Tuesday, April 13, 2004 ó 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.
Introduction of visitors.
Are there any 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. Hassard: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Yukon government to initiate a forensic audit to investigate the financial situation of the City of Dawson to determine how taxpayersí money was managed.
Ms. Duncan: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the MLA for Klondike to attend a public meeting tomorrow night in Dawson City to explain his decision to intervene and terminate the democratically elected mayor and council.
Mr. Cardiff: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to require all new buildings it rents or leases to meet strict energy-efficiency targets.
I also give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to conduct an immediate inventory of all buildings it owns or occupies under long-term lease and, where practicable, retrofit them to current energy-efficiency standards in order to lower ongoing operations and maintenance costs and create jobs for Yukon workers this construction season.
Mrs. Peter: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to establish a job transition fund to provide training opportunities for Yukon workers who want to move away from resource-extraction jobs toward more environmentally friendly "green" jobs.
Mr. Hardy: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to adopt a whole systems approach to engineering design, architecture and community planning for all future publicly funded land development or building projects.
Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?
Is there a statement by a minister?
Speaker:Before proceeding with Question Period, the Chair will deliver a ruling on a point of order raised last Wednesday by the government House leader.
The government House leader argued that the leader of the third party, during the course of posing a question, had violated Standing Order 19(g) by attributing to him a false or unavowed motive. Upon reviewing the Blues, the Chair finds that there is no point of order.
However, the Chair notes that in speaking to the point of order, the leader of the third party defended her choice of words by saying that the words were a direct quote, though the author of the words was not named.
Members are familiar with the principle of order and decorum that, "members may not do indirectly what they may not do directly." In cases such as this, it means that while members are at liberty to quote the words of others in legislative proceedings, they must take responsibility for them. The fact that such words were first uttered by another provides no protection if those words are not parliamentary.
The Chair thanks the members for their attention.
We will now proceed to Question Period.
Question re: Carcross-Tagish First Nation final agreement
Mr. Hardy: Last year the Premier announced that he was stepping outside the land claims box to reach the agreement with the Kaska Dena Council to fast track economic development in southeast Yukon. There was a lot of concern at that time about the impact this bilateral deal would have on other First Nations, both those with and those without final agreements. Is the Premier now prepared to acknowledge the role his outside-the-box agreement with the Kaska played in last weekís rejection of the Carcross-Tagish First Nationís final agreement?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: We must reflect the facts in this issue. Firstly, when it comes to the southeast Yukon and the Kaska traditional territory, there is no land claim and there was no land claim. The bilateral agreement with the Kaska commits to getting back to the land claim table, putting litigation into abeyance but at the same time ó through a 24-month period, which is the term of the bilateral agreement ó access to land and resources can take place. This is entirely different from the Carcross-Tagish situation. We have a land claim. Weíve had a ratification process that had a bar set very high ó the threshold higher than any other land claim ratification process. I think itís important to note that the government respects the decision of the citizens of Carcross-Tagish, but more importantly, when you look at the numbers of those eligible to vote ó who cast ballots ó a majority have approved or agreed with the land claim.
Mr. Hardy: The Premier doesnít seem to like it when his chickens come home to roost. No matter how the Premier wants to spin this issue, the fact remains that he is the one who opened this Pandoraís box of bilateral agreements. The decision of Carcross-Tagish First Nation members not to ratify their agreement is a big setback for the land claims process. The certainty that final agreements were supposed to bring is far less certain now. Is the Premier now planning to offer the Carcross-Tagish First Nation the same type of side deals he signed with the Kaska?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Well, Mr. Speaker, again, itís a totally different situation. And I ask this question: why would any First Nation ignore the benefits that accrue from a final agreement, which includes self-government, millions of dollars in compensation and ownership of land and resources, to opt out for a 24-month agreement that commits that we conclude a land claim in any respective First Nationís traditional territory? I think the choice is obvious. The settlement of a land claim benefits far more the First Nation than any other arrangement.
But when it comes to the case of the Kaska, there is no land claim; there is no mandate to negotiate one. There is litigation ó dramatically different than the Carcross-Tagish First Nation situation.
Mr. Hardy: Well, Mr. Speaker, Iíd like to remind the Premier opposite that thereís no land claim agreement in Carcross right now, either.
Now, there are other First Nations without final agreements that do not have economic side deals with the territorial government. There are First Nations that do have final agreements in place but do not have economic development agreements like the ones in southeast Yukon. In the interests of equality, Mr. Speaker, is the Premier now prepared to step outside the box once again and negotiate special economic development deals with First Nations that have signed and ratified their land claims and self-government agreements? Is he willing to do that? He has already done it before.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Firstly, we do have a final agreement with the Carcross-Tagish First Nation. Itís now about process, in terms of ratification, the next steps. We will work with the First Nation in that regard, as Iím sure Canada will.
But let me put on the record that when it comes to economic partnerships in this territory, this government will forge meaningful, full economic partnerships with every First Nation, as we are in working with the Vuntut Gwitchin in their capital planning and investing in that community, as we are with the forestry agreement, with the Champagne and Aishihik, as we are with the Kaska, as we are with Na Cho Nyäk Dun when it comes to training in the mining industry. Across the spectrum, economically, Mr. Speaker, this government will partner fully with the First Nations of this territory for mutual benefit.
Question re: Dawson City, appointment of trustee
Mr. Cardiff: A couple of hours ago, the other shoe dropped in Dawson City when the minister announced he was putting the townís affairs directly into Yukon government hands. What took place since last weekís Dawson City council meeting that warranted the drastic step the minister took today?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Yes, a trustee is being put in place in Dawson City, as the member opposite has indicated. Last week, the BDO Dunwoody draft audit report was provided to the city and subsequently made available to the supervisor. It shows the cityís cash flow is short even more than what was expected: a cash shortfall of $1.14 million.
This means the financial goalposts have changed. The shortage in cash flow affects the contingency fund that was set aside to pay for the arbitration. This is estimated to be at $975,000 and growing, as the legal fees associated with this arbitration award have not yet been set and are expected to come in the next couple of months.
Everyone is concerned with the situation in Dawson and itís time to get Dawson Cityís finances on track.
Mr. Cardiff: Well, Mr. Speaker, I have the audited financial statements here for members of the Legislature. The date is February 25, 2004 ó itís not recent, like the governmentís press release says.
So last week a well-respected city councillor resigned to protest a government direction to break a valid contract. We understand that the mayor was planning to resign this morning in an attempt to break the impasse between the town and YTG.
Many people in Dawson are furious over what they see as unwarranted interference by the territorial government in their municipal affairs, and they also see this as part of an ongoing campaign by the Member for Klondike to discredit the elected mayor and council.
Will the minister confirm that the Mayor of Dawson had been given an ultimatum: unless three councillors resigned, the minister would remove the elected council and put the town under trusteeship?
Hon. Mr. Hart: What the opposition should be asking is, "Why is there a cash flow shortage?" Realistically, the situation in Dawson has been precarious ever since the municipality passed Bylaw 17, for $4.4 million, to refinance an earlier debt and construct a recreation centre. A supervisor was put in place by the previous government to help Dawson deal with this new debt and their difficult situation. Unfortunately, an error in accounting went undetected until the new supervisor was put in place in October of last year. Dawson thought it had $2 million extra, but in actuality they had already spent this money, and they were only receiving $300,000 of that cash.
The new supervisor had been working with his numbers and theyíve now been finalized. The new numbers are confirmed by the recent draft audit statements, which confirm an even higher cash flow shortage, of $1.14 million, as I stated previously. They had put in a projected $840,000 as a potential loss. To add to this, Mr. Speaker, the long-term debt of $4.4 million and the arbitration contingency that is still growing from its present $975,000 ó thatís a lot of debt, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Cardiff: The minister hasnít provided a case for building the $50-million bridge in Dawson. He hasnít provided a good case for taking over municipal government. Things havenít gotten any better since their hired gun took over the finances of Dawson City, so they have to bear some responsibility for the situation as well, because theyíve been in control for 18 months. I guess the Yukon Party pledge to maintain respectful government-to-government relationships doesnít extend to municipal governments. Curiously, only Dawson has been required to adopt full accrual accounting retroactively. Other municipalities have a one- or two-year grace period to go to full accrual accounting.
How many other municipalities does the minister expect to take over if full accrual accounting shows them running deficits?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Some people would just say, "Give Dawson more money." They should remember that this has already been done. The town has already exceeded its limits for borrowing under the Municipal Act. This limit has been extended twice, Bylaw No. 99(19), for $1.2 million to install cable TV; Bylaw 17 for $4.46 million to refinance an earlier debt owed to YTG and construct a new recreation centre. $700,000 of this has been held by YTG to be used for the amount owing on the arbitration.
How has YTG helped in the past? It came as a $10.4 million CFA; recreation centre, $5.6 million; sewage treatment project, $4.8 million. The bottom line: the City of Dawson cannot pay all of its bills. The situation is not getting any better. For the sake of those in Dawson and all Yukoners, itís time to appoint a trustee. The trustee and staff intend to work with the local committee as per the provisions in the act. Together, the trustee will get Dawsonís finances back on track so a new mayor and council can be appointed in a yearís time.
Question re: Kaska First Nation forest resources
Ms. Duncan: I have some questions for the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources. The Yukon Party government has made it clear that they believe the Kaska own 100 percent interest in certain natural resources. The minister even went so far as to say that they own 100 percent of the timber in their traditional territory. The minister has also alluded to the fact that this government believes that other First Nations own 100 percent of the natural resources in their traditional territories. Perhaps the minister could spell it out so that no one is left uninformed about this issue.
The minister said on CBC radio on March 18, 2004, "They have come to the table with 100 percent of the resource. Donít get this thing turned around." Does the minister believe that the Carcross First Nation owns 100 percent of the forest resources in its traditional territory?
Hon. Mr. Lang: Iíd like to remind the leader of the third party that the Kaska forestry agreement is based on the last governmentís memorandum of understanding, which was signed in July 2002 and recognized the fact that the Kaska had a traditional use of their area and that they had to be part of any agreement on harvesting the timber. In other words, itís a three-year memorandum of understanding signed by the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources that laid out the process on how we were going to go into the forest industry in southeast Yukon. We have built on that memorandum of understanding and come up with a solution for southeast Yukon. We are going into the forest industry in southeast Yukon as partners with the local First Nation, which is the Kaska.
Ms. Duncan: The minister did not point out the fact that that memorandum of understanding did not say 100 percent of resource royalty revenue went to the Kaska, and the minister did not answer the question, which was: does the minister believe, for example, that the Carcross First Nation owns 100 percent of the forest resources in its traditional territory?
Would the minister answer that direct question, for the record?
Hon. Mr. Lang: As we fall back on the memorandum of understanding ó the memorandum of understanding with the Kaska is very clear. The memorandum of understanding states that the territorial government ó itís an agreement between the federal government, the Kaska First Nation and the territorial government. It makes it very clear that they will be part of the management team of the forest in southeast Yukon and they will profit from that partnership. Itís very clear. All we did as a government to live within that memorandum of understanding was take it one more step and actually put it to work. We have taken that memorandum of understanding and gone into the forest industry in southeast Yukon.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, that memorandum of understanding did not state that 100 percent of the resource royalty revenues ó the revenues, the stumpage fees from that forestry ó would go 100 percent to the Kaska First Nation. The memorandum of understanding did not state that.
Now, Mr. Speaker, the minister has not answered the question. He said specifically that the Yukon Party has made it clear that they believe the Kaska own a 100-percent interest in certain natural resources. The minister said that they own 100 percent of the timber in their traditional territory. Does the minister believe that the Carcross-Tagish First Nation owns 100 percent of the forest resources in their traditional territory? Does the minister believe that? And Iím talking specifically about resource royalty revenue and ownership. Is that what the minister believes?
Hon. Mr. Lang: The Kaska do own 100 percent of their resource in their selected land. They brought that to the table ó make that very clear. And as far as a partnership, the stumpage fees that we put into the scenario are not all what the revenue is based on in forest harvesting. You have your stumpage fee; you have your reforestation fee; you have your engineering fee and your administration fee. I think the stumpage ó 100 percent of their resource. Their order-in-council would. They own 100 percent of that. Itís taken off the table. Itís protected by the federal government. It is their timber. It is 100 percent their timber. They brought that to the table on the power of the memorandum of understanding. Thatís an investment in the future of the forest industry in southeast Yukon, Mr. Speaker.
Question re: Dawson City, appointment of trustee
Mr. Hardy:I understand now why itís called Question Period and not answer period.
I have a question for the Premier. Earlier today, the Minister of Community Services fired the Mayor and Council of Dawson City, then he turned around and said he wanted three of the former councillors ó whom he had just fired ó to act as advisors to the new trustee. The fact that he made no mention of the mayor certainly lends credibility to peopleís suspicions of a vendetta, Mr. Speaker, by someone who occupied the mayorís chair several years ago.
Does the Premier agree with the way the minister has handled the Dawson situation and especially the actions he took today?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Iíll try to respond to the member opposite and his question. We are dealing with a very difficult situation in Dawson City and I believe that weíve taken the appropriate steps to protect the citizens of Dawson, as well as the Yukon taxpayer.
In regard to the committee, this situation was brought up. These individuals indicated they would be prepared to sit on the committee.
Mr. Hardy: Well, good enough to be on a committee for advice but not good enough to be elected, obviously, in the eyes of this government.
Now, the Premier has managed to avoid any public involvement in the whole messy affair that exists between the Yukon government and Dawson Cityís mayor and council. Iím sure he wouldnít be too happy if he heard what people in Dawson City were saying to me about this government when I was there this week.
Why has the Premier stood off to one side and allowed his predecessor as party leader to pull the strings that have now resulted in the Yukon government firing the elected council and taking over the townís affairs? This is a question for the Premier.
Hon. Mr. Hart: Iíll respond, as I have in the past. This is a very difficult situation for the City of Dawson. Weíre taking the appropriate steps as per the Municipal Act, and we believe weíre acting in a satisfactory manner and weíre taking the appropriate action.
Mr. Hardy: There are huge gaps in logic and public knowledge about this issue, and there are huge gaps in this governmentís credibility. The minister now has a very experienced Yukoner in place on the Dawson portfolio. This may lower the temperature, but it may not shed much light or new light on the issue. The minister has mused about an informal inquiry into how Dawsonís financial affairs got to this point; however, itís obvious that something more than an informal inquiry is needed. Will the Premier agree to commission a formal, independent inquiry under the Public Inquiries Act with a mandate and timelines that are agreeable to this Assembly so that democracy can be restored in Dawson City as quickly as possible?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Democracy is in place, and we are following that process. A recommendation from the supervisor was to look at the possibility of an inquiry, and we are looking at that particular option. When we get to that stage, we will bring it forth.
Question re: Seismic testing, environmental impact
Mr. McRobb: I have a question for the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources. Two months ago he issued a government news release that announced seismic surveying would take place in late February along the Whitehorse Trough. In that release, the minister declared there would be no impact on wildlife from the seismic testing. But a different story emerges from information available on ground shocking, particularly with respect to young-of-the-year mammals, fish eggs and hearing-sensitive species of adult fish and wildlife, to name a few. The area surveyed was adjacent to wetlands, stream courses in the salmon-bearing Nordenskiold River. I want to ask the minister, what makes him so sure there is no environmental impact?
Hon. Mr. Lang: We certainly are concerned if there is an environmental question about anything we do in the Yukon, so I appreciate the member oppositeís concern.
Weíve been working with the First Nation on this and I just talked with the chief last week and it seems from that local government that theyíre quite happy with the seismic and hopefully looking forward to some positive results in the next month or so.
Mr. McRobb: Well, thatís no answer, Mr. Speaker. The minister stands up and responds to a First Nation that has jurisdiction in only part of the area surveyed. He completely avoids the question. The minister seems confused on two distinctly different issues: exemptions from having to do environmental impact assessment along highway corridors with the determination of any environmental impacts. One of the problems with exempting this type of activity is the block-out of feedback from the relevant agencies and others normally involved in the review process. Not only is this government saying that it knows best, which is an insult to all those who know better, but it leaves experts in the dark. They only learned about it through the media. So in future, will the minister allow the experts an opportunity to provide their feedback in order to help ensure that this emerging industry gets started on the right foot?
Hon. Mr. Lang: I remind the member opposite that this is not new technology. This technology is used across Canada very effectively for the oil and gas industry, Canada-wide. As far as following the environmental rules or overcoming problems that we have at a local level, we certainly address them. But as far as no experts or people who donít know what theyíre doing, the people who were here doing the job do it across Canada. Itís not some local operator who arrives in the middle of the night, Mr. Speaker. These people are very professional. Weíre waiting for a very positive return on the science thatís there and looking forward to a report in the next couple of months.
