Monday, October 29, 2001 - 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.
Are there any introduction of visitors?
Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I have for tabling a consolidation of employees' comments from renewal consultation sessions up to and including September 6, 2001, a copy of which was asked for and was provided to the members opposite on October 26, 2001.
Speaker: Are there any further returns or documents for tabling?
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. Keenan: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that:
(1) earlier this year, the Yukon Liberal government was the beneficiary of a recalculation in the formula financing that resulted in a multi-million dollar windfall;
(2) this change in calculating the financing formula came about as a result of years of work by the Finance department officials, not as a result of the Premier's intervention, as she has claimed;
(3) the the Yukon government has earmarked a considerable portion of the formula financing windfall to create endowment funds that have not yet been defined;
(4) in the most recent meeting of Finance ministers, the Premier failed to put forward the Yukon's case that the federal government has the responsibility to provide the necessary resources to maintain our public health care system;
(5) the Minister of Health recently displayed a willingness to consider a private sector solution to providing essential health care equipment at the risk of undermining the principles of the Canada Health Act;
(6) the Yukon Liberal government had an accumulated surplus of $99 million at the beginning of the 2001-02 fiscal year; and
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to use part of its accumulated surplus and part of the windfall money it set aside for endowment funds to establish a medical equipment endowment fund of at least $3 million as part of its ongoing responsibility to provide, renew and replace diagnostic and other medical equipment that is considered standard of care.
Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?
Are there any statements by ministers?
Youth endowment fund
Mr. Kent: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to announce another measure that demonstrates this government's commitment to the young people of our territory.
To confirm this commitment, I am pleased to announce the establishment of the new youth voices endowment fund. To establish this fund, the Government of Yukon will contribute $250,000 to an arm's-length organization that will act as trustees for the fund.
Young people, through the Youth Shaping the Future Council, will be asked to participate with the trustees to develop guidelines that will provide funding to support an annual youth conference for Yukon youth. Each year, the interest generated, up to $20,000, will be available to be spent to support an annual youth conference.
Mr. Speaker, we support giving youth the opportunity to be heard. This government has a number of initiatives underway, such as the establishment of a youth directorate, to improve communication. We believe, however, there is an ongoing need for young people to be able to gather and provide a collective message to all governments. An annual conference can facilitate that process.
Mr. Speaker, for the past three years, Bringing Youth Toward Equality, a local grassroots youth organization, has taken the lead to organize and offer the Youth Plan to Take Over the World conference for young people.
Last year's Strengths in Numbers conference drew more than 350 youth from 17 Yukon communities as well as the Northwest Territories, Alberta and Alaska. As you can see, it is a very successful initiative that is well-attended by youth.
The conference offers youth a positive and healthy environment, forms connections with other youth and reduces feelings of isolation. The workshops vary from year to year, depending on the issues that youth are interested in.
Last year's workshops offered training in health, crime prevention, entrepreneurship, abuse prevention, healthy lifestyles and culture. The planning for this year's conference is already underway, with the theme being the four elements: earth, wind, fire and water.
The youth voices endowment fund will provide seed money for such an event. Youth will be able to count on having an ongoing source of funds for conference planning and preparation. It is not intended that an annual youth conference can be fully funded through this endowment fund; however, it will provide resources to do the necessary planning and preparatory work that will allow them to attract additional sponsors.
Mr. Speaker, we are also currently seeking additional funding from other governments and other organizations to contribute to this endowment fund, thereby increasing the amount of funding available each year. If additional contributions are secured, it could make the annual conference self-sustaining.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Fentie: On behalf of the official opposition, I am pleased to rise in response to this ministerial statement.
First, let me be clear, Mr. Speaker, that the official opposition wholeheartedly supports programs and initiatives that address the issues of our youth today and, indeed, those same programs and initiatives that would address the issues they will face in the future.
However, this ministerial statement does pose some questions. Firstly, under our Standing Orders, Mr. Speaker, a minister and/or a commissioner may give a short, factual statement of new government policy. We know that we have not created a youth commission in this territory; therefore, the member opposite cannot be a commissioner so we are led, then, to believe that this statement involves some sort of economic development initiative. That's something the minister could clear up when he gets on his feet.
Another question, Mr. Speaker, is that if it is the case, and it is an Economic Development department initiative, why then is the money booked in the Department of Education under advanced education, which would mean the Minister of Education should be delivering this statement?
If the spending authority is in Education, the question is, then: how can the Minister of Economic Development proceed with that spending authority?
Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, the statement goes on to say that interest rates will be used to conduct this annual conference. Given the situation of interest rates today, it is quite evident that this will not be a windfall and may pose some problems for the continuance of this conference. The official opposition urges the government to ensure that this is just not seed money and that follow-through will be there so that any of these programs and initiatives will simply not drop off the map.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, another example of Liberal consultation - here we have the minister announcing he is setting up an arm's-length organization to administer the fund and yet he is now telling this House and the public how the money is going to be spent. It leads one to wonder what the arm's-length organization is to do. If the minister could clear up some of these matters, the official opposition would thank him and thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Jenkins: On behalf of the Yukon Party, I rise to respond to the minister's statement on the youth endowment fund.
Mr. Speaker, throughout the territory, we are very fortunate to have a number of youth services and programs for our youth. From the Youth Association of Watson Lake to the Youth of Today Society in Whitehorse, Yukon youth are busy. Whether it's raising money, organizing events or lobbying for change, youth are taking more and more of an active role in their futures and are becoming a formidable force as a result.
Mr. Speaker, the minister stated that the youth endowment fund through the Youth Shaping the Future Council, has been created to provide funding to support an annual youth conference for Yukon youth. I have no problem with such an initiative, particularly given the popularity of previous conferences that have been held over the last three years. My only concern is that we don't reinvent the wheel, that this funding be made available for the continuation of the Youth Plan to Take Over the World conference and not to create or establish yet another conference that is similar in nature but different in title.
As the minister stated, this conference has been well-received over the last three years, hence, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
In 1995, the previous Yukon Party government created the youth investment fund to provide operating funds to community-based projects that involve youth. This fund was set up as an interdepartmental cooperation between Justice, Education, Social Services, the Women's Directorate and Community and Transportation Services. As of a year ago, the fund had supported over 186 community-based projects throughout the Yukon, totalling some $630,000.
I'd like to know from the minister just how much has been spent on projects to date, the number of projects that have been funded under the youth investment fund and if this government intends to keep this popular initiative going.
In 1997, the previous NDP government had created a youth works trust fund to also help youth. As I recall, the fund started out with $200,000 and was to be overseen by a committee comprising seven youth from around the territory as well as one adult facilitator.
I would ask the minister if he could also provide an update regarding this fund. Does the fund still exist? If so, have any changes been made to the fund? How much money remains in the fund, and what does the future hold for youth works? I would also like to know if the committee that oversees the youth works fund is intact. As I recall, at one time there was some difficulty trying to fill the board with interested youth.
While I welcome funding for youth, I believe it is incumbent upon government, whatever party it may be, to ensure that these funds are used to address the needs of our youth and not to be used as a tool to expedite one's own political aspirations.
This brings me to the next point: youth at risk. Youth at risk were ignored by the previous NDP government and they are being ignored by this government as well. The establishment of a youth directorate will not change the situation, neither will the creation of yet another board.
Mr. Speaker, I cannot say enough about youth at risk - the youth who need help the most but can't seem to get any help no matter how hard they may try.
Perhaps the minister could say a few words as to what steps his government is taking to address the needs of Yukon youth at risk and how the youth endowment fund will help these individuals.
Just in closing, Mr. Speaker, I see that, given today's investment climate, I am very encouraged that the Minister of Economic Development will see a rate of return approaching some eight percent as anticipated on this trust fund. That's great. I would like the minister to share with the House how he hopes to achieve this kind of rate of return, given the constrictions on where this kind of investment can be placed.
Hon. Mr. Kent: I welcome the opportunity to respond to some of the comments from the member opposite.
Let me start out by saying that I am very proud of the role that I've had as special representative for youth since last summer. I take that job very seriously.
I am excited for the youth of the Yukon that the $250,000 we have allocated to this initiative will give them a greater say in their own future. Young people will be asked to help develop the guidelines that will provide stable funding for an annual conference for Yukon youth.
Mr. Speaker, I must note again that this funding is seed money for the conference. Conference organizers will still be able to access other Yukon government programs. What this does is add to the various funding sources that can be used. The critical point is that it provides youth a guaranteed source of funds instead of being dependent on annual appropriations for financial assistance. It will also ensure them funds for the important planning stage when they are preparing for the conference.
Mr. Speaker, it's all about staying in contact and working closely with those who will shape the future of our territory.
We are very much looking forward to working with youth on this and many other initiatives and programs over the next several years. We want to ensure that youth feel they are important players in the Yukon, both socially and economically, and this funding is an important step in providing them with a forum to come together to develop their ideas and to communicate those ideas to the government.
The annual conference encompasses a wide range of viewpoints from the entire territory.
Also, Mr. Speaker, as there are many active youth organizations involved in delivering programs throughout the territory, if they were to take on the management of the fund there could be accusations of some sort of bias. We are consulting with the youth on the terms and conditions for the new fund, and welcome any suggestions they have on who should administer it. However, at this point we believe a charitable, non-profit organization that will have an arm's-length relationship with both government and potential applicants would be the best.
Mr. Speaker, helping facilitate an annual gathering of Yukon youth can only better us all, now and in the future.
Speaker: Are there any further statements by ministers?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Septic tank leakage
Mr. Keenan: Today I have a question for the Minister of Health.
A local manufacturer of fibreglass products filed a complaint on May 31, 2000, under the Environment Act. According to a media report on Friday, the Canadian Standards Association has confirmed that a southern company may have sold substandard fibreglass sewage holding tanks in the Yukon.
Can the minister tell us if his department has the responsibility to ensure that tanks sold in the Yukon will not leak sewage into our lakes, our rivers and our drinking water supply?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: I appreciate the opportunity to clarify the facts on this very important issue. Our environmental health officers have not reported any environmental health concerns. We do know that two tank failures have been reported in the Yukon. One appears to be an installation problem from 10 years ago and one was replaced by the vendor. The other was an eight-year-old tank without any manufacturer's label or CSA markings. This tank was also installed under the authority and approval of Health Canada and is currently being replaced under YTG's installation regulations. The Yukon government began its role as regulator of CSA standard requirements in 1999. The Department of Health and Social Services will not prejudge the CSA investigation results, and the government will continue to be vigilant in our role as the regulator of the CSA standards.
Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Speaker, I want to clarify right now at this point in time in the questioning that I am pointing something out here that is horrific for the Yukon Territory. It is horrific for our environment, for our economic environment, for our health. And so I am asking the minister not to give me a bureaucratic explanation but to point out and tell me exactly what this minister is doing.
We do have examples in Canada, just in the recent two years, from Walkerton to Saskatchewan to what has happened in British Columbia so please, please. According to the same report, there are over 200 or hundreds of substandard tanks in the ground right now. They are out there. This problem has been around for much longer than the minister has been a minister. And I am asking the minister right now: what steps is this minister taking to help families find out if they have a problem or not?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: I would like to clarify for the member opposite, when he says there are 100 tanks in the ground somewhere - does he mean Canada or does he mean the Yukon? To lead off with a statement like that is almost to assume that he is saying "the Yukon". The member was very careful in not saying that, but obviously when you make a generalized statement, I think that the member should be very specific about what the member is talking about.
The Canadian Standards Association certifies and approves the use of CSA markings on a product. It's on almost every product that we buy. When the standard of that product is questioned, the Canadian Standards Association does an investigation.
CSA is doing an investigation right now on behalf of some local concern, and they have told the Department of Health and Social Services that they would be finished as soon as possible.
CSA is a huge bureaucracy in themselves, Mr. Speaker. They have a lot of issues on their plate and obviously this is one that is very important. It is very serious. I take the member's concern very seriously.
If the CSA investigation demonstrates that the product does not meet the standard, then CSA would have to address the problem. If and when a complainant feels that CSA does not properly address the complaint, then they can appeal to the state -
Speaker: Order please. I must ask the minister to please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Roberts: The Department of Health and Social Services will not prejudge an investigation, Mr. Speaker, and the government will continue to be vigilant.
Mr. Keenan: Well, let me point out to the Yukon Territory that the gentleman that I am asking the questions of is the Minister of Health. When I am a legislator of the Yukon Territory, I don't represent Ontario or Alberta. But let me also say that this is not only a territorial problem, it's a national problem. So the minister does have, I would think, a fiduciary obligation to the people of the Yukon Territory - and not in beating me up. That just doesn't seem to work.
I would also like to point out that YTG has a responsibility by legislation for enforcement, so YTG is responsible. People look to government to ensure that health and safety are protected. If they feel that the government is negligent, then we could face the possibility of lawsuits that might leave the territorial government on the hook. So, what is the minister prepared to do to help Yukon families replace substandard tanks and indeed check the inventory that is out there?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Mr. Speaker, I noticed that the member still didn't clarify where the 100 faulty tanks were. The member just left it out there, as if it's in the Yukon. So obviously I think the member is working on behalf of all Canadians, I suppose, and leaving that impression there that this is a Yukon problem with 100 faulty tanks. I think that is not correct.
Environmental health rules and standards, like the setback distances from water sources, take into account the end of a septic tank. The complete septic field is the key factor considered with our installation requirements. While it's not common, like any man-made device, septic tanks can fail. As a matter of fact, before they had regulations, they used to use old car bodies for septic tanks, from what I gather. Most often, it is the result of improper installation or the fact that a car or a truck drove over the area where it was installed. Those are some factors, too.
The Department of Health and Social Services will not prejudge an investigation. The government will continue to be vigilant in the role as regulator of CSA standards. That's what we are, Mr. Speaker; we're a regulator, and we're doing what we have to do.
Question re: School busing contract
Mr. Fentie: I have some follow-up questions for the Minister of Education.
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education has compounded what was already an inappropriate action by the government side by providing incorrect information to this Assembly. The information that the minister provided was not consistent with the information coming from the Member for Whitehorse West and the local representative of the Teamsters Union. Will the minister now stand on his feet, correct the record and apologize to this House for his actions?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I certainly welcome the opportunity to address this issue once again. As I have said repeatedly in this House, the Member for Whitehorse West was simply doing his job, doing a job that we were all doing, Mr. Speaker. He was out in the communities, speaking to friends, constituents, the general public, acquaintances and colleagues whom he used to work for, and finding ways that we as a responsible government stretch taxpayers' dollars.
Mr. Speaker, the member on the opposite side of the House and the members on this side, now that we are the government, have attended all sorts of meetings over the summer. We've listened to school councils, First Nations, chambers of commerce, the business community and, yes, Mr. Speaker, believe it or not, we also appreciate hearing from Yukon's unionized members.
Judging from the news report on Friday, Mr. Speaker, apparently the previous Minister of Education also saw nothing wrong in meeting with organized labour.
