing the needs that not only are specific to her constituency but it certainly is a priority for me and for the department and specifically addressing the needs of our First Nations here in the territory.
We are working on new initiatives. We're working on aspects through the community campuses of Yukon College. I have great hopes that the Yukon Education Act review will also be providing some sound and rational ideas to be considered in how we address these needs specifically, both in the communities, in Whitehorse here, in our schools and at the college.
With respect to the question about the $400,000, this money is going to be used specifically to help offset the rising costs of electricity and heating fuels that have occurred over the past several years. This is across all schools. It's not just specific to urban or rural schools. It's really a catch-up exercise where we have identified that need specifically and have recognized the need that we had to upgrade that cost just to bring it up to speed for all 28 schools in the territory, Mr. Chair.
Ms. Netro: There was also an increase included of $25,000 to address the backlog of IEPs. Is this $25,000 to allow for assessments of students on the wait-list or to support the implementation of plans?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, in response to this, the $25,000 is to be applied immediately, but we do recognize that this is another area that we have to look at in more detail when we're preparing our budget for next year. The $25,000 that was put in now is to address the needs as they are occurring, as we speak.
Ms. Netro: This amount is about one-third of the amount for a school psychologist. How will this address the backlog in that area?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, this is to address the needs as we see them right now, to the end of this school year. We are considering what the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin has just let us know. But we feel that this would adequately - not fully, but adequately - get us to the year-end in identifying those assessments.
Ms. Netro: What measures are being provided to support implementation of the IEPs, once they have been identified?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, the assessments are school-based. The schools themselves specifically identify the needs with the support of the professionals within the department. So, those needs are addressed by the school. We support the requests that come in.
And, Mr. Chair, they do vary from school to school. We are attempting, in every which way, to keep pace with that.
Ms. Netro: $1,000 had been allocated to the Robert Service School council for an information session on peanut allergies. Could this information be shared with all school administrators and school councils who may not know if they have a student with a severe peanut allergy, or who may not believe that an allergic reaction could be so severe? It can be a very serious problem.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I would certainly encourage all school councils to share that type of information that they each do, but most certainly they would be encouraged to share this specific information that the member is talking about, because she is on the mark with respect to allergies.
Ms. Netro: $135,000 has been included for accreditation. Could you tell us which schools are getting more money toward accreditation?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: We don't have the specifics. This line item of $125,000 is a revote and we're just waiting for the school plan to be completed on those schools. I will, if the member wishes, provide her with a list of those schools.
Ms. Netro:I would appreciate that information once you get it. $115,000 is for site-based management. Earlier I heard you give some information on that and I didn't quite hear all the information. Could you just let me know which schools are getting the funds and what they are being used for?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I will, again, have to provide a list of those schools for the member, but I hope that would be satisfactory. This is also a revote amount.
Ms. Netro: There has been a $20,000 allocation for the Yukon Work InfoNet Web site. Could you please tell me more about that?
Chair: Order please. I will remind all members to refer their remarks through the Chair in the future. We should all remember this.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: There was, just recently, an announcement about the Yukon Work InfoNet Web site. This can certainly be used within the schools through their Internet services. It is also provided through the libraries that could connect to this program.
The Yukon Work InfoNet is really a cost-shared program with Human Resource Development Canada and used by CAP students in public schools, and youth and adult seeking employment or career information This career information Web site now completes the Canada-wide representation of data. This network was launched officially on October 27 at the Yukon IT conference. And the $20,000 is Yukon's share for the start-up and launch of this Web site. It's a great Web site and is very user-friendly. It now connects Canada-wide in providing services and information to students and youth in general, and to adults in job search.
Ms. Netro: There is $102,000 for the education review for salaries and superannuation listed. Can the minister give us a progress report on the education review, please?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, the Education Act review is proceeding. If the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin recalls, she provided some sage advice on how the committee can better communicate, especially in an open dialogue with First Nation individuals. I believe that the committee will be on the road again this week and will be concentrating a lot of its efforts, again this week, right here in town. I know that they are looking forward to some very active participation in its consultation right here within town.
If I am correct, they may in fact be at Jack Hulland tonight - if I can give a little plug for the committee. They will be moving around town, trying to get information from different locations, but I do believe that it has been advertised and publicized.
Ms. Netro: There is $50,000 listed for staff support, office furniture, equipment, systems and space. Could you provide a more specific explanation for this expenditure?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Yes, Mr. Chair. The breakdown for the $50,000 is as follows: there is a revote amount of $27,000 to complete work associated with office space and retrofitting of the information technology areas, to accommodate the changes in staff space required for Education's portion of the Connect Yukon project; $9,000 is for the collective agreement for the Yukon Employees Union; $12,000 is identified for a superannuation increase; and $2,000 is for recruitment database for computers.
Ms. Netro: With the move of Connect Yukon to Education under the public schools - from C&TS to EduNet - why was this part of Connect Yukon moved to Education?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: It's specifically, Mr. Chair, for school-based needs. What happens is that the program is delivered to the school, and from the school, the Department of Education takes it and connects it through their systems. So that's to assist the Department of Education in taking Connect Yukon right into the classroom.
Ms. Netro: $76,000 was for design work on the Mayo school when the design was already complete. Can you tell me a little bit more about that, please?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: It's a carry forward or a revote as part of the original design budget. So it's just a carry-over amount.
Ms. Netro: There are some schools that are going to be or are in the process of being renovated. I just would like to know which schools have requested renovations and what is being done.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Could I ask for a clarification? Are you asking for school-requested items?
Ms. Netro: Yes, the schools' requests for renovations.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: The amount is primarily revote money and I could certainly provide a school-initiated renovations list to the member opposite. It is fairly long. If she prefers, I could read it out but I could provide her the information.
Ms. Netro: I would appreciate a copy of that information, Mr. Chair.
$200,000 was put forward for the older-workers project. What was the YTG's contribution to that?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, $200,000 came from the federal government's older-workers project. The older-workers project is designed to help older workers so that they can re-enter the workforce, and the Yukon jurisdiction was very fortunate in being first off the mark on this. The whole project was announced in June. There are three partners in this project: Education contributed $75,000 directly; Health and Social Services contributed $20,000 and Human Resources Department Canada funded $200,000 of this project. The funding really is for two years, and HRDC will be providing up to $600,000 for the whole of the project.
Ms. Netro: The special investment fund is being increased from $33,000 to $138,000. What is the special investment fund and why does it need a four-fold increase?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: This is a contribution from Canada. And this amount identified by the member opposite is a revoted amount. It really is for computer assistance to students for financial services. It is a computer system for the government to manage this resource to help on the loans aspect. So, it's an ongoing program. And monies that aren't utilized in one year are carried over by revote to the next.