Mr. McRobb: Well, the minister is, once again, failing to respond to the question. Now, Iím getting the impression that he wants to appear as if he is the absolute authority in this field. He has already declared that there is absolutely no environmental impact. Now he knows more than the experts.
Letís see how much he does know. Research indicates that the environmental impact increases with the loudness and severity of the shockwaves released. How high on the decibel scale did this no-impact seismic testing rate? Can he at least tell us that?
Hon. Mr. Lang: Again, scare tactics. The science is there. The science is appropriate, and itís being used in an appropriate fashion. The House, hopefully, is looking forward to a report. We have been working with the local First Nation on the technology that is being used and also the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources. We certainly have some science backing us up.
As far as the misrepresentation from the member opposite on this issue, certainly we could have a great discussion of who is more of an expert: him or me? I have Energy, Mines and Resources behind me. I have the science that we have in our department. I am sure that the man opposite lacks that.
Question re: Seismic survey, job training
Mr. Fairclough: That was quite the answer, Mr. Speaker.
I have a question to the same minister. Over the past couple of months, the seismic work has taken place in the Whitehorse Trough and within the traditional territory of the Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation.
The Yukon government has contributed approximately $230,000 to this project, with a total cost of nearly $1 million.
Itís the same party that said that getting people job ready and trained is a top priority. So I would like to ask the minister this: what training was provided to the community of Carmacks and Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation to ensure that local people would be trained and job ready for this seismic survey?
Hon. Mr. Lang: Again, Mr. Speaker, weíve been working on the seismic thing, which is a Canada-wide research scientific process. We certainly have been working with the First Nation. In fact, last week I talked to the chief and got an update on how this thing has unfolded on a local level. As far as work is concerned, I understand that this is a very sophisticated process with limited manpower. But, of course, our government is talking about training. We put $500,000 toward a mining program that is in the works right now to train all Yukoners to be ready for the mining community when it opens up in the spring.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, Mr. Speaker, weíve moved from oil and gas to mining very shortly by this minister. There is a reason why the minister is not answering the question, and itís because there is no training that was provided, and the minister knows that, and heís trying to skirt around that whole question. Letís continue.
Mr. Speaker, when projects like this come to the communities and arrive in the Yukon and the private sector is actually putting up some money, governments should be ready and prepared. Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation welcomes this project. They want to know the results of this scientific survey, and they also wanted jobs and were expecting some eight or nine jobs as a result of this. Now, Iím sure the minister is quite familiar with chapter 22 of that First Nationís final agreement. So how many seismic jobs went to members of Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation?
Hon. Mr. Lang: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Of course, again, for the members opposite, to make it very clear, there certainly were jobs involved with the program. There were flagging jobs and some cutting jobs understanding that, last year, when it was going to go through, there were some questions from the First Nation and, of course, we postponed the program and did it this year in respect for the First Nation so they could work out a few problems they had internally. But Iím very happy to report that the First Nation and the program went very successfully and there were 10 jobs out there. Now, Iím not sure what individuals from Carmacks got the jobs but, again, Yukoners were working on that program. Hopefully, weíll have a report, and then the First Nation will definitely get a copy of that.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Mr. Edzerza:I would like to have the members of this Legislature welcome Chief Mike Smith to the gallery.
Mr. Fairclough: This minister is skirting around the questions again. The people in the community of Carmacks are watching him and hearing this and are probably amazed about where this minister is going with this whole thing. No training provided ó he says 10 jobs, but he doesnít know how many to that community or to the First Nation. He doesnít know. He hasnít read chapter 22 of the final agreement. The Premier ought to give some directions to the minister. Oil and gas could have a huge impact now and in the future in that community, including the social impacts.
Now, this government said it consults, but on the very first major project in the Carmacks area, the Yukon Party failed. There was no hiring process set up and the minister knows this. Why did the minister choose not to work with the First Nation and the contractor to set up a hiring process ó a hiring process, and I hope he doesnít go off of that ó that would meet the legal obligations of chapter 22? Why didnít he do that?
Hon. Mr. Lang: We certainly have read chapter 22, and we donít have to have the member opposite point it out to us. I say to you that the science was there; as the Member for Kluane pointed out, the science was right up there. We had 10 to 12 locals. We had 10 to 12 people working out of the community on jobs they were qualified to do. This was not a long-term contract. This was an in-and-out-of-town contract. They drove in the ditch. They did the seismic work and they left. This was not a long-term contract. We certainly have been working with the First Nation because we had been working the last 16 months to get cooperation from the First Nation so that this job could go ahead.
So for the member opposite to say that we were tardy on not working with the First Nation, again heís dead wrong. We have been working with the First Nation on a weekly basis to get this seismic work done because it also involves ó
Speaker: Order please. Your time is up.
The time for Question Period has now elapsed.
OPPOSITION PRIVATE MEMBERSí BUSINESS
Ms. Duncan: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(3), I would like to identify the items standing in the name of the third party to be called on Wednesday, April 14, 2004. They are Motion No. 232, standing in the name of the Member for Porter Creek South and Motion No. 109, standing in the name of the Member for Porter Creek South.
Mr. McRobb: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(3), I would like to identify the items standing in the name of the official opposition to be called on Wednesday, April 14, 2004. They are Motion No. 229, standing in the name of the Member for Whitehorse Centre and Motion No. 227, standing in the name of the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin.
Speaker: Weíll now proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: 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: Order please. Committee of the Whole will now come to order. The matter before the Committee is Bill No. 8, Third Appropriation Act, 2003-04. I understand weíre going into Economic Development. Before we begin, do members wish a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Weíll take a 15-minute recess.
Chair: Committee of the Whole will now come to order. The matter before the Committee is Bill No. 8, Third Appropriation Act, 2003-04.
Bill No. 8 ó Third Appropriation Act, 2003-04 ó continued
Chair:We will continue on with general debate on Vote 7, Department of Economic Development.
Department of Economic Development ó continued
Hon. Mr. Fentie: We have before us for debate today a supplementary budget that covers the special warrant issued in terms of the need to address the collective bargaining agreement and its retroactive cost to government and also the purchase of the game preserve. Also, it includes projects such as the Quartz Road lease for $3.8 million, which had to be booked in accordance with the public sector accounting guidelines. Unfortunately, a past government incorrectly booked this lease agreement and it must be capitalized. Thatís what the supplementary budget is all about.
Now, instead of debating this in an expeditious way that reflects what the supplementary budget addresses, we have the Member for Kluane fixated on discussing minutes from meetings with the stakeholders and the development of the Department of Economic Development strategy. I think itís important that we understand that there is a requirement and obligation by the opposition to be constructive in their debate, to debate the issues before us. This supplementary budget is, I think, self-explanatory. It lays out exactly what the amounts are, where theyíre being allocated, in seeking the spending authority. So itís not overly difficult or complicated, and it lays out a number of things in terms of detail, which the opposition has had in their hands for quite some time. When you look at the operation and maintenance expenditures ó for example, corporate services within the Department of Economic Development reflect the wage settlements for January 2003 at two percent, and January 2004 at 2.5 percent.
That is the issue. Itís not a question of what weíre doing with the Department of Economic Development with respect to the 2004-05 main budget. Itís important that we debate the content of this supplementary budget as it relates to the Department of Economic Development. It also goes on in policy, planning and research areas. Again, itís wage settlements for both 2003 and 2004. The same with investment, trade and business development ó again itís wage settlements for January 2003 and January 2004.
There are also regional economic development wage settlements. So predominantly, the supplementary budget before us is reflecting the need to meet those obligations by the government ó the employer ó with the retroactivity of the collective bargaining agreement. I think the members opposite realize that, so one can only wonder why the debate has gone down the road it has. But for the Member for Kluaneís benefit, a great deal of work has been done with the stakeholder group and Yukoners in relation to the development of the Yukon Economic Development departmentís strategy and plan on a go-forward basis ó a new direction and building a sustainable, competitive Yukon economy.
The member knows that. I think the information thatís in the hands of the Member for Kluane to date is sufficient to provide debate in a constructive manner.
The other option for the member, obviously, is to go out and contact the stakeholder groups, have a discussion with the Association of Yukon Communities, have a discussion with the cultural industries that participated, have a discussion with the Taking Action Committee; again, with the tourism association, the chambers of commerce, both Whitehorse and Yukon, the Chamber of Mines, the Contractors Association, and the list goes on and on. That would be good work for the member opposite in relation to addressing the questions he has ó by talking directly to the stakeholders.
What the government side contends is that we should quickly wrap up the debate on the supplementary budget, which reflects our need for wages and the retroactive payment of those wages, and addresses some incorrect accounting procedures by the third party, something we had to deal with and account for in accordance with the public sector accounting guidelines.
The government side is more than willing to have that debate. We need not expend a great deal of time on it. I think the purpose for the opposition should be to get to the budget. Letís have a debate on the biggest budget in the history of the Yukon, some $705 million ó well worth discussing.
I am sure that the opposition has ó at least they should have; if they donít today, they should have before this sitting wraps up ó some input on what they think. Are they going to support these kinds of investments in the future of the Yukon Territory or are they not going to support them? We have to look at where those investments are going. Are they going to oppose the significant investment in the community of Old Crow, which is going to realize a great deal of benefit for the citizens of that community? Are they going to oppose opening up more beds in Copper Ridge and Macaulay to address the needs of those who require extended care and those seniors who require care? Are they going to oppose multi-level care facilities in communities like Watson Lake and Dawson City, where demonstrated needs are certainly there and the government has acted? Are they going to support or oppose huge investments in reconstructing Yukon highways, creating more jobs and benefits for Yukoners? These are the areas of debate and concern to the Yukon public.
To extend the debate on a very operational-type supplementary budget leaves the government side wondering what the opposition really has to offer. We are urging them to be constructive, to be involved. We all have a role to play in improving the lives of Yukoners. The government side is very focused on building a future. Itís evident by the style of debate and the content of the debate that the opposition side is more focused on reliving and reconstructing the past.
That is full benefit to the Yukon public. We have to focus on whatís ahead of us, and thatís why we should move on, have our quick discussions around the supplementary budget that is operational in nature, and get on with the discussion and the debate for the fiscal year 2004-05. It is a significant investment ó the budget, that is ó in the Yukonís future, not only on the social side of the ledger but on the development side of the ledger.
The Yukon government, the government side, is ready, willing and able to have those discussions and that debate with the opposition. In fact, we look forward to it and we welcome it. At the end of the day, though, it requires the opposition to be focused on whatís ahead. I think what we experienced last week in the debate on the supplementary budget is not reflecting that. The government is urging the opposition benches to become more focused on the issues and the concerns important to Yukoners. The fact that we had to pay retroactive salaries to our employees is part of a collective bargaining process that the public is very much informed about. Everybody knows whatís in the collective bargaining agreement, the fact that itís retroactive and that we, as an employer, are meeting our obligations. With that, I would hope that the member will get up and quickly move through the supplementary budget in an operational manner.
Mr. McRobb: What a speech that was. I thought maybe we were treated to enough of those kinds of speeches Thursday afternoon, but unfortunately theyíre continuing here today.
My first point is that the opposition has been constructive in presenting itself and testing the case of this government. The opposition parties, and I speak for the Liberal Party, the third party, as well as ourselves, have been very constructive both in this sitting and the fall sitting and, in addition, the spring sitting last year.
The Premier should not be so critical of the opposition parties. And at times I get the impression he longs to be back in opposition. Well, maybe heíll get his wish. If heís successful in getting re-elected next time, heíll definitely be over on this side somewhere. We canít guarantee where. He might be the lone member of the third party. Weíre not quite sure. That would be three in a row, should that happen.
But the oppositionís main task is to test the case of government and hold it accountable and try to ensure the decisions and actions made by the Yukon government are best for the people of the territory. Because after all, weíre all in here elected by the people and governing on behalf of the people, and we should never lose sight of that. We should never let power or whatever get in the way and blind us to the need to represent the people. Sometimes, some members do appear to be heading down that slippery slope.
The minister indicated he was hoping for constructive debate. Well, so are we.
The minister seemed confused when he accused me of requesting minutes from meetings. Well, I invite you to check the record of Hansard, and you will discover that at no time during this debate did I request minutes of meetings. My request was for the information promised to us by officials in the briefing for this department. The minister stands up and refuses to give information to the opposition. And youíve heard me before talk about how a government is only as good as the opposition, how if it is going to avoid passing along information, impede the information flow, try to limit the knowledge of the opposition, then, of course, it follows suit that the government will have to meet a lesser case.
That appears to be where this government is at. It doesnít want to be held fully responsible, otherwise it would be free with the information. Why is the government withholding information the officials have promised to provide to us?
Mr. Chair, thereís no hidden motive here. This is a very clear and simple question. The minister stands up, points a finger and tries to ridicule members of the opposition and make them feel embarrassed for asking for information that should be provided.
We see it again. The minister seems to be governing with one foot still on the opposition side of this Legislature. I say that because sometimes when we ask a question, he rewords the question as he sees it more proper to be worded by the opposition side, and then he proceeds to answer his own question. Well, Mr. Chair, how inappropriate.
I suggest both he and his ministers should just stick to answering the question we pose and not reword it and then answer their own question.
We ask the questions in here, and theyíre the ones who should be providing the answers. The buck stops at the Premierís desk; thatís the bottom line.
On Thursday afternoon, we heard the minister stand up and take all the credit for what appears to be improved economic statistics in the territory. We laud what appears to be progress but, at the same time, we should not all try to fool anybody in here. There are a number of factors that lead to this improvement, and one of them is that major retail industry has been on the move in Whitehorse in the past year with Superstore and Staples. Both of those stores have hired a lot of people, both in construction and in operation.
Those show up in the statistics, and a relatively small economy is influenced greatly by significant events such as that.
In addition, the price of world metals ó base metals in the world market ó are improving drastically. The price of gold is remaining stable at or above $400 U.S. per ounce. The price of silver has recovered to a significant degree. Even lead and zinc are on the rebound. So thatís what is driving the resource exploration economy. We should not ever try to take credit ourselves or spin those factors into some kind of credit that the government has done, because they are not fooling too many people.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Chair:Mr. Fentie, on a point of order.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: In the context of keeping the facts straight, I am compelled to correct the record. Hansard will show that the government side has stated clearly ó we want to make it clear: we do not take all the credit, Mr. Chair, for the economic turnaround.
Chair:Order please. There is no point of order.
Mr. McRobb: So much for that commercial message brought to us by our Premier, advertising his so-called economic plan. Well, Mr. Chair, we will deal with that a little later.
Now, we also want to discuss at this opportunity, with this supplementary budget, about the very undemocratic way this government used to bring in the special warrants for these expenditures. These special warrants bypassed the legislative process and that is very undemocratic. This government ó certainly when in opposition, the Premier and his government House leader were opposed to such practice, but now that they are in government, we are hearing a different story. That is not being open, accountable, or consistent.
We hear the Premier challenge us on how weíre going to vote on the budget, and he asks questions ó is the opposition in favour of whatever any particular item might read.
Well, letís look back at the voting record of the Yukon Party. We can identify, if we wanted to waste the time of this House, hundreds of items of good things that the Yukon Party voted against. Iím not going to waste the time; Iím going to take the high road on this matter and simply point out that anybodyís voting record on a budget bill does not mean that theyíre opposed to all expenditures in the budget. There could be principles of spending or there could be a show-stopper or two that are enough to justify a negative vote. The other members ó I see them chuckling away ó understand what Iím talking about, but will they admit it, especially on camera? Very unlikely. We donít hear them being forthright with the voters when it ó
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McRobb: We hear the Premier and the government House leader challenging us all the time: are we going to vote for the budget? Every time I hear that, I think of George Bush saying, "Either youíre with us or youíre against us." That type of a threat is wrong. It short-circuits democracy and puts complex matters into simple terms that are misleading for the general public. And I say shame on the government for adopting that type of a practice. Either youíre with us or youíre against us ó who needs that type of simplistic rhetoric. We should all rise above that level in here and be debating the issues.
Now, Mr. Chair, what benchmarks is this government using for its economic success? What about the GDP, taxes, jobs? We donít hear those relevant facts being discussed. All we hear is the sound of back-thumping going on from the government side, without any facts, and thatís wrong.
Itís clear this government is prepared to relinquish all royalties from forest stumpage fees, if necessary, to secure agreements with First Nations outside of the Umbrella Final Agreement. Well, this issue keeps cropping up on almost a daily basis. How far is this government willing to go down that slippery slope, just to get that photo opportunity or news release that might provide it some benefit today but cost all Yukoners, including those First Nations, down the road? How far is it willing to go? Well, weíll see, and weíll continue to watch the situation very closely.
