Thursday, May 13, 2004 ó 1:00 p.m.
Clerk:It is my duty, pursuant to the provisions of section 24 of the Legislative Assembly Act, to inform the Legislative Assembly of the absence of the Speaker.
Deputy Speaker takes the Chair
Deputy Speaker: I will now call this House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers. I would ask members to bow their heads in a moment of silent reflection.
Deputy Speaker:We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
In recognition of International Day of Families
Hon. Mr. Jenkins:Mr. Deputy Speaker, I rise today to recognize International Day of Families, which will take place this Saturday, May 15. In early December last year, Canada kicked off the 10th anniversary of International Year of the Family. Ten years ago, in 1994, under the leadership of the United Nations, countries around the globe, including Canada, joined together to celebrate families ó the very foundation of our society.
It is fitting that we celebrate this anniversary, because so much has changed here in the Yukon over the past 10 years to support families.
We have in place a healthy families program, which looks out for children and parents at risk and provides them with support to create better families. We have put programs in place like the kids recreation fund, food for learning and the childrenís drug and optical program to support families who are not as fortunate as we are.
Our government has increased and improved the Yukon child benefit to better support children and their families. We work with other programs such as those sponsored by the federal government, like community action programs for children and brighter futures. Yukonís non-government organizations have also made many contributions to the improvements in support of families. Skookum Jim Friendship Centre has developed a traditional parenting program. The Yukon Family Services Association offers parenting courses as well. These are the tools that help keep families together and strong. We need to continue to work together to discover new ways of supporting families.
It is fitting that on May 15, on the International Day of Families, we all pause and reflect on the importance of the family unit.
Mr. Cardiff: I rise on behalf of the official opposition and the third party to pay tribute to the International Day of Families, May 15. The day was established by the United Nations in 1993 to recognize and promote the family.
Within our society, families are changing. Populations are ageing, life expectancy is longer, and health is improving. Regrettably, almost half of marriages are ending in divorce. This means that grandparents are taking on greater roles in raising children, more couples are opting to be childless, so the nuclear family is even smaller than previously thought. Many couples never marry but live together common-law, sometimes much longer than married couples. Some women opt to have children without having a partner. Single people adopt children. In the last few years we have seen the definition of "family" challenged to include same-sex marriages.
Each one of these units has different strengths. The one idea that is clear is what constitutes the ideal family. What constitutes the ideal family will differ greatly, depending on our own perspective. Policies affecting families need to take this diversity into account and should not reflect a single, ideal image of the family.
In the Yukon, our Yukon Family Services Association is very active in supporting families not only in Whitehorse, but in Watson Lake, Haines Junction and Dawson City. Yukon Family Services Association counsellors are available to help sort out individual and family issues, and the organization has three youth outreach counsellors and a youth intervention program.
Other programs include a Nobodyís Perfect parenting workshop and Fireweed Family Place, which is a space for families to meet with a counsellor informally without an appointment, and Mothering Your Baby the First Year.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank the volunteers and professionals who make up this very important service for our families.
Deputy Speaker: Are there any further tributes?
Introduction of visitors.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Mr. Cardiff:Iíd like the House to help me welcome the former Mayor of Dawson, Mr. Glen Everitt.
Mr. Cathers: Iíd like to ask all members of the House to join me in welcoming two constituents of mine whoíve had the misfortune of having their livelihoods be the subject of some discussion in this Legislature and the media recently, the owners of the Northern Splendor Reindeer Farm, Tim and Stella Gregory.
Deputy Speaker: Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Fairclough:I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to establish a toll-free inquiry line for the general public and all levels of government personnel to receive clarification on specific aspects of the Umbrella Final Agreement, and First Nationsí final and self-government agreements.
Ms. Duncan: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House recognizes the contribution of service clubs and fraternal organizations throughout the Yukon with a proclamation from the Commissioner of the Yukon during the month of October.
Mr. Cardiff: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to work with the City of Whitehorse, the 2007 Canada Winter Games Committee and communities outside the host city to ensure that there are opportunities for rural communities to benefit from the Canada Winter Games by hosting events such as cultural exchanges, coaching clinics, community visits and speaking engagements by nationally recognized coaches and athletes.
Mrs. Peter: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to honour and respect the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation and demonstrate respect for the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation Final Agreement by conducting proper consultation before making changes in the Wildlife Act that would affect the First Nationís right to determine how trapping takes place in their community.
I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to raise the status of the Department of Environment to a level that adequately restores and protects the Yukonís wilderness and resources from the damage of a single-minded pursuit of an economy that is strictly based on resource extraction.
Mr. Cathers: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to continue to work cooperatively with the governments of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut in extending and improving the common health care vision set forth in their northern cooperation accord signed in Nunavut on August 29, 2003.
Deputy Speaker: Are there any statements by ministers?
Deputy Speakerís ruling
Deputy Speaker:Before proceeding with Question Period the Chair will rule on a point of order raised yesterday by the Member for Kluane.
At issue was the statement by the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources that, "for the members opposite to insinuate that the government owns the herd is in fact a falsehood. It is not true."
The Member for Kluane is correct in his assertion that the use of the term "falsehood", in that context, violates Standing Order 19(h), in that the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources charged another member with uttering a deliberate falsehood.
Unfortunately, other such statements were made yesterday. Members will recall that the Chair expressed his discomfort with the term "misinformation", as employed by the leader of the official opposition. The term "false excuses" was also used.
The Chair appreciates that members disagree about issues raised in the House. However, members must be judicious in how they express such disagreement. As a rule, members are free to assert the truthfulness of their own statements. It is not in order for them to question the truthfulness of statements made by other members. As Beauchesneís Parliamentary Rules and Forms notes in annotation 494, "It has been formally ruled by Speakers that statements by Members respecting themselves and particularly within their own knowledge must be accepted. It is not unparliamentary temperately to criticize statements made by Members as being contrary to the facts; but no imputation of intentional falsehood is permissible. On rare occasions this may result in the House having to accept two contradictory accounts of the same incident."
Members should also be respectful of one another when expressing their disagreement. The use of phrases such as, "get it into your head" and its variants are insulting and lead to disorder, as occurred yesterday.
The Chair thanks all members in advance for their cooperation in this regard.
We will now proceed with Question Period.
Question re: Northern Splendor Reindeer Farm, animal purchase
Mr. Hardy:I have a question for the Minister of the Environment or whoever is going to stand up and answer for him about the catch-22 his department has created for the owners of the Northern Splendor Reindeer Farm. The Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, who has nothing whatsoever to do with the wildlife, says that they can sell their animals. The Department of Environment says they canít. That department blocked them from selling them because there is a regulatory void.
Does the Minister of Environment, or whoever is going to answer for him, agree with his department officials, or does he agree with the uninformed Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: As I stated yesterday for the record, Iíll state it again today. This government has respect for animals and certainly does not want to witness any undue hardship on the animals. And, yes, there appears to be some confusion around this subject. What is of most importance is how we are going to resolve this situation to ensure the care of the animals. That is why emergency feed has been ordered, in accordance with the Animal Protection Act.
Second, from a business point of view, this government would like to assure the owners that if they require an export permit, they will get one.
Third, to address the long-term issue faced by the owners, this government has offered to engage a third party.
Mr. Hardy: There are some very interesting announcements just made by this minister and weíre going to explore those a little bit. One thing, though, that keeps this House interesting is that you never know who is going to pop up and answer a question, even if they donít know what theyíre talking about.
Now let me spell something out for the minister ó and I hope the Minister of Finance is listening very closely. If these reindeer are domestic animals, as the Minister of Energy claims, the owners should be allowed to sell them. If they are wildlife, as the Environment department says, they canít sell them and this government is denying them the ability to make a living or even buy feed for their animals. So Iím going to ask very clearly ó because I do not believe that what was just announced here has been communicated to the owners of the reindeer farm ó in the House today: what compensation is the Minister of Environment or the Minister of Finance prepared to offer these people for his departmentís decision to deprive them of their livelihood? Whatís the dollar figure? Iím talking about their inability to sell the animals in order to get money so they can feed the animals they keep.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Iíd like to clear something up for the member opposite: there is no confusion around who answers on this side on this question as it was thoroughly explained in the House why, as the minister, I answered for this issue. The member opposite knows why.
I agree that there are some confusing facts. I believe some of the confusion has resulted from the recent changes of the federal Yukon Act. Reindeer were removed and turned over to Yukon jurisdiction. This change raised questions around the designation of the reindeer as domestic livestock under the agricultural act or game farm species under the Wildlife Act.
Again, in the short term to ensure the welfare of the animals, emergency feed is going to be provided. If required, export permits will be issued. On the long-term issue, an offer to engage a third party has been made. I will add for the record that this government will do whatís right.
Mr. Hardy: Once again, we are finding that this is a government on that side that is operating on their own, in a vacuum, without communicating to the people who are affected by these decisions, but also to the rest of the people of the Yukon.
Now this is a question of basic justice, and all we get when we ask questions in here is a run around. One minister says one thing, another minister says something opposite. The minister who is supposed to be dealing with this wonít even speak because of personal business interests that he has already identified. Yet itís his department that is blocking these people from selling the animals. They had buyers lined up. The department said no.
My question very simply is: what is this government going to do about that kind of double standard that we have witnessed in this House in regard to the preserve and in regard to the farm on the Carcross Road and in regard to the Northern Splendor farm out on the Mayo Road stretch? What is this government going to do to create a level playing field and treat all people equally?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: To start out with, Iíll respond to the member opposite saying that there is a vacuum. I would have to agree that the vacuum might be on the other side of the House. This government is capable of dealing with crisis situations and making the tough decisions that we are expected to.
I would also like to repeat: yes, there has been some confusion around this issue. Some of the confusion is due to the recent changes to the Yukon Act and we are acting to address this.
Yes, there is an immediate threat to the well-being of the reindeer as the owners cannot afford feed, so emergency food is being provided. Yes, this business needs to be operated. If export permits are required for a sale, they will be issued. Yes, there is a long-term issue that needs to be addressed and this government has offered to engage a third party to begin these discussions.
This government will hold true to its words.
Question re: Northern Splendor Reindeer Farm, animal purchase
Mr. Hardy:Itís very interesting listening to the comments today when the very people being affected are in the gallery today, theyíve been introduced, and the MLA for their riding has stated on the floor that they donít like being treated like a political football. Yet on this floor today weíre hearing announcements that I would suspect they havenít even been told about. They are being treated like a political football by this government.
All week weíve been trying to get some straight answers from this government but all we get is buck-passing. The Minister of Environment wonít comment in this House because of a supposed conflict but was able to discuss this issue with the Fish and Wildlife Management Board people yesterday. Obviously thereís no conflict there, is there?
Thatís a double standard from my view and I think itís also the view of the people of this territory. Why is the Premier allowing his ministers to get away with such nonsense on a matter thatís affecting the livelihood of two dedicated people and the well-being of 62 defenceless animals ó why?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I have to clarify for the record that this government has been working on this issue constantly. Itís not something that has been put on the wayside, as the member opposite would lead people to believe. This government has been working on this issue. Yes, there appears to be some confusion around this subject, as I stated before.
First, what is of immediate concern is the welfare of the reindeer and the government will act accordingly. We will not see any animals in distress.
This government has offered to engage a third party to help deal with this situation in a very respectful way.
Mr. Hardy: The buck stops with the Premier in this matter. Heís the Finance minister. Heís also supposedly the leader of this party, and heís the one who can clear up the confusion that this other minister, whoís not even part of this debate, is obviously admitting to.
Now, if the reindeer farm owners own the animals, they need the economic means to feed them. The government has blocked that. If the government owns them, then the government has to feed them. Are they now admitting to that? Do they own the animals or not? There has been a promise to pay the feed bill for the next eight months. Iím guessing thatís what theyíre proposing, although we havenít heard any figures yet on the floor. Right at this moment, as far as I know, there has been no cheque cut and, if anything, theyíre talking more about when the animals get to the distress level, which is unacceptable.
Now, it takes seven days to get the feed up to the Yukon. If the government waits too long, the cows will go into distress and stop producing milk for their calves. What does the Premier plan to do about this disturbing and disgraceful situation, and can he guarantee that that cheque will be sent down to the suppliers and that feed will be up here within a week? Can he guarantee that?
Hon. Mr. Lang: As Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, the most immediate concern is the welfare of the animals. The owners have stated that they will be unable to feed the animals later this month. So as per the Animal Protection Act, emergency feed will be ordered and will be delivered to the farm by the date requested. So the immediate concern has been addressed. There will be no starving reindeer.
Mr. Hardy: This is unbelievable, Mr. Deputy Speaker. He mentions a date requested. When is that date requested? Whatís the date that he has identified? Yesterday and the day before, he talked about action not even happening until the animals are in distress. So whatís the change here? What are we talking about? Are we going to wait for the animals to be in a starvation situation before they think about ordering it?
This government is absolutely unbelievable. They can cut a cheque to buy a house in Granger with a water problem. They can spend $2 million to buy a game farm owned by a political friend. Theyíre willing to buy captive wildlife from another operator. They can write off hundreds of thousands of dollars in bad debts for their Cabinet ministers. But on this issue, all they can do is stall, evade and doubletalk. When will the Premier put an end to the double standard and deal fairly and openly with these people?
Deputy Speakerís statement
Deputy Speaker:Before the member answers the question, the Chair is very uncomfortable with the term "double-talk," and it goes back to the statement that the Chair made earlier.
The member may answer the question.
Hon. Mr. Lang: Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
This government does care about the well-being of animals, the reindeer in this case. As stated in this House today, weíd take any threat to the well-being of animals very seriously. I have ensured the emergency feed required for the animals will be bought and delivered to the farm in time. This type of assistance had been given to Yukoners on occasions when required in the past. So itís not something we havenít done in the past, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
Question re: Workersí Compensation Health and Safety Board, client confidentiality
Ms. Duncan:I have a question for the minister responsible for the Workersí Compensation Health and Safety Board. It was brought to my attention early this morning that a serious breach of confidentiality and client information has occurred at the Workersí Compensation Health and Safety Board. Is the minister aware of the situation?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: No, Iím not, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
Ms. Duncan: Iím bringing it to the ministerís attention. What has occurred is that some clientsí information has been shared with other clients. In other words, an individual requesting their information from WCB has been given confidential information about other WCB claimants. This is a very, very serious breach of confidentiality. Thereís a problem at the Workersí Compensation Health and Safety Board.
Will the minister ensure the following: that the documents are recovered, that the claimants receive an immediate apology from the minister, and I want a full investigation into why this occurred.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Under the powers vested in the minister, I will commence an inquiry into this initiative through the board.
Ms. Duncan: Iíve requested that some very specific actions be taken, and I would ask that the minister, when he responds, give me a commitment that these will occur and a date when they will occur. I would like to ensure that the documents are recovered, that the claimants receive an immediate apology and a full investigation. We must ensure the documents are recovered and that this never, ever happens again.
Will he ensure that that takes place, and will he give a date when he can indicate, either to me or to this House, that that has occurred?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The legislation surrounding how the minister in charge of Workersí Compensation Health and Safety Board is to proceed is very explicit, and I will adhere to the legislation. I have committed to the member opposite, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that I will ask the officials to investigate and provide me with a full report on this alleged incident. The proper steps and the appropriate steps will be taken.