Ms. Netro: The training trust funds are receiving an increase of $535,000 in this supplementary. Would you provide a breakdown for this amount and what it is being identified for?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: The training trust funds are specifically for, number one, the older-workers project in the amount of $200,000. There is a total amount of $235,000 that was revoted funded dollars, and the breakdown of that is: $45,000 for the Challenge greenhouse project; $200,000 was also for youth at risk. Now, an additional $100,000 was transferred from the amount left over from the Ross River School construction. These funds were put into the advanced education budget.
Ms. Netro: The youth strategy is almost being doubled with the increase of $48,000. What is this being used for?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Yes, Mr. Chair, this project is to accommodate capital expenditures for youth activities - for example, winter activity kits for every Yukon community. These kits will be developed in conjunction with our winter activities program. All communities will be asked what type of equipment they need. Again, this is part of the revoted amount, as well.
Ms. Netro: Could the minister just tell me what the winter activity kits are about?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: One of the primary factors in developing this program is through consultation with youth directly in the communities. But the overall budget for this program is $203,000. It breaks down as follows: coordinator's salary and benefits, $26,796; transportation, accommodation and food, $8,726; materials and supplies, $1,000; direct support to the communities, $140,000; and administrative expenses at $26,478, bringing the total to $203,000.
In consultation with the communities, they identified such things as - for example, in Beaver Creek - after-school activities like ice fishing and snowmobiling. In Burwash, they identified recreational and cultural activities that were offered after school and during school, in addition to orienteering courses, rabbit snaring and fish net setting. And the list goes on. In Mayo, there is a survival course offered, soccer coaching, dance training and leadership development.
In Ross River there are gym nights for the students to use after hours, dances, hand-game events, sliding parties, movie nights, ice fishing, ice golf, travel to youth conferences - would you like more or is that okay?
Ms. Netro: That's enough information, thank you.
Within the Education department, I don't see any increase or decrease in the native language education programs. Could the minister please tell me what is happening within those programs?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: There is nothing identified specifically in this supplementary but overall, through various consultations such as through the education directorate within CYFN, through the language services operations up at the college, through the Education Act review, we are certainly becoming aware of the specific needs required to address the concerns of not only preserving the native languages in the territory but also passing that on directly to Yukon's First Nations youth.
Ms. Netro: I'd just like to make a comment regarding the native language programs. I know that the native language program in my community of Old Crow is very successful. My sister, who is the language instructor along with Jane Montgomery, is very successful in bringing the native language into our school in Old Crow. The elders always let us know that our language is one of the most important parts of our culture. If we don't have our language, we don't have much.
That part of our school system is very important, from the primary grades right up to when one leaves the community. I would just like to pass that message on. I would be very interested, in the spring, to see if there are any changes to that.
I also am interested in hearing about the training of the language teachers, and if there's any information around that?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Currently, YTG directs $352,000 through Council of Yukon First Nations to be used at the Yukon Native Language Centre located up at Yukon College, just specifically for the purpose the member just mentioned.
Ms. Netro: I have no further questions. My colleague may have questions for the minister.
Mr. Fairclough: I have a few questions in this department. In the supplementary budget, we have a fairly large increase in this particular department, and some of them concern me a bit. I would like to ask questions as we go through line by line, particularly to have some explanation on them, with regard to O&M, for example, and to some of the others.
I just wanted to get some thoughts, though, on the minister's reaction to the supplementary budget that we tabled in the House. It had some items that went toward education, and, of course, there is an increase that the minister put forward in training trust funds, and we also identified some dollars there but we targeted that particular one directly at getting trained and up to speed for the possible pipeline project.
We identified $900,000. I want to get the member's reaction to that. We also identified some dollars in there for the youth pre-employment program, which was $350,000. We also had the older-workers pilot project and we also identified the Mayo school. I know that the additional $500,000 that the member opposite suggested was overrun for this. I don't know what the rationale would be for that. For the other two, what is the minister's thought on them?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda:I do believe, now that we are not in the heated exchange that happens through Question Period, that we can certainly partner up and - as we have committed to on this side of the House - listen to the concerns, issues and suggestions of all Yukoners. Believe it or not, Mr. Chair, that includes members of the opposition. So, we are looking that over but, as I do believe has been expressed by the Premier and Minister of Finance, it isn't quite realistic to be implementing that type of supplementary at this time. But I am not adverse to listening to constructive ideas that do come across. I have looked over the information provided by the member opposite and his team, and there is merit to considering what they are recommending in there, and hopefully we can be including that with our O&M and our capital budgets for next year.
Mr. Fairclough: I know that the members opposite did like it because they voted for it in this House; it passed first reading, which was kind of a pretty historic moment in this Legislature. So I know that the members opposite liked it, and it wasn't a huge supplementary budget. I would like the members opposite to look at that seriously, and if they can find a way to bring it forward in a spring budget, of course the people who asked us to bring this forward would greatly appreciate it.
I would like to ask a question about Mayo's school. There were mixed messages out there and it is still unclear to the people and the community members of Mayo about what the problem was. Did it go overbudget? Was it the contractor and the process that was involved in the contract? And the $500,000 that was there and the possibility of it costing more because of work being done throughout the winter? I notice that in your supplementary budget you do have increases on work to be done to two schools, which is a fairly major amount, $410,000 - one for expansion and one to replace a roof. Now, are the reasons for this delay more toward the contract, or was it the dollars that were originally said in this House?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, when we first announced our decision with respect to the Mayo school, it was initially indicated as a $500,000-plus overrun to the budget. At that particular time, it was still well within the review period allocated for contracts that government typically takes. I believe it is 30 days, but I will have to check with the Minister of Government Services to get the specific details. But that was the lowest bid still provided - a $500,000-plus overrun to the budget.
At that time - and as I have explained in the House several times, explained directly - face to face - to the community of Mayo twice now, and as I have explained on the phone to the Nacho Nyak Dun office up there, as I have explained to the chief on several occasions, as I have explained to the mayor, not only in my office in Whitehorse but also in several telephone conversations - we could not release the additional information, because there was a conflict in the contracts. There were legal components in them. There were some discrepancies in the process utilized by one of the contractors who submitted their proposed amount.
Until that was absolutely determined, we could not - and until the contractors themselves were notified, which is, as the member opposite knows, the proper thing to do on a protocol issue - release the additional information until they were notified - and that the bid of one of the contractors really was disqualified. The next bidder - and there were only two on this project - was nearly a million dollars overbudget. That's fairly substantial, as I'm sure the member opposite would agree, on a $5-million-plus project. So, when this information was coming out it was never, ever, ever meant to deceive members of this House. It was never, ever, ever, ever meant to deceive the residents of Mayo, and we desperately tried to keep up with keeping everybody informed, as well as the press, and that's how it evolved.