So far, the government is unable to present a real study on the economic feasibility of building a bridge in Dawson City. Weíve asked for the business case, and weíre handed a stack of old studies with missing pages and missing logic. Thatís certainly no business case. This could be the most expensive government project ever in the history of the Yukon, yet it seems to be what was a political promise made. It even wasnít warranted from the governmentís own election platform.
The government is going to be on the hook for water sewage management in Dawson City and potentially all municipalities are requiring sewage treatment, yet where does it put that priority on the list? It puts its own priorities first. What does that say about a government when it puts its own priorities ahead of the public priorities?
This supplementary budget puts its own priorities ahead of the public interest; it circumvents the democratic process with the use of special warrants. When we get to the main budget ó hopefully by Thursday of this week ó it will prove to be constructed from the same mould.
This government seems to be unaware of or is ignoring the social cost that communities will face with workers from out of the territory coming into the community for short-term contract work.
Mr. Chair, I would ask you to ask the members opposite to keep their voices a little lower. Itís very distracting.
Chair:Order please. The Chair is also having difficulty hearing the speaker. Mr. McRobb, you have the floor.
Mr. McRobb: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The government is ignoring or is unaware of the social cost facing communities with workers from out of the territory coming into the community for short-term contract work. I know the town of Carmacks is one such community where there are social problems, and there have been from this type of an example, and we donít see the government addressing it. Instead, the governmentís approach is to gloss it over and come out with a news release on the virtues of whatever it happens to be.
In this case, it might be the seismic testing but, when asked about the impacts of seismic testing, the minister has no answers at all. The government has not allowed for the economic cost associated with these items in their budgeting, and these costs will continue to be borne by Yukoners for many years to come.
These social shortcomings are an embarrassment to this government because theyíve been overlooked in both the supplementary budget and in the mains budget. Weíll be getting to that issue shortly.
Whatís this governmentís plan to deal with the long-term effects and expenses from that industry? Well, we donít hear that discussion. We never seem to have an opportunity for that discussion in here. What about the roads to resources? Last spring we heard an announcement out of this government that it wanted to pursue roads to resources, but now it appears theyíve clammed up. We donít hear too much more about roads to resources. Well, weíll be checking that issue in the days ahead, and hopefully weíll get some answers to our questions.
So there are all kinds of issues weíll be following up on. I want to put the government on notice that we donít intend to shy away from asking the difficult questions, nor do we accept the governmentís version of the questions when the government side decides to reword the questions. Weíll ask the questions and weíll look forward to receiving the answers.
Now, I want to move away from this needless debate with the minister and get back to some of the questions that Iíd like answered. The first on the list is that I would like him to provide us with a list of where all the branches for this department are located. I see ads in the newspapers explaining that one branch is in the building, second floor of Yukon Electrical, another one is somewhere else, and so on and so forth. Can we get the master plan, if you will, of where all these branches that make up this department are located? Is the minister willing to provide us with that?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: First, I think we have to go back to some of the comments that the member opposite has made. It is quite disturbing when the Member for Kluane puts incorrect information on the floor of the Legislature, then in the same breath makes claim that the opposition is constructive in debate. That would be an impossibility, with the incorrect information that the member is providing to the public through this forum.
Terms used such as "misleading the public" simply have no place in this House, because they are not the facts at all. They have nothing to do with what is going on. The member also goes on to point out a matter of opinion in a number of areas ó it would be the memberís opinion. Again, opinions are exactly that; they are not necessarily relevant nor are they correct in all cases.
In the Member for Kluaneís case, it holds to be a fact that irrelevance and incorrectness is the rule of thumb. I would also say that when it comes to the social side of the ledger, this government will stack up its deliveries against any past government. All we have to do is get into the budget to be able to deal with that and have that discussion. It is certainly not part of the supplementary budget, considering that we are dealing with the Department of Economic Development, and this is predominantly all wages.
So thatís obviously something that the member opposite is skirting at this point in time. Maybe he has no desire to move along with those discussions and get into the nuts and bolts of the main budget.
Also, it reflects the need to correct the third partyís error when in government and how they booked the capital lease for Quartz Road. Not only was it booked incorrectly, but the evidence clearly shows that the cost to Yukoners is in the neighbourhood of double on the lease agreement versus if we would have just simply paid for a building and built it ourselves. So there was a tremendous cost to the taxpayer of the Yukon, thanks to that misguided initiative. But there are ó
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Chair:Ms. Duncan, on a point of order.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, actually, I have two points of order Iíd like to raise. One references 19(i). I was looking it up as the minister was speaking. In 19(i), members will be called to order if they use "abusive or insulting language, including sexist or violent language, in a context likely to create disorder." The background to the expression "rule of thumb", where it developed from is in Old English law ó that an individual was not to use anything to beat anyone else, particularly their partner, with anything larger than the size of a thumb. Itís an expression that is sexist; itís violent in its origins. Iím sharing that information with the Premier in the hope that he will cease using it.
He then went on in his speech to suggest that there were errors made by the previous government with reference to a particular building construction and a lease construction. That issue has already been covered by debate, and it has been dealt with and pointed out in this Legislative Assembly that the direction with regard to the leasing of a building was advised by Cabinet ó three different buildings, not specifically that one. So to suggest it was only one building is really a reference to 19(g). Itís out of order because it does impute false or unavowed motives to another member ó in this case, another government.
Chair: Mr. McRobb, on the point of order.
Mr. McRobb: On the point of order, the leader of the third party raises some interesting issues. I could add that I certainly wouldnít give a thumbs-up to this government at all, Mr. Chair, and I would add that the Premier does rule. He likes to have everybody under this thumb, and ó
Chair: Mr. McRobb.
Mr. McRobb: ó I wouldnít thumb my nose at the opposition ó
The Chair concurs with Ms. Duncan. While the phrase "rule of thumb" has become part of our vernacular, its origins ó of which many of us are aware ó are of a violent nature, and I would not encourage any member to continue to use such a comment in the future.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Thank you, Mr. Chair. At any rate, the member has now asked for a breakdown of where the Department of Economic Development is situated. First we have to recognize that the dismantling of the department under the previous government dispersed many of the employees of said department throughout the structure of government. Much of that has been brought back into place; however, there was a need to make sure there were facilities for these people to work in.
Policy and planning branch is in a building at Main and Steele; strategic industries branch, Wood Street above Three Beans ó the same with regional economic development; and investment and trade branch is in the Yukon Electrical building.
Having said that, the department is spread out in a number of facilities, but weíre also renting and contributing to the downtown core, as we had committed to doing at the outset, ensuring we did not diminish the presence of government in the downtown core after the move made by the third party to move most of the government out of the downtown core into the one-stop shop on Quartz Road, which was booked incorrectly and which cost the Yukon taxpayer almost double through the misguided lease initiative that the third party ó then in government ó entered into.
So those are the facilities that the Department of Economic Development is housed in right now.
Mr. McRobb: Does the minister have any plan in the near term to bring these various branches together to increase the cohesion and the information network in the department, or is he quite willing to have them split up at different locations for the next few years? What are his plans?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Today weíre not going to rush around trying to find one spot for the department. In the day and age of telephone, e-mails, communication and the close proximity, I think weíre going to do just fine in the immediate. All these areas are accessible to the public, so at this stage thereís no plan. Down the road, we may look at it. The purpose here, though, is the department is up and running and focused on the strategic direction that it has developed with so many stakeholders.
Ms. Duncan: I have a question. This supplementary budget, the minister has indicated, was specifically spent on wages, as I understand it ó these additional funds ó in part of the collective agreement settlement. The officialsí time has been spent in preparation for the budget, which weíll debate next, in meeting with organizations to develop the Yukon Party version of the taking action plan. I would respectfully request, as the now Premier used to do when he was on this side of the House, that we have either minutes or meeting notes of the taking action plan notes provided to us.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Same response to the Member for Kluane to the member of the third party ó the information has already been handed out. Itís in the booklet that all members of the opposition have. Its title is A New Direction: Building a Sustainable and Competitive Yukon Economy. I would also point out to the member opposite that, when in opposition, this Member for Watson Lake seldom attended briefings. This Member for Watson Lake went out in the public and sat down with the citizens of this territory and talked to them about their concerns. This member was constructive in the approach in dealing with the Yukon public, unlike the members opposite.
The member is again asking a question for information that they already have. This budget, quite simply, is about wages for this department. There is nothing more to debate, other than the retroactivity that is listed here in the pages of the Department of Economic Developmentís budget. If the member from the third party wants to further the information she has, then I would suggest that the member go talk to all those stakeholders. That would be a great exercise and may really open the eyes of the member from the third party on what is really going on in the Yukon public.
Chair: Are there any further questions for general debate?
Hearing none, we will move into line-by-line.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Corporate Services
Corporate Services in the amount of $9,000 agreed to
On Policy, Planning and Research
Ms. Duncan: This is funding for positions, in all of the line items that we will be discussing. Are there currently any unfilled positions in the department?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: All positions that are required by the department to get up and running have been filled.
Policy, Planning and Research in the amount of $19,000 agreed to
On Investment, Trade and Business Development
Ms. Duncan: Could we have a line explanation, please?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: It is a culmination or a total of the following: $21,000 for a wage settlement in investment, trade and business development, which impacts January 2003 at two percent and January 2004 at 2.5 percent; the contribution to the Technology Innovation Centre has been transferred to strategic industries ó thatís a reduction of $75,000; the contribution to the Canadian Information Processing Society transferred to strategic industries. Therefore, when all totalled up, the subtotal start-up cost is minus $69,000.
Chair: Are there any further questions?
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, in reading his notes, the minister responsible for Economic Development missed an amount, I believe. He said plus $21,000, the wages, minus $75,000 for the transfer of program, and then he said what the other item was, but he didnít give the amount.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: The total start-up cost of transferred resources totalled $69,000.
Chair: Are there any further questions?
Investment, Trade and Business Development underexpenditure of $69,000 cleared
On regional economic development
Mr. McRobb: Iíd like to ask the minister what his intentions are to develop plans for the territory in this area?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: It is in the New Direction. Obviously a regional focus is critical to advancing economic development in the territory, ensuring that in the long term we are diversifying and addressing strategic industries. Rural Yukon is very important for us, and regional development of this particular area of the department is much about that. The regional economic development includes First Nation economic development, economic plans region by region, any projects out in those regions that we can facilitate and, of course, community economic development to help strengthen our rural communities. I hope that assists the memberís question.
Mr. McRobb: Thatís somewhat helpful, but it also occurs to me that there are several regions in the territory, and it would be almost impossible to undertake such plans in every region simultaneously. So if thatís the case, Mr. Chair, could the minister provide us with the priority list of which regions or communities will be developing such plans ahead of the others?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Itís not a question of priority; itís a question of focusing on strategic industries, which is another part of the new direction. It could be resources, it could be infrastructure, it could be markets, it could be the business climate, it could be investment, it could be capacity ó there are many areas.
What weíre going to do is look at where those strategic industries lie in our regions and focus on those. All in all, I think a strategic approach includes the necessity of recognizing in what regions are the best targets for us to focus on. For example, in the southeast Yukon itís obvious that resource development is a strategic focus because it has an abundance of resources. In other areas, like Kluane, there may be some differences in that regard. So, too, in the Carcross-Tagish region, there could be differences there. Itís all about what strategic focuses are at this point in time evident in these regions. But if you donít take a regional plus a strategic approach, then some of these areas that hold potential economic development may be missed, and thatís something we donít want to do.
Mr. McRobb: Just as a follow-up to that, in the days ahead I will be interested in finding out more information about which regions or communities have a higher priority in the area of economic planning.
But the minister used the Kluane riding as an example. I just want to ensure that he is aware of the sentiment of a lot of people in the area, the opinion of a lot of people in the area. During the last campaign it was a matter of discussion about regional economic planning, and most people appreciated the idea, depending of course on how itís set up and who is included, and so on. There was also a certain distaste for entering into another government process if it didnít lead to anything. And certainly in the Kluane region, for example, there are a number of jurisdictional areas that must be brought together in order for just about any project to proceed. In the area of Haines Junction, for instance, we have Kluane National Park, Champagne and Aishihik First Nations traditional territory, the Village of Haines Junction, the Yukon territorial government and federal government ó all have jurisdictions in that immediate vicinity.
Itís usually pretty worthless for any one or only some of those entities to proceed along the path of development without bringing everybody along with them.
So I just want to bring this to the attention of the Premier, along with a factor of urgency to this particular region because of the expected expiration of the Shakwak highway reconstruction project within a few years ó thatís if the government is successful in obtaining the rest of the funding from the U.S. government. But in a few years we expect the highway job situation to basically collapse. Right now, itís one of the major economic drivers in that region. There are literally dozens of families that depend on highway work to put food on their table.
With the completion of this work, itís in the back of everybodyís mind that eventually the day is going to come when the phone doesnít ring and that paycheque doesnít arrive in the mail. What then?
Not everybody can move to Teslin to cash in on the windfall ó or Watson Lake or Dawson City. We have to be realistic and provide for certain regions and communities where the people exist.
So certainly in areas like this, we have an expected shortfall of jobs on the calendar a few years from now, and it should be incumbent upon any government and this minister ó since he has the reins of Economic Development firmly in his grip ó and he should be trotting those horses along the path of looking out for the interests of regions in the territory such as this one.
This was not really a question; it was just a comment to ensure the minister is aware, and Iím glad he has been listening.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Actually, the government side is very pleased that the Member for Kluane has come to the realization that there needs to be economic development, considering the stiff opposition that member has put up against any sort of resource development in the riding. So I think thatís important that we put that on the record also.
So the fact that the member now has come to that realization is a good sign that the New Democrats might be softening their opposition to profitable private sector and resource development. I think thatís a good thing for Yukon.
Chair: Is there any further debate on regional economic development?
Regional Economic Development in the amount of $4,000 agreed to
On Strategic Industries Development
Strategic Industries Development in the amount of $95,000 agreed to
Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Department of Economic Development in the amount of $58,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
On Corporate Services
On Business Incentive Policy
Business Incentive Policy in the amount of $2,000 agreed to
On Regional Economic Development
On Community Development Fund
Community Development Fund in the amount of $6,000 agreed to
Total of Other Capital Expenditures in the amount of nil agreed to
Total Capital Expenditures for the Department of Economic Development in the amount of $8,000 agreed to
Department of Economic Development agreed to
Chair: The next area is Vote 53, Department of Energy, Mines and Resources.
Department of Energy, Mines and Resources
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Chair: Iíve had a suggestion of a five-minute recess or continuing on. Which would the members prefer?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Chair: As we need unanimous consent to recess ó
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McRobb: Mr. Chair, weíve already established that the minister has a speech he wants to read. It was prepared by his officials. They donít have to be here to hear it; they wrote it. So why donít we just proceed?
Chair: Unanimous consent is required to take a recess. When the Chair asked if there was unanimous consent, we didnít have it. Therefore, weíll continue on.
Hon. Mr. Lang: I thank the member opposite for the short break so my officials could get here.
I am pleased to introduce the Supplementary Estimates No. 2 2003-04 budget for the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources. Energy, Mines and Resources received a total increase of $329,000 in its operation and maintenance budget and $23,000 in its capital budget. These increases largely reflect the new collective agreement increases that are effective January 1, 2003. O&M recoveries decreased $90,000, and capital recoveries did not change. There is also a net increase in revenues of $42,000. While there was a decrease of $600,000 in oil and gas royalties related to a decline in production, there was an increase in lands, forestry and mineral revenues of $642,000 related to devolved programs from Canada.
The major changes in the O&M budget, apart from the collective agreement increases, are: an increase in corporate services of $10,000, 100-percent recoverable for library-related work on behalf of Parks Canada; an increase of $190,000, 100-percent recoverable from Canada in agricultural transitional funds; a reduction of $271,000, Tough funding, which has been moved into 2004-05 main estimates to reflect the actual year in which the expenditures will be made. Under O&M recoveries, there is a decrease of $19,000 from DIAND for the Yukon Placer Committee work as these funds were part of the budget transfer for devolved programs. In the capital supplementary, the major changes are: an increase on equipment, systems and space capital projects of $65,000 to handle the renovations on the third floor of Shoppers for the relocation of the oil and gas management and oil and gas development and pipeline branches; a decrease of $6,000 for land use planning initiatives, as this project was completed under budget.
This concludes the supplementary estimates for the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources. I would be pleased to go into general debate.
