Whitehorse, Yukon

        Thursday, March 24, 2005 — 1:00 p.m.


Speaker:   I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.



In remembrance of RCMP members and Yellowknife firefighters

Speaker:   At this time, I would also ask all members to remain standing for a moment of silence in tribute to the four members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and two Yellowknife firefighters who recently lost their lives in the line of duty.

Moment of silence observed

Introduction of pages

Speaker:    First, it gives me great pleasure to announce the following students who will be serving the House as legislative pages for the 2005 spring sitting. They are Paul Banks, Kean Clalüna-Venasse, Scott Crawford, Noria Deacon, Brittany Pearson-Smith, Kieran Slobodin and Shaun Stinson from Vanier Catholic Secondary School, and Selina MacMillan from the Individual Learning Centre. Today, we have with us Paul Banks and Kieran Slobodin. I would ask all members to welcome them to the House at this time.


Withdrawal of motions

Speaker:   The Chair wishes to inform the House of changes that have been made to the Order Paper. The following motions have been removed from the Order Paper because they are outdated: Motion No. 76, standing in the name of the Member for Kluane; Motions No. 342 and 344, standing in the name of the leader of the official opposition; Motion No. 220, standing in the name of the Member for Pelly-Nisutlin; Motions No. 39, 131 and 372, standing in the name of the leader of the third party.

 Further, the following motion has been removed from the Order Paper because it relates to a bill that has passed the House and therefore is now irregular: Motion No. 139, standing in the name of the leader of the third party.



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



In recognition of International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Monday, March 21, was the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The origins of this day date back to a tragic event that happened in Sharpeville, South Africa, in 1960. Police opened fire and killed 70 young students who were peacefully demonstrating against the apartheid “pass laws”. The United Nations marked this tragedy by declaring March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Apartheid in South Africa and, more recently, the genocide in Rwanda are some of the most extreme and blatant forms of racism, but it’s too easy for us to look at other countries and shake our heads. It’s too easy for us to look to the past and point fingers. It’s much harder to take a good, long look at what’s happening in our own backyards.

The Yukon is a wonderful place to live, but discrimination does exist here, be it in the form of racial slurs and jokes in the lunchroom or unfair hiring practices in the boardroom. As long as this continues to happen, not everyone will have the same opportunity to succeed in life, not everyone will have the same chance to pursue their dreams. The population of the Yukon is diverse and therefore we need to continue to celebrate our cultural and ethnic diversity.


We need to see our diversity as a strength that can make our territory stronger. We need to see it as something that can make each and every one of us stronger. This government is committed to fighting racial discrimination, be it through working with our teachers and young people to promote cultural awareness in schools or building a workforce that reflects the Yukon’s population. There is more work to be done, and it can only be accomplished when each of us is inspired to take action. Dignity, equality, and peace for every citizen can only exist in a community that stamps out racism and embraces our difference.

And I might add, Mr. Speaker, that traditionally, our belief, through the eyes of our Creator, is that everyone is equal.

Thank you.


Mr. Hardy:   I rise on behalf of the official opposition today to spend a few minutes paying tribute to the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racism, which is observed each year on March 21. This year was the 39th annual commemoration.

One value most prized in Canada is our population’s diversity. Most of us, or our grandparents, came originally from many lands around the world. Many of us in the north are aboriginal. We pride ourselves on our ability to embrace our distinct differences and to promote racial harmony. Multiculturalism is even a government policy in this tolerant country of ours.


However, in too many cases, people are still suffering in Canada and the Yukon because of racism and discrimination. Racism is based in generalizations about people. We oversimplify an individual or a group by stereotyping them, or we prejudge someone based on a stereotype that we have created. Because of our stereotypes and prejudices, we discriminate against certain people, humiliating them or denying them their human rights. No one can truthfully say that he or she is totally without some thoughts or actions based on race.

We need only think of where poverty, unemployment, poor health and suicide are most prevalent in Canada — among our aboriginal people. These debilitating conditions are triple the average. Recent immigrants earn only about two-thirds of the annual wages of everyone else, and they are overrepresented in the minimum wage sector. The recent profiling of people of Arabic origin used as an excuse for security is also a disgrace to many Canadians.

There are laws against racism and discrimination, there are human rights commissions and cases before the courts, but we cannot think that that is all that has to be done. The best thing that we can do is personal. We can each foster respect and equality toward those with whom we work and with people we meet in our daily business. We must encourage others to do the same, even if it means embarrassment for them or us. We must not tolerate racial and ethnic slurs or jokes, intimidation and, least of all, physical and psychological violence toward anyone. Then we can truly say that we have had an effect on the scourge of racism.



Ms. Duncan:   I rise on behalf of the Liberal caucus to pay tribute to March 21, the internationally recognized Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. I take that to mean that our freedoms come with responsibility. In Canada, we are free to say we will not accept that racist joke, that sexist remark or that bullying behaviour. As individuals, we need to accept that our freedoms also give us the responsibility to take a stand and say, “No, we will not accept; we will not condone.”

This year’s theme for the internationally recognized Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was “Empowering our youth to fight racism”. We must help our youth by early intervention and education, recognize and understand that racism is wrong; bullying is wrong. We as adults must set an example for our youth.

I urge all Yukoners to take responsibility for our freedoms and take a stand against racism, sexism and bullying, and let us each and every day bring an end to racism in our society.

Thank you. Merci beaucoup. Mahsicho.

In recognition of the Canadian Red Cross

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I rise today to recognize the many people in the Yukon who have devoted their time, energy and money to the services of the Canadian Red Cross. March is Red Cross Month, and it is fitting that we encourage all Yukoners to know that agency’s services and programs better. The Canadian Red Cross’ mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity in Canada and around the world.


Here in the Yukon, there is a community outreach coordinator, whose role is to identify and meet the needs of the Yukon community. We are very fortunate, in that we have not had to call on the Red Cross to provide the disaster relief services, which they provide so well, but we do know that if there is ever a time or need to call on the Red Cross, it will be there to help us all.

Now, for the past 20 years, the Red Cross and its volunteers have supported the Department of Health and Social Services’ emergency social services function by leading or assisting in the registration and inquiry services during emergency evacuation and other emergency events.

We see the work from a distance in distant lands, such as the tsunami relief in the southern Asian region, the help to the people of Iraq, and work to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Sudan. Yukoners have always been known to be generous and very global-minded and willing to get involved with the Red Cross and other organizations. We all recognize that we in the Yukon are very generous and proactive. Yukon’s tsunami donations totalled some $150,000 within one month.

But here in the Yukon, many of us have benefited from the many programs offered over the years, especially in the delivery of safety programs by the Red Cross. Anyone who visits the Whitehorse aquatic centre knows the Red Cross has had a hand in educating everyone about water safety, and many of us have had an opportunity to be enrolled in water and boat safety courses. The Red Cross has also delivered first aid programs and disaster relief and planning workshops, educating many Yukoners.

Another first in Canada is the emergency medical responder course that the Red Cross offered through Yukon College. Eight Yukoners were among the first in Canada to complete the new Red Cross emergency medical responder course, which was also sponsored through the Department of Health and Social Services. The Yukon Red Cross is also looking at offering its Respect ED program here. This is the Red Cross’ violence and abuse prevention program, primarily focused on adolescents, with some programming for adults.

And most recently, the Red Cross reopened its important service of lending medical equipment to people who require the equipment for a short period of time as they recover from their injuries or operations. This can include such items as wheelchairs and crutches.


This government is providing free space for the program, and everyone is hoping for the May 1 opening. The local Red Cross is currently working on recruiting volunteers, so I ask everyone to get involved.


Mr. McRobb:   I rise on behalf of both opposition parties to also pay tribute to the Canadian Red Cross during Red Cross Month. The Canadian Red Cross is part of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. There is no other organization quite like the Red Cross. Formed over 100 years ago, it’s the world’s largest humanitarian organization with a membership of 181 national societies.

The symbols of the red cross and red crescent are easily recognized worldwide. The work of the Red Cross is based on seven fundamental principles: humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality.

Because of its principles, the Red Cross is called upon by all sides in a conflict and provides immediate help to those who need it, without discrimination. Its neutrality means that it does not take part in political, racial or religious controversies, and it is trusted to monitor sensitive prisoners and issues.

Recently the Yukon office transferred approximately $150,000 from generous Yukoners for tsunami relief that will go to save lives and alleviate suffering, but the Canadian Red Cross does not only deal with wars and disasters. Here in the Yukon, the Canadian Red Cross has had a long history of volunteerism, starting with material support for soldiers and displaced persons from two world wars and continuing until today.

A full-time outreach coordinator works with volunteers for Red Cross, providing services for international appeals, first aid, water safety and violence and abuse prevention education. Currently the Red Cross medical equipment loan service depot is being reopened. MELS is run entirely by volunteers trained locally, yet loans a wide range of medical equipment from crutches to wheelchairs for a small donation. This is a much needed resource, especially by seniors and elders and people who are recovering from accidents or convalescing from serious illness.

The office is appealing for volunteers for this service, and I urge everyone to consider helping with this good cause.

Finally, we take this opportunity to thank the many Red Cross volunteers who have served the Yukon so well with humanity and compassion.



 Hon. Mr. Lang:    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to welcome the president of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce, Sandra Babcock, and, of course, Scott Casselman, who is president of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. I would like to welcome them to the gallery.



Speaker:   Are there any returns or documents for tabling?


Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Mr. Speaker, I have for tabling the 2005-06 capital budget summary by community distribution.


Speaker:   Are there any reports of committees?

Are there any petitions?


Petition No. 6 — response

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Mr. Speaker, I rise today to respond to Petition No. 6, tabled by Mr. McRobb, from approximately 50 people, mainly residents of the community of Burwash Landing. The petition asks the Yukon government to implement a process to plan and establish a school in Burwash Landing.

Mr. Speaker, students from Burwash Landing and Destruction Bay currently attend Kluane Lake School in Destruction Bay. Kluane Lake School currently has a total of seven students from kindergarten through grade 8. Since 1997, the number of students attending the school has varied between four and eight. Parents receive a transportation subsidy on request to transport their children from Burwash Landing to the school in Destruction Bay. The Government of Yukon has no plans in this budget to build a new school in Burwash Landing, but I thank the member opposite and residents of Burwash Landing for bringing this matter to the attention of this House.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.



Speaker:   Are there any petitions to be presented?

Are there any bills to be introduced?


Bill No. 13: Introduction and First Reading

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   I move that Bill No. 13, entitled Third Appropriation Act, 2004-05, be now introduced and read a first time.

Speaker:   It has been moved by the Hon. Premier that Bill No. 13, entitled Third Appropriation Act, 2004-05, be now introduced and read a first time.

Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 13 agreed to

Bill No. 14: Introduction and First Reading

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   I move that Bill No. 14, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 2005-06, be now introduced and read a first time.

Speaker:   It has been moved by the Hon. Premier that Bill No. 14, entitled Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 2005-06, be now introduced and read a first time.

Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 14 agreed to

Bill No. 15: Introduction and First Reading

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   I move that Bill No. 15, entitled First Appropriation Act, 2005-06, be now introduced and read a first time.

Speaker:   It has been moved by the Hon. Premier that Bill No. 15, entitled First Appropriation Act, 2005-06, be now introduced and read a first time.

Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 15 agreed to


Speaker:   Are there any further bills for introduction?

Are there any notices of motion?


Mr. Cathers:   I rise today to give notice of the following motion:

THAT this House urges the Government of Canada to join with the Government of Yukon in assisting the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation in its efforts to protect the critical habitat of the Porcupine caribou herd.


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

THAT this House calls upon the Yukon Party government to revisit its flawed loans collection agreement with Dana Naye Ventures and provide guarantees that no Yukon business that is making a genuine attempt to repay money owed to the Yukon government will be forced into bankruptcy as a result of any collection measures taken by either the government or Dana Naye Ventures.



Ms. Duncan:   I give notice of the following motion:

THAT this House recognizes that the Yukon Party government has implemented full-day kindergarten without thorough consultation with parents, school councils or teachers; and

THAT this House urges the Yukon Party government to live up to a campaign commitment to conduct genuine public consultations on matters of importance to Yukoners by holding public consultations before proceeding unilaterally with all-day kindergarten.


Hon. Mr. Hart:   I give notice of the following motion:

THAT this House orders that the March 9, 2005 Report of  Forensic Audit and Financial Review of the Town of the City of Dawson, Yukon, commissioned by Ray Hayes, the Trustee of the Town of the City of Dawson, appointed pursuant to section 336 of the Municipal Act, and prepared by Ian Doddington, C.A. of Doddington Advisors Inc., Certified Management Consultants, be tabled in the Assembly pursuant to section 38(1) of the Standing Orders of this Assembly and that the report be published under the authority of the Yukon Legislative Assembly.


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

THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Standing Orders of the Yukon Legislative Assembly should be amended in Standing Order 73 to accommodate the practice of using fixed starting dates for sittings in the spring and fall of each year, with the exception of the first legislative sitting following a general election.


I give notice of the following motion:

THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Government of Yukon should work closely with the Yukon Registered Nurses Association and respond to its proposed solution to the current crisis of restricted access to health care for Yukoners by proceeding with a 24-hour collaborative health clinic in Whitehorse.



Ms. Duncan:   I give notice of the following motion:

THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to cease and desist using public/private partnerships (P3s) for major capital infrastructure projects until a proper policy framework is in place.


I give notice of the following motion:

THAT this House recognizes that the public has given political leaders a low rating for honesty and ethical standards; and

THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to amend the Conflict of Interest (Members and Ministers) Act to include a definition of private interest in order to ensure more accountability from political leaders.


I give notice of the following motion:

THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to fulfill an election campaign commitment to implement effective whistleblower legislation prior to the next election.


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

THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to institute a rural water program to assist with the access challenges and the rising cost of potable water.