Question re: Employee overpayment
Mr. McRobb:I have a riding question for the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission. A constituent of mine is a long-term employee of this Yukon government. Recently he was advised that an audit had been done on his time records and leave forms, going back to 1991. As a result of an overpayment, this government is docking him for over two weeksí pay. This overpayment was an error on the governmentís part, not the employeeís.
Why is my constituent being hit with this bill 13 years later and being required to pay for the error on the governmentís part, and how much is it costing to pursue this?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I believe that this is an administration question and Iím unable to answer for the administration.
Mr. McRobb: We all know the administration merely follows the policies of the political level of government. Welcome to the Yukon Party double standard once again. Itís okay for Cabinet ministers to wiggle off the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars, but when it comes to its own employees, the government will go to extremes to hunt down every last penny.
Itís my understanding that an audit of this kind is only done when an employee leaves the government or resigns, retires or is terminated. My constituent isnít resigning or retiring, and he hasnít been informed that he is being terminated, although that would be a possibility in the absence of whistle-blower legislation. Can the minister explain why this audit was performed in the first place, and has there been a change in policy about such audits?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: For the record again, I will repeat that this is an administrative issue and I do not deal with administrative issues on the floor of this Legislature.
Question re: Yukon native teacher education program
Mr. Fairclough: My question is for the Minister of Education. The Yukon native teacher education program was started 15 years ago with the objective of having our teacher population be representative of the general population. That means approximately 30 percent of teachers in our schools should be First Nation. The minister says that there are 75 graduates in total from the YNTEP. If every one of them was hired in our schools, that would still come to only about 18 percent of our teaching population, a far cry from the 30 percent. There is only one YNTEP graduate out of 11 in the past two years who has been hired by this department. What is the minister doing about meeting the objectives ó Iím talking about the objectives ó of the YNTEP?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: First Iíd like to state for the record that the YNTEP and the government do not guarantee that everyone who goes through Yukon College will be hired upon leaving their program.
I will also state for the record that this decision has to do with unity, bridge building and partnerships with First Nations. Iíll mention again, as I did before on the floor of this Legislature, that this policy was dividing families ó First Nation persons married to non-First Nations. There was division in the family about one being able to go to this program while another isnít. Mr. Deputy Speaker, I believe it was a good decision to include every person in the territory, and I respect that decision.
Mr. Fairclough: Itís good that the minister respects his own decision but, as he was shuffling through the papers, he forgot the question once again. Without any evaluation of the program, without consultation with First Nations, the minister announced heís opening up the YNTEP. This is completely against the objectives of the program and the reasons for its existence in the first place. We are concerned there are not enough field placements and cooperating teachers in the schools for internship placement for the present students, so will the minister assure the Yukon public ó who are paying half a million dollars a year for this program ó that the full course of studies, including internship placements and co-op teachers, will be available for all students?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: This government doesnít single out anyone. Of course things will be available for all students. I want to say today that this program started in 1989 with an enrolment of 195 out of 225. Total grads today are 75; the cost to YTG is approximately $7.5 million, which means approximately $100,000 per grad. I think this government even put more into that program this year.
So, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the government is aware of the cost of this program. Iíd like to add something of what this government is doing for First Nation funding in this budget. As you know, First Nations benefit from all the programming offered by the department. At the same time, there are some specific funding initiatives for First Nation programming, such as aboriginal language teachers, $2,280,000; YNTEP, $540,000; First Nation curriculum materials and resources, $500,000; native language centre, $352,000; department staff who work directly on First Nation curriculum, $200,000; aboriginal language trainees, $111,000 Ö
Deputy Speaker: Would the member please conclude?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Ö which, in total, goes over $4 million.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, again, the minister has gotten off track on this subject and Iíd like to focus him back to the issue again.
The member said that internships and practicum are provided for all students. Well, thatís not really the case, and the minister knows that. Thatís the problem with the program right now.
Now, the College is marketing the program more aggressively than ever, but itís only after this government decided to open up the program. The College has said that they could have a class of 20 students in this program this year. We wonder about the criteria for mature student applications. We are also concerned that some First Nation applicants are turned away despite having reasonable qualifications. So, will the minister assure us that the mature entry criterion for this program has not been changed?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: What I can assure the member opposite is that these decisions are made by the committee that is in charge of the YNTEP and not by me.
Question re: Trapline concessions
Mrs. Peter: Yesterday, I asked the Minister of Environment about government policies on group trapping concessions and the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation Final Agreement. The minister showed a total lack of knowledge of that agreement. Section 184.108.40.206 of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation Final Agreement ensures that the community retains their group trapline. However, the department is attempting to take away the First Nationís right to determine who can trap on the group trapline, without any consultation.
It is obvious that the minister has not learned anything about consultation in the last 18 months. His department is obligated to consult with, and not issue directives to, the First Nation government. When the House adjourns next week, will the Minister of Environment get on a plane with his deputy and the officials and travel to Old Crow and consult properly with the First Nation government, as he is obligated to do under section 26 of the Umbrella Final Agreement?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Well, I canít guarantee the member opposite that the minister will jump on a plane and go to Old Crow, as Iím not aware of the schedule. I will take the member oppositeís question under advisement.
Mrs. Peter: Mr. Deputy Speaker, the people in my community are deeply disturbed about this ministerís disregard for their agreement. They are worried about what these unilateral changes will do to our peopleís rights to trap. The minister is dictating to the people of Old Crow who can and cannot trap. Again, I ask the minister: will he give his unconditional commitment to honour the spirit and the letter of our First Nationís agreement?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: To the best of my knowledge, this government is doing its utmost and its best to honour the agreements of the different First Nations. I will have to take the rest of the question under advisement.
Question re: Cabinet ministers responding to questions
Mr. Hardy:I have a question for the Premier about this governmentís double standards. Now, frankly, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Yukon people are appalled and fed up with how they are being treated by this Premier and his ministers. Weíve seen it again this week: answer after answer from the people across the way that simply do not hold water. The Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources and the Minister of Education both are speaking for the silent Minister of Environment, both of them giving answers that do not jibe with the facts.
Now, why does the Premier condone such behaviour from his ministers?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Well, the facts are, we do not condone such action and that kind of action is not happening on this side of the House.
By virtue of the fact that the Minister of the Department of Environment has been clearly advised by the conflicts communities in matters with respect to this issue that he should not be involved is something that we take to heart. The Conflicts Commissionerís rulings we accept. Obviously the members opposite take some exception to what the Conflicts Commissioner is saying. So I think when it comes to the facts, there is a double standard in this House. We on the government side accept the facts and deal with them. However, for the members opposite, that is questionable.
Mr. Hardy: What Iíd like to point out to the Premier, since he seems to have omitted it, is that the minister had no problem going to the Fish and Wildlife Management Board and talking about this issue. Did he consult the Conflicts Commissioner around that?
Let me give another example: the Minister of Health has tried to justify his plan to target single males under 40 who need social assistance. Itís a mean-spirited, political agenda that pits the poor people against each other. To make his case, the minister presents numbers that donít say what he claims they do. He refuses to provide numbers that might back up his claims in this House. When heís called on the discrepancy, he shifts the ground one more time.
There is no credibility left on that side of the House, and the Premier has to answer for that. Will the Premier instruct his ministers to give Yukon people the straight goods in this House or will he get rid of the ministers who refuse to do so?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I would submit that there was a veiled implication there, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the government side does not present to the Yukon public the facts. Unfortunately that is something that the government side will not debate. We do not enter into speculative debate. We do not respond or react to rumours.
As far as the Minister of Health, the members opposite should well know that a supplementary budget last fall was passed by this House with an increase of some $1-plus million for social assistance. The members opposite voted against that. That increase was due to the influx of recipients into this Yukon Territory last summer, but more importantly, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the Minister of Health is not cutting social assistance in the Yukon; in fact, the minister is increasing it. Those with disabilities will receive an increase in social assistance; single moms with children will get an increase in social assistance; two-parent families with children in need will get an increase in social assistance.
There is a double standard. Our side of the House, the government side, is taking care of the needs of the people. The members opposite do not. They voted against the increase for social assistance in this territory for those who need it. Thatís the double standard.
Mr. Hardy: I can tell you right now, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the record of this government is before the people of this territory right now, and that rhetoric will not wash.
The Premier bears the burden here. The buck is supposed to stop at his desk but, with this government, the buck never stops ó it just gets passed from one hand to another to another. Yukon people are not fooled; they are fed up. They donít trust this government, because this government deals in evasion and secrecy and they continue to avoid addressing the issues in a forthright, accountable and ethical manner.
People are asking who they can believe in this territory when everything thatís said is questioned and doubted and is never backed up.
Before the next sitting of this House, will the Premier adopt an ethical code of conduct for his ministers that demonstrates respect for the Yukon people and the people they are elected to represent?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: As far as the conduct issue, thereís no need for such a thing on this side of the House. When it comes to passing the buck, you bet: we pass the buck out to the Yukon public: the biggest budget in the history of the Yukon Territory, $705 million; the largest capital investment in the history of the Yukon Territory, $162 million; increases in social assistance; increases in health care; 937 more people in the Yukon Territoryís population ó 1,200 more people in the workforce. You bet weíre passing the buck: itís out into the hands of Yukoners; itís invested; itís circulating. The Yukon is on the way back to a positive, prosperous future ó thanks to this government, not the members opposite.
Deputy Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will now proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Jenkins:I move that the Deputy Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Deputy Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the Deputy Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Deputy Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Deputy 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 with the Department of Health and Social Services. Do members wish a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Deputy Chair: We will recess for 15 minutes.
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 in general debate on Vote 15, Department of Health and Social Services.
Bill No.10 ó First Appropriation Act, 2004-05 ó continued
Department of Health and Social Services ó continued
Hon. Mr. Jenkins:Mr. Chair, when we left general debate on Health and Social Services, I was outlining for the consideration of all the total O&M and capital budget for the department, which is increased to $161 million. This is an increase of five percent. For capital expenditures, weíre planning to spend $8.53 million in this next fiscal cycle ó an increase of 136 percent from the last fiscal period.
The new and enhanced initiatives for the Department of Health and Social Services that would contribute to our goal of building healthy communities for the Yukoners include identifying our priorities for new health care dollars, negotiatedhrough various accords with Canada, expanded community care services in Whitehorse and the outlying communities. Weíll have more money for support for our rural volunteer ambulance attendants.
Our focus will continue on FASD. There will be programs and incentives for attracting and retaining health care professionals across the board and weíre moving forward with ensuring safe drinking water, safe, affordable potable water and, to that end, we will have the regulations coming forward very quickly for trucked water delivery and for piped distribution systems in the respective communities.
Weíve also identified and will be continuing our support for children in care, families with autistic children, daycare services, and programs for rural expectant moms.
We will follow through on our major legislative commitments, including reviewing the Childrenís Act and implementing the Decision Making, Support and Protection to Adults Act and the Health Professions Act. Weíve previously announced the 50-percent increase to the Yukon child benefit, the first-ever enhancement to this important support to low-income families with children. We have identified the needs of single parents and, to that end, our government has moved on a number of fronts. There was the child tax credit; weíve amended the social assistance regulations with respect to social housing so, for parents who are receiving support, this money is not included in the cost ó the 25 percent is not clawed back for housing. They receive the full amount of support payments.
As well, our commitment to social assistance will see an increase in social assistance for those who have a demonstrated need, such as the handicapped, such as single parents and two-parent families. Weíre fully committed to addressing the demonstrated needs where those demonstrated needs occur. Family and children services branch, we anticipate an overall increase of four percent over last year. The main reason for this is full-year funding for the Childrenís Act review process. The Child Development Centre will see an increase of $33,000, and Kausheeís an additional $25,000; the additional cost of social workers, family support workers, for implementing the FASD action plan. Thereís an increase of $47,000 to support families with autistic children above and beyond last year and an increase of $364,000 to support children, residential assessment and treatment services.
One of the major issues facing Yukoners is children in care. Currently the Yukon has 304 children in care. Just over one percent of our total population are children in care of the government. The sad part about this is 60 percent of these children in care are there because of either alcohol abuse, drug abuse or drug and alcohol abuse ó 60 percent ó over half of these children.
Thatís the scourge of drug and alcohol abuse on our society and our children, who are our future.
There are other issues surrounding the reason for children coming into our care. There are special needs, physical abuse, family violence, teen and parent conflict, abandonment, mental health, general neglect. But overall, the main reason is drug abuse, alcohol abuse, or a combination of drug and alcohol abuse.
Mr. Speaker, to that end, our government looks after these children, and when they are First Nation children, we bill the federal government for the service theyíre in. Currently there is almost $14 million in outstanding payments due from Indian Affairs for the last two fiscal periods. Itís due to the Yukon government primarily for children in care ó $7.2 million in 2002-03, and $6.6 million in 2003-04, a total of $14.8 million. Once again the fiduciary responsibility of the federal government must be duly recognized and appreciated, and we would request that the federal minister honour their commitment in this area and move forward. Our government has a motion on the floor dealing with initiatives surrounding this area.
Mr. Chair, our health services programs are anticipating a six-percent overall increase. Of a total O&M budget of almost $86 million, health services represents 53 percent of the funding requests for the departments. There is an increase of $1.2 million. The primary health care transition fund has a $718,000 increase to support our drug program, thereís a $344,000 increase to support medical claims, a $150,000 increase for medical travel, a $49,000 increase to implement the Care Consent Act, $70,000 to support the Liard Basin Task Force youth worker position, $1.57 million for Whitehorse General Hospital, plus another $60,000 to the hospital through the primary health care transition fund for an ambulatory care reporting system. The government and the hospital have worked diligently on seeking out ways to improve the services we can provide here and enhance those services.
Iíll be happy to entertain any questions from the opposition with respect to the O&M budget or, if we want to get into line-by-line, we can do so because thereís a tremendous effort being put forward by our government to recognize the areas that require additional funding and to address those needs.
Mr. Fairclough: I do have a few questions in this department. I understand my colleague from Whitehorse Centre was asking questions about SA. Thatís where we left off yesterday and the minister has taken 20 minutes to answer that question. I believe we went all over the board on this matter.
Mr. Chair, I would also like to point out several things about this government. First of all, we all know thereís an increase; we all know that $20 million is coming from the federal government. Itís great news for Yukoners. Now, how do we best make that money work for Yukoners?
Just last year, this minister, his Finance minister ó the Premier ó and every one of the ministers on that side of the House, along with the backbenchers, spoke to the budget they brought forward. They were saying that the decreases we have seen in those budgets were all about government spending and the trajectory, the fact that the government was spending way too much and that this Yukon Party government was going to pull back and fix the problems. Because one of the things they were saying to the general public was that government was broke, they hadnít inherited any surpluses from the previous Liberal government, despite the fact that we had in front of us the Auditor Generalís report about what surpluses this government had. So they did have money in the bank; they had an additional $20 million; I believe it was something like $70 million that they had in surplus.