Mr. McRobb: We intend to be brief with our questioning, but I would like to ask the minister when he intends to provide us with the information requested in the briefing that took place about a week ago. We asked for a number of items to be provided, and the officials had no problem. That was on the mains budget, but there is a lot of overlap in the questioning. A lot of it pertains to the supplementary budget. Iím not suggesting the minister should provide that today, although he might have some of it available. Iím merely asking when we might expect that information.
Hon. Mr. Lang: I appreciate the question from the member opposite. You understand that some of these requests are pretty lengthy. The department is working on them, so for me to give a time would be irresponsible. We certainly will give all the information the members ask for in a timely fashion.
Mr. McRobb: There we go, Mr. Chair. Thatís not very open of the minister to not give us an idea of when we might expect that information. In other words, if I might decipher what we just heard, itís code for, "Probably on the last day of the sitting, the opposition will get the information itís looking for; the information that is quick to provide will probably be withheld until everything is assembled, and it will all be provided together."
Mr. Chair, let me just send a signal across to the minister that thereís no need to withhold the information until itís all available, and we encourage him and invite him to send the information over as it becomes available. Heís probably sitting on some of it now.
I donít expect to get much more of an answer, so weíll move on.
I want to ask the minister about the land development in the territory. Whatís his vision of releasing public lands for sale?
Hon. Mr. Lang: To go back to the member oppositeís comments, we certainly arenít in the habit of holding back information on any of the requests. We are working in a very progressive way to answer the questions the member opposite had on the 2004-05 budget; however, weíre in a situation where thereís work to be done on a daily basis. Iím not going to commit to giving information to the member opposite if Iím not capable of doing it.
Iím saying to the member opposite that we will get the information to him in a timely fashion. We will work diligently within the Energy, Mines and Resources department to answer those questions. So, as far as the land is concerned, we certainly would like to debate that in the 2004-05 budget, which hopefully weíll be in this Thursday ó so looking forward to that debate.
Mr. McRobb: Time will tell.
Ms. Duncan: Itís interesting that the Member for Porter Creek Centre has taken over the House leaderís duties. Iím glad to know where weíll be on Thursdayís debate.
I have a couple of questions with respect to the line items in this report and some of the recoveries that have been outlined. Just a technical question around the transfer of the Tough report funding from DIAND: the minister I believe said that this money, $271,000, is going to be forwarded from the 2003-04 to the 2004-05 budget. Did I hear the minister correctly, and is it staying within O&M or is it being transferred to capital?
Hon. Mr. Lang: Certainly it will stay in O&M, but we have transferred it forward to when the money will be expended.
Ms. Duncan: I suppose thereís an argument about whether itís a revote or a transfer, but weíll get into that at another point in time.
There have been significant revenues in terms of resources on the revenue side. I would just like the minister to explain in greater detail. There are additional revenues in land leases significantly above what we had expected. Although he had budgeted to get $150,000 in rental of vacant land, we are not going to see those revenues. Can he explain those items?
Hon. Mr. Lang: Understand through devolution there was a lot of meshing that had to be done, and coordination, so in the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, there was some balancing off there. So, certainly it will be clear next year how this thing is going to unfold.
Ms. Duncan: Letís try that again. What is the rental of vacant land that we were expecting revenue for and we didnít get?
Hon. Mr. Lang: Again, there is some clarification that had to be done due our transfer from DIAND. There are land leases, unearned equity, land-use fees, quarrying royalties and leases and rental of vacancy land. What I am saying to you in a nutshell, Mr. Chair, is that with the meshing with DIAND ó the transfer ó what weíve done is, by working with all of that, we have tried to come up with a figure that is realistic at the end of the day.
Ms. Duncan: A legislative return is fine. What vacant land are we talking about? I can read, as well as the minister, that there are some other categories and that we had to sort this through after devolution. Clearly, the department was expecting ó there is some vacant land somewhere that was rented that the feds used to get money for that we are supposed to now. What land are we talking about that we didnít get the money for?
Hon. Mr. Lang: We certainly will get back to the member. We will come back with a list and clarify what this is about.
Ms. Duncan: In terms of resource revenue, itís understandable, with respect to oil and gas revenue, that in putting together the budget itís best guess and there are fluctuations. Iím curious, though, to see the breakout in terms of mineral management. Itís quite specific and thereís a significant increase in quartz mining fees and in coal leases, permits and royalties. Is this strictly a volume, or was there an increase in fees?
Iíll ask that question and then go on to the next.
Hon. Mr. Lang: There are a lot of these pre-paid quartz mining fees out there, and that money was transferred to us. Some are 20 years, so itís sort of a blip in the whole thing because, through devolution, we acquired all those resources. It certainly comes in to us as one bulk transfer.
Ms. Duncan: Just for the benefit of those of us who will go back and look at Hansard to follow the bouncing ball, so to speak, devolution monies werenít included in the first 2003-04 budget that was tabled because it wasnít done yet and we were still anticipating revenues. In the first supplementary, there was a best guess ó this is how much weíll get for each of these areas. What this supplementary reflects is that this is what we actually got.
Thatís what I understood the minister to say. Is that correct? The best guess tabled in the original supplementary wasnít quite high enough in some areas.
Hon. Mr. Lang: So this figure was a negotiated figure between us and the federal government on what was our part of that and what was their part of that. That figure came up, a final figure came out, and that blip is what came over from the federal government as our share of the fees.
Ms. Duncan: We did better through the process of negotiating final figures than was first anticipated. Is that what the minister is saying?
Hon. Mr. Lang: What weíre talking about is that the fees that were divvied up between the federal government and the territorial government ó itís a final figure. We didnít know what that figure was until we negotiated with the federal government. So at the end of the day, this is the figure that was negotiated, which brought in that amount of revenue on fees. So it was a deal between us and the federal government through devolution. We came up with this figure.
Ms. Duncan: And for the third time, what the minister is saying is: we had a best guess put forward in the first supplementary, and in this supplementary itís the actual figure and we did better than anticipated? A simple "Yes, thatís right" would be great.
Hon. Mr. Lang: To answer her again is that we certainly ó the supplementary listed what we would average, and the difference, this one-time blip, was negotiated, and that was part of devolution ó that we would sit down and negotiate that figure, which would be transferred to us as a territorial government as the manager of our resources. Those fees would come over to us because, now that we have control of them, the fees come to us. So we certainly added in what we would average and then, at the end of the day, the difference was the difference between what we negotiated for long-term fees for quartz, say ó money spent in advance but to the federal government was brought over to us at the territorial government as a one-time figure. So that money is in our account, and that money accounts for that difference ó a difference in the fees between what the federal government and ourselves came up with. And itís not a guessing game. It was one of the obligations for us and DIAND to sit down, come up with that figure, and itís strictly a mathematical figure. Itís not a hard negotiation.
Ms. Duncan: Are there any volume increases in here?
Hon. Mr. Lang: Weíre not talking volume; weíre talking dollar figures. Some of this money ó if you were to look back ó would go back eight or 10 years to when the federal government collected these fees in advance for letís say 20 years. Through devolution, you realize that at the end of the day some of that money came over to our side of the table because of course we took over the management of these resources. So the fees came with the resources.
Ms. Duncan: The ministerís explanations are about as clear as drilling mud; however, I will, in the interests of expediency, move on. I understand that it is not an increase in number of individuals paying, or companies paying, placer mining fees. Thatís what I meant by volume. Itís not an increase in the number of individuals paying these fees; this amount is strictly as a result of the negotiation. What I was looking for from the minister was a "yes" as opposed to the clear-as-mud explanation.
However, I do have a question with the breakout. Is it the ministerís intention to continue to break this out in these specific areas ó again, quartz, placer and coal? Is it the intention to continue to break that out in presentation to us?
Hon. Mr. Lang: The last comments the member made about my answers being clear as mud ó I say to you we are clear. You couldnít be clearer on those figures. Are we going to break them out? Certainly weíre going to break them out, because itís good accounting. We want to know where these revenues come from and our department will be very diligent at making it very clear for the taxpayers of the Yukon so they will be able to read these statements.
Ms. Duncan: There has been quite a concern ó and it has been raised with the minister ó about how the department goes about ó and they receive revenue for it ó selling maps, publications and charts.
Now, is there any discussion about how that might be a future economic generator for the territory and enhance our private sector? The minister responsible for highways has entered into discussions around the privatization agreement. Has the minister entertained any discussion about how the printing of maps and publications might be dealt with by the private sector in this particular area?
Hon. Mr. Lang: Not at this moment. What we are looking at from Energy, Mines and Resources is that the mapping that we create in our department is done in a very timely fashion and it caters to the mining industry, so we work in-house for that. We certainly are very conscious of the other businesses out there and the free enterprise end of the scenario.
For the member opposite, since devolution, our contribution to that industry from Energy, Mines and Resources has gone up by 79 percent. So we are working with as much of the private enterprise as we can, understanding the time frame that weíre under in our department. I think we are being very positive, not only on the free enterprise side, but also that we run an effective mining department that the mining community can come to and get the information they need in a timely fashion so they can do the job that they have to do.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Chair, having spent some time with that particular part of this department, they are very professional and do a very good job. Our maps have been recognized at the Cordilleran as some of the very best and our professional staff work very closely with the mining community. We are talking about the production of the maps and publications.
Now, the minister is saying that since devolution, Energy, Mines and Resourcesí contribution to the private sector doing that mapping and those publications has gone up by 70 percent. So there has been an almost 80-percent increase in work to the private sector as a result of devolution through Energy, Mines and Resources? Is that what the minister is saying?
Hon. Mr. Lang: Out there with those four firms ó we have gone up approximately 79 percent, which is a great increase, but understanding our budgets have gone up too ó so those figures are out there. I would be a lot more comfortable, given where weíre at today, answering that question for next year, because I will be monitoring what amount of the percentage of the dollars going out that we can direct to the free enterprisers who are out there in the marketplace doing work for us.
We are definitely conscious of those suppliers. We are working toward it. Yes, there is a 79-percent increase, but our budgets have increased. I will be looking at this very actively over the next 12 months to make sure that we are directing the maximum amount of work we can into that free enterprise system out there that handles those kinds of issues.
We are definitely growing; we are conscious of the firms out there that can do some work, understanding that we also have to run Energy, Mines and Resources, understanding weíre running departments in Mayo and Dawson. Mayo alone had the largest winter staking rush, the first one in 15 years, Mr. Chair. But certainly we have to address the whole Yukon when we look at our mapping system and the mining communities that depend on those departments to produce that kind of work.
Again, I compliment the member opposite for mentioning our geoscience and mapping is first-rate in the Yukon, and the mining community appreciates that.
Ms. Duncan: Itís first-rate ó no question about it. Thereís also an opportunity in terms of technology, printing, computers and graphics and so on. There is also an opportunity for economic development, and when we talk about economic development, we have to speak of the whole territory.
Will the minister meet one-on-one ó perhaps with his deputy minister present ó with these firms he has mentioned and look at it from the private sector perspective? Will he meet with them directly?
Hon. Mr. Lang: We definitely work with the whole community and definitely meet with all Yukoners on all issues, so to say weíre not going to meet or going to meet with certain groups, we certainly would do that in the process of being government.
Ms. Duncan: I will send out the Hansard to individuals and the public comments will reflect that the minister has agreed that, yes, he will meet with them to talk about it. Thereís a bigger picture in terms of the whole Yukon and thereís an opportunity there, and I would like the minister to meet one-on-one and talk about it, and I appreciate his commitment to do so.
The previous debate, with respect to the Department of Economic Development, focused on who was where. If one wanted to seek out the FireSmart program, where one finds those individuals. Now Energy, Mines and Resources is housed in a number of different offices. Weíve just heard that there is a substantial financial contribution to renovate the Shoppers Drug Mart Building to deal with, I believe, the oil and gas and pipeline unit. Could the minister just outline publicly where the offices of Energy, Mines and Resources are located?
Hon. Mr. Lang: I want to make something clear regarding the last statement the member of the third party commented on. We meet with all aspects of the Yukon population on many issues. Issues out there are brought to us on a daily basis, so I want to make it very clear that I never agreed to anything. My agreement to the member opposite is to meet with all Yukoners to discuss the management and the issues surrounding Energy, Mines and Resources.
Now as far as where our department is and where the buildings are, we moved from the Main Steele Building to consolidate oil and gas, and we moved them into the Shoppers Drug Mart Building. Weíre certainly in the Elijah Smith Building; the professional building where we have the mining across from the Dairy Queen, and Building 918, which is a building for forestry across from Adorna Flowers. It has been forestry for years.
Of course, we have investments in all the communities. So we are trying to consolidate some of our operations to make them user-friendly and moving in that direction. One of the issues of the money that was released to bring the oil and gas management and oil and gas help in the pipeline branch into the Shoppers building is an improvement in that way. So weíre trying to get client-friendly so we have a department that runs smoothly ó that people donít have to go to two or three buildings to get the same answers. So we are, through devolution, working at that. Give us a break. It has only been since last April that we have been in this. So we are working very diligently to consolidate Energy, Mines and Resources.
Ms. Duncan: Gee, a one-stop shop, one location for people ó what a concept. Would the minister tell me where an individual who wants to deal with an agriculture lease or a cottage-lot piece of land goes? Is there one location for an individual who is seeking land from the Government of Yukon outside of a municipality? Is there one location for that individual to go to?
Hon. Mr. Lang: Iím glad that the member opposite mentioned the one-stop shop. We certainly are looking at a very consolidated management team and location for Energy, Mines and Resources. If you needed questions answered on land and agriculture, you would go to the third floor of the Elijah Smith Building. But letís mention to the House again that we did not sign a lease for the one-stop shop for $600,000 a year for 10 years. We are living with the past, but weíre looking toward the future. The future of this government is: consolidate the manpower, the buildings, so the client service is number one. So certainly, agricultural land on the third floor of the Elijah Smith Building; mining would be at the professional building; forestry, oil and gas, all trying to consolidate them in the minimum square footage so that we can maximize the use of those facilities.
Ms. Duncan: I am sure that the minister will find re-reading Hansard quite enlightening.
Just one more aspect ó itís interesting how the government says, "Oh, no, we canít possibly engage in a lease such as the government has done for years and years and years with these buildings in every single community. We have leased building for years and we are going to try to consolidate all of the services, but not that way." It doesnít make sense, if the minister re-reads Hansard.
The long and short of it is that an individual who wants to lease a piece of land or get a piece of land from the Government of Yukon has no one clear location to go to. If they want agricultural land, they go to one place. If they want forestry land, they go somewhere else. If they want to do an oil and gas lease, they go somewhere else. The issue is land.
People may venture into an agricultural lease ó if they can get that ó as opposed to a cottage lease. Itís not easy for the public. The government has not done that; they have not made it easy for the public. Thatís the whole point of devolution ó to not only have control over our land and resources but to be able to make land accessible for Yukoners too.
One of the issues that we discussed in the past session and that has not been clearly resolved is around quartz mining fees. There was some discussion some years ago in alleviating the fees for exploration work ó fees that were to be levied on specific claims ó in light of a downturn in prices, et cetera. We are not encountering that at the moment, but was there any forgiveness of any fees either under this minister since devolution or with the transfer?
Hon. Mr. Lang: To correct the member opposite on the last statement on the issue of how we are making it so inconvenient for people to deal with our departments, land is land. You go to the third floor in the Elijah Smith Building and you talk to them about land. You talk to them about agricultural land; other land issues are handled in that department.
So we are certainly moving toward a one-window opportunity for our clients to get maximum use out of whatever department they go to. If itís an oil and gas issue, they go to the oil and gas department; if itís a mining issue, they would go to the professional building. We have maximized the use of our square footage we inherited through devolution to serve the clients better.
As far as the question about the Quartz building, I would have to get back to the member because I donít know that answer. So I will get back to the ó now she is in shock, Mr. Chair, but I donít have the answer to that.
Ms. Duncan: I appreciate the minister being forthright with the House. Would the minister commit to providing me with that answer prior to the end of session, please?
Hon. Mr. Lang: I will certainly work diligently at trying to get that into her possession as quickly as I possibly can.
Mr. McRobb: I have just a couple of things, Mr. Chair. A moment ago, the minister mentioned the staking that has occurred this winter. I would like to know if the information is available anywhere on the Web site about which companies have done the staking and in which area and perhaps the date. If itís available on the Web site, could he so indicate if itís all consolidated in one spot? If not, is it something the minister could provide in writing?