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

THAT this House urges the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to fulfill its fiduciary responsibility for First Nation health care and seek a resolution to ensure that nine-year-old Mackenzie Olsen, who is a Na Cho Nyäk Dun citizen suffering from the rare medical condition MPS-1, continues to be provided with the medication he needs.


Speaker:   Are there any further notices of motion?

Is there a statement by a minister?

This then brings us to Question Period.


Question re:   Government attitude

Mr. Hardy:   For the past couple of months, this government has been running full-page political ads at the taxpayers’ expense, telling us about how well our Yukon is doing. Now we have the Yukon Party machine also in the act with ads patting the government on the back, but that’s not what Yukoners are seeing. They see mandated boards being gutted; they see First Nation governments being snubbed and the Umbrella Final Agreement treated as little more than a set of guidelines; they see public servants being humiliated and communities being marginalized; they see the environment completely ignored by a government that will do anything to chase resource development dollars. They also see the Yukon’s reputation being tarnished from coast to coast to coast by the Premier’s own behaviour.

Will the Premier give his assurance that he recognizes the problem and the Yukon people can expect a more respectful attitude from this government in its remaining time in office?


Hon. Mr. Fentie:   I want to thank the leader of the official opposition for giving the government side the opportunity to articulate all the good things that are happening in the Yukon. With respect to what the rest of the country thinks of the Yukon, let us reflect on the increase in mining exploration. We’re drilling for natural gas in both north Yukon and the southeast Yukon. We are receiving investment in real estate from outside the territory. Most recently, in Calgary, the interest around the Canada Winter Games generated, in less than an hour, a $550,000 contribution to the games in corporate sponsorship.

There is more. When it comes to First Nations, look at the long list of accomplishments when it comes to the government-to-government issue, starting with the Yukon Forum and our commitment to legislate the Yukon Forum, whereby we create a structure for both governments — the Yukon First Nations and the territorial government — to come together and work on matters of mutual concern and interest. And more than that, let’s look at the trends and the statistics, rising population, falling unemployment rate, increasing jobs and opportunities for Yukoners.

I say the government side has been working diligently to create a positive outlook for Yukon. The opposite side is very negative, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Hardy:   Mr. Speaker, it’s obvious nothing has changed with this Premier. The Premier is always right, and everybody else is wrong, and that is exactly the position he has taken for the last two years, and it is a shame. In a couple of minutes, I know he is going to go on and on at length about how well he has handled the territory’s affairs, and we are going to be sitting here and listening to that closely. But the fact is that Yukoners aren’t buying it. They hear one thing, but they are also seeing another. They hear the Premier talk about collaboration and consensus. They see confrontation and ultimatums. Ask the people in Carmacks about that one, Mr. Speaker. They hear the Premier talk about respectful relations. They see mandated boards being ignored and experienced board members sidelined because this government doesn’t like them. Can the Premier explain how treating people that way fulfills his campaign promise of a better way of governing?


Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Well, I can’t explain that to the member opposite because that’s not what’s happening. When you consider the fact that we have created and established the Yukon Forum, a government-to-government relationship that formalizes how we will co-govern in this territory; we have signed a consultation protocol with First Nations directing, outlining and defining the areas we would consult on; we have created partnerships with First Nations on correctional and educational reform and on the Children’s Act review — and when we look at the Women’s Directorate and our working with First Nations on the terrible issue of violence against First Nation women. And the list goes on: further investment in our education system to improve our curriculums and ensure that our education system better reflects the needs of First Nations — their culture, history and language — by investing in language in our education system with the First Voices program.

These are just a small sampling — a snapshot, if you will — of the relationship-building this government has undertaken in the territory. So I cannot answer the member’s question because it does not reflect the facts.

Mr. Hardy:   The Premier can’t answer the member’s question because he refuses to.

Cabinet ministers who won’t pay their loans, the attack on public servants, fights with the media, hundreds of thousands of dollars in sole-source contracts, secret deals and juicy contracts for political friends, but broken promises to people forced out of business by the government itself — and in this House, where the government is supposed to be held accountable to the people, nothing but a wall of silence when we ask questions. All we get are smirks, shrugs, evasions, put-downs, but no answers.

Earlier the Premier mentioned that there was an increase in population and an increase in employment — yes, in Whitehorse. But there is a decreased population in the communities and decreased employment opportunities in the communities because of the spending habits of this government.

Now, what’s it going to be in this new sitting, Mr. Speaker — more of the same, or are we finally going to start to see a better way of governing that the Premier made a promise about two years ago?


Hon. Mr. Fentie:   I think it’s important that we reflect on a very critical issue here. This government has moved away from the politics of confrontation and conflict that we experienced under the former Liberal government. We are no longer fighting with other jurisdictions. We have now recognized that there are First Nation governments in this territory that are actively building a relationship on a government-to-government level.

Let’s look at what our relationship with other jurisdictions is producing: a western energy alliance, hundreds of millions more dollars into the territory’s coffers for more options, more opportunities, jobs and a better way of life for Yukoners. We have more interest in this territory. We have a northern strategy with the federal government. The list goes on and on. I would suggest that the member opposite might want to pay more attention to the ads we’ve put in the paper informing the public of where their territory is today — he might learn something.

Question re: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

 Mrs. Peter:   My question today is for the Premier. Today marks the 16th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez disaster, a grave reminder of the fragility of our environment. How can we trust the industry responsible for that disaster to drill safely in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge? The Premier was given many chances to demonstrate leadership and present the united voice of Yukon people in opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Why has the Premier been so reluctant to voice his support to fight against opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   I will begin by saying that the government recognizes what a critical issue this is for the people of the Vuntut Gwitchin, but let me now point out the facts: this government has remained consistent in its support of the Vuntut Gwitchin government for the protection of the critical habitat of the Porcupine caribou herd. Not only has the government supported them in their efforts, we have made sure that the Alaskan government understands and clearly represents our position when we discuss this matter with them. Even I brought this up with the President of the United States in a face-to-face discussion. Most recently the Prime Minister assured us that he will be discussing that this week with the President of the United States, and I would close by saying that there is yet no drilling in ANWR. There’s a long way to go, and we will continue to work with the side opposite, the Vuntut Gwitchin and the federal government to ensure the protection of the critical habitat for the herd.


Mrs. Peter:   Mr. Speaker, on March 16, the U.S. Senate voted to keep a provision for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the U.S. budget. The vote passed by the slimmest of margins. In a few weeks, both bodies of Congress will be voting on this budget. Drilling could happen as early as this summer. The Premier’s public statements before and after the Senate vote have demonstrated absolutely no sense of urgency for this issue, and the people of Old Crow are waiting for that voice.

Will the Premier, as the senior voice for the Yukon people, now step up to the plate and join and not wait — join the Vuntut Gwitchin and the federal government in fighting to keep the refuge closed to drilling?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   I would point out to the member opposite that that is exactly what we are doing. Not only are we following by request from the Vuntut Gwitchin government their need to meet on this issue, we are supporting them — not only through resources, but also we’re making sure that Alaska and the United States of America clearly understand our position that has not changed. We have also now engaged with the federal government to ensure that they are onside, encouraging them to work with us, to support us and the Vuntut Gwitchin government in the protection of a critical habitat. That is exactly what we are doing, and that is exactly what we will continue to do.

Mrs. Peter:   Mr. Speaker, the Premier’s voice is missing. The Premier needs to show some leadership. Seventy-eight percent of Canadians disagree with opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. Before the Senate vote, Mr. Speaker, I was down in Washington, fighting on behalf of my people. It took the Premier of Northwest Territories writing a letter of support to get the Premier to act at all.

Since taking office, the Premier and his staff have made numerous trips across the country and into the United States to promote oil and gas development. The Premier wants to turn the Yukon into Alberta north. None of his speeches display any reservations about drilling in the refuge. Will the Premier drop his passive approach and join the struggle to protect the Porcupine caribou herd with a clear voice and positive, creative action?


Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Again, I would point out to the member opposite that the government has been very active on this file and continues to support the Government of the Vuntut Gwitchin. I’m not sure where the member gets her information but, by agreement, this government — signed by me — sent correspondence some days ago to Washington for the leadership of the Vuntut Gwitchin. We also have assurances from the Prime Minister that he’ll be bringing up this issue with the President of the United States this week.

I would ask the members opposite if any one of them has ever brought this issue up face-to-face with the President of the United States. This government has, and we will continue to represent the position that the Vuntut Gwitchin asks us to represent, and that is the protection of the critical habitat for the herd. Nothing has changed; nothing will change; and today there is no drilling in ANWR. There’s a long way to go.

The best thing to do is stand down on partisan politics, join forces, just like we have with the Vuntut Gwitchin and Canada, and ensure that protection.

Question re: Gambling

Ms. Duncan:   I have some questions for the Premier. Since coming to office, the Premier has refused to rule out the expansion of gambling in the territory. I’ve asked several times what the position is of the Yukon Party government on this specific issue. It’s obvious that the Member for Klondike supports the expansion of gambling in the territory. Does the Yukon Party government, as a whole, support, for example, the introduction of video lottery terminals — or VLTs — into the territory?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Considering all that’s going on in the Yukon, we hardly have time to even worry about expanding gambling. It’s not happening. The only gambling in the territory, as we all know, is in Dawson City, by long-standing arrangements, from which the government receives some benefit, to some degree, but certainly not a lot.

We have no plans whatsoever to expand gambling. Our plans are to diversify and revitalize the Yukon economy. Our plans are to continue to increase and strengthen our social fabric. Our plans are to continue to improve our education system. Our plans are to continue to station the Yukon on the national stage, where it should be. Our plans are to build a better and brighter future for all Yukoners.


Ms. Duncan:   The Premier admitted in this Legislature last year that the Yukon Party has had some discussions with First Nations regarding expansion of gambling in the territory. This could mean casinos or VLTs. There has been some discussion that the new Kwanlin Dun cultural centre on the waterfront will include a casino.

If the Kwanlin Dun choose to proceed, they would have to get a licence from the Government of Yukon. Is the government willing to grant that licence? It’s a yes-or-no question, Mr. Speaker.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   As I understand it — and this is very important to the Kwanlin Dun First Nation citizens — there is a long history that dates back hundreds to thousands of years for the Kwanlin Dun First Nation when it comes to the Yukon River and the waterfront of which we speak. Their objective here is to build what is to be defined as a cultural centre to represent their history.

Yes, we had discussions about the possible expansion of gaming. It’s not happening. We’ll probably have discussions on other matters. That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. I think the member opposite would be well served to recognize that.

We have, through a land claim, an agreement to invest in a cultural centre, to buy property and to turn it over to the Kwanlin Dun First Nation. We’ve accomplished that and we’re looking forward to concluding and completing what will be a centrepiece of the Whitehorse downtown waterfront. I think that’s a great thing.

Ms. Duncan:   The record will reflect that the Premier did not answer with an unequivocal yes or no.

Successive Yukon governments, including the NDP one, which the current Premier was a part of, have opposed the expansion of legalized gambling in the territory. Clearly and unequivocally, previous governments have said no. The previous answer by the Premier was not unequivocal and it was not crystal clear.

Perhaps he will answer this question: before the Yukon Party allows more gambling, will the Premier commit to having full public consultation on this issue to determine any level of public support or negativity toward this idea?


Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Well, Mr. Speaker, this is all hypothetical. I’m not sure what the member opposite is trying to accomplish with this. We have no intention of expanding gaming in the territory. I’ve listed for the member opposite where our focus is. It will remain there. We are not going to consult with anybody, because there is no expansion taking place; there is nothing to consult on. What the member opposite might want to do is consult our platform, listen to what we do here in the Legislature when we articulate to the public what it is their government is doing, reflect on the many announcements we have made and all the things that are happening in today’s territory, the investments across the spectrum, whether it be on the social side of the ledger or in developing jobs and opportunities for Yukoners. None of those things, in any way, shape or form, are even closely linked to the expansion of gaming. The member opposite might want to try another tack and another question.

Question re: Yukon hire

Mr. Fairclough:   Mr. Speaker, the Yukon Party’s platform made a commitment to work with the Public Service Commission to provide Yukoners with the first opportunity for employment and advancement within the public service. One of the first things this government did was reinstate the Department of Economic Development. Since that time, the department has acquired a large staff, which I understand now includes more than 50 people. My question is to the acting minister responsible for the Public Service Commission. When hiring the staff of the Department of Economic Development, why was that commitment to Yukon people ignored?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:  I thank the member opposite for the question, and I will remind the member opposite again that the ministers really don’t stand on the floor of this House and discuss the administrative side of the equation.


Mr. Fairclough:   Maybe the Yukon Party government should have thought about this before they put it in their platform. That’s not a very good answer and I think I’ll give the minister another try at answering another question. Maybe he can think about the first one, and maybe he can give us some details on this matter, because we feel that the department is not very balanced in the commitment that was made by the Yukon Party.

This government also made commitments to First Nation people but, once again, their words don’t match their actions. Exactly how many First Nation people have received full-time positions within the Yukon government since December of 2002, and what percentage of the YTG workforce do First Nation employees represent?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I could take those numbers under advisement, Mr. Speaker. I don’t have the exact number in front of me of how many First Nation people have been hired over the last two years, but I’ll take that under advisement and I could get that number back to the member opposite.

Mr. Fairclough:   It sounds like the minister just doesn’t know. He was the past minister of this department and is acting in the position now.

Mr. Speaker, First Nations make up approximately 25 percent of the Yukon population. The unemployment rate is much higher for First Nation people than the rest of the Yukon. The Yukon Party said it would work with First Nations to make them full partners in economic development, but First Nation people are not getting hired by the very department that should be making those economic partnerships happen.

Will the minister explain why this is not happening and what he is doing to make it happen?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I believe this government has come an awfully long way compared to the last two different governments that have been in. I believe that this government has made great progress in being able to work with the First Nations and involve them in employment.

