Thursday, April 29, 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.
In recognition of International Workersí Day
Mr. Cardiff:Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the House today to pay tribute to International Workersí Day this Saturday.
May 1, or May Day, is recognized around the world as a day of tribute to the workersí fight for dignity and respect. May 1, 1886 was the day that organized labour set as the target day to implement an eight-hour working day across North America.
Despite fierce resistance in a prolonged and bitter strike, the workersí collective action prevailed. This led eventually to other significant gains for workers, such as minimum wage laws, safety laws and the right to free collective bargaining. May Day is a suitable time to focus our attention on the continuing struggles that workers face around the world to achieve dignity, respect and security in the workplace.
Todayís workers continue to struggle for dignity and respect. We only need to look as far as Victoria, B.C., or Saint Johnís, Newfoundland. Even as I speak, the battle is being waged against the erosion of public services, draconian cuts in wages and benefits, the refusal to provide job security and the denial of the hard-fought right to free collective bargaining.
This May Day, let us remember the leadership role that organized labour has played in Canadian society, not just for its own members but for non-unionized workers, youth, seniors, the poor and people in need of health care and social services.
Let us remember, it was the leadership from organized labour that led to many of the cornerstones of Canadian social policy, such as old age pensions, veteransí benefits, unemployment insurance and medicare.
We support and salute Yukon workers of all ages, both in the private sector and in the public service. We stand in solidarity with them and, in honour of International Workersí Day, thank them for their ongoing contribution to the health and well-being of our community.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: 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
Ms. Duncan:I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House recognizes that Yukon interests in Washington, including ANWR, Shakwak funding and pipeline development have been neglected under the Yukon Party government; and
THAT this House urges the Yukon Party government to follow up on the Government of Canadaís invitation to assign staff to the new public advocacy and legislative secretariat to be established at the Canadian Embassy in Washington.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?
Is there a statement by a minister?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Dawson City sewage disposal
Mr. Hardy: I have a question for the Premier. The Premierís signature is on a letter to the Alaska Region Director of the Yukon River Intertribal Council dated April 20, 2004. In that letter, the Premier states that the construction of a secondary sewage treatment facility in Dawson City is "a top priority of the Government of Yukon", but according to the Community Services minister the government supervisor instructed the former mayor and council to challenge the Water Board ruling that requires that secondary sewage treatment be in place by this fall.
Which of these positions represents the actual policy of this government?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: In the first place, the priority for the government is to address the sewage issue in Dawson City. Considering that, and considering the fact that the insolvency of Dawson City is very much also a priority to resolve, and considering the fact that a great deal of taxpayersí money has been expended in Dawson City on various capital projects, such as an arena that cannot be used and such as a sewage treatment plant that does not exist, therefore the government has done the right thing by appointing a trustee. We are looking into the matter to bring resolution to it and again I repeat: the sewage issue for Dawson City is of the highest priority for the government. It will be resolved.
Mr. Hardy: Mr. Speaker, once again we have to wonder what the Premier is saying because what he just stated there are not the facts. The money that was allocated for those projects ó the arena is being used, has been used and will continue to be used. Thatís a statement that the Premier should retract. As well, the pool came out of that money. The swimming pool has been up and running for two years. Itís being used by the people of Dawson City, from April to October every year.
That money came out of there. As well, the same pool of money that heís talking about ó the water bleeder system, the water-saving techniques theyíre using up there. That money was used for that, as well as the design process that was mandated to the council by the government ó the money was allocated there as well.
Itís very hard to get a fix on where this government stands, Mr. Speaker, so I have a question here. Will Dawson City have a sewage treatment system in time to satisfy the judgeís order or is the Premierís letter just a way of stalling the Intertribal Watershed Council?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Thereís no stalling here; thatís why the government has acted as it has. The City of Dawson is insolvent. The City of Dawson not only had, a very short time ago, a surplus of cash, they had a sizable fund created for capital infrastructure, which included the construction of a sewage treatment plant. That has not happened and, today, the City of Dawson no longer has a surplus of cash but is in fact in debt.
Of course weíre going to look into this matter and determine what happened. That is our obligation on behalf of the Yukon taxpayer, and we are going to resolve the sewage issue for the City of Dawson, as we are now the trustee.
Mr. Hardy: It wouldnít be the first time the Premier has taken a position thatís different from what one of his ministers has said. We saw it with the captive wildlife regulations; we saw it with the Yukon native teachers education program; we saw it with the cottage lots in Tagish. The Premier often seems willing to rescue a minister whoís heading in the wrong direction, and the Government of Yukon may be violating international treaties by allowing untreated sewage to keep flowing into the Yukon River.
The Intertribal Watershed Council represents scores of First Nations throughout the watershed of the Yukon River, internationally ó the Canadian side and the United Statesí side. It has the international clout to make things very difficult for this government.
Now that YTG has taken on Dawson Cityís legal obligations, will the Premier respect the international treaties and give an assurance that his government will comply with the conditions of the townís water licence?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Well, Mr. Speaker, itís obvious what this government views in terms of the group the member opposite is speaking of. Thatís why we have informed them in writing on exactly what has taken place in the City of Dawson. Thatís why we have informed them in writing that we are addressing the sewage issue in Dawson City as the highest priority. And thatís why, Mr. Speaker, we have invited them to participate in the process that will resolve the issue for Dawson City when it comes to sewage treatment. That, I think, speaks volumes to the commitment and the consistency of this government, whether it be me as Premier or by the ministers who are responsible for certain departments. Consistency, commitment, political will ó weíre delivering.
Question re: Fish farming
Mr. McRobb:I have another watershed question for this Premier. Alexandra Morton is a salmon researcher on B.C.ís west coast who has been studying the relationship between open-net salmon farms, which usually raise Atlantic salmon, and sea lice infestations in wild salmon. Her spring study done in the Broughton Archipelago indicates that wild salmon in the area are facing extinction because fish farms are fuelling a skyrocket in sea lice populations.
This situation is ringing alarm bells in the Pacific region. We in the Yukon are also concerned because we know that fish know no borders. Can the Premier tell us if he has, in his discussions with his B.C. counterpart and good friend Gordon Campbell, raised any concerns at all about his coastal fish farming industry?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: The Yukon government, at every opportunity, works cooperatively with all the provinces and territories and indeed our Alaskan neighbours on a plethora of issues important to Yukon, but also issues of mutual interest to other jurisdictions. In regard to British Columbia and this issue, I think itís important that the member opposite understand that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is in charge here. I would endeavour and undertake on behalf of the member to provide him with the contact numbers and addresses for that department so that question can be delivered to the appropriate agency.
Mr. McRobb: This is one of the problems that Ms. Morton has identified: the sloughing off of this issue by politicians who do have responsibility. Perhaps the Premier is aware that B.C. recently lifted its moratorium on fish farms. He should be aware that itís now set to allow a huge expansion to the number of coastal fish farms along its coast up to the Alaskan border. The expansion of this industry amid emergence of warnings about the associated impacts is rather alarming. The Yukon has a definite interest in this matter and needs to voice its concern. Alaska has already spoken out with its concerns about B.C.ís risky approach. Whatís the Yukonís position? Whatís this Premier going to do?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: In the first place, this Premier, as stated earlier in the first question, will provide the member opposite the necessary contacts for the appropriate department responsible.
Secondly, the Government of Yukon is aware and monitoring the situation. But I would caution the member, to suddenly create the perception that this is going to now destroy any fish habitat or salmon-bearing streams for the Yukon is an example of the NDPís negativity ó always has been and always will be. I would say the member opposite can be likened in this instance to trying to make a silk purse out of a sowís ear.
Mr. McRobb: I guess thatís a proactive approach from this Yukon Party government. We should know the habitat is not whatís changing in the Yukon. The fish are the ones that bring in the parasites. Now, we need to heed the precautionary approach until such time as the risks associated with this industry are known and carefully considered. If the Premier isnít willing to pick up the red phone and call a friend, I have a suggestion for him. This year the Yukon is host to the annual meeting of the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council. These meetings provide a great opportunity to meet and discuss a more cooperative approach on many issues with ministers responsible for aquaculture and other matters.
What strategy will this government be taking at this yearís conference to rally support from across the country against the dangerous expansion of B.C.ís coastal fish farming industry?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Iíll begin by saying what we wonít be doing. We wonít be taking the official opposition to one of these because that would be a counter-productive measure. The minister responsible for the Department of Environment will be addressing this, and I would ask the member opposite to hold this question in abeyance and, when the minister gets back from dealing with a very serious family matter, Iím sure the minister responsible for the Department of Environment would be very willing and pleased to engage with the Member for Kluane who sees himself, Mr. Speaker, as very much a champion of the environment. We commend him for that vision of himself; however, there is much more to ensuring the protection of the environment than talking about it here on the floor of the Assembly.
Question re: Workersí Compensation Health and Safety Board conference expenses
Ms. Duncan:I have some questions for the minister responsible for the Workersí Compensation Health and Safety Board.
Shortly after getting elected, the Yukon Party government appointed their campaign chair as chair of the Workersí Compensation Health and Safety Board. This appointment is paid $200 per day. Yesterday in this House, the minister admitted that he approved the chair, the entire board in fact, going on a trip to Vancouver. He also admitted that the trip cost taxpayers $17,000 for hotel bills alone. The minister refused to provide any documentation to back up his claim and frankly, Mr. Speaker, the word of the government that everythingís okay is not enough. Itís not enough for me or for the taxpayer.
Will the minister release the documentation to back up his claim so that we can assess for ourselves how much money was spent and how it was spent?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Let me share with the member opposite what was actually spent by the chair of the Workersí Compensation Health and Safety Board. The chair stayed at the Convention Hotel at the conference rate negotiated by the Association of Workersí Compensation Boards of Canada and the American Association of State Compensation Insurance Funds. The rate for the hotel was $289 per night plus appropriate room taxes.
Mr. Speaker, that is the conference rate for a standard room, not a suite. The memberís suggestion that this is a suite rate is totally incorrect. The total hotel cost for five nights was $1,589.50. The cost for per diems, for meals, taxis and phone calls was $389.90 at the government per diem rate. Registration fees for the conference were $350. Travel by Air North regular class ó not business class ó was $495. The total cost for the just over a week-long conference was $2,824.40. As I said earlier, the Association of Workersí Compensation Boards of Canada hosts an annual conference. Itís going to be in Whitehorse this summer and we will see an influx of these people from all across Canada to attend this event here.
Ms. Duncan: The minister is really sensitive about this information. Heíll read it into the record but he steadfastly refuses to provide the paperwork. When the government spends taxpayersí dollars, they have a right to know how that money has been spent, to see the documentation ó the full and complete documentation.
The minister seems convinced that the money was spent for good purposes and Iím asking for the documentation. Let us assess for ourselves. All Iím asking is for the written record of the expenditures made by the entire board of the Workersí Compensation Health and Safety Board, including the chair. They attended this conference in Vancouver. Weíve learned that $17,000 was spent on hotel rooms. The minister has read some figures into the record. Why wonít the minister simply provide the written documentation to the members opposite? Why is he so sensitive about this?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Sensitive, Mr. Speaker?
Weíre dealing with the Workersí Compensation Health and Safety Board. All their officials have specific guidelines surrounding their travel. The travel policyís per diems have all been adhered to and spent. If the member opposite feels that thereís some wrongdoing that has taken place, Iíd encourage the member to make the allegation.
Ms. Duncan: The minister is missing the point. Iím asking for the documentation.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Speaker:Order. Order. The member has the floor. Iíd ask all other members to please be quiet.
Ms. Duncan: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Every three months as a government we released a full accounting and documentation of our travel. The public was free to look at that documentation and see how the money was spent. All Iím asking for is not the ministerís word, not the ministerís "I know best, trust me, we adhered to the policy." Iím simply asking for the documentation. That is not unreasonable. Other governments have done that. Now the minister has confirmed some figures in the House. He has chosen the figures. Heís looking at a piece of paper. Why canít he provide that documentation to the House? Thatís all Iím asking for is the documentation. I donít want the-minister-knows-best attitude and selected figures. I want the figures. Itís not unreasonable.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Travel costs are reported in the paper, and they have been done so for all ministerial travel. Our government, with more members, has produced more and spent less on travel than the previous Liberal administration ó and considerably more product at considerably less expense, Mr. Speaker.
Question re: Trapline allocation process
Mr. Fairclough:My question is for the Premier. As the Premier knows, some First Nations have taken 30 years plus to negotiate a final agreement and some still do not have final agreements in place.
Through it all, the traditional territories have been identified and many of them show overlap. In the final agreement there is the requirement to allocate 70 percent of traplines to First Nation people in their traditional territory. Why is the Premier allowing his Minister of Environment to develop a trapline allocation process as government policy that fails to meet the final agreements and also does not address the 70-percent allocation target?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Well, the answer for this is very short: the Member for Mayo-Tatchun is incorrect. There is nothing more I can say than, "How can the government side respond to conjecture?" There is an ongoing process. The government lives within the Umbrella Final Agreement and also within the confines of all the final agreements. What we are doing as a government is advancing beyond the 30 years of negotiation mentality, and we are building partnerships with First Nations ó productive, constructive partnerships that are spawned through mutual respect and trust, and they are contributing to advancing the territory in a very positive manner.
Mr. Fairclough: So what the Premier said is that he does agree with the Minister of Environmentís actions on the trapline allocation process. That is the Premierís opinion. First Nations see it differently. They do not support this process, and theyíve written letters to state that too. They have expressed concerns about not being consulted properly. Thatís to the government side. Some RRCs, as the Premier knows, are shut down and waiting for funding. They cannot make recommendations as mandated in the final agreements. The deadline for comments is April 30 of this year. Thatís tomorrow. Thatís on the process. First Nations feel that this is unreasonable and premature, so will the Premier do the right thing and put this process on ice until the requirements of the final agreements can be met?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I think, Mr. Speaker, what has to be put on ice is again an incorrect opinion. When it comes to the renewable resource councils, the government has used its good offices ó the Yukon government ó to sit down and facilitate with the federal government an extension of the existing agreement. All that has to happen now is for resource councils to come forward to enter into contribution and funding agreements so that the monies can flow. We have got an extension until March 2005 and the Yukon government remains committed to ensuring that the long-term issues with respect to the resource councils in the territory are dealt with and making sure that Canada lives up to its obligations. As far as the issue of traplines, there is an ongoing process. We do consult with First Nations. We have entered into a consultation protocol. We live by that. The member is wrong.
Question re: Dawson City interim chief administrative officer
Mr. Cardiff:My question is for the Acting Minister of Community Services or whoever can answer the question.
My question is about the process used to hire the interim chief administrative officer and who actually did the hiring. Was it the new trustee, the former supervisor, the outgoing mayor and council, the minister or the Member for Klondike? What process was used for hiring the new interim chief administrative officer for Dawson City?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: With respect to the process associated with Dawsonís finances, we are adhering to the actual provisions that are outlined, clearly outlined, within the Municipal Act. We are following those provisions.
With respect to the present situation, as the member is fully aware, a trustee has been appointed. The trustee is working with the community as we speak and will continue to do so as is outlined within the Municipal Act.