Hon. Mr. Lang: Who staked the claims and what claims are staked in the areas is public information. I donít want to insinuate that itís on our Web site, but I could say that itís available to him if he were to walk into the mining recorderís office and ask for a map to see who has staked what and how many claims. I think there were 600 claims staked. Iím not sure what the company was. I donít have that information.
Mr. McRobb: It was indicated that there was more than one company involved. I know there was staking in the Kluane area for example, and in other regions of the territory. Of course itís public information, but the problem is that itís spread out all over the place. So just to be concise, Iím asking the minister if he would provide us with a consolidated list of the information requested. Would he do that?
Hon. Mr. Lang: Certainly we like to work with the opposition, but to be fair, a lot of this information is public information and certainly itís public to everybody in the Yukon. My department has a great load on it at the moment, and I think I would recommend to the member opposite that he go down and do his due diligence and find out what the lay of the land is. When you go, you could ask all the questions about wherever the staking was in the Yukon.
Mr. McRobb: The minister should know that my first obligation is to be present here, not be out doing his work for him. The minister has hundreds of employees in this department; he also has political staff. This is a legitimate request. I will even go a step further and say that we donít need all 600 broken down. If itís just one company, thatís fine. Just indicate which areas and generally the dates the staking took place. That would be sufficient. One would expect that information would be easy to provide.
The minister did indicate heís willing to cooperate, so would he be willing to provide us with that information?
Hon. Mr. Lang: Certainly, this government agrees with the member opposite on cooperation. I will commit to him that I will try to get some information to him in a fashion that is proper and in a time schedule that is open and at the end of the trail ó what Energy, Mines and Resources can do.
Mr. Chair, it is a very busy time at this time of the year for Energy, Mines and Resources, and I donít want to use that as an excuse for them to not do their job. I understand the member opposite has an obligation to his constituents to get the answers, and I understand he can ask us the questions and we give the answers. But certainly understand, Mr. Chair, that he has periods of time in his day that he could go down and do that homework himself and probably come up with a very factual picture of the lay of the land in all of the Yukon, whereas I really think that it is unnecessary for our department to go do this work when itís out there, itís available to him. And I say that Iíll commit to work at this, but in turn I think the member should go down to the mining office and look at all the books and take a look and, at the end of the day, look at the whole picture instead of just little pieces of it.
Mr. McRobb: Mr. Chair, thatís not being very cooperative. Certainly, the member opposite is relatively new in here, and perhaps heís not familiar with all the workload that is on us as members of the opposition. We not only represent our constituents in here, we have plenty of other job functions as well. Being critic for this particular department, Mr. Chair, Iím representing all Yukoners. The official opposition has been likened to the voice of the people. When the minister hears us talking, he should put it into that context.
The requests we make are requests from the people. Heís on the government side. Thatís the side with all the resources. The government side does all the spending and gives the employees their direction. We donít have any of that at our disposal.
One other matter I wanted to ask about is, the minister said heís trying to consolidate the operations of his department. Iím wondering how this fits into the overall scheme of things in terms of decentralization, post-devolution. I want to ask the minister if he has any thoughts on decentralizing the operations to the outlying communities. After all, even a job or two in the outlying communities means a lot to the local economies of those communities.
So we finally have the opportunity now, in a post-devolution world, to do some meaningful decentralization. I put that to the minister; what are his plans?
Hon. Mr. Lang: I appreciate the member opposite being concerned about local work in these smaller communities in the Yukon, and we in Energy, Mines and Resources, through devolution, acquired probably the giant share of the manpower all through the Yukon, understanding that we have offices in most of the larger communities in the Yukon. We are doing our work in those communities to consolidate and work with the people who are there, to make them run smoother, be more client-friendly and all the other issues we have in Whitehorse.
As far as the consolidation of our departments in Whitehorse, I think what we did through devolution and the year after that was to take it very slowly and practically so that, at the end of the day, we have a tighter organization maximizing the people we have in that department and consolidating client service.
As far as the question of whether weíre looking at farming out issues or expanding on the centres we have in the other communities, we have a profile in those communities, and weíre going to maintain that profile.
Chair: Is there any further debate?
Hearing none, we will then proceed with line-by-line.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Corporate Services
Corporate Services in the amount of $72,000 agreed to
On Sustainable Resources
Ms. Duncan: If there are any of these line items, such as sustainable resources, where there is an increase more than the collective agreement ó something else ó could the minister outline it, please?
Hon. Mr. Lang: Under sustainable resources, we, of course, have the Tough report, which we explained a few moments ago. Weíve had the transfer of the Kaska Tribal Council contribution moved to oil and gas and mineral resources. That $50,000 was money we committed to for the Ross River Dena Council so they could work with Teck Cominco to put a proposal together on their R-block.
Of course, then we transferred through bookkeeping from policy and planning into oil and gas. So those are the three.
Ms. Duncan: Could I have a copy of the agreement with the Ross River Dena Council with respect to developing the agreement for the R-block with Teck Cominco? Itís a $50,000 contribution agreement, by the sounds of things. Could I have a copy of that agreement?
Hon. Mr. Lang: We will certainly work on that for the member opposite.
Chair: Are there any further questions regarding sustainable resources?
Sustainable Resources in the amount of $17,000 agreed to
On Policy and Planning
Policy and Planning underexpenditure of $6,000 cleared
On Oil and Gas and Mineral Resources
Ms. Duncan: In his previous answer, did the minister indicate there was also an agreement with the Kaska in respect to this one? Are there also financial agreements with Kaska Dena Council in that?
Hon. Mr. Lang: I think thatís just a bookkeeping thing; we just transferred it.
Ms. Duncan: If thereís more than one agreement, could I have copies of them, please, as I understand there is more than one agreement?
Hon. Mr. Lang: We will work on the agreements that we have in hand.
Chair: Is there any further debate?
Oil and Gas and Mineral Resources in the amount of $166,000 agreed to
On Client Services and Inspections
Ms. Duncan: Are there any vacant positions with regard to these areas by the department?
Hon. Mr. Lang: In our department, with the number of people we have, we always have a few vacancies that roll over as we manage the department.
Ms. Duncan: Energy, Mines and Resources also received the greatest number of devolved employees as a result of the devolution agreement. How many of the employees chose not to come for one reason or another? Out of 100, did we only get 90 who wanted to work for the Government of Yukon? What was the number of people who didnít come or who went back?
Hon. Mr. Lang: The number was very low ó the ones who made a personal decision not to come over to the territorial government. But to give you that figure would be unfair ó to give you an exact figure.
Chair: Is there any further debate?
Client Services and Inspections in the amount of $80,000 agreed to
Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources in the amount of $329,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
On Corporate Services
On Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space
Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space in the amount of $65,000 agreed to
On Policy and Planning
On Land Use Planning Initiatives
Land Use Planning Initiatives underexpenditure of $6,000 cleared
On Oil and Gas and Mineral Resources
On Oil and Gas Development and Pipeline
On Alaska Highway Pipeline Analysis
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the work being undertaken by the previous government was to streamline the efforts around regulations and the regulatory framework around the pipeline. Has that work been completed? And the study that was undertaken by the previous government, the economic analysis of the Alaska Highway pipeline, has been used extensively by the current government. Is there any initiative to update it, or is it seen as necessary by the department?
Hon. Mr. Lang: We certainly are working on the regulations for the pipeline in a very positive fashion. And certainly weíre utilizing the department and what theyíve done in the past. So as far as if we are using everything at our disposal, we certainly are. Weíre taking advantage of what was done years ago and also moving forward with the concept of an Alaska Highway pipeline.
Ms. Duncan: Whatís the current status of the regulatory framework? Is it complete? Are we able to say this is the one-window such as Alaska was headed toward?
For the benefit of the minister, at several oil and gas pipeline conferences, Alaska would outline the overlay upon overlay of regulatory hurdles and the regulatory framework within which a pipeline might proceed.
Yukonís framework was much simpler, but it still required a great deal of work. Has that work been completed, or what is the estimated completion date for that regulatory framework?
Hon. Mr. Lang: We are working on the regulatory regime as we go along. Do we have a date? No, Mr. Chair, we donít have a date when itíll be finalized, but we hope to see it done in the near future. We are working on it.
Ms. Duncan: In the past with respect to this figure that was voted on, weíve been able to point to ó the author of the report escapes me at the moment ó the economic impact of the Alaska Highway pipeline. A benefit and analysis was done. It should probably be updated in reflection of some current prices in the marketplace, but we have something we can point to for the expenditure of funds.
What can the minister point to for this expenditure of $654,000? The regulatory frameworkís not complete; there isnít a specific lobbying trip to Washington that can be pointed to; there isnít a specific report that says, "Yes, hereís the independent analysis and here are the benefits."
What can the minister point to for this expenditure of money?
Hon. Mr. Lang: We certainly are working actively with the Aboriginal Pipeline Group, which is in its infancy. We certainly are working in our department to get the regulatory bases together and up front so that we can move ahead with the pipeline if and when it does come. We on this side of the House were elected on the premise that we would get our regulatory bases at home covered and also work within our borders to get ourselves pipeline-ready. We are doing that with those resources. We certainly are working with the producers. Weíre working with the pipeline groups, and certainly there are issues out there that we, as a small jurisdiction, arenít going to make that decision about, i.e. producing the gas in Alaska or moving the gas. All we as a government are doing is getting pipeline-ready between our two borders. Now weíre doing this very aggressively within our borders, and I think at the end of the day we will be very pleased with the outcome of how pipeline-ready we will be.
Ms. Duncan: How much of the $654,000 that is being voted on in this line item is a transfer to the Aboriginal Pipeline Group?
Hon. Mr. Lang: I would like to remind the member opposite that weíre working with the Aboriginal Pipeline Group. The Aboriginal Pipeline Group is independent from the territorial government. Itís just that ó an aboriginal pipeline group. We certainly have funded it up to this point to approximately $130,000. We have gone to Ottawa with a workplan, and hopefully the federal government will see the light to work with the local aboriginal groups and fund it, but we in turn are committed to fund it. About 10 percent of the expenditures will be done by the territorial government as a commitment to the Aboriginal Pipeline Group to make sure that they are successful.
Ms. Duncan: Is the minister saying that, of the $654,000 in this line item, $130,000 was transferred to the Aboriginal Pipeline Group? Is that what the minister is saying, or is he talking about the next budget? Is it $130,000 of this $654,000?
Hon. Mr. Lang: I stand corrected: itís $120,000.
Ms. Duncan: So, of the $654,000, $120,000 was transferred to the Aboriginal Pipeline Group. Presumably that is also a contribution agreement and I would like a copy of that as well, please.
So of the balance of the $534,000 ó we donít have a lobbyist in Washington, we donít have a lobbyist in Ottawa, we have made no major presentations at pipeline conferences, there have been no lobbying trips, so what has the money been spent on?
Hon. Mr. Lang: Iím pleased to answer the question of the leader of the third party. We havenít spent our time in Calgary like the last government did. We have spent the resources within our borders. We have worked with the producers, we have worked with the State of Alaska, we have worked with the Government of the Northwest Territories, and we have worked with the aboriginal communities in the Yukon. We certainly prioritize our money to maximize its return.
The Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources ó myself ó has gone to Calgary. We have talked to producers; we have talked to the pipeliners ó all the people who will eventually be involved in the Alaska Highway pipeline we have talked to.
We havenít spent millions of dollars on a consultant in Washington, D.C. because our government decided it was misspent resources when we could spend that kind of money in the Yukon to get ourselves pipeline-ready. That was the difference between the last government and our government: itís the philosophy.
We look at doing our job at home before we move to the Palliser Hotel in Calgary or hire people to go to Washington, D.C. at great cost to fight a battle we canít win.
We fight the battles we can win. I say to you that when the pipeline arrives, if it does ó and understand that we will not make that decision, Mr. Chair ó we will be ready for whatever pipeline comes down. Either the Foothills proposal or the Enridge proposal, we will be working with those corporations to make a smooth transition between our borders so the pipeline can go through.
Ms. Duncan: The minister stood on his feet and said, "We didnít go to Calgary, like the last government," and then he said, "We did go to Calgary," but we are going to focus on our own borders. And the minister said, "We are going to be pipeline-ready within our borders and build upon the work done by the previous government," but there is nothing to show for that money that has been spent, in terms of pipeline readiness. It hasnít been done. The minister stood on his feet and said that the job is not finished.
As far as hiring a lobbyist ó the lobbyist was based in Washington. Unlike the current government, we did believe in the Yukon and did believe in Yukoners, and as a government, we lobbied in Washington and believed we had a voice in Washington, and we did have a voice in Washington. The only thing that has been lost is a voice and a champion for the pipeline, because this government isnít one. Itís on their heads when they stand up and go, "Oh, we couldnít influence it." You bet. You spent $654,000 of Yukon taxpayersí money. What do we have to show for it in terms of (a) being pipeline ready, or (b) having a champion for the Alaska Highway pipeline? Where is the Yukonís champion? Itís not the members opposite. Thatís the really sad fact of the matter. In terms of the pipeline readiness and a regulatory framework, we have been working for a very long time, and the minister canít give us a conclusive date as to when that information might be ready. The minister has not accounted for the lobbying efforts, because there hasnít been any.
What has been done is absolutely minimal. There is no champion. That is unfortunate, because it does represent a near-term economic opportunity, provided there is someone and a government who is prepared to support it and work with Yukoners toward its development. Unfortunately, we donít have that now. What we do have is $654,000 and no accounting for it, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Lang: There was an election held 16 months ago, and the people of the Yukon decided who was going to lead the charge on the Alaska Highway pipeline. So all of the consultation in Washington, at the end of the day, proved a folly to the government of the day.
I would like to remind the member opposite today, under our management, weíre looking at six-percent unemployment ó the lowest it has been since they started to take statistics ó the largest number of people working in the Yukon today, since 1995 or whatever the figures are. So, Mr. Speaker, we certainly donít take all the credit for those numbers for Yukoners, but when the member for the third party stands up and talks to me about lobbying Washington and spending our hard-earned resources on ill-begotten investments like lobbying Washington ó certainly, as a minister I have been to Calgary. I donít deny that. I have been working with the producers and the pipeliners. I have been working with the State of Alaska. We have been working with the Northwest Territories. We maximize our benefits of both pipelines.
Mr. Chair, when we took over this government 18 months ago, there was competition between the two pipelines and there was friction between two governments. Weíve done that in a short 16 to 18 months. Weíre bringing one of the largest budgets forward, if we can, if the opposition allows us to do it. And at the end of the day, six-percent unemployment ó the largest number of people working today in the Yukon since the middle of the 1990s. Mr. Chair, are we not on the right track? We are definitely on the right track.
We are committed to the pipeline. We are committed to investing our money in the Yukon to maximize our benefits from that pipeline. We are not about going on trips to Washington, D.C. Can you imagine, Mr. Chair, we did all of this without one trip to China. We have six-percent unemployment, the largest number of people working in the Yukon since the mid-1990s, and not one of us went to China. How did it happen, Mr. Chair?
Chair: Is there any further debate on the line, Alaska Highway pipeline analysis?
Alaska Highway Pipeline Analysis in the amount of $4,000 agreed to
On Minerals Development
On Yukon Mining Incentives Program (YMIP)
Yukon Mining Incentives Program (YMIP) underexpenditure of $3,000 cleared
On Geological Surveys
Geological Surveys underexpenditure of $43,000 cleared
On Resource Assessments ó Minerals
Resource Assessments ó Minerals in the amount of $6,000 agreed to
Total of Other Capital Expenditures in the amount of nil agreed to
Total Capital Expenditures for the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources in the amount of $23,000 agreed to
Department of Energy, Mines and Resources agreed to
Chair: I understand that the next department is Vote 8, Department of Justice. Does the minister wish a recess? No?
Department of Justice
Deputy Chair: We will proceed with general debate.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: It is indeed my pleasure to introduce the supplementary budget for 2003-04. This particular budget represents an increase in operation and maintenance expenditures and recoveries as well as capital expenditures and recoveries.
The increase in operation and maintenance expenditures is $1,195,000, or three percent. Collective agreement personnel cost increases will result in an increase to the Department of Justice in the amount of $417,000. This increase reflects the two-percent increase effective January 1, 2003, and the 2.5 percent increase effective January 1, 2004.
Within this budget, a federal initiative for the RCMP to support recruitment of aboriginal constables and consultation on policing in the north will provide a total of $340,000 in federal funding. This funding is part of the two-year initiative that is 100-percent recoverable from the Solicitor General of Canada.
The access to justice agreement, which covers the legal aid, aboriginal courtworker and Yukon public legal education programs, will also increase by $288,000. These increases are 100-percent recoverable from Justice Canada.