Mr. Fentie: I'm really glad the minister brought that point up, because this is the fundamental difference of what is going on here, Mr. Speaker. The previous minister was discussing whether conditions of a contract, the tendering document, should be changed, and that was addressing the performance bond. That means anybody bidding on that contract is bidding on a level playing field. What the opposite side, the government side, did was to give the appearance of political interference in the tendering process. No other potential bidder was afforded the opportunity or the courtesy of a member of the government side coming to them and saying, "We need to cut busing costs."
My question to the minister is this: did any of the meetings the Member for Whitehorse West had with the owner of Diversified or its unionized drivers take place after February 22, 2001?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Speaker, I'm sure that Yukoners are getting a little tired of this line of questioning from the members opposite, but I'll endeavour to continue to respond in a responsible fashion.
The Member for Whitehorse West was a bus driver for two and a half years. Some of the people the member had met and talked to about efficiencies were constituents and, quite simply, colleagues. The Member for Whitehorse West used to have coffee with his colleagues quite often, long before the members of the opposition tried, and are continuing, to make this an issue.
The meeting he attended took place long before the contract was put out to tender and there was no discussion about wages. The member did not speak to the Minister of Education and the member did not speak to the Minister of Government Services about this contract, Mr. Speaker. The House was in session in March, and the Member for Whitehorse West does not normally attend caucus meetings at this time. He is not a member of Cabinet nor of Management Board, unlike the former Minister of Education, a colleague of the members opposite, who met with the union just days before the contract was put out to tender and who was in a position of influence, because she was a member of Cabinet and was a member of Management Board.
Mr. Fentie: Well, thank you, Mr. Speaker. Let me point out that the only people who are tired of this question are the members opposite. Yukoners are very interested in what their government is doing and in holding them accountable.
Furthermore, we have already clarified the record on what the member points out that the former minister had done with regard to contracting.
I also want to put on the record that this is not a simple matter of a member of the government side exercising his duties as an MLA. We are discussing the fact that this is the Speaker of the Assembly, and we all know that that comes with a high standard of non-partisan activity.
Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister: did the minister himself play any role in asking or encouraging the Member for Whitehorse West to talk about government cost-cutting for school busing with the owner or the drivers of the company that held the Whitehorse school busing contract at that time?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Speaker, the short answer to that question is no, I didn't. But I do feel that it is imperative that I do speak more on the subject matter he is alluding to.
The media reports on Friday that the Member for Watson Lake - when asked to explain why it was okay for the former Minister of Education to meet with the union just days before the contract was put out to tender, he said that was different. Yes, I agree. It was different. The Member for Whitehorse West, who does not sit on Cabinet or Management Board, met with the union long before the contract was put out to tender. Compare this to the actions of the former Minister of Education who met with the union just days before the contract was put out to tender, and she was a member of Cabinet and of Management Board and was in a position of influence - a direct position of influence.
Now, I have a question for the Member for Watson Lake. Will he now stand on his feet and do the right thing, as he continually reminds us to do, and admit what Yukoners know - that he is wrong and, unlike the former Minister of Education, the Member for Whitehorse Centre was just doing his job and he will continue to do that.
Question re: Dawson City recreation centre
Mr. Jenkins: I have a question today for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. Now, on January 18 of this year, the minister proudly announced that she had appointed a supervisor to help Dawson City with its financial problems, stemming in part from the construction of the new recreation centre. The minister stated at that time, with our assistance, the people of Dawson would be assured that construction of the recreation centre could be completed in a timely manner and the appointment of the supervisor would ensure the long-term viability of the town.
Now, since January, the Government of the Yukon, in addition to the supervisor, has appointed a project manager for the recreation centre, who reports to a senior project manager in the Department of Government Services. With these appointments, the Yukon Liberal government has legally taken over the management of Dawson City's finances and, in particular, the management of the recreation centre construction project.
Can the minister explain why her assurances that the project would be completed in a timely manner have not been met, and will she reveal how much the recreation centre is now over budget?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: As the Member for Klondike well knows, the completion of the recreation centre has been delayed by problems with melting permafrost, which has prevented crews from pouring concrete for the hockey and curling rinks. We are unsure at this point when the project will resume. I will note that the member is also well aware that this is a Dawson City project, not a Government of the Yukon project.
Mr. Jenkins: The minister is wrong. The Dawson City recreation centre project has been shrouded in secrecy. But two things are perfectly clear: the project is neither on time nor on budget and, number two, the Yukon government is now responsible for the management of this project as well as the finances of the City of Dawson. Despite whomever the minister wants to blame, the buck stops at her desk.
Can the minister advise the House if it is true that the foundation work may have to be redone and that the Yukon government is potentially facing a multi-million dollar lawsuit as a consequence of the minister's mismanagement of this project?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Speaker, this city embarked on this development by devoting city land, by tendering and by contracting with a Yukon contractor. The Yukon government respects that the city is the owner and the Yukon government has moved only to assist the city in establishing suitable capacity to manage this project.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, the minister's response does not recognize that the Government of Yukon has stepped in and appointed a supervisor, and I would urge the minister to read the Municipal Act as to what responsibilities a supervisor has when that appointment takes place.
Now, last January, the minister revealed that there was a $4.6-million cost overrun on recreation facilities in Dawson. Obviously, that figure is growing larger and larger with the new problems the recreation centre is currently facing. Will the minister give a commitment that she will seek to mediate with the current contractor, who is not responsible for this current mess, rather than waste even more taxpayers' money going to court on a case that she cannot win, given that she is totally responsible for where this project is at today? Can the minister give that undertaking?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I repeat, "This is a Dawson City project." We loaned an additional $4.46 million to the City of Dawson to help consolidate existing debts and to pay for cost overruns on the recreation project. In January, the Yukon government appointed the director of the community services branch to help the City of Dawson develop a long-term financial plan. His role as supervisor is to provide advice and assistance in respect of financial concerns for the various matters for which Dawson is responsible with a view to ensuring stability for the city's finances now and for the long-term.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Question re: Government renewal project, layoffs
Mr. Fentie: I have some questions today for the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission. The minister has a big role to play now that the Premier has launched her misguided government renewal project. We all know that the employees of the Yukon government are under contract at this time, and the Premier has refused to rule out any layoffs. In fact, some of the consultation groups have been told there could be layoffs up to 175 people, and the reports are that these would constitute secretaries and typists and receptionists and people in that payscale.
Given this government's practice of creating associate deputy minister positions at will, can the minister give assurances to this House that there will not be layoffs targeted at any particular group of employees at the lower end of the government wage scale? Will he give that commitment?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Well, Mr. Speaker, it's very interesting to hear the member opposite lend credibility to rumours and speculations that are going around.
First and foremost, the suggestion that the renewal process is misguided is completely wrong. We have been listening to the public and we have been working very closely with our public service on this. As a matter of fact, the Public Service Commission is in constant communication with the PSAC members and with the managerial level. So, I'm not going to comment on rumours and speculation. It's pure conjecture.
Mr. Fentie: I'm sorry that the minister is so offended but these comments aren't coming from this side of the House. They're coming out of the minister's own renewal community meetings, and it's government officials who are making these comments, not this side of the House, Mr. Speaker.
Apart from the layoff of 175 employees or so, the government will also be thinning its ranks through attrition - a well-known area where government jobs are not filled. Now, it doesn't take much to figure out that a reduction of 10 to 15 percent in the public service by the time devolution comes into effect could be a reality. Can the minister tell us how many current YTG positions he expects to disappear through attrition and how many by direct layoff by the time devolution of the Northern Affairs program takes place?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: The only correct thing that the member opposite suggested was that we are facing devolution. That is a fact, Mr. Speaker. And we are anticipating that with great eagerness, and we will be accommodating them within the rank and file of YTG.
Now the member, again, is suggesting fabricated numbers on pure speculation, hearing rumour and innuendo. There is no doubt about the fact that renewal is change and that change is difficult sometimes, and there are anxieties. But to the credit of the Public Service Commission, they are aware of that, Mr. Speaker, and are working closely with the executive of the government union as well as the managerial level, as I indicated.
So maybe he can bring to my attention - he can mention a name - where that side of the House is getting their information, and I will react upon it. But I would just suggest right now, Mr. Speaker, that that is pure hearsay.
Mr. Fentie: Interesting indeed.
Let me put it this way. Attrition is very hard to control. I think that, at this stage of the game with regard to its renewal process, the government side cannot project how many Yukon government employees will opt out from this option. Then you factor in whatever layoffs come about, because we all know that the members opposite have made a commitment to the federal employees that any one of those federal employees who chooses to do so may come across to the Yukon side. Is renewal a way of opening the door so that federal employees can come to work here for the Yukon government, through laying off existing Yukon government employees? I would hope that is not the case.
Let me ask the minister this: what percentage of eligible federal employees does the minister expect either to leave their jobs before April 1, 2003 or not take up a YTG offer? Has he got any numbers for that?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Mr. Speaker, there are a number of allegations that the member opposite has alluded to. Of course they never do stick to the true facts. They work on rumour and a number of other factors.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Speaker: The hon. Member for Watson Lake, on a point of order.
Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, it is a standard practice in this House that we do not refer to the truth or non-truth in this Assembly, and the member is very, very close to be called to order with a number of his statements. I am not offering incorrect or fabricated information in this Assembly at all. I am merely passing on what is coming out of public meetings in this territory, headed up by the government side's own officials.
Speaker: Thank you very much to the Member for Watson Lake for the assistance there. As I recall the statement, it was "never stick to the true facts." I agree with the Member for Watson Lake that we are right on the line there with non-parliamentary comments and I would ask the minister to stay away from those types of comments but to continue on with the answer.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. First of all, there has been no one within the government alluding to the fact that there will automatically, at renewal, be the loss of 175 jobs.
As I have indicated, though, renewal is difficult. It is a change and a long welcome change because we want to provide excellent service to Yukoners. It is unfortunate that the members opposite are not looking at the advantages that renewal is going to create. There are discussions happening all throughout government, and there is some anxiety out there - there is no doubt about that. But, the public service is aware of that and is working hard and diligently toward a complete, smooth process of renewal.
Question re: Economic situation in Yukon
Mr. Fentie: I have some questions today for the Minister of Economic Development.
Mr. Speaker, since the Premier handed off the department to the new minister, we've had some disturbing news, obviously, around their only economic plank - the Alaska Highway pipeline. More and more information is coming forward that poses a serious question about whether or not that project is going to be something we can look forward to in the near future.
My question to the minister is this: now that he has had ample time to orient himself with the department, if the producers do not choose the Alaska Highway route, what is the minister's plan B to address the terrible situation that the Yukon economy is in?
Hon. Mr. Kent: Mr. Speaker, as part of my vision for the Yukon economy, there are a number of things that I am going to be working on. One of them is strengthening the resource sector. The second is improving infrastructure such as highways and the pipeline that the members opposite mentioned, as well as diversifying the economy.
Mr. Fentie: Well, from the minister's answer, I take it that he is working on some of these initiatives. So we now know that the pipeline is up in the air. We don't know for sure whether that project will happen. We also know that, in the resource sector, there's no mining happening other than outside the Yukon in the Northwest Territories. Furthermore, forestry has ground to a complete halt under this government's watch. This minister has to do more than just talk about diversifying the economy and addressing the needs in the resource sector by concrete action.
What action is the minister going to take with regard to the forestry matter and the recent events that have shown clearly that the forest sector is on its knees and not progressing under this government's watch whatsoever?
Hon. Mr. Kent: First of all, Mr. Speaker, let me clarify that I still think that the Alaska Highway pipeline project is a possible reality. It's something that we continue to work hard at trying to promote - ensuring that North Slope gas does travel to market down the Alaska Highway and through the Yukon Territory and that we receive all the benefits from it.
With regard to the forest industry, Mr. Speaker, we're doing a number of things. We're doing some forest management planning. There was the forest summit that the Minister of Renewable Resources and I held this past spring, and one of the most important things for the forest industry that this Yukon Liberal government has done is the devolution agreement.
Mr. Fentie: Let me correct the minister, if I may. One of the biggest things that the Liberal government has done is to shut down the forest industry.
Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, devolution is not necessarily the panacea. In fact, expectations would be raised that much higher at a cost to the Yukon taxpayer, and this minister so far has stated nothing in the way of concrete productive action that he and his department or his government are taking.
Here's another real problem, and it addresses the renewal issue, Mr. Speaker: should our economy not see any upward trend in the next year or two under the government renewal process - this misguided process - the possibility that large amounts of cashflow would be taken out of our economy is very real through government layoffs. Today, the only economic plank this minister has is the government.
How is the minister going to address the possibility that all this money, through government layoffs and renewal, may be taken out of the economy, further impacting the Yukon economy in a very negative way? How is the minister going to address that?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: The member opposite should be very, very ashamed of himself in suggesting that there is going to be a massive layoff within the government forces. I think he mentioned 175. He is wrong.
He suggested that, through devolution, the federal employees are going to be taking jobs that are currently held by YTG. He is wrong. Those positions have been identified already and they will be moving over in jobs that already are there for them. That was part of the devolution agreement, and the member opposite knows that. He knows all, and he should be ashamed of himself, Mr. Speaker, standing in this House and perpetrating and amplifying incorrect information.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed.
We will now proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Mr. Clerk: Motion No. 140, standing in the name of the hon. Mrs. Edelman.
Motion No. 140
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Tourism
THAT the membership of the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges as established by Motion No. 22 of the First Session of the 30th Legislative Assembly and as amended by Motion No. 29 and Motion No. 87 of the Second Session of the 30th Legislative Assembly be further amended by:
Motion No. 140 agreed to
Speaker: Government bills?
Bill No. 50: Second Reading
Mr. Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 50, standing in the name of the hon. Ms. Buckway.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 50, entitled An Act to Amend the Funeral Directors Act be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 50, entitled An Act to Amend the Funeral Directors Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: On April 4, 2001, Mr. Speaker, a petition was tabled in the Legislative Assembly calling for a legislative regime that allows for the cremation of human remains in the Yukon. I am pleased to rise today to announce that this government will meet this request through the proposed amendments to the Funeral Directors Act.
In the Yukon, approximately half of all the families who lose a loved one choose cremation. There is no crematorium in the territory so these services must be arranged with crematoriums outside the Yukon. This can be costly and time consuming. The current legislative framework in the territory does not allow a crematorium to operate in the Yukon. The proposed amendments to the Funeral Directors Act will change this and make it legally possibly for the private sector to own and operate a crematorium in the Yukon. If built, a local crematorium will also allow family and friends to be present, which is an important cultural tradition for some Yukoners. If approved by this Legislature, the proposed amendments will provide for a definition of "crematorium", ensure that cremation only takes place in a licensed facility, ensure that no person may cremate human remains unless they are licensed under the Funeral Directors Act and allow for the establishment of regulations respecting the location, construction, maintenance and operation of crematoriums and the sale of crematorium services.
As there are significant health, environmental and zoning issues associated with operating a crematorium, this government believes that it is important to seek public input on the development of those regulations. This will ensure that public health concerns of Yukoners will be addressed before a crematorium can be constructed. I am confident that these amendments will provide the regulatory framework, along with a potential business opportunity, for anyone interested in establishing a crematorium in the territory.