The First Nation representation offices are a good example. That portion of the land claims agreement has really been put on the forefront since this government took office. Again, our commitment to working with First Nations hasn’t sidetracked one bit. We will continue to work with First Nations and to ensure that they are a part of the staffing of this government.

Question re: Health care professionals, recruitment and retention


Mr. McRobb:   Four months ago, the Yukon Registered Nurses Association wrote to the Premier outlining problems with nurse recruitment and offering some valid solutions, but it appears that nothing has happened from that letter. Now that the Health minister has finally admitted that we have a doctor shortage, I hope he’s prepared to listen to the YRNA.

The nurses association has forwarded a creative solution that addresses concerns raised at the First Ministers meeting on health care. The association has proposed a 24-hour, collaborative clinic in Whitehorse staffed by nurse practitioners and other health care professionals.

Can the minister tell us when has he met with the Yukon Registered Nurses Association to discuss the idea of a collaborative clinic, and what has he learned out of that meeting?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Let’s be open about this whole issue. There is a shortage of health care professionals in all categories right around the world; it is not unique to the Yukon. We have some of the best health care providers here in the Yukon and our government recently negotiated a contract with the YMA that saw a tremendous increase in funding to Yukon doctors, a retention bonus of some $16,000 a year, as well as advancements in all the various categories — and “orphan” patients. And we still have problems recruiting and retaining health care professionals.

The model of which the member opposite speaks has been brought to my attention. We are in discussions about a number of different models, but to substitute doctors with nurse practitioners, which are also in very short supply and in very high demand, and whether that’s the solution, I do not know — but I suspect not, given the numbers of health care professionals in this category that are needed and in short supply right now.


Mr. McRobb:   Well, Mr. Speaker, the minister is right on one point. The problem is worldwide. But it is no solution to ignore the Yukon Registered Nurses Association and even refuse to meet with them. The minister has made a big point about working with the Yukon Medical Association to address the problem of “orphan” patients. He has even admitted that his plan to pay the $200 bounty for each new patient a doctor takes on was a flop.

Last month, I attended a public meeting in Whitehorse Centre on that subject. An official admitted flat out that there would be no talks with the YNRA and this minister. Will the minister make a commitment right now to sit down and discuss this proposal with the Yukon Registered Nurses Association, or does he only talk to doctors?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   For the member opposite’s information and for the information of all, this minister meets very regularly with a group that represents, in part, the nurses, and the YRNA are a part of this group that has been put together.

Mr. Speaker, this is an issue, but the member opposite is carving out a very small sector of the equation, and that is not fair. We have some very capable health care providers here in the Yukon and Canada. In fact, currently, we have 46 doctors as of the end of February 2005, Mr. Speaker, for our population of 31,176. That gives us one of the best ratios of doctors to population of any place in Canada. If you want to contrast that with Nunavut, they have 11 doctors for a population of 29,627. We still have a number of individuals here in the Yukon who are having a difficult time finding a doctor and finding access to health care, and we are doing our level best to address this issue in many, many ways, not just by hopping on the bandwagon with the member opposite and singling out one specific area. We have to look at the entire picture, and we are doing just that.


Mr. McRobb:   Well, it’s rather astounding to learn that the Health minister has still not met with the Yukon Registered Nurses Association. That association is not just a small sector. I represent communities that know about the excellent service that nurse practitioners perform day after day and night after night. In fact, the minister also represents a community that relies on the skills and dedication of nurse practitioners.

But when it comes to finding practical solutions to a problem that he now even admits, the minister seems to forget all that. I’m not suggesting that he shouldn’t be talking with the YMA — of course he should. But he also has to talk with other health care professionals who have the interests of Yukoners at heart.

What is this minister saying to Yukon people who can’t find a family doctor? “Sorry” isn’t good enough. When will the minister start thinking outside the box and come up with a better answer than the lame excuses he has put forward so far?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   This government works very hard at addressing the health care needs of Yukoners. That is evident by the size of the budget envelope in this area.

With respect to the issue of talking to the YRNA, I have met with the president of that association on numerous occasions. Also, the YRNA belongs to a larger body, made up of people from all different categories, and I meet on a regular basis with that group. To suggest that I haven’t met with the YRNA is totally inaccurate.

Furthermore, we are examining models. The initial examination of the model that the member opposite is bringing to the floor would see a number of health care providers moved into Whitehorse and centralized here, to the detriment of communities, like the member opposite’s community. We do not want to do that. We have to maintain the highest possible standard of access to health care that we can, right across the Yukon. We are doing our level best to ensure that that happens by enhancing and improving the service delivery model, working cooperatively with all the categories of health care providers here in the Yukon.



Speaker:   The time for Question Period has now elapsed.

Question of privilege

Ms. Duncan:   I rise this afternoon pursuant to Standing Order No. 7 on a question of privilege regarding what I believe to have been, and to be, a serious contempt and hence a question of privilege of the Yukon Legislative Assembly. I appreciate your indulgence, Mr. Speaker, to take a few minutes this afternoon to make my submission to you.

In saying that, I want to say to you, Mr. Speaker, and to my colleagues in this Legislative Assembly that I am very mindful that this is the first day back and that important public business awaits. I also speak this afternoon as a member of the Legislative Assembly to other members of this Legislative Assembly about what I really do believe to be a matter of very serious importance to each and every one of us as members of this Legislative Assembly representing Yukoners.

I’d like to begin by pointing out that the so-called budgetary process that was engaged in by the Yukon Party government in the month of March 2005 is, in my view, at its core the contempt about which I will now complain as a question of privilege.

A great deal of the budget has been released outside of this Legislative Assembly, and it has been a conscious decision of the government to do so. There’s a recent example of this in Canadian history. The Ontario government of Ernie Eves delivered the entire 2003 budget outside of that legislature. In that case the government was found in contempt of the legislature.

As our practices in this House are based on the House of Commons and other legislatures, I have relied on that situation that occurred in Ontario. I’d like to point to the second edition of Joseph Maingot’s Parliamentary Privilege in Canada very quickly to establish what we understand, or at least what the authorities have told us, represents contempt in Canadian parliamentary tradition.

Quoting from page 225 of the second edition of Parliamentary Privilege in Canada, I read: “Contempt is more aptly described as an offence against the authority and dignity of the House.”


That demonstrates a lack of respect. He goes on to observe something that was highlighted in a ruling by Madame Speaker Sauvé in the Canadian Parliament in 1980. That ruling read, in part, as follows: “Privilege may be codified; contempt may not because new forms of obstruction are constantly being devised, and Parliament must be able to invoke its penal jurisdiction to protect itself against these new forms. There’s no closed list of classes of offences punishable as contempts of Parliament.” That is Speaker Sauvé. I want to make that point again: contempt, we are told, I think rightly so, is an offence against the authority and dignity of Parliament.

In making a ruling in 1989, Mr. Speaker Fraser made it clear to the Parliament and the Public Service of Canada that in Canada we have a parliamentary democracy, not an executive democracy and not an administrative democracy. This is a very important point. Speaker Fraser was concerned that there’s a clear pattern of encroachment upon the authority of Parliament. The question has to be asked: how is it that what I believe about March 2005 in the Yukon represents contempt and hence a question of privilege? I’d like to very quickly deal with events of the last few weeks.

On March 12, 2005, the Minister of Highways and Public Works held a news conference in the foyer of this building outside of this House and announced the spending for his entire department — some $70 million. I want to say to all honourable members on both sides of the aisle that this was a clear, deliberate choice made by the minister, the leader of the government, and his colleagues in Cabinet. It’s not as though there was a significant happening such as the extraordinary fire season of last year — not at all. It was a clear, conscious choice that a significant portion of the territorial budget — so-called — would be presented outside of the Legislature and outside of this legislative session.


Again, on March 14, the Minister of Community Services announced his entire $45-million department in much the same fashion. Since then, there have been numerous other examples with specific dollar amounts being announced for the Department of Tourism, the Department of Justice, and the Premier and Minister of Finance telling a luncheon this week that the capital portion of the budget would be precisely $206.4 million — all of these announcements outside…

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Speaker:   Order please. The member has the floor.

Ms. Duncan:   … of this Legislature. There was no question about what the government planned to do. It was not accidental. It was not driven by circumstances that were well beyond the control of the government. It was a clear, deliberate, conscious choice to do this, for no reason other than advancing the partisan position of the current government. That’s what happened over the last month, and that is about what I wish to complain most seriously.

What happened in March is, in my view, a very serious matter and it is a very, very serious contempt. Why? Because it goes to the core of who we are, as members of this Legislature, and what it is we do in this Legislature.

Eugene Forsey told a federal parliamentary committee in 1985 that responsible government is the term we use to describe the harmony between the executive and the Legislature that we have already achieved. It is the essential and distinctive feature of the British parliamentary system. In essence, it is simple: the executive is accountable and owes its continuing existence to Parliament. The executive is accountable and answerable, not only for its budget, its money measures and its legislative proposals, but also for the whole range of its activities.


The servants of the sovereign can continue in office only so long as they retain the confidence of the Legislature, which means only so long as they can secure that grant of supply, the making of appropriations from the consolidated revenue fund necessary to carry on the important business of government.

Eugene Forsey was addressing the constitutional notion of responsible government. Yukoners, in all Yukon political parties, have spoken about the idea of responsible government for Yukoners. To us, it means such important steps as the formula financing arrangement reached in 1985 and devolution, the transfer of authority over land and resources.

The cornerstone of these responsibilities and the exercise of them is the constitutional notion spoken about by Eugene Forsey’s action. The spending of money has to come before the Parliament of the Yukon — the Yukon Legislative Assembly — first.

There are numerous responses and information available. I’d just like to mention a few of them that support the argument I have just made.

Norman Ward, in The Public Purse: A Study in Canadian Democracy, makes the following observation. Very briefly, underlying our system are the fundamental core values. “The Executive” — the Cabinet — “shall have no income which is not granted to it or otherwise sanctioned by Parliament.” And secondly, “The Cabinet shall make no expenditure, except those approved by Parliament, in ways determined by Parliament.”

The notion that you could take a significant portion of a budget — a real budget — away from the only place where it becomes legitimate is unacceptable, and it is contemptible. Only this place can grant the government the aids and supplies that make it work.


Ned Franks, who is a Queen’s University professor, tells his students that parliament has four functions to make government work. Parliament makes government work; it gives it supply, gives it the air to breathe, and only parliament can do that. Parliament makes the government behave and, finally and hopefully, parliament produces an alternative government.

At the core of our system of responsible parliamentary government is the notion that only parliament — only this place — can grant supply, can vote money, and only for those purposes that parliament, in its wisdom or lack thereof, decides should attract the money.

Some could ask, “Where is that written down? Show me the law that says we have to come here first.” There are practices that guide the way we do business. We follow the British system of parliamentary government. The question of convention arises because it has been argued by some that, “Well, show me where I am required to come here?” There is a very clear convention at work here.

When we test conventions, there are three tests: what is the precedent? Did the actors in those precedents feel they were governed by a rule and is there a reason for a rule? A similar situation, as I’ve noted, happened in Ontario in 2003. The Eves government brought forward its entire budget outside the legislature. MPP Sean Conway raised a point of privilege when the legislature sat shortly thereafter. A key question in the point of privilege, a question of privilege, was: was it raised as soon as possible?

As part of that point, he described how he had conducted another little test. He talked to ministers of finance for Canada and for Ontario on both sides of the political aisle. Some of them said it publicly and some of them, for obvious and understandable reasons, said it privately. The quote is, “It’s unthinkable that I would have taken my budget someplace other than parliament.”


There is an article that I would commend to the members opposite, in the Kingston Whig-Standard, by Arthur Milnes, March 19. He wrote that he had contacted Baroness Boothroyd of Sandwell, who is a distinguished, very long-time Speaker of the British House of Commons, upon which, of course, our parliamentary tradition is based. He asked Madam Speaker Boothroyd what her thought and opinion was about the novel way of presenting a budget in the British system of responsible parliamentary government. What did she say? “That’s a very strange way of doing things. There would be an uproar in the British Parliament.” She added, “The budget speech could only be done through the House of Commons, and there would be great demand for recall of parliament if it wasn’t.”

In the article, Boothroyd went on to say that opposition members are key to the functioning of parliamentary democracy, especially in matters of oversight of government spending. Quoting her again, “It’s the questioning of that budget statement that is so central to our democracy. The elected representatives of the people get the right to question. I’m adamant that that’s the way parliament works.”

Mr. Conway also referred to a letter written by the former Clerk of the Canadian Parliament, Robert Marleau. He said that this decision to take the budget outside of parliament, outside of the legislature, if allowed to proceed unchallenged, is, quoting Mr. Marlow, “a gross affront to parliamentary democracy.” He goes on to observe, “Budgets are about levying taxes and spending the proceeds. Over the centuries, we the people have acquired rights from the Crown to scrutinize government policies, especially spending policies through well-established and time-honoured parliamentary processes.” That is Marlow.

Professor Michael Bliss, in a March 17, 2003 story for the National Post, said about this business of announcing the budget outside of the legislature — and I’m quoting him — it “is a contempt for our political heritage and our elected institutions” and is, — again, I’m quoting — “a nearly mindless disregard for the legislature.”


He also noted it as a contempt for the people. I’m sure that the government will argue that the situation in Ontario is different. That was the whole budget, not just a few departments. It’s not the same, they will say. This is a question about principle. It is wrong to announce $70 million of one budget, $100 million in another, the precise figure of capital spending, or an entire budget. It demonstrates the same contempt.

In Ontario, Speaker Carr had this to say in ruling on Mr. Conway’s question of privilege: “Many Ontarians from all walks of life have complained in an overwhelmingly negative way to my office, to members directly, through various media, and to the government itself that the government’s approach to communicating the 2003 budget to Ontarians has undermined parliamentary institutions and processes.” He also noted that the government indicated that the desire to present the budget outside the legislature was motivated by a desire to have a direct conversation with the people of Ontario. There was a decision made to bypass the legislature.