Also reflected within this budget is the capital expenditure in the amount of $25,000 made to the court registry information system to incorporate national data requirements for the integrated criminal court survey, as required by the Canadian Centre for Justice statistics.
This phase is also 100-percent federally funded.
Mrs. Peter: Thank you, Mr. Deputy Chair. I missed the beginning of the ministerís comments, and I just wanted to see if I can refer back to the community and correctional services, the number of $204,000?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: That is the reflection of the collective agreement increases.
Mrs. Peter: There were some dollars set aside within the last year for renovations to the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. I would like the minister to explain where those dollars are situated within any of these line items on page 13-3.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Yes, $463,000 is identified for renovations within the capital budget.
Mrs. Peter: That amount is not listed in the supplementary budget this time around?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: As I understand, that was reflected in the last supplementary budget.
Mrs. Peter: We have been through this scenario a few times. I would just like to hear the ministerís updated information in regard to any consultations that have taken place with First Nations throughout the territory in regard to making any progress with the Whitehorse Correctional Centre or the service delivery at the Correctional Centre.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I myself personally as the Minister of Justice have had a number of discussions with various First Nations over the last year. Certainly as of more recently, I am happy to report that I attended a meeting of the Council of Yukon First Nations leadership in which I was seeking their guidance as to how further to proceed with the consultations on corrections. At that time, it was recommended that the Childrenís Act model ó on which the Minister of Health in conjunction with the Council of Yukon First Nations has been working together ó that in fact was a preferred model and that we proceed with that particular source of action. It was wholeheartedly endorsed around the table during that day. Since then, I have also just more recently had a meeting with the Grand Chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations just to follow up on those discussions.
Mrs. Peter: Iím well aware that the minister was at the leadership table at the last meeting they had. In regard to consultations with other communities, which communities has she visited in recent weeks?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I should also add that our discussions have been primarily focused through Council of Yukon First Nations in conjunction with the First Nation leaders around the table at that time. We are in the midst of coming up with a process to proceed with the consultations on corrections. We certainly donít wish to jump the process. We want to develop a process that everyone is comfortable with and that we wish to proceed with, with the full support of Yukon First Nations.
Mrs. Peter: How long is this whole process going to take? Is it going to take one year from now? Would the minister know what her next plans are after she consults with the leadership of each community? What are the timelines, and when does she see the whole process starting with some concrete decisions being made? How long would that take?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: As Iíve said in this House on a number of occasions, we truly are committed to the corrections consultations. We are committed to replacing the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. In the meantime, we are adhering to the fire marshalís recommendations. In the meantime, we are working on a process that works well with all Yukon First Nations and a process that also will have the full involvement of all Yukoners as well.
I think that there are a number of reasons: recent changes in sentencing patterns, changes that are about to come through administration of justice agreements with various self-governing Yukon First Nations. It makes perfect sense for us to take a good look at what weíre delivering here in terms of corrections these days and to see where we can improve the delivery of programs within the Correctional Centre and improve the delivery of programs within our communities. Of course, that process is going to entail a great number of discussions with a whole host of community stakeholders, including the employees of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, including all those individuals who work very diligently and very hard on Yukonersí behalf in the correctional system.
But we want to take some time. We are very much committed to this process. The Grand Chief, during our recent discussion, reiterated his support that he would like to see this process get underway, and we are working toward that regard.
Mrs. Peter: Since the Kwanlin Dun First Nation is not involved at the CYFN level, has the minister had a meeting with the Chief and Council of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation in regard to the building of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, the site and other concerns they had?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: We did have a meeting back a few months ago with respect to the Whitehorse Correctional Centre redevelopment. We primarily wanted to let them know, though, that, as per the memorandum of understanding, we are proceeding with the consultation on the programming, including the full involvement of Yukon First Nations and other Yukoners in those discussions.
In fact, at that time, I was also in the same room as the MLA for McIntyre-Takhini and it was made known that, with respect to the proposed location for the new Whitehorse Correctional Centre, there were concerns raised because of its particular location with respect to a school as well as a daycare in a residential area.
So those concerns were relayed to myself and to the MLA at the time, and we said we would take that into consideration in future discussions and consultations on corrections.
Mrs. Peter: In regard to the money that was already spent at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre with a new building being planned, thereís a huge heap of gravel sitting in front of the building right now. Is there any other use planned for that resource?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Not at this time. There is no alternative use being planned until we have a better idea as to where the location of the new Whitehorse Correctional Centre will be and we determine what we wish to do in our future discussions.
Mrs. Peter: Last session, I asked the Minister of Justice about resources made available to the inmates at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre in regard to access to elders and other spiritual resources. The minister had agreed to get back to me with information in that regard. Has any progress been made in that type of programming for the inmates at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: The centre, as I probably reported last time, does have a contract with Council of Yukon First Nations for a pre-release and transition worker who assists the inmates with release planning and transition into the community as well as other needs, including cultural and recreational programming.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, in the supplementary the minister has asked for an additional total O&M expenditure of $1,195,000. She has indicated $417,000 of this is related to the collective agreement and $628,000 is being spent, but itís then recoverable on the programs as outlined. The shortfall, even with the regrouping and the new math concepts, as I estimate it, is about $250,000. Itís probably $10,000 here and $10,000 there on a variance report, but could you just outline what that $250,000 is, please?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: It is a reflection of the access to justice agreement as well as the agreement with the Solicitor Generalís office with respect to northern policing. $340,000 for the RCMP to support northern policing needs, as well as the access to justice ó we have $150,000 as well toward the crime prevention and victim services trust fund, and $288,000, legal services ó again thatís access to justice agreement as well as the collective agreement increases. I believe that covers it.
Ms. Duncan: The first two that she mentioned, the access to justice agreement and the aboriginal policing, the RCMP agreement ó thatís part of the $628,000 recoverable. What Iím looking for, if the minister will bear with me while I walk through the math ó $1,195,000, take away $417,000 thatís directly related to the collective agreement, take away $628,000, which is these recoverable programs, and that leaves a shortfall of $250,000. So thereís an additional $250,000 thatís in here. What is it? Itís over and above the collective agreement. Itís over and above these recoverables. Like I said, itís probably 10 for this, 10 for that, but what are they? What are the amounts? Itís in a variance report, Iím sure. Itís over and above the collective agreement. So if of that $250,000, $150,000 is crime prevention, victim services trust, thatís great. Whereís the other $100,000 going?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Thanks for bearing with us here. Certainly, the $628,000 is the recoverable amount, as the member opposite alluded to, leaving $567,000. Then, from there, we have $417,000 under collective agreement, which leaves $150,000, which would be toward the crime prevention and victim services training trust fund.
Ms. Duncan: So, that is a $150,000 enhancement to the crime prevention and victim services training trust fund. Is this a new trust fund? Is it an enhancement to a trust fund? How is it administered? Is it on an application basis? Are we training workers? Could the minister just outline how that fund works, please?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: The actual trust fund was proclaimed back in November 1998. It does provide funding on a juried basis to deliver crime prevention and victim services projects. There is an independent board that oversees these projects and certainly distributes those funds accordingly.
Since the fund was set up, it has awarded over $1 million to 98 projects throughout the Yukon. I believe the last call for proposals was issued on an April 1, 2004 deadline.
I should also say, however, as the members opposite may recall, the actual trust fund is set out in the Crime Prevention and Victim Services Trust Act. It defines from where the money is to be distributed. It is basically slot concession fees from the Klondike Visitors Association and would go into the trust fund until it reached $2 million.
At that time, when the trust reaches the amount of $2 million ó this is according to the act ó the board may expend on proposals approved by the board only the interest on the trust and the principal in excess of the $2 million, if any.
So, if in fact that were the case, that would leave anywhere from $75,000 to maybe $90,000 in revenue coming from the fund. So what we chose to do instead of adding more money to the trust fund and only getting so much money out of the fund ó traditionally, what we have done on a year-to-year basis is we have firmed up, I think itís $225,000 to $250,000, to be expended toward these various projects. So what we did as the Management Board is approve an additional $150,000 to the fund, which brought it up to the level that we currently enjoyed in previous years, until such time as we can find out what we wish to do with this fund. Certainly, Iíll put it on the record that we are very supportive of the fund. Itís just a question of how we ensure that this fund continues at the same rate as it has in previous years. I hope thatís clear.
Ms. Duncan: I think so. The balance of the fund, then, is this $2 million; what weíre topping up is the lack of interest because of the poor interest rates. The $463,000 that was in the main budget that is to be a capital expenditure for the Whitehorse Correctional Centre renovations, is it anticipated that will be a revote or that the funding will lapse? Will it be expended?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Yes, it will be a revote.
Chair: Are there any further questions for general debate? Weíll then continue, line by line.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Management Services
Management Services in the amount of $51,000 agreed to
On Court Services
Court Services in the amount of $70,000 agreed to
On Legal Services
Legal Services in the amount of $347,000 agreed to
On Regulatory Services
Ms. Duncan: May I suggest, as I understand from the official opposition caucus that there are no further questions, that the balance of the line items in Vote 8 be deemed cleared or carried?
Unanimous consent re deeming remaining lines in Vote 8, Department of Justice, be deemed cleared or carried
Chair:Unanimous consent has been requested that all remaining lines in Vote 8, Department of Justice, be deemed cleared or carried, as required.
Are you agreed?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Unanimous consent has been granted.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Department of Justice in the amount of $1,195,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
Total Capital Expenditures in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
Department of Justice agreed to
Chair: I understand weíre moving on to Vote 52.
Would members like to take our mid-afternoon break now?
Some Hon. Members: Agree.
Chair: Okay, we will break for 15 minutes.
Chair: Order please. Committee of the Whole will come to order. We will continue with Bill No. 8, Third Appropriation Act, 2003-04, and Vote 52, the Department of Environment.
Department of Environment
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Vote 52, the Department of Environment, is fairly straightforward. The departmental objective of the Department of Environment is to ensure that the renewable resources and the environment of the Yukon are managed and used in accordance with government policy by a variety of methods: maintaining and enhancing the quality of the Yukonís environment for present and future generations, through ecosystem-based management, conservation of resources and protection and maintenance of biodiversity; also by implementing the principles of the Yukon conservation strategy, ensuring that Yukon people have the opportunity to be involved in the development and review of departmental programs, policies, legislation and regulations through open and effective communication and processes; by managing renewable resources in a manner that promotes integration with other sectors, such as economic development, so that optimum benefits can be derived for all Yukon people; and also by participating in national and international measures designed to enhance environmental quality and encourage sustainable use of all renewable resources; integrating, implementing and managing additional authorities and responsibilities in water resource and environmental management, as devolved from the Government of Canada, that are consistent with the Government of Yukonís policy and constitutional objectives; and, finally, undertaking resource management activities that meet the Government of the Yukonís obligations and respect the rights of aboriginal people and relationships established through land claims and self-government agreements.
Mr. Chair, the budget on Vote 52 breaks down into two areas: the operations and maintenance expenditures, which meets our requirements under the collective agreement with our employees; and under capital expenditures area, with the purchase of the Yukon Wildlife Preserve. To that end, I invite questions.
Mrs. Peter: I have a few questions for the minister, and it is in regard to the Yukon Wildlife Preserve. I would like to hear from the minister: when did the negotiations start with the previous owner for the Wildlife Preserve?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Negotiations with the previous owner began sometime in mid-October. Iím not sure of the exact date.
Mrs. Peter: Who was involved in the negotiations at that time?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: The people at that point in time were a variety of departmental officials, and the department at that time engaged independent legal counsel and, of course, the previous owners themselves, the Nowlans.
Mrs. Peter: I would like to hear from the minister how the negotiations were conducted.
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: As far as I know, they were conducted very amiably, very openly, and ó weíre fortunate to announce ó very successfully.
Mrs. Peter: Was there an agent involved in the negotiations and, if so, who was the agent?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Perhaps the member opposite could define "agent," since that is such an incredibly broad term.
Mrs. Peter: When there is a sale of property or a house or animals or, in this case, the selling of a preserve ó the people of the Yukon have taken ownership of this Wildlife Preserve ó there has to be an agent involved or there has to be someone involved in that capacity. Thatís what I am asking the minister: was there an agent involved at that sale level?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Certainly, when I sold my car, there was no agent involved. In this particular case, the purchase and sale was completed directly between the two parties with assistance from an independent law firm, as I mentioned, to handle negotiations. If she is implying that there were commissions paid, no, there were not.
Mrs. Peter: I believe my question is straightforward and I donít need any attitude from this minister. In the amount that weíre dealing with, the $2.2 million that was paid for the Wildlife Preserve ó why did the department pay more than what was offered or suggested in the beginning?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: There was no set value in the beginning. What we did is engage BDO Dunwoody, a national firm with offices in Whitehorse ó it was a local contract, well within the guidelines ó which set the range and the negotiations came within that range.
Mrs. Peter: When that range was finalized, did the minister already know about the 12 animals that had already been destroyed when it was discovered they had a disease?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: The department certainly knew all that and it was well disclosed in the report of the evaluator, which was tabled in the House last week.
Mrs. Peter: Would the minister be able to table a copy of the sales agreement or a copy of the governmentís offer to purchase?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: There was no offer, per se. Negotiations proceeded and there was a final contract.
Mrs. Peter: Were there any other items that were part of the $2.225 million that weíre not aware of?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: I believe there was ó what the member opposite alludes to is a difference of $165,000, all of which was well defined and necessary for the transaction.
Mrs. Peter: Those are my questions for the minister and, according to Standing Order 14.3 ó sorry, my colleague.
Ms. Duncan: Sorry, I understood that the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin had more questions than that.
In this supplementary funding, there is additional capital money identified for the purchase of the Yukon Wildlife Preserve. Could the minister outline exactly how much money has been spent in terms of how this money has been spent? What was the capital purchase and what were the additional contracts that have been let? Are all the expenditures in capital or are some of them in O&M?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: In Vote 52, in the supplementary that weíre looking at, itís all identified as capital.
Ms. Duncan: Are there any expenditures in the O&M side at all on the Yukon Wildlife Preserve ó staff, contracts, anything?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: In the year weíre looking at, no, there were not.
Ms. Duncan: So this $2.25 million is solely the purchase of the game farm? The consulting contracts arenít in that. That is entirely the purchase price. Because the media release said $2.06 million was paid for the game farm, so Iím just looking for the breakdown for the additional.
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: There was a $165,000 difference that breaks down into legal and consulting and valuation services. There was a stakeholder workshop to talk to the various interest groups in founding the society and the room rentals involved. There is already the purchase of so-called ISIS software ó the international species identification system. What this does is allow international worldwide tracking of animals so that we cannot only track our own assets, but we can track our assets if and when they move through other facilities and know exactly what happened to them.
There was also animal care since we purchased the animals prior to the actual purchase of the real estate. There is animal care, facility maintenance, management and administration of a small amount, and some advertising, printing, Web site and this sort of thing. This all integrates into that. This was all done under capitalization.
Ms. Duncan: Iíd just like to delve into this a little more with the minister. In the March 26 media interview, I believe it was, the minister also indicated that it was his intention or the governmentís intention to purchase animals from the wildlife preserve at the Museum of Natural History in Carcross. Is there money identified in here, and has that purchase been concluded?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: No, there is nothing identified in this that has anything to do with anything other than the game farm, and we continued to try to put everything together to meet the requirements and suggestions of the Fish and Wildlife Management Board.
Ms. Duncan: The workshops and so on ó the additional $165,000 that was spent over and above the purchase price. There were two items mentioned. One was the founding society meeting, and Iíd just like the minister to outline around that the process for appointment of directors and where we are in that process. The other was a workshop with ó the minister used the term "stakeholders". Who were the stakeholders present, and are there meeting notes that can be made available?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: The game plan is still very much that the facility would be run by a board of directors of a non-profit society. That society is in the process of formation and will be over the coming months. The stakeholders present at that meeting included most, if not all, of the former Friends of the Wildlife Preserve; it included First Nations; it included anyone who had an interest in developing this and hearing it and giving input into it. We seek to go as broadly as we can to get input into this facility.
Ms. Duncan: The board of directors for a non-profit organization ó usually there are memberships sold and the board of directors is elected. Is that the sort of format that is anticipated? Or is it anticipated that this board of directors will be appointed by the minister?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: No, there is no intention to appoint anyone. This will be a completely independent society.
I forgot to mention two groups that were at the stakeholder meeting: the Yukon Conservation Society and the Yukon Fish and Game Association.
Ms. Duncan: Letís go back to the non-profit society then. The government is helping this group to organize. What is the governmentís role in it? Are there memberships being sold? How is it being formed? Is it the former Friends of the Wildlife Preserve? Could we have a little more detail, please?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: The other group, of course, that I forgot to mention was present at the original stakeholders meeting, and we hope will be at all future meetings, is the Fish and Wildlife Management Board.
