Tuesday, April 26, 2005 — 1:00 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Introduction of visitors.
Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Mr. Speaker, I have for tabling today the memorandum of understanding between Alaska and Yukon, entitled the Alaska-Canada Rail Link Feasibility Study.
Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. McRobb: Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that
(1) the child tax benefit supplement is not available to families on social assistance because of the Yukon Party government’s optional clawback policy; and
(2) the clawback of the child tax benefit supplement funds the kids recreation fund; and
THAT this House urges the Yukon Party government to take immediate measures to increase the income and social support of families in poverty by eliminating the clawback associated with the child tax benefit supplement and by implementing a policy of meeting the demonstrated need of the kids recreation fund through specific line item funding.
Mr. Cardiff: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to request the Yukon Housing Corporation Board to step up its efforts to meet its stated objective of providing social housing to serve the changing needs of Yukon people; and
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to request the Yukon Housing Corporation Board to include a definition of “affordability” in its mandate.
Mrs. Peter: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that
(1) developing a northern strategy must be done with the involvement of all northern people; and
(2) $40 million is available to the Yukon to assist in capacity building for the development of the strategy; and
THAT this House urges the Yukon Party government to make funding available to all interested groups, including women’s groups, to assist them to take an active part in developing the northern strategy.
Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?
Is there a statement by a minister?
Speaker: Before proceeding, the Chair will rule on two issues that arose during yesterday’s Question Period.
The first was a point of order raised by the official opposition House leader who objected to a comment by the Minister of Health and Social Services. The minister had said that an agreement for funding the Signpost Seniors in Watson Lake had initially been entered into by a previous NDP government. The official opposition House leader disputed this claim.
There is no point of order in this case; it is a dispute between members about the facts surrounding a funding agreement. The Chair would note, however, that while raising the point of order the official opposition House leader said the minister was “misleading the House.” That language is not parliamentary, and I would ask all members to refrain from making such statements.
The second issue was a question of privilege raised at the end of Question Period by the leader of the official opposition in response to a comment made earlier by the minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation. The leader of the official opposition objected to what he believed was an accusation by the minister that a question asked by the leader of the official opposition was, in effect, an attack on public servants.
The minister’s comment does not, in the Chair’s opinion, constitute a prima facie breach of privilege. It could be argued that such a comment was unparliamentary. However, points of order regarding unparliamentary language must be raised when the statement is made, not later. Having said that, the Chair would also remind the House that asking questions and providing answers are integral to the role of members of this Assembly and they should be free to do so without being accused of attacking anyone, either inside or outside of this House.
We will now proceed to Question Period.
Question re: Alaska/Yukon railroad, feasibility study
Mr. Hardy: It’s a good thing MLAs on this side of the House have radios. If we had to rely on the bits of information the government provides in this House, we could miss out on millions of dollars’ worth of Yukon Party spending plans. This morning, for instance, we learned about the Premier’s plan to put about $2.5 million into a joint study with Alaska on the feasibility of building a railroad. There wasn’t a word about this in the Premier’s budget speech and we can’t find a line item for that purpose in the Economic Development budget. Since we’re in the process of debating this budget, perhaps the Premier can enlighten us on the subject. Is this a new expenditure over and above the $784 million the Premier wants this House to approve, or is it tucked away somewhere in the department’s budget?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: We very much appreciate the compliment on the speed in which we’re moving ahead with our economic development plans.
The member opposite is right; he’s quite correct: it’s not something in the budget at the present time. We will, however, be meeting commitments and I’m sure that the member opposite will have a clearer vision of what we’ve done and will be doing since we’ve already tabled the agreement in the House here.
Mr. Hardy: It’s interesting that the member opposite expects us to have a clear vision when they don’t even put it in the budget.
This commitment marks a departure from existing Yukon policy on a possible railway link from Alaska to the railhead in Fort St. John. Until now, the Yukon’s position has been to lobby the federal government to match U.S. funding for a feasibility study. In fact the only reference to the railway in the Premier’s budget speech is a single paragraph saying how he and the Government of Alaska have been lobbying in Ottawa, which leads to the inevitable question, Mr. Speaker: has the Premier given up on waiting for the federal government to move on this file, or is there some other reason he decided to act unilaterally at this time?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Once again, the member opposite is correct. The whole issue goes back to a bill that was passed, I believe, four years ago in the U.S. Senate creating a binational commission and appropriating funds by the U.S. government in order to get this commission going. This will look at both feasibility and route, Mr. Speaker, which has a great deal to do with all of this. To date, Canada hasn’t come to the plate on that. We have the guarantee of the previous federal Minister of Transport. Due to the good work of the Governor of Alaska and our Premier, who have gone to Ottawa to speak with our Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister and I believe six senior Cabinet ministers, we also have the guarantee again from our federal government.
But given recent events in Ottawa, we have no idea really where that’s going, so we’ve taken the step to go ahead and get this process started. Again, it is happening very quickly. We’re very pleased that it’s happening. It certainly has not been a secret. We’ve tabled those documents in the House.
Mr. Hardy: We haven’t seen the documents yet but we have been looking through the budget and this money isn’t in it.
A few days ago, I asked the Premier how confident he felt about various long-term funding agreements with the federal government that are so critical to the revenue projections in his 2005-06 budget. The existing federal government is trying desperately to survive for a few more months, but the smart money says we’re heading for an election by probably the end of June.
This could happen without the federal budget implementation bill being in place. The Premier may not be concerned about the multi-year agreements with Ottawa or this agreement at all, but the Premier of the Northwest Territories recognizes a problem and has spoken out loudly about it.
What is our Premier doing, either alone or with the premiers of Nunavut and the N.W.T., to get certainty from Ottawa that the multi-year agreements and promises will be honoured?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: The first thing the three premiers have done from the three territories, through our cooperative approach and working with Ottawa as a territorial collective, is to increase the investment in the north, north of 60, by some $780 million.
I can’t speak for the Northwest Territories budgeting process but I can certainly speak for Yukon’s. Nothing in this budget is dependent on what’s happening in Ottawa today. Everything we have booked in terms of our spending, everything we have booked that shows a year-end surplus — not a deficit, as past governments have brought forward — and a year-end accumulated surplus or net financial position, has all been given spending authority already from Ottawa and, of course, a lot of it comprises of own-source revenues.
So we’re not concerned.
With respect to out-years and things like the northern strategy, again, those are initiatives that are being worked on today. The federal government of the day has made a commitment and we would expect to work with any federal government based on that commitment, because it is time Ottawa had a vision for the north and I think all federal parties agree with that. The north has come into focus.
I heard the leader of the official opposition say we’re doing nothing. Well, there are 780 million reasons why I can say the member is incorrect.
Question re: Seniors housing
Mr. Cardiff: Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the minister responsible for Yukon Housing Corporation made some interesting remarks during the discussion about affordable housing for seniors. For one thing, the minister seemed to minimize the survey that was conducted by the Yukon Council on Aging. It clearly showed that seniors preferred to be closer to services downtown rather than in more distant areas such as Takhini and Copper Ridge. What the minister said was, while downtown was certainly high on the list, it was not the only thing on the list. And I should point out for the benefit of the minister that 137 out of 138 people who responded to the survey said that they preferred to live either downtown or in Riverdale. Only one respondent to that survey took a different position.
Can the minister tell me why the wishes of seniors were ignored when it came to approving the two projects that would get public funding from the Canada-Yukon affordable housing initiative?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Mr. Speaker, again, consultation of what statistics show should be about 2,500 people was done by 300 questionnaires and 138 responses. I am not comfortable giving total credence to the survey. That is something that should perhaps be done.
However, on the committee that reviewed this and made the recommendations and actually made the choices, the Yukon Council on Aging and Yukon Council on Disability both had seats on that committee. They were in on the decision at every level, and that is the important thing.
Mr. Cardiff: The minister has his facts wrong, Mr. Speaker.
Another area that the minister needs to reconsider is what he means by affordable housing. One of the two projects the minister announced yesterday, the Falconridge development in Copper Ridge, has a starting price for ownership of $160,000 per unit by the time that the GST and the real estate fees are taken into consideration. So before the minister raises the red herring about these not being social housing units, let me advise him what the B.C. Housing Corporation considers affordable. According to the B.C. Housing Web site, “Affordable housing is housing that does not cost more than 30 percent of the household’s gross monthly income.” Using that standard, can the minister give us a ballpark figure of what percentage of Yukoners over the age of 55 can afford to buy into this development?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: I believe the member opposite is correct in terms of that number, but again he’s confusing the programs. Social assistance and social housing involves 25 percent — not 30 — of an applicant’s income going toward their housing needs. This program, federally established with full participation of the Yukon Council on Aging and Yukon Council on Disability and looking at all the parameters of that program made the choice to put these two programs ahead. They’re affordable. When you consider $160,000 versus the probably $250,000 or $260,000 with some of the homes that are on the market today, I would say that nearly $100,000 difference makes them very affordable.
But this part of a cascade — and I’m trying desperately to answer the member opposite’s question with the leader of the official opposition who hasn’t stopped talking since I just rose.
But when you look at the overall thing — and now he’s laughing, so we’ll just keep going on that — we’ve had to look at this program in terms of the federal dollars and federal program. They meet the green home standards in affordability and energy efficiency. They meet the accommodation requirements. They’re almost $100,000 less in the purchase end, and on the rental end they will match the average rent for the city involved.
Speaker: Before the member asks his question, I would just like to urge the members not to participate in extraneous chatter. It makes it sometimes hard for the Chair to follow the flow of the debate.
Mr. Cardiff: The minister can’t hide behind the people that this program is supposed to serve, and that’s what he’s trying to do. He’s trying to put this off on to the Council on Aging and the Council on Disability. The flaw in the minister’s argument is that you can’t define affordability just in terms of the existing housing market, especially given the volatile market in the Yukon. You need to define it in terms of how much people can afford to pay for their housing; that’s affordability.
Perhaps the minister should have a chat with the Bureau of Statistics about what seniors can afford for housing. According to the latest figures, 58 percent of Yukon males and 60 percent of Yukon females aged 55 or over have a gross annual income of $30,000 a year or less. That boils down to $2,500 a month. Using the B.C. Housing definition of “affordable housing” —
Speaker: Order please. Would you ask the question, please?
Mr. Cardiff: Why should taxpayers be subsidizing so-called affordable housing initiatives when more than half of Yukon people over the age of 55 can’t possibly afford them? Is that what the minister means by capital democracy?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: I’ll try to pick out several of the member’s favourite questions in that speech.
Affordability in this case is the affordable housing program of the federal government, and we are required to work within that or not get the funding at all.
These two projects use $1.4 million of a $5.5-million fund — so we’ve got more things to come, and those meetings are occurring as we speak. This one announcement generates $23 million of economic activity into the Yukon — jobs, economic development, more money in circulation, more money coming in, more money available and more money to support the social programs, which this government has excelled in. It has increased salaries to daycare workers, increased health care — increased everything across the board. I think we have the best social program record of any previous government, and we stand by that commitment. That’s what we include very much in the definition of “affordability”.
Question re: Alaska/Yukon railroad, feasibility study
Ms. Duncan: Today, I was reminded of Thomas the Tank Engine. It’s a very popular children’s story and is a timeless television series. There is a whole series of engines. There is Thomas, Gordon, James, and even a magic railroad. One of the stories involves an engine called Percy who gets himself covered in molasses.
The Premier, like Percy, seems to have covered himself and the Yukon in a very thick substance. Today, we need to get into exactly what the substance is and which engines are into it with us.
The news release issued by the Premier today says, “While we await the federal government’s formal commitment, Yukon-Alaska have agreed to launch a feasibility study on our own. We look forward to the federal government joining the process.” Would the Premier elaborate on the substance of the memorandum of understanding that has just been tabled? Does this mean that we’ve given up on Ottawa paying for some of the feasibility study for the railway? Have they said no? Is it the political uncertainty in Ottawa that made the Yukon commit in excess of $2 million of Yukon taxpayers’ money?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: I will try to pick several of the member opposite’s favourite questions out of that list.
We have commitments from the previous federal Transport minister — verbal commitments, Mr. Speaker. In the last election and shuffle, a new minister was appointed. We have had meetings. Our Premier and the Governor of the State of Alaska have gone to Ottawa to have meetings again with the Prime Minister of Canada, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister of Transport and others. Again, we have verbal commitments. So far that verbal commitment hasn’t translated into anything in writing and hasn’t gone into a cheque. Have we given up on them? No, not at all, but we do hope that at some point they do come to the plate. We would certainly hope that the leader of the Yukon Liberal Party, whomever that is in the next month, will join with us in getting some sort of handle on his or her colleagues and give us a hand on this. We have every hope that the federal government will do as they committed.
Ms. Duncan: I am reminded that Thomas’ world is an idyllic place with a willingness to embrace good manners, hard work and a desire to be really useful, which is the ultimate in steam engine praise.
As I said, Thomas has many friends in the engine yard, all with varying strengths of character. The Premier’s announcement about the feasibility study mentions Yukon and Alaska collaboration on an Alaska-Canada rail link. The obvious question: where is British Columbia?
One of the engines missing from our Thomas the Tank Engine analogy is Gordon. Where is the engine called Gordon? The feasibility study is expected to cost $5 million. So far, Yukon taxpayers and the Alaskans are paying the full freight on the feasibility study. Yet, the proposed rail link will connect in northern British Columbia. Does the Premier — does anybody in the Yukon Party — have a letter of support or any kind of commitment from the Government of British Columbia, or are we being the gracious neighbour and paying for half the study without any commitment or expression of interest in the results of the study from our southern neighbours?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: The member opposite is quite right in her analogies to Thomas the Tank Engine. Of course, we have to put another tank engine involved in this whole thing and that’s the tank engine named “Gomery”.
We have had meetings with Shirley Bond, the Deputy Premier of British Columbia. We’ve had meetings with Pat Bell, the minister responsible for mining, and this morning I had a long conversation with John Les, Minister of Economic Development. British Columbia is in full support. They are at the table. But we do realize, Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite can I’m sure appreciate, they’re in an election right now. So right now we are dealing with them as observers. Once the election is over, whoever wins will be coming to the table, but those discussions have all occurred.
British Columbia has been an integral part of this whole thing for a long, long time. While one of the members opposite referred to Fort St. John as a possible terminus for that railroad, another possibility is Dease Lake, and there are a million other possibilities. Those are the things that this commission has to study, but British Columbia is an integral part of this.
Ms. Duncan: If British Columbia is an integral part of this, why are we in it on our own and why is there nothing in writing to support the minister’s claim? I remind the minister that Thomas also focuses on good manners and hard work and doing your homework with our neighbours, British Columbia.
Another character in the Thomas the Tank Engine series is Sir Topham Hatt, and he’s the conductor; he’s in charge of paperwork, and that’s Topham Hatt, Mr. Speaker, and not an unparliamentary expression that I’m using that someone might be talking through.
The Government of Yukon Economic Development department has commissioned over $100,000 in studies on the railroad already. Charles River Associates Incorporated has completed three contracts worth $130,000.