I know the minister canít say thatís not correct because all people need to do is look at the budget thatís being presented. Itís information that this minister is bringing forward to the House. So they did have money.
Now what we have seen is an attempt to bring spending back up to the normal amounts. Weíve seen that in education. Although, if you really look at some of the numbers, youíll see that they have not reached that level yet, particularly when it comes to training.
Iíve asked this minister several questions and he said he would be getting back to me when there was debate on the supplementary budget. This is general debate and we can talk about basically anything under the department. I had many questions in regard to ambulances and the minister said that he would be getting back to me with letters and so on. I would like to see some of those. For example, on April 8 the minister promised that he would give us a copy of the board resolution from the Hospital Corporation of EMS. Where is that and how come it is taking so long to get that information? Thatís just one example.
I also asked some questions that the public would like government to address. One of them was the outpatient subsidy. The fact that patients are leaving the territory, whether itís for seeing a doctor or going through an operation in Alberta or British Columbia, and were footing the bill on their own ó the first three days ó and on the third or fourth day the government provides $32, I believe. The general public has been asking whether or not the government would consider increasing that to the first day, or some type of increase that doesnít take money out of the pockets of patients.
This minister committed to no increases but rather said that he would be getting back to me on several different things. One of them, of course, was the amounts that it would cost government, or the difference between what is offered now and what it would cost government if they had an increase, say, on the first day, the second day, or the third day, or increase it to what he gets when he goes on the road. That was also on April 8. We would like to know where that is? Where is the commitment that the minister has given on the floor? Are we going to see it next year or the year after?
I can recall having letters being written to the government side and no answers. I donít know what game the members opposite are playing, but itís certainly not one that is open and accountable.
We probably can spend weeks in this department, and the minister knows that. There are so many questions because this is a huge department. And weíve gone over many issues in Question Period. Iíve asked the minister about nurses and doctors and recruitment and what government is doing differently from other places to recruit nurses and doctors to the territory. Basically we havenít got anything different or new. So weíre in the same position.
We have asked many questions about the ambulance services and EMS and training and so on. We havenít got, I would say, the facts coming straight from the department.
Rather itís a run-around again from the minister on this matter.
When it came to training, for example, this minister committed that there would be a trainer for rural ambulance attendants. We asked that in the fall, and we asked that question earlier this year, and guess what? Thereís still no one in place. This is a problem for communities. I raised it with the minister opposite. Even people in Pelly Crossing who are volunteers who need to be recertified but need that trainer to do that job ó and the minister is avoiding that. What is the big deal with this? What is the minister really looking at in a trainer to be hired. Because, as I understood it, weíve had ambulance attendants who have done the training in the past and it was acceptable to government in the past, so why canít they do it. Why are we looking elsewhere when we could be using our own people to do the training? I hope we get a really clear answer from this minister on that subject because it needs to be clarified.
Weíve asked many questions to the minister about emergency medical services being sold off, transferred to the Hospital Corporation, and what happens to the employees? Iíll ask that question again to the minister about the collective agreement that was signed and that gives certain rights to the employee and whether or not they will lose that when thereís a transfer. I would think that perhaps this whole move will not happen at all and thatís another question the minister could answer, whether or not this move is dead. Is it going to die? The way I understand it the minister is now saying itís management only. Why is it just management only? Do the minister, deputy minister and directors still follow the same reporting system of the Hospital Corporation? Are they in that hierarchy as well?
The way I understand it, thatís the way it is. Maybe the minister could clarify that. Who has the final say? Who makes the decisions about how the program and that service are to be given to the territory? Ultimately itís the minister, so the management part doesnít even make sense to many of the members out there. Why are we going to this extent? Is it a cost-savings to the government? Maybe thatíll be my first question to the minister opposite, on EMS ó the transfer and the management by the Hospital Corporation. Is this a cost-saving to government? If not, what is the true total cost to government of giving the Hospital Corporation this contract to manage the EMS?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Iíll send over a copy of the letter from the chair of the board of trustees of the Yukon Hospital Corporation. The member opposite should have received one on the appropriate letterhead, but it says that the board of trustees reaffirms its support for integration of health services and supports the transfer of emergency medical services to the corporation as the first step in that direction. That was carried, and this was at their board of trustees meeting on February 24. The second one was that the board of trustees authorizes the CEO to proceed with discussions with Health and Social Services regarding the transfer of emergency medical services to Yukon Hospital Corporation, ensuring appropriate due diligence is carried out and a report to be presented to the March meeting of the board. That motion was also carried.
Late in February, Mr. McWilliam, the deputy minister, informed the CEO of the hospital that Cabinet had approved beginning negotiations for the transfer of emergency medical services to the hospital. The information was conveyed to each of the union presidents on March 1 to inform them that these negotiations were beginning and an announcement would be made thereafter.
Mr. Chair, we are up front. What we are addressing is the issue of service delivery. Service delivery could best be achieved through the Yukon Hospital Corporation, which has the closest working relationship of anyone with the emergency medical services.
With respect to the trainer, as the member knows full well, that was advertised. A trainer was selected, and that trainer was ó I misspoke. The issue was appealed, and appealed by one of the individuals, and it has been bogged down in the appeal procedure since that time. So there is an issue of the collective bargaining agreement and due process that has to take place through that front.
There is also the issue that, should anyone require recertification, that can be accredited at the Yukon College and there is a constant series of courses to that effect. In fact, the Minister of Education should be complimented for the enhanced money that he has seen cause to put into Yukon College; $1 million more into Yukon College ó $1 million that the opposition will vote against.
Thatís to enhance the existing courses and to move them forward and make them available for all. So weíre moving forward on a number of fronts. The other area that the member opposite covered off was with respect to ensured health services and covering the cost for medical travel. Currently the department pays for about 3,933 subsidy days. The last fiscal cycle, 2002-03, cost almost $118,000. Weíre hoping to reduce the need for medical travel inside Yukon given that we have partnered with the Victoria Faulkner Womenís Centre and have a two-bedroom apartment now, a suite, contained within their premises that they make available to individuals who have to come from rural Yukon into Whitehorse to await the arrival of a newborn. In addition to that, there are facilities at the Whitehorse Hospital for that same purpose. So weíre covering over as quickly as we can the areas that the member is referring to, and weíre enhancing services as quickly as we can where a demonstrated need has come to our attention.
Now there are many other areas that the member referred to. He refers to $20 million, and that $20 million came to fruition as a result of the good work of the Premier of the Yukon, along with his colleagues the premiers from Nunavut and N.W.T., but it must be pointed out that that $20 million is over three years and it translates into $6.6 million a year, of which the health accord funding in 2004-05 breaks down as follows: Whitehorse General Hospital, $3.037 million; stress testing the Whitehorse General Hospital, $60,000; First Nations health programs, $65,000; drug program funding, $1.911 million; implementation of the FASD action plan, $320,000; autism support, $180,000; Child Development Centre, $137,000; and recruitment of specialist health professions, $450,000.
Along with that, in order to justify, move forward and keep track of everything, thereís the issue of accountability to the federal department. Weíre spending $85,000 for accountability in that area, among others.
So, Mr. Chair, thereís no shortage of where we can spend money on the budget and how we can address the health care needs of Yukoners. The most important area we must recognize is we have to buy a lot of services in other jurisdictions. We do not have the population base to support the full gamut of health care services here in Yukon. To that end, we have access facilities in British Columbia and in Alberta, but weíre experiencing wait lists, as are other Canadians, and it looks like things are moving ahead and access to services is coming a little quicker in Alberta than in British Columbia.
We still spend a great deal of money in moving people back and forth to these areas. We still spend a great deal of money on Outside medical services for Yukoners, and we donít have a choice. We just do not have the population base here to justify retaining all the health care professionals that one would need.
There are quite a number of initiatives I could expand on, but I know the members opposite have no appetite at this time to debate the largest budget ever in the history of the Yukon ó one that addresses the health care needs of all Yukoners and one that is moving forward.
This is a go-forward budget.
One of the other areas that we are addressing the shortcomings of is in alcohol and drug services. We have underway the reinstallation of the residential program at the Sarah Steele Building. The previous Liberal administration was to create another stovepipe of administration. We felt there was more of a need for a residential program and that program will be underway as early as we can see it come to fruition.
So on all of the fronts ó and I would move that we are probably moving forward very, very quickly with the Childrenís Act review, with the full partnership of Yukon First Nations. We are hoping we will end up developing a piece of legislation that, should the First Nations that have self-government agreements wish to draw down their powers under their self-government agreements, could be transposed over to their very respective entity and could serve them well. We have engaged the First Nation community through the office of the Grand Chief and the chiefs council on health. We meet on a regular basis and there are a lot of positive indications that this approach is a worthwhile approach for all Yukoners.
Mr. Chair, we look forward to seeing and realizing the benefits of this approach for all Yukoners.
Mr. McRobb: I have a few questions to ask the Minister of Health and Social Services. First of all, I believe he mentioned last week there was a letter he sent out to parties in the Kluane region in regard to the seniors facility that is proposed to be studied in this fiscal year.
This is the same facility this government has made a commitment to construct in the following fiscal year. Can the minister provide us with a copy of that letter, and will he give us an overview of the process for consultation?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The member opposite already has a copy of that letter. Iím sorry I donít have the date of that letter, Mr. Chair, as I donít have it before me, but that letter was sent out to all concerned parties ó the First Nations, the chief and councils, the mayor and council in the Junction and all affected parties. It commits our government to a feasibility study. Subject to the outcome of that feasibility study, the determination will be made as to the next step, but I make it abundantly clear that the member opposite is not on sound ground when he says this facility is the next step. It may be, subject to the determination of the review and when the review has been agreed to. That will be underway this summer.
To that end, there are also some initiatives that are coming forward from the community of Haines Junction to various organizations for the potential for a P3 ó public/private partnership ó initiative, should it be found that a seniors facility or a multi-level care facility is warranted in that region.
Again, we are many steps away from that decision.
The other area the member brought forward was from another constituency and the concern the member had with the provision of septic fields in his riding.
On the issue that septic fields should be funded, there are no provisions in this budget to fund septic fields. The nature of the operations is commercial in venue. The provisions of the amendment to the Assessment and Taxation Act will be for residential purposes only and for the supply of potable water only.
The member opposite had the opportunity a number of years ago to move forward on that initiative but chose not to, and our government is moving forward on potable water and ways of achieving affordable potable water and assisting where we can. There will be new regulations coming forward in this area fairly quickly for piped water systems and for trucked water.
There has been extensive consultation undertaken. It has occurred across the Yukon and that consultation has resulted in a draft set of regulations that are currently being reviewed. After the review has been satisfactorily completed, we will move forward on the implementation. These are primarily regulations dealing with municipal water supplies and for trucked water delivery.
We do have a number of difficulties with septic fields and leach pits and cesspools in the memberís riding and weíre working cooperatively with the owners of these commercial facilities to determine what we can do to assist but, to that end, of paramount importance is the provision of potable water and, in a number of cases, the department has had to step in and basically advise the facility owner and operator that itís a boil-water condition and the general public is not to be served from the facility because of the contaminated potable water supply.
Should the member have any further questions in this area, Iíd be happy to entertain them.
Mr. McRobb: Well, Mr. Chair, the minister was all over the map in that response. I asked a question about seniors facilities and he went to sewage. I certainly hope thatís not what he thinks about our elder citizens in the territory. Heíll have a lot more explaining to do.
Now, on his last topic first, Mr. Chair ó and I hope Iím allowed to discuss this Bill No. 45 during this debate on the budget as he has done. I want to point out that there are some fallacies in the ministerís argument. Number one, he says the amendment to the bill accommodates residents only. Mr. Chair, what weíre proposing is an amendment to his amendment that opens the door for small businesses. Further, he says his amendment is for potable water only. Ditto, Mr. Chair. Our amendment to his amendment accommodates also septic field upgrading in order for people to comply with this ministerís own stringent regulations.
Mr. Chair, itís time for the minister to remove the blinders and use some of that same creativity he had to come up with his Dawson City bridge plan that ambushed everybody in the Yukon, Mr. Chair. Use a little bit of that same creativity and people will have a better life in the territory. Small businesses will have an easier go of it amid hardships, but we donít see that type of creativity from this government at all. Instead we hear finger pointing and accusations. Well, thatís no way for any government to behave.
Finally, the minister says there is no money in this budget. Weíre aware there is no money in this budget for septic upgrading for a small business.
But if we accommodate the legislation, itís a simple matter to have a line item in the next budget so that a year from now the work can take place. Thatís all people are asking for. Itís not a government handout; itís a repayment plan, just like the other components that are provided in the rural electrification program, including electricity, telephone and now water. End of story.
The minister is bankrupt when it comes to any type of idea to accommodate these people. Instead, heís asking his officials to work it out. Thereís no way to work it out, Mr. Chair, unless these people can come up with the money for those improvements. The buck stops at the ministerís desk.
Itís rather disappointing to learn there has been no recent letter regarding the seniors facility process in the Kluane region. The minister also gave no explanation in terms of the public process for consultation, as was requested of him. Maybe heís also bankrupt in that area.
Letís see how he is in one more area. I refer him to a letter to our Health critic, the MLA for Mayo-Tatchun, dated April 28, when he referred to two needs assessment and feasibility studies done by his department regarding senior care facilities in Dawson City and Watson Lake. He said those studies were in the final stages, and they should be finalized by the end of this month.
Can the minister give us an undertaking to provide us with that information at the end of this month when itís available?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I will provide the member opposite with an undertaking to provide him with that information when it becomes available in the final form, whenever that might be. That would be the soonest we would be providing it to the member opposite. There is still an obligation to the stakeholders involved in the process and we might take the member up on his suggestion of expanding septic field and money for same because if there was ever a demonstrated need, weíve probably come close to hearing about it.
But thereís an issue out there that there are a number of commercial facilities in the memberís riding ó four, to be specific ó that the department is working very closely with so that these do not constitute a health hazard ó very, very closely. And thereís a requirement that water that is used for public consumption be potable and meet the Canadian drinking water standards. We have to ensure the safety of the drinking water across the Yukon.
Now, the issue that we have in a number of locations is that the septic field is leaching into the source of the potable water supply and contaminating the potable water supply. We have an obligation to ensure that water served to the public is safe, is potable water and there is no potential for harm. Thatís the way the legislation is written. If the member wants to go down the road that he is suggesting, weíre just inviting disaster or the likes of another Walkerton here in the Yukon.
We do not ever want to see that. The department officials are practising all appropriate precautions. Theyíre working with operators to work through the difficult times, but if the economy is turned around, the business is there, and these commercial operations generate more income ó which weíre hoping to see ó the issue of being able to invest in their facilities might be a little bit less onerous on the owner/operator in many of these cases.
But there is an issue of the economy being destroyed under the previous two governments, and our government is committed to restoring investor confidence here in the Yukon. Our government is committed to rebuilding the Yukon economy. Our government is committed to putting Yukoners back to work. Our government is committed to seeing the resource extraction community rejuvenated in an environmentally appropriate manner, and we want to see the opportunities abound here in the Yukon. We want to see the opportunities abound for all concerned. To that end, our government is working with First Nation governments on a government-to-government basis, and weíre hoping that we can alleviate a lot of these difficulties in a very short order of time.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, I thank the minister for sending over a copy of the resolution, and I do have a question on that too. There are several other pieces of information we asked for on this side of the House, and the minister said that he would be sending over a letter. One of them was with the primary health care planning forum, and there are eight recommendations. Iím hoping that the minister can continue to work on that and have that sent over to us on this side of the House.