So, the bottom line is that this government can't be getting into entering into contracts if we don't have the money. We have notified Yukoners that we are wanting to be as responsible fiscal managers as we possibly can with their money.
Mr. Fairclough: It's probably no surprise that I disagree with the member opposite when they say they don't have the money, because they were left with it. And this is a supplementary budget that could have addressed that situation. They had $37 million that was put forward, and they surely would have been able to find that amount somewhere here.
I don't want to go on and on about the Mayo school. There were commitments made by the minister and the Premier to the community, and there was one commitment that I don't know has been 100 percent kept up to, and that was whether or not the people who took the training - I asked this question twice in Mayo - would be getting work. As I understand it, there is a project in place - moving a building and doing some renovations to other houses to take care of some of the apprenticeship programs. But not all of these people who took the training course are working right now, and that's a bit of a concern to me.
There was a commitment, and maybe the minister could answer that. I just need short answers.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, I will try to provide the member opposite with short answers.
As the member opposite knows as well, the chief, with the member present, had indicated a need to continue supporting six individuals in the community who had gone through the training course and we, with the chief and the member present, had agreed to do that, and I do believe that we followed through with that commitment by way of a contribution agreement to the NND in implementing this project.
Mr. Fairclough: The reason why I asked a question in Mayo was that the chief was speaking on behalf of the people he represents. There were about 11 people who took that training, maybe 12. Two of them did not complete it and are not working at this point but have a lot of experience in carpentry.
The member can maybe touch on that a little bit in his answer, but I want to continue on to a line item that you have here, Connect Yukon. It's a fairly big line item. Is this new money? It's not out of the immigrant investor fund? Is YTG investing its own dollars into this? The immigrant investor fund is someone else's money that goes toward Connect Yukon, but which schools are now being upgraded? I notice it's in capital so it must be equipment and facilities. You have other line items in here that are sort of directed to some schools. And I'm wondering which schools are being upgraded and whether or not this project is realistic and would be completed before the end of the fiscal year?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: This is a two-year project, and whatever monies aren't used out of this year's initiative will be revoted next year. But to answer the member's question on schools, all rural schools are being addressed presently, and in Whitehorse we are working on the high schools.
Mr. Fairclough: Is the Tantalus School in Carmacks one of those schools?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Yes, in phase 2.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister talked about commitments to the Pelly and Mayo schools for completion of both schools and the replacement of an old wing in the Tantalus School. That's why I was asking the question, because I didn't know where the equipment would be going in this particular school, whether it is in the old section or not. In regard to the Education Act review, there is an increase of $102,000. I understand that this was delayed a bit. The review started a bit later than scheduled. What is the additional $102,000 used for?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I guess the member opposite and I are going to have to hopefully agree to disagree on this one. I do believe that the plan is on track. The plan received, over the summer, an implementation start on the review and started up in October, so I do believe that we are on track in that. The breakdown of the $102,000 is as follows: the request for funding is to cover the salary and other costs associated with the review. It also includes the superannuation funding and the YEU increases for the positions included in this project.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, is every program like that, including the union agreement?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Fairclough: Okay. As we get down, I will be asking questions about the $5 million that has been put forward in O&M. I will wait for the line item there.
I just noticed that, in capital projects, someone had a field day here. I think it's reflective of every other department in here where there are smaller line items identified that were not put in the previous budget. I am just looking at the capital page, at 5-4. There doesn't seem to be a real urgent reasoning for putting increased capital into these projects. There are some things, like the replacement of a roof, for example, which could be urgent. I don't know. Perhaps it's something that could have carried into the next fiscal year. It was brought forward. Maybe it's part of a revote, I don't know. It has been brought forward in a supplementary budget to complete.
Once again, we are into the winter months thing. I don't think we want to go into that, in terms of how money could be saved in that. We also have some dollars that went right into libraries and archives from the Gates Foundation. I notice that it says that it is recoverable. Of course it is recoverable, as it was a gift, but are these going into all school libraries or community libraries?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, it goes into community libraries, but, as the member opposite is aware, some of the community libraries - one, for example, up in Ross River, is housed within the school. So, yes to both his questions, really.
Mr. Fairclough: I have no further questions until we get to line-by-line.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, as we get into the Department of Education, there are two glaring situations that come to the forefront, two glaring situations that the department is having to deal with. And what the public's understanding of how they were going to deal with these areas and what is currently transpiring are quite a distance apart, and I refer specifically to the public perception that the teachers were going to be settled with by this new Yukon Liberal government and that they were going to receive a settlement package well in excess of what they had previously negotiated under the previous NDP government.
But we're starting to learn that that's not the case, that this election ploy by the Yukon Liberals just hasn't worked. It just hasn't worked. And we might very well see the first strike ever by Yukon teachers, Mr. Chair.
The issue surrounding a signing bonus just wasn't accepted. In fact, it was soundly rejected. But as that situation is under negotiation by the government of the day and the union involved, we'll leave that one alone. But the public is monitoring this issue very well and is quite concerned that, on one hand, there was a nice olive branch extended by the Liberals in their campaigns.
The olive branch appears to have a lot of barbs on it, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Chair, let's deal with the other issue that this government has had to contend with, and that's the issue surrounding the Mayo school. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why a government would cancel such an initiative when it was just overbudgeted to the extent that it was. It is a fact that capital projects are consistently overbudget or underbudget. This is not unusual.
With this project, the foundation was already poured, so the footprint was in the ground. There was some suggestion that it might be moved by the frost over the course of this winter. It could very well be. It could come back to haunt the department with additional cost overruns.
The school is having to be somewhat redesigned so that the department can go out and retender the package, so as to not have any conflict with the way the package was tendered previously. That falls back on contract law. If they tender the same package once again, a government that prides itself in not wanting to spend any time before the courts usually buys off the other side - as they have clearly demonstrated with respect to the Argus situation - is faced with a dilemma with the school.
So the plans have to be altered somewhat, Mr. Chair, in order to retender and in order to come in and legitimately go out and ask the contractors to bid on a new project.
I'd like to explore with the Minister of Education some of the issues surrounding the Mayo school. I was very intrigued, having attended the public meeting, with the amount of community involvement and community participation that Mayo and the citizens of that community, either through the Nacho Nyak Dun or through the town office, had involved themselves in. It created a separate entity or body with the council, and they came together and realized that there was more that was required of the school than just being an education centre. And they asked the government to add this to the school with the additional costs of some $480,000. They wrote a cheque to the Government of the Yukon for their component of the new school. And then to subsequently learn that it was cancelled, I know it was a very, very heavy blow to the community and to a great deal of the parents. In fact, the emotions flowed very, very high, with the parents having to send their children off to a bunch of trailers where the air quality and environment in those units are questionable.