Will the conductor over there please provide us with this paperwork that has been completed —
Speaker: Order please. You’ve been doing a fairly decent job of keeping to your analogies but the minister is the minister. There is no conductor. There is a minister. There is a collegial body. Refer to them as such, please.
Ms. Duncan: Certainly. Will the minister or the Premier, if he care to answer this — the person in charge of the train and the feasibility studies that have been completed — please provide them so that we can all know what the feasibility studies — the $130,000 that the government has already spent — say?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Let’s go back to the beginning. This is an issue that has been around for a long time, even under that member’s tenure, when in government and Premier of the territory.
This government has seized the initiative, and we’re moving ahead with doing a feasibility study. It will determine the issues of social economic impact. It will determine the feasibility of routing. It will determine many things specific to Yukon and also specific to Alaska, and it allows for British Columbia and Canada, when they’re ready, to come on board because, eventually, this rail must link to the existing railheads — or one of them — in British Columbia.
We’ve gone further in Yukon in terms of the establishment of the advisory committee and, out of the four seats of the committee, offering two of those seats to First Nations in the Yukon, so that we in Yukon collectively are the architects of the study itself.
The difference here is that this government is not challenged by indecision, as the former Liberal government was, which set this territory back over two and a half years of progress.
Question re: Seniors facility funding
Mr. Cardiff: The Canada/Yukon affordable housing initiative is worth $5.5 million, spread out over five years. Yesterday the minister and the federal government announced how the first $1.4 million of that will be spent. We’ve also had some indications that some of this money will also go to new seniors facilities in Dawson City and Watson Lake.
How much of the affordable housing fund does the minister expect to go toward those two facilities and to multi-level seniors facilities in Haines Junction and Teslin, if they get the go-ahead?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Health and Social Services anticipates a potential recovery from this program of $25,000 per unit. If we look at 10 to 12 units in Watson Lake multi-level health care facility and in Dawson at the multi-level health care facility, that would mean a recovery of between $250,000 to $300,000 for each one of these undertakings.
Mr. Cardiff: Thank you to the Minister of Health and Social Services for answering for the minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation.
The uncertainty surrounding the future of the current federal government certainly needs to be factored in, even if the Premier doesn’t share that concern. Just to go back to the facilities that are being planned for Dawson and Watson Lake for a moment, can the minister tell us roughly what the monthly rate will be for those two facilities, and does the Housing Corporation plan to use a housing market figure to determine the affordability or is it going to be some other measurement?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: There’s no anticipated change in the rates. This is not an initiative from Yukon Housing Corporation; this is a Health and Social Services initiative for a multi-level care facility in Watson Lake and Dawson City. The amount that individuals who reside in there pay ranges from $19 to $24 per day.
Mr. Cardiff: So the Minister of Health and Social Services is raiding the affordable housing fund.
Well, last week both this minister and the Premier used a new term that suggested that Milton Friedman or some other right-wing thinker must have a new book on the market. They both referred to our caucus as promoting social democracy while the government side is promoting capital democracy. It may surprise the minister to learn that I agree with him 100 percent: we are social democrats and we’re proud of it. We believe that people are more important than profits.
In yesterday’s housing announcement, Yukon’s MP said, “The Government of Canada is committed to supporting affordable housing for those Canadians most in need.” These projects are not aimed at people who are most in need, so let me ask the minister this: when can we expect an announcement about real affordable housing for people who need government support, or will that be lost in the shuffle while CMHC and Yukon Housing Corporation keep doling out taxpayers’ dollars to support housing for people with middle-class incomes?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is confusing a number of programs. Here in the Yukon we have programs in the Department of Health and Social Services that allow us to construct multi-level care facilities in Dawson City and Watson Lake. These two facilities will accommodate our seniors in their respective homes.
The cost to the seniors will be one of the lowest, if not the lowest, cost in Canada at $19 to $24 per day, all found. That is phenomenal when you look at what is transpiring in other jurisdictions. This is very affordable for our seniors.
The member opposite is confusing other programs that the minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation has laid out, and they are also in the same context — extremely affordable.
Question re: Seniors group funding
Mr. McRobb: I want to follow up with the Health and Social Services minister on yesterday’s question about this Yukon Party government’s unfair and inconsistent approach to funding seniors groups in the territory. This government has a special funding deal with the Signpost Seniors group in Watson Lake. The minister was asked three related questions yesterday, but answered none of them.
Let’s examine this government’s record. Two years ago, it decided to sweeten the deal with the Signpost Seniors with a huge increase in funding. Moreover, this government implemented an automatic funding mechanism known as “line item funding” — no hoops, hurdles, uncertainty, delays, competition or paperwork. No muss, no fuss — the cheque arrives each year in the mail; however, other seniors groups across the territory have been shut out of this opportunity. In fact, it was kept a secret.
So let me ask the minister again: are all seniors groups in the territory eligible for this type of line item funding? Or is line item funding only possible for the seniors group in the Premier’s riding?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, I can’t understand how this very good initiative that addresses the needs of seniors is a secret, given that the member opposite grasps and understands it.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Point of order
Speaker: On a point of order, the Member for Kluane.
Mr. McRobb: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I’m surprised you didn’t step in yourself. That was clearly abusive language to another member, and I ask you to call him to order on that.
Speaker: There is a point of order, and the point of order is culminating from the 26 minutes and 25 seconds we have been involved in this Question Period. From the Chair’s perspective today, there have been several uses of adjectives — there have been digs — from each side of this floor that weren’t necessary. So I am asking all members to take that into consideration.
There is a point of order, as the Member for Kluane has suggested, but that point of order is not pertaining just solely to this instance; it’s pertaining to this whole Question Period, and I would ask members to reflect on that.
You have the floor.
Mr. McRobb: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Now, this is a question of fairness. It was kept secret from everybody in the territory. So much for the Premier’s comment that his government takes care of seniors regardless of where they live. It seems that only the seniors group in the Premier’s riding will get this type of a privilege. If I have it wrong, Mr. Speaker, let the minister correct the record. But let’s listen carefully, because this issue hinges on the term “line item funding” and whether other seniors groups across the territory are also eligible for line item funding. Let me ask him again: are all seniors groups in the territory eligible for this type of line item funding, or is line item funding only possible for the seniors group in the Premier’s riding?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: This very good initiative to fund the Signpost Seniors in this area began under the previous NDP government some considerable years ago. We are probably looking at about eight or nine years ago. That said, this initiative has been carried forward, and our government has been pleased to index it. The modest increase allows this fund to grow from $40,000 to $43,000 in this current fiscal period that we have in front of us. This is accounted for in this line item in the Department of Health and Social Services, just like all the other NGOs are accounted for in a specific line item in the Department of Health and Social Services.
Mr. McRobb: I would suggest that the minister failed to answer the question again. This is not a line item that was established by the previous NDP government. It was this Yukon Party government that established it, and it was increased far beyond indexing. It has increased exponentially in size.
The Yukon Party government’s approach with respect to this matter smacks of favouritism. It is not willing to take an approach that is consistent from one end of the territory to the other, from the Premier’s riding to an opposition member’s riding. Shame on the Yukon Party. Seniors across the territory including Watson Lake should revolt against such unfair deals and rebel against such secrecy.
Let me ask the minister again; maybe he can answer it for a third time. Are all seniors groups in the territory eligible for this type of line item funding, or is line item funding only possible for the seniors group in the Premier’s riding? Which is it?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The simple answer to the member’s question is that all seniors groups are eligible and they will be treated as fairly and consistently as we possibly can.
We only have to look at our record as to how this government has treated NGOs. Where there has been a demonstrated need, the increase in funding to that NGO is far and above the minimum of three percent that we have provided across the board in more resourcing. We have a number of NGOs that have had significant increases this fiscal cycle and last fiscal cycle, where there has been a demonstrated need. I point specifically to undertakings of this government such as an additional $100,000 odd for Kaushee’s Place.
Some of the other funding has gone into the Child Development Centre; some of the other funding has gone into FASSY; some of the other funding has gone into assisting with programs against substance abuse. In fact, this fiscal cycle we’re going to be putting about $150,000 into a substance abuse summit, right here in Whitehorse, to address this very important issue.
Mr. Speaker, if that’s not putting our money where it’s going to do the best for all Yukoners — in the case of Watson Lake, it’s the seniors in that community — I can’t understand where the premise of the member opposite’s question is coming from.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed.
Notice of opposition private members’ business
Mr. McRobb: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(3), I would like to identify the item standing in the name of the official opposition to be called on Wednesday, April 27, 2005. It is Motion No. 427, standing in the name of the Member for Whitehorse Centre.
Ms. Duncan: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(3), I would like to identify the item standing in the name of the third party to be called on Wednesday, April 27, 2005. It is Motion No. 408, standing in the name of the Member for Porter Creek South.
Speaker: We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: Order please. Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
The matter before the Committee this afternoon is Bill No. 15, First Appropriation Act, 2005-06. The Department of Tourism is still under debate. Before we begin, do members wish a recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will take a 15-minute recess.
Chair: Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We will continue with Bill No. 15, First Appropriation Act, 2005-06, and Vote 54, the Department of Tourism and Culture.
Bill No. 15 — First Appropriation Act, 2005-06 — continued
Department of Tourism and Culture — continued
Mrs. Peter: In debate yesterday, I addressed the importance of the Department of Tourism and Culture. It is one of the main economic drivers in the Yukon. The statistics from last year are favourable in spite of some of the challenges we had to face in the Yukon. Because of some of the hard lessons that had to be learned, I believe the department is better prepared this year. People from all over the world travel to the Yukon to experience the beauty of our land; however, we should be prepared for the impact on our environment of the added population. We should treat it as an opportunity to educate the travelling public about serious environmental concerns — for example climate change impacts in the north, the preservation of wildlife habitat, such as the Porcupine caribou calving grounds, and the importance of maintaining our clean water systems.
It is also a golden opportunity to showcase First Nation history and culture, provided this is done with respect and courtesy. The heritage cultural centres are mandated in chapter 13 of the Umbrella Final Agreement. The heritage of our people is very important. Chapter 13 of the Umbrella Final Agreement says that it is an obligation on the part of both the territorial and federal governments to provide the necessary resources to maintain the artifacts and oral history of our peoples. We look forward to the day when these artifacts of our ancestors are returned home.
I encouraged the minister yesterday, and I emphasize it again today, to dialogue with all communities in addressing the support of wilderness tourism opportunities. These opportunities are helpful throughout the Yukon during the seasons when jobs are scarce for our people.
We can take those opportunities in training for wilderness tourism, because we definitely need the safety courses that are so important and part of this tourism operation.
One of the issues that has been addressed in the last couple of weeks is in regard to border crossings. This would definitely, if it is enforced between Canada and the United States, have an impact on our tourism industry. It will definitely have an impact on the First Nation gatherings throughout our territory. I would like to hear from the minister how she is addressing that concern of the Yukon people.
One of the main parts of this industry, Mr. Chair, is showcasing, like I mentioned earlier, the environment. People come from all over the world to see the beauty of our land.
One of the areas we are most proud of are the parks we have in the Yukon. We have two parks in north Yukon and several throughout the rest of the territory.
A week or so ago, the Premier of the Yukon made comments about the bridge that is planned to be built in Dawson City. Dawson City is a heritage site. The world heritage organization is looking at Dawson as a world heritage site.
I would like to hear from the minister how she is engaging with the Premier to address this very important issue. We can’t afford to allow disrespectful comments to jeopardize such a huge, positive initiative on behalf of the Yukon people.
I would like to ask the minister to tell the people of the Yukon how she is working with her colleague to ensure that the bridge doesn’t ruin the prospect of the site becoming a world heritage site in Dawson City.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: The member opposite has raised a number of different matters. First of all, I’d just like to build upon her comments regarding tourism in the Yukon. Tourism is a huge economic generator in the territory. It creates thousands of jobs and brings much sustainable economic activity to the territory, day in and day out. It’s not simply a matter of three or four months; we are working very hard with our industry on a daily basis to expand the tourism season to include all 12 months. I think our department, in conjunction with our partners in industry, has been making great strides toward that end.
I think that we have a lot to be proud of here in the Yukon, given the population here in the Yukon. Yet looking around the infrastructure that we have within each of our communities, we’re very fortunate to be able to celebrate what we have in the Yukon, to be able to celebrate what we do best here in the Yukon, and we have the ability to showcase the tourism potential in this territory. It is absolutely amazing.
In my portfolio over the last couple of years, I have had the opportunity to travel to different parts of Canada. Each and every time the ministers of tourism and culture in their respective responsibilities have commented about how they have spent time in the Yukon, whether it be on official business or with their families, they are very overwhelmed with what we have to offer here. They are very impressed with the services and programs that we as a government have to offer to industry to be able to help grow industry and help to partner with industry on an ongoing basis to develop standards, to develop training, to make us one of the most competitive jurisdictions in the world when it comes to tourism.
When it comes to our culture and our heritage, we take great pride in the Yukon as being an icon for heritage, for our culture. We have a record dating back thousands and thousands and thousands of years when it comes to our First Nation culture. We are supporting First Nation governments and their cultural interests by dedicating $220,000 in a new funding program, for example, toward the support of their First Nation heritage cultural centres, by dedicating funds toward a new position in our department for a First Nation heritage worker to be able to work alongside First Nation governments in helping them to develop their cultural needs throughout the Yukon.
I outlined a number of different programs when it comes to conservation and security of our artifacts. The member opposite yesterday was asking some questions with respect to our government’s efforts when it comes to repatriation of artifacts of First Nations here in the territory. I am pleased to say that we have done a lot of work through the Umbrella Final Agreement, through the chapter 13 discussions, and as I mentioned earlier, in the development of the strategic heritage plans. We also have a wonderful publication called Searching for Our Heritage: A Review of Artifact Collections Outside of the Yukon. It was just recently updated less than two years ago, and I’d be very happy to provide the member opposite with a copy of this publication. It’s a great publication, and it is actually used as a model for other jurisdictions, including the Northwest Territories and most recently by the Innu of northern Quebec and Labrador in searching for our heritage when it comes to repatriation of artifacts. So I’m pleased to also pass that on to the member opposite when we talk about that particular area.
When we talk about programs and services that our Department of Tourism and Culture delivers on an ongoing basis, as I mentioned yesterday we do conduct regular community consultations with respect to municipal leaders and First Nation leaders and the respective regional tourism associations throughout the territory.
A recent example was that of the scenic drives initiative, beginning with the Alaska Highway scenic drive. Our department was out and about throughout the Alaska Highway last fall, speaking with respective leaders on what their expectations were on the scenic drive, what we could showcase in their communities and how best to deliver those gems in each of our communities to the rest of the world.
As the members opposite are familiar with, we did dedicate $350,000 toward that particular initiative — the Alaska Highway scenic drive — to which we are very pleased to be able to provide that funding again during this fiscal year. Of that $350,000, we have approximately $200,000 solely dedicated toward interpretive signage that will be located up and down the Alaska Highway, west and east, within the Yukon portion. In addition to that, the remainder of that money will be going toward commencing the start of the Klondike-Kluane scenic drive as well. So we are really thrilled to be able to work with the communities as well as have an opportunity to sit down with the communities to listen to their concerns and the issues that are confronting their communities and to work with them to identify additional opportunities to showcase their particular regions.