On April 8 I also raised it and the minister agreed to provide the amount of costing out the increase to the subsidies, and weíd like to know where they are and if we can also get that information.
There was one other thing. I know the member opposite did give us this resolution. Iíd have to find it and, when I come across it, Iíll bring it forward again. If the minister can do that, it would be appreciated.
Going back to EMS, I would like to ask about the move thatís taking place. The minister said it was management only. The resolution he just read out talked about a transfer so, with those two, what is it? Is it a transfer or is it management? Does it still follow under the hierarchy of the department ó minister, deputy minister, director and so on? The way I understand it, one person has been taken out of the equation and the Hospital Corporation put in.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The issues surrounding the information on primary care ó that was conveyed directly to the member opposite and a copy went to the leader of the third party. That was signed off some time ago. I canít recall where that is at, Mr. Chair.
The issues surrounding the projections ó it was quite an extensive letter on the primary care. I believe it was about three pages long, listing all the points. What the member opposite is referring to is a projection of the costs should we implement what is currently travel for medical treatment program. This pays eligible persons a subsidy to assist with the expense of travelling for medical purposes.
The subsidy is payable on the fourth day of travel as an outpatient. Persons receiving in-patient services are not eligible for the subsidy as the full cost of their care is covered by the attending hospital. Subsidies are also paid to the patientís escort if an escort is shown to be medically necessary.
As I indicated earlier, in 2002-03 there were 3,933 subsidy days, which was $117,990 paid out. Should we extend that and we pay on day one, weíd be looking at another $400,000 increase in that area. Weíre looking at an increase of the current levels from $117,000 to $140,000 this year. It should be noted that the uninsured health benefit program provided by Indian Affairs regarding what they cover and how they cover it has been reducing considerably. The member opposite might want to speak with the chiefs in his respective riding and see what initiatives are occurring to have the federal government live up to its fiduciary responsibility.
What we have to do as a government is identify how we can get Canada to come to the plate with more money for health care. Thereís no end of ways that we can spend that money, but we canít spend it faster than we can receive it. There are a lot of initiatives underway. There are a lot of opportunities for providing for health care, and weíre very hopeful that weíll see our way clear in short order given that there is a federal election underway, and Iím sure the federal Liberals are ramping up. The latest I heard from the federal Minister of Health was that theyíre looking at a 10-year plan for health care.
And Iím sure weíll hear all sorts of big numbers coming out of the current federal Liberal government that may or may not come to fruition. The issue is one of major shortcomings that occurred under the previous Liberal governments where the budget of Canada was balanced by the federal Liberal government on the back of health care. Itís catch-up time, Mr. Chair; itís catch-up time, and weíve got a way to go in that area ó quite a way.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, in the ministerís attempt to waste time in this House, he forgot the question. He forgot to answer the question, so I will ask it again. And for the department people listening in, there were commitments by the minister to have this information sent to us. If it has been sent, great. I havenít seen it. If they havenít, weíd like to receive it.
In regard to EMS, the resolution talks about a transfer. The minister talks about management only. What is it? Is it management? Is it a transfer? And I talked about the hierarchy of reporting and decision making and how that has changed, if any at all. So if the minister can elaborate on that a bit.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: This is an internal matter. Itís a go-forward matter. Itís more appropriate that the message be conveyed to the employees in this area via the appropriate route rather than by this forum here. But the overall structure is as outlined in this letter. Transfer of management or management responsibilities. The member opposite is going down a path that I canít go down too far until such time as everything has been dealt with through the appropriate forums. Thatís where weíre at currently. There have been meetings schedule. I donít know the timelines for those meetings. What we are aiming to accomplish is to improve service delivery in this area.
To that end, we have spent a great deal of time looking at ways to improve emergency medical services for rural Yukon. Weíve addressed the issue of honoraria and increased those. Weíve addressed the issue of clothing, and weíve put in funding for a basic kit. Honoraria have not been increased for a considerable period of time. Across the emergency medical services here in the Yukon, our government is doing an excellent job of addressing the governmentís responsibility to provide training, clothing and equipment that is adequate. We are very hopeful weíre being recognized as a government that is addressing needs where the needs exist.
Thatís our commitment; it will continue. In this budget cycle there has been a considerable effort placed on providing the tools that the emergency medical services people need to address their chosen field or their volunteer role in this field.
Mr. Fairclough: Itís clear the minister is trying to waste time in this House, and he couldnít answer the question either, so Iíd like to ask a very simple one.
Is this transfer going to save the government money or is it going to cost the government even more money?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Iíd be speculating at this point. What weíre looking at doing is improving and enhancing service delivery. We budgeted an increase in this area of approximately half a million dollars, so obviously itís going to cost the government money.
Itís going to cost the government a great deal of money. In fact, the upgrading and the purchase of two new ambulances is $250,000. The purchase of uniforms and jumpsuits and coats ó they are not an inexpensive item. But what weíre hoping to accomplish this budget cycle is to bring everyone up to the basic kit in the volunteer part of emergency medical services. Weíve done an evaluation of the equipment. To that end, weíll be moving forward on a replacement program. But there are a lot of issues out there, and yes I can confirm for the member opposite that weíre spending more money on emergency medical services, almost $500,000 more this budget cycle.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister did say that the transfer would cost government money to improve the service, so itís not about saving money. It has nothing to do with buying ambulances and so on. Most governments have done that in the past and many ambulances have been bought.
Now there is a concern with the ambulance attendants that their jobs would be terminated with this transfer and they have to be rehired under the Hospital Corporation. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: These are personnel matters and my officials advise me that they all have been told that this is patently incorrect. It is not true. That is misinformation.
Chair:Order please. The Chair is very conscious of membersí statements regarding what is true and the use of "misinformation" as is apparent by the ruling from the Chair earlier today. While it is appropriate to have a dispute over the facts, it is certainly not appropriate to charge another member with stating something thatís not true or stating that the member opposite is misleading. I would ask the member to retract that statement. He may, however, wish to give his own version of the facts.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: What I said, Mr. Chair ó Iím not saying the member opposite is making a suggestion of untruth. Iím saying the staff at emergency medical services, the full-time staff, have been told that the issue of a layoff is false; itís not true.
Chair: The member did not attribute that statement to another member in this Assembly. Please carry on with debate.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, there is a lot of hype surrounding this issue and what our governmentís intention is completely is to provide the highest level of service we can to Yukoners. By moving the management over ó the transfer of management over to the Yukon Housing Corporation ó we have a hand-in-glove arrangement with the acute care facility and with the ambulance service, the emergency medical services that move patients to and from that facility. We have gone the extra yard ó the extra mile, in fact, Mr. Chair ó to ensure that we can enhance and improve service.
Now, the member opposite is relying on various areas that appear to be incorrect and we can call that a dispute between members, and I would encourage the member opposite to wait for the transfer to take place of the management of emergency medical services and to see the improvement of this emergency medical services not just in Whitehorse, but across the Yukon because our government is fully committed to addressing the shortcomings and in this budget cycle we are for the basic outfit, the jumpsuits and coats for volunteers in rural Yukon. We are providing for training for volunteers in rural Yukon.
We are providing a replacement ambulance for rural Yukon and a replacement ambulance for Whitehorse. Contrary to what the member has suggested about going out to a full-blown tender, these are manufactured in Saskatchewan ó theyíre assembled in Saskatchewan. The cab and chassis come from another area. Thereís a Saskatchewan distributor, thereís an Alberta distributor and thereís a B.C. distributor for these pieces of equipment. I asked the department to tell me how things worked. The distributor who represents the Yukon and services the Yukon is based in British Columbia. Thatís what happened. Our relationship for the distributorship of this product line is between Yukon and B.C.
Mr. Chair, weíll have a requirement for future ambulances, perhaps in the next budget cycle, and if the member wants to get into the details of what weíre purchasing and how weíre purchasing it, Iíd be happy to have the department provide the member opposite with a briefing on the specifications for the respective ambulances, so thereís no misunderstanding of what is required and what the requirements are.
There are different requirements across the Yukon. In some of the smaller rural communities, there exists the requirement for a four-wheel-drive ambulance. In most areas, a two-wheel-drive ambulance is sufficient. How theyíre equipped ó Iím advised a standard stretcher and a standard stretcher hold-down have been specified and a standard set of equipment is installed in ambulances.
To that end, we standardize as much as possible, so that there are some efficiencies. Recently there was a new piece of equipment purchased just for emergency medical services here in Whitehorse. It was quite a costly piece of equipment. It was sole sourced to one firm, because there is only one manufacturer. It performed a multitude of tasks.
I read the note on it when it came, Mr. Chair, but this is one example of the expertise it takes to make the determination in terms of function and efficiency within the department. We now have one piece of equipment that can do several jobs and perform several tasks.
The department is always looking at ways to improve and enhance service delivery, and speed up the process. We are attempting to do it in the most cost-effective manner, but sometimes, like with the purchase of this piece of equipment, it was very costly. Yet Iím sure the outcome will be that it is a very beneficial piece of equipment, Mr. Chair.
If the member opposite wishes to have a briefing specifically on ambulances and ambulance equipment, he only has to let me know, and we can schedule that at a mutually convenient time.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, I believe that I have all kinds of information on this matter. I asked a very simple question. The minister said that there would be no layoffs, but there is a transfer to the Yukon Hospital Corporation. Have the employees been transferred to the Hospital Corporation or are they still in the department?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The employees remain where they are. They are still employed in the exact same manner, under the same collective bargaining unit. The management will change. The reporting function will change. There will be someone in place at the Whitehorse General Hospital who is employed to oversee and address the emergency medical services, not just in Whitehorse but across the Yukon.
Mr. Fairclough: I thank the minister for that clarification. That has been brought to my attention, so it has been clarified. What we donít know is how the decisions are being made because the structure hasnít changed. The minister still has that responsibility.
I would like to ask a couple of questions about nursing both in Dawson and Watson Lake. There is, from what I gather, only one nurse who would be on staff in Dawson City. Because of the lack of nurses being hired, the community of Watson Lake is going to be closing down some beds in that hospital. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: What the member opposite fails to recognize is that heís referring to two different types of nurses. Watson Lake is a hospital, and they have general duty nurses there. The nurses heís trying to contrast the nurses in Watson Lake to, and the other areas of Yukon outside of Whitehorse, are nurse practitioners. Now that is a very different nurse, and the member opposite is suggesting that he knows the difference, but yet the contrast heís trying to make is that weíre closing beds and weíre doing this and that. The staffing levels across the Yukon have increased. Weíre still out recruiting nurse practitioners. Weíll constantly be looking for new nurse practitioners.
Currently there are seven vacant nursing positions in community nursing, and all of them are under recruitment. There are two permanent community nurse practitioner floats who provide relief services in whichever community requires their services.
There is a pool of 20 active community nurse practitioners, relief nurses. These are out-of-territory nurses who come in and want a short-term assignment, and theyíre hired accordingly. So across the board, yes, we still have vacancies in nurse practitioners. Yes, weíre still recruiting. But weíll always be recruiting health care professionals. I donít ever see an end to it, and I donít see a way, given the size of our population, that we can implement training programs to put through the process to train and equip nurses to become nurse practitioners. We might as well try opening a medical school here. Our population base will just not support it.
Mr. Chair, this is one of the ongoing situations. We have a lot of nurse practitioners in rural Yukon who have chosen to work seasonally, and they return for a good part of the year and they choose to live elsewhere for the slow times here in the Yukon.
But across the board, the department is doing an effective job. We have a very good recruitment and retention package for nurse practitioners, as well as the Whitehorse General Hospital where they are currently in a collective bargaining position. And for the record, if you look at the contrast, B.C.ís nurses are at $33.49 per hour. The nurses here in the Yukon are $36 per hour and there are contract negotiations underway between their bargaining unit and Yukon Hospital Corporation.
Mr. Fairclough: That didnít answer my question. The minister doesnít need to go on and on about some of these matters. In Watson Lake, are there beds closing down in that hospital? Yes or no.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The short answer is no.
Mr. Fairclough: Perhaps the minister ought to be briefed on this matter because our information is that there is and itís because they donít have the proper staffing in place.
Thereís only one nurse in the community of Dawson for the summer. I know the member opposite is going to cancel some of the leave of the other nurses, but it just doesnít fill in the gap that is necessary for that community. So what else is the minister doing to ensure thereís more than one nurse available in Dawson City?
Heís going to say that theyíre looking at hiring two float positions. First of all, maybe he can answer that question and then the other ó are those two positions filled or are we still in the process?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The member oppositeís information is incorrect.
Mr. Fairclough: Two float nurse positions the minister wants to hire ó are they hired or are we still in the process? Iím just going to ask the question three times.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: As I indicated to the member opposite just a short time ago in general debate, weíre currently out recruiting for seven nurse practitioners. Competitions are underway for each of the following vacancies: Beaver Creek, Old Crow, Pelly Crossing, Ross River, Teslin, Carmacks and Haines Junction.
Mr. Fairclough: That still didnít answer my question. The minister said that there would be two float positions ó nurse practitioners ó who can go to the communities. Heís actively going to hire these two nurses. Are we still in the process or are they hired? Thatís three times.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: We have float nurses currently. We are recruiting more float nurses. When we fill a position in rural Yukon, there is a burnout rate, and we have to usually fill it with auxiliary on-call. Now we have a pool of 20 nurse practitioners who reside all over Canada and in fact some in the United States who want to come back to the Yukon and do come back on an auxiliary, on-call basis. They move to where thereís a need.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister says they are recruiting these two positions. Itís important for some of the communities, particularly Dawson. I know Carmacks is one of them. So when does the minister expect these two float positions to be in place and to be going into the communities?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Let me share with the member opposite what the department is doing in the recruitment initiative. Let me say that thereís a national shortage ó in fact thereís an international shortage ó of nurse practitioners. Currently the department has participated in 14 job fairs per year throughout Canada: seven in western Canada, seven in eastern Canada. We follow up on all referrals from other nurse practitioners. Thereís a monthly advertisement in the Canadian Nurse magazine. Thereís the bimonthly advertisement in Healthbeat. Thereís participation in MedHunters, an on-line agency that provides Internet addresses for nurses meeting the required qualifications.
There is an Internet recruitment Web site. There are continual competitions. There are practicum placements for university and college nursing students.
Mr. Fairclough: Obviously some of the communities have to go through some tough times. This particular nurse in Dawson City is on 24/7. She is on call and at work. If the community has a medevac, that nurse is gone and thereís no one else to fill in. I know the member opposite will say that there are doctors in place and so on, but it is still not the same type of work. This is not much to take back to those who have been asking us to ask these questions.
