Whitehorse, Yukon

        Thursday, December 9, 20041:00 p.m.


Speaker:   I will now call the House to order.

We will proceed at this time with prayers.




Speaker:    We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.



In recognition of International Human Rights Day

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the International Human Rights Day that takes place on December 10 each year to commemorate the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Unfortunately, in many parts of the world today, human rights are still not respected, and citizens must live in constant fear of assaults in many forms on their rights and on their person. In Canada, our rights are guaranteed by our Constitution and by human rights legislation, but even here, these rights are not always respected. As Canadians, we must all remain vigilant in our support of human rights.


Mr. Speaker, we all need to work to ensure that fundamental human rights of persons are respected.

One of the ways we can do this is by educating people about human rights and about the plight of those persons who are not protected by legislation and other mechanisms. This is why the United Nations has dedicated December 10, 2004, International Human Rights Day, to education. We are nearing the end of the United Nations declaration decade of education on human rights. In recognition of Human Rights Day, the United Nations is meeting to devise a plan to enhance human rights education worldwide. It is at this meeting that they hope to develop a world program for human rights education.

As Minister of Education, I understand that education is critical to ensuring that our rights and the rights of others are respected. I encourage all Yukoners to contact our Human Rights Commission, to research human rights at a public library or on-line, or to talk about human rights in their communities to learn more about the situation worldwide and here in the Yukon.


Educating ourselves about human rights is a first step and a step that ultimately strengthens the fabric of our communities.

Tomorrow afternoon I will also be attending the Yukon Human Rights Commission’s annual event, which will take place in the foyer of the YTG building. I urge all members to join me and take the opportunity to learn more about human rights and to celebrate International Human Rights Day.


Mr. Cardiff:    I rise today on behalf of the official opposition and the third party to pay tribute to International Human Rights Day tomorrow, December 10.

This day is set aside to commemorate the United Nations adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. This declaration is the cornerstone of international human rights law and was the first international document to specify the idea of universal human rights and fundamental freedoms. Despite many challenges, the declaration continues to endure, overcoming worldwide differences in culture, religion, political systems and economic development.


The principles of the declaration have been written into the constitutions of over 90 countries. Human Rights Day should be a time to reflect on how to protect human rights and freedoms of every individual. This year the United Nations has dedicated Human Rights Day to human rights educators.

Although Canada’s role in protecting human rights around the world is a proud one, we can always do more. In these days of war and terrorism, human rights are being shuffled aside in favour of security and expediency far beyond reason. The arrest and deportation of suspected criminals has had Canadian complicity. Our politicians have said little internationally about the incarceration of prisoners of war at Guantanamo Bay, where there is no regard for the Geneva Convention. We are becoming more involved in military defence without it being supported by the majority of Canadians. A very important issue just recently is that of an American soldier seeking refuge in Canada because he does not believe in the motives for the war in the Middle East.


There will no doubt be others following him, and how will we respond to his dilemma?

Tests of our sincerity to uphold human rights are a daily occurrence. For our own protection, we cannot ignore international prejudices, intolerance and injustice. We do so to our detriment.

Human Rights Day is being celebrated by the Human Rights Commission in this building tomorrow with music and refreshments from 11:45 until 12:45, and the Yukon Employees Union is hosting an open house that will start at 2 o’clock at the Yukon Employees Union office on Second Avenue, and that will be with refreshments and live music as well.

I would urge everyone here in the Legislature and in the public to attend these events and learn more about human rights and talk more about it and to commit to practising human rights in their daily lives.


In remembrance of Laurel Baldwin

Ms. Duncan:   Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you, Mike Baldwin and my colleagues, for allowing me the honour of remembering on behalf of all members of the Legislature and the Yukon community a very special individual.

Many Yukoners will remember Laurel Baldwin as the person they saw at some point in the last 25 years in the X-ray department at Whitehorse General Hospital. Her colleagues, who miss her daily, remember her as instrumental on the Run for Mom committee, for working toward better mammogram equipment for Yukon women, and in the breast health video that was just recently released, and that video has now been dedicated to Laurel’s memory by the committee members.

If you didn’t know Laurel Baldwin through the hospital, you knew her through sports. Over the years she played baseball, she was known affectionately to the referees as Derek’s hockey mom, and her short-lived soccer career, because of a fractured leg, led her and the family to golf. One of the founders of the junior golf program at Mountainview, she also coached her daughter Nicole’s competitive curling team. Curling was how I knew Laurel Baldwin. Her warm smile and her laugh were like the lights in the room. Somehow the curling club always felt that much brighter and warmer when you heard Laurel laugh and you saw her smile.

Her very dear friend, Birgitte Hunter, offered a toast to Laurel at the recent Nuway Crushing women’s bonspiel in Whitehorse. She said Laurel was “a loving wife and companion, a selfless and unconditional mother, a steadfast and true friend, a dedicated and professional employee, a compassionate and motivating coach and mentor. Laurel was like an angel. She could lift our feet when our wings had trouble remembering how to fly.” Truer words were never spoken by a dear friend about a very dear friend.

To all of Laurel Baldwin’s friends, her daughter, Nicole — who has joined us in the gallery — Mike and Derek, and to her colleagues at the hospital, some of whom have also joined us today, please accept on behalf of everyone in the Legislature our very sincere sympathy. Laurel Baldwin will truly be well remembered and lovingly missed.


In recognition of Charlene Alexander being awarded the Meritorious Service Decoration

 Hon. Ms. Taylor:    It is my honour to rise today to pay tribute to Charlene Alexander for being awarded a Meritorious Service Decoration from Her Excellency, The Rt. Hon. Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada.

Meritorious Service Decorations are certainly a very important part of the Canadian honour system. They recognize individuals who have performed an exceptional deed or an activity that brought honour to their community or to Canada. Charlene, along with Susan Rose, who now lives in New Brunswick, has been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal (civil division) for founding the Great Northern Arts Festival in 1989 in Inuvik, Northwest Territories.

Held annually, the 10-day festival has grown into one of the premiere events to celebrate and enhance northern arts and culture. Through her drive and dedication, Ms. Alexander, along with Ms. Rose, built a fledgling arts festival into a major cultural event that celebrates northern Canada’s diversity and creativity.

Charlene, thankfully, now makes her home in Whitehorse. Her leadership and vision in the arts continues to make a positive impact on her community as well as her territory. She is certainly a tireless volunteer and knowledgeable resource person in the arts. She has worked at the Yukon Art Society, the Yukon Arts Centre, and many other community groups on projects that develop artists and bring attention to all of their work.

Our own Department of Tourism and Culture heavily relies on Charlene’s expertise and energy in meeting objectives under our craft strategy — most notably, the annual Yukon Buyers Show, which brings retailers and producers together to learn and do business. Charlene’s work ensures that the show provides an opportunity for artists and crafts people, representing a diverse range of traditional and contemporary creations, to be known throughout the world.


Yukon is certainly proud of its artists and the benefits that their creative energy brings to our community. We are also reminded, when our citizens receive national honours such as this service medal, that workers in the arts also play a very important and cherished role.

On behalf of the Government of Yukon, I wish to convey our sincerest congratulations to Charlene Alexander on receiving this very important recognition for her remarkable contribution to the arts on behalf of the Government of Yukon. I would also like to have members join me in a warm welcome to Charlene Alexander, as well as to Brian Crist, who is sitting beside her.

Thank you.



Speaker:   Introduction of visitors.

Are there returns or documents for tabling?


Hon. Mr. Lang:   Mr. Speaker, I have for tabling the Yukon Energy Corporation annual report for 2003.


Speaker:   Are there any other returns or documents for tabling?

Are there reports of committees?

Are there any petitions?

Are there any bills to be introduced?

Are there any notices of motion?


 Mr. McRobb:   Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:

THAT this House urges the Yukon government to request the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment to conduct a comprehensive public review of the impacts anticipated from the construction of an Alaska Highway pipeline.

This review shall include meetings in all communities along the pipeline route; be inclusive of all governments, groups and citizens, and result in a report with comments and recommendations on how our territory can best prepare to minimize the disruption to our local economy, communities, culture, people, transportation systems and the environment while maximizing the benefits.



Mr. Fairclough:   I give notice of the following motion:

THAT this House calls upon the Government of Yukon and all Crown corporations and agencies to include the terms and conditions of all contracts in their respective contract registries; and

THAT all contract information be posted in the respective publicly accessible Web site registry immediately upon issuance of a contract.


 Mr. Hassard: I would like to ask all members to join me in welcoming Pearl Keenan to the gallery today.



Speaker:   Are there any further notices of motion?

Is there a statement by a minister?

Speaker’s ruling

 Speaker:    Before we proceed with Question Period the Chair will rule on a point of order raised by the Member for Kluane on December 7.

During Question Period on that day the Minister of Health and Social Services said, “I’m sure when the budget next spring is tabled, the member opposite will vote against it, as he did this last cycle.” At that point the Member for Kluane raised the point of order citing Standing Order 19(e) which says, “A member shall be called to order by the Speaker if that member reflects upon any vote of the Assembly unless it is that member’s intention to move that it be rescinded.”

After consulting a variety of procedural authorities, including Beauchesne’s Parliamentary Rules and Forms, House of Commons Procedure and Practice and Erskine May’s Parliamentary Practice, the Chair has concluded that there is no point of order.

The term “vote of the Assembly” as used in Standing Order 19(e) refers to a decision taken by the Assembly as a whole, not the vote of an individual member of this Assembly on a bill or motion. The key to understanding the intent of Standing Order 19(e) is in the phrase that refers to a member intending that the vote in question be rescinded. The vote of an individual member, on a question already decided, cannot be rescinded. Only a decision of the Assembly as a whole can be rescinded and only if a motion to that effect is put before the Assembly.

We will now proceed with Question Period.



Question re:    Normandy Place

 Mr. Cardiff:   Yesterday I asked a question to the minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation about the corporation’s financial involvement in the newly developed seniors housing units called Normandy Place. Maybe now that he has had a chance to have his officials outline to him exactly what that involvement is, I’ll ask the same question. Is the Housing Corporation involved in buying three units at Normandy Place?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   The involvement came under a loan guarantee for up to three houses. In fact there are two involved — not three — and it’s the intention to resell them to the private sector. The guarantee allowed funding for the developer, but it was not the intention to own them, although they are on our books right now.

 Mr. Cardiff:   That definitely clarifies the corporation’s involvement in that. Today on the radio, the minister talked about using public/private partnerships, or P3s, to finance Yukon Housing. Construction companies advertising investment opportunities are listing seniors housing and long-term care homes as top real estate-related ventures. They boast that P3s are natural monopolies, that they have no natural barriers and therefore have little or no competition. They also say that without regulation, owners are able to do considerable price setting and earn monopolistic returns. How does the minister justify using taxpayers’ dollars to line the pockets of private companies on the backs of our seniors?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   I can certainly state for the record that there is no discussion going on regarding P3s with housing. The affordable housing initiative through CMHC has nothing to do with public/private partnerships.

Mr. Cardiff:   Well, this is the same minister who has contracted Partnerships B.C. to give advice on how to put together a P3 for the Dawson bridge. He’s writing a P3 policy on how to spend $35 million of taxpayers’ money at the same time as he spends it. Partnerships B.C., on their Web site, lists seniors housing and related infrastructure as ideal construction projects that make the government accept uninsurable risks and uncertainty. Has the minister contracted Partnerships B.C. to guide him through P3s for the seniors housing as well as for the bridge in Dawson?


Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and it’s good to see the bridge went down $15 million from yesterday’s estimates — again, a wide variation.

We have contracted with Partnerships B.C. in terms of the bridge — that’s public knowledge. We have had no discussions at all with anything to do with seniors’ housing or the Yukon Housing Corporation. That has never entered any discussion, to my knowledge.

Question re:  Dawson City proposed nursing and extended care facility

Mr. Hardy:   I have a question for the Minister of Health and Social Services about this government’s approach to health care facilities and services. Last week, Dawson City residents got a preview of what the new nursing station and extended care facility might look like. In a newspaper article yesterday, a Dawson City doctor said that the minister — and I quote this, “… has had a lot to do already with some of the layout of the building. He has a great deal of involvement and is very familiar with it.” It sounds similar to the ambulance purchase, actually.

Can the minister explain why there has been no public consultation on this $14-million project and why most of the people who will be working in the new facility weren’t even given an opportunity to provide input?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   This initiative was begun with a complete consultation process with all the stakeholders in the community of Dawson City. Further to that, the numbers are highly speculative; the initiative itself is a commitment of our government to establish a multi-level care facility in both Watson Lake and Dawson City, and our government will do just that.

Mr. Hardy:   I think we all know who the five stakeholders are in Dawson City he consults. Once again we have a classic example of how this government operates behind a wall of secrecy. Ministers decide what they want to do and how they want to do it, and the public is usually the last to know. We saw it with the same minister and the Macaulay Lodge fiasco. We’ve seen it with the Dawson bridge issue and the Carmacks school as well. We’ve seen it again with the seniors facilities in Whitehorse and what’s going to be happening there.

Make no mistake, behind this wall of secrecy is a Yukon Party agenda to use public/private partnerships ultimately for health care delivery. Will the minister clearly spell out what is and what is not on the table when it comes to privatizing health care facilities and services in the territory?


Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   One of the largest areas for individual businesses is the issue of the doctors themselves — they are in private practice and they bill on a fee-for-service basis. We are not going to be changing anything or privatizing anything.

With respect to a consultation process in Dawson City — from memory, members of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation were consulted, the municipal government was consulted, McDonald Lodge was consulted, doctors were consulted, the ambulance service was consulted, and even the seniors in McDonald Lodge were consulted. There is full listing of them in the preamble of the booklet that I will be sending a copy of over to the member opposite, similar to the leader of the third party.

Mr. Hardy:   I would like to remind the minister opposite that he fired the municipal government, so I don’t know whom he is consulting over there.

Now, this is a government that is blindly stumbling toward privatization. The minister has refused to answer questions about a secret deal to have the Yukon Hospital Corporation take over the territory’s emergency medical services.

We do know that this government is using Partnerships B.C. to develop a P3 policy with the bridge in Dawson City. The same company may or may not be involved in seniors housing initiatives here, Mr. Speaker. This is a company that admits it hasn’t even been able to establish a track record in its reports. However, one of its flagship projects is the academic ambulatory care centre that will be built and it will be operated by the private sector.

We know without any doubt that Yukoners don’t want private companies owning public facilities such as roads, bridges and schools. Our MLA sent out a questionnaire to the constituents in the spring and 88.9 percent of respondents said they don’t want this to happen.

What facilities or services in this minister’s area of responsibility are potential candidates for public/private partnerships under this business-friendly government?


Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I’m not aware of any in Health; perhaps the member opposite can enlighten me. The multi-level health care facility in Dawson City and in Watson Lake will be owned and operated by the Government of Yukon. The doctors who practise there — and perhaps in some cases the dentists — will be on a fee-for-service basis. I’m not aware of any other areas that may be privatized. I guess in the spirit of Christmas the member opposite is off on a tangent and hoping Santa Claus will visit bringing goodies in this area, but our government is committed to providing services, building a multi-level care facility in Dawson City and Watson Lake, and that will be done. And it will be government operated.

Question re:  Dawson City proposed nursing and extended care facility

 Ms. Duncan:   I also have some questions for the Minister of Health and Social Services. The minister is very well known for his micromanaging abilities. His first action as minister was to unilaterally suggest that we close Macaulay Lodge. Last year he ensured we bought four-wheel-drive ambulances that he wanted. That was followed by a curious attempt to transfer ambulance attendants to the Hospital Corporation without actually talking to the ambulance workers. Now comes word from Dawson that the minister has been spending his time personally designing the new health centre. As we heard earlier — and it’s a quote — “Mr. Jenkins has had a lot to do already with some of the layout of the building. He has a great deal of involvement and is very familiar with it.” It’s good to know that the minister is spending his time picking out curtains and floor tiles. Will he explain to this House why he is micromanaging this particular project?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Well, we can see that this sitting is about done with this line of questioning. Our government at the onset made a commitment to build multi-level health care facilities in Watson Lake and Dawson City. We’ll do just that. The study on which the facility in Dawson City is predicated on was a study done under the Liberal administration. The study that was done for Watson Lake — the same firm was hired to do that review.

Those studies are available. I’ll be sending a copy over to the official opposition so that they can get an understanding of how extensive the consultation was, and I will give kudos to the previous Liberal administration for consultation in this area. They followed the directions of the officials, and they did a good job, as we have done. We took the same advice and followed through.

So, on the issue of micromanaging, I don’t have time to determine the colour of the drapes or the floor tiles, nor will I.