We have been working very closely with industry on developing product in the territory. I’ve often been on the record as having said that product is not solely tourism-related institutions, so to speak. It’s about roads, it’s about highways, and it’s about maintaining what we have here in terms of infrastructure. It’s about enhancing our air access and enhancing our airports. It’s about enhancing wildlife viewing sites. To that end, I know that our Minister of Environment has been working very hard alongside the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation to proceed with the construction of a new interpretive centre at the Tombstone Territorial Park, which was just recently designated as an official territorial park by our government.
That will be a $1 million-plus facility, and we’re looking forward to developing that facility and having it in full operation by next year’s summer visitor season.
As the member opposite is probably very familiar, we are also very pleased to be able to work with our partners from Holland America in looking at training up to 12 new interpretive guides. Again, that’s another partnership where Holland America is working with the Department of Environment as well as the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation.
When we talk about building capacity and we talk about building on training, on packaging and on pricing, these are some of the very worthy services that our department is able to provide on an ongoing basis.
Border crossing is a very large area that our department always keeps a very close tab on, because we happen to have so many various international borders surrounding our territory. As the member opposite was alluding to earlier, there was an announcement made by homeland security — that is, by the United States administration — back in April — just a very short while ago — talking about new U.S. border regulations that would require all Canadian citizens to carry a passport.
Our Department of Tourism and Culture has been in close contact with the Canadian Tourism Commission regarding this proposed matter, in which they are actually conducting a number of pieces of research. They’re studying the possible impact on the U.S. leisure market, as well as holding meetings, conventions and incentive travel markets. They are monitoring the situation very closely, as we are.
The Canadian Tourism Commission will be passing along information to the Yukon as it becomes available.
We appreciate that this is not just a Yukon-wide issue; it’s going to be a Canada-U.S.-wide matter. I should also add that President Bush was also quoted as having said that he also agreed that the proposed measures were perhaps too onerous. That in our minds as well presents us with the opportunity to also work with the Canadian Tourism Commission. It reminds us that it is certainly not a decision that is set in stone. In fact it’s a proposed measure, and even the President of the United States is very much alongside us when it comes to these new measures being perhaps too onerous.
Again, with that said, we will continue to monitor the situation. We will be considering information that is shared with us before proceeding with a formal position. We have shared this with industry over the weekend, at the TIA Yukon AGM, and industry is certainly supportive of that position as well.
When it comes to Dawson City and the Klondike region, our government has been very supportive of the Klondike region, as we are of all regions in the territory. The Klondike presents a huge opportunity to be able to showcase its heritage and history because of its geographic location. We continue to work alongside the Klondike Visitors Association and industry. We work with the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation to develop new ways of being able to promote our heritage and history throughout the Yukon. But, of course, given the history of the Klondike, there are a lot of wonderful and excellent heritage institutions, some of which — I’m sorry to say that I, as the Minister of Tourism and Culture, have taken issue with the minister responsible for Heritage Canada, for Parks Canada, not being able to maintain its obligations in developing and being able to secure additional funds when it comes to Yukon’s historic facilities.
One recent example, of course, was Parks Canada’s decision about a year and a half or two years ago to close the Bear Creek facility. That’s really unfortunate, because it is a world-class attraction. It brings many visitors to the Yukon as a result of these institutions, and we continue to work with the community in furthering these efforts. And I know that, for example, I made the commitment to work with the Chamber of Commerce in Dawson City to encourage Parks Canada to bring additional investment to the Klondike and to bring extra dollars to perhaps reopen some of these attractions that have sadly gone by the wayside because of lack of dollars.
The Department of Highways and Public Works, as the Premier has stated on a number of occasions as well as the minister responsible — we are working with the citizens of Dawson City and Parks Canada representatives to ensure that the final design for the bridge across the Yukon River has the least effect possible on the historic nature of the community. I should note that Parks Canada representatives have been involved from the very beginning of this process when it comes to the construction of the bridge across the Yukon River. They have been part and parcel all along, alongside our other partners when it comes to the construction of the bridge, the planning, the design, and they will continue to be a very important partner when it comes to the future of the bridge and the future of the Klondike region.
We have received some comments from Parks Canada regarding the design and location of the bridge. I should point out that receiving comments of this nature is part of the process we have in place. It’s part of the ongoing environmental assessment of the bridge across the Yukon River. These comments, among all other comments, will be given full review and full consideration as part of the environmental review process. Certainly we welcome and we appreciate the feedback provided by Parks Canada, and we certainly encourage Parks Canada to remain an active partner when it comes to the future of the Yukon River bridge.
As I mentioned earlier, the environmental review assessment process has and will continue to involve Parks Canada. In the meantime, I as Minister of Tourism and Culture will continue my efforts to encourage Parks Canada to provide additional dollars to live up to its obligation. As the Premier has also relayed his concerns on our government’s behalf, we will continue to urge the Government of Canada to reinstate sources of funding, investments in Parks Canada staff, investments in their facilities, investments in training and programs — programs and services that, I might add, are very widely well-received by Yukoners and by visitors from abroad. I know that we have had, and continue to have, a very close working relationship with Parks Canada representatives in the Klondike area, as well as in the Kluane area. One example of a close partnership is in the visitor reception centres where we happen to share space with Parks Canada in Dawson City and in Haines Junction.
We have a very good working rapport and I certainly support that working relationship. Again, we are very pleased to be able to work with them.
I was outlining a number of different initiatives of how our government has been able to support industry over the last two and a half years. I wasn’t able to touch on the tourism cooperative marketing fund too much yesterday, but this tourism cooperative marketing fund has been a wonderful addition to the Yukon’s partners in industry. We have been able to leverage an additional $450,000 from industry, which means that instead of $500,000, there is just under $1 million’ worth of product and marketing efforts on behalf of industry in the world, in the marketplace.
So it is with initiatives such as these that we are able to listen to industry and be able to deliver to industry, and we are now seeing the results with increased visitation.
Mrs. Peter: The minister touched on several of the concerns that I had. I want to follow up with a few questions. One is with regard to the cultural centres that we talked about, how important our history is to the people of the Yukon and how important it is that, when we have sites that are in the planning to become heritage or world sites, those are very important for this industry.
There’s the designation of Tombstone Park that the minister mentioned. These are all important initiatives, Mr. Chair. The upcoming Canada Winter Games will be a key economic driver for the Yukon. 2007 might seem a long way away right now, but when we’re planning for such a huge undertaking, time can go by very quickly.
There’s a cultural component of the Arctic Winter Games; it’s all about sports and showcasing the north. This is one of the most important times for the north, not only for the Yukon but for the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. You put the three territories together and you have many facets of culture that we can share with people from across Canada and the world.
I would like to hear from the minister how the communities throughout the Yukon will benefit from this event and what kind of plans or government-to-government dialogue has taken place to address that.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: As the member pointed out very correctly, this is an opportunity of a lifetime for the Yukon — not just the Yukon, but the entirety of Canada’s north, inclusive of Northwest Territories and Nunavut. It’s an opportunity to be able to showcase our culture, our sport, who we are and what we have to offer. Through the active participation of our Premier, coupled with the premiers from Nunavut and Northwest Territories, our Premier has been actively working alongside the Canada Winter Games Host Society, to which we are very pleased to be able to provide financial and many other in-kind support. But one of the areas in providing support is this pan-northern approach and being able to find opportunities to showcase the Yukon and the north and all that we have to offer. So we continue to dialogue with the respective territories and Canada on a marketing campaign. Again, this is inclusive of identifying and finding opportunities to be able to showcase not just our sport but also our culture — again, who we are and where we come from.
Through the Canada Winter Games Host Society, I understand there is a representative solely designated to work with the communities throughout the Yukon. She is a very well-respected individual in the Yukon, a member of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation. I know that she has been working with the communities, travelling to each of the communities along with the chair of the host society, finding ways and soliciting input and invaluable feedback from the respective community leaders on how we can best mobilize communities, have them best participate in the games, and best be able to take advantage of these wonderful opportunities that the games present to the Yukon.
Through the host society, our Premier’s efforts, and our department’s efforts on the pan-northern marketing campaign, Community Services has been engaging with respective communities on the Best Ever program. And of course, through the decade of sports and culture initiative, our Department of Tourism and Culture also initiated the Culture Quest program about a year ago. So, we have dedicated about $157,000 toward that initiative, and that is in large part initiated by the Yukon Arts Centre. We’re very pleased to be able to support the Arts Centre in this regard, and they have done a wonderful job over the last year. They’ve been able to engage with the various communities throughout the Yukon.
Different initiatives and projects that come to mind include the photography project in the Village of Teslin. Pretty much every family in Teslin was given the task of recording their family’s history and their place within the community through photography. I believe that is just about to be showcased through the George Johnston Museum — if I’m not mistaken — very shortly.
Another example of an initiative that was funded through the Culture Quest was the First Nations music tour. Again, that toured through a number of different communities.
We have also worked with artisans and musicians to visit some of our respective schools to help instill a thinking among our Yukon students about the possibilities of music and art as a future career, and also to give them something to become more inspired about and to start them thinking about the Canada Winter Games, along with events leading to and events following that will promote our cultural component.
There are a number of initiatives underway under the Canada Winter Games and certainly as we get much closer — the member opposite is quite correct in that it’s not that far away — a lot of work is being done by many individuals throughout the Yukon in developing not just our sport component but the culture component within the games.
Mrs. Peter: I thank the minister for that answer. I know that the games are taking place in 2007 for two weeks. I’m not sure if it’s happening in the winter months or in the summer months. I thought I read it was in February. Can the minister just let the House know when the games are going to take place?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Without having the exact dates, I believe it’s in early March.
Mrs. Peter: March is a nice time in the Yukon when people are starting to enjoy the warmth of the spring sun. It’s a special time of the year for many of our people.
As I was listening to the minister talk about the importance of financially supporting all the initiatives that are going to take place to prepare for the Canada Winter Games and to showcase our culture and to have the three northern territories involved in this once-in-a-lifetime initiative, I couldn’t help but think how very important it is also for our languages to be involved. Are there any plans in place for printed material to have not only the French language printed, but the language of some of the First Nations throughout the three territories printed?
I know that the logo for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games has been selected. I saw Premier Okalik on the television and how very happy he was that they selected an emblem that represents his people of the north and how very proud he must be for that. I’m very happy for them.
Those are the kinds of steps that we can take in this territory so that once the games are over and everybody goes back home, we can be very proud to say, “Yes, we’ve done it. We’ve done ourselves proud” — and I’m sure we will. We have the people throughout the Yukon Territory; we just finished acknowledging volunteers throughout the territory and how important they are to make such events happen.
We have special people throughout each of our communities in the Yukon. They are the backbone of our communities. They make things happen. Without them, we wouldn’t have half the events going on in our communities. Especially there are the parents of the students and the parents of the young people who are going to participate. They spend hours not only helping their child take part in sports but they also take part in making the events happen.
So I hope to see our First Nation languages play a key role. I know there is a cultural component and a committee addressing these types of issues. I hope to make contact. I did put my name forward to become a volunteer and I will pursue that. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many of our people to come forward.
I just wondered if the minister could elaborate more on how the communities can benefit. I am thinking about infrastructure that can maybe be built in other communities where they can host different events, and if there is any dialogue that is taking place to address those kinds of initiatives and which communities might be involved. I know there are communities along the Alaska Highway that would like to be involved and, of course, if the community of Old Crow can benefit from such plans, then of course we would like to be a part of that. I know that our communities always say we are so isolated and so far away; however, it would also be a very unique experience for people who would be coming from other parts of Canada and the world.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: You’re absolutely right. We want to make the 2007 Canada Winter Games the best opportunity possible for all Yukon communities to become engaged. I think that through the good work of the Department of Community Services — they are by and large taking the lead on working with the host society when it comes to being able to share opportunities when it comes to the sporting events.
As the member opposite, though, was probably made aware, through the good work of the Canada Winter Games Host Society, some issues have been raised surrounding liability and the necessity for immediate access to medical facilities. Of course, within our communities, that isn’t always the case — to be able to meet the standards that are submitted by the Canada Games Council. So as I understand it, while using facilities may be somewhat limited when it comes to the games and actually hosting specific sports events, I think that, as I mentioned earlier, there are other opportunities to be able to engage the communities in the Yukon.
Again, that comes down to a cultural component, being able to solicit the active participation of many of our members of the community and being able to showcase their culture, being able to showcase what they do best. Again, that’s through the pan-northern approach, working with our respective partners to the east, identifying opportunities on the pan-northern level in addition to working with the communities.
I believe that the Canada Winter Games Host Society, through the chair and through the representative who has been specifically tasked with working with the communities, have been identifying the respective communities and discussing opportunities for engaging their participation in the games. I know there is a whole host of different ideas being discussed as we speak and will continue to be discussed leading up to the games. So I’m quite confident that our communities will be engaged and that they will certainly have every opportunity to benefit from the games, as I mentioned earlier.
This is a great opportunity for the entire Yukon. It’s the first time Yukon or any of the three territories will have the opportunity to host games of this large nature, the Canada Winter Games. I should also add that it’s actually the last winter games to be held before the 2010 Winter Olympics. We’ve also been engaging in discussions with our counterparts in British Columbia in identifying opportunities for Yukon and B.C. to be able to share our culture, our training opportunities and so forth. So we are actively working and discussing with the B.C. government opportunities for how we can share in these great things leading up to the games, during the games and after the games as well. The Canada Winter Games is not simply about the two-week period when the games take place; it’s an opportunity of a lifetime that will certainly last for many years after the games have come and gone, very similar to Expo that occurred in Vancouver in 1986, which I believe set the stage for the Yukon. We certainly saw a large increase in visitation after 1986, and I’m sure that we will see increased visitation after the 2010 Olympics in B.C. and of course after the 2007 Canada Winter Games.
So we’re really excited. I know the Minister of Community Services has also been working very hard and diligently with his department representatives and, through their department, again working with the Canada Winter Games Host Society.
Mrs. Peter: I’d like to move away from the Canada Winter Games and address the scenic drives initiative. This initiative is fairly new for this department. Would that marketing campaign be targeting only the summer travellers, or is it both summer and winter?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: The scenic drives initiative is identified in our tourism marketing strategy and also through the product development strategy, identified by industry as a priority. We’re very pleased to be able to designate funding toward this really important initiative. Whether it be an initiative to try to enhance increased visitation from the rubber-tire traffic, whether it also be enhancing visitation through our fly/drive market and our partners, this initiative is specifically designed to entice more individuals to come to the territory and to experience the scenic drives we have to offer throughout the territory.
The first scenic drive we have decided to showcase is the Alaska Highway as a natural highway. It continues to receive international distinction and is one of the few highways in our country that actually goes through a province, a territory and a state. We have much to share among the three jurisdictions and we continue to talk with our partners in those respective areas, finding ways to share resources and information to better showcase the area.
In turn, additional dollars will be designated in future years for future scenic drives. I mentioned the Klondike-Kluane scenic drive will be developed during this fiscal year with some of the funding we have identified. So the scenic drives initiative is certainly designed to entice traffic to the Yukon year-round.