Mr. Cardiff: The acting minister didnít answer the question. I wasnít asking about the trustee. I was asking about the interim chief administrative officer, who came on board at the same time as the trustee. Theyíre two people. The government hired two people. In December, the real Minister of Community Services admitted that it was inappropriate for the high-priced, hand-picked supervisor to stay at a hotel owned by the Member for Klondike. Well, Mr. Speaker, history is repeating itself as we speak. The house that the municipality provides for the chief administrative officer is sitting vacant while the interim chief administrative officer is registered as a guest today at the hotel owned by the Member for Klondike. Why is it appropriate now for the governmentís appointee to stay in a hotel owned by the Member for Klondike when it wasnít okay five months ago?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Again, thank you for the opportunity to address this very issue before the Legislature.
The issue associated with Dawsonís finances is a very difficult issue. The decisions that we have had to make as a government were difficult, tough decisions, but as members so eloquently point out on a number of occasions, governing is about making those difficult decisions. We have made those decisions. We have appointed a trustee to oversee the finances of the City of Dawson. We are working with the community of Dawson, the residents. We are adhering to the provisions as set out within the Municipal Act, and we will continue to do so.
Question re: Whitehorse Correctional Centre, segregation cell
Mrs. Peter: The Minister of Justice has refused to make any comment on the horrible situation we have witnessed over the past week in the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, an institution she has full responsibility for. She has refused to show leadership for her department on troubling issues involving the lives of inmates or workers at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. Now we have another case, Mr. Speaker, of a person badly in need of psychiatric help. Again, she has shown no leadership. Instead, Mr. Speaker, this minister stood idly by while court officials, Justice officials and medical persons took the lead so that another person will not suffer in "the hole" for a long period of time.
Has this minister concluded that, since officials managed to solve this one problem, she does not need to do anything else?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: As I stated earlier on the floor of this House, once an individual is found to be not criminally responsible, it is no longer a criminal justice matter but a health matter. Mr. Speaker, it is up to the judge or the justice of the peace to determine where someone who requires a medical evaluation of any type is to be placed. There are three facilities so designated here in the Yukon and, in addition to that, the courts have the ability to refer individuals to other jurisdictions such as British Columbia or Alberta where there are facilities that look after people who have medical problems.
Mrs. Peter: I guess this Yukon Party thinks that if the Minister of Justice doesnít answer her questions, then this problem might go away. This situation will come up again and again. We are told that the ministerís job is to make policy, to take care of and manage her departments, yet we canít get this minister to answer basic policy questions for her department. Instead, the Minister of Health tries to deflect the question to his ground. Will the minister explain what her department ó the Department of Justice ó policy will be for this type of case in the future, and when will she make that policy public?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Individuals who are found to be not criminally responsible ó itís the courts that make the determination after information is provided to them. This is a health care matter, clear and well-defined. The justice system has worked; it has made the determination; and that is the law, Mr. Speaker.
Question re: Cabinet ministers responding to questions
Mr. Hardy:The past several months have been quite remarkable in this Legislature. Letís see if I can get this straight now, Mr. Speaker. The Minister of Health answers for the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Education answers for the Minister of Environment, the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission answers for the Premier, unless the Minister of Community Services is doing it, the Minister of Community Services answers for the Member for Klondike, but not officially. What we really need here is a Cabinet shuffle or a new players roster.
How is the Premier planning to resolve these discrepancies that are leaving Yukon people feeling very confused?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Iím compelled to state that I think the confusion rests with the official opposition. What the official opposition appears not to accept are the answers. They do not accept the answers because they donít like them. Considering all the ministers capable of answering for the many areas of responsibility, I would submit, Mr. Speaker, that the collectivity of Cabinet is very much alive and well under this Yukon Party government. The team works.
Mr. Hardy: Yes, thereís a lot to be said about the team, Mr. Speaker.
The problem goes far beyond who speaks for whom in this Legislature. The key problem is the way this government flat-out refuses to answer at all, and we only have to look in Hansard to recognize that. Inside this Assembly, the government House leader and the Premier call the shots about who can and cannot speak, and we see that daily. Outside the House, itís either the government spin doctors or other advisors who refuse to let Cabinet ministers speak to the Yukon public.
The minister responsible for the Public Service Commission, the Minister of Justice, the Environment minister ó theyíre all being muzzled at one time or another, and the Premier turns his back and walks away if the media asks him something he doesnít like.
Will the Premier explain how this kind of behaviour serves the Yukon public?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: As usual, the member opposite is on a fishing expedition, has cast the hook into the water and come up with another red herring. Letís look at the facts.
This government answers questions. This government is working on behalf of the Yukon public. This government is delivering. The official opposition portrays the Yukon Territory as a place of madness and misery. The Yukon government of the day, this Yukon Party government, is portraying the Yukon in a positive light. What are the results? A thousand more people in the workforce, more people in the population, the third lowest unemployment rate in the country, a solid social agenda, and we are protecting the environment. I ask the Yukon public: who would you rather have governing this territory? Misery and madness, or product?
Mr. Hardy: Now we recognize that the Premier is very touchy when the truth is brought to his doorstep. Now, while the Yukon Party blame game goes on, weíll leave it for others to judge the Premierís credibility.
Something else we see repeatedly in this sitting is how elastic certain numbers seem to be. The Minister of Health and Social Services claims that 70 percent of social assistance recipients are single males under 40, mostly from British Columbia. Heís wrong. The same minister goes on about $1.7 million requested to buy a hotel until he inflates it to $1.77 million yesterday, and thatís not what is even being asked for at all, yet he keeps repeating it. The Premierís letter to Alaska claims the former Mayor and Council of Dawson blew $10.4 million with nothing to show for it and is insolvent ó wrong, proven wrong again. When can we expect members on that side of the House to stop using elastic math to make political points that donít stand up to scrutiny?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Letís talk about scrutiny and letís scrutinize the position of the official opposition. Thatís what doesnít stand the litmus test of scrutiny. This Minister of Health and Social Services is increasing social assistance for those with disabilities, increasing social assistance for single moms, increasing social assistance for parents in this territory. This minister is delivering.
Secondly, when it comes to the front-line workers, our youth societies here in Whitehorse and across the territory, we are investing in our youth. A couple of short years ago, for example, the Blue Feather Society had no core funding from government. Today, under this Yukon Party government, under the leadership of the Minister of Health and Social Services, they are receiving $110,000 in core funding. We have committed to provide program funding for that front-line agency.
The problem with scrutiny for the members opposite is that we can bask under the light of scrutiny, they must hide from it, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will 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 the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair:Committee of the Whole will now come to order. The matter before the Committee is Bill No. 10, First Appropriation Act, 2004-05. I believe the Department of Tourism and Culture is the matter we are discussing.
Before we begin debate, do members wish a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will take a 15-minute recess.
Chair: Order please. Committee of the Whole will now come to order. The matter before the Committee is Bill No. 10, First Appropriation Act, 2004-05. We will continue on with Vote 54, Department of Tourism and Culture.
Bill No. 10 ó First Appropriation Act, 2004-05 ó continued
Department of Tourism and Culture ó continued
Hon. Ms. Taylor:Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you again for the opportunity to talk about some of the very exciting tourism initiatives that we have within our 2004-05 budget, whether it be O&M or capital.
Mr. Chair, I believe when we had left off the debate the other day, two short days ago, the Member for Kluane had actually asked me some questions about what types of initiatives were occurring in the Kluane region. And, Mr. Chair, Iím very happy to report that there are a number of exciting initiatives happening in the Kluane region that Iím a little surprised that perhaps the Member for Kluane isnít familiar with. But certainly, when we talk about the Kluane region, we talk about different events and different products available in that particular region, a very beautiful part of the Yukon that has a lot to offer our visitors from afar.
One only has to look at perhaps three exciting particular events coming up, including the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay between Haines Junction and Haines, Alaska.
Itís a very exciting initiative and an event that attracts many hundreds of individuals each year to compete in this particular event, again drawing competitors from all across the country and North America and even further.
A couple more events Iíd like to point out are the Kluane Mountain Bluegrass Festival, coupled with that of the Alsek Music Festival. These particular events also have the ability to draw many visitors from afar, including many of our own residents from the Yukon.
Itís only due to that very community involvement within the Kluane region that these events are able to occur ó thanks very much to the many hours of volunteers and committee members putting together a number of different acts during the festival that particular weekend, including childrenís activities. All these different events transpire into additional revenues generated throughout that region.
So again Iíd like to thank the many residents of the Kluane region for making these wonderful events possible and for their ability to draw such a crowd and, of course, their ability to generate those additional dollars.
Mr. Chair, as I was saying the other day, within this actual budget ó the 2004-05 Tourism and Culture capital budget ó our government is actually spending $1,125,000 over the last 2003-04 forecast, so thatís a significant investment in tourism, and we certainly take this industry to be very important. We happen to think itís a very large economic engine, and we are very pleased to provide additional investments in a particular industry that has a rate of return beyond any imagination. I just refer to some of the other initiatives taking place in the Kluane region, including a walking tour brochure that we will be producing in conjunction with the Village of Haines Junction, thanks to the stay-another-day initiative.
There is a walking tour brochure, as well, through Burwash Landing. Again, these particular brochures help entice people to stay those extra days in the community and, of course, lend to the very importance of heritage within our communities.
In the Kluane Wildlife Museum, Mr. Chair, we are investing $30,000. Thatís actually an increase over 2002-03 from the original amount of $11,500, and that particular investment again is thanks to our governmentís initiative to address or to look at revamping the museum funding program to lend to additional flexibility within the program and to let the individuals at the museum determine what those priorities are, where they are to spend those dollars.
So weíre very pleased to provide that additional investment as well and, of course, as I spoke of last year, I enjoyed the opportunity to drive the north Alaska Highway last fall and again enjoyed talking to many people along the way in Burwash Landing, Destruction Bay and Beaver Creek. I said hello to the folks in the visitor reception centres. I had a wonderful time.
I would certainly encourage all my colleagues to do the same.
Mr. Chair, when we speak about investments in the Kluane region, we talk about the ice patch project. Of course this month the Alaska Anthropological Association held their meeting in the Yukon and much of that discussion actually focused on the ice patch research, indicating the very level of interest in the evidence of many thousands of years of cultural activity. Again, weíre very pleased to provide additional funding to that particular project, an increase of funding to a total of $50,000 ó coupled with that, $50,000 from the Department of Environment, to a total of $100,000 toward developing and further expansion of the research initiatives of the ice patch development project.
As the Member for Kluane is very much aware, that initiative is very exciting. It has attracted worldwide attention from the Smithsonian Institute, from CNN and, of course, from our own local media here. Weíre very happy to be investing those additional dollars and working with the various First Nations and scientists to look at how we can further preserve and protect those heritage resources.
So, Mr. Chair, Iím very pleased to be able to present this particular budget. We have a lot to be proud of. Our additional investment in the Convention Bureau ó and, again, I just remind members ó the Convention Bureauís activities do assist all the communities in the territory. Thanks to this additional funding, I believe there will be increased activity in our convention market. Just last year alone, the Yukon hosted 41 meetings in Yukon, a 32-percent increase over the previous year. So bravo to the Convention Bureau and those officials working so very hard on behalf of all Yukoners to attract meetings.
Again, Mr. Chair, I could certainly go on at greater length, and I certainly will. But I know that I am just about out of time. So I am very happy to give the Member for Kluane the opportunity to raise additional questions.
Mr. McRobb: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and thanks to the minister for being gracious on the time.
You know, Iím always glad when the Tourism minister recognizes the importance of the Kluane region to the territoryís tourism strategy. As a matter of fact, Mr. Chair, I take it as a signal that Iím doing my job in bringing to her attention the importance of the ó not "one of", but "the" ó most spectacular and beautiful region in the territory. Itís something everybody is proud of, even you, Mr Chair, from the Southern Lakes region, which is comparable in some ways, but doesnít quite compare to Kluane. We know we have plenty of splendid glaciers, beautiful mountains, big lakes, big fish, big wildlife ó you name it ó and great people, Mr. Chair. Letís not forget that.
There are plenty of excellent businesses and events in the Kluane region that would attract everybody. I know some of the members across the way would like to get out to the Kluane region, and if they do I would invite them to give me a call and perhaps we can go fishing. But theyíll have to bring their own measuring tape because we donít want to get into any trouble.
The minister mentioned some of the events taking place this summer. Unfortunately she didnít tell the viewers and listeners when those events would be, so I took a look in my daybook and I hope I have the dates right. First of all, the Alsek Music Festival and Kluane Mountain Bluegrass Festival will occur the weekend of June 11 to 13. I believe itís the following weekend when the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay is occurring, so I hope to see the minister out there for that event. I know usually they get something in the neighbourhood of 1,200 to 1,500 entrants in that international event, so itís quite a spectacle.
Also, when people are visiting the region there are plenty of other attractions. I mentioned some in general. More specifically, the Tatshenshini River raft trip, which I had the pleasure of re-experiencing last August, is one of the worldís 10 greatest adventure trips. The price is quite affordable. I encourage everybody to go out, bring their families and friends, and have an enjoyable day.
Also, there are plenty of businesses that are of a world-class scale. The Raven Hotel, for example, Mr. Chair, is in the top 21 restaurants in Canada. Thatís quite a feat when you consider the thousands of restaurants of a high-class nature in this country. This one in Haines Junction is in the top 21, and I commend the operators of that facility for their very high standards of service and product and marketing their business so well over the years.
Mr. Chair, there are plenty of other businesses; there are plenty of other things to do. The Haines Road is a main attraction in itself. The Kluane National Park and Tatshenshini and Alsek parks are full of wildlife and great scenic experiences that I would encourage anybody to go out and see for themselves.
Mr. Chair, there are all kinds of attractions in the area. If you go up the road to Kluane Lake, for instance, many people like to camp overnight, experience both that region and maybe some of the side roads, talk to the people, and the same farther up the road. Perhaps people are aware of some of the burl makers in the region and the burl cottage industry.
The region extends right up to the Alaska border, past Beaver Creek.
The minister mentioned some of the visitor reception centres. We have a relatively new one in Beaver Creek that was built in 1999, I believe. The staff there are very experienced and friendly. The Golden Host Award, I believe, was won by a worker in that facility just last year. Similarly, the Sheep Mountain visitor reception centre near Kluane Lake has a very good staff. Thereís an event coming up on May 9 to view the swans at Duke River, which I believe is hosted by someone from that facility. The visitor reception centre in Haines Junction, which is shared with the Parks Canada building, has very knowledgeable and helpful staff who are willing to provide information to anyone to help them make the best of their time in the Kluane region.
Iím not going to give the minister a complete glowing report card because I do have some concerns about shortfalls in this governmentís budget. Firstly, I donít believe itís paying enough attention to our heritage, Mr. Chair. Heritage is very important to the Yukon and to people in the territory, and itís something we need to take very seriously. I couldnít help but notice the lack of any new initiatives regarding heritage in this budget. I believe thereís even a decrease in the money provided for this important area.
Also, thereís not enough attention paid to ice patch survey work. We know the potential in this field for recovering artifacts that are centuries old. This means a lot, especially to our First Nation people, whose ancestors were the bearers of a lot of the artifacts weíre finding now.
Mr. Chair, this increases the likelihood of establishing cultural centres in many places in the territory. So there is a lot of potential in this area, and we have some very good people with experience and the know-how to do this work. With global warming, Mr. Chair, we know a lot of ice patches are receding. Now is the time to invest in this important area and recover these artifacts before theyíre destroyed.