As the proposed amendments to the Funeral Directors Act clearly demonstrate, this government is responsive to the requests of Yukoners.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mrs. Peter: This act being submitted is an act that will establish and allow us to operate a crematorium in the Yukon. We in the opposition are in support of this act. Many Yukoners who need this service will also appreciate it. Many who are faced with a difficult decision will have another option for their loved ones.
Mr. Jenkins: We have no quarrel with this amendment to the Funeral Directors Act, and we are in support of it.
Speaker: The hon. Minister of Justice. If the member now speaks, she will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I thank the members for their support and look forward to their questions should they have any when we go through this bill line by line.
Some Hon. Members: Division.
Speaker: Division has been called.
Speaker: Mr. Clerk, please poll the House.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Agree.
Hon. Mrs. Edelman: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Agree.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Kent: Agree.
Mr. McLachlan: Agree.
Ms. Tucker: Agree.
Mr. McLarnon: Agree.
Mr. Fairclough: Agree.
Mr. Fentie: Agree.
Mr. Keenan: Agree.
Mr. McRobb: Agree.
Mrs. Peter Agree.
Mr. Jenkins: Agree.
Mr. Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 15 yea, nil nay.
Speaker: The ayes have it. I declare the motion carried.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 50 agreed to
Bill No. 52: Second Reading
Mr. Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 52, standing in the name of the hon. Ms. Buckway.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 52, entitled Physiotherapists Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 52, entitled Physiotherapists Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I'm very pleased to speak today about another example of this government's continued commitment to maintaining quality health care in the Yukon. Mr. Speaker, the Yukon Council of the Canadian Physiotherapists Association has been lobbying the Government of Yukon to regulate their profession for years.
I am very happy to announce that this government, in consultation with Yukon physiotherapists and medical professionals, has been able to accommodate their request for legislation.
The proposed Physiotherapists Act demonstrates that we are interested in public protection and that we listen to the needs of Yukoners.
Physiotherapy is practised throughout the spectrum of health care and to people of all ages. Integral to the practice of physiotherapy are the areas of health promotion, treatment of physical injury, disability prevention, research, teaching and health management. Yet, physiotherapy remains unregulated in the Yukon and this means that there are no licensing standards and no ability to control how these services are delivered to the general public.
The proposed Physiotherapists Act will provide a definition of physiotherapy that is reflective of current trends in other Canadian jurisdictions, establish that physiotherapy is a first-contact health profession and does not require a physician referral, set up a registration and licensing regime that will ensure that all Yukon physiotherapists meet national education and training standards, provide for court action against anyone who practices physiotherapy in the Yukon and is not licensed under the act, establish an advisory committee so that physiotherapists can provide ongoing input into the regulation of their profession, provide the ability for the registrar to impose extraordinary actions such as immediately suspending a license in the event that the actions of a physiotherapist prevent a threat to public safety, and establish a complaint investigation and discipline model that is fair to the parties involved and simple to administer.
The proposed Physiotherapists Act was drafted after public consultation. It was also developed in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Services and members of the Yukon Council of the Canadian Physiotherapists Association. These persons, along with Justice officials, formed a working group that has developed the policy framework in the proposed legislation.
I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank the four members of the association who put in countless volunteer hours over the past several months. Heather Alton, Mary Egan, Anne Milton and Michelle Rigoni are to be commended for their dedication to their profession.
Mr. Speaker, regulating physiotherapy services is an important step in helping to maintain quality health care in the Yukon. Should this bill be supported by this Legislature, Yukoners will be assured that all practising physiotherapists meet education and professional standards that are equal to those of all other physiotherapists across Canada.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, the New Democrat caucus is in support of this act. I will have just a couple of questions during the line-by-line or clause-by-clause to get the minister to assure me that there is no overlying jurisdiction between physiotherapists and the chiropractors, and I think the minister is aware of what I'm talking about. If the minister would be clarifying that for us at this point in time, that would suffice.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, we're in general support of this Physiotherapists Act that is before us today.
Mr. Speaker, currently, I'm given to understand that there are some 20 practising physiotherapists here in the Yukon who would be covered by this legislation, and I'd like to commend that group of the Yukon Council of Canadian Physiotherapists for the hard work they have done bringing this act forward.
That said, Mr. Speaker, I'd like the minister to explain the need for a stand-alone act for the physiotherapists. In many, many other jurisdictions in Canada, what we're seeing is umbrella legislation covering a number of the areas that health care are provided in. Under that umbrella all of these areas flow.
What we're seeing here is specific legislation for all of these fields here in the Yukon. Given the number of individuals practising in these areas, I would like the minister to explain why we need a stand-alone piece of legislation for each of these professions and vis-à-vis umbrella legislation, which they all flow from. If the minister could explain that area, I don't see any problem in giving speedy passage to this Physiotherapists Act.
Thank you very much.
Speaker: If the minister now speaks she will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. When we have umbrella legislation, the Physiotherapists Act will roll into it. I could not see the point in making the physiotherapists wait any longer for their legislation and, should the members have questions in line-by-line, I look forward to them.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question? Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Some Hon. Members: Disagreed.
Speaker: I think the ayes have it. I declare the motion carried.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 52 agreed to
Speaker: Government bills?
Bill No. 54: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 54, standing in the name of the hon. Ms. Buckway.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 54, entitled Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 54, entitled Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: In many cases, Mr. Speaker, payors and recipients of child and spousal support no longer live in the same province or territory. This complicates the ability to establish, vary, and enforce support orders. I am very pleased to rise today to introduce legislation that will improve reciprocal administration of support orders across Canada and will benefit many Yukon children and their parents.
Mr. Speaker, under the existing Yukon Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders Act, varying or enforcing an existing support order between former partners who do not both reside in the Yukon requires two hearings in court. The current process can be lengthy, due to the availability of court time in other jurisdictions and the time it takes to process the exchange and service of documents. The lack of uniformity in the applications, forms and other documents required by both jurisdictions, along with different service requirements for documents, may also cause delays in the process.
Clearly, this is a process that is in need of improvement. In response, a uniform model interjurisdictional support orders act was developed by the federal/provincial/territorial family law committee for use by all the provinces and territories. The act before the Legislature today will streamline the existing process by: eliminating the complex two-stage hearing process required under the Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders Act; eliminating the ability of respondents living in Canada to oppose registration of final orders in the receiving jurisdiction; providing more generous choice of law provisions; and providing for significant operational efficiencies and improvements, such as the use of clearer language and document requirements and harmonization of legislation between jurisdictions.
Canadian premiers reviewed the model legislation at their annual meeting in August 2001 and agreed to table the Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act in their respective legislatures by August 2002. I understand that Manitoba has already passed the legislation, and Ontario plans to introduce its legislation this fall.
B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan have announced plans to introduce bills based on the uniform Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act, in their legislatures next spring.
Mr. Speaker, this government appreciates the great need to simplify how reciprocal support orders are established and enforced. We want to see that recipient Yukon children, and their parents, have court-ordered support payments made to them in a timely manner. We know how important this is to many single custodial parents.
We also recognize the needs of persons who, for a variety of reasons, may need to vary these orders, and we want to provide a less complicated manner in which to do so.
The Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act will accomplish this.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to meet the Premier's commitment to her colleagues by introducing this important legislation during this sitting. Our government is confident that the Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act will better serve the needs of local payors and of recipients. The proposed act is an improvement on an existing system that we expect will be welcomed by all who use it.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mrs. Peter: We, in the official opposition, support this legislation in harmonizing enforcement of support orders across the jurisdictions. However, we will have some questions in clause-by-clause and line-by-line. So when we come to that point, I will have my questions.
Mr. Jenkins: In general, we are in support of the simplification process that is being put forward under the Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act that we have before us. What we have basically is called, in most jurisdictions, "deadbeat-dad legislation" to get the money flowing from the dad, in most cases, to the mother.
I attended a briefing on this act and raised a number of issues with the officials who provided the briefing. I am afraid the answers that I received weren't as satisfactory as I would have liked them to have been. We, as legislators, have an obligation. What the obligation appears to have been is that the Premier made a commitment to her colleagues in a ministerial conference to have this legislation brought forward and passed. I believe the obligation should be that the support payments that have been mandated flow properly, and flow properly in the simplest of manners.
When we start to look at the application of these rules, Mr. Speaker, there are a number of areas that raise concern. I raised the issue of the Garnishee Act here in the Yukon, and the response I received back from the legal services branch says: I felt that we had not given you a satisfactory answer to some of the questions in our briefing this morning. Does the Garnishee Act still apply to maintenance orders? Well, sort of. It does still apply and could be used, but its usefulness has been overtaken. It sort of applies.
That's an interesting legal opinion, Mr. Speaker.
And if we start looking at some of the other areas in the Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act and some of the terms that are used continuously through the act, and look back to the definitions in the forefront - and they are non-existent, such as the interim support order. It doesn't exist in the definitions.
So, I would submit, Mr. Speaker, that many parts of this piece of legislation have been hastily drafted and that the individuals who have probably looked at it have not looked at the enforcement side of it, because that is the side that most are concerned with. They want the money to flow from the delinquent parent to the parent who needs - and in most cases desperately needs - the money to support the family. It's a long and convoluted process. It is being somewhat simplified with these changes but not to the extent that makes it a simple, smooth-flowing process.
As an employer who occasionally is served with one of these writs, one has to go back to the department time and time again and ask for interpretations on various aspects of it. It's usually - let's call them "deadbeat dads" who have more than one garnishee, a garnishee from Revenue Canada for income tax. It's interesting to note, Mr. Speaker, that if an individual declares personal bankruptcy, their debt to Revenue Canada is eliminated, but their debt under a maintenance enforcement order has continuance, which I agree with and subscribe to.
But then when you look at who has priority on the writs of garnishees, federal government legislation takes precedence, and it flows to the provincial legislation which is in place. So there has to be something that could be done on the federal level to put them in the same rank so that, in my opinion, the money should flow first to the parents, not to Revenue Canada or any other individual who has issued a garnishee for child support on an individual.
I would urge the minister to spend a little bit more time going over this piece of legislation to analyze fully the definitions in the legislation. Perhaps they've just been overlooked by the drafters; I don't know. But I would look forward to the minister providing some changes in this legislation that will make it more direct and outline the trail from A to Z so that funds can flow freely and quickly for support payments for maintenance enforcement orders, Mr. Speaker.
With that, I would encourage the minister, before we get into general debate on this, to have her officials analyze this act in greater detail than what we have before us, because I'm sure there are some changes that can be made in definitions - some additions that can be added to further enhance it. It might be prudent to bring this to the federal level so that it has the same force and effect as federal legislation, because it certainly currently does not.
Thank you very much.
Speaker: If the minister now speaks, she will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I look forward to the questions that the members may have during line-by-line debate.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?
Some Hon. Member: Division.
Speaker: Division has been called.
Speaker: Mr. Clerk, please poll the House.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Agree.
Hon. Mrs. Edelman: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Agree.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Kent: Agree.
Mr. McLachlan: Agree.
Ms. Tucker: Agree.
Mr. McLarnon: Agree.
Mr. Fairclough: Agree.
Mr. Fentie: Agree.
Mr. Keenan: Agree.
Mr. McRobb: Agree.
Mrs. Peter: Agree.
Mr. Jenkins: Agree.
Mr. Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 15 yea, nil nay.
Speaker: The yeas have it. I declare the motion carried.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 54 agreed to
Bill No. 49: Second Reading
Mr. Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 49, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Roberts.
Hon. Mr. Roberts: I move that Bill No. 49, entitled An Act to Amend the Medical Profession Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Health and Social Services that Bill No. 49, entitled An Act to Amend the Medical Profession Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Roberts: A national shortage of doctors has made it difficult at times for Yukon to recruit general practitioners, specialists and surgeons. Our medical community has indicated that the Medical Profession Act developed in the 1980s has some provisions that contribute to the recruitment problem. It has some outdated requirements respecting the education and clinical training requirements for licensing of doctors who meet Canadian standards and it creates unnecessary barriers to recruiting qualified foreign-trained doctors who have not yet met all of the Canadian requirements.
The Yukon Medical Association, the Yukon Medical Council, the Whitehorse General Hospital Corporation, and the departments of Justice and of Health and Social Services have worked together over several months to develop amendments to the Medical Profession Act to address these issues.
They considered the problems presented by the national shortage of doctors and how our present legislation might be amended to remove impediments to recruiting physicians to Yukon. They knew that one of the problems was the inflexibility of the Medical Profession Act. They knew that one of the solutions was to amend the act to remove unnecessary barriers to recruitment of qualified foreign-trained doctors who are well trained and competent but have not yet met all the Canadian requirements for practising in the Yukon.
They knew that this had to be done without compromising health care. They knew that these ends could be achieved by amending the Medical Profession Act to include a special licensing category. They also knew that Yukoners would expect that solutions to the problem would be practical and appropriate and would maintain the high standards of health care we now enjoy in the Yukon.
If supported in this legislation, the proposed amendments will help address the recruitment issues by doing four things. First, the proposed amendments will create a category of licence known as "Special licence". That will be issued under certain circumstances and with certain conditions to qualified foreign-trained physicians who have not yet met all of the Canadian requirements. The amendment will allow a special licence - to be issued annually for up to five years - to physicians who are not yet licensees of Medical Council of Canada.
The proposed amendments will permit the Yukon to recruit qualified foreign-trained doctors when we have a demonstrated need for their services. The demonstrated need will be determined by the Minister of Health and Social Services. The Minister of Health and Social Services may consult with the Yukon Medical Association and the Yukon Medical Council before making the determination that a demonstrated need exists.
Second, the proposed amendments would update the licensing criteria for qualified foreign-trained physicians. The amendment would permit the Yukon Medical Council to require a period of additional assessment or training for foreign-trained physicians who are licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada.
Such requirements are consistent with licensing provisions in the provinces. This means that the Yukon Medical Council will be able to assess the skills of qualified foreign-trained physicians to ensure they meet Canadian practice standards. The council can then require that a doctor take additional training where necessary.
Third, proposed amendments would clarify that in order for physicians to be enrolled in the Yukon Medical Register, they must be enrolled in the Canadian Medical Register. This provision would update the Yukon licensing requirements to ensure that they are consistent with standards in other Canadian jurisdictions.
Mr. Speaker, I would clarify that all physicians who meet full licensing requirements for the Yukon are enrolled on the Yukon Medical Register. Those who receive a special licence would be enrolled on a separate, special register.
Fourth, the proposed amendments would repeal the provision regarding post-graduate training. Requirements for physicians enrolled in the Canadian Medical Register post-graduate training requirements have changed since the Medical Profession Act was established. The requirements of the Yukon act no longer reflect the present training requirements.
This amendment will allow the Commissioner in Executive Council to prescribe post-graduate clinical training requirements by regulation. This will enable us to keep Yukon licensing requirements up to date with current education and clinical training standards across the country. These amendments are intended to update the Medical Profession Act by eliminating the requirements in our act that are no longer part of the training of Canadian doctors. Mr. Speaker, these amendments will enhance our capability to deliver the medical services that Yukoners are accustomed to and expect.