Ms. Duncan:   Well, Mr. Speaker, this new facility was first announced in April of this year, and I asked the minister for those very same feasibility studies and whether he’d make them public, and the minister said yes, the studies had been done and yes, he would provide them. Well, that was nine months ago, Mr. Speaker. The open and accountable Yukon Party government has still not provided the documents. Perhaps the minister, instead of picking out floor tiles and drapes, has been deciding on the style of bedpans. Whatever the reason, we would like the reports. The reason we would like them is that the cost in this project is already way out of control. In the Premier’s budget speech just six months ago, the project was to cost $5 million. Since the minister became involved, all of a sudden the project is now listed at $14 million, Mr. Speaker. The taxpayers are picking up an extra $9 million so the MLA for Klondike can personally design his own legacy project. Will he quit stalling and provide the reports?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Speaker, it is kind of sad that the third party would diminish the importance of facilities for seniors in the Yukon Territory. The initial study on Dawson City was undertaken by the previous Liberal administration, and I would have been of the opinion that the leader of the third party would have retained a copy of that study. It was widely circulated back in those days, and I’ll be happy to send over another copy. It clearly identifies the minister of the day and who it was done for. The second or third page clearly identifies who was consulted.

Mr. Speaker, we have gone through due process. The amount of money that has been budgeted in the initiative for this area was $100,000, split equally between Watson Lake and Dawson City. Where these numbers come from, these pie-in-the-sky numbers, I do not know.


Ms. Duncan:   As some members have said, perhaps the minister should find out. Now the minister is very busy spending his days micromanaging the $14-million legacy project in his riding. The cost of the facility tripled under his watch, and when you add in the $44-million bridge, taxpayers are on the hook for almost $60-million worth of projects leading up to this minister’s retirement party. The Yukon Party is building a similar facility in the Premier’s riding. Imagine that? A facility in the Premier’s riding and a facility in the Deputy Premier’s riding. What a coincidence. One place a facility is not being built where it has been specifically requested is Kluane. Why not? Because all of the money is being spent in Dawson and Watson Lake. Why is the government ignoring the needs in Kluane in favour of the other two ridings?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Our government made a commitment, and that commitment still stands. The commitment was initially to study the issue of the requirements in both the communities of Dawson and Watson Lake and then proceed with a feasibility study. That was budgeted for in the last cycle. In the last cycle, we as a government undertook the issue of the requirements in both Teslin and along the north Alaska Highway from Haines Junction. There’s a draft copy of that report. It’s still being looked at by the department. When it’s finalized, we’ll be happy to share it with the official opposition and the third party, but the needs of our seniors in the Yukon will be met to the best of our ability as a government. That is where we stand, and we are doing just that. Where there’s a demonstrated need, we will meet that demonstrated need.

Question re:  Fish and Wildlife Management Board vacancy

 Mrs. Peter:   My question is for the Minister of Environment. The minister made statements last week suggesting that federal officials and I are asking him to break the law regarding the choice of the joint federal-territorial nominee to the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board. When I asked the minister to explain, all he would say was that the Umbrella Final Agreement process wasn’t being followed. This answer doesn’t seem to fit the facts.


The minister is the person who appoints members to the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board. The Yukon government is supposed to consult with the federal government on one of those positions. Can the minister clarify why agreeing to reappoint the person whose name was put forward by the federal government would be breaking the law?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Simply stated, because it does not follow the Umbrella Final Agreement implementation plan.

Mrs. Peter:   Mr. Speaker, the minister is wrong. A week ago, the minister promised to table the letter he wrote to the federal minister with regard to this appointment. There are only a few days left in this sitting and he has yet to do so. I’m sure the letter is readily available in his office so I can’t understand what’s so complicated about it or why the minister is being so secretive.

Will the minister table the letter today and include a copy of the letter from the federal government that he says asks him to break the law?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   For the record, my letter to Minister Geoff Regan reads as follows: 

“I’m writing in response to a letter dated October 22, 2004, in which three government agencies recommend the reappointment of a specific individual to the Fish and Wildlife Management Board. A copy of this letter is enclosed.

“The Umbrella Final Agreement implementation plan provides that the Yukon shall nominate six members, one of whom shall be selected in consultation and concurrence with Canada, the Umbrella Final Agreement 16.7.2.

“Our office has recently received correspondence from your acting regional director general, Pacific Region, suggesting steps to resolve this matter. The method suggested is inconsistent with the Umbrella Final Agreement implementation plan. I wish to advise that, consistent with the Umbrella Final Agreement implementation plan, Yukon will be forwarding names for your consideration and concurrence. I look forward to maintaining the recently achieved level of cooperation between Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Yukon.” Signed by me, Minister of Environment.


Question re:  Liquor licence infractions

 Mr. Cardiff:    My question is for the minister responsible for the Yukon Liquor Corporation. I appreciate having the Yukon Liquor Corporation annual report for 2003-04. It has provided some interesting statistics.

As the minister knows, we have been asking questions about licensed premises and both the minister and the acting minister have promised to provide that information, but we have yet to receive it. There is some information that we still need — information that should be public knowledge and isn’t in the report. Will the minister provide the number of licensed premise checks or walk-throughs that were done in the 2003-04 fiscal year?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   I believe that letter has been dispatched and is in the mail, so the member should have that very quickly.

Mr. Cardiff:   I thank the minister for that and I appreciate him getting back to me. I look forward to receiving a letter and any other correspondence that I may get in the future.

On page 15 of the annual report, it says that three liquor license suspensions were upheld and 49 letters of warning were issued for infractions, so I have another request for information. If the minister can’t reply in the Legislature — and I can understand why he might not be able to — then I would be happy to receive a letter in the next month or so.

I have a couple of requests. How many letters of warning were actually issued from the beginning of this fiscal year until the present — as in today — and how many licensed suspensions were ordered? Would the minister also provide a written response outlining the dates when any written letters of warning were sent and when any suspension orders were issued? So, I am looking for the dates as well.

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   I am certain that the department can provide all the information it can, and we will be happy to draft a second letter outlining what is available on that.


Question re:    Social assistance supplement

Mr. McRobb:   I wanted to follow up with the Health minister on a matter familiar to him that affects one of my constituents. Following a heart attack, this person was placed on a special diet by his physician. After discovering that his social assistance supplement was insufficient to cover the costs of the special diet, he appealed to the department. The Social Assistance Appeal Committee ruled in his favour earlier this year. However, various delays from within the minister’s system have resulted in absolutely nothing for this person in need. This case was even reviewed by the Ombudsman, who confirmed the minister’s department was responsible for the delays. What will it take for this minister to act with a social conscience and provide this person with what he is entitled to?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Speaker, that is the way we treat everyone in the system.

Mr. McRobb:   Well, Mr. Speaker, that’s rather disparaging to know this government treats everybody as badly as this person. So much for this minister’s bravado about this being the new and improved Yukon Party with a social conscience. This man is still waiting to receive what he’s entitled to so he can follow his doctor’s orders. In fact, a second doctor recently confirmed the requirement for this special diet. It has been more than a year since his application was filed. I spoke to this person this morning, and he has received nothing from this minister other than the Christmas card that arrived today. Shame, Mr. Speaker.

Can the minister explain why he believes a Christmas card is more important than following the doctor’s orders?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Speaker, this is an individual who is in the social assistance system, and there are processes there that are established and have not been changed by this government. In fact, we’ve enhanced and improved them, but we haven’t changed them. We act with compassion, we act with reason and we address the issues.

The Member for Kluane has written me a number of letters on this file, and we have corresponded back and forth. And to raise the issue on the floor of the House — it’s a personal matter. It’s a personal matter between the department and this individual, and I think it’s in everyone’s interest to leave it there and allow the officials to do the work. This individual is being treated quite reasonably and fairly, and if there are issues that the member wishes to identify directly to me, I believe that that would be the best place to leave these issues — outside the House — involving an individual’s concerns of this nature.


Mr. McRobb:   Well, Mr. Speaker, issues of this nature have routinely been discussed in this House several times before. We are not prepared to make an exception because this minister has nothing to say on the file. That’s disgraceful. Why hasn’t this minister changed these cumbersome procedures from within his own department, procedures that are disagreed with by the Social Assistance Appeal Board and the Ombudsman and everybody else who’s familiar with them? What gives him the right to stand up and say this is the new, improved Yukon Party, one with a social conscience?

It’s getting close to Christmas. This government needs to do the humane thing. Will the minister provide this person what he needs to follow the doctor’s orders?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Let’s look at what we’ve done for seniors and those in our various systems, those in need. Let’s look at the pioneer utility grant. Let’s look at the increase that our government has provided. It was initially at $600. A means test was being examined by the previous Liberal administration. What our government did was increase it by 25 percent to $750 and we indexed it against inflation. That was for last year’s heating system. The cheques by and large have gone out and will continue to go out for the applications received up to the deadline.

We have increased hospital funding, we have increased money for daycare. Home care — we have expanded home care across a lot of the areas of the Yukon — and our government has made a definite commitment to improve the social safety net and the services provided across the board to all members of Yukon communities that have a demonstrated need. In some areas, we have the best system in Canada. If you want to look at daycare, on set-up spaces, we have the second highest level of funding for set-up spaces of all Canada, save and except the Province of Quebec.


Question re:  Childcare workers, wage increases for

Mr. Hardy:   Last August the minister announced a $675,000 package for childcare in the Yukon. At the time, he said half that amount would go directly to wages for childcare workers, but when my colleague asked about this a few days ago, the minister wasn’t able to confirm whether or not the workers had received any substantial increase.

Now that the minister has had a chance to look into this, can he tell us what the average increase to childcare workers has been as a result of the new funding he provided?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I don’t have averages, but let me say as follows: in the 2003-04 fiscal year, childcare operators were provided with an increase of $230,000 in April to the direct operating grant. In October, there was a further increase of $230,000. A four-year plan was completed by the childcare working group, and funding to support licensed Yukon childcare providers has increased to $2.2 million this year. Funding has been increased to the direct operating grant in the 2004-05 fiscal year by $675,000.

The member opposite opposed this money. As I pointed out earlier, the Yukon has the second highest level of funding. Our government provides the second highest level of funding of any political jurisdiction in Canada. The one that leads is the Province of Quebec. We are very proud of what we have accomplished in this area and are moving forward in enhancing it further under this four-year initiative we have in place.

Mr. Hardy:   I can tell you what that minister across the way — and the rest of the Yukon Party — is proud of: no increases for the workers. That’s what they’re proud of; that’s what we will vote against. We want to see a substantial increase.

Maybe I can help the minister out here, since he obviously hasn’t kept track of where taxpayers’ money is going. I’ve spoken to front-line workers, and here’s the situation: there have been some small increases, but they have been very paltry. In some cases, it has only been 20 cents an hour. That is very pathetic for people who have been trained and who work so hard every day to help our children get a good start in life.

These dedicated workers are performing one of the most important services in our society for little better than minimum wage. Childcare should not be a McJob.

Will the minister agree to sit down with the front-line workers in the childcare field and ask them directly what they consider a decent wage and decent job conditions? Will he do that?


Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Our government is very proud of the initiative that we undertook when we came into office. We assembled a childcare working group. We have developed a four-year plan. We currently put $2.2 million into the direct operating grant. Based on the number of set-up spaces, this is the second highest amount allocated for this area in Canada — in any political jurisdiction in Canada save and except the Province of Quebec. We are very proud of the areas that we are going to be expanding on further under our four-year initiative.

If you want to look at the actual day-to-day operations, which the member opposite is suggesting we do, these are by and large privately operated facilities, but they are doing a very good job. They’re extremely well funded by Yukon, and furthermore, we’re going to enhance that funding on our four-year initiative.

Mr. Hardy:   This government seems to have a big aversion toward talking to the working people of this territory or even mentioning them. Whether it’s throne speeches or announcements, they almost never talk about the working people of this territory. Now last year the minister responded to concerns expressed by the daycare and family day home operators by setting up a working group to develop a four-year plan. One of the priorities in that plan is a decent wage for childcare workers. I’d like to see a definition that that side has around decent wage. What’s missing is a clear commitment by this government to ensure that the childcare workers will get what they deserve.

The minister likes to hide behind the federal government — we’ve heard that before — when he knows full well the federal Liberals have done next to nothing on their 1993 red book promise of a national childcare strategy. We all know that. In the meantime, the Yukon government is swimming in cash without any concrete plans for how to spend it.

Will the minister make sure that the 2004-05 budget that is being prepared right now will include funds to ensure a decent wage for childcare workers in the territory and a long-term vision to meet all the priorities in the four-year plan for childcare? Will he do that?


Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Speaker, our next budget will include increased funding based on our four-year plan. That’s a given. That is a commitment that this government has made to the Child Care Association and the working group. Mr. Speaker, we’ll do whatever we can, but at the end of the day, the members opposite are going to be voting against it. That’s a given, Mr. Speaker.

Let’s look at the total issue of daycare. Our government has met with the various associations and groups. There have been workers among that working group — and there are some front-line workers. The amount of money that we have put into the equation now totals $2.2 million. I believe there are less than 2,000 set-up spaces. It is a significant amount of money that our government puts in, and next year we are going to be putting in more. And we’re very, very hopeful that we will hear shortly from the federal Liberal government about new initiatives in this area, and at that juncture, Mr. Speaker, we will be reconvening the childcare working group and determining how that money is to flow into the childcare working group and to the various day homes and daycare centres.


Speaker:   The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We’ll proceed to Orders of the Day.



Bill No. 46: Third Reading

Clerk:   Third reading, Bill No. 46, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Lang.

Hon. Mr. Lang:   Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 46, entitled Act to Amend the Oil and Gas Act, be now read a third time and do pass.

Speaker:  It has been moved by the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources that Bill No. 46, entitled Act to Amend the Oil and Gas Act, be now read a third time and do pass.

Are you prepared for the question?

Some Hon. Members:   Division.


Speaker:   Division has been called.





Speaker:   Mr. Clerk, please poll the House.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Agree.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:    Agree.

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Lang:   Agree.

Mr. Cathers:   Agree.

Mr. Rouble:   Agree.

Mr. Hassard:   Agree.

Mr. Hardy:   Agree.

Mr. McRobb:   Agree.

Mr. Fairclough:   Agree.

Mr. Cardiff:   Agree.

Mrs. Peter:   Agree.

Ms. Duncan:   Agree.

Mr. Arntzen: Agree.

Clerk:   Mr. Speaker, the results are 16 yea, nil nay.

Motion for third reading of Bill No. 46 agreed to

Speaker:   I declare that Bill No. 46 has passed this House.

Bill No. 47: Third Reading

Clerk:   Third reading, Bill No. 47, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Fentie.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   I move that Bill No. 47, entitled Act to Amend the Financial Administration Act, be now read a third time and do pass.

Speaker:   It has been moved by the hon. Premier that Bill No. 47, entitled Act to Amend the Financial Administration Act, be now read a third time and do pass.

Are you prepared for the question?

Some Hon. Members:   Division.


Speaker:   Division has been called.


Mr. Clerk, please poll the House.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Agree.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:    Agree.

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Lang:   Agree.

Mr. Cathers:   Agree.

Mr. Rouble:   Agree.

Mr. Hassard:   Agree.

Mr. Hardy:   Agree.

Mr. McRobb:   Agree.

Mr. Fairclough:   Agree.

Mr. Cardiff:   Agree.

Mrs. Peter:   Agree.

Ms. Duncan:   Agree.

Mr. Arntzen: Agree.

Clerk:   Mr. Speaker, the results are 16 yea, nil nay.

Motion for third reading of Bill No. 47 agreed to

Speaker:   I declare that Bill No. 47 has passed this House.

Bill No. 48: Third Reading

Clerk:   Third reading, Bill No. 48, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Jenkins.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I move that Bill No. 48, entitled Act to Amend the Elections Act, be now read a third time and do pass.

Speaker:   It has been moved by the Minister of Health and Social Services that Bill No. 48, entitled Act to Amend the Elections Act, be now read a third time and do pass.

Are you prepared for the question?

Some Hon. Members:   Division.



Speaker:   Division has been called.

        Mr. Clerk, please poll the House.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Agree.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:    Agree.

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Lang:   Agree.

Mr. Cathers:   Agree.

Mr. Rouble:   Agree.

Mr. Hassard:   Agree.

Mr. Hardy:   Agree.

Mr. McRobb:   Agree.

Mr. Fairclough:   Agree.

Mr. Cardiff:   Agree.

Mrs. Peter:   Agree.

Ms. Duncan:   Disagree.

Mr. Arntzen: Agree.

Clerk:   Mr. Speaker, the results are 15 yea, one nay.

Motion for third reading of Bill No. 48 agreed to

Speaker:   I declare that Bill No. 48 has passed this House.

Bill No. 49: Third Reading

Clerk:   Third reading, Bill No. 49, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Edzerza.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I move that Bill No. 49, entitled Act to Amend the Legal Profession Act, be now read a third time and do pass.

Speaker:   It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 49, entitled Act to Amend the Legal Profession Act, be now read a third time and do pass.

Are you prepared for the question?

Some Hon. Members:   Division.


Speaker:   Division has been called.


Mr. Clerk, please poll the House.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Agree.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:    Agree.

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Lang:   Agree.

Mr. Cathers:   Agree.