Similarly, the Minister of Community Services remarked in the Yukon when presenting his budget outside the Yukon Legislative Assembly, “What I want to do is stress to people, give them a very good understanding of where we are, what we plan to do as far as our budget goes, and give them an idea of what’s coming out as far as work goes.” He also said, “I’m trying to indicate to the contracting community what’s coming available to them.” The minister could have and should have made that announcement in the Yukon Legislature; he chose not to do so. 

Speaker Carr said, “To the extent that these statements imply that parliamentary institutions and processes tend to interfere with the government’s message to the public, such statements tend to reflect adversely on those institutions and processes.”


Speaker Carr went on to say, “I think Ontarians are rather fond of their traditional parliamentary institutions and parliamentary processes, and they want a greater deference to be shown toward the traditional parliamentary forum in which public policies are proposed, thoroughly debated and voted on.”

From the people I have spoken to and the number who have called my office and who have stopped me on the street, Yukoners agree.

In his conclusion to his decision, Speaker Carr said the following: “When the government or any member claims that a budget presentation is needed outside the House well before it happens inside the House in order to communicate directly with the people or because of a perceived flaw in a parliamentary institution, there’s a danger that the representative role of each and every member of this House is undermined and respect for the institution is diminished, and that parliament is rendered irrelevant. Parliamentary democracy is not vindicated by the government conducting a generally one-sided public relations event on the budget well in advance of members having an opportunity to hold the government to account for the budget in this chamber.”

Speaker Carr went on to pose several questions. First, what does the planned presentation of a budget speech outside the House suggest about the relevancy and primacy of parliament? Minister Hart did the same thing. He made a budget speech in the foyer of the building. It’s one thing not to make the traditional budget speech in the House because the government is backed into a decision by a budget leak; it’s quite another for the government to have a very deliberate plan to do so.

Second, Speaker Carr asked: if left unchallenged, will this incident not embolden future governments to create parallel extra-parliamentary processes for other kinds of events that traditionally occur in the House?


Third, why is an extraordinary parliamentary process needed, if there is already a process in the House? If the answer is that it enables direct communication with the public, to what extent does such an answer undermine the representative scrutiny and accountability functions of parliament?

The Speaker went on to conclude: “From where I stand, the 2003 budget process has raised too many questions for the House not to reflect on them.” In order to facilitate that exercise, the Speaker said, “I’m finding that a prima facie case of contempt has been established. I want to reiterate that while I have found sufficient evidence to make such a finding, it’s now up to the House to decide what to do.” That was Speaker Carr of the Ontario Legislature.

I want to move to a conclusion, Mr. Speaker. I’m asking you, Mr. Speaker, to find, on a prima facie case basis, that there is contempt here. I hope I have established that there is. The question before all of us as members is: what is to be done?

In bringing this issue forward, I also believe it’s important that I bring forward solutions. I would suggest that whether this issue is debated today or subsequent to your ruling, Mr. Speaker, perhaps the remedy is a motion before the House that the Legislative Assembly has the undisputed right to be the first recipients of the budget of the Yukon.

If we can’t affirm that — a fundamental cornerstone of responsible constitutional government for the people of the Yukon — then why are we here? It’s especially distressing to me that this has occurred when the Yukon has made such tremendous strides toward responsible government.

Over the last number of years, we have seen the formula financing arrangements, which have given us unprecedented financial independence. We have experienced devolution and gained control over our natural resources.

The decision to announce major portions of the budget outside of the Legislative Assembly — outside the scrutiny of this place — has reversed that trend. It has made the government less — not more — responsible to the Yukon people.


That’s why what we do here today — and I know business has to proceed and I’m prepared to conclude. It’s a very important thing that has happened over the last few weeks. I believe very strongly as a member of this Legislative Assembly that we have a duty to stand in our places today and affirm why this was so serious and why it is so important and fundamental to responsible constitutional government, to democracy, to respect for this Legislative Assembly.

I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to raise this question of privilege, and I thank you for your consideration of it.


Speaker:   Does any other member wish to speak to the question of privilege?

I would ask the House’s indulgence to allow the Chair to review the member’s points, and I will take that under advisement and report back to the House.

We will now proceed to Orders of the Day.



Bill No. 15: Second Reading

Clerk:   Second reading, Bill No. 15, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Fentie.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   I move that Bill No. 15, entitled First Appropriation Act, 2005-06, be now read a second time.

Speaker:   It has been moved by the Hon. Premier that Bill No. 15, entitled First Appropriation Act, 2005-06, be now read a second time.

Budget speech

Hon. Mr. Fentie:    Today it is my pleasure and privilege to table our third budget in this House, a budget that builds on our record of providing Yukoners with sound fiscal management.

We’ve come a long way from November 2002, when this government was faced with debt-servicing our cash flow requirements to provide programs and services to Yukoners. The Government of Yukon’s capital and operation and maintenance budget for 2005-06 fiscal year is a surplus budget for the year.


The projected surplus for 2005-06 is $29.1 million. This is a significant achievement.

The total capital and operation and maintenance budget for 2005-06 is $784 million. The operation and maintenance budget totals $577.6 million, of which $58.8 million is recoverable. The capital budget totals $206.4 million, of which $76.8 million is recoverable.

The 2003-04 budget laid the foundation for the territory’s financial future. It put our fiscal house in order. The 2004-05 budget built upon that solid foundation and established the future economic course of the territory for the duration of the current mandate.

This 2005-06 budget is following through on that direction. This budget, like its immediate predecessor, is designed to stimulate the economy in the short, mid and in the long term. Along with an eight percent increase in our own source revenues, the negotiation of a new territorial funding agreement and other fiscal transfers with the Government of Canada remain a critical part of keeping our fiscal house in order.

Last September, First Ministers met to discuss increased funding for health care which, for the three territories, resulted in a $150 million health access fund. This fund is in addition to the $60 million the territories received under the Canada health and social transfer from the 2003 First Ministers accord. The $150 million fund is to be spread over three years to help the territories offset medical transportation costs and to fund long-term health initiatives.

The terms and conditions for the health access fund, however, are still not finalized, so associated expenditures resulting from this fund have not been included in this budget.


The First Ministers met again on October 26, 2004, to discuss equalization and territorial funding financing as a follow-up to their September 13 to 15 meetings on health care. The Government of Canada is proposing significant changes to the design of the territorial formula financing. For 2004 and 2005, the total territorial formula financing grant for the three territories was a floor of $1.9 billion. In 2005-06, the territorial formula financing grant is a fixed amount of $2 billion, an increase of 5.3 percent from the 2004-05 amount.

After 2005 and 2006, the total territorial formula financing will be escalated at a rate of 3.5 percent per year, with a review of the adequacy of the escalator after five years. An expert panel on equalization and the territorial formula financing agreement will be established to provide recommendations on the allocation of the affixed amounts. It is scheduled to release its recommendations in late 2005.

The good news from all of this is that the Yukon will receive more money under formula financing. However, it must be understood that our funding arrangements after 2005-06 remain uncertain until the expert panel I mentioned provides its recommendations on how funding should be allocated among the three territories. Because of this uncertainty, the Government of Yukon must continue to exercise fiscal discipline as we have through the course of our three budgets so far.

In the 2004-05 Budget Address, our government indicated that we were seeking a federal commitment for a new economic partnership with the north to support development and diversification of northern economies. Subsequently, Yukon and its two sister territories negotiated a $90-million pan-northern economic development agreement with the Government of Canada.


Each territory will receive $30 million over five years, and the funding will be administered by Indian and Northern Affairs of Canada. Now, last December, Mr. Speaker, the three territorial premiers were also successful in their endeavours to keep northern issues high on the national agenda with the announcement of the development of a comprehensive northern strategy. Under the strategy, Yukon will receive an additional $40 million to be used for capacity building and social and fiscal infrastructure development. The northern strategy will contain both a Yukon chapter and a pan-northern chapter. Each chapter will have short-, medium-, and long-term goals and objectives toward achieving a northern vision for the next 20 years. Our government will consult with Yukoners and partner with First Nation governments to establish these goals and objectives to achieve this very important vision.

Mr. Speaker, the timing for this $40 million in additional funding is also dependent upon the passage of the 2005-06 federal budget. At this point, I would also like to respond to the member opposite that the federal government, before the passage of the 2005-06 budget, announced this very fund, nationally, some months ago.

Mr. Speaker, overall, the Government of Yukon is in a sound financial position.

I want to commend, at this point, Mr. Speaker, all the officials in the Executive Council Office and the Department of Finance who have worked so hard to help us secure Yukon’s financial future, allowing us to implement our government’s 2002 election commitments to Yukoners. To each and every one of those public servants, we deeply appreciate your efforts.


Mr. Speaker, when it comes to formalizing our government-to-government relationship with First Nations and building partnerships, much has been accomplished over the last few years.

On January 21, 2005, the Council of Yukon First Nations, self-governing First Nations, and our government agreed to the memorandum of understanding on cooperation in governance in the Yukon and created the Yukon Forum.

The structure and conduct of the Yukon Forum provides a mechanism to establish cooperation in governance that will help achieve more effective services and program delivery by both orders of government to the benefit of all Yukoners, as was the spirit and intent of the land claims, Mr. Speaker.

The Yukon Forum is a powerful symbol of the commitment by Yukon First Nations and by the Government of Yukon to work together collaboratively and formalize their relationship.

Agreement was also reached to develop legislation to entrench the Yukon Forum in law. Governments come and go; the Yukon Forum and our building relationships with First Nations will remain.

On February 19, 2005, Yukoners celebrated the signing of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation’s final land claims agreement.

Of Yukon’s 14 First Nations, 10 now have final and self-government agreements, with an 11th First Nation, the Carcross-Tagish First Nation, currently engaged in a ratification process.

Over 30 years ago, Yukon First Nations presented their land claim, entitled Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow, to the Government of Canada.

The Yukon, through such mechanisms as the Yukon Forum, is now in a position to live up to the title of that claim, and it has become a model for collaborative government in Canada that is recognized nationally.

We believe that by working together with Yukoners we can achieve more than by working against one another, or by working separately and apart, in isolation.

There is a growing list of agreements, protocols, accords and initiatives between our government and First Nations. Here are some examples: an intergovernmental relations accord with the Vuntut Gwitchin government; a memorandum of understanding with the Kwanlin Dun First Nation for the corrections system, including the future replacement of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre; the Kaska bilateral agreement on management and development of resources in southeast Yukon; a protocol on consultation with self-governing First Nations; an implementation agreement for forestry with the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations; partnerships established with the Kaska and Selkirk First Nations on the Faro mine site and with Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation on the BYG site at Mount Nansen; a north Yukon economic partnership agreement with the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation and the Na Cho Nyäk Dun First Nation; and firefighting contracts with 10 Yukon First Nations.


Mr. Speaker, this list is not exhaustive, but it does give an indication of the extent and complexity of the relationships that exist between the Government of Yukon and First Nation governments today in our territory.

In addition to these agreements, our government has helped sponsor relationships between Yukon First Nations, the Government of Canada and with industry. We have facilitated and invested in the creation of the Alaska Highway Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition. We have facilitated First Nation participation at the Canada Gala and at business summits. We have facilitated an agreement between Teck Cominco and the Kaska on an R-15 block in southeast Yukon, further advancing mining exploration in our territory.

We have facilitated a strategy session, funding and staffing assistance for the Yukon First Nations Tourism Association. Once again, this list is not intended to be a comprehensive list of all that is being done. It is a sample of the many things that we are doing to build a better relationship with Yukon First Nations.

On the social side of the ledger there are three major undertakings with First Nations, and they are the Children’s Act review with Health and Social Services, consultations on corrections leading to correctional reform with the Department of Justice, and educational reform with the Department of Education.

Our collaborative approach to governance also extends beyond our borders. Our pan-northern collaborative approach with our two sister territories — the Northwest Territories and Nunavut — in our collective dealing with Ottawa has certainly paid major dividends to all three territories.

I have already noted the successful pan-northern agreements we have negotiated with Ottawa, the $60-million health care accord, the $150-million health access fund, the $90-million economic development agreement and the $120-million investment for the northern strategy, and the increases for funding under the territorial formula financing agreement. Pan-northern cooperation and collaboration have certainly paid off.


At the same time, our government is working collaboratively and forming alliances with the State of Alaska and provincial neighbours, Alberta and British Columbia. On February 18, 2005, our Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources attended the inaugural meeting of the Western Energy Alliance in Calgary. The Western Energy Alliance was formed by the premiers at the Western Premiers Conference held in Inuvik in July 2004. The goal was to pursue further cooperative initiatives in the energy field, creating mutual benefit for all.

Mr. Speaker, one of our closest friends, partners and allies is the State of Alaska, with whom we share so much in common. In late February, our two governments met in Ottawa with the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, six federal Cabinet ministers and key decision makers in industry to promote two major strategic infrastructure projects, the Alaska Highway natural gas pipeline and the proposed Alaska-Yukon railway project, which would connect railroads in Alaska to railroads in the southern 48 through Yukon and Canada.

Mr. Speaker, Yukon and Alaska were in Ottawa, speaking with one voice. Alaska has also offered to assist us in ensuring Yukon has a port access through Skagway and Haines, which is of vital importance to our economy. The Juneau access road, if built, would be another important transportation corridor of major benefit to the Yukon.

On March 7, 2005, Yukon and Alberta signed an agreement for cooperation on oil and gas and pipeline development that focuses on four key areas: training, capacity building, developing northern energy resources and regulatory matters related to pipeline development.

Our government also has cooperation agreements with British Columbia and the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. One of the best examples of collaboration, however, is occurring right here at home between the Government of Yukon and the City of Whitehorse and the Canada Winter Games Host Society.