Also, Mr. Chair, thereís nothing in this budget regarding the development of cultural centres in most parts of the territory. Speaking as MLA for the Kluane region, Iím rather disappointed. There are no funds to follow up the study done at the Kluane Museum in Burwash Landing. As a matter of fact, when we finally received the community breakdowns of this budget from the government, it was really disappointing to find that its allocation for Burwash Landing is zero dollars. Mr. Chair, thatís despicable. Is that what this government thinks of the community of Burwash Landing ó zero dollars? Mr. Chair, I donít even think the Liberals were ever that ignorant of any community in the territory. We have a need to recognize all communities. That includes whether or not the government has MLAs in those communities. Itís incumbent upon the government to be fair to everybody in the territory and every community, regardless of the way they happen to vote at election time.
Now, Mr. Chair, there are plenty of other shortcomings in this governmentís budget, but I prefer not to be negative. As the minister knows, Iím a positive person and I like to keep it that way. There are a few things to be positive about in this budget, and some of them are in the Tourism department, which is really good news.
Perhaps weíll see the development of a hotel in Carcross, Mr. Chair. You might be aware of that project; Iím not sure. If this should happen, perhaps there will be opportunities for spinoff businesses, including ice cream vendors ó whatever the opportunities happen to be. It would benefit not only that community but the entire Yukon, because we know that, with the high tax rates charged by this government, the money will recirculate throughout the territory. Thatís one aspect. Hopefully weíll hear some positive news about the resurrection of the White Pass railroad into Whitehorse from Skagway. I was expecting something by now, but the government has been off chasing the wild goose ó the international railroad óeven though there is no proponent for that particular project even though the Alaskans ó I heard today on the news ó did approve a bill that specified approval for a route through the Yukon. But thereís still no money being put up for that project, and it could be decades before there is, so letís be realistic.
Anyway, the railroad from Skagway to Carcross and possibly Whitehorse is something the government should be working on. We all know that itís a very spectacular trip. At least we should know. Maybe some of the members across the way have never taken the trip. Personally I had the pleasure of taking that trip back in 1965. It was something to remember, something to always remember.
So, Mr. Chair, thereís a lot of potential, there are a lot of things the government could be addressing. In the days ahead in this Legislature as we review the budget in more detail we will be making our suggestions on some areas that we feel should be better addressed, and we hope the government will be listening. We hope the government will be listening because there are several MLAs on this side of the House who represent other parts of the territory that are very important.
Behind me sits the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin, and the people of Old Crow rely on her as their MLA to bring their messages into this Chamber and make the government aware, and itís responsible for the government to listen. Unfortunately ó and I donít want to get negative, but unfortunately Iím not convinced the government does that very often. So hopefully we can turn a new leaf and open the doors of cooperation and listen more to what each other has to say.
Mr. Chair, beside me is the Member for Mayo-Tatchun. His riding extends up the Klondike Highway from just north of Braeburn to Keno City and includes the communities of Mayo, Elsa, Stewart Crossing, Pelly Crossing and Carmacks as well as Minto Landing. This member has about seven yearsí experience in this House and heís a very good representative for the people in his riding. He is a critic for education and other matters, and when he speaks in the House, the government side should listen, and not be laughing like some of the backbenchers are now, because thatís a disrespectful approach.
Mr. Chair, we also have an urban MLA in Whitehorse Centre as well as Mount Lorne.
Together we represent the official opposition. Thereís a member from the third party, the Member for Porter Creek South, who brings her views in here as well. I hope the government can pay us the attention we deserve and be respectful to all people in the territory.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Itís always a pleasure to entertain questions and comments from the members opposite. I would just like to respond to some of those comments because, as the Member for Kluane is very much aware, I do like to discuss issues surrounding tourism. The member opposite speaks of the Tatshenshini and I agree ó Iíve actually had the opportunity to take that raft trip and had a wonderful time and what a great opportunity to showcase a premier part of the world that Yukon has to offer.
I have also been able to meet the operators of the Raven Hotel in Haines Junction and I concur: itís an exceptional hotel, just as we have many other exceptional places to stay in the Yukon. I agree theyíve done a remarkable job in providing that first-class service to the Yukon.
Of course I am always very pleased to talk about Kluane National Park. Interestingly enough, each year, more than 50,000 people experience the magic and the mystery of the Kluane National Park and Reserve. As the member opposite is probably very much aware, the park does employ 17 full-time and 13 seasonal staff, spends more than $2 million annually on salaries and park operations. In addition, park-related visitor activity supports the local economy with 40 commercial operators and more than 125 guides providing various visitor services and activities, as well as five aircraft operators who provide support services for backcountry hiking, rafting and mountaineering activities.
So, certainly, when we talk about parks in our territory, parks are an economic engine in the territory, and weíre very pleased to work with Parks Canada and we certainly recognize the very importance of national parks such as Kluane National Park.
The member opposite took the opportunity to talk about heritage investment, and Iíve noticed that the member opposite has done this before. Now, I donít want to say anything thatís unparliamentary, Mr. Chair, but perhaps the member just misunderstood the numbers that I presented regarding heritage investments in the budget. But clearly, heritage is a very important part of our tourism and culture budget and in fact the budget reflects that.
The member opposite will probably recall that, thanks to our Minister of Education working together with our department, we were able to establish and get up and running the heritage training trust fund, a $150,000 investment to help train our heritage workers, whether they be in the museums or at cultural centres throughout the Yukon. But this is a great training initiative, as is the cultural industryís training trust fund as well, a similar amount of investment. We were able to renew that for a couple of additional years as well.
I also talk about the community development fund and how in this budget here we have a $3.5-million injection of funding. The recent announcement of community development fund projects just approved in the recent round speaks to a whole host of heritage initiatives, including MacBride Museum, $88,000 for the telegraph office historic building restoration. The project will create 2,880 hours of employment for six people. Thatís a great investment and good for MacBride Museum. Theyíre doing a great job and I commend them for taking the initiative, and weíre pleased to recognize that.
When we talk about Selkirk First Nation, thereís $75,000 for the Pelly River Crossing campground beautification. Selkirk First Nation resides in the Member for Mayo-Tatchunís riding, and weíre very pleased to provide funding toward that important initiative. When we look at the Teslin Historical & Museum Society, there is $133,000 to go toward the George Johnston Museum park development.
That project will create 2,600 hours of employment for five people. Thatís another very large investment. Teslin Tlingit Council ó $22,700 for the heritage centre landscape and canoe shelter, again a very exciting investment and initiative that Teslin Tlingit has been working on. And that project alone will create something to the tune of 1,440 hours of employment for 10 people.
I also refer to the Dawson City Masonic Hall Association. Thereís $132,812 for the restoration of the Carnegie Library. This project will create 3,150 hours of employment for 12 people.
So itís very clear that we recognize the very importance that heritage plays in our day-to-day lives, as well as serving as additional attractions for enhancing visitation to the Yukon and to stay those extra days.
Within the stay-another-day budget we have $200,000 to go toward arts and heritage projects, some of which funding ended up in Destruction Bay last year, for example. Again, another great investment and we look forward to another great year with stay-another-day to the tune of $635,000, including media advertising. But, of course, standing out very prevalently is the $200,000 for the arts and heritage projects.
Iíll just remind the member opposite of our investment in heritage. Again, just looking at 2002-03, perhaps prior to our arrival, there was $688,000 identified for museum assistance and exhibits assistance. Now, if we look at the 2004-05 budget, we have $1,293,000 ó thatís pretty much almost double. Itís an incredible amount of investment, and that includes the amount of money that we provide to the museum funding program, which we were able to review, and we listened to the museumsí request for additional flexibility in the designation of those various funds.
We were able to do so and, as a result, increase the allotment to each of those museums. As well, we were able to add four additional museums including the Binet House, which also resides in the Member for Mayo-Tatchunís riding. The Binet House, of course, is an outstanding museum, as is the Keno City Mining Museum, as the members opposite I am sure are very familiar with, and we have also added the Miles Canyon historic railway museum here in Whitehorse. We have also added the Campbell interpretive centre thatís housed in Faro, so we are very proud to provide these additional dollars to these different initiatives. When we talk about particular investments, heritage investments, in members oppositeís ridings ó and again I refer to Mayo because I was just up in Mayo taking part in the ceremony that commemorated the Mabel McIntyre House. This is the very first territorial historic site designated under the Yukon Historic Resources Act, the first one in the territory, and it was wonderful. I was able to participate in that ceremony with the Chief of Na Cho Nyäk Dun as well as the Mayor of the Village of Mayo. We had a wonderful time and, as usual, the community did a great job hosting that particular event.
Of course, we can also talk about the money through the community development fund that helped run the Silver Trail kiosk at Stewart Crossing, as well as community development funding toward the Carmacks information centre.
So we are very pleased to provide investments to other jurisdictions, other ridings that arenít necessarily held by government members because, as the members opposite know, all areas of the Yukon have great potential. They all offer different attributes that attract visitors and make the Yukon such a wonderful place to visit.
When we talk about Old Crow, the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin is familiar with the fact that weíve designated $60,000 toward exhibits assistance for their visitor centre. Weíre very happy to provide those dollars. I know that that centre will be a resounding success and weíre very happy to be part of that.
In addition, when weíre talking about heritage sites either co-owned or owned by our government, we continue the work on Fort Selkirk, Rampart House, Forty Mile, Yukon Sawmill and Fort Constantine, to name but a few, and heritage trails, as well. Of course, I will also have the privilege of being able to co-sign the Forty Mile management plan with the Tríondëk Hwëchíin First Nation this summer. As members opposite may know, this site is co-owned and co-managed with the Government of Yukon. The management plan was developed jointly with the First Nation.
Forty Mile, as members may or may not be aware, was occupied and used by the Tríondëk Hwëchíin First Nation for thousands of years. It was a key pre-gold rush Yukon community that provided the first wave of miners to follow up on the exciting report of the discovery of gold on Rabbit Creek back in 1898. The adjacent Fort Constantine represents the first formal North-west Mounted Police post in the Yukon. Of course, as I mentioned before, we continue to provide assistance through a Yukon museums assistance program and exhibits assistance program.
We talk about heritage and the actual economic value of heritage and the role it plays in our economy. It is very much alive and well. In fact, a study that was recently completed by the Yukon Historical and Museums Association on the economic impacts of Yukon museums and all heritage institutions in the Yukon shows that heritage institutions contribute over $3 million to our economy, with some 50 person years of employment.
We recognize the very importance of these facilities in each of our communities and the benefits they bring to our economy and their contribution to education and to the preservation of the history and heritage of the Yukon.
When we talk about investments in heritage, I refer to the new funding program that weíve just announced regarding First Nation cultural heritage centres ó $220,000. We were pleased to announce that to go toward the operational support of the existing four cultural centres that we have in the Yukon.
Of course, that investment, coupled with the First Nation heritage worker that weíve also placed within this budget ó and this individual will play a very key role in our cultural services branch, working with each of the First Nation cultural centres, working with all First Nation governments to develop their culture, whether that be cultural centres or whether that be First Nation products ó again, a very important area that we are very pleased and very proud to recognize and to expand.
So I think that all of these initiatives ó we talk about heritage investments. I think that we have recognized the very importance. Weíre very pleased to improve upon these investments. And certainly I, as Minister of Tourism and Culture, will continue to work to expand this very area because I also recognize it as a real area for growth and great potential.
Mr. Chair, I was also remiss ó when we talk about working together with our communities and particularly in the Kluane region or reaching out to our Alaskan counterparts, we also do partner with the tourism north program to provide cooperative marketing dollars. That promotes the drive north to Alaska, the very drive north that goes through the communities of Haines Junction and Destruction Bay and Burwash Landing and Beaver Creek and all those areas in between. $672,000 within this very budget ó and that is coupled with the dollars of Alaska. And, of course, we also have the joint Yukon-Alaska program, another $313,000 program delivered in partnership with our Alaska Travel Industry Association.
We are very happy to continue those two initiatives, work with our counterparts from Alaska, as well as British Columbia and Alberta, in recognizing the very significance of the Alaska Highway and significance of the Kluane region, of course.
I have also been remiss to not talk about the familiarization tours that we have held over the last year, and how all those different media familiarization tours have resulted in the Yukon being featured in numerous publications in 2003, including the Globe and Mail, National Post, the Calgary Herald, Los Angeles Times, the Islands, Outdoor Edge, Boston Herald, National Geographic Traveler, Canadian Living, Explorer, and others to name but a few.
The department has also participated in five major TV productions with producers from Canada, the U.S. and Taiwan, including Canada AM, Jeffís Adventures, NBCís Travel Café, Wings over Canada, B.C. Sport Fishing Magazine and Taiwanís The Wonderful World. TV coverage is also expected in the U.K. and Germany. So actually when you look at it all, Yukon has already received a lot of publicity this year ó well in excess of $2.5 million in equivalent advertising dollars. So thank you to the many people in our Department of Tourism and Culture and the marketing branch. They continue to do a very fine job on behalf of all Yukoners. As a result, we are going to see a better year from what we saw last year.
Mr. Fairclough: I do have a couple of questions for the member opposite. I thank the member for recognizing the importance of First Nation cultures here in the territory, particularly in tourism.
In the exit survey that was done ó Iím not sure what year it was ó three, four, five years ago, it was noted that people wanted to see more First Nation culture and history. As a result of that survey, were any action plans put together by the department to address this matter and have governments implement those action plans?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Of course, I canít speak on behalf of previous governments because the last visitor exit survey that was conducted was in 1999, if Iím not mistaken. Our government certainly recognizes the importance of First Nations culture and, in fact, we continue to work with the Yukon First Nations Tourism Association. We have a contribution agreement with the association for $60,000 a year. We were also very happy to lend financial assistance to doing another run of welcome guides to the First Nations tourism guide. Itís a beautiful piece of work and weíre very proud to be part of that initiative and, of course, with respect to cultural centres, weíre working with a number of various First Nation governments to help develop their cultural centres. Kluane First Nation, for example ó in the supplementary budget we approved $10,000 toward further consultation with individuals in the area to further determine the priorities to be identified by the community. Weíre also working with Carcross-Tagish First Nation ó $300,000 toward their cultural centre. That was reflected in the supplementary budget, and another $300,000 in this budget as well.
The $220,000 expenditure for First Nation cultural centres, which will benefit two cultural centres that are actually within the Member for Mayo-Tatchunís own riding ó the Selkirk First Nation and Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation will also benefit from those additional dollars. As more cultural centres come on-line, we will certainly add dollars toward that fund to reflect the needs and priorities.
I think weíre very pleased to provide support. As I outlined, weíre pleased to work with various First Nations, including Tríondëk Hwëchíin, toward their Forty Mile management plan. Iíll be very privileged to take part in the co-signing ceremony this summer.
Other initiatives, whether they be walking tours in the various communities ó but again, just building upon those initiatives, I think itís very important that we do place more importance and relevance to First Nation products.
With that said, I hope it addresses some of the questions.
Mr. Fairclough: Yes and no, Mr. Chair. The member opposite did list off a number of things government is doing. What I asked about was the exit survey itself that was done last time and whether there were action plans put together afterward to address some of the big issues that were in the exit survey. One of them was that people wanted to see more culture and history. It doesnít matter what ó governments can come and go, but the department would still have a plan if it saw the importance of this.