In fact, my suggestion that the Minister of Education was going to Mayo with a bucket of bleach was probably very much the way it occurred, Mr. Chair. Normally it's a four-percent solution, but the minister took great pains to explain that he was going to use a 10-percent solution, so as to kill and destroy everything that might be emanating from the mould.
Mr. Chair, having gone through quite a number of the school initiatives for new construction, starting first with the Robert Service School in Dawson City, there were quite a number of aspects to the school that were community based. And the Government of Yukon paid the entire bill for all aspects of the school.
We look at Old Crow and the school in Old Crow is more of than just a school for the students. It has a wider community appeal and it's used for a great number of other initiatives.
The same holds true for the school in Ross River. It's more than a school.
Now, why were the Mayo people required to put up the amount of money they were asked to put up, given that none of the other areas of the Yukon - Dawson, Old Crow, Ross River - were asked to involve themselves with any capital contribution? Why was Mayo singled out for that treatment? Is it because it's a rural school, and it is not in Whitehorse?
Chair: Order please. The time being 4:30 p.m., do members wish to take a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We'll take a 10-minute recess.
Chair: I now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Let's see if I can recall all the questions that the member posed.
First and foremost, I want to stress the fact that the Mayo school hasn't been cancelled. It has been postponed, and I believe in my heart that we did the right thing in postponing it, because, as it turned out, the cost overrun was a million dollars, a fairly substantial amount on a $5.5 million project.
I believe that the Member from Klondike asked, specifically, why the Village of Mayo was asked to contribute $480,000 in addition to the cost of the school. To the credit of the department and the communities, the building advisory committee goes through their struggles in the design of a school, such as Mayo, Ross River, and in particular Ross River.
Through these discussions between the department and the building advisory committee, Ross River, in particular, designed the school in a practical sense. The Ross River school is going to be multi-purpose. The gym is going to be used for social functions. So, the folks in Ross River asked that the kitchen and the cooking facilities and the home economic aspects all be combined and placed adjacent to the gym so that they could service social functions in the gym.
These are the types of practical suggestions that are incorporated. They don't really exceed the design parameters of the school.
With respect to the Mayo school, the town approached the Department of Education, through the building advisory committee, and had asked for fairly substantive changes to the design of the school. For one, they wanted a larger gym, and then they also wanted a facility added on to the gym. That was more or less specific to community needs. Rather than build a new building to house an exercise room, weightlifting room or something of that nature, they asked that it be included in the design of the building. We are prepared to offer monies for that specific project. I mean, it's a wise investment of dollars and an indication that there is the full utilization of resources, especially in a small community.
Mr. Jenkins: It sounds like a bunch of bafflegab to me, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Chair, we look at what took place in Dawson. In the school there, the gym was enlarged. The facilities were to encompass a second gym - a multi-purpose room and gym - but all the facilities, such as the community library, were all added in there, so it was more of a community school with a multiple access. Even the entranceway was designed so that the areas into the school could be barricaded from entrances into the multi-use room and the school library. So all of this was envisioned, and no cost was borne by the community of Dawson.
We look at the same thing occurring in Old Crow and in Ross River. Now, all of a sudden, it's Mayo's chance for a new school, and they have to kick in $480,000. From my understanding of the blueprints, they're not going to be receiving very much, if anything, above and beyond what the other municipalities have received, such as Ross River, Old Crow and Dawson.
You only have to go to Faro and look at the school, and how it's dovetailed into a total recreational complex with everything being multi-purpose, even the gym. In the main gym, you can even serve liquor, which is verboten in any other school or government facility, save and except one - the Beringia Centre.
At the end of the day, it would appear to be a reasonable request to give Mayo back its money, given that the government has cancelled the project and it's not going to be coming onstream until perhaps next summer. There's quite a delay.
Furthermore, when the community asked about being paid interest on the money they paid in, the government's position was that they had already spent part of that money. Well, hallelujah. "We already spent part of that money, so we can only pay interest on the part we haven't spent, but we will be the ones to determine how much of that money we have already spent. We will be the ones to determine how much interest you will receive."
My question to the minister is, Mr. Chair, why can't Mayo be treated like any other community and not have to ante up $480,000 to see a school that encompasses more than just a school? Why are they singled out for special treatment and special costs? If this were a school in Whitehorse or any other area that wouldn't be the case, but because it's rural, they're asked to come to the party, bring their chequebook and ante up $480,000. On a per capita basis, that's one of the highest expenditures for any community involvement anywhere in the Yukon that I'm aware of, Mr. Chair.
Why is the government adamant that this is the way? Is this the new Liberal position and the new Liberal way of conducting business with rural Yukon, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, the Member for Klondike certainly has a memory of convenience. This whole school was designed, approved and negotiated through the previous government. The previous government did work in cooperation with the building advisory committee, did work and negotiated the extra space in the school, and we're honouring the agreement that was reached with the previous government on the design of the Mayo school. It's a good thing.
Just a couple of things to note, and again I allude to the member opposite's confused memory. The fact is that the school has been postponed, not cancelled. The start-up of construction, which we're definitely committed to, is the end of March. Weather willing, we will advance that to the community. He did attend the same meeting we did.
We will take into consideration some of the suggestions that did come out of that meeting. We will consider it realistically, within cost, and all of those factors for trying to advance the construction of the school.
He has alluded to the fact that it possibly won't be until next summer. That's factually incorrect. We will be opening the school in January 2002.
The design of the schools is with the full cooperation of the communities. Wanting the extra add-ons that the Village of Mayo incorporated into the school - I repeat - is a good and positive thing, rather than building their own separate facility to house the additional needs that they saw. It's just a sensible and practical way to do business in Whitehorse and in the communities, which we fully acknowledge.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I'd like to point out for the minister that this is the first school being constructed where the community is putting money into it, putting money into the pot. Is this a new government policy? Because a lot of these initiatives in the past have encompassed more than just a basic school. We only have to look at the total expenditure on the schools in Old Crow, Ross River and Dawson to see how much more encompassing these schools are when they serve those purposes. I agree with that, and I applaud Mayo for having the building committee and for the unanimous decision to encompass all of these areas in the new school.
What I am saying to the minister is that I don't think the community of Mayo should have to pay for all of the additions because they are not receiving anything more than any of the other Yukon communities have received.
I think this new government policy of this new Liberal government is well above and in excess of what is expected and has been received by other Yukon communities.