If the member opposite hasn’t checked out the Web site, the Web site is up and running now and has been very active, as I understand. We have received a lot of hits to the Web site. I believe it’s great because, as I mentioned earlier, our department officials went out and travelled to the respective communities last fall. They had the opportunity to sit down with each First Nation government along the highway, as well as each municipal government, as well as regional tourism associations and chambers of commerce, to talk about this proposed initiative and what areas their respective community would like to see showcased.
The Web site incorporates a lot of different initiatives from community events. There is a very active roster of events delivered by each community, and there is information pertaining to attractions, information pertaining to accommodations, information pertaining to stories that are specifically submitted by the municipality and/or the respective First Nation government. So it’s very comprehensive. It also entails a section on arts and culture, so I think it’s a very comprehensive Web site.
Again, as we bring more scenic drives on-line, we’ll be able to incorporate more communities and attractions along the way and in-between.
As I mentioned earlier, we have identified just over $200,000 for interpretive signage. We are really excited, because I know that over the years many interpretive plans have been studied and talked about, but primarily up until now, they have been all shelved. So we are actually pleased to put some money toward one of the studies, one of the solicited reports that was developed a few years ago to talk about the Alaska Highway and interpretive signage, which also received a lot of comprehensive feedback from communities along the highway. The initiative also includes a direct mail campaign that was sent out to targeted consumers in Canada as well as to the Lower 48 states, inclusive of the Web site that I just mentioned. It also includes enhanced media, public relations article development for distribution across North America and also to partner with our fly-drive marketing partners. We have also designated some additional funding toward itineraries and program sheets for the independent motorcoach market that is to be distributed at various trade shows throughout the States. Of course, the remaining dollars are for postage and fulfillment, as well. So I think it is a great initiative. It has been very well-received by the communities so far, and we look forward to working with our communities and working to improve the Web site, working to improve the delivery of the program. I think we are off to a really good start, and we look forward to seeing the results.
Mrs. Peter: I wasn’t sure if the minister said whether this initiative was both summer and winter seasons.
I believe there are many events that this department has to attend throughout the year, throughout Canada and throughout the world, whether it be to market the Yukon brand or to market the different initiatives that happen throughout the territory. Can the minister, for the record, tell the House when these travels take place within this department?
I believe the summer months are very busy and a lot of attention is paid to the industry at that time because travel is taking place. I just wondered when the busiest travel times are for attending the different trade shows, et cetera.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: As the member opposite can appreciate, we do a fair amount of travelling for very good reasons and for a very good cause, and our representatives — our department officials — do take part in a number of international travel trade shows throughout the year. Primarily, travel takes place over the winter and spring months, as I seem to recall.
Events include events in Australia and Spotlight Canada, for example, in the U.K.; there’s the ITB in Germany; there are the United States Tour Operators Association, National Tour Association and the American Bus Association in the U.S. We also participate in Kanata in Japan, the Canadian Inbound Tourism Association in Vancouver, and of course the annual Rendez-vous Canada, which is being held in Saskatoon this year.
We maintain a very strong presence at each of these very important events and we conduct a wide variety of events and activities during these events, including building an awareness of the Yukon as a destination, fostering new product sales and developing partnerships to develop new markets for existing products or existing initiatives.
So we do participate in a number of these events and, as I seem to recall, they are primarily over the winter months, right up until May.
Mrs. Peter: I understand that this travel is very important to promote the Yukon. Since we are the gateway to Alaska, how much time is spent in and throughout Alaska to promote Yukon products or to promote the Yukon, period? With the previous question, how many of these events does the minister attend?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Alaska is a very important partner. In fact, we have a lot of various investments that we partner on with Alaska on an ongoing basis. We have been going on for some time through Tourism North. Back in the old days, when I worked at the visitor reception centre in Watson Lake for many years — those were great old days, these are better days — I recall that we would be active participants in Tourism North, which is an organization that entails Alberta, Alaska, Yukon and, just recently, British Columbia came back on board after a year of relapse. We’re very pleased to see them back at the table. Tourism North is a wonderful organization in which officials from our department meet on a regular basis to discuss primarily the Alaska Highway and opportunities to develop our respective regions and how to entice more visitors along this highway.
Also, through the Yukon-Alaska initiative, a joint Yukon-Alaska program, we have a marketing program that we deliver in partnership with the Alaska Travel Industry Association. That’s worth about $275,000 all inclusive, which we partner with them. The program has many different benefits for the Yukon including, for example, just recently we were able to generate up to 110,000 names through the Alaska marketing programs.
The names were generated by an $8-million Alaska tourism marketing campaign. So, through our contributions, we were able to solicit feedback and receive the names of many individuals who have indicated an interest in coming to the north or who have visited the north.
In turn, we were also able to take out a full-page ad in the Alaska state vacation planner, which is a value of about $68,000. Of course, we also partner with Alaska to place advertisements throughout the United States and Canada. We have access to the market research that they receive through ATIA and we also have a seat on the marketing committee though ATIA.
So our officials are very frequently over in Alaska. I make it a point of attending the annual meeting of the Alaska Travel Industry Association as well. It is very well-attended and it is an opportunity to touch base with our partners in Alaska. In fact, the last one that was held at the end of last September was in Fairbanks, I seem to recall.
We are very active partners of Alaska, and the scenic drives initiative is another opportunity for us to dialogue with Alaska and be able to share our plans for interpretive signage and these additional initiatives to be able to market the Alaska Highway.
Mrs. Peter: I would just like to conclude by saying that we do have a very vibrant arts community in the Yukon, and there has been much interest from the film industry. That has been somewhat positive for our economy in the territory. Several live plays have been at the Yukon Arts Centre, and we’ve had the opportunity to have local people participate in some of those plays. We would like to continue to see those types of initiatives happen.
The minister mentioned that the Klondike would be the next leg of highway to be marketed. I’m just wondering if the Dempster Highway would be part of that Klondike initiative.
It’s very exciting news about what’s happening with the Tombstone Territorial Park; however, there are outstanding issues there with the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and how that was designated.
I have addressed those issues before in this House, and they can obviously be addressed by the Premier. I know they had a training program in Dawson to make sure that the staff is ready to go this summer.
The many music festivals and events that we have throughout the territory, I believe, are marketed and mentioned in many of the booklets that we have available. I have to mention the winter events that start mostly in February, I believe. I know that the marketing branch has been aggressively promoting our winter events and winter festivals that we have throughout the Yukon — the Yukon Quest being one of the major events that takes place. In my community of Old Crow, dog mushing was almost extinct. Now it has returned, and there are many people who have dog teams and we have our own events in our community. They have been travelling to Dawson to participate in the Percy deWolfe dog race, and they’re branching out slowly but surely. A couple of the dog mushers from my community had plans to enter the Yukon Quest; however, with the shortage of food and the issue with the salmon and all kinds of other issues that they had to deal with, they couldn’t make it this time. Hopefully, they have a brighter future. There are many young people in my community now who are participating in dog mushing, and it is very exciting to see that come back.
I was just in Old Crow on the weekend and was out on Crow Flats, and there are many young people out there. That’s part of our history, travelling around our traditional territory by dog team. We were talking about that and it is very important to make sure that these events survive. So that will conclude my questions for the minister, and I would like to hear her comments.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Perhaps just to respond to the member opposite, when it comes to supporting our arts and cultural community, our government has been pretty active in that respect. Each year our own Department of Tourism and Culture provides over $2 million in various programs to the arts and cultural community. That doesn’t even include the monies that are also distributed throughout the communities to help bolster support for the arts sector, as well as through the community development fund and also through the other funds — the enterprise trade fund that’s delivered by the Department of Economic Development.
So I think we’re very fortunate here in the territory to be able to provide a wide range of support to arts activities through funding programs for our artists specifically and our arts organizations. I’ve often been on the record as having said that it never ceases to amaze me just how fortunate we are to have such a calibre of fine artists and cultural performers here in the territory. We really are fortunate and it certainly adds to the social fabric of our territory.
When it comes to winter tourism, our department is very active in engaging industry in helping to develop our winter tourism product on the ground. Whether that means marketing our winter tourism to the rest of the world, we have a number of signature events that we’re very happy to continue to showcase, including the Yukon Quest, Sourdough Rendezvous, Fulda winter challenge and, of course, as the member opposite alluded to, working with our film industry.
Thanks to new funds that have come through the Department of Economic Development, we have been able to attract a whole host of new film activity. In fact, just over the weekend I was at one of the local hotels here and I happened to meet a film crew from BBC who were on their way up to Old Crow Flats over the weekend. They were going to spend some real quality time up there. So I thought that was great and very interesting to hear what they find especially interesting and enticing to come to the Yukon.
So I think that we’re very fortunate to have a lot of activity, but it is activity that we go out and get. We are very aggressive in being able to promote our cultural industries, whether that be film, sound recording or arts and other activity in the territory.
Interestingly enough, I just have to put on the record that, back in January, it was reported by Statistics Canada here as well that spending per person by this government, the Yukon government, in 2002-03 was $406. That was the highest of any provincial or territorial government in Canada. So we’re very proud to be able to build upon those dollars, and we certainly have, through new investments since then — over the course of the last couple of years.
We will continue to work with this particular sector because there is a lot of potential for growth.
Mrs. Peter: Mr. Chair, I just wanted to respond to the member, since she mentioned the film crew that was in Old Crow. I did have an opportunity to meet them. The very reason they are in Old Crow is we have had several major news media in Old Crow last week and this week. They are very interested in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge issue. They are in and around throughout the traditional territory, taking films of our people out on the land and filming what takes place while we’re out there. It’s very important, while these people are in our territory or in our traditional territory, that we bring these very important issues to the forefront. It’s not only the BBC but there are a couple of people from the San Francisco Times, and also a couple more people coming from the Chicago Tribune, and it is all to address the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge issue. That has been in the news — obviously, not here in the Yukon; it doesn’t seem to be that important. But to the rest of the world, it is very real.
We are very fortunate and we are very grateful to have these people interested in our story and helping us to educate the rest of the world about what we’re dealing with. We have obviously heard what is happening today between Yukon and Alaska, yet the plight of the Gwich’in people is still hanging in the air and there are decisions being made in Washington, D.C. this week.
I said I was just in Old Crow on the weekend and spoke to many of the people up there.
This is a very scary time for them. We talk about history, and we talk about how important it is to conserve and preserve, and this is part of it.
So, thank you. I just wanted to put that on the record.
Chair: Is there any further general debate?
Ms. Duncan: I’m pleased to enter into general debate with the minister on the Department of Tourism. I’d like to begin the discussion this afternoon with the issue of branding and marketing.
If I might just take a few minutes of the House’s time, on the weekend the cover story of the Saturday Globe and Mail was about McDonald’s restaurant. The minister is nodding. I’m not sure if she saw the story, but essentially it talks about the makeover of McDonald’s. I’m sorry to say to the franchise that I’m not a fan, but in any event the challenges before the restaurant were that they had to make some changes, improve their restaurants, provide better service and make sure the public knew the company had changed and that the brand had been polished. It was an operational as much as a marketing challenge. The article goes on to say, “We thought the way to grow our brand was to look at other brands and to look at other things besides our customers and our restaurants.” The article concludes that it has gone from one of the least effective in the fast-food category to without doubt one of the most effective. That’s in reference to the marketing campaign. So I would recommend that article to members of the House, just in terms of a discussion of marketing and a discussion of brands and the whole concept behind a brand strategy.
Over the past number of years, since I’ve been in this House, I can recall a number of different marketing campaigns. There was the style-conscious adventurer market we were aiming at; there was “The Magic and the Mystery”; the most recent campaign I can recall is “Yukon: Canada’s True North”, which didn’t always endear us to our neighbours, but it was a very effective campaign. In particular, our former Prime Minister loved our Yukon vests with the maple leaf on them. They were very effective.
There’s also the film marketing campaign — was it “Need Snow” or “Think Snow”? It was very effective. My point for the minister and the reason I’m bringing this up is that I’m curious where we are now. What is the Yukon’s marketing theme?
I’m not saying we necessarily are in need of a makeover; I’m saying we’ve had a variety of themes; we’ve had a variety of strategies — decade of anniversaries is another one. What are we now? What are we saying to Canada? Are we focusing on wilderness adventurers, continuing the gold rush, the rubber tire market? In the tendering forecast I note there’s a tender to be called for next month for a Yukon brand strategy. It’s not an expensive tender — it says under $200,000 — but I would like the minister to elaborate on the current marketing initiatives of the Department of Tourism and Culture and how we’re branding the Yukon today.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Without getting too technical — as the member opposite can very much appreciate, I certainly don’t profess to have any expertise in marketing Yukon. That’s why we have a whole tourism branch in the Department of Tourism and Culture to do this, and they do a very fine, stellar job. The member opposite is quite correct and succinct in that we have had a number of different messages over the years. Some have been effective and some have been less effective.
The brand strategy was identified as the number one priority of the senior marketing committee through the Yukon tourism marketing partnership. In fact, it was identified as the largest priority in terms of marketing the Yukon and the need to come up with an official Yukon brand strategy.
We have delivered on that. We have actually put $150,000 of new funding in addition to the $50,000 that we have in place currently in this budget. In addition to the brand strategy, there will be a brand implementation plan that we’re hoping to have completed by November or December of this year.
The member opposite asked what it is that we’re trying to promote — is it our wilderness, is it our people? I guess what I can respond to that is that in discussion with our marketing officials in the branch, there is a trend — I would just refer to the Canadian Tourism Commission, for example, which is going through a brand exercise as well. They are coming up with a new brand for Canada. So we are working very closely alongside the CTC so that we do not duplicate efforts but in fact we complement one another.
There seems to be a real trend. We used to market Canada for its wilderness, its wildlife and so forth, but the trend now is that individuals who travel to Canada are looking for an experience. So it’s the experience that the Canadian Tourism Commission and we in the Yukon want to capture.
I’m not trying to pre-empt what’s going to be in the brand strategy but, in terms of the Canada-wide discussion, there is a trend to market Canada as an experience versus a specific product here. I think we can build on that by working very closely with the CTC.
The strategy will define the attributes of the actual Yukon brand, as well as provide a proper positioning statement for that Yukon brand. That statement will be the foundation on which we will continue to build guidelines, protocols, partnership programs, messages to tag lines, logos, licensing and merchandising to other programs associated with the brand.
One of the important parts of developing the brand strategy will be consultation. It’s absolutely necessary to have a lot of input from the respective communities and also our First Nation partners.
That will be an important component of the brand strategy. We hope to have this in place, as I mentioned, by the end of the year. Industry has recognized this as a priority and has really urged our government to proceed in an expeditious but comprehensive manner.
So at their request we are proceeding, and we hope to have something tangible in place by the end of the year.