Was there not a plan put in place, and if not, why not? What weíre doing right now is entering into another exit survey, and what are we going to do with it? If there are important issues like this, I would think the government ó it doesnít matter whoís in charge here ó would have put together at least some type of action plan or direction that they would like to go in. I havenít really seen one spelled out. I know Iíve asked this question before.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: What I think is more important is putting action to our words.
I think thatís pretty clearly displayed here in the budget before us. Iíd be very happy to list off those very initiatives again, but I believe that we have come a long way, in particular over the last year and a half.
As the Government of Yukon, we continue to work with Yukon First Nations on a government-to-government basis, and we certainly recognize the very importance that heritage plays and the very relevance of Yukon First Nation tourism products and heritage initiatives that many of our First Nation governments are working on and continue to work on.
I also forgot to mention the injection of $1.25 million ó I believe it was ó toward the Kwanlin Dun First Nation cultural centre project right on the Whitehorse waterfront. We also provide a number of different initiatives, whether that be working on the various cultural centres or working toward developing product. The First Nation heritage worker, for example, would play a very important role. That position, unfortunately, was taken away during the renewal initiative of the previous Liberal government, but we are very pleased to recognize the importance of that position and pleased to bring back that position, which should be going out to competition very soon. That individual will work with the various First Nations, again, whether it be working on the cultural centres or on First Nation products. So I think we have come a long way. Weíve also engaged in a number of internships with the various First Nations.
I believe in the Carcross-Tagish First Nation and Teslin Tlingit Council there are three positions there that we have been working with ó so, again, providing that capacity, providing those additional training dollars, such as the heritage training trust fund of $150,000. That is also being utilized by First Nation governments. So, again, our government does recognize the very significance of heritage and the role it plays in our communities as an economic engine as well as serving to protect and enhance who we are as Yukoners and what brings us here.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister didnít answer the question. I understand that governments do things. Every government that has been in power has done some good things for the tourism industry, and I believe that this minister has named off a few things that weíre very supportive of, but thatís not what I want to concentrate on now.
This government wants to do an exit survey. I want to go back to the last one. I asked the minister whether or not there were any action plans as a result of that survey. Thereís a reason for doing the surveys. Itís to bring attention to exactly what our tourists would like to see here in the territory and where we can make improvements. One of them ó the big one there ó was that First Nations wanted to see more First Nation culture and history, and I havenít seen anything so far that has come out from the government side as an action plan on this particular issue. Was there not any put together? I would think this would be an improvement for the minister when we do an exit survey this summer.
So if there were one, we would like to see it and we would like to see how the previous government had followed up on that and how we are focused on following up on that action plan this year ó and, of course, there would be another one after the exit survey is done at the end of the summer.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Again, the visitor exit survey was an initiative that was identified by the Tourism Industry Association of Yukon. They encouraged our government to proceed with an additional visitor exit survey, and weíre pleased to come through with a $414,000 investment.
We actually have received a lot of credit and accolades from industry for proceeding. It has been five years since the last visitor exit survey. I can only comment on what has been done in the last year and a half in my capacity as Minister of Tourism and Culture. I have to say that Iím really proud of what weíve been able to accomplish together with industry, First Nation governments and the Department of Tourism and Culture officials. I think itís very fair to say that the visitor exit survey provides a tremendous amount of invaluable information for all individuals in the Yukon looking to enhance their product and to define and determine what is important to industry.
Itís very safe to say that a visitor exit survey is all about work in progress and thatís exactly what we do. We continue to expand upon our products, continue to work with our officials and industry to identify the very changing and emerging needs. For example, the demographics in the territory have changed a lot. Ever since 9/11 occurred, the industry needs have also changed, and thatís why itís very important to conduct these surveys on a regular basis to give us accurate and up-to-date information regarding these various travel patterns and industry trends so that we can remain competitive as an industry, have that competitive edge and continue to allocate resources where needed.
First Nation products and the development of First Nation culture is certainly a very important part of what makes the Yukon a destination of choice for many visitors, Mr. Chair. We continue to work toward meeting our obligations under chapter 13 of the Umbrella Final Agreement. Weíll continue to work with the First Nations Tourism Association, with the heritage working group. Weíll continue to work with the Yukon Heritage Resources Board and the various governments in recognizing the very importance and, again, allocating the appropriate resources.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister didnít even answer the question again, Mr. Speaker. Well, the minister said she could only answer for the last year and a half. This minister wants to do an exit survey. They must have looked at a previous survey and looked at what went right and what didnít go as well as they thought it would and how certain areas of that exit survey were implemented. So has the department done an evaluation at all on the exit survey that was done in 1999?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Well, if the member opposite is asking whether I have, as the minister, done any work, no, I havenít. Actually, I tend not to get too involved in the day-to-day operational issues of the department.
But as we have done in previous surveys, there will be regional components, including the Silver Trail region. There are a number of observations, depending on what types of questions are raised during the survey. As the member opposite knows, we actually have been working with various community stakeholders over the last couple of months to define what kinds of questions we should be raising.
Again, I believe I made a commitment a couple days ago, perhaps it was last week, to provide members opposite with a copy of the schedule, as well as a copy of the questionnaire once we have that finalized. So we will be providing that information to the members opposite, and Iím very much looking forward to kicking off this survey.
As I also mentioned over the last couple days, I believe it was, weíre going to be commencing a trial run or a test run, so to speak, on the visitor exit survey in the airport, the Whitehorse International Airport. And that will give us a good idea ó more improvements, as to what improvements to make, what suggestions we can have reflected in the survey. So, again, we will continue to work with industry and the various community stakeholders in identifying what works, what doesnít work, and weíll be finalizing those questionnaires and then weíll be proceeding with the full-blown exit survey, which will commence shortly thereafter.
It should wrap up in September and will also employ something to the tune of 30 individuals, so it will also put a lot of people to work this summer throughout the communities.
I certainly think that visitor exit surveys are very important. They play a very important role. Like the minister opposite alluded to, they help define what products people are looking for. The member opposite just pointed out the very need for First Nation products, and that is exactly what we are doing as a government. Again, I could certainly reiterate all the different initiatives that our government has implemented and introduced since being elected. I think the member opposite probably has a pretty good idea so far, but Iíd be very happy to reiterate some of those initiatives.
Mr. Fairclough: I donít think weíre going to get anywhere with this questioning on the exit survey. I would think that perhaps the minister would have looked at the survey and the actions that we see today are a result ó or partially a result ó of that survey, but I didnít hear that. Itís too bad because weíre going to do another survey, another government will come along, and you donít just throw out that type of work and the taxpayersí dollars that go into it.
For the community of Carmacks, the minister said, and she doesnít need to repeat this ó I know there are monies going into the interpretive centre there. We know that. The community would like to see people stay in that community and not just drive right through. The minister said that she was working with First Nations to develop their cultures, I would think. It was to develop areas for tourists to see the types of cultures and history throughout the territory.
How much work has gone into working with the Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation on this matter, and is she able to table any of the discussions that have taken place between her department and the First Nation on how they can make improvements to tourism within that community?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Iím not able to reiterate just what discussions have taken place with our officials. Again thatís primarily at an operational level, but certainly with the recent announcement of our cultural centre funding program ó two of those centres actually reside within the member oppositeís riding ó I believe that our cultural services branch will be, or has been, in discussions regarding the funding allocations with respect to those centres and their various needs. Thatís exactly what we will be entertaining, and we will continue to on a regular basis.
When it comes down to applicant-driven initiatives, I refer to the community development fund. I refer to the stay-another-day initiative. These types of initiatives are all things offered through our department. Of course our officials are always very willing and very keen to work with various governments that request their assistance, and Iíll certainly make that invitation known again for the member opposite if he wishes to pass that along. But I do know that the cultural services branch has been ó if not, they will be ó in touch with Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation as the member opposite just alluded to with respect to this cultural centre funding.
Mr. Fairclough: I was hoping the minister could be more direct with her answers and not go on and on. Theyíre very short: some of them are yes-or-no questions and deserve a yes-or-no answer.
All this data is gathered together in the department and itís for the minister to see, so I would like the minister to ask the department to send to this side of the House the discussions that took place between the department and the First Nations on tourism issues and improvements to the communities. I would particularly like all three communities of Pelly, Mayo and Carmacks ó theyíre expressing an interest to me and asking me to ask these questions, thatís why Iím coming forward ó and perhaps for all the communities because Iím very interested to see what direction First Nations are giving to government for them to help out in this matter. If she can do that, Iíd appreciate the information coming forward.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Iím not going to make that commitment because I donít think our own officials have perhaps documented, word for word, all their discussions. As you can appreciate, our officials are very busy on a number of different initiatives. They work very hard to meet the needs of various communities here in the Yukon. Iím very confident that they continue to do their good work on behalf of all Yukoners.
So for me to actually request from our officials specific discussions ó I have a difficult time making that commitment for the very simple fact that they are doing their work and they are communicating, whether it is with our museums, our tourism associations or the various First Nations in developing their cultural centres. Our officials continue to do the good work.
With respect to the visitor exit survey, Iíll be sure to pass along the comments of the members opposite regarding their concerns associated with the visitor exit survey.
Again, this was an initiative that was requested by industry, and itís unfortunate that the members opposite donít recognize the very importance of the results and the product and what comes thereafter. But Iíll see to it that they receive a copy of the member oppositeís comments.
Mr. Fairclough: If the minister had some interest in the exit survey that was done in the past, Iím sure we would have had some answers in this House. I ask the minister to read it, and then maybe we can get some answers here.
There is no reason why the department cannot supply that information to the members opposite. How are we supposed to get it? The minister knows the department can have it. It is all done. All they need to do is compile it and send it over, and it probably takes an hour. Iím sure that thereís not a huge list that the First Nations have put together on this matter. Iím sure there are some projects that theyíve suggested. So whatís so secretive about that? It is her responsibility; she is the minister. And why hide the information? Why not be open and accountable, like the Premier said his government would be?
We donít need long answers on this. I asked for the information in writing. Weíve asked for it many times in this House, and weíre not getting it, unlike previous governments, Mr. Chair. Iím quite disappointed to hear that she will not give that direction. If she wonít give that direction, then maybe the minister can tell us how to do it, because we can write a letter to the department and get it, if we need to go the hard way, and ask. My constituents, they ask for this information. I can go back and say Iíll write a letter and weíll do it the hard way because the minister wants to keep that information closed.
Perhaps all that information is not what the minister says it is. So, Mr. Chair, Iíll leave it at that. Itís unfortunate ó Iíd like some answers to some of these questions. We have gone around and around about what the department and government are doing on different projects. Itís almost as if this is the first minister to ever have a project in tourism, ever, and no other governments have done that.
Well, there have been exit surveys done in the past. We have had improvements and government monies involved in the very interpretive centres that this minister is saying they are putting money into. It has been done in the past. There has been work on campgrounds and improvements to wildlife viewing areas and so on. A lot of the work has been done and we have had every government come up with some good ideas. What we havenít seen is the minister blocking information coming forward.
Mr. Chair, Iíll just pass it on to my colleague for further questions. I guess I have to get down to letter writing to the department, and thatís unfortunate.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Iím very pleased ó seeing that we are debating the budget here, I will recite some things for the budget and ó hold on, it will take some time but the member opposite is looking for this information so Iím very pleased to provide the information.
When we talk about heritage attractions, site support, $140,000 ó that supports heritage attractions sites by improving access roads, paving of parking lots, roads, landscaping, implementation of tourist lure elements, whether that be the signage, campsites, lighting, washroom facilities, boat docks and wells for provision of water. When we talk about heritage sites we have an additional $30,000 here.
This provides core funding for First Nation and non-First Nation oral history, anthropological, archaeological and paleontological research, which responds in particular to heritage provisions of land claim agreements.
When we talk about historic sites maintenance, $283,000 ó this provides core funding and program support for the repair and maintenance of historic properties owned or co-owned by government and advice and cost-sharing assistance to private property owners who wish to restore historic assets. When we talk in particular about different projects to occur in 2004-05, we have $48,400 toward the repair and maintenance to various sites such as Robinson Roadhouse. We have $75,000 toward restoration and rehabilitation of the original telegraph office. We also have $75,000 available for historic properties assistance contribution agreements, and thatís primarily applicant driven. Of course, we have $84,600 to go toward personnel to help administer some of these various areas.
Historic sites inventory ó we have $65,000 to provide ongoing identification, research, recording and monitoring of sites for the Yukon historic sites inventory database and the Canadian register of historic places database, as well as the heritage component of our own Yukon governmentís geographical information system initiative.
When we talk about specific projects ó Fort Selkirk, $171,000; this is providing core funding for the Fort Selkirk site management and development pursuant to the Fort Selkirk management plan, preservation plan and the interpretation plan.
And, of course, Fort Selkirk is the Yukonís most important and substantial historic site. It is subject to the Selkirk First Nation final land claim agreement and is cooperatively owned and managed with YTG. The project funds the preservation, interpretation and development of the site according to the joint management plan with the Selkirk First Nation.
When we talk about historic sites planning, we have $82,000, and this funding provides research, analysis, design support for historic site management and development in the Yukon. It is sites such as the Yukon Sawmill in Dawson City, Rampart House, Dalton Post, Lapierre House, Forty Mile, Fort Constantine, Fort Selkirk, Canyon City. We have Lansing Post and so forth. When we talk about interpretation and signage under cultural services, we have $103,000 within this 2004-05 budget, again working on corridor interpretive plans.
In particular, weíre looking at the Hootalinqua area this year. We talk about Rampart House, $52,000 to provide core funding for Rampart House historic site preservation, management, development and fulfillment of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation Final Agreement, and the Rampart House and Lapierre House historic sites management plan. Again, this is another very important historic site in the Yukon. This site is very important to the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation of Old Crow and is also subject to their final land claim agreement and is cooperatively owned and managed with YTG.
We also look at Forty Mile, $51,000, which provides core funding for Forty Mile and Fort Constantine historic site preservation, management and development pursuant to the Tríondëk Hwëchíin Final Agreement. It is completed according to requirements of their land claim agreement. Archaeological and historic resources assessment will also be continued to support the planning process and site clearing; preparation for building and stabilization will also occur within this fiscal year. We have $10,000 for the restoration and rehabilitation of the Yukon Sawmill, this very prominent landmark located on Front Street in Dawson City.
Of course, when we look at heritage trails, we have $30,000 available here for research, planning, improving and developing of heritage trails; we have $15,000 for the Canyon City tramway, and thatís another very important initiative that we are very pleased to support.
Historic places initiative ó $338,000. This is to ensure Yukonís participation in this national initiative to encourage the appreciation of historic places and strengthen the capacity to conserve and maintain the historical integrity of our historic places in the Yukon.
When we look at paleontology, thereís $137,000 available in capital funding dollars. Again, this is to meet our requirements under the Historic Resources Act and, of course, continues to provide tourism-sector attractions by providing technical assistance and advice to museums, First Nation heritage facilities, as well as the Beringia Interpretive Centre ó so, of course, another very important part.
We have Yukon archaeology ó $195,000. On top of that, we also have $25,000 for the First Nations community archaeology project. In particular, we have plans for the implementation of a field archaeological project at Forty Mile near Dawson City, which I made reference to earlier. Iíll be privileged to co-sign that particular management agreement later on this summer.
For ice patch research and protection we have $50,000 available, and thatís an increase from previous years that will contribute to the realization of plans as well as the various commitments respecting First Nation heritage.
Information collections resulting from this research will be included in future First Nation cultural facilities and heritage centres. This money, coupled with the $50,000 coming from the Department of Environment, is a pretty good investment of dollars toward this very important initiative.