Mr. Rouble:   Agree.

Mr. Hassard:   Agree.

Mr. Hardy:   Agree.

Mr. McRobb:   Agree.

Mr. Fairclough:   Agree.

Mr. Cardiff:   Agree.

Mrs. Peter:   Agree.

Ms. Duncan:   Agree.

Mr. Arntzen: Agree.

Clerk:   Mr. Speaker, the results are 16 yea, nil nay.

Motion for third reading of Bill No. 49 agreed to

Speaker:   I declare that Bill No. 49 has passed this House.

Bill No. 50: Third Reading

Clerk:  Third reading, Bill No. 50, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Edzerza.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 50, entitled Act to Amend the Crime Prevention and Victim Services Trust Act, be now read a third time and do pass.

Speaker:   It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 50, entitled Act to Amend the Crime Prevention and Victim Services Trust Act, be now read a third time and do pass.

Are you prepared for the question?

Some Hon. Members:   Division.


Speaker:   Division has been called.


Mr. Clerk, please poll the House.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Agree.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:    Agree.

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Lang:   Agree.

Mr. Cathers:   Agree.

Mr. Rouble:   Agree.

Mr. Hassard:   Agree.

Mr. Hardy:   Agree.

Mr. McRobb:   Agree.

Mr. Fairclough:   Agree.

Mr. Cardiff:   Agree.

Mrs. Peter:   Agree.

Ms. Duncan:   Agree.

Mr. Arntzen: Agree.

Clerk:   Mr. Speaker, the results are 16 yea, nil nay.

Motion for third reading of Bill No. 50 agreed to

Speaker:   I declare that Bill No. 50 has passed this House.

Bill No. 51: Third Reading

Clerk:   Third reading, Bill No. 51, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Hart.

Hon. Mr. Lang:   I move that Bill No. 51, entitled Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act, be now read a third time and do pass.

Speaker:   It has been moved by the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources that Bill No. 51, entitled Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act, be now read a third time and do pass. Are you prepared for the question?

Some Hon. Members:   Division.


Speaker:   Division has been called.

Mr. Clerk, please poll the House.


Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Agree.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:    Agree.

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Lang:   Agree.

Mr. Cathers:   Agree.

Mr. Rouble:   Agree.

Mr. Hassard:   Agree.

Mr. Hardy:   Disagree.

Mr. McRobb:   Disagree.

Mr. Fairclough:   Disagree.

Mr. Cardiff:   Disagree.

Mrs. Peter:   Disagree.

Ms. Duncan:   Disagree.

Mr. Arntzen: Agree.

Clerk:   Mr. Speaker, the results are 10 yea, six nay.

Motion for third reading for Bill No. 51 agreed to

Speaker:   I declare that Bill No. 51 has passed this House.

Bill No. 52: Third Reading

Clerk:   Third reading, Bill No. 52, standing in the name of the Hon. Ms. Taylor.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:    I move that Bill No. 52, entitled Act to Amend the Education Staff Relations Act and the Public Service Staff Relations Act, be now read a third time and do pass.

Speaker:   It has been moved by the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission that Bill No. 52, entitled Act to Amend the Education Staff Relations Act and the Public Service Staff Relations Act, be now read a third time and do pass.

Are you prepared for the question?

Some Hon. Members:   Division.



Speaker:   Division has been called.

Mr. Clerk, please poll the House.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Agree.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:    Agree.

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Lang:   Agree.

Mr. Cathers:   Agree.

Mr. Rouble:   Agree.

Mr. Hassard:   Agree.

Mr. Hardy:   Agree.

Mr. McRobb:   Agree.

Mr. Fairclough:   Agree.

Mr. Cardiff:   Agree.

Mrs. Peter:   Agree.

Ms. Duncan:   Agree.

Mr. Arntzen: Agree.

Clerk:   Mr. Speaker, the results are 16 yea, nil nay.

Motion for third reading of Bill No. 52 agreed to

Speaker:   I declare that Bill No. 52 has passed this House.

Bill No. 53: Third Reading

Clerk:   Third reading, Bill No. 53, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Hart.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:    Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 53, entitled Act to Amend the Insurance Act, be now read a third time and do pass.

Speaker:   It has been moved by the Minister of Tourism and Culture that Bill No. 53, entitled Act to Amend the Insurance Act, be now read a third time and do pass.

Are you prepared for the question?

Some Hon. Members:   Division.


Speaker:   Division has been called.


Mr. Clerk, please poll the House.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Agree.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:    Agree.

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Lang:   Agree.

Mr. Cathers:   Agree.

Mr. Rouble:   Agree.

Mr. Hassard:   Agree.

Mr. Hardy:   Agree.

Mr. McRobb:   Agree.

Mr. Fairclough:   Agree.

Mr. Cardiff:   Agree.

Mrs. Peter:   Agree.

Ms. Duncan:   Agree.

Mr. Arntzen: Agree.

Clerk:   Mr. Speaker, the results are 16 yea, nil nay.

Motion for third reading of Bill No. 53 agreed to

Speaker:   I declare that Bill No. 53 has passed this House.

Bill No. 54: Third Reading

Clerk:   Third reading, Bill No. 54, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Fentie.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   I move that Bill No. 54, entitled Act to Amend the Income Tax Act, be now read a third time and do pass.

Speaker:   It has been moved by the hon. Premier that Bill No. 54, entitled Act to Amend the Income Tax Act, be now read a third time and do pass.

Are you prepared for the question?

Some Hon. Members:   Division.


Speaker:   Division has been called.


Mr. Clerk, please poll the House.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:  Agree.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:    Agree.

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Lang:   Agree.

Mr. Cathers:   Agree.

Mr. Rouble:   Agree.

Mr. Hassard:   Agree.

Mr. Hardy:   Agree.

Mr. McRobb:   Agree.

Mr. Fairclough:   Agree.

Mr. Cardiff:   Agree.

Mrs. Peter:   Agree.

Ms. Duncan:   Agree.

Mr. Arntzen: Agree.

Clerk:   Mr. Speaker, the results are 16 yea and nil nay.

Motion for third reading of Bill No. 54 agreed to

Speaker:   I declare that Bill No. 54 has passed this House.


Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.

Speaker:   It has been moved by the government House leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.

Motion agreed to


Speaker leaves the Chair




Chair:   Order please. Committee of the Whole will now come to order.

The matter before the Committee this afternoon is Bill No. 12, Second Appropriation Act, 2004–05.  I understand the Department of Tourism and Culture is up first. Before we begin, do members wish a recess?

Some Hon. Members:   Agreed.

Chair:   We’ll take a 15-minute recess.




Chair:  Committee of the Whole will now come to order.

Bill No. 12 — Second Appropriation Act, 2004–05 — continued

Chair:   We will continue with Bill No. 12, Second Appropriation Act, 2004–05, Vote 54, Department of Tourism and Culture in general debate.

Department of Tourism and Culture — continued

Mrs. Peter:   It is my pleasure to continue my response to the Department of Tourism and Culture.

In my previous remarks, I began by saying that this department is in a very interesting period and has a lot of responsibilities, meeting the requirements of preserving our heritage and culture by documenting our history and using the First Nation language of the traditional territory in place names as required in the Umbrella Final Agreement. While it is important to preserve our rich history, we as First Nation people can also benefit from the economic opportunities.

With respect to economic opportunities, Mr. Chair, I have not come across a document that suggests that there have been any discussions on a First Nations tourism strategy, and I could be wrong. But if we had such a document, that would definitely assist communities to address tourism in the various regions in the Yukon.


Of course, there is a protocol that must be followed because the beliefs and values of the people have to be respected. However, I am surprised there has not been much progress made in this area. We have two airlines that serve the Yukon, and I’m pleased the government has tried to be fair by using both airlines — even though, as I understand, it took Air Canada some time to come on board and work with the Department of Tourism and Culture on connections to Whitehorse. I believe Yukon small businesses need to be a priority for Yukoners.

The Yukon has much to offer to our travellers in all seasons. This department is doing a great job trying to market the Yukon, both nationally and globally. The sporting and cultural events we offer are some of the best in the country. There are concerns with a marine liability act, the rafting regulations and external loads on fixed-wing aircraft, and I’m sure the minister is lobbying the federal minister on these issues.

I commend all who are working to prepare for the upcoming Canada Winter Games. This will indeed be a great opportunity for the three northern territories to showcase that which we’re always proud of — our people and our culture.


Yesterday the minister said in her statement that it’s being said that we’re finally coming of age. I disagree with the minister because we’ve always been here and I think the people of Canada will finally discover what they’ve been missing. We have so much potential in tourism and culture to grow. Each of our communities has a wonderful opportunity and now is the time to prepare for those opportunities. I just have a quick question for the minister.

Many of the Yukon First Nation communities would like to have their own cultural centres. Very little in terms of finances has been spent and this is leaving people guessing. Can the minister provide us with a priority list of communities that are likely to see a cultural centre within the next few years, and if she’s able, will she table that list?

Hon. Ms. Taylor:    I would also just like to thank our Department of Tourism and Culture and all our officials for the hard work and for the great job that each and every individual in our department has been doing over the last number of years. The member opposite is quite correct in that the department has been tasked with a number of new initiatives, as well as ongoing initiatives, of which I as the minister responsible am very proud to support and also initiate.

A number of things were raised by the member opposite with respect to the First Nation tourism strategy. We are actually engaging with the Yukon First Nations Tourism Association at this time in conjunction with our marketing branch to develop a strategy that will oversee aboriginal First Nation tourism in the Yukon.


I should also note that Aboriginal Tourism Canada developed a strategy — a document that I believe was dated October of this year, 2004 — and has had it circulated across Canada. The members opposite can find it on the Aboriginal Tourism Canada’s Web site. I have actually read that document. It was quite well done. I think that it will certainly play a big role in the development of an aboriginal tourism strategy here in the Yukon as well.

Regarding the Yukon First Nations Tourism Association — as the member opposite is aware, there was a forum held on First Nation tourism in the Yukon not long ago. During that time, there was a whole host of speakers from First Nation government representatives to representation made from our own Department of Tourism and Culture. I believe it facilitated a lot of great discussion about the great opportunities, tremendous potential that First Nation tourism holds here in the Yukon, not to mention the rest of the country.

With respect to First Nation initiatives, I think that we on this side of the House have worked quite closely with the First Nations Tourism Association, and we continue to work collaboratively and closely with First Nation entrepreneurs to develop and market unique First Nation products throughout the territory.

As the member opposite knows, we recently recruited to fill a First Nation heritage officer position. That position has now been filled, and that person has been doing a great job, in particular in working with the existing cultural centres that are already established here in the Yukon.


We also initiated a new program to support cultural centres that already exist and those coming to fruition in the near future. That was to the tune of $220,000 in close consultation with those First Nations. The funding has been divided among those four First Nation governments that hold cultural centres in their territory.

In addition, we also have a product development officer, which is a relatively new position but has been doing some really great work over the last year. We also increased that budget by about $100,000 in this fiscal year. The product development officer has been actively involved in the development of a number of niche product development projects using some of these new funds, including code-of-conduct development with the Carcross-Tagish First Nation. It’s an exceptional document. It is very well done and very extensive, and it can be a model for other First Nations to use as a template.

We also contributed $10,000 to the First Nation cultural host project agreement. The Yukon River elders host pilot project — we also funded $8,000 toward that initiative. That was an initiative that took place in conjunction with the Selkirk First Nation. We were able to work with the elders of that community and, through the elders, we were able to demonstrate a whole number of activities from roasting of a moose head, arts, stick games, fiddling and drumming, to preparing dried salmon, porcupine and moose nose. This particular activity — this day of events — was very well done and prepared, and the Selkirk First Nation is to be commended for all its work over the last few months. This is something we would like to continue with respect to producing authentic cultural experiences on First Nation land.


On the Dempster Highway initiative, we’re also working with a member of a First Nation government to produce a brochure with respect to the Dempster Highway and First Nation and history in this particular area.

On the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations product development project, we are also working very closely with this First Nation and have, I believe, designated about $10,000 for that agreement.

We are also working with Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation on a product development project to the tune of another $10,000.

So I think that we are working pretty closely on the product development end of it. For example, the Old Crow visitor reception centre, a total of $90,000 — that was, I believe, $60,000 from our department and $30,000 from the Department of Environment to help create and establish interpretive displays for that new facility. We’re very happy to work with the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation toward this end.

There will be $50,000 toward the ice patch project. That’s another great initiative that has garnered worldwide attention and international media of all types, from the Smithsonian Institution to CNN to the New York Times and so forth.

So these are just but some very small examples of some things that we have been able to do. We have been working with the Carcross-Tagish First Nation to develop their cultural heritage centre. Also through the historic places initiative, we have been able, over the last couple of years, to fund a number of First Nation initiatives with respect to preserving and protecting their historic sites.


Just to give a few examples, let’s see — in this fiscal year, assisting with oral history research of the Blackstone Uplands in Black City by the Gwich’in Social and Cultural Institute, working with the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation to carry out recording and research of ancient house pits in north Yukon, working with the Selkirk First Nation to carry out archaeological and oral history research at one of their historic camp areas, documentation of sites on the upper Macmillan River, and so forth. Over the past fiscal year we’ve also engaged with a number of other First Nation governments on other projects, so we’re very proud to assist.

I was also going to mention that when it comes to the development air access in the territory, as the member opposite had made reference to, I believe we were able to very successfully accomplish some success with Air Canada, in particular earlier this fall. As members opposite will recollect, it was about a year ago that Air Canada had reduced its flights to one a day during the winter season, so we are now able to provide two flights a day thanks to Air Canada and thanks to Air North and their great work, great hospitality. They have been able to also enhance capacity adding more seats to our winter schedule. So thanks to the efforts of both airlines, we not only have increased capacity, but we have enhanced connectivity to our key international markets, not to mention our national markets, which is of utmost importance in terms of being able to grow our tourism industry.


As I understand it, both Air Canada and Air North experienced some growth this year. I give great credit to Air North, which has been doing very well. I believe they employ well over 120 people in the territory. They certainly have grown and expanded their services, which really contributes to the economic well-being of the entire territory. Air North has also been able to work with industry partners throughout the Yukon in developing a gateway spring and fall promotion, which means bringing people from our gateway cities of Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary and being able to provide very affordable air rates, as well as hotels. That has contributed to a great increase in numbers of people coming to the Yukon during our shoulder seasons of the fall and spring. They’ve contributed  greatly to our success.

Going back to the Canada Winter Games and the member opposite, “coming of age” was a term coined by the chair of the Canada Winter Games Host Society. It’s a term where there seems to be some thought of using it in future marketing campaigns and being able to garner sponsorships from national or international companies. While I agree that Yukon has achieved great success on so many different fronts, I think the “coming of age” term was coined as a result of the settlement of land claims, the completion of devolution and so forth. These are all great accomplishments that we are able to cherish and celebrate.

With respect to the question on the cultural centres, we work very closely with First Nation governments to identify their needs and their priorities. Where some First Nations are perhaps more advanced in the development of their heritage and historic sites than others, we make the point of working with each and every one of them.


So at this time we continue to work with the four existing ones through our contribution, our new funding program, and we will continue to work with our respective First Nation governments as they approach the Government of Yukon as well as the federal government to assist them with the development of their cultural centres. So that is basically how we have been approaching the development of cultural centres in the territory.

There is a lot of good news in this department, and I certainly hope that we take some time to look at some of the initiatives on which we have been endeavouring.

Ms. Duncan:   I just want to follow up and seek clarification from the minister on the last point regarding funding for cultural centres. Is there a policy in place that is being used by the department, or are they being funded on an as-requested basis?

Hon. Ms. Taylor:    Mr. Chair, as I mentioned earlier, the $220,000 is a new program, and it is to support existing cultural centres in the territory, of which we have four currently. As soon as we announced the new funding of $220,000, we immediately sought to consult with the respective First Nation governments. We did that, and we were able to come to terms, in consultation with those respective First Nation governments, on how funding would be distributed, but it is pretty much based on very similar terms as the museums — how they are currently funded.


Ms. Duncan:   So, the $220,000 funding initiative is for the existing four First Nation cultural centres. How those funds are administered was developed in consultation with those First Nation governments. What about the remaining First Nation governments? Should they choose to go forward and develop a cultural centre, how does money and contribution for any such initiative flow? What are the policy guidelines? Those are what I’m looking for.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:    As I initially announced when this money was first announced back in the spring, we were very forthright in committing our government to providing additional monies to a respective cultural centre, should another one come on-line. Again, we would consult with respective First Nation governments as to how that money would be flowed.

Let’s just go back a little while and discuss how this whole funding program evolved in the first place. It is a couple of things — primarily it came out of chapter 13 of the Umbrella Final Agreement. When we were distributing the draft museum strategy, we had distributed that to each of the First Nation governments for their comments, as we have done with other strategies. At that time there were a number of pieces of correspondence — I believe there were five or six different letters from the respective First Nation governments who expressed concerns about how the strategy did not accurately reflect the incorporation of First Nation cultural heritage centres and that, on the funding that the Department of Tourism and Culture had been providing to museums, First Nation cultural centres were not receiving similar funding.