One of our government's strategic initiatives is maintaining quality health care. Yukon will be in a better position to recruit qualified, foreign-trained physicians if we update our legislation to reflect provincial practices and medical training requirements. At the same time, we are taking advantage of the opportunity to update our requirements for enrolment on the Yukon Medical Register so that they are consistent with standards in other Canadian jurisdictions.
The amendments will provide assurance that we continue to recruit highly qualified, competent physicians to meet the health needs of Yukoners. We need to look at appropriate, acceptable and responsible options and we need to ensure that those options will deliver quality health care in Yukon. We believe that the proposed An Act to Amend the Medical Profession Act helps to achieve these ends.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Speaker, by and large, the official opposition will be supporting this legislation and will have a few questions for the minister during the clause-by-clause, hopefully to receive answers on the floor of the House so that we can clarify these things.
Mr. Speaker, I do wish, though, that this minister would put all energies into taking the health issues of the Yukon Territory very, very seriously. We, the official opposition, have put forth many concrete options. We have put forth our direction as to which way we feel the government should be going, and we have been laughed at and ridiculed and beaten up personally. I would say that, from my cursory glance at this legislation, it looks like we're doing something here that is needed. It's very small but is an incremental approach to the issue of making sure that we have qualified people in the territory.
I read into the record today a motion on the government finding ways, through an endowment fund, so that we might be able to have CT scanners in the territory, that we might be able to have - and forgive my English if it's not correct pronunciation - angiograms so that we can cut down on travel costs and can have this basic level of care here in the territory, which is so sadly lacking. For it to go back and forth across the House and to play political football, if we can say it in that manner, with very important health needs - well, it's just awful. That's exactly what it is.
I brought to the floor of the House again today an issue on the environment's health, and I was told that I didn't believe there is a problem and that I have been making it up, and asked if I point to the septic tanks as they are. No, but I do point out that environmental health and the health of the Yukon people are, in my mind, the most important things that could ever be preserved for the Yukon Territory.
Mr. Jenkins: Our party is in general support of this An Act to Amend the Medical Profession Act. We do have some concerns with a number of aspects of this piece of legislation, given the current minister of the day's track record to identify and deal with problems. I am very uncomfortable with the need for more doctors being determined by the minister himself. I would be more comfortable if that need was determined by the Yukon Medical Council or the Yukon Medical Association - whether there is a need for more doctors.
Basically, what we're seeing is that we're looking at the standards that currently exist and, while we're not changing those standards, we're creating a separate category for doctors in order that they may practise here in Yukon. It's a well-known fact, Mr. Speaker, that these doctors who may be recruited from foreign lands and allowed to practise here in the Yukon will, by and large, be practising in rural Yukon. That may not always be the case, but it supports the conclusion that was reached previously here in the Yukon that this minister is creating a double standard for health care - one in Whitehorse and one in rural Yukon.
If the minister were to address his other responsibilities currently on his plate and put in place a wage and benefit package that attracts and retains health care professionals to the Yukon, perhaps this piece of legislation would not be necessary.
If the minister addressed his responsibility for on-call fees for doctors, perhaps this piece of legislation would not be necessary; perhaps we would have doctors clamouring to come and practise here in the Yukon and we wouldn't have to search foreign lands to attract doctors.
Mr. Speaker, we only have to look at the double standard that has been created by this minister, is being maintained by this minister, that is not serving the needs of Yukoners, specifically rural Yukoners.
Government closed the hospital in Mayo, closed the hospital in Dawson. Now, expectant mothers have to travel to Whitehorse, spend at least two weeks in Whitehorse awaiting the arrival of their children. That decision that these individuals must come to Whitehorse was a government decision, yet this minister fails to recognize his responsibility and fund mothers' costs. And they are significant, the costs that these expectant mothers incur, living in Whitehorse awaiting the arrival of their offspring.
The minister says that we want to do something across the board that is equal and fair for all. What about other people who have to come to Whitehorse for medical purposes? Well, they don't usually have to come to Whitehorse for a week or two or three and, if they do, they are usually in such dire need of health care that they are in the hospital. Yet this minister fails to recognize that issue, fails to address it and fails to do something to address his responsibility, Mr. Speaker.
I am very uncomfortable leaving the decision to this minister and his successors as to whether the Yukon needs more doctors or doesn't need more doctors.
If we look at the ratio of doctors to population across Canada and we factor in the remoteness of some of our communities, it doesn't bode well as to where we stand on the national standards with respect to the ratio of doctors to population. And I guess, statistically speaking, if we attract and recruit doctors from foreign lands and they start practising here in the Yukon, that ratio will change. The minister can jump up in this Legislature and say that he's got the ratio down and everything is just peachy, peachy, peachy clear and great. But is that indeed the case?
Currently it is not. It is only because of the dedication of a lot of health care professionals in the Yukon, and specifically in rural Yukon, that the health care is at the high standard that it currently is, and I must remind the minister that he has an obligation under the Canada Health Act to maintain those standards and not to be wishy-washy, like he has been in the past.
As I said earlier, we will be supporting this amendment, An Act to Amend the Medical Profession Act, but I would like to see more authority vested in the Yukon Medical Council rather than in the minister himself. I think that is only fair and reasonable. We have a professional group in place currently. Why is it that the minister even needs to get involved to make that determination? In the past, when he didn't want a doctor to practise in a certain area, he just failed to give him a billing number for Yukon health care.
That's how he has controlled the number of doctors practising in specific areas, Mr. Speaker. Is that fair and reasonable? No, but that's how it was controlled and, now, under this amendment to the legislation, the minister makes the determination. I don't believe that is fair or reasonable, given the track record of this minister and given his inability to address his responsibilities, given his inability to repair the areas that need repairing currently.
When we see some progress on these other fronts, perhaps we can vest more authority in the minister. But, currently, I think that would not bode well for Yukon.
Speaker: If the minister now speaks, he will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Thank you for those words of enlightenment from the members opposite. It's always amazing how the members opposite come up with innuendo. I take my health issues very seriously, because I am one of those seniors, Mr. Speaker, and I want to make sure we have a first-class system.
So, for them to make those kinds of accusations that I don't take my job seriously, again, I'm sorry. I can't agree with them at all.
The problem with the members opposite is they don't like change. They talk about change, and the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes talks about all these ideas they've presented to us. Sorry, Mr. Speaker, ideas were never connected with how we can better the system. It was always how we can deliver the system the way it is.
We bring the issues to the public, we talk to a great extent about how Yukoners should be involved in the whole health care issue. Then again, the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes makes a comment that I don't care about the septic tanks.
The member wasn't listening to my comments. My response was that it's a serious issue, Mr. Speaker - a very serious issue. We don't approve these tanks. That's done by CSA. It's not done by the Yukon government. So, for the member opposite to accuse me of not caring because I'm allowing due diligence to take place is again unfounded.
The Member for Klondike talks about the double standard. I guess if the Member for Klondike wanted health care as they deliver it in Vancouver, I would suggest that the member should live in Vancouver. This is not Vancouver; it never will be Vancouver. We don't have the same quality of health care, Mr. Speaker. So I guess you can say it is a double standard for all Yukoners, but we chose to live here.
Also, Mr. Speaker, we have been negotiating with the doctors for the past number of months. We have waited for them to come forward, to sit at the table and negotiate on all the issues about retention, about recruitment, about on-call. We are still waiting. We have to have partnership in this. We can't do it by ourselves.
I guess, Mr. Speaker, I'm never going to convince the members opposite that I agree that expectant mothers should have supports, proper care, proper health support. But what about seniors? What about elders? We have to look after all Yukoners, not just one segment. We're not going to pit one group against the other.
And, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments made about some of the concerns they may have about the minister having this responsibility, but I guess that's why we get elected. And if people don't like the way we're approaching things and the way we're moving down the path of trying to represent their interests, they have options every three and a half or every four years.
Mr. Speaker, we are doing what is best for Yukoners, and you have to remember, when we did this legislation, this was in consultation with all the partners - the Medical Council, the doctors, the hospital. This wasn't done on our own. The health department worked in collaboration with all these people.
So this is where we have arrived at, Mr. Speaker. So I will entertain the questions when they come forward on the line-by-line and hope our answers will move health care ahead.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?
Some Hon. Members: Division.
Speaker: Division has been called.
Speaker: Mr. Clerk, please poll the House.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Agree.
Hon. Mrs. Edelman: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Agree.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Kent: Agree.
Mr. McLachlan: Agree.
Ms. Tucker: Agree.
Mr. McLarnon: Agree.
Mr. Fairclough: Agree.
Mr. Fentie: Agree.
Mr. Keenan: Agree.
Mr. McRobb: Agree.
Mrs. Peter: Agree.
Mr. Jenkins: Agree.
Chair: Mr. Speaker, the results are 15 yea, nil nay.
Speaker: The ayes have it. I declare the motion carried.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 49 agreed to
Mr. McLachlan: 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 the Committee of the Whole to order. We will recess until 3:10 p.m.
Chair: I now call Committee of the Whole to order. Committee of the Whole will consider the first order of business, Bill No. 50, An Act to Amend the Funeral Directors Act.
Bill No. 50 - An Act to Amend the Funeral Directors Act
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: If the members opposite have any questions about Bill No. 50, I would be pleased to hear them.
Mrs. Peter: I would just like to say that the official opposition welcomes this legislation, which reflects the growing diversity of the Yukon's population. It is very important that government reflects this growing diversity and gives people options and choices when it comes to important matters and decisions that we need to make for our loved ones.
This service also helps to lessen the hardships and emotional turmoil that the family must face at a difficult time so that they don't have to travel outside of the Yukon for these services.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, we are in support of this Bill No. 50, An Act to Amend the Funeral Directors Act, and I would move that it be deemed read and passed in Committee.
Chair: It has been moved by Mr. Jenkins that Bill No. 50, An Act to Amend the Funeral Directors Act, be deemed read and carried. Do we have unanimous agreement in the House?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Clauses 1 to 6 deemed to have been read and agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, I move that Bill No. 50, An Act to Amend the Funeral Directors Act, be reported out of Committee without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 52 - Physiotherapists Act
Chair: We will proceed to Bill No. 52, Physiotherapists Act. Is there any general debate?
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, at second reading, I asked the minister if she could elaborate on the benefits of stand-alone legislation for this Bill No. 52, the Physiotherapists Act, versus encompassing it in umbrella legislation such as exists in other jurisdictions. I believe her response was that as soon as we introduce umbrella legislation, we'll plug it in to that umbrella legislation.
Could the minister, for the record, just outline the benefits of stand-alone legislation vis-à-vis the umbrella legislation?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: As I indicated, the physiotherapists have been waiting some time for this legislation. I see no point in making them wait any longer, and when the umbrella legislation is done, this legislation can be rolled into it.
I am pleased to advise that this government will be consulting with Yukoners on the development of a health professions omnibus bill that will serve to regulate the approximately 23 other unregulated health professions in the territory. These consultations will begin in early 2002.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, given that there are quite a number of other health care fields that are totally unregulated such as this field, the only reason we are seeing this physiotherapists act before us today is because of the extensive work and efforts made by members of that profession; that is a given.
But could she point out the benefits of having an omnibus bill or umbrella legislation covering all of these fields that are now currently unregulated? Could she just spell out the benefits of that type of legislation?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The umbrella legislation will provide a framework, and each profession will come under it by regulation. The Physiotherapists Act could easily be rolled into the umbrella legislation.
The member again appears to be looking for a problem where none exists. The physiotherapists have been waiting a long time for this legislation, and we're pleased to have it before us in the House.
Mr. Jenkins: In case the minister hasn't recognized it, there is a problem, and that problem exists with a whole series of unregulated health care fields currently, Mr. Speaker, which I believe should be regulated. I'm sure, in any consultation that the minister undertakes with health care providers and those knowledgeable in that area, that will certainly be the case.
Currently, the Government of Yukon carries malpractice insurance for all the medical doctors in the Yukon. Is it envisioned that will be the case for all these areas that are currently unregulated, or are malpractice insurance fees currently being paid by the Government of Yukon for any or all of these other fields that are unregulated?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, the member opposite certainly does delight in asking questions that are so far out in the field that they aren't in the ballpark. I will undertake to get back to him with that information, as I obviously don't have it with me today, as we are discussing the Physiotherapists Act.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I've told the minister that I don't have any quarrel with this act. "Get on with it," the minister says. Let's take a Liberal approach to it and just get on with it. Let's not do our homework; let's not look at the other areas that are important, Mr. Chair. This does dovetail into the provision of health care across a broader range of fields and we are establishing a precedent here.
Now, I am very concerned with the other areas that are unregulated, and the minister has told the House here today that she is going out and she is going to be consulting with Yukoners.
Just how much consultation did the minister do with Yukoners on the act that we have before us here today?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: There was consultation with the physiotherapists, the chiropractors and the physicians, I believe.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, that just points out to where we're heading. We have 23 fields that are unregulated currently. We're going out to consult with Yukoners about those 23 areas of health care providers that are unregulated. But with respect to this piece of legislation, the consultation that did take place appears, according to the minister, to have taken place only with three groups.
Now, why can't that be the case - that we just consult with the three groups on these other fields so we can bring in an omnibus overview or an umbrella piece of legislation in the next fall session? Why can't we do something like that? Is there no political will to do it, or are we just reacting to what has to be reacted to?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, perhaps the member didn't hear me. I said that we will begin consultations early in the new year on a health professions omnibus bill that will regulate about 23 other health professions in the territory that are currently unregulated. I said we would be consulting with Yukoners. The physiotherapists, the chiropractors and the physicians are certainly Yukoners, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Jenkins: For the record, Mr. Chair, could the minister confirm that we're going to be establishing a process that is profession by profession and not go out to a public consultation and do a dog-and-pony show across the whole Yukon? Are we just going to be dealing with the groups that know their specific fields and their areas, and go back to the YMA and the YMC?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: We are dealing today with the Physiotherapists Act, Mr. Chair, not with the health professions omnibus bill. I would ask the member opposite to remember that and deal with the matter at hand.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, just because the minister can't answer the questions in these areas, it doesn't mean that they're not relevant and important. As I said earlier, I have no dispute with this piece of legislation. I endorse it and support it. That's where we're at on it.
I just want to know where we're heading overall across the whole Yukon with respect to all of these other areas. That's what I'm trying to get from the minister - the process we're going to be undertaking, how it's going to work, and timelines. And they're legitimate, bona fide questions in this area.
Just because the minister has not the ability to answer questions - and they're probably not scripted for her in these areas - that doesn't mean that they shouldn't be asked and shouldn't be answered, Mr. Chair.
What are the timelines for bringing this umbrella piece of legislation forward, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The member is asking about timelines for bringing forward a piece of legislation that we don't have before us. I have said that consultation will begin in early 2002. I do not have the details of that consultation in front of me. Some of it is being determined as we speak, Mr. Chair.
I would ask the member to get on with the matter at hand.
Mr. Jenkins: The matter at hand is the speedy passage of this act, which we support. We're willing to do it, Mr. Chair. I'm just looking for some guidance from the minister where we're heading, overall, and that is not forthcoming.