Yukon’s hosting of the 2007 Canada Winter Games has put the territory and indeed all three territories on the national stage. This is the first time the Canada Winter Games will be hosted north of 60. Yukon’s credibility is on the line. The games must succeed. Our government is supporting the City of Whitehorse and the host society to ensure the 2007 Canada Winter Games are a resounding success. The 2007 games are expected to generate economic benefits in excess of $70 million through the sale of goods and services and create upwards of 400 to 500 person years of employment for Yukon citizens.


Our government provided $4 million to the host society in advance to allow the society to earn valuable interest revenue to support its capital and operations budget. In January of 2004, our government contributed $8 million in support of the Whitehorse multiplex project to the City of Whitehorse, bringing our total contribution to the multiplex project to $17 million.

The Government of Canada agreed to provide $20 million toward infrastructure for the games, and we extend, on behalf of all Yukoners, our appreciation to our federal government.

When the lowest bid for the multiplex came in at $3.9 million overbudget, our government stepped up to the plate and split the difference with the City of Whitehorse on the cost overrun. The next challenge we had to meet was the athletes village. With less than two years left before the start of the games, our government was advised that the host society’s cost estimate for the athletes village of $2.7 million was out by $17 million. Once again, our government was called upon to step up to the plate, and we did.

We subsequently negotiated a memorandum of understanding with the City of Whitehorse to provide $20 million for the construction of the athletes village, whereas the City of the Whitehorse will provide the Yukon government with a grant equal to all municipal taxes on the village for 10 years, the sale of two lots on the waterfront valued at $2 million, and a one-third contribution to the Hamilton Boulevard extension.

The contribution by the City of Whitehorse to the athletes village is valued at $8.15 million. We say to the City of Whitehorse, well done for your contribution and your efforts.

In working with the host society, we also intend to conduct a very major marketing campaign, promoting the Yukon and the north to the rest of Canada, to showcase Yukoners, our potential, our magic, our mystery, our opportunity. That is also an important facet of the 2007 Canada Winter Games.

Both governments and the host society, by demonstration of our actions, are committed to ensuring the games will indeed be a resounding success for all. To this end, our government also expanded its employee volunteer policy in order to increase volunteer support from government employees. Under the new policy, employees will be able to request paid leave for a wider variety of tasks — for example, working on planning committees. The time frame has also been expanded to include work in the two years leading up to the games and follow-up work after the games.

The government is also seconding four full-time employees to work on behalf of the host society. Mr. Speaker, we made a commitment in our 2002 election platform to help make the 2007 Canada Winter Games a success and a memorable experience for Yukoners and our guests alike. Our government is doing everything in its power to meet that commitment by our actions.


One of the most important issues for Yukoners is building a sustainable and competitive economy. Our major election commitment to Yukoners in 2002 was to build a sustainable, competitive Yukon economy — in other words, revitalize our economy. We have worked hard to keep that commitment.

In the statistics released on March 11, the Yukon’s seasonally adjusted labour force totalled 17,000 as of February 2005. This figure represents an increase of 1,400 workers, or nine percent, from February 2004.

Yukon’s seasonally adjusted employment in February 2005 was 16,100, an increase of 1,500, or a 10.3 percent increase in one year — a significant accomplishment, Mr. Speaker.

Yukon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in February 2005 was 5.3 percent, as compared to Canada’s seasonally adjusted rate of seven percent.

These are truly remarkable trends. Our labour force is growing, while our unemployment rate is going down. While these statistics clearly show that an economic turnaround has been achieved, our government recognizes that many rural Yukon communities have not experienced this turnaround as yet, and we will be introducing initiatives to address this rural disparity.

When it comes to economic development, the department that was re-established by our government in keeping with our 2002 election commitment, in addition to its three new development funds, will undertake a major new initiative to develop a rural economic development strategy to enable rural Yukon communities to take advantage of their regional economic opportunities.

The enterprise trade fund, which is administered by Economic Development, has approved $324,567 for 35 projects since its start-up in August 2004 — investing in Yukon’s economy.

The community development fund, also reinstated by our government after it was slashed by the former Liberal government — ignoring the needs of Yukoners, especially in rural Yukon — is assisting Yukon communities to realize their potential, creating jobs for Yukoners in rural Yukon and community well-being.

During fiscal year 2004-05, eighty-six projects received a total of $3.8 million in funding. This investment created 116,000 hours of employment for Yukon citizens — another very important achievement.

The community development fund has funded a wide variety of projects. Freedom Trails Therapeutic Riding Association was awarded $2,040 for certified horsemanship certification that will provide two Yukon residents with an instructor and/or assistant instructor certification.


The 2004 Canada Senior Games, undertaken by the Elder Active Recreation Association, received $37,500 to fund viewpoint events, staffing, and IT systems.

The Watson Lake Day Care received $284,000 for the construction and renovation of the daycare. This project, in a rural Yukon community — in my community — created an estimated 9,600 hours of employment, an additional 24 daycare spaces, and an additional four full-time positions in the community.

Our government and Dana Naye Ventures have reached a collaborative agreement to deal with the collection of the delinquent government loans, which will at the same time provide a program to support the Yukon’s economy. Dana Naye Ventures will take over collection of about $2.1 million in delinquent loans and in turn feed the money into a small business development loans fund.

The Department of Economic Development is seeding a loan capital fund of $300,000 with the Department of Finance providing a $50,000 investment to help cover expenses associated with the loans collection.

At the same time, the Department of Economic Development has been taking steps to diversify our economy and build upon strategic industries in each region. A recent example is the memorandum of understanding signed on January 6, 2005, to develop Carcross as a tourism destination. The destination Carcross memorandum of understanding was signed by the Carcross-Tagish First Nation, White Pass & Yukon Route and the Government of Yukon. It is designed to take advantage of the increase in volume of train passengers that will make Carcross an attractive tourism destination while contributing to business opportunities in the region.

An example of diversification is the very successful Film and Sound Commission. Two new funds were created to help stimulate development in this promising economic sector. The Yukon’s developing film and sound industry contributed a total of $2 million into our economy in 2004, and it has just gotten started. The Big White film project alone employed 202 Yukoners while it was here. Other successful applicants include The Man Who Wouldn’t Fit In by Allan Code, a historical documentary about the mad trapper of Rat River, and Northern Town, a six-part, $3.3 million production, television series by Daniel Janke and Daniel Iron of Tagish Lake Films. Congratulations to them.

Mining, like tourism, continues to be an economic mainstay. The Department of Economic Development organized a mineral investment tour in September 2004. The tour was comprised of a group of mining journalists, investment analysts, and brokers from across Canada who are interested in Yukon’s mineral potential.

Similarly, the Minister and Deputy Minister of Economic Development visited a number of mining operations and manufacturing sectors in China at the invitation of Orient Mining Ltd., which subsequently has established an office here in Whitehorse looking for investment opportunities. Orient Mining Ltd. and other Asian mining companies have visited the Yukon in order to explore those opportunities in Yukon-based mining projects.


Energy, Mines and Resources is playing an important role in our economy’s growth. The Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources is predicting a banner year for mining in 2005 due to high mineral prices for placer mining and expected increased activity in exploration. And, Mr. Speaker, we have, as a government, removed impediments like the Yukon protected areas strategy.

Mining exploration is expected to top $30 million in 2005. It is important to note, Mr. Speaker, that when our government took office in November of 2002, mining exploration was only $6.9 million. If the exploration predictions for 2005 prove true, mining exploration under our government’s watch will have more than quadrupled in two years.

Our ongoing Yukon mining incentive program will continue to contribute to increases in prospecting, exploration and development in the mining sector based on historical intake of the program. In 2003, the program generated a 300 percent return on investment, supporting 48 companies or individuals. This resulted in 761 claims being staked, over 1,300 person days of employment, with 78 percent of the $1.8 million generated being spent right here in our territory. There were 68 applications approved in 2004, so we are anticipating even better results for 2004, when the information becomes available.

The extension of the Yukon mineral exploration tax credit is also assisting in the increased mining activity here in the territory. The Yukon currently has three active, advanced exploration projects underway at Yukon Zinc Corporation, Tagish Lake Gold and Freegold Ventures.

The Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, in conjunction with the Department of Environment and Executive Council Office, has implemented a process of integrated resource management. Part of the integrated resource management process has seen the establishment of a major project oversight committee of deputy ministers, chaired by the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, that is designed to help companies move through the permitting process properly and efficiently so they can realize the start-up of their mining projects — another paradigm shift implemented by this government to improve investment here in the territory. Each project is assigned a coordinator whose primary function is to work closely with the companies to provide advice and help them through the regulatory process.

Two projects, Western Silver’s Carmacks copper project and Yukon Zinc’s Wolverine project, are utilizing the integrated resource management process. Yukon Zinc is doing underground test mining at its Wolverine project and is concluding a socio-economic agreement with the Kaska Nation. Western Silver is in the process of re-entering the environmental assessment and permitting process for its Carmacks copper property. A feasibility study of the project was completed in 1998.


We anticipate that Western Silver will be filing an application for a production licence this spring. Tagish Lake Gold is working on an underground drilling program at Skukum Creek gold-silver deposit in the Wheaton River area. Freegold Ventures recently announced resumption of drilling on the Grew Creek gold deposit located 35 kilometres west of Ross River.

The placer mining industry has always been the bedrock of mining in the Yukon, and good progress is being made on the development of a new framework for the Yukon placer authorization. We are again working collaboratively with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the Klondike Placer Miners Association and the Council of Yukon First Nations on the design and development of a new regime that will be ready for implementation prior to 2007.

Our government is also working to ensure hardrock mining projects are managed in a sound, sustainable manner that will bring maximum benefits to Yukoners.

A reclamation and closure policy, based on national mine site reclamation policies, is currently being developed in consultation with First Nation governments, industry and other interested parties.

As a consequence of our devolution, our government is also responsible for the management of type II mine sites in the territory. This year our government will receive approximately $11.9 million from Canada to manage four type II mine sites here in Yukon. We will receive $1.9 million for Mount Nansen, $1 million for Clinton Creek, $3.9 million for United Keno Hill and $4.9 million for Faro.

Our government is utilizing these funds to maximize employment and business opportunities for Yukoners. Further, the interim receiver, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, initiated the marketing of United Keno Hill Mine assets in January. The priority of this government is to see United Keno Hill return to private sector ownership as an operating mine.

Another strategic industry is oil and gas development. Last fall, Devon began a drilling program on the Kotaneelee disposition in the southeast Yukon. In February 2005, Yukoners saw some 50 trucks hauling a drilling rig up the Alaska and Dempster highways. Devon Canada is drilling an exploration well on one of their permits in Eagle Plains in north Yukon — these two projects again creating jobs and opportunities for Yukoners.


We have increased the budget to the oil and gas development and pipeline branch within Energy, Mines and Resources by $560,000, in order to prepare for the construction of both northern pipelines. This work will include a submission and intervention in National Energy Board hearings on the Mackenzie Valley pipeline.

Our government takes the position that both the Alaska Highway natural gas pipeline and the Mackenzie Valley pipeline are indeed needed. Industry has indicated that the Mackenzie Valley line will be built first in 2009, while the Alaska Highway line will be constructed somewhere in 2012.

Our government is working to ensure that Yukon must benefit from the construction of both lines. Our position is clear: a regulatory process border-to-border for the Alaska Highway pipeline project, providing regulatory certainty; access for Yukon gas in either northern pipeline; Yukon must benefit fiscally and socially from these pipeline projects; and there must be a financial investment to help Yukon First Nations and other Yukoners prepare for northern pipeline development.

The fact that the Alaska Highway pipeline will be located within a corridor of more than 80 percent of Yukon’s population means that its construction will have a significant impact on the lives of most Yukoners. That is why it is critical that benefits from pipeline construction and operation will benefit all our citizens.

It is our position that the Government of Canada must provide regulatory certainty for the Alaska Highway pipeline project through the Northern Pipeline Act or by a National Energy Board proposal.

Whatever regulatory regime Canada selects, it must meet the conditions I have outlined in our position.

The Government of Canada must also assist Yukon First Nations to prepare for the Alaska Highway pipeline, just as they have provided assistance to First Nations in the Northwest Territories to prepare for the Mackenzie Valley line.

Our government has already facilitated and invested in the creation and operation of the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition. This budget provides a further $200,000 to the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition to further leverage funding from Canada.

Mr. Speaker, forestry is another strategic industry that can create jobs in rural Yukon communities. In 2004-05, ninety commercial permits, for a total of 65,900 cubic metres and 590 permits for personal use totalling $16,700 cubic metres, were issued.


Four permits were issued through public tender for year  1 wood supply and the remaining potential permits are on hold pending forestry agreement finalization. The area of supply in years 2 and 3 for 186,000 cubic metres is under the environmental review process. This budget will provide $250,000 for forest silviculture as part of our good forest management stewardship practices.

Tourism and culture is a very important strategic industry that has helped sustain, diversify and enhance the Yukon’s economy while mining and forestry were in decline. The Department of Tourism and Culture is proceeding with its tourism cooperative marketing fund that was announced last year. The fund facilitates market-ready or export-ready tourism businesses, First Nations, municipalities, organizations and consortiums to partner with Tourism Yukon in the promotion of Yukon tourism product to target prospective visitors from around the world.

Of the $500,000 in the fund, $350,000 is for market development administered by the Department of Tourism and Culture, whereas the remaining $150,000 is for consumer trade shows administered by the Tourism Industry Association of Yukon, another partnership. The uptake on this new program has been very positive with more than 39 applications approved for marketing initiatives and another 31 approved for trade and consumer shows.

Our government has also launched a new $350,000 Alaska Highway scenic drives marketing campaign. The campaign includes a direct mail-out and e-mail blitz to over 100,000 targeted leads acquired through purchased direct mail lists and marketing partnerships. A new Web site offers the potential traveller a virtual tour of the Alaska Highway through colourful images and information on communities, people, attractions and events. Our $350,000 investment in 2005-06 will see interpretive signage installed on the Alaska Highway and will allow us to feature the north Klondike Highway scenic drive. Other highways will be highlighted as scenic drives in future years.