So we took those comments and we came up with this funding program to assist the existing First Nation cultural heritage centres in supporting some of their ongoing costs. So, it’s basically accomplishing very similar terms as are already being accomplished through the museums funding program.


Ms. Duncan:   I have just a couple of quick questions for the minister — not a great many. Very briefly, could I ask her to outline what the scenic drives initiative is? It’s outlined in the supplementary budget. I would just like a broad brush of what exactly this program is. I understand it to be relatively new.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:    We’re just looking for the specific breakdown of funds for that $350,000.

Let’s just take members back. This was an initiative is currently identified in our three-year strategic tourism marking plan that has been endorsed by the senior marketing committee, which is a subcommittee of the Yukon Tourism Marketing Partnership Air Access Committee that we have partnered with TIA Yukon. The scenic drives initiative has been around for awhile. Over the recent number of months, there has been a lot of discussion about how we can better promote highway travel in the territory, how we can better attract rubber-tire traffic to the Yukon and how we can encourage people to stay a little bit longer during their trip on our highways. We have chosen to designate additional resources to the scenic drives program, and in this fiscal year we have $350,000 identified for that project, which includes a direct-mail campaign to targeted consumers in Canada and the Lower 48.

We’re also going to be developing a specific component to our Tour Yukon Web site that will show specific places of interest, whether it be cultural, historic or current events happening within the territory upon that specific drive. It also goes to enhancing media and public relations on the highway, so we’re looking at perhaps hiring journalists or media to come along on the respective scenic drive. This year we have targeted the Alaska Highway to begin with, because we feel that the Alaska Highway is an international icon. It’s a natural place to start, and from there we’ll continue to look at other scenic drives in the territory.


We’re also going to be working with our travel trade partners abroad to stimulate shoulder season fly/drive programs, so we’re working with our fly/drive partners and also working with the motorcoach market at basic trade shows such as National Tour Association or the American Bus Association to develop additional information of interest.

Also, a big component of this scenic drives initiative is that our department has already been out on the road. When I talked about targeting the Alaska Highway this year, members of our department have already been seeking to consult fully with First Nation governments in the respective communities along the way as well as municipalities, mayors and councils and tourism organizations, associations and others who are interested in seeing what each and every community and those in between would like to see developed, would like to see showcased, whether it be in our literature or in our Web sites and how we can better promote this highway.

That is it, in a nutshell, and I think some of the inspiration that instigated this program came from looking at other examples of successful scenic drives in the country. You could look at the Cabot Trail, for example, where they were able to successfully showcase their cultural corridors, their heritage, historical corridors, look at the different attractions in and of themselves.

In the states there is the Oregon coastal drive, which I have taken before — Route 66, for example. So we think that the Alaska Highway is a great place to start. Of course we will also be continuing our discussions with the State of Alaska and the Province of British Columbia in this regard.

Chair: 044a

Is there any further general debate? Hearing none, we will proceed with line-by-line examination.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, I would request the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 54 cleared or carried as required.

Unanimous consent re deeming all lines in Vote 54, Department of Tourism and Culture, cleared or carried

Chair:   Ms. Duncan has requested unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines deemed read or carried as required in Vote 54, Tourism and Culture. Are you agreed?

All Hon. Members:   Agreed.

Chair:   I believe there is unanimous consent. The request is granted.

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $221,000 agreed to

On Capital Expenditures

Total Capital Expenditures in the amount of $988,000 agreed to

Department of Tourism and Culture agreed to

Chair:   We will now continue on to Vote 7, Economic Development.


Department of Economic Development

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Mr. Chair, it gives me pleasure to present the supplementary budget under discussion. There are only a couple changes within the Department of Economic Development — a new department, of course, but one that I think has made some great strides over the last year. We have seen some major, major changes within the Yukon. For instance, we have seen the population grow about 1.6 percent in the last year, which is a good start. Employment in October was increased up to 14,300. This shows an increase of 1,300, or 10 percent above the October 2003 figures. The major effect of this, of course, is while the population is slightly increased, the employment has dramatically increased. Therefore, the adjusted rate of unemployment was, at one point, 5.3 percent, where a year before it was almost 11 percent. So we’ve dropped the rate of unemployment — a decrease of 5.7 percent from October 2003 to October 2004.


The rate of inflation at the time shows about 1.2 percent, which matches that of Canada, so we’ve done it without really affecting the amount of inflation. Rental units, which are obviously a major concern up here, have shown virtually no difference, and the average rental unit in Whitehorse has actually stayed the same at about $650. The vacancy rate has decreased slightly from 7.5 percent in September 2003 to seven percent in September 2004. I can remember a time in the Yukon when the vacancy rate was well under one percent, and that puts great strain on our housing, so we’re coping with this very well, I think.

At the same time, the value of real estate has gone up quite dramatically, and the value of real estate transactions in the second quarter was about $46,700,000. That shows an increase of almost 26.4 percent in the value of real estate transactions over the previous year. Building permits have gone up and, while much of that relates to the multiplex, we have still seen quite a radical increase in the number of building permits over the previous year.

Retail/wholesale trade has also gone up slightly — 1.6 percent from the value of retail trade a year ago, if you look at August 2004 versus August 2003.

When you go through some of the statistics, it’s interesting. For instance, with all our problems with tourism and the fire season and everything else, we actually saw a decrease of only .02 percent in tourism, so we’re very pleased to have that sort of difference.

If you start comparing the employment — if I can go back to that for a second or two — the labour force did increase significantly, as I mentioned. The number of employed Yukoners increased by almost 1,300, or 10 percent. That’s a significant number of people. The average weekly wage for Yukon increased almost three percent, so it’s actually going ahead of the rate of inflation, which is 1.2 percent.


For the goods-producing industry, if you take that sector, it’s 1.1 percent, and if you look at the service-producing sector, it’s about 3.3 percent. The trade industry wage has actually increased almost 9.4 percent, so they’ve done very well out of that. Public administration wage is about 3.8 percent. Also up in the 9.6-percent range is transportation and warehousing, so we’ve seen good reactions to all those things.

In general, we feel the economy has rebounded or has begun to rebound rather nicely with some of our initiatives. Mineral exploration in the territory increased to an estimated $22 million in 2004, and that’s up from $12.5 million in 2003, and I believe it was almost half of that in the previous year, so that rebound has been quite nice and we anticipate that to go quite a bit higher. Residential construction continues to grow, as I mentioned. Construction in general on the multiplex and everything else has rebounded well.

In terms of the budget that we have under discussion today, the operation and maintenance expenditures provide a decrease of $435,000, for a total budget of $5,851,000, and in that sector we also have recoveries of about $100,000. The time frame required for the staffing process was longer than anticipated, resulting in an O&M budget decrease of $450,000. I am very pleased to report, however, that in that time frame and with careful recruiting, we have recruited a rather exceptional staff, so it has paid off in the long run for us.

The O&M expenses were also amended to reflect a revote from 2003-04 for the Grey Mountain Housing Society’s business plan, and that amounts to about $15,000.

In terms of transfers, we’ve made some adjustments to our department’s budget as a result of our past year of activity and through a detailed planning exercise. Marketing initiatives for our non-renewable resource industries did not get underway until July, and $80,000 was transferred to business and trade to conduct business counselling for communities, about $70,000, and $10,000 was provided to RAIYA for the western Canada music awards project.


The Film and Sound Commission budget of $431,000 and the capital budget of $715,000 were transferred from the business and trade branch to the strategic industries branch to better reflect the importance of this industry to our economy.

In terms of capital expenditures, there is an increase of $1.194 million in the capital budget, with capital recoveries amounting to $217,000. The following revoted capital items total $1.317 million, and these items were committed in 2003-04 and completed in the current budget year. This is a very common thing for our department.

There are also the business incentive program rebates of $31,000, the film production and location rebates for The Big White feature film of $215,000, the film production guide at $23,000, and the community development fund projects approved in 2003-04 and completed in the 2004-05 budget year: another $659,000. There are also strategic project studies in the amount of $120,000, community access program in the amount of $143,000, and leasehold improvements and furnishings in the amount of $126,000.

In terms of other initiatives, a contribution of $100,000 to the Technology Innovation Centre has been committed to assist Yukon companies in commercializing their products. Savings of $440,000 in the strategic industries fund were realized due to a delay in the implementation until July, instead of April.

The community access program, which provides Yukoners with free public access to computers in their communities, will receive $217,000 to continue their good work. The amount is 100-percent recoverable from Industry Canada.

This is a synopsis of the supplementary estimates for the Department of Economic Development, and I look forward to providing line-by-line information to the members of the House.


Mr. Hardy:   It’s interesting, the comments made by the minister. He started off, of course, listing some of the stats and identifying all the changes in the statistics, such as unemployment and increased population brought about by the initiatives of the government. I’m more of a realist about that. I’ve said in the past that no government can lay claim to huge economic turnarounds. It would be a false statement if any government took that liberty, and I’m hoping that’s not what the minister is indicating in this matter. We all know that, when it comes to mining, the most significant change that can happen in mining — and I’ve heard it from many of my friends in mining; I’ve heard it from many of the corporations — is mineral prices. No government — at least in the territory — has ever had the ability to alter world mineral prices. Now, we have an upswing in mineral prices, we see more activity. If this government is still in power and there’s a downswing, there will probably be a drop-off in the activities. That’s a reality. They shouldn’t be blamed for it on that side, nor should they take credit on the other.

Oil and gas prices have shot up. Of course, there’s more activity, there’s more money to spend, and there’s more exploration that can happen. That’s what is happening in the Yukon. Again, that’s connected to something that no government has control over.

Looking at some of the activities that have had some positive effects on the employment, there are the megastores that have rolled into town. We all know the impact that has had on employment opportunities. It has been very significant. All those megastores were rolling into town long before this government was formed. Can the government take credit for it? Of course they can’t. Can other past governments take credit for it? Well, that’s even questionable too. Some of the activities might have helped stimulate it a little bit but, frankly, the megastores base their assumptions of whether they’re going to come in or not upon a lot of demographics, and there can be some influence — as the NDP government at one time did influence some of the development in that area, where all of it is happening now; however, it doesn’t necessarily say that brings them in; it just creates an environment.


That has happened and has created tremendous employment, and people have come back knowing they can get jobs in that area. Canada Winter Games — that wasn’t mentioned. Now, the Canada Winter Games is having a profound impact upon employment. There is no question about that. I know many, many people who are working on a multitude of projects surrounding the Canada Winter Games, including the multiplex, but not just the multiplex. That’s employing a lot of people at fairly good wages. It is creating a tremendous amount of excitement and optimism. That’s the Canada Winter Games — that’s not the Yukon Party government or NDP government or Liberal government. That is something that a group of people initiated many, many, many years ago. It bothers me when I hear somebody trying to lay credit to the work that they did, and I have heard the Member of Parliament do that, and he shouldn’t. But 13 people worked very, very hard to get the Canada Winter Games here, and then levels of government did get involved, and we witnessed that all the way back over six or eight years ago, trying to make this a reality. And it is becoming a reality. It’s having a phenomenal impact on our economy, but it’s also very much a Whitehorse-based economy. Many of the communities are not benefiting or do not have the employment levels that we’re witnessing within Whitehorse, and that is what also skews those kinds of figures, and we have to take that into account.

It’s very easy to say the stats say we have 5.9, I believe it is, to date, and the minister can correct me on that. But I can go into some of the communities and the unemployment rates in the communities are like 40 percent and 50 percent. So you know, when you use figures and you use statistics, you have to be a little bit broader and recognize what you’re talking about and be very careful in what you think your initiative has caused, because you can be challenged on it and probably rightly so. I think that holds true for any government or any minister doing that.

Building permits in the last 10 years — they’ve just been on an upswing. It has just been a steady climb. Retail trade — now, the minister mentioned the retail trade hasn’t moved that much, and that’s actually quite interesting, because generally when you see higher wages or more disposable income, you do see the retail trade go up as well. It’s often correlated; they work together. But in this case it doesn’t seem to be, so that might be something that the minister might want to look at with his department to see why that’s actually not materializing the way it normally does.


However, what the minister didn’t mention is that the unemployment figures are going up right now. They were down, and I applaud any of the work the department has done — or other levels of government. We could also recognize that the massive spending of the government — the $750 million put into the economy this year — has a genuine impact upon employment opportunities and should never be denied. I wouldn’t be one who would stand here and say that didn’t have a positive impact. I believe it did.

However, what we’re witnessing now is the unemployment level starting to climb up again. One of the questions is, what is being planned for winter works projects? Is there anything in the hoppers? I’m just going to throw out a few things, if the minister wants to stand up and respond to them, and there may be a couple more. This is a supplementary budget. We’ve had debate on this. I’m really looking forward to the debate of the spring budget as well, because I think in some of the initiatives that have been started, we might see a bit more activity and have a little more to discuss.

I’ll talk about some of the line items in a bit.

There are a couple of questions. What projects are underway right now? What projects may be for winter works to offset the increase in unemployment, because it’s starting to climb again? Maybe the minister can share that information. He has been very forthcoming today. Maybe that’s in the Christmas spirit, and I appreciate that. With that in mind, my questions are meant to be taken in a manner that is presented respectfully.

The film industry — maybe the minister can give me an update on what activities are happening to date. Have we seen a lull in the activities around commercials and film activity from Outside? I do know there are some very serious concerns around what’s happening in the Lower 48 with the film industry in matching the Canadian dollar to theirs in employment and costs to try to deal with the exodus of a lot of film companies and films being made in Canada. It’s having a pretty profound impact on B.C. I wonder if the minister has any idea if that is starting to have an impact on the Yukon as well. Are we down in our films and commercials and activity in that area? Maybe he would touch on the report of the film commissioner and what’s happening in that area.


Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   I’m very pleased to get those comments — some very good comments indeed. There are a couple slight misconceptions in there, of course. The member opposite refers to his friends in mining. I’m sure both of them would explain that the mineral prices do have a lot to do with it, but there is certainly a lot of difference as well in terms of the mineral prices being the same worldwide, and therefore we have to compete against other jurisdictions. It’s within that framework of competing with all other jurisdictions that it is quite different.

The other thing to do with it, of course, is the ability to extract those minerals. Unfortunately, just simply having them there is not necessarily that good. We have to have a regime, and we have to have an environment where people can get to them reasonably and draw them out of the ground and then market them. So there is a lot more to it than just simply the prices. That certainly is a small part of the matrix, but it’s not all of it.

The fact that there are megastores here — again, I take that as a very, very good sign. I don’t think many of these megastores come into an area without doing a very careful analysis and without very carefully looking at the economic forecast. So when they come into a territory — as a couple have most recently — you have to think that they have a pretty good confidence in the economy, and I take that as a great compliment.

The member opposite mentioned unemployment going up. It has gone up slightly, but it always does in the winter. You’ve got tourism; you’ve got seasonal employment and this sort of thing, so there always is a slight undulating movement on employment rates. Again, that is to be expected. The fact that it is staying down much lower than it has been historically at this time of year, I think, is very encouraging.

The member asks about the Film Commission, and this has been a very interesting and exciting thing for us to develop. For instance, so far this year, $330,000 has been spent in the Yukon developing commercials. We have a Lexus commercial going on as we speak, Mr. Chair, out in — I was going to say the beautiful riding of Lake Laberge, but it’s as beautiful or — well, sort of as beautiful as Southern Lakes. I’m probably going to get assaulted here, but oh well. Unfortunately, we can’t see either one of them from Porter Creek North.


There are a number of initiatives that we’re looking at. We now have a film commissioner on site. I’ve had a number of meetings with her, and she tells me that her biggest problem right now is that her office is so completely swamped with requests for information and for production of film commercials, et cetera, in the Yukon. So we’re very encouraged with all that. We’re also seriously looking at the possibility of bringing an international film festival into the Yukon next year. This would be a great boon for the territory. It would showcase some of the territory’s productions as well as bring in a lot of international productions. I remember a line from the Rinkbinders’ song where the movies are reviewed that will never come to town. Well, we’re looking at maybe bringing a few of them into town.

I’ll turn it back to the member opposite.

Mr. Hardy:   I appreciate the comments that minister opposite made. There are some things — I mean, I did put out a lot of stuff all at once, and he touched on the ones that he probably was able to write down or remember. But even around the film industry, for instance, I’m not to dwell a long time on it. I think there’s an opportunity with the new film commissioner to allow some things to get up and running better, but I am concerned — especially in California and of course with their governor, I believe, and the statements he has made and the activities that are going on in that area — about the impact that will have down the road. Now fortunately we do get films from around the world, and we get activity not necessarily out of that area, but it can have a pretty profound impact. They do have snow up in the mountains in California. They have a lot of things, and they have the equipment too, and we’re competing against a well-established and very competitive market in that area. If they decide that’s the direction they’re going in, I believe it will hurt B.C. and Toronto a lot more than us.