Museums assistance, $435,000 ó as the members opposite know, we have been able to work with the museums community and have been able to introduce more flexibility to that funding program and have been able to expand upon the number of museums, incorporating four new ones, which include Binet House in the member oppositeís own constituency of Mayo.
When we talk about exhibits assistance, we have $100,000 available. We go on to artifact inventory and cataloguing, $79,000 ó this provides capital artifact and inventory funding assistance and technical support as part of the implementation of the museum policy, along with support to First Nations in identifying Yukon artifact collections found elsewhere, as per our chapter 13 obligations.
We also have $40,000 toward conservation and security. This project provides our museums as well as First Nations with capital conservation and security assistance as part of the museums policy and the museums artifact conservation policy. We work with Yukon First Nations, whether that be the caribou ice patch or the ice patch discovery storage requirements. We continue to work with them as well as with the Canadian Conservation Institute in identifying those various needs that were identified by the First Nations.
We have $300,000 here for the Carcross-Tagish First Nation heritage cultural centre, another large investment to go toward the conceptual plan and architectural plan of the very area. We have $60,000 here that will go toward the Old Crow visitor reception exhibit, another very exciting initiative on the horizon. Weíre very happy to partner with Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation.
First Nation cultural centres: we have $220,000 in funding available for the existing four First Nation cultural centres, including Tríondëk Hwëchíin, Teslin Tlingit Council, Little Salmon-Carmacks and Selkirk First Nation ó again, $220,000. This is a request that was made by five of the various First Nation governments during the consultation process that was associated with the museum strategy, and we took it upon ourselves to include the Yukon First Nation governments, and we wanted to seek their guidance and feedback on a museum strategy, and that is exactly what we did. And we got some great feedback from them, and they felt that they should not be excluded from the museum funding made available to our various museums here in the territory.
Itís a very important initiative that weíre very pleased to respond to as a result of those various areas identified by the First Nation governments, and weíll certainly continue to work with the various First Nation governments to respond to the various requirements.
These are just some. I could go on, but I think there certainly are a lot of different exciting initiatives that we continue to work on, and some new initiatives. Again, Iím very proud of this budget and I would assume that will help address the question raised by the Member for Mayo-Tatchun.
Mrs. Peter: I have a few comments Iíd like to put on record and a few questions. Actually this minister does have a voice. When given the chance, thereís no stopping her. I wish we could hear that in Question Period.
Tourism and Culture is a very important department for our multicultural territory. We have people throughout our communities from many different cultures. The one culture that is most evident in the Yukon is the First Nation people.
I would like to acknowledge the minister and more especially the officials in her department for supporting initiatives in my riding, especially the visitor reception centre and also their contribution and support of the Yukonís airline, Air North.
I would also like to acknowledge a press release put out on April 27 by Minister Anderson in Ottawa, which states that the management plan for the Vuntut National Park was finally put before the House.
That is progress on behalf of our people and it actually tells you that the people in Old Crow have worked very hard so they can move ahead in this period of history weíre in. Weíre proud of that; weíre very proud of that.
The territory is made up of many cultures, as Iíve said, and this department is made up of many different departments within this one huge department, which is very important to the people of the Yukon.
I would like to take you on a little trip in my traditional area. Whether youíre canoeing and leaving from the Eagle River, paddling down the Eagle River, down the Whitestone, down the Bell River, and you eventually end up on Porcupine River and arrive at my community, spend a few days there and continue your journey down the Porcupine River into Alaska, or whether you fly from the City of Whitehorse on Air North to Old Crow and spend a few days there, whether it be on a business trip or on a personal journey, the experience that you have or will have in my community will be very interesting.
You will meet people who will share their history with you. That history, Mr. Chair, of not only the people of Vuntut Gwitchin but the different traditions and cultures throughout our territory is very important. We First Nation people need to preserve our culture, our language, and that is priority. Yet, while we try to preserve our culture and our history, it is our responsibility to share this history with the rest of the world.
We need to use this information in our schools. We need to share that information in kiosks throughout Canada and throughout the world so that we can attract people to Canada and the territory. First Nation people throughout this territory offer many benefits and, I believe, contribute much to the history. This department, Mr. Chair, has contributed through financial assistance. They have acknowledged some of the plans that have been talked about for years, and I would encourage the minister and people within this department to continue that dialogue with First Nation people and with other cultures that call the Yukon their home.
The arts community plays a very important role in attracting many of the tourists to our territory. I have before me, Mr. Chair, information of an initiative that was brought to my attention, and Iíd just like to ask the minister some questions about this initiative.
In March 2003, the Yukon Arts Centre entered into an agreement with the Yukon Department of Tourism and Culture to develop cultural programming for the decade of sports and culture. The agreement provides $150,000 to begin the planning in 2003 and to initiate more programming in 2004. Can the minister give me an update on the progress of this initiative?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I certainly appreciate the comments from the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin, and weíre very pleased to offer our support to Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation in helping to develop some of their needs and aspirations associated with culture and heritage in the territory ó they certainly play a very important role ó whether that be providing assistance to their visitor reception centre, when we look at the north Yukon plan for regional planning purposes, or whether it be the $500,000 that the Minister of Education announced recently toward the further development of First Nation languages: weíre quite supportive of these initiatives.
With respect to the decade of sports and culture, we did identify $200,000 available for this particular initiative. Some of that funding has been made available to the Yukon Convention Bureau to help them enter into sport marketing.
While there has been some work done in the past by the Convention Bureau, by the industry, there certainly is a lot of opportunity available there to do even more, particularly with the Canada Winter Games coming to town, to the Yukon, in 2007. There are some great opportunities not just in 2007 during the games, but also in the time leading up to the games. For example, the recent Canadian Western Gymnastics Championships held here a couple of weeks ago, which brought 500 people to town ó the officials did an exemplary job in hosting the athletes and their families and their support people. So there will be a number of national test events leading up to the games to try out our facilities ó existing facilities as well as new facilities. Weíre certainly very pleased to help accentuate the efforts of the Convention Bureau to develop this particular market.
The other funding that the member opposite made mention of ó a contribution agreement has been made with the Yukon Arts Centre to work with our various communities, community stakeholders, to identify some areas where we can help expand the decade of sports and culture, so leading up to the games, leading to the 2010 Olympics, so focusing more or less on the cultural component of the games, not necessarily the sports end of it. Together with the Arts Centre Board of Directors, together with our cultural services branch, they have come up with a number of different recommendations, at which the department is currently looking. We hope to be rolling out some exciting initiatives here in the next few months.
Mrs. Peter: I thank the minister for that information. Can the minister provide me with any agreements that were signed with any of the organizations in Whitehorse?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: We have only signed the one agreement with the Yukon Arts Centre.
Mrs. Peter: In the information that I have, there are several organizations listed and it is suggested that there are agreements that the Yukon Arts Centre has with these organizations. I just wondered if the minister was aware of these agreements, if they were verbal or just written on paper that I might have a copy of?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: To my knowledge, none of those agreements have been finalized. Thatís just a draft document, perhaps, that the member opposite has in her hands.
Mrs. Peter: Just moving on, the amount that the government agreed to provide was $150,000 for the year 2003. How much of that money has been spent? Was all that money spent to date?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I think, Mr. Chair, that the majority of that funding will come in as a revote.
Thatís all that I have.
Chair: Is there any further general debate? Hearing none, weíll go line by line.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Corporate Services
On Deputy Ministerís Office
Mr. Hardy: The five percent is due to the collective agreement adjustments.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Yes.
Deputy Ministerís Office in the amount of $372,000 agreed to
Mr. Hardy: Is that the same under the directorate as well?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Yes.
Directorate in the amount of $121,000 agreed to
On Human Resources
Human Resources in the amount of $124,000 agreed to
On Information Management
Information Management in the amount of $151,000 agreed to
On Finance and Administration
Finance and Administration in the amount of $1,061,000 agreed to
On Policy, Planning and Evaluation
Policy, Planning and Evaluation in the amount of $297,000 agreed to
Total Corporate Services in the amount of $2,126,000 agreed to
On Cultural Services
Directorate in the amount of $514,000 agreed to
On Heritage Resources
Ms. Duncan: I had a discussion with the minister about the amount of the heritage resources that were recoverable. I believe the figure was $388,000. Is that covered under capital or as part of this $407,000 recoverable?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Just for clarification, is the member opposite referring to the historic places initiative? Because that is federal and that is recoverable and that is under the capital.
Heritage Resources in the amount of $407,000 agreed to
Ms. Duncan: Could we have a line breakdown? This is spread, as I understand it, throughout the territory. Could we have by letter the amount being spent per museum or allocated to a museum?
Iíve raised the debate in the past. Itís an issue for organizations such as museums and other non-government organizations and how theyíre able to deal with staff ó for example, pension plans, benefits, and so on. Non-government organizations are unable to offer, with the limited amount of funding, benefits to their staff that organizations, such as the government, are able to offer. Is that an issue that the minister has ó Iím sure she has heard me raise it in the Legislature before ó had a chance to discuss with the Public Service Commissioner as to how we might enhance the level of funding to museums, for example, in order for them to offer their staff an enhanced benefit package?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: With respect to the member oppositeís questions regarding museum funding, that is one of the main reasons why we chose the route we did ó to provide more flexibility to each of the museums, to have them designate the dollars as they wish to spend. For example, weíre not dictating that all this money goes into gift shop purchases or that it all goes toward O&M. Itís primarily up to the museum itself to define what their priorities are.
With respect to the funding program, Iíll just list them here, as it wonít take long: the Binet House in Mayo, $11,500; the Campbell Regional Interpretive Centre in Faro, $11,500; Dawson City Museum, $80,000; George Johnston Museum, $30,000; Keno City Mining Museum, $30,000; Kluane Museum of Natural History, $30,000; MacBride Museum, $80,000; Miles Canyon, $11,500; Northern Lights Centre, $11,500; the Old Log Church Museum, $48,500; Yukon Transportation Museum, $80,000; and Yukon Historical and Museums Association, $48,500.
Ms. Duncan: How were these funding allocations arrived at? Is it visitation? I am sure it follows past practice but is there some formula that is used to determine what museums receive what amount of funding?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: The member opposite is very correct in that there is a formula and it has to do with the number of years the particular museum has been in existence and the types of products they offer. So I believe there are a number of different factors as to what category of funding they fall under.
Museums in the amount of $424,000 agreed to
On Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre
Mr. Hardy: Does the minister have a figure on how much the Beringia Centre actually brings in in the course of a year in visitations as well as rental of the facility?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: The visitation stats for the Beringia Centre ó we have from April 1, 2003 until March 31, 2004. The attendance was 21,142 visits. It indicates that this spring did show increased visits, and the revenue target of $70,000 has already been met.
Mr. Hardy: That is actually not the question I asked. I do see the visitation numbers on page 15-9. I already had that information. What I wanted to know was what the Beringia Centre has managed to bring in through their rental of the facilities. Iím assuming that there is a cost for people to view the Beringia Centre, or am I wrong?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Hardy: There is a cost. Do you have the figures from last year of how much the Beringia Centre actually generated?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: That was $70,000 for 2003-04, the last fiscal year.
Mr. Hardy: That $70,000 is the combination of the visitors who came as well as the rental of the facilities?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Yes, thatís correct.
Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre in the amount of $254,000 agreed to
Mr. Hardy: The minister probably knows by now that Iím quite a proponent of an arts component within the cost of any type of infrastructure that we become involved in. I feel I have to ask it again: is the minister looking at or willing to argue to make new projects, new buildings, allocate a certain amount of the funding toward a purchase of the artwork within these buildings?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: When I think of new buildings, I think of perhaps the infrastructure associated with the Canada Winter Games, and as the member opposite knows, thanks to our ministerís efforts, we were able to inject an additional couple million dollars more toward the multiplex, for example. So we are providing the financial assistance, and those discussions will continue to take place with the host society as to what shall actually transpire within the facility.
Mr. Hardy: Iím actually not talking about the Canada Winter Games. We do know thereís a building going up there. I hope we see Yukon artistsí artwork displayed there and I hope they receive proper payment for that artwork. The artists in the territory are similar to most artists throughout Canada, and that is that many of them do have a very great amount of income from their artwork and we do want to encourage them as much as possible. They offer such tremendous benefit to the tourist industry, of course, because people want to see Yukon art.
There are other buildings that weíre talking about. An example would be the new pod at the Copper Ridge Place. If I remember rightly, there was a lot of controversy about Copper Ridge Place when it first opened and the request went out to have artists donate their artwork. Most of them donít make very much money and this artwork theyíre donating has had a lot of creativity, a lot of passion and a lot of effort put into it. Iím a big proponent, as I think many people are in this territory, of trying to give a fair value to the artwork thatís created here.
Thereís a new pod thatís going to be opened at Copper Ridge Place very shortly, or itís in the process. Instead of asking artists to donate work, can we actually find some money to buy artwork for there?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I was actually at that ceremony commemorating all the artists for volunteering their work, artists such as Rosemary Piper. The work in that facility is exemplary and I thank the artists very much for their donations. It certainly provides character to the Copper Ridge Place and weíre very happy that those particular artists were very generous.
With respect to the future additional beds opening, we did provide $1.9 million to enable those beds opening ó the 12 beds opening in Copper Ridge Place as well as seven beds to open in Macaulay. So we certainly are providing the funds to provide that necessary infrastructure.
Mr. Hardy: No, sheís not, Mr. Chair. The minister is not supplying the funds specific to the question I asked. When we get into Health and Social Services, we will debate about the $1.7 million and the beds being opened. Weíre very aware of that.
The question is very specific and it is the recognition of the artists and recognition of the tremendous value that should be placed on art in our society and not always expecting the artist to contribute without any type of response back from the government that wants them to contribute. I think the onus is on the government to purchase, just as they purchase for the contractor to renovate the building. If they sincerely believe that a building is not complete without art in it, that art has a role to play in the well-being of the people who will be using those spaces, then you would think that a logical step would be to ensure to put aside a certain amount of dollars to purchase the art so people can have the pleasure of seeing that beautiful artwork. The stimulation and gratification that comes from that should be reflected by putting a value on it that is equal to what that art is worth.
We often talk very much about our artists in the Yukon. The Tourism department really benefits from the creativity of the people throughout the Yukon, from all the cultures, and the growing art family in the territory. I was at the opening of the artists cooperative out at MacRae ó absolutely amazing artwork out there.
Itís a great space. If we are going to continue to see that growth, continue to benefit from it ó because all of us benefit from it, whether intrinsically or monetarily ó we have to support it. We have the ability to support it by making it a policy in government to put aside a portion of the cost of a building to ensure that there is artwork within that building. So itís a simple question. I donít need to hear about the $1.7 million. As a matter of fact, if I hear that, I get kind of distressed to think that $1.7 or $1.9 million is only to go to the person who builds the structure or modifies the structure and puts the beds in, but there is a big blank when it comes to what kind of artwork would be in there.
So the simple question is: does this minister feel that this should be part of the policy when contracting a building ó new or renovated ó and does she recognize the tremendous benefits for the Department of Tourism and Culture on many fronts ó the enhancement and encouragement of more artists and the assistance in ensuring that they get proper income from the art that they do have, and we donít have to constantly go to them and ask them to donate? Thatís a simple question, I think.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: If the member opposite is asking us whether or not we have a policy in place, as of this particular time, we do not have a policy in place. It is not to say that we donít recognize the very importance of arts and cultural industries and the many economic and social benefits they provide to the territory on a day-to-day basis. Certainly, we recognize their very importance.