The government will invest a further $150,000 in new money in the 2005-06 fiscal year to finalize the Yukon tourism brand strategy, for a total investment of $200,000 for the branding exercise this year. This strategy will identify key brand attributes of the Yukon for integration into all tourism marketing programs to benefit the Yukon economy. We will also be increasing our investment in media and public relations by $25,000 in order to continue attracting qualified travel writers to the Yukon Territory.


This new money increases our overall fam tour budget for 2005-06 to $124,500. The touryukon.com Web site will see a $25,000 increase, bringing its total budget for 2005-06 to $140,000. Since 2003-04, we have increased the budget for tourism marketing by more than $2 million under the leadership of our Minister of Tourism. Our total tourism marketing investment of almost $9 million for 2005-06 demonstrates our commitment to tourism in this territory and our recognition of its importance to the Yukon’s economy and our future.

Mr. Deputy Speaker, the cultural services branch has a number of initiatives that will contribute to the Yukon economy, as well. In September of 2005, there will be a special exhibition of Yukon First Nation contemporary art in Zurich, Switzerland. The exhibit will run until March or April of 2006 and will present the work of 12 Yukon artists who represent various language groups, art forms and artistic approaches. Our government is investing $30,000 in this exhibition, which will give international exposure to the Yukon First Nation artists as well as expand their marketing efforts to a wider audience, extending our talent internationally.

There is a great interest, as you well know, Mr. Speaker, in First Nation art throughout the European marketplace, and our government is increasing the Yukon Arts Centre’s annual core budget by $150,000, bringing the total budget for operations to just under $650,000 per year. This is the Arts Centre’s first increase in five years. This 30-percent increase will ensure that the centre continues to be a catalyst for the growth of arts and cultural industries in our territory.

The cultural services branch is providing $200,000 in funding over each of the next two years for the decade of sports and culture. As part of the decade of sports and culture, the Yukon Arts Centre will receive $157,000 toward Culture Quest, and the Yukon Convention Bureau will receive the remaining $43,000. Culture Quest is an array of cultural activities that will inspire Yukon artists, First Nations, heritage organizations and cultural industries to develop talent and create work that showcases who we are as a community and a territory and as a people. The goal of the program is to draw attention to our culture and youth and inspire Yukoners to participate in cultural activities before, during and after the 2007 Canada Winter Games.

We hope that the 2010 Winter Olympics will also give members of the Yukon community the opportunity to showcase their work.


Our government is continuing to sponsor ice patch research with another $100,000 being provided for investigation by First Nations and scientists, with Tourism and Culture and Environment each contributing $50,000.

The 2004 field season was the most successful since 1999, with four new ice patches recorded and three dozen new artifacts found. A successful four-day field camp involving youth from nine Yukon First Nations was carried out as part of the project and included presentations from scientists on various aspects of ice patch research, oral history provided by elders, recovery of ice patch specimens and demonstrations of the atlatl or hunting-dart technology.

There is considerable media interest in ice patch research, with articles being published in Up Here magazine, American Archaeology and The Mammoth Trumpet. Two research projects were published in the journal Arctic at the University of Calgary, with a third pending in the next issue of the journal.

Dr. Paul Matheus, a local palaeontologist, has been contracted to analyze mammalian vertebrate remains recovered from the ice patches since the start of the program in 1999. Yukon’s history and prehistory are drawing cards that attract visitors and scientists alike to our territory. First Nation cultural centres, museums, heritage attractions, research and product development all play an important role in the growth of Yukon tourism.

On February 19, 2005, at the Kwanlin Dun First Nation “Back to the Water” treaty signing ceremony, the development of the Kwanlin Dun cultural centre on the Whitehorse waterfront was emphasized to become the most significant and symbolic building along the water’s edge, drawing visitors and locals alike to experience the Yukon River and our First Nation heritage.

Both the Government of Yukon and the Government of Canada are also committed to invest a total of $22 million on the waterfront development over the next three years under Canadian strategic infrastructure funding agreements.

Each government will invest $9.5 million to fund the Whitehorse waterfront and $1.5 million to fund the Carcross waterfront. Mr. Speaker, a commitment to revitalize the downtown core has just been delivered upon.

Our Minister of Tourism and Culture is playing a lead role in the development of the Whitehorse waterfront. In Whitehorse, while recognizing the historical and cultural importance of the waterfront, developments will focus on basic infrastructure improvements that will be the foundation for a range of urban development initiatives.

These include water, sewer, street improvements and extensions, upgrades to the Kishwoot Island suspension bridge and the relocation and restoration of heritage buildings.


As well, at the request of business and community interests, funding has been nationally earmarked to address specific cultural infrastructure needs that business, arts and heritage communities are collaboratively proposing to us. Our government will invest $3.5 million this year as construction begins on these improvements in Whitehorse and design continues with public input on other elements, such as arts and cultural facilities, dock improvements and trolley extensions.

In Carcross, the funding will enable community cleanup, water, sewer and road improvements, landscaping and upgrades, and construction of river structures. This infrastructure investment is a fundamental building block in our strategy for revitalizing the Yukon economy.

Our government is looking forward to working with these communities on the waterfront projects, which will provide jobs and enhance the value of the waterfronts as people places for the enjoyment of residents and tourists for years to come.

Communication and transportation infrastructure are also key ingredients for the development of a sustainable economy. The Department of Highways and Public Works is requesting approval for $72 million for capital projects in the 2005-06 budget that will address these infrastructure needs, provide jobs and safer and better service to all Yukon communities. Our government will be investing $5 million toward development of a replacement mobile radio system throughout the territory. Mobile communication solutions is the new system that will replace the outdated multi-departmental mobile radio system.

This year’s budget dollars will fund infrastructure and cell technology costs. Ultimately this new system is expected to provide cellphone service to 17 Yukon communities. The radio system provides remote and mobile communication to rural Yukoners and to organizations throughout the territory, including the RCMP, for the health and safety of all Yukoners.

The information technology sector is also a key element in promoting economic growth, and once again — as in our 2004-05 budget — our government will be providing $5.8 million for departments to upgrade computers, networks and applications that support government programs. In total, the transport division of Highways and Public Works is requesting $57 million to maintain, upgrade and further develop the territory’s infrastructure, another wise investment in promoting economic growth for our territory.

The Highway’s budget includes $24.45 million toward a continued investment in the Shakwak project by the United States of America.


This funding is to reconstruct and to surface a two-lane, 100 kilometre per hour standard to the Alaska Highway, north of Haines Junction, and the Haines Road.

The federal Canada strategic infrastructure fund (CSIF) is providing $10.3 million for a comprehensive upgrading of the Alaska Highway north of Whitehorse to Haines Junction. Work includes reconstruction, BST application, culvert replacement and bridge deck replacements.

An additional, approximately, $8 million is being spent on the following roads: $2.75 million for the Campbell Highway that includes widening, upgrading and applying BST between Carmacks and Faro, and $1.5 million for HERC projects, which are designed to provide employment for Yukoners in rural Yukon; $1 million for the Dempster Highway, which includes placing protective rock blankets to control erosion, gravel surfacing and snowdrift control work; $400,000 for the Top of the World Highway, including strengthening the road base in areas where the BST has broken and replacing it; $320,000 for the Tagish Road; $300,000 for the Klondike Highway; $300,000 for the rural roads upgrading program; $100,000 for the Alaska Highway intersection improvements in Whitehorse; $1.1 million for other road projects, such as surfacing the Dome Road in Dawson and planning work for the Takhini Hot Springs Road and vegetation control; and $2 million for pavement rehabilitation throughout the territory — more jobs and more opportunities for Yukoners, Mr. Speaker.

Bridge work totals $4 million, which includes $1.9 million for development work on the Yukon River bridge project at Dawson City and $1.245 million for rehabilitation work on the Takhini River bridge deck.

The construction of a bridge across the Yukon River at Dawson City is a 2002 election commitment. Ultimately, it is more economic for the government to build a bridge than to replace the existing ferry that costs over $1 million annually to operate and provides only seasonal access.

The bridge will provide access to West Dawson, Sunnydale and the Top of the World Highway for area residents and will eliminate long ferry backlogs on days when tourist traffic is heavy.

The project is currently being developed as a public/private partnership pilot project using a design/build/finance approach. The ultimate decision to utilize a P3 approach, rather than a traditional tendering process, will depend on the economic business case for the project.


Work in 2005-06 will focus on quarry development for rip-rap and aggregates, possible approach road construction and development of lay down areas at the east and west bridge approaches. Work on in-stream piers may be undertaken in the latter part of the fiscal year.

The airports branch of Department of Highways and Public Works is requesting approximately $7 million to fund capital projects in this year’s budget, which will include $4 million to reconstruct the Old Crow terminal building, runway and lighting improvements, and $2.3 million to make improvements at the Whitehorse Airport, including a baggage-handling system upgrade and design and construction work on the terminal building to improve the customs service processing of international flights.

Our government remains committed to providing the necessary communication and transportation infrastructure to support our growing economy, to keep Yukon communities connected to one another and the outside world.


Mr. Speaker, building healthy communities, environment and a better quality of life is essential to the future of our territory. Our election platform committed our government to an ambitious, exciting and progressive social agenda. We have stated previously that a prosperous economy will be of little benefit to Yukoners who are not in a position, because of education, training or health and social problems, to take advantage of those economic opportunities.

The initiatives outlined in this budget and our two previous budgets are helping to build healthy communities, environment and a better quality of life for all Yukoners.

Proper and adequate recreation facilities and community halls are important to all communities, both big and small. They are the focal point of community life, especially in rural Yukon communities.

The Department of Community Services, led by the minister responsible, has included $1 million in the 2005-06 budget to upgrade the arena in Teslin by completing renovations for the mezzanine and installing an ice plant for the facility. These upgrades should be complete in time for the 2005-06 winter season and will provide a longer arena season for hockey, skating and for curling. Once complete, Teslin will be able to host recreational and hockey events with more room for spectators.

Recreation, especially for youth, is also a priority in Ross River, where the community hall is underway with a total budget of almost $2.1 million. The foundation system was installed last fall and design has been approved.

The capital budget for 2005-06 includes $450,000 for the construction of the community hall in Ross River this summer. The contract has been awarded to TSL Construction, and there will be opportunities for local employment during the construction. By the end of July next year, the multi-use building should be ready to serve the whole community of Ross River by providing quality space for daycare and for meetings, as well as a whole variety of community gatherings.


During our community tour we also heard from other rural communities such as Mayo and Marsh Lake about how important such facilities are for their communities, and our government committed at that time to provide funding in the 2005-06 budget for these worthy projects. Mr. Speaker, we have kept that commitment.

Our government is investing in improvements in many other communities because we place a high priority in developing and maintaining infrastructure to improve the quality of life in rural Yukon. For Mayo, the 2005-06 budget includes $100,000 to stabilize the Mayo River dike. This year’s budget will pay for environmental assessments, design and regulatory approvals, and next year construction is scheduled to be completed. By reinforcing the Mayo River dike, we can remove potentially harmful materials used to build the original dike in the 1960s, reduce future operation and maintenance costs and guard against the possibility of a major dike failure.

For Old Crow, the 2005-06 budget includes $300,000 toward stabilization of the Porcupine riverbank to prevent the bank from eroding to the point where roadways, building and public safety would be threatened, especially during severe ice breakup conditions. The Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation is managing this $1-million project under a contribution agreement that our government signed with the First Nation last year. The work is scheduled to start this summer, following environmental and regulatory approvals, and is expected to be completed next year. Since the project is being contracted locally, it is providing substantial local employment in what can be defined as certainly a rural Yukon community.

The Ross River round table has requested upgrading of the walking bridge over the Pelly River to ensure its safety. This bridge was built during the 1940s during the construction of the Canol pipeline, and it continues to be well used by local residents, as well as being a popular tourist attraction.

In response to Ross River’s request, our government has budgeted $100,000 for repairs, and the departments of Community Services and of Highways and Public Works are planning to have the work done this summer, following a professional assessment of what is required to restore this structure.

For Dawson City, the budget includes $500,000 to renovate the old liquor store for the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture. This project is scheduled for completion later this year.

Implementing responsible sewage treatment systems is also a priority, and our government is responding with funding for water and sewer infrastructure in many Yukon communities to meet the needs in rural Yukon.

For Carmacks, our government is committed to investing up to $5.1 million to leverage matching funds from Canada through the Canadian strategic infrastructure fund.


Community Services is working to develop a CSIF application to address Carmacks’ need for an upgrade or replacement sewage treatment plant to meet the wastewater service requirements of the entire community for the next 20 years. Planning and design began last year, and this year our government has budgeted $2 million for the project. The Yukon government and the Village of Carmacks plan to finalize a second contribution agreement for construction of the sewage treatment system when the costs are more clearly defined through the selection of an appropriate treatment system and water licensing process.

For Carcross, our government is budgeting $100,000 this year to complete the last phase of the $3.9 million Carcross sewage treatment and disposal system. A new storage and treatment facility was completed in 2004, and disposal facilities will be designed this year for construction when required based on the performance of the existing storage lagoon. The Carcross sewage treatment system provides the community with an appropriate treatment system facility for its wastewater with very low impact on the environment. The design will accommodate the community’s needs as it grows and develops and would provide the infrastructure necessary to accommodate the Four Mountains Resort sewage requirements. 

$1.2 million is budgeted to begin construction of a new multi-celled sewage lagoon just south of Burwash Landing and replace the existing facility in the centre of Destruction Bay. Construction of the new environmentally sensitive facility is expected to be completed next year. The new facility will better serve the needs of both communities and end long-standing odour problems in Destruction Bay.

For Dawson City, our government is committed to investing $1.5 million to leverage matching funds from Canada through the Canadian strategic infrastructure fund to address the long-standing issue of sewage treatment in Dawson City. This year, aerated lagoons will be pilot tested and alternative treatment processes in Alaska, northern British Columbia and Alberta will be investigated to determine whether they would perform well in Dawson’s climate, provide an environmentally acceptable treatment process that is suitable to Dawson’s size and location and be cost effective to construct, and affordable for Dawson’s residents to operate and maintain.