However, we are talking about economic development, and I will come back to that.

Shifting off on a lot of those areas I’ve touched on, I’d like to go straight to the Partnerships B.C. agreement, and I believe it’s a $320,000 agreement. Could the minister tell me what the terms of reference are with that agreement, and is it a fixed agreement, or is it an agreement with the potential of Partnerships B.C. being used for other activities?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   There may be a little bit of snow in northern California, but with global warming, I think we have an awful lot more of it. It’s Vancouver that I think is going to get hit the hardest with the decisions in California, because rain is a much more common commodity, but I share the member’s concern for all of that.

The agreement with Partnerships B.C. is to develop a process and a policy as we learn and gain from their expertise. Right now, it is very specific to the bridge at Dawson, so we’re not looking at a wide spectrum of things, but we are looking to gain the expertise from what we feel is a world leader in this area, as far as an organization goes.

Mr. Hardy:   Well, it’s not really a world leader. I understand the enthusiasm the minister may have for this organization, but they’ve only been up and running for two years. They were formed in 2002. They may have the potential to become that. They are a government-sponsored agency, and it’s very clear what they’re trying to promote, but they really don’t have a track record. The minister also has mentioned the $3.5 billion of success stories. Well, none of those success stories, as far as I can see, have been completed yet. That is a serious concern. Some of them are going to be happening possibly starting next year. Some of the proposals, some of the invitations are still out there. Some of them have just been signed off in the last month. This is not an organization that really has a solid foot and history. So I would advise the minister to be a little cautious, watch closely, because there is really no track record here with this organization. You know, the jury is still out on some of it. I read their Web page today, and in some parts of it, they admit right within their 2003-04 reports that they don’t have a track record. They haven’t proven themselves yet in this area. That’s something that they’re trying to do. The minister may be jumping the gun a little bit on promoting them.


What’s interesting about the bridge is that I’ve also looked, and there’s a call for qualifications out there. That seems to be ahead of the policy, so maybe the minister can tell me where we’re at. Where does he see the policy work being completed in relation to where we would be with the bridge advancement?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Partnerships B.C. has only been going for the two years, but $3.5 billion in a two-year period is, I think, a significant chunk. We also have to realize that, when Partnerships B.C. was formed, they drew on a number of staff from other areas with, at most, 10 to 15 years’ experience in P3 partnerships. The expertise is certainly there, and we have confidence in that.

In terms of developing the request for qualifications, this is one step in the process that allows us to look at who is qualified to bid on it and come up with a proposal. Again, this is all part of the policy development — to see who is there and who is qualified. It makes no sense to talk to groups that have no ability to produce the final product.

So this is all part and parcel of developing the policy. To us it makes more sense than developing a policy without consulting these groups, and then coming back and trying to do it in a different way. I think it’s an ongoing process, and it’s one that makes sense.


Ms. Duncan:    Could I just ask the Committee’s indulgence for a moment? The family of our page, Aven-Lee Enzenauer, has joined us in the gallery today and I’d like to welcome them.



        Mr. Hardy:   It’s good to see family support.

I’m not going to get into this deeply. I think there’s a lot of opportunity to discuss this more, but I’m very curious to see how this government is positioning itself. I’m very curious about this partnership. I did ask about the terms of reference in the contract. Is it a fixed contract? When these two pieces of work are done, is it over? Or is it one where the amount of money that’s being paid is specifically for this? Partnerships B.C. may be the lead in handling any other P3 projects that the government may think is necessary or wants to do.


Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   The contract as it stands is for this project only. There’s no ongoing deal. It’s specific for the Dawson bridge.

Mr. Hardy:   Is the department looking at any other P3 projects at the present time, or have they been discussing any?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   While it may be true that whenever you’re looking at options, you always look at all options, the reality here is that we need to develop that policy in partnership with Partnerships B.C., so at this point in time, no, there are no other ongoing projects being considered.

Mr. Hardy:   I would like to shift slightly. How many people are employed with the Department of Economic Development?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Forty-seven.

Mr. Hardy:   Would this be pretty well the maximum that the minister is anticipating to be needed, or are there still spots that need to be filled, or areas that they feel are not being addressed completely?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Right now, the 47 figure is what we are authorized for. We still have a couple of positions vacant. I’m told there are 42 people in place. We feel that it could go up to 50, but certainly no more, but the authorization is to 47.

Mr. Hardy:   Looking at page 3-4 under business and trade, the film development and production and film infrastructure programs, there’s a reduction of $775,000. Down below it, there is film and sound incentive programs, $953,000. Was some of that money just a shift over to the film and sound incentive program, or did it go somewhere else?


Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   That was just a shift from one branch to another.

Ms. Duncan:   I’d like to begin with the whole concept of the public/private partnerships, or P3s, as they’re called. My understanding is that the minister, in answer to the leader of the official opposition — is he indicating that Partnerships B.C. has been contracted to develop a policy for the Government of Yukon or have they been contracted to specifically find public/private partnerships for the construction of the Dawson bridge? Which is it?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Basically, as I say, the project is very specific in that contract for the Dawson bridge. We look at it as not only to develop this, to develop the policy and to train and assist us in the project, but there are all of these different parts of it at the same time. Again, it makes no sense to develop policies or projects in isolation without utilizing the expertise that we have at hand.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, with all due respect to the minister, I’d like to request he do a little bit of homework on this particular issue. Nova Scotia embarked upon public/private partnerships in the late 1990s to build schools throughout Nova Scotia. A number of schools were constructed. The Auditor General of Nova Scotia wrote — and I’m not quoting it precisely because I don’t have it in front of me. But the Auditor General of Nova Scotia said clearly and specifically that government should not embark upon P3 construction without having a clear policy in place. The Auditor General of Nova Scotia cautioned that government strongly, told them, “Look, you shouldn’t have done this without having your policy in order.” The government has not done that.


The government is blatantly disregarding an Auditor General’s advice in contracting Partnerships B.C. to build the Dawson City bridge as a public/private partnership without a policy. Will the minister recognize that the policy should be put in place first?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   I would remind the member opposite that that’s exactly why we’ve engaged Partnerships B.C. to assist and train us and develop such a policy and to make sure that the policy is there and that it makes sense, based on the best possible information we have at the time. Perhaps earlier problems came from developing a policy in isolation and then trying to execute it, or having no policy in place. Our plan is that we will utilize the best expertise available, make a decision at that time whether or not it’s acceptable to a Yukon scenario, and proceed if indicated.

Ms. Duncan:   The minister has not contracted Partnerships B.C. to develop a policy; the minister has contracted Partnerships B.C. to ensure that the Dawson City bridge is constructed using a P3 partnership. That’s what he said earlier in response. The policy work doesn’t come afterward. The policy work comes before. The policy work, the hard policy work, is done by doing your homework, and the capability is here to develop a government policy on entering into public/private partnerships — a Yukon-made government policy.

In fact, I would remind him that his own Premier, the colleague a couple of seats down, said very specifically that we would never enter into a public/private partnership until a clear and transparent policy is developed. That’s what I’m asking the government to do: do your policy homework before you contract with Partnerships B.C. or anyone else to use a P3 to construct anything — a bridge or anything else. I’m not suggesting this because I’m sitting on this side of the House. I’m suggesting it because not only has the Auditor General of Nova Scotia recommended it, but so has the Auditor General of Prince Edward Island and so did the Auditor General of Canada.


Do your policy homework first. That is not what the government is contracting Partnerships B.C. to do. I am simply asking the minister to recognize that. They have contracted them to build a bridge in Dawson. That’s what they’ve done. Now, will the minister recognize that?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   I certainly thank the member opposite for reminding me where the Premier sits; I wondered who that was two doors down.

We’ve had two workshops so far on this. We’ve done a lot of work with Partnerships B.C. We have been down there, and it is our firm belief that we will develop a much more effective policy — not a flawed policy — by working together on a project. The contract does not say that they are going to build a bridge, but developing, training, and assisting is all a part of this, and it makes no sense to develop a policy in isolation. We are in no rush. We have been in no rush, and it is our intent to make sure that the policy will be in place at the proper time and will be very effective, and not as flawed as Nova Scotia’s.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Deputy Chair, the minister hasn’t listened to a word I’ve said this afternoon. The problem was that Nova Scotia went ahead and built P3 schools without a policy in place. I know the minister is very familiar with learning institutions in Saskatchewan. The Saskatchewan Institute of Public Policy, in 1999, did a paper — a literature review that was very well-recognized. It said exactly the same thing — “Governments, do your homework before you embark on this.”

There are many, many different kinds of public/private partnerships — many different kinds. There are many different levels of risk associated with a public/private partnership. Most importantly and fundamentally, Partnerships B.C. even says in their own documentation that governments have to evaluate value for money and do their policy homework before they embark upon any such projects.


However, the Yukon Party knows best and is not prepared to acknowledge the learning experience that has gone on in the rest of the country.

Will the minister, before there is a — well, there is already the request for qualifications out. They’re already hired Partnerships B.C. They’ve already broken the Premier’s word given on the floor of this House. It’s shameful, because we’re talking about millions and millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money that the government is spending without doing its homework, without even due regard for any information that is presented to them.

Mr. Chair, similar to the fact that the government has no policy in place for entering into a public/private partnership, what are the rules covering these infamous funds that the minister has in the Department of Economic Development? I’d like the process for the applications, the committee review and whether or not it includes a member of the public for the Yukon enterprise and trade fund. Could I have the policy guidelines for that fund, who is administering it, how are decisions and applications being reviewed, and what funding has been allocated under that fund to date?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   It’s our intention to develop that policy and to develop the whole thing in partnership with Partnerships B.C. and to work through the workshops and everything else. We’ve done our homework. That’s what we’ve been working on for many, many months, and we’re following the best practices on building the bridge and on developing a policy.

It’s all based on practical experience and practical efforts rather than on theory. And that becomes the problem — developing a policy in isolation, in theory, and not taking advantage of the expertise and the best practices out there.

In terms of the funds, the enterprise and trade fund, strategic industries and the regional — this is all on the public record, and there are publications available. I’ll be happy to send them over to the member.


Ms. Duncan:   The minister can say that we’re just going to develop the policy and we’re going to do this project, and we’re just going to go ahead; but are they even going to provide to the public all the options in discussion with Partnerships B.C.? Are they going to make the information available? Information, for example — if you’ll just give me a moment.

There’s any kind of a number of options for building the bridge in Dawson with a public/private partnership. We could go anywhere from a contribution contract to a build-lease-operate-transfer form of public/private partnership to a buy-build-operate public/private partnership. There’s a complete continuum of options, and there’s a complete continuum of costs, including — according to the government’s own Web site — as much as $44 million when you include the financing. Will the minister make all the options — all the options — from Partnerships B.C. publicly available? They did not release the information regarding the costs of the bridge that was obtained under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The public had to go other routes to get all the information that the government has. Will the minister commit when the information comes back from Partnerships B.C. that all that information is provided on the floor of this Legislature to the public, and all the costs?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   All those options are being examined right now. The member opposite is quite right and has done some homework, fortunately, on the number of different options available. Once we have the reply from the request for qualifications and we see exactly who is qualified to bid on this, that will be the nature of the bids and it will be the nature of the documents that will be put out and tendered, and those are all public documents.


Ms. Duncan:   What the minister just said is that the request for qualifications is going to determine the form of the public/private partnership. That’s what the minister just said. It is not necessarily public information when individuals submit a bid. The request for qualifications that is out right now isn’t going to tell us, as near as I’ve read the documentation, which form of public/private partnership we are going to use. Is the minister saying the request for qualifications that is out right now is going to tell us what form of public/private partnership to use? Is that what he is saying?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Again, the request for qualifications will not determine that, but it will determine who is in a position to bid on the bid documents and what the terms of those bids would be. I remind the member opposite that those bids are done through Highways and Public Works, not Economic Development.

Ms. Duncan:   The minister is not passing this question off.

The manner the government is going about this process is just completely — the term “backward” is too kind.

The request for qualifications — are individuals building on a build-transfer-operate public/private partnership, or are they building on a buy-build-operate? What are they bidding on? What form of a P3 is it? Who is evaluating these bids? Is it Partnerships B.C.? Is Partnerships B.C. writing an additional RFQ — request for qualifications?

The minister should stand up and outline exactly how this process is going to work.

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Again, when the qualifications and such come in, they will be evaluated both by Partnerships B.C. and Economic Development. That will be part of the training and assistance and the policy development.


Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, so the request for qualifications is out there now. UMA’s own figures have the bridge at $35 million. So any of a number of companies may submit bids to the government on their current request for qualifications. Partnerships B.C. is going to evaluate those. Then what happens? Then Partnerships B.C. is going to say, “Well, we’ve issued this request for qualifications, but people didn’t know what they were bidding on because we haven’t decided on what form of public/private partnership and, well, maybe we won’t build it after all.” What a completely backward way to go about doing things.

If the government had just — as the Premier committed to do — developed a policy — a policy, for example, that says that, at the end of its useful life, we must own the bridge or we will, as their own public servants — who they hold in such high regard — recommended to them, that it be done the same way we have procured other major capital assets and not embark upon a public/private partnership — if they had followed that advice, they would be a lot further ahead on this legacy project.

Mr. Chair, the government — how long does the minister anticipate that this process is going to go? When the request for qualifications is resubmitted, when is Partnerships B.C. coming back with advice?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   The request for qualifications is due in to us on the 15th of December. So we will get some answers as that develops. In the meantime, the request for proposals, again, will deal with all the issues that the member opposite is concerned about and is part of the policy training and assistance. The intention at the end of the day, obviously, is that we own the bridge. And I’m not sure how one operates a bridge. It’s not a drawbridge, to my knowledge.


Ms. Duncan:   It’s operated like a toll bridge, like the major example of P3s in Canada. If the minister had read any of the homework on this particular issue, he’d be very familiar with it. Northumberland Strait Crossing, chapter 15, October 1995, Auditor General’s report — I highly recommend it to the minister, because one of the unintended consequences of Canada entering into that public/private partnership and embarking upon this was a $15-million additional cost for environmental work. I would strongly recommend that the minister do his homework on this. Quite clearly he hasn’t. Is there a commitment? Mind you, Mr. Chair, we had a commitment that we’d never build a bridge without a public policy in place. Is there any kind of commitment from the members opposite not to have a toll on this bridge?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   I would remind the member opposite, if that member actually read the rest of the documentation, that many if not most of the bridges built under P3s across Canada aren’t toll bridges. I just had these mental images of little toll booths across the way in both directions and such. No, there has been no discussion at all about a toll bridge. The only discussion that I’ve ever heard about that has come from the member opposite. It certainly hasn’t been a government discussion.

Ms. Duncan:   There hasn’t been a government discussion, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a government commitment, and it may very well be a recommendation. It’s unfortunate, because there have been successful examples of public/private partnerships used by the Government of Yukon. It’s unfortunate that the Government of Yukon has chosen to ignore previous work that has been done in this particular area.

The minister has indicated that the documentation surrounding the Yukon enterprise and trade fund is publicly available, and the parameters for disbursing those funds — I don’t have the exact breakdown of that particular amount of funding that’s available. How much has been disbursed by the Yukon enterprise and trade fund to date since its announcement?


Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Again, the documentation that the member opposite wants is publicly available and I’ve offered to send it over if it’s difficult to walk over to the office.

I’m a bit troubled by the member’s comments on the differences between no discussion and no commitment. Our government discusses things before they make a commitment, but perhaps this is a novel concept. To date, since the inception of the fund in July 2004 to November 30, 2004, a total of 24 applications have been approved for a total contribution of $252,397 to industry and business associations. The applications include activities ranging from business planning, marketing initiatives and research, export development strategies and promotional materials for new markets. The processing depends very much on the condition of the application at the time and the level of funding sought. Again this is all within publicly available documents, which I’ll be sending over.

Ms. Duncan:   They may be publicly available documents, but there’s a great deal of concern from industry about the way this money is or is not being disbursed. I’ve had several complaints from constituents about this. Funding is not accessible. It’s not clear. Is there a member of the public on the committee that is dispensing funds?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Again, the documentation and the information that’s publicly available make it very clear how to access these funds. It’s a very simple process. I might suggest that the problem is that people come in with a project that doesn’t meet the criteria or that makes little business sense and it isn’t funded. We evaluate the funding seriously at all points and times, and the fact that we’ve given out 24 so far I think speaks to that. In terms of the appeal process and such and the higher levels of funding, yes, there’s public representation.


Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, will the minister provide the expenses and an accounting of the travel expenses for his recent trip to China?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   I have no problem doing that. In terms of that trip, the trip that the member questions has established a very good working relationship with Orient Mining Ltd., and we look forward to some very good product coming out of that in terms of investment into the Yukon at a fairly high level. So we’re very, very pleased. Again, this is the same group that was here some two weeks ago. They have invested much more in trips here than we have ever invested there.