Now, that's either because the minister doesn't know or doesn't have the ability - I don't know which. But, be that as it may, we're obviously not going to get answers from a minister who doesn't understand her portfolio. So I have no further questions on any sections of this act.
Mr. Keenan: I'd like to ask the minister to what extent the Chiropractic Council of the Yukon has been involved. I heard previously what the minister said. She said she had talked to the chiropractic people and the medical doctors - she assumed, she wasn't sure - and, of course, the physiotherapists themselves.
It does say in the letter that they felt they were very rushed into consultation, and they raised in the letter some issues. I'm wondering if the minister can assure me that some of these issues are maybe a standard across Canada, or that they have been listened to and worked through in some ways within the legislation, and if this umbrella legislation, which the minister is alluding to, some time in the future would be able to cover off those concerns of the chiropractors.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: A technical consultation paper was the tool used to consult on this act. It set out many of the policy issues and options that could be considered in developing the legislation.
The paper was distributed to all physiotherapists, the Yukon Medical Association, community health stations, Yukon hospitals, First Nation and municipal governments. It was also available on the government's Web site and at several locations in Whitehorse and the communities. I believe that over 400 papers were distributed and about 40 responses were received.
Now, the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes was asking about chiropractors, and I believe that he is referring to spinal manipulation. This act allows physiotherapists to perform spinal manipulation. There is always crossover between one health profession and another in the various treatments they perform.
Spinal manipulation is within the scope of practice of physiotherapists in all 10 provinces that regulate the profession in Canada. We, in the Yukon, aren't unique in including this treatment under the scope of practice for our physiotherapists. Rather, we are being consistent with all other Canadian jurisdictions and with established national standards.
Mr. Keenan: Thank you.
Chair: Is there any further general debate?
Seeing no further general debate, we will proceed with clause-by-clause.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, I would move that this Bill No. 52, Physiotherapists Act, be deemed read and carried.
Chair: It has been moved by Mr. Jenkins that Bill No. 52, Physiotherapists Act, be deemed read and carried. We need unanimous consent to do this. Do we have unanimous consent of the House for this bill to be read and carried?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Unanimous consent has been granted.
Clauses 1 to 52 deemed to have been read and agreed to
Title agreed to
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I move that Bill No. 52, Physiotherapists Act, be reported out of Committee without amendment.
Chair: It has been moved by hon. Ms. Buckway that Bill No. 52, Physiotherapists Act, be moved out of Committee without amendment.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 54 - Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act
Chair: We will proceed to the next bill, Bill No. 54, Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act. Is there any general debate?
Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister advise the House where one goes when one wants advice, let's say in the case of an employer who has a writ dropped on them? Where does one go to for advice as to how this process should flow?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: If the member could be a little bit more specific about what he is getting at, perhaps I can give him an answer.
Mr. Jenkins: Where does an employer go to for advice on this act?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, this is not enforcement legislation.
Mr. Jenkins: To a degree, it enacts enforcement from another jurisdiction, so while it is not direct enforcement legislation, it is of that order of magnitude. It is very similar. What I want to know from the minister is where an employer goes and with whom does he speak to get advice on this act?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, an employer shouldn't need advice on this act because it isn't enforcement legislation.
Mr. Jenkins: It's easy to see that this minister has spent no time in the sector of the economy that employs individuals. Mr. Chair, can the minister advise the House if the Garnishee Act applies to this legislation?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The Maintenance and Custody Orders Enforcement Act covers garnishments under this legislation.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, the Yukon also has a Garnishee Act. Now, does it apply to this legislation? Is it superimposed on it? How do the two dovetail?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, the Garnishee Act is an enforcement of other debts. This isn't enforcement legislation. It's a link to getting an order and having it recognized by other jurisdictions, and it is far easier to read and follow than the Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders Act.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, flowing from this act, a maintenance enforcement order will be issued, which is, in effect, a garnishee. Is that not correct?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Not necessarily, Mr. Chair. The idea is for the order to be registered here. That's what this legislation is about.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, we're running around in circles. It sounds like the legal advice being offered to the minister is very accurate, but it's not going to do anything but prolong debate.
Flowing from this legislation will be a garnishee order issued, or a maintenance enforcement order issued on someone here in the Yukon. Is that not the case?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, it doesn't flow from that. The language in the proposed Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act is more detailed and precise than the current legislation. This means that the processes and supporting documentation required for reciprocal application, variance and enforcement of support orders are clearer. This will result in fewer delays in process due to missing information.
Secondly, Mr. Chair, this act removes the ability for a respondent residing in Canada to challenge a support order after it has been confirmed by the originating jurisdiction. For example, under the current Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders Act, if an order originates in a province and the respondent lives here, it is sent to the Yukon to be registered in the territory. Registration may not be automatic, as the respondent can challenge the validity of the order in the Yukon Territorial Court. While it is rare that such a challenge would affect the actual order, it does delay its registration and enforcement. So, removing this ability is an important improvement over the Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders Act. Once the Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act has been proclaimed in all the provinces and territories, it will harmonize all the applications, forms and supporting documentation so that they're acceptable under each jurisdiction's rules of court. This should help to reduce confusion about documents and their service and the resulting delays that occurred under the Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders Act.
This is legislation that simplifies the existing system, Mr. Chair. That is all. The member is looking for problems where none exist.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, what we're looking for is a smooth process that doesn't lend itself to manipulation by any party. What we're looking at is a way to get funds flowing smoothly and quickly from the individual who is required to pay funds to the recipient.
Given the problems that have arisen in the past, Mr. Chair, there are obviously problems in this area because there are quite a number of deadbeats who are being chased from one end of this country to the other, and indeed around the world, where the ex-spouse is looking and has an order saying that so-and-so has to pay maintenance, and it's not readily forthcoming.
What I want to know from the minister is how the resulting garnishee that would flow from this legislation, usually attaching someone's wages, dovetails into the Yukon Garnishee Act. Which takes precedence? And what happens if there are other garnishees, say from Revenue Canada? Who takes priority?
What I want to know foremost, Mr. Chair, is where does an employer go in this government to find out how this system works? Because you can't go to labour standards standards. Go over to the sheriff's office and they'll help you out somewhat but, at the end of the day, employers are currently being encouraged to hire a lawyer to find out where they stand and what they're supposed to do.
Now, I'd urge the minister to take the KISS approach to this undertaking, Mr. Chair, and make it flow smoothly so that it works.
I go back to my original question: which takes precedence, and how? Let's start with the garnishee flowing from this legislation that we have before us here, from an order in another jurisdiction that we're enforcing here. Does the Yukon Garnishee Act apply?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, I have been trying to take the KISS approach but, obviously, it hasn't been simple enough for the member opposite.
This is not enforcement legislation. Under the Divorce Act, a support order is good Canada-wide. This proposed legislation does not change that. I repeat: it does not change that. The member can sit there and choose not to believe me all he wants, but it doesn't change that. This act covers people who, because they aren't legally married, must use provincial or territorial legislation.
Mr. Jenkins: Let's go through this step by step for the minister. We have usually a mother who has the responsibility of raising the children because dad has gone off to Legislative la-la land. This individual goes to the courts in any of the other jurisdictions in Canada and gets an order for maintenance enforcement. This amendment that we have before us, Mr. Chair, is supposed to simplify the process.
So this maintenance enforcement order is registered here in the Yukon, and the Yukon government undertakes to collect the money when it's known where an individual is working or is employed.
Does the Yukon Garnishee Act take precedence, or is it in place over these garnishees? Yes or no?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Garnishments don't flow from this legislation, Mr. Chair. The Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act sets the stage for enforcement activities in that it assists in the establishment, variation or registration of support orders. The member is looking for problems where none exist. He's trying to link acts that aren't linked.
Mr. Jenkins: So what the minister is saying is that with this legislation in place, there will be no problem collecting money, because, really, this is an assistance to make a Canada-wide process simpler. But flowing from the parent legislation in a jurisdiction where a maintenance enforcement order is issued, it is ultimately a garnishee, Mr. Chair.
I don't know if the minister has a copy of the letter that was sent to me by officials in her department that arose after the briefing. I raised a number of questions at the briefing. If the minister doesn't have a copy, I can send her over a copy. The text of it says, "I felt that we had not given you a satisfactory answer to some of your questions in our briefing this morning." One question was does the Garnishee Act still apply to maintenance orders? And it goes on to say, "Well, sort of. It does still apply and could be used but its usefulness has been overtaken by a process under the Maintenance and Custody Orders Enforcement Act, most of which is set out in sections 10(1) to 10(8) which were added in 1998 by the Act to Amend the Maintenance Enforcement Act. This process is more efficient for enforcing maintenance orders." But it still begs the question: what if the garnishee in place is from the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency? Which takes precedence? Are you going to duck the question and say that this legislation we have before you doesn't apply? Because what we have is a little bit of add-on legislation that was agreed to by the Premier at a conference. I want to know how it's going to work, because I really want to see this legislation work. I don't believe that there is anyone in this Legislature who has had any of these maintenance enforcement orders at their doorstep when they were an employer and had to determine their obligations as an employer on behalf of the employee on which the garnishee is served.
Because in many cases it is not as simple as all that. You go backward and forward, especially when the order comes out of the United States or comes out of a foreign country. I have been involved in one originating out of the U.S. Now, all I am asking the minister is which laws take precedence over what? Can you help me? Or is the minister just going to stand up and say that it doesn't deal with that area? I would encourage the minister to think outside the box. How is this process going to work, and where does an employer go for advice on these matters? I am seeking advice from the minister.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I would be delighted if the member would send over a copy of the letter he has been quoting from. The Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act is at the start of the path to the establishment of the act prior to the order. The member keeps trying to tie it to later processes but that is not where it is. It is at the beginning of the process. It simplifies the beginning of the process.
Mr. Jenkins: I am just getting a copy of the letter that I received from minister's officials and am having a copy sent over to her so that she can see the dilemma. But the bottom line is that I would like to see this process flow smoothly. The minister is looking at specific areas in isolation. Could I encourage the minister to stand back and look at the totality of the process, because the exercises collect the money from the dad and send it to the mom.
That's where we ultimately want to end up. That's what we're hoping to accomplish, but there are a number of stumbling blocks in the road, Mr. Chair. One is the Yukon Garnishee Act.
Now the minister is going to waffle all around and say it's not applicable, that this legislation doesn't deal with that, but we are putting in place an enhanced process to deal with the collection of monies from a delinquent parent and to send it on to the other parent.
I'm pleased to note that, in some respects, there are some excellent components in this legislation, in the parent legislation, in that it even survives personal bankruptcy.
After the minister has had an opportunity to look at the letter, of which I sent over a copy, perhaps she'd care to comment, and I would ask her to comment specifically with respect to the Garnishee Act here in the Yukon and to the priority when more than one garnishee writ is served on an employer. Let's list them in priority - a garnishee from the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency and then a subsequent writ of garnishment for a maintenance enforcement order. How do they all dovetail and where does an employer go to find out what they are supposed to do?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act will generally not affect employers, Mr. Chair. Each jurisdiction used to have a Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders Act. There were differences among Canadian jurisdictions and bigger differences with three-quarters of the U.S. states with whom we have reciprocity. The U.S. has no provisional orders. This will be easier for them to deal with. This benefits people with no order in a different jurisdiction and people with existing orders who want to vary them.
This is a simplified act, Mr. Chair. It deals with the establishment and recognition of orders from other jurisdictions.
The member opposite is talking about steps a lot further down the line that this legislation does not deal with, Mr. Chair. I wish he could confine himself to the matter at hand and quit talking about things that are outside the scope of this legislation.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, let's go through this in a very simplified manner for the minister, Mr. Chair. The purpose of this legislation that we have before us is to simplify the collection of maintenance enforcement orders. Is that true or not true?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, the Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act is for the establishment and recognition of orders from other jurisdictions, full stop. It does not deal with processes further down the chain. This is easier to deal with than the Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders Act. It should be less expensive and use less court time. It specifies what documents people have to file. It is much easier to read. It does not deal with all the things that the member opposite is trying to tie to it.
Mr. Jenkins: What's the purpose of this legislation, Mr. Chair? It's to make it simpler, Mr. Chair, to collect money from a deadbeat parent. Because when it gets to this stage, they're obviously delinquent to quite an extensive degree.
The minister has to think outside the box. Stand back and look at it; stand back and look at it. The whole purpose of this legislation is to have a unified approach right across Canada. Great, I have no quarrel with that. But now then, flow the process through to the next step; because, number one, let's not lose sight of what this is in place for.
It is to collect money; it is to assist in the collection of maintenance enforcement monies; and to pay those monies to a parent, perhaps a guardian. That's the whole purpose of this maintenance enforcement process.
The minister disagrees with me. Mr. Chair, I don't know. I sense a tremendous degree of frustration in trying to get to the minister in many of the areas she holds the responsibilities for. Any little conversation I have with her currently is either she can't discuss it, it's out of her range, or it's somebody else's responsibility. What I'm hearing on the floor of the Legislature today is this act doesn't deal with any of these other areas I'm asking questions about.
I would encourage the minister to stand back and look at the whole purpose of this piece of legislation. It is to simplify the process across Canada for maintenance enforcement orders - really, if you want to get right down to it. It is to collect money, to assist in the collection of money and pay that money to the spouse who rightfully has that money due that individual so they can continue to look after the kids.
But I want to know, from here, if it has been completely thought out. I want to know on the downstream side, because all this will do is simplify the process through the courts, to get that order registered here in the Yukon. It'll simplify the process, but what I would like to point out to the minister is that not much thought has been given to the process from there.
All of the t's might be crossed and the i's might be dotted in this little piece of legislation, but the minister is losing track of the reality of the situation because you still have to go out and collect the money. That's the exercise. That's the whole purpose of this type of legislation.
So whether the minister wants to admit it or not, there has to be a thoroughly thought-out process in place to eventually go - it's usually an employer - and attach the wages of the individual in order to get them to honour their commitment through this maintenance enforcement.
Now, what I'm asking the minister is - let's start with a simple question - where does an employer go for advice on how they are to respond, especially when there is more than one garnishee in place on an individual? Can the minister kindly answer that?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: We are dealing with the Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act. It will improve reciprocal administration of support orders across Canada. What the member is asking is beyond the scope and intention of this legislation. It's covered under different legislation - legislation that we are not dealing with in this House today.
Mr. Jenkins: Okay. I recognize that, Mr. Chair, but at the end of the day you still have to get the money collected. While this will expedite the process through the courts and eliminate a step in the courts, at the end of the day, what? Is the minister going to stand up and say, "The collection of the money isn't an issue; all we are dealing with is this area"?