And I'd like to know from the minister why Mayo is being singled out and why they are being asked to contribute as much as they are? Because they are not receiving anything more than any of the other communities have received in their new schools. You only have to look around rural Yukon, and that becomes quite evident. Is the position of this Liberal government the way it is because they are now treating rural Yukon differently than Whitehorse?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, I believe I have, to the best of my knowledge, explained in detail what happened in the negotiations with the previous administration and Mayo. I believe that Mayo and the Department of Education believed it was an equitable and fair decision that was made, and we also believe philosophically that we want to work in partnership with communities, we want to get the maximum value for the dollar spent. I think that, overall, the Village of Mayo certainly appreciated the considerations with the government of the day, and we're there to honour it. And I think it's a win-win situation all around.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, why doesn't the minister give back the money to the Village of Mayo? Because they didn't receive any more than any of the other communities have in their schools. Why can't the department do that, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, I do believe I've answered the member opposite's question.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, they've probably given that money to Argus, so there's no money there, Mr. Chair. I guess at the end of the day that's what has happened to the money - they've taken it from the community of Mayo and given it to Argus. Well, it's a sad day for Yukon, Mr. Chair. We don't have a mall; we don't have a school in Mayo and the proponents of the mall - wherever they are - are $700,000 richer. Their asset base has been increased by $700,000. That's a tremendous, tremendous boom for the economy of the Yukon. I just don't understand some of the economic positions being advanced by this government. Well, let's ask the minister this, Mr. Chair: of the $480,000 that the community of Mayo contributed to this school, how much has actually been spent by the government and how much are they actually going to receive interest on?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I very much appreciate the support and help I am getting from the members of the official opposition and, hey, I think it's great - especially when the new leader of the New Democratic Party is taking helpful hints and suggestions to be used in his monologue. I think it's great. And we are going to be here as long as it takes for me to provide equitable and sound answers to the members of the official opposition as well as to the memory-lagging leader of the third party.
But to answer the member's question with respect to the finances on the additional - the amount retained with respect to design was $20,000. That was actually spent on the footprint that is already there. And I will add again, Mr. Chair, that there will be a school put there effectively the end of March - at least the start-up of construction. And it will be there despite what the members opposite would like the public at large to believe.
The total amount spent to date on the foundation of the whole of the school is $1,055,761. I'm just wondering if the member is writing this down, or is he going to leave it to memory? Okay. He's pointing to his head, Mr. Chair. The village's share of that footprint was $94,959, so the amount remaining and eligible for interest payments back to the village is $385,041.
Mr. Jenkins: Is that the same ratio of proportion as to the total cost of the school that's budgeted and the cost incurred to date, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, yes.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, we'll have a look at that down the road and see if the figures do actually conform, Mr. Chair, and if it is on the same ratio and proportion.
But I still am appalled at the way this Liberal government is treating rural Yukon and making them pay for initiatives, and all other communities in the Yukon have received these components in their school at no charge, Mr. Chair. So, I'm very, very concerned that a precedent is being set here by this Liberal government to treat rural Yukon quite a bit differently than Whitehorse or the way rural Yukon has been treated in the past. And we're seeing that more and more.
What is the cost of altering the plans for the Mayo school and retendering it? What is the internal cost for that exercise, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, we're still working on the redesign aspect so I can't provide a full and complete answer to the member opposite at this time, but I certainly will as soon as we have those figures available.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, we must have some budget that we're working to internally. What is the order of magnitude estimate as to the redesign and the retendering? What do we anticipate those two functions to cost the government? I'm not looking for hard and fast numbers, Mr. Chair. I'm just looking for order of magnitude.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: My memory doesn't last too short a period, Mr. Chair, so I will provide a figure for the member opposite, but I know how the member opposite interprets things provided by way of information. At this time, I would be willing to give him, as he asked, a rough guesstimate of $50,000 plus.
Mr. Jenkins: $50,000 plus to redesign the school and retender it? That's very, very much on the low side, Mr. Chair, but we'll accept the order of magnitude estimate that the minister has advanced.
There must be some cursory design changes to the school. Are these design changes going to be sufficient so that we're not retendering the same project, because we can't just go out and retender the same project, Mr. Chair. We have to have some justification, otherwise the Government of Yukon's butt is going to be in court being sued by the contractors when we're breaking our own rules.
Now, you don't receive very much for $50,000 in a redesign, Mr. Chair, especially when that includes the cost of retendering. Even the cost of going out and publishing the ads in the newspaper is quite significant, Mr. Chair. So, $50,000 - I would caution the minister on those kinds of numbers, because order of magnitude estimates are something that the department must have internally. They must be there, but I'd suggest to the minister, Mr. Chair, that that's very, very much on the low side.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, I thank the member opposite for his comments, and I'll certainly take them under advisement.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, I've noticed an alarming trend in both Watson Lake and in Dawson with respect to the school population. Now we're switching gears here again.
The school population at Robert Service School is at a historic low for probably about the last five years. We're currently at 230 and heading down. And I haven't seen the last statistics, but it looks like early next year after Christmas we'll probably be under 200 students at Robert Service School in Dawson. And the same holds true for the school population in Watson Lake, Mr. Chair; they're going down.
Now, does that trigger anything in-house? Is that going to trigger an adjustment in the ratio of teachers to students or a change in the number of teachers? Because Dawson actually lost one teacher two years ago, and it's very, very hard to deliver the programs, especially in the high schools, unless we have a certain number of teachers.
Now, even though the ratio of teachers to students is very much going to be appearing on the high side in the foreseeable future, what is the department's policy in this regard, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, the department does do a needs assessment, once the student population in the schools has settled down. All kinds of assessments are done that take into consideration the population or ratio of special needs students in the school. So, there can be a variance in the teaching staff per se, and that will also reflect the needs of the students in the school and how that will impact on tutors and educational assistants and that type of thing. So, there is really no fixed or set rule that is applied year after year if a student enrolment change in any school occurs. Each case is looked at independently.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I just want to focus on the teacher/student ratio. I will just focus on that area and leave the auxiliary assistants out of the equation at this juncture. I recognize that they are needed, but let's just focus on teacher/student ratio. It's increasing in a couple of the rural schools. The student population is decreasing, and the number of students the teachers are serving is going down. In the past, this has usually triggered a reduction in the number of teachers. It has happened in our community.
When you are delivering the programs, especially in the high school, it gets more and more awkward to offer the degree of courses that must be offered in order that the individuals who want to go on to university have the required background.
Seeing the reduction in student numbers, doesn't that alarm the minister? I want to know specifically what the government's policy is in that regard. When are we going to see a reduction once again? It's on a case-by-case basis, but, historically, Mr. Chair, as soon as the student population goes down, a teacher has been slashed.
I think, in all fairness, we need to maintain a certain level of teachers, and I really don't want to see it reduced any more, especially in the riding I represent, because that is going to start creating problems. There are some grades you can put together, but the mix isn't always there. The bubble, historically, has always been in the lower grades, but the student bubble is starting to move through the grades now. So the bubble is not completely at the low end. It's somewhere along the line. So, to put a grade 1 and 2 together or a grade 3 and 4 is not always possible.