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   And, in fact, the Member for Kluane says that he’s very happy about the project, and I’m pleased that he is. But we’re very pleased in terms of the product from that, and many of the expenses in China were picked up by Orient Mining. So we feel it was a very, very profitable trip, and one that may well be included in a trade mission going back to China in the spring.

Ms. Duncan:   There’s a contract to Apex Sources and Development for $14,000 issued by the minister’s Department of Economic Development. What was that contract for?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   That did revolve around the China trip for planning and trying to assist in getting all the parties together to discuss the business opportunities.

Ms. Duncan:   So, in fact, there was a cost to the Yukon in setting up that particular trip. Did the department not avail themselves of the Canadian Consulate services?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Absolutely we availed ourselves. In fact, we met in the Beijing Embassy with their Minister of Trade for the Beijing Embassy and consular staff over there. They attended some of our meetings. They attended our dinners, and we had the great opportunity of being there only a few days after the North Korean refugees had scaled the wall. And, in fact, the meeting room that we met in overlooks that wall. It was quite an interesting time to see the place.


They have been very supportive in terms of the trip. They have been very supportive in terms of assisting, and they continue to be on a day-to-day basis.

Ms. Duncan:   One last question about P3s: why is the minister’s department paying twice for engineering of the bridge in Dawson City

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Well, this is another urban legend that seems to be coming from somewhere. UMA was commissioned to come up with design specifications and that sort of thing. In turning out a request for proposals, the one thing we can’t do is cut off any input from another company that wants to bid on it. We have left that door open so that another company can come up with other specifications. We are, in fact, however, not paying for that part of it. We just have to leave that door open as a business courtesy.

To go back to the member’s previous question, too, this becomes another situation where, if we paid for the trip, we would be criticized; if we didn’t pay for the trip, we would also be criticized. It was a good business investment and good business will come of it.

Ms. Duncan:   So, just to be very clear for the record: we paid UMA Engineering for design of the Dawson bridge. Then, with no policy in place, we contracted Partnerships B.C. to develop a policy, we’ve issued a request for qualifications at the same time, and the request for qualifications says we may or may not use the bridge design. It’s interesting that the minister will acknowledge that the request for qualifications — not the request for proposals, but the request for qualifications — does acknowledge that the bridge may be redesigned by the successful proponent. It is very interesting that the minister can refer to this as “urban legend” when it’s right off the minister’s own Web site.

It is entirely possible that the money we’ve paid UMA — and he will freely recognize that, yes, we’ve paid them to do design specifications, but he doesn’t recognize that they also, in their design specifications, suggest that the bridge is going to cost $35 million and that it doesn’t include financing costs that wouldn’t be included in a public/private partnership.


It doesn’t recognize that. Mr. Chair, if only they had done their policy homework, we’d be a lot further ahead and the taxpayers would be a lot more thankful for it.

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   I should have been taking better notes, I suppose, through the discussions over the last couple of months, because every time I hear a bridge estimate from the side opposite, it’s a different number. It would be interesting to try to keep track of these estimates that have been pulled out of thin air and see if we can graph them and get an idea of a bell curve and find out what most people think. I’ve heard everywhere from $22 million to $65 million, so we’ll see what happens with that.

Again, for the record and to clarify the issue, what I hear the member opposite saying is that she still doesn’t understand the fact that we are simply not tying down a future developer or proponent to an individual thing. We will not pay for a second one, but if they want to look at it in a slightly different way, we have to give them, as a business, that opportunity. That makes every bit of sense. As it continues, of course, this all really is part of the policy and planning, training and development and putting this into place.

Mr. Hardy:   I’ve been looking at the Web page, and these are just a couple of questions once again to go over some of the information that has been supplied by Partnerships B.C. I know the minister was really high on them and spoke in glowing terms and all that stuff, but when I look at their pages on the Web and what they’re saying, it doesn’t point to that. But I do have a question. They make a point — if anyone wants to look — in the annual report, on page 13. I’m going to read it and then see if the minister will agree to it and apply that to any activities they’re doing here. I think that would go a long way to assuring the opposition and me, as well as the third party, I would suspect, if they’d adopt this. It would give us a reasonable degree of comfort. “The novelty of public/private partnerships also poses risks. Until Partnerships B.C. establishes a track record, it will be vulnerable to certain types of criticisms, whether they are founded or not. For example, some opponents claim P3s are tantamount to privatization or that they represent reductions in public service. Partnerships B.C. will counter these assertions by ensuring its projects are successful in achieving and demonstrating value for money, in managing processes that are competitive, fair and transparent and being open and accessible to stakeholders, including public opinion leaders and the media.”


Does the minister agree with that statement, and will he apply that language — those words — to any of the activities he is presently doing and down the road?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Again, this is all part of the development of the policy, the training, and everything else. But in general, yes — we have to draw on what expertise they have as a very experienced organization doing this. It makes sense to do that. It makes no sense to develop a policy in isolation and hope we get it right. We have to be cautious and approach it carefully, which we’ve done. And we have to do our homework, which we have done and will continue to do.

Mr. Hardy:   I would like confirmation that the minister will apply that — especially the last part. I’m going to ask it one more time, “Will the minister apply that to the Dawson bridge project and to any other projects that might come along?” If he does this, I think it would give a great degree of comfort to the public, to the media and to the “public opinion leaders” as it’s expressed in here. I’m going to say it one more time: “Partnerships B.C. will counter these assertions by ensuring these projects are successful in achieving and demonstrating” — demonstrating, I say — “value for money in managing processes that are competitive” — that’s very important up in the Yukon for many businesses — “fair and transparent and being open and accessible to stakeholders, including public opinion leaders and the media.”

If the minister could agree with this and firmly believes in that and that it will be part of the policy and the actions of this department and these projects, I think we would be able to move much further along in dealing with our differences of opinion with respect to P3s.


Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   It’s an interesting statement from that Web site and, again, this is why we are working with this group. I think they have the right idea, and we’re very pleased at their approach to that. So this is why we’ve aligned ourselves with them.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, the minister stood on his feet and said he doesn’t know where the numbers come from that I use. January 13, 2004, there was a final report given to the Government of Yukon that they did not release in the stack of documents given to the opposition. It was obtained through the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. In that document, page 6, estimated cost of the bridge, total cost, $43,830,000 — that’s as close to $44 million as it gets. That’s where the numbers come from. They come from the government’s own documents — documents that they did not share. Although their letter stated they were sharing all the documentation on the bridge, they did not share this final report when it was asked for. They did not give it to the opposition, although these are all the documents on the bridge. No, they weren’t. This is the final report given by the government — a final report that says, do not use P3s, and it says the bridge will cost $44 million of taxpayers’ money. It’s no wonder the leader of the official opposition has asked if the government will at least follow Partnerships B.C. and make all the information available to the public, including the cost of the bridge.

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Again, the request for proposals will give out most of the information that the members opposite want. When those numbers come in, we will have the facts of what the contracts could potentially read. Until then, again, I’ve seen everywhere from $22 million to $65 million, and much of that in speculation in the House. I don’t deal in speculation. We have to deal in fact.


Mr. Hardy:   I have one last question in this regard: will the minister make available all interested proponents, companies or organizations that will be applying for a qualification? Will he make that information available immediately?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   The procurement of the actual documents and such are being handled by Highways and Public Works, and I can’t really speak for that department.

Chair:   Is there any further general debate?

Hearing none, we will proceed with line-by-line.

Mr. Hardy:   I would ask the House to give unanimous consent to deem all lines in Vote 07, Department of Economic Development, cleared or carried, as required.

Unanimous consent re deeming all lines in Vote 7, Department of Economic Development, cleared or carried

Chair:   Mr. Hardy has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 7, Department of Economic Development, 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 underexpenditure of $435,000 cleared

On Capital Expenditures

Capital Expenditures in the amount of $1,194,000 agreed to

Department of Economic Development agreed to

Chair:   That concludes the Department of Economic Development.

I understand that the Department of Justice is next.

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Chair:   The Chair seeks some direction as to —

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, the government House leader has advised that we are moving into the Department of Environment next. May I suggest respectfully that, given that it’s 4:00 p.m., perhaps we could have our recess now and allow the Department of Environment officials to arrive?

Chair:   We could take a recess now. Would members like 15 minutes or 10 minutes?

Some Hon. Members:   (Inaudible)

Chair:   We will recess for 10 minutes.





Chair:   Order please. Committee of the Whole will now come to order. The matter before the Committee is Bill No. 12, Second Appropriation Act, 2004-05. We will continue with Vote 52, Department of Environment.


Department of Environment

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The Department of Environment supplementary budget adds $204,000 to the department’s O&M budget; $142,000 of that is recoverable. The capital requests total $1.543 million with additional recoveries of $45,000. The largest single item is a capital revote of $1.708 million for the purchase of the Yukon Wildlife Preserve. Under the terms of the acquisition agreement, the closing date for the transaction was stated on or before April 1, 2004, and the final closing date for the purchase ended up being April 1, which brought the funding forward into this fiscal period, and that carried the actual payment into the current fiscal year-end, which required this revote.

Mrs. Peter:   It gives me great pleasure once again to speak to the supplementary budget and the Department of Environment. This department is one of the most important departments and many people in the Yukon are very concerned about environmental issues in our territory. I’ve brought many of the issues forward in Question Period and will be addressing some of those issues again here in this department. With the many challenges that we’ve been facing here in the north in regard to climate change, we’ve heard some of the information about that, and it has been packed up by scientific information now that the announcement was made in Washington a couple of weeks ago. Of course, with the plight of the Porcupine caribou herd, I’ve asked many questions in this House in that regard in the last few months, especially given the election in the United States in November.


The aggressive support in marketing that this Yukon Party government has placed on resource development — and it seems like some people find that funny, but given the state of our environment and the lack of information that is coming forward by this government, I don’t see anything funny about it.

As I was saying, the aggressive support in marketing that this Yukon Party government places on resource development — again, we’ve heard from many Yukon people that that’s a real concern out there. More than ever, we need this Minister of Environment to show some leadership in this area and allow the Yukon people some dialogue with this department to bring forward information that is so badly needed, and especially in the area of the reports that were supposed to be tabled by the end of this session. There is no sign of any reports coming forward.

The Yukon River Intertribal Watershed Council — it involves 54 indigenous governments, both from Canada and the United States, mostly in Alaska — earlier this year supported a Resolution BD04-105, indicating that the City of Dawson’s secondary sewage treatment facility be given top priority. Can the minister give us the most recent and updated information of any progress to this serious situation that is happening in Dawson?


Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Chair, with respect to the opening remarks from the member opposite, if we fundamentally disagree that any one department has a priority position over any of the other government departments, we can’t subscribe to that position. All government departments are created for specific purposes, and they are all of importance. There are degrees of importance, yes, but they are all very important.

With respect to the issue surrounding secondary sewage in the municipality of Dawson, as the member knows full well, Yukon has committed to reporting to the Yukon River Intertribal Watershed Council on a quarterly basis and has done so. The last report was sent to the tribal council in late November, I believe — on the due date. It reported on the progress that has been achieved to date in examining the issue and identifying what steps the government has taken and what steps the Government of Yukon has taken. As the member knows full well, Dawson City has a trustee in place. Under the previous Liberal administration, the capital funding agreement identified $4 million plus — I can’t recall the exact amount — for the design and construction of a sewage treatment plant.

I’m given to understand that money has been expended on other initiatives and there is no secondary sewage treatment plant, as envisioned, in place, other than the efficient straining method that is currently employed.


I know that the lead department in this area is Community Services, so that’s probably a question regarding what stage we’re at as a government working to better waste-water discharge. The Community Services people could best respond. When we get back into Community Services, I would encourage the member opposite to request that information of that minister. But as it currently stands, extensions have been sought and granted in the action. They have been sought in conjunction with the Crown with the concurrence of the various regulatory bodies that are all in step with what Yukon is doing in this regard. What I wish to make abundantly clear is that there’s no issue of pollution currently. In some of the summer months, the LC50 test is exceeded, but for virtually all the year — and I believe it’s about eight or nine months of the year — the LC50 test is passed with respect to sewage discharge from the municipality of Dawson.

There have been a couple of other mediating steps taken. There was a dumping station that was right adjacent to the screening plant. That has been closed. Sewage eduction from the outlying areas now goes to a separate area that YTG operates, so the load on the system has been considerably reduced as a consequence of this initiative by Yukon.


Further to that, there has been a bleeder program put into place for water conservation that is now having a positive effect on the volumes of water that the city is currently using. So with that said, the government is firmly committed to addressing the issue of secondary sewage and sewage treatment facility in the community of Dawson that will stand the tests that are appropriately designed for this area. The member can be assured that there is no downstream contamination currently affecting those residing downstream. In fact, it’s very, very interesting, given the fecal coliform count, and samples are taken upstream and downstream from Dawson, and at many, many times the upstream fecal coliform count is higher than downstream of Dawson, so that should say something to the member opposite.

Mrs. Peter:   I thank the minister for that information. It helps me to understand the progress that has been made in that area. The reason I wanted updated information is because of the concern regarding contamination of the water. I am really surprised to hear that the tests show otherwise.

Another very serious concern that we have is for the fish in the rivers, especially the fish that travel from the Yukon River, down into Alaska and into the communities. How does that situation affect the livelihood of the fish in those waters?


If the minister has any information in that area, I’d like to hear it.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The only information I have is that the salmon returns this year were extremely high — higher than anticipated.

Mrs. Peter:   Does the minister know of any test that is being done on the fish in the Yukon River at Dawson?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   This area would be best explored with officials from the federal Department of Fisheries, which has jurisdiction in this area.

Mrs. Peter:   Once again, we’re going to get into a game of pointing the finger at the federal officials. I believe this department should be concerned enough about the situation in Dawson City, with the raw sewage flowing into the river, and the seriousness of how it affects the drinking water and the fish that live downstream in that river.

People have access to the water system, and people consume fish in that area and down the river from Dawson. Is there any information within the Department of Environment that can inform people that this situation is not endangering the fish in that area or the water system?


Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I am aware that Dawson does have a requirement under the terms of its water licence for monitoring the discharge. To make the statement that “raw sewage is being dumped into the river” is incorrect. The issue surrounding the ongoing monitoring is that tests are done in the river. As to the discharge pipe, the flume is traced and, as I indicated earlier, Mr. Chair, tests are conducted in the river. One of the tests that is done is the fecal coliform test. As I indicated to the member opposite, the tests in the past have clearly identified that, at certain times of the year, upstream of Dawson — upstream — the fecal coliform counts are higher than downstream. That would suggest that there are a number of issues at work with water flows that are contributing to this. But the bottom line is that the government is addressing the issue, and we are moving forward. The lead in this area is Community Services.

Mrs. Peter:   I can let the minister know that if we don’t have forthcoming information, we can only assume, and if he’s not very clear in his answers, then I’m going to assume that raw sewage is going into the Yukon River at Dawson. That’s why we are here — to seek clarification through our questions.


It sounds like the situation with the sewage — they’re making progress in that area, given the plans that they have for the bridge crossing the river, and they’re hoping that Dawson would be appointed a heritage designation. I believe this kind of serious situation with the sewage issue has to be addressed in order for them to have a place where they can be proud to have such a designation.

Moving on, Mr. Chair, on November 2, a letter was sent to the Minister of Environment from the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board.  The issues that this letter addresses are in the area of trapping. The Yukon government has an obligation to make changes to the Wildlife Act so that progress can be made in their discussions with renewable resource councils.

Can the minister give us an update on any progress that has been made to meet these obligations?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Chair, our government is meeting all obligations under the Umbrella Final Agreement and the final agreements.

Mrs. Peter:   Mr. Chair, that answer from the minister doesn’t tell me anything. I requested an updated progress report that he may have. Maybe he sent a letter to the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board or to the renewable resource council that is looking to make progress on these issues in regard to trapping. Has the minister done that?


 If there is a letter available, would he table that so that we can have that information?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I did meet with the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board this week, and we dealt with a number of issues that were of their choosing and we had a very positive meeting.

Mrs. Peter:   I’m glad the minister had a meeting with the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board, but that still doesn’t tell me anything about any progress that has been made in regard to the trapping issue. This is a very serious concern for many of the First Nations in our communities.

The renewable resource councils would like to make progress in this area and they’re waiting on the government to make changes to the Wildlife Act. I’m asking the minister if he would be forthcoming with any information of progress in this area.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I don’t know where the member opposite is heading with the line of questioning that is coming forward. I can confirm that it is fully the intentions of the Government of Yukon to move forward with amendments to the Wildlife Act and dovetail the final agreements into these changes in the Yukon Wildlife Act.

In a meeting that I had not too long ago with Chief Linklater, I provided Chief Linklater with my assurances that those changes would be made.


Mrs. Peter:   The minister is not answering my question. I am requesting from this minister any dialogue or correspondence that he had with the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board with respect to the trapping issue. Did he answer the letter they sent to him on November 2, requesting that some progress be made to meet these obligations?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Could the member be specific as to what area of the trapping and what area the member opposite has concerns about?