The governmentís role in trying to assist the non-profit association in trying to put this together is to give them what support we can ó again, secretarial support and this sort of thing, in terms of the legalities of putting it together. They will certainly not be appointed, and it will be an independent society.
Ms. Duncan: That doesnít really answer the questions. Is there more format addressed than that? This non-profit organization will be managing an in excess of $2 million government facility, or giving direction to it, as well as a significant yearly expenditure in operation and maintenance. In setting up this society, is there a recommendation that there be members of the Fish and Wildlife Management Board, the Fish and Game Association, the Taían Kwachían and Kwanlin Dun First Nations on the board? What sort of format are we looking at, and how do people get to be members of this society to in turn vote to elect the board of directors? What is the process, and where is it at currently?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: The process is ongoing. Again, our criteria is certainly that it be a non-profit group, for their own good and at the insistence of people like Peter Karsten, who has been integral to this as a consultant. We certainly want this group to obtain charitable status, which will allow them a much wider range. The government has no intention whatsoever of interfering with the formation of this board. It has to be representative of all the various groups.
We have invited First Nations participation. I have invited every First Nation Iíve spoken with in the last couple of months, as we toured the Yukon, to get involved in this and give representation. We have also invited RRCs, and these kind of groups, to get involved. If the member opposite would like, weíd be more than happy to provide an update in terms of the status of this group, but itís very much its own group.
Ms. Duncan: It may be very much its own group, but this group is going to be responsible for a significant ó in the ministerís own words ó Yukon public asset and its future direction. So, the minister has said the department is providing support and assistance organizing this. So, to whom? To members? Are memberships being sold? I still havenít received that answer from the minister. How is the board being elected? Whoís doing the work? Itís a significant amount of work to deal with the books of a non-profit organization, or an organization, period, and to obtaining and maintaining charitable status, as well as complying with the not-for-profit society ó the Government of Yukonís own ó regulations.
Who is doing the work? To whom are we looking to turn this significant public asset and its management?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: There are a number of different ways of approaching this, of course. The Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board manage a trust fund of over $3.6 million, and they do a very good job of it. To put it in terms of the value on that, I think, is ill-advised.
As the group progresses, the group will define itself. They will define a constitution. These are the sorts of things we are trying to help them with: register under the Societies Act, register under the relevant federal legislation regulations to obtain charitable status and so that they can work independently. We have no intention of doing any kind of political interference, even though the member opposite does have a motion on the floor of this House asking that the government interfere politically with the chair of the Fish and Wildlife Management Board. Weíre not going there. This is an independent body, which was requested of us by the Fish and Wildlife Management Board, and an excellent thought. We support that 100 percent.
Ms. Duncan: First of all, the Fish and Wildlife Management Board ó their membership, their mandate is clearly spelled out. Yes, they are managing a significant public trust fund, but their membership and their mandate are clearly spelled out. All Iím asking the Minister of Environment, who is talking about turning over a significant public asset that is purchased with money in the supplementary budget, is: to whom is he turning it over? How are they being structured? Iím not asking him to politically interfere. Iím asking a legitimate question.
Thereís a significant trust fund in the Fish and Wildlife Management Board. It is spelled out precisely what the membership of the Fish and Wildlife Management Board is, how they are appointed, what their mandate is, what theyíre required to do and how that trust fund is spent. We have $2.225 million in this supplementary, $580,000 in ongoing O&M in the next budget, and the minister cannot stand on his feet and explain to whom itís being turned over, how the group is being organized. Whatís their mandate? Who is involved? How do people vote for and elect the board of directors? Those are legitimate questions. This is a significant public trust. To whom is it being turned over and how are they being organized?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: We certainly recognize that this is a very valuable public resource and one that we take very seriously. We see an incredible amount of value out of this in many, many different ways.
As I said before, the board will be forming ó coming much out of the Friends of the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, which people have supported in the past with over 800 memberships in one weekend, I believe. The board will then at that point be asked to take over management. They will elect their own members within that board and we will be overseeing that, as well as through the Societies Act and the charitable thing.
The meetings certainly continue. Again, I will make the offer again to the member opposite: if she wants to be updated on this on a regular basis, we are more than happy to do that. What I would be much happier with is if she would actually show up to the meetings and participate in the formation. We would love to have her input.
Ms. Duncan: For the people who are listening and following this debate or who read it in Hansard, who may or may not have purchased a membership in Friends of the Yukon Wildlife Preserve ó is that membership valid for voting, for electing a board of directors? I see that officials have told the minister no. So, who is electing this board? How do people buy memberships? How do Yukoners who feel passionately about this get involved? Where do they go? As a member responsible for asking questions of this House as to where public assets and how public assets are being managed, to whom is this being turned over? Is it the former Friends of the Wildlife organization? Are they responsible for setting up this new non-profit group? Are they responsible for electing their own board?
Itís a very straightforward question: who is the minister handing the keys to and the future direction of this? We see where the money is. Who is managing the money? Who is managing this significant public asset and how are they being chosen? How are they being organized?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: The easiest answer to all of that questioning, of course, is that we continue to manage it as a department until we have confidence that the board is there. There is a core of the Friends of the Wildlife Preserve, and that group, for the member oppositeís information, is dead. They announced that. So if you are former member, no, that group does not exist any more. But the core of that group continues to stay involved, and they will be overseeing a great deal of this organization and helping us to put it together. When we have confidence that that group is there, when they have done their own membership calls, when they have defined their own membership, when they have elected their own board of directors, at that point, when we have the confidence that it can be turned over, then we certainly will. Again, I would invite the member opposite to get involved in that and invite anyone with an interest in this to get in touch with us and get involved with it. Weíd love to have them.
Ms. Duncan: Until such time as the minister and his department have confidence in this core group, the accountability for the actions or non-actions for the revenue and expenditures rests with the minister; is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Clearly, yes, until the board of directors and the society is in a position to take this over, the Department of Environment retains the day-to-day overseeing of the facility and to get it into shape to turn it over to such a board.
Ms. Duncan: And may I have a commitment on the floor of the Legislature from the minister that the board of directors will be duly publicly elected by members of whatever the organization wants to be called?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Absolutely. Iíll state that again for the second or third time ó no problem.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, there are some other questions around future operations, but Iíll leave those until the next budget. Could I just have an indication from the minister ó I missed it as I was dealing with a constituency issue. The operation and maintenance expenditures ó is there any additional funding over and above the collective agreement in the O&M expenditures in the supplementary?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Certainly the short answer to that is no, there is not. Again, going back to the board of directors and the society, it should be pointed out to the member opposite that, once the society is duly formed and takes over, government will be there ex officio, but we will not even be a member of the board. It will be a totally separate, charitable organization.
Ms. Duncan: There is no provision then for First Nation government to sit ex officio as well?
My question was: is there any provision in forming this society for First Nation governments to sit ex officio as well as this government?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: We have made the invitation to all First Nations Iíve spoken with, and the invitation is there for any others to get involved. We actively seek that sort of input, and we very much hope they take us up on that offer. We have had representation already from two First Nations at the stakeholder meetings.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, itís one thing to be invited to participate as the minister has invited everyone in the Yukon public to participate in this society; itís another thing to have a mandated seat. The minister has said the Government of Yukon will continue to participate ex officio. The Government of Yukon ministers continually state and make representation about their government-to-government relationships.
Is the minister anticipating there being a capacity for an ex officio seat for First Nation government or governments?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: The negotiations and the structure are ongoing, and thatís one potential structure that has been discussed at some of the meetings, but the final decision goes back to the First Nation governments, and itís their decision about whether or not to get involved in it, but we certainly hope they do.
Ms. Duncan: Either Iím not making myself clear or the minister doesnít want to see this point. Itís one thing to be invited; itís another thing to have a mandated seat. Now the minister has said that this government ó the Yukon government ó will have an ex officio seat on the formation of this board. The government will continue to be represented. Iím not asking him if he has extended an invitation; Iím asking him if First Nation governments will continue to be represented as a mandated seat. Whether the First Nation government chooses to accept that and to staff that position, or fill that seat, is another matter entirely. The Government of Yukon is sitting ex officio on this board, which is in the formation stages. The minister has said that. Will First Nation governments as well? Yes or no.
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Again I remind the member opposite that this is an ongoing discussion. Itís an ongoing process to create an independent foundation, if you will. I certainly hope that a wide variety of groups ó I certainly hope that a wide variety of our First Nation governments ó choose to get involved in that. But to mandate something is, I think, a little premature.
Ms. Duncan: Why was it premature to mandate and say on the floor of the House that the Yukon government would have an ex officio seat? The Yukon Foundation itself ó that Yukon institution and charitable foundation ó has a Yukon government seat on the board. The minister has said the Yukon government will have a seat on the Yukon Wildlife Preserve board, which is still in the formation stages. Iím asking a direct question: will the First Nation governments have a seat as well? I understand itís still in the formation stages, but the minister has said he has mandated a seat for the Yukon government. Has he mandated a seat for First Nations? Yes or no.
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: I believe the member opposite is confusing it with the wildlife foundation, which is mandated under the Wildlife Act and is funded by YTG.
Ms. Duncan: Iím not confusing anything. Iím asking the minister a direct question. He said the society that is going to manage the Yukon Wildlife Preserve is still in the formation stages. He also said that the Yukon government ó however that board is formed ó will certainly have an ex officio responsibility and a role to play ó in other words, a seat.
All Iím asking is: has that same structure been applied to First Nation governments? Itís a very straightforward question. The minister himself has said that there is that seat for the Yukon government. Is there one for First Nation governments?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Again, we welcome all participation by the First Nations, and particularly on something like this. First Nation governments may wish to talk about partnerships. They may want to have an ex officio seat. They may want to have individual members on the board who have First Nation connections. They may approach this from a wide variety of ways.
I would like to hear from the First Nations on that and make the decision based on that and not on the demands of the member opposite.
Ms. Duncan: So, the minister is going to make the decisions and not the board. All I was asking was if the minister was extending the same courtesy to First Nation governments as he had extended to his own government. Apparently, heís not. I have no further questions in this department.
Chair: Is there any further general debate?
Ms. Duncan: I would request that we move the line items in Vote 52, Department of Environment, to be deemed cleared or carried.
Unanimous consent re deeming all lines in Vote 52, Environment, cleared or carried
Chair:Ms. Duncan has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote No. 52, Department of Environment, cleared or carried as required. Are you agreed?
All Hon. Members: Agree.
Chair: There is unanimous consent.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Department of Environment in the amount of $314,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
Capital Expenditures for the Department of Environment in the amount of $2,229,000 agreed to
Department of Environment agreed to
Department of Community Services
Hon. Mr. Hart: The Department of Community Services has tabled a supplementary budget request in the amount of $875,000 for operation and maintenance expenditures and a decrease of $13,000 for capital expenditures. The departmentís supplementary budget request for operation and maintenance expenditures is essentially for $350,000 for collective bargaining impacts, a contribution of $30,000 to the 2005 World International Dog Sled Championship in Dawson City, $60,000 for a grant-in-lieu of property taxes for properties transferred to the Yukon government due to devolution, and $468,000 is a prior-year expenditure to recognize KVAís slot revenue that flowed directly into the crime prevention and victim services trust fund instead of general revenue.
The departmentís supplementary budget decrease for capital expenditure essentially consists of $30,000 decrease due to the reduced costs for implementing the on-line credit card payment system project, and an increase of $17,000 from collective bargaining effects. I would now be pleased to provide further details if members opposite have specific questions to the supplementary budget request.
Mr. Cardiff: I donít have a lot of questions. Most of the questions around Community Services will be with the main budget, but I do have a couple of questions. One question I have is: can the minister tell us if there is any money in this supplementary for the Dawson supervisor and what the bill has been to date? The contract was $800 a day to a maximum of $40,000 or $50,000. Iím just wondering what has been expended so far, or to the end of the fiscal year.
Hon. Mr. Hart: The monies made available for the supervisor to the present day were $42,806.
Mr. Cardiff: That was to the end of the fiscal year? And this money has been spent, and what all does it include? Does that include his wages and travel? Could the minister quantify?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Yes, thatís to the end of the fiscal year.
Mr. Cardiff: Is there a breakdown of how much of that is honoraria? Was there travel money? How does it break down?
Hon. Mr. Hart: The amount includes all his expenses, including travel and his per diem.
Mr. Cardiff: Just one more question, kind of in preparation for the main budget, but I was just wondering if the minister could tell us about the activity in the department on the review of the recreation regulations.
Hon. Mr. Hart: We do have money set aside in the main budget to take care of that particular aspect.
Mr. Cardiff: Does the minister have an idea about timelines for completing the review of the recreation regulations?
Hon. Mr. Hart: We are not anticipating any new consultations. We are just taking the information that we have and bringing it forth. We donít anticipate that it will be too long before these regulations will come forth.
Mr. Cardiff: I will just clarify for the minister exactly why I am concerned. If they are going to come forward relatively soon, then thatís great. I am referring to the ministerís letter from October 23, 2003, where he says that he is pleased that Mount Lorne will be able to use community development funding to keep their recreation director employed and their recreation programs and services operating for all community members to enjoy.
The idea of reviewing the regulations was so that they could access the salary grant. I think the community association would just like to know whether or not they are going to qualify for the salary grant this year or whether they should file another community development fund application for a recreation director.
Hon. Mr. Hart: Theyíll qualify for this year, like all other communities.
Ms. Duncan: I apologize to the minister. Could I just ask him to repeat his opening comment? Iím interested in how much of the operation and maintenance expenditures of $875,000 ó Is there any of this money that is not related to the collective agreement?
Hon. Mr. Hart: I apologize for trying to run around, but we just have to work through our notes. There are really two issues. There is $60,000 for grant-in-lieu of property taxes and a $468,000 entry for the KVA slot revenue. The rest is all to do with the bargaining units.
Ms. Duncan: The $60,000 was related to the property we got with devolution ó is that correct? So thatís just our accounting catching up. And the minister has nodded. The $468,000 ó is that the consumer and safety services prior yearís revenue line item? And that is unanticipated revenues from Dawson City, and that has been transferred to the victims services trust. Am I correct?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Itís a prior year adjustment.
Ms. Duncan: And it is related to Dawson City? Yes, the minister has nodded.
Just as a follow-up question with respect to the contract order-in-council with Mr. Carrel ó what was the final amount to the end of the fiscal year? The BDO Dunwoody report that the official opposition has made available in the House today ó how was that paid for? Was that paid for by the Government of Yukon? Was it paid for from this department?
Hon. Mr. Hart: As mentioned earlier, Andre Carrel, for the fiscal year, is $42,806.02, and the funding for BDO Dunwoody is paid for by the City of Dawson under its normal process.
Ms. Duncan: So, the $42,806.02 paid to Mr. Carrel ó do we have written reports from Mr. Carrel, or were they all verbal to the minister?
Hon. Mr. Hart: We do have a report that we plan to table this week or next week.
Ms. Duncan: Given that the minister plans to table it, could I ask that we have that as soon as possible? And the minister said that the City of Dawson paid for the draft audit we saw earlier today. So, is BDO Dunwoody the regular City of Dawson auditors?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Thatís correct.
Chair: Are there any further questions for general debate? Weíll go on with line-by-line, then.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Corporate Services
Mr. Cardiff: I donít believe that we have any questions in line-by-line. Could I request that we deem all lines carried or cleared?
Unanimous consent re deeming all lines in Vote 51, Community Services, cleared or carried
Chair:Mr. Cardiff has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 51, Department of Community Services, cleared or carried, as required. Are you agreed?
All Hon. Members: Agree.
Chair: There is unanimous consent.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Department of Community Services in the amount of $875,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
Capital Expenditures for the Department of Community Services underexpenditure of $13,000 cleared
Department of Community Services agreed to
Chair: The Chair seeks some direction as to the department weíre going into next.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Chair: It has been suggested that we take a five-minute recess.
Chair: Order please. Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We will continue on with Bill No. 8, Third Appropriation Act, 2003-04, with Vote 54, the Department of Tourism and Culture.
Department of Tourism and Culture
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Mr. Chair, I am pleased to introduce the supplementary estimates for the Department of Tourism and Culture. This is the second supplementary budget supporting industry sector interests to grow our tourism economy while recognizing the importance of sustaining our commitment to culture and heritage in the Yukon.