Ms. Duncan: Something tangible in place by the end of the year — will that be in time for the marketing of the tourism season? It’s such a fine window in terms of when you can market and meeting deadlines and so on. My question is: will we have our new slogan — pardon me, I think the word was “positioning statement”. Will we have our positioning statement in time for that marketing? Just to build on what the minister said, if I think back now to other newspaper ads and magazine ads I’m seeing — like Newfoundland and Labrador are marketing the idea of, go there and you can go whale watching and do this, and this, and they name a number of experiences all in one weekend and for $600 from Toronto. So it builds on what the minister is saying. I’m certain that Yukon has incredible experiences to offer, so it will be a fun campaign to work on. Will it be in time for next year’s marketing?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: As I seem to recall, in terms of the launch of the new vacation guide and the lure piece, it will unfortunately not be in time for that because we hope to launch those later on this fall, so it will be after that. But for the long-term investment for the Yukon, this is for the long term. Hopefully we will have some secured consistent taglines and communication from then on out, but unfortunately it will not make it for this year’s series of publications.
Ms. Duncan: Officials in the government were working on this whole issue of the Yukon — the word, our word mark and our phrase were being used somewhat indiscriminately by others in marketing. I’m thinking of the GM products. There was a “Yukon,” as well as a “Denali.” There are Klondike ice cream bars. There were opportunities, and there was also some indiscriminate use that Yukoners really didn’t see a ton of benefit from. There was some benefit, but there was, of course, always the thought that perhaps we could have achieved more. What is the status of that particular initiative or discussion?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: We continue to engage with various entities. The member opposite referred to GM as one and Klondike bars as another. Through our partnership program, we continue to engage with companies. I know there are discussions with Sony Canada, for example, with Canada Dry and with Columbia Sportswear, for example. So we continue to have those discussions on an ongoing basis.
I should add that part of the brand strategy will be a very important component of the strategy, as I seem to recall. It will include a partnership program, so that when we do define the Yukon brand, we will be able to protect the Yukon brand. We will be able to support it, enhance it and grow it, but be able to protect the definition of our brand through the strategy and its implementation.
We continue to engage with various companies to promote the Yukon product. I think that this brand strategy will only serve to emphasize what we have to offer but be able to protect it in a secure manner.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, while we’re working on the brand strategy — and we’re hoping by the end of this year — the clock is ticking. The Member for Vuntut Gwitchin mentioned the 2010 Winter Olympics in B.C. and the unveiling of the logo this weekend. The logo, of course, is a wonderful, colourful Inukshuk. There was a subsequent article in one of the Vancouver papers by a person who has just written a book evaluating all the logos from Olympics over a period of time and said that the logos are perhaps one of the most important marketing features of the games. I have been to several Canada Games update meetings, but I can’t specifically recall a logo discussion. Certainly, it may have happened; I just don’t recall it. I’m wondering, given the importance of the logos to games like the Olympics and the Canada Winter Games, where the logo discussions fit with the brand strategy discussions that are ongoing? Is there a tie-in there?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Our director of marketing and our Deputy Minister of Tourism and Culture are actively involved on the committee that oversees the pan-northern strategy, working in conjunction with the three respective territories. As well, we have our officials working very closely with the Canada Winter Games Host Society.
When it comes to the national marketing strategy, I know that the host society also made a presentation to the senior marketing committee. There is a whole host of partners that we need to link and keep that link together as we proceed with marketing the Yukon, keeping in mind that we have timelines in place and are proceeding.
That is something that we continue to work closely on advancing with industry, through the host society and through the department. With respect to the logo, I can’t say on my feet at this time where we are at with the specific logo. Obviously, it would be flowing out of this brand strategy, but that is not going to be in place for a few months yet. So, depending on what those timelines are with respect to the Canada host society and our marketing campaign and so forth, it’s almost like a chicken-and-egg situation.
Ms. Duncan: I agree with the minister; I think it’s important that there be the tie there. We wouldn’t want to be out of sync. The more consistent the theme, the more it helps in embedding that brand in the consciousness of not only Canadian travellers who come here, but those from out of country as well.
The minister and I have engaged often when we were updating and going through the Department of Tourism and Culture in discussion of air access issues. Air North and other airlines have participated in the past in the gateway cities program. I would like to know where that initiative is currently. Do we have a current status on Condor airline? Are they coming in this summer? What are the dates for flying into Yukon? Are we having current discussions with Air Canada and Zip? Are there any discussions with WestJet? There were also discussions of an additional carrier from Europe? Are there any initiatives there that the minister would like to make the public and the House aware of?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Air access is a very important component of the tourism industry. It’s very important to Yukon individuals and residents, as well as to our visitors. It is probably one of the most contentious areas when it comes to securing air access and maintaining adequate air access for Yukoners.
I’m happy to report that through working with our air partners, Air Canada and Air North, Air North has increased its frequency and capacity to Vancouver on Tuesdays and Thursdays to two flights a day. I know that Air Canada also has been very much working closely with our department and listening to the needs of industry in response to their requests from industry to be able to improve same-day connections whether inside or outside of Canada to our Asian market and to our European market. Air Canada was able to actually secure two flights per day over the winter season, which was very well-received. As a result, our Japanese aurora-viewing market actually doubled from the year before. In fact, one operator was quoted as having said that she had the best season ever with about 1,500 new visitors coming to the Yukon over the winter, which is very welcome news.
That was in large part thanks to Air Canada and Air North being able to accommodate industry at their specific request. Unfortunately, I don’t have the updated information in front of me, but I know that commencing very soon Air Canada will be bringing in a couple of Airbuses per day, starting in the summer season and going until September. I apologize for not having the exact information before me, but that will be very welcome news because we obviously need that additional capacity over the summer months that will be able to handle the baggage associated with visitors coming up for summer travel, whether that be carrying river rafting equipment or hiking equipment. That’s very welcome news. Again, we’re pleased with the service that has been provided and will continue to be provided until this fall with Air Canada and Air North.
Through the gateway cities initiative, we’re pleased to be able to continue to provide $200,000 to gateway cities. Last year, we were able to partner with Mountain Equipment Co-op, I believe it was, and showcase the Yukon in their stores throughout the country. We were also able to partner with a number of radio stations in British Columbia and Alberta through gateway cities. You will recall that a couple of the announcers were up here and taking part in rafting the Tatshenshini. They went to Dawson and participated in all the very fun events they have. We are continuing with that program. We are integrating through our campaigns, through broadcast opportunities, billboard opportunities — similar to what we did last year — and we are building upon our direct mail-outs and partnership programs.
As I mentioned before, there are a couple of companies we have some leads on, but nothing has been confirmed, as of yet.
Condor is starting its good service later on next month and will be going until the very end of September. From all accounts that we’re receiving through our partners, their business will again be increased from last year. In fact, if you talk to our fly/drive partners — Fraserway is one company that comes to mind, and CanaDream is another — their numbers are substantially up this year, which is a very strong indication of how strong the fly/drive market is in the Yukon.
That’s very welcome news to the Yukon and to visitors, as well as to Yukon residents, for that matter.
Ms. Duncan: I appreciate the information from the minister. I believe the Yukon Brewing Company was also part of that gateway cities program. I seem to recall them on a radio show in Calgary.
The minister didn’t mention if there were any additional carriers coming up from Europe. There was talk of an additional carrier some years ago. Individuals interested in that were short an aircraft — that was the issue there. Is anyone else beside Condor coming in?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: No. Our efforts get an A, but at this time we don’t have any confirmation.
Ms. Duncan: We have a sales agent in Europe and I believe that tender was let and concluded, or awarded, last year — if I could just have some details on that. In the tendering forecast, once again we’re looking for a sales marketing specialist in the United Kingdom. I think we’re finishing up a contract there and looking at re-awarding that. If the minister could put any additional information out about that, I’d appreciate it.
Where are we with our agency of record? What year of that usually three-year contract are we in? This is a very long process in seeking an agency of record and then awarding the contract, so if the minister could provide some information as to the current status of that, I’d appreciate it.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: The department does have two standing offer agreements, SOAs, with our contractors, both in Germany and in the United Kingdom. Bergold Promotions was awarded a three-year standing offer agreement for provision of our services in German-speaking Europe. The contract with Jill White Travel Marketing ends in August of this year, so we will be initiating a tender process this spring to seek a contractor for those services in the U.K. We’ll be looking at how we tender that particular contract.
With respect to our North American advertising agency, that by and large over the years has been let every three to four years. Two Red Chairs, which is a joint venture between Aasman Design of Whitehorse and Trigger Communication of Calgary, is currently under contract for those services until September 30 of this year. Again, we’ll be going to tender for the provision of those services, as well, just to ensure there is no disruption in the current delivery of our program right now.
Ms. Duncan: The minister’s response generated a number of questions. I would like to start with the Bergold standing offer agreement. Has that changed significantly from the last standing offer agreement? Have there been any changes, and what are they?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: As I mentioned earlier, Bergold Promotions was successful in winning the three-year SOA. Services include initiating preliminary discussions with tour and wholesaler operators on product development, public promotions, media relations and third-party marketing opportunities of interest to the Yukon.
Again, the contractor has been with us, I believe, since 1995, so he certainly knows his business, but we continue to, of course, at every opportunity, upon the expiration of these contracts, take the opportunity as a department to be able to improve, to assess the contract and to see where we can improve delivery for service. So that certainly is nothing new for the department to do, and I know that review of the contract was done before and some improvements were made. I cannot say which specific changes, but we’re always looking to improve with the same end goal.
Ms. Duncan: Perhaps the minister could just send over a letter at some point with the more specific changes. We have contracted this individual since 1995. There have been changes made, and I appreciate that we’re always looking for improvements. So I am interested in whether there were any specific accountability factors built into the standing offer, such as number of media contacts, or the minister mentioned earlier visitor lists that were generated as a result of an investment. So what accountability factors have we built into that discussion?
Jill White Marketing — the contract ends in August, our existing contract. However, that is listed as being tendered in the Government of Yukon tendering forecast. We’re looking to tender that in the fall of this year. The minister just mentioned that our agency of record contract ends September 30, but I don’t see it in the tendering forecast, and it usually takes a long time to develop the tender and to evaluate the tenders for.
Is it perhaps that it’s September 30, 2006? Or was it just missed from the tendering forecast?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I understand that the department is currently working on that as we speak.
Ms. Duncan: I take it then that it has just been missed from this tendering forecast from the supply services branch and that is why it wasn’t listed. The agency of record was expecting the tender to close in the fall — September 30. Is that correct? The minister is nodding.
That particular tender is quite a difficult process, so the department and those who choose to submit a tender — I wish them well. It’s a tough task, but also a terrific opportunity to be able to market the Yukon.
I have a few questions with respect to our overall relationship with some of our partners. Perhaps the minister could just indicate how well the Yukon Tourism Marketing Partnership is working. May we have a status report of the YTMP? Is it working? Have we refined it? Is the industry happy with the working relationship? It was quite a lengthy committee process, so perhaps the minister could give us an update on that.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Yukon Tourism Marketing Partnership has been in place for a number of years but it was almost two years ago coming up this summer, as I seem to recall, that the process was refined. In fact, born out of the YTMP was the Senior Marketing Committee, for which we have two co-chairs. One co-chair position is held by an industry representative. The other one is held by our director of marketing.
From that senior marketing committee, there are, I believe, up to 12 seats. I don’t have the exact information before me, but it is made up of a number of individuals who are primarily appointed through the YTMP process, based on their expertise in marketing. It’s not so much regional representation or other factors; it is primarily based on expertise in marketing in the Yukon through experiences.
I think that through the initiation of the SMC, as we have come to know it, they have done a really great job. In fact, the committee has up to 15 industry representatives. There have been some bumps along the way; there is no question about it; it is a new process. I think that we have been able to work really closely with industry and refine the process in such a manner that we have been able to come up with documents like the marketing strategic plan and the marketing strategy, and some very finite, specific goals to meet. I think that pays a lot of credence to the hard work and efforts of our officials in the department as well as to individuals who have volunteered their time to sit on the Senior Marketing Committee.
In speaking with members of the senior marketing committee and receiving feedback through various correspondence, industry appears to be very pleased with the process and continues to work with us to continue to improve our publications, how we deliver programs and services, and how we strategically spend our money. I think they’re doing an exemplary job and I applaud their efforts.
Ms. Duncan: The minister has a relationship, in terms of a funding relationship, and they make a tremendous contribution to cultural life in the Yukon with the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture. Could the minister outline the current relationship with KIAC? There are specific projects that KIAC is involved in; there’s also an ongoing funding arrangement. They also receive significant support from the City of Dawson, which they are no longer receiving, given Dawson’s financial situation. Could the minister outline for the House the relationship with KIAC and its current status?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I like to think we have a very strong working rapport with KIAC. Since taking office, we have increased funding from $100,000 to $250,000. This level of support continues today.
I should add that KIAC also receives funding from other sources: for arts activities, under the arts fund, which is an applicant-driven program so there are no guarantees. But they also partner with the Department of Education, through the arts for employment program, and they deliver a whole host of initiatives and do a great job in bringing new individuals to their programs and providing some really good core programs.
The overall vision, of course, for KIAC for many years, since it first came into being, was to become a fully accredited post-secondary art institution for both Yukon residents and visiting students. So, we’re working together with the Department of Education and Yukon College to examine KIAC’s plans — their future vision — and see how we can work with KIAC in realizing this vision, given their resources and where they wish to be in a year to five years’ time — the long-term vision.
Ms. Duncan: The $250,000 is ongoing operation and maintenance funding, and there is a transfer payment. Is that a three-year contribution agreement, such as the Health and Social Services minister has with the NGOs, such as Yukon Family Services Association, or is it a yearly contribution agreement? What are the accountability factors that are built into that agreement?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: There is a one-year agreement in place. There isn’t a three-year ongoing agreement. As with all our contribution agreements, we do have built-in mechanisms toward meeting their objectives while keeping accountability within the taxpayers’ coffers, so to speak. So, they have been in existence for some time. We have had a contribution agreement with KIAC — I don’t recall when we first started the contribution agreements, but they have been in place. I am very confident that they are doing an exemplary job, and they are certainly meeting the long-term and short-term objectives, as they are set out within the contribution agreement.
Ms. Duncan: I would appreciate it if the minister could send over a copy of the contribution agreement, at her convenience.
The non-government organization funding in the Department of Tourism has not enjoyed the NGO funding increase that has occurred in the health care field. In fact, there is a 70-percent decrease in funding to Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous and an 11-percent decrease in the Alaska travel industry. That might be the exchange rate, but there is also a seven-percent decrease in Tourism North. So there is either zero percent or decreases in the Department of Tourism transfers between the department and the non-government organizations. That’s quite different from the non-government organizations to which the Minister of Health has been able to give increases. Of course, there has also been a significant increase in funding for the Department of Health.
Perhaps the minister could outline if she is lobbying or anticipates an increase in the NGO funding for the tourism organization. Perhaps she could also explain the decrease in funding for the tourism NGOs.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: As the member opposite just referred to, through the Yukon-Alaska program and through Tourism North, there is a decrease. It is for the simple reason that the exchange rate has changed, as well, to our benefit. We actually get a bigger bang for our dollar, so we’re actually very thankful for that.
The Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous had a one-time increase in recognition of their 20th anniversary, which was held last year. They were very pleased with that additional funding, and we were pleased to be able to provide it.