The minister listed off seven communities that they are looking at for nursing recruitment. When can we expect them to be hired? Is the department looking at several months, a month away? Iím sure the minister has a goal, a time by which he wants these positions filled because it becomes pretty tough on communities otherwise.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The member oppositeís information with respect to Dawson is incorrect. If we just take medevacs, the nurse practitioners in Dawson do not leave Dawson on medevacs. That would be a very, very rare occurrence. What happens is that the medevac team, the flight nurse, originates in Whitehorse, goes in and picks up the patient and transports them to primarily Whitehorse but it could also be other areas. I was hopeful that the member could provide an accurate overview of the situation. There is not one nurse practitioner alone in Dawson City. That is incorrect information also.
As far as recruitment, as I indicated earlier, there are seven nurse practitioners that the department is out recruiting, and it would be my wish and the departmentís wish that we could fill these positions tomorrow. But that is unlikely. We will do our level best through the initiatives that Iíve outlined for the member opposite to recruit nurse practitioners. We also have a pool of 20 float nurses, auxiliary on-call, that the department utilizes. There will not be any shortcomings in the system. Weíll do our level best to ensure that there are nurse practitioners in places in the communities where they are needed.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, that doesnít give any comfort to the communities that would like to see some relief to the nurses. The minister, I would hope, would give some direction to the department to kick this into a higher gear and ensure that we do have the nurses in place, particularly in Dawson City.
The member opposite can throw whatever number out he wants. I know that community is hurting, and theyíve relayed this message to the minister. So Iíll let my colleague, the leader of the third party, ask some questions.
Ms. Duncan: Iím pleased to enter into debate and equally pleased that the Deputy Chair has not succumbed to the Eastern Conference Final flu as of yet.
We have with us assisting the minister today a public servant of long standing who is approaching retirement. This is probably the last time weíll get our chance to publicly acknowledge his efforts and service to the Yukon. I would like to thank him for that.
In speaking of staffing and the health practitioners in the Yukon, can the minister advise ó I understand itís the Premierís prerogative, but are we going to be able to announce a successor to the retiring deputy minister in the near future?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Iím advised that recruitment is underway.
Ms. Duncan: I certainly wish our public servant the best in his retirement. We have an agreement in principle with the Yukon Hospital Corporation about the transfer of EMS. According to the last time we were engaged in debate, thatís where we were, with an agreement in principle. Can the minister advise what progress has been made in that regard? Do we have a time frame yet? One would assume talks are ongoing ó have we made progress since April 8?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Our government is always making progress. Weíve moving forward; itís work underway.
Ms. Duncan: We were doing so well; however, do we have a time frame? For example, devolution: the talks started, the time frame moved on several occasions, but there was always a sense that there would be work on these issues for six months or whatever.
There was usually a time frame established once talks began. Notwithstanding the ministerís answer, do we have a time frame of when we would anticipate the agreement in principle with the Yukon Housing Corporation would be concluded and the transfer of the management of EMS complete?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Weíre not transferring EMS to the Yukon Housing Corporation.
Ms. Duncan: Yukon Hospital Corporation.
Do we have a time frame when this transfer ó we have an agreement in principle; theyíre talking; theyíve been talking for some time now. The two sides are meeting. Have they established the framework of those talks? Have they established an idea of what kind of money weíre talking about, what kind of time it will take to transfer EMS ó emergency medical services ó to YHC, the Yukon Hospital Corporation?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Our government wants to do the job once. We want to do it right. Unlike the previous Liberal administration, we donít want to set a timeline and work toward that timeline. We want to get the job done once and properly, and weíre working toward attaining that goal.
Ms. Duncan: Perhaps next session we can work to attaining answers as a goal.
The doctors are in contract talks with the Government of Yukon at the moment. Their contract expired March 31, 2004. Work is ongoing. How are those contract talks going?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Underway.
Ms. Duncan: The Yukon Hospital Corporation has discussions ongoing with their nurses at present. My understanding is that there has been no settlement reached. I understand the Yukon Housing Corporation is at armís length. I understand that there they have their own negotiator; however, the minister, as a funding body, would be kept advised of progress at the table. Are we making progress, and what is the current status of the talks between Yukon Housing Corporation and the nurses? Now the minister can stand and say that Yukon Housing Corporation is independent and at armís length. However, this is the only way we can have answers on the floor for the public, the time when the Yukon Housing Corporation is accountable. How are the talks going with the nurses?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I wasnít aware that the Yukon Housing Corporation had any nurses on staff.
Ms. Duncan: I really appreciate the seriousness with which the member opposite treats questions from this side.
Is the minister prepared to share any information as to how the talks are going between the nurses and the hospital?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The minister is not involved in the discussions between the Yukon Hospital Corporation and the nurses union.
Ms. Duncan: The minister is advised as to how those discussions are proceeding. The minister is the funding agency, and the minister has a role and a responsibility and accountability to this Legislature. Now, if he doesnít want to do the job, he only has to stand up and say so. He has been kept advised. The funding body is the Government of Yukon, and this is where the accountability for the taxpayersí dollars rests. Is he aware of how the discussions are going? Has he been briefed?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: No, I have not received a briefing on that area, nor have I asked for one. That area is totally within the purview of the Yukon Hospital Corporation, and I am aware that the Yukon Hospital Corporation does have nurses on staff, unlike the Yukon Housing Corporation. Iím not aware of them having any nurses on staff whatsoever.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, on April 8, I raised a constituency issue with the minister, and that issue was surrounding Yukon College. We have an additional need for licensed practical nurses in the territory with the opening of beds at Macaulay and Copper Ridge. We will need more LPNs, as well as RNs and additional staff. The issue I raised is that the Yukon College training of LPNs is not offered in such a way as those who are currently working can go back to school part-time. I asked the Minister of Health and Social Services to discuss this issue with his colleague, the Minister of Education. He committed to do so. Has he done so, and can I report on any progress to my constituent?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Yukon College currently offers an LPN course. The department has asked Yukon College to expand the course and open up more seats in that area. To that end, the Minister of Education has provided $1 million more funding, which may in part be utilized for an expansion on the course in this area. I donít know when the intake is for this course or the numbers that they can seat in the course. I do know that our department has funded in excess of $1 million to open up 12 more beds in Copper Ridge Place and seven more beds at Macaulay, which will take an additional number of FTEs, among them mostly LPNs and nursing home attendants. There are three categories: nursing home attendants, LPNs and, I believe to a lesser extent, more highly qualified individuals. But the prime categories are nursing home attendants and LPNs.
So, yes, there are demands. Yes, Yukon College has been contacted. Yes, there has been more money going to Yukon College from this government to expand the educational needs here in the Yukon. Yes, we are looking at more Yukoners trained here in the Yukon so that they can be utilized more here in the Yukon. Hopefully that will come to fruition, but it has more to do with the careful planning of this government taking over from a previous administration that basically ignored this area for quite some time.
Ms. Duncan: The specific issue I raised was not only the availability of seats but its flexibility in terms of training. We have individuals who are currently working in this field and, as the minister well knows, itís a shift-work situation so trying to accommodate that shift work and your studies can be extremely difficult. My specific request was that they examine more spaces as well as some flexibility on how the training is provided. The minister had undertaken to discuss it with the Minister of Education. Itís the flexibility issue that I was looking for a response on.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: During the last debate on this area, I agreed with the leader of the third party that this was a good concept. That has been conveyed through the officials of the Department of Health and Social Services to Yukon College.
Ms. Duncan: I understand that, and if the minister will rewind his mental tape, he will recognize that what I asked was: he said he committed to do that, had he done that, and were there any results I can share with my constituent? Is there anything in writing?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: Thereís nothing in writing.
I will ensure that my constituent is aware of this information and hopefully that individual and others who are interested will be able to participate in the enhanced spaces available in the nursing home attendant and licensed practical nurse programming.
Is there any progress on offering RN programming at Yukon College?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: It was examined in detail and determined it didnít warrant proceeding with a full-blown RN program here. We did not have the capacity.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, could I just have it clearly stated for the record? Is it a capacity issue or a lack of interest ó not enough bodies interested in taking their RN program here or were we unable to find the staff to deliver it?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: It would appear that if we were to set up this program the first year, there would probably be enough for the intake, but subsequent years, the numbers didnít appear to materialize, to come to fruition to sustain the program for a continuing period of time. There will be an initial intake, yes, and then it would trickle off, because the demand is not there at the continuing level that would be required to sustain this program. But we are involved with other jurisdictions and do receive Yukoners back for practicums and locums and initiatives under that area.
Ms. Duncan: The work that is being undertaken on the Childrenís Act ó there was substantial documentation provided to the Legislature, but not all members received it. There werenít enough copies provided. Iíd like to formally ask the minister for a complete copy, as I didnít receive one. And is there a progress report on this particular initiative?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: One copy had the member oppositeís name right on it. I donít know where it got lost in the mail system in the Legislature, but I did receive a memo from the Clerk saying that I should table copies for all, and weíll provide the member opposite with another copy of the presentation and the overview as to how weíre going. It did encompass the existing act, existing regulations, the outline of the program as to how we were proceeding. That was determined by the Childrenís Act review panel and the steps that the Childrenís Act review panel were taking for consultation with all stakeholders across the Yukon, Mr. Deputy Chair.
Ms. Duncan: The Yukon has a history of innovative programming, in particular in the public health area. For example, weíve had the Style: It Takes Two program, which was introduced under previous administrations. That particular program then had an accountability measure in that we saw a significant reduction in teenage pregnancies. We have the healthy family/healthy children initiatives. Are there any new innovative programs? Those programs have been in place for some time. Are there any new programs that are ó the minister likes to use the expression "in the hopper"? Are there any new programs to be unveiled in the Department of Health?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: By and large weíve gone with the tried and true programs. The FASD action plan is moving forward. That was an initiative of our government. Weíre moving forward with the Child Development Centre. Weíve provided them with additional funding and theyíll probably be in a position, in consultation with YMA individuals, to diagnose FASD sometime this fall. I believe thatís when theyíre first looking at it.
Ms. Duncan: The requirement for reporting and diagnosis with respect to FASD was put in place some time ago, but it has taken a long time for it to actually be put in place. The Yukon has been for some time a leader in respect to dealing with FASD in our community. Weíve been a leader in a number of areas. I mentioned some of the programs earlier. Itís unfortunate that these innovative public health programs werenít shared with Dr. Carolyn Bennett.
I have also raised the issue of the kids recreation fund in this Legislature. As I understand it, the $60,000 thatís in the budget for that fund is actually a transfer from Canada. Itís one of those federal programs where the money is transferred. Can the minister state the source of that $60,000 and indicate whether or not there is any intention to enhance the kids recreation fund?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Before we leave the FASD action plan, I can advise the member opposite that the Yukon is a member of the Canada Northwest FASD Partnership. This is moving forward very well. There is a series of regular meetings. We rely on expertise in our neighbouring jurisdiction to provide training to our people here. We recently had officials from a facility in Edmonton attend here and put on a training course in this area.
With respect to the $60,000 for early childhood, that was identified by the previous Liberal government and flowed in the manner that it is currently. We havenít changed anything. What existed previously was serving the function. We just left it alone.
Ms. Duncan: The kids recreation fund is an incredible success story. It is substantially contributed to not only by sports and recreational organizations, but businesses and individual Yukoners as well.
Itís oversubscribed every year, and could do with some more money. Will the minister consider, since the budget envelope has increased significantly in Health, enhancing that fund in next yearís budget?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I would consider anything thatís reasonable and this is a reasonable request, but will the member vote for this budget if we identify the needs? The member opposite will fail to recognize these important initiatives and will oppose this budget and will vote against these initiatives. Iím not sure about the rationale thatís being utilized here, Mr. Chair. We recognize this is a good program, we recognize it as a program that serves the purpose, and we recognize it as a go-forward program.
It doesnít matter where we put additional money, this member will refuse to vote for it and, for all intents and purposes, will vote against any of these initiatives.
Ms. Duncan: I appreciate the minister accepting a constructive suggestion in his planning and perhaps even for a supplementary.
The social worker staffing levels have, at times, been as difficult a position to staff as the health care workers, in that they augment and support and assist health professionals in the territory. What are our current staffing levels in the social worker area? Itís a high burnout field; itís a very difficult field. Are we fully staffed?
A key question is: has there been a significant reduction in the caseload being carried by childcare workers?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The main focus of increasing in staffing was in family and childrenís services. Ten new positions were created under our governmentís watch: five for social workers and five for family support workers. Currently there is one social worker who came and then decided to move on, and did so, so there is one position vacant.
Thereís a turnover in all categories on a continuing basis. The memberís right that there is a burnout rate.
As to the caseload per social worker, it varies considerably as to location and from community to community. We have some social workers in some communities who have a very low caseload, less than half a dozen.
We have some that have higher caseloads, but again it depends on the area and weíre doing our level best to balance out the caseloads in the area where SA workers are carrying a high caseload. It is a continuing effort and weíre making progress. The main progress was realized after our government increased staffing levels by 10 positions in this area.
Ms. Duncan: If I understood the minister correctly, there was an increase in staffing levels of 10, and of those staffing levels, there is currently one vacancy. There has been some turnover but those additional staff positions have been staffed. There is one that is currently still under recruitment, for lack of a better term, and there is a high turnover in the staff.
There was a very difficult situation in the Yukon, and recognizing the Anglin and the Child Welfare League of Canada reports that noted we had a very, very high caseload, the minister has said we dealt with that by hiring additional staff. Most of those staff are hired. How are we monitoring to make sure that those caseloads are within acceptable levels and that we donít get in this situation again? How is that being monitored in the department?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, what we have is a focus now with family support workers addressing a number of the issues and problems encountered rather than having a social worker trained to a higher level being involved. So there has been a movement of cases, in some respects. This is an area that we have addressed and it is working.
We have also addressed the issue of the group homes; weíve separated ages and we separated the sexes. Itís not a perfect system, and government is not a good parent overall, but we have a considerably improved system over what we had before. There are parts to the two reports that the member opposite mentioned that we have utilized, and there are other parts that weíre not going to utilize. Weíre fully cognizant of the responsibilities we have. Overall, we have 304 children in care. It must be duly noted that 60 percent of these children in care are there because of either drug abuse in the family, alcohol abuse in the family or drug and alcohol abuse in the family ó 60 percent. Thatís shocking. Yet we hear the leader of the third party wants to expand liquor outlets in the Yukon.
We have serious problems and serious difficulties with drug and alcohol abuse here in the Yukon, and I can advise the member opposite that we are converting the Sara Steele Building back to residential programming and that should be underway by this summer. Weíre very hopeful that the tried-and-true methods of residential treatment can be reintroduced here in the Yukon, and weíre going forward in that area.
As well, the department is working diligently with the Yukon Hospital Corporation to effect a mental health/medical detox unit in the Thomson Centre.
There wasnít a lot of information around this with respect to the repairs necessary in the Thomson Centre. Weíre still reeling from the costs weíre having to incur to get this structure back up and running. Here is a structure that is just over 10 years old and weíre spending millions of dollars on it to correct deficiencies.
Weíve also got a number of structural problems with Copper Ridge Place that have been known for quite some time, such as ice damming on the roof. In the last fiscal cycle there was less than $40,000 in repairs. In this fiscal cycle we donít know. We donít have a great track record in constructing buildings that are efficient and functional. They might look great but theyíre there to serve a purpose. We have an obligation to those we serve that we do so in a cost-effective manner.