So what we're doing is focusing on a very, very narrow gap of the legislation that is currently in place. Why isn't the minister prepared to look at the whole picture to see if we can put in place a process that, from beginning to end, works and works efficiently and smoothly? Is the minister saying that there are no problems currently with maintenance enforcement and that this is going to improve what currently exists? Is that you are saying?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The collection of money is not an issue in this Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act, which is uniform legislation. It was broken. People who work with it daily want it fixed, and the federal/provincial/territorial family law committee has been working on this for many years. The member suggested earlier that it was hastily drafted. It was not hastily drafted. It will be in place Canada-wide and it will improve the current process. The member is trying to drag other things into this legislation that aren't there. I would ask him to stick to the matter at hand.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, let's look at this Bill No. 54. Under definitions, "interim support order" is not defined. I am sure the minister is going to tell me that it's because it is defined in the parent legislation. Is that not the case?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I believe it is included in the definition of "support order".
Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister help me and point out where it's included in this piece of legislation we have before us?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, support order is a broad definition, and interim support order is included in that definition. It may not be spelled out in those words but it's included in that definition.
Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister point out which page in this act that this is on?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Page 2.
Mr. Jenkins: Does the minister also want to go on record as saying that a lot of the definitions flow from the parent legislation that this flows from?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Would the member care to specify which parent legislation he's talking about?
Mr. Jenkins: Which legislation does this Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act flow from?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, there was a draft uniform Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act, and this simplifies what is currently in place under the Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders Act.
Mr. Jenkins: If I'm correct, and reading this correctly, on page 2, "support order" does not define an interim support order yet it's used throughout this legislation.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I do not believe the term "interim support order" is used throughout this legislation.
Mr. Jenkins: The only definition that's clearly defined is "support order". There's no definition of "interim support order", Mr. Chair.
Can we at least get to that stage, Mr. Chair, that the minister agrees that the definition of "interim support order" is missing?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: No, Mr. Chair, we can't agree on that. I have already said it's not necessary, that it is included in the definition for "support order", even though the words "interim support order" may not appear.
Mr. Jenkins: For the record, "support order" means "a court order or an order made by an administrative body requiring the payment of support and includes the provisions of a written agreement requiring the payment of support if those provisions are enforceable in the jurisdiction in which the agreement was made as if they were contained in an order of a court of that jurisdiction." That's the definition of "support order".
Could the minister explain how she has managed to take the definition of "support order" and suggest it could also be interpreted to mean an interim support order?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, an interim order of the court is an order of the court.
Mr. Jenkins: So is the minister saying there's no distinction between an interim support order and a support order - is that what the minister's saying?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, I do not believe there is any difference for the purposes of this legislation. The member needs to remember to stick to this legislation, which is what we're discussing.
Mr. Jenkins: The minister needs to realize, Mr. Chair, that she's going to be dealing with lawyers on a lot of these issues, and if there's anyone on the face of this earth who can split hairs, it's the legal profession, and you have to give them credit accordingly. So, for the record, the minister has stated that there is no difference between a support order and an interim support order.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: For the record, for the purposes of this legislation, Mr. Chair, I believe that to be the case.
Mr. Jenkins: Now, how is one to ascertain what definitions are going to be applicable to this legislation, other than to look into the definitions in the preamble to this legislation, which is what I have done, and when a definition doesn't exist, it would clearly spell out to me that that category doesn't exist. Is that not the case, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, I believe it is the member opposite who is adept at splitting hairs and at looking for bunnies where there aren't any.
Mr. Jenkins: I still didn't get an answer to my question, Mr. Chair.
Chair: Is there any further general debate?
Mr. Jenkins: If the minister is too busy off chasing bunnies to answer the question - could she provide an answer? Is she not willing to or can't she?
If I sit down and the minister doesn't respond, I will take it that the minister doesn't have the ability to respond.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I believe that I have already answered that question several times.
Mr. Jenkins: We'll let the minister go off chasing bunny rabbits.
After this is all in place, employers in the Yukon are, in all probability, going to be served with a writ of garnishee flowing from these maintenance enforcement orders that are registered here in the Yukon through this wonderful new act.
Now, would the minister advise the House of where an employer would go for advice on this matter?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: They would go to the same place they go now.
Mr. Jenkins: And, for the record, where is that?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The employers would need to read the enforcement legislation.
Mr. Jenkins: I am sure that the minister is well aware that there is more than one piece of legislation dealing with the enforcement of garnishees.
Now, could the minister just explain whether or not the Yukon Garnishee Act will take precedence over any claim for payment under this legislation that we have before us that flows after the registration here in the Yukon? Or is the minister going to once again duck the question and say that it is not in this piece of legislation?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: There are no claims for payment under this legislation. The member may not like the answer but that is the answer.
Mr. Jenkins: Does the minister not agree that claims for payment are registered under this piece of legislation? Can we agree there? es or no?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Support orders are registered under this legislation.
Mr. Jenkins: So, support orders are made up of what - a claim for money by and large - are they not? Yes or no?
Chair: Is there any further general debate?
Mr. Jenkins: I guess the minister doesn't have the ability to answer the question, but you've got maintenance enforcement orders that are, by and large, served on employers claiming a specific amount of money and the exercise of this whole process is to get that money flowing. I am asking the minister for her help. In order to get this money flowing, could the minister advise the House whether the Yukon Garnishee Act applies to this maintenance enforcement order registered under this piece of legislation?
Chair: Is there any further general debate?
Mr. Jenkins: Well, we've got lots, but the minister either doesn't have the ability to answer the questions or can't answer the questions. Now, I don't know which one it is. If there is a subsequent garnishee served on an employer through a maintenance enforcement order registered under this piece of legislation that we have before us, could the minister advise the House what has precedence - a garnishee from Canada Customs and Revenue Agency or a garnishee from the maintenance enforcement program under this legislation that we have here before us today?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The member is determined to not deal with the scope of this legislation. Instead, he's wandering farther down the path. It has been explained to him what this legislation is for. He insists on dragging other things into it that have no place in this legislation. I have answered his questions, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, let the record reflect that the minister has failed miserably to answer the question, either because she doesn't know or she really doesn't care. I point out to the minister that the exercise is to collect the money. All the minister is focusing on is the registry of documents here in the Yukon and simplifying this process, which I don't have any quarrel with. But downstream, after this documentation is registered, there are all sorts of problems, and the money is not flowing as it should.
Now, the minister can sit there in her la-la world for all the time she wants, but the exercise is being missed as to the intent and purpose of this. It's to simplify an already existing process and to standardize it across Canada. Now, that's acceptable, but from there, there are a whole series of questions that have yet to be answered. But all the minister wants to do is focus specifically on this one area. Why? Isn't she concerned with the whole process? Because there are problems downstream. The hardest thing to do is to collect the money. You want to simplify that process as much as possible.
Does the minister not agree?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The member opposite has said that he agrees with the scope and intent of this legislation. Why, then, will he not get on with it so we can pass it out of Committee and get on to something else? He insists on dragging in things that are not a part of this uniform national legislation, which has been worked on for some time by the federal/provincial/territorial family law committee.
Why would the member want the Yukon to be out of step with the rest of the country? If he agrees with this legislation, let's get on with it, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, the record accurately reflects that I support the legislation and I am in favour of the legislation, but I have some questions in general debate surrounding this legislation as to the benefits it will accrue and how it's going to be applied. The minister - I guess she just doesn't care and can't answer the questions and is refusing to answer it. So I guess that leaves us with no choice.
It's a very moot point, but the total exercise of this type of legislation is to improve the process of collecting maintenance enforcement, to make it standardized across Canada and simpler. Because the minister has not been involved other than with a briefing from her own officials or has not attempted during her election as an MLA to go out and try and assist somebody with a maintenance enforcement order - it's one of the hardest things to collect.
And the minister can sit there smugly and just single out this one little area but, at the end of the day, we are not performing our functions satisfactorily if we can't improve on something that is here to enhance the welfare of some of the population here in the Yukon. And the record will accurately reflect that the minister is ducking out of her responsibilities.
Yes, my questions flow downstream from this, but the minister has not answered them, or cannot answer them. The briefing I attended with her officials, and she has a copy of the letter - can I ask the minister if she has taken the time to read the letter her officials sent over to me after the briefing on this matter?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Obviously, I haven't had time to read the letter, because I have been engaged in discussion with the member opposite.
Mr. Jenkins: Could we just have a small recess for a minute or two, while the minister reads the letter?
Chair: Can you put it in the form of a motion, Mr. Jenkins?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, I am aware that the letter deals with enforcement issues. This is not enforcement legislation.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, at the end of the day, it's a sad day for Yukoners when the minister doesn't want to address her responsibilities; she wants to just take this piece of legislation that we have before us, single out the one little area we're dealing with and not stand back and look at the big picture.
Mr. Chair, it just appears that the minister is abdicating her responsibilities to, primarily, women who have these maintenance enforcement orders in place, who are trying to collect money. There are a lot of issues flowing from this legislation that have yet to be answered. I guess the minister's reluctance to deal with them just shows where she stands, Mr. Chair.
She's ignoring a whole area in family law that is causing some serious consequences.
Mr. Chair, there's the issue of garnishment orders. Does the act apply, does it not apply to this matter? The minister has failed to answer that question. I have asked her a pointed question as to where an employer goes to find out their responsibilities under this act. The response was to go where they have always gone before. I pointed out to the minister that an employer can go to labour standards branch, who are not qualified to answer it. They can go back to the maintenance enforcement officer. They're only qualified to deal with a specific area.
There isn't any one person in government who will provide an overall viewpoint on this situation, on maintenance enforcement orders and, by the time the minister probably gets around to answering the questions, what usually happens is the employee finds out that he has one of these dropped on his employer, and quits and moves on. Yes, the legislation is all in place, the t's are crossed and the i's are dotted, but there isn't any money flowing to - usually - the mother for maintenance enforcement, and that is what we want to avoid. That is what we are attempting to avoid by all this addition to the legislation.
Could I ask the minister if she just doesn't want to deal with it, or does she have some sort of a stigma attached to not addressing the broad range of the problem? Because we are in general debate on this act, but the minister wants to focus so narrowly that it is virtually meaningless. The legislation, as proposed, we support and are in agreement with.
Now the minister is muttering under her breath to "shut up and sit down and pass it", but the reality is there is a whole series of things that we should be dealing with. Why is the minister refusing to deal with these other areas?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: As I have explained at some length this afternoon, this new act will simplify and streamline the process by which support orders are established, varied and recognized in interjurisdictional cases.
The member opposite is obviously wanting something else. He says that he agrees with this legislation, but -
I would say, let's pass this legislation and get on with it because the area I have referred to is the area that this legislation covers. This legislation is not going to cover all the other areas that the member has referred to. This legislation deals with this. The areas that he is referring to are farther down the road prior to the order. The member is merely grandstanding and stalling for time, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, that is certainly not the case.
There are probably only a few employers in the Yukon who have had one of these writs dropped on them. It's a very powerful writ and usually when that writ is served, the employee, as soon as the employee is made aware of it, up and vanishes.
So, yes, we are streamlining the crossing of the t's and the dotting of the i's, and making the paperwork process simple. But you have to recognize that, in just about all cases that I am aware of, the parent seeking the maintenance enforcement order is the mother. Usually that mother is under a lot of stress and duress to meet the ongoing family obligations or raising a child or children. They usually can't obtain legal aid in this matter because of the miserly policies of this Minister of Justice, with respect to legal aid for that specific area.
Legal aid is just not available in a great number of cases, and all we're seeing is an improvement in the paperwork process interjurisdictionally. That's great.
I'd like to know from the minister where an employer goes in the Government of Yukon - who does an employer speak with to find information on how they are to treat this maintenance enforcement order, especially when it's compounded with a writ of garnishee from the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency? How does one go about ascertaining the priority of the payments? And who makes the decision, or does the whole matter have to be referred back to the courts for an interpretation? How does one go about finding out who makes the decisions in these kinds of situations, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The member is asking questions that are beyond the scope of this legislation. I will undertake to get him an answer but it won't be in the next couple of hours. It will be tomorrow or the next day.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, we're finally obtaining a little bit of progress. I'm pleased to see that the minister has finally recognized that she does have an obligation to see that the process flows smoothly, not just one specific little sector where the t's are crossed and the i's are dotted in this legislation. I'm pleased to see that she is now kind of going back a little bit and looking at the totality of this issue, because it is a very big issue, Mr. Chair.
While the minister is asking her officials as to where an employer goes for advice, I would ask her to provide, at the same time, an explanation as to the order on which the act takes precedence. It sounds pretty straightforward, but we all know the federal legislation takes priority. Then, where does it flow from there?
Basically, a maintenance enforcement order is interpreted as a writ of continuous garnishee. Does the Yukon Garnishee Act have any place in this situation? I'd like to ascertain that. And if the minister wants to send over a legislative return at the end of the day, fine, I'd have no quarrel.
But let's not lose track, Mr. Chair, of the object. It's not to pass this little bit of legislation that's going to streamline the process. We've got to stand back and look at the whole situation. It's to collect the money from the deadbeat parent and pay. Because usually when it resorts to a maintenance enforcement order, there are serious arrears and the parent has skipped out - the dad has skipped out, and he doesn't want to be caught. So let's make sure that the process is transparent, simple, and workable so that we can get the money to the mom so she can look after the kids. That's all I'm asking this minister to do, Mr. Chair.
I look forward to the receipt of a legislative return or a letter on this important issue, and perhaps in third reading, hopefully we can have this letter before the third and final reading so that we can perhaps put something on the record if the minister has avoided any of the points that I have raised here today.
Mrs. Peter: We in the official opposition do seek progress with this legislation, and I do understand that this piece of legislation that we are dealing with will make the paper flow easier for everybody.
At the end of the day, the women are the ones who wait, and at the end of the day, the women are the ones who are disappointed anyway. Our hope is that this piece of legislation before us will make things easier for a parent to make things better for them as a family for their children, for the life of their children. I have no other comments to make in general debate; however, I do have questions for clause-by-clause.
Chair: Seeing no further general debate, we'll proceed with line-by-line.
On Clause 1
Mrs. Peter: I need some help with understanding this process here. I do have a question regarding a definition, so do I stand up and raise it right now?
Mrs. Peter: I do have a question for the minister on definitions. We do have a definition for "provisional order". However, we do not have a definition for "interim order".
Would it be possible to apply an amendment for a definition to that section under a term "interim order"?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, "interim order" is covered by "support order", as I have explained. And a "provisional order" - an order is provisional until it has been confirmed in the reciprocal jurisdictions, and provisional orders only consider the evidence of the applicant. At the confirmation stage, the respondent has the opportunity to lead his or her evidence in response, but as for an interim order, it is covered by the definition of "support order".
Mrs. Peter: Yes, I did hear the debate earlier between the minister and the leader of the third party. However, the term "interim order" has been used several times throughout this legislation, and there is no clear definition of what an interim order really is. So, with that, I would like to offer to amend the definition from provisional order to interim order so that it may simplify the progress for some of the parents who are using, or who will use, this legislation.
As stated earlier, sometimes the legal part of these processes gets stuck on words. I know there are a few references to interim order throughout the legislation.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: If the member would just tell me on what pages and in what clauses the words "interim order" appear?
Mrs. Peter: If I could have you turn to the heading of "Notice of hearing". It's section 2, clause 10(2)(b) and 10(3), and that would be page 8 of the legislation.