In addition, though, I should also say that many of our organizations are also able to seek other sources of revenue. I think that they have been doing a great job in this regard. I just recall the Wilderness Tourism Association of Yukon. They have been able to leverage dollars through the Department of Tourism and Culture, and they do provide a great service in offering the wilderness marketing program on our behalf. In doing so, they have been able to actually leverage additional sources through federal agencies, sources of funding that we wouldn’t necessarily have been able to access because we are a line department. So I think that they have been doing a great job, and other organizations such as the Yukon First Nations Tourism Association are able to seek additional funds through our other funds, through the community development fund. So these different funding sources — new money that our government has implemented and introduced over the last two years — have been doing a pretty good job as well.
So as the member opposite also mentioned, the Department of Health and Social Services has indexed, so to speak, some of their NGOs, and they have also received a fair amount of dollars that has enabled them to do that and to be able to meet the specific objectives, as per the health accord, which has actually enabled them to meet some more of their objectives. So I think that in terms of our contribution agreements, we are very proud to be able to maintain and sustain and, in some cases, increase our contribution agreements — and through the availability of additional funds through the community development fund and other funds through the Economic Development department that have been very well-received by the community. We have been able to boost their funding levels as well.
Ms. Duncan: I wish the minister well in her lobbying for more money at the Cabinet table; it’s a difficult process. Part of the difficulty with the non-government organization funding is that no increases do force the NGOs to look elsewhere. Part of the problem in this funding in the Department of Tourism and Culture is also the funding for museums, and that aspect of the cultural industries and heritage is that the criteria for accessing the money has expanded, so that while the line item stays the same in the amount that is being transferred, there are more individuals and organizations available to compete for these funds. That can make it difficult. It also encourages, on the upside, the organizations to be able to leverage from elsewhere so long as that funding is still available.
I understand that the expansion of the trolley, which is funded under this department, is underway. When is it expected that the trolley will be providing services? This is more of an attraction than a heritage issue, but as an attraction, when is it expected to be functioning from the riverfront near this building all the way to the Argus property site — or, I believe Spook Creek is the destination.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Just before we get to the trolley, I just wanted to say a few words about the museums. Upon taking office, we did take a really good, hard look at the museums funding program and chose to work with the museums, and instead of having two different funds — capital and operation and maintenance — we have combined both of them into contribution agreements because we felt that the museums could better spend the money than we could. So we were able to deliver funding to the museums. For example, I believe that MacBride Museum used to receive $23,500, if I’m not mistaken. They now receive $80,000. So we rolled those funds up and we gave them the ability to be more flexible and able to designate where they wanted to spend their dollars.
We were very pleased to do that. We increased the funding as well, and we also added four additional museums to the museum funding program.
In addition to that, I should say that, through the museums assistance program for conservation and security dollars and through cultural centre operation support, we actually have just shy of $1 million available to museums — I think it’s $943,000 in this fiscal year. In addition, we have funds like the community development fund, which has assisted many of our museums throughout the territory to the tune of thousands and thousands of dollars. I know that has been very well-received. They do an amazing job and I commend them for their ongoing efforts, and we certainly look forward to continuing to support them and to see how we can improve services and programs delivered.
With respect to the trolley, I don’t have that exact information at my fingertips but, of course, as soon as possible.
Ms. Duncan: I’m not going to belabour the argument with the minister with respect to the museums. Rolling in the funding, making funding available sooner rather than later in the fiscal year — yes, those are laudable initiatives. The issue, however, is that with the addition of four more museums and the pie not getting that much larger, it’s still a small piece of the pie — and a smaller piece. That is difficult because, while it’s an excellent idea to add these other facilities and the museums throughout the territory — the George Johnston Museum in Teslin, the Binet House in Mayo, which I have visited several times, and the MacBride Museum here in Whitehorse — as often as I can — and of course the Transportation Museum; there are many. They are wonderful organizations, they’re attractions, and they’re keepers of our history. They’re an important cultural resource — absolutely.
We don’t want to turn the people who are running the museums into grant writers or make them chase dollars. We want them to focus on preservation, heritage and interpretation. I would just encourage the minister to, if I can use a bit of slightly violent language, duke it out at the Cabinet table and argue for a little bit more money for the museums.
That being said, there was an interpretation plan paid for from the last budget for the roundhouse. It was a $25,000 cost to government. Is the plan publicly available? Could the minister send over a copy of it?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I know that we had actively solicited the MacBride Museum to provide us with the interpretive plan for the roundhouse. I do not have the actual plan in my hands, but I can certainly look into it for the member opposite.
Ms. Duncan: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I just have a couple of other questions in general debate for the minister. It’s information she may want to provide.
There was a half a million dollars in 2004 for the tourism cooperative marketing fund in the budget. How was the money spent? What results were there? Usually when we’re talking tourism marketing dollars, we are talking leverages, return on investment. There are key phrases that are used and specific numbers that are attached to these dollars. Could the minister — if she wishes, by way of letter would be fine, I would just like a sense of accountability for the half a million expenditure in the tourism cooperative marketing fund.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I’m really pleased to talk about the tourism cooperative marketing fund. This is something that was requested specifically from industry for this type of assistance. For every dollar that we will provide to industry, they match it by a dollar, so we’re actually leveraging an additional $500,000, which results in about $1 million for marketing programs in the marketplace for Yukon businesses. About $350,000 of that funding is allocated toward marketing projects and is administered directly by the department.
Up until this last fiscal year, $307,300 was committed to 29 applicants through 39 applications. There were monies dedicated toward administration, it being the very first year of the fund to be up and running. The remainder of that fund — because we got it out to industry in June, I believe, there were a few dollars that were lapsed. I believe it was just under $12,000. So we are pleased that applications went through and that approvals were made.
In addition to the $350,000, $150,000 is allocated for attendance at consumer and trade shows, and that is administered directly through TIA Yukon.
They’ve been doing a great job of that as well. I believe of that $150,000, about $127,000 was committed to 24 applicants. That is what I have before me, so it has been very well-received. I should also add that over the year I have received some correspondence from industry expressing real support for this fund and urging our government to continue with the fund.
I am pleased to partner with industry, and we are pleased to be able to get the funding out and pleased to see the results.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I appreciate the information that the minister has offered, but I would like to ask for some more detail, just a sense of it. Writing is fine — I would rather have it in writing so I could see it in front of me; I’m a visual learner more than auditory. So I’m looking for what sort of trade shows we were attending, what sort of lists people come home with, and that kind of leveraging information from the fund. I’m sure that it’s available; it’s just a question of it being sent over. So in terms of the tourism cooperative marketing fund, could I have that detail and the detail with respect to some of the other funds in this department? There is some information provided on the statistics pages, but I’m looking for things such as the arts. I believe there is also an arts fund. The Member for Kluane is suggesting we ask for all the funds administered through this department, so if both sides of the opposition benches could have that information, I’d appreciate it.
Another of our key partners in the tourism industry is Holland America. Last year, officials were not able to partner with Holland America to visit the Wildlife Preserve. I think Environment officials were too busy to meet with our key tourism partner. Holland America has a significant partnership with Kluane. I understand that is going quite well. As I said, they are, of course, a significant partner in our tourism industry. I would appreciate it if the minister could update us on discussions regarding our relationship with Holland America.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Holland America continues to provide great services and many visitors to the Yukon. We are very thankful for their presence here in the marketplace. Holland America does have a strong presence. They have been successfully partnering with Parks Canada with respect to providing tourism activity in Kluane National Park. They have also been engaging in discussions with the respective First Nation governments and First Nation operators and others in the area to incorporate more products within the region.
I should also note, although I don’t have the exact numbers, that they sold between 4,500 and 5,000 packages in Kluane. This is what I understand.
This year, of course, Holland America has also expressed an interest in providing tours through Tombstone Territorial Park. They have been in active discussions with our Department of Environment and we have also been providing much support to the Department of Environment, Holland America and Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation, again on developing travel packages throughout Tombstone, as well as providing a training plan for interpretative guides to provide those guided hikes through the park. There are a lot of exciting initiatives. I don’t know if you’ve seen it or not but, for the information of members opposite, Holland America’s 2005 Alaska and Yukon cruise and cruise tour catalogue highlights the Yukon tour product by showcasing Tombstone Park, and they also showcase Kluane. So that’s coupled with Denali, as well as Glacier Bay.
So that’s very exciting because those are the four prized products that they are showcasing in their 2005 guide, which we’re really pleased to see. That, I should add, I believe also went out to over a million different people on Holland America’s guide list of recipients, so that’s a lot of great free advertising for the Yukon.
Holland America will be providing tours through Tombstone through a number of mechanisms, either through passenger vans or motorcoach buses. Again, through the good work of the Department of Environment, we will also be commencing construction on the interpretive centre, which we hope to see in full operation for next summer’s visitor season. They’ve been doing a great job.
I should also add that Holland America hosted Yukon and Alaska sales staff familiarization tour here last September. I was able to say a few words to the staff. During that time, they had all their sales staff from all corners of the United States here, and they were able to go out to Tombstone and out to Kluane National Park. They visited and took in the sights of Whitehorse, Dawson City and Haines Junction. As a result, they went back to their offices, and they have been able to sell even more packages than what was originally anticipated. We’re really pleased to be able to work closely with Holland America. They do a great job, and we hope to see increased traffic as a result.
Ms. Duncan: The specific question about the Wildlife Preserve was not answered in the minister’s response, although I do appreciate the information about Holland America and their initiatives. The minister has been very kind in sending the new brochures over to opposition offices, so if she could send that over, I would appreciate having the opportunity to look at it.
The Yukon Film Commission has moved over to Economic Development, but the music part of our cultural industries is still with the Department of Tourism, as I understand it. I would like the minister to outline the support that’s being offered to Yukon’s recording industry.
There was an interesting discussion with the executive director of RAIYA, the Recording Arts Industry Yukon Association, about the Yukon hosting the Juno awards. It’s a very expensive idea and out-of-the-box thinking. Is this something that the department is interested in pursuing? It certainly generates a great deal of positive reinforcement for the music industry and also the Yukon as a location. Of course, the Arts Centre is a fabulous location, and we have so many wonderful musicians from the Yukon. It would be one of those out-of-the-box ideas that makes sense, albeit an expensive proposition.
What initiatives does the government have underway in this department in support of our recording artists and the recording industry? And has the minister thought at all about that out-of-the-box idea?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: For the member opposite’s information, when the Film Commission went through a review a couple of years ago, the decision was made to move the Film Commission into the Department of Economic Development, as well as to combine sound recording. So, sound recording and film are actually together, and we just recently recruited a very talented woman as our Film and Sound Commissioner and she has been doing a stellar job, as I understand.
I suppose you could say we don’t administer programs specifically for the music industry under our department, but we do have the arts fund, to which many artists subscribe and receive funding through the arts funds. Our contribution is relatively limited to that.
I know, though, that through the Department of Economic Development there are a number of different funds available to RAIYA. I know that something that occurred prior to the sound industry moving over to Economic Development was that we provided $10,000 in membership funding to RAIYA for them to participate in the Western Canadian Music Awards — I think it’s association, if I’m not mistaken. That money has enabled them to take part in the loop, I guess, or the circuit for hosting the Western Canadian Music Awards.
Through those efforts, we’re really pleased to support RAIYA. They’re doing a great job, and we do have some amazing artists here in the territory. We are pleased to support them through a whole host of different programs and different initiatives. But as I understand it, RAIYA has been thinking about hosting this particular event, and I think that working through our Convention Bureau, they certainly have an outstanding opportunity to do that. Through their membership, through the $10,000 annual membership fee, they have that opportunity now. It is garnered to them.
Mr. McRobb: Mr. Chair, I have a couple of questions here. Let’s go back to the Holland America issue. This is the third year of the Holland America agreement with Kluane National Park. As we recall, it was initially taken on as a three-year experiment. What is the sense from the minister of that agreement continuing beyond the third year?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I know that they are in their third year, I believe, as the member opposite mentioned. So discussions regarding the future of that partnership will be primarily between Holland America and Parks Canada. I know that the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations will also be involved in those discussions as well.
So at this time, I cannot really say anything on behalf of Holland America because I haven’t received any confirmation. But from all accounts to date, the tours have been very successful in the park, and they have been very well-received. I am sure that Parks Canada welcomes their business and will do everything that they can to help facilitate additional years on the tour.
Mr. McRobb: The Department of Tourism helped set up the deal in the first place. One of the unfortunate oversights was the exclusion of Champagne and Aishihik First Nations from being involved in the set-up of all the tourists from the outset. But it appears that problem has been resolved.
Can the minister assure us that in the situation with Tombstone, the First Nations will be involved from the outset? I understand that Holland America is currently looking at creating a similar deal in Chilkoot Trail National Park. Can the minister undertake that the First Nations in that area will be involved from the get-go as well?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I’m very happy to report that in Tombstone, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in has been involved from the very start of Holland America’s expressed interest. In fact, I recall meeting with the Chief of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation back in June, if I’m not mistaken, alongside the chair of Holland America, his officials, and our Department of Tourism and Culture, as well as an official from the Department of Environment. So they have been involved all along and they certainly will continue to be involved. I think that’s demonstrated through training initiatives and lining up product and opportunities for partners.
With respect to the Chilkoot, I am not aware of that, but will certainly bring it to the attention of the department and find out more information.
Mr. McRobb: I would be interested in seeing some of the Holland America statistics and numbers from the first two years — numbers in terms of the visitors to the region. If possible, I would also like to see estimates of the economic benefits, such as the spinoffs for other businesses and so on. I am sure these numbers exist, probably all in one place. Perhaps the minister has them. If not, maybe it’s something she can request from Holland America. Is that something she can undertake to provide for us?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Fully respecting that this is information that is owned by Parks Canada and Holland America — I certainly have to take that into account. I am sure that we can find out what the numbers are for the last couple of years and I will undertake to obtain that information.
Mr. McRobb: All right, that’s fine, Mr. Chair.
The Dawson-Kluane tour that the minister mentioned — I don’t believe we’ve heard too much about that. Can she give us a bit of an overview on it and identify how much it will receive in terms of funding? Who will manage the program? Will there be materials produced, promotions, and so on? Would she mind giving us an overview that would touch on those items?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: We are very pleased to enter into the promotion of the Klondike-Kluane scenic drive. We haven’t designated a specific name, but we are looking at it — or Kluane-Klondike scenic drive, whatever it may be. The point is it will address both areas, similar to the scenic drive we initiated for the Alaska Highway.
Now that we actually have a template in place, it should make it a lot easier, and we should be able to expedite information-gathering as a result. It will entail an added component to the Web site at www.driveyukon.com, and we will continue with consultations with the First Nation governments as well as municipal leaders, regional tourism organizations and others in this process.
We look forward to hearing additional input from these partners and incorporating that information within the Web site. The member opposite is probably familiar with the Web site — at least I would hope he is. It is one of the primary ways of meeting individuals who are interested in coming to the Yukon and experiencing all we have to offer.
The Web site is coupled with direct mail and targeted leads to Canadian and U.S. visitors throughout the Lower 48 and is associated with other ventures and partnerships with the programs we have in place.
We look forward to working with our partners in that regard. From all accounts, from what we understand, the hits on the Web site have been very well-received.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Mr. Chair, do I have the floor, or does the Member for Kluane have the floor?