Mrs. Peter:   I can provide a copy of that letter to the minister at our next sitting day. That would be Monday. I don’t have a copy of that letter. Maybe he can ask his officials if they have a copy of that letter. It was addressed to the minister.

We’ll leave that issue for now, and we’ll move on.

The minister recently announced the establishment of Tombstone Park. Has the minister addressed any concerns that the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation government had with respect to no consultation and some of the other concerns they had with the establishment?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The area of the establishment of the park is before the courts. I can assure the member opposite that Yukon is of the opinion that we have abided by the terms of the final agreement. We have established Tombstone Park, and we are working on the management plan. We hope to see this move forward in due course.

But going back to the last series of questions, I am concerned — the member opposite is referring to a letter. There isn’t a copy of the letter in the member’s hands dealing with the issue, and the conversation and questions are couched in very, very general terms, i.e. “trapping”. So if we could go back and address that area, the issue of me meeting with the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board — that took place this week. I would be of the opinion — but the member opposite might take a different view — that we had a positive meeting. We discussed a number of issues. There was a round-table discussion — in more of a question-and-answer format — about where we were at on a number of issues.

I look forward to continuing to develop and maintain a very strong and positive working relationship with the capable people on this board.


I’m sure it will be for the betterment of all Yukon, Mr. Chair. This board is an Umbrella Final Agreement mandated board, and it has been in place for a number of years. The board has a lot of responsibilities, as does the Department of Environment. I am hoping to maintain a very high level of cooperation with this board, and I look forward to working with the board members and dealing with the issues in a forthright manner to address the concerns that will, I am sure, arise from time to time in the area of the responsibilities that we jointly have.

Mrs. Peter:   It’s very interesting that we should be talking about boards. And we know the issue that I have been bringing to this minister’s attention in regard to an appointment that was recommended by the federal government, and the minister’s refusal to appoint a person who has been recommended to this very board that we’re talking about — the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board.

Mr. Chair, I have a copy of the letter here, and I will read it for the minister’s information. It is addressed to this minister, and it’s dated, like I said, on November 2, and it was cc’d to Grand Chief Ed Schultz, all Yukon First Nations, all Yukon renewable resource councils, the regional director of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, the Implementation Review Committee and all Yukon MLAs. And it says, “Attention: Minister Jenkins”.


“Re: Umbrella Final Agreement Section

“At the recent Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board meeting (October 5-7, 2004), trapping issues were discussed. According to implementation documents, the Yukon government has the following obligation:

‘The minister shall recommend to the Yukon Legislative Assembly as amendment to the Wildlife Act, RSY 1986, c178 to enable the council to establish bylaws under the Wildlife Act, … pursuant to’

“Chapter 16 of the Umbrella Final Agreement describes the mandate and authority of the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board and the renewable resource councils. In discussing these powers and the ability of the renewable resource councils to manage furbearers, the UFA states that councils,

‘May establish bylaws under the Wildlife Act, RSY 1986, c178, in accordance with 16.11.0, for the management of furbearers;’

“We refer you to a letter sent to you after the renewable resource council annual general meeting last year (dated October 23, 2003), wherein the renewable resource councils described their need to make bylaws for the management of furbearers, and your responsibility to recommend the changes to the Wildlife Act described above in order to enable the renewable resource councils to effectively fulfill their roles as outlined in the UFA.


“The letter concluded

‘Therefore, all Yukon RRCs are requesting a clear indication of when this commitment under the land claims agreement will be addressed. We ask that your response include timelines and a description of the process that will be followed to meet the Yukon government’s obligations.’

“The Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board is unaware of any progress toward meeting this obligation on behalf of the Yukon government. The board requests an update on progress toward meeting this important obligation.

“We look forward to your timely response.”

It was signed by the chair of the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board.

So, again, I will ask the minister if there has been any progress made to meet this obligation that they were requesting.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The simple answer is yes.

Mrs. Peter:   So I take it that the minister has responded to this letter dated November 2. If he has, will the minister table that letter of response?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I can assure the member opposite that this government will conform to self-government agreements and to the Umbrella Final Agreement to the fullest. There are a number of issues we are working through. I can confirm for the member opposite that the Wildlife Act will see amendments coming forward to address the consistency of the Wildlife Act and the dovetailing of that legislation into the self-government agreements.

So, there is a lot of work in progress, and we will continue the good work that is underway today for all Yukoners.


Mrs. Peter:   Mr. Chair, this Yukon Party government campaigned and constantly committed in this House to work with First Nation governments and First Nation organizations, and they signed countless memoranda of understanding and agreements to fulfill these mandates; yet we constantly see letters like this that obligate this government to live up to the Umbrella Final Agreement.

The minister stands on his feet and says they are doing a lot of work in this area. What kind of work? What is taking place? Can he be more detailed in his information? He had a meeting last week. They must have talked about countless issues that they’re facing. On the floor of this House, Mr. Chair, it is our responsibility in the official opposition to seek information from this government. And this is what we’re faced with constantly.

I believe we would make more progress in all areas if this government would be forthcoming with information instead of being general and saying yes or no. Has the minister responded to this letter, dated November 2? Today is December 9, I believe. That’s well over a month ago and this issue, as this letter stated, has been outstanding since 2003.


And the minister calls this progress? Again, I will ask the minister if he has responded to this letter, or did he address this issue with the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board at his meeting with them last week?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Chair, we didn’t have an agenda for the meeting that I had with the Fish and Wildlife Management Board, but that wasn’t a topic that was brought forward for discussion. As I indicated earlier to the member opposite, this is a qualified board that, I am sure, would have brought forward any issue. It was a completely open dialogue round table and questions were varied and wide, but all specific to the operation of the board itself.

So I don’t know where the member opposite is heading. We’re doing our level best as a government, and we will conform fully to the Umbrella Final Agreement and its implementation plan and to the self-government agreements. To that end, Mr. Chair, I clearly indicated to the member opposite that our government is going to be bringing forth amendments to the Wildlife Act in order to dovetail final agreements into this piece of Yukon legislation. This will, I am sure, fulfill our obligations under part of the Umbrella Final Agreement. Currently, there is an obligation, and that obligation will be met.


Mrs. Peter:   I thank the minister for that answer. When will this obligation be met? Is there a deadline? Would it be in the spring sitting or the fall of next year?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   That’s currently under discussion and I can’t give a definitive answer on whether it will be the spring or fall of next year.

Mrs. Peter:   Thank you. Moving on, we were talking about the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board. In the last couple of days, I’ve asked this minister in Question Period about the appointment to the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board and his refusal to appoint the person recommended by the Government of Canada. The minister committed to tabling a letter with respect to his correspondence with the federal minister. Would the Minister of Environment table those letters before this House adjourns on December 14?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I tabled today the letter from me to the federal Minister of Fisheries, the Hon. Geoff Regan.

Mrs. Peter:   I believe we requested correspondence that the minister had sent to this minister, and we requested a copy of any other correspondence that had taken place.


Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   That’s the only piece of correspondence on this file that I personally have sent out.

Mrs. Peter:   Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Moving on, would the minister recommit to tabling the 2002 report on the state of the environment by December 14? I had made this request earlier — I believe it was last week — and he had committed to tabling a report, although we still haven’t seen it.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I committed to tabling it. Hopefully it will be here next week, subject to where it’s at in the printing process. I’m not aware — the only copy that I have to date is a draft copy of it, but I’m hopeful that we can bring it forward before the close of this sitting.

Mrs. Peter:   I’ll take the minister’s word for it and hopefully we will get that information before the House adjourns on Tuesday.

Moving on, what does the minister see as the main principles of the Yukon conservation strategy?


Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Chair, I don’t have the exact details. I know in general terms the roles and responsibilities and what is required and what is asked of the various issues, but I don’t want to put any information on the record that is not 110-percent accurate. I will send the member over a written response as to how this issue functions within Yukon, Mr. Chair.

Mrs. Peter:   I do have a copy of the Yukon conservation strategy. I was looking for more of an input from this minister. However, maybe he can answer this next question: how is the government implementing the principles, if he has the general terms or general information around the strategy? How is the government implementing the principles of the Yukon conservation strategy?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   It’s part of the ongoing work of the department. It is very detailed, very specific and very general, all at the same time.

Mrs. Peter:   That’s kind of funny, because, yes, it is very detailed — I’m going to ask the minister again: how is the government implementing this strategy? The minister has his official with him and should have that information. How are they implementing the strategy today — the Yukon Party?


Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   That’s like asking me to recite any novel. It’s very, very broad; yet at the same time, there are areas that are very specific. It’s the ongoing operation of the entire department. Is there a specific area that the member opposite would like to have a response to? The departmental objectives are set out at the very beginning: “To ensure that the renewable resources and the environment of the Yukon are managed and used in accordance with government policy by: maintaining and enhancing the quality of the Yukon’s environment for present and future generations through ecosystem-based management, conservation of resources and protection and maintenance of biodiversity; implementing the principles of the Yukon conservation strategy; ensuring that Yukon people have the opportunity to be involved in the development and review of departmental programs, policies, legislation and regulations through open and effective communication and processes; managing renewable resources in a manner that promotes integration with other sectors such as economic development, so that optimum benefits can be delivered for all Yukon people; participating in national and international measures designed to enhance environmental quality and encourage sustainable use of renewable resources; integrating, implementing and managing additional authorities and responsibilities in water resource and environmental management as devolved from the Government of Canada, that are consistent with the Government of  Yukon’s policy and constitutional objectives; and undertaking resource management activities that meet the Government of Yukon’s obligations and respect the rights of aboriginal people and relationships established through land claims and self-government agreements.”

So, as I said at the outset, the overall view of the department is certainly encompassing, and it’s very, very hard to define how we’re doing in general terms or in specific terms. Which specific area does the member wish a briefing on?


Mrs. Peter:   I appreciate that information from the minister; however, from the information that he just gave I would like the minister to give us a few examples of exactly what the department is doing in sustainable development, for example.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   If the member opposite wants to refer to the caribou recovery programs that are currently underway, those are a very good example on one front alone.

Mrs. Peter:   Mr. Chair, does the minister have a few other examples that he could cite, because there are people in the Yukon who are interested to hear other examples from this minister?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   If she wants, Mr. Chair, we can look at some of the recycling programs. The recent recycling program is electronic waste recycling. That’s only a recent example. There is a whole series of initiatives across the board. As I said earlier, they are very, very broad and all-encompassing. Many, many of them are very specific.

Mrs. Peter:   I’ll move on to my next question. The Environment Act mandates a revision of the Yukon conservation strategy every three years. What is the status of the current revision of this strategy?


Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The capacity of the department is being directed toward amendments to the Wildlife Act and to the species at risk initiative and dovetailing both of these and bringing them forward. At the same time, it’s an area that is probably not receiving all the attention that it should, but it is work in progress. We are moving forward on quite a number of fronts; this is just one.

Mrs. Peter:   When does the minister see this report being completed, and when should the public expect to see this information made available?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I don’t know the timeline surrounding this initiative at all.

Mrs. Peter:   It seems that there are several reports from this department that are behind schedule. We’ve asked the minister in the last few weeks for a couple of the reports that have been a year behind schedule. Is the minister saying that this department is unable to meet many of the deadlines that the reports were supposed to be made available because they’re addressing other important issues?


Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   All issues are important. Just because the member opposite doesn’t have a report in her hand, it doesn’t mean that that report is not being worked on, is underway, or in a draft form, or not in a final form yet, or whatever the situation currently is.

We will endeavour to provide the reporting documents at our earliest convenience.

Mrs. Peter:   There’s no need for the minister to start getting personal. I am not requesting that report to be in my hand this minute. I am asking the minister about any timelines that he might foresee for any of the reports. I am asking on behalf of people in the territory who are looking forward to some of these reports that help them address some of the issues they need to address. However, I guess what the minister is saying is that we’ll get the reports whenever they’re available and whenever that will be will take time.

The Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment is mandated to conduct an annual review of the government’s performance in implementing this strategy. Have they been conducting any of those reviews?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I’ve just received the annual report from the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment, and I will be tabling that in the course of business.


Mrs. Peter:   When is the minister going to table the report? I’m sorry, I missed that.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Chair, it will be tabled during the course of business. I don’t know if I’ll be able to get it to the member opposite this sitting, but it will be definitely in the sitting next spring at the latest. A number of reports are generated from various groups that are in the course of business tabled in the House, and we will be conforming to past practices.

Mrs. Peter:   Can I request that the minister forward the information to my office if it becomes available between now and the spring session?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Yes.

Mrs. Peter:   I have asked the minister on a few occasions in Question Period where this government stands in regard to the Kyoto Protocol. Canada has signed on to the Kyoto Protocol, and it would be really encouraging to see a government within Canada take leadership in this area. We have heard the information come from many areas — whether it be traditional knowledge or scientific reports — that tell us that climate change is seriously affecting the north and its people. I would like to hear from the minister if the Yukon has any plans in the near future to address this very serious issue.


Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The Department of Environment is the monitoring and reporting agency. The implementation agency is Energy, Mines and Resources. Canada is a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, and our government’s responsibilities will be met.

 Mrs. Peter:   There have been many discussions regarding climate change throughout the territory, and many of our citizens are very concerned about this. It doesn’t only affect our land and animals; in the long run it will affect the way our traditional lifestyle is going. The information that is coming forward from scientists and traditional knowledge has to be taken seriously. I know that the government is putting financial resources into collecting some of this data. Some of the meetings have been held in the community of Old Crow, and we were grateful for that; however, I believe there’s more that needs to be done. I know there are people out there who are willing to work with this government in this area. Would the minister see fit to hold maybe a conference or an open forum on climate change and listen to the people not only from Whitehorse but from the whole of the territory on ideas that they may have to address this issue in the Yukon?


Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   As I indicated to the member earlier, Canada is a signatory to the Kyoto agreement. The Department of Environment is basically a monitoring agency. The implementation agency is Energy, Mines and Resources. That said, the issue of a conference — we’ll take the question under advisement.

Mrs. Peter:   I’m grateful that the minister is going to take that question under advisement. With respect to the money that is spent within the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources in support of development in the north, I think it far outweighs what we’re spending in this department with respect to the various issues of concern to the people in the territory. It’s something that the Government of Yukon also needs to take under advisement.

The Porcupine caribou issue has always been a concern of the people of Old Crow and Yukoners in general, and especially in the last couple of months, given the election in the United States. I brought forward many questions in the Legislature to the Premier in that regard. More than ever before, this issue is a priority for the people of Old Crow.


Some people who do not understand what this means to us may make light of it, but if you look back in history to what happened to other First Nation people in Canada and throughout the United States with the buffalo, this is exactly what is going to happen to the people of the Gwich’in Nation. If oil and gas development is allowed in the area where the caribou give birth to their young, with all the activity that is going to happen in that area, it will destroy the animals — and the people of the Gwich’in Nation depend solely on the caribou for sustenance.

I am sure with the many stories that have been told in this Legislature, not only by me but by the many MLAs before me, Mr. Deputy Chair, today more than ever before we need support from this government. We need to count on this government to be there. If there were ever to be a partnership that this government committed to, it would be now, because the very lives of my people depend on what is going to happen in Alaska.


That’s our neighbour. The top priority for the delegation in Alaska is to make money and to make money at any cost, even if it’s to destroy a people. They will not think twice about that. We know what we’re dealing with. This issue has been out there for some 20 years now, and we’ve always managed to win, with the help of the grassroots people in the United States, sometimes by only one or two votes. The elders of our community ask us to keep going. With the election, with the results of this last election, this issue is top priority for Vuntut Gwitchin.

We’re grateful for the financial support we’ve gotten from this government through the community development fund application that was put forward but, once again, our lives will be impacted and affected by any decisions made by governments outside our country. Chief Linklater is just on his way back from Ottawa and he was successful in getting support at the federal level.


That’s great, but we will continue to need financial support in this area. If we call upon the Premier or the Minister of Environment to help us, whether it be for travel to Ottawa on our behalf, or travel to Washington, D.C. on our behalf, then our hope is that will happen. We take them at their word when they made the commitment during the election of wanting to be partners with First Nation people, that they want to make government-to-government relationships work. We, as First Nation people, don’t take that very lightly.

In closing, I would just like to say that there are many concerns I have heard from Yukoners in the last month and a half or so we’ve been here. They cover a wide range. I have brought those concerns forward on behalf of those Yukoners; however, this Yukon Party government does not seem to take the environmental concerns very seriously.


We can only look at the expenditures in this department to see that.

And with that, those are my comments, and I believe my colleague has questions of the minister.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Chair, I’d like to thank the member opposite for her words. They’re specific to the traditional ways of the First Nations, and specifically the First Nation that the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin represents. Many of those words are duly noted and respected. I do have some concerns with the way the member opposite expressed that our government does not take issue and that we don’t take environmental concerns seriously. That’s incorrect, Mr. Chair. We do. We do as a government, we do as individuals, and we are moving forward on a number of fronts. So I would like the record corrected in that regard.