It makes that reference under number 10(2)(b). It states, "must adjourn the hearing and may, if the Yukon court considers it appropriate, make an interim support order." Also, under number 10(3) - it uses that term in two different places.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The definition of "support order" is that "a court order or an order made by an administrative body requiring the payment of support and includes the provisions of a written agreement requiring the payment of support if those provisions are enforceable in the jurisdiction in which the agreement was made as if they were contained in an order of court of that jurisdiction."
There is nothing in that definition that excludes "interim". I stand by my earlier statement that "support order", for the purposes of this legislation, covers "interim support order".
Chair: Order please. We will take a brief recess. We will reconvene at 4:45 p.m.
Chair: I call Committee of the Whole to order.
Mrs. Peter: My earlier question to the minister was about the definition, using the word "interim". It also shows up in sections 13(1)(b) and (c). Just for the purpose of clarity, we are asking, in a friendly way, that an amendment be used in that section. So, my question to the minister again: would that be possible?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: If it would help in clarity, I would be prepared to insert a definition of "interim support order" if that would help.
Mrs. Peter: Thank you.
Chair: Ms. Buckway, would you prefer, then, to stand over the definitions clause and go through the rest of the bill until you can get that through? Is that fine with you, Mrs. Peter?
Okay, we'll continue on then. Clause 1 definitions is stood over until a definition for "interim support" can be found.
Clause 1 stood over
On Clause 2
Clause 2 agreed to
On Clause 3
Mrs. Peter: Which clause would that be?
Chair: Page 3, clause 3.
Mrs. Peter: Is that the "Claimant ordinarily resident in the Yukon"?
Chair: It reads: "In this Part, "respondent" means the person against whom support is sought."
Clause 3 agreed to
On Clause 4
Clause 4 agreed to
On Clause 5
Mrs. Peter: In the part where it says Division 1, I have a question about clause 5(3), where it states, "The claimant is not required to notify the respondent that a process has been started under this section." I have a question as to how does the respondent receive notification?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: They receive notification when the application goes to their jurisdiction.
Mrs. Peter: Just for clarification, Mr. Chair, within the Yukon Territory, would that be our own officials?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: If it's an incoming order, it would be our maintenance enforcement director who would do the notification.
Mrs. Peter: And how do we ensure the other jurisdictions are pursuing the matter effectively?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: The maintenance enforcement directors all meet regularly and there are protocols between the jurisdictions and, as this legislation is passed in more and more jurisdictions, it will certainly be discussed.
Clause 5 agreed to
On Clause 6
Clause 6 agreed to
On Clause 7
Mrs. Peter: For provisional orders, section 7(1), is there a limit on provisional orders?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: For clarity, does the member mean a time limit? How was that meant?
Mrs. Peter: Is there a time limit on provisional orders?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, this is a transitional section of the legislation. As each Canadian jurisdiction passes versions of the Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act, the use of provisional orders will no longer be required, resulting in a reduction of court time for maintenance matters.
Clause 7 agreed to
On Clause 8
Clause 8 agreed to
On Clause 9
Clause 9 agreed to
On Clause 10
Clause 10 agreed to
On Clause 11
Mrs. Peter: In the area of parentage, clause 11(1), it states that the court may decide parentage. What standards of evidence are required for that?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: There are presumptions in the Children's Act and the Yukon Evidence Act, and parts of this are very similar to the wording in the current Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders Act about the power of the court.
Mrs. Peter: Just for a point of clarity, would the parents who are using this legislation go to that certain area in other legislation for their own use?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Sections 10 to 16 of the Children's Act apply, and clause 3 there expands the power of the Yukon court to make a declaration of paternity for all legal purposes if the circumstances of the case so merit, and this section could potentially assist claimants by permitting them to obtain a declaration of paternity without having to have separate court proceedings.
Mrs. Peter: Thank you for your answer. Does this clause include DNA testing?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, an order for DNA testing could be sought under this legislation and under other legislation, as well.
Mrs. Peter: Thank you. Can a respondent challenge a parentage ruling?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, a respondent would be participating in the process at this point, so I would expect they could disagree. Whether they could disagree beyond the ruling of the court, though, I'm not so sure about.
Chair: Are there any further questions on clause 11?
Clause 11 agreed to
On Clause 12
Mrs. Peter: Thank you. For the choice of law re child support, this is about support for a claimant regarding spousal support. Why isn't this a separate subsection in this legislation?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: This section should cover both child and spousal support.
Mrs. Peter: Will the minister find it possible to change the title to "Choice of law re child and claimant support"?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, we could either call it "choice of law re: child and spousal support", or merely call it "choice of law". In either case, it would cover both.
Mrs. Peter: I believe any kind of change that we can make for this particular area would be for clarity again for parents who are using this legislation.
Chair: At this point, will you propose an amendment, or will you do that when we come back after we stand it aside? It still needs to be amended at this point, then, if you want to change it.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: We will amend this section.
Chair: Would the minister prefer to stand this aside or do all the amendments at once, afterwards, because we'll have to stand this aside without an amendment?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, I need to take advice on whether it should be renamed "Choice of law" or "Choice of law re: child and spousal support".
Chair: With reference to that advice, then, do you want us to stand this aside and we will do it then? Is that fine with Mrs. Peter?
Mrs. Peter: Yes, that's fine. Thank you.
Clause 12 stood over
On Clause 13
Clause 13 agreed to
On Clause 14
Clause 14 agreed to
On Clause 15
Clause 15 agreed to
On Clause 16
Clause 16 agreed to
On Clause 17
Clause 17 agreed to
On Clause 18
Clause 18 agreed to
On Clause 19
Clause 19 agreed to
On Clause 20
Clause 20 agreed to
On Clause 21
Clause 21 agreed to
On Clause 22
Clause 22 agreed to
On Clause 23
Clause 23 agreed to
On Clause 24
Clause 24 agreed to
On Clause 25
Clause 25 agreed to
On Clause 26
Clause 26 agreed to
On Clause 27
Clause 27 agreed to
On Clause 28
Clause 28 agreed to
On Clause 29
Clause 29 agreed to
On Clause 30
Clause 30 agreed to
On Clause 31
Clause 31 agreed to
On Clause 32
Clause 32 agreed to
On Clause 33
Clause 33 agreed to
On Clause 34
Clause 34 agreed to
On Clause 35
Clause 35 agreed to
On Clause 36
Clause 36 agreed to
On Clause 37
Clause 37 agreed to
On Clause 38
Clause 38 agreed to
On Clause 39
Clause 39 agreed to
On Clause 40
Clause 40 agreed to
On Clause 41
Clause 41 agreed to
On Clause 42
Clause 42 agreed to
On Clause 43
Clause 43 agreed to
On Clause 44
Clause 44 agreed to
On Clause 45
Clause 45 agreed to
On Clause 46
Clause 46 agreed to
Chair: We need someone to make a motion to report progress, and we'll have to bring this back for amendment after we report progress. Could I please have someone ask to report progress?
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Chair, I move that Committee of the Whole do now report progress on Bill No. 54.
Chair: It has been moved by Ms. Buckway that we do now report progress on Bill No. 54, entitled Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 49 - An Act to Amend the Medical Profession Act
Chair: Is there any general debate on Bill No. 49?
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, as I said earlier, I am, by and large, in agreement with the provisions of Bill No. 49, entitled An Act to Amend the Medical Profession Act, but I do have some concerns under the provisions of the special licence, where the determination for a special licence is made by the Minister of Health and Social Services, and that he may consult with the Yukon Medical Association and with the Yukon Medical Council.
Why are we not more definitive when we established the need for a doctor than we are here in this legislation? Why isn't it specific that the minister "shall" consult with the Yukon Medical Association? And why is the determination left solely with the Minister of Health? Why isn't a determination made by the Yukon Medical Council? The Government of Yukon can, by and large, control the availability of medical practitioners here in the Yukon, just by way of their wage and benefit package, and their fees paid for fee-for-service doctor. In addition to that, the government can withhold the billing number for a new doctor, which has transpired in the past and will preclude a new doctor from entering practice here in the Yukon.
So I do have concerns with that area, Mr. Chair, but, by and large, the legislation appears to be pretty straightforward. But I must caution the minister, if he intends to use this to replace the doctors in rural Yukon who are currently employed on a fee-for-service basis with doctors who will be salaried. I do have serious reservations if that is the goal of this legislation, which, on the surface, appears to be very enabling legislation in this regard. I would ask the minister to confirm whether that is indeed the case or not.
Hon. Mr. Roberts: The real basic reason for the "may" versus the "shall" is for flexibility. The problem that we have in the territory is that we are a very small jurisdiction, and if you go into the "shall" part of it, there could be all kinds of issues out there that would not be in the best interests of Yukoners. One has to remember that when we came up with all these terms, they were in consultation with the partners, with the people who probably have a much deeper knowledge of the issues than I do. It's also trying to follow practices that are followed in other jurisdictions, as well, but I think flexibility is the key issue.
The other part about replacing doctors in rural areas, with this provision, that wasn't an intent at all. The objective is to ensure we have doctors. We're not trying to replace any doctors; we want to keep all the doctors we have.
I'm not going to comment on negotiations, if that's what the member opposite wants me to do, but I think the objective here is to have more flexibility.
Mr. Jenkins: We can get into quite a debate over one small little word, Mr. Chair - "may" and "shall". They're very, very powerful words.
And the minister cited that we have a small jurisdiction, which I agree with, and he also cited that using the word "shall" is not in the best interests of Yukoners. Could the minister be specific as to what he means by that? How could it not be in the best interests of Yukoners to require the minister to consult with the Yukon Medical Association and the Yukon Medical Council before he makes a determination as to whether he'll hire doctors from outside Canada? How could he interpret that this way?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: I guess, when you look at the issues in a small jurisdiction, all we have to do is look at what happens in here and how personalities become an issue at times. Even though people are trying to do their jobs and trying to do what they have been mandated to do, it tends to be more of a personality thing versus the issue or the policy.
It would be foolhardy for any minister or any elected politician who is in a position of authority to go ahead and do things without consultation. If there is the view that that happens, and it's one person off on their own issue, not consulting with the people, first of all, who are around them, people they work with and also with the public, then I would suggest that's a different kind of government. Obviously, that's not what exists here in Canada.
What we try to do is ensure that we get the broadest base of discussion from people who have the knowledge and expertise, and, at the same time, allow decisions to be made based on what jurisdictions like ours can sort of, in a sense, tolerate from the point of view of not getting into a huge controversy.
So, I think, you know, I guess, one could - there are different types of legislation that have "shall". I guess it's not a major issue with me. I am just going by the people who put it together and happen to be in the Medical Council, the hospital, the Department of Health, which actually came forward with this legislation in its present form, and they agreed that "may" was a good term to use. So, I guess we are just supporting what good consultation does. It supports what they themselves have come forward with.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, if that was the Minister of Renewable Resources offering the explanation that this government goes out and consults, I would be taken aback, but I do recognize that the Minister of Health and Social Services has spent a great deal of time with the medical profession dealing with it.
Now, let's go back to this "shall" and "may". I would have serious reservations if the intent was to change this to read "shall consult and reach consensus". But I would suggest to the minister that what we should be looking at is that it basically be required - shall consult with the Yukon Medical Association. It doesn't have to reach consensus but it shall consult.
I think that would be much, much more of a requirement placed on all parties in this issue, because even though the intent that I have recognized that this legislation might provide, it could be interpreted as enabling legislation to provide nothing but salaried doctors in all of rural Yukon.
It could be used for that purpose, Mr. Chair.
So, I'd like to just leave the minister with the suggestion that perhaps he deliberate over the use of the words "shall" and "may", because in this special licence category, the sole determiner of what's really going to transpire is the minister. He may consult the Yukon Medical Association and Yukon Medical Council, but he doesn't really have to. The Minister of Health and Social Services has to state in writing that a demonstrated need for this special licence exists.
Now, most of the ministers I have seen acting as Minister of Health have not been from the medical profession. In fact, I can't recall any. I know of one who was married to a medical doctor, but that was the extent of it. Now, I can't think of any previous ministers responsible for this area who have been in the profession themselves as a medical doctor.
So, it's a lot of responsibility that the minister is taking upon himself, and the advice the minister will receive primarily stems from the bureaucracy. It doesn't stem from the medical profession, and we could see this legislation used for a purpose it was not designed for.
Let's be fair. Let's call this "enabling legislation", because it is very broad in its context and what can be done under this legislation. I agree with it, Mr. Chair. I want to make that abundantly clear.
From time to time we do require that our doors be open wider than what currently exists. But this is, by and large, like the law profession, a self-regulating body of professionals that, by and large, deem the qualifications required of themselves and their peers, subject of course to overseeing legislation. So, on one hand we have the Medical Council and Medical Association, but on the other hand we have the minister reaching in and controlling one potentially large area that could determine the course of doctors, where they are hired from and where they serve in the Yukon, and that can be done very easily under this legislation.
So I have asked the minister to consider a friendly amendment that would impose on the minister the responsibility to consult with the Yukon Medical Association and with the council. I am not going as far as to suggest to consult and concur, but just to consult, because then the minister really has to defend his actions. Would the minister take that under consideration?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: I think, just to clarify one point, the YMA does not regulate itself; the Yukon Medical Council becomes sort of the key force here. And also the whole issue of looking at how this could be used as something that the doctors could be forced into - it is more of a demonstrated need. I think there has to be a demonstrated need as to where doctors are needed.
We've done a number of these, as you know. Last year we did a big review in Haines Junction with the people there, looking at whether they wanted a full-time doctor or whether they wanted an itinerant doctor to come once, twice, or three times a month. So it wasn't something that we imposed. Consultation is very much a part of how you make decisions, and what we've tried to do, obviously, is to ensure that those people who are most affected are involved in the decision making.
I hear the member opposite about a friendly advisement as far as making it "shall" versus "may." I'll keep that in the back of my mind right now. I don't want to make any harsh decisions at this point. As you know, I have to consult. I believe in consultation. It's not something I'll make on my own, but I hear what the member's saying and, again, consultation is a phone call away. It happens hopefully more often than not. I know we as a government believe in consultation and, definitely, if you're working with professionals, government people and citizens, we want to make sure that we're consulting.
Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Chair, I certainly concur with the Member for Klondike on the word. I was certainly going to be bringing forth an amendment if we get to it in a clause-by-clause area, so I'd like the minister to know that I certainly support the idea of changing it not from just "may" but "must" or "shall." I do it from the aspect or the thought of making it better for partnerships to buy in so that we can have it integrated.
I've heard the minister say many times in this House that he has to talk, he has to consult. It has been pointed out by the Member for Klondike that the people who fill the ministerial roles are not necessarily from that background, but they do have a concern. And I've heard the minister say that he couldn't make that decision without going out and consulting.
So I'd like the minister to know that I strongly feel that in this situation it should be a case of "shall consult." I'd think that it would be an opportune time for the minister to be able to ingrain one of his principles. And I do know that the minister does go out and consult, but I think it would be a chance for the minister to be able to ingrain one of his personal principles into this legislation.