So some of the problems are taken up with these kinds of costs. We are making progress with respect to the children in care and the facilities we operate and how weíve streamlined their function. This year, weíve budgeted money for a new home and we are hoping to move forward on that initiative also, Mr. Chair.
Across the board, as a government, weíve addressed a lot of the health care issues that have been outstanding under the previous governments. The first thing we had to do is identify the sources of funding. That took us our first budget cycle. It was through the tireless efforts of officials in the stats branch and the Department of Finance and our Premierís office that we were able to realize the financial position that we are currently in today. Then, what you have before you, Mr. Chair, is the largest budget ever tabled in the history of the Yukon, but which is addressing the needs in all areas.
Now, Iím sure the member can think long and hard and come up with some other areas that could be addressed, and weíll entertain any reasonable request of the member. But that said, Iím sure at the end of the time that we have for debate on this budget that the member opposite will vote against this tremendous increase that weíre putting toward health care, children in care, FASD, and a whole series of other initiatives. Thatís disappointing, Mr. Chair.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, one of the key recommendations and integral issues to the Anglin and the Child Welfare League of Canada report was the extraordinary caseload that was being carried by social workers and family workers in the Yukon. The minister has said in the House that, through case management, itís working and that some of the recommendations of these two reports have been dealt with. So Iím going to take the minister at his word that the caseloads are not extraordinarily high as they have been in the past.
The minister has raised the issue of the group homes. There are staffing issues there as well. Are these homes currently fully staffed, and are any of them going out to contract, or are we maintaining staffing within the Government of Yukon? There is a new group home facility; when does he anticipate it being opened?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: For the record, letís share with the members opposite what we have by way of stats in family and childrenís services for the last period.
If we look at the annex, there are currently four males resident there. We have a staff complement of 8.5. We still have additional capacity. At the childrenís receiving home, we currently have two males and 10 females. There are 13 staff members and this does not include the four supervisors. The next home has four males and it has a staff of 5.25 FTEs; the next home has three females and it has a staff of 9.25 FTEs; the next home has two males and a staff of 5.5 FTEs; the next home has two male residents and six FTEs; in the next home there are three females and a staff of four; in the next home we have three males resident and a staff of eight. In the young offenders facility, we currently have one individual and we have a staff of 15.5 FTEs.
So the staffing levels are more than adequate to meet the needs. In fact, there are more available spaces in all the group homes than ever. Well, I canít say "than ever", but there are more available spaces than there has been for a considerable length of time. Thatís not to say we donít still have difficulties or problems. I stated earlier that government is a poor parent, not a good substitute for a real parent.
That said, the department has made a tremendous effort this last while and, given the commitment of our government to this initiative, weíre moving forward and, as I said earlier, weíre putting money into the capital side for another group home.
Itís probably going to be a combination and multipurpose. That has yet to be determined, but the department has specíd out what the requirements are and that process is underway. The issue of the Anglin report, or the Child Welfare League of Canada report, as I said earlier ó this minister hasnít fully subscribed to the conclusions reached, nor will he. But there is some very good information contained therein.
Ms. Duncan: I did ask a specific question with respect to when the additional spaces in a group receiving home would be available. Now the minister has said the department has specíd it out and the process is underway. I was just looking for a clearer time frame than that.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: If we look at the spaces available in the current group homes, group home number one still has four spaces available; number two has 15 spaces available; number three has six spaces available; number four has six spaces available; number five has two spaces available; number six has three spaces available; number seven has three spaces available; number eight has four spaces available; and of course the young offenders facility ó well, thereís one individual in secure custody, so we have a lot of capacity there. Due to changes in the Young Offenders Act, secure custody is no longer being utilized to the extent it was previously by the courts.
Ms. Duncan: The minister stood on his feet and said that the department has specíd it out, weíve allocated funds; in the great infinite wisdom of the Yukon Party in constructing this budget, weíre going to make more group home spaces available. All I did was ask him to account for that and tell us when, what time frame, not answer as to where we already have all these spaces. Itís one or the other.
The minister has made additional funds available in this budget to build or construct or make available more spaces. That being said, when are they going to be made available? What he just outlined was an argument why we donít need them, so are we building a new facility with the money in this budget? He said the process is underway and the department has the specs. Are we constructing a new facility or is the government recognizing there are enough spaces available, or there is space currently available and we donít need this? Will the funds lapse then?
I would respectfully request the minister to decide which argument heís going to make. Either weíre building a new facility and outline some more details and thereís money available in the budget, or weíre not, we have lots of spaces. Would he account for the expenditure to the public?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Iím not making an argument; Iím stating facts. The fact of the matter is that we have space in a number of categories for specific areas of children in the care of the Yukon government.
Now, that said, there is a demonstrated need that will be met with a new facility. That new facility should be on stream and operating under the next budget cycle.
Ms. Duncan: A year from now.
The minister has raised the issue of the young offenders facility. What are the future plans for that facility? There is clearly a reduced need for secure custody. There are issues around the new ó and the precise title escapes me ó Young Offenders Act. What are the plans for that facility?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Weíve converted part of the young offenders facility for open custody. Iím sure that the member has been through the young offenders facility toward the back. There is a part that has been provided with separate access. It is for open custody individuals.
Ms. Duncan: Whatís happening with the staff at the young offenders facility? Are they changing gears to being staff support for a secure facility to an open custody facility? Has there been a transfer of jobs? Have we transferred anyone out of that facility? What is the current staffing level?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, I indicated the current staffing level earlier. The staff can handle both secure custody and open custody.
Ms. Duncan: Have there been any discussions with the current staff about what the future plans for the young offenders facility might be? The minister indicated the changes that have been made. What else is planned for that facility?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The changes were begun under the previous administrationís watch, so Iím sure the member is completely familiar with them. The change to both types of care came into focus and is to be continued with. As to discussions with the staff, theyíre discussions that are constantly ongoing and continuing. There is secure custody, and there is open custody, and there are now remand young offenders in that young offenders facility.
Ms. Duncan: Are there any other plans for any additional changes to the young offenders facility in light of changes to legislation?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The changes were made and funded by the federal government.
Ms. Duncan: I would take it that there are no additional changes planned.
Iíd like to ask the minister with respect to the childcare provisions within the Health and Social Services budget. We have direct operating grants, and we have support for both family day homes and daycare centres. Is the Child Care Board that provides advice on both those types of facilities currently fully appointed, and have they been asked to look at any particular issues? Has the minister asked them for any advice with regard to wages or the facility operation?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, I know there were some reappointments to the board that the member opposite refers to. As to whether it has a full number of members currently, I would have to check that out. If we are still in general debate on this department on Monday, Iíll provide the member opposite with this information.
With respect to childcare here in the Yukon, one of our major commitments as a party and now as a government was to address the needs of the childcare community. We have structured a review panel, a committee, that addressed this and we came up with a four-year plan. Weíre currently involved in implementing that plan. At the present time, the direct operating grant is moving forward at the current increased level. The total additional dollars to Yukon over the two budget cycles is just shy of $1 million.
The member opposite has to realize that, by increasing the DOG, the funds flow to the respective daycare and day home and we have no control over the wages that are provided to the workers. We provide accreditations, we provide courses, the Department of Education has funded additional monies for Yukon College ó $1 million in this budget cycle ó and accreditation programs are being utilized more readily.
We still have a number of the other areas weíre working on for daycares and day homes. This was a very good working group that came together to spell out where daycare should go and how it should be funded.
The increase, overall, in the early childhood is now budgeted at $6.632 million a year. This is a significant increase in this area. We currently have some of the best funded daycares and day homes in Canada, and we have demonstrated our commitment to work with the childcare community, and if thereís a demonstrated need, we will meet that demonstrated need.
Ms. Duncan: The minister had a review panel committee of Yukoners come together involved in this field, and he has indicated that they have developed a four-year plan and that they are implementing the plan. Is that plan a public document, or is it for the ministerís use only? Can the official opposition and I receive copies of that plan in order that we can assess the ministerís progress in this regard?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The plan still has to go to Cabinet for approval. Various parts have been pulled out, and theyíre part of this budget cycle, but I think the childcare community will speak for itself in that theyíve accepted this plan. Theyíve recognized how advantageous it is for the childcare community, and our government is committed to moving forward, and we are doing so. Where we do not get involved is in the actual wage structure for workers in the childcare community. These are by and large reporting to either a private employer or a non-profit society acting as the employer. Some of them have seen fit to increase wages quite extensively to their employees as a consequence of the increase in the direct operating grant.
We are very hopeful that there will be an increase in wages across all categories. We recognize the importance of these individuals who provide care to our youth in our society ó our children.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I would hope that, once the plan has gone through the Cabinet process, it would become a public document and that the minister would make it available.
The issues that have been raised with me in this regard have been more at the operational level. I am just giving the minister a heads up about them and asking that he pass them on. There is a real difference between day homes, daycare centres, private operations and individual relationships. Of paramount importance, the fundamental key is that the children are safe, healthy and cared for in an environment that is conducive to their safety and health.
The day home/daycare/private caregiver relationship and who accesses the direct operating grant is a difficult issue. There have been some significant issues of late and they have to do with the expectations of a day home. They are not daycares. They are day homes. I would encourage the minister to keep his eyes and ears open. I appreciate that thereís a committee in place, but he needs to listen to others in the field as well ó members of the committee and those who are in the field. There are issues around the inspections of day homes and what are and what are not the expectations ó that standard would be in a daycare centre and a day home and would provide an alternative to the parent.
Individuals have come to me with concerns and theyíre operational in nature, and I would just ask that the minister pay close attention to these operational issues and hear what people have to say.
I donít want to forget this particular question: what is the date for the availability of additional beds at Macaulay and at Copper Ridge?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Letís just back up a little bit to the issue surrounding day homes and daycares. The issue that the member opposite was alluding to and carefully circumventing was one of accountability. The issue before us, Mr. Chair, is that on this committee, both day home operators and daycare operators were well-represented. Funding the day homes and the daycares by way of a grant does not provide the accountability necessary. The issue is being addressed by way of a contribution agreement with the day homes and daycare centres, and accountability is part of the whole equation. Thatís where weíre at, and this minister meets regularly with day home and daycare representatives and weíre cognizant of our responsibilities and our commitments to this field.
To that end, I commend the department officials and I commend those in government who have been involved in this initiative. The process that was put together was a very worthwhile process. All parties came together. We achieved consensus. The document is being moved forward to Cabinet, and that funding level is being increased in this budget ó that the member opposite will be voting against, Iím sure. And we are very, very cognizant of our commitment in this area and weíre going to be doing our level best to ensure that there is adequate funding for day home and daycares here in the Yukon.
Mr. Chair, with respect to the opening of beds, at Macaulay weíre targeting June 7, and Copper Ridge Place, subject to staffing, it will be later ó this fall is the earliest we can see our way to realizing the staff levels necessary.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the minister has reached the wrong conclusion. I have been trying to be diplomatic in the way I presented the issue and in trying to make that attempt to be diplomatic, the minister has misinterpreted what my concern was. My concern is that the inspections and day homes are butting heads and there are issues out there that have been brought up to me. The problem is that there is one standard in a day home and there is another standard in a daycare. There is some clashing going on, and the paramount issue is our childrenís health and safety. We also need a healthy dose of common sense in this as well, and I would just ask that the minister keep an eye on that particular issue.
I donít have a great many more questions. The minister has answered my questions around Macaulay and Copper Ridge. I appreciate that.
Do we have a progress report on the Thomson Centre ó when it might be up and running again and what are the plans for it?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I wish I did. This budget cycle has identified $2.7 million that are tracking back to repairs in that facility. They are quite substantial in nature: an exterior wrap of the building, insulation of the building, windows, doors, firewall separations, sprinkler systems, seismic upgrades, and the list goes on. Itís quite extensive and itís sad that we have a building in place that is just over 10 years old and that looks great, but in some places you can poke your finger through the exterior doors: theyíre rotten, the wrong quality of door, the wrong type of door. The windows are leaking. During the cold weather, the frost comes right through the walls. Where that great-looking rock face on the exterior is in place, the frost comes right through the wall. Thereís frost coming through the wall in so many areas that one has to shake oneís head as to the supervision and construction techniques employed.
It appears to have been built to design, but it appears to have a poor design to start with. We donít have a definitive timeline as to when we will achieve reopening. Weíre looking at putting medical detox and mental health into the Thomson Centre, as well as retaining the existing rehab facility and a number of other functions yet to be determined. It is work in progress, but the final engineering report on the building was only just recently received. Weíve been through a review of the structure of the building ó seismic, electrical, mechanical and the sprinkler system, firewall separations, firewalls and penetrations ó you name it ó and there are deficiencies in all those areas that have to be rectified.
Iím just so disappointed. Itís one of the biggest disappointments Iíve experienced ó seeing such a waste of the taxpayersí money on a structure that looks great but will require so much money to bring it up to a standard where it can be reoccupied. This stems from the previous administrations. We know where the responsibility lies, but it will be the government of the day that pays the price to bring it back on line.
Mr. Fairclough: I have many questions for the member opposite, although I would leave them at this time. I do have one question in regard to child welfare.
The minister recently met with the Northern Tutchone Council, and they brought forward a proposal. As I recall, the minister did not see it as a very good proposal. I would like the minister to give us a bit of an update on where this minister wants to head with this issue with the Northern Tutchone Council.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, currently we have a protocol agreement on this area with the Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation. That has been in place for some time. What was being suggested was the funding of a different way to proceed with the Childrenís Act review. We are committed. Our government is committed to meeting with the Northern Tutchone in the future. Unfortunately, the Chief of Na Cho Nyäk Dun has a health problem that has precluded him from attending meetings of late. Our government is fully committed to working on a government-to-government basis in a like manner with all the First Nation members of the Northern Tutchone.
Chair: Is there any further general debate? We will then proceed with line-by-line.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, I request unanimous consent that all lines in Vote 15, Department of Health and Social Services, be deemed cleared or carried as required.
Unanimous consent re deeming all lines in Vote 15, Health and Social Services, read and cleared or carried
Chair:Mr. Fairclough has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 15, Health and Social Services, cleared or carried as required. Are you agreed?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: There is unanimous consent.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Department of Health and Social Services in the amount of $161,190,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
Total Capital Expenditures for the Department of Health and Social Services in the amount of $8,530,000 agreed to
Department of Health and Social Services agreed to
Chair: That concludes the Department of Health and Social Services.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Chair: There has been a request for a break to allow for the switch in officials. Do members agree?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Weíll take a 15-minute break.
Chair: Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We will continue with Bill No. 10, First Appropriation Act, 2004-05, with general debate on Vote 8, Department of Justice.
Department of Justice
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Mr. Chair, I am very pleased to present the 2004-05 operation and maintenance and capital budgets for the Department of Justice. It really is indeed my honour to have the opportunity to speak to this budget but also to have the opportunity to take part in this department in a leadership role, you could say. It really has been a pleasure and privilege to work with all the various employees in the department and certainly there are many employees who work very hard on behalf of all Yukoners.