With respect to the Porcupine caribou herd and the protection of its critical habitat area, the message has been heard. Chief Linklater asked to be the spokesperson and that Vuntut Gwitchin be the lead on that. The message that Chief Linklater delivered to our Premier, and indeed to the Prime Minister of Canada, has been heard. At a recent meeting that our Premier had with the President of the United States, the issue of the protection of the critical habitat area was discussed. Mr. Chair, I’m further advised through the Premier’s office that the Prime Minister of Canada raised the same issue with President Bush. So, the message from the Vuntut Gwitchin has been heard at the highest level in the Yukon and relayed to President Bush. It has been heard at the highest level in Canada and has been relayed to President Bush.


Mr. Chair, if that does not demonstrate our sincere respect for traditional ways and the seriousness with which we take heed of environmental concerns, I do not know what would satisfy the member opposite. As a government, this Yukon Party government has gone to the highest level in the United States of America with the issue brought forward with respect to the protection of the critical habitat area.

In the past, this Legislature has dealt with two motions on this very important issue and both of them passed unanimously, from my recollection. The position of this Yukon Party government has not changed. We are moving forward on all fronts, but please remember that the lead in this area, at the request of the Chief of the Vuntut Gwitchin, is Chief Linklater. We will assist in any way we can, and we have clearly demonstrated that assistance.


Ms. Duncan:   I just have a few questions for the Minister of Environment regarding the supplementary budget.

On November 23, in response to a question from the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin, the Minister of Environment had this to say — it was on November 23, from the Blues: “We’ve got a whole series of areas that are under examination to include as a special protected area.” So he used the plural and the singular in the same sentence.

Would the minister provide detailed information on this particular initiative? Where? Is there a list? Could we have a letter or some information from the minister?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The ones that are currently at the forefront for examination and consideration are the two in the Na Cho Nyäk Dun traditional territory: Devil’s Elbow, and the Stewart HPA. Those are the two that are right at the forefront for consideration.

I don’t have a complete listing of all the other areas that are being examined, but there are a number of others.

Ms. Duncan:   Could the minister send over a list of the other areas that are under examination?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Yes.

Ms. Duncan:   The previous minister to this one had talked about amendments to the Wildlife Act, but that initiative seems to have petered out. Does the minister have an update for us?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I’m sure that’s an unintentional pun — but the issue of the Wildlife Act will be dealt with. It is presently being worked on, and our government hopefully will be bringing this forward next year. The spring session is normally a budget session and the fall session is normally a legislative session, so we’ll endeavour to bring it forward.

We have a commitment to the First Nations that the final agreements will be dovetailed via amendments to the Wildlife Act and with the species at risk will also be amendments to the Wildlife Act.


Ms. Duncan:   Sorry, Mr. Chair, there was quite an animated background conversation behind the minister. I’m not sure I caught all the information, but I did note he made reference to the species at risk legislation. Could the minister give us an update on that?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The changes in the Wildlife Act will bring us in compliance with the federal species at risk legislation.

Ms. Duncan:   And that is anticipated for the fall 2005 sitting; is that what I heard the minister say?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   It will be done in conjunction with the Wildlife Act. We’re moving forward. The likelihood of it occurring in the spring — it may, but the likelihood of it occurring in the fall is probably much better.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, there was quite a high profile case surrounding a particular outfitting concession that was before the courts in the fall of 2002, and I’m referring to Kusawa Outfitters. There has been nothing filed; there has been nothing in the court documents regarding that matter. Has there been any action, or has there been any notification to the Department of Environment? Has this issue been dealt with, and how?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Chair, it’s presently before the courts, and I can’t comment.


 Ms. Duncan:   It’s still before the courts then. There has been nothing done by the Government of Yukon?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   There has been a recent action filed by the owner of this organization.

Ms. Duncan:   I will just go back to the Wildlife Act and the whole issue around reindeer and the reindeer farm. I understand the history, reindeer, the Yukon Act, devolution and all of that; however, the fact is that there was a letter this summer, signed by the Premier, that talked about negotiations. Now there is nothing happening. There is an issue of public policy, an issue of fairness, and I see the Member for Lake Laberge providing the minister with advice.

Would the Minister of Environment, who has responsibility for this area, please advise the House what is going to happen to the reindeer farm?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   This is a privately owned initiative, and the question should best be directed to the owners of that farm.

Ms. Duncan:   I fully understand that; however, it was also initiated with government funding — part of an economic development policy, it seems to me, going back in history. There was a commitment made by the Premier for negotiations. They have ended in disarray — is the best way to describe it. And we have an issue where there are reindeer and a couple, who are long-standing Yukoners, and the public and many of us in the Legislature see an unfairness in the way they have been treated and an unfairness in the public policy. A commitment was made by the Premier to resolve it, and now it’s sitting in limbo.

Does the minister have any idea if the government intends to live up to the Premier’s commitment and try to negotiate some kind of a settlement with these individuals?


Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Chair, this sad issue probably would not have arisen had there been a thorough examination of the Yukon Act by the member opposite when her government was in place. But that said, we’re having to clean up a number of areas, and that’s but one of them. We endeavoured as a government, from the highest level in our government, to come to an arrangement with the owners of this business, and we couldn’t ultimately agree on terms for resolving the issue, and they broke down, but it shows a very concerted effort on our part to seek a resolution of any issue that Yukoners may have and the extent that we will go to. We are subsequently criticized by the leader of the third party for undertaking a positive initiative. Sometimes the initiatives are not realized as all parties have envisioned it. It’s sad, but this is a stand-alone business that, yes, as the member opposite pointed out, was in part started by some government grants. But that said, it is still subject to the fluctuations of the marketplace, and the market value of the commodity that these farmers are raising has dropped.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, the facts of the matter are that there was government involvement in the very beginning to start this initiative. Yes, it is private sector, but the government was involved in getting started. This is a historical reindeer herd. Yes, there was an omission in the Yukon Act. Parliamentary committees, senate committees, Yukon officials from top to bottom, viewed that act for years — people are not perfect. However, the fact is the Premier gave his word, and now we have no resolution, and there has to be. In all fairness, there has to be some kind of resolution, and it’s incumbent upon the government and the Premier who gave his word that he would work to reach a resolution; it’s incumbent to keep trying until it’s done, and it’s not done.


The Member for Lake Laberge can point his finger and say it’s my fault all he wants; the fact is the Premier is the one who gave his word that they would reach a resolution, and it hasn’t happened; and that’s not fair. It’s incumbent upon governments to be fair and to go the extra mile.

On November 1, the Premier said that the Department of Environment is about to begin a major environmental initiative to clean up the Marwell tar pits. Exactly what is that initiative and when will it begin?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   We’re currently negotiating funding from Canada for this initiative.

Ms. Duncan:   I would just like to ask the minister to confirm the financial situation at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve. The Government of Yukon had projected revenues of $326,000 and, in fact, gained revenues of $30,000. Is that correct?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I don’t know the projected revenues and the actual revenues, and I will have to obtain those kinds of details. I have before the House today the supplementary that shows the revote for the acquisition and the revenues that are anticipated, and I would be quite prepared to debate them in line-by-line.

Ms. Duncan:   I was just asking in general debate why the Department of Environment was $296,000 off in their projected revenues.

Chair:   We will now proceed with line-by-line.

Ms. Duncan:   I would seek the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 52 cleared or carried, as required.


Unanimous consent re deeming all lines in Vote 52, Department of Environment, cleared or carried

Chair:   Ms. Duncan has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 52, Department of Environment, 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 in the amount of $204,000 agreed to

On Capital Expenditures

Capital Expenditures in the amount of $1,543,000 agreed to

Department of Environment agreed to

Chair:   This concludes Vote 52, Department of Environment.

The Chair requests some direction as to which department we are going to go to next.

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Chair:   I understand we’ll be moving on to Vote 8, Department of Justice.


Department of Justice

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I am pleased to speak to the 2004-05 supplementary budget for the Department of Justice. I would like to acknowledge all the hard work that the Premier and my fellow Cabinet ministers put into this supplementary budget. This budget shows how this government can adapt to the changing situations that our departments present to us after the regular budget is tabled.

The hard-working staff at the Department of Justice have been busy over the many months since we last sat in this House, working on preparing for the consultation on corrections. In addition to moving into their new offices on Lowe Street here in Whitehorse, the project team has begun to work on background materials for the consultation and has been preparing for the active part of the consultation.

I would also like to take this opportunity to explain to the public and the members opposite what this government has in mind for the consultation and why we as a government are taking the time to consult with Yukoners on corrections.


We are aware that the previous government had planned a facility and, to their credit, had consulted with Yukon elders. I would like to assure the elders that their contribution will be incorporated into the current process, and we highly value their hard work. However, Mr. Chair, this government will be doing a much broader consultation than the previous government, and that is why we put the building plans on hold. This government realizes that a correctional system must bring meaningful changes to people’s lives. For too long we have failed to see real changes in the behaviour of those of our citizens who get into trouble with the law.

Our recidivism rate is very high and, sadly, the Yukon correctional system has simply become a revolving door of repeat offenders. Mr. Chair, this has to stop. We need a system that focuses on healing, prevention and intervention. This is why I am so pleased that this supplementary budget features an additional $200,000 to support this important consultation and determine better ways to deliver correctional services.

The consultation on corrections will take place over the next year and a half and will look at all aspects of corrections in Yukon. It is our expectation that, out of this consultation, we will have a corrections model that will better serve our citizens well into the future. What will also happen is that we will have a building that will meet the needs of the correction system that the people of Yukon foresee. If this takes a little time and we have to put off relocating inmates and staff into a new building, then that is what will take place.


We must do this right for the sake of all our people.

Finally, an example of the first phase of this approach is a memorandum of understanding with the Kwanlin Dun First Nation to construct a new jail. This memorandum of understanding means that First Nations will be instrumental in building a facility that will bring new opportunity where there was once only a relationship of distrust, sorrow and suffering. I would say that what we have now is progress. While we work toward this new vision of corrections, it does mean that corrections staff and inmates will have to occupy the current Whitehorse Correctional Centre. But in the meantime, this government remains committed to ensuring that staff and inmates occupy a safe and healthy building.

Justice staff have been working with property management branch to bring the Whitehorse Correctional Centre up to standards acceptable to the fire marshal. As members of this House will remember, the fire marshal issued a report in December 2002 that made a number of safety recommendations that would allow for ongoing occupation of the building. I am now able to report to this House that work is currently underway on this project. This is confirmation that this government is committed to the safety of both the staff and inmates at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre.

This supplementary budget includes $912,000 to ensure that these renovations are completed, and another $20,000 to improve the air exchange system in the Whitehorse Correctional Centre administration trailer.


Mr. Chair, I am also very pleased to note that our government’s promise to establish a crisis line for our citizens has been fulfilled. Yukon callers to the VictimLINK crisis line now have professional counsellors available to them 24 hours a day in over 100 languages. They will also be directed to local services available in the community where they reside for follow-up.

As part of the agreement to extend the coverage of the VictimLINK crisis line from B.C., our government will be providing services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assaults in Atlin and Lower Post, B.C. The Government of British Columbia has agreed to a budget of $10,000 over a 12-month period to be paid to the Government of Yukon as these services are provided. As this House can see, Mr. Chair, this deal with British Columbia is an example of how governments can work together to collectively solve their problems, and I am proud to say that our government has pursued many intergovernmental deals that have brought benefits to Yukoners.

I am also pleased to announce that our government will be increasing funding by $83,000 for training initiatives for staff at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. 


As Education minister I am well aware of the need for all of us to continue to learn throughout our lifetime and especially in our professional lives. Ongoing training is one of the most important components to having safe and healthy conditions for both staff and inmates at our Correctional Centre. This government thoroughly appreciates the work that staff is doing and understands that working in a correctional environment is often stressful and sometimes dangerous. Adequately trained staff will be better equipped to deal with the challenges they face daily in the Correctional Centre.

Our government is also providing another $133,700 toward the ongoing operations of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre to cover increases in costs for food, supplies, increases in medical and psychiatric services and some new initiatives such as medical supplies related to making Whitehorse Correctional Centre a non-smoking facility.


 Finally, the Department of Justice’s supplementary budget also includes additional funding to other program areas important to Yukoners. For example, the Yukon Human Rights Commission will receive additional funding in the amount of $90,000 to reduce the backlog in cases and to cover increases in the costs of personal education projects, administrative costs and meeting and training costs for commissioners. I will go into greater detail on these initiatives and the rest of the supplementary budget for Justice in the line-by-line debate, but I feel this budget demonstrates our government’s commitment to supporting and improving justice services to Yukon and working with communities and First Nations to do so.

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I will be prepared to continue in debate with the members opposite.


Mr. Cardiff:   I thank the minister for his comments. I have a few questions in the short time that we have left that I’d like to start out with. Earlier in the sitting, I raised some questions about the Family Violence Prevention Act. A couple of years ago, there was a review of the Family Violence Prevention Act and the day I was asking the question, the then acting minister indicated that a review would be undertaken of the Family Violence Prevention Act. I was just wondering — I think there was going to be a public consultation. So could the minister tell me who the stakeholder committee would be that would be working on that review, and who would be on the review committee for the Family Violence Prevention Act?


Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I don’t have that information with me at this time, but I can confirm for the member opposite that this is definitely going to be up for review and a consultation process will be taking place. I can just imagine that a lot of the stakeholders will be the departments within Justice that work directly with domestic violence.

Mr. Cardiff:   What I’ll do is try to outline some of my questions for the minister, and maybe when we come back on Monday, he can get that information from his officials and bring it back on Monday. Or, if he wants, if he doesn’t have it with him on Monday, maybe we can get a legislative return.

In the executive summary of the review that was done, there is a list of proposed legislative reforms that were suggested — everything from changing the definition of firearms to some changes around emergency intervention orders. Much of it was really pretty simple legislative changes that were being recommended.


So the minister can get a copy of the executive summary of that report and review that. I’d like to know if all those changes that were recommended in the review two years ago would be included in the review and in the revisions to the act. Another thing I would like to know is what the current stats are on the use of the Family Violence Prevention Act, emergency intervention orders. There were a lot of stats included in the report that was done a couple of years ago, so I’d like the current up-to-date stats on the use of the Family Violence Prevention Act. Is there a workplan? What are the objectives of the review going to be? Also, I would like a list of the stakeholders who will be on the review committee for the Family Violence Prevention Act.


If the minister can endeavour to come back with some of that information, it would be much appreciated. I have a few other requests for the minister as well.

The minister was also talking about the correctional reform review that is currently ongoing. I’d like to know if the minister could also — I think it was announced who the co-chairs were going to be — endeavour to bring back who the stakeholder groups are that will be consulted on the correctional reform consultation. If there is a workplan for that, I would be interested in a copy of that, as well as an explanation, and what the department’s objectives are for correctional reform.


The minister has talked about the past use of the corrections system and the amount of recidivism and the need for doing reform, and that’s one of the reasons he gives for cancelling the building. I don’t think that the building has a lot to do. I honestly don’t believe that recidivism is caused by the poor quality of the — I don’t think they’re rushing to get back into that facility because it’s so nice, because we all know the deplorable state and condition that facility is in.


 I had the opportunity to do a walk-through in the Correctional Centre, and I’ve also had the opportunity to work in it as a construction worker, so I have some idea what the concerns are. But I think there definitely is a need to look at the programming that takes place there. I think that a lot of the programming — over the years that I have been following what has been happening there, when I was formerly involved with the Yukon College and the endeavours that they had there, I know that there have been improvements in the programming as well. But I think that there is a misconception out there that who we’re dealing with at the Correctional Centre are low-risk offenders.


I read with great interest the transcripts from a report earlier in November, a few weeks ago. The director of correctional services was speaking on one of the local radio stations, and she said: “We’re finding that the folks who wind up coming to us are younger. They’re more violent and there are way more drug issues involved than there have been in the past. What many people are quick to sort of turn their minds to in communities is working with low-risk offenders. We don’t find that we have many low-risk offenders.”


I’d like to leave that with the minister because I think that there are security issues with the building. I think there is an issue about inmate safety and worker safety.

Chair:   Order please. The time now being 6:00 p.m., the Chair shall report progress.


Speaker resumes the Chair



Speaker:   I will now call the House to order.

May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?

Chair’s report

Mr. Rouble:   Mr. Speaker, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 12, Second Appropriation Act, 2004-05, and has directed me to report progress on it.

Speaker:   You have heard the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?

Some Hon. Members:   Agreed.

Speaker:   I declare the report carried.

The time being 6:02 p.m., this House now stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. Monday.


The House adjourned at 6:02 p.m.





The following Sessional Paper was tabled December 9, 2004:



Yukon Energy Corporation 2003 Annual Report  (Lang)



The following document was filed December 9, 2004:



Fish and Wildlife Management Board, letter re appointment to (Jenkins) (dated November 29, 2004) from Peter Jenkins, Minister of Environment, Government of Yukon to Hon. Geoff Regan, Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Government of Canada