Again, it does not have to say that you have to enact upon it but it should say that you should absolutely call. The minister said that this is just a small jurisdiction and it's easy to get driven by personalities. I tend to disagree with that. I think a smaller jurisdiction would make it easier because we could all simply have the buy-in as to what we want for the overall territory. So, I give that fodder to the minister so that the minister might be able to have further thoughts on it.
Hon. Mr. Roberts: I hear the member and, again, I would not want to make a snap decision just like that. I hear what you're saying. It is one of my principles, as it is our government's position in all the things we do. I'll have to come back with some additional thoughts on that, as to where we want to change it, how we want to change it, and do we want to change it.
No, I hear you very clearly and it can be one of those friendly amendments that would support where we're at.
Mr. Jenkins: Currently, save and except, I believe, for two doctors in the Yukon, the doctors are all employed on a fee-for-service basis. I believe there are two who are salaried currently - perhaps three but I'm only aware of two. Could the minister advise the House if it's envisioned that these new doctors will be employed on a fee-for-service basis, or will they be primarily hired on a salaried basis?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: No, the intention wasn't to sort of look at how we hire doctors for the rural areas or for the urban areas. It's merely trying to ensure that we're following practices that are now being followed in many parts of the country by allowing foreign doctors to come to Canada. We're just coming into step with what they are doing in many parts of the country.
Whoever decides to come to the Yukon would have to enter into some types of discussions with the department, and that could be fee-for-service or it could be contract. This is not what the purpose of this bill is about. That wasn't the intention of the bill. The bill was just to ensure that we would have the allowances to ensure that foreign doctors could come here and also guarantee that we have what we call a very top-quality health system, as it is.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, the minister has stated, time and time again in this Legislature, that he or his officials or his department do not go out and recruit doctors for established practices. They advertise for doctors in areas where doctors are needed, and they have to recruit them to those areas. That appears to be the majority of the focus of this initiative, Mr. Chair - to recruit doctors primarily for those areas that are currently void of a doctor, which is by and large in rural Yukon.
Given that the Government of Yukon, in the past while, has only hired doctors on a salaried position for rural Yukon, what does the minister have to say about getting involved in recruitment for doctors on a fee-for-service basis? Or is that an issue that has even been addressed? All of this legislation more or less supports doctors going into rural Yukon - more or less supports salaried doctors.
Hon. Mr. Roberts: I guess, first of all, it's not every community - I mean, it's a major process, looking at communities that, I guess, could utilize the services of a doctor. Not all communities can justify having a doctor in their community. So those are kind of case-by-case or community-by-community discussions. So it's not a simple matter to just say that we want to hire all one type of doctor. What this legislation will really do is to provide us, first of all, with the objective here about whether we can hire doctors that are either Canadian- or foreign-trained, and we want to make sure that they're the same high quality.
If you notice in the legislation, it's very clear that we're not looking at lowering our standards. As the member opposite said, we are continuing to maintain our standards.
This special licence will be issued only to qualified doctors. They have to already be a qualified doctor. They can't assume the fact that just because they have got a licence - and sometimes there is that question. We've seen that over time - that some people call themselves a doctor and they have ended up even practising. In Yellowknife they had somebody like that a few years ago, and the person wasn't a doctor. So something happened there with the process of ensuring that this person was qualified for what he claimed he was supposed to be doing.
The objective here is to ensure that we have a step-by-step approach to ensure that people who do come to Yukon and have not completed all of the Canadian licensing requirements have it very clearly laid out to them so that they know what the requirement is over the time that they are here. It's not just a matter of coming here and using it as an in to go somewhere else, because they have to achieve the basic licensing application. If they don't do that, they won't be able to practise here. If they are not medically qualified, then Yukon doesn't want them any more than any other jurisdiction.
So I think that we have to ensure that the skills that we want for a doctor are the same skills that would be acceptable in any part of Canada. I believe that this act lays that out very carefully and very succinctly in ensuring that people who come here will know what the rules are.
This is not going to be an approach of "I'll go to the far north, especially in the far west north, and it will be a quick way to go to Vancouver or Toronto." That isn't going to work. That's why the act is very carefully crafted the way it is.
So, again, I would hope that the members opposite don't see this as a way for us to hire, as the member opposite has talked about quite often - the fact that we want to look at health care in a different way or maybe deliver health care in a different way or even discuss health care in a different way. The objective here is to ensure that we have health care for the future. In order to do that, you have to have a good discussion about it. This is not one of the procedures that we are using to ensure that we have it our way. This is, again, going to be very carefully monitored with our partners. I mean, anybody who does go off on their own and do their own thing on this will obviously pay the price for it. Communities don't want any less of a qualified person than they have now, so we want to maintain that.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, earlier this year, I am sure the minister will recall a copy of a letter that I sent over to him that I had received from two doctors who visit Canada on a continuing basis. Their country of origin is Germany, and I believe they spend up to a month and a half to two months a year in Canada. They are very conversant with the north, which they love, and they have been looking at establishing a practice here. I would like to thank the minister for following up on the request that I made of his office.
But it pointed out the shortcomings of attempting to practise in Canada when you are from an non-English speaking country, and that appears to be the crux of the matter - that one has to become fluent in English or French and then pass the required exams. Both of these individuals and two other Canadian doctors that I have met have attempted to practise in Yukon. The only offer made to them, and the only area that they were told there was an opening, should they gain their licensing, would be, number one, in rural Yukon and, number two, they would be on a salaried position.
Now, if it happens once, you don't really raise any alarm bells, but this is now four doctors I have spoken with who have been interested in practising here in the Yukon and, unless they are recruited by a practice here in Whitehorse or a doctor here in Whitehorse or Dr. Said in Watson Lake, they appear to be not in the loop, so as to speak, and they end up dealing with government, and government is only prepared to deal and hire doctors on a salary basis.
Can the minister confirm that that is indeed the case?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: I guess, again, it's very pleasing to hear that we have so many doctors who want to come north and come to the Yukon. That tells you how attractive a place we have. It also tells you that we have doctors, both in Canada and, obviously, many from outside Canada, who are interested in doing medicine in a different way.
To me, that's a very positive initiative about how we have to proceed in overhauling our health care system. So, it's one point. I agree with the member opposite that, just because we have been doing it by fee-for-service for many, many years, it doesn't mean there aren't other ways of doing it. You know, that just proves the point, as the member has said, that he has talked to four people who would do it in a different way. I guess that's all we're asking. We are doing it in a different way already here in the Yukon, and I think, for those people who are in those positions, they're very pleased about how it's working for them.
I think the other point - I don't have all the facts that the member has alluded to. And I do know that, even hiring doctors here in Whitehorse - and, by the way, it's my understanding that three new doctors have started in the last couple of months. The discussion, or the point, of working for fee-for-service was definitely an issue with some of them. Some of them thought about the other approach and, you know, I think it's whatever they felt best about.
We're open; we're flexible; we're willing to look at how we deliver health care in a different way, and that's part of the objective of our future in health care, in trying to sustain our system. I would hope that that kind of openness that the member opposite has just exhibited here by demonstrating that other doctors want to do it in a different way will bode well for the future of health care in the Yukon. I think we have to engage in that discussion. I think it's a very important issue. So, this is not meant to give any kind of what you would call a set pattern as to how we're delivering it.
We're looking for teamwork. We're looking for cooperation. We're looking for primary care as another model. Those are all very important issues.
Actually, in the last year and a half, I've entered in that discussion, because every time I'm asked the question I say, "Look, here are some things that we could look at." I don't think there's a template as to one way or the other. I think there are many different ways of delivering health care, and it might be quite different here in the Yukon than it is in, say, downtown Toronto or Vancouver. So we're open.
The whole issue around technology in health care is the same type of objective that we should look at. There are different ways of delivering health care. Some, maybe, are not ready. We're not ready for some of those issues at this point, but I think with the Romanow commission and the Kirby commission now coming down with some very interesting observations about where we have to go, I think there is a big challenge ahead for all Canadians. So I would not like to think that this legislation is going to lead us down the path of just one type. Hopefully there are going to be many types.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, when you strip off all of the window dressing from what the minister has just recounted to this House, the basic question is still unanswered, and it would appear, Mr. Chair, that the total focus of this government is to hire doctors on a salaried basis, because in all of the offers that have gone out, that appears to be the direction this government is taking. Every one will be a government employee. It's the only game in town.
But, Mr. Chair, I go back to these two German doctors who inquired about practising here in the Yukon and these other two doctors - they very much fell in love with the lifestyle here.
They were a firm subscriber to the Minister of Renewable Resources' concept of creating nothing but one big park from border to border, and that's what they fell in love with. They didn't fall in love with the mining activity. The history they enjoyed. They enjoyed and loved the wilderness. But the bottom line is that, when they inquired to the Government of Yukon and discussed employment here, the offers on the table were all of a salaried nature.
Now, Mr. Chair, does the minister want to just lay his cards on the table at this juncture and admit that his government's policy is to only hire doctors in rural Yukon on a salaried basis and not on a fee-for-service basis?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Mr. Chair, I think the member opposite missed something here. They fell in love with the Yukon. Maybe they fell in love with the Health minister because he's so progressive. He may have forgotten that part.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Well, I just thought it would fit very nicely. We need a bit of humour at 5:45, here.
Just to remind the member opposite again: three new doctors have started practices here in the last few months, and they are fee-for-service doctors.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Roberts: The member says they're from Whitehorse. They're serving Yukoners. It doesn't really matter. Yukoners are being served by three fee-for-service doctors.
We have two contract doctors, whom we have had in place for a number of years - to my understanding, four, five, six years - and that's all we have. I'm not sure about those facts. I could stand corrected on how long the fee-for-service doctors have been in Mayo and in Faro, but before my time anyway. And we are just continuing that process because it works for those people, it works for those communities, and they're very happy with the fee-for-service.
That has nothing to do - in one way, I think the member opposite is arguing against the act itself by saying, "Well, it's going to be channelling people down the contract channel versus fee-for-service." That's not the intent of the act. The intent of the act is to permit more foreign-based doctors to come to the Yukon and at least work through a process that is going to give them a Canadian licence. That's the real objective.
It has nothing to do with fees at this point. It's not meant to camouflage or cover that we want to hire doctors this way, because three new doctors started practices this fall and they are fee-for-service. We have hired no more doctors on contract for any of the rural communities, other than the two who have always been there for the last few years.
So, I don't know what the member is seeing in that. I would like to think that we're looking at just opening the doors for more foreign doctors to come to the Yukon and ensuring that, when they do come, they are going to be of the highest quality, as we currently enjoy here in the Yukon. Hopefully, that quality will be maintained.
Mr. Jenkins: With respect to the two salaried doctors currently in place in Yukon - with the Faro situation and the timelines, the minister is very correct that it has been six years or longer. But with respect to Mayo, I would encourage the minister to check his facts there.
Mr. Chair, as I said earlier, this legislation is very enabling legislation - very enabling indeed. I guess my concern is that I don't want to see it used for a purpose it wasn't intended. Now, the intention is to allow well-trained foreign doctors to practice in Yukon under a special licence when there is an established need.
I said earlier that I have difficulty in accepting that the minister makes that determination and makes it, perhaps, after consulting with the Yukon Medical Association and the Yukon Medical Council. I think there should be more of a spelled-out process.
My concerns lie with how this process could be abused, because it could well serve the needs of Yukoners, but it could be well abused given that it is so enabling.
Now, the minister has yet to answer the question that I pose to him. That question is: has his government made a determination that rural doctors will be only hired on a salaried basis? Is that a policy currently in place within the department? The jurisdictions of Watson Lake where Dr. Said does his own hiring - very effectively I might add, but he still needs more support from this government than he currently receives - and Dawson, which is attempting to recruit - they still need more assistance, especially to address those long ongoing issues that the minister has failed to address: the on-call fees, the transportation for locums and housing for locums. Is there a policy currently in place by this government, with respect to salaried positions only for rural Yukon for doctors?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: No, there isn't a policy in place.
Mr. Jenkins: Let's look at what is transpiring. More and more, we are focusing on nurse practitioners, and they are qualified individuals but the rotation through rural Yukon is very significant and a lot of the health care professionals in smaller communities - Ross River, Carmacks, the transient nature in and out of Pelly - it doesn't lend itself to providing anywhere near adequate health care, Mr. Chair.
What there is, is a determination by the department in other communities, specifically my community - well, don't bother going to see the doctor, just go over next door and see the nurse practitioner. Has there been a policy change in the department to initiate this focus?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: No, that is just speculation on the member opposite's part. I don't have any facts to that degree that we are encouraging - I don't know how we are encouraging them to go see the nurse practitioner versus seeing the doctor. I am a bit mystified about how that would happen in a community, unless we have a mole in there that is going to every household and telling people not to go to the doctor. I don't think so.
The objective is to use the resources to their potential. If it means seeing a nurse practitioner before they see a doctor, that saves the doctor a lot of grief. I mean, it's happening in our communities right across the Yukon.
Most of our communities don't have doctors. They go see the nurse practitioner. The nurse practitioner makes an assessment there, and if they have to go further, then they're referred to a doctor. Fortunately for Dawson, you have doctors right there, and my understanding is that the same thing happens. Quite often, doctors have referrals from the nurses because it's beyond their scope of practice. It's the same thing in Watson Lake. The objective here is to empower and to use the resources to our best abilities, and hopefully that brings about a better delivery of health care. We're not trying to build on sidelining very important resources. We know our doctors are very important.
The member also talked about the rotation. I think that's a reality in health care today, and if we have that rotation with nurses right now because they're in high demand, you can well imagine what will happen when we place more doctors in rural communities. They're going to be going through the same thing.
Until we come up to a capacity of having more nurses than we have currently, it's going to be a difficult position to fill. Right now, I think there may be one position that's not filled - at least a nurse practitioner's position - but we've been very fortunate in having all our positions filled.
But I would agree with the member opposite that, yes, mobility is one of them, but that seems to be a lifestyle for some nurses who are serving in these capacities. I think if that's a trend that we have in our communities, then we have to look at how best we can keep them there for longer terms. I agree with the member opposite; that is the real objective.
That hasn't always been a problem in the big communities, I know, like Dawson, like Watson Lake, because I know I go back there every year, sometimes twice a year, and I see the same people there, so there is an attraction to stay in the bigger communities. Our real challenges are the smaller communities, of course, and I know that can be a complaint as well.
Mr. McLachlan: Mr. Chair, I move that you now report progress.
Chair: It has been moved by Mr. McLachlan that we do now report progress.
Motion agreed to
Mr. McLachlan: Mr. Chair, I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Chair: It has been moved by Mr. McLachlan that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. McLarnon: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 50, An Act to Amend the Funeral Directors Act, and directed me to report it without amendment.
The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 52, Physiotherapists Act, and directed me to report it without amendment.
The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 54, Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act, and directed me to report progress on it.
The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 49, An Act to Amend the Medical Profession Act, 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.
Mr. McLarnon: 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 5:59 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled on October 29, 2001:
Renewal of Government: Employee comments for YTG Yukon Communities for sessions to August 14, 2001 and for YTG and Federal Whitehorse for sessions to September 6, 2001 and other employee comments (Published October 1, 2001) (Eftoda)