Overall, more investment in infrastructure is possible this year than ever before because our government has reached a final agreement with Canada in January for a total of $32 million for a Canada-Yukon matched funding arrangement over five years through what is called the municipal rural infrastructure fund. This year, our government has budgeted $8 million to leverage matching monies from Canada. All Yukon communities will be eligible to apply, and announcements of approved projects are planned to start in June. Categories of MRIF projects will include traditional infrastructure, such as drinking water supply, wastewater and solid waste treatment systems and local roads, but also infrastructure related to public transit, culture, tourism and Internet connectivity.


Our government is working with local governments and First Nations to develop land to meet the growing real estate market in Yukon and to develop a comprehensive policy for the orderly planning, development and disposition of lots throughout the territory.

We are currently working with the Village of Haines Junction to develop a 14-lot subdivision of larger, six-hectare, rural residential lots near the airport. Planning, design, environmental assessment and construction started last year. This year $255,000 is budgeted to complete road construction, BST road surfacing and overhead phone and power lines for the new subdivision in Haines Junction. The lots will be ready to be sold by lottery later this year.

In Whitehorse, a record of 170 lots sold in 2004, compared to 78 lots in 2003. Based on this strong market demand, our government is committed to developing lots in Whitehorse to meet that demand. The Yukon government develops lots on a full cost recovery basis. The investment made now is expected to be returned in full over the next few years, given the strong demand for real estate here in the Yukon.

Our government is also responsible for meeting the social housing needs of Yukoners, for seniors and for our staff. We have budgeted $830,000 under the affordable housing agreement. This funding will largely be directed at meeting the needs of seniors and those Yukoners with special housing needs.

The Yukon Housing Corporation has set energy efficiency standards for the units built under this program and will require all units to be designed to accommodate people with disabilities and special housing needs.

The affordable housing agreement was recently amended to enable federal funding of both rental and home ownership units built by private individuals, the private sector, non-government and not-for-profit organizations.

Representatives of the Yukon Council on Aging and of the Yukon Council on Disabilities will play an active role in the application and evaluation process. The board of directors of the Yukon Housing Corporation is responsible for approving the program criteria and for selecting projects for funding. Announcements of successful applicants may be as early as April.

Let me touch on the most important segment of our population for our future — our youth — and the Youth Directorate and the role it plays.

Our government continues to provide a strong focus on youth in this budget, as in previous budgets. The Youth Directorate, under the auspices of the Executive Council Office, provides funding for three key Whitehorse youth groups. Each group receives $110,000 annually for their ongoing operations and provides a valuable service to youth on behalf of government.


Bringing Youth Toward Equality, or BYTE, is advocacy based and targets youth involvement and education initiatives to a broad youth audience.

The Youth of Today Society, or YOTS, serves youth between the ages of 16 and 25 and is an employment-focused group.

The Whitehorse Youth Centre Society/Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada serves a 13- to 18-year age group and provides education through activities and a prevention focus.

Our government also provides funding to communities through a variety of existing community groups or a First Nation office.

The winter activity program for youth is sponsored by the Youth Directorate and delivered by Crime Prevention Yukon with a budget of $200,000. Sixteen rural communities and the Kwanlin Dun First Nation each receive $8,600 for winter projects, activities, training and employment for youth and must have youth input into how they spend the funding.

Funding of $5,000 is also provided to sponsor community youth activities in eight communities that do not participate in the summer leadership program. The summer leadership program itself is sponsored by the Department of Justice, providing training to youth from rural communities each summer. This training assists communities in providing activities to younger youth in their home communities. Activities vary every year, but can include program planning, risk management, communication skills and proposal writing.

Our government will also host an international seminar on youth substance abuse in the north in May 2005. The Youth Directorate is overseeing the Yukon steering committee that is providing input into the conference and ensuring Yukon’s interests are being considered.

As a consequence of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation Final Agreement, our government is providing $150,000 to meet a commitment to fund a First Nation’s traditional use study focusing on traditional harvest practices. The objective of the study is to identify ways to encourage and facilitate elders in the sharing of such traditional practices with Kwanlin Dun First Nation youth.

Mr. Speaker, one of our priorities is the sustaining of our environment. Our government is continuing to provide financial support for the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation’s lobby efforts to protect the critical habitat of the Porcupine caribou herd.

The Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation has indicated to our government that they wish to take the lead in the lobbying effort, and we respect their position.


When the opportunity arose, however, our government did express the need to protect this critical habitat directly in person to the President of the United States of America.

The Department of Environment is responsible for management, protection and conservation in the Yukon. In keeping with this mandate, it is responsible for facilitating and enabling the delivery of sound environmental management programs and territorial park services here in our territory, including the protection and conservation of the natural environment, fish, wildlife and their natural habitats through the development and implementation of supporting strategies, programs and services.

The Department of Environment is also improving its capacity and capability in providing strategic communications, public consultations, media relations and other services by establishing a new corporate position of communications assistant.

The coordinator for the Yukon Youth Conservation Corp, or Y2C2, and the Conservation Action Team, known as CAT, will be turned into a seasonal auxiliary position for a six-month period annually. Concerns related to youth worker safety and government liability are the reasons for the change, Mr. Speaker.

More resources have been requested to expand and revitalize the deputy conservation officer program. The additional resources will triple the number of deputy conservation officers and will provide the vehicles, training, ongoing safety equipment and other materials.

Our government is also working closely with Holland America on a number of initiatives. Holland America is currently negotiating with the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation and our government to provide hiking and interpretive opportunities in Tombstone Territorial Park starting in May 2005.

In accordance with an agreement being negotiated with Holland America, our government will hire a Tombstone liaison/tour manager for a three-year term beginning in mid-April 2005 and ending in mid-October. This position will manage the project as Holland America will be hiring up to 12 interpretive guides, and weekly visitors to the area are expected to be between 300 and 500. The staff position is consistent with a similar initiative by Parks Canada for Kluane National Park, whereby a designated staff person is assigned to manage Holland America activities in that park.

Our government is also involved with Holland America and the Yukon River Panel to study the effects of the passage of the Yukon Queen II and the resulting wake on fish mortality in the Yukon River downstream from Dawson City to Alaska. The object of the study is to identify potential operational and other measures to mitigate any significant effects and risks to fish stocks and habitats.


The Department of Environment is implementing another research project, the Yukon boreal forest monitoring project. This project continues to expand the Kluane ecological monitoring project to monitor the state of the Yukon forest ecosystem with concentration on the key interactions in the boreal forest food web. The components of the boreal food web have been monitored in the Kluane region since the 1970s, and this project expands these surveys to other regions of the Yukon with the assistance of local communities and First Nations. An important component of this project will be to gather information on the historical conditions of the study sites from First Nation elders and other long-term residents. This project will form a broad baseline to measure the impacts of climate change on Yukon’s forests. Funding for this research project is 100 percent recoverable from the University of British Columbia.

Another high-priority area for our government is education, and our government is making a major investment in this budget both in physical infrastructure and in programming. School construction, expansions and renovations total $11.3 million in the 2005-06 budget. $5.4 million has been allocated for construction of the Tantalus School in Carmacks. $2.65 million has been allocated for the Porter Creek Secondary School cafeteria expansion and renovations. $2.415 million has been designated for the Teslin School renovations and new gymnasium to begin construction in 2005. $800,000 has been assigned to complete the installation of a ground source heat pump for the Vanier Catholic Secondary School, and $400,000 to improve the ventilation system for the Jack Hulland Elementary School.

Our government has been encouraging Yukoners to enrol in trades and technology training because of the high demand for tradespeople across North America. The Department of Education has allocated $1.5 million for community training funds in this budget. A pre-employment program for the piping trades started in January because of a high demand for this trade. The pre-employment piping trades course will provide training in both the plumbing and steam fitter/pipefitter trades and students will have the option to challenge the level 1 apprenticeship exam at the end of the course.


Our government is also providing carpentry level 1 training in Carmacks, which commenced in February to help the local residents seize local and regional job opportunities in construction in the next building season.

Providing training opportunities in the communities is important to our government, as these training programs allow residents to develop the skills they need to take advantage of local work opportunities and provide them with valuable skills they can use for the rest of their lives.

The Department of Education had embarked on a three-year program to replace the current fleet of 12 school vans and has allocated $280,000 for this purpose.

In keeping with our 2002 election commitment, $100,000 has been designated to index the student grant to keep it relative to the cost of living — more investment in our youth.

On January 31, 2005, our government announced the opening of the Individual Learning Centre in Whitehorse at 407 Black Street. This is one of the many avenues to assist youth who have dropped out of school to re-engage in learning — what leadership by our Minister of Education. The ILC is staffed by two full-time teachers and two remedial tutors. To date, 57 individuals aged 15 to 21 are enrolled at the ILC. This is making a contribution in bringing those who have dropped out back into our education system.

Our government is committed to encouraging students to complete their high school studies. The school offers a flexible, supportive environment to encourage students to continue working toward their high school diploma and, ultimately, to become lifelong learners. In addition to following the standard curriculum, students at the ILC are also offered work experience opportunities that will count as credit toward high school graduation.

Our government has made literacy a priority because we want Yukoners to have access to the training they need to succeed in the workforce and in their communities. Accordingly, our government has allocated $100,000 to update and implement a new Yukon literacy strategy.

Another important initiative of our government is the expansion of full-day kindergarten to all Whitehorse schools, and some rural schools, over a two-year period beginning September 2005. Full-day kindergarten is an excellent way to help our students build a strong base in literacy. The intent of the full-day kindergarten is to ensure that students receive the instruction and developmental time they need so they can approach grade 1 with a stronger set of skills.

The program was piloted in Elijah Smith Elementary School and students there showed a marked improvement in their learning during the year and had a more successful transition to elementary school.


Full-day kindergarten will be implemented at the following schools in two phases, based on the 2005-06 budget: phase 1, beginning September 2005, at Selkirk Elementary, Grey Mountain Primary, Christ the King Elementary, Takhini Elementary, Jack Hulland Elementary and Holy Family Elementary; phase 2, beginning September 2006, at Hidden Valley Elementary, Robert Service School, Whitehorse Elementary (English and French Immersion), and Golden Horn Elementary.

The nine Whitehorse schools join École Émilie Tremblay and Elijah Smith Elementary, which currently operate full-day kindergarten programs. Robert Service will join Tantalus and Johnson Elementary as rural schools with full-day programs. Other rural schools have two years of half-day kindergarten for four and five year olds. Phase 1 will cost approximately $300,000 to implement in this fiscal year.

Cultural program activities in schools play a key role in our schools and language is at the heart of culture. The Department of Education budgeted $111,000 in 2004-05 to hire two new native language instructors and has allocated a further $72,000 in this budget to bring the number of First Nation language instructor trainees to six.

Our government remains committed to the revitalization of Yukon aboriginal languages and has entered into an arrangement with the First Peoples Cultural Foundation to pilot the First Voices program here in Yukon.

The Department of Education and the Executive Council Office have allocated $150,000 in 2004-05 to operate the pilot program in three Yukon First Nation communities and two schools. The government and First Nations will evaluate the results of the pilot project before deciding whether to introduce First Voices to other schools.

The Department of Education is also working in partnership with Heritage Canada by budgeting $185,000 to expand late French immersion to grades 6 and 7.

One of the most important initiatives to our government and First Nation governments is undertaking education reform. Discussions are currently underway with the Council of Yukon First Nations to initiate a process to reform the education system to better meet the needs of First Nations. To this end, our government has allocated $794,000 in 2005-06 to undertake this initiative.

While self-governing First Nations have the legislative authority to draw down education to serve their citizens, our government believes that the public government system through education reform can be adapted to meet their needs as well as serve the needs of other Yukoners.


Mr. Speaker, justice is a very important element of Yukon society. The Department of Justice, as well, is embarking on a major consultation initiative in conjunction with the Council of Yukon First Nations. Our government has allocated $633,000 in 2005-06 to review the Yukon’s current corrections system. The consultation on corrections project is designed to consult with Yukoners about the challenges and opportunities for delivering corrections programs and services that meet the changing needs of offenders, victims and communities. And, Mr. Speaker, we are serious about tackling the recidivism rate.

The project will help to identify problems and possibilities by focusing on issues facing offenders, victims, families and communities; the challenges and opportunities in corrections programs and services; the options for delivering programs and services; and the roles and capacity of communities and the corrections system. Our government believes that consultation on corrections in Yukon should be program driven rather than facility driven. Our government is committed to ensuring that First Nations have more involvement in the design, delivery and evaluation of correctional programming, because the majority of the inmates in the Whitehorse Correctional Centre are First Nation people. In the interim, pending the construction of a new facility and consultations on correctional reform, our government is working to provide quality programs and services at the existing facility.

On March 11, 2005, the Minister of Justice announced three new programs for the Whitehorse Correctional Centre in the 2005-06 budget: $174,000 for mental health services; $120,000 for an elders and First Nation cultural program; and $35,000 to build a shop for trades program.

Research indicates that individuals suffering from mental health problems need to be better supported within the justice system throughout Canada. The Yukon is actively working to address this issue by providing increased counselling, treatment, staff training, and to renovate treatment facilities.

Mr. Speaker, First Nation inmates have expressed an interest to reconnect with their culture. Elders will be brought into the facility on a regular basis to provide First Nation cultural training. Additional First Nations programming will be developed and may include medicine wheels, traditional sweats and other culturally relevant programs. Mr. Speaker, the Department of Justice will enter into discussion with the Council of Yukon First Nations and other First Nations to determine how these programs could be delivered.


The development of a shop will expand department programs to give inmates technical skills they need to succeed in the workforce. Existing programs include small engine repair, industrial first aid and chainsaw safety.