I should also just remind the member opposite, though, that within the transfer payments alone here, we have almost $1.3 million.
We do support artists through a number of ways, whether it be through our arts funding program for $500,000; the artists in school program, $25,000; the $80,000 for advanced artists awards; $250,000 to Dawson City Arts Society; as well as our operating grant to the Yukon Arts Centre. Of course, thatís on top of the cultural industryís training trust funds that we have also just recently renewed. There are a number of key initiatives, again through the development of our craft strategy and the decade of sport and culture. Statistics-wise I just refer to the study that was released by Statistics Canada earlier this year showing that the spending per person by the territorial government ó and this was back in 2001-02 ó was $421, which is the highest of any provincial or territorial government in the country. So weíre very proud to be supporters of the industry, and weíll certainly continue to do so.
Mr. Hardy: I would like to thank the minister for the first answer in which they do not have a policy, but it doesnít mean that they canít have a policy. Unless the minister was telling me that basically they donít plan to have a policy, that theyíre already doing enough. Is that the message Iím receiving here? The list the minister gives me is absolutely adequate for these artists and, frankly, no, letís not go this far. Iíll take it as that.
Itís also interesting that this government is determined to build a bridge, and they have mentioned heritage features so that it fits in with the Dawson theme. So itís all right to create a bridge ó let me get my mind around this ó with heritage features, which I consider would be artistically ó the minister is nodding her head ó designed to fit in with the décor and the theme of Dawson City, which could be $25 million or $30 million ó who knows what it is ó $40 million, I donít know. There are no figures out there yet. We havenít seen them, but we still struggle to pay artists for a few pictures on the wall, through carving, some stonework or displays of art throughout. A Carmacks school is going to be built, my understanding is, by this government. I applaud this government. I think itís the first school a Yukon Party government has ever built.
I think they built one when they were in power in 1992-96. I really look forward to seeing the new school in Carmacks. Thereís an opportunity there to change the policy.
Because this is the Minister of Tourism and Culture, my request is: would she lobby for a change in the policy to ensure that artwork is part of the tender cost and part of the policy to ensure that some money is put aside to purchase artwork, whether itís local from that region or whatever, or that itís put out for offers from artists for cost and display, or whatever ó would she be willing to do that?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Iím not going to commit to any new policy on the fly or on the floor of the Legislature without having that discussion with my colleagues around the table. We donít operate as single people around that table; we do operate as a collective, both caucus and Cabinet. There are a number of initiatives weíre currently working on and we work closely together to endeavour to meet various commitments we have outlined in our election platform, first and foremost, and also on an ongoing basis. We work with our community stakeholders to identify their needs and priorities.
We recognize cultural industries as a real, emerging force. They are very alive and well here in the Yukon and are indicative of how much support we as a government do provide toward cultural industries.
I have to say that I have been to a number of functions over the last year and a half, and any time there are new authors, poets or performing artists, they always make a point of saying how very fortunate we are here in the Yukon to have a government that is so supportive of the arts and cultural industries, and they seem to be very appreciative of the support we do provide.
Of course, we always work to improve our support to all industries, keeping in mind, though, that we have many other commitments to make. We have many other priorities to meet in Education and in Health. The member is fully aware of some of those challenges that we have to meet. Itís finding that fine balance, that healthy balance.
Mr. Hardy: Iíll take that as she does not support it ó the excuse is that they are a cooperative and they work together and she would never spring this on them. I think we asked this over a year ago. I donít think itís a surprise. If the minister were committed to something like this, it would have been discussed. Obviously, it hasnít been and it doesnít plan to be brought forward. Iíll take it as a no.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I certainly did not say it was a no. I just reiterated my very support for cultural industries, for arts and culture and the very role they play in the economy.
Mr. Hardy: I just put the point out, of course, Mr. Chair, that her comments are well recorded and I did not hear even an inkling that she would advance this or stand behind it, so I take that as a no.
Arts in the amount of $1,613,000 agreed to
Ms. Duncan: I have a question for the minister and I apologize for not having the right name here. The Penikett administration put a certain amount of money aside in a heritage arts fund, and funds were to start to be expended under that fund ó and Iíve forgotten the name of it ó when it reached $1 million. It was in the Tourism department, I believe in cultural services.
The fund was topped up to $1 million under our government but criteria had not been developed in conjunction with, I believe, the museums. It was a heritage fund, and Iím sorry I donít have the right name in front of me.
That fund isnít anywhere in the documents. Thereís no method, as I understand it, for the government to account for that fund, as to how much it is, where it sits and what has been spent out of that fund and how it has been spent. Thereís no real way to account to Yukoners so Iím choosing the opportunity to ask in this line item if the minister could just give me an update on whether or not we have developed the criteria and if there has been any money spent under it. And if she could give me the correct name, I would appreciate it.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I do know what the member opposite is referring to. Forgive me if I donít get the fund title right, either. Itís a fund that is administered by the Yukon Heritage Resources Board. It did reach $1 million and is administered through a trust fund and, therefore, isnít perhaps reflected in this budget.
The administration of the fund ó the Heritage Resources Board did come forward with a set of recommendations as to how to administer that fund and, together with our cultural services branch, there is an administration framework. In fact, the first allotment of that funding was released, I believe, back in January or February and was done by a news release. I would be happy to pass that on to the member opposite.
Ms. Duncan: I appreciate the information from the minister. The accounting to the public, then, would be through the Heritage Resources Board annual report that the minister tables; am I correct? And the minister is nodding. Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Archives in the amount of $868,000 agreed to
Total Cultural Services in the amount of $4,080,000 agreed to
Directorate in the amount of $259,000 agreed to
On Industry Development and Research
Mr. Cardiff: Iím hoping that this is the line item to ask this question. The program objectives under marketing talk about working in partnership with the private and the public sector organizations and industries, and it talks about maximizing the visitor length of stay, so what weíre talking about is attracting people to come and see tourist attractions. So the question is pretty simple. What Iíd like to know is: is the department working together with Parks Canada and the City of Whitehorse on a strategy to promote the SS Klondike and make people aware that it is there? Because if you drive into Whitehorse, there are lots of signs that tell you where any number of businesses are. There are signs that tell you about the trolley and the Miles Canyon railway, but there is nothing on the highway that tells visitors that there is a beautiful sternwheeler down here on the riverfront. So Iíd just like to know if theyíre working on that.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Our cultural services branch as well as our marketing branch have a very good working relationship with Parks Canada on the local level ó that is with our Yukon officials. They do a really good job here in the territory with what resources are available. Unfortunately, I think Parks Canada could be doing a better job at the Ottawa level, providing additional funds so that we are able to maintain and increase our attractions available to our visitors.
With respect to the SS Klondike, I canít say on my feet what specific initiatives weíre working on surrounding that particular attraction, but I do know that we collaborate with them on a regular basis, whether that be Kluane National Park or whether it be our places in Dawson City or the SS Klondike, but yes, we do work with all our community stakeholders.
Mr. Cardiff: I just want to make it clear that this has been raised with me by small business people in Whitehorse who feel that, if there was appropriate signage on the highway, it would attract more people to the downtown core in Whitehorse. So what theyíre looking for is a commitment by this government to show some leadership. If they have to take Parks Canada by the hand and say, "You know, we could put a sign up and this will be beneficial to Whitehorse" ó it wonít be beneficial to Ottawa or anybody responsible for tourism in Ottawa, but it will benefit Yukoners and it will benefit small business people up and down Second Avenue, on Main Street, if more people come downtown.
What Iím looking for is a commitment from the minister and the department to look into establishing signage that will let people know we have this beautiful sternwheeler on the riverbank and hopefully attract 100 more people a week to drive down the South Access. One hundred more RVs coming down the South Access would be good for our economy.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I would like to thank the member opposite for providing that suggestion. Thatís certainly something we will endeavour to ó I will raise it with my officials as Iím sure theyíre listening, and weíll certainly raise it with Parks Canada and the city.
Industry Development and Research in the amount of $564,000 agreed to
On Tourism Travel Trade
Tourism Travel Trade in the amount of $1,295,000 agreed to
On Special Projects and Regional Initiatives
Ms. Duncan: Can we have a time frame from the minister for the update of the regional tourism plans? For example, Kluaneís was redone some time ago. I donít think Whitehorse has been updated for a very long time ó 1998. Theyíre supposed to be done on a regular basis. I donít need the answer on the floor of the House; itís for background information and sheís welcome to send it over at her and the officialsí convenience.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: We do have tourism plans. Theyíve been completed for eight of Yukonís nine tourism regions, and updates have been performed on four of those plans. I would be happy to provide the member opposite with those four plans that are being updated, the names of them.
Special Projects and Regional Initiatives in the amount of $1,593,000 agreed to
On Mass Communications and Partnerships
Ms. Duncan: Weíre all familiar with the publications that are put out by the department in cooperation with others. Is there anything new in this seven-percent increase? Is there some wonderful new publication we should be made aware of? I note the minister has followed up on suggestions Iíve made and others have acted upon of sending, as a courtesy, members of this Legislature a copy of all the latest brochures. We appreciate that. I wonder if thereís anything new with the increase in this line.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: The increase is primarily as a result of the gateway cities program and the branding program. As I understand, there are no new pieces of literature.
Mass Communications and Partnerships in the amount of $2,099,000 agreed to
On Information Services
Information Services in the amount of $1,484,000 agreed to
Total Marketing in the amount of $7,294,000 agreed to
Ms. Duncan: I do have one question and the minister may want to redirect or respond at a later date. We have visitor origins and visitor reception centres, but we donít have border crossings, and there are four in the territory.
Understandably, someone might enter the country at Whitehorse coming from Frankfurt and then go to Skagway and cross the border there, so thereís some duplication, but where do I find the statistics on the number of border crossings in the Yukon per year?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I thought I had it with me, but I donít. So we can provide a copy.
On Transfer Payments
Transfer Payments cleared
Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Department of Tourism and Culture in the amount of $13,500,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
On Corporate Services
Chair: For membersí reference, this is page 15-5.
On Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space
Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space in the amount of $65,000 agreed to
Total Corporate Services in the amount of $65,000 agreed to
On Cultural Services
On Historic Resources
On Heritage Attractions Site Support
Heritage Attractions Site Support in the amount of $140,000 agreed to
On Heritage Studies
Heritage Studies in the amount of $30,000 agreed to
On Historic Sites
On Historic Sites Maintenance
Historic Sites Maintenance in the amount of $283,000 agreed to
On Historic Sites Inventory
Mr. Fairclough: Can the minister give a breakdown on that line item?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I believe that was the historic sites inventory. As I understand it, there is $29,000 for contract research and recording, $11,000 for travel and equipment, and $25,000 for personnel in existing positions.
Mr. Fairclough: Can the minister tell us what that would give us at the end of the day? Itís recording of historic sites. What do we expect to see in this report? What does the minister expect to bring forward to the public for that expenditure?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I should also say that is an increase of $25,000, and thatís to restore the funding back to its previous levels. The actual program itself, though, is a tool for the evaluation and monitoring of historic sites in the Yukon. Itís used when researching and planning for the preservation of sites and when evaluating development applications for potential impacts on historic sites. Itís closely linked to the national Canadian Register of Historic Places initiative and also used for the implementation of requirements outlined in the First Nation final agreements.
Mr. Fairclough: I believe this is ongoing work. The minister said that they are for historic sites. I would like to know which ones. Are some of them targeted this year, or is it all sites? What can we expect? What are they looking at for possible effects to these sites? Are they taking into consideration fire and growth or just deterioration, and so on?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I donít have that information at my fingertips, but Iíll endeavour to see that the member opposite receives a copy.
Historic Sites Inventory in the amount of $65,000 agreed to
On Fort Selkirk
Mr. Fairclough: Itís nothing new. Itís ongoing from First Nation final agreements. Thereís no increase in this amount over the previous year ó is that correct?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: There is no change from 2003-04 forecast levels.
Mr. Fairclough: Is that line item there because of the land claims agreement?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Thatís correct. Itís subject to the Selkirk First Nation Final Agreement, of which $125,000 is a contribution agreement with the Selkirk First Nation.
Fort Selkirk in the amount of $171,000 agreed to
On Historic Sites Planning
Historic Sites Planning in the amount of $82,000 agreed to
On Interpretation and Signage
Mr. McRobb: I have a question about signage. Itís on a matter I raised previously with the minister and Iíd like to know if anything has been done about it. The last time I was through the Kluane riding to the Alaskan border, I noticed there wasnít a "Welcome" or a "Thanks for visiting and please come again" sign for tourists as they were exiting the territory. Has the minister done anything about that?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Certainly, I canít say on my feet here what the standard is for signage when visitors exit the territory. Certainly, we will look into that. Iíll endeavour to work with the minister of the departments of Highways and Public Works and Community Services.
Interpretation and Signage in the amount of $103,000 agreed to
On Rampart House
Rampart House in the amount of $52,000 agreed to
On Forty Mile
Forty Mile in the amount of $51,000 agreed to
On Yukon Sawmill
Yukon Sawmill in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Heritage Trails
Heritage Trails in the amount of $30,000 agreed to
On Canyon City Tramway
Mr. McRobb: Can we get some information on this? Does the minister have any plans that she can share with us?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Canyon City tramway, as I believe the member opposite is referring to, is $15,000 is funds for the guided walking tours, and itís a contract with the Yukon Conservation Society.
Mr. McRobb: Thatís fine, Mr. Chair. Iíll look forward to reviewing that publication.
Canyon City Tramway in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
On Historic Places Initiative
Historic Places Initiative in the amount of $338,000 agreed to
Mr. McRobb: I have a couple of questions and maybe Iíll just lump them in together. One of them is: have there been any changes in staff in the palaeontology branch? And secondly, we havenít heard about the big dinosaur footprint fossil near Faro/Ross River lately. Can we get an update please?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Iím not familiar with any changes in staff; however, Iím not involved with the staffing issues on a day-to-day basis. There is an increase here and thatís due mainly to the collective agreement impact. The member opposite referred to the dinosaur tracks, and our heritage resources unit will continue to work in cooperation with the Town of Faro and Ross River Dena Council toward this very development there.
Palaeontology in the amount of $137,000 agreed to
On Yukon Archaeology
Mr. Fairclough: I have asked for an increase in this amount in the past. I know there is some work that is taking place around the territory for archaeological dates and so on. Iím not sure if this is the exact line item. The community of Carmacks is very interested in additional work just across and close to the Nordenskiold bridge in case any work is to take place either through the municipal government or YTG. Is any of this money designated to that community for that work?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Iím not familiar if there are specific dollars toward Carmacks, but if thatís what the member is referring to, I do understand that our cultural services branch is working with the village and also with the Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation as well as DIAND, regarding this initiative.
Mr. Fairclough: I was wondering if the minister can then work with the community a bit more closely because this area has been disturbed a bit more and more and more. There is a graveyard that is close by, and I know the municipality wants to do some improvements to their roadwork and so on, and the community has done a bit of work there and looked at the artifacts that have been found. There was an arrowhead, for example, that was just pushed up by a Cat in a pile of volcanic ash, and it was just a matter of walking by and picking these types of things up. That stuff is going to disappear quickly if we donít do any of the work. So I would appreciate it if the minister can work toward that with that community. They did raise it as a fairly high priority on their part.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Again, I do know that cultural services branch has certainly been working closely with the Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation and has also engaged the full involvement of DIAND, as well.