Chair: Ms. Taylor, you have the floor.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Thank you.
Mr. McRobb: Thank you. I guess I have the floor now.
Thank you for that information. I would like to ask about the Champagne-Aishihik cultural centre. I understand the minister had a meeting on the weekend. Can she give us an update on that meeting? For everybody else’s information, a study was completed on the centre last summer, and it identified a need for funding in the amount of approximately $5 million, so we are interested in hearing an update.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I had a very good meeting with the chief and members of the council and administration for Champagne and Aishihik First Nations. It was a very good discussion and a good opportunity for me to be updated on their cultural centre project and basically advise me of where they are. The meeting was also a great opportunity for us to exchange information with respect to other tourism-related initiatives where the First Nation was interested in working with our department in terms of providing services and support to the First Nation. That is something that we have agreed to work on with the leadership of Champagne and Aishihik First Nations. We are working on that as we speak.
Mr. McRobb: One final question, and it’s an older issue. It’s the issue of the visitor reception centre in Tok, Alaska. The minister is nodding her head. It just wouldn’t be a complete budget debate for Tourism and Culture if this wasn’t brought up.
I’ve mentioned it to the minister several times before, and the Premier has heard it several times, including at his budget meeting in Haines Junction. In the fall, I mentioned to the minister the interest shown by the Mayor of Haines. On the weekend, I was reminded by the mayor’s economic development officer that they are still very much interested in partnering on the cost of this item. The Yukon government’s share would be about $2,000 or thereabouts. It would provide a lot of marketing for the region and would probably dovetail right in to her Kluane-Klondike scenic drive program.
Is anything cooking on this file this year?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I’m really pleased to respond to this issue. I know that it’s an issue very near and dear to the member opposite’s heart, so I appreciate him raising this with me.
As I seem to recall, the last discussion we had in this Legislature was that I had asked for any correspondence — or, at least at that time, I had not been contacted by the Mayor of Haines, and to this date I still have not been contacted by the Mayor of Haines.
So I haven’t heard any progress on this file because I haven’t received any updates from the member opposite, nor have I received any solicited assistance from the Mayor of Haines. However, traditionally we haven’t had much of an interest in establishing visitor centres in other jurisdictions.
I’ll just refer to the Klondike Visitors Association, for example, which does maintain a kiosk in the Tok visitor centre at an annual cost of about $15,000. That’s a kiosk that we do not provide any funding to, and we have no intention of commencing funding. In the meantime, we do distribute vacation guides. We distribute our On Yukon Time guides and the Yukon highway map through the visitor centre and certainly we would very happy to make that assistance available to a centre or to a kiosk if in fact that was to be made available in Haines, Alaska.
Likewise there is a reciprocal arrangement where Tok tourism information is distributed through the Yukon visitor reception centres as well.
I guess that’s about all that is new that I have to report. I should also add that I did not hear one request during my meeting with the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations or one request in my meeting with the Mayor and Council of the Village of Haines Junction regarding this issue, so it doesn’t seem to be a big priority for that region, but it seems to be a priority for the Member for Kluane.
Mr. McRobb: First of all, I’ll take up the minister’s offer and I’d be pleased to liaise between the Mayor of Haines and the minister and provide her with the correspondence.
Finally, this is not likely an issue she would hear from the elected representatives of the town council or the First Nation in only one community in the region. But if the minister took the time to travel up the highway and talk to the many other businesses in the several other communities, she would discover that it is somewhat of a priority. It’s not the top priority because we know what that is — that’s the seniors facility that’s being rejected by this government. But it’s somewhat of a priority, and I will undertake to get the minister the correspondence probably tomorrow.
I’d like to thank her for answering my questions.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, I have a couple questions. We would like to just finish up on general debate before we go into lines and before break. I’d like to just ask a couple questions. One of them is in regard to Air North.
Mr. Chair, we have heard the advertisements of Air North, about it being a Yukon airline. I would just like to know what the department is doing to promote this airline in the tourism industry.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Air North is a very important partner to Yukon Tourism. Air Canada, likewise, is also very important to tourism and to the growth of our economy. Air North has been doing a stellar job. Air North employs well over 100 people. I meet with Air North on a regular basis, and I applaud their efforts on an ongoing basis.
Through the gateway cities program, for example, there is $200,000 allocated toward working with our gateway cities — that is Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton — in being able to showcase the Yukon and being able to showcase what we have to offer in product, attractions, accommodations and so forth. Through the gateway cities campaign, we get benefit by having additional visitation through additional seats being purchased on Air North and Air Canada.
I should also say that Air North is certainly welcome to provide applications to the tourism cooperative marketing fund. We have often discussed this fund with them as a means of packaging. For example, the member opposite will probably recall that there has been a spring gateway getaway promotion as well as fall promotions, and Air North has been able to bring an additional 600 passengers to the Yukon in the spring and fall. They have done a great job.
We have been able to partner, through gateway cities, to have additional opportunities to increase passengers on their planes. We work with our partners here on the ground to develop packages that will entice more people to get on Air North and ultimately come to the Yukon. We support them in a number of different ways.
As I mentioned, I make it a good habit of sitting down, meeting with them and seeing how we can be of assistance on an ongoing basis.
Chair: We have passed our normal time for a recess. Do members wish to have a recess?
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, we would like to take a break, but we would like to finish general debate. I do have one more question. Perhaps after that, we could take a break if that’s all right with members opposite.
I would like to thank the minister for that answer to the question. Air North is certainly the pride of many Yukoners, and we would like to see the Tourism department work with them to promote tourism.
I would like to ask the minister about the Yukon River and what the Tourism department is doing to promote the Yukon River to attract more tourists to use it. What kinds of new things is the department doing? What are they doing to get the word out there? I don’t need to know about the pamphlets that have been created. I know there are some in German, and so on. I would like to know about any new initiatives that the department has been carrying out over the last year or so, or perhaps has planned for the future, to promote the Yukon River as a tourism destination.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Without actually relaying any specific information, because I don’t have any specific information at my fingertips, I know that the partnership between the Department of Environment and the Wilderness Tourism Association of Yukon, for example, promotes the Yukon River as one of their signature areas for rafting or canoeing. I believe the Wilderness Tourism Association also promotes the cleanliness of the river, and they have a stewardship program in place in promoting and maintaining the cleanliness of the river so we’re able to showcase it to our neighbours throughout the world.
The Department of Environment produces publications, as the member opposite mentioned. They promote all the various regions in the territory. As the member opposite suggested, I will see what I can provide.
Chair: Do members wish a recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We’ll take a 15-minute recess.
Chair: Order please. Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We will continue with Vote 54, Department of Tourism and Culture. Is there any further general debate?
Hearing no further general debate, we will then proceed with line-by-line examination starting with corporate services. For members’ convenience, the page reference is 15-6.
On Corporate Services
On Deputy Minister’s Office
Ms. Duncan: Could we ask the minister to provide us a line explanation of these items and the breakdown of the expenditures? Rather than having to ask for it each time, if she could just provide that, we would appreciate it.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: This line is for the deputy minister, executive assistant, communications coordinator and communications officer, and includes territory travel, contracts and program materials, communications, training and memberships. This represents an increase of 13 percent, as the line outlines. This is primarily for the addition of a half-time communications officer position together with the collective agreement and merit increases.
Deputy Minister’s Office in the amount of $419,000 agreed to
Hon. Ms. Taylor: This line item is primarily for the director of corporate services. It includes travel, contracts and communication costs for the directorate, as well as program materials, training and other costs. The increase is primarily due to the impact of the collective agreement and merit increases, as well.
Directorate in the amount of $122,000 agreed to
On Human Resources
Hon. Ms. Taylor: This represents primarily an increase due to converting the half-time human resources assistant to full-time. Again, this is together with the collective agreement.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, there are collective agreement increases, but there are also some increases in positions in these line items. What is the overall number by which the Department of Tourism staff has increased? We’ve gone from a half-time to a full-time human resources person, presumably because there are more staff to administer and more work to be done within the department. So what is the increase overall in the number of positions?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: It is one position — I should say one FTE.
Ms. Duncan: One FTE for the entire department between last year and this year? There has been an increase, though, in the deputy minister’s office in the staffing — that was part-time to full-time? Half-time? There is only one position overall increase, and yet we have quite significant increases percentage-wise in the numbers in this particular section, if you will, of corporate services. I find that surprising that it could be just one FTE overall.
Human Resources in the amount of $155,000 agreed to
On Information Management
Hon. Ms. Taylor: This includes personnel. We have 2.1 FTEs. It includes monies for repairs and maintenance of our equipment. We also have monies available for the corporate Web site and also for licensing and Web-hosting fees, computer supplies, travel and training. This is primarily an increase due to the addition of $30,000 for Web site maintenance costs, $11,000 for computer supplies and collective agreement impact.
Information Management in the amount of $198,000 agreed to
On Finance and Administration
Hon. Ms. Taylor: This includes five FTEs, and there are monies available for repairs and maintenance. Our agreement is through property management for a tourism business centre, our visitor information centres, the archives building and the Beringia Centre.
Money for office supplies, employee travel, materials, computer supplies, training and printing — this is again primarily due to collective agreement impact and costs associated with the management agreements for the facilities I mentioned earlier.
Ms. Duncan: Could the minister advise if there have been any recent changes to the business service centre? It has operated, as is, for quite a number of years. Have there been any changes to it? I haven’t been over there in some time.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: No.
Finance and Administration in the amount of $1,084,000 agreed to
On Policy, Planning and Evaluation
Hon. Ms. Taylor: This is inclusive of our director of policy, planning and evaluation and a policy analyst. There are monies available for contract services, travel in and out of the territory, and for miscellaneous program materials and supplies, memberships, printing and training costs. This is primarily an increase due to collective agreement impact and the cost of merit increases.
Policy, Planning and Evaluation in the amount of $309,000 agreed to
Total Corporate Services in the amount of $2,287,000 agreed to
On Cultural Services
Hon. Ms. Taylor: The decrease is primarily attributed to a one-time reduction to contribute to the government-wide initiative to the Canada Winter Games. This is the collective corporate response to the Canada Winter Games’ request for individuals for assistance.
Directorate in the amount of $432,000 agreed to
On Heritage Resources
Hon. Ms. Taylor: This is primarily a decrease due to the last supplementary budget wherein there was an additional $27,000 in funding received from Canada for the Canadian heritage properties incentive fund.
Heritage Resources in the amount of 408,000 agreed to
Hon. Ms. Taylor: This is primarily due to the collective agreement impact.
Ms. Duncan: This isn’t the line item for transfers to the museums; it is the museum or heritage staffing within the department? Or is this the line item that transfers to the museums?
The minister is nodding. That $502,000 is divided among seven or eight museums in the territory — could the minister just advise the House?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: We have a total of $11,500 for the Binet House in Mayo, $11,500 for the Campbell Regional Interpretive Centre in Faro, $80,000 for the Dawson City Museum, $30,000 for the George Johnston Museum in Teslin, 30,000 for the Keno City Mining Museum, $30,000 for the Kluane Museum of Natural History, $80,000 for the MacBride Museum, $11,500 for the Canyon City Rail Museum, $11,500 for the Northern Lights Centre, $48,500 for the Old Log Church Museum, $80,000 for the Transportation Museum, and $48,500 for the Yukon Historical and Museums Association, for a total of $473,000.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, if it’s $473,000, how is the balance of about $30,000 spent?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: My apologies, Mr. Chair. What I was quoting earlier was the total sum of money — that was the total of O&M and capital. The O&M, which is what we are talking about right now, is $178,000. That is the transfer payments on the O&M side.
The remainder of the monies are inclusive of personnel for three individuals: a manager of museums, a conservator, and a First Nations heritage officer, which is a new position that we incorporated last year. There is money for travel. Also there is $60,000 related to the museum passport program and for the purchase of reference and technical books for a museum resource centre. There are also prepared audio-visual presentations to assist in museum training workshops. The remainder of the money is for miscellaneous supplies, advertising, printing and memberships.
Ms. Duncan: Is the passport program that the minister mentioned the Yukon passport program we were familiar with some years ago? Is it now strictly a Yukon museum passport program, or are we talking about two different programs? I am referring to the little blue book that we got stamped. There was a fabulous prize. When it was first introduced, it was kind of a Yukon-wide thing. Is it now just for the museums? I am curious if it’s still in operation and if it varied year to year. I haven’t looked at the passport that closely in the last summers.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I believe that program has not changed since we have taken office, and it is the blue book, the blue passport program.
Ms. Duncan: And it’s strictly focused on museums now and I would assume includes the Beringia Centre. Is there any initiative underway to look at examining that particular program to include such new attractions that the government has purchased, such as the Wildlife Preserve?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Any decision surrounding the museum passport program would be discussed in consultation with the existing museums. I guess the fear is perhaps the argument that has been made that if you expand it too widely, you perhaps lose the emphasis of the existing museums. But with that said, any changes to the passport program would be made in consultation with the existing museums today.
Museums in the amount of $502,000 agreed to
On Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre
Hon. Ms. Taylor: This represents primarily the increase due to collective agreement impact and merit increases.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, can we have a status report of the Beringia Centre? Where are we in terms of working with the private sector? It is debates like this where I miss some of the former members, because there was a very clear commitment from the former Yukon Party that the Beringia Centre would be paying its own way by now. But I see that its revenue is $70,000 and the expenditure is $268,000. That being said, it is an incredible attraction for the territory, and the mammoths are a welcoming sight as we’re driving home from southern points.
What is the current status of the operation with the private sector, and how is it working now, and what is the anticipated summer?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: The Beringia is a prize attraction to the Yukon and I certainly think that they’ve done a pretty good job. The staff members provide a great service year-in and year-out. As the member suggested, there is a friends of Beringia society being developed, as we speak, to assist the centre in meeting some of its goals and to find opportunities for revenue generation and any special programming that might entice additional visitation to the centre. That’s what is taking place. I should add that this society is a model that is also being used across the country right now to help improve services or improve visitation to their respective institutions, including Friends of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum and Friends of the Royal British Columbia Museum. I understand that they are in the midst of coming together, and I think they may have even had their first meeting already.
Ms. Duncan: Perhaps I could just pass on to the minister that Eastend, Saskatchewan had a fantastic palaeontology discovery. They don’t have something like we do in the Beringia Centre, and they have done a fabulous job of marketing and sharing the information about their discovery through the families at the campgrounds in Saskatchewan. I would just pass on to the minister and the officials in the department to perhaps have a look at that programming. It certainly generated interest and I believe significant traffic, so if the minister could perhaps pass on that suggestion I would appreciate it.
Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre in the amount of $268,000 agreed to
Hon. Ms. Taylor: This is primarily an increase due to the Yukon Arts Centre grant, which we increased by $150,000, and also attendance at the Zurich exhibition, and this was offset by the funding for the study for KIAC that we had approved in the supplementary budget.
Ms. Duncan: The $150,000 additional funding for the Yukon Arts Centre — is it more than additional funding for this year? Is it part of an ongoing commitment to an increased level of funding? Could I have a copy of the funding arrangement agreement with the Arts Centre, as well?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I made the commitment to the Yukon Arts Centre Corporation for the $150,000 for the duration of the agreement. I believe it’s a five-year agreement, and we’re into the third year. After that, we’ll take it from there.