On a case-by-case basis, I am just not totally comfortable with that. Seeing the downhill trend in our economy and the reduction in our population, we are seeing this happen all over. I guess we all have to hold our breath and wait for a pipeline to come. I'm hoping that we'll have the ability to fill it with more than just Liberal gas, but we can't all wait for a pipeline. People have to work. They have to feed their families, and they're leaving, and they're leaving at an alarming rate.
But we still have to have a baseline number of teachers, especially when the curriculum offered is from kindergarten to high school graduation. What is the policy?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: There isn't really a set policy. The school student population is incredibly dynamic. The Member for Klondike was talking about the bubble passing through, and I'm not sure where he was going with that, but I will try as best I can to answer his concern. He also mentioned that the student/teacher ratio is increasing. That's true.
The Robert Service School - there are a number of stats here. You just can't say number of students to number of teachers, because the needs of the school change on a yearly basis. The Department of Education attempts, in the spring, to forecast the needs for the next school year. Then it becomes set within the month of September. But in 1996, there were 272 students in Robert Service School. In 1997, there were 287. In 1998, there were 288. In 1999, there were 257. In 2000 - this year - there are 250.
Every year, though the student enrolment went down, the teacher complement stayed pretty static through that period. In 1996, there were 21 teachers. In 1997, with 287 students, there were 22.5 teachers. In 1998, there were 22. In 1999, there were 21.5 and this year, there are 21.
In the aboriginal language teacher component of that straight across the board in 1996, there were 1.5 and in the remaining four years there were two. Considering tutors and educational assistants, the number remained fairly constant. In 1996, it was 5.5; this year it's 5.5.
So, the department does address the needs but, like I say, it's not just purely a ratio of students to teachers. There are needs considered and all other kinds of factors involved there.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I thank the minister for his response, but, Mr. Chair, the student population is at the start of the year, and a month ago, there were 230 students, and it is expected that right after New Year's, it will probably be under 200.
That's a significant reduction, and it's all because of this wonderful federal Liberal government's policies and its appendix, the Yukon Liberal government, Mr. Chair, and its inability to do anything in the resource sector. It has devastated the resource sector completely, which we were relying on. Yes, we will have an influx in the summer months, but that's about the extent of it, Mr. Chair.
On the same note, Mr. Chair, if we look at students trying to progress through the system and apprenticeship courses - and I'm referring now to Yukon College - a lot of individuals go into the pre-apprenticeship and into the apprenticeship programs fully expecting that they will be carried through. And, usually at the last possible moment, the course is cancelled because there are not enough individuals in that area. Now, how is the government going to deal with that, Mr. Chair? Are we going to send these individuals off for their apprenticeship training to other jurisdictions, or are we going to ensure that the program that was originally offered, as soon as it has two students or three students, will proceed? The other problem is that they start into their program offered here, and then the apprenticeship program is cancelled.
We have a real problem there, Mr. Chair, because our trained workforce is the future of the Yukon, but it appears that the Department of Education is taking every step they possibly can to ensure that they pay lip service and make the big announcements, but at the end of the day these courses are cancelled. There's not enough uptake.
So how is the government going to deal with this area, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, it's rather ironic, as the member opposite is continually reminding us to be more efficient and be aware of expenditure of dollars. If the member is suggesting that we provide college professors on a one-to-one, then he wouldn't mind us upping the budget of the Department of Education.
I will acknowledge to the member opposite that he is right to a certain extent. There are problems when a course is offered with an expectation of having a complement of students to provide education in the apprentice program, but when only one or two register, it's very, very unfortunate that we can't follow through and help those individuals out. It is something that the department and I are certainly cognizant of and we are thinking of ways to mitigate those circumstances and will continue to make best efforts toward that end, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, the other concern was the timelines as to when everything transpired. The individual who approached our office was enrolled in the electrical pre-employment program, which was slated to begin last fall.
Now, the letter that went out to the individual - the letter of acceptance - stated that the program would be offered subject to enrolment numbers. What happened was that there was virtually a two-week delay after the program was due to begin before a decision was made to cancel it. That creates a lot of problems.
Now, the same individual went to his employer, and took a leave of absence, so he could attend this. And two weeks after the course was slated to begin, it's no more - it's cancelled. He goes back to his employer and says the program was cancelled because there weren't enough individuals to make up the complement necessary for this course. Tough, he's on leave of absence. He lost his job. That was because a decision couldn't be made - bingo. So there's also a problem there, Mr. Chair.
Does the government not have any policy as to timelines for when they will make a decision? If the course is slated to start on August 1 or September 1 or whatever and nothing happens at that time, and then two weeks later, after the course is slated to start, the decision is made to cancel it, what confidence does this instil in this component of the education system to offer courses? People just shake their heads and say it's not worthwhile to attend - not worthwhile doing anything.
Why didn't the government offer this same program to this individual outside of the Yukon? Why wasn't that offer extended? Because the way the rules are written, Mr. Chair, if we do not have enough to substantiate and put on a course here, we will pay for that individual to attend a centre of learning elsewhere for post-secondary education, and we have done so in the past. But now, with our dwindling population, we just do not have the numbers to justify putting on these courses.
So, what are we going to do, Mr. Chair? What is the minister's position, and what is the policy going to be? How are we going to train a workforce?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, I would ask the member opposite for some constructive criticism in this area. But on the specific situation that he mentioned, I was very aware of the situation, and the department was very aware of the situation. They advertised early enough to encourage enrolment on this project. When the enrolment wasn't happening, the department tried to re-advertise, in the hope of putting on this program at the college.
I hope the member isn't suggesting that the Department of Education and the college aren't making every effort to address the needs and circumstances of students or adults for additional training or apprenticeship programs, not only here in Whitehorse, but in the communities through our community campuses. These programs are going out, and I'm encouraged by the cooperation between the department and Yukon College in being progressive and innovative.
Rather than hear total criticism from the member opposite, I would welcome any suggestions he has in mitigating this problem - keeping Yukoners home and teaching them at home. Any suggestion would be a great idea.
Mr. Jenkins: After the next election, Mr. Chair, it probably won't be necessary. We'll cross that bridge when we get there.
Mr. Chair, there is a serious problem. There doesn't seem to be a consistent delivery program. We have built up an administration system to a very, very high level. We have built up a whole bureaucracy at the top. Now the numbers of students and individuals coming into the system are going down and down and down.
What are we going to do? Because more often than not, we are not delivering the programs that the people are expecting. We advertise and we re-advertise. The start date for the program to begin comes and goes, and some two weeks later, that's it - nothing happens, the program is cancelled. So, we are going to have to look at an alternate way of dealing.