This department, of course, encompasses a whole host of services and programs for all Yukoners. Their jobs are not easy.
These are difficult issues. These are difficult times we find ourselves in, and here in the north, in the Yukon, we are certainly not exempt from many of these difficult social issues that confront our territory on a day-to-day basis. So, again, thank you to all our staff for their dedication and commitment, and particularly to those front-line individuals delivering services to Yukoners on a day-to-day basis.
I am pleased to present the departmentís main estimates for the 2004-05 fiscal year. The operations and maintenance budget for this fiscal year will total $36,677,000, representing an increase of just over a million dollars, or three percent from the 2003-04 forecast. Of particular note, approximately 91 percent of our departmentís budget is spent on fixed costs, interestingly enough. The contract with the RCMP, for example, for policing services, personnel costs, departmental communications and utility costs, contract services, grants and contributions ó they all remain the main major expenditure areas for our Justice department.
Now, of the overall budgeted amount, thereís approximately $16,216,000, or 44 percent, to cover personnel cost. These costs for the department reflect collective bargaining increases and associated benefit costs. The amount of $13,368,000, or 37 percent of the overall 2004-05 budget, will be spent on policing services in the Yukon alone. This is an increase of $592,000 from the 2003-04 forecast.
I am also pleased to state that 10 percent, or $3,690,000, of the overall 2004-05 budget will be spent on transfer payments to groups or individuals who deliver programs on behalf of the Justice department, as I referred to earlier. Again, very similar to the day-to-day work that is performed by our employees, each of these individuals, associations and agencies provide an invaluable service on behalf of our department, for which I thank them all.
$3,403,000 is also allocated for all remaining program costs.
Within our department, we have a number of different branches, one of which is the management services branch, and they are responsible for supporting policy and program delivery through the provision of planning analysis, communications, financial, human and fiscal resource management. The management services budget for 2004-05 is $2,355,000. Thatís a decrease of $42,000, or approximately two percent from the last fiscal year. This is due in large part to expense reductions for management services, including operating expenses, rent expenses and contract services for the workersí advocate office as well.
We also have the court services branch, and they are responsible for the operation of the Yukon court system and provide support for the judiciary. The branch also runs programs such as the maintenance enforcement program, child support guidelines, witness administration and the sheriffís office. The total budgeted for court services in this budget is $4,679,000, representing an increase of $75,000 from last yearís forecast. Now, the majority of this increase is a result of an increase in the child support guidelines program, which is fully recoverable from the federal government. Personnel costs for the court services branch have also increased.
The legal services branch drafts legislation, litigates civil matters and prosecutes a wide variety of territorial offences. This branch is also responsible for First Nation administration of justice negotiations and provides legal advice to the Government of Yukon. The branch also administers the access to justice agreement, which provides core funding to the aboriginal courtworker program, Legal Aid, and Public Legal Education Association. In the 2004-05 estimates, the legal services branch is allocated $4,675,000, or a $160,000 overall increase from last yearís budget forecast.
This includes an increase in personnel costs as well as an increase to the community legal support budget.
The regulatory services budget line item reflects the activities of the land titles office, the public administratorís office and the budget for the Yukon Utilities Board. In comparison to last yearís forecasted amounts for these three functions, there is a 12-percent increase of $80,000.
The addition of the adult protection and decision-making legislation to the public administratorís program will result in the addition of a .75 FTE for the 2004-05 fiscal year. This increase, along with collective bargaining salary and benefit increases for the regulatory services branch, will result in a personnel increase of $73,000.
The official guardianís budget will also see an increase for the provision of legal counsel and other professional services for the official guardian pursuant to the Childrenís Act.
The community and correctional services branch administers probation services for adult offenders, victim services, and the family violence prevention unit, the adult residential centre, as well as the territoryís own correctional facility. The community and correctional services budget for 2004-05 is $9,075,000, representing a three-percent, or $305,000, increase in funding.
A very important element of our department ó a very important aspect, among others ó is that of the victim services and family violence prevention unit. Iím very pleased to also showcase additional resources to this particular unit reflecting the addition of resources toward this unit, additional money in contract services for clinical supervision services, as well as training. This, coupled with collective bargaining increases to salaries and benefits, will result in an overall increase of three percent in the 2004-05 budget.
Certainly this is very good news. As I alluded to before, we will see additional dollars toward this unit, toward the personnel budget, also to support community training. The unit, I should also add, already offers a variety of training courses related to family violence, effects of trauma and victimization, group counselling, et cetera. This additional money can be used to assist staff to present courses, develop course materials, and some may also be used to bring in experts to provide other training in particular topics as well. Just recently, I might add, 30 individuals, including staff from Nunavut who travelled all the way to the Yukon to participate in the training, were in Whitehorse for three days of training in the dynamics of family violence, the cycle of abuse, approaches to counselling, et cetera. From all reports, the training was very well-received. So we believe that training opportunities such as opportunities offered by this particular unit will not only heighten the awareness of family violence but will also assist those service deliverers with the resources they need to do their jobs effectively.
Of course, part of this increase will also be going toward clinical supervision and thatís primarily for professional support for counsellors who work in this particular area. As members opposite know full well, this is a very difficult line of work for these individuals, but I have nothing but accolades for each of our employees who do a great job day in and day out providing services clear across the territory. So I believe that some of these resources will also help alleviate the work that they have to endure on a day-to-day basis.
These individuals work in a very highly charged emotional environment, to say the least, and itís critical that theyíre able to remain both empathetic and professional. Again, this supervision will allow or enable us to prevent some of the staff burnout.
The adult residential centre program budget will also increase as a result of increased operating costs for the centre. This increase for 2004-05 will be $84,000, an increase of 27 percent. The community justice and public safety branch administers programs directed at promoting public awareness and safety, promoting respect for the law through effective policing and community justice initiatives, and administering programs directed at crime prevention.
The community justice and public safety budget for 2004-05 is $14,674,000, an increase of $443,000, or three percent, from the previous yearís forecast. This includes increases to police services to accommodate salary and associated benefit costs for the three policing agreements that service the Yukon, including the territorial police services, the First Nation policing under the terms of the aboriginal community constable program agreement and the tripartite agreement with Liard First Nation that has been in place for a number of years.
The funds provided for the Human Rights Commission for this fiscal year are $459,000, which is an increase of $48,000 from the 2003-04 forecast. Again, this reflects an increase to the operations of the Human Rights Commission.
There is $50,000, offset by a slight reduction in contract services, for the Human Rights Adjudication Board.
Now, moving on to the capital budget, Mr. Chair, the Department of Justice in this capital budget is focusing on planning and development for long-term systems technology requirements. This will enable systematic replacement and upgrading based on individual branch needs, as well as ensuring that national and industry information and technology requirements are maintained.
Now, the management services branch is responsible for information systems planning and development, involving all work related to planning, analysis, design and the development and implementation of justice information systems, as well as maintenance of existing systems. The 2004-05 capital budget for systems administration is $300,000. That is an increase of 94 percent over the 2003-04 budget amount of $155,000.
As members are well aware, the Department of Justice houses a number of very intricate and complex information systems within the department, so these dollars will, as I just mentioned, help maintain these systems as well as enhance what we have to offer today.
The capital building maintenance projects include office space renovations, painting, carpentry, plumbing, electrical and other repairs in buildings occupied by our department. These costs involve damage repairs, renovations work and preventive maintenance. The total management services capital budget for 2004-05 is $427,000. Thatís an increase of 99 percent over the 2003-04 capital budget of $215,000.
The court services branch operates to facilitate the integrity and efficient operation of the court system. Items requested and contained within this capital budget are to further enable both the efficient and effective delivery of court services in the Yukon. The 2004-05 capital budget for the court services branch is $48,000, and thatís an increase of 100 percent over the 2003-04 capital budget forecast.
The other program branch in the Department of Justice with responsibility for capital projects is the community and correctional services branch. This particular capital budget contains monies for equipment replacement involving the replacement of broken and worn-out equipment and tools. During the coming year, for example, the Whitehorse Correctional Centre proposes to replace greenhouse boxes, soil and peat moss used for the horticultural program, the sidewalk and ramp to the centre, a cooler/freezer unit in the kitchen, monitors for the control room and the analog sequential switcher in the control room as well. Of course, all this equipment identified will be transferable to a new facility when completed. The total 2004-05 capital budget for replacement of equipment is $27,000. Thatís an increase of 50 percent over the previous yearís capital budget.
Last but certainly not least, although I have less than a minute, we have $500,000 that has been identified for the consultation on corrections. Of course this is a very important initiative and one that will entail planning and consulting on corrections needs in the Yukon to better reflect the needs of all Yukon citizens. This concludes my address. Thank you.
Mrs. Peter: I have a few comments and questions for the Minister of Justice. How Iíd like to start off, though, is to read the departmental objectives for the Department of Justice. One is to enhance public confidence in, and respect for, the law and society; two is to promote an open and accessible system of justice that provides fair and equal services to all Yukon citizens; three is to ensure that the administration of justice operates for the benefit of all persons in the Yukon and working toward an effective and responsive correctional system to manage offenders in ways that promote rehabilitation and ensure public safety; to ensure that the Government of the Yukon receives high quality and cost-effective legal services and to promote effective policing, crime prevention and community justice initiatives in our communities; and, lastly, to encourage respect for individual, collective and human rights.
I think that gives us a good indication of what responsibilities this minister has to her department. The Minister of Justice is responsible for this department. The Minister of Justice is accountable to the people of the Yukon. The minister is to provide leadership, as she has stated, to this Department of Justice.
A year and a half has gone by, and the first order of business that we received from the Minister of Justice was that she had stopped all progress made in regard to the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. Then she became personally involved in a tow-truck situation, which caused much confusion for the Yukon people.
Not too long after that a memorandum of understanding was signed with the leadership of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation, and not too much longer after that consultation was to take place with all First Nations in the Yukon Territory. Now a draft consultation paper is available for the public.
There was a situation a few weeks ago that needed urgent attention. It involved a person needing psychiatric care. The minister was not allowed to speak to this issue. The Yukon people were left hanging as to where this minister was to help resolve that issue. Justice officials and the hospital officials took matters into their own hands. They were the ones who showed leadership and made sure that the individual received the help that was needed. And there have been several more situations since then.
And the Correctional Centre, which we keep going back to, is outdated and an unsafe place, not only for the inmates but for the people who work there. The minister chooses to put the needs of these people on the back burner. The consultation process is going to take time ó another 15 months.
Yes, the facility is being renovated but that still doesnít address that problem. Weíre not going to see a new building any time soon. And the programs that are available at the Correctional Centre are very limited. There has been more talk in this Legislature about how weíre going to address these issues.
Rehabilitation is the key to success for reducing recidivism of inmates. Weíve heard the history. Weíve heard lots of statistics around that. And yet the Yukon people are still not clear on what kind of security this government is going to provide right now, today, for the people who have to work in this building and inmates who have to spend any length of time there. Will the minister provide to this House a list of programs that are available to the inmates of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I happen to view things in perhaps a rather different light from what the member opposite has painted. I happen to think that we have garnered some successes over the last year and a half, although perhaps it hasnít always been easy. As outlined in our election platform in 2002, one of the most important commitments made was to forge ahead and formalize our relationship with Yukon First Nations, government to government, and thatís exactly what we have been doing and what weíve been working toward. Whether it is on the justice front, whether it is on the education front, or whether it is on the Childrenís Act review, I think there are a number of successes that we have been able to garner. Of course these issues are far from easy; theyíre very complex, as the member opposite is well aware.
We have been working very closely ó myself, as Minister of Justice, has been working very closely ó with the Grand Chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations. We have been working very closely with the Council of Yukon First Nations leadership and have had meetings with the Kwanlin Dun First Nation and with other individual First Nations. We are adhering to the memorandum of understanding that was signed between the Premier, on behalf of the Government of Yukon, and the Kwanlin Dun First Nation, which commits us to work with and involve all Yukon First Nations and other Yukoners on the design, delivery and evaluation of correctional services in the territory. That is exactly what we are doing. We are forging ahead with that.
Again, as I have stated on a number of occasions in the House ó and I am very happy to reiterate our stand ó we are very much committed to replacing the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. Our government, however, has also said that we want to ensure that the facility that does go up reflects the very needs of the community it serves.
Mr. Chair, First Nations, government employees at the Correctional Centre and community stakeholders all have a very important role in any discussions and any future decisions surrounding the facility to be constructed, including the delivery of programming within the facility and the delivery of programming outside the facility, in our communities.
To this end our government has been working on that very process over the last year. Yes, it could have come sooner, but I have to say that Iíve done my best, and this is the process that we have been able to garner over the last year. I am very proud of the process. It is one for which we have a full buy-in from the Council of Yukon First Nations. Again, I will reiterate that it was the Grand Chief and I who presented the draft plan to the leadership around the table.
It does reflect that government-to-government relationship with First Nation governments and itís going to be a process that will stimulate some discussion among Yukoners about what we can do better, what services are lacking, on the prevention side, the intervention and the aftercare side. Rehabilitation ó absolutely, thatís a very key component. But there are other steps before that, and, of course, there are areas after that that we need to address as well.
Another area that has been raised as a concern is the proposed location of the facility. Thatís something else that this discussion will lend itself to, as well. And as the member opposite knows full well, we are making every effort to ensure the safe operation of the current facility by adhering to and implementing each of the recommendations that came forward from the fire marshal.
So we are very much committed to this process, and I believe that that in itself is a positive step forward. It has received some support. It has received support around the Council of Yukon First Nations table. Again, the first order of business is to gather the individuals who sit on the executive steering committee and then to determine or to review the terms of reference, to review the timeline because, as the member opposite knows full well, it is in draft form.
So again, weíre very happy that this process has commenced, and we look very forward to the outcome and all the discussions along the way.
The member opposite wanted to talk about programming in the facility. Again, when we talk about programming, we look at the things weíre delivering within the Correctional Centre right now. We have a substance abuse management program thatís offered up to five times a year on average and can accommodate up to 12 offenders at each offering.
We offer literacy programs for inmates. We have an exceptional individual who spearheads the Yukon College community campus. To that end, more recently, in March and through to this month, weíve been able to offer three very invaluable programs: computer training, held earlier this year in February to March, providing a computer fundamentals course, and an introduction to welding, which wrapped up last month.
Again, when we talk about all the economic opportunities occurring in the territory right now that will just enhance themselves from hereon out, itís very important that we equip our own Yukon people to take advantage of the opportunities. So, this particular course was a 50-hour welding course to allow students to be attracted to this trade as an introduction. Of course, upon the completion of this particular course, students may either pursue entry-level employment or go on to further training.
In addition to these two courses, we also offered small engine repair ó again, another excellent opportunity for our clients in the facility to become familiar with small engine repairs.
Providing our students with the skills to work on small engines, and again to serve as an introduction as perhaps to attract further studies in this trade at a later date ó again, very similar to the welding, upon completion they can either pursue entry-level employment or go on to further training. I think these three particular courses ó and again, these are just three ó are a really good start. I know that in speaking with individuals at the centre and within the College, theyíre very excited and very pleased with the outcome. It served to keep these individuals very busy and they very much enjoyed themselves and felt very fulfilled. In fact, together with the Minister of Education, I will be working to see what additional training opportunities we can provide via the Yukon College. Again, I think that while just a first step, these are opportunities we can look at and more opportunities that we can look at within this review as well.