Arts in the amount of $1,806,000 agreed to
Archives in the amount of $933,000 agreed to
Total Cultural Services in the amount of $4,349,000 agreed to
Directorate in the amount of $244,000 agreed to
On Product Development and Research
Ms. Duncan: There is a significant decrease — 18 percent — in funding for the product development and research, yet product is something that we often talk of, to enhance our existing product and add to our product. Could the minister explain the decrease?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: When we talk about product development, it is primarily when we talk about program services that are offered on the capital side. This particular decrease is largely attributed to an internal review where we had a recent, you could say, reorganization of the marketing branch to become the tourism branch. We still have the same FTEs in place, but we have basically one position that was reallocated to the marketing operations North America unit, and also one-time approved funding for the tourism fulfillment database that was part of supplementary budget last fall.
Product Development and Research in the amount of $476,000 agreed to
On Marketing Operations - Overseas
Hon. Ms. Taylor: This is an increase primarily due to budget increases for media fam tours — familiarization tours — and advertising overseas. Again, this was an initiative that was raised by the Senior Marketing Committee as a priority for increase.
Ms. Duncan: Is this also the line item where we pay for the Bergold contract and the Jill White contract that we discussed earlier?
The minister is nodding. Perhaps she could outline how much of the almost $3 million is fam tours. Can we have a breakdown of how much was spent in each of these areas? I would appreciate it.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: We have $152,000 for travel and registration to various marketplaces, both domestic and international fam tours. We have $295,000 for general operations, including marketing initiatives, Rendezvous sales kits, fam tour rental expenses and other miscellaneous expenses. There is $594,000 for the European marketing program, contracts with agents in the United Kingdom and continental Europe, including advertising registrations, and $71,000 for the Asia-Pacific marketing program.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, are we looking at hiring a sales agent for the Asia-Pacific, as we do for Europe and the United Kingdom?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Not at this time.
Marketing Operations - Overseas in the amount of $1,299,000 agreed to
On Regional Initiatives and Projects
Hon. Ms. Taylor: This is a decrease of four percent, primarily due to the one-time funding for Sourdough Rendezvous that was reflected in last year’s supplementary budget.
Regional Initiatives and Projects in the amount of $518,000 agreed to
On Marketing Operations - North America
Hon. Ms. Taylor: We have $505,000 for the Yukon vacation planner, and that is also inclusive of the lure brochure that was recently issued. There is $185,000 for strategy, planning, media buying, and that is primarily the payment to our agency of record, Two Red Chairs; $144,000 for industry liaison travel and other miscellaneous expenses; $193,000 for media and public relations program, including fam tours, media materials and media; $164,000 for Web sites and e-marketing, and this supports the ongoing development of those Web sites; $51,000 for a photography unit for the ongoing maintenance and development of the visual library; $220,000 to support our partnership program and the development of the Yukon brand strategy; $200,000 for the gateway cities program; $213,000 to deliver domestic marketing initiatives, including partnerships, special events and other activities; $107,000 for niche and other advertising that targets specific segments, including adventure, touring, fly-drive, fishing, learning travel and so forth.
Ms. Duncan: I didn’t hear any specific new initiatives. The stay-another-day program — what used to be called the golden circle and now it’s the scenic drives — is that the only new initiative or is there any kind of other new program in this marketing line item?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: In this particular line item, it’s brand Yukon strategy, the additional monies there, and ongoing initiatives, such as reaching out to niche markets, non-traditional niche markets and so forth. Yes, primarily in North America it’s the gateway cities — Yukon Wild, Yukon Quest and the niche markets. It’s primarily those four areas.
Marketing Operations - North America in the amount of $3,471,000 agreed to
On Visitor Services
Hon. Ms. Taylor: This is primarily an increase due to the collective agreement and also an increase in the Whitehorse visitor information centre hours from January to March in support of the increased winter tourism. As I was referring to earlier, it’s through our partnering with Air North, for example. We have seen a substantial increase in visitation through their swing getaway gateway promotion that saw hundreds more visitors here. It was a request from industry to keep the Whitehorse information centre open a bit longer during the wintertime to accommodate the increased traffic we are seeing through the winter months.
Ms. Duncan: This is increased hours — perhaps when we get to capital, if the minister could be prepared. Are there any significant capital changes to the VRCs throughout the territory? We’ve made significant improvements to Beaver Creek. Who is next on the list for improvements? If she could provide that information when we get to capital.
Visitor Services in the amount of $1,506,000 agreed to
Total Tourism in the amount of $7,514,000 agreed to
On Recoveries and Revenue
Chair: On page 15-14, are there any questions regarding recoveries and revenue?
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the Yukon Lottery Commission is in a recovery line item — $240,000 — and information as to why it’s there escapes me at the moment. Could the minister just refresh my memory? Is this a contribution from the Lottery Commission to the arts fund? The Lottery Commission usually comes under the Community Services minister, so I’m unclear as to why it’s there.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Yes, it’s primarily the funding that’s available through the Yukon Lottery Commission to the Yukon arts funding program. They also provide funding for the advanced artist award.
Recoveries and Revenue cleared
On Transfer Payments
Chair: Are there any questions regarding transfer payments?
Ms. Duncan: I notice that the Science Institute did get an increase in funding. It is only $1,000 but it represents a six-percent increase. Was there a particular reason or particular project for that increase to the Science Institute? Everywhere else it is either a decrease or a zero-percent increase; that’s why it was flagged.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I think there is a $1,000 increase here. I would have to get back to the member opposite on that particular increase. With respect to the decreases in the others, again that was primarily with our Alaska partners, Tourism North and the Alaska Travel Industry Association, due to the exchange rates, and of course Sourdough Rendezvous, which was one-time funding that we provided last year.
Transfer Payments cleared
Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Department of Tourism and Culture in the amount of $14,150,000 agreed to
Chair: We will continue on to page 15-5, capital expenditures for Corporate Services.
On Capital Expenditures
On Corporate Services
On Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space
Ms. Duncan: Sorry, Mr. Chair, this has had a significant increase. In fact, the budget has almost doubled for this department. What are we buying with this additional money? Is there a new computer system? Are there significant renovations to the visitor reception centre? Exactly what is this money being spent on?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: It’s primarily due to the increased investment we have spent on the information technology that we announced a little while back, overall for the entire government. In particular, we have $27,500 for general building maintenance. This was as per recommendations by the property management agency.
We have $205,000 toward systems infrastructure. Again, that’s what I mentioned earlier. It’s primarily due to the recommendations that were made by, I think, the Information Resources Management Committee — the IRMC — if I’m not mistaken.
In particular, we’ve got money going toward workstations and software. We have money going toward hardware and network infrastructure and money going toward systems development. We also have a small amount of money going toward some office furniture and equipment — basically repair and replacement of some basic furniture. That’s primarily where that $250,000 is.
Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space in the amount of $250,000 agreed to
Total Corporate Services in the amount of $250,000 agreed to
On Cultural Services
On Historic Resources
On Heritage Attractions Site Support
Ms. Duncan: Could I just ask the minister to explain why there is less money being spent this year than last?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: This is mainly due to the revotes in the supplementary budget, mainly for site development of the Transportation Museum — it has been an ongoing initiative — and the Hootalinqua heritage site, as well as completing the interior of the telegraph office.
Heritage Attractions Site Support in the amount of $140,000 agreed to
On Heritage Studies
Heritage Studies in the amount of $30,000 agreed to
On Historic Sites
On Historic Sites Maintenance
Historic Sites Maintenance in the amount of $287,000 agreed to
On Historic Sites Inventory
Historic Sites Inventory in the amount of $66,000 agreed to
On Fort Selkirk
Fort Selkirk in the amount of $172,000 agreed to
On Historic Sites Planning
Historic Sites Planning in the amount of $84,000 agreed to
On Interpretation and Signage
Interpretation and Signage in the amount of $105,000 agreed to
On Rampart House
Rampart House in the amount of $53,000 agreed to
On Forty Mile
Forty Mile in the amount of $52,000 agreed to
On Yukon Sawmill
Yukon Sawmill in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Heritage Trails
Heritage Trails in the amount of $30,000 agreed to
On Canyon City Tramway
Canyon City Tramway in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
On Prior Years’ Projects
Ms. Duncan: Clearly, the 2004-05 prior year project has been completed. Could the minister just refresh the House’s memory as to which specific project that money relates to?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: The historic places initiative was announced by the federal government a couple of years ago. At the end of the three-year agreement, it came to a close.
Prior Years’ Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
Palaeontology in the amount of $140,000 agreed to
On Yukon Archaeology
Yukon Archaeology in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On First Nations Community Archaeology Project
First Nations Community Archaeology Project in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
On Ice Patch Research and Protection
Ice Patch Research and Protection in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On Museums Assistance
Museums Assistance in the amount of $435,000 agreed to
On Exhibits Assistance
Exhibits Assistance in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Artifact Inventory and Cataloguing
Artifact Inventory and Cataloguing in the amount of $81,000 agreed to
On Conservation and Security
Conservation and Security in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
On Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre
Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre in the amount of $98,000 agreed to
On First Nations Cultural Centres
First Nations Cultural Centres in the amount of $220,000 agreed to
On Prior Years’ Projects
Prior Years’ Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
On Visual Arts
On Visual Arts Acquisition
Visual Arts Acquisition in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Arts and Cultural Development
On Arts Fund
Arts Fund in the amount of $500,000 agreed to
On Craft Strategy
Craft Strategy in the amount of $60,000 agreed to
On Decade of Sport and Culture
Decade of Sport and Culture in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Prior Years’ Projects
Prior Years’ Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
On Public Program Projects
Public Program Projects in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
On Archives Preservation Projects
Archives Preservation Projects in the amount of $135,000 agreed to
Total Cultural Services in the amount of $3,388,000 agreed to
On Industry Development and Research
On Product Development and Resource Assessment
Product Development and Resource Assessment in the amount of $190,000 agreed to
On Industry Research and Strategic Planning
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, earlier in general debate, the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin asked about the tourism plans and about the current status of each of the community plans — Whitehorse has a plan. I know the Silver Trail Tourism Association had a plan. There were a number of these plans. The member has asked for an update of the current status and where we are in them. We are renewing some of them or redoing some of them, and I suppose beginning again in some other areas. If the minister could just provide a written response as to the details on the current status of these plans, I would appreciate it.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I think I already outlined the update for the members opposite yesterday, if I’m not mistaken.
Ms. Duncan: There is significantly less money in this area in terms of capital. Are there some plans we are going to embark on or we are going to put them off for a few years? There is 75 percent less funding in this line item.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: This decrease is primarily attributed to the 2004 visitor exit survey that was produced last year. Rest assured, there is money available here to complete base mapping and to update and produce the regional tourism plans.
Industry Research and Strategic Planning in the amount of $136,000 agreed to
On Prior Years’ Projects
Prior Years’ Projects in the amount of nil agreed to
On Visitor Information Centres
On Capital Maintenance and Upgrades
Ms. Duncan: Would the minister outline which VRCs we are going to upgrade for this funding, please?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: We are very pleased to provide additional funding here to the tune of $117,000 toward capital maintenance projects for our visitor information centres. For the breakdown, in Beaver Creek we have $4,000 for the well upgrade and $5,000 for the retaining wall; in Carcross we have $5,000 for the foundation upgrade and $100,000 to replace the boardwalk. I was out there last summer; it desperately needs to be replaced — front and rear. Some money is also for repainting the floor and doing the landscaping. In Watson Lake we have $2,000 for additional lighting in the foyer, replacing track lighting in the gallery; $6,000 for sidewalks and landings and paving a parking lot. That sums up the three initiatives.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, could I just verify if I heard the minister correctly? The bulk of the money is being spent on Carcross? Is that Koolseen Place or is that around that particular facility, which is government owned?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Yes, it is not Koolseen, the government-owned visitor information centre. It’s the old train station. I was going to say White Pass depot, but it’s the old train station, front and back.
Capital Maintenance and Upgrades in the amount of $207,000 agreed to
On Travel Equipment, Displays and Productions
On Purchase and Maintenance of Displays
Purchase and Maintenance of Displays in the amount of $20,000 agreed to
On Special Initiatives
On Tourism Cooperative Marketing Fund
Tourism Cooperative Marketing Fund in the amount of $500,000 agreed to
On Scenic Drives Initiative
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, what exactly is the $350,000 going to pay for? Is this for brochures? What will it pay for?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: There is $215,000, inclusive, for interpretive signage for the Alaska Highway, west and east within the Yukon. The remainder is $135,000 to commence the Klondike-Kluane, Kluane-Klondike scenic drive. That includes, again, the development, which would include some consultation with First Nation governments and municipal governments along the way.
There is Web site enhancement. We already have, as I mentioned, a Web site. We have the template in place. It’s a wonderful Web site and I have heard nothing but accolades from communities so far. Also, $80,000 is for direct marketing, as well as some information.
Scenic Drives Initiatives in the amount of $350,000 agreed to
Total Tourism in the amount of $1,403,000 agreed to
On Transfer Payments
Transfer payments cleared
Total Capital Expenditures for the Department of Tourism and Culture in the amount of $5,041,000 agreed to
Department of Tourism and Culture agreed to
Department of Justice
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I am pleased to speak to the 2005-06 budget for the Department of Justice. I would like to acknowledge all the hard work that the Premier and my fellow Cabinet ministers put into this budget. I would also like to personally thank the staff for all the hours they put into producing these documents and preparing them.
I would just like to talk a bit from the traditional perspective of justice.
It is our belief that everyone is equal in the eyes of the Creator. Everyone has a value, and everyone has been blessed with special gifts and one needs only to develop them. I believe that part of the job of the Justice department is to support and help individuals who are in Whitehorse Correctional Centre to be able to develop the gifts they have in the hope that they will be able to function outside of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre in a good way.
Our budget reflects this government’s commitment to improvement in the justice system and, at the same time, to make sure that our present system is safe, healthy and dynamic. In this budget, the government reaffirms its commitment to ensuring the safety of Yukoners by modernizing the justice system for today and future generations.
In the coming year, the government will introduce significant improvements to inmate programming and staff training at Whitehorse Correctional Centre. These improvements will go a long way toward ensuring the safety of Yukoners today.
Through our consultation on correction reform, we will take significant strides toward ensuring the safety of future generations of Yukoners. Our government is committed to ensuring that Yukoners have a correctional system that reflects the values and diversity of Yukon society. That is why we are investing in an open and accountable consultation process.
I would like now to talk in greater detail about some of the specific initiatives that this government will undertake to improve the safety of Yukon communities.
Seeing the time, Mr. Chair, I would like to move that we report progress.
Chair: It has been moved by Mr. Edzerza that we report progress.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Chair: It has been moved that the Speaker do now resume the Chair. Are you agreed?
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Rouble: Mr. Speaker, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 15, First Appropriation Act, 2005-06, and has directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:58 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled April 26, 2005:
Alaska-Canada Rail Link Feasibility Study: Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Yukon and the State of Alaska (Kenyon)