Our government is also allocating $100,000 in this budget to implement an intensive bail supervision project to support individuals who are in the community on bail awaiting the outcome of their charges or while on a community disposition. This program will reduce admissions to the Whitehorse Correctional Centre and enhance community safety/crime prevention as these individuals would be in a structured environment for most of the day.

Through the leadership of our minister, through our investment, we are taking a lead in the country on reforming the corrections system.

Health and Social Services is the main element of our social fabric. Drug and alcohol abuse is an endemic and enduring problem that touches most aspects of life in Yukon. Substance abuse undermines the health of individuals and communities. It is associated with physical harm to individuals, including death, illness, addiction, the spread of diseases such as HIV and AIDS, and hepatitis and injury caused by drug-related accidents and violence. It creates psychological harm among those who are addicted and creates barriers to education for youth and adults.

Substance abuse is often associated with crime and social disorders that diminish the quality of life for all Yukoners. There is a strong link between substance abuse and family violence, which adversely affects the quality of life of many women and children. Substance abuse also harms the economy. Substantial resources are spent on the illegal drug trade and enforcement efforts. As well, there are economic harms to individual users and society, such as costs for decreased and lost productivity, workplace accidents and health care.

In November 2004, the leader of the official opposition put forward the following motion that was passed unanimously by this House: “THAT this House calls upon the Government of Yukon to work in conjunction with all other levels of government in the Yukon to convene a territory-wide summit to develop a comprehensive action plan to combat substance abuse, which is a destructive and growing force in both urban and rural areas of the Yukon.” At a subsequent meeting of political leaders, our government made a commitment to coordinate a drug and alcohol abuse summit.

The departments of Health and Social Services, Justice and the Executive Council Office are working on that commitment. The purpose of the summit is to bring together representatives from government and the non-governmental community for a focused discussion that will examine effective strategies to respond to drug and alcohol abuse in the Yukon.


During the two-day summit in June, participants will work collaboratively to identify strategies and solutions for dealing with substance abuse. The summit will be the starting point in the development of the Yukon substance abuse action plan. The action plan will be a framework document that will help guide the Government of Yukon’s policy responses to alcohol and drug abuse in our territory. The action plan will be developed in consultation with summit participants and their respective agencies and communities.

The action plan will reflect a balance between reducing the supply of drugs, reducing the demand for drugs and responding appropriately to those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol. It will involve a coordinated effort of the territorial, First Nation and municipal governments, health care and social service agencies, non-governmental organizations, professional associations, law enforcement officials and community groups.

The Yukon substance abuse action plan will take all of us to make it work.

Mr. Speaker, we are investing in the social fabric of our territory to strengthen it. The action plan for substance abuse is testimony to that commitment and investment.

Although reliable data is difficult to obtain, it is suspected that a significant percentage of Yukon’s population of offenders and of victims suffer from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Many of Yukon criminal offenders and victims who show symptoms of FASD also abuse alcohol, drugs or both. Individuals affected by FASD also have a greater susceptibility to develop other secondary addictions and, depending on personal circumstances, may be susceptible to depression.

Since taking office, our government has made it a priority to deal with this serious, preventable disease. We have implemented our five-step FASD action plan, which included the creation of an FASD diagnostic team and implementation of a meconium research project.

In 2004-05, we increased family support worker positions in family and children’s services to provide support to families and children with FASD. Our government is allocating $77,000 in 2005-06 to fund FASSY to do adult assessments in FASD, while our updated public service ads, prevention brochures, early pregnancy tips and workshops are ongoing.

Family and children’s services is providing base funding of $65,000 to ensure the continuation of summer camps for children with FASD.


On March 3, 2005, our government attended an inaugural meeting of the Canada Northwest Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Partnership, which is an alliance of seven jurisdictions that work toward the development and promotion of an interprovincial/territorial approach to prevention, intervention, care and support of individuals affected by FASD. In the summer of 2005, Yukon will be hosting a symposium on FASD and has become a member of the newly formed research group into FASD. Our government will continue to address this serious social problem as one of our major priorities.

The Department of Health and Social Services is planning the construction of two $5.2 million multi-level care facilities in Dawson City and Watson Lake — taking care of the needs of our senior citizens in two rural communities. The architectural design phase will be completed this year, with final construction expected in 2006-07.

Access to affordable, quality childcare was a major election issue in the territorial election of 2002, and our government made a commitment to address the issues.

In March 2003, the Yukon Childcare Association and Society of Yukon Family Day Homes made a presentation to our government stating that childcare was in crisis.

A month later, the Minister of Health and Social Services responded by approving a one-time only increase of $230,000 to the direct operating grant. Half of the funding went toward supporting wages of childcare providers, with the remainder going to support operation costs based on set-up spaces.

In June 2003, a childcare working group composed of childcare stakeholders was appointed to develop a four-year plan for childcare in Yukon, which was completed in December of that year.

The Strategic Planning Document: A Four-Year Plan for Yukon Early Childhood Education and Care made some key recommendations, namely improved early childhood education and care programs and enhanced work environments in Yukon; increased support for families; professional standards, quality and accountability; sustainability and funding of quality programs; and increased communication and public awareness.

In July 2004, our government responded by increasing operating grants by $675,000 in 2004-05 to assist childcare operators — a 30-percent increase targeted to wages and operating costs with a three-percent and five-percent increase in subsequent years.

Mr. Speaker, our government’s investment in the Yukon childcare area puts us second only to Quebec when it comes to early learning and childhood care.

There was a $10,000 increase to the supported childcare budget for 2004-05, with an additional $5,000 to be added in 2005-06 and 2006-07.

A further $45,000 was budgeted in each of the next two fiscal years to develop a public education campaign, host an annual stakeholder meeting, and develop and maintain a Web page.


Currently, $5.3 million per year is directed to childcare through the direct operating grants, subsidy for parents and other programs, including support for special needs children. Yukon contributions, as I stated, are the second highest in Canada. We have increased them by more than 30 percent in one year. Our government has invited three Yukon childcare groups to provide recommendations on how best to direct the new federal funding under the early learning and childcare program. Our government has also asked the working group to come up with a solution to the current impasse regarding the requirement to sign contribution agreements and be accountable for the funds received from the government.

Another major initiative being undertaken by our government with the Yukon First Nations concerns the Children’s Act review. In October 2003, an agreement was reached that the project would be co-chaired by the Government of Yukon and the Council of Yukon First Nations, and the project team would report on a quarterly basis to the Minister of Health and Social Services, the Grand Chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations and the Chiefs Committee on Health.

This Children’s Act review process has helped establish a template that is being utilized by the education reform and the consultation on corrections project processes that were mentioned earlier. The Department of Health and Social Services is allocating $608,540 in this budget to continue this project that will ultimately lead to a new Children’s Act in Yukon with full Yukon First Nation participation.

 Mr. Speaker, we as a government are very committed to Yukon women and, through our Women’s Directorate, we have been playing a leading role in addressing the prevention of violence against women and children. In this budget, $60,000 is being allocated to create a new, one-year term position in the Women’s Directorate to co-lead the development of a long-term public education campaign on the prevention of violence against women and children in the Yukon.

This position will liaise with First Nation communities, women’s organizations, government departments, and other key stakeholders in the development of a culturally sensitive and creative public education initiatives. The First Nation liaison worker position will also provide advice on programs, policy and legislation affecting First Nation women.

Further, for the second time, our government is providing additional violence prevention funding to address the high levels of the domestic and sexual assault against aboriginal women in Yukon communities. This $100,000 funding will be directed at the community level so that aboriginal women in the communities can develop effective programming.


The Women’s Directorate is also allocating $47,000 to help support the implementation of a new self-advocacy program for low-income women in Whitehorse and in the communities. This training program was developed by the Women’s Directorate last year and will be piloted in 2005-06. This program will address the need to provide training and skills to women who are either not eligible for legal aid or cannot afford a lawyer in areas such as family and civil law matters.

As announced in 2004, the Women’s Directorate is allocating $15,000 toward the annual Yukon Women’s Forum. The Yukon Advisory Council on Women’s Issues hosts the event to encourage dialogue, networking and the development of policy recommendations. This year, the forum was held March 18 to 19 and brought a diverse group of aboriginal and non-aboriginal women together. The recommendations that were developed will be presented to both the minister responsible for the Women’s Directorate and caucus by the Yukon Advisory Council on Women’s Issues in the spring.

We committed to building Team Yukon, and an integral part of Team Yukon is our public servants. While our government is working hard to improve the quality of life for all Yukoners, we also want to promote the well-being of our own public servants. Accordingly, our government is launching a major new initiative, “Investing in Public Service: Serving Yukon People”, and we will be consulting with our employees and the union to solicit their input. “Investing in Public Service: Serving Yukon People” is a five-part initiative that will develop the Yukon government as an employer of choice.

The five parts include: (1) developing a comprehensive policy framework; (2) working on succession planning — and this follows with these breakdowns: employee developmental assignment program; internship program, focusing on young Yukoners; first-line supervisors and management program; employee and career assessment program; knowledge and transfer of experienced workers; support professional development and technical training — and (3) investing in safe and healthy workplaces. Workplaces and healthy employees program and work placements for employees with disabilities are part of that investment. The fourth item is recognizing public sector excellence, through an award and recognition program for Yukon government employees. The fifth item is communicating with our employees.


This initiative is supported by a sixth part of the process that consists of work currently underway to establish an organizational cultural framework that includes developing a comprehensive orientation system, modernizing the recruitment process, promoting flexible work arrangements and reducing and revitalizing human resource policies.

Our government is investing $1.382 million in new money to provide a firm financial foundation for undertaking this initiative.

Our government is committed to continued investment in the public service and to developing and sustaining our organization as one that provides top-quality programs and services to Yukon people. That’s what this investment is all about.

As the individual initiatives are developed, there will be further consultations with the public service and the unions on key elements to ensure their valuable input is sought and addressed. We are also committed to developing the public service so it is attractive enough to bring our young people back home to work in our territory after graduating from university and/or college.

Mr. Speaker, our employee population is ageing. Currently 70 percent of Yukon government employees are 40 years of age or older. We are committed to investing in the transfer of the skills and knowledge of our experienced workers to our younger people, who are our future leaders and our future employees. The “investing in public service: serving Yukon people” initiative supports our government priorities to build a sustainable and competitive economy and to build healthy communities by establishing a firm foundation for program and service delivery to the Yukon public.

Our government, through the Public Service Commission, has also made a major investment in encouraging workforce diversity and meeting land claims obligations through funding to the workplace diversity employment office.

The workplace office has two major activities. For the first activity, the amount of money for the First Nation training corps (FNTC) has been increased by almost two-thirds to provide training opportunities for Yukon First Nation people and help the government meet its obligations under the land claim agreements.

The First Nation training corps offers trained positions in departments open to people of Yukon First Nation ancestry. During that term position, usually from one to two years, these employees are trained to the full level of the position and are then able to apply for positions within the Yukon government or with other governments.

The dollar allocation for FNTC has increased from $302,000 in 2004-05 to $502,000 in 2005-06. This allows the training corps to meet the demand for training through the creation of approximately four additional positions and will also help work toward achieving representative public service, further building our relationship with First Nations.


The second major area of focus for the workplace diversity employment office is to help people with disabilities get and keep jobs within the public service. To that end, a new training and work experience program is being offered to provide opportunities for people with disabilities similar to those being offered people of Yukon First Nations ancestry. $224,000 has been budgeted to allow for approximately four training positions.

The total amount currently budgeted this coming year for the workplace diversity employment office is $1,065,000. This represents an increase of $400,000 over last year’s allocation — investing in Yukoners, investing in Yukon’s future. This major initiative will help the government meet its commitment of encouraging employment of persons with special need through employment incentives and of providing Yukoners with the first opportunity for employment and advancement within the public service.

As part of its commitment to practising good government, the Yukon government is pleased to announce it will be strengthening its ability to enhance opportunities for public employees to provide input on Yukon government decisions individually and collectively. This is being done through the provision of a communications officer within the Public Service Commission. The services of a full-time communications officer will facilitate consultation processes with government employees and the provision of current and accurate information through different technologies, including the Web site.

Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, the 2005-06 budget is the product of many hands. We want to thank all the department officials and in particular those in the Department of Finance for all their hard work in helping us put together this very important budget for Yukon’s future. We want to thank all the First Nation governments and people in communities who provided their input at our community tour meetings by telling us what was important to them.

The 2005-06 budget builds upon the economic direction set by last year’s budget. With the passage of this budget, the majority of our election commitments will be met.

The remaining commitments are either long-term commitments or are works in progress. During this sitting, our government will be tabling the final report of the senior advisor on electoral reform. We will also be tabling the Report of Forensic Audit and Financial Review of the Town of the City of Dawson.

Mr. Speaker, it must be recognized that our government, in addition to meeting our 2002 election commitments, has had to address the legacy left to us by preceding governments such as the unpaid government loans, the Mayo-Dawson transmission line, the Energy Solutions Centre and, of course, Dawson City municipal financing. Our government has met these challenges head on while implementing our own progressive economic and social agenda.

Mr. Speaker, I commend the 2005-06 budget to all members of the House for their consideration. And I must point out that in moving away from the politics of confrontation and conflict that was the hallmark of the former Liberal government, the benefits that are accruing to Yukon are now being measured.

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt, by working together today, we will help fulfill the promise of tomorrow.

Thank you.


Motion to adjourn debate

Mr. Hardy:   I move that debate be now adjourned.

Speaker:   It has been moved by the leader of the official opposition that debate be now adjourned.

Motion to adjourn debate on Bill No. 15 agreed to


Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I move that the House be now adjourned.

Speaker:   It has been moved by the government House leader that the House do now adjourn.

Motion agreed to


Speaker:   The House now stands adjourned until 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 29, 2005.


The House adjourned at 4:26 p.m.




The following Sessional Paper was tabled March 24, 2005:




Capital budget (2005-06 5-year) summary by community  (Fentie)