The other way that we can deal with it is to plug into the programs in other jurisdictions. Now we do have that for some of the apprenticeship programs. In the event that we advertise and don't have the required number of individuals, what is the problem with the Department of Education plugging into an apprenticeship program in another jurisdiction - Alberta, British Columbia, wherever it is compatible with the system here - and moving the individual through the pre-apprentice programs in those other jurisdictions and subsequent advancement through their field of endeavour in that area? What is the problem with that? The minister doesn't have the ability to do it here in the Yukon for a number of reasons. We do it for a number of trades. Why can't we do it for the ones that we advertise and can't fulfill here in the Yukon, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I did find some of the content that drifted over to this side of the House useful, but, as my colleague for Klondike often says, at the end of the day, you can't be everything to everybody.
We are trying. I hear the concern that he has expressed. I know that there are distance education learning options that could be better utilized. There are some programs up at the college right now that are done that way, as a matter of fact.
We do have distant learning opportunities already occurring through the Department of Education for some students in the communities. So we are maximizing the resources that we have but, as I said, too, it was unfortunate in this case. I do believe that the Department of Education did its best in re-advertising the project in hopes of getting a greater enrolment so that the course could have been offered fully. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Again, it's impossible to be everything to everybody, but we're doing our best and I think we're doing a mighty fine job.
Mr. Jenkins: I'll tell the minister what he's doing his best at: he's doing his best at spending money on more government. If you look at the $37-million supplementary that we have before us, Mr. Chair, it translates into a 6.5-percent increase in government O&M costs. Yet we have a situation where the number of students in our education system is dropping. Indeed we have a situation where the entire population of the Yukon is dropping. The minister says he is doing a good job. That's it.
Mr. Chair, students in our schools deserve the best and, when they go on to advanced education, there is a very good system in place for the government recognizing that they don't offer the courses here in the Yukon and paying tuition, travel and all the expenses that they incur to attend a centre of advanced learning in another jurisdiction. We're on a resident status in Alberta, British Columbia and Alaska, which is fantastic. One of the Liberal government initiatives that I was very much in favour of was the increase in the tuition amount. That's very beneficial.
But when we can't offer a program here in the Yukon, we have to take steps to ensure that those people are not just locked out of the system. And my concern at this juncture is that we have a number of individuals who are either in the pre-apprentice or the apprenticeship programs. The courses were offered previously here in the Yukon, but because of the dwindling population and the state of the economy created by the federal Liberal government, in collusion with the Yukon Liberal government, our population is reducing and is going down. So, we have to provide an alternate system. That's what I'm encouraging the minister to do, Mr. Chair. Will he do so?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I just want to remind the Member for Klondike that he did vote against the increase to the student loan. That was one thing that he did, and now he's espousing to be the omnipresent saviour for all student and adult education needs in the territory. But I am taking into consideration the advice he's passing across the House, and I want to thank him for his suggestions. I will ferret out the constructive parts and will utilize them.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, just for the record, Mr. Chair, I'm not aware of any bill before the House that contains provisions for increasing student loans. I'm aware of provisions in a bill for increasing the amount of grants provided to students for tuition purposes. Transportation is indexed, and there has been a constant increase in the amount of money flowing to students obtaining education elsewhere as a consequence of the ratcheting of the airfare prices in and out of the Yukon, Mr. Chair.
So, that's not a component that the Yukon can deal with, other than to index it against inflation.
Mr. Chair, just because the opposition votes against a bill doesn't mean that they're not supportive of some of the provisions and some of the parts of that bill. That's the bottom line, Mr. Chair.
At the end of the day, I will be voting against this supplementary budget. But it does not mean that I do not support a lot of the areas contained in this supplementary budget. And I will make specific reference to those areas that I support, and that is one of the areas I certainly support and endorse, and I pat the Liberal government on the back for doing something about it. Although pats on the back are very few and far between, the kick somewhere else would probably be more appropriate, Mr. Chair.
We have a problem here, in that we have a government facility in place to deal with a population probably half again, if not more, the size that we currently have. It seems to be all lumped into the administration side. It's probably high time that the minister had a look internally. What we want to do is ensure that the education that students receive is the best system we can possibly provide. That is the tool that prepares our youth for the future, and their education is something you can never take away from an individual. They will always have it. So we've got to ensure that we do the best job possible there, and this minister is trying, but he is failing in many areas, Mr. Chair, and I would encourage him to examine those areas and deal with them.
Mr. Chair, I have a lot of questions in line-by-line, but it's probably easier if I deal with them in line-by-line.
Chair: Is there any further general debate on the Department of Education?
Seeing no further general debate, we will proceed with line-by-line.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Education Support Services
Mr. Jenkins: Could I have an explanation, please, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, this entire request in this area is for the superannuation transfer from the federal government and for YEU collective agreement increases.
Education Support Services in the amount of $616,000 agreed to
On Public Schools
Mr. Jenkins: An explanation - probably an explanation of all of these lines, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, the request for public schools is broken down as follows: $2,760,000, or 80 percent, to personnel allotments; $655,000, or 19 percent, to operational expenses; and the remainder of $31,000 is transfer payments to other groups.
Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister break down the $655,000 operational expenditures further?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: There is $655,000 requested for funding and other allotments, and the member has asked for clarification on that. $400,000 of that sum is school utilities. This money will be used to help offset the rising costs of electricity and heating fuels that have occurred over the past several years. $250,000 is for a revote for schools, as described in my opening comments. I will break that down again for the member opposite: $135,000 for accreditation; $115,000 for site-based management.
Both of these areas are expended directly at the school level. $25,000 has been included for conducting student assessments, as mentioned again in my opening remarks and in my answers to the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin. $5,000 is for the Marsville project, which involves grades 5 and 6 with NASA and the space program. This amount, by the way, is recoverable from the Canadian National Marsville Project. $3,000 of this allocation is for grounds maintenance at the Wood Street school during the summer. This work was completed by students as part of a summer student employment project. And the remaining $2,000 has been included to allow students to participate in various heritage projects, such as the heritage fair. And again, this amount is recoverable from the Charles Bronfman Foundation.
Mr. Jenkins: It sounds like the whiskey business is doing benefits for the Yukon, Mr. Chair.
Could the minister provide an explanation as to what site-based management is?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Just as the title indicates, it is really for individual schools to expend on materials that they require specifically for their schools.
Mr. Jenkins: Does the Department of Education have an ongoing air-quality testing program in its schools, and where is that budgeted for, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: It's located in capital, Mr. Chair, and yes.
Mr. Jenkins: Could we have a look at the policy? Could the minister send over the policy on air testing - the frequency of it and what it entails - or is there nothing set down in hard and fast rules? Do we just have an annual duct maintenance program of cleaning air ducts and filters, or is there an actual set policy to monitor on a continuing basis the air quality in our schools, makeup air and everything? What's the frequency of testing, what's the frequency of monitoring, and how is the maintenance program dovetailed into all that?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, there is no set policy.