Of course we also have an addictions counsellor through the Department of Health and Social Services that we offer. We also have the continuing contract with Council of Yukon First Nations for the pre-release and transition worker, who does an excellent job assisting inmates with release planning, transition to the community as well as other needs such as cultural and recreational planning. And, of course, as I mentioned before, there is other programming offered, including violence prevention offerings, programs. Inmates can take group therapy or one-to-one counselling or group counselling with the victims services and family violence prevention unit.
We have also been delivering a new program called Commitment to Change to address criminal thinking and behavioural change as well. Where appropriate, offenders are also referred to Yukon Family Services for support and follow-up on release from Whitehorse Correctional Centre.
Now, if the member opposite is saying can we be doing more? Absolutely. Thatís exactly why we are embarking upon the review process of corrections in the territory.
Mrs. Peter: I agree with the minister that sheís very fortunate that she has some very dedicated and hard-working people in her department. In recent days we have been hearing about some unfortunate situations that have come before the court in regard to dealing with psychiatric patients. The segregation units at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre are being used as psychiatric holding units, and the treatment of the one individual was a violation of his human rights, and yesterday in the paper there was again a similar situation. The court, I understand, is doing the very best that it can, given the circumstances.
The Correctional Centre was designated as a hospital, I believe, by way of a ministerial order in accordance with a section of the Criminal Code. There were great hopes that issues and situations such as those we are faced with today to address these kinds of issues were going to be addressed with the possibility of a new building.
That quickly died with the delay of the new building. So what I would like to hear from the minister is what the department policy or directive is thatís used to address these unfortunate situations. And where are the psychiatric patients being sent?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Obviously I canít comment on specific cases, as they are before the courts or could be before the courts. The member opposite knows full well that it would be very, very inappropriate for me to be commenting on any particular matter, so I will not refer to any individual case.
What I can spell out for the member opposite is the procedure and process in place as to how an individual is assessed as not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder and what happens to that individual.
I can say that, in the Department of Justice, we review all court decisions and work to comply with all orders as administered by the court. We take the necessary steps, again, to comply with each of those court orders. In fact the member opposite raised the matter that was outlined in the papers yesterday. Again, we are adhering to each of those orders as set out within the court order. Those steps include securing a bed for the individual in question at a psychiatric hospital and working with the RCMP to have that individual transported safely and securely to the facility within three days of that order. We are doing that. In fact, a bed has been secured and the individual will be taken to that facility within the time prescribed, as is within the court order.
I think, though, as I mentioned earlier, itís very important to spell out for the members opposite what the process is.
I guess, first and foremost, a person who enters our system does so because a charge has been brought against them. If theyíre remanded into our custody, we wait for a trial or some other decision occurs. Again this is a court order and weíre compelled by the court to carry out that particular order. Thatís exactly what we are doing here. Second, if a defence attorney or even Crown prosecutor in the case petitions court at any time to have an accused assessed for their mental condition and the court agrees to that particular assessment, then Justice officials carry out that order within the time frame set out by the court. Third, once an assessment is ordered, it can be carried out either by sending the accused out to one of two institutions or one of the institutions that we have an established relationship with, with psychiatric services, or we can bring a psychiatrist here to do the assessment as well.
Fourth, when the assessment is completed by the forensic psychiatrist, itís entered into evidence to the court, and both the prosecuting and defence attorney have access to that. If either party has reason to believe that the accused cannot be held responsible for the crime they committed or is accused of through reason of a mental disorder, the court may be petitioned for a not-criminally-responsible ruling as well.
So, sixth, if the court finds the accused not criminally responsible because of a mental disorder, then the court can order a new decision for the accused, such as hospitalization or a release with medical supervision and so on. Again, during the time that someone is remanded into custody until they are found not criminally responsible by the court or until they are found otherwise by the court, the accused is like every other individual in most respects. Our staff does their very utmost best to ensure the safety and security of all of the inmate population within the facility and ensure that those inmates within our facility do the least to harm themselves.
So that is just an overview of the process in place as to what in fact transpires. As the Minister of Health and Social Services has outlined, the member opposite is very correct in that the Whitehorse Correctional Centre is but one under order-in-council to house individuals waiting for psychiatric assessments, and certainly so is the Whitehorse General Hospital and so is mental health services here as well.
Of course, unless the court determines otherwise, our department adheres, and is compelled to adhere, to each of those orders set out in the court order.
Again, thatís what we are doing, and we will continue to take all necessary steps to comply with each of those orders.
Mrs. Peter: I thank the minister for that information. A couple of weeks ago, on the floor of this House, we received some alarming information with respect to FASD while members were debating a motion on that topic.
A few years ago it was true to say that two-thirds of the inmate population within our prison systems are affected by FASD, or FAE, as well as cognitive impairment. A number of government departments and service providers could be involved in addressing these issues, and people who require special needs in these areas need to be dealt with as individuals and with respect.
Iíd like to hear from the Minister of Justice what programs are available today to address these issues at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre and how they are diagnosing the inmates who are affected by FASD or FAE and if they require special resources outside of Whitehorse to address those needs.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Unfortunately, alcohol and substance abuse in the territory is a large and alarming problem and itís for those very reasons that our government has made the FASD strategy ó our five-step plan ó a great emphasis. Part of that strategy is putting together a diagnostic team of professionals to work together with our various agencies to come up with a strategy on ways of addressing these problems, from the intervention to the prevention to the aftercare side.
Itís a very complex issue. I donít profess to lead those particular discussions. Unfortunately many of the individuals who do end up in the facility are perhaps there because of alcohol or substance abuse. Itís very much a concern of ours. What I can say is that, over the last year and a half, we have been conducting a profile on our inmate population to determine the status and assess the needs of these individuals who do wind up in the facility for very unfortunate reasons.
Itís for those very reasons that this information, compiled together with our review of programming to be delivered in the facility, will be taken into consideration and reviewed to determine what the problems are among our inmates.
Then we will be better able to define what type of services or programs should be delivered.
I think that we do whatever we can within our budgetary resources to assist offenders and change their criminal behaviour. In doing so, we can make our communities much safer. Again, first of all, we need to define what the actual problems are.
Mrs. Peter: Mr. Chair, we are talking about inmates who sit behind bars, and unfortunately many of them go undiagnosed when they are faced with these challenges. I asked the minister a specific question: what kinds of programs are available today at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre to address the needs of inmates who have to deal with these challenges?
I heard many times from the minister and the rest of the members about their five-step plan and all the wonderful things they are doing, but I would like to hear from the minister as to what programs are available today for the inmates at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre to address these special issues.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: As I outlined earlier, we do have the substance abuse management program that we offer in the facility four to five times a year. We do offer counselling, one on one, and we offer group counselling as well ó individual or group. Again, weíre working on the FASD five-step strategy. Weíre placing additional monies through the Department of Health and Social Services and Education. We are undergoing an inmate profile project that has been ongoing, and this is a very large focus of the corrections consultation to take place as well.
Mrs. Peter: Moving on, Mr. Chair, I havenít been given answers to many of the questions I have been asking this whole session. So in light of time ó
Inmates are given an opportunity for integration back into the communities after they have spent some time at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre through the ARC program. Can the minister offer information to this House of the success rate of this program? For example, for recidivism of inmates who were at the ARC, are there any statistics available, and is there an evaluation of the ARC being done or is there one planned? And if there is, would she table that information?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I donít believe that one has been taken in the past. However, I will take that under advisement.
Mrs. Peter: With respect to victim services and violence, given the information that is reported through the media and other sources of violence throughout the Yukon Territory on our streets and within our communities, those are of great concern to us. Most of our concerns lie with those that are not being reported.
We, as decision-makers, need to be aware of our messages to the public. We have to be the role models of what our values are because there are many young people ó young men and women growing up today ó who are watching.
Our communities face challenges unlike other larger centres. Violence is a very scary issue to deal with in the first place. Resources have to be made available to our communities. Iíd like to hear from the minister: other than one-to-one counselling or group counselling done by this department, what other initiatives this unit is undertaking in the communities?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Certainly family violence prevention is a priority within this department. Itís a priority for myself, as Minister of Justice, and a priority for this government. I believe that our government has made strides in providing services to victims, as well as to the offender.
For example, we have the victim services and family violence prevention unit. We offer a whole host of support services and professional help to our victims of crime and abuse, as well as treatment programs, such as the spousal abuse program and the sexual offender risk management program.
In every community we have counsellors assigned to work directly with the victims and offenders, and they also work with other individuals in the communities, inter-agency committees and leaders in the communities. We provide a couple of programs, such as the victims program, which offers short-term services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and the womenís program, which offers longer term individual and group counselling services to women who have experienced or are experiencing violence in intimate relationships.
Services are available to both men and women. Unfortunately the majority of the clients seeking those services to date have been women.
Mr. Chair, we continue to place great emphasis on training opportunities for our service providers, particularly front-line staff in government who work on a day-to-day basis on the prevention, intervention and management of family violence. Also, we work to ensure that those provisions within the Family Violence Prevention Act are adhered to.
We offer a variety of services. In the past we offered formal training sessions in our communities, as well as training for our shelter workers, our justices of the peace and the RCMP, on a variety of topics.
These include a variety of topics, including sexual abuse prevention, how to work with victims of domestic violence, coping with vicarious trauma, and of course, as I mentioned earlier, how to use the Family Violence Prevention Act. We work with others. We work very closely with the Womenís Directorate, the departments of Health and Social Services and of Education on coordinating education and training for family violence prevention initiatives. We continue to assist in the development and implementation of the domestic violence treatment option. As members opposite know full well, this has very much garnered national attention since it was first commenced. It truly is an initiative that we are very proud of, simply for the very fact that we think itís an initiative that is working very effectively and is very much sought after by every other jurisdiction in the country. Through looking at innovative responses to domestic violence in our territory, we are able to encourage a lot more disclosures of domestic violence in our territory ó again, the more disclosures, the more early intervention. It also holds offenders accountable for their actions in a meaningful way. In turn, it serves to reduce the very high collapse rate that we have endured of domestic violence court cases.
We are also continuing to review the Family Violence Prevention Act. A review was taken, I should say, and weíre working to adhere to those recommendations as stated within the act itself. We also, through the Womenís Directorate, through our Premier, have been working on a national basis with the other ministers responsible to address the very issue of violence against women, particularly aboriginal women.
This happens to be three times the national average in the north, compared to other jurisdictions in the country. And $100,000 was provided to address the violence against aboriginal women.
So again, for these very important initiatives, weíre working together with the Womenís Directorate, working together with the advisory committees who oversee the domestic violence treatment options, the committee that oversees the Family Violence Prevention Act. We continue to work with communities such as Watson Lake, who have asked for assistance. We continue to work with our crime prevention partners. In fact, last fall for example, in October, I attended the Northern Community Conference on Sexual Abuse, which 300 participants from across the north attended. And they shared in a number of workshops and information sessions, which were very invaluable and very informative. So again, Mr. Chair, I think that we are doing many things on this particular issue. Thatís not to say that no more can be done, because there is always room for improvement.
Again, I believe that these additional resources reflected in the budget will also help provide services to this particular unit and also enhance training opportunities in our communities as well as clinical supervision.
Mrs. Peter: Iíd like to thank the minister for that information. Iíd like to just share some information with the minister so that she is aware of the position of our communities. Having such few resources available in regard to addressing aftercare or FASD or other kinds of special needs that a person may need is very, very challenging for our communities. When a person enters into the correctional facility from a community and may require any kind of special needs service, they may or may not have that addressed in Whitehorse.
If weíre talking about an individual with FASD, then there is a long process for that person to become diagnosed. If weíre talking about a person who has psychiatric challenges to deal with, then that person faces other challenges, even the person whoís in Whitehorse.
So, given the very little resources we have to deal with the court systems in the communities, I believe that one in this House can understand what the challenges are for us. We have people in our community who would like to take on the responsibilities to address our justice issues in a way that is familiar to our leaders and community members. Having to live in a community with an individual who is before the courts and who is ó it depends, of course, on the charges the individual is facing ó the community feels they can help the court system address the charges.
I believe that the name for that a few years ago was restorative justice, and I believe the name for it today is community initiatives.
So whatever name or title we give to this issue, itís very important that we try to help our community leaders deal with these specific issues. The Minister of Justice is famous for saying, "We are consulting with the First Nations, we are working on a government-to-government basis, and we are listening to the First Nation communities throughout the territory." If that is the case, the minister must be aware of all these issues the communities are facing, the challenges of having to deal with an individual who is using a revolving door within the justice system. Some of the charges that an individual is dealing with at our community level are, I believe, frustrating not only for the court officials but for resources within our own community.
The community of Old Crow is what we call a dry community where there is no alcohol allowed in our community.
We can have those types of laws in place, but there is alcohol available through whatever means. Itís either brought into our communities by individuals or made at home. Those are the realities that we have to deal with. Weíre not going to hide from what we have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. It might be funny for some people but itís not something that we keep in our closets. Itís something that our families have to deal with on a daily basis.
We all like to think that we have our perfect little families and no one gets into trouble and so on, but thatís not the case. We want to deal with the realities we face every day in our community. We would like to take some responsibility for those realities. If governments want to talk about a partnership and deal with First Nations on a government-to-government basis, then letís talk about the realities that we have to deal with in our communities on a daily basis. Letís start addressing those issues and not dance around them, signing another memorandum of understanding and saying we all have this great relationship.
When we talk about justice, Mr. Chair, I think about equality. I think about respect and I think, Mr. Chair, about people working together to try to come to some solution, whether it be for one individual, one family or a whole community.
And justice ó yes, it can be a very complex issue. But if we deal with one issue at a time, whether it be addressing alcohol and drugs, whether it be addressing how you deal with an individual who has been before the courts 15 times in the last two weeks for a liquor ticket, how are we going to address those issues? As a community, what is the responsibility of the Department of Justice in that regard?
And the communities are willing to talk. Theyíre willing, and it is in reports that are on shelves out there, collecting dust. Theyíve shared information. The minister heard from the elders a week and a half ago at the leadership table how frustrated they are because they have given the information and where is it? Traditional knowledge in our communities is very important. And if weíre going to sit in this House and talk about government-to-government relationships with First Nation people, thatís where it begins. Thatís the guidance that we go by in our communities.
And with encouragement from the government House leader, I recognize the time and I move we report progress on Bill No. 10, First Appropriation Act, 2004-05.
Chair: Mrs. Peter 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 Deputy Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Deputy Speaker resumes the Chair
Deputy Speaker: I will now call this House to order.
May the House have a report from the Deputy Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Acting Chairís report
Mr. Cathers:Mr. Deputy Speaker, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 10, First Appropriation Act, 2004-05, and directed me to report progress on it.
Deputy Speaker: You have heard the report from the Acting Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Deputy Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Deputy Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Deputy Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. Monday.
The House adjourned at 6:01 p.m.