Yukon Archaeology in the amount of $195,000 agreed to
Chair: As it has reached our customary time, do members wish a recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agree.
Some Hon. Members: Disagree.
Chair: The members have expressed a desire to continue on; therefore, we will.
On First Nations Community Archaeology Project
First Nations Community Archaeology Project in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
On Ice Patch Research and Protection
Ice Patch Research and Protection in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On Museums Assistance
Museums Assistance in the amount of $435,000 agreed to
On Exhibits Assistance
Exhibits Assistance in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Artifact Inventory and Cataloguing
Artifact Inventory and Cataloguing in the amount of $79,000 agreed to
On Conservation and Security
Conservation and Security in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
On Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre
Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre in the amount of $44,000 agreed to
On Carcross/Tagish First Nations Heritage Cultural Centre
Carcross/Tagish First Nations Heritage Cultural Centre in the amount of $300,000 agreed to
On Old Crow Visitor Reception Exhibit
Old Crow Visitor Reception Exhibit in the amount of $60,000 agreed to
On First Nations Cultural Centres
First Nations Cultural Centres in the amount of $220,000 agreed to
On Prior Yearsí Projects
Prior Yearsí Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
On Visual Arts
On Visual Arts Acquisition
Visual Arts Acquisition in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Arts and Cultural Industries Development
On Arts Fund
Arts Fund in the amount of $500,000 agreed to
On Craft Strategy
Craft Strategy in the amount of $60,000 agreed to
On Decade of Sport and Culture
Decade of Sport and Culture in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Prior Yearsí Projects
Prior Yearsí Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
On Public Program Projects
Public Program Projects in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On Public Access Projects
Public Access Projects in the amount of $23,000 agreed to
On Archives Preservation Projects
Archives Preservation Projects in the amount of $44,000 agreed to
On Prior Yearsí Projects
Prior Yearsí Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
On Millennium Celebrations
On Prior Yearsí Projects
Prior Yearsí Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
Total Cultural Services in the amount of $3,942,000 agreed to
On Industry Development and Research
On Product Development and Resource Assessment
Product Development and Resource Assessment in the amount of $190,000 agreed to
On Industry Research and Strategic Planning
Industry Research and Strategic Planning in the amount of $509,000 agreed to
On Tourism Industry Resource Centre
Tourism Industry Resource Centre in the amount of $5,000 agreed to
On Visitor Reception Centres
On Capital Maintenance and Upgrades
Capital Maintenance and Upgrades in the amount of $94,000 agreed to
On Prior Yearsí Projects
Prior Yearsí Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
On Travel Equipment, Displays and Productions
On Purchase and Maintenance of Displays
Purchase and Maintenance of Displays in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Tourism Cooperative Marketing Fund
Ms. Duncan: Could I just ask the minister when she anticipates funds being released under that fund? Is it May or June? When does she anticipate those funds being released?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I understand that by the end of May, into the first part of June, those funds will be released.
Tourism Cooperative Marketing Fund in the amount of $500,000 agreed to
On Prior Yearsí Projects
Prior Yearsí Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
Total Marketing in the amount of $1,318,000 agreed to
On Transfer Payments
Transfer Payments cleared
Total Capital Expenditures for the Department of Tourism and Culture in the amount of $5,325,000 agreed to
Department of Tourism and Culture agreed to
Chair: That concludes Vote No. 54, Department of Tourism and Culture.
Do members wish a recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: All right. Weíll take a 15-minute recess.
Chair: Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We will continue on with Vote 3, Department of Education, and general debate.
Department of Education
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I would like to start by saying that this government has presented one of the largest budgets in the history of the Yukon Territory. It is a pleasure to also debate one of the largest Education budgets in the history of the Yukon Territory.
I would like to start by announcing a significant accomplishment with respect to education in the Yukon Territory. A three-year collective agreement was successfully negotiated without any complications, such as job action. Over the three-year agreement, our government has committed $3,385,291 in total toward benefits for the Education staff.
Our government greatly appreciates all of the staff who deliver education to citizens throughout the Yukon Territory. I want to personally thank all of the individuals who were involved with negotiating this agreement.
As I stated previously, our government appreciates the good work of the staff, but I would also like to put on record as minister that I support the good work the principals and teachers throughout the Yukon are doing in the Yukon schools.
They clearly are dedicated to ensuring our students get the best education. So once again, thank you, staff.
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to introduce the 2004-05 budget for the Department of Education. Before I go into specifics, I would like to take a moment to thank the Premier and my fellow ministers for all the hard work they put into this budget. Agreeing on a budget is not an easy task, and I think that we have come up with a budget that we can be proud of. We recognize that education is the fundamental foundation on which to build a strong economy and stronger, healthier communities. We have made a commitment in this budget that will strengthen that foundation.
I would also like to thank all of the staff in the Department of Education, again, for their hard work and input into the budget process. It takes a lot of people to put together the information and analysis that we need to make decisions. Finally, I would like to thank everyone I have met or heard from over the past year: First Nation leadership, school councils, teachers and other front-line workers, students, parents and everyone else who told us their needs and priorities for education.
We value this information. Recognizing that the amount we can spend is limited, we have done our best to make sure that our budget priorities take into account what weíve heard from Yukoners during our time in government. One thing that came across no matter where we heard from is that education is important to all Yukoners. This budget clearly shows our commitment to education and lifelong learning. This is the largest Education budget in the history of the Yukon, as I previously stated, and the 2004-05 O&M budget for Education comes in at $99.98 million, while the capital budget is $11.37 million.
Right off the top I would like to mention something very important to me and something I have been working to deliver since the day I was elected. This government recognizes the important role that Yukon College plays in this territory. People from across the territory have said loudly and clearly that Yukon College is important to them. I have been listening and this government has been listening, and this government has taken action to increase funding to the College by $1 million. Our support for Yukon College shows that building a vibrant economic future for the Yukon continues to be a top priority.
We recognize that post-secondary education and training are critical to economic development. We need a skilled and educated workforce to support and take advantage of economic opportunities as they arise. People with education and skills also become innovators and entrepreneurs, stimulating local economic development.
Yukon College programs provide important opportunities for Yukoners to become successful in the workforce and to get the skills they need to participate in economic opportunities. Mr. Chair, our government covers all Yukoners ó the Whitehorse Correctional Centre education committee, for example. This government put on three advanced education introductory courses in Whitehorse Correctional Centre over the winter months. Advanced education funded an introductory welding course, a computer skills building course and a small-engine repair course. The purpose of the campus at Whitehorse Correctional Centre is to help students work toward increasing their skills base so they will consider future training when they leave.
The welding, computer and small engine courses help the Whitehorse Correctional Centre students see that they can achieve success at one thing, and one thing leads to the belief itís possible to succeed.
In addition to investing in post-secondary programs, we are also committed to supporting our post-secondary students. This government believes that investing in our students is investing in the social and economic future of this territory.
We have increased support to our post-secondary students in two ways: by increasing the amount of our grant programs and by creating more summer employment opportunities.
Late last year, we announced that we had indexed our student financial assistance programs, the Yukon grant and the student training allowance, to reflect increases to the cost of living. In this budget, we are also increasing a number of summer jobs available to our students throughout the student training and employment program, known as STEP; we are adding funding for 30 new positions, bringing the total number to over 110 student jobs in government and the private sector.
By adding additional positions, we are giving more students the opportunity to earn summer income but, more importantly, to gain valuable career experience. This will help our students make the transition to the work force after they graduate. This government is making important investments in our students, investments that will help build healthy, thriving communities where Yukoners are busy working, contributing and improving.
Of course, we realize that not all of our students are getting the opportunity to access the excellent Yukon post-secondary programs and support. We realize that there are a number of students who are not completing high school, closing doors to opportunities for further education, training and jobs. This budget includes a number of new initiatives that will help improve student success rates, including an alternative school for school-age dropouts in Whitehorse; opportunities for rural students to take Yukon College courses as part of their high school program, giving them a wider range of course options to complete their diploma; and a homework tutor program targeted at rural and First Nation students.
First, I would like to talk about our plan for an alternative school.
This is a new initiative that will help school-age youth at risk finish school and achieve their career goals. We will open an alternative school in downtown Whitehorse to help school-age dropouts. It will be a welcoming, flexible environment to encourage them to continue working toward their high school diploma. We hope that these students will continue on to become lifelong learners and to be successful in the workforce and in their communities. This is another example of our commitment to improve student success. We will ensure that youth at risk get the best possible chance to finish school, go on to post-secondary opportunities and into the workforce and become lifelong learners.
The second initiative I mentioned is that weíre going to strengthen our linkage between high school and the Yukon College programming, mainly in rural communities. Students trying to complete their high school education in their home community donít get the same selection of courses as students in Whitehorse. They also have limited access to trades and technology programs. When it is appropriate, we will pay the tuition for a high school student to take a course toward their high school diploma at the local College campus. For example, if the student needs Biology 11 and it isnít available in their school, but their College campus is offering Biology 050, weíll pay for them to attend the College and theyíll get the credit on their diploma.
Similarly, if a student is interested in carpentry and their local campus is offering a pre-employment or pre-apprenticeship program, we will pay for them to enrol at the campus. This is going to broaden the range of options for rural students, giving them more options to complete their high school diploma in their home communities.
Finally, the third initiative is a new program that I am very excited about. We are implementing a home tutor program that will help rural and First Nation students do better in school, move on to post-secondary education or training and ultimately to succeed in the workforce and in their communities. This initiative is based on a very successful program piloted in Old Crow last year. This year, we will implement the program in 13 rural communities. We will also offer the program in Whitehorse for First Nation students and for out-of-town students attending Whitehorse schools who donít live in the Gadzoosdaa residence. Rural and urban students have very diverse needs, and I think that together these three programs show that we are responding to identified gaps in our education system. Ultimately, we want the same outcome for all our students ó success at school, leading to success in the workforce in the community. These three initiatives are further examples of how we are working to build healthy, thriving communities where people are busy working, contributing and improving.
This government also recognizes that First Nation students have specific needs. As a group, these students are not doing as well as non-First Nation students when it comes to graduation rates and test scores.
We realize that a more culturally relevant program of studies will help improve First Nation student results. We know that First Nation communities are concerned about the future of native languages and culture and that they want to do more to incorporate them into the education program. It gives me great pleasure to say that this budget includes a strong commitment toward improving First Nation studentsí success and increasing First Nation culture and language in the school system.
This budget includes two very important components. First of all, the budget includes money to support four native language instructor trainees; two were hired at the end of last year and two more will be hired this year. This marks the first time in five years that the Department of Education has hired native language instructor trainees.
We are currently teaching native language in 19 out of 28 Yukon schools and that number is increasing as the demographics of the Yukon change. Furthermore, many of our existing instructors are nearing retirement. Hiring trainees will ensure that we can continue to offer native languages in our schools and will help preserve these languages as they gain new speakers.
The 2004-05 Education budget also includes an additional $500,000 to support First Nation curriculum materials and resource development. This $500,000 will be over and above the other work we do on First Nation materials and resources and support for First Nation languages. This new $500,000 for First Nation curriculum materials and resources will have two key priorities.
The first will be to bring more First Nation history, culture and information on self-government and land claims into existing school programs.
The second will be to use frameworks developed with other jurisdictions to create more curriculum resources for First Nation language instruction. I truly believe that all our students, both First Nations and non-First Nations, will benefit from more culturally relevant, locally developed curriculum materials and resources. This is a clear commitment to an inclusive education system that reflects First Nation knowledge, culture and languages. We are working toward a brighter future for all our students, ensuring that they have opportunities to live, work and contribute to healthy, thriving communities.
As I mentioned earlier, the capital budget for the Department of Education will be $11.3 million. As we announced earlier this year, we are going ahead with the planning process for a new school in Carmacks. We have also budgeted for a number of important upgrades and repairs to schools across the Yukon. Two of the larger projects are a new roof on Vanier Catholic Secondary School and planning to work toward renovations at Porter Creek Secondary School. We are also developing innovative groundwater heating projects in Haines Junction and at Vanier Catholic Secondary School.
For the second year in a row, we have committed $1.5 million to the community training funds. I am also very pleased to say that $500,000 of this amount will be specifically directed to pre-employment and trades training. We believe that the community training funds are the most effective way to support training in economic sectors and communities, training that will directly support and encourage economic development.
This is the largest Education budget ever in the Yukon. This demonstrates our commitment to education and lifelong learning, to student success, to a skilled and educated workforce and to strong partnerships.
Education is and will continue to be a top priority for this government. With that, I thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Fairclough: Itís nice to give a little speech at the beginning of a debate like this. Weíll be going through this budget and this department carefully, and we do have lots of questions. I asked the minister a number of questions in the supplementary budget, and he said that he would get back to me on a number of things. We were hoping the minister would be prepared as we enter into debate on Education in the main budget, and Iíll be asking again some of the questions I asked of this minister in the supplementary budget.
The minister pointed out how important education is in the Yukon Territory. We on this side of the House feel the same way. Weíve been asking for the government to concentrate on training, for example, so the remaining people in the Yukon ó because our skilled workforce has left ó be trained and job-ready, and this did not take place, for example, on one small project. I was wondering if the Minister of Education voiced his concern about that.
Iíll just give a quick example. I know thereís probably not a whole lot of training that could take place on it, but itís with the seismic work in the community of Carmacks. Iíve heard the minister say time and time again that education is detrimental to economic development in the territory.
We had a project here that had no training, no dollars or commitment from the Education department to the community of Carmacks for any training for community members for seismic work.
That didnít happen, and it was unfortunate because what happened was that it looked bad on the Yukon Party because of two things they said ó that they would provide the training and ensure that people are job-ready. A year and a half has gone by, and this didnít happen on one of the projects that could have a tremendous effect on the territory. The other was to hire locally, and that didnít really happen either. And I know this is not in the Department of Education and, rather, Economic Development, but they go hand in hand, according to the minister. And Iím hoping that if the minister responsible for Economic Development would not pay attention to that, then the Minister of Education should, because itís important to the communities. We said it time and time again: itís important to the communities. We have seen dollars go into training trust funds time and time again from different governments. We see a difference between this budget, the previous budget, and the budget before that, right back to 1998 and how this budget is a decrease when it comes to training money in advanced education. So weíll be asking that question; Iím sure my colleague from Mount Lorne will ask that question, too, Mr. Chair.
I sat and listened to the member opposite. Weíve had some really important questions that the public has asked us to ask in this House, and I hope that we get some good answers from the member opposite. And I will go back and I will go through Hansard and respond to the answers I got to my questions.
I was disappointed in the attitude the minister took at the time. One of them was about listening. The minister said that he believed that I would benefit, really benefit, if I went back to the practice of some of the traditional ways of how to listen.
We went away from that a bit, but I would like to ask the minister then: can he lay it out? What are the traditional ways? And when he lays that out, Iíll use it on the minister too, because I want him to listen to the questions we have.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I thank the member opposite for the question. I believe that it would take more than the time the member opposite and I have on this earth to explain everything that belongs to the traditional knowledge, values and beliefs. I believe that when we talk about traditional ways, there is more than what meets the eye. When we talk about listening, I guess itís very plain and simple ó listen.