The primary increase to the supplementary budget is due to the collective bargaining agreement, and this impact to the department resulted in an increase of $171,000. Certainly, one of the best assets of the Yukon is our own very people, and Yukoners working for our government are certainly very committed and dedicated to a strong and prosperous Yukon. I would certainly like to extend my sincere thanks to all of those employees in our Department of Tourism and Culture, as well as all of our government employees throughout the Yukon for their exemplary work on an ongoing basis, diligent efforts to move our economy forward on behalf of the Yukon, and certainly we have been able to see those results in magnitude. As the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources went on earlier today, a six-percent unemployment rate is indicative of those very efforts of our Yukon government employees.
Iím very proud to present this supplementary budget, together with the 2004-05 budget, and I would be happy to entertain any additional questions.
Mr. Fairclough: We on this side of the House have only a couple of questions on this supplementary budget. Earlier in general debate, the minister probably heard words from me about my riding and the communities in my riding. I particularly mentioned the community of Keno, which I know the member opposite is quite familiar with.
There is some reduction here in capital expenditures, and that community has called for an increase in road maintenance up the Signpost Road and on the Silver Trail to attract more tourists. Weíve talked about the number of tourists who have turned their motor homes around near the midpoint going from Mayo to Keno, around the Silver Trail Inn and the fact that the road is soft and needed some upgrades.
Weíve heard from the Minister of Highways that theyíre doing some work on that section of the road. In particular, Iím interested in whether or not the minister has talked to the Highways department and minister to see if we can have increased maintenance on the Signpost Road and what additional direction has been given by this minister to the Highways minister for upgrades to the Silver Trail. It could be all the Silver Trail, but Iím more concerned with the portion between Mayo and Keno.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Iím quite proud of our departmentís efforts and our governmentís efforts actually with respect to this particular area ó all areas, for that matter ó but when we talk about the Silver Trail region in the Yukon, the member opposite is right: it really exemplifies warmth and northern hospitality and a very unique area in our territory.
On that note, we have done a number of things in the Silver Trail region to display those very treasures in the area, beginning with the Binet House. The Binet House was just recently added over the last year to our museum funding program. The Bennett House is certainly a sought-after attraction here in the territory. They do a wonderful job, between the Village of Mayo and the Mayo Historical Society, in presenting the Silver Trail region. As a result of those additional dollars, they are able to again enhance those stable funds to this interpretive centre.
The Silver Trail kiosk, located right in Stewart Crossing, is yet another initiative that we were very happy to fund last summer in the last season to provide operating dollars for an individual to be housed in that kiosk to meet and greet various visitors, to certainly entertain them and to encourage them to go on the Silver Trail highway to visit the communities of Mayo, Keno and Elsa and all thatís in-between.
Certainly, that is an initiative that we were very happy to support.
The Mabel McIntyre House ó I was very honoured to be in a position to be able to accept the nomination of the Mabel McIntyre House as the very first territorial historic site, as designated under the Yukon Historic Resources Act. I was at that ceremony last weekend in Mayo and there was a great turnout of individuals. I commend the Village of Mayo; I commend the Na Cho Nyäk Dun First Nation ó their chief and council ó who were also part of the ceremony, and all of their efforts to enhance and grow the tourism in that particular area.
Again, I have had a couple of meetings in the past year with the Silver Trail Tourism Association, as well as the Mayo Historical Society, just to keep informed as to how we can improve services in this area, as I take pride in speaking with many Yukoners and associations throughout the Yukon on an ongoing basis.
So, certainly, those various initiatives we are very happy to support ó very happy to sponsor.
Also reflected in the upcoming budget that we will be into fairly soon, there are monies allotted toward the butterfly viewing site as well as wildlife viewing sites enhanced areas.
So, getting back to the supplementary ó certainly we are talking on a generic basis, I should add, about the Silver Trail region. We take pride in providing services to this area and we continually strive to work with the community, the Village of Mayo, the mayor and council, as well as the Na Cho Nyäk Dun First Nation.
The Silver Trail Tourism Association and when we talk about the Keno City Community Association, we continually work with those various associations and governments to further tourism in that area.
Mr. Fairclough: I thank the minister for that answer, but some of the questions that I have asked were not answered. I was particularly interested in whether or not the minister has lobbied or asked the Department of Highways to do additional maintenance on the Silver Trail Road, the Silver Trail between Mayo and Keno. I know there was some done last year. There were some upgrades and gravel put down. And it has only gone so far. And there was also some clearing that took place, which I would think would attract a whole lot of people to that area if it were completed.
Iím also interested in whether or not the minister has had good discussions with the Highways minister about getting the snow cleared, even at a proper time of the year up at the Signpost Road, because thatís one area that tourists like to go and see. And if itís only done once, and if itís later in the year, we do have road problems there, with washouts and so on.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: On that note, I believe that the Village of Mayo and Silver Trail Association have both made the pitch, so to speak, to the minister responsible for highways in the territory. In fact, when we were all there, one of the last times when we were in Mayo, during the 100th anniversary celebration of the creation of the Village of Mayo, many of us did take an extended tour throughout the Silver Trail. And at that time, those concerns were relayed to the Minister of Highways and Public Works as well as to me. I believe that the Minister of Highways and Public Works is doing his utmost, his best, to provide the best services available to the residents and to the visitors of the region.
I am very confident in the ministerís abilities and I know that the good lobbying efforts of the individuals, residents and governments in that area will continue to pursue this important area. Iím very confident that we will be able to live up to those obligations.
Mr. Fairclough: Okay, so the minister hasnít done the lobbying efforts that are needed. As we asked questions on the Department of Highways, there was really nothing there for the Signpost Road. It was not a government road, that type of thing.
Letís focus on tourism itself, and I urge the minister to continue talking with the minister and see if we can get some improvements in that section. I remember when monies went to I think it was the renewable resource councils at the time to do a management plan for the butterflies up near Keno. It was laughed at by the Member for Klondike at the time, but I think people realize this is a unique place and in fact there are a lot of people who go to view the butterflies there. It amazed me because I didnít realize it myself.
In regard to tourism and the amount of traffic that weíre expecting up in the Yukon this year, can the minister say that the effects of 9/11 have gone by now and weíre back to the normal traffic amounts here in the territory? Are we looking at improving those numbers, particularly with road traffic?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Iíd just like to reiterate my accolades for the butterfly viewing area in the Silver Trail region. I think that serves to be one of the greater attractions in that area and, again, I believe the Minister of Environment is working to perhaps expand that wildlife viewing area pertaining to the butterfly viewing.
But while weíre on the subject of the Keno City Mining Museum, I should also add that they are also part of our museum funding program as well, and they have been able to benefit from some of that funding. So, again, our department is very pleased and proud to be able to sponsor that wonderful museum. It has received accolades over and over from visitors and Yukoners alike. I certainly encourage all Yukoners to take part in many of our heritage institutions available to many of us.
The member opposite just raised some questions about the anticipated visitor growth to the Yukon this year. I try not to become too fixated on numbers because, as the member opposite is very well aware, sometimes events outside of our hands, outside of our own countryís hands, for example, occur that affect the visitation. Last year was a perfect year ó a perfect storm, as I have said in this House many times, between the fallout of the war in Iraq, to SARS, to the mad cow disease, to the forest fires, the unfortunate situation in British Columbia. Certainly, that all impacted and, of course, the resounding results impact from 9/11 as well. Itís still being widely felt throughout the territory.
But from all accounts I am very encouraged with this year and the upcoming visitor season in the summer ó I should say summer and fall. I think that a representative of Holland America was on the radio not long ago talking about the cruise ship industry and how that in itself was up, I believe, by about 14 percent, if Iím not mistaken.
While all those cruise folks donít necessarily come to the Yukon, a substantial number of them do. So that proposed growth is great and it is reflected in part by the reopening of the Klondike Inn this year. So we are very encouraged about that and we are very pleased to see that hotel become fully used again.
The fly-drive market, of course, when we look at Condor Air, we saw a substantial growth in the numbers. I believe it was just under 18-percent growth in those visitors last year, so we are hoping for another banner year with respect to the air travel.
I think that with great, large efforts of our department through the gateway cities campaign and with Air North, and now, more recently, with Zip Air coming to the table, we have been able to reach out to the domestic market to our key gateway cities of Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.
We certainly saw an increase in Canadians last year, and it was a very good thing because the American travellers ó particularly, I believe, the rubber-tire traffic was down, but we did see an increase in the Canadians flying as well as coming up the highway. What we have noticed from time to time is that Canadians tend to make the Yukon their very destination and in turn tend to stay those few extra days. Thatís what itís all about: encouraging visitors to stay, not that extra day but stay that extra week, month ó make it a real vacation up here.
So I think, from all accounts, we are very much encouraged. I think that also another area that we are looking at is the convention, business meetings, incentive travel. Iím very much enthused about the number of meetings, conventions, coming to the Yukon on a regular basis; and, of course, with the upcoming 2007 Canada Winter Games, there will be a lot more traffic here in the Yukon as a result of pre-national test events being held here to try out our new facilities. So that is another area that, thanks in large part to the good work of the Yukon Convention Bureau, weíre able to assist in looking at ways to market the Yukon as a sports destination as well. The sports market is truly a very lucrative market these days, and itís something that perhaps we havenít placed as much emphasis on as we could. So Iím very happy to be part of a government that is able to provide additional monies to the Yukon Convention Bureau to look at the marketing of sports in the territory as a destination to travel, do business and do sports.
Again, Iím very encouraged with the budgets that we have tabled here. I think that by expanding upon product development, expanding upon air access efforts, expanding upon our brand and, of course, expanding upon our culture ó cultural industries contribute a great deal to what we are as a territory and who we are and what we have to offer.
And, of course, building upon events such as the Sourdough Rendezvous ó the 25th anniversary of the Dempster Highway, for example, is but another celebration that Iíll be looking forward to taking part in this summer. I encourage all members opposite to attend, as well.
Our contribution to the Klondike Institute of Arts and Culture ó we are very happy to provide these necessary funds, whether it be to our heritage institutions, the performing arts, literary arts or whether it be to the various associations here in the Yukon. I think that all of those various investments will certainly result in increased visitation and in our ability to market the Yukon.
Mr. Fairclough: Can the minister tell us quickly how much of an increase in traffic in tourism we have had over the year before and what does she expect it to rise to this coming year?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: The visitation stats for last summer ó I believe thatís what the member opposite was asking. In the first half of 2003, as we alluded to before, we had a whole host of events that were outside the Yukonís hand, or control I should add, and I listed them off: from SARS, slowdown in the U.S. economy, mad cow disease, tensions in the Middle East, and whatnot. With that said, though, there were over 257,000 border crossings between May and September in 2003. So this figure indicates that visitations to the Yukon were down by three percent. The volume was up in direct flights from overseas by 17 percent, as I alluded to earlier. It is up in motor coach by 14.6 percent. The member opposite may want to refer to the Yukon government Web site, which also publishes a detailed breakdown of visitation statistics for more detailed information, if thatís what the member opposite is asking for.
Mr. Fairclough: I thank the minister for the answer. One area she didnít answer was: what is the anticipated growth in numbers coming to the Yukon this year? She named off a number of different initiatives this government is undertaking. I would expect that there would be an increase. I think 9/11 has gone by now. I know there are other factors. Taking all of it into consideration, what can we expect? What can we tell those who have restaurants and businesses along the highways for this year ó increase or status quo?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I believe I just stated earlier that Iím always hesitant to quote any particular numbers in case of unforeseen reasons or events that are largely beyond our control ó that is, the control of the territory, or perhaps even the country. Iím always very reluctant in espousing statistics or numbers of painted forecasts. But as I did mention, we are very optimistic that this will, in fact, be a better year than last year. I am very confident ó certainly because of the signs this spring with the cruise ship traffic and the fly-drive indications from various operators, I think Yukon has a lot to look forward to this year.
Of course, within this budget, we are very proud to build upon those products we have in existence. You know, when we talk about growing tourism, we always talk about building product ó product development. Product development is very instrumental. Itís the most important element about growing our visitor industry here in the Yukon and elsewhere.
Product is not just simply marketing dollars; product is also providing the necessary resources to provide attractions to provide the necessary infrastructure. The member opposite made some statements earlier about the need to improve our highways. I concur with that wholeheartedly, and thatís why we have seen a substantial increase in the road improvement budget of our minister responsible for Highways and Public Works.
I think that whether it be through road improvements, wildlife viewing sites, enhanced turnoffs, improvements to our campgrounds, enhancing our season by providing attractions such as the trolley extension ó $425,000 that the member opposite announced earlier that will take the trolley down to the Chilkoot Centre ó whether itís product when it comes to assisting our local businesses with marketing workshops, sharing best practices with one another, streamlining our regulations to assist our businesses and help them to grow, instead of hinder them ó this all has a lot to contribute to the growth of our industry.
Getting back to the visitor reception centres and last yearís growth, in 2003 I should add that a total of 215,700 visitors used our centres.
That was a decrease, we found, of just over one percent from 2002. However, we did see an increase in the Canadian traffic, as I spoke to earlier, of almost eight percent. Foreign traffic increased by almost 10 percent. However, there was a decrease of eight percent in American visitors. In particular, we saw an increase in the Carcross, Dawson and Haines Junction visitor reception centres.
So I think that again, through providing access to areas such as Kluane National Park ó the partnership that was able to be fostered between Parks Canada and Holland America was very indicative, it was very successful. It added to the mix of products available to our visitors. As a result, we saw a substantial increase in the Kluane visitation.
So, again, I am very proud to be part of a government that provides these additional dollars for products ó I should also add and I would be very remiss if I didnít talk about Yukon First Nation cultural centres.
I went on at great length about the museum funding program and the expansion of that particular program. In the main budget we have contributed additional dollars to the operation of cultural centres, two of which happen to be in the member oppositeís riding. Selkirk First Nation as well as Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation will both certainly enjoy the benefits of those additional funds for those centres. Those centres play a very important part in showcasing First Nations culture, the heritage opportunities, but also showcasing those areas for slowing down the visitors and providing those additional attractions to our visitors.
And as well, to assist that, we are also able to staff a full-time First Nation heritage officer, which will soon be posted in the papers, I would imagine. Weíre very happy to provide additional funds, as well, to the Carcross-Tagish First Nation for their cultural centre and their development. Their property, the Four Mountains resort, is another exciting initiative that First Nation is working on in conjunction with other partners in their area. Carcross stands to benefit a lot. It is seen by increased visitation, whether that be through our cruise industry. They certainly are able to benefit from a lot of increased visitation because of their strategic location in the Yukon. And they are moving ahead with their plans for a quality resort.
Iím also happy to say that we also have a new industry association in the Southern Lakes region, the very area of our Chair, Mr. Chair, that will also help residents and businesses work together for their mutual benefit, as well. Indications, again, such as the reopening of the Klondike Inn are surely a telling sign of better times to come in the Yukon.
We talk about initiatives like the 25th anniversary of the Dempster Highway and a whole host of celebrations being hosted by the Klondike Visitors Association and our Department of Tourism and Culture. These initiatives, coupled with the good work and continuing efforts of our airlines, ZIP and Air North ó Yukonís regional airline ó help to further our market in the domestic gateway cities of Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. Weíre all very much appreciative of their efforts and appreciative of their very presence here in the territory.
When we talk about cultural industries, Iím always very pleased to talk about my experiences here in the Yukon, what cultural industries have to offer here in the Yukon, whether it be the literary arts, writersí conference I recently attended and opened with opening remarks, whether it be our performing arts, arts venues such as the Guild Theatre or the Yukon Arts Centre. We have a tremendous amount of culture to showcase here in the Yukon. Iím very pleased to take part in those various activities.
When we talk about the waterfront as additional product, the waterfront is a very exciting initiative here that our government, in conjunction with the City of Whitehorse, the Kwanlin Dun First Nation, and the Taían Kwachían First Nation, as well as engaging the public, the citizens of the city ó the Main Street Society Yukon ó and when we talk about the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce, or Arts-Space North, these are all very active players and we want to have their input into the future growth and development of our waterfront.
Again, weíre working very diligently, in conjunction with the Minister of Community Services, in proceeding with our application to the Canada strategic infrastructure fund as well to develop our waterfront, which will no doubt create jobs, but also provide a lasting legacy for all Yukoners.
Seeing the time, I move that we report progress.
Chair: Ms. Taylor has moved that we do now report progress.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Chair: Mr. Jenkins has moved 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. Rouble:Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 8, Third Appropriation Act, 2003-04, and has directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: Youíve heard the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Member: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I move that the House be now adjourned.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: The House now stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:59 p.m.
The following document was filed April 13, 2004:
Dawson City Financial Statements, Auditorís Report (Draft), dated February 25, 2004 (Cardiff)