Mr. Jenkins: So, we do not have an air quality testing program or policy for our schools, Mr. Chair. It sounds like it's just on an ad hoc basis. Is that the case?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: No, to the first part of his question. It's done on an as-needed basis, with respect to part two of his question.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, could the minister explain why something as important as air quality is done on an as-needed basis, and who determines when it's needed and when it's not needed?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, the systems within the schools, as I understand, are on a balance need - the occupancy of the school. The airflow is dependent on the size of classrooms and the occupancy. These systems are maintained on a regular basis, and anyone could request specific and detailed testing in any school if a problem has been identified or if they feel a need, and it is done immediately.
Mr. Jenkins: Has the department given consideration to developing a manual for air quality testing and controls? I understand that the maintenance side is covered off by Government Services or the property management agency, with an ongoing preventative maintenance program. I don't have a quarrel with that, Mr. Chair. But there has to be some sort of continuing testing program for air quality. Why would there not be, and why isn't there a policy in place in this regard, especially in light of the situation with the school in Mayo? Say what we want, the situation there, Mr. Chair, was ignored for quite a period of time and allowed to deteriorate, and there were health problems arising as a consequence of air quality in the school. That's a given.
So, why doesn't the department have a consistent, ongoing monitoring program in this regard, and if not, when will they be developing it?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, basically, I have answered the question. But it certainly is heartening to hear the Member for Klondike recognize the past transgressions of previous governments in not recognizing the need, specifically for Mayo, including the leader of the third party's party when they were in power.
Mr. Jenkins: To set the record straight, Mr. Chair, the Yukon Party's next school to be replaced was the school in Mayo. Then the unfortunate occurrence in Old Crow occurred, and it's all on the record. So if the minister wants to just go back and review the situation -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Jenkins: The former minister of towns and trucks, Mr. Chair, is expanding on the virtues of previous governments, and there were many. But the record is clearly stated and clearly enunciated. The Yukon Party position as to the next school to be replaced in the Yukon was the Mayo school. Then the rural school study was complete. The queue was changed because of the unfortunate fire in Old Crow. From there, the school committees were assembled, and Mayo let the other two schools precede the replacement of the school in Mayo.
That, for the record, is the reality of what has transpired. So, our party is fully cognizant, Mr. Chair, of the problems in Mayo; it has been for quite some time and, if re-elected, it was ready to construct a new school in Mayo, but the NDP were selected and we know what happened since that time.
Governments don't last very long in the Yukon, Mr. Chair. The population gets fed up with them very, very quickly. So, we'll probably be seeing a change in the not too distant future - in three or so many years hence, Mr. Chair.
I received a wonderful Christmas card today.
Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)
Chair: Order please. I'm having a problem hearing the member.
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you, Mr. Chair, I was having difficulty getting a word in edgewise with the heckling from the Liberal back benches over there.
The ministers over there haven't been able to answer any of the questions posed to them, but they can offer opinions and heckle when they're sitting back there and they're not on the hot seat like the Minister of Education is currently.
Once more to the Minister of Education, Mr. Chair: will the Department of Education be establishing a policy of consistent, ongoing air quality checks in the schools? When will this occur, and will he be doing so?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, there are no plans in the near future for doing that, but I will certainly take the member's suggestion and consider it fully.
And just to clear the record, the heckling was primarily from the same side of the House that he is on. It does seem like there's a little bit of friction going on between the co-joined twins over there. But I wish them well. I mean, 'tis the season.
I also take a little bit of umbrage at the member's suggestion that I don't know the answers. I do believe that I am providing the answers that the member is asking for, and I will continue to do so, as has everyone on this side - the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, the Minister of Government Services, the Minister of Tourism, the Minister of Health and Social Services, and, of course, I could go on and on and on.
Mr. Jenkins: I would like to thank the minister for the bafflegab, Mr. Chair. Perhaps he can share it with the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. It will go a long way to forming the covering of the highways, the BST component.
Mr. Chair, the issue surrounding the air quality in the schools is a very important issue and one that I would urge the minister to proceed with.
One of the other areas, Mr. Chair, is the amount of money that the department has budgeted for increased utility costs. The Department of Education is one of the few departments doing so. Most of the other departments have not. Why is Education singled out to the reality of the day?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Chair, as the member opposite well knows, there are 30 facilities that the Department of Education looks at. For the past several years - I will repeat that, several years - under the previous government and the government before that, there has been a choice to ignore the needs in addressing the increased costs in these areas.
So, something that we had promised the Yukon public is that we would be open and transparent. That means the Department of Education providing the full facts on schools and their needs.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, it might surprise the minister, but it's a position I agree with, to actually put forward the actual costs and not try to hide them. But it's not consistent across all government departments. That's the concern I have.
The Department of Education is one of the few that have brought this issue to the forefront. None of the other departments, which have heating and electrical costs probably in the same order of magnitude expense-wise as the Education department has, have addressed the issue.
So, all I'm looking for from this government is a consistent and uniform approach to this area, Mr. Chair.
Chair: Is there any further debate on public schools?
Public Schools in the amount of $3,446,000 agreed to
On Advanced Education
Mr. Jenkins: Could we have a breakdown of this line item, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: The breakdown is: $148,000, or 8.9 percent, to personnel allotments, and the remainder, $1,062,000, or 91 percent, is transfer payments to other groups.
A further breakdown for the Member for Klondike is that of the $148,000 is as follows: $73,000 for the superannuation increase because of transfers from the federal government; $35,000 for advanced education's portion of the YEU collective agreement; and $40,000 for funding received from the Millennium Scholastic Foundation to offset the administrative costs of the millennium scholarship fund. There are no further increases.
There is one carry-over information item from the previous question that I would like to address. With respect to why the Department of Education has specifically identified the increase in the area of utilities, the Department of Education, in managing its 30 facilities in the communities, is really the only department that manages its own facilities. And with all due respect to the Minister of Government Services, he may be able to provide some additional information clarifying that aspect.
So I know I can only address the needs, and that was a line item that was identified early to me by the department. I felt that, being an open and transparent government, we would identify things up front and show what the costs are. The problem with the costs associated with heating our facilities and looking after our children was that the department in the past has had to rob Peter to pay Paul, and it was usually one of those items that we just couldn't accept anymore. We wanted to get that figure out there, open and true, because one thing that we absolutely don't want to do is affect the programming in our schools.
Mr. Chair, I move that we report progress at this time.
Chair: It has been moved by Mr. Eftoda that we report progress.
Motion agreed to
Ms. Tucker: Mr. Chair, I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Chair: It has been moved by Ms. Tucker 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?
Chair: Mr. Speaker, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 3, Third Appropriation Act, 2000-01, and directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Ms. Tucker: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:55 p.m.
The following Legislative Return was tabled December 11, 2000:
Ross River School demolition and salvage: information pertaining to
Oral, Hansard, p. 604