Mr. Fairclough: I knew the minister didnít know what he was saying at the time. We have lots of time in this House. I would like him to summarize it. What are the traditional ways of listening? He would like me to do that and feels that I will benefit from it. So I would like to ask him that because I want him to do the same thing. So, please, Mr. Minister, lay it out, and then weíll see what it is that the minister believes are the traditional ways of listening, other than just listening. Iím sure that thereís more because the minister wouldnít have said it if there wasnít more.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: It would be a pleasure to talk on the traditional ways. I strongly believe in them, and weíll talk about listening.
I believe, in all of the teachings Iíve had, it is to listen to what especially someone much older talks about.
I also believe that traditional listening probably does not really relate to the floor of this Legislature as it is different. It is a different style of government; it is a different culture. When one does give, as a First Nation person, some comments or some story, the person listening never ridicules or makes fun of it. So thereís a difference. When a question is asked of any individual, that individualís responsibility is to answer it to the best of their knowledge, whether theyíre right or wrong. Everybodyís opinion, everybodyís beliefs are of value.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister is right; there is a difference in culture here, and we are in the present-day political arena, but he mentioned it in the House, so I bring it up. The minister knows itís not the place for it, so he should not use it. Thatís what I was trying to get at with the member opposite. About respect, it goes both ways, and Iím sure the member knows that too. One of the things I really want to express to the member opposite is that it is the young people who need to be heard too, and thatís part of the problem we have even in the present day. So I will leave that alone. The member opposite recognizes that this is not the arena in which to do it, and I just wanted to ensure that we both know that.
I asked a number of questions of the member opposite about the supplementary budget and the reflection it has in the main budget here today.
One of the things the minister said was to wait until the main budget came up. I just heard though, out of interest ó and I took notes down ó about the alternative school project. I did ask the member a number of questions. I asked about consultation. The member said he would come back with more information on this. I asked about the consultation on the design and the location of the program. Has consultation taken place with the YTA or any of the practising teachers? I did not really get an answer from the member opposite, but now I give the minister another opportunity to tell us what consultation took place, or is it a concept right now and weíre looking down the road for consultation with the general public and professionals?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: To start with, I would like to remind the member opposite that itís an individual choice as to whether oneís culture will be used or not. If I as an individual choose to do that, I believe thatís my responsibility and Iíll continue to do so.
I also believe itís very valuable to recognize both, whether itís on the floor of this House or whether itís out in Timbuktu.
With regard to the alternative school, the school councils, administrators and teachers have indicated an alternative school is needed in Whitehorse. So we will be talking with other government departments, youth, youth centres, youth centre societies, Yukon College and First Nations as we move toward implementation.
A steering committee, including Department of Education staff, school administrators and representatives of Whitehorse school councils, will guide the planning. We will be looking to set up the steering committee in the next month or so, and weíll start meeting with youth groups and other departments by early September. Again, I want to make it very clear that any time a new initiative such as this is going to be implemented, there will be growing pains. The government expects that there will be issues that will arise as time goes on, and with all of the stakeholders involved, it is this governmentís belief that if something doesnít work, weíll all go back to the drawing board, and we improve it. That is the way the process will go.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister didnít clearly answer the question about culture and tradition. Obviously, the member knows that one needs to learn about it first, before exercising it. That is my recommendation to anybody who wants to do that.
I asked the member opposite if consultation took place with Yukon Teachers Association and the professionals, and there was no clear answer to this. But what the minister did say was that school councils have all expressed a need for a school like this. Can the minister provide us with that information? When did they let government know about this? What meetings took place? We on this side of the House would like to have that information.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Iím going to go back to the culture initiative to start out with because I think that at least some people are interested in learning and are actively doing it. I will leave that there.
Again, I think that the question the member opposite is asking has been answered on several occasions. I donít know really how much clearer one can make it to anyone.
I said previously that I have met with school councils and they have expressed a desire to start an alternative school for the students who are dropping out, and mainly the post-secondary school councils have requested this. I donít log every phone call that comes into my office, but Iíve also had several requests from different business organizations in the Yukon as to putting this idea to the government, saying, "Why donít we have an alternative school in the territory? It would certainly help the youth who are struggling. It would certainly help the youth who are having a very difficult time functioning in the normal setting of the classroom or in the normal structure of the schools." Now, we heard those requests. Iíve also heard it from the youth themselves. As a matter of fact, I talked to a couple of young ladies who left school for personal reasons. I discussed this option with them, and their reply was very simple: "Oh cool, that would be so right on."
So a comment coming from the very people this is designed to support ó I canít help but say that young lady summed it up very plainly.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister didnít answer my question clearly. He must listen to the question, Mr. Chair. I asked about what information the minister can provide us on this side of the House that was given to the government to give him direction on this very issue. Does the minister have anything at all? Can he provide any information about the general public, school councils, committees and so on that have given him that direction?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Iíll state for the record again ó I believe this is probably the fourth time or so that Iíve answered this very question; Iíll repeat it again. I have talked to the school councils, especially in the secondary schools where the request was coming from. Iíve talked to students themselves; Iíve talked to people on the street.
Mr. Chair, this is a very worthwhile initiative. I believe, in all my years working as a councillor on the Kwanlin Dun First Nation government, we asked for this for years and years. We have been concerned for many years about students who were dropping out of school and who needed some other process, something other than the regular classroom structure.
This government is taking the initiative to fulfill that request by a lot of people in the territory. I have a hard time understanding why this member is so concerned to start with because theyíre going to vote against the money we put into it anyway.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, is that showing respect to members on this side of the House, who are bringing up issues our constituents and the ministerís constituents are asking us to bring up? I think not. So maybe the minister ought to take another look at himself when answering questions on this matter.
With all of those committees and the general public coming to the minister, the minister acted upon that, and what we have to show for it is the alternative school? Is that what I can gather from the minister?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, I didnít hear the answer from the minister.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Clear.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister is having all kinds of problems, because he doesnít know. He doesnít know the direction it came from.
Okay, Iíll ask a different question. Itís the same question, but slightly different. Did this direction come from the department?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: The member opposite knows very well that the principals, teachers, school councils are all involved with the administration of education, so naturally, some of this comes through the department.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, a couple of short days, and now the answers are changing from the minister. Isnít that interesting, Mr. Chair? Time and time again we hear of that so should I believe the minister this time, or should I have believed him a couple of days ago? Which one is it? The minister, I donít think, believes himself at times.
I asked if the minister got some information about programs that were set up in the past. One of them that I thought was running four or five years ago was the Essentials. It was called the Essentials. It was for dropouts. The minister said he would come back with information to me on that. Can he provide that? And what evaluation took place on that program?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Well, we did go through great efforts to try to locate some information on this issue, and this was a one-year program, housed on Wood Street, to meet the needs of struggling learners. The movement to Wood Street Centre was based upon grad reorganization and a space problem at F.H.Collins. This occurred in 1997, and the students and teachers were returned to F.H. Collins the following year when space once again became available. Courses taught in the Essentials program were English language, arts, social studies, mathematics and science. These courses were radically altered to meet the needs of the students involved. The Essentials program was not continued, although the courses offered in this program are still available at F.H. Collins.
Mr. Fairclough: So will any of this information that the minister has in the Essentials program be used to develop the alternative pathways, what has been successful there and what failed and how improvements could be made?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: The Department of Education is always interested in learning and if thereís anything that can be contributed and is of value to what the department is doing, Iím certain they would evaluate that and look at how it could or would be of assistance to a program thatís newly started. I believe that the department will also look at jurisdictions outside the territory to see if there are any parts of a program or structure that may assist in developing the alternative pathways. Itís also very important to understand and to be aware of the fact that this program is for students in the Yukon Territory, so the department, through consultation and working with the steering committee, is going to do its best to design a program that will belong to the Yukon Territory.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister answered my next question as to where else they would be looking. Theyíre obviously looking outside the territory.
In response to my question about the Essentials program in the supplementary budget, the minister brought up another alternative school called PASS. Can he tell us about that and when that took place? What useful information has the minister gathered out of that?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I just want to mention with regard to the last question that was asked, through going to the education ministers meeting outside the territory, I have had the opportunity to develop a very good friendship and working relationship with other ministers across Canada. I have had a personal invitation from different jurisdictions to come and observe some of their ways of meeting needs of students.
I really thank the different ministers from across Canada for being so open and willing to share something they may have worked on a lot longer than what was done in this territory and being so willing to say, "We will offer you any assistance we can." It was quite heartwarming for me because, as we all know, it can be very costly to develop programs, and to have a generous offer from another jurisdiction to aid in any way they can to speed up or improve a program the Yukon may be thinking about putting in place is a very good gesture from those ministers.
With regard to PASS, which is practical academics for selected students, this program began in 1990 as a storefront school for dropout students aged 12 to 14.
The mandate of the past program was to deliver academic and social curricula to students who had not been successful in the regular school system. The aim of this programming was to assist students to develop appropriate academic and social skills so they might have a chance to succeed in the regular system. The program attracted students with very poor self-concepts and, in many cases, extreme lack of motivation prompted by a history of weak academic skills and failing educational experiences.
This program was discontinued due to the variety of needs of clients being unmet in a single program. The client target group tended to be in the special needs category, which did not fit with the staff available at the time. The program was also operational during the normal school day, rather than providing additional opportunities for students who are unable to function in a rigid school timetable. The PASS program ended in 1996.
Mr. Fairclough: If there is any additional information on both the PASS program and the Essentials, Iíd ask the minister to pass that information to us on this side of the House.
The minister said that they had the political will to do it, and that nobody else did ó to address issues like this. Thatís one of the reasons why I brought those up.
The minister said he was going to consult with school councils, communities and so on, on this matter. Why was a location already picked out for this school?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: At this point in time there is no specific location picked out, but a downtown space will be looked for.
Mr. Fairclough: Without consultation. The minister did say that he didnít say that when I heard very well from the minister that he did say it would be in the downtown section of Whitehorse, and he confirmed that today in his opening remarks. So I would say that a lot of the program is already designed without the consultation of school councils or the YTA or the professionals.
The member said that students attending existing schools are basically not allowed to go to this alternative school, which means they have to drop out of school and then they attend. Is that the case, or is it the process that the students will be encouraged to stay in public school to try to finish grade 12 and, should they not make it, this is the next route, or are we going to see grade 10 students dropping out of the school and going to this alternative school?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I want to go back to the previous question just for a second because itís important to know that the principals and school councils have repeatedly stated to me in different meetings and to others that if there is that reality that we can have an alternative school and pathways to education school in Whitehorse, it would be preferable if it were in a downtown location.
Thatís where the suggestions of it being in a downtown location originated from, and itís probably a good idea.
With regard to the other question that the member asked, I believe that it is of the utmost importance and interest of the Education department to ensure that we meet the needs of all students in the territory. Certainly we will continue to encourage students to continue in the normal process of education. Again, Mr. Chair, this specific program will be designed to assist students who may be off track and who may have a very good chance to get back into the original system if they so choose. I think it is important to note that some of the students that may be in question here may only need credits from one or two courses. This gives them the flexibility to get that credit and to be able to graduate.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister didnít answer my question clearly, Mr. Chair, about students who are in even junior high ó if they were dropping out of school, is this the school they go to? Is it for the age of 16 and over? What are we looking at? What can the minister tell me so that I can relay this message back to my constituents?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I believe the member opposite knows very well that I have stated probably two to three times on the floor today that this alternative school is still under design, and the criteria are not really set down yet.
But, again, I just want to stress the point: the importance of looking at the whole community and knowing very well that there is, and has been for many years, a certain sector of the public who do need a little bit of extra help. And that is the need this government is trying to meet ó the needs of the ones having a hard time staying in school.
Mr. Fairclough: Iím not arguing that point. Once we get our head wrapped around exactly how this is going to be designed, we probably would support it. Right now, this is in the budget and has been announced. Itís an initiative by this government, and many people are coming up to me in my riding and asking me about this program. I need to be able to bring information back to them. I realize itís being designed and places are looking at ó people in Pelly Crossing, Carmacks and Mayo have all asked, "Whatís it going to look like? Who is it for? Is it for me, who cannot make it through the high school system because itís just not working for me and I have to drop out?"
I would think so, but I would think the minister would put some checks and balances in place to prevent students from dropping out of grade 9 and going to this alternative school. I donít know how rigid it is compared to our regular school system. And I donít even know if itís designed to handle students outside of Whitehorse. Maybe Iíll ask that: is it designed to handle students outside of Whitehorse? If yes, then can the minister tell us about housing and where students would stay and so on?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I will state for the record again that I did mention earlier that this whole structure is still being designed. Again, Iíd like to talk about where weíre going to be going with the school. It was to make an attempt at meeting the demands of the public at large ó students wanting to continue, who havenít been able to do it during the regular setting of a high school.
So this government, through a lot of consultation, I would say, in talking to school councils, principals, talking with First Nations ó Iíve talked to some of the First Nations myself on a one-to-one basis ó and a lot of the discussion we had centred around the need to be able to address this very important issue of students and young people not getting up in the morning and going to school. Through the discussions, Mr. Chair, I canít say exactly how many times it was repeated to me that we need to have something that will encourage these young people to do something. We need to look at something that will motivate them to go to school.
I have sat with people, as I stated earlier, and discussed suggestions or ideas that will fulfill that vacuum weíre talking about.
Again, I have to say that through my discussions with the different individuals, this alternative pathway to education came up. There was, I would say, an awful lot of discussion around this very topic: concerned parents wanting to know what they can do with their young person in their family, their daughter or son, who wonít go to school. The discussion centred around some of the dynamics that create a negative energy for young people. I canít help but acknowledge and know that some of the people Iíve talked to had attended the mission school at Lower Post or they attended a mission school at Carcross. These individuals were really strapped for what suggestions might be able to help their youth.
So, with a lot of discussion with different people, this alternative pathway to education became a good discussion to get into, and on more than one occasion I heard from people where they said, "Well, youíre the minister. You should be able to look at this. What can you do? What can you do to help my son or my daughter to get over the hump, so to speak?" And through a lot of discussion, we talked about a lot of issues that could contribute to why someone may not be anxious to go to school. As this discussion took place, it was very obvious that some of the young people just had difficulties getting up at 7:00 or whatever in the morning to get prepared to go to school. Some of them were out very late at night, coming home at 3:00 in the morning.
So, it became a situation where some people have said to me, "Well, why canít you and the government put something in place where my son doesnít have to be over at the school at 8:30 a.m. because he has a difficult time getting up? But he also did very well in school when he was there."
So, when we have discussions like this with very sincere people who are really worried about their youth, and theyíre requesting that the government get involved and start looking at what could be done for youth on the street, it became a reality. It became something I had an obligation to look at because it came from a large section of the citizens of this territory.
I see that through those discussions today, Iíve now been approached by some of the people I talked to some months ago who are now saying, "You know, Iím really glad that your government is taking a serious look at this issue." More than one of them has said, "If thereís anything we can do to help you, we certainly will do that."
Seeing the time, I move that we report progress on Bill No. 10, First Appropriation Act, 2004-05.
Chair: Mr. Edzerza has moved that we report progress on Bill No. 10, First Appropriation Act, 2004-05.
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 the Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Rouble:Mr. Speaker, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 10, First Appropriation Act, 2004-05, and has directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House be now adjourned.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. government House leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. Monday.
The House adjourned at 6